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 .xix. Chapter.

VNto this taming,* chastining subduing & mortifying of y flesh by y true vse of fasting Page  [unnumbered] dothe. S. Austen exhort vs, say∣inge: Let oureflesh be continu∣allye subiecte to oure soule, and serue it as an handmaide dothe her Masters. Lette vs not suffer oure bodye to be ouerlustye, least 〈◊〉 warre against the spirite, but alwayes let the fleshe be subiecte that it obei the commaundement of the holye ghost.* Neither let vs suffer the handmaide to waxe to rancke, leaste she set lyght by her maistres, but rather let her obey all her commaundementes and do her seruise. For as horses must be brideled, so muste our bodies be restrained with fasting, watch & prayer For as if the guides of chariots do giue their horsse the reanes thei draw them into head long down fals so if our body be not brideled, the soul and it both Page  [unnumbered] together slip into the depe pit of hel. Let vs therfore be good and experte Carters or Chariot dry∣uers to our body, that we may go the rigtwai. &c.* Again he saieth fasting swageth the intemperan¦cye and vnrulines of the bodye, and represseth or keepeth vnder the troubios mocions & raging lustes therof. It causeth the soul to e at liberty and not to be op∣pressed of the flesh, as the Lorde saith, take hede that your hartes be not ouercom with surfetyng & drōkēnes.* For whē the soul is de∣liuered frō to much eating & drin¦king, then doth it consider it selfe the bttr, & waieth in what case it standeth. For as a mā in a filthye glas seeth not him selfe such one as he is in deede, so likewise if he be ouerladen wyth to muche ea∣tynge Page  [unnumbered] and drinckynge, he thinc∣keth him selfe to be another man¦ner of man then he is. Yea then is hee prouoked vnto sensuali∣litie and filthye luste, moued vn∣to anger, puffed vp with pride, & stirred vnto letchery. In respecte wherof the Apostle sayeth, be not dronke wyth wyne,* wherin is vn¦honest behauioure. But if the bo¦dy be kept in order, and accusto∣med wyth fastyng, then doth the soul know the better, with what deuociō she ought to serue her re∣demer. Fastyng therfore is very necessari. Hereunto pertaineth y saying of.* S. Ihon goldē mouth The abstinence fro meates is re∣ceiued for this purpose, y it shuld restrain the rigour & fearsnes of y flesh to make it obedient to the spirit, euē as an horse is to his ke¦per. Page  [unnumbered] For he that fasteth, muste a∣boue all thinges refraine anger, learne mekenes and gentlenes, haue an hearte contrite, and such one as may repel and put backe vncleane concupiscences & lusts He muste also set before his eies alway the eye of the euerlastinge iudge and y iudgeing place that canne not be corrupted. Againe he muste by his monye be made the better by distributing it to the pore, & haue rule ouer it. He must be liberal in geuing almes & re∣ceiue into his hart no euil against his neighboure,* as Esaye spea∣king in y persō of god sath: haue I chosen this fast, sayth the lord? Thoughe thou wrye aboute thy necke lyke an hoope, and strow∣est vnder the sackeclothe and ashes, yet wyll not I regard thy fast saith the lord. What fast thē, Page  [unnumbered] tel me? Losen, saith he, the bonds of the wicked bargaines, breake thy breade to the hongry bringe the pore man that hath no house into thi house. If thou doest these these things, saith he, thē shal thy light breake forth as y morning light and thy health shal spryng right shortly. Hast thou now sene (my welbeloued) what y true fast is? Let vs loke vpō this fast, and let vs not thincke, as many do, y fastinge standeth in this pointe, if we continewe without any din¦ner til it be night. S. Hierome al¦so saieth: Satietie or fulnes is to be exchewed euen of y most vyle meats. For ther is nothing y so o∣uerwhelmeth y mind, as a ful bel∣lye. Thus haue we herd that the first & principal vse of fastinge is to tame, chastise, subdue & mortifi Page  [unnumbered] the flesh,* y it resist not, but rather obei the rule of y spirit as an hād maide, her maistres, or an horsse hys keper. But this is to be cōsi∣dered in our fasting, y we do not with our vnmeasurable fasts so make weake & feable the bodye, that it be hable to serue neyther God, nor our neighbour, nor yet our selues, & by this meanes vt∣terly quench the vse & workyng of the spirit, as we rede that ma∣ny in times past haue done, such fasts please not God. This com¦maūdement therfore of S Paul is to be obserued in al our fasts, Make not prouisiō,* sayth he, for the flesh to fulfyl the lustes of it. An horsse that is to much delicate lyfed, casteth his master, againe if he be kept to hongry, he fayn∣teth in the mids of the iourney, & doth not his office. A meane ther¦fore Page  [unnumbered] is to be had as in fedinge of the horsse, so likewise in ordering of the bodye. We lyue not to eat, but we eate to lyue.