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A HELP FOR DULY OBSERVING IT.
THE REV. EDWARD BICKERSTETH,
RECTOR OF WATTON, HERTS.
PUBLISHED BY L. B. SEELEY AND SONS,
169, FLEET STREET.
PRICE id, OR 7s. PER RUNDRED.
God, our Heavenly Father, has disposed our Gracious King to appoint Wednesday, March 21st, as a day for pational humiliation and fasting. This day may either greatly increase the Divine displeasure at our sins, by an unsuitable and unbecoming conduct, or, if duly observed, it may turn that displeasure away from us. The following pages have been written to help in its due observance.
The immediate cause of this fast, and the manner in which it should be observed, are thus stated in the Royal Proclamation, dated at St. James's, February 6.
“We, taking into our most serious consideration the dangers with which this country is threatened by the progress of a grievous disease, heretofore unknown in these Islands, have resolved, and do, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, hereby command, that a public day of fasting and humiliation be observed throughout those parts of the United Kingdom, called England and Ireland on Wednesday, the 21st day of March next ensuing, that so both we and our people may humble ourselves before Almighty God, in order to obtain pardon of our sins, and in the most devout and solemn manner send up our prayers and supplications to the Divine Majesty for averting those heavy judgments which our manifold provocations have most justly deserved ; and particularly beseeching God to remove from us that grievous disease with which several places in the kingdom are at this time visited. And we do strictly charge and command, that the said Public Fast be reverently and devoutly observed by all our loving subjects in England and Ireland, as they tender the favour of Alıniglity God, and would avoid his wrath and indignation, and upon pain of such punishment as may be justly inflicted on all such as contema and neglect the performance of so religious and necessary a day.”
Happy would England be, if, as a nation, we duly regarded this proclamation. It is sin, and sin only, that brings down the Divine wrath either upon nations or individuals. The sins OF THE COUNTRY are very grievous and aggravated.
Consider how mercifully God has dealt with us. He has now for many centuries favoured us with the light of Christianity; and when by our sins that light was almost lost in the darkness of Popery, He raised up our blessed and martyred Reformers, we were delivered from the errors of Rome, and the pure Word of God was freely proclaimed amongst us.
He has continued this blessing, notwithstanding innumerable provocations, for above 300 years, again and again reviving his work amongst us; and perhaps no nation is more favoured than we are at the present moment with faithful preaching of the Gospel, and with the free and extended circulation of God's. Holy Word in every part of our land.
These religious privileges and advantages make our sins peculiarly offensive to Almighty God. It may be well here for the writer, though he deeply feels his own share in the sins of the nation, niore expressly to point out some of those sins. He does it with unfeigned grief and sorrow, and with hearty desires for the best good of every class of his fellow-countrymen.
The Sabbath day is very extensively and fearfully profaned. The Sunday press pours forth its tens of thousands of newspapers; and Sunday travelling, Sunday: letter-writing, Sunday pleasures, and Sunday traffic, provoke God week by week, on that day which he has peculiarly set apart for himself.
The habit of Drinking has, it is to be feared, much increased, so that multitudes in our country injure theme selves, and rob their families, and bring down His wrath.