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 .iiii. Chapter.

VUhat so euer myght make to the hūblyng and taming of the flesh, that dyd the god¦ly men vse for the moste parte in the tyme of theyr fastynge. Ney∣ther dyd those corporal exercyses displease God, seynge they came from a cōtrite hart and troubled spirit, wholye dependynge wyth strong faith on the great mercies of God. For Dauid saith: A trou¦bled spirit is a sacrifice to God, nether doth he despise a contryte and hūbled hart.* But these out∣ward sygnes of humiliaciō God vtterly abhorreth, whē they come not from a penitent and faythful Page  [unnumbered] hart, and casteth them awaye as hypocrytysh and diuelish, as we read in the Prophet Esay,* wher∣fore fast we, saye the hipocrites, and thou O God seest in not? We put our liues to straightnes, and thou regardest it not. Behold, sai¦eth God, when ye fast, your luste remayneth syl, for ye do no lesse vyolence to your debters. Lo, ye faste to stryfe and debate, and to smite with the fyst of wickednes. Now ye shall not faste thus, that your voice might be herd aboue. Thyncke ye thys faste pleaseth me▪ that a man shuld chastē hym selfe for a day, and to wrythe his head about like an hoope, & to lie vpon the earth in an heary cloth? Shuld that be called fastyng, or day that pleaseth the lord: Doth not thys fastynge rather please Page  [unnumbered] me, that thou loose hym oute of bondage that is in thy daunger? that thou breake the othe of wic∣ked bargaynes? that thou let the oppressed go free, and take from them all manner of burthens? to deale thy breade to the hungrye and bryng the poore wandering home into thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou couer hym, and hyde not thy face from thy neighbour, and that thou dis∣pyse not thyne owne ••eshe? (If thou thus fastest) then shall thy lyght breake forthe as the mor∣nynge, and thy healthe flooryshe ryght shortlye, thy ryghteousnes shal go before the, and the glory of the Lorde shall embrace thee. Then if thou callest, the Lorde shal aunswer the, yf thou cryest, he shall saye, here I am, Yea yf Page  [unnumbered] thou layest awaye from thee thy burthens, and holdest thy fyn∣gers, and ceacest from blasphe∣mous talkyng, yf thou hast com∣passion vpon the houngrye, and refreshest the trubled soule, then shal thy lyght spryng oute in the darknes, and thy darknes shalbe as the none day. The Lord shall euer be thy Guyde, and satysfye the desyre of thyne hearte, in the tyme of drouth, and fil thy bones wyth mary. Thou shalt be like a fresh watered garden, & lyke the thē foūtayne of water that neuer leaueth running. Againe, God saith by the prophet Iol,* turne you vnto me wt al your hert, with fasting, weping, and mourning, teare your harts & not youre clo∣thes. Moreouer albeit S. Paul councelleth that maryed folke Page  [unnumbered] should not wythdrawe them sel∣ues one from another any longe tyme,* lest Satan tempt them to incontinency and vnclennes, yet y they myght be the more apt to fast and to pray, he woulde haue them sometyme to withdraw thē selues one from another. Here∣vnto pertayneth the sayinge of the Prophete Ioel: Blowe oute wyth the trumpet in Syon, pro∣clayme a fasting, cal the congre∣gacion,* aud gather the people to¦gether warne the congregaciō, gather the elders, bryng the chil¦dren & suckelyngs together. Let the bridgrom go forth of his chā∣ber, & the bryde out of her closet.