A SERMON Preach'd to the SOCIETIES FOR Reformation of MANNERS, In the CITYS of London and Westminster.

February, 19. 1699.

Published at their Request.

By THOMAS REYNOLDS.

LONDON, Printed for Richard Mount on Tower Hill, and John Lawrence in the Poultrey. 1700.

To the Right Worshipful Sir THOMAS ABNEY, AND Sir OWEN BUCKINGHAM Knights, and Aldermen of the City of LONDON.

Most Honoured,

I Esteem it a favourable Providence, that my first appearing thus publick­ly should be in defence of so Noble a Cause, as that of Reforming the Man­ners of Wicked Men, which has over­come [Page]the reluctance I had to the pub­lishing of this Discourse. And the Post you bear in the Government of this Renowned City, besides the honour of being admitted to your Acquaintance, hath emboldned me to offer it to your Patronage.

The suppressing of Vice and Immorali­ty, which have too long been the Reproach of our Nation, is such a work, as requires the Assistance of all that have any regard to Religion or Virtue: and it is not the least of our Publick Blessings, that so many of your Rank and Quality are ready to lend their helping hand to it.

This is a Design that greatly becomes Persons in your Station, and is truly worthy of Those that bear the highest Character. Your Zeal therefore in pro­moting it will be your Glory while liv­ing, and a considerable comfort to you in the hour of Death.

They who act in a lower Sphere direct their eyes to you for encouragement; and they are such as You that must ani­mate 'em, and make 'em chearful in their work, who otherwise will be apt to faint and be discourag'd.

You are better known than to need the display of Your worthy Characters. And I much rather chuse to be silent than incur the least imputation of Flat­tery. Yet I hope you'l pardon me that I have declared You the Friends of Virtue, and the Promoters of what is aimed at in the following Sermon, by Dedicating it to You.

I beseech you to accept it as a Testi­mony of my unfeigned Gratitude for the Favours I have received from you: And espouse what I have end eavour'd to recommend to Persons of all Stati­ous, that You may be reckon'd among our valuable Blessings; and as you [Page]outshine others in the Honours of this World, you may partake of a larger share in the Glories of the other: which is the Humble and Hearty Prayer of,

GENTLEMEN,
Your most Obliged, and most Obedient Servant, Thomas Reynolds.
PROV. ix. 7, 8.

He that reproveth a Scorner, getteth to himself Shame: And he that rebu­keth a wicked Man, getteth himself a Blot. Reprove not a Scorner, lest he hate thee—

HOW improper soever these words at their First view may seem to the present occasion of our Meeting, a little Patience and Attention it's hop'd will beget in you other conceptions about them.

I have not chosen them to become an Advocate for Vice, or to lay Discourage­ments in their way, who are vigorously bent to suppress it. No, my Brethren, it is so far from my purpose to abate your Zeal, that I would do my uttermost to increase and inflame it. And I heartily pray, that wicked men may be sooner weary of their sins, than you in repro­ving [Page 2]them in all those ways, and by all those Methods that are becoming, pro­per, and lawful.

And altho my Text may carry a face contrary to what I pretend; yet I pro­mise my self some considerable advantage in drawing an Argument from it, that I presume will be allow'd to have strength in it, both for the justifying your Lauda­ble Proceedings, and encouraging your Perseverance therein.

It is more than probable some may from hence raise an Objection against you; and for this very reason it is necessary these words should be considered and un­derstood, both for your own satisfaction, and the confuting of those who would be glad to lay hold on any thing, where­by to disparage and give a check to that good Work you are engaged in.

If I shew that these words are not di­rected against your assisting the Civil Magistrate in punishing Profane and Vi­cious Men, but from what they are really oppos'd unto, they render it your indispensible Duty; may I not hope hereby to wrest out of the hands of your Enemies one of the principal Weapns [Page 3]they may use against you, and so do some Service to your Cause?

He that reproveth a Scorner, getteth to himself Shame: and he that rebuketh a wick­ed Man, getteth himself a Blot. Reprove not a Scorner, lest he hate thee

And is this all that's to be gotten (may the Objector say) by reproving Scorners and wicked men? Is this all the Recom­pence to be expected? What wise man then would engage in so fruitless a Ser­vice, and bestow his Pains where he is like to meet with so bad a Requital? Were it not better to sit still at home and sleep in a whole Skin, than by casting Pearls before Swine, or endeavouring to pull them out of the Mire, to provoke them to turn and rend us? What man will parley with an Enemy, when in­stead of bringing him to terms of Com­plyance he is sure before-hand to be torn and cut to pieces by him? Who would venture to reprove wicked men, when they instead of being softned and reclai­med thereby, will but be the more en­rag'd, and wound our Innocency while we are striking at their Vices? Com­mon Prudence and Self-preservation [Page 4]would teach us to forbear in such a Case. But the rather should we do it when Wisdom her self favours us with her Ad­vice, and expresly forbids us to Reprove a Scorner lest he hate us, implying that he certainly will do so, and this is all we are like to get from him whatever kind Intentions we bear towards him.

Now it is of dangerous consequence to draw upon our selves the hatred of wicked men; Men who have no Fear of God before their eyes, who are professed Enemies to all that is Good, who have banish'd their Reason and debauch'd their Conscience, who matter not what they say or do, nor which way their Tongues or their Hands are employ'd so they can but discharge their Malice upon us.

And this being so as Wisdom her self who cannot err assures us, Attempts for reforming the Manners of Scorners and Wicked men would seem a vain and hazardous undertaking: A Work that a Wise man would be shy of, and no man is under any Obligation to engage in, nay under an express Charge to the contra­ry.

If therefore by medling in a Matter which doth not belong to them, they re­ceive to themselves no other Recom­pence of their Pains, than Shame and a Blot, that is, all the Dirt and Calum­ny that wicked Men can rake together and throw upon them; they must charge it to their own Imprudence, and thank themselves, for if they had ta­ken Wisdom's Advice, they would not have done it.

This Objection hath not (as I know of) been designedly taken notice of by any of my Brethren that have gone be­fore me, yet deserves to be considered as that which not only may be urged by professed Enemies to your worthy De­signs, but by those who pretend to be of the wiser, that is, the more wary and cautious sort of Christians.

And indeed this is an Objection they may be very fond of, because it seems to carry some Plausibleness with it, and chiefly because it is an Arrow taken out of your own Quiver; for thus they will pretend to direct your own Weapons a­gainst you, and stab your Cause with that very Sword you use in defence of it. [Page 6]But this, like an Arrow besides the Mark, does no execution; or rather, like one directed into the Sky, falls down again, and wounds his Head who shot it.

To make this clear and evident, I have propos'd to my self this Method in discoursing upon the words.

First, I shall endeavour to give you the true genuin Sense and Meaning of them.

Secondly, Answer a Query that will na­turally result from hence: And this in the

Third and last place will yield me a very fair Opportunity to expose the Weakness and Impertinency of the Ob­jection; and to make it evident, that what Advantage may be had from these words, in the case under consideration, lies on your side, and against your Ad­versaries.

And, First for the Sense of the words, there are three things which de­serve our Enquiry: as,

Who is design'd by the Scorner and Wicked Man?

What is the Reproof we are forbidden to minister nto such?

How are we to understand the Pro­hibition when it is said, Reprove not a Scorner lest he hate thee?

I. Who is design'd by the Scorner and Wicked Man? I reply, one and the same Person is understood. For it is agreed on all hands that it's the manner of the Wise Man to repeat the same thing in the same verse in other words throout all this Book. A Scorner is one of the worst of Men: He is a confirmed and hardned Sinner, one who refuses In­struction, and is so incapable of Reproof, that nothing will move him to become bet­ter: And therefore Wisdom passes such by, and leaves them to their wretched Folly as Persons to be despaired of; while those who being merely inconside­rate and deluded, she invites to her House, because such (it were to be hoped) might become willing to receive her In­structions, ver. 1, 2. of this Chapter.

Again, the Scorner is one who if re­prov'd will but requite you with Shame and a Blot, that is, will not only make you lose your labour, and thereby give occasion to others to deride the Vanity [Page 8]of your Attempt, but like an ungrate­ful Wretch will deride and scoff at you himself, as tho it were not enough to re­ject your good Offices, but he must a­buse you into the bargain.

He is one, who will malign and hate you, and whilst you reprove him, will but throw Dirt in your face, and after­ward traduce you behind your back; till he hath made you as black by Slanders and Reports as his Crimes have rendred him in Reality.

And are there not many such Scorners in our times? Monsters! shall I say of Men? yea Monsters of Sinners too! most Impious Wretches! who being perfectly hardned in Wickedness, will hearken to nothing that might tend to reform or better them. They are too big to be spoken to, too proud to be instructed, too ungrateful to take any thing kindly at your hands. To endea­vour to reform them, is but to give them an occasion to become worse, since Contumelies and Curses, Scorn and Con­tempt, a Hiss and a Scoff is the Reward you must expect. These are those whom we may well suppose pointed at by St. [Page 9] Jude, concerning whom he speaks, that there shall come in the last days Mockers walking after their ungodly Lusts, Sensual, not having the Spirit. ver. 18, 19.

II. What is the Reproof here forbidden?

Reproof is Verbal or Real.

Verbal is the more Gentle way of dea­ling with Sinners, by speaking to them, and reasoning the Case soberly with them, conveying our Reproofs as whole­som Physick in the Vehicle of soft words and friendly admonitions. An Instance of this we have in the first Chapter of this Book of Proverbs, where Wisdom is represented as uttering her words, say­ing, How long ye simple ones will ye love Simplicity, &c. Turn you at my reproof: be­hold I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. v. 21, 22, 23.

Real Reproof is a rougher way of handling them, and is the last Remedy that is left, which therefore is not to be used till other Methods are found fruit­less and ineffectual upon them. This is perform'd by corporal Punishments and [Page 10]penal Mulcts: And to this those words may refer which you have in the 19th Chapter of this Book; Judgments are prepared for Scorners, and Stripes for the back of Fools, ver. 29. And there we are directed to smite a Scorner, and the Simple will beware, v. 25. that is, to punish a Deri­der of Religion severely, which tho it do Him no good, may reclaim Others, or at least make them more cautious and wa­ry.

Now to which sort of Reproofs the Words of my Text do refer, will be very easily determin'd, by any one that du­ly considers what goes before and follows after. For I must by the way observe, that altho in the Chapters which suc­ceed, there is seldom any Coherence either of the Sense or Sentences, but they lie as so many precious Pearls loose and unstrung; yet here, and in what hath been hitherto delivered of this Book, there is a very plain Connexion, and the Sense like the precious Ore in a rich Mine, runs along in one continued Vein, as an ingenious Author makes the Comparison.

To any one therefore who considers the Respect the words of the Text have to what precedes and follows, it may ap­pear beyond all doubt that the Reproofs which are here forbidden must be confin'd to those which are managed in a way of Counsel and Advice, Admonition and Entreaty, and all those other Methods of Argument and Persuasion, whereby Ordinarily the Ministers of the Word or private Persons would endeavour to re­claim Wicked men from their sins: And that here is nothing in the Text or Con­text that hath the least shadow of a reference to that sort of Reproof which consists in the punishing Offenders by the Sword of the Civil Magistrate. For in the beginning of this Chap. Wisdom is represented as a glorious Princess dwel­ling in her Stately Palace, and sending forth her Agents to invite poor simple Souls to her House to hear the Instructi­ons of her Mouth, which will yield as much Pleasure and Satisfaction to the minds of her Scholars, as the most no­ble Banquet or delicious Feast to their bodily Appetite. And further, the Text stands in a manifest Opposition to ver. [Page 12]19th, where it is said, Give Instruction to a wise Man and he will be yet wiser, teach a just Man and he will increase in Learning. So that upon the whole Con­text it appears that the words refer only to the Verbal reproving of Scorners.

III. And lastly, How are we to un­derstand the Prohibition when it is said, Reprove not a Scorner lest he hate thee? This may be taken, either Absolutely or Comparatively.

Absolutely, And so we are to let him alone; and as to what respects this way of dealing with him, to leave him wholly to himself.

1. It supposes some former Trials, ei­ther by our selves or others, and that there is the fullest Proof of his Obstina­cy and Incorrigibleness. Which being so, we are not to spend any further Time and Pains to no purpose upon him, but pass him by as a desperate Wretch, with whom other kind of Methods must be taken.

2. It may be taken in a Comparative Sense, which is frequently to be obser­ved in the Hebrew, where the Negative Adverb is commonly put for the Particle of Comparison, as Chap. 8.10. Receive my Instruction and not Silver, i. e. ra­ther than Silver. It immediatly follows, and Knowledg rather than Choice Gold. So Joel 2.5, 13. Rend your Hearts and not your Garments, i. e. rather rend your Hearts than your Garments. And so may we not accommodate this Hebraism to the words of the Text? Reprove not a Scorner lest he hate thee, but (as is imme­diately subjoin'd) rebuke a Wise Man and he will love thee; that is, Reprove not a Scorner, but rather bestow your Reproofs upon those who will receive Good by them, and heartily thank you for them. We should much sooner turn to a wise Man, one that will hear Reason, and think upon what we say, than one where all our Counsels will be rejected. Not but that such Emergen­ces and Circumstances may happen wherein it may be our Duty to reprove the worst of Scorners to testify our Ab­horrence of the Sin, even when we can­not [Page 14]not better the Man. But usually and for the most part we should apply our selves to those who will hear us, where there is the greatest likely hood of doing Good, with the least Damage at the same time to our selves. And so the words teach us to make a wise and discreet Choice of the Persons we would admo­nish, and not heedlesly to expose our selves to the Contempt and Obloquy of scornful men: But when all Circum­stances considered there is the greatest Reason to believe that we shall neither do Good to the Person we reprove, nor to Others, nor bring any Glory to God, but only draw down an Inconvenience upon our selves, in such a Case we are to forbear our Reproofs.

And thus it most commonly happens with reference to the openly Profane and Wicked. Such generally do but make a mock of Sin, and deride every thing that carries the face of Seriousness with it. To tell such of their Sins, does but exasperate them the more; to check them in their Career, is to make them fly out with the greater Violence; and to offer to controul them, is to inflame [Page 15]their Wrath, and increase their Hatred against us.

Here then it is fitting we should de­sist and hold our Hands, because when we can do no Good we ought not to ad­minister an Occasion of further Evil; and since we cannot suppress Mens Wic­kedness, we should not do any thing that might provoke it: Herein acting consonantly to those words of our Bles­sed. Lord, who thought fit to advise us not to give that which is Holy unto Dogs, nor to cast our Pearls before Swine, lest they trample them under their Feet, and turn a­gain and rend us, Matth. 7.6.

But yet, as I have already observ'd, this is not so absolute a Rule, but may upon some extraordinary Emergency admit of an Exception: And it may so fall out that we shall find our selves under an Obligation to speak up boldly for the Glory of God, tho we despair at the same time of any Good to the Sinner. Yea By-standers by considering our Place, Profession and Character, may expect something from us: And to avoid being accus'd of Connivance or Cowardice, we may find our selves bound to take [Page 16]some notice of Scorners: tho to speak properly, I think this is not so much a reproving of them, as a clearing of our selves.

When this is to be done, and How, and what are those Circumstances that must determine us, as I have not time, so neither do I judg it fit for me to assign. This must be left to a Man's own Con­science and Prudence; and it being a very nice and critical Point, he hath the more Reason to look up to God for his Assis­tance and Direction: But setting aside some rare and special Emergences, the Instruction the words afford us is to be the Rule of our Conduct towards Scor ners and Wicked Men. And this leads me to a Query which doth Naturally re­sult from hence, which is the

Second thing propos'd, in answering of which I shall not only remove the Ob­jection that hath been started, but make it undeniably appear, that because we are forbidden to reprove a Scorner in the plain Sense of our words, for that very Reason we are indispensibly bound to reprove him in the Sense that our Ad­versaries oppose.

The Query then is this, If we are ex­presly forbidden to reprove Scorners and wicked Men in a way of Counsel, Ad­vice, Admonition, and the like; pray what must be done, or what other course must be taken with them? In answering of this Inquiry, I shall undertake to e­vince these two things.

I. That they must not absolutely be let alone, that is, be left to pursue their hellish Courses with that full Swinge and Liberty, as to be entirely without all manner of Controul. But,

II. That the supreme Governour of all things, in his great Wisdom and Mercy to the World, hath appointed other Me­thods of dealing with such irreprova­ble Sinners.

I. That they must not absolutely be let alone so to pursue their hellish Courses, as to be without all manner of Controul. The Reasons of this are so strong and ob­vious, and the Absurdities of the contra­ry supposition so gross and palpable, that there are none who do not wilfully [Page 18]shut their Eyes, but must readily assen to the truth of it. And as for Scorners themselves, if we could as easily turn their Wills, as convince their Understan­dings of this, we should not only pre­sently put to silence all their Objections, but save them from those Severities which otherwise they must shortly fall under, and it may be before they are a­ware.

But to speak somewhat to this, there needs no more to prove it than to sup­pose the contrary: Suppose that Scor­ners were to be wholly uncontroul'd, to live as they please, and do what they list. The Consequences of this will appear to be such, as must render it absolutely ne­cessary for the Honour of God, the De­fence of Religion, the maintaining com­mon Order, and the Peace and Welfare of Humane Societies, that some Course be taken at least to restrain and curb them.

For if no notice were to be taken of them; if men of prophane and atheisti­cal Principles, of unbridled Lusts and Pas­sions, haters of all that is Good, and o­pen deriders of God and Godliness, were to be let alone to follow the depraved [Page 19]Byass of their wicked Hearts, to what a pass must the World be reduc'd in a little time?

The Vices of Men would not only grow up to an Excess of Boldness and Insolence, but the Infection would spread like a raging Pestilence, or like a de­vouring Fire, which tho at first it break out but in one House, and might have been easily quench'd, yet being let a­lone proceeds farther till it hath turn'd the whole City into a ruinous Heap.

Sinners would hearten one another up and take Courage, others would be more easily induc'd to fall in with them. Their Zeal for Licentiousness (O that we were as zealous against it!) would make them indefatigable in using all imaginable Methods to strengthen their Party, and increase the Number of their Proselytes. And if now, after all the Endeavours the Reforming Societies have us'd to discourage them, they swarm in such Numbers among us, how would they then overspread the Face of the whole Earth, and like a general De­luge drown all Mankind first in Sin, and then in Perdition?

If Men might be suffer'd not only to revile Religion, but openly to renounce Calling upon God, to prophane his Sab­baths, to Curse and Swear, to Blas­pheme his Holy Name, to commit all the Outrages against Heaven they are ca­pable of, and to be guilty of all manner of Immoralities: What would become of Religion, the Worship of God, and all that Honour we owe to him, and should be so tender of?

If Men might pursue their inordinate and beastly Lusts without Interruption, who would be safe either in the Street or in their Houses? And as we might suppose the Number of the Good at such a time to be very small; so how would they be as so many Lots in the midst of Sodom, who had it not been for a won­derful Interposition of God, could not have kept himself from the violence of those filthy Wretches, tho in his own House. Gen. 19.11.

In a word, If wicked Men were to pass on wholly uncontroul'd, there would be in a little time no Temperance, no Sobriety, no Chastity, no Truth, no Faith, no Justice, no common Honesty: [Page 21]But Beastliness and Sensuality, Leudness and Debauchery, Injustice and all kind of Immorality would take place of Religion, and banish all Virtue out of the World. The bands of all humane Soci­ety would be broken; and as Men would daily grow worse and worse, so they would not only bring ruin upon others, but sudden destruction upon themselves: not only as such extravagant Wicked­ness would hasten down the Judgments of God, as it did upon Sodom and Gomor­rah; but as there would need no more utterly to destroy them than their own inordinate Lusts and outragious Passions.

And these being now the most certain, natural and necessary Consequences of mens unrestrained Vices and Corrupti­ons (as none will deny) it does then most unquestionably follow, that they must not be thus let alone, but that some course or other must be taken to repel and rebuke, to conquer or at least to curb and put a stop to their prevailing wicked­ness, without which Religion and the honour of God would soon fall to the ground, and all the bands of com­mon Order and Government be [Page 22]broken and torn to pieces. So that the World could not long subsist if Vice were wholly without a check, but would of necessity soon perish by its own wicked­ness. And therefore,

II. The supreme Governour of all hings, in his great Wisdom and Mercy to the World, to prevent its speedy and hasty ruin, hath appointed other ways and methods of dealing with scornful and incorrigible Sinners, who will not be reclaimed by mild and gentle Reproofs. He hath appointed that which shall have more force upon them, than the strongest Reasons in the world. They shall be constrain'd to do that which they can­not be persuaded to; they shall be forc'd and driven to it even against their wills. When fair Words and Intreaties, sober Admonitions, and friendly Advice will not prevail upon them, but they persist to sin openly in the face of the Sun, to the scandal of Religion, the contempt of the Laws, and the dishonour of God; they are to find, that tho God may have seal'd up our Mouths, he hath not whol­ly ty'd up our Hands: And we must [Page 23]make them do that by outward force and compulsion, which they will not do by entreaty and persuasion. The stripes and corrections of the Rod, and other mulcts and punishments, must supply the defects of the Word: And the Ma­gistrate must compel them to that, which Ministers and other good People can­not by softer Methods obtain from them.

Therefore for this end God hath inves­ted the Civil Magistrate with power to restrain and punish such daring Offenders. He is said to be the Minister of God, a Revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil, Rom. 13.4. And in ano­ther place is said to be sent of God for a Punishment of evil doers, 1 Pet. 2.14. He hath his Authority from hence (as tho he were sent down from thence to take cognizance of insolent Rebels) and it is God who smites, tho by the hands of men.

And as it is the indispensible Duty of the Magistrate to employ his power for God, in punishing the bold Impieties of these men: As he is not to bear the Sword in vain, but to use it in suppressing their [Page 24]Vices and reforming their Manners, as well as for other ends and purposes; so it is no less the Duty of every one in his private Station and Capacity to be assist­ing to the Magistrate in subserviency hereunto; by discovering Offenders, and bringing them to Justice, by taking no­tice of those who break the Laws, and proceeding against them in order to legal Conviction, that so they may be justly punished; such as Blasphemers, Sabbath-breakers, Drunkards, Whoremongers, and the like prophane and beastly Sin­ners; such as deride and scoff at Religi­on, who make a mock of Sin, and glo­ry in their shame, who hate the Reproofs of the Mouth, and despise all manner of Instruction.

These are the Scorners in my Text, and for these the Laws are made; these are the proper Objects of punishment; Stripes are prepared for the backs of such Fools as these. The Sword is put into the hand of the Magistrate on purpose to be exercised upon these men, because by no other means or methods is there a­ny hope of bringing them to terms. And therefore tho we are forbidden to reprove [Page 25]such, yet we are not absolutely to let them alone, or to suffer them to go uncon­troul'd in their wickedness; but to apply ourselves to those other Methods of dealing with them, which God hath appointed, that so hereby they may be brought to some amendment: and if they cannot be reform'd in their Principles, they may in their Manners; and altho there were no hope of bettering them, there might be somewhat done to prevent their hur­ting of others: as rude and savage Beasts, which (tho you cannot change their Na­ture) may be chained up from doing further Mischief.

And our assisting the Magistrate to this end, is what we are all of us in our se­veral Stations and Capacities obliged to both as Men and as Christians. To this we are indispensibly bound, as we tender the Honour and Glory of God, the good of the Society of which we are parts, the Welfare of our Families, the Authority of the Magistrate; as we would not partake of other Mens sins, nor be guilty of their Blood; and as we would put a stop to the spreading of Ini­quity, and avert the heavy judgments of [Page 26]God, or procure those farther desirable Blessings we may need. And this be­ing so, then in the

Third and last place, how fair an op­portunity doth this give me, and what Scope does it afford to expose the weak­ness and impertinency of the Objection, which your Adversaries might pretend to raise from these words to discourage your noble Undertakings? How evident doth it now appear, that your Opposers are so far from gaining an advantage against you from hence, that on the contrary who­ever should offer to urge these words, would not only be presently put to shame and silence, but have the weapon where­by he thought to stab your Cause sheath'd in his own Bowels? I mean, his own Ar­gument would be turned into one of the strongest Arguments against him.

How little pretence have any to argue from these words against your assisting the Civil Magistrate in punishing of leud and notorious Sinners? It is true, we are not to use verbal Reproofs to a Scorner, we are not ordinarily to spend our Breath upon so vile and impious a wretch, we [Page 27]are not to admonish and counsel him; but are to forbear using any further Ar­guments and Persuasions with him. And what then? must the Magistrate there­fore not have any concern with him? or we not yield our assistance to the Magistrate? whence do they infer this? where is the Nexus?

But how convincing and clear is the reasoning on the other side? Because we are not to minister verbal Reproof to the Scorner, and yet his wickednesses are such as upon no account to be tolerated; therefore and for that very reason we are to join with the Civil Magistrate in doing our utmost to suppress their A­bominations: for which very end the Sword is delivered from God into his hands, that so they who will not be brought into order by methods of Reason, may be compel'd and forc'd into it by mulcts and bodily punishments. The rea­soning here is close and pertinent, so clear and natural, and so strictly ce­mented and united, that all the malice of wicked men, and the subtilty of all the Devils in Hell will never be able to break the force of it.

But yet after all we have said, I am ap­prehensive our Adversaries may resume the Objection, and proceed to reply: We will acknowledg it is probable, they may say, that the Text may be wholly con­fin'd to the verbal reproving of Scorners, and so far it must be granted that our Ob­jection is not pertinent or valid. But notwithstanding, the reason on which the Prohibition in the Text is founded, is applicable to your case, and if it holds true and hath force in the one, why may it not in the other?

Now is it not plain that in the method you take of reproving Scorners and wick­ed men by the power of the Civil Magi­strate, you incur their hatred and malice? In your way of dealing with Sinners don't you make good the words, in get­ting to your selves Shame and a Blot? doth not your own daily Experience con­firm and verify it? do not the many Sermons that have been preach'd and printed acknowledg it? a good part of which is taken up in solacing you a­gainst the Calumnies and Reproaches of Scorners. And if here, in the sense given of the Text, you are not to re­prove [Page 29]a Scorner lest he hate you, and not to rebuke him lest you get to your selves Shame and a Blot, why should you not then for the same reason be forbidden to reprove him by the Civil Magistrate?

I shall give as short an Answer to this as I can, tho many things might be said unto it.

It is falsly suggested that we are for­bidden to reprove a Scorner merely or sole­ly upon the account of shame and hatred. For I have shewn you, that when by verbal reproving a Scorner there is no­thing else to be got but shame and re­proach, no good end or purpose can be serv'd that might ballance the present evil we sustain by administring our Re­proofs: that is, there is no good to be done to the Person we reprove, nor to others, neither any Glory to be brought to God; there is nothing redounds from our pains but a reproach to our selves, and a further exasperating of the wicked wretch: In such a case, we are to de­sist and forbear our reproofs. But if a­ny of those great and noble Ends I have mentioned might be obtained; if by ex­posing our selves to shame we might [Page 30]bring glory to God, or do any good, these are such valuable ends, that we should not only be willing to sacrifice our Repu­tation, but all we had for the sake of them.

And this now is the case with reference to our assisting of the Civil Magistrate, which makes it vastly different from that in my Text. For by bringing Offenders to punishment, tho we incur the re­proaches and malice of wicked men, yet we do thereby answer such good ends and purposes as do infinitely out­weigh the particular loss or evil we may sustain in the faithful discharge of our Du­ty. For to instance hereby,

1st. Sometime a great deal of good is done to the person we reprove, he is re­claimed and reformed, or prevented from growing worse.

2dly. A great deal of good is done to others, they are warned and admonished thereby.

3dly. A great deal of evil is prevent­ed that might result from mens uncon­trouled Impieties. And,

Lastly, a great deal of glory is brought to God, as Religion is defended, God's Honour is maintained, his Name is reve­renced, [Page 31]the Authority of the Magistrate is upheld, and Order and Government is kept up in the world: Each one of which ends, if but one might be attained, is so valuable, and all put together so un­speakably advantageous, and such a ge­neral good, that no man ought, nay no good man (that duly considers it) can be unwilling to sacrifice his Name and Re­putation, nay to venture his Life for the at­taining of them.

And if in our Endeavours hereunto we get to our selves shame and a reproach, we might use the Scripture expression, and say, if this is to be vile, we will yet be more vile, 2 Sam. 6.12. Let them call me Informer, Busy-body, and a thou­sand worse names, I'll matter them not. Let them heap up all the Dirt they can upon me, I will still pursue these great ends. Much more might be said to­wards the silencing of this part of the Objection; but this I judg to be suffici­ent.

Having thus consider'd and opened the Text, clear'd the Sense, and removed the Difficulties which might seem to at­tend it, and brought them to serve you [Page 32]Purposes instead of making against them, I now proceed to the Applicatory part of my Discourse. And,

I. By way of Instruction in the fol­lowing Reflections: as here we may take notice,

1. Of the precipitancy and imprudent rashness of some well meaning People, who will plentifully bestow their Ex­hortations and good Counsels where they might reasonably expect not only to be rudely treated themselves, but that Re­ligion also should suffer upon their ac­count. They fall to the reproving of Sin wherever they meet it, without any consideration had of the Person that commits it; and so for want of observ­ing the rule of my Text, have done disser­vice to Religion, and gain'd no credit to themselves. It is good to be zealously af­fected in a good thing (as some of you have heard in a worthy Discourse from those words of the Apostle) but then our Zeal should be temper'd with Discre­tion. It is, I must confess, a most rare and commendable Virtue, yet thro an impru­dent misplacing of it may issue in very [Page 33]bad effects. But the Instances of those whose zeal doth transport them beyond their knowledg in this particular are so few; and of such whose zeal doth not keep pace with it, so many, that I think it not needful to enlarge.

2. We may observe the adorable good­ness of God, in prescribing this rule for our conduct toward Scorners and Wick­ed men. Such is his regard to our peace and quiet, to our good Name and Re­putation, that he would not have us em­ploy our pains where we may not reap the pleasant Fruits of our labour, nor expose our reputation where there is not a prospect of bringing more Glory to him by our reproofs, than shame to our selves. Which one consideration should methinks be an irresistible motive to in­duce us cheerfully to comply with the Duty of reproving, since we are only oblig'd to it, when the accruing Benefit and Reward will unspeakably counter­vail all the Trouble, Hazard, and Dif­ficulty which may attend the perfor­mance of it.

3. The words do also lead us to ob­serve the most deplorable condition of [Page 34]Scorners and Wicked men; how uncon­ceivably sad their case must be, in being thus left of God, and all good men, in being deprived, nay in depriving them­selves of one of the greatest Blessings un­der Heaven. For what a Blessing is it to have a faithful Friend, who will ad­monish us of our faults, that so Iniquity may not prove our ruin?

To be deprived of this is to be depri­ved of one of the greatest mercies, and of a most sutable and likely means of our Salvation: yet this you see is the sad case of those who deride Religion. For not only Solomon, but a greater than Solomon, our Saviour Christ himself, hath forbidden us to misplace reproofs upon those who are desperate.

4. The whole Tenour and Strain of what hath been delivered, doth not only evince the necessity of Civil Magistracy and Government, in order to lay a re­straint upon the Corruptions, and reform­ing the Manners of those men in whom no Counsels or verbal Reproofs will pro­duce the desired effect: But shews us al­so, how great and publick a mercy it is to enjoy such Magistrates as will righteously [Page 35]execute the Laws upon these Offenders, and who, if there be any that will con­vict them, will take care that they re­ceive such punishments as their crimes de­serve. Such Magistrates are publick blessings indeed, and as they are sent of God, are the Instances of his good will to Mankind.

Vice runs every thing into disorder and confusion: whatever therefore re­strains and keeps this from breaking forth, ought to be acknowledged as a great blessing, as it is a binding up mens hands, to prevent their destroying themselves, and hurting others.

And this again makes it evident that Magistracy is from God, that it is not from the evil Spirit, who as he at first lost his own happiness, by stepping out of his proper place and rank, would by introducing the same disorder ruin the World, and destroy Mankind by the same methods whereby he undid him­self. The powers that be, are ordain'd of God, Rom. 13.1. And the Magistrate, as I have before observ'd, is sent of God; that is, tho not the Man, yet the Office and the Power comes down from Hea­ven, [Page 36]and this in infinite mercy to a sin­ful World, which hath not so much as a Principle left for its common preservation, but if abandon'd to its own Inclinations would hurry into ruin.

5. And this farther informs us of the honour of the Civil Magistrate, and what regards we are to bear to him, even no less than to God's Vice-gerent, and the Guardian of our Laws: which should strike us with aw, and direct us to carry it towards him with the highest Respect and Reverence. Such are said to be the Gods of the Earth, Gods in Pow­er, as they should be also in other Godlike Excellencies. How high a Post, how honourable a Station then are they set in! But which certainly is then most ho­nourable, when they are most service­able, and do most throughly pursue and answer the ends of their appointment. And this again.

6. Instructs those in their duty who have any concern or influence in the choice either of such persons as are to concur in enacting Laws for us, or of such whose place it is to see them execu­ted. It is most plain from all that hath [Page 37]been hitherto said, that we are not to be directed merely by a great Estate, or by regard to a Party, or biass'd by Relation, Affection, Dependance, private Interest, and such like mean selfish and mercenary Motives: But we are to take our mea­sures from the nature and ends of Go­vernment; and therefore laying aside all particular and by respects, and having nothing but the glory of God and the good of the Community in our eye, we should make choice of such Magistrates as will diligently take care and see that the good Laws we have be duly and im­partially executed, men (as the Holy Scripture describes them) fearing God and hating Covetousness, who are no Respecters of Persons; who will not be warp'd by bribery, fear, or private re­gards; Men of real Integrity and Pro­bity, men of Fidelity, Justice, Courage and Boldness; who will not fear the face of Man in the cause of God; who when Offenders are convicted, will be sure to punish them. Where such are to be found is not my place to direct, but yours to enquire.

And then again, having chosen such Magistrates, it is our duty to obey them, and in our several stations and capacities to yield them all the assistance we can, and not to render them, so far as in us lies, only great Cyphers in their Office thro the want of our help; but that Ini­quity being found out, it may be brought under the correction of Justice. As you can do nothing without the Authority of the Magistrate, so neither will he be a­ble to do much without your help and assistance. You are to be as Eyes to him in bringing criminal matters under his cognizance, and he to be as Hands to you in correcting and punishing them.

Now as a motive to urge and enforce all this upon you, I would desire you on­ly to consider that the obtaining of such choice blessings, as good Representatives, faithful Magistrates, and subservient Of­ficers, lies much in your own power. For you (my Brethren) enjoy this un­speakable Privilege above many Nations, viz. the right (in many cases) of choosing these persons.

If at any time therefore it should hap­den (which God forbid) that there [Page 39]should be any effectual Laws wanting for the supressing of Vice and Prophane­ness; or, supposing good Laws, there should not be a sufficient Magistracy of those (who come under your choice) to put them in execution; or if on the contrary, Iniquity should be established by a Law, or publickly connived at, much of all this would be owing to your selves, for that by your care and diligence at first you might (in a great degree how­ever) have prevented it. The miseries which must ensue from such a posture of affairs might be look'd upon as a just punishment of your negligence, and it would then be in vain to cry out or com­plain of the slackness of the Laws and badness of the times; for why did you not use the means that were once in your own power to guard against these evils? Thus much by way of Instructi­on. To proceed:

II. What I have endeavour'd to prove in the foregoing Discourse, does afford abundant matter for the justifying your noble and generous undertaking of suppressing the Vices and reforming the [Page 40]Manners of Wicked men. This is your duty, and the sense of duty should bear you up under the greatest censures and reproaches. Besides whatever you may incur of this nature, yet by doing your duty you will answer (as I have shewn you) such great ends and purposes, as will make amends for all your trouble and hazard in the performance of it. Let men go on to condemn you, you may be sure God will justify you; and is it not unspeakably better to be censured of men for doing your duty, than to be condemned of God for the neglect of it?

But why should any condemn you? If a man's house were infected with the Plague, will any body blame you for shutting up his Doors? If those very Persons who exclaim so much against you should have their Houses on fire, would they reproach and revile you for endea­vouring to quench the Flames? And if a worse Pestilence and Fire be broken out, if men grow rampant in Wickedness, and run up and down spreading the contagi­on, as tho Hell were broke loose, must you be blam'd for endeavouring to put a stop to it?

Will Men thank you for lending a helping hand to save them from tempo­ral evils and dangers? and shall they re­proach you for labouring to deliver them from eternal ruin? It will put a man to great pain to have his Leg or Arm cut off, yet he will not blame the Chirurgion, when it is to save his life; and must you be blam'd for punishing a Sinner to save his Soul? O ungrateful creatures, that will thus requite your kindness to them!

But let us consider a little; If you are to be blam'd, it is either because,

The Matter you are engaged in is un­lawful in it self.

Or it does not concern you.

Or the Methods you take in the prose­cution of it are unjustifiable.

As for the Matter and Work it self, my whole Discourse hath been a full and clear Justification of it.

To say it do's not concern you, is very absurd and foolish. What! does it not concern you to vindicate the honour of God? to bring Glory to his Name, the thing you were made for? Does it not concern you to avert the Wrath and Judgments of God from the Land, and [Page 42]to preserve your selves, your Families, and the Nation from ruin? What doth concern you if this doth not?

To say your Methods are unjustifiable, this is what I presume they can never prove after they have made those allow­ances, which in a matter of such publick nature and extent all mankind must own to be reasonable and just.

As for your entring into Combinati­ons and Societies: They cannot reproach you for this, when they consider the Or­der and Regularity of them. This hath been already sufficiently justified by ano­ther hand; and (as that Reverend Person expresses it) 'tis no other thing than what is constantly done without offence in cases of Secular concernment. Be­sides, can Wicked men think it no offence to combine and club together, to carry on the designs of Hell in debauching and damning one another? And shall not we associate and combine together to prevent their ruin, if it be possible?

As for the Rules and Orders that are observed among you; do not very com­petent Judges highly approve them? and if any condemn them, are they not for the [Page 43]most part such as betray a very apparent malice or ignorance?

The only thing that seems to carry an ill face with it, yet will be found high­ly commendable, is the business of Infor­ming.

It is true, as it was manag'd in the late times, it was one of the most odious and disgraceful things in the world, when a parcel of sorry, idle and profligate Fel­lows, the scum of the Earth, to get a piece of Money to supply their necessi­ties, or to spend upon their Lusts, would inform against those who were forc'd in­to Corners, and there met together not to plot against the Government, but on­ly to worship God according to their Consciences. This was such an employ­ment, that none but a generation of Vi­pers would be engaged in. And indeed there is nothing in my opinion can ren­der a man more infamous and odious than to be such a kind of Informer. But to inform against the Vices and evil Man­ners of Wicked men; to inform a­gainst Cursing and Swearing, Blasphe­ming and Sabbath-breaking, Rioting and Drunkenness, Chambering and Wan­tonness, [Page 44]and other such hellish and brutal Practices, what reproach can there be in this? This is what the grea­test and best of men have not disdained or refused, as you have had divers instan­ces given you by others out of the Scrip­tures.

But I only ask, Is the Law or the Exe­cution of it to be reproach'd? why then should Informing in order to execution? To have a Law that shall never be executed, is all one as to have no Law. And how shall the Law be executed if there be none to inform, and to convict Offenders in order to the bringing them to punish­ment? And where lies the dishonour of doing our duty in this particular? This is so far from being a disgrace to any man, that I must say, it is the most honoura­ble part of your whole work, as it discovers a brave and noble Spirit, that is not afraid to appear for God against the worst of men. Those who are most forward in this work, are most to be commended; as those we reckon the best Soldiers, who will stand in the Front of the Battle, and engage in the hottest ser­vice.

But to conclude, as it is every one's du­ty to see the Laws executed, so it may in divers circumstances be every mans du­ty to inform. And he is to be accounted little better than a Coward, who will not engage in this piece of Christian Service when fairly call'd to it.

What I have said therefore under this Head may be sufficient to vindicate your Proceedings. And if there be any who will still continue to rail and calumniate, it is to be suspected they generally are ve­ry bad men and of no reputation. And then you need value their reproaches no more than the fleerings of Fools and Idi­ots, or the loud clamour and bawling of mad Men. But having shewn how much there is to justify you of the Soci­eties for Reformation of Manners, I pass in the

III. Place to a Use of Reproof to those who most justly deserve it. And.

1. As for those who are open Ene­mies to Reformation, and are the Persons you are to deal with, I shall not speak to them; they are the Scorners in my Text, and therefore to be suppos'd very seldom [Page 46]present at these places, and upon these oc­casions: And if I should address my self to them, it would be to no purpose, and I have too little time to spend my Breath in vain. Therefore leaving them wholly to your Management, I pass them by to speak

2. To another sort of Persons, of whom there is more hope, and they are those who pretend to Religion as well as you, and are men of some Principles and Sobriety, who notwithstanding have been too ready to condemn and cast Re­flections upon you.

That Prophane and Wicked men should oppose a Reformation of Man­ners, is not to be wondred at; the Rea­sons are plain and obvious, none can be ignorant of them: but that any who pretend to Religion or Sobriety, who are not openly vicious themselves, that they should discourage your good under­takings, and concur to raise Objections against them, this is what ought to be deeply lamented by us. Their Reasons must lye more secret and remote, yet I presume it not difficult to guess at them. For what can they spring from but a [Page 47]narrow, contracted and selfish Principle, from the want of a generous and pub­lick Spirit, and that noble Zeal and Cou­rage wherewith you appear to be inspi­red for the cause of God?

This indeed they blame in you as im­prudent rashness and forwardness, a med­ling with matters beyond your Sphere, and a needless disturbing of your Neigh­bour. But to speak plainly, I fear (without breach of Charity) that this is a subtile Artifice only to salve their own Reputation by wounding of yours. And therefore they are so liberal in be­stowing their Censures upon you, that they might escape those which other­wise must fall heavy upon their own Heads: As it usually happens that they who are first in the complaint are most in the fault.

3. Those also I think worthy to be condemned, who tho they will speak no­thing against you, will act nothing for you. The work of Reformation may sink or swim for them, they mind and matter it not, and are not at all concerned about it. Now these persons are to be reprov'd for the neglect of their duty upon a dou­ble account.

1. For not assisting in their own Per­sons. In such a Cause as this, wherein the common Interest of Religion, and the good of our Country is so much concern­ed: Every one should appear and shew himself as there is fit occasion. In case of an open Invasion every one is ready to take Arms, and make head against the common Enemy, to defend their Estates and Liberties. And shall the more valu­able concerns of Religion and our Souls, which are of infinitely greater Conse­quence, be invaded; and shall any man, can any man be so miserably stupid and sluggish, so very cowardly and timorous, as either to sit still and do nothing, or keep out of sight and run away from the Con­flict?

Yet this I fear is the case of many, es­pecially of those who when an opportu­nity offers for their being singularly use­ful in an Office, slip away and decline it, whereby a worse man comes in, or at least hire another to supply it; who indeed will stand in the place, but take little care to discharge the duties of the office; they will carry the Staff, but earn their Mony as easily as they can. [Page 49]There is little to be expected from a great many who only serve in an Office for gain. Such will not ordinarily put them­selves to much pains, or expose themselves to notable hazards and difficulties. And may it not be fear'd that the same mo­tive that induc'd to accept of the Office, may as easily corrupt them in it, so that they shall have no strength to hold a great Offender when a piece of Money is dropt into their hands? What I have suggested under this Head is one princi­pal reason why a Reformation of Man­ners is not more vigorously prosecuted, and which I have heard very much com­plained of; and therefore beseech you to consider it, and not let so good a Cause fall to the ground for want of putting your shoulder to the burden. And,

2. Such are to be reprov'd not only for their unwillingness to assist in Person, but also for their backwardness in contributing to the Charge. And this indeed is an offence of a higher nature, because it is so reasonable, and at the same time so very easie, that methinks they should not in modesty refuse it. This puts them to no trouble, and besides [Page 50]might be manag'd with that secrecy if they thought fit, that there would be no need to fear incurring the displeasure of any man thereby. If they had a Cause of their own to be pleaded, they would not starve it for want of feeing the Counsel. But if the Cause of God is to be pleaded, tho they are rich and abound, they will not spare a Farthing; and yet their Assistance in this particular is great­ly needed, and is a further Obstructi­on to the Course of Justice. There are few such generous Lawyers to be found who will plead in order to the conviction of a wretched Sinner, with­out their Fee; and indeed it is their live­lyhood, and therefore they may justly expect to be rewarded for it. And this is another matter I would recommend to consideration, and beseech those that will not assist to this good work in Per­son, to contribute however towards the charge.

Indeed I must speak it to the praise of the People of London, that they have upon all occasions appear'd very rea­dy to afford a bountiful assistance to the preaching of the Gospel which is de­sign'd [Page 51]to make men good. I wish they would be as free and generous in further­ing of what is designed for the restrain­ing and punishing of the bad: I hope they will. But with reference to those who will yield no Help or Assist­ance in either of these respects, neither in their Persons nor with their Money; how great supineness doth it argue in them! and the slender regard they have to the glory of God, or the good of their Country! And how just might it be for God severely to animadvert upon them. And since they would do nothing for the stopping the Plague of wickedness among us, their Families should be first in the Infection, their Sin punish'd in the rebel­lion and degeneracy of their Children; and when Judgments shall come upon the Land, they should feel the first and smartest stroaks of them.

3. Those are to be censur'd and re­prov'd, who being in places of Power and Authority, are unfaithful in their Office, not only as they connive at Vice in not punishing it, but encourage it by their own Example, and browbeat and discounte­nance [Page 52]such as inform against Offenders that they might be brought to Justice. How sad is the case, when they that should be a Terror to Evildoers shall become the patrons of Vice; who instead of discou­raging Prophaneness and Immorality shall lead men on to it, and rather than use the Sword for the punishing of Sin­ners, shall reach forth a shield to defend them.

It is a Crime which we condemn and abhor, when one in a private station is found unfaithful to his Trust, tho it is in a thing comparatively trivial; how much more in the Post of a Magistrate, and in a matter wherein the good of the Publick is concern'd, where his Fidelity is too engag'd, not only in point of Honour, but under the sacred Tie of an Oath, the breach of which does render him both perfidious and perjur'd?

An evil Magistracy has been reckon'd of such fatal consequence to the Publick in antient Governments, that they took all imaginable care whom they chose into such a Post; and if any prov'd unfaith­ful, they thought no Punishment severe e­nough [Page 53]for them. We may read of those who have been flead, and the Seats of Justice cover'd with their skins, as a Mark of perpetual Infamy, and for a Terror to them who should succeed in their places.

And tho we have no such frightful usages among us, yet the belief of a God, and that Magistracy is his Ordinance, that persons in places of Power do act under him as his Deputies and Delegates, and that they must give a strict account another day of their trust, as well as o­ther men; when the guilt of all those Abominations which it was their duty to have restrain'd and punish'd shall be laid at their door: All these things, I say, put together, would furnish them with such considerations as are enough, one would think, to awaken the most sense­less and stupid; and make a man either afraid to take upon him the Office of a Magistrate, or to resolve to execute it with the greatest Faithfulness and Dili­gence. I pass to the

IV. And last use of Exhortation, wherewith I shall conclude. And,

1. As to what more especially respects your selves, who are of the Societies for Reformation; my Exhortation to you is, that watching strictly over your own Lives (which should be very exact and exemplary) you would continue to en­courage and provoke one another to this good Work. Be not balk'd by any dif­ficulties, discouragements, or oppositions you meet with, but consider your great Lord and Master, who bore such contradic­tion of Sinners, lest you grow weary and faint in your minds. Preserve the sweet Harmony and Affection that hath hitherto obtain'd among you, and in­crease the good Opinion you have of each other, so that the Devil and his Emis­saries by all the stratagems they shall use may not be able to divide and weaken you. Go on to convince the World, that whatever particular Sentiments you may have about lesser doubtful matters of Re­ligion, yet in the most substantial, plain and necessary things you heartily a­gree, and can as heartily concur to pro­mote them; appearing herein for the cause of Religion as the antient Romans for their Commonwealth, with whom [Page 55]it was a generous principle to sacrifice their private piques and quarrels to the publick good. And did we all employ our Zeal more this way, it would be found one of the most effectual means to put an end to those Heats and Animosities that have been so much lamented by sober Men of all Parties.

I shall offer but one thing more, and it is, that you would yield all the assistance to each other you can, by your often meet­ing together to consult and advise about the most proper methods to prosecute what you have undertaken. And might it not be of some further use in promoting this great design of Reformation, if (as I un­derstand there are divers Societies, some consisting of Persons of inferior, and others of a higher Rank) those of the latter sort would favour the other more frequently with their presence, which will very much animate and en­courage them? like Soldiers who are ob­serv'd never to fight so couragiously, as when their general Officers appear at the head of them. But this I propose with submission.

2. As to those you would reform: It is not needful that I exhort you to what others have so largely insisted upon al­ready, and which I believe you are care­ful to observe. It may suffice that I only hint to you, that you would make the Word of God your guide in this impor­tant affair: And therefore bearing no Wrath, Malice, Revenge, &c. against any man in your hearts, but strictly ob­serving the Rules of Charity and Mer­cy, you would see that with meekness and compassion, and yet with great impartiali­ty and prudence, you endeavour to reclaim wicked Men from their Sins. And,

1st. By Verbal Reproof, if by this there is any likelyhood of prevailing up­on them; not proceeding to rougher methods when milder ones may do, nor hastily passing those by as incorrigible Sinners who may not be so: but having found upon sufficient trial, or being well assur'd upon other grounds, there is no good to be done this way; then

2dly. Apply your selves to that which God in cases of extremity hath appoint­ed. If they are really Scorners, deal with them as such: and to stir you up to [Page 57]the vigorous prosecution of the Laws a­gainst these hardned and obstinate Offen­ders, I shall offer a few things to your consideration: As,

1st. That tho the foregoing Discourse should not fully convince you of your duty herein, yet your own enlightned Consciences cannot but prompt you to it, and tell you that God expects it from you. Here you do not run before you are sent, nor answer before you are call'd. May those words therefore be always fresh in your Memory, Thou shalt not hate thy Brother in thine Heart, thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy Neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him, Levit. 19.17. Implying that not to rebuke him is to hate him, to be accessary to his Damnation, and guilty of his Blood.

2dly. It is your honour and glory to be engag'd in this Work: what Service is more honourable than the being employ'd in beating down the Devil's Kingdom, in lifting up the Name of God, in promoting the Peace, Welfare and Happiness of your Country, and in do­ing the most beneficial kindness to your Neighbour?

Indeed hereby we incur the anger and reproach of those we have to deal with, but this is little to be regarded by us. And if we are calumniated for doing of good, we ought not to be discourag'd thereby, but esteem it our honour that God hath thought us worthy to suffer for his sake.

This is to be like our blessed Lord, who was grievously reviled and mocked, even by those very Sinners he came to re­form and save. Yet he went on in his merciful design, tho at last it cost him his Life, and the warm Blood of his Heart. This is to be like the holy Apostles and Martyrs, who had trial of cruel Mockings and Scourgings, yea moreover of Bonds and Imprisonments: Yet they persisted in their endeavours to amend the World. And indeed who should be asham'd to be engaged in such a Cause as this, or a­fraid to die for it, since it is worth los­ing a mortal Life, if it be to save but one immortal Soul?

It may afford great comfort to us, to think that all our present shame will re­dound to our future glory, that every reproach and calumny we suffer will [Page 59]but add to the lustre and brightness of our Crown. For these light afflictions, saith the Apostle, which are but for a mo­ment, shall work out for us a far more exceed­ing and eternal weight of Glory. Who then should fly back from such a work? fly back! nay who should not strive and be ambitious to appear in it? and herein be as forward to suppress mens sins, as they are greedy in committing 'em?

3dly. Consider the advantageous op­portunity God hath put into your hands for the furthering your designs: we have a good KING, the brightest Ornament we have ever seen in the English Throne, who as he hath studied, and ventured his Life to procure our Peace and Quiet, so he hath not been wanting in his care that under his Government we may live in all Godliness and Honesty. How often hath he express'd his desires of a Reformation? and by his Speeches to both Houses of Parliament, and issuing out his Procla­mations, hath done his part to endeavour it? And shall the KING cry for Justice, and will not the People too? Would the King have us reform'd, and shall we hate to be reform'd?

Again, you have many of the NO­BILITY and JƲDGES of the Land, who in their Letter prefixt to a Book intitu­led, An Account of the Societies for Reforma­tion of Manners, and worthy to be re­commended, ‘have publickly applaud­ed the Design, and the Methods pro­pos'd for the accomplishing of it; ad­ding their most humble and hearty Prayer, That Pious men of all Ranks and Qualities, may be excited by this good Book to contribute their best endeavors to­ward a national Reformation of Manners.

Besides, our REPRESENTA­TIVES in Parliament have taken care there should not be wanting good Laws to discourage Prophaneness and Immorali­ty, and have made it their humble Ad­dress to the King that he would issue out his Proclamation commanding all his Ma­jesty's Judges, Justices of the Peace, and other Magistrates, to put in speedy execution those good Laws that are now in force against those Vices, which was accordingly done.

And lastly, you have many good Magi­strates that hold up the Sword ready to smite, and only want your bringing [Page 61]Offenders to Justice. You especially of this City are honour'd with this Blessing. The CHIEF MAGISTRATE, like an Illustrious Head, communicates Life and Vigour to the Body Politick. On these occasions he countenances you (my Brethren of the Church of Eng­land) with his presence in your As­semblies, and all of us with his Power; and may he with the rest of his Brethren continue to do so. May he carry the Sword triumphantly through this City, driving Sinners before him, who are timorous e­nough when Justice looks them in the face. May he entail a lasting honour upon him­self by thus honouring of God; and fi­nally, may he thus set a truly great Ex­ample to those that shall succeed him.

And now being favoured with so fair a juncture and opportunity, having all this to countenance you, a good King, good Laws, good Magistrates, and good men of all Ranks and Qualities to own you, how should this inspire you with Zeal, and embolden you in your Work? And how much of guilt will lie at their door who act in a private capa­city, if a Reformation of Manners be [Page 62]not vigorously carried on! Stir up your selves therefore, and be of good Cou­rage, and the Lord of Hosts will be with you.

4ly. And lastly, consider the success you have hitherto had, and let that encourage you. You have met with many difficul­ties, but have surmounted them. You have begun the work, and that was the greatest difficulty of all; don't faint therefore, but go on. Some have been reform'd by you, and bless God heartily for it, and more have been restrain'd. I hear your Societies increase, and are strength­ned; may they do so still. This will put Sinners out of heart. They begin to give ground; do you not only maintain yours, but pursue them.

And thus, if out of a conviction of your duty, and an aim at the glory of God, joining a pity to Sinners with your punishing of 'em, and praying God to bless those Punishments to them, you vigorously prosecute your charitable and noble Undertaking, you will do a­bundance of good, you will at least drive Sin into corners; and tho men should not cease to commit it, you will [Page 63]no longer behold it; and if you cannot re­move guilt from their Persons, you will from the Nation. You will avert the heavy Judgments of God, and draw down a Blessing upon your selves, your Families, the Land; and when you have done your work, and your life is ended, Men will have reason to say as they are following you to your grave, we accom­pany the Corps of one, who while he liv'd was a Reformer of this World, and is now gon to live in a better. But how short is this of that Commendation which your departed Spirits shall have, when intro­duc'd into the presence of your glorified Master, whose Interest you have industri­ously promoted, and who thereupon will openly acknowledg and abundantly re­ward it by saying, Well done good and faithful Servant, enter into the Joy of your Lord. Amen.

FINIS.

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