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stances of each particular case, and appropriate to it both the duration and the durance of such a discipline. But as the objection justly states, that no man is willing by nature, and of his own deliberate choice, to act with a discretion such as this; and as, in this avowal, it also admits that all men are sensual and selfish, “ lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God,” and as suffering, in every case, must be grievous, more particularly to the unfeeling and the impenitent;—it follows, that to act with a discretion suited to the ends of spiritual discipline in this, or in


there must be a strong sense of sin, and a desire after holiness ;-there must be a certain progress in self-knowledge, and in the knowledge of divine things, that a man may be duly qualified to judge himself, and candidly to follow up

that judgment, or that he may be capable of thus prescribing for himself, and of using with any profit, his prescription. To all others—to the formal professor, fasting is nothing more than temporary bondage ;-to the ignorant, it is a sort of sanction or an excuse to “go and sin” again ;-to the self-righteous, it is an couragement to hope against hope ;-and to the sensualist, it is the type and anticipation of a future Purgatory! To these, and to all such as these, it is, àt best, an antidote without the


apprehension of a disease, wijeh instead of relieving the construcon trzesting and counteracting the approaches of era, erre only to foment and to stimula:e she lazeri geeds of it. Who then should fast? Tłe awakened Christian. He who experiences a growth in graee, and is anxious to accelerate it, br wholesome correctives—he who still feels "sin warring in his members,” and threatening him with captivity to its ungodly dominion-he that reproves, and is willing to deny himself, and would make use of bodily mortification as auxiliary to a conquest orer self. To such a person, and to such only, fasting is suitable, and cannot fail of becoming profitable. Enjoined by the decree of arbitrary and indiscriminating authority, it is the utmost folly ;and he who obeys such authority, and is actuated by no better motive, either blindly resigns his conscience and his reason to the guidance of another, which is degrading to the soul of man; or impiously disregards the injunction in the text, “ when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites.”

You perceive then, that fasting is a religious discipline of no ordinary kind, and not to be engaged in lightly or irreverently :--that it is a spiritual exercise, peculiar to those who are already advanced in the kingdom of God ;

and that, like “ putting new wine into old bottles, or a piece of a new garment upon an old,” it is too rigorous an experiment for such as are weak in faith, and in the knowledge of themselves. Its strictness and austerity is more than they are able to bear, and for which they do not see any necessity. It should however, be set before them under the seal of Christian experience, just as our Lord prescribed it as a matter, not more of necessity than of use to his disciples, at a certain period of their future progress in the Christian life,—“ the days will come when they shall fast in those days.” And in the same spirit does the Church of England introduce it to our notice-without appointing it as an indispensable duty, she permits it as a wise expedient. And whilst she attaches not the observance of it to certain days and seasons, which the very nature of the thing has left to the discretion of the pious and the penitent: she shapes the character of her services in such a manner as to make way for it, more particularly during the season of Lent, or spring-time, (which is the meaning of that word) and amidst the awful recollections which she would excite previous to the approaching commemoration of our Lord's crucifixion. And that such a signal manifes


tation of the love of God towards a sinful world might dwell with stronger impression on the mind, she has protracted this season of humiliation to forty days, with a happy reference to our Lord's abstinence during the same period, indirectly insinuating thereby our conformity by fasting, to this his most holy example. But not a word is said on the manner of this abstinence-what mortifications or self-denials are to be observed—what days or hours are sentenced to restraint-what meals are to be omitted or restricted—what food is proper or improper, and what kinds or quantities of it are holy and unholy. She merely reminds ns of what is alone important,—the reason and the end of such a service, whilst the manner and the measure of its use and application are left entirely to the candid and judicious regulation of every truly Christian mind.

The result of all is this: Have we made such a progress “in holy conversation and godliness” as may qualify us to fast ? Does communion with our own hearts discover that great impediments to such a progress arise, in our particular case, from the opposition of the body and its intemperate passions ? And do we perceive how extenuation of the body ministers to the increase of spiritual strength ?

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Shall we not do wisely then in denying ourselves such things as tend to inflame the passions, and not only with regard to meat and drink, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,” in the way of mortification and of penalty, but also in the way of temperance, with regard to the “pride of life,” and to various worldly enjoyments and pursuits, lawful, perhaps, and innocent in themselves, but indulged in exclusively, and with too much levity, or followed with too much anxiety? For, these as well as vice itself, and frequently with more lasting effect than vice, steal away the heart from God. Vice debilitates, or vice disgusts, and may cause the satiated prodigal to exclaim, “who will shew” me “any good;" but a constant round of worldly dissipation leaves the heart unoccupied by what is truly good, seeking as much its own will, and engaged as much with its own thoughts, as if it were wholly devoted to the service of sin. It is plain, therefore, that such avocations and pursuits as these, when detected and acknowledged, should be corrected by frequent abstinence from them. We should literally hold a solemn fast upon such things as these, and by often breaking in upon the habit, gradually repel its influence. Is the body disordereddo we not relieve it in the same way ?

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