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 .ix. Chapter

THe true and Christen fast is done frely and willingli,* and commeth frō the feruent mo∣cion of the spirit. The popish and supersticious faste serueth the cu¦stome onli, and is done at the com¦maundemēt of man with a grud∣gynge and vnwillinge mynde, which beinge lothe to faste if the custome & mans ordinaunce wer not, wisheth both the fast and the commaunder of the fast at the de∣uil. And if any in so great a mul∣titude do willinglye fast, yet is it done partly to satisfy the custome partly because they wil be coūted Page  [unnumbered] good deuout & catholike mē, part¦ly to honour some sainct, partli to deserue remiscion of theyr sins, & to win euerlasting life. Can thys kinde of fasting plese god?* They worship me in vain, saith Christ, teachinge doctrines that are the cōmaundements of men.* Sainct Paule also saith, Whatsoeuer is not of faith is sinne.

The true & christen fast, during y time of fasting is to abstain frō al kinde of meates & drinkes (ex∣cept very necessiti requireth y cō¦trary) & frō al those things, wher in the flesh deliteth. For yt was y maner of fasting amōg ye fathers of the old law, as we herd afore, Hierome confirminge the same:* The Iewes, saithe he, on those daies yt they fast, toke nomeat, til they se ye euening star vp. And a certain coūcel called Concilium Page  [unnumbered] Calcedonense, ordained, ye suche shuld not be counted to faste, that dyd eate before euensonge was done, whiche at the time was not celebrated, as it is nowe at .ii. or iii. at the clocke after dinner, but at nighte aboute the .viii. or .ix. houre, when the day was al past.

The popish and supersticious fasters perswade them selues to fast wel, and to do a meritorious dede, if they onli abstain frō flesh though in ye morninge so sone as they rise out of their beds,* they en¦farse & stuffe their belies with as manyfine cakes & tostes of whit bread as they be able to eat, and wt asmuch good aleful of spices or els burnt Maulmesy, as theyr paūches can hold. And when din¦ner come, if thei abstain frō a smo¦ky peace of Bacon or hard salted Page  [unnumbered] and poudred biefe or suche lyke,* though they eate the most delici∣ous fishes that can be goten, and enfarse their beastly bodies with al the swete meates that cā be in¦uented & sought out, yea & that so vnmeasurably, yt after they haue once dined, they are prouoked ei¦ther to the pleasure of the bodye,* or els like beasts of the blly fall straightwais vnto slepe, so yt thei ar not hable to serue god, nor thē selfs, nor ani other, yet thinck thei yt they fast wel and do god a great plesure.* This maner of fasting a¦mōg many other vsed a certayne monke in my coūtry, which not wt standing was coūted the greatest & deuotest faster in al those qua¦ters. His maner was for the most part to make but one mele a dai, as they vse to say, yet such a mele Page  [unnumbered] as the meat of yt one mele might haue semed sufficient to any rea∣sonable creature to haue serued vi. godli fasters at a mele. Whē he came vnto Dynner and was set down at the table, his vse was euer to vnbuckle and let slacke his girdle a great quantitie, whi¦che before was streight girded to his bodi. He fel to his meat, as the hongry wolf to his pray, and ne∣uer leafte of deuouringe the best meates that wer set before hym, till he had so stuffed hys relygy∣ous paunche, that his girdle be∣ing afore lose, was so hard to hys body, that he could not put his lit∣tle finger betwene the girdle, & his clothes. He sate so swelling & sweting at the table thorow ye to∣much deuouringe of pleasaunte meats & whot wines, y if Apelles had bene present with his pensil▪ he might haue had a ioly paturn Page  [unnumbered]o paint a right Epicure. And not withstādyng both he & such lyke wer counted good, holy, deuout, religious & catholik fasters. To consume at one dīner so much as wold serue thre, was no breaking of a fast. To deuoure vnmesura∣bly al kinde of pleasaunt fishes, or whatsoeuer deinties besydes could be deuised, was fast good inough in y popes kingdō, but to eate a peace of flesh although ne¦uer so grosse, was twise a deadly sin, & punished wt fire. The eater of ye flesh was called a Lollore, & adiudged to be brēt wt fire for his I know not how great offēce, as though god abhorred more the eating of flesh then of fishe, or as though fish wer cleane in ye sight of god, & flesh vile & abhomina∣ble.* O belied hipocrites whiche strain out a gnat & swalow doun Page  [unnumbered] O spirits of errour and teachers of Diuelishe doctrynes,* whiche speake false thorow hipocrisie, & haue their consciēce marked with an hote yron, forbiddinge to ma∣rie and commaunding to abstain from meates, whiche God hathe created to be receiued with than∣kes geuinge of thē, which beleue and know the truth. For al y cre∣atures of god are good, and no∣thing to be refused, if it be recey∣ued with thanckes geuing. For it is sanctified by the word of god & praier.* Unto ye pure al thgīs ar pure but vnto thē yt are defiled & vnbeleuing is nothing pure, but euen the minde and conscience of thē is defiled. Why do not those blind guides remember this say∣ing of our sauiour Christ,* & cease to condemne the innocent? That Page  [unnumbered] which goeth into the mouth, def¦leth not yt man, but y which com∣meth out of the mouth, defileth y man. For what so euer entreth in at the mouth, goeth into the bel∣li and is cast out into ye draught, but those thinges which procede out of the mouthe, come from the hart, & they defile y man. For out of the hart procede euil thoughts murders, breaking of wedlocke, whordomes, thefes fals witnes, blasphemies, These are the thin∣ges whiche defile a man.