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we to have of a reformation which taught all these wicked and sacreligious doings, and still upholds the vow-breaking doctrine, in direct contradiction to the written word of God?
If Protestants reply, that continency is a free gift of God (Wisd. viii.), and therefore no one knowing whether it will be hereafter in his power, ought not to vow it (Matt. xix. 11); and if a priest or religious person after his vow finds it not in his power, he may lawfully marry, remembering the saying of the Apostle, that it is better to marry than burn (1 Cor. vii. 9), let them know that continence is no otherwise a gift of God than justice, temperance, and every virtue (James i. 17), which may
i therefore be obtained of God by prayer, providing they neglect not the ordinary preservatives of it, which are abstinence, fasting, mortification, and a strict divorce from too great familiarities with persons of another sex. Continency then be the matter of a vow as any other virtue, and such vow, when made, does by the divine law strictly bind the votaries in conscience.
POINT XXX. PROTESTANTS maintain, That mortification of the flesh, and an austere way of life, is mere folly and superstition.
Contrary to the written word of God:
1. “And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins : and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” Matt. iii. 4.
The Gospel also testifies of St. John (Luke iii. 2), that he led an eremitical life in the desert. Here then the Gospel presents us with an example of a saint, of one who was more than a prophet; than
may as well
whom a greater had not risen among the born of women (Matt. xi. 9, 11), who led an austere and mortified life, both as to his habitation, and as to his diet, and as to his clothing.
2. “And they that are Christ's have crucified their flesh, with the affections and lusts.” Gal.
Always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” 2 Cor. iv. 10.
4. “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection : least that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.' 1 Cor. ix. 27.
If so great a person as St. Paul did not think himself secure of heaven, without mortification of the body as well as the will, how can our pampered Protestants arrive thither without it? Let them at least own the truth, that an austere mortified life, such as many holy hermits and other holy persons follow in the Catholic Church, and such as all Christians who aspire to eternal life must more or less partake of, is not folly and superstition ; but recommended to us by the doctrine of holy Scripture, and by the example of the greatest saints : let them not blame that in others which they have not courage and virtue to undertake themselves.
POINT XXXI. PROTESTANTS hold, That abstinence and fasting from certain meats in Lent, and upon other fasts commanded by the Church, is folly and superstition, not grounded in the written word of God.
Contrary to innumerable texts, both of their Bible and Testament:
1. “ And it came to pass when Achab heard those words, that he rent his clothes and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and lay in sackcloth and went softly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Achab humbleth himself before me ? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the evil upon his house."
1 Kings xxi. 27, 28. Here we see in holy writ, how fasting and penance pacified the wrath of God, and moved him to spare even wicked Achab, of whom it is said in the same chapter, that there was not such another for wickedness in the sight of the Lord. Ver. 25.
2. “I humbled myself with fasting. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh faileth of fatness.” Ps. xxxv. 13, lxix. 10, cix. 24.
Here is fasting recommended by the example of King David, who is a perfect pattern, as well of sanctity to saints, as of penance to sinners.
3. “Whenever either a man or a woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord : he shall separate himself from wine, and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes or dried.” Numb. vi. 2, 3.
4. “And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites, pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father, commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye nor your sons for ever.
have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab, the son of Rechab our father. Therefore thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel ; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for
Jer. xxxv. 5, 6, 7, 8, 19. I suppose Protestants must allow this fast of the Nazarites and Rechabites was a fast from certain meats and strong liquors and not only from sin ? Yet is this fast of the Rechabites here approved, and that of the Nazarites instituted by God himself.
5. “ Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea, on this side Syria ; and behold they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is Engedi ; and Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” 3 Chron. xx. 2, 3.
See with what devotion this pious king, in time of an imminent danger, betook himself to prayer and fasting
6. “And I set my face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes." Dan. ix. 3.
Here is fasting again recommended by the example of the prophet Daniel.
7. “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” Joel ii. 12.
Is not fasting here preached to all by the word of God from the mouth of a prophet?
8. “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and. proclaimed a fast: and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” Jonah iii. 5. “ And God saw their works that they turned
from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do to them, and he did it not.” Ver. 10.
Protestants must not pretend that this celebrated fast of the Ninevites was only a fast from sin, for the Scripture itself testifies that from meat and drink they fasted. “ And he caused it to be proclaimed through Nineveh (by the decree of the King and his nobles) saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water.” Jonah iii. So strict was this fast, that not one bit of bread did they eat, not one drop of water did they drink, during the time appointed for the fast; nor can it be questioned whether this their fasting was acceptable to God, since the written word here assures us that it pacified the wrath of God, and obtained pardon for this wicked city, even when his almighty arm was lifted up for their destruction !
9. “Go gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast
for and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go unto the King.” Esther iv. 16.
Here we have another instance in holy writ of a fast, not from sin only, but a three days' fast from meat and drink ; which, joined with humble prayer, obtained of heaven the deliverance of all the Jews in Persia from the general massacre that was intended against them.
10. “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance." Ezra viii. 21.
11. “And it came to pass when I heard these