Obrazy na stronie

twice in the Week, our Saviour in no Manner blames him for fafting, but corrects his Vanity for boasting of it.

Q. Why did not our Saviour's Difciples faft while be was upon Earth?

A. Because Fafting belongs to Mourners, but while our Saviour was with them, it was a Time of Joy and Gladnefs, and confequently as im-. proper a Season for the Signification of Sorrow, as it would be to forbid Eating and Drinking at a Wedding. Can the Children of the Bride-Luke 5. chamber fast, faith our Saviour, while the Bride- 34, 35. groom is with them? But when the Bridegroom is taken from them, then fall they fast. Whereby our Saviour doth not go about to excufe his Difciples from thofe Obligations of Fafting, which St. John's Difciples and the Pharisees practifed; but intimates, that though it was not fit for them at prefent, yet when he was gone from them, they alfo fhould faft in those Days.

Q. What Examples have we of Fafting in the Scriptures?

A. It was a Duty all along obferved by devout Men, and acceptable to God under the Old and New Teftament, both as it was helpful to their Devotion, and as it became a Part of it. Publick-enjoined Fafts upon extraordinary Occafions are fo frequent in Scripture, they need no particular Notice. And as to private Fafts, we read that David chaften'd his Soul with Faft-Pf. 69.10. ing. And Daniel fought the Lord, not only Dan. 9. 3. with Prayers and Supplications, but with Fefling. Anna ferved and worshipped God in Prayers and As 10. Faftings Night and Day. Cornelius was fafting, 30. as well as praying, when the Vision came, that

Luke 2.




brought Salvation to his House. When Paul Acts 13. 2.and Barnabas were to be ordained Apostles, there was Fafting joined to Prayer; and St. Paul 2 Cor.6.5. approved himself a Minister of God in Faftings, as well as Labours and Watchings; He kept his 1 Cor. 9. Body under, and brought it into Subjection; left, while he preached to others, he himself should be a Caft-away.



Q. Have we any Account, that the Apoftles, after our Saviour's Afcenfion, prallised Fafting and Abftinence?


A. Epiphanius tells us, thatSt. James the Great 30. c. 24. and St. John were very eminent for a mortified. Life; that they never eat either Flesh or Fish, and wore but one Coat and a Linen Garment. Pædag. Clemens Alexandrinus relates of St. Matthew, lib. 2. c.1.that he was fo far from indulging his Appetite, that he refused to gratify it with lawful and ordinary Provifions, eating no Flesh; his ufual Diet being nothing but Herbs, Roots, Seeds, and Berries. And it is recorded of St. James the Lefs, Bishop of Jerufalem, a Man of that Divine Temper, that he was the Love and Wonder of the Age; that he wholly abstained from Flesh, and drank neither Wine nor ftrong Drink, nor ever used the Bath; and that his whole Body was covered with Palenefs through Fafting.

Q. Was Fafting practifed in the Primitive Church?

A. The ancient Chriftians were very exact both in their weekly and annual Fafts. Their weekly Fafts were kept on Wednesdays and Fridays; because on the one our Lord was betrayed,

and on the other crucified. Thefe Fafts were Tertul. de called their Stations, from the military Word Jejun.c.z. of keeping their Guard, as Tertullian obferves:


Though others think more immediately from the Jewish Phrafe, and the Custom of those devout Men, who, either out of their own Devotion, or as the Representatives of the People, affifted at the Oblations of the Temple; not departing thence till the Service was over. For thefe Fafts ufually lafted 'till after Three in the Afternoon, as did their publick Affemblies. Their annual Faft was that of Lent, by Way of Preparation for the Feast of our Saviour's Refurrection. But this was variously observed, according to different Times and Places.

Q. What was the Manner of Fafting among the Primitive Chriftians?

A. They obferved their Fafts with great Cyr. Hier. Strictnefs. All in general on fuch Days abftain-catech. 4ed from drinking Wine and eating Flesh; the greatest Part fed only on Herbs or Pulfe, with a Little Bread. They confined themselves to cheap and ordinary Diet, without Sauces or relishing Delicacies, Some ufed the dry Diet, as Nuts, Almonds, and fuch like Fruits; others fed only upon Bread and Water.

Q. What Occafions of Fafting are particularly taken Notice of in the Primitive Church?

A. There was the Faft of a Penitent, who after Baptifm having committed fome grievous Sin, was for it excluded the Affemblies of Chriftians, either by his own Confcience, or by publick Sentence, till he was reconciled to God and the Church. Rigorous was the Penance of these lapfed Chriftians, and their Fafting truly an Affliction of their Souls; for they lay in Sackcloth and Afbes, watched and fafted, groaned and wept to the Lord their God; and not only fupplicated God's Mercy, but begged the Pardon and Ff3


Prayers of their Chriftian Brethren. Another folemn Occafion of Fafting, was the Profeffion of Repentance those made who were converted to the Faith, and were preparing to be baptized. And it was the Practice not only of the Candidates of Baptifm to faft, but of the whole Con+ gregation with them; there being stated Times in the Primitive Church for the adminiftring that Sacrament, as Eafter and Whitfuntide, the Fafting on both thefe Accounts did often fall in with the Faft before Eafter.

1 Tim. 4. Q. But does not St. Paul place the abftaining from Meats among the Doctrines of feducing Spirits ?

1, 3.


2 Cor. 11.


A. It cannot be fuppofed, that by abstaining from Meats St. Paul fhould mean the Duty of Fafting; because that was obferved by devout Men, and acceptable to God both under the Mat 6. Old and New Teftament; and our Saviour himself 16,17,18. had given Directions concerning the Performance of it, in his admirable Sermon upon the Mount. 1 Cor. 9. And our Apoftle practifed it alfo upon feveral Occafions. Therefore it is moft probable he doth therein condemn the Opinions of fome ancient ch. 6. 5. Hereticks that departed from the Faith, who, as Tim. 4. they excluded thofe from Salvation that engaged in Matrimony, fo they held the eating the Flefh of any living Creatures unlawful; a Doctrine De Abt. very likely barrowed from Pythagoras and his Followers, being defended with fuch Variety of Learning by Porphyry. Whereas they who are inftructed in their Chriftian Liberty, and know Gen. 9.3. the Truth, are fully fecured that God hath perActs 2.46. mitted the Ufe of fuch his Creatures for our Nou27. 33. rishment and Suftenance, provided we receive them always with Temperance and Thanksgiv


ab ufu



Acts 10.


ing; and that the Gospel hath taken away the Rom. 14. Difference between Things clean and unclean. 14. Q. When may a Faft be counted religious? A. When it is undertaken upon religious Ends and Purposes, to reftrain the loofer Appetites of the Flesh, and to keep the Body under. To give the Mind Liberty and Ability to confider and recollect while it is actually engaged in divine Service, or preparing for fome folemn Part of it. To humble ourselves before God under a Senfe of our Sins, and the Mifery to which they expofe us. To deprecate his Anger, and to fupplicate for his Mercy and Favour. To exprefs Revenge against ourselves for the Abufe of thofe good Things God alloweth us to enjoy ; and of which we have made ourselves unworthy by finful Exceffes. When it is used as a Piece of Self-denial, in order the better to command our fleshly Appetites; and as a Means to raise in our Minds a due Valuation of the Happiness of the other World, when we despise the Enjoyment of this. Above all, to make it acceptable to God, it fhould be accompanied with fervent Prayer, and a charitable Relief of the Poor; whofe Miferies we may the better guefs at, when we are bearing fome of the Inconveniences of Hunger.

Q. What must we do if Fafting is prejudicial to our Health, and indifpofes us for the Service of God?

A. In this Cafe it concerns us to deal impartially with ourselves, and not to make use of it as a Pretence to excufe ourselves from the Obligation of this Duty; efpecially when the Commands of our lawful Superiors require the Obfervation of it. But if it have this Effect, we ought to eat more fparingly and with lefs DeliFf 4


« PoprzedniaDalej »