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will do it with all possible generosity and alacrity. O excellent imitation of our glorious advocate in the heavens !
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 better provided against; or mischiefs 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 greatly called for. I do not say 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. If some lawyers, that are “men of an excellent spirit,” would employ their thoughts this way, and obtain the sanction of the legislature to them, all the world might feel the benefit of it. An honest gentleman, more than fifty years ago, wrote “ An Examination of the English Laws," worthy of your consideration in the present day.
Your learning often qualifies you to “ write excellent things," not only in your own profession, but also on numerous other entertaining and edifying themes. The books which have been written by learned lawyers, would, in number, almost equal an Alexandrian Library. Judge by a Freherus's catalogue, or by a Pryn's performances. What rare and valuable works have been written by a Hale, a Grotius, and a Selden! Sirs, you may plead the cause of religion, and of the reformation, by your
well-directed pens; and perform innumerable services. There is one, at this day, who, in his “ History of the Apostles' Creed,” and of his accounts of the primitive church, has obliged us to say, has offered like a king to the temple of the King of heaven." May the Lord his God accept him!
But I must come to a close. 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 Hals so religiously observed, as to become a bright example for all who occupy the seat of judicature. The sum of those rules were
“ That justice be administered uprightly, deliberately, resolutely.
" That I rest not on my own understanding, but implore the direction of God.
“ 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.
“ That I suffer not myself to be prepossessed with any judgment at all, till all the business, and both parties, are heard.
By 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 will be, the establishment of your profession in such a reputation, as many imcomparable persons in it have deserved, and that the most prejudiced persons in the world,
when seeking to find blemishes in it, will be forced to bring in an Ignoramus.
Societies for the reformation of manners.
REFORMING Societies, or Societies 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 in the nation. More were soon added to their number; and though they met with great opposition from 66 wicked spirits," incarnate, as well as invisible ones, and some in “high places” too, yet they proceeded with a most honourable and invincible 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 sacrifices were offered to the holiness of God. Hundreds of houses, which were the porches of hell, and the scandal of the earth, were soon suppressed. A remarkable check was given to the raging profanity; and the Lord's day was not so openly and horribly profaned as before. And among other essays to do good, they scattered thousands of good books, which had a ten
dency to reform the evil manners of the people. 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 kingdom of darkness. The report of the societies flew over the seas, and the pattern was imitated in other countries. Men of wisdom 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 advantages will accrue to religion from reforming societies, if the disposition to promote them should not unhappily languish! And if religion flourish, and iniquity dare no longer show itself, what prosperity of every kind, and in every thing, would be the consequence ?
A small society may prove an incomparable and invaluable blessing to a town whose welfare should become the object of their watchful attention: they may be as a garrison to defend it from the worst of its enemies; they may speedily render it “a mountain of holiness, and a dwelling of righteousness, that shall enjoy the most gracious presence of the Lord.”
The society may assist in promoting the execution of those wholesome
laws, by which vice is discouraged. Offenders against those laws may be kept under such vigilant inspection, that they shall not escape a due punishment for their offences; the effects of such chastisements may be, that the rebuked 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.
66 When we judge ourselves, 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, by which they may earn an honest livelihood. And the Lord's day will be visibly kept holy to the Lord, which will irradiate a place with a most lovely holiness and happiness.
“ Vice is a cowardly thing; it will soon shrink before those who visibly and boldly oppose it. If any laws, necessary to remedy what is amiss, be yet wanting, the society may procure the legislative power to assist them, that due provision for their execution may be given by our lawgivers. 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 much 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