Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness,
humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.
—Col. 3.12.

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Act

of the

Reformed Preſbytry,

For a

DAY OF FASTING,

With the Causes thereof.

Newtownhead, Nov. 1st. 1780.

WHICH day and place the Preſbytry being met, and ſincerely calling to mind, the manifold deep provocations given to a most holy, sovereign and righteous God, by those sinful and guilty nations; together with the backsliding, negligent and careless people and professors therein.—At the same time, carefully observing the gloomy frowns, that evidently appear in the aspect of divine providence, toward the nations and their inhabitants.  Not only the black and heavy clouds, but the great drops of both temporal and spiritual judgements, awfully foreboding the overwhelming storm and innundation of the divine wrath and vengeance of an injured Almighty God, to be poured out upon us to the full.  Also seriously considering it their indispensible duty, as watch-men on the tower of Zion, to point out unto his people, the sin, danger and duty of the times.  And that the Lord, by the present concurrence of providence, calls a-loud unto them, their people and the inhabitants of these lands, for the exercise of solemn Fasting, Mourning and Humilation.  Let the Prieſts, the Miniſters of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them ſay, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, &c.  The necessity of this will further appear if we consider

The innate Atheism that lodges in the heart of lapsed men, which is continually breaking out, not only into the more secret, but even into the most open and overt acts of sin and wickedness; the native, but bitter, fruits of so malignant a root. Not only the frequent practical denying, but the opinionative saying, and optative wishing, there were no God. The fool hath ſaid in his heart, There is no God. [Psalm 14.1.] Mental and open idolatry, dishonouring the true God.  His holy Name is injured by frequent, most profane and blasphemous swearing. {2} Taken in vain by unlawful and false oaths, and by the breach of lawful and religious oaths.  His day, ordinances and worship are disregarded and profaned.  Disobedience to parents prevails; and the venerable respect, due to all relations and stations, is much neglected; and in many instances, even contemned.  The most heinous murders of every kind, clothed with the most aggravating circumstances, are mournfully frequent.  Obscene language, immodest gestures and apparel, secret and open acts of uncleanness, of every species, prevail.  Deceit, circumvention, stealth, and even open robberies abound.  Lying, backbiting, whispering, evil speaking, and false accusation are the most detestable bane of this age.  Covetousness, discontent, envy, inordinate affection toward our neighbours property, and the things that are their's appear in manifold instances.  In fine, which of all God's commandments is not broken amongst us, not only in thoughts, but in word and deed. By ſwearing, and lying, and killing, and ſtealing, and committing adultry, they break out and blood toucheth blood. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is ſtretched out ſtill. [Hos. 4.2.]

Deism prevails; revealed religion, in many instances and by very many of the generation, is set at nought. The holy Scriptures are not only neglected, but contemned. A spirit of error rages with encreasing impetuosity; and, in new and variegated forms.  The old and long exploded errors of Pelagius, Arius, Socinus, Arminius, and the Neonomian principle of turning the Gospel into a new law; and even the Sceptical fables of the licentious Libertine, have their zealous votaries in every corner. The corruption of the whole nature by the sin of the first, and the justification by the imputed righteousness of the last Adam, are esteemed obsolete and unmeaning terms. The doctrine of acquired virtuous habits and improved morals, embellished with the rhetoric of the schools, is substituted in the room of, and prefered to the Evangelical Scripture-Doctrine of the Divine JESUS.  Vice, the inseparable concomitant of error, overspreads the nations. Profane, indecent and untimeous company-keeping by the common; Revellings, night-balls and assemblies, and the impious diversion of the stage, are not only patronized by the great; but these nurseries of wickedness obtain public license.  I hearkened and heard, but they ſpake not aright.  But turn thee yet again, and thou ſhalt ſee greater abominations. [Jer. 8.6; Ezek. 8.6.]

The civil constitution still avails itself of the sacred Spiritual Supremacy of Christ the Redeemer, the Anointed of God upon his holy hill of Zion; and, by this usurped power, not only abridges even the religion established, and oppresses the heritage of God; but, contrary to the known constitution, they introduce any religion they place, even Popery itself. While the National Church, notwithstanding the contendings and remonstrances of all, both within and without her communion, obstinately refuses, judicially to assert the Headship {3} of the Son of God, over his own house, and her sole dependence upon him; but acknowledges and cringes to another in his place; by which she bears the baleful marks of a most Unfaithful and Harlot-Church.

A new modelled, and most obstinate opposition is stated against what was once honourably called a Covenanted-work of Reformation: the terms Covenants and Covenanting are treated with the utmost bafoonry and ridicule: National-Covenanting is asserted to be none of the duties of the New-Testament Church; under the very mistaken pretence, that all the instances thereof, all the precepts and promises in the Old Testament concerning such a duty, are typical, & therefore abrogated under the Gospel. Just as if the relation of the Church unto, and dependence upon God could be typical.  Or as if the relation of the Church unto God, under the New Testament, differed from that under the Old, while it is still the same Church, differing only in the manner of the dispensation of the Covenant of Grace. Or just as if it might be supposed, that while the subjects of earthly sovereigns may, yea even do, and are required to avouch their obedience and subjection unto them by oath; yet the subjects of the great Sovereign of heaven and earth, neither may, nor can, nor are required, to avouch their obedience and subjection in the same solemn manner: must oaths be taken to the kings of the earth? and must none be taken to the King of heaven? How gross the absurdity! How shocking the consequences!

A Spirit of Division, as a judgement from the Lord, continues to infest the Church.  The judgement is the greater, that it seems to work with unremiting influence, among those who contend for being embarked in the same Covenanted cause and testimony, against the courses of the times. So that instead of being helpers of one another's faith, and strengtheners of one another's hands, they weaken and become stumbling blocks to each other; and greatly obstruct the faithful, successful and comfortable carrying on, and managing the cause of God, against the common adversaries.  Differences among them are not managed with that meek and Christian temper, which becomes the professors of the Gospel; but what one builds another tumbles down.

A worldly mercenary spirit seems evidently to be the peculiar characteristic of this age and generation, actuated by the most base, low and selfish principle, both in court and country; county and borough-corruption prevails. Which tends natively to issue in oppression, and grinding the faces of the poor; in intestine broils and confusion, and even into wars and bloodshed.  From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your luſts that war in your Members, &c. [James 4.1.]

Great indifferency, neutrality and slothfulness about religion; many contemn it altogether; others esteem all religions alike, and make conscience of none; too many satisfy themselves {4} with the form, without the power thereof.  Much Spiritual deadness prevails, even among the Godly; while the foolish virgins sleep, the wise slumber.  Great want of that zeal and liveliness in social Religious Duties, that sometimes have been experienced.  Much want of sociality, love, and faithfulness, in Christian correspondence and intercourse; so that the Prophet's complaint is verified.  Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy boſom; for the ſon diſhonoureth the father, &c. [Micah 7.5,6.] Unfruitfulness under the means of grace, is too evident amongst us; the breasts of ordinances seem dried; and the babes of grace are languishing.  Unthankfulness for the Gospel; forgetfulness of solemn occasions, and vows renewed to God therein; faint impressions of sealing-work; little observation of the dispensation of Divine Providence; God smiles, and we abuse it: he frowns and we disregard it. Fruitful seasons are not gratefully remembered; and we repine under adversity.  Stupidity and insensibility, under the evident and mournful tokens of God's anger, in the intestine confusions both at home and abroad, awfully seize the generation.  Though the nations, shaking to their centre, seem to tumble down into ruins; yet there is little searching for the true cause of the controversy; and of such as do, but few condescend on our breach of covenant and continued national revolt from, and rebellion against God: while the Redeemer's Crown is profaned and cast down to the ground. [Psalm 89.39.]

For the above particulars, with other causes formerly published by the Presbytry, they appoint the second Thursday of January next, being the eleventh of said month, to be observed by themselves, and all under their inspection, as a day of Public Fasting and humiliation; and recommend to them the study of soul-humility and heart-sincerity, in the earnest supplication of faith at the Throne of Grace: bearing on their spirits a deep sense of the many causes and tokens of God's wrath against themselves and these lands. 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 name's sake; that he would yet love us freely, as the people of his own purchase, in whom he will be glorified.  At the same time, thankfully acknowledging him for the continuance of the Gospel and Gospel-solemnities; for any measure of countenance given to ministers, and people therein; for the continued prospect of strengthening the hands of the Presbytry.  Praying that he may bless his own work, and prosper his cause among them; that his Jerusalem may be a praise in the earth.  Amen.

The Preſbytery appoint that theſe Cauſes be read the Sabbath immediately preceding the day appointed, with ſuitable exhortations to the people.

Extracted by

WALTER GRIEVE, Pr. Clk.