¶The .xx. Chapter.
THe seconde cause whye wee ought to vse fastinge is,* that we abstaining from meates, maye haue to giue vnto the pore and hongry the more liberallye. For this kind of fasting pleaseth God greatly, when he seeth that we haue so put on the bowels of tender mercy & are led with such and so harty compassion toward our pore neighbour, that we can not finde in our hearte he shulde want, yea rather then he shoulde lacke, we wil spare it out of oure own belli & giue it him, god right wel accepteth this fast, and bles∣seth the faster wyth plentye and abundaunce, as the wisemā saith Page [unnumbered] He that hath pitie on the poore,* maketh the Lord his debter, and loke what he layeth oute, it shal bee payed hym agayne. Unto thys manner of fastynge dothe God exhorte vs by the Prophet,* where he saieth, breake thi bread to the hongrye, and lede the nea∣dye and wayefaringe men into thyne house. Whē thou seest a na¦ked man, couer him, and despyse not thi flesh. What it is to breake thy bread to the hongri, we heard afore in the .xiii. chapter.* The an¦gell of God tolde Thobye▪ that when fastinge praier and almes deedes go together, that is good and accepted in the Lordes sight It is written in a certaine •oke called Pastor (the author wherof* they say Hermas. S. Pauls dis∣ciple was) on thys manner: On that daye that thou shalte faste, Page [unnumbered] thou shalt taste nothing at al but bread and water, & whē thou hast coūted the quantitye of the meat that thon wast wont to eat on the other daies, the cost y• thou shul∣dest make on that daye that thou fastest lay it vp,* & giue it to the wi¦dow, to the fatherles childē, or to the poremā, and so shalt thou fast a good fast, that he which hath re¦ceiued it of the, may fil his soule, and that his praier may go vnto the lord for the. If thou fulfillest thy fast on this māner, as I com∣maund the, thy sacrifice shalbe ac¦ceptable to the Lorde, and thy fast shalbe written in the boke of life.* Origen saithe, we finde in a certaine boke, that the Apostles saide, blessed is he that fasteth to thys ende, that he maye nourishe the poore man.* The fast of suche one is wonderfully accepted be∣fore Page [unnumbered] God. Hereto pertaineth the sayinge of.* S. Austen, mercy dyd commende and greatly setforthe the praier and fastinge of Corne∣lius.* For hee beinge ryche and a wealthye man fasted. He dyd not onlye faste, but he also fed them that wanted, that theyr fulnesse myghte make his faste accepta∣ble. Agayne in a nother place he sayeth,* before all thynges, that whyche we were wonte to eate at our dynner, on the fastyng daies let vs bestowe it on the poore. Oure goulden mouthed Doc∣toure in a certayne homilie coun¦celleth vs,* that when so euer wee faste, we should be lyberall to the poore, and gyue theym largelye of oure goods. In a nother place he also sayeth, he that eateth hys meate and is not hable to fast,* let hym geue the larger almes, lette Page [unnumbered] him be the more diligent in prai∣ing, let him haue the more feruēt desyre to heare the word of God. Here Chrisostome estemeth al∣messe among other vertues of so hie price, that if ther be ani which can not abyde to fast for y• weak¦nes of theyr bodye, yet if they be plenteous in doinge the workes of mercye and in prayinge and hearing the worde of God, they are not refused of god, but accep¦ted as good Christians. Mercye therfore and almes is a precious thinge in the sighte of God▪ and ought to be exercised of the faith¦ful, when so euer occasion is ge∣uen whether they faste or not.
Mercye,* saieth the aungell, is bet•er then to hoorde vp•e trea∣sures of golde. For mercye dely∣uereth frō death clense the sin, & causeth to find euerlasting life.
Page [unnumbered]Thus haue wee hearde that Christen menne oughte to vse theyr faste vnto thys ende, that they abstaynynge frome meate and drincke mighte haue wher∣of to geue the more abundant∣lye to the poore, to feede the hun∣grye, to clothe the naked, to re∣lieue the sicke, to healpe the en∣debted, and to comforte the nea∣dye. O blessed are they that so faste.* But wher are they, and we shall commende them, and call them blessed? For great and com¦mendable thynges dooe suche woorcke amonge theyr neygh∣boures and Christen brethren.