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twice in the Week, our Saviour in no Manner blames him for fasting, but corrects his Vanity for boasting of it.
Q. Why did not our Saviour's Disciples fast while be was upon Earth?
A. Because Fasting belongs to Mourners, but while our Saviour was with them, it was a Time of Joy and Gladness, and consequently 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 chamber fast, faith our Saviour, while the Bride- 34, 35. groom is with them ? But when the Bridegroom is taken from them, then shall they fast. Whereby our Saviour doth not go about to excuse his Disciples from those Obligations of Fasting, which St. John's Disciples and the Pharisees practised; but intimates, that though it was not fit for them at present, yet when he was gone from them, they also should fast in those Days.
Q. What Examples have we of Fafting in the Scriptures?
A. It was a Duty all along observed by devout Men, and acceptable to God under the Old and New Testament, both as it was helpful to their Devotion, and as it became a Part of it. Publick-enjoined Fasts upon extraordinary Occasions are so frequent in Scripture, they need no particular Notice. And as to private Fafts, we read that David chasten'd his Soul with Fajt - Pf. 69.10. ing. And Daniel fought the Lord, not only Luke'z. with Prayers and Supplications, but with Fosiing. 37 Anna served and worshipped God in Prayers and as 10. Fastings Night and Day. Cornelius was fajiing, 30. as well as praying, when the Vision came, that
į Cor. 9. 27.
brought Salvation to his House. When Paul A&si3. 2.and Barnabas were to be ordained Apostles,
there was Fasting joined to Prayer ; and St. Paul 2 Cor.6. 5. approved himself a Minister of God in Fastings,
as well as Labours and Watchings; He kept his Body under, and brought it into Subjection ; left, while he preached to others, be bimself jould be a Caft-away.
Q. Have we any Account, that the Apostles, after our Saviour's Afcenfion, praftised Fasting
and Abstinence ? Ep.58.c4. A. Epiphanius tells us, thatSt. James the Great 30. C. 24. and St. John were very entinent 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 so far from indulging his Appetite,
that he refused to gratify it with lawful and ordinary Provisions, eating no Flesh ; his usual Diet being nothing but Herbs, Roots, Seeds, and Berries. And it is recorded of St. James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem, 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 strong Drink, nor ever used the Bath; and that his whole Body, was covered with Paleness through Fasting.
Q. Was Fasting practised in the Primitive Church?
A. The ancient Christians were very exact both in their weekly and annual Fafts. Their weekly Fasts were kept on Wednesdays and Fridays; because on the one our Lord was betrayed,
and on the other crucified. These Fasts were Tertul. de
called their Stations, from the military Word kejur.c.2. of keeping their Guard, as Tertullien obferves :
Though others think more immediately from the Jewish Phrase, 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 these Falts usually lasted 'till after Three in the Afternoon, as did their publick Assemblies. Their annual Fast was that of Lent, by Way of Preparation for the Feast of our Saviour's Resurrection. But this was variously observed, according to different Times and Places.
Q. What was the Manner of Fasting among the Primitive Christians ?
A. They observed their Fofts with great Cyr. Hier. Strictness. All in general on such Days abstain-catech. 4. ed from drinking Wine and eating Flesh; the greatest Part fed only on Herbs or Pulse, with a little Bread. They confined themselves to cheap and ordinary Diet, without Sauces or relishing Delicacies, Some used the dry Diet, as Nuts, Almonds, and such like Fruits ; others fed only upon Bread and Water.
Q. Wbat Occasions of Fafting are particularly taken Notice of in the Primitive Church?
A. There was the Faft of a Penitent, who after Baptism having committed some grievous Sin, was for it excluded the Assemblies of Chriftians, either by his own Conscience, or by publick Sentence, till he was reconciled to God and the Church. Rigorous was the Penance of these lapsed Christians, and their Fasting truly an Affiction of their Souls ; for they lay in Sackcloth and Ashes, watched and fasted, groaned and wept to the Lord their God; and not only supplicated God's Mercy, but begged the Pardon and
1 Tim. 4. 1, 3.
Prayers of their Christian Brethren. Another folemn Occasion of Fasting, was the Profession 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 Baptism to fast, but of the whole Con gregation with them ; there being stated Times in the Primitive Church for the administring thet Sacrament, as Easter and Whitsuntide, the Fasting on both these Accounts did often fall in with the Fast before Easter.
Q. But does not St. Paul place the abstaining from Meats among the Doctrines of seducing Spirits?
A. It cannot be suppofed, that by abstaining from Meats St. Paul should mean the Duty of Fafting ; because that was observed by devout
Men, and acceptable to God both under the Mat 6. Old and New Testament, and our Saviour himfelf 16,17,18. had given Directions concerning the Performance
of it, in his admirable Sermon upon the Mount. 1 Cor. 9. And our Apostle practised it also upon several
Occasions. Therefore it is most probable he doth
therein condemn the Opinions of some ancient ch. 6. 5. Hereticks that departed from the Faith, who, as 1 Tim. 4. they excluded those from Salvation that engaged
in Matrimony, so they held the eating the Flesh
of any living Creatures unlawful; a Do&trine De Abst. very likely borrowed from Pythagoras and his ab usu
Followers, being defended with such Variety of Anim.
Learning by Porphyry. Whereas they who are
instructed in their Christian Liberty, and know Gen. 9.3. the Truth, are fully secured that God hath perA&ts 2.46.mitted the Use of fúch his Creatures for our Nou27. 33.
rishment and Sustenarce, provided we receive them always with Temperance and Thanksgiv
14: Acts 10.
ing; and that the Gospel hath taken away thi, Rom. 14. Difference between Things clean and unclean. Q. When may a Fast be counted religious ? . When it is undertaken upon religious
15 Ends and Purposes, to restrain the looser Appetites of the Flesh, and to keep the Body under. To give the Mind Liberty and Ability to consider and recollect while it is actually engaged in divine Service, or preparing for some folemn Part of it. To humble ourselves before God under a Sense of our Sins, and the Misery to which they expole us. To deprecate his Anger, and to fupplicate for his Mercy and Favour. To exprefs Revenge against ourselves for the Abuse of those good Things God alloweth us to enjoy ; and of which we have made ourselves unworthy by sinful Excesses. 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 should be accompanied with fervent Prayer, and a charitable Relief of the Poor; whose Miseries we may the better guess at, when we are bearing some of the Inconveniences of Hunger.
Q. What must we do if Fasting is prejudicial to our Health, and indisposes us for the Service of God?
A. In this Case it concerns us to deal impartially with ourselves, and not to make use of it as a Pretence to excuse ourselves from the Obligation of this Duty ; especially when the Commands of our lawful Superiors require the Observation of it. But if it have this Effect, we ought to eat more sparingly and with less Deli