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PROVINCIAL CONGRESS CALLS FOR FASTING AND PRAYER

May 2nd, 2010

Colony of Massachusetts Provincial Congress Proclamation April 15, 1775

As we continue to look at our Christian foundations of our country, state constitutions reflect the moral and political conditions of a civil state by recognition of a higher power than mankind itself. In fact these constitutions recognize that God’s sovereignty, unity and order He established in creating man. The constitutions often reflect this dependency on God and go even further by incorporating Judeo-Christian law. Unfortunately, the Constitution of the United States today is undergoing the most aggressive challenges of progressive interpretations that change the Founding Father’s intent. Today we will look at a 1775 Colony of Massachusetts Provincial Congress Proclamation addressing a time of conflict and calling for a day of humility, prayer and fasting. Remember, this is the civil government making this declaration.

Provincial Congress, Concord, Mass.,
Saturday, April 15, 1775, A.D.

Whereas it hath pleased the righteous Sovereign of the universe, in just indignation against the sins of a people long blessed with inestimable privileges, civil and religious, to suffer the plots of wicked men on both sides of the Atlantic, who for many years have incessantly labored to sap the foundation of our public liberties, so far to succeed that we see the New England colonies reduced to the ungracious alternative of a tame submission to a state of absolute vassalage to the will of a despotic minister, or of preparing themselves to defend at the hazard of their lives the inalienable rights of themselves and prosperity against the avowed hostilities of their parent state, who openly threaten to wrest them from their hands by fire and sword.

In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgment, or to prepare to act in a proper manner under them when they come, at the same time, all confidence must be withheld from the means we use, and repose only on that God who rules in the armies of heaven, and without whose blessing the best human counsels are but foolishness, and all created power vanity.

It is the happiness of the church, that when the powers of earth and hell are combined against it, and those who should be nursing fathers become its persecutors, then the Throne of Grace is of the easiest access, and its appeal thither is graciously invited by that Father of Mercies who has assured it that “when his children ask bread, he will not give them a stone.” Therefore, in compliance with the laudable practice of the people of God in all ages, with humble regard to the steps of Divine Providence towards this oppressed, threatened, and endangered people, and especially in obedience to the command of Heaven, that binds us to call on him in the day of trouble:

Resolved, That it be, and hereby is, recommended to the good people of this colony, of all denominations, that Thursday, the eleventh day of May next, be set apart as a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that a total abstinence from servile labor and recreation be observed, and all their religious assemblies solemnly convened, to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared; to confess the sins they have committed; to implore the forgiveness of all our transgressions; a spirit of repentance and reformation; and a blessing on the husbandry, manufactures, and other lawful employment of this people; and especially that the union of the American colonies, in defense of their rights (for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God) may be preserved and confirmed; that the Provincial, and especially the Continental, Congresses, may be directed to such measures as God will countenance; that the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that make for the peace of the nation and all its connections; and that America may soon behold a gracious interposition of Heaven for the redress of her many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.

Ordered, That the foregoing be copied, authenticated, and sent to all the religious assemblies in this colony.
Watertown, Nov. 20.

This Proclamation was signed by John Hancock, President, Provincial Congress

Source: Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character Of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Pages 288-290; 2007, American Vision, Powder Springs, GA

Illustration: Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Library of Congress; http://goo.gl/0Roa

DAY OF FASTING & PRAYER DECLARED

March 7th, 2010

The King punished the colonists for the Boston Tea Party. He passed the Boston Port Act, MARCH 7, 1774, effectively closing the harbor to all commerce, intentionally ruining their economy.

"The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", lithograph depicting the Boston Tea Party, 1846, Nathaniel Currier

Surrounding towns rallied by sending food. William Prescott, who later commanded at Bunker Hill, wrote: “Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock…If we submit to these regulations, all is gone…” William Prescott continued: “Our forefathers passed the vast Atlantic, spent their blood and treasure, that they might enjoy their liberties, both civil and religious, and transmit them to their posterity…Now if we should give them up, can our children rise up and call us blessed?”

Upon hearing of the Boston Port Act, Thomas Jefferson led the Virginia House of Burgesses, May 24, 1774, to proclaim a Day of Fasting & Prayer, stating:

“This House, being deeply impressed with apprehension…from the hostile invasion of the city of Boston in our Sister Colony of Massachusetts Bay, whose commerce and harbor are, on the first day of June next, to be stopped by an armed force, deem it highly necessary that the said first day of June be set apart, by the members of this House, as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.”

The King appointed Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, was so upset by this Day of Fasting & Prayer resolution that two days later he dissolved Virginia’s House of Burgesses. Virginia’s colonial leaders went down the street and gathered in Raleigh Tavern, where they decided to form a Continental Congress, which two years later would vote for independence from the King.

Endnotes:

DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING

February 22nd, 2010

Throughout history, civil governments have consecrated special days to prayer and the public worship of God. This national custom has a Divine origin and sanction. The Hebrew commonwealth had three great annual religious festivals, besides days of special prayer and worship.

The Puritans established Thanksgiving and fast days in the earliest days of their colonies. These were considered instructive and an important part of their Christian history. The custom extended to the other American colonists under the English government. The fathers of the republic, in the earliest period of the Revolution adopted the custom of consecrating, by acts of legislation, days of thanksgiving and prayer for special religious worship. [1]

We will look at some of these holidays and the proclamations in upcoming articles on our Christian heritage.

[1] Compiled from The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Benjamin F. Morris, American Vision Press