Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

their desigır; and the steps they have hitherto taken; 2. The excellency of it, with the various obje&tions which have been raised against it: 3. What manner of men they ought to be, wlio engage in such a design: and, 4. With what spirit and in what manner they should proceed in the prosecution of it. I shall conclude with an application both to them, and to all that fear God.

[ocr errors]

I. 1. I am, first, To shew the riature of their design, and the steps they have hitherto taken.

It was on a Lord's day in August 1757, that in a small company, who were met for prayer and religious conversation, mention was made of the gross and open profanation of that sacred day, by persons buying and selling, keeping open shop, tippling in ale-houses, and standing or sitting in the streets, roads, or fields, vend. ing their wares as on common days; especially in Moorfields, which was then full of them every Sunday, froin one end to the other. It was considered, what method could be taken, to redress these grievances? And it was agreed, that six of them should in the morning wait 1:pon Sir John Fielding for instruction. They did so. He approved of the design, and directed them how to carry it into execution.

2. They first delivered petitions to the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and the court of Aldermen, to the Justices sitting at Hick's-Hail, and those in Westminster-Hall. And they received from all these honourable benches much encouragement to proceed.

3. It was next judged proper, to signify their design' to many persons of eminent rank, and to the body of the clergy, as well as the ministers of other denominations, belonging to the several churches and meetings, in and about the cities of London and Westminster. And they had the satisfaction to meet with an hearty consent and universal approbation from thena.

4. They then printed and dispersed, at their own expence, 'several thousand books of instruction, te constables and other parish-officers, explaining and inforcing their several duties. And to prevent, as

far

far as possible, the necessity of proceeding to an ac. tual execution of the laws, they likewise printed and dispersed, in all parts of the town, dissuasives from sabbath-breaking, extracts from acts of parliament against it, and notices to the offenders.

5. The way being paved by these precautions, it was in the beginning of the year 1958, that after notices delivered again and again, which were as often set at nought, actual informations were made to magistrates, against persons profaning the Lord's day. By this means they first cleared the streets and fields, of those notorious offenders, who without any regard either to God or the King, were selling their wares from morning to niglit. They proceeded to a more difficult attempt, the preventing tippling on the Lord's day, spending the time in ale-houses which ought to be spent in the more inmediate worship of God. Herein they were exposed to abundance of reproach, to insule and abuse of every kind: having not only the tipplers and those who entertained them, the alehouse-keepers, to contend with, 'but rich and honour, able men, partly those wbolurnished them with drink, and in general all. who gained by their sins. Some of these were not only men of substance, bụt men of authority - nay, in more instances than onę, they were the very persons before whom the delinquents were brought. And the treatment they gave those who laid ihe: informations naturally encouraged the heasts of the people, to follow their example, and to use them as fellows not fit to live upou the earth. Hence they made no scruple, not only: to treat them with the basest language, not only to throw at them mud or stones or whatever came to hand, but many times to beat them without meroy, and to drag them over the stones, or through the kengels. And that they did not murder them, was not fop want of will ; but the bridle was in their teeth. ... 6. Having therefore received help from God, they went on to restrain Bakers likewise, from spend, ing so great à part of the Lord's day, in exercising the works of their calling. But many of these were

more

more noble than the victuallers. They were so far from resenting this, or looking upon it as an affront, that several, who had been hurried down the stream of custom, to act contrary to their own conscience, sincerely thanked thein for their labour, and acknowledged it as a real kindness.

7. In clearing the streets, fields, and ale-houses of sabbath-breakers, they fell upon another sort of offenders, as mischievous to sociery as any, `namely, Gamesters of various kinds. Some of these were of the lowest and vilest class, commonly called gamblers, who made a trade of seizing on young and unexperienced men, and tricking them out of all their money. And after they have beggared them, they frequently teach them the same mystery of iniquity. Several nests of these they have rooted out, and constrained not a few of them, honestly to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, and the labour of their hands.

8. Increasing in number and strength, they extended their views, and began not only to repress profane swearing, but to remove out of our streets, another public nuisance and scandal of the Christian naine, common prostitutes. Many of these were stopped in their mid career of audacious wickedness. And in order to go to the root of the disease, many of the houses that cntertained them, have been detected, prosecuted according to law, and, totally suppressed. And some of the poor, desolate women themselves, tho' fallen to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ The lowest line of human infamy," have acknowledged the gracious providence of God, and broke off their sins by lasting repentance. Seve- . ral of these have been placed out, and several received into the Magdalen Hospital.

9. If a little digression may be allowed, who can sufficiently admire the wisdom of Divine Providence, in the disposal of the times and seasons, so as to suit one occurrane to another ? For instance. -Just at a time ; when many of these poor creatures, being stopt in their course of sining found a desire of leading a better life, as it were in answer to that sad question, " But if I quit the way I now am in, what can I do to live? For I am not mistress of any trade ; and I have no friends that will receive me :" I say, just at this time, God has prepared the Magdalen Hospital. Here those who have no trade, nor any, friends to receive them, are received with all tenderness. Here they may live, and that with comfort, being provided with all things that are needful for life and godliness. ***

10. But to return. The number of persons brought to justice, from August 1757, to August 1762, is 9596 From thence to the preseot time :

For unlawful gaming, and profane swaering, 40
For sabbath-breaking,

400 Lewd woman and keepers of ill houses,

550 For offering to sale obscene prints,

2

In all 10,588 11. In the admission of members into the society, no regard is had to any particular sect or party. Whoever is found upon enquiry to be a good man, is readily admitted. And none who has selfish or pecuniary views, will long continue therein : not only because ilie can gain nothing thereby, because he would quickHy be a loser : inasmuch as he must commence subscriber, as soon as he is a member. Indeed the vulgar cry is, “ These are all Whitfelites." But it is a great mistake. About twenty of the constantly subscribing members, are all that are in connexion with Mr. Ilhitefield. About fifty are in connexion with Mr. Wesley. About twenty, who are of the established Church, have no connexion with either : aud about seventy'are dissenters, who make in all an hondred and sixty. There are indeed many more, who assist in the work by occasional subscriptions.

II. 1. These are the steps which have been hitherto taken, in prosecution of this design. I am in the second place, to shew, The excellency thereof,

not

[merged small][ocr errors]

notwithstanding the ohje&tions which have been raised against it. Now this may appear from several con-' siderations. And first, from hence : That the making an open stand, against all the ingodliness and unrighteousness

, which overspread our land as a food, is one of the noblest ways of confessing Christ in the face of his enemies. It is giving glory to God, and shewing mankind, that even in these dregs of time

“ There are, who faith prefer,

“ Tho' few, and piety to God.” And what more excellent, than to render to God, the honour due unto his name? To declare by a stronger proof than words, even by suffering, and running all hazards, Verily there is a reward for the righa teous ; doubtless there is a God that judgeth the earth.

2. How excellent is the design, 10 prevent in any degree, the dishonour done to his glorious name, the, contempt which is poured on his authority, and the scandal brought upon our holy religion, by the gross, flagrant wickedness of those who are still called by the name of Christ? To stem in any degree the torrent of vice, to repress the floods of ungodliness, 10 remove in any measure those occasions of blasphem. ing the worthy name whereby we are called, is one of the noblest designs that can possibly enter into the heart of man to conceive.

3. And as this design thus evidently tends, to bring glory to God in the highest, so it no less manifestly conduces, to the establishing peace upon earth. For as all sin directly tends, both to destroy our peace with God, by setting him at open defiance, , to banish peace froin our own breasts, and to set every man's sword against his neighbour : so whatever prevents or removes sin, does in the same degree promote peace, both peace: in our own soul, peace with God, and peace with one another. Such are the genuine frụits of this de sign, even in the present world. But why should we confine our views to the narrow bounds of time and No. XIII.

?

space

[ocr errors]

4 U

« AnteriorContinuar »