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 .xxii. Chapter.

MOreouer our sauiour christ also ioineth praier & fasting* together wherhe saith, this Page  [unnumbered] kynde of dyuels is not caste out but by fastyng & praier.* To thys kind of fasting doth S. Paul ex∣hort vs whē he saith:* let vs giue no occasion of euil, that in our of∣fyce be found no faute, but in all things let vs behaue our selues as the ministers of God in much pacience, in laboures, in watch∣ings & fastings: Also S. Peter Be ye sober, sayth he,* and watch vnto prayer. And from the con∣trari doth our sauiour Christ cal vs away, saying: Take heede to your selues,* lest at any time your herts be ouercom with surfeting and dronkennes, & cares of thys lyfe, and so the dai (of iudgemēt) come on you vnwares. The pro∣phet Esay thoundereth agaynst them, which despising this godly maner of abstinence, set al theyr minds on bankettyng and belly Page  [unnumbered] there. Wo be vnto thē sayth he: that rise vp early to folow dron∣kennes,* and to them that conty∣nue so vntyl nyght, and tyll they be set on fyre wich wine. In those companies are harps and lutes, Tabrets and pipes & wyne. But they regard not y work of ye lord. Agayne he saythe: Wo be vnto thē yt are strong to sup out wyne, & expert mē to set vp dronkēnes. These giue sentence with the vn¦godly for rewards, but cōdemne the iust cause of the ryghteouse. Therfore like as fyre licketh vp the straw, and as the flame con∣sumeth the stuble, euen so theyr roote shalbe as corrupcion, and theyr blossom shal vanysh away like dust, for they haue cast awai the law of the Lord of hosts, and blasphemed the word of the ho∣ly, maker of Israel. From beast∣ly Page  [unnumbered] bāketting vnto faithful fastīg & contynual calling on the name of the Lord doth the prophet Io∣el cal these belly goddes, saying, Wake vpye drōckards & weepe mourne al ye wine bibbers,* & not without a cause. For he yt hath his bodye loden wyth meat & drinke is no more mete to prai vnto god then a dead mā is to tel a tale, ne¦ther can the minde of such one a∣ny more fly vnto god with heauē¦ly desires, then a ship to much cū¦bred with burdens & at the point to sinck, can any lenger flote vpō of ye waters, We haue a prouerb no les true then commen among vs.* When the belly is ful, the bo∣dy wold be at reast, meaning that he, which hath enfared his belly with delicious meates and costi∣ous drīcks, is more mete to stepe like a swine, thē to take any ear∣nest, Page  [unnumbered] & weighti matter in hād. We haue not red saith .S. Eiprian,* ye the godly men did euer take any great thing in hand, except they first fasted. So oft as they wēt a∣bout to obtain any thing of God, they fasted, & wept, and watched whole nightes in praier, & weare garmentes of heare next to their flesh, & so withal humblenes, desi¦red god to be benificial to thē. Ne¦ther wanted they of their purpose whē they most hūbly fel down at the fete of god & offered vnto him the sacrifice of a contrite hart, but god was neare vnto them, yt cal∣led on him, & reached forthe hys hand to them yt wer in daunger, & holpe thē that wer in trouble. A∣gain he saieth, praier is of great vertue, whē fasting goeth afore. Basilius magnus saith also, yt fa∣sting is necessari, when we desire Page  [unnumbered] obtayne any thyng of the Lord The aūcient fathers of Christes* churche godly consideryng how necessary a thing praier is in the Church of Christ, ordayned cer∣tayne feastful daies in the yeare,* on the whych the people shoulde resorte and come together vnto the temple for to praye vnto the Lord God. And that they myght come the more deuoutely & pray wyth the greater fruite, they ap∣pointed also that the daye before the solemne feast, they shuld fast that they myght be the more apt to pray, whē they come together into the temple.* For wher the bo¦dy is burdened wyth meate, ther the mynde can haue no free pas∣sage vnto God. Let thē therfore that fast, appointe their fastynge also to thys vse, that by theyr ab∣stinence they may be the more re Page  [unnumbered] pray, & not only to prepare them selues to pray, but also earnestly to gyue theyr mindes vnto prai∣er, or els what doth theyr fast pro¦fit them? To faste from meat and to goo about worldlye matters, what other thing is it, then a moc¦kinge of God, & a derision of chri¦sten abstinence as .S.* Ambrose saith, doest yu thincke yt he fasteth aright, whiche waking betymes in the morning goeth not vnto y church (to prai & to hear the word of god) but as sone as he is vp, ga¦thereth together hys seruauntes laieth abrode his nets, bryngeth forth his dogs, & goeth running about the forestes? Therefore if we faste, lette vs faste a ryghte, and after the examples of the aū¦cyente holye fathers lette vs al∣waye couple prayer wyth our fa∣stinge. So shall boothe we, oure Page  [unnumbered] fastes & our praiers please God.