Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[23 April, 1649]
Whereas by a Proclamation the Eighth of January, in the Seventeenth year of the Reign of the late King, a general Publique and Solemn Fast was appointed to be kept and holden, as well by abstinence from Food, as by publique Prayers, hearing of the Word of God, and other sacred duties in England and Wales, on the last Wednesday of the Moneth of February then next following, and from thenceforth to continue during the Troubles in the Kingdom of Ireland; which was strictly commanded to be observed, upon pain of punishments to be inflicted upon all such as should contemn or neglect so religious a work: And whereas several Ordinances or Orders of Parliament have since been made, for the holding and observing of the said Fast on the same day;
The Parliament of England finding by sad experience, how much the observation of the said Monethly Fast hath been for divers years last past, in most places of this Commonwealth wholly neglected, and in other places where the same hath been retained, it hath declined by degrees from that Solemnity and due Reverence wherewith the same was at the first Institution thereof entertained, and as is suitable to such an Ordinance of Christ, wherewith the same hath been much prophaned, the Spirits of those that truly fear God, and desire to Worship him in sincerity and truth, been grieved, the Lord highly dishonoured and provoked, and much guilt contracted, by the taking of Gods Name in vain: And seriously considering how apt such set times for extraordinary duties of Worship are to degenerate into meer Formality and Customary observances; and that it is more agreeable to the nature of such extraordinary Worship, and to the approved and successful Examples of the people of God in Scripture, to set apart special times for such Solemn Duties, according to the particular occasions, to the end the same might be observed with greater care and intention: For the better reforming of which abuses, and prevention thereof for the future, Be it Enacted and Ordained, and it is Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and by authority thereof, That the said Proclamation be declared Null and void; and that all Orders and Ordinances of Parliament, touching the observation of the said Fast on the day or days afore mentioned, be and are hereby Repealed and made void: And that it shall and may be lawful for all and every the Courts of Westminster, and all other Courts to sit; and all other person and persons whatsoever, to follow the works of his or their lawful Calling upon those days, without incurring any penalty thereby.
And forasmuch as the multiplyed sins of this Nation, the contempt of God and his Ordinances, that general prophaneness, opposition to Reformation, murmuring at the various and gracious Providences of God and the general unthankfulness for the mercies and preservations this Nation hath received, together with a proneness and endeavor to relapse into that former condition of Tyranny and Superstition, out of which God hath in much Mercy lately brought us, do minister just cause of Humiliation; together with the present miseries and straights of our poor Brethren in Ireland, through the Apostacy and Perfidiousness of some, and the united Malice and Power of others; and the Parliament being resolved, by Gods assistance, to send some Forces for the speedy Relief of the Parliament Forces there, and the reduction of the Enemy unto the Obedience of the Parliament and Commonwealth of England; Be it therefore further Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and the authority of the same, That Thursday the third day of May, Anno Dom. 1649 be set apart and appointed for a publique and solemn day of Fasting and Humiliation, to be observed in all Churches and Chappels within the cities of London and Westminster, and all places within the late Lines of Communication, and Bills of Mortality, earnestly to seek unto Almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that he will be graciously pleased to pardon the Sins of this Nation, and in a special maner the Sins beforementioned, and the Iniquities of the former Monethly Fast-days; and that he will be pleased to heal the Divisions and Breaches of this Land, and give a blessing and success to the Forces of the Parliament now in Ireland, and such as are shortly to be sent thither, and at the last to establish his pure Worship, and Righteousness and Peace in the Nation. And be it further Enacted and Ordained by the authority aforesaid, That Thursday the Seventeenth day of the same Moneth of May, 1649, be set apart and appointed for the like publique and solemn day of Fasting and Humiliation, upon the grounds and to the ends aforesaid, to be observed and kept in all other Churches and Chappels, in all other Cities, Boroughs, Towns, Parishes and places within England and Wales, and the Town of Berwick: And all Pastors and Ministers, of and in all and every the Cities; Boroughs, Towns and places aforesaid, be enjoyned and required to publish this present Act, in the several Churches and Chappels in and under their several and respective charges, on the Lords-day next before the day by this present Act appointed for the observation of the said Fast, and to take care that the same be Solemnly and Religiously observed: And that all Majors, Justices of the Peace, Bayliffs, Constables, and all other Officers within their several and respective Liberties and Precincts, be hereby authorized and required to restrain all persons from the publique doing of any work, or using any exercise of a wordly nature, either contemptuously or unnecessarily, to the prophaning or neglect of the said Fast on the days aforesaid respectively by such penalties, or as were heretofore by any Ordinance of Parliament to be inflicted for prophaning the said Monethly Fast.
And be it further Enacted and Ordained by the authority aforesaid, That this present Act be forthwith printed and published; and that the Sheriffs of the several Counties and Cities in England and Wales, do cause the same to be proclaimed and set up in the usual and publique places within the said several Counties. And all the people of this Nation are hereby required and enjoyned, with all due Reverence and Devotion to observe the said Fast at the days aforesaid respectively, as they tender the glory of God, and the good and peace of this Commonwealth.