¶The .xxiii. Chapter.
FOurthelye and finally foras∣muche as the word of God is the singuler and vnspeakea∣ble gift of God,* geuen of him to be a lantarne to oure feete and a light to our pathwaies,* to tourne souls from idolatri vnto true god lines, to giue wisdom to the hum∣ble, to make the faithful penitent heartes glad, to lighten the eies of the ignoraunt, to teach the true relygyon, to i•proue errourres and heresies,* to amend sinners, & to instruct all degrees in righte∣ousnes, that the man of God may be perfect and prepared vnto all good worckes: it is conueniente, whither wee heare •t of other or reade it oure selues, that we both heare and reade it wyth greate Page [unnumbered] reuerence and all humilitie, se∣inge that not man, but the holye ghoste is the authoure of it, whi∣che breathed into the heartes of holye m•nnethe knowledge of it, and putte in theyr myndes what they oughte to wryghte as .S. Paule sayeth, the whole scryp∣ture was geuen of God by inspi∣racion.* And .S. Peter recordeth the same,* sayinge. The scrypture came neuer by the wyl of manne, but holye men of God spake, as they wer moued by y• holy ghost. If the holye scripture then com∣meth frō god, & god be the author of it, who dare presume either to heare or to reade it, but wyth an humble reuerence and reuerent humilitie?* As .S. Austen sayeth, by the bookes of the holye scryp∣ture God hym self and oure lord speaketh vnto vs, and sheweth Page [unnumbered] vnto the effecte of a godlye wyll▪ Let vs then consider and marke well, with what honoure the mes∣sage of that god and Lord ought to be receiued of vs. What if a message came vnto vs very ear∣lye in the mornyng from a kyng, wold we not streight waies (al o∣ther cares laied aside) receiue the letters with a readye wil & with∣al deuociō, and after we had red theym, laboure to fulfill the kyn∣ges request to y• vttermoste? And beholde from the heauen of hea∣uens the Kynge of kynges and Lorde of Lordes, yea and our re∣demer hathe vouched safe to dy∣recte hys letters vnto vs by the Prophetes and Apostles, not that hee shoulde commytte vnto vs anye seruyce necessarye for hym, but sygnifye, what thynges maye dooe vs good vnto salua∣cion Page [unnumbered] and glorye. O wyth what, reuerence and greate honoure oughte we then to receiue, reade or heare the letters of thys euer∣lastinge king and immortal god sente for oure glorye and for our saluation, seing that by them not man, b•t God speaketh vnto vs as oure sauioure Christe testifi∣eth, he that heareth you (he spea∣keth of the preachers of goddes word) heareth me,* & he that despy¦seth you, despiseth me, & he that de¦spiseth me, despiseth hym that sent me. Now y• we may come reuerēt¦ly & humblye to the hearinge of gods worde, it shal not be vnsit∣ting to vse our fast vnto this end also, that we maye come vnto it with fasting & empty stomackes, that oure mynde and inwarde mā mai haue the purersenses to vnderstande, the cleare sighte to Page [unnumbered] beholde, the more open eares to heare, and the gredier stomacks to digest the holi misteries of god For likewise as he is no mete mā to pray vnto God, that commeth out of the Tauern sweating and set on fire with drincking of whot wine & eatīg of delicious meats, so in like maner is he no fit man either to reade or to hear y• word of god, that hath a ful gorge and stuffed belly. The more the body is filled, the more is the mind dul¦led, & made vnapt to receiue any message from god.* But albe it y• outward man decay & be made fe¦ble for a tyme, yet the inwarde man is renewed day by day, and made strong. And this meant the holy fathers & godlye bishops of Christes churche in tymes paste, when they appointed fastinge on the euēs of solempne feastes, that Page [unnumbered] the people by their fasting might be made the more apt the day fo¦lowing, when they came to the tē¦ple, to heare the blessed worde of theyr saluacion.
The holy letters do testify,* that when Moses receiued the law, he was in the mount with God, and fasted .xl. daies and .xl. nights be∣fore the ta•les of the law wer de∣liuered vnto him,* where of wee maye learne howe reuerently we oughte to take the word of god, au• not to come vnto it with vn∣washed fete, as they vse to say, And this is to be noted by y• way, that as Moses fasting was foūd worthy to receiue the law of god, so likewise when he came downe from the mount & saw the people droncke and mad,* singinge & pi∣ping, daūcīg & lea•ing, he threw down the tables of ye law, & brake Page [unnumbered] them on peces, by this declaring that Epicures and belly gods be no worthy and mete vessels to re¦ceiue the new wine of gods word
When the children of Israell* at a certaine time came together to read the boke of the law of the Lord, they fasted the whole day, that they mighte reade the holye scriptures with the more reuerēce and bee made the more mete to haue the holy ghost present with them to teache them by hys god∣lye inspiracion.
Esdras also being greatly desi¦rous* to haue certaine secretes o∣pened vnto him, was commaun∣ded of Uriel the angel to fast. vii daies first of al. Whych thing he did, and had hys desyre satisfied.
In like manner after the Pro¦phet Daniel had fasted and prai¦ed* vnto the Lord for knowledge Page [unnumbered] of certain misteries, Gabriel the aungell of God came and reue∣led vnto him the secretes of Chri¦stes incarnatiō, passion, death. &c
Before that oure sauyoure Christe tooke vppon hym the of∣fice of preachinge to declare vn∣to the people the ioyfull tidinges that he broughte frome heauen, he fasted .xl. daies and .xl. nights and dyd eate nothinge at all, ge∣uinge vs example by his fasting not to faste the like fast, which is impossible and aboue ye natural strengthes of ani mā, but to come vnto the word of god thorow fa∣sting with al reuerence & humili¦tie, whither we reade or heare it.
Page [unnumbered]The Apostles of Christ lyke∣wise* before they vniuersally prea¦ched the kyngdom of Christ, fa∣sted and praied, and as they wer fastyng and prayinge, the hollye Ghoste came downe vpon them and endued them with the know¦ledge of al languages, & taught them the true vnderstandynge of Gods holy misteries.
To ende,* Cornelius being ve¦ry desierous to knowe y• true and approued religiō before God, fa¦sted & praied vnto the Lord, and god gracious•• satisfied his desire