« ZurückWeiter »
informed by the society, 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 advantages from such a society. Charity schools may be erected, inspected, and supported. Books, containing the salt of heaven, 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 either 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 with any generosity or ingenuity, which elevates them above the dregs of mankind, no other argument to form such a society will be needful, than the prospect of so much usefulness. These things will strongly recommend themselves to well-disposed men, and they will think it an honour to belong to a society that pursues such excellent designs.”
The recital of these passages may be sufficient to introduce the following proposal :
That a proper number of persons in a neighbourhood, whose hearts God hath touched with a zeal 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 immediately, 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 despatch the business and messages of the society, and manage the votes in it, who shall nominate 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 undertakings 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 future attempts, and such influences of heaven as may bring about that reformation which it was not in their power to accomplish.
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, for
member to offer what he pleases upon it.
1. 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
that it may
2. Is there any particular person, whose disorderly behaviour may be so scandalous and notorious,
to send him our charitable admonition? or, are there any contending persons whom we should exhort to quench their contentions ?
3. Is there any particular service to the interests of religion, which we may conveniently desire our ministers to take notice of ?
4. Is there any thing which we may do well to mention and recommend to the Justices, for the fur. ther promotion of good order?
5. Is there any sort of officers among us unmindful of their duty, to such a degree that we may properly remind them of it?
6. Can any further methods be devised that ignorance and wickedness may be more chased from our people in general; and that domestic piety, in particular, may flourish among them?
7. Is there any instance of oppression or fraudulence in the dealings of any sort of people, which may call for our efforts to rectify it.
8. Is there any matter to be humbly recommended to the legislative power, to be enacted into a law for the public benefit?
9. Do we know of any person languishing under
severe affliction, and is there any thing we can do for the succour of that afflicted neighbour ?
10. Has any person a proposal to make, for our further advantage and assistance, that we may be in a better and more regular capacity for prosecuting these intentions ?
My Reader—“Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them;"> yea, tell first the leaves of a Hyrcanian forest, and the drops of the Atlantic ocean—then tell, how many good things may be done by societies of men, having such points of consideration always before them.
And yet, when such societies have done all the good they can, and nothing but good, and walk on in a more unspotted brightness than that of the moon in heaven, let them expect to be maligned and libelled as "a set of scoundrels, who are maintained by lying, serve God for unrighteous gain, ferret whores for subsistence, and are not more zealous against immorality in their informations, than for it in their own practice; avoiding no sin in themselves, and suffering none in others.” I
suppose who publish their censures on
66 The manners of the age,” will thus express their malignity, because they have done so. Sirs ! “add to your faith, courage, and be armed for such trials of it.
A catalogue of desirable objects for the zeal of good
men to prosecute.
We will not propose that our Essays to do Good should ever come to a close; but we will now put an end to our tender of proposals for them; I shall therefore conclude with a Catalogus Desideratorum, or a mention of some obvious and general services for the kingdom of God among men, to which it is desirable that religious and ingenious persons should be awakened.
A catalogue of desirable objects for the zeal of good men to prosecute:
I. The propagation of the holy and glorious religion of Christ; a religion which emancipates mankind from the worst kind of slavery and misery, and wonderfully ennobles it; and which alone prepares men for the blessedness of another world. Why is this no more attempted by its professors ? Protestants, will you be outdone by Popish idolaters? O the vast pains which those bigots have taken to carry on the Romish merchandize and idolatry! No less than six hundred clergymen, in the order of the Jesuits alone, have, at several times, within a few years, embarked for China, to win over that mighty nation to their bastard Christianity. No less than five hundred of them lost their lives in the difficulties of their enterprise; and yet the survivors