A fruit∣ful treatise of fa¦sting, wherin is de∣clared what ye Christen fast is, how we ought to fast, & what ye true vse of fastyng is. New¦lye made by Thomas Becon.
Mathew. vi. VVhen ye faste, be not sad, as the hi∣pocrites are
¶The sayinges of the ho∣lye Scripturee.
BE not gredy in euery eating and be not to hasty vpon al meates. For exces of meats bringeth sicknes, & glo•o•y cōmeth at the last to an vn∣measurable heate. Thorow surfet haue many one peryshed, but he that dyeteth him selfe tēperatly, prolongeth his life.
Luke. xxi. Take hede to your selues, lest at any tyme youre heartes be ouercome wyth surfetyng and dronkennes.
Roma. xiii. Make not prouision for the fleshe to fulfyl the lustes of it.
ii. Cor. vi. Let vs gi•e no occasion of euil, that our offyce be not euyl spoken of, but in al thynges let vs behaue oure selues as the ministers of God in much pacyence in watchynges and fastynges.
Ephe. v. Be not dronke with wyne, wherin is excesse, but be fylled wyth the spirit.
ii. Thes. v. Let vs watche and be sober.
i. Peter. iiii. Be ye sober and watche vnto prayer.
¶To the moste reuerende father in God, Thomas Archbi∣shop of Caunterburie, Primate of al Englande and Metropolitane, Thomas Beacon his humble and faythefull seruaunte wisheth the fauoure of God, longe lyfe, con¦tynuall healthe and prospe∣rous feli∣citie.
OUre Lorde and alone sauioure.* Iesu Christe declareth in a parable of the gospell, that af∣ter a certayne houshoulder had sowed good seede in hys fielde, whyle hys seruauntes slepte, hys ennemye came and sowed tares amonge the wheate and wente hys waye, Thys houshoulder is Christ the lord. The good sede is y• children of god & gods worde. Page [unnumbered] The seruauntes that slepte are negligente Prelates and sleepye shepheardes, whiche watche not ouer the Lordes flocke. The ene¦my is the deuil. The tares are the children of the wicked, & errours and heresies, which? Satan sow¦eth in the heartes, of the vnbele∣uinge. Of this parable as wee learne the goodnes of Christe to¦ward vs in be getting vs a new,* not of mortal sede but of immor∣tall by the worde of God, whiche liueth and lasteth for euer, so like wyse learne we the maliciousnes of Sathan, whiche lyke a subtile serpente and olde enemye of mā¦kinde, neuer sleepeth, but conty∣nuallye walcketh vp and downe lyke a roryng lion, seking whom he may deuoure and warely wat¦cheth hys tyme to destroye,* when Page [unnumbered] souer anye occasion is geuen, be it neuer so little. Not wythoute a great cause therefore did out sa∣uioure. Christ exhort vs to watch and praye, that wee fall not into temptatiō.* And albeit in this our frayle and synnefull lyfe manye occasions of doinge myscheife be offered to the ennemy on our be∣halfe such is our negligence and vncircumspecte beha•youre, yet the gratest occasion wherin Sa∣tan most gloryeth and soonest ho¦peth for the victorye, is when the shepheardes of Christes flocke giue no atēdaūce to theyr charge but lye sleepynge and snortyng, walowynge and welterynge in theyr pleasures, and suffer the wolf to scatter, yea to catch, to kil and to destroye the shepe.* For al¦though the deuil leteth go no pro¦fer, Page [unnumbered] whiche maye moue him to do euil, but laieth hād on it streight waies, yet as the histories both of the holye scriptures & of credible writers do testify, he neuer shew¦eth him selfe so right a deuil nor so liuely setteth forth him selfe in his true colours, as whē y• guids of the Lords flocke be either ab∣sent frō their shepe, orels are neg¦ligēt in doīg theyr dutie, I mean in preching gods word, & in wri¦ting godly bokes, if nede require for the confutacion of erroures and heresies and for y• establish∣ment of gods holi religion. How sone had the people of Israel for gotten god and his goodnes to∣ward the, after Moses was gone from them into the moūt Sina• to talke with god & to receiue the lawe?* Fel they not streightwaies Page [unnumbered] from the one and alone true and liuing god vnto abhominable i∣dolatri, and worshipped a golden calfe? After the daies of Moses & of other godly Prophetes & prea¦chers when wicked kinges reig∣ned, and the preachinge of gods worde ceased, did not ye people of Israel fal to the worshipping of straūge gods, & made of the brasē serpēt (which was but a sacramēt and figure of Christe) a God and brent sacrifice vnto it?* Certayne yeres before ye cōmīg of christ in∣to this world, into how mani sec∣tes & sōdry religiōs were the Ie∣wes deuided amōg thē selfs, whi¦che not wt stādīg coūted thēselfes onli the people of god & hated al other naciōs, as abhominable I¦dolatours? Yea in the time of the Apostles, were ther not y• denied Page [unnumbered] Christe to be eyther true God or true man? How sone wer the Cor¦rinthians and Galathians sedu∣ced by false Apostles, after that the mooste worthye Apostle. S. Paul was departed from them? Howe many kynde of Heretikes rose there vppe in the churche of Christe after the Apostles tyme? What greate and howe manye contencions both in sermons, dis¦putacions and wrightinges had the holye Bishops and godly fa∣thers of the primatiue church wt the heretikes of theyr time for the maintenaunce of gods truth and for plucking vp y• enemies tares? Since the time yt those verteous Bishops and learned fathers of Christs church died, into how ma¦ny sects haue the people y• profes god be deuided? The number of Page [unnumbered] sectes and counterfait religious, which yet liue vnder the Bishop of Rome, are almoste innumera∣ble. Neither ceaseth Sathan euē in this most clear light of the gos¦pel to play the right deuil, and to cast mistes before the eies of the vnfaithful. Into how many sects is Christendome yet deuided? Ar not some called papists, some pro¦testants, some Anabaptists, some sacramentaries? Whence come al these abhominacions but only from sathan the author of al euil? Moreouer in what fielde, where good sede hath bene sowed, hath not the ennemie sowed his tares also? howe pestilentlye hathe he corrupted the pure wheate of goddes woorde wyth myngeling hys chaffe, drosse, darnell, cockell and tares, I mean the false glo∣ses, Page [unnumbered] and vnsauery exposicions of the papistes, Anabaptistes, and suche other sec•aries? Howe wic∣kedlye hathe hee peruerted the righte vse of the sacramentes, spe¦cially the sacrament of Christes bodye and bloude? fastinge, prai¦er and almes deede, howe hathe he made thē to be abused? There is no pointe of Christen religion, which Sathan hath not attemp∣ted too ouerthrowe by hys mini∣sters. And albeit as I said before the enemy laboureth at all times to sowe hys tares in the Lordes fielde, yet when the shepheardes of Christes flocke be negligēt in doing their dutye, fal a slepe and loke not to the Lordes field, then doth he most of al play his parte and bestoure him like a right de∣uil, as Salomon saythe. When Page [unnumbered] the preahing of gods word fai•∣leth,* the people pearishe. It ther¦fore becommeth al men that ten∣der the glorye of God, but specy∣allye the Lordes Ministers to loke diligentlye vnto theyr lords fielde, and earnestly to take hede that the enemy sow not his tares amonge the Lordes wheate. If any be sowed, it is their duti to la¦boure euen to the vttermooste of theyr power not with violence & corporal armours (for the vse of the seculare swearde is not com∣mytted to the preachers of gods worde,* but to the temporal rulers onlye to punysh malefactoures) but with the swearde of the spirit whyche is the woorde of God,* wyth prayers, supplycacions and •eares to weede theym oute.
Page [unnumbered]The weapons of our warfar, sai¦eth S. Paule,* ar not carnal thin¦ges, but thynges myghty in god to cast down strong holds, wher∣wyth we ouerthrow coūsels, and euery hye thyng that exalteth it selfe agaynste the knowledge of God, and bryng into captiuity al imaginacion to the obedience of Christe. And in thys behalfe, I meane, in pluckinge vp the ene∣myes tares, and in purgyng the Lordes fielde that nothyng may growe therin but pure wheate, your both godly and vnreastfull paines (most reuerend father) a• well knowen in thys churche of England, and thanckefullye ac∣cepted of all faythfull Christen heartes, insomuch that very ma∣nye do daylye render vnto God most humble and harty thankes Page [unnumbered] for the singuler and great bene∣fites, whiche they haue receiued of him thorowe your vertuous trauaile, in attayninge vnto the true knowledge of iustification, of the sacrament of Christes bo∣dye and bloud, and such other ho¦lye misteries of oure profession.
And al be it the deuill roare, the worlde rage, and the hipocrites swell at these your most Christen labourers, whiche you willinglye take for the glory of God and the edifyinge of hys congregacyon, yet as ye haue godlye begunne, so without ceasinge continew vn¦to the ende.* By this meanes shal it come to passe, yt when the cheife shepheard shall appeare, ye shal receiue an incorruptyble crowne of glorye.
And forasmuch as so many as Page [unnumbered] the Lord hath appoynted watch∣menne ouer hys flocke, oughte euerye one accordynge to theyr talente to folowe youre Godlye example in weedynge oure er∣roures and plantynge true and Christen opynyons in the hear∣tes of the people, seinge that Sa¦than hath not a lyttle corrupted the true vse of fastynge, whyche beynge ryghtelye vsed doeth hyghelye please God, and abu∣sed, displeaseth hym: I thoughte it good agaynste thys tyme of Lente, whyche of longe conty∣nuaunce hathe bene appoynted to abstinence, to write some what of fastynge, that myghte both o∣penne awaye too the faythefull howe they maye faste to please God, and also dysclose the falsse manner of fastynge broughte in Page [unnumbered] by the deuyl and his Ministers. And in thys my treatyse I haue fyrste declared what the Christen faste is,* secondly how we oughte to fast, and thyrdly what the true vse of fastinge is. I toke thys la∣boure vppon me the more glad∣lye, partelye because no manne hytherto hath writen of that mat¦ter in oure Englyshe tonge part¦lye to satysfye the heartye re∣questes of dyuers faithefull bre∣threne, whyche ceased not to re∣quyre me in the Lordes name to wryghte some what, that myghte enstructe theym in the true vse of fastinge. The matter, I graunt. requyreth a woorke manne of ri∣per iudgemente, and more exer∣cysed in the Lordes haruest then I am, whyche myghte according to the worthynesse of the matter, Page [unnumbered] haue set it forth pleasauntly and learnedly, but seing no mā hath hitherto takē it in hād, I thought it my part not to deny the godlye requestes of the brethrē but glad¦ly to bestowe vpon them what so euer the Lord hath geuen me in thys behalfe.
Thys treatyse what so euer it is, I your humble and faythfull seruaunt, not hauyng otherwyse wherwyth to testify the thankful¦nes of my hart toward your most honorable Lordship, for the ma¦nyfold benefytes whych ye haue bounteously bestowed vpon me, do dedicate to your name, moste humblye besechynge you accor∣to your accustomed gentlenesse to take in good part this my rude and grosse woorke, whych to po∣lyshe and to make nete (if haby∣litie Page [unnumbered] had serued) shortnes of time wolde not suffer,
God, whose honoure you most desirouslye seke, moughte vouch safe to preserue youre grace, in continuall healthe and prospe∣rous felicitie vnto the glo∣rye of his mooste blessed name, and the profyt of hys holy con∣gregacyon.
¶A treatyse of fastinge.
What the true and Christen faste is.
¶The .i. Chapter.
THe true and Christen fast is frely and willing¦lye to abstaine not only from al kind of meates and drynckes,* but also from all those thynges, wherein the fleshe hathe pleasure and delectacion, whiche abstinence or forbearing of meates, dryncks and other ple¦sures, wherein the outward man deliteth, riseth either of an hearte contryte and sorowefull for the synnes commytted against god, or elsse of a minde feruentlye ge∣uen to godlinesse.
That thys is a true diffinicion of the Christen faste,* it maye bee Page [unnumbered] easelye proued oute of the holy• scryptures. Fyrste to whome is it vnknowen, that when the ho∣lye menne in tymes paste fasted, theyr maner was, so long as the faste continued, to abstaine from al kinde of meates and drinckes and from all pleasures wherein the fleshe deliteth, and wholye to gyue them selues (all worlde∣lye affaires sette aparte) to god∣lye exercyses,* as to the heartye and vnfayened lamentynge of theyr synnes, where wyth to much vnkindelye they hadde offended theyr Lorde God, and prouoked hys fearse wrathe and venge∣aunce to fall on them to feruente prayer and diligente calling on the name of God for turnyng a∣waye hys heauye dyspleasure Page [unnumbered] from theym, and for remission of theyr synnes thorowe faith in the holy sacrifice to come of that bles¦sed seede of the woman, which by hys one and alone oblacion they beleued, shulde reconcile manne∣kinde to God the father, pacifye his wrathe, and make him a mer∣cyfull Lord• to the hearinge and readinge of goddes worde, to the com•orting of one another, to the studie of amendemente of life, to the prouisyon makynge for the poore, to the redresse of abuses in ye common weale to the planting of true godlines, and abolishing of all wicked and straunge rely∣gion.* Of thys maner of fastinge speaketh the Prophete when he saithe, halowe ye a fast, meaning that they whiche faste, shoulde in the tyme of theyr fasting occupy Page [unnumbered] them selues in spirituall and not in worldly exercises, or elsse is it no faste before God.
¶The .ii. Chapter.
THis abstinence or forbearing of meates dyd alwayes con∣tinewe at the least one whole day withoute receiuinge of anye corporal sustenance,* many times ii. or .iii, daies, as the historyes of the holye scripture teach vs. The Israelits, whē they sawe so great a multitude of their people slain of the Beniamites in the battell, wente vp and came vnto Bethel where the arke of the appoynte∣ment of God was in those dayes, wepte, sate there praying before the lord, and fasted the same day vnto euen, and offered burntoffe ringes and peace offeringes be∣fore the Lorde. Again,* when the Page [unnumbered] Israelites gathered together a• Mizpha, lamentiug their sinnes and prayinge vnto the Lorde for healpe againste the Philistines, they fasted the whole daye. So likewise did Dauid and thei that were with him, when they heard, that Saule and his sonnes were slaine in battell.* Nehemiah fa∣sted two dayes together or moo. For hee saide, as it is written of hym.* I sate me downe and wept, and mourned certaine daies and fasted and praied before the god of heauē. We reade that Quene Esther* and her Maidens wyth all the Iewes that were founde at Susan, fasted thre dayes and three nightes together, and dyd neyther eate nor dryncke. Mo∣ses, Elias and Christe fasted for∣tye dayes aud as manye nightes Page [unnumbered] wythoute receiuinge of anye cor∣porall foode, but suche fastes are not to be practised, for asmuch as they are maruelous and past the boūdes of mens nature, and are done onlye by the vnsearcheable power and mightie worcking of God in few of his creatures. But the common manner of fastinge among the true godly was, when they did faste, to abstaine from al meate the whole daie til nighte, that they mighte the more frelye gyue theyr minde to spiritual ex∣ercises, and at night to take some refeccion moderatli yea and that with thanckes geuing. And on thys manner as some fasted but one or .ii. dayes together, so some fasted manye, euerye one as they were moued by the spirit of God, and as occasyon requyred.
Page [unnumbered]We reade that the Prophete Daniel* fasted thus thre weekes together. Hys wordes are these: I Daniel mourned for the space of thre weekes, so that I had no liste to eate breade, as for fleshe and wine there came none wyth∣in my mouthe. No, I did not once annoynte myselfe, till the whole thre wekes were oute. The scrip¦ture testifieth, that the vertuous womā Iudith* fasted al the daies of her lyfe, excepte the sabbothes and new moanes & the solempne dayes, that the people of Israell kepte. Likewise reade we of An∣na the Daughter of Phanuell, whych departed not from the tem¦ple, but serued god with fastings and praiers night and daye.* On this maner did the Apo•tles after Christes ascension & many other Page [unnumbered] godlye menne in the primatyue church fast, So that their custom was on that daye that they dyd fast, to eat nothing til night, but to occupy them selues about such godlye exersyes, as here to fore are mencioned.
The .iii. Chapter
ANd as the godlye menne in the tyme of theyr fasting did abstayne frome meate and drincke, so dyd they from al other thynges that myghte delyte the fleshe, and be haued them selues outwardlye accordinge to the so∣rowe and trouble of their hearte inwardlye. Oute of a mourning and soroweful hearte dyd spring outwarde yea and those vnfaye∣ned tokens of sorowe and mour∣nynge. For wee hearde before, that when Daniell fasted three Page [unnumbered] weekes, and prayed vnto the Lorde hys God, although he did eate bread euerye nyghte for the comforte of hys weake body, yet he neyther eate flesh, nor dronck wyne, nor yet once anoynted hym selfe.* And in a nother place he sai¦eth: I turned me vnto God the Lorde for to praye,* and to make myne intercession wyth fastyng, sakcloth and ashes.* The people of Niniue, when they hearde the preachynge of Ionas, whyche threatened them and theyr cytye destruccion after fortye dayes, repented, beleued God, and pro∣claymed fastyng, and arayed thē¦selues in sackeclothe, as well the greate as the small of them. And when the tidyngs came vnto the king of Niniue: he also arose out of his seate, & dyd his apparel of Page [unnumbered] and put on sackeclothe, and sate hym downe in ashes.* Agayne, the chyldren of Israell (as wee reade in Esdras) when they fa∣sted, dyd put on sackeclothe, and sprinkled earth vpon theyr hea∣des, knowledged theyr synnes, prayed vnto God, and redde in the booke of the lawe of the Lord theyr God.* Quene Esther also when she fasted, layed awaye her glorious apparel, and put on the garmentes that serued for sygh∣yng and mourning. In the stede of precious ointment, she scatte∣red ashes and donge vpon her heade, and as for her bodye, shee hūbled it with fasting, & brought it verye lowe. Lykewyse kynge Achab, whē he was reproued of the Prophete Helyas for kyl∣lynge Nabothe, fell to fastynge,*Page [unnumbered] and as he fasted, so dyd he putte sake cloth about hys flesh, lay in sackclothe, wente barefoote and hangyng downe hys heade.
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 s•yl, 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 Io•l,* 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.
The .v. Chapter.
THus haue we learned out of the holye Scriptures,* that the true and Christen fast is Page [unnumbered] to abstayn not only from al kind of meates and drinkes (durynge the tyme of fastyng) but also frō al those thinges wherin the flesh hath pleasure and delectacion, & to occupy our selues in all godly and spiritual exercyses vnto the glory of God, the comfort of our neyghbour, and the helth of our own soules.* But it is to be noted that thys abstinence or fast must be frely and wyllynglye done, or els canne it by no meanes please God. For what so euer commeth from an vnwilling and constrai∣ned mynde, God abhorreth, ap∣pere it neuer so godly and praise worthye before the worlde. God loueth a cherefull geuer,* sayeth Saynte Paule. And the Psal-inographe sayeth:* An offerynge of a free hearte wyl I gyue the, Page [unnumbered] and prayse thy name, O Lorde because it is so cōfortable. They therefore that faste for custome sake or at the commaundemente of man onlye, and not of a good wil and fre spirit, do nether please God,* nor profit thēselues. Ther∣fore shal that chaunce vnto them that God threatneth by the Pro∣phet, sayinge: When they fast I wil not heare theyr praiers.
¶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 a•ke 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.
The .vii. Chapter
FUrthermore the true and chri¦sten faste riseth either of an* hearte contryte and sorowfull for the sinnes commytted against God, or elsse of a mynde feruent∣lye geuen to godlynesse. As tou∣chinge that fast, whiche commeth frome a contryte and sorowefull hearte for the synnes commytted agaynste God, it is a worthy and noble faste in the syghte of God, and can not but hyghelye please him.* For the Psalmographe say∣eth, A troubled spirite is a sacri∣fice vnto God, neyther dothe hee desyyse a contryte and humbled hearte. And God hym selfe say∣eth by the Prophete.* Whome shall I regarde and fauoure? E¦uen hym that is poore, and of a lowelye and troubled spirit, and Page [unnumbered] suche one as standeth in awe of my wordes. Who so euer doothe so feare God and stande in awe of hys indygnacyon and hea∣uye displeasure, that he is loth to offende hym,* and therefore see∣keth al meanes possible to please hym: and if at anye tyme thorow fraylenesse of nature hee chaun∣ceth to offende, hee is strayghte∣wayes angrye wyth hym selfe, repēteth of his former misdedes, and conceiueth suche an inward sorowe in hys hearte, that hee de∣lyteth in no worldlye thynge, ney¦ther in meate, dryncke, apparell, rychesse, pastimes, pleasures. &c. but contynuallye soroweth for hys dysobedyente vnkyndenesse and vnkynde dysobedyence a∣gainst God our heauenly father, so that the verye trouble of hys Page [unnumbered] heart wyl not suffer him to eat or drynke, tyl thorow continual cal¦lyng on the name of the Lord he feeleth in hys mynde some token of Gods goodnes, grace and fa∣uour toward hym, and is thorow faythe in Christes bloude fullye perswaded that all hys synnes are forgeuen hym, and he again receyued into fauoure, the faste of suche one is an acceptable sa∣cryfyce vnto God.
Of thys inwarde sorowe of the hearte dyd the fastes of ma∣nye good menne heretofore ryse, as the holye Scryptures do de∣clare, and therefore dydde they hyghlye please God, in so muche that God graunted theym theyr requestes, and was theyr merci∣ful and most louing lord. Exam∣ples hereof are the Israelytes, Page [unnumbered] that were gathered together a• Mispha, the Niniuites, Either & her companye, Iudith wyth the citisenses of Bethulia, Achab, & diuers other, whose fasts God al¦lowed because they proceded frō the heartes of suche as humbled them selues in his sighte, repen∣pented them of theyr sinnes, as∣ked forgeuenesse, and promysed amendmente of lyfe.
The .viii. Chapter.
NOwe as touchinge that fast which springeth of a minde,* geuen to godlynes, it canne not be disalowed of God. For hee that seeketh to please God, and to auaunce hys glory by any god¦ly meanes, and that h• may haue the grace soto doo, fasteth, pray∣eth, studieth, laboureth, his fastīg his prayinge, his studyinge, hys Page [unnumbered] labouringe canne not but please God, and haue good and fortu∣nate successe. On thys maner fa∣sted Daniell,* that he myghte be the more apt to receiue the know¦ledge of goddes misteries, which were afterwarde declared vnto hym of the aungel. So lykewise dyd Esdras.* Of thys godlie mā∣ner of fastynge spake Christe,* whē the Disciples of Ihon came vnto hym. and demaunded, whye hys Disciples fasted not, as they and the Pharises dyd. To whome Christe aunswered and sayde. Canne the brydegromes chyldren mourne so longe as the brydegrome is wyth theym? But the dayes wyll come, when the brydegrome shall be taken from them, and then shall they faste. Accordynge to thys Prophecye, Page [unnumbered] when Christ, whych is the bride∣grome was taken from them, I speake concernynge hys corpo∣ral presence (for by hys spirite he is wyth the faithful vnto the end of the worlde) they mourned, fa∣sted and praied for the gift of the holy Ghost,* whych was promised to be sent vnto thē for to be theyr Comfortour and teacher,* and to lede thē into al truth,* & the holye ghoste was geuē vnto thē accor∣dīg to y• promise of Christ & their expectaciō. They fasted also and prayed after they had receyued the holy Ghost, that they myghte worthelye fulfyl that offyce whi∣che was commited vnto theym, that by theyr preachynge manye thousandes myght be conuetted and saued,* and it so came to pas. The holy and deuoute wyddow Anna fasted and prayed contina¦allye*Page [unnumbered] in the temple for the com∣myng of the promised Messias, & she sawe him before her death. Cor•elius that godly mā beyng troubled in his mynde,* as it may be thoughte wyth the multitude of religions, whych at that tyme reygned in the world, as the reli∣gion of the Gentyles, of the Ie∣wes, of the Pharise is, of the Sa¦duces, of the Essees, and the late sprong vp religion of the Chri∣stians humbled hym selfe in the syghte of God, mourned, fasted, gaue almesse and prayed, that it woulde please God to declare vnto hym, whych amonge theym al was the true relygyon that he myght obserue the same, frame hys life according vnto that, and so please God. And to obtayne thys thing of God, he continued long fastyng and praying. God Page [unnumbered] therfore accepted hys fast, heard hys prayer, and graunted hym hys request. The Prophets and Preachers at Antioche,* fasted & prayed, that bothe they them sel∣ues might preach wyth frut, and that other also myght be sente of God, and appoynted vnto that offyce, that the glorye of God myght be set forth, that his word myght be receaued, and that all nacions of the earth myghte be∣leue in hym, and in hys Sonne Iesu Christ. Theyr fastyng and praying wer alowed before god, and theyr desyres were fatisfied. For the holye ghoste sayde vnto them, separat me Barnabas and Saule for the woorke, whereun∣to I haue called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and layed their handes on them thei Page [unnumbered] lette them go. Paule and Bar∣nabas also fasted when they prai¦ed for the congregacions of Li∣stra,* Iconium, Antioche and Pi¦sydya, and when they ordayned them elders in euery congrega∣cion to teache and instructe them in their absence, and to confirme them in the faythe and doctryne, whiche they had all readye recei∣ued. And God gaue good succes to theyr doctryne and ministraci∣on. Al these fasted of a minde fer∣uentlye geuen vnto godlinesse.
Hitherto haue we learned oute of the holye scryptures, what the true and Christen faste is. Nowe let vs se in fewe woordes, whe∣ther the Popyshe manner of fa∣stinge, whiche we haue so manye yeares vnfruitefullye obserued, be lyke vnto that trade of fasting Page [unnumbered] which we haue so many yeres vn¦fruitfully obserued, be lyke vnto that trade of fastinge, whiche the word of God hathe painted and setforthe vnto vs.
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 b•lly 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, thef•es fals witnes, blasphemies, These are the thin∣ges whiche defile a man.
¶The .x. Chapter.
AGaine at night albeit the po¦pish fasters eat no meat,* yet make thei such a drinkīg, as might iustli seme a costious kind of bāketting. Besides their white bread & fine cakes, thei haue their figges, reasons, almonds, aples, Page [unnumbered] peares, nuts, carowis, biskits, su•¦cat, marmilado, cherise condite, quinches condite, & I know not what. And besides their nappi ale and heady beere, they haue sun∣dry wines, some spiced, & som bre¦wed wt a cup of Ipocras at y• lat∣ter end to make vp their mouthe withal and to finishe theyr holye and religious fast. Is it not to be thought, yt these men take great paines in their fastīg? do not such fastes please god greatly thinke you? O abhominable mockers of christen abstinence. Theese are those Epicurcs, whych as ye Poet saith, Curios simulant et bacchanalia ui∣uunt.* These are those hipocrites, which bind heaui burdens & gre¦uous to be born,* & lay thē on mēs shoulders, but they thē selfs wyl not heaue at thē with one of their Page [unnumbered] figers. And as y• welthi worldlīgs & rich Epicures thinck thē selues to faste wel, if they make but one mele on y• day, though otherwise they enfarse their bellies with ne¦uer so mani deinties, euen so iudg the baser kinde of people, yt they fast wel, if thei eat no meat, though they stuffe their paūches with ne¦uer so much bread & drinke. No∣table is this sentence of .s. Hierō against al such belli gods. What auaileth it, saith he, to eat no oil, & to seke about for such meates as are most deinty & hardest to come bi,* as dry figs, pepper, nuts, dates sine cakes, hony,* & pistacies? All the deinties that gardens canne bring forthe are soughte, that we shuld not eat ye vsual bread. And while we seke deliciously to lyue, we ar plucked back from the king¦dom of heauē. Moreouer I hear Page [unnumbered] say, that ther be some which con∣trarye to the rule and nature of men,* drynke no water, nor eate bread, but soupe not out of a cup but out of a shel deynty brothes, and herbes brayde, and the iuce of Beetes. Fye for shame, are we not ashamed of such fōdnes, nor wearye of the supersticion? Yea we liuing in al deliciousnes, seke to be praysed for our abstinence. The myghtiest fastis water and bread, but because it hath no glo¦rye nor notable fame, & because we al liue with bread & water, it is not coūted as the publyque & cōmon fast. Wold God yt al they that fast, yea & so many as profes Christ wold remēber & cōtinual∣ly set before their eyes thys say∣ing of s. Austē.* It nothing profy∣teth, sayeth he, to haue passed an Page [unnumbered] whole day in lōg fasting, if after¦ward the soul be oppressed wyth dylyciousnes or superfluitye of meates, for so is the minde much filled, soone dulled, and the erth of our body so watered, wil bring forth thornes of wicked lusts. Let therfore our meate be temperate & no more then is sufficient, & let our belly neuer be to ful. And let vs alwayes haue more mynd of the meate for the hearte, then of meate for the body, because with in the inward man we be made after the image of God, but in the flesh we are fashioned of the slime of the earth.
The .xi. Chapter.
FUrthermore the Christen fast ryseth of an hart contrite and sorowful for the sins cōmitted against God, as we haue heard Page [unnumbered] heretofore. The popish faste ry∣seth either of custome or els of su¦persticyon. For the Papystes in theyr chiefe & solempne fastinge dayes are led wyth no true feare toward God, neyther do they la∣ment theyr syns, nor study by har¦tie repentāce, true faith & amend¦ment of life to apease the wrathe of God kindled against them for their abominable liuing on those dayes that they fast, more them a¦ny other tyme. What Papiste a∣mong them forsaketh hys papi∣stry, hipocrisy, supersticion, and i∣dolatry, and gladly receiueth the truth of Gods word? What coue¦uetous worldling leaueth his co¦uetousnes & exerciseth mercy to∣ward the pore mēbers of Christ? What proud mā giueth ouer his pride, and embraceth humilitie? Page [unnumbered] What adulterer forsaketh hys adultri, and leadeth an honest cō¦uersacion? what gloton or dron¦kard giueth ouer hys glotony or dronkennes, and leadeth a sober lyfe? what vsurar leaueth his v∣sury? what briberer his brybery? what catchepole hys extorcion? what tirante hys tirannye? what whore her whoredome? what ry∣balde hys rybaldrye? what blas∣phemer hys blasphemy? what en¦uious man his enuy? &c. As they begin their fast wt an vnrepen∣tāt & wicked hert, euen so do they continue & end the same, so far is it of, that they haue any sorow in their heart for their syns commit¦ted against God, whych shoulde earnestlye moue them to forsake theyr meate, and to giue them sel¦ues wholy to be reconciled vnto god by repentynge and callyng Page [unnumbered] on the name of God for mercy in Christ Iesu our lord. Their fast therfore is abhominacion before God, forasmuch as in the time of theyr fastyng they gyue not ouer theyr wyckednes, and earnestlye seeke to please God.
Moreouer the Christē fast ri∣seth also of an hert feruētly geuē to godlynes. In thys behalfe al¦so y• popish fast agreeth nothing with Christē abstinence.* For the Papystes myndes are set on no true godlines in the time of their fastyng, but altogether on super¦sticion & hipocrisie. Theyr god∣lynes, yea rather vngodlynes, when they fast, consisteth in obser¦uyng the popes ceremonies and mans inuencions. If they fulfyl those, they thynke thēselues god¦ly ynough, when notwithstāding Page [unnumbered] they •e furdest from all true god lines. Nether do they direct their fastes vnto anye godly end, but as eueri one •antasieth so do thei faste, yea and that for sondry pur∣poses. S•me fast breade and wa¦ter,* some eate nothinge but fruit, some taste no kynde of meate or dryncke that is dressed with fyre, some in theyr faste go wolwarde, barefoted, and barelegged some are so scrupulous & supersticious in their fasting, that in the time of theyr faste they wyll neither eate nor dryncke, nor sleepe, nor yet swalowe dow•e theyr owne spit∣tle, If they do they thincke them selues damned. Prouided alway that they also muste be fyrste and laste at churche. If they obserue these fastes, they promyse theym selues, I knowe not howe great Page [unnumbered] rewardes, ane how hie seates in heauen aboud other, and howe many gay garlandes of red ro∣ses an• swete violetes, that God and oure Ladye and the blessed saints shal giue them after thys lyfe for theyr deuout fastyng and pr•aty paines. O fond folishnes & folysh fondnes, worthy rather to be lamented then to be laugh¦ed at. If it be done of a good en∣tent, say they, al is weil whatsoe∣uer we do. If we fast the blessed Saintes euens,* and worshyppe them wyth a Pater noster, Aue and Creede, they wyll do for vs whatsoeuer we axe. S. George wyl defend vs in battell agaynst our ennemies. S. Barbara wyll kepe vs from thondring and li∣tenyng. S. Agasse wyl saue our house from burning. S. Antony Page [unnumbered] will keepe oure swyne. S. Luke wil sa•e oure. Oxe. S. Iob wyll defend vs from the poxe. S. Ger¦trude wil keepe oure house from mise & rats. S. Nicholas wyl pre¦serue vs from drowning. S. Lo• wyl cure our horsse. S. Dorothe wil saue our hearbs & flowers. S Sith wyl bring again whatsoe∣uer we lose. S. Apoline wyl heal th• pain of our tethe. S. Swete∣ladde and. Sayute Agnes wyll sende vs Maides good husban∣des. Sainte Peter wyll lette vs in at heauen gates, wyth a thou∣sande suche lyke. Thys supersti∣cion and idolatry is the godlines of the Papistes. If they fast and serue the saints vnto this end, & on their feastful daies fare dein∣tely & drynke largelye in the ho∣nour of the good saint, they think Page [unnumbered] thei haue done much for the saint and haue shewed theym selues good, godly and deuout persons. O double vngodlines.
What shall I speake of the spi¦ritual exercises, whiche the true and Christen faste requireth to be done in the time o••asting? If we marke wel the maners of the papists, and notetheyr behauour on theyr fastinge daies, we shall ca••y perceiue that in the middes of their fastinge they are no lesse wicked & vngodlye, no les proud and enuious, no lesse lecherous, and couetous, no les backbitinge and slaunderous no les polling and pillinge, no les churlish and vnmerciful, no les geuen to glo∣toni & dronkennes, then thei wer afore. They lamēt not their syns, they fall not to faithefull prayer, Page [unnumbered] they call not on the name of God as they oughte, but fle vnto crea∣tures, they gyue not them selues to the hearinge or readynge of gods worde, which many of them extremelye abhorre, they go not about to leaue theyr idolatri and wish to be better instructed in the knowledge of gods lawe .&c. but continuing stil in their old super¦sticion & idolatri thei thinke them selues godly inough and good i∣nough. If thei eat no flesh, if thei for beare white meates al is wel whatsoeuer they do, though ther be no repentaunce, no calling on the name of god, no correccion of māners, no amēdmēt of life, God haue mercy on vs, god open their eies & giue thē grace to amende,
Hitherto haue we learned out of the word of god, what the true Page [unnumbered] and Christen faste is. We haue hearde also, howe greatly the po¦pyshe manner of fastinge diffe∣reth from the true vse of fastinge whiche the holy scriptures teach. Nowe the order requireth, that we also declare, howe we oughte to faste, that we maye please god and not faste in vaine as the hy∣pocrytes do.
☞Howe we oughte to Faste.The .xii. Chapter
IN declarynge howe we ought to faste, whome shoulde I ra∣ther followe then oure sauiour Iesus Christe the teacher of all truthe,* whyche saithe: When ye faste be not sad as the hipocrites are. For they disfigure theyr fa∣ces, that they myghte be seene of menne to faste. Uerelye I saye vnto you, they haue their reward Page [unnumbered] But thou when thou fastest an∣nointe thy heade, and washe thy face, that it appeare not vnto men, that thou fastest, but to thy father, whyche is in secrete, and thy father whyche seeth in secrete shal rewarde the openlye, Christ oure sauioure in thys place doth not only rebuke the hipocriticall and supersticious manner of the vngodlye fasters, but hee also teacheth the true manner of fa∣stynge. Of these hys woordes wee learne, that who so euer enten∣deth to faste a ryghte, hee muste obserue three thynges.* The fyrst is, that hee annoynte his heade. The seconde that hee washe hys face. The thyrde that he faste in secrete. These Phrases annoin∣tynge of the heade, and washing of the face with many other seme Page [unnumbered] verye straunge manners of spea¦king to such as are not perfectly exercised in the ••ading of y• ho∣ly sc•iptu•es and of the auncient wrighters, it is conuenient ther∣fore, that we learn to know what is meante by them. And no man in this behalf can satisfy our de∣sire better then our golden mou¦thed Doctoure. S. Iohn Chriso¦stome,* whose wordes are these.
In the annointing o• the heade, saith he, we knowe that mercy is signified.* Therfore to annoynte the heade, is to shewe mercye to our neighbour. For that mercye that is done vnto a pore man, is referred vnto God, which is the heade of the man, as the Apostle and the lord him self saith.* What soeuer ye haue done to one of my lessest brothers,* ye haue done it Page [unnumbered] vnto me. In the stede of y• which mercye wyth the diuine retribuci¦on as with a certayne he auenlye oyle, we ar poured and shed ouer by hym▪* which saith. Blessed are the mercifull for God shall haue mercye on them.* Holy Dauid al∣so did knowe the vnccion and a∣nointinge of the celestial oyle in the heade, when he sayde, as in y• ointmente, whiche came down in to the bearde.
But in washinge the face, the puritie of a cleane bodye and of a sincere conscience is knowen to* be signified so that to washe the face, is to make cleane the face of our hart from al filthines of sin, & from the vncomelines of tres∣pas, and to haue a very pure con¦science, that we may truly haue in vs the gladnes of celestiall ioye. Page [unnumbered] and the familiaritie and cheare¦fulnes of the holye ghoste.
Hitherto haue I rehearsed the wordes of .S. Ihon Chrisostome whereby we maye learne, that to annoynte oure heade is none o∣ther thynge, then to shewe oure selues beneficial to the pore mem¦bers of Christe. Againe, to washe oure face is to make cleane both bodye and soule from synne and wyckednes. If we therefore wyll fast a right after the mind of .S. Iohn Chrisostome, we must first annoint our head, y• is to say, com¦fort the pore people wt such good as god hath committed vnto vs. For the ritches that we haue bee not ours, but they be gods, as he saith by ye Prophet,* gold is mine, siluer is mine.* The psalmograph also saith, the earth is the lords 〈◊〉Page [unnumbered] al that is contained in it.
¶The .xiii. Chapter.
GOd hath put y• goods of this worlde into the ritche mens hands,* that they shuld distri∣bute part of them to the pore peo¦ple. They ar the stewards of god and the dispensatours of his trea¦sures, that they conueniently ly∣uing of them, shuld also with the distribucion of part of them com∣forte the nedy members of Christ If they spend them otherwise thē God hath appointed in his word they shall render a streyghte ac∣countes for it to the highe iudge Christe. They haue nothynge at all, but that they shall be cal∣led too accountes for it euen too the vttermooste farthynge.
If they bee not founde to haue*Page [unnumbered] vsed theyr talente wel, and vnto the profit of other they shal with that vnprofitable seruaunte of the Gospell bee caste into vtter darckenes, where wepynge and gnashinge of teethe shall be. If they be proued vnmercifull and negligent in the destribucion of the worldlye goodes, surely they shalbe caried with the rich glotō of whom blessed Luke speaketh in the gosple vnto hel,* and there burne in suche cruell and bytter flames, as the fire wherof shal ne¦uer be quenched,* neither shal the worme which shal gnaw the con∣sciences of them that are ther, die at any time, as the prophet saith.
What cause then haue the ritch menne to boaste themselfes and to glory of theyr worldly goodes or to auaunce them selues aboue Page [unnumbered] other for theyr possessions sake? C•••es none at all, more then a greate mans seruaunte hathe, to whome his Lorde and Master hathe committed hys goodes for a certayne space to kepe, the ser∣uant loking at euery hour▪ when his master wil cal him to accoūts and require them of him againe.
Basilius Magnus hathe a no¦table sentence,* and it is this: He is a very the•e and a robber, saith he, which maketh that thing hys own that he hath receiued to des∣tribute and giue abrode.* For the bread that thou retainest & kepest is the bread of the hongri, ye gar∣ment, which y• kepest in thy chest, is the garmente of the naked, the sho that is mould with the, is the shoo of him that is vnshod, & the moni, which y• hidest in the groūd Page [unnumbered] is the mony of the nedye. More∣ouerthou doest iniury and plain wrong to so many as thou forsa∣kest, when thou art able to helpe them. Here to pertayneth the sai∣yng of the wyseman.* The bread of the nedy, is the lyfe of y• poore, he that defraudeth him of it, is a manslear. God also by the Pro∣phet teacheth, that that fast plea∣seth hym best whych is accompa¦nied wyth the workes of mercye saying:* Breake thy bread to the hungry, and lead the nedye and wayefaring into thy house. Whē th•u seest a naked manne couer hym, and despyse not thy fleshe. Mark that he sayth:* Breake thy bread to the hongrye. Certayne that expound this text, saye that thou then breakest thy breade to the hungry, when thou so fastest, Page [unnumbered] that thou sparest from thine own belly to gyue to the pore hongry man, For a Christen man ought to be no les careful for the poore, then for him selfe. We therefore do breake our bread to the hon∣grye, when wee gyue hym that, whych we our selues necessaryly shoulde haue eaten. So that to annoynte our head, is to breake our bread to the hongri, to lodge the poore in oure house, to gyue clothes to the naked, and to com∣forte accordynge to oure habily∣tye so manye as haue neede of our helpe. Unto these workes of mercy doth our Sauiour Christ exhort vs in the Gospel, saying: when thou makest a dynner or a supper,* cal not thy fryendes, nor thy brethren, neyther thy kyns∣folke, nor thy rytch neyghbours, Page [unnumbered] leaste they also bid the againe, & a recompence be made the But when thou makeste a tea••e, call the pore, the feble, the lame, and the blinde, and thou shalt be hap¦pye, for they can not recompence the. But thou shalt be recompen∣sed at the resurreccion of the •igh¦teous. Again he sayeth, geue al∣mes of those things ye haue and beholde all thinges are cleane vnto you.* But of this we shal en∣treate more largelye when we come to the true vse of fastinge.
¶The .xiiii. Chapter.
MOreouer if we will faste a righte, we are not only com¦maunded to annointe oure heade, that is to say, to shew mer¦cye to the pore people, but also to washe oute face, that is, to make our heartes cleane from al sinne Page [unnumbered] thorow faithfull repētaunce, that we maye haue a pure conscience. For it is not inough to be benefi¦ciall to other, excepte we also be beneficiall to oure selues. Thys shall come to passe, if we laboure withall mayne to haue a mynde pure and cleane from all carnall affectes, a bodye voide of wicked dedes, and a lyfe garnished wyth good workes.* For what was the cause that God dyd caste awaye the fastes and solemne feastes of the Iewes, but only that they wa¦shed not theyr face, that is, they went not about to put of their old conuersacion and to become new men: I hate and abhorre, saythe God, youre sacrifices, youre so∣lempne feastes and your fastes.* Offer me no mo oblacions, for it is but lost labour. Your incense Page [unnumbered] is abhominaciō vnto me, I haue no pleasure in your sacrifices. I maye not awaye with your newe mones, your sabbathes. &c. Why soe For your hāds, saith he, ar ful of bloude. Your heartes are full of vengaunce, youre consciences are spotted and defyled with all kinde of sinnes, your life is abho¦minable in my sight, ye walke ha¦uinge no fear of God before your eies. &c. What is then to be done▪ Be ye wash•d, saith he, be ye clene take a wai your euil thoughts frō mine eies. Cease to do euil, learn to do wel. Seke iudgmēt, healpe ye pore oppressed, be fauourable to the comfortles, defend the wi∣dow.* &c. Again God saith, washe thine hart frō wickednes, y• thou maist be healped. How long shal thy noisome thoughts remain wtPage [unnumbered] the? god hateth those fastes, those praiers those good deds, as they cal them, that come frō a bloudy cōscience, a spotted & pocki soul, a defiled bodi & wicked life, as a cer¦tayn▪ man saith,* It profiteth a mā nothīg at al to fast & pray & to do other good things of deuocion, ex¦cept the minde be refrained from vngodlines, & the tung frō back bitings. For god hath euer a prin¦cipal respect to the hart of the do∣er of the work, as we se in y• histo¦rie of the sacrifices of Abell and Cain.* If the hart be pure, cleane & faithful,* thē doth god approue ye worke, but if it be spotted wyth sinne, god casteth it awai• appear it neuer so glistering and commē¦dable in the sight• of the worlde. Offer not, sayeth the wyse man, wycked giftes, for God wyll not Page [unnumbered] receiue them.* Salomon also sa•¦eth, the sacrifices of the vngodly are abhominable.* That fast ther¦fore that cōmeth not from a pure harte, from an vncorrupt consci∣ence and from a godlye life, plea∣seth not God, but is abhominaci∣on vnto the Lorde oure God, yea it is by no meanes worthye the name of a faste. For Basilius Magnus sayeth,* the true & chri∣sten faste is not only to abstayne from meates but also to eschewe euill thynges. And oure golden mouthed Doctoure saith:* he that abstaineth frō meat & not frō euil works, appereth to fast, but yet he fasteth not in dede. For loke how much he fasteth vnto mē so much doth he eat before god, seing• he goeth forth stil to sin.* The aunci¦ent Doctour Origene saith also Page [unnumbered] wilt thou that I shewe vnto the, what fast y• oughtest to fast? Fast from euil dedes, abstain from e∣uill woordes, refraine from euill thoughts. &c. Suche a fast plea∣seth God Agayne. S, Hierome sayeth, then is the abstynence of the bodye commendable before God, when the mind fasteth from vices, For what dothe it profit to make weake the bodye with ab∣stinence, when the mind swelleth with pride? Hereunto pertaineth the sayinge of.* S. Austen. The fastes of christen men, saythe he, are rather to be obserued spiritu¦ally then carnally. In considera∣•ion wherof, let vs fast principal¦•y from our sins, least our fast be refused of the lord, as the faste of •he Iewes were. What a fast is •his, that an impostore or deceit∣ful Page [unnumbered] felow I can not tel who, shuld abstaine from meates, whych the Lorde hath created, and yet wax¦eth fatte with the fatnes of sins? Haue I chosen suche a faste say∣eth the Lorde?* Reade the eighte and fiftie. Chapter of the Pro∣phete Esaye. And a little after he sayeth. The faste, which the most highest do approue and allowe, is not onlye to leaue of to refresh the body, but also to depart from euyll dedes. In a nother place he also saithe.* The great and ge∣nerall faste is to abstaine from i∣niquities and vnlawefull plea∣sures of the worlde▪ whyche is a perfecte faste, that we forsakinge vngodlines and the lustes of the worlde,* shulde liue in this world soberlye, righteouslye and god•y Of these authorities of the holye Page [unnumbered] Doctours also do we learn, that the true Christen faste dothe not only consiste in the abstinence of meates, but also in the forsaking of sinne. Therefore if we entende to faste a right, and to make our fast acceptable to God, let vs pro¦uide earnestlye, that oure faste procede from a pure and cleane heart, voyd of al carnall affectes, stuffed ful of faithe and charitie, and altogether studious of true innocencye and vnfained godli∣nes. So shal it come to pas, that both our fastes and all that euer we do according to gods worde, shal highly please God. Hitherto haue we hearde what it is to an∣noint the head and to washe the face. Nowe remaineth to declare what it is to fast in secrete.
¶The .xv. Chapter.
Page [unnumbered]TO faste in secrete,* is not to keepe oure selues close from the sighte of men, and so hy∣dinge our selfes in priuy corners to abstaine frō meate, but not to hunte and hawke after vaine glo¦rye nor the prayse of men,* for our fastinge, nor to seke to be sene of men whyle we faste to the ende, that they may commend & prayse vs, as the hipocrites did, whome Christ reproueth for their vaine glory and ambicion, & saith, they haue their reward, not of god but of mē. We ar counted before god then to fast in secrete, whē we fast with such a minde, yt we wold fast in dede, thoughe no man liuinge did se vs, aud when we regarde more the accōplishment of gods wyll and the subieccion and ta∣ming of our body, then al the glo¦rye Page [unnumbered] and praise that man can giue vnto vs.* It is lawful for a Chri∣sten man to fast,* to praye to geue almes, or to do anye other good work before the world, so that the desire of worldly praise and vain glorye be not in his minde. For our sauiour Christ saith let your light so shine before mē that they may se your good works & glori∣fy your father which is in heauen S. Paul also saith, be such as no man can complaine on,* and the vnfained sonnes of God without rebuke in the myds of a crooked and peruerse nacion, among whō se that ye shine as lyghtes in the world, holding fast the worde of life.* Again. S. Peter counceleth vs, that where as some backebite vs as euil doers, we shuld leade an honest and godlye life among Page [unnumbered] them, that they seinge oure good workes maye prayse God in the daye of visitacion. But if we seke anye prayse of men,* and desyre to be magnified for our good dedes doinge, verely then haue we our rewarde not of God but of the worlde. For there is not a more pestiferous infeccion to poisonne anye good woorcke, that it shuld lose the reward before God, then the desyre of vaine glory & world¦lye prayse.* For that it is, which Christ condemneth in the almes dedes, praiers and fastes of the hipocrits.* S. Ihon Chrisostome saith, they that so fast, ye thei plese men rather then God, they haue a labour concerning the afliccion of the body, b•t thorow vain glo∣ry thei cā haue no reward of their labour with god, which whē they ought to do it onl• for religion or Page [unnumbered] faithes sake, had rather to seke y• vain glory of the world. And ther¦fore saith the Lord,* verely I saye vnto you, thei haue receuied th•ir reward. S. Austē also saith, some good thinges may be done, & yet they not doing them wel, of whom they ar don. For it is a good thīg to healp a man y• is in ieopardy & in daunger,* namely if he be an in innocent. But he that dothe this good dede▪ if he doth it because he loueth the praise of menne rather thē ye glori of god, it is not good y• he doth, for as much as he y• doth it, is not good. For God forbid, y• that shuld be or be coūted a good wil, which glorieth in other, or in it self,* & not in ye lord. Hereto per∣taineth ye saying of. S. Ambrose when thou fastest, boaste not thy selfe, nor bragge not of it, for in so doynge thy faste profyteth the Page [unnumbered] nothing. Those thinges that are done vnto ostentacion & bosting continew not to be recompensed in the world to come, but they are consumed & brought to noughte with the rewarde of present thin∣ges. Of exchewinge vaine glory oure sauiour Christe gaue vs no table examples in al his doings. When he had healed the Leper,* he said vnto him, se yu tel no man.* After that he hadde restored the two blinde men to theyr syght, he charged them, that no man shuld knowe of it.* And when he hadde made whole the dūme and deafe man, he commaunded them that wer present that they shuld tel it no man. In al these his doinges and such like he gaue vs exāple to •le vain glory & worldly praise and onli to seke the glori & honor Page [unnumbered] of god,* and that we shuld reioice and glorye in nothing but in god alone,* as it is wrytten, he that re¦ioiseth, let him reioise in the lord Therfore all the workes that we do, whether thei be praier, fasting almes deede, watching, visiting of the sicke, comforting of the pri∣sonners, or ani other that be agre¦able to the word of God, we must do them with a single minde, and with such an heart, as being alto¦gether estraūged from vain glo¦ry and worldly praise, seketh onli the honour of god & the accōplish¦ment of his most blessed will. So shal we do our workes in secrete, and oure father,* which seeth in se¦crete shal recompence vs openli
Thus haue we hearde boothe what the true & christen fast is, & also how we ought to fast. Let vs Page [unnumbered] nowe fall in hand wyth the third and laste parte of thys treatyse, and so make an ende,
☞Of the true vse of fastinge. ¶The .xvi. Chapter.
THe vse yea rather the abuse of fasting in the Popes king¦dome* was verie wicked and worthye to be abhorred of y• faith¦fnll. For besides the fondnesse of the symple people in abusing the noble ve•tue of fasting for want of knowledg vnto many and sun¦drye superstic•ous and vngodlye purpos•s as partelye heretofore we haue heard: ther haue not wā¦ted among them that profes diui¦nitie whych both in their sermōs and writyngs corrupted the true and godlye vse of fastynge. For they haue taughte, that fastynge of it selfe is so worthye a vertue, Page [unnumbered] and of so greate power, that it is hable to satysfye for synnes,* to appease the wrathe of God, to re¦concile vs to god, to deserue righ¦teousnesse and to wynne euerla∣stynge lyfe. Thys doctryne is an enemye to the free grace of god, iniurious to the fruites and me∣rites of Christes passion and by no meanes to be receiued of the faithfull Christians.* For all be it fastinge bee wythoute doubte a worthye fruite of repentaunce, and pleaseth God, when hee that fasteth, humbleth hym selfe in the syghte of God, confesseth hys synne, repenteth hym of hys mysdedes, calleth for mer∣cye, beleueth to bee forgeuen for Christes sake, and studyeth ear∣nestly frō hēce forth to lead a life Page [unnumbered] comformable to the rule of gods worde, yet is it not of such vertue in it selfe, that it is hable to bring vnto vs those good things which we looke for at the hande of God thorowe Christe oure Lorde, I meane the fauoure of God, the forgiuenes of sinnes, the gifte of the holye ghoste, a newe hearte stuffed with spiritual affects, righ¦teousnes, peace, quietnes of con∣science, and euerlastinge life.
These be the singulare and free giftes of God, geuen only of him to so manye as be borne a newe by the holye ghost, and beleue in him. If the fastes of the holy men of whome we hearde here to fore had bene directed vnto that end, that is, if by their fastes they had soughte to be iustified,* and tour∣ned theyr eyes from that blessed Page [unnumbered] sede, in whome all nacions of the earthe were promised to be bles∣sed, so had theyr fastes bene no• commended but discommended of God, not fauoured but abhor∣red, not receiued but reiected.
But theyr fastes came from a pe¦nitent and faithful heart toward God, and were exercised of them vnto godly purposes, as we haue hearde, they seekinge saluacion onlye at the mercyfull hande of God for the promysed seede sake therefore were boothe they and theyr fastes allowed of God.* Let vs therefore learne the true vse of fastinge, that we maie knowe to what ende oure fastes oughte to be directed, least while we seke for medicine, we find poison, and receiue for saluacion, damnaciō.
The .xvii. Chapter.
Page [unnumbered]FYrste forasmuche as the lyfe of manne vpon earthe is no∣thinge* els then a warrefare and contynuall aflycte wyth her ghostly enemies,* seinge also that the fleshe withoute ceasing tho∣rowe the subtile suggestion of sa¦than lusteth contrarye to the spi∣rite, so that man in thys vale of miserye is neuer at quiet, nor hathe so much leasure as once to breathe, so greatlye on euery side is he besieged and compassed a∣boute with cruel enemies, which assaulteth him, and tēpteth hym vehementelye that excepte hee stronglye fyghte agaynste hym wyth the weapons of the Lorde, and also yf hee geueth not dyly∣gente watche, hee streyghtwayes falleth into his aduersaries hāds Page [unnumbered] and is vtterly vndone. It is con∣neniente, that whosoeuer enten∣deth to gette a gloryous and tri∣umphante victorye ouer hys e∣nemyes, and not lyke a cowarde eyther to be putte to flyghte, or els to be ouercome, and for euer and euer pearish but rather va∣leauntlye to fyghte and neuer to cease tyll he hathe subdued hys ennemyes, that he striuinge cou∣ragiouslye maye obtaine that re∣warde,* whiche is promysed to so manye as fyghte lawefullye, e∣uen the crowne of glorye and the enherytaunce of euerlastynge ioye, it is conuenyente, I saye, that hee seeketh all meanes pos∣syble to auoyde the daunger of hys ennemyes, and so to behaue him self in al his doings that his Page [unnumbered] aduersaries mai haue no interest in him, nor spye anye voyde place aboute him where they may giue the fyrste aduenture, and by thys meanes be encouraged not only to assaile him, but also to vāquish him. And for as muche as the de∣uil oure heade e•nemie goeth a∣bout not only hym self lyke a ro∣ringe Lion sekynge whome hee maye deuoure,* but besides innu∣merable thousandes of wycked spirits, which pertaine to his ar∣mye,* and are ready at euery mo∣ment to seeke the destruccion of man, hathe also two speciall ser∣uauntes, whiche daylye procure oure vtter subuersion, I meane the worlde and the fleshe, the one beinge his waitinge man, the o∣ther his hande maide, readye at euery hour to assayle and to sub∣due Page [unnumbered] man, if diligente watche bee not geuen on oure behalfe: and forasmuch as amonge these our deadlye aduersaryes the flesh is the mooste presente and mortall foo, and an houshoulde ennemye euer at home and neuer without, euen with in oure owne brest, ca∣ryed aboute with vs whersoeuer we goo, and accompanyinge vs what so euer we do and continu∣allye prouokinge vs vnto those wicked acts,* which striue against the heauenlye mocions of gods holye spirite, that by this meanes she maye doo her master the de∣uill greate pleasure by bringing vs to destruccion: if we entende to subdue and get the victory of thys oure houshoulde ennemye the fleshe, let vs knowe for a cer∣tentie, that ther is not a more spe¦dye Page [unnumbered] waye nor a more presente re∣medy agaynst her assaultes, then godlye fastinge is, which enemy, that is the flesh, beinge once sub∣dued, the forayne ennemyes shal the easelier be kept oute, and we liue in the more quietnesse by the healpe of goddes spirit and fer∣uente prayer.
¶The .xviii. Chapter.
ANd heare begin we to learn the true vse of fastinge, and to know vnto what end our fastes ought to be directed. The fyrste true and godlye vse of fa∣stynge is to subdue the fleshe, to mortifye her beastelye affectes, and to represse the wilde & ranck mocions thereof, that it maye be subiecte and obediente to the spi¦rite as an handmaide to her ma∣stres, or a seruaunte to his Lord. Page [unnumbered] For al be it God hathe made vs of two partes, that is, of bodye and spirite, yet hath he ordayned the spirite to bee ruler, and the fleshe to bee in subieccion to the spirite.* But not wyth standynge the fleshe (suche is her wylde dis∣obedience and disobedient wylde¦nesse) canne by no meanes abide to submyt her selfe to the rule of the spirite, but continuallye stry∣ueth to haue the vpper hand, and contrarye to gods appoinmente to make the spirit subiect vnto her The spirite prouoketh vnto hu∣militie, Charitie, Pacience, quy∣etnesse, continencye, purenesse of lyfe, moderate eatynge and drin∣kinge. &c. The flesh contrariwise calleth vnto pride, hautynesse of mynde, enuye, malice vengaunce discord, whordō, auoutry, glotoni Page [unnumbered] dronkenship. &c. So that ther is a continual con•icte betwene the spirite & the fleshe▪ who shal haue the victorye as. S. Paule saieth If the flesh subdueth the spirite, then pearyshe wee,* but if the spi∣rite accordynge to goddes ordy∣naunce beareth rule, and hathe the fleshe in subieccion, then well are we. Nowe that thys maye be broughte to passe, godly & Chri∣sten abstinence shall healp great¦lye.* For there is nothinge that so tameth and bringeth vnder the wylde and vnrulye lustes of the flesh, as fasting and abstinēce, e∣uen as there is nothing that ma∣keth a wilde and fearce horsse so tame and obedyent to his master as the withdrawing of his haye, otes, breade, and suche other pro∣uender. They therefore that wyl Page [unnumbered] vse theyr faste a ryghte and vn∣to a godlye ende, muste fyrste di∣recte it vnto this purpose, that by the exercyse thereof they may bry¦dle the wantonnes of the fleshe, and refraine theyr bodyes frō sin that the spirite,* whiche is a preci∣ous thinge before God, maye be quiet, or els all other exercises & trauails although neuer so pain¦full, are vayne. To thys vse ser∣ued the fastes of manye godlye bothe men and women in tymes paste, that the bodie beinge mor∣tified, the spirite might the more frely attend on God. The prince like Prophet saieth, I putte on sacke cloth and humbled my soul with fasting.* This holy Prophet and kinge vsed fastinge to thys ende, that hee mighte bringe his bodye lowe and in subieccion to Page [unnumbered] the spirit, that the vngodli lustes thereof myghte no more rage & rule in hym as they dyd,* what time he tooke Bothsaba the wyfe of Urias & laye wyth her, & that he myghte freelye enioie her, cau¦sed her husbande to bee slayne in battell.* In another place hee also sayeth, my knees are weake thorowe fastinge, my fleshe dryed vp for want of fatnes. We reade lykewyse,* that that mooste vertu∣ous Quene Esther broughte her bodye verye lowe wyth fastinge Agayne.* S. Paul sayeth of him selfe, I chastise and tame my bo∣dye, and bring it into subieccion, least bi any means it come to pas that when I haue preached to o∣ther, I my self shuld be cast awai These with manye other chasty∣sed and tamed theyr bodyes with Page [unnumbered] fastinge, that the spirite myghte haue free course vnto God and bee occupyed aboute heauenlye thynges. After thys manner oughte all true Christians to do, that the bodye being kept in sub∣ieccion, the spirite maye rule and haue the ouerhande, and by no meanes to follow the wycked ma¦ner of the papists, whych in theyr fastes abstain frō grosse fleshe, & deuoure all kynde of deinty and fine fishe, whiche make theyr bo∣dies muche more prone to lewd∣nes, then the eatyng of flesh, and also bringeth the spirit into mise¦rable seruitute & bondage. O vn¦godlye manner of fastinge.
The .xix. Chapter.
VNto this taming,* chastining subduing & mortifying of y• flesh by y• true vse of fasting Page [unnumbered] dothe. S. Austen exhort vs, say∣inge: Let oureflesh be continu∣allye subiecte to oure soule, and serue it as an handmaide dothe her Masters. Lette vs not suffer oure bodye to be ouerlustye, least 〈◊〉 warre against the spirite, but alwayes let the fleshe be subiecte that it obei the commaundement of the holye ghost.* Neither let vs suffer the handmaide to waxe to rancke, leaste she set lyght by her maistres, but rather let her obey all her commaundementes and do her seruise. For as horses must be brideled, so muste our bodies be restrained with fasting, watch & prayer For as if the guides of chariots do giue their horsse the reanes thei draw them into head long down fals so if our body be not brideled, the soul and it both Page [unnumbered] together slip into the depe pit of hel. Let vs therfore be good and experte Carters or Chariot dry∣uers to our body, that we may go the rig•twai. &c.* Again he saieth fasting swageth the intemperan¦cye and vnrulines of the bodye, and represseth or keepeth vnder the troubio•s mocions & raging lustes therof. It causeth the soul to •e at liberty and not to be op∣pressed of the flesh, as the Lorde saith, take hede that your hartes be not ouercom with surfetyng & drōkēnes.* For whē the soul is de∣liuered frō to much eating & drin¦king, then doth it consider it selfe the b•tt•r, & waieth in what case it standeth. For as a mā in a filthye glas seeth not him selfe such one as he is in deede, so likewise if he be ouerladen wyth to muche ea∣tynge Page [unnumbered] and drinckynge, he thinc∣keth him selfe to be another man¦ner of man then he is. Yea then is hee prouoked vnto sensuali∣litie and filthye luste, moued vn∣to anger, puffed vp with pride, & stirred vnto letchery. In respecte wherof the Apostle sayeth, be not dronke wyth wyne,* wherin is vn¦honest behauioure. But if the bo¦dy be kept in order, and accusto∣med wyth fastyng, then doth the soul know the better, with what deuociō she ought to serue her re∣demer. Fastyng therfore is very necessari. Hereunto pertaineth y• saying of.* S. Ihon goldē mouth The abstinence fro meates is re∣ceiued for this purpose, y• it shuld restrain the rigour & fearsnes of y• flesh to make it obedient to the spirit, euē as an horse is to his ke¦per. Page [unnumbered] For he that fasteth, muste a∣boue all thinges refraine anger, learne mekenes and gentlenes, haue an hearte contrite, and such one as may repel and put backe vncleane concupiscences & lusts He muste also set before his eies alway the eye of the euerlastinge iudge and y• iudgeing place that canne not be corrupted. Againe he muste by his monye be made the better by distributing it to the pore, & haue rule ouer it. He must be liberal in geuing almes & re∣ceiue into his hart no euil against his neighboure,* as Esaye spea∣king in y• persō of god sath: haue I chosen this fast, sayth the lord? Thoughe thou wrye aboute thy necke lyke an hoope, and strow∣est vnder the sackeclothe and ashes, yet wyll not I regard thy fast saith the lord. What fast thē, Page [unnumbered] tel me? Losen, saith he, the bonds of the wicked bargaines, breake thy breade to the hongry bringe the pore man that hath no house into thi house. If thou doest these these things, saith he, thē shal thy light breake forth as y• morning light and thy health shal spryng right shortly. Hast thou now sene (my welbeloued) what y• true fast is? Let vs loke vpō this fast, and let vs not thincke, as many do, y• fastinge standeth in this pointe, if we continewe without any din¦ner til it be night. S. Hierome al¦so saieth: Satietie or fulnes is to be exchewed euen of y• most vyle meats. For ther is nothing y• so o∣uerwhelmeth y• mind, as a ful bel∣lye. Thus haue we herd that the first & principal vse of fastinge is to tame, chastise, subdue & mortifi Page [unnumbered] the flesh,* y• it resist not, but rather obei the rule of y• spirit as an hād maide, her maistres, or an horsse hys keper. But this is to be cōsi∣dered in our fasting, y• we do not with our vnmeasurable fasts so make weake & feable the bodye, that it be hable to serue neyther God, nor our neighbour, nor yet our selues, & by this meanes vt∣terly quench the vse & workyng of the spirit, as we rede that ma∣ny in times past haue done, such fasts please not God. This com¦maūdement therfore of S Paul is to be obserued in al our fasts, Make not prouisiō,* sayth he, for the flesh to fulfyl the lustes of it. An horsse that is to much delicate lyfed, casteth his master, againe if he be kept to hongry, he fayn∣teth in the mids of the iourney, & doth not his office. A meane ther¦fore Page [unnumbered] is to be had as in fedinge of the horsse, so likewise in ordering of the bodye. We lyue not to eat, but we eate to lyue.
¶The .xx. Chapter.
THe seconde cause whye wee ought to vse fastinge is,* that we abstaining from meates, maye haue to giue vnto the pore and hongry the more liberallye. For this kind of fasting pleaseth God greatly, when he seeth that we haue so put on the bowels of tender mercy & are led with such and so harty compassion toward our pore neighbour, that we can not finde in our hearte he shulde want, yea rather then he shoulde lacke, we wil spare it out of oure own belli & giue it him, god right wel accepteth this fast, and bles∣seth the faster wyth plentye and abundaunce, as the wisemā saith Page [unnumbered] He that hath pitie on the poore,* maketh the Lord his debter, and loke what he layeth oute, it shal bee payed hym agayne. Unto thys manner of fastynge dothe God exhorte vs by the Prophet,* where he saieth, breake thi bread to the hongrye, and lede the nea∣dye and wayefaringe men into thyne house. Whē thou seest a na¦ked man, couer him, and despyse not thi flesh. What it is to breake thy bread to the hongri, we heard afore in the .xiii. chapter.* The an¦gell of God tolde Thobye▪ that when fastinge praier and almes deedes go together, that is good and accepted in the Lordes sight It is written in a certaine •oke called Pastor (the author wherof* they say Hermas. S. Pauls dis∣ciple was) on thys manner: On that daye that thou shalte faste, Page [unnumbered] thou shalt taste nothing at al but bread and water, & whē thou hast coūted the quantitye of the meat that thon wast wont to eat on the other daies, the cost y• thou shul∣dest make on that daye that thou fastest lay it vp,* & giue it to the wi¦dow, to the fatherles childē, or to the poremā, and so shalt thou fast a good fast, that he which hath re¦ceiued it of the, may fil his soule, and that his praier may go vnto the lord for the. If thou fulfillest thy fast on this māner, as I com∣maund the, thy sacrifice shalbe ac¦ceptable to the Lorde, and thy fast shalbe written in the boke of life.* Origen saithe, we finde in a certaine boke, that the Apostles saide, blessed is he that fasteth to thys ende, that he maye nourishe the poore man.* The fast of suche one is wonderfully accepted be∣fore Page [unnumbered] God. Hereto pertaineth the sayinge of.* S. Austen, mercy dyd commende and greatly setforthe the praier and fastinge of Corne∣lius.* For hee beinge ryche and a wealthye man fasted. He dyd not onlye faste, but he also fed them that wanted, that theyr fulnesse myghte make his faste accepta∣ble. Agayne in a nother place he sayeth,* before all thynges, that whyche we were wonte to eate at our dynner, on the fastyng daies let vs bestowe it on the poore. Oure goulden mouthed Doc∣toure in a certayne homilie coun¦celleth vs,* that when so euer wee faste, we should be lyberall to the poore, and gyue theym largelye of oure goods. In a nother place he also sayeth, he that eateth hys meate and is not hable to fast,* let hym geue the larger almes, lette Page [unnumbered] him be the more diligent in prai∣ing, let him haue the more feruēt desyre to heare the word of God. Here Chrisostome estemeth al∣messe among other vertues of so hie price, that if ther be ani which can not abyde to fast for y• weak¦nes of theyr bodye, yet if they be plenteous in doinge the workes of mercye and in prayinge and hearing the worde of God, they are not refused of god, but accep¦ted as good Christians. Mercye therfore and almes is a precious thinge in the sighte of God▪ and ought to be exercised of the faith¦ful, when so euer occasion is ge∣uen whether they faste or not.
Mercye,* saieth the aungell, is bet•er then to hoorde vp•e trea∣sures of golde. For mercye dely∣uereth frō death clense the sin, & causeth to find euerlasting life.
Page [unnumbered]Thus haue wee hearde that Christen menne oughte to vse theyr faste vnto thys ende, that they abstaynynge frome meate and drincke mighte haue wher∣of to geue the more abundant∣lye to the poore, to feede the hun∣grye, to clothe the naked, to re∣lieue the sicke, to healpe the en∣debted, and to comforte the nea∣dye. O blessed are they that so faste.* But wher are they, and we shall commende them, and call them blessed? For great and com¦mendable thynges dooe suche woorcke amonge theyr neygh∣boures and Christen brethren.
¶The .xxi. Chapter.
THirdly if we wyll vse fasting aryghte,* we must vse it vnto this ende also, that by the di∣lygent doing and often exercyse Page [unnumbered] therof we may be made the more apte to praye and to lifte vp oure heartes vnto the Lord our God with feruent praiers, humble sup¦plications, and heartye thanckes geuinge. For vnto this ende ser∣ued fasting in times past, as dy∣uers histories of the holye scryp∣ture do declare. If anye mysfor∣tune or greuous plage chaunced at any time to the people of god,* then streightwaies they fasted, as we reade in the boke of iudges. Againe, if anye plage wer threat¦ned thē by the Prophetes of god for theyr wyckednes,* as we reade of the Niniuites, or if they percei¦ued anye great euyl to be at hand as wee reade in the histories of the Israelites,* of Iehosaphat, Iudith,* Esther. &c. then fell they straightwaies to fastinge.*
And theyr fastes wer taken vn∣to*Page [unnumbered] this end, that they might hum¦ble theym selues in the syghte of God, and be made the more mete for to pray, & to swage the wrathe of God. Nether do we read, that anye solempne fast was proclay∣med at any time,* but it was done to this end, that the fasters might the more quietlye and frely serue god, and cal on his holy name, by feruent and cōtinual praier. And as we read this in the olde testa∣mente, so lacke we not the like ex¦amples in the newe. Is it to bee doubted, but that oure sauyoure Christe in that time of his longe and solempne faste ioyned to his faste prayer?* He withoute doubt prayed vnto God hys father all that tyme, that by his preachinge whyche was at hande, manye myghte bee tourened from theyr vngodlynesse vnto the true wor∣shippinge Page [unnumbered] of God, from wicked∣nes of life vnto innocencye of mā¦ners, We reade also that the god¦lye* Matrone Anne serued God in the temple wyth fastynge and prayer both day and night. The Apostles likewise after Christes ascenciō did alwaies ioin to their fastinge,* praier. In like manner reade we of the vertuous manne Cornelius, whiche ioined to hys fastinge bothe prayer and almes deede,* And the aungel sayde vn∣to Thobye, prayer is good wyth fastinge.* Esdras sayd lykewyse to the Iewes. We fasted & pray∣ed vnto the lord,* & we had good lucke. Quene Esther also sente woorde to Mardocheus,* saying, gather together all the Iewes, and praye for me, but se that ye neither eat nor dryncke .iii. daies and three nyghtes, and I wyth Page [unnumbered] my maides wyl fast & pray lyke∣wyse. Again Eliachim the priest saied to ye children of Israel, whē they were in greate sorowe and danger of theyr enemyes.* Be ye sure, that the Lord wil hear your petycyons if ye contynewe sted∣faste in fastynges and prayers in the syghte of the Lorde. Thus se we, that the godly people both of the olde and of the new testa∣mente, ioined alwaies for ye most part fasting and praier together, thincking them selues thē to fast wel, whē their faste was accōpai∣ned wyth prayer, as it is wrytten, prayer is good with fastinge. S.* Peter also saith, be ye sober and watche vnto prayer.*
¶The .xxii. Chapter.
MOreouer our sauiour christ also ioineth praier & fasting* together wherhe saith, this Page [unnumbered] kynde of dyuels is not caste out but by fastyng & praier.* To thys kind of fasting doth S. Paul ex∣hort vs whē he saith:* let vs giue no occasion of euil, that in our of∣fyce be found no faute, but in all things let vs behaue our selues as the ministers of God in much pacience, in laboures, in watch∣ings & fastings: Also S. Peter Be ye sober, sayth he,* and watch vnto prayer. And from the con∣trari doth our sauiour Christ cal vs away, saying: Take heede to your selues,* lest at any time your herts be ouercom with surfeting and dronkennes, & cares of thys lyfe, and so the dai (of iudgemēt) come on you vnwares. The pro∣phet Esay thoundereth agaynst them, which despising this godly maner of abstinence, set al theyr minds on bankettyng and belly Page [unnumbered] there. Wo be vnto thē sayth he: that rise vp early to folow dron∣kennes,* and to them that conty∣nue so vntyl nyght, and tyll they be set on fyre wich wine. In those companies are harps and lutes, Tabrets and pipes & wyne. But they regard not y• work of ye lord. Agayne he saythe: Wo be vnto thē yt are strong to sup out wyne, & expert mē to set vp dronkēnes. These giue sentence with the vn¦godly for rewards, but cōdemne the iust cause of the ryghteouse. Therfore like as fyre licketh vp the straw, and as the flame con∣sumeth the stuble, euen so theyr roote shalbe as corrupcion, and theyr blossom shal vanysh away like dust, for they haue cast awai the law of the Lord of hosts, and blasphemed the word of the ho∣ly, maker of Israel. From beast∣ly Page [unnumbered] bāketting vnto faithful fastīg & contynual calling on the name of the Lord doth the prophet Io∣el cal these belly goddes, saying, Wake vpye drōckards & weepe mourne al ye wine bibbers,* & not without a cause. For he yt hath his bodye loden wyth meat & drinke is no more mete to prai vnto god then a dead mā is to tel a tale, ne¦ther can the minde of such one a∣ny more fly vnto god with heauē¦ly desires, then a ship to much cū¦bred with burdens & at the point to sinck, can any lenger flote vpō of ye waters, We haue a prouerb no les true then commen among vs.* When the belly is ful, the bo∣dy wold be at reast, meaning that he, which hath enfar•ed his belly with delicious meates and costi∣ous drīcks, is more mete to stepe like a swine, thē to take any ear∣nest, Page [unnumbered] & weighti matter in hād. We haue not red saith .S. Eiprian,* ye the godly men did euer take any great thing in hand, except they first fasted. So oft as they wēt a∣bout to obtain any thing of God, they fasted, & wept, and watched whole nightes in praier, & weare garmentes of heare next to their flesh, & so withal humblenes, desi¦red god to be benificial to thē. Ne¦ther wanted they of their purpose whē they most hūbly fel down at the fete of god & offered vnto him the sacrifice of a contrite hart, but god was neare vnto them, yt cal∣led on him, & reached forthe hys hand to them yt wer in daunger, & holpe thē that wer in trouble. A∣gain he saieth, praier is of great vertue, whē fasting goeth afore. Basilius magnus saith also, yt fa∣sting is necessari, when we desire Page [unnumbered] obtayne any thyng of the Lord The aūcient fathers of Christes* churche godly consideryng how necessary a thing praier is in the Church of Christ, ordayned cer∣tayne feastful daies in the yeare,* on the whych the people shoulde resorte and come together vnto the temple for to praye vnto the Lord God. And that they myght come the more deuoutely & pray wyth the greater fruite, they ap∣pointed also that the daye before the solemne feast, they shuld fast that they myght be the more apt to pray, whē they come together into the temple.* For wher the bo¦dy is burdened wyth meate, ther the mynde can haue no free pas∣sage vnto God. Let thē therfore that fast, appointe their fastynge also to thys vse, that by theyr ab∣stinence they may be the more re Page [unnumbered] pray, & not only to prepare them selues to pray, but also earnestly to gyue theyr mindes vnto prai∣er, or els what doth theyr fast pro¦fit them? To faste from meat and to goo about worldlye matters, what other thing is it, then a moc¦kinge of God, & a derision of chri¦sten abstinence as .S.* Ambrose saith, doest yu thincke yt he fasteth aright, whiche waking betymes in the morning goeth not vnto y• church (to prai & to hear the word of god) but as sone as he is vp, ga¦thereth together hys seruauntes laieth abrode his nets, bryngeth forth his dogs, & goeth running about the forestes? Therefore if we faste, lette vs faste a ryghte, and after the examples of the aū¦cyente holye fathers lette vs al∣waye couple prayer wyth our fa∣stinge. So shall boothe we, oure Page [unnumbered] fastes & our praiers please God.
¶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
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
¶Imprynted at London by Ihon Day▪ dwellyng ouer Aldersgate▪ These bookes are to bee solde at the shop at the lyttle Cun∣dyte in Chepesyde.Page [unnumbered]