A fruitful treatise of fasting wherin is declared what ye Christen fast is, how we ought to fast, [and] what ye true vse of fastyng is. Newlye made by Thomas Becon.
Becon, Thomas, 1512-1567.

¶The .xviii. Chapter.

ANd heare begin we to learn the true vse of fastinge, and to know vnto what end our fastes ought to be directed. The fyrste true and godlye vse of fa∣stynge is to subdue the fleshe, to mortifye her beastelye affectes, and to represse the wilde & ranck mocions thereof, that it maye be subiecte and obediente to the spi¦rite as an handmaide to her ma∣stres, or a seruaunte to his Lord. Page  [unnumbered] For al be it God hathe made vs of two partes, that is, of bodye and spirite, yet hath he ordayned the spirite to bee ruler, and the fleshe to bee in subieccion to the spirite.* But not wyth standynge the fleshe (suche is her wylde dis∣obedience and disobedient wylde¦nesse) canne by no meanes abide to submyt her selfe to the rule of the spirite, but continuallye stry∣ueth to haue the vpper hand, and contrarye to gods appoinmente to make the spirit subiect vnto her The spirite prouoketh vnto hu∣militie, Charitie, Pacience, quy∣etnesse, continencye, purenesse of lyfe, moderate eatynge and drin∣kinge. &c. The flesh contrariwise calleth vnto pride, hautynesse of mynde, enuye, malice vengaunce discord, whordō, auoutry, glotoni Page  [unnumbered] dronkenship. &c. So that ther is a continual conicte betwene the spirite & the fleshe▪ who shal haue the victorye as. S. Paule saieth If the flesh subdueth the spirite, then pearyshe wee,* but if the spi∣rite accordynge to goddes ordy∣naunce beareth rule, and hathe the fleshe in subieccion, then well are we. Nowe that thys maye be broughte to passe, godly & Chri∣sten abstinence shall healp great¦lye.* For there is nothinge that so tameth and bringeth vnder the wylde and vnrulye lustes of the flesh, as fasting and abstinēce, e∣uen as there is nothing that ma∣keth a wilde and fearce horsse so tame and obedyent to his master as the withdrawing of his haye, otes, breade, and suche other pro∣uender. They therefore that wyl Page  [unnumbered] vse theyr faste a ryghte and vn∣to a godlye ende, muste fyrste di∣recte it vnto this purpose, that by the exercyse thereof they may bry¦dle the wantonnes of the fleshe, and refraine theyr bodyes frō sin that the spirite,* whiche is a preci∣ous thinge before God, maye be quiet, or els all other exercises & trauails although neuer so pain¦full, are vayne. To thys vse ser∣ued the fastes of manye godlye bothe men and women in tymes paste, that the bodie beinge mor∣tified, the spirite might the more frely attend on God. The prince like Prophet saieth, I putte on sacke cloth and humbled my soul with fasting.* This holy Prophet and kinge vsed fastinge to thys ende, that hee mighte bringe his bodye lowe and in subieccion to Page  [unnumbered] the spirit, that the vngodli lustes thereof myghte no more rage & rule in hym as they dyd,* what time he tooke Bothsaba the wyfe of Urias & laye wyth her, & that he myghte freelye enioie her, cau¦sed her husbande to bee slayne in battell.* In another place hee also sayeth, my knees are weake thorowe fastinge, my fleshe dryed vp for want of fatnes. We reade lykewyse,* that that mooste vertu∣ous Quene Esther broughte her bodye verye lowe wyth fastinge Agayne.* S. Paul sayeth of him selfe, I chastise and tame my bo∣dye, and bring it into subieccion, least bi any means it come to pas that when I haue preached to o∣ther, I my self shuld be cast awai These with manye other chasty∣sed and tamed theyr bodyes with Page  [unnumbered] fastinge, that the spirite myghte haue free course vnto God and bee occupyed aboute heauenlye thynges. After thys manner oughte all true Christians to do, that the bodye being kept in sub∣ieccion, the spirite maye rule and haue the ouerhande, and by no meanes to follow the wycked ma¦ner of the papists, whych in theyr fastes abstain frō grosse fleshe, & deuoure all kynde of deinty and fine fishe, whiche make theyr bo∣dies muche more prone to lewd∣nes, then the eatyng of flesh, and also bringeth the spirit into mise¦rable seruitute & bondage. O vn¦godlye manner of fastinge.