“Behold ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness.” - Isa. lviii. 4.
WE find the new school of nearly every religious denomination very much elated with the idea of a popular national fast; and the New School Baptists among their brethren, the world and anti-christ in general, making preparations for a splendid time; their legions are to be rallied on the 14th inst., to mock the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth by precisely such a fast as he has positively forbidden. Their brethren, the ancient sect of Pharisees, were great sticklers for religious fasts, and some of them boasted of fasting twice a week; but our Lord forbade his disciples uniting with them in their religious farces. “When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” - Matt. vi. 16-18. Public fasts are therefore forbidden, and the disciples of Jesus, who hear his voice and follow him, will pay no regard to days set apart by men for public, much less national fasts. Hypocrites it seems have always been accustomed to such fasts as the one now recommended; and such, and such exclusively, will be expected to unite on the 14th inst., in putting at defiance the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. Well did the inspired prophet of the Lord charge such characters in the language at the head of this article; for, says the Lord, “Is it such a fast as I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house; when thou seest the naked that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” - Isa. lviii. 3-7.
Again hear the prophet Zechariah, vii. 6, 7. “When ye fasted, &c., did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried out by the former prophets?”
That there are no national sins to lament, or national calamities to deplore, we shall not presume to say; nor shall we attempt to dictate to the world what course to pursue in politics or religion; our business is with the household of faith, and we reiterate to them the admonition of the apostle, “Let no man judge you in meats, nor in drinks, nor in regard to a holy day, or of the new moon, or of Sabbath days, which are a shadow of good things to come, of which the substance or body was of Christ.” We exhort the saints only to fast as the word and spirit of the Lord dictates, and then let it be done in such manner as shall not make them appear unto men to fast, but let it be a matter between God and their souls.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
June 1, 1841.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 686 – 687