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 .vi. Chapter.

HEare peraduenture some manne wyll saye, Is it vn∣godlye to faste at the com∣maundemente of manne?* What if the Magistrates cause a faste to be proclaymed? Ought it not to be obserued of theyr subiects? I aunsweare. If the hye powers at anye tyme commaundeth fa∣stynge, so that it bee doone vnto Page  [unnumbered] a godlye ende, and ryseth not of supersticion, it oughte to bee ob∣serued of the subiectes. For wee haue examples hereof in the ho∣lye scryptures, whyche doo bothe sette forthe the authoritie of Ma¦gistrates in commaundynge fa∣stynge, and also the obedyence of subiects in obseruing the same.

When the Israelytes were in greate feare and daunger of the Philistines, Samuell, which at that tyme iudged the people,* called all the house of Israell together, proclaymed a faste, ex∣horted theym vnto prayer, wyl∣led them to put away the straūge Goddes frome amonge theym, and wyth theyre whole hearte to tourne agayne vnto the Lorde theyr God, and he of hys mercye Page  [unnumbered] wolde surelye rydde them out of the handes of the Philistines.

The people gladly obeyed Sa∣muels commaundemente, put a∣waye theyr idols, confessed theyr synnes, serued the Lorde onlye, and fasted the same daye vnto e∣uen. And God saued them from y hande of the Philistines all the daies of Samuell,

Kynge Iehosaphat hearinge* that y Moabits and Ammonites came with an exceadinge greate multitude against him to battel, was in greate feare, soughte for healpe at the Lordes hande, pro∣claimed fastinge thorowe out all Iuda, and called the people to∣gether to praye vnto the Lorde. The people willingli obeied the kynges commaundemente. All Iuda came and stode before the Page  [unnumbered] Lorde wyth theyr yonge ones, theyr wyues and theyr children, to ake counsell of the Lorde.

They both fasted and praied vn¦to the Lorde theyr God for healp agaynste theyr enemies. And the Lorde gaue theim a wonderfull and glorious victorye.

Esdras returninge vnto Ieru∣salem* with the childrene of Isra∣ell proclaimed a faste and exhor∣ted theym to call on the name of God that he mighte giue them a prosperous iourenye. The peo∣ple obeied, fasted and prayed vn¦to the Lorde theyr God, and they hadde good successe in all theyr doynges.

The kynge of the Niniuites hearynge of the mooste terryble* & greuous plage that was threat¦ned vnto them and theyr cytye by Page  [unnumbered] Ionas the Prophet of god, hum¦bled hym selfe, and sent forthe a proclamacion vnto al his people commaunding that neither man nor beaste, Oxe or shepe shulde taste anye thinge at al and that they shuld nether eat nor drinck water, but put on sackclothe both man and beast, He commaunded them also in his proclamacion to repēt, to beleue God & hys word, to turne frō theyr wicked waies, and mightly to cry vnto God for mercy. The people did according to the kings proclamaciō, so that both y kinge and his subiects to∣gether repenting, fastinge, bele∣uing, turning from their wicked waies and mightely callyng on the Lord for mercy, & forgiuenes of theyr sins, wer saued both they & their citie withal that thei had.

Page  [unnumbered]Esther* hearinge of the procla∣macyon that kynge Ahasuerus at the suttle suggestion of wyc∣ked Haman hadde sentforthe for the destruccyon of the Iewes, commaunded Mardocheus to gather together all the Iewes that were founde at Susan, and to faste for her, so that they shuld neyther eate nor dryncke by the space of three dayes and three nyghtes, but spende all that time in fastynge and prayinge.* Her commaundemente was fulfylled It came to passe, that God pre∣serued the Iewes alyue, and broughte theyr ennemyes to a shamefull ende.

Thus haue we learened oute of the holye scryptures, that the rulers haue authoritie geuen thē of God to comaūd theyr subiects Page  [unnumbered] to fast, whenso euer anye vrgen cause is offered, as in the tyme of battell, honger, droute, plage, pe∣stilence. &c. and that the people are bounde by gods commaun∣dement to obey the magistrates and their ordinaunces in al such thinges, as they tender the glory of God, the conseruacyon of the common weale, and the health of theyr owne souls.* This meaneth the Prophet Ioel speakinge vn¦to the heads of the people on this maner: Proclaime fasting, cal y congregacion▪ gather the elders and all the inhabytoures of the lande together into the house of the Lorde your God, and cry vn∣to the Lord.* &c. Againe, blow out wyth the trompet in Sion, pro∣claime fasting, cal the congrega¦ciō & gather the people together.