Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?—Proverbs 20.6

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A   C   T

OF THE

REFORMED PRESBYTERY,

Anent a FAST, with the Causes thereof.

Quarrelwood, 4th November, 1772.

WHICH day and place, the Presbytery being met, and seriously pondering the many continued weighty calls from God’s word and rod, to the duty of solemn public fasting and humiliation:  And that it appears to be the duty of all, especially those that fear God, and are humbled for sin that our land is filled with, against the holy One of Israel.  And considering, that at such a juncture, ministers particularly are called to point out to our Gospel-Jerusalem all her abominations, and to weep between the porch and the altar, praying, that the Lord may spare his people, and preserve a remnant to witness for him, and his precious despised truth; and now especially, when on account of our continued rebellions against God, and contempt of Christ’s cause and gospel, a black cloud of divine wrath seems to hang over our guilty heads, and we all have cause to fear, that our hands have been deep in the transgression, which threatens the Lord’s indignation against ourselves, and the land in general:  More especially considering,

I. The particular and personal sins of all ranks, which certainly are greatly displeasing to Jehovah, being such open transgressions of his law, as portend wrath and wasting judgments) bespeak the necessity of this duty of humiliation.  All manner of vice, wickedness, and immorality are still growing; such as sabbath breaking, sanctuary profanation, swearing, lying, {2} stealing, deceit, detraction, falsity, covetousness, with base guile in trade and commerce.  The most cruel and inhuman murders, and almost all manner of uncleanness, fornication, adultery, drunkenness, luxury, petulent wantonness, with many lascivious and profane divisions (not only connived at, but established by law,) which defile the land, and may justly provoke the Lord to cast us out as an unclean thing, saying, Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this. [Jer. 5.9.]

Secondly, Besides particular sins and personal immorality, there seems evidently to be a mournful disregard of the memorable and glorious work of God, once in national esteem, now under national contempt and scorn.  Our national covenanted attainments and engagements, once judicially asserted and solemnly ratified by church and state, are now judicially condemned, burned, and almost forgot to be the work of God.  Nay, faithful testimonies, and testimony-bearing, are either totally neglected, or held in derision; while the nations have practically so persisted in the former and present perjuring courses of defection from the Lord’s cause and testimony, that it may be said, What nation hath changed their God and religion, as we have done?

The truth of this is sufficiently evident in the novel and strange constitution of matters now, both civil and ecclesiastic, by the continued usurpation upon the Redeemer’s supreme headship over, and the privileges of his church; with a sinful liberty, allowing the growth of many Arian, Socianian, Arminian and Pelagian errors, to the great dishonour of God, wounding of his truth, and the hurt of precious souls really effected by the prompters and teachers of such dangerous tenets: while, at the same time, they not only set aside revealed religion and imputed righteousness, but revile the doctrines of it, and the holy Spirit in his graces {3} and operations; so that our Lord is really complaining, that he is wounded in the house of his professed friends. [Zech. 13.6.]

Thirdly, The continued spiritual oppression of the church by pretended patrons, and intruding hirelings, supported by a pretended ecclesiastic authority, to the great hurt of the Lord’s heritage, directly in opposition to, and in contempt of the authority and institution of Christ, and of his awful threatening announced against such, wherein he hath declared that they shall not profit this people. [Jer. 23.32.]

Fourthly, The divine right of church-government is by many denied.  The moral obligation of our covenants is impugned, and though some pretend a renewal of them, yet in a manner contributing very little to their honour; others question even their very being, or any warrant for them in the word: nay, affirm that personal covenanting is unlawful, though it be the very same with believing, or faith’s taking hold of God’s covenant in and with a Mediator.  And oh! how few seem to be valiant for the truth upon earth, in opposition to such delusions!

Fifthly, Add to the above-mentioned particulars, our hardened, stupid insensibility, great deadness in religion, and the decline of godliness, both in families, and with private professors of religion.  And even our former professed confessions and humiliations do not appear to have arisen from faith in Christ, and a true gospel repentance, and therefore have conduced very little to our reformation and newness of life with God; great negligence in preparation for duties; great mis-improvement of sealing-ordinances, and of our engagements therein to be the Lord’s: Our base ingratitude, altho’ in the midst of just deserved wrath, the Lord seems to have remembered great mercy towards his servants and people, especially in, and at solemn times and seasons. {4}

Let us not soon forget his mighty works.  The Lord hath spoken in his judgments, and we have been proud; he hath threatened to abridge our mercies by angry like spring seasons, yet we seem to have been unhumbled before him; and to frustrate the hope of our labours, by disagreeable late harvests, yet we have not turned unto him.  Notwithstanding, after all the signs of his just displeasure, he hath wonderfully preserved our food, and given us necessary raiment; so that when we have cause for mourning, we have also cause to sing of mercy under deserved judgments.

For the above particulars, with other causes formerly published by the Presbytery, they appoint the second Thursday, being the 14th of January next, to be observed as a day of public humiliation by themselves and the people under their concern:  And recommends to them to study soul humility and heart sincerity, in the earnest supplication of faith at a throne of grace, bearing a deep sense of the many causes and tokens of God’s anger against themselves and the land, praying the Lord, that of his tender new-covenant mercy, he may prevent our ruin, turn again, and have compassion upon us, and forget all our sins, by blotting them out for his own name’s sake, and yet love us freely, as the people of his own purchase, in whom he will be glorified, and yet glorify us as himself.  And the Presbytery appoint, that these causes be read the sabbath immediately preceding, with some suitable exhortations to the people.

Extracted by

JO. FAIRLY, P. Cles.