And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?—Jeremiah 2.18.

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A c t

of the

Reform’d Presbytery,

Anent a Day of FASTING and HUMILIATION,

With the CAUSES thereof.

At Sandhills, 25th October, 1768.

THE which day and place, the Preſbytery being met, and taking into consideration the many awful signs of the Lord’s anger against these nations, and all ranks therein, while they continue to walk in their own counsels, in contempt of God’s wisdom and counsel: find that in such a juncture it becomes us to fear the Almighty, and tremble because of the righteous judgments threatened in his word.  Therefore it evidently appears to be the duty of all, especially those that fear the Lord, and make mention of his name, in a dependance on the divine strength, and the spirit of all grace promised, to essay the work of humiliation for sins both general and particular, as they are both national and personal.    Particularly,

I. The general and national evils, sins and defections which have provoked the Lord, in righteous displeasure, to desert the tents of Shiloh.—Such as the national overthrow, and continued rejection of the Lord’s work, cause and testimony, judicially asserted and solemnly ratified by this church and land;—the excision, and cruel persecution of his servants and people;—contemning national scriptural engagements;—despising the oath of God in national covenanting;—vilifying faithful testimonies in witness-bearing and contending for the Lord’s noble cause;—and said cause neither faithfully asserted and vindicated, nor the defections therefrom legally condemned, and suitably lamented over by the late civil and ecclesiastic settlements of religion in all or any of these covenanted lands;—our laudable attainments, and memorable Reformation, wrought by the good hand and divine arm of the Lord, seem to be overlooked, and almost totally forgot; while the nations practically persist in the guilt of perjury, and still cast the dirt of ignominy upon the Lord’s cause and testimony: {2} the guilt of all which is yet lamentably to be found in our skirts.

II. The continued usurpations upon the Redeemer’s supreme headship, and privileges of his church in these lands by the present civil powers; and sinful submission hereto yielded by church-men, and ecclesiastic rulers.  A boundless liberty granted unto almost all heretic, sectarian, and schismatic dividers of the spotless undivided Christ, in his truth, cause, and glory;—such as the fomenters and promoters of Atheism, Arian, Socinian, Arminian, Pelagian, Deistical, and Latitudinarian heresies, Christ dishonouring, and soul-ruining errors.—The law of God and revealed religion dangerously exchanged for Heathenism and the law of nature;—imputed righteousness set aside for self-righteousness;—the Holy Spirit reviled in his graces and operations;—self-love and morality esteemed for gospel holiness: Thus the Spirit is reproached, and Christ blasphemed; and we hide as it were our faces from him. [Isa. 53.3.]

III. The great and continued spiritual oppression of the Lord’s flock and heritage by intrusions, and hireling intruders, keen to caress the patron’s power, to the great hurt of reclaiming congregations, and wounding of truth: in which evil the sinful practice of ministers greatly appears; either wickedly concurring with, or silently conniving at this popish antiscriptural custom: Many impugning the divine right of church government, and the moral obligations contained in our national engagements, unto which the lands are bound by the oath of God;—many silent about our covenants altogether; some sinfully mention them; and some attempt the renovation of them in an inconsistent way; while others degrading all covenant obligations, profess reformation in some church matters, to the greater advantage of our present deformation.—Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. [Hos. 5.11.]

IV. Hainous crying immoralities, God dishonouring and land defiling sins, greatly abound;—such as murder, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, rape, incest, cursing, swearing, lying, stealing, sabbath-breaking, and all manner of profaneness sadly prevail.—Pride, levity, luxury, lascivious wanton looks and gestures, vilely increase.  Stage-plays, night-balls, {3} and assemblies, are frequented without check of law.  The Heathenish games of cards and dice are in great vogue: our great ones are chief in these things.  Fraud and deceit in trade and commerce seem to be on the growing hand,—while what is serious and sacred is treated with scorn, derision and disdain, whereby the lands groan under the weight of such guilty inhabitants.—Add to all these, ignorance of God, prevailing formality in divine things, barrenness under a gospel dispensation, men wearying in duties, and loathing the precious things of God;—the ordinances of Christ deserted, and scoffed at by many;—free and faithful warning against these evils condemned under the notion of railery; so that under ordinances we seem to be like Ephraim, an empty vine, bringing forth fruit unto ourselves. [Hos. 10.1.]

V. The great deadness in religion and decay of practical godliness, both personal, and in a family capacity; little preparative meditation for prayer; little looking into our state, frame, and present case in duties; little preparative means in secret and private duties for public ordinances;—only we consume and make a waste of time; and formality makes the whole of our performances unsavoury: and yet what a legal disposition have we to rest in the means, and take peace and ease from the duty performed?  By all which it appears, conversion-work and gospel-success are in a great measure at a stand;—also the light of the saints seems to be darkened, our life withered, strength abated, spiritual influences withdrawn, prayer restrained, and tenderness mostly gone; little soul-concern for the Spirit’s absence and withdrawings, even among those who have some remembrance of a better condition.—How many seem content to live without God! and any breathings of desire some have after him seem faint and languishing;—our hearts appear to be hard as stones, faith dormant, and our love alienate from the God of ordinances; or that we have small sanctuary-vision of his glory.  These things seem to be attended with great neglect of personal and family duties, misimprovement of Christian engagements in our baptism and the solemn ordinance of the Lord’s supper.  Moreover, our unconcernedness with the causes condescended upon to be mourned over upon {4} days of public humiliation, ought to be duly affecting to us and humbling before the Lord,—if so be the Lord may be gracious to us for his own name’s sake.

For which, and other causes that have, and might be mentioned, the Presbytery appoint the third Tuesday of December next, being the 20th day of said month, to be observed as a day of public humiliation, with fasting, by themselves and the people under their inspection.—And they recommend to all their people, to make conscience of this great work and duty of fasting, and carry a deep sense of the many causes of God’s anger and just displeasure against us to a throne of grace; beseeching that his tender mercies may prevent our ruin we justly deserve at his hand; endeavouring, in the strength of new-covenant grace, faith’s application to the blood of atonement, which cleanseth from all sin and unrighteousness.—And, moreover, whatever evils our sins and iniquities may incur, yet still we have reason to acknowledge his undeserved goodness and mercy, both in our temporal and spiritual enjoyments, granting us solemn gospel-times, and remarkable seasons, with food for all his creatures.—Let us pray for his return to his ordinances, and that he may be the salvation of his people; succeed his work in the hands of the Presbytery; and that he would give counsel and direction anent, and prepare both ministers and people for solemn covenanting work, in due season, when they may be called thereunto;—that in all endeavours toward the way of duty, the Lord may be our strength, our counsellor, and exceeding great reward in the day of the Lord Jesus. [Gen. 15.1.]

And the Presbytery appoint, that these causes be read by the ministers the Sabbath immediately preceding, with suitable exhortations to the people.  Extracted by,

JO. FAIRLY, Cls. Pr.