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he thought more of death than love; and so got a cure for his intemperance, and was wittily cozened into remedy. But St. Hierom's counsel in this question is most reasonable, not allowing violent and long fasts, and then returns to an ordinary course; for these are too great changes of diet to consist with health, and too sudden and transient to obtain a permanent and natural effect: but " a belly always hungry," a table never full, a meal little and necessary, no extravagances, no freer repast, this is a state of fasting, which will be found to be of best avail, to suppress pungent lusts and rebellious desires. And it were well to help this exercise with the assistances of such austerities which teach patience, and ingenerate a passive fortitude, and accustom us to a despite of pleasures, and which are consistent with our health. For if fasting be left to do the work alone, it may chance either to spoil the body, or not to spoil the lust. Hard lodging, uneasy garments, laborious postures of prayer, journeys on foot, sufferance of cold, paring away the use of ordinary solaces, denying every pleasant appetite, rejecting the most pleasant morsels; these are in the rank of "bodily exercises," which, though, as St. Paul says, of themselves,
they profit little," yet they accustom us to acts of selfdenial in exterior instances, and are not useless to the designs of mortifying carnal and sensual lusts. They have "a proportion of wisdom" with these cautions, viz. “in willworship," that is, in voluntary susception, when they are not imposed as necessary religion; " in humility," that is, without contempt of others that use them not; " in neglecting of the body," that is, when they are done for discipline and mortification, that the flesh, by such handlings and rough usages, become less satisfied, and more despised.
3. As fasting hath respect to the future, so also to the present; and so it operates in giving assistance to prayer. There is a "kind of devil that is not to be ejected but by prayer and fasting," that is, prayer elevated and made intense by a defecate and pure spirit, not laden with the burden of
f Parcus cibus et venter semper esuriens triduana jejunia superant. S. Hieron. Ep. 8. ad Demetriad.
& Coloss. ii. 23. Λόγον σοφίας.
Η Ει τις ἐπίσκοπος, &c. γάμου, καὶ κρεῶν καὶ δίνου, οὐ δι ̓ ἄσκησιν, ἀλλὰ διὰ βδελυρίαν ἀπέχεται, ἢ διορθούσθω, ἢ καθαιρείσθω. - Can. Apost. 50.
meat and vapours. St. Basil affirms, that there are certain angels deputed by God to minister, and to describe all such in every church who mortify themselves by fasting; as if paleness and a meagre visage were that "mark in the forehead," which the angel observed when he signed the saints in Jerusalem to escape the judgment. Prayer is the wings of the soul*, and fasting is the wings of prayer. Tertullian calls it "the nourishment of prayer!" But this is a discourse of Christian philosophy; and he that chooses to do any act of spirit, or understanding, or attention, after a full meal, will then perceive that abstinence had been the better disposition to any intellectual and spiritual action. And, therefore, the church of God ever joined fasting to their more solemn offices of prayer. The apostles" fasted and prayed, when they laid their hands," and invocated the Holy Ghost upon Saul and Barnabas". And these also, "when they had prayed with fasting, ordained elders in the churches of Lystra and Iconium"." And the vigils of every holy day tell us, that the devotion of the festival is promoted by the fast of the vigils.
4. But when fasting relates to what is past, it becomes an instrument of repentance, it is a punitive and an afflictive action, an effect of godly sorrow, a testimony of contrition, " a judging of ourselves, and chastening our bodies, that we be not judged of the Lord." The fast of the Ninevites, and the fast the prophet Joel calls for, and the discipline of the Jews in the rites of expiation, proclaim this usefulness of fasting in order to repentance. And, indeed, it were a strange repentance that had no sorrow in it, and a stranger sorrow that had no affliction; but it were the strangest scene of affliction in the world, when the sad and afflicted person shall eat freely, and delight himself, and to the banquets of a full table serve up the chalice of tears and
i Serm. 5. de Jejun.
* Jejunium animæ nostræ alimentum, leves ei pennas producens.-S. Bern. Serm. in Vigil. S. Andreæ.
̓Ακρίδας ἐσθίοντα Ἰωάννην, καὶ πτεροφυήσαντα τὴν ψυχὴν, dixit S. Chrysost.
1 Jejuniis preces alere, lacrymari, et mugire noctes diesque ad Dominum. - Tertull.
TM Acts, xiii. 1, 2.
* Μετάνοια χωρίς νηστείας αργή. - S. Basil.
D Acts, xiv. 23.
P Joel, ii. 15. Levit. xxiii. 27, &c. Isa. xxii. 12.
sorrow, and no bread of affliction 9. Certainly he that makes much of himself, hath no great indignation against the sinner, when himself is the man. And it is but a gentle revenge and an easy judgment, when the sad sinner shall do penance in good meals, and expiate his sin with sensual satisfaction. So that fasting relates to religion, in all variety and difference of time: it is an antidote against the poison of sensual temptations, an advantage to prayer, and an instrument of extinguishing the guilt and the affections of sin, by judging ourselves, and representing, in a judicatory of our own, even ourselves being judges, that sin deserves condemnation, and the sinner merits a high calamity. Which excellences I repeat in the words of Baruch the scribe, he that was amanuensis to the prophet Jeremy: "The soul that is greatly vexed, which goeth stooping and feeble, and the eyes that fail, and the hungry soul, will give thee praise and righteousness, O Lord"."
5. But now, as fasting hath divers ends, so also it hath divers laws. If fasting be intended as an instrument of prayer, it is sufficient that it be of that 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,
4 Οὐ σιτίον, οὐ πότον ἔξεστι προσενέγκεσθαι. — Philo.
Pœnitentia de ipso quoque habitu ac victu mandat, sacco et cineri incubare, corpus sordibus obscurare, animum mæroribus dejicere, atque illa quæ peccavit tristi tractatione mutare. - Tertul. de Pænit. c. 9.
Baruch, ii. 18.
Lautè edere et meraciùs bibere rusticitatis erat apud veteres. Unde Imondi, et epnixín äμustis, apud Callimachum: et in proverbium abiit, ἡ πλησμονὴ τῶν βαρβάρων et apud Theophrastum, δεινῶς φαγεῖν, καὶ ζωρότερον πιεῖν, rusticorum esse notatur, Περὶ ἀγροικίας.
• Παχεία γαστὴς λεπτὸν οὐ τίκτει νέον.
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 farther required, nor is it in this sense farther 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 commuted with other actions of severity and discipline, according to the customs of a church, or the capacity of the persons, or the opportunity of circumstances. But if the fasting be intended for mortification, then it is fit to be more severe and medicinal, by continuance, and quantity, and quality. To repentance, total abstinences without interruption, that is, during the solemnity, short and sharp, are most apt: but towards the mortifying a lust, those sharp and short fasts are not reasonable; but a diet of fasting, an habitual subtraction of nutriment from the body, a long and lasting austerity, increasing in degrees, but not violent in any. And in this sort of fasting we must be highly careful we do not violate a duty by fondness of an instrument; and because we intend fasting as a help to mortify the lust, let it not destroy the body, or retard the spirit, or violate our health, or impede us 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 designs; 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 wise persons, that it be neither in itself unreasonable, nor, by accident, become criminal.
Ezra, viii. 21. Dan. x. 12. Psal. xxxv. 13. Isa. Iviii. 3.
Levit, xvi. 29, 30, 31.
6. In the pursuance of this discipline of fasting, the doctors of the church and guides of souls have not unusefully prescribed other annexes and circumstances; as that all the other acts of deportment be symbolical to our fasting. If we fast for mortification, let us 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 which 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 to 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