A Vindication Of a Late UNDERTAKING OF Certain Gentlemen, In Order to the Suppressing of DEBAUCHERY, AND PROFANENESS.

LONDON, Printed in the YEAR, 1692.


THat which follows, had, for the substance of it, appeared abroad before now, but for the strange Imprudence of a Printer, and base Treachery of a certain Licen­ser; who was intrusted by him (wholly unawares to the Writer) with an imperfect Copy, and, as to the latter Part, a first Draught; which was promi­sed to be returned home again, to have added or al­tered what should be thought fit.

And whosoever shall be offended at what is here Published, as taking themselves to be disobliged by it, I assure them it is not written from the least Ill-Will to any Person in the World, but from the greatest Good-Will; and that not onely to the best of Causes, but also to those Men who are most like to be incensed.

Methinks I hear now our cautious Politico's ask­ing, [Page] What ayls this Person to be thus Busily Interposing in the behalf of those, who must needs by their extraordinary Zeal be Exposing themselves to the high Displeasure of some, and the Censures of others, as a sort of Hot-headed and Rash Men? But if they'll vouchsafe to read what is here writ­ten, I hope they'll see no just C [...]use to Accuse him of being Over-Busy. But indeed, tho' the A­postle saith, It is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing: And tho' their cool Wisdomships can be as Hot as their Neighbours in their own Concerns, yet 'tis ordinary with many of them, to pass sly Reflexions upon all Religious Zeal. But why Zeal should not best become a Cause, wherein the Honour of Almighty God is most highly concerned, and our Country-Mens Happiness in the World to come, and this World too, they are too Wise to of­fer at a Reason.

But they'll Object, That the Ill-timeing of a Good thing will make it Chargeable with Indiscretion. And who knows not this? But how can Zeal for so good a thing as the Reformation of our Man­ners, be ever Ill-timed? What is Absolutely ne­cessary, 'tis impossible should be set about Unseaso­nably. And it Argues a mighty Distrust of the Divine Providence, to fear, from the Angering of [Page] the Vicious Part of the Kingdom, any Evil that can be greater, than the Good of suppressing Vice, or so great. Nay, this savours of downright Infi­delity and Irreligion. Nor seems it much less Cul­pable to think, That the disobliging of Wicked Men will be a weakning of this Government. For 'tis so far from being true, that the Governments giving all possible Discouragement to Vice, may be a Means to endanger it, that nothing can conduce more to the strengthening and securing thereof, nor so much neither; and that naturally, as well as through the Blessing of God Almighty. H [...]nest Tully hath told us as much as this comes to. The Offence which profane and vicious Men may take at the Government, is a meer Scare-Crow; For so long as they see it for their Interest, to Adhere to it, there is no Fear but they will; and they'll put on a shew of being Reformed, nay and Ape a Zeal too for Refor­mation, rather than hazard their Preferments under it, or their Prince's Favour: And 'tis certain that the Government can be secure of such no longer, than their Interest holds them fast to it, tho' their Vices should be never so much connived at. But it hath been much observed both in City and Country, that those whose Conversations are none of the strictest, did upon the late Execution of the Laws, with some [Page] Briskness, express great liking of it, in hopes of having for the future, their Children and Servants, under better Government. And the Truth is, the Height of Viciousness, to which the Youth of this Nation, and especially of this City, are arrived, is a most Melancholly Subject to reflect upon; but not to be Wondred at any more, that that bad Exam­ples should be more powerful than good Precepts. And this presents us with as sad a Prospect, of the Age's being still more and more Corrupted, and of the next Ages proving worse than this, if more Time should be lost; and the setting in great earnest on the Work of Reformation be longer delayed. And I need not add, that the longer it is so, the Work will every Year be the more difficult.

A Vindication Of a Late Undertaking of Certain Gentlemen, &c.

THE most deplorable Degeneracy of this Nation in its Morals, occasioned by the Encouragement, which for many years to­gether, (for a well-known Reason) was given to Vice, raised in the minds of se­rious People, very strong Apprehensions of approach­ing Judgments; and accordingly very great ones came down upon us; and Two such, as no Age hath parallel'd in these Kingdoms, within a few years af­ter the Return of King Charles. But those having produced nothing of Reformation, they were follow­ed with others from time to time; and these like­wise being lost upon us, at length we had all the rea­son in the World to look for the heaviest Calamities that could befal us, viz. Popery and Slavery; but when these were at the door and just entering, so infinitely Merciful was He to us, Whose ways are not as our ways, nor whose thoughts as ours, as strangely to surprize us with a happy Deliverance.

And the blessed Instrument thereof, with His most Virtuous Consort, being by God's wonderful Provi­dence plac'd on the Throne, never were so great [Page 8] Hopes conceived as now, of an Effectual Reforma­tion.

But alas, in a short time it was too apparent, that this Deliverance came too soon, to be much valued by such a People, as generally We were. It found us miserably unqualified to receive it, and the Returns we have made to the DIVINE Goodness for it, speak us no less unworthy of the continuance of it. For neither hath the First Part of the Deliverance, nor the many amazing things God Almighty hath since done, both at home and abroad, towards the perfecting and securing thereof, had any visible good Effect upon us. But those Vices which before reign­ed, and cryed to Heaven for Vengeance, do reign still as much as ever; and those who were filthy before, let God use never so powerful Means for the cleansing of them, will be filthy still; as if, to speak in the Pro­phets Language, They had made a Covenant with Death, and were at an Agreement with Hell.

And whereas we have very good Laws for the sup­pressing of Vice, I will not say how very few have hitherto shewed, any thing of Zeal or an hearty Concern (notwithstanding the highest Obligation) for the Execution of them: Nor from how many nothing is to be expected, but an extream Averseness to a Reformation.

But to come to the Business of these Papers: Cer­tain pious Gentlemen, all of the Church of England, laying greatly to heart these things, resolved to make Tryal, whether any thing could be done, towards the giving a Check to Debauchery and Profaneness; and joyntly pitch't upon this following Method for the Reforming of Offenders in those Two most scandalous Instances, by due Course of Law, viz.

[Page 9] First, To endeavour the procuring of a Letter from the Queen (the King being then absent) to the Ju­stices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, re­quiring them to put the Laws in Execution against Drunkenness, Vncleanness, Swearing, Cursing, Profana­tion of the Lords Day, &c.

Secondly, To endeavour the obtaining a good Order of Sessions to be made thereon. And Her Majesty having (like Her self) most chearfully granted the humble Request of the Lord Bishop of Worcester, for such a Letter; and having accordingly sent a very pious and pressing one to those Justices; and the Ju­stices having thereupon publish't an exceeding good Order, These Gentlemen, encouraged with this good Success,

Thirdly, Made it their Request to many of their Acquaintance, (and all of the Church of England too) whom they knew to be Sober and Religious Persons, to give Information to some Justice of the Peace, of all Offences of the forementioned Nature, which they should observe to be committed; as by the Or­der of Sessions they are encouraged to do.

And that all possible Ease might be given to the Informers, the Iustices, and their Clerks:

1. They Printed Blank-Warrants against the seve­ral Offences.

2. They procured divers Persons (to the Num­ber of Eighteen or Twenty) inhabiting in conveni­ent places of the City and Suburbs, to fill up such Warrants, as the Case should happen to be; for the Informers, who should carry the same to the Justice; by which means he would have nothing more to do, [Page 10] but to Examine them upon Oath, and Sign and Seal the said Warrants. And,

3. To ease the Justices Servant of the trouble of carrying every Warrant to the proper Officer, the In­former was to take his Warrant back with him to the Person who filled it up; with whom care was taken to have it executed; as will appear presently.

That the Penalties might be duly applyed to the use of the Poor, and not imbezel'd by the Constables or Church-wardens, they took this Method.

1. They directed every Person who filled up the Warrants, to keep an Account or Register of the se­veral Offenders Names, the Offence of each, the Time when, and Place where each Offence was committed: And, when the Informer had brought him back the Warrant, to insert also the Name of the Magistrate, before whom each Conviction was made;

2. They appointed a special Messenger, and paid him well for his pains, to Collect all the said War­rants and Registers weekly; and, after they were sorted, to carry them out again to the proper Officers of the several Parishes where they were to be execu­ted; and to insert the Names of the several Consta­bles, to whom each of the said Warrants should be delivered, in the said Registers.

3. They prepared an Abstract of these Registers, to be presented to the Justices at their Petty-Sessions, for the enabling them to call every Constable to an Account, how he had executed the several Warrants he was Charged with in that Register; and to what Church-warden he had payd the Penalties by him levyed.

4. A short Account was to be taken out of all those Abstracts, by which to Charge the several [Page 11] Church-wardens, at the making up of their Ac­counts with all the Money by them received on those Warrants, in order to their sending it to the several Vestries once a Year.

And lastly, To awaken all good Christians through­out the Kingdom, Whether Magistrates or private Persons, to a vigorous endeavour for a Reformation of Manners, They set the good Example of the Ju­stices of Middlesex, and the following as good a one, of the Lord Mayor of London, and Court of Alder­men, before the rest of the Nation. For which pur­pose they caused the Orders of the said Sessions and Court, to be Printed in a smaller Character; and of these they sent several Thousands throughout the Kingdom, viz. To most Parliament-Men, Mayors, Bay­liffs, Iustices of the Peace, Ministers, Coffee-houses, &c. and the Printing and Postage too were wholly at their own Charge.

And, Thanks be to God, they quickly saw extra­ordinary good Effects hereof, in the excellent Orders of the like nature, made by the Cities of York, Glou­cester, &c. And by the Counties of Hertford, Bucking­ham, Bedford, Sussex, Gloucester, the North-Riding of Yorkshire, and divers others.

And there was perceived very good Success of their Endeavours at home, by the manifest ceasing in a great measure of the Profanation of the Lords Day; and the Awe that appeared upon many Common Swear­ers and Drunkards, who either felt, or had Notice of, the Execution of the Laws against such O [...]fenders.

But for as much as another sort of Informers, who had been so busie a few Years since, hath made that Name odious to inconsiderate People; and that the re­straining of Licenciousness, is ever extreamly grievous [Page 12] to the Licencious, 'twas necessary that the Justice should be desired by the Informer to conceal his Name from the Offender: There having been too many Instances of late, not unknown to the Justices, of those, who, instead of amending by the gentle Pu­nishment of one Sin, have added more to it, by reek­ing their Revenge on such as Informed against them, with great Barbarity. I say the concealing the In­formers Name, for this Reason, ought to be judged necessary; especially when he is ready to appear, and prove the Fact to the Face of the Offender, in case he persists in the denial of it. And Care was taken, that in this case the Informer should adventure to appear, although the Law doth not oblige to it; as will be seen anon.

This is an exactly true, but imperfect Narrative of the undertaking of these Gentlemen; and is it possible it should need a Vindication? Who would not now wonder that such a Word as this should be seen in our Title-Page? For can there be a Nobler Design laid, than that which is directly and solely for the Advancement of the Publick Good? And is not that Good, which comprehends both the Spiritual and Temporal Interest of the Publick, the incomparably greatest Publick Good? And is not he a Brute who needs to be told, that the Reformation of Mankind, and Running down of Vice, is such a Good as contains in it both these Interests? But this was the onely Design of this Undertaking. And it hath been shewed, that it was not limited to the Reformation of one City, or one County, but it extended to the whole Kingdom. And a due Countenance from those who are princi­pally obliged to encourage it, must needs cause it to have in time, an happy Influence upon both the other [Page 13] Kingdoms. And Then, how much farther in the World it may by Gods blessing reach, HE [...] knows.

Moreover; these Gentlemen were so far f [...]m de­signing to serve Themselves by this Undertaking, that, as they were not capable of getting one Penny for their pains, so they expended in the carrying of it on, considerable Sums out of their own Purses.

Nor can they with any Justice or Charity be cen­sured, as designing the Applause of the Sober and Virtuous part of the Nation, (as highly as they deserve it) for we are wholly beholden to their Enemies for our knowledge of so much as One of the Undertakers, or of the Undertaking it self. And those who received the Printed Orders all over the Kingdom, were perfectly Ignorant from whose hands they came.

And as to the foresaid Method they agreed on, for the Managing of this Design, it as little needs a Uindication as the Design it self; and is so far from being lyable to be taxed with Imprudence, that I (for my part) must needs profess, I greatly admire the Wisdom of the Contrivance. I Challenge those who dare to Reproach it, to shew Any Project bet­ter fitted for the Attainment of its End, than this throughout is. 'Tis scarce Civil to desire them to Mend it Themselves, since there is no Employment they can be more Averse to.

In short, 'tis a lamentable Instance of the Debau­chery of the Age, That it is not a piece of great Impertinence to publish a Vindication of Such an Undertaking. But so it is, That the Clamours of Delinquents, which, where they are readily received, shall never be wanting; served for an Occasion to [Page 14] Certain Gentlemen, whose Own Conversations will not suffer them to be reconciled to the thoughts of a General Reformation, to Calumniate it, with the Persons concerned in it; and to do their utmost to Overthrow it. All the Tales of punish'd Ale­House-keepers and other Criminals, were by Them immediately received as Gospel, since they were told by such dis-interessed and unbyast people; and here­upon they fall to Work. And no Wonder, for if the Prince of Darkness had not Now bestirr'd himself, to Baffle a Design so directly levelled against his King­dom, this would doubtless have been the very First time of his being unconcern'd upon such an Oc­casion.

And First these Persons satisfied themselves a while with playing at Small-Game; and among other most Notorious Untruths, they gave it out with great assurance, That there was a wonderfully gainful Of­fice lately set up in Lincolns-Inn, where Hundreds of Pounds were already gotten by the Erecters of it. And what great pity is it, provided the Tempting Wages could have reconciled them to such Loathsom Work, that Themselves had no interest in the Stock going there? By my consent, they should have had Shares Gratìs upon that condition; nay, could they have been hyred thereby not to Hinder Business, the Founders of the Office should have done all the Drudgery, and They should have all the Gains, but that the Poor ran away with every Farthing.

And, by the way, the Informers too who were en­gaged in this Undertaking, refused to receive a penny of the Penalties in those Cases wherein the Law al­loweth them the Third part. They desired no other Reward for so good a Work, than what they are sure [Page 15] to have in the Other World, and would have only their Labour for their Pains in This.

And when it appeared to every body by the Form of the Warrants, that the Constables were to pay the Money they had Levyed upon Offenders, to the Church-Wardens, for the use of the Poor, the fore­said persons found that a Lye could do them very little Service, which was every whit as easily detected as told.

And now from Talking they proceed to Action; and 'tis well known how the First Blow was given to this Undertaking; though several Worthy Justices of the Peace, to their Honour be it spoken, heartily interposed for the prevention of it.

In order to it, they in the first place fell very heavily on Mr. Hartley, a virtuous person, who had given as a Justice, all possible encouragement to this Best of Works. He was loaded with diverse Accusati­ons of Injustice in his Proceedings; and those on which the greatest Weight was laid, were the Two follow­ing, whereby the Reader may judge of the rest. And perhaps they were both True as to matter of Fact, whatever they were as to their Faultiness.

One was, That the Name of the Landlord of an Ale House was inserted in one of his Warrants, in­stead of the Tenant's who kept the House.

The other, That a Woman was called in another Warrant by the Name of her dead Husband, after she was again Married.

Now as to the Former, it is said, That the Land­lord also liv'd in the House; so that 'twas unknown to many which of them was Master of it: However, the House was ascertained in the Warrant, and the Offence against the Law, there committed, positively Sworn to.

[Page 16] And as to the Latter, 'Tis ordinary among the meaner sort, to call Women, at least for some time after their second Marriages, by the Names of their former Husbands: And those who had not heard of the Husbands death, might without any great Of­fence presume him to be still Living. Nor was it necessary that all who knew of his Death, should know that his Widow was a Wife again.

These are the only Objections which we find par­ticularly assign'd against Mr. Hartley's proceedings, and therefore Unpardonable Faults no doubt! But the best of it is, they were the Informers not the Iustices. But can any one of those who have made such ado with these two Trifles, make any body believe that His Justiceship (if he be in Commission) was never so imposed on? He hath had very little Custom, or very great Luck, if it never was. But old Aesop hath helpt us to a true Proverb: It is an easie thing to find a Staff to beat a Dog. But suppose these Two were Culpable Mistakes, for want of due Caution, as those who have made such mighty mat­ters of them, can't think them so in the Iustice, and scarcely in the Informers: I wish they would seriously consider, what means that Question of our Blessed Saviour; Why beholdest thou the Mote which is in thy Brothers Eye, and perceivest not the Beam that is in thine Own Eye? O how happy would it be for, especially some of Them, were They charge­able with no worse Mistakes, or lay they under the scandal of nothing worse than Mistakes!

Such Little things as These, and which are as soon rectified as perceived, would be easily over-look't for the sake of the Greatness and Nobleness of the Undertaking, by all such as heartily desire a Refor­mation; [Page 17] nay, by those who are but able to bear the thoughts of it: Nay, one would think too, by those who, though they would fain have none, have so much Modesty remaining, as to be ashamed Openly to Oppose it. Which sure none can have the impi­ous Bravery to do, but such as would make a true Story of the Fiction of the Giants, by designedly fighting against GOD Himself, if they believe there is one. And as it is eminently HIS Cause in which these Pious Gentlemen engaged themselves; so no Christian can doubt, nor scarce a hearty Theist, whe­ther God hath a Special Hand in all Undertakings of this nature; nor whether those who are employed in them are HIS Instruments; Called, Spirited and Assisted by Him: I mean on supposition, that they carry on their Work by Lawful means, and trans­gress not the Bounds of those Stations in which Pro­vidence hath placed them. But Malice it self may be defyed to shew any one Instance, wherein these per­sons (the Undertakers I mean) have not strictly kept to the observance of Humane, as well as the Divine Laws; or acted out of their own Sphere.

It is evident by the foresaid Narrative, that there was nothing in their Undertaking, but what they had at least Liberty from our Laws to do, nay, a Com­mission (I mean a general one) from GOD to do; and the Queens Commission too, may be easily made out of Her Majesties most Gracious Letter, for what they have done; could they stand in any need of it.

[Page 18] As to the particular Charges against Two of the Undertakers, and divers of the Imformers, the world will quickly be satisfied they are mere Forgeries by a better Hand; and therefore I will wholly wave them. Mr. Hartley will be also Vindicated from the other Misdemeanours objected against him in the Ex­ecution of his Office; but I cannot forbear to touch upon Two more of These.

One was, That he play'd the Busy-Body in Acting out of his own Division. And 'tis true, that he did So act, but not that he was a Busy-Body in so doing. For, as he did it not but when 'twas Necessary, so he had expresly Violated his Justices Oath, if he had re­fused it.

The Other was, his Convicting Offenders, without bringing Them and their Accusers face to face. Now, besides what hath been said to This already, which shews the necessity of his frequently so doing, so the Law ought not to be understood as being against it: For the same Magna Charta which saith, That No man shall be Condemned Vnheard; saith also, That No man shall be disseized of his Goods or Life, but by a Tryal per Pares. In which Latter, if an Act of Parliament hath dispensed as to Goods, it may well be construed so to do in the Former Clause; especially when there is no proportion between the Crime and the Punish­ment: I mean, when the Former is very Great, and the Latter as Little; and This not to be inflicted but by a solemn Conviction upon the Oath of a Credible [Page 19] person, and in some cases of Two; and the Oaths like­wise of such, as get not one Farthing of the Penalty.

This is as much as we design to say, relating to the First Blow that was given to this Undertaking. A Second soon followed it, and this proved a Home one. And Gods will be done, if there is no Remedy to be had. But there is little likelihood of Any, should Good men be so sheepish, as to conceal, or only vent to one another, their sorrowful Resentment of fierce Op­positions to Reformation, and such an open Contempt as is now cast upon the best of Queens, in Baffling a Design so well adapted to the promoting of the Bu­siness of her Excellent Letter. And of the great En­couragement given to Licencious publick Houses; of several instances of which, diverse Bishops, to their no small Trouble, have been Ear-Witnesses.

There is an Objection which have been too often made against the Restraining of such Houses, viz. That their Majesties Excise will be greatly Lessened by this means. But who is able to think it can be Grateful to such a King and Queen as we are now Bless't with, to have their Revenue enlarged by the Sins of their People? Who can be Ignorant, that there is nothing they would more Abominate? Or that their Majesties do not need to be told, that their Revenue must most certainly be exceedingly diminished by the Poverty of their Subjects; And nothing is more observed, than that Multitudes of them do every year bring Them­selves and Families to a Morsel of Bread, by being [Page 20] permitted so much Drink; expresly contrary to our Laws, which lay great Restraints upon Drinking-houses, and Drinkers in them; not only on Sundays, but the Week-dayes too.

Possibly some may object against the Matter of these Pages, that Advice of the Poet: ‘Dum Furor in cursu est, &c.

When you see Fury ride full speed,
Get out o'th' way of Fury's Steed.

And censure it as too Heady an Act, now Vice is so Rampant, thus to expose our selves to the Rage of the Vicious.

But it may be replyed, That whosoever is heartily concerned at Vice's being now so Rampant, must have the Soul of a Nit, if he fears looking it in the Face in such a Reign as this. If he be more afraid of Debauchees and Profane Persons in King William's and Q. Mary's Reign, than many were of Papists and Jesuites in King Iames's. Or apprehends more dan­ger in Attacquing those now, than these then, without the Leave of a Licenser.

And as to the Governments having any Reason to be afraid of provoking them, I add to what is said in the Preface, that Vice is a Dastardly Cow-hearted thing, and always sneaks when bravely born up to; having nothing to plead in its own Defence. But [Page 21] could vicious Men invent any thing to say for them­selves, they are still self-condemned. Their Vices also make them too soft and effeminate, to carry on with any Vigour a dangerous Design. Nor can they con­fide in one another, in laying a Conspiracy, as having no Principle to secure Fidelity: So that there is not the least fear of their being too hard for the sober part of the Nation; of which I hope there are an Hundred to one on the side of the Government.

Were those who bear an implacable Enmity to a­ny thing of Reformation, onely injurious to their own Souls, the Charity we have for them, might have for­bidden us to be silent, upon such an occasion as is now given us; much less then can we have any Tempta­tion to be shy of Offending them, when we consi­der how extreamly the Publick, and Their Majesties Great Affairs have suffered by them, and are still like to suffer; and what heavy Judgments ought to be expected from a most highly Provoked God, for the Toleration of so much Wickedness, after as great Obligations as ever were laid upon a Nation.

Now the Third Time draws on a pace, when He, who is the Light of our Eyes, and the Breath of our Nostrils, designs to expose His Sacred Person for our Safety, and the Well-fare of all Christendom, to such Dangers as nothing but the Courage of a Matchless Hero could encounter: And therefore 'tis more than time, that a more effectual Course than ever be taken to run down those Enemies at home (our Reigning Sins) [Page 22] which may do, through God's just Judgment, our Potent Enemy abroad more Service, than all the Pre­parations he hath made against us. And in Order thereunto, to take all possible Care, that none be in­trusted with the Business of Reforming others, who need as much as any to be Reformed themselves. As also to give all Encouragement to those, whose hearts God hath inclined to give their helping Hand to a Work of such Absolute Necessity, We may be much afraid to think of the King's again leaving us, before this be done, or at least a doing.

And, Thanks be to GOD, and Their Majesties, since this was written comes the happy News, of this Work's being again set on foot, by a most pious Proclamation.


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