The Cognizance of a True Christian

or the outward markes whereby
he may be the better knowne:
Consisting especially in these two duties: Fasting and giving of Almes: verie needfull for these difficult times.
Divided into two severall Treatises.
Published by Samuel Gardiner, Batcheler of Divinitie:

James 1. 27.
Pure religion and undefiled before God, even the father is this, to visit the fatherlesse and widowes in their adversitie, and to keepe himselfe unspotted of the world.

Aug. in Psal. 43.
Wilt thou have thy prayers flie up unto God, give it two wings, Fasting and Almes.

Printed by Thomas Creede, and are to be sold by Nicholas Ling. 1597.

PUBLISHED BY Thomas Creede
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1. The Cognizaunce of a true Christian, or the out- ward markes whereby he may be knowne.
The first Chapter.
Of diverse kinds of fasts.

BEcause there are so manie sundrie kindes of fast, and few there be who fast in that order as they ought: it is verie needfull, that first we should distinguish it, before we do define it, that wee deceive not our selves in a zeale without knowledge, Having a shew of godlinesse, but indeed 2. Tim 3 5. do denie the power of it.

There is a fast which may be called Naturall: because the law of Nature doth prescribe 1 A natural fast. it: and that is but an abstinencie only [Page 2] for the time, or a spare diet, which is onely used as a preservative of our health, that both body & mind might be more pliable unto their proper functions, forasmuch as by a large and plentifull repast, the minde waxeth dull, and the bodie disable unto his outward actio[n]s. But for your further knowledge, & direction in this point, I send you to the schole of Philosophers to be taught: whose precepts of Temperance, Sobrietie, and Abstinence, must be your instructions. Socrates, Diogenes and Crates the Theban, in the strict observation of these rules, doo exceed us Christians. And i leave you to Phisitians, to tell you more of this, who according to the times, places and persons, will acquaint you with that fast, and course of diet, whith most fitlie doth agree with the states of your bodies. It is not the fast that i minde to meddle with.

2 A civill fast. There is a fast which may be said to bee civil, because it is imploide about civill actions: in which we are so earnest and devout, as wee will not eate or drinke before wee have accomplished them. Such a fast was 1. Sam. 14. 24 Saules, when hee was in chase pursuing of the Philistines, hee gave commaundement throughout his host, that none should bee [Page 3] so hardie, as to eate or drinke, untill he had avenged himselfe of his enemies. And this was the fast of certaine Jewes, which were confederate against Paul, who vowed with Acts 13. 12 themselves, that they would not eate, or drinke, untill they had killed Paul.

An other kind of fast which is too rife 3 A riotous fast. and common with many: is that which is used as a preparative to a feast. As when they keepe their stomacks for a sumptuous supper, that they might feed more riotouslie. This is an incontinent continencie. A fast of not fasting, as Lucus is called, a non lucendo: Parcae, á non parcendo: and Mons, á non movendo, Augustine calleth this, a superfluitie rather then a fast. Thus dilating of it, Aug. in Psa. 43 Non laudatur in illo seiunium, qui adluxuries sam coenam servat ventrem suum. Invitantur enim aliquando homines ad coenam magnam, & cum ad eam velint avidi venire, tetunant hoc ieiunium non continentiae sed potius luxuriae deputandum est. We do not commend this fast in that man, who reserveth his stomack for a large supper. For many being bidden unto great feasts, do fast before, to eat whe[n] they come with greater greedinesse. This is not a fast of sobrietie but rather of incontinencie. The hurtfull effects whereof are [Page 4] touched by the same father, excellently, Aug. ser. 56 de tempore in these words. Nihil prodest toto die, longum duxisse ieiunium: si posteaciborum suavitate, vel nimietate, anima obruatur: Illico enim mens repleta torpescit, & irrigata corporis nostri terra, spmas libidinum germinabit. It availeth nothing (saith he) to have fasted all the long day, if afterwards the minde bee overladen, either with daintinesse or fulnesse of meate. For the minde beeing surcharged, it waxeth blunt and heavie, and the earthlie furrowes of our bodie beeing watered, it bringeth forth the briers and thornes of unsatiable lust. This fast is too usuall. And a common tricke, this is, amongst carnall Gospellers, and fleshlie Epicures in these sinfull dayes.

4 A constrained fast. Let our fourth kind of fast be that which is constrained, which cannot bee avoyded, because it is the yoake which God hath laid upon us. That is, When the Bridgroome is taken from us. As when wee fast for meere povertie, having nothing to eate: when the Lord dooth punish a land with famine, or bringeth in the enemie, who co[n]sumeth and destroyeth the fruits of the earth, and the labour of the husbandmen. For this scarcitie and want, for very good causes the Lord [Page 5] in his secret and unsearchable providence, doth bring uerie often upon his deare servants. As upon Abraha[m] who for the famine that was in his land was constrained for his Gen. 10. 10 necessarie succor & relief to flie into Egypt. And to Isaak after him, who for the same cause went unto Gerar, unto Abimelech, Gen. 26, 1/ king of the Philistines: and to the old Israelites journeying through the desart, & wast Num. 2, 8 wildernesse: and upon Elias the Thesvite, 2. Kin. 17, 25 in that time of horrible dearth which was in Samaria: and upon his owne disciples, when Mat. 12, 1 as travelling too and fro to preach the Gospell, they were constrained to slake their hunger, to plucke the eares of corne upon the sabboth day. And upon Paul, of which 2. Cot. 11, 27 he boasteth in his second letter which hee writeth unto the Corinthians: And upon diverse poore people in this lande, at this time, who for extreme beggerie are inforced to fast, untill they bee brought unto deaths doore. This fast because it is of necessitie, and cannot be shunned, wee must not fret our selves, and murmure against God, but wee must endure it with all patience, and long suffering: as Eliah did, remaining by the river Cherith over Jordan, 1 Kin. 17, 5 untill the Ravens brought him bread and [Page 6] 2. Cor. 6, 4 flesh both morning and evening. And as Paul did (saying) We approve our selves as the Ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, and distresses, in prisons, tumults, labours, by watchings, by fastings. The God of patience grant, that we be like minded, now that his hand is heavie uppon us, and hee hath brought leannesse and scarcitie upon our souls, by taking away the staffe of bread, & making our fruitfull land barre[n], for the wickednes of the people that dwell therein. If we will rest co[n]tented, with his providence, and stay his leisure, hee will blesse our vittails with increase, and satisfie the poore with bread: he will crowne our patience with plenteousnesse to come, that our garners shall bee full, and plentie of all maner of store: our sheepe shall bring forth thousands, and ten thousands in our streets: for his armes (as the Prophet saith) are not so short, but he can save, and his eares are not so stopped, but he will heare us: nay he hath alreadie heard us, and the earth hath given her increase, and God even our owne God, hath given us his blessing. For we say not nowe as Christ said: Lift up your eyes, and looke on the regions, for they are white unto harvest, but lift up your eies, & looke [Page 7] into the Barnes how miraculously they are stored with a strange increase.

Of the late fast commanded by publique authoritie.

There is another kind of fast not much 5 By a moderate diet. disagreeing with that which was the first, but that it is not used for the same ende: which ought to be more usuall with Christians then it is, and that is an orderlie and moderate cariage of our selves, in the course of our diet, that thereby we may the better relieve and helpe the poore: and this requireth, that wee refraine our selves from al gluttonie and excesse, which is often the cause of the former famine, into which very many are often driven, by their excessive misgovernment. This we shall performe, if wee shall not give out selves to often and much feeding. Herein wee doo abuse our Christian libertie too much, that having no respect of these dificult times, we give our selves to all riot and excesse. And in the meane time, suffer the poore people, Gods deare Saints, to continue in scarcitie, while that which would relieve them, is [Page 8] wastfully concocted, and wantonly consumed upon our insatiable lusts. We make no ende of feasting and banquetting, as if wee were fruges consumere nati: borne to no other Cicero. ende then to consume the good creatures of the earth. I may crie out of our times as the Orator did of his, and say, August. de Tempore, Serm. 131. O tempora, O mores, O times, O maners. And as Augustine did of his: Prandia ducuntur usq ad noctem, & caenas Lucifer videt: frequenter usq ad vomit um ingurgitare se non erubescu[n]t, & ad mensuras fine mensura bibunt: multi inveniuntur qui ebriosos, & luxuriosos amplius quam oportet cogunt bibere. Our dinners are lengthened out untill night, and our suppers continue untill the day starre arise. They are not ashamed to eate til they vomit, and they drink by measures, without measure. There are many constraine those which have taken too much before, still to take more then they are able to beare. The multiplicitie of dishes, and varietie of dainties, that were often to be seen at one time, upon meane mens tables, these last deare yeares, was intollerable to behold. Iuuenal the Satiricall and prophane Poet, arguing Iuuenalis Sat. 1. the Romans of their excessive diet, censureth them thus, Quis fercula septum secreto [Page 9] caenavit auus? who of the ancient Romans had ever seven messe of meate at one feast? But if Iuuenal might bee suffered to come out of hell, to take a view and sight of our feastings, hee should find verie manie verie forward Christians in outward profession, hugely to exceed in this carnall condition, not onely the Romanes, but Sardanapalus, and Philoxenus the Epicure, and the whole confused rout of Atheists and Epicures, in the ages before us. But it shall not need that he come out of hell, to reprove our misgovernment: if we take not better order, wee shall go to hell to him. If our bellie be our God, damnation is our ende: for the mouth Phil. 3, 19 of the Lord hath spoken it. But of this matter hereafter, I shall have more fit occasion to entreate. For the more orderly carriage of our selves, in our repast and diet, which as it may be used, commeth verie neare to the nature of a true fast (although wee graunt a difference betweene Temperance and fasting, and do not confound them, as our adversaries would suggest and object against us) it is behovefull that we take the counsel of Saint Augustine in this case, directing us Aug. co ef. lib. 10, ea 3p thus. Hoc me docuisti ut quemadmodum, medic amenta, sic alimenta sumpturus accedam. [Page 10] That we receive our meate, as we would receive phisicke. A purgation is not taken for pleasure of the body, but for necessitie sake: so must we eate not for pleasure, but for necessitie Rom. 13. 14 sake. And take no thought for the flesh to fulfill the lust of it. This is that fast which our gratious Qneene (in a tender compassion which shee hath of her poore distressed people, pinched and oppressed, and almost consumed with this long continued dearth) to us her loyall and dutiful subjects, hath commended and commanded exactly to be kept. Which if it may be as diligently performed, as it is providently enjoyned, it will rescue infinite of her poore people, fro[m] the pit of destruction: it will do much honour to almighty God, profit to our selves, and acceptable service to our Commonwealth. The effect of her zealous and godly charge, agreeth with that Christian and Ambr. Tom 3. Serm. 32. perfect fast, of which Saint Ambros speaketh. Illud ad perfectione~ Ieiunii tacendum non est, ut qui abstinemus & minime prandemus, hoc tempore prandia nostra pauperibus erogemus. Qui sic abstinet ut nihil pauperibus de suis epulis largiatur, videtur quaestum sibi, suum fecisse ieiunium, & negotiationem parcendo, at que ideo bonum est iciunium cum c [...] [Page 11] leemosyna. That is, it is necessarie that our fast be a perfect fast, that wee who at any time do abstaine from any meale, doo bestow that meale uppon the releefe of the poore: for hee that otherwise fasteth, and giveth not that which is saved thereby to the helpe of the poore, he seemeth to make a gainefull trade and occupation of his fasting: and therefore fasting is good with giving of almes. Unto this agreeth the speech of Augustine: It a ieiuna ut paupere mandica~te prandissete te gaudeas. So fast as thou maist Aug. in Psal. 42 be glad that thou hast dined, in causing the poore to dine. It is truely said of him in the same place: Quam multos pauperes saginare potest, intermissum hodie prandium nostrum. Aug. ibid. How many poore people may be fedde by one dinner that is forborne this day? This our royall Queene in her wisedome seeth well, and therfore that we should make this use of it, let us be conformable to her godly orders, in this case provided: not for sordid gaine sake, to increase our wealth, but for conscience sake, our obedience heerein being nothing profitable unto her, but availeable unto us, as making for our benefitte verie much everie way, but among others, for our common tranquilitie and [Page 12] quietnesse, which might otherwise by the intollerable vexation of famin which must come upon manie, which is called Malesuada, a verie bad counseller in all kinde of actions be vnhappily disturbed, especially being so seriouslie exhorted vnto this fast, in manie places of the holie scriptures, as by Christ, Note in marg: Luke 21, 14 when he sayth: Take heede vnto your selues, least at any time your hearts be oppressed with surfetting and drunkennesse, As by Peter when he sayth: Note in marg: 1: Pet: 5, 8 Bee sober and watchfull, for your adnersarie the diuell as a roring Lion walketh about seeking whom hee may deuoure. As by Paule his owne example who did beate down his bodie, & bring it into subiection, least by any meanes after he had, preached vnto others, he himself shuld be reproued.

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Of the lawfull and necessary use of Lent: and of other set and appointed dayes of fast, ordained and kept by the Church of England

BUt least either the superstitious Papists, or newe fangled Annabaptists, should from hence be animated, and take occasion licenciously and presumptuously to censure our Church, for retaining stil this time, while (not understanding the ende for which we keepe it) they might either thinke that wee might better break it, or els with the Oratour, judge it a [Page 23] strange course, Ut aequum sit in Naevio quod iniquum est in Quinctio. That is should bee Cic. orar. pro Quinict. commended in the Protestants, which is condemned in the Papists. It is most co[n]uenient (that we shuld not be mistaken & misconstrued in the premisses) immediately to insert the causes & use of this time of Lent, as of all other times which her highnesse lawes hath decreed to be onserved. Wee would be therefore thus understood, that wee doo not simply gainesay this time. But this is that we onely stand upon, that it is no imitation of Christ his fast, & that no merit is to be reposed in the same. But we hold it, that it is needful that there shuld be times prefixed, for religious duties, and among others, thers, for the exercise of fasting. We suppose the Lent and other set seasons straightly to be kept, for two especiall endes. The first Godly. The second pollitike. The godly Two ends for which we keepe the Lent and other daies of fast 1 Godly. 2 Pollitike Sim lrudes. ende is this, that our bodies beeing not aggravated or surcharged as at other times, our minds may be apter to contemplation, and holy meditation. For as the ship that is overburthened will soone sinke, and the Gunne that is over charged will quickly flie a peeces, and the Hawke that is full gorged will not come to the hande, so [Page 24] when we are overdieted, we do easily sink, our mindes are crazed, and wee lift not to come to our maisters hande, who all the day long, stretcheth out his hand to us a wicked and gainsaying people. There is further, this religious and godlie ende and effect of these fastings. The charitable and necessarie reliefe of the poore, whom God hath so peremptorilie commended to our care. It were impossible that the poore should so want, if wee had not too much. It is verie meete therefore that wee should take the lesse, that they might have the more. Moreover, this sanction hath politique respects, convenient, and behovefull to the Common-wealth. For the increase of cattell thereby is maintained. The brood of the land, thereby being preserved, for the which the Le[n]ten-time most seasonably is appointed, And navigatio[n] thereby is better continued for the bringing in and spending Gods blessings by the Sea. For which all the Annuall appointed fasts doo most conveniently serve. It hath also this both godly and politique regarde. That is, our obedience unto her sacred Majestie, and the preservation of the unitie of the church Euseb: lib: 5 cap: 24 of God. And this use did Eusebius make [Page 25] of it. And so did Irenaeus, who when as Victor the Bishop of Rome would have excommucated the East Church, because in the orderly observation of Lent, it did not agree with the Church of Rome: he reasoneth with him thus. What (sayth he) cannot we live in love and unitie togither, albeit they live according to their rites, and wee conforme our se'ues unto our owne customes? Saint Augustine setteth downe an excellent course in this case to bee taken, which hee had learned of his maister Ambrose, the godly and reverend Bishop of Medialanum, and it is worthie of due regard, Aug: casulano presbytero, epi: 86. in fine: and it is this. Indicabo tibi, quid mihi de ieiunio querenti, responderit venerandus Ambrosius, Episcopus Mediolanensis, narn cu~ in cadem Civitate mater mea mecum esset. & allis sollicitudinem gereret utrum secundum morem nostrae Civitatis sibi esset sabbato ieius nandum, an ecelesiae, Mediolanensis moreprans dendum, ut bac eam cunctatione liberarem, interrogavi hoc supradictum hominem det. At ille quid possum inquit hinc docere amplius, quam ipsesacio quando hic sum, non ieiuno sabato, quando Romae sum ieiuno Sabbato, & ad quamcunq Ecclaesia~ veneritis inquit eius morem sevate si pati scandalum non vultis aut [Page 26] facere. That is, I will tell thee what aunswere the reverend father Ambrose Bishop of Mediolanum, made unto a question which I propounded unto him of fasting, when my mother was with mee in the same Cittie: and shee tooke care whether shee should fast, according to the order of our Cittie upon the Sabboth day, or take her dinner after the custome of the Church of Millan: that I might resolve her herein, I asked the foresayde man of God this question, who replied saying: herein what can I prescribe thee else, but that which I doo my selfe, when I am here, I fast not uppon the Sabboth, but when I am at Rome I fast upon the Sabboth: and to what Church soever you do repaire, keepe the order and practise of that Church, if you will take no offence, nor give no offence. Wherefore since our Church hath received Lent, and other dayes of fast, let us for godlie order sake, that wee bee not offensive according to the godly counsaile of this father, diligently keepe them.

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That the end of this fast is to affect and humble ourselves, that thereby we might be fitter unto prayer.

BEcause the flesh is stubborn and rebellious, & fighteth against the spirit, and resembleth Hevah, alluring & inticing Gen. 2 unto the forbidden fruit, & is like the wife Gen. 3 of the Egyptian Putiphar, soliciting innoce[n]t Gen. 32 and upright Joseph unto al filthines and may very fitly be compared unto Jabel, who deceived Judg. 4 & slew sefera, under shewe of love. Or unto Dalila, who delivered hir husband Judg: 16 Samson, when he slept in her lap, into the ha[n]ds of ye Phylistines. Or to Herodias daughter, Marc: 6 who in her pastime and daunce, asked the head of John the Baptist. Or that damsel Mar, 26. or minion, at whose voyce with Peter, wee denie Christ. It is very necessary that we do tame & afflict this flesh, that it might bee subject to the spirit by a godly fast, and this [Page 48] is the cheefest use and ende of fasting. That it might bee a testimo[n]nie of our true contrition and repentance of our sins. Aegrot animus per peccatum, sinemus per paenitentiam: poenitentia vero sine Jeiunio vana est. Aug. cont. Julian. Pelag. retert verba Basiht. We have bin sick by reason of our sins, let us bee made whole by repentance for our sinnes. A true repentance is not without fasting, because for the most part when wee give our selves to prayer, our zeale is soone cold, beeing called away with sundrie by-thoughts and motions of the flesh. The Saints of God have given themselves unto fasting, that thereby they might the better be prepared unto prayer: for fasting is an affliction of the bodie, if it bee rightly used. Paul reckoneth his fasting among his afflictions. 2. 6 11, 6, 11 Psal. 34 Dan. 9, Jonae, 3 And David saith that he humbled himselfe with fasting. Daniel when hee fasted, cloathed himselfe with sackcloath, and was covered with ashes, to expresse his contrition. So did the King and all the people of Nineve, in their publique fast. Of Joel 2 this fasting the Prophet Joel speaketh, whe[n] hee saith: turne unto mee with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, & mourning, and rent your hearts, and not your cloathes, and turne unto the Lord your God. And [Page 49] because that a true fast cannot bee without mourning. Our savior Christ appointeth such times, which give unto us occasion of mourning, namely when the bridegroome is taken from us, both of our publique and private fasting. This is a verie healthful and fruitfull affliction, for it casteth downe the minde into a dutifull modestie, and into a necessarie contempt of it selfe: which is verie requisite, when wee offer up our prayers and sutes unto God. For suters must be humble, and beggers that aske and crave almes, must not shew their bracelets, and Golde rings. They must not cast out wordes of pride, nor boast presumptuouslie with the Pharisee of their works. But they must humble themselves like weaned Luke 18 children, before the Lord, for God rejecteth the proude, and giveth grace unto the hu[m]ble. Therfore because we must be humble, to be fit for praier & fasting is a means verie forcible to humble us for this cause is fasting by the Lord commaunded us. That fasting doth remove such impediments and lets, as doth disable us unto prayer, and notablie prepareth us unto this, and any other godly dutie besides, both common experience, and the auntient fathers teach us. [Page 50] Aug. Serm. 230 de tempore Saint Augustine attributeth unto it these properties. Ieiunium purg at mentem sublevat sensum, carnem spiritui subiicit, concupiscentiae nebulas dispergit, libidinum ardores extinguit, castitatis verum lumen accendit, inertiam tollit de anima, impedimenta carnalia aufert. Fasting dooth purge the minde, helpe the sense, subdue the flesh unto the spirit, disperseth the myst and fog of conscupicence, extinguisheth the heate of lust, kindleth the true light of charitie, taketh away sluggishnesse from the soule. Sainct Ambrose likewise witnesseth that this exercise of fasting is a speciall furtheraunce of us unto prayer, and all godly actions. Ieiunia nostra sunt sicut castra & rnansiones Israelitarum, a quibus si quis aberraverit a spirituali Pharaone invaditur, aut peccatorum solitudine devoratar: murus est Chritiano ieiunium in expugnabilis tunc est fortis infirmitas (Paulus enim ait cum infirmier tunc fortior sum) quando, carotabescit ieiuniis anima purit ate pingueseit. Quantum enimilli succus de trabitur ciborum tantum [Page 51] huic virtus justitiae augetur tunc igitur homo imbecillis est ad secularia sed fortis est ad divina opera. Our fasting (sayeth Ambrose) are like the Tents and Mansions of the Israelites, from whence if anie warve, hee is assaulted by the spirituall Pharaoh, or else in the wirdernesle of his sinnes destroyed. A christian fast, is to [...]m a strong tower of defence, which is of the divell himselfe invincible, for then our weakenesse strong (For Paul saith, When I am weake, then I am strong) when our bodies waxe leane with fasting, and our soules with puritie doo growe fat, for howe much the more meate you shall take from that, so much the more righteousnese you shall adde to this: for then is a man most weake to wordly matters, but strong heavenly exercises.


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As the Israelites, who longing after the flesh-pots of Egypt, perished in the wildernesse, and could not enter into the land of promise. So, as long as wee are miscarried with an insatiable pleasure of eating & drinking, wee die in our sins, and cannot come into the spirituall Canaan, which floweth with milke and honie, and aboundeth with all eternall felicitie. That we should not see our sinnes, but worship this Idoll and earthly image of our bodies, we are led on with a delight of surfetting and drunkennes, and chearing, and feasting, as Nabucadneszzar would leade away his people, with his instruments A similitude. of musicke. Wherefore, as Phisitia[n]s do prepare us before they would heale us, that their physicke might be medicinable, so let us prepare our selves before we pray, that our prayer may be acceptable. And this must bee by chastising the body, and keeping it under, least the body insulting and crowing over the spirit, it disableth the spirit, making it unfit unto any good worke. For as the Hawke that is full gorged, will not come unto the lure, so will we hardly when our bodies bee full, be obedient to Gods call. As hunger and famine brought home the lost sonne to his Fathers house, so [Page 58] fasting and abstinence from worldly pleasures, will bring us that are lost, unto our Father again, making us to sing his dolefull dittie in a godly sorrowe, which is unto salvation. Father I have sinned against heaven, and against thee, I am no more worthie to bee called thy sonne.

This is a selection from the original text


diet, drunkenness, exercise, fasting, feast, physic

Source text

Title: The Cognizance of a True Christian

Author: Samuel Gardiner

Publisher: Thomas Creede

Publication date: 1597

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 11573 Physical description: [16], 185, [2], 186-213 p. Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 294:06

Digital edition

Original author(s): Samuel Gardiner

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) Title Page
  • 3 ) Chapters 1, 2, 4, 7(Page numbers 1-11,22-26,47-51,57-58)


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