And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.—Isaiah 37.31.

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A c t

of the

Reformed Presbytery,

Anent a

F a s t,

With the CAUSES thereof.

At Sandhills, the 28th day of October, 1767 years.

THE which day and place, the Presbytery being met, and considering, that notwithstanding our aggravated iniquities, whereby the most High hath received just provocation, altogether to reject us as the generation of his wrath;—yet he continues, by the urgent calls both of his word and providences, to solicit and invite us to return to himself;—particularly by the continued manifestation of the riches of his goodness and long-suffering forbearance towards us;—the voice of all which is, Gather yourselves together; yea, gather together, O nation not desired:—before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff,—before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you.—That hereupon, in obedience to the divine calls, and in dependence on his free and promised Spirit, it is the duty of all ranks in these sinning and guilty lands,—especially all that fear and make mention of the name of the Lord, to lay to heart the many evidences of the Lord’s displeasure and wrath incensed against us, and to search into, and endeavour to find out, and in a suitable and affecting sense of them, penitentially to mourn over our manifold iniquities and provocations, both national and personal, which are the causes of his controversy with us, and for which he may justly be angry with us until he have {2} consumed us, and set us as a desolate land, a land not inhabited, because of the evil of our doings.—More particularly such as,

I. The abounding and continual increase of all manner of vice, wickedness, and immoralities, in all corners of the land; all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, and there is no place clean:—Drunkenness, adultery, and fornication, committed not only among the dissolute and profane, but by such whose character and profession reaches a deeper wound to Christ and religion;  pride, luxury, wantonness;  the lascivious and profane diversions of the stage, dancing, balls, and assemblies, all tending to the corrupting of the minds and manners both of old and young, are not only connived at and encouraged, but licensed and authorised in some of the principle cities of the nations:—incest, sodomy, murders of the most inhuman kinds, are growing still more frequent among us: profane and false-swearing, lying, detraction, covetousness, theft, oppression of the poor, by exorbitant stretching of land-rents, forestalling of markets to enhance the price of victual, whereby the poor are reduced to great necessity:—the unlawful and heathenish games of cards and dice are much practised; deceit and unrighteousness in trade and commerce greatly prevails; sabbath-breaking, with many other heinous iniquities, on account of which the Lord may justly say, Shall I not visit for these things?  shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

II. The great and visible withdrawment and departure of the holy Spirit of God from the generation, both as to his more common enlightening and restraining grace, and also as to his saving, quickening and sanctifying influences: hence it is, that the earth is become corrupt and defiled under the inhabitants thereof.  Ungodliness and iniquity abounds, and appears with impudence and open face in all corners of the land; a spirit of error, ignorance, atheism, and contempt of every thing that is sacred, prevails among the profane {3} part of the generation, especially among our great men and rich men, who generally seem to have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.  Again, hence also it is, that a worldly, carnal, selfish spirit prevails among professors of religion, all seeking their own things, few the things of Jesus Christ,—few zealous and valiant for the truth upon the earth;—that there is so little love to Christ and his gospel conjunctly,—many being much alive to gospel privileges and comforts,—but not alive unto God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, or a diligent serving the Lord in the duties and exercises of holiness and righteousness,—but sinfully preferring their own temporal or spiritual benefit to the honour and glory of God and the concernments thereof, which to every true believer is dearer than all things else:—no suitable feeling of the burden of sin in its guilt or power, little sense and apprehension of soul-wants, distempers and diseases; whereupon it comes to pass that there is so little hungering and thirsting after an interest in Christ and communion with him, in his double righteousness imputed and inherent, to be found among professors and hearers of the gospel;—hardness of heart, great security, and impenitency, amidst all the awful and heinous provocations that abound, and evident tokens of the speedy approach of the day of the Lord’s controversy with us, as a sinful nation and people laden with iniquity.—Hence also it is, that the ordinances of Christ have lost their wonted power and efficacy,—and are become as wells without water,—and as a miscarrying womb and dry breasts;—spiritual deadness, ignorance, and barrenness, under all the means of knowledge and grace, prevailing to a great and high degree.

III. Add to all this the guilt of our old sins, never suitably mourned over in a national way, but still standing as just causes of the Lord’s indignation against us; such as our national revolt and apostacy from our God, his cause, and profession of his truth;—perjury, in violating the most sacred oaths and vows to heaven, and, in still {4} greater contempt of God the great Party concerned, with impious solemnity burning them, by the hand of the public executioner, in some of the chief cities of the nations;—despitefully razing and overturning the work of God, and laying his sanctuary desolate, and, in contempt of his awful threatening and curse, building again the accursed Jericho of Prelacy in the land,—persecuting to the death the saints and servants of the Lord, and pouring out their blood as water, on account of their faithful adherence to their covenant-allegiance to him, as Zion’s head and king, in opposition to the sacrilegious usurpations of pope, prince, or prelate; which innocent and righteous blood hath a loud cry for vengeance in the ears of the Lord of sabaoth, with whom the blood of his saints is ever dear and precious.—Our afterwards greedily accepting of, and contenting ourselves with, a deliverance from civil bondage and oppression, at the cost and expence of a perpetual burial of the covenanted cause of Christ, and work of reformation formerly attained in these lands; and then, in order to put the cope-stone upon our defection and deformation, joining in a still closer confederacy with the people of these antichristian abominations, in the sinful incorporating union, so diametrically opposite to our covenant-union; and therein consenting to the settlement of the supreme civil government in these lands in the hands of such, and filling of all places of trust and authority, both in church and state, with such who are to enter upon, hold, and occupy the same, only on condition of their swearing inviolably to the perpetual maintainance and support of abjured Prelacy in two of these covenanted nations; by all which the Son of God, in his cause, truths, and members, hath been crucified afresh, and put to open shame among us, and by the last of which we are involved in still deeper apostacy and perjury, and in the guilt of a heaven-daring conspiracy against the Lord and his Messiah, saying, Let us altogether burst their bonds, and cast their cords from us. [Psalm 2.3.] {5}

IV. It is matter of deep humiliation, that the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God hath constituted and appointed as his King in his holy hill of Zion, hath been, and still continues to be, robbed of his incommunicable supremacy and headship over his church, the same being sacrilegiously usurped by, and vested in, the supreme civil magistrate in these lands;—and from him, as being clothed with an erastian supremacy, and declared to be the possessor and fountain of all power, civil or sacred within his dominions,—it is detached and parcelled out to the herd of archbishops, bishops, &c. in England, and of civil patrons in Scotland, who, taking the houses of God for their possession [Psalm 83.11-13], exercise their antichristian power in oppressing the Lord’s heritage, by thrusting in unsufficient and self-seeking men as ministers upon them, to the great prejudice of the church, and dishonour of the Head thereof: from this usurped ecclesiastic supremacy, flows that unlawful boundless toleration, which has been the fertil mother and nurse of manifold abominations, heresies, and much ungodliness among us; as hereby the hedge and fence of the Lord’s vineyard is pulled down, and all that pass by the way have leave to pluck it; the boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. [Psalm 80.12,13.]

V. The daily increase of all sorts of hurtful and dangerous errors and sectaries.—These of the Anabaptists, Methodists, and Moravians, little known among us till of late, are growing apace.—Our intestine divisions from one another, or rather confusions, are in God’s righteous displeasure daily multiplying:—A latitudinarian and sectarian spirit, with respect to the principles and truths of religion, sadly prevails:—And many, too evidently under the influence of a carnal, self-pleasing temper, and not being able to endure the sound doctrine of a free and faithful testimony for the truths and cause of Christ, and against the backsliding courses of the day, in an openly schismatical manner heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:—A thick cloud of ignorance {6} overspreads the minds of both young and old in the generation, with respect to all the great and wonderful things the Lord hath done for us in these lands; and the solemn covenant obligations we came under unto him in the loins of our godly and faithful ancestors are forgotten, and utterly buried in oblivion.  The which has chiefly come to pass through the fatal treachery of a generation of unfaithful ministers and idol-shepherds in the land, who being utterly departed out of the way, have corrupted the covenant of Levi, and caused many to stumble at the law. [Mal. 2.8.]  And though they are by office bound to be a fence and guard to the truths of Christ, his ordinances, and people, in their immunities and privileges, yet instead hereof, are they the chief, both in polluting and profaning his sanctuary and ordinances, not making difference between the holy and profane [Ezek. 22.26]; and in oppressing and scattering the flock of Christ, and spoiling them of those liberties wherewith Christ has made them free.—Add to this, that instead of lifting up their voice like a trumpet in a faithful manifestation of the truth, and doctrines of the cross of Christ;—impartially reproving and censuring sin, especially in the persons of great men, &c. they generally entertain their people with airy florid harangues, or jejune and insipid moral orations, if not with somewhat worse than either of the two.  Covetousness, luxury and profaneness, much at present prevails among this sort of men; many of them being characterised as known neglecters of the worship of God in their families,—by which means holiness is brought into contempt,—and from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness is gone forth into all the land—A mighty and daring spirit of contempt and opposition has appeared of late amongst us, not only against our national covenants, and the moral obligation thereof, even to the length of a flat denial of the morality of the duty of public and in effect of personal covenanting with God, or taking hold of his covenant, whereby the very foundation of true religion and godliness is struck at.—And moreover, {7} amidst all this, it is just matter of lamentation, that a numerous body of ministers and professors amongst us, who once seem’d to make a fair and promising appearance for the covenanted cause and testimony of the church of Scotland, are giving daily clearer evidences and discoveries of their shifting off from a covenanted, to sectarian and toleration footing.

VI. The visible and growing decay of practical religion and godliness, both personal and in families, among professors;—The not considering and improving, but neglecting to pay our vows unto the Lord, baptismal, sacramental, or others:—Great slothfulness and unfaithfulness in professing parents in performing the duties of family instruction, worship and government:—Not giving diligence to instruct their children in the knowledge of the principles and doctrines of our covenanted reformed religion, or to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as they are solemnly bound to do, and commending his cause and way unto them;—the decay of the godly, and failing of the faithful every where from among men, so that we may with propriety take up the prophet’s mournful complaint—The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: the merciful men are taken away from the earth, none considering that the righteous are taken away from the evil to come. [Isa. 57.1.]—True Christian brotherly love and forbearance among professors of the name of Christ is almost altogether ceased, few esteeming the saints and faithful in Christ the excellent ones in the earth in whom is all their delight: But on the contrary division and strifes still continue and increase.—The duty of Christian fellowship and society, is by many perverted, and turned into vain jangling and debate, and by others neglected and laid aside.—From all which it may be evident, that the Lord’s anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. [Isa. 5.25.]—And for which causes, and others that might be mentioned, the presbytery appoint Thursday the third day of December next to be observed, by themselves, and the people {8} of their inspection, as a day of Fasting and Humiliation, beseeching them seriously to consider and lay to heart these and other causes of the Lord’s controversy; and, in dependence on covenant strength and grace, endeavour to be truly humbled before the Lord, searching into, acknowledging, and mourning over their own and the iniquities of the land, while the Lord yet calls us thus, to give glory unto him before he cause darkness; that hereby at least they may enter their protest and testimony against the abounding sins and dishonours done to a holy God, and by faith’s speedy recourse for refuge to the blood of atonement which cleanseth from all sin, under the covert thereof they may be found hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. [Zeph. 2.3.]—To pray that the Lord would hasten his return to his house and ordinances; and, as the salvation of Israel, come forth out of Zion to turn again the captivity of his people:—That he would preserve a seed to do service to him in these lands, revive his covenanted work and cause therein, and make all mountains that stand in the way thereof to flow down, and become a plain before him:—That he would prosper and succeed his work in the hands of the presbytery; heal the breaches among his people; bless the labours of his servants in this or other lands, and clothe them more and more with strength and faithfulness, that his people may shout for joy.  To be thankful for his undeserved goodness in yet giving us a fruitful season, and for the favourable weather for reaping and gathering of the fruits of the ground, notwithstanding our former abuse of his goodness of this kind.—And appoint that these causes be publicly read the sabbath immediately preceding, with suitable exhortations.

Extracted by

JOHN FAIRLY, Pres. Cls.