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Christians, that the ways of righteousness are the ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace. A private fast, when it is undertaken for religious ends and purposes, is intended to restrain our sensual appetites, and to bring the body under subjection to temperance and reason ; to give the mind liberty and ability to consider and reflect, whilst it is actually engaged in divine service, or preparing for some solemn part of it. Half the errors and vices of mankind arise from want of reflection. A fast is moreover intended to humble ourselves before God, under a sense of our sins, and of the misery to which they expose us; to deprecate his anger, and supplicate his mercy and favour; to express displeasure at ourselves, for the abuse of those good things God allows us to enjoy, and of which we have made ourselves unworthy by sinful excesses; above all, to render it acceptable to God, it should be ac



companied with fervent prayer, and a charitable relief of the poor, whose miseries we may better guess at, when we are bearing some of the inconveniencies of hunger.* :

Secondly. When we revert to instances of public fasts, upon solemn and particular occasions, we find many examples: and first, that of Moses, who, before he delivered the law of the two tables to the Jews, fasted forty days and forty nights. Next, that of Elias, the great restorer of the law, who fasted for the same space of time. And thirdly, that of our Saviour, who, preparatory to the promulgation of his divine commission (the new law or covenant), abode in the wilderness of Judea forty days and forty nights, and did neither eat bread nor drink water. Instances of fasts on other occasions, to deprecate the wrath of God for national sins, and to implore protection from

* Nelson. , ; j;


our enemies, are numerous in the Old Tes-
tament. The first example we have among
the Jews, is that of Jehosophat, who being
told that a vast multitude was coming against
him, greatly too powerful, as he conceived,
for him to oppose successfully, sat himself to
ask help of the Lord, and proclaimed a fast
throughout all Judea. When the people
were assembled, he addressed this most beau-
tiful oration to the Lord of Hosts : “ O Lord
6 God of our fathers, art not thou God in
“ Heaven, and rulest thou not over all the
6. kingdoms of the Heathen? And in thine
6 hand is there not power and might, so that
“ none is able to withstand thee? Art not
66 thou our God, who didst drive out the in-
6 habitants of this land before thy people
66 Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abra-
66. ham (thy friend), for ever? And they
“ dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctu-

ary therein, for thy name, saying, If when

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evil cometh upon us; as the sword, judgeof ment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand “ before this house, and in thý presence, (for “ thy name is in this house) and cry unto 6 thee in our affliction; then thou wilt hear 66 and help. We have no might against this “ great company that cometh against us, “ neither know we what to do, but our eyes « are upon thee.” The Almighty was pleased with this fast, this address, and this dependance, and answered, “Be not afraid, “ nor dismayed, by reason of this great mul“ titude, for the battle is not yours, but -“ God's.” “And the Lord set ambush“ ments against the enemy, and they cut “ one another in pieces.” The next account we have of this kind of public fast, is in the ninth chapter of Nehemiah, where he gratefully recapitulates the several blessings which God had showered down on the Israelites, and implores his protection and assistance against the number of their foes. The fast of the Ninevites, to avert a dreadful and impending calamity, the manner in which it was kept, the good effect that general or individual repentance produces, is well known; for God, as the prophet Isaiah observes, saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and he did not the evil which he intended against them. The last instance which I shall mention from the Scripture, is taken from the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, and I shall enlarge upon this the more fully, as it points out exactly what a fast should be. The Almighty is represented, as expostulating with the Jews for their hypocrisy and unreligious formalities; forms, containing the surface or resemblance of piety, but totally destitute of the essential part, and vital principle of religion. “Cry “ aloud (says he to his prophet), spare not, « lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew



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