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"from being profitable, they will but increase our "condemnation. If after so much care and culture, our dispositions be not meliorated; if the angry man does not become meek, and the passionate gentle and mild; if the covetous man does not desist from his ardour in the pursuit of riches, and give himself to alms-deeds; if the intemperate "man does not become sober and chaste; if the vain-glorious does not learn to despise false honour, "and to seek that which is true, &c.-if we do not conquer these and all other affections that proceed "from natural depravity; though we assemble here every day, and enjoy continual preaching and in"struction, with the aid of fasting, what pardon can we expect, what apology can we make?"


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Abstinence was naturally, and at all times considered as essential to the fast; and the most ancient manner of observing Lent, was to refrain from all food till the evening for the change of diet, as of flesh for fish, was not by the ancients accounted a fast. Their only refreshment was a moderate supper, and they partook indifferently of animal, or other food, of whatever was provided. In subsequent ages, the use of flesh and wine was generally prohibited: But the manner of fasting was in different times and places, not less various, than the days and seasons devoted to the duty. Some abstained from all creatures, which had once had life; some from all but fish. Others ate fowls as well as fish: others abstained from eggs, milk, and fruit, and ate only pulse, roots, or bread: others even from these;


and again others indulged themselves with the addition of a little salt and water to their bread.

Besides the abstinence of the mouth, abstinence from eating and drinking, refraining from gratifications that were at other times esteemed innocent, was strictly insisted on in Lent: such were the frequenting of places of public amusement, the use of the bath, and conjugal intercourse. During the whole of Lent were prohibited the solemnization of marriages, the celebration of the festivals of Martyrs *, and the observance of the birth-days of individuals;

*In the Western Church, no day in Lent, besides Sunday, not even the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, was exempt from fasting. But on the festivals they broke their fast at an earlier hour than usual. By the Council of Trullo, in 692, the feast of the Annunciation, called one of our Lord's festivals, was exempted from fasting. A Canon of this Council affected to subject the Western Churches to the usages of the Greeks, and to prohibit their fasting on the Saturdays in Lent, under the pains and penalties of deposition for the Clergy, and excommunication for the Laity. But their writers of the twelfth century mention with regret, that the Western Churches still, in spite of the Canon, remained attached to their ancient usages. The Council of Laodicea, in the fourth century, made a Canon forbidding the celebration of the feasts of Martyrs (and at that period there were no other) in Lent, excepting on Saturdays and Sundays; which two days the Orientals observed as festivals throughout the year. This accounts for the non-appearance of any Saints days in the more ancient Calendars (of Africa, Italy, Spain, and France) during this season. From the Sacramentaries likewise, edited by MABILLON, it appears, that the festivals of Saints were not celebrated in Lent (though a simple commemoration of them might be made) before the eighth century.

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dividuals; these festive ceremonies being thought incompatible with the humiliation and contrition, that ought to accompany the ante-paschal fast. All prosecutions likewise in criminal cases during Lent, and all corporeal punishments were forbidden by the imperial laws. "Let no punishment," says the Code of THEODOSIUS, "be inflicted on the body in the "sacred season of Lent, when we expect the abso"lution of our souls."

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The last week of Lent in particular, the great week, holy week, or Passion week, was observed with extraordinary strictness and solemnity. "We "call this the great week," says CHRYSOSTOM *, "not because its days are longer, or more in number "than those of other weeks, but on account of the great things that in it were performed by our "Lord. In this great week an end was put to the tyranny which the devil had long exercised, death "was destroyed, the strong man was bound, and "his goods were spoiled, sin was taken away, and "the curse abolished, Paradise was opened, and "Heaven made accessible, men and angels were "united, the partition wall was broken down, the "barriers removed, the God of peace made peace "between heaven and earth.-In this week many in

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In 656, the Tenth Council of Toledo refused to admit the feast of the Annunciation to be held on the 25th of March, because that day commonly made a part of Lent. The Council therefore transferred it to the eighth day before Christmas. See Baillet.

* De Hebdomade magna.


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"crease their labours; some add to their fastings, "others to their watchings, and others give more "liberal alms.-Not one city only, but all the world

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goes forth to meet Christ, not with branches of "palms in their hands, but with almsgiving, huma

nity, virtue, tears, prayers, fastings, watchings, "and every kind of piety, which they offer and pre"sent unto Christ, their Lord."

In what have been styled the darker ages, and in the following ages of Christianity, the design of the fast was abused, its intention misrepresented, and its observance corrupted by Popery, and more especially by the casuistry of school divines of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

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It would, however, be a tacit libel against the late Gallican Church, not to acknowledge publicly, that most of the abuses of the Scholastics and Jesuits, so far as Lent is concerned, have been exposed and justly censured by her ablest Ritualists and soundest Divines; but it is the honest boast of our national Church, that all these abuses have for more than 250 years been discharged from her forms. The fast which she directs, is not only an ancient, but a simple, innocent, and commendable institution.

In this, as well as in a thousand other instances, the piety, erudition, good sense, and moderation of the English Reformers are discernible. Neither the Homilies nor the Liturgy countenance the opinion, that the Lenten fast is of divine or apostolic appointment, or that fasting at any particular season is enjoined by any precept of the Gospel. Still that our


Lenten fast must be considered as something more than a merely civil or political institution is evident from the statutes of the realm. They expressly as'sert, that "due and godly abstinence is a mean to "virtue, and to subdue men's bodies to their souls " and spirits *."

When the pious Christian observes days of abstinence with proper dispositions; when he looks upon fasting, not as an essential part of Religion, but simply as auxiliary to the due performance of religious acts, to the mortifying and subduing of criminal appetites and passions, and to the spiritualizing of the soul; when he sets apart for prayer, self-examination, and contrition, and for the receiving of religious instruction and reproof, that time which Christians have in general allotted for these ends; when he thus complies with the directions of his lawful superiors, and of ancient Canons, and with the usages of the established Church, of which he is a member; when he does not hope by abstinence at one season, to compound for excess at another; when he is fully persuaded, that "neither one day

nor one meat is holier, or cleaner than another †," yet on certain days chuses to abstain from certain meats, not because they are unlawful, but because they are less subservient to keeping the body under subjection; when in things indifferent he neither rigorously confines himself to rules, nor adopts what might tend either to trench on Christian liberty, or

3 Edw. VI. c. 19.

† Idem, ibid.


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