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judged of the Lord.' The fast of the Ninevites,
5. But now as fasting hath divers ends, so also it
'Metávola xwpis vnselaç åpyń. S. Basil. Joel, ii. 15 ;
quality and degree that the spirit be clear, and the head undisturbed ; an ordinary act of fast, an abstinence from a meal, or a deferring it, or a lessening it when it comes, and the same abstinence repeated according to the solemnity and intendment of the offices. And this is evident in reason, and the former instances, and the practice of the church, dissolving some of her fasts, which were in order only to prayer, by noon, and as soon as the great and first solemnity of the day is over. But if fasting be intended as a punitive act, and an instrument of repentance, it must be greater. St. Paul, at his conversion, continued three days without eating or drinking. It must have in it so much affliction as to express the indignation, and to condemn the sin, and to judge the person. And although the measure of this cannot be exactly determined, yet the general proportion is certain : for a greater sin there must be a greater sorrow, and a greater sorrow must be attested with a greater penalty. And Ezra declares his purpose thus: “I proclaimed a fast, that we might afflict ourselves before God.'' Now this is no further required, nor is it in this sense further useful, but that it be a trouble to the body, an act of judging and severity; and this is to be judged by proportion to the sorrow and indignation, as the sorrow is to the crime. But this affliction needs not to leave any remanent effect upon the body; but such transient sorrow which is consequent to the abstinence of certain times designed for the solemnity, is sufficient as to this purpose. Only it is to be renewed often, as our repentance must be habitual and lasting: but it may be com
Ezra, viii. 21. Vid. Dan. x. 12; Psal. xxxv. 13; Levit. xvi. 29, 30, 31; Isai. lviii. 3.
muted with other actions of severity and discipline according to the customs of a church, or the capar city of the persons, or the opportunity of circume! stances. But it the fasting be intended for mortifie! cation, then it is fit to be more severe, and medici.'1 nal by continuance, and quantity, and quality. To repentance, total abstinences without interruption, that is, during the solemnity, short and sharp, are mont, apt; but towards the mortifying a lust, those short and sharp fasts are not reasonable, but a diet of fasting, an babitual subtraction of nutriment from the body, a long and lasting austerity, increas ing in degrees, but not violent in any. And in this sort of fasting we must be bighly careful we do not violate a duty by fondness of an instrument, and because we intend fasting as a help to mortily the lust, let it not destroy the body, or retard the spírit, or violate our health, or impede os in any part of our necessary duty. As we must be careful that our fast be reasonable, serious, and apt to the end of our demigns, so we must be curious, that by helping one duty uncertainly, it do not certainly destroy another. Let us do it like honest persons and just, without artifices and hypocrisy: but let us also do it like wine persons, that it be neither in itself unreasonable, nor by accident become criminal
6. In the pursuance of this discipline of lasting, the doctors of the church and guides of souls have not unusefully prescribed other annexes and cir. cumstances ; as that all the other acts of deportment be symbolical to our fasting. If we fast for morti. fication, let os entertain nothing of temptation or semblance to invite a lust; no sensual delight, no freer entertainments of our body, to countenance or
corroborate a passion. If we fast that we may pray the better, let us remove all secular thoughts for that time; for it is vain to alleviate our spirits of the burden of meat and drink, and to depress them with the loads of care. If for repentance we fast, let us be most curious that we do nothing contrary to the design of repentance; knowing that a sin is more contrary to repentance than fasting is to sin : and it is the greatest stupidity in the world, to do that thing wbich I am now mourning for, and for which I do judgment upon myself. And let all our actions also pursue the same design, helping one instrument with another, and being so zealous for the grace, that we take in all the aids we can to secure the duty. For to fast from flesh, and to eat delicate fish; not eat meat, but to drink rich wines freely; to be sensual in the objects of our other appetites, and restrained only in one; to have no dinner, and that day to run on hunting, or to play at cards, are not handsome instances of sorrow, or devotion, or self-denial. It is best to accompany our fasting with the retirements of religion and the enlargements of charity, giving to others what we deny to ourselves. These are proper actions; and although not in every instance necessary to be done at the same time, (for a man may give his alms in other circumstances, and not amiss,) yet as they are very convenient and proper to be joined in that society, so to do any thing contrary to religion or to charity, to justice or to piety, to the design of the person or the design of the solemnity, is to make that become a sin which of itself was no virtue, but was capable of being hallowed by the end and the manner of its execution. 7. This discourse hath hitherto related to private
fasts, or else to fasts indefinitely. For what rules soever every man is bound to observe in private for fasting piously, the same rules the governors of a church are to intend in their public prescription. And when once authority hath intervened, and proclaimed a fast, there is no new duty incumbent upon the private, but that we obey the circumstances, letting them choose the time and the end for us. And though we must prevaricate neither, yet we may improve both; we must not do less, but we may enlarge : and when fasting is commanded only for repentance, we may also use it to prayers and to mortification. And we must be curious that we do not obey the letter of the prescription, and violate the intention, but observe all that care in public fasts which we do in private ; knowing that our private ends are included in the public, as our persons are in the communion of saints, and our hopes in the common inheritance of sons; and see that we do not fast in order to a purpose, and yet use it so that it shall be to no purpose. Whosoever so fasts as that it be not effectual in some degree towards the end, or so fasts that it be accounted of itself a duty and an act of religion, without order to its proper end, makes his act vain, because it is unreasonable; or vain, because it is superstitious.
O holy and eternal Jesu, who didst for our sake fast forty days and forty nights, and hast left to us thy example, and thy prediction, that in the days of thy absence from us, we, thy servants and children of thy bride-chamber, should fast; teach us to