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Is there nothing to be amended in the laws ? Perhaps you may discover many things yet wanting in the laws; or mischiefs in the execution or application of them, which ought to be provided against ; or mischiets which annoy mankind, against which no laws are yet provided. The reformation of the laws, and more laws for the reformation of the world, are loudly called for. I do not affirm that our laws could be so reduced, that, like those of Geneva, they might be contained in five sheets of paper; but certainly the laws may be so corrected, that the world may more sensibly and generally enjoy the benefit of them. some lawyers, men of an excellent spirit,” would direct their attention this way, and call the attention of the legislature to them, all the world might feel the benefit of it. A worthy man, more than fifty years ago, wrote an
66 Examen Legum Angliæ--An Examination of the English Laws,” which deserves consideration in the present day.
Your learning often qualities you to write excellent things," not only in your own profession, but also on many other entertaining and edifying themes. The books which have been written by learned law. yers would, in number, almost equal an Alexandrioiz library. Judge by a Freherus' catalogue, or by a Pryn's performances. What valuable works have been produced by a Grotius, a Hale, a Selden! Gentlemen, you may plead the cause of religion and of the reformation, by your well directed pens; and perform innumerable services to the public. There is one, at this day, who, in his “ History of the Apostles' Creed," has obliged us to say, 6 he has offered like a KPNG to the temple of the king of heaven.” May the Lord his God accept him!
Should you be called, Sir, to the administration of justice, in the quality of a judge, you will prescribe to yourself rules like those which the renowned Lord Chief Justice Hale so religiously observed, as to become a bright example for all who occupy the seat of judicature. The sum of those rules is as follows:
"That justice be administered uprightly, deliberately, resolutely.
66 That I rest not on my own understanding, but implore the direction of God.
56 That in the execution of justice, I carefully lay aside my own passions, and not give way to them, however provoked.
" That I be wholly intent on the business I am about.
6. That I suffer not myself to be prepossessed with any judgment at all, til all the business, and both parties are heard.”
In the pursuance of such methods to do good, to serve the cause of righteousness, and introduce the promised age, in which the people shall all be righteous," the least of those glorious recompenses you may expect will be the establishinent of your pro. fession, in such a reputation, that the most prejudiced persons in the world, when seeking to find blemishes in it, will be obliged to bring in an Ignoramus.
FOR THE REFORMATION
OF MANNERS, and for the Suppression of Vice, have begun to grow into esteem, and it is one of the best omens that appear in the world.
“ Behold, how great a matter a little (of this heavenly) fire kindleth!" Five or six gentlemen in London, associated, with a heroic resolution, to oppose that torrent of wickedness which was carrying all before it. More were soon added to their number; and though they met with great opposition from “ wicked spirits," incarnate, as well as invisible ones, and some in 6 high places” too, yet they proceeded with a most honourable and invinci. ble courage. Their success, if not proportioned to their courage, was yet far from contemptible. In the punishments inflicted on those who transgressed the laws of morality, many thousands of sacritices were offered to the holiness of God. Hundreds of houses, which were the porches of hell, and the scandal of the earth, were soon shut up. A remarkable check was given to the raging profanation of the Lord's name; and the Lord's day was not so openly and horridly abused as before. Among other essays to do good, they scattered many thousands of good books among the people, which had a tendency to reform their manners. It was not long before this excellent example was followed in other parts of the British empire. Virtuous men of various ranks and persuasions, became members of the societies. Persons high and low, churchmen and dissenters, united ; and the union became formidable to the powers of darkness. The report of the societies flew over the seas, and the pattern was imitated in other countries.
Wise man, in remote parts of Europe, made this joyful remark upon them, that they occasion unspeakable good, and announce a more illustrious state of the church of God, which is to be expected in the conversion of Jews and Gentiles. America, too, begins to be irradiated with them.
I shall here recite an account, formerly presented to the public, of what may be effected by such societies. " What incredible benefits will accrue to religion from reforming societies, is the disposition to promote them should not unhappily languish. A small society may prove an invaluable blessing to a town, whose welfare should become the object of their watchful altention : they may be as a garrison to defend it from the worst of its enemies : they may soon render it 669 mountain of holiness, and a dwelling of righteous
The society may assist in promoting the execution of those wholesome laws, by which vice is discouraged. Offenders against the law may be kept under such vigilant inspection, that they shall not escape punishment; and censured sinners will be reclaimed from their sins; or, at least, the judgments of God, which may be expected where such sins are indulged, will be diverted. 6. When we judge our. selves, the judgments of God will be averted." Swearing and cursing will not infect the air. Men will not reel along the streets, transformed into swine by drunkenness. The cages of unclean birds will be dissipated. They whom idleness rendered dead while they lived, will have an honest employment provided for them. And the Lord's day will be visibly kept holy to the Lord.
“ Vice is a cowardly thing ; it will soon shrink before those who boldly oppose it. If any laws necessary to remedy what is amiss, be yet wanting, the society may apply to the legislative power to procure them. What is defective in the bye-laws of the town may soon be supplied. The election of such officers as may be faithful and useful to the public may he influenced by the society. If any persons be notoriously defective in their duty, the society may, by suitable admonitions and remonstrances, cause those defects to be amended. If any families live without family worship, the pastor may be informed, who will visit them, and exhort them no longer to remain in their atheism. If any are in danger of being led away by seducers, or other temptations, care may be taken to warn them. Schools of various kinds may derive advantage from such a society. Charity schools may be erected, inspected, and supported. Books and tracts, containing the salt of leaved, may be sprinkled all over the land, and the “ savour of truth” be diffused about the country. Finally, the society may find out who are in extreme necessity, and by their own liberality, or that of others, may procure assistance for them.
“We know that a small society may effect these things, because we know that they have been done, and yet the persons who did them have been concealed from the world. To minds elevated above the dregs of mankind, and endued with any generosity, no other argument to form such a society will be needful, ihan the prospect of so much usefulness. This will strongly recommend the design to well-disposed persons, and they will think it an honour to belong to such a society.”
The recital of these passages may be sufficient to introduce the following proposal.
That a proper number of persons in a neighbour5 hood, whose hearts God hath inclined to do good!,
should form themselves into a society, to meet when and where they shall agree, and to consider~"What are the disorders that we may observe rising among us; and what may be done, either by ourselves imme. diately, or by others through our advice, to suppress those disorders ? That they would procure, if they can, the presence of a minister with them; and every time they meet, present a prayer to the Lord to bless, direct, and prosper the design. That they would also procure, if possible, a justice of the peace, to be a member of the society. That half-yearly they choose two stewards, to dispatch the business and messages of the society, and manage the votes in it, who shall nominare their successors when their term is expired. That they would have a faithful treasurer, in whose hands their stock of charity may be deposited ; and a clerk to keep a suitable record of their transactions and purposes; and, finally, that they carry on their whole design with as much modesty and silence as possible.
In a town furnished with several such societies, it has been usual for them all to meet together once a year, and keep a day of prayer; in which they have humbled themselves for doing so little good, and entreated the pardon of their unfruitfulness, through the blood of the great Sacrifice ; and implored the blessing of Heaven on those essays to do good which they have made, the counsel and conduct of Heaven for their further attempts, and such influences of Heaven as may accomplish that reformation which it was not in their power to effect.
I will conclude this proposal by reciting those points of consideration which may be read to the societies, at their meetings from time to time, with a proper pause after each of them, that any member may offer what he pleases upon it.
i. Is there any remarkable disorder in the place, which requires our endeavours for the suppression of it? and, 'In what good, fair, likely way may we at
2. Is there any particular person, whose disorderly behaviour may be so scandalous, that it may be proper to send him our charitable admonition ? or, Are