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VENIT

NOX

THE

PREFACE TO THE READER.

THE author of this little Treatise, designed

it as a manual, not of controversy, but regular piety, and for common use. He did not, therefore, think fit to add any thing by way of disputation concerning those doctrines and practices in the Roman Church, which respect Fasting and other bodily austerities.

It had been very easy for him to have written a more learned book; but, all things considered, he could not (it may be) have published, at this time, any thing more seasonable, and generally useful.

We abound with books upon other practical subjects; though, by reason of the several tempers and capacities of readers, which in the same matter, require variety of form, we cannot complain of a superfluity.

But, upon this argument, we meet not with great plenty of distinct treatises, unless we put such into the number as the writers have transcribed, some from fancy, others from severity of nature. For Epicures are not more humour.ous in their rules of luxury, than Monasticks are in their rules of abstinence.

It is happy, therefore, for the people that they have gained this Tract concerning Fasting, in which the directions and persuasives to a mortified life are not embased, either with capricious affectation, or superstitious rigour. We have need of such directions, and of a strict and temperate practice suitable to them.

I intend not, by saying this, to accuse all the Christians of the Church of England as Libertines; but to quicken those who live in a remissness, which is not answerable to her constitution. I know many in our communion

!

who lead lives exceeding regular, and who exercise themselves in that which is truly Fasting. One day at least in every week they either abstain till night, or use a small quantity of some ordinary thing, which, in this northern air, may keep the body from being unserviceable to the mind. Whereas often amongst others, their Fasts, if they continue all day, are concluded with a luxurious supper, or (which is the common use) are but the using of another kind of diet, and then they may eat a plentiful dinner: though this change of diet (especially among the rich) is no more fasting, than change of apparel is going naked. An evening collation also, is even then allowed; and to drink at all times of the day (according to their casuists) doth not dissolve a Fast. Filliutius, in particular, saith, that drinking water, or wine, or beer, whether before or after dinner, whether for nourishment or not does not break a man's Fast.1

There is the like mistake in a thing near a kin to this, which it may not be amiss, in this 1 Tract. xxvii. Pars 11, c. 2. Q. 10.

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