Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

THE first is fafting in the ftricteft propriety of the word; when for a whole day, or much the greatest part of it, we reject all ufe of meats, and drink, and pleafures, retiring from the world, and confining our felves to religious meditation, and to devout and fervent prayer, with a due attendance on the worship of God in public, if we can have the opportunity. In this ftrict manner fhould be kept thofe general and folemn fafts, appointed by authority for national humiliation and repentance; attending at Church both parts of the day, to lament before God our own and the nation's fins, and to implore those public bleffings, which we are called to pray for at that time; fpending the rest of the day in the like pious offices at home, and eating nothing (if our conftitutions will bear it) till the evening. This fort of fafting alfo, may in fome cafes, by a parity of reafon, be proper and requifite for private perfons, when their confciences being burdened with remorfe for fome particular and grievous fin, or with a deep fenfe of all their fins in general, they defire to perform a fpecial act of repentance, and felf-revenge, and to make their peace with God thereupon. Or, when they lie under any great affliction, and would follicit more carneftly the removal of it; or fear any great impending evil, and would avert it, or are defirous of any bleffing from heaven, of very great confequence to them, and would exert their utmost fervour and devotion in praying for it. But if (as in fome conftitutions it may fo happen) this ftrict and total fafting may prove an hindrance to their devotion, prudence join'd with piety muft direct them what to do; for after all, fafting is in this cafe (I mean, when intended as an help to prayer) no more than a minifterial or affifting duty, and if it hinder, instead of helping, is no duty at all.

THE

[ocr errors]

"

THE fecond fort of fafting is a course of abftinence continued for feveral days together, wherein we confine our appetites not within the bounds of temperance only (for this is always a duty,) but of felfdenial and mortification, to a very sparing use of meats and drink, as to the quantity; and a choice of the plainest, courseft, and leaft agreeable forts of them, as to the quality; with a general difregard of pleafure and diverfions the whole time, or at leaft a very tender and cautious admittance of them, and an industrious care to fit as loofe to them as poffible. It is not requifite here (as it is in fafting properly fo called) to fpend all our time in acts of religion and devotion, though it may be fit to interfperfe it with more frequent returns of prayer than ordinary, according to our fpiritual occafions; but we ought always to accompany this fort of fafting, as well as the other, with a particular difpofition to penitence and piety, a ftrict watchfulness over our appetites and paffions; and a conftant diligence in obferving our own weakness, and a ftudioufnefs of all proper ways and means to get the mastery over them. Now that fuch an abftinence as this, fo regulated and fo attended, may not improperly bear the name of fafting, is plain; both, because in the language of holy Scripture, it is fometimes call'd fo (for fo muft all thofe places be understood, that speak of fasting feveral days together; except in the cafe of Mofes, Elijah, and Chrift, who were fupported by fpecial miracle:) And because it really anfwers fome of the great ends of fafting as much, and fome others of them more effectually, than all the ftrictness that can be on one fingle day. It may ferve to compofe the mind to prayer, and to excite devotion in thofe, who cannot bear a ftrict and total faft, but would be hindred by it. It tends to humiliation, repentance, and reformation of life, as it tends to mortification. And indeed, this laft is the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the peculiar use of it. For mortification is not to be the work of now and then a day, but requires long abftinence, and repeated reftraints to effect it, as it fhould be. The Church therefore has fet apart the forty days of Lent, as an annual returning feafon for it; and were this feafon duly fo imploy'd, it would be found by experience, to contribute very much, by the grace and bleffing of God, to the reducing our fenfual lufts, and bringing our bodily appetites under government, to the drawing of our affections from this world, the mortifying us to fecular and vain pleasures, and the making us more ferious and devout in our religion. Having thus confidered the measures of fafting, as applicable and proper to the feveral ends and uses of it, I fhall only add farther on this head, that no certain measures of it can be univerfally laid down, as obligatory to all: Every perfon, who is fo well difpofed, as to practise it in any measure, muft be left to regulate the particular manner and frequency of it, as age and strength, and conftitution, are able to bear. For tho' we are required to mortify the deeds of the body, our religion does not put fuch hardships upon us, as may deftroy the body it felf.

I have faid nothing here, except in the paraphrase at the beginning of that oftentation in this duty of fafting, which our Saviour particularly cautions us againft. And I think I need not; that crime being altogether the fame in its nature, in this, as in the two former articles of alms and prayer; and having spoken of it there, I fhould but repeat the fame again, if I confider it afresh under this head of fafting. The paraphrase therefore shall fuffice for that; and I will proceed to the next part of this excellent fermon on the Mount.

СНАР.

CHA P. XIX.

Of not laying up treasures upon earth, but of laying them up in heaven, and of trust in God's providence.

MATTH. VI. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, | 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.

Lay not up for your felves treasures upon earth, where moth and ruft doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.

But lay up for your felves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor ruft doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and Steal.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be alfo.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be fingle, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?

No

No man can ferve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or elfe he will hold to the one, and defpife the other. Te cannot ferve God and mammon. Therefore I fay unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment ? Behold the fowls of the air: for they fow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one

cubit unto his ftature?

[ocr errors]

And why take ye thought for raiment ? Confider the lillies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I fay unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of thefe. Wherefore if God fo clothe the grafs of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is caft into the oven; fhall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, faying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal fhall we be clothed?

For after all thefe things do the Gentiles feek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that. have need of all these things.

ye

But feek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteoufnefs, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take

« ForrigeFortsæt »