The .xxiiii. Chapter.
TThus le we that all godlye men both of the old and new Testament vsed abstinence for the most part,* whē they shuld eyther preach, heare or read the worde of God, that they myghte come the more reuerentlye vnto Page [unnumbered] it, and be made the more mete to handle so holye and worthye mi∣steries. It is conueniēt therfore y• we also, if we wyll vse fastinge a∣right, do folowe the examples of these holi men, whensoeuer we en¦tende eyther to preache, reade or heare the worde or God, and not vnreuerentlye to come vnto the holy scripture, as vnto prophane wrightings,* after the example of many vngodly parsons which wt out al humilitie & reuerēce read the woorde of god as thoughe it wer an Ethnike chronicle, a boke of mannes statutes, of Beuise of Hampton, of Gye of Warwicke, of Robinhoode, and suche other lyke fonde and foolyshe fansyes yea ther wāt not (the greater shal be our plage) which scorn y• word of god and moste shamefullye a∣buse it, some vnto •koffynge and Page [unnumbered] iesting, some vnto the tauntinge of other, some vnto y• vpholdīg of their fleshly liberty & corrupt mā¦ners, some vnto the maint eining of wicked opinions. &c. whose de∣struccion slepeth not, whose dam∣nacion is at hand.* For if it be not lawful to cast pearles before hogs nor to gyue that is holy to dogs, nether is it lawful for hogges to touch pearles, nor dogs to taste y• is holi. If thei wer punished that did eate vnleuended bread at the feast of the passeouer,* if Uza wer striken vnto y• death for touching the arcke,* if that geast yt came vn¦to the maryage not hauinge the wedding garmente,* was bounde hand and feete, and •ast into vt∣ter darcknes, wher weping and gnashinge of teethe is, if the Co∣rinthes wer plaged for abusinge the lords supper,* let not those swi¦nish Page [unnumbered] Epicures, doggish papistes Licencious Libertines, vngodly Anabaptistes, grosse gospellers and wicked worldlinges thincke that they shal escape vnpunished if they go forth to abuse the word of god or to come vnreuerentlye vnto it. For the holye scripture is the message of god, brought vnto vs from heauen by his holy Em∣bassadoures the Prophetes & A∣postles yea by his own dearly be loued sonne that kinge of glory, which sealed & confirmed it with the sheding of his most precious blud: it may not therfore be light¦ly regarded, nor vnreuerētli hād¦led. For if the yt despyseth Moses law,* saith .S. Paul, dieth wtoute mercy vnder .ii. or .iii. wytnesses, how much sorer, suppose ye, shal he be punished, which tredeth vn¦der fote the son of god & counteth Page [unnumbered] the blud of the Testament, whe• with he was sanctifed, as an vn∣holy thyng, and doth dishonoure to the spirit of Grace.
That we therfore maye hum∣bly, reuerētly deuo•tely & hono∣rably come vnto the preachyng, hearing or reading of the blessed word of God, let vs not neglecte thys noble vertue of fasting, but after the exāple of the aforesayd godly men pr•pare our selues by the diligent exercise therof, to be mete to handle so holye and hea∣uenly misteries. By this meanes shal it come to passe, y• god which is the author of the holi scripture shal alwaye be present wyth vs by hys holy spirit, and teache vs the true knowledge of hys god∣ly wyl, vnto the glory of his bles∣sed name, the profit of hys holye congregacion, and the syngular Page [unnumbered] comfort of our conscience.
Howe haue wee hearde fyrste what the true and Christen faste is.* Secondly, how we oughte to fast. Thyrdlye, what the true vse of fasting is.* It remay•e•h that we be not lyke that negligēt ser∣uaunt whych knoweth hys ma∣sters wyl, and doth it not, & ther∣fore is beatē wyth many stripes, but rather that we be likened vn¦to that good seede whyche bryn∣geth forth her encrease, some an hūdred fold,* some threscore fold, som thirty fold. If we now know the true doctrine of the holy scrip¦ture concerning fasting, lette vs practise it in oure conuersacion, when so euer any suche occasyon is offered, as heretofo•e is decla∣red,* and at all tymes let vs lyue soberlye, ryghteouslye and god∣lye in thys presente worlde.
Page [unnumbered]Lette vs not with the abuse caste waye the vse, but let vs so muche the more gladly exercise the god¦ly manner of fasting, because the vngodlye papistes rayle on vs, & cōtinnally beat into the symple peoples heades, y• we which pro∣fesse the gospel, abhorre and con¦dempne all fastynge and praye∣inge, all cōmendable customes & godlye ordinaunces, that by well doing we may stop the mouthes of folish and ignoraūt men, and that they, which backebite vs as euil doers,* maye se our good wor¦kes▪ and praise. God in the day of visitacion, to whome be all ho∣nour and glory for euer and euer