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thing we have, is not our own. All these are, as our Lord speaks, Ta a7. Rotgia,- the property of another; of God our Creator. Now these either are or are not employed according to his will. If they are so employed, all is good ; if they are not, all is evil. Again : It is His will, that we should continually grow in grace, and in the living knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ: consequently, every thought, word, and work, whereby this knowledge is increaser, whereby we grow in grace, is good; and every one whereby this knowledge is not increased, is truly and properly evil.
3. We learn from hence, thirdly, That there are no works of supererogation; that we can never do more than our duty; seeing all we have is not our own, but God's; all we can do is due to Him. We bave not received this or that, or many things only, but crery thing from Him: therefore, every thing is His duc. He that gives us all, must necds have a right to all: So that if we pay bim any thing less than all, we cannot be faithful Stewards. And considering, “every mau shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour;" we cannot be wise Stewards, unless we labour to the uttermost of our power; not leaving any thing undone, which we possibly can do, but putting forth all our strength.
4. Brethren, “Who is an understanding man and endued with knowledge among you?” Let him show the wisdom from above, by walking suitably to his character. If he so account of himself, as a Steward of the manifold gifts of God, let him see that all his thoughts, and words, and works, be agreeable to the post God has assigned him. It is po small tbiny, to lay out for God all which you have received from God. It requires all your wisdom, all your resolution, all your patience, and constancy ;- far more than ever you had by nature; but not more than you may have by grace. For His grace is sufficient for you; and “all things," you know, “are possible to him that believeth.” By faith, then, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ; " " put on the whole armour of God;” and you shall be enabled to glorify Him in all your words and works; yea, to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ!
Elinburgh 1 11, 1768.
BEFORE THE SOCIETY FOR REFORMATION OF MANNERS,
ON SUNDAY, JAN. 30, 1763,
At the Chapel in Wesl-Street, Seven Dials.
" Who will rise up with me against the wicked ?"
. . Psalm xciv. 16.
1. In all ages, men who neither feared God nor regarded man, have combined together, and formed confederacies, to carry on the works of darkness. And herein they have shown themselves wise in their generation, for by this means they more effectually promoted the kingdom of their father the Devil, than otherwise they could have done. On the other hand, men who did fear God, and desire the happiness of their fellow-creatures, have, in every age, found it needful to join together, in order to oppose the works of darkness, to spread the knowledge of God their Saviour, and to promote his king, dom upon earth. Tudeer He himself has instructed them so to do. From the time that men were upon the earth, be bath taught them to join together in bis service, and has united them in one body by one spirit. And for this very cnd He has juined them together, “that He might destroy the works of the Devil ; ” first in them tbat are already united, and by them in all that are round about them.
2. This is the original design of the Church of Christ. It is a body of men compacted together, in order, first, to save each his own soul; then to assist each other in working out their salvation; and, afterwards, as far as in them lies, to save all men from present and future misery, to overturn the kingdom of Satan, and set up the kingdom of Christ. And this ought tu be the coutinued care and endeavour of every member of his Church; otherwise he is not wortlay to be called a member thereof, as he is not a living member of Christ.
3. Accordingly this ought to be the constant care and endeavour of all those who are united together in these kingdoms, and are commonly calied, The Church of England. They are united together for this very end, to oppose the Devil and all his works, and to wage war against the world and the flesh, his constant and faithful allics. But do they, in fact, answer the end of their union ? Are all who style themselves “Members of the Church of England” heartily engaged in opposing the works of the Devil, and lighting against the world and the flesh ? Alas, we cannot say this. So far from it, that a great part, I fear the greater part of them, are themselves the World,- the people that know not God to any saving purpose; are indulging, day by day, instead of “mortifying, the fleshi, with its affections and lesires ;” and doing, themselves, those works of the Devil, which they are peculiarly engaged to destroy.
4. There is, therefore, still need, even in this Christian Country, (as we courteously style Great Britain,) yea, in this Christian Churchi, (if we may give that title to the bulk of our nation, of some to "rise up against the wicked,” and join together “against the cvil docrs.” Nay, there was never more necd than there is at this day, for them “that fear the Lord to speak often together” on this very head, how they may “lift up a standard against the iniquity ” which overflows the land. There is abundant cause for all the servants of God to join together against the works of the Devil; with united hearts, and counsels, and endeavours, to make a stand for God, and to repress, as much as in them lies, these “floods of ungodliness,”
5. For this end a feir persons in London, towards the close of the last century, united together, and, aster a while, were termed, The Society for Reformation of Manners ; and incredible good was done by them, for near forty years. But then, most of the original members being gone to their reward, those who succeeded them grew faint in their mind, and departed from the work. So that a few years ago, the Society ceased; por did any of the kind remain in the kingdom.
6. It is a Society of the same nature, which has been lately formed. I purpose to show, First, The Nature of their Design, and the Steps they have hitherto taken : Secondly, The Excellency of it; with the various Objections which have been raised against it: Thirdly, What manner of men they ought to be, who engage in such a Design: and, Fourthly, 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 fenr God.
1. I. I am, First, to show the Nature of their Design, and the Steps they have bitherto 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, vending their wares as on common days ; especially in Moorfields, which was then full of them every Sunday, from one end to the other. It was considered, What method could be taken, to redress these grievances ; and it was agreed, that six of the should, in the morning, wait upon 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 Hicks's Hall; and those in Westminster; 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 them.
4. They then printed and dispersed, at their own expense, several thousand books of instruction to Constables and other Parish-Officers, explaining and enforcing their several duties : And to prevent, as far as possible, the necessity of proceeding to an actual 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 1758, that, after notices deliyered again and again, which were as often set at nought, actual informations were made to the Magistrates, against persons profaning the Lord's Day. By this means they first cleared the streets and fieldsofthose notorious offenders, wbo, without any regard either to God or the King, were selling their wares from moruing to night. They proceeded to a more difficult attempt, the preventing Tippling on the Lord's Day, spending the time in Alebouses, which ought to be spent in the more immediate worship of God. Herein they were exposed to abundance of reproach, to insult and abuse of every kind; having not only the tipplers, and those who entertained them, the alehousekcepers, to contend with, but rich and honourable men, partly the landlords of those alehouse-keepers, partly those who furnished them with drink, and, in general, all who gained by their sins. Some of these were not only inen of substance, but men of authority; nay, in more instances than one, they were the very persons before whom the delinquents were brought. And the treatment they gave those who laid the informations, naturally cucouraged “the beasts of the people” to follow their example, and to use them as fellows not fit to live upon 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 mercy, and to drag them over the stones or through the kennels. And that they did not murder them was not for want of will; but the bridle was in their teeth.
6. Haring, therefore, received help from God, they went on to restrain Bakers likewise, from spending so great a part of the Lord's Day in exercising the works of their calling. But many of these were 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 custon, to act contrary to their own conscience, sincerely thanked them for their labour, and acknowledged it as a real kindness.
7. Iu clearing the streets, fields, and alchouses of Sabbathbreakers, they fell upon another sort of offenders, as mischievous to society as any; namely, Gamesters of various kinds. Some of these were of the lowest and vilest class, commonly called Gamblers; who make a trade of scizing on young and inexperienced 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. lucreasing in number and strength, they extended their views, and began, not only to repress Profane Swearing, bui to remove ont of our streets another public nuisance, and scandal of the Christian manie, comnion Prostitutes. Many of these were stopped in their mid career of audacious wickedness.