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Why His disciples did not fast

Fri­day. [Rom. 5:17–6:2; Matt. 9:14–17] The Lord was ask­ed why His dis­ci­ples did not fast. He an­swered that the time for them has not yet come. Then in a par­a­ble he show­ed that in gen­er­al, the strict­ness of out­er as­cet­icism must be in keep­ing with the re­new­al of in­ner pow­ers of the spir­it. First kin­dle the spir­it of fer­vour, and then take on austerities; for then there will be a new in­ner pow­er ca­pa­ble of enduring them profitably. If you take them on with­out first hav­ing this fer­vour, be­cause you were ei­ther im­pressed by the ex­am­ple of oth­ers, or want­ed to make a show of your own as­cet­icism, then it will bring no prof­it. You will sus­tain this aus­ter­i­ty for a bit, and then you will weak­en and drop it. And you will be worse off than be­fore. Aus­ter­i­ty with­out the in­ner spir­it is like a patch of new lin­en on an old gar­ment, or new wine in old wine­skins. The patch will fall off and the rent made even worse; and the wine will burst the wine­skin, and the wine will be lost, and the wine­skin ruined. This, by the way, does not mean that aus­ter­i­ty is bad, but on­ly sug­gests that one must be­gin it in the prop­er or­der. The need for it must come from with­in, so that it might con­tent the heart, and not just press from the out­side like a weight.

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