And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.—Exodus 21.16.

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OF THE

REFORMED PRESBYTERY

FOR A

PUBLIC FAST,

With the CAUSES thereof.

At Sandhills, Nov. 20. 1782.

THE Preſbytery being met, and seriously viewing the present state and aspect of things in divine Providence, find it such, as, in conjunction with the voice of God in the word, calls loudly unto weeping, mourning, and girding with sackcloth, in the exercise of solemn humiliation with fasting, on account both of sin abounding and increasing, and of judgements both spiritual and temporal inflicted, and also impending, ready to seize upon us.

We are loudly called to recollect and remember, with mourning and repentance, our old national guilt, which lies at the bottom of the cup of our iniquity.——Our national apostacy from, and overthrow of a glorious work of reformation; the contemptuous breach and burial of our national covenants; together with the effusion {2} of the blood of the saints and witnesses of the most High with the sword of persecution, none of which have ever been nationally acknowledged, mourned over, or turned from: On the contrary, the past and present generation have been laboriously occupied in filling up the sin of their fathers, and serving themselves heirs to the punishment of their iniquity; they have persisted in an affected and resolved hatred of and opposition to the covenanted cause and principles of the reformation, and joined themselves to the people of these abominations, in their sin and idolatry, which we were bound both by our baptismal and national vows to detest and renounce.  Also, an antichristian supremacy is established, and has been long exercised over the house of God.  His church is violently oppressed in her spiritual rights and privileges in all corners of the land where there is an opportunity.  The same supremacy is applied to the establishment and support of Popery itself, and of Prelacy, and to the toleration of all manner of errors, heresy, and blasphemy.  A deep and wilful ignorance of the Lord’s great and distinguishing mercy to these lands in delivering them from antichristian darkness and bondage, and blessing them with the knowledge of his truth, and gospel ordinances in their purity, and of those happy attainments in reformation, by the Lord’s faithful church {3} in the land, greatly prevails in the present generation.  They appear to have lost sight of their noblest privileges and highest glory, and almost all sense of their duty; and are hardened in their opposition to and contempt of those precious truths and privileges, and word of Christ’s patience which the Lord requires his people to keep and hold fast till he come.  The basest and most wretched tempers prevail, almost among all sorts of men; and every where human passion and corruption reign in place of reason, wisdom, or grace. The characters whereby the apostle, 2 Tim. 3.2, marks evil and perilous times are mournfully applicable to this present age: “Men are lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

The flood of ungodliness and unrighteousness, in the open violation and contempt of both tables of the divine law, (particular instances of which have been frequently mentioned at length) daily and annually increases.  Atheism, Deism, profaneness and debauchery greatly abounds, especially among the rich and great, the leading and ruling part of the nations, who {4} seem to have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. [Psalm 2.3.]

An awful security, stupidity, and hardened impenitency increases under all that load of guilt, and present abounding wickedness chargeable upon us.—And under the many dreadful tokens of the Lord’s departure from us, and his wrath against us.——The Lord’s hand hath been for sundry years lifted up against us, brandishing the sword of war (whereby many thousands of our fellow-creatures and countrymen have lost their lives by sea and land) threatening to send it among us to avenge the quarrel of his covenant, yet we have not regarded; nor returned to the most High.  He hath overthrown some of us, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, yet have we not returned unto him. He hath pursued us with marks of his displeasure throughout all the three last seasons of Spring, Summer, and Autumn, revealing his wrath from heaven against our ungodliness and unrighteousness;—diminishing our ordinary food,—punishing us with scarcity, and threatening famine, and yet we have not returned unto him.  At the same time, amidst all these marks of his displeasure, he hath prevented with some instances of his undeserved mercy, in yet preserving in outward peace at home; and in sundry remarkable interposals of his divine power and providence, checking the {5} insolence, and defeating the designs of our combined national enemies: But alas! the working of the divine hand, even in this way of preventing mercy and pity, is not considered nor acknowledged by us.  May we not therefore fear that he is coming against us in some stroke more sensible and affecting than we have yet felt, as the deserved punishment of our many aggravated iniquities? And may we not hear God saying to us, as to his ancient people, Because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel? [Amos 4.12.]

Again, How many and highly aggravated are the sins to be found among those that profess religion, ourselves and others?—Ignorance, unbelief, impenitency, worldly-mindedness, deadness, and indifferency about the cause of God, and things of Jesus Christ, and with respect to the duties of God’s worship and service.—Great estrangedness from the life of God, and communion with him.—An aversion to and neglect of seeking, and waiting upon him in the duties of the closet, of family-worship, of Christian social exercises, and also in public ordinances. Family instruction is not attended to by professing Christian parents.  They are not duly concerned to walk in the steps of faithful Abraham, by instructing their households and children in, and commanding them to keep the way of the Lord.  Again, {6}

How mournful are the contentions and rending divisions among Christ’s professed witnesses and followers.  Hereby the necessary duty and work of bearing witness for truth is turned into matter of reproach and derision by many, and others damped and discouraged from appearing in the way of enquiry after, and espousing the testimony of Jesus impartially displayed by his faithful church for the truth.

Many, under a public profession of bearing testimony for Christ, deal dishonestly in the matters of his cause and kingdom.  How lamentable is it to find them openly and resolvedly avowing to mingle and join the interests of God and Baal, or Christ and Belial together,—worshipping and swearing by Jehovah, and swearing by Malcham, Zeph. 1.5. And multitudes, under a profession of Christianity, have disavowed and discarded witnessing work altogether; although it is an essential part of the character of the Christian and church-militant: settling themselves upon the lees of external church privileges and ordinances, they heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts, having itching ears.

The character and dispositions of the young and rising generation affords just matter of mourning, and searching of heart.—Ignorance, vanity, and neglect of God and religion prevail among them.  Few of {7} them have any concern or desire to be numbered among those who shall be a seed to do service to Christ, and make his name to be remembered: And many of those who by birth, baptism, and education are children of the church, and of the heritage of the Lord, either from ignorance of the truth, or want of love to it, forsake the way of the Lord, and turn aside after Satan.  A sad indication of the time of judgment and vengeance a-coming.  They have begotten strange children, saith God, now shall a month devour them with their portion, Hos. 5.7.

For the above, with many other particular causes, which have been formerly condescended on, and to which we are obliged to refer, we are called on by God to humble ourselves before him, in the way of confessing, and repenting, in godly sorrow and humiliation, of our own, and all the heaven-provoking abominations of the day; and speedily to have recourse by faith to the blood which only cleanseth from sin, for the pardon and subduing of our iniquities, before the door of mercy be shut, and the day of the Lord’s anger overtake us.—And for this purpose, the Presbytery appoint the third Thursday of January 1783, to be observed by themselves, and the people of their inspection, as a day of solemn fasting and humiliation before the Lord; and they beseech, call and obtest them seriously {8} to consider and lay to heart the present threatening appearances of God in his providence, and cry mightily unto the God of grace, that they may be sanctified unto the awakening and humbling us of this secure and impenitent generation under his mighty hand, that our repentance and return unto him may prevent our ruin.  And to this end, praying that he would pour down his Spirit from on high upon us, as a spirit of repentance, of grace and supplication, that we may thereby be enabled both to confess our own, and the iniquities of our fathers; and to implore the preventing mercy of heaven, in the midst of deserved and threatened wrath, through the merits of our only Redeemer: That he may also bless his ordinances, servants, and people, and guide them with his eye set upon them, in this cloudy and dark day, in all things respecting his kingdom and glory.——And the Presbytery appoint that these causes be publickly read by ministers and probationers the Sabbath immediately preceding, with suitable exhortations.

Extracted by JA. REID, Pr. Cl.