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Christian Country, to deserve the greatest regard; the Intereft of Religion, and the Welfare of the Community being fo deeply concerned therein, it cannot be a matter of Difpute, whether it becomes Men that call themfelves Chriftians, to promote the Execution of fuch Laws! Nay, it cannot be well imagined, how Men can have a Zeal for the Service of the Great GOD of Heaven and Earth, or can have a due Love to Mankind, who have no regard to the Honour of God, or Welfare of their Country; as fhall hereafter more fully ap
Nový, what becomes all Men, in their feveral Capacities, to do, in the Promoting of the Execution of our Laws against Prophanenels and Debauchery, my Business, in the first place, is to fhew is Practicable, and that it may be done by us of this Nation; * and *Admonc that not only from what was done fome Years tur omnis ago, in the Times of Ufurpation, but what hath ri poffe, been done within Eight Years paft, in and quod aliquando about this City, and other Parts of the King- um
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It is very well known, that in the late times Prophane Swearing and Curling, Drunkenness, Open-Lewdness, and Prophanation of the Lord's Day, were generally difcouraged, and fuppreffed. And it is as well known, to our Shame, that thofe Sins have not only fince revived among us, by reafon of the Impunity of Offenders, the Coun
tenance and Preferment they have met with, and the Contagion of great and ill Examples, but have been committed with great. Impudence, and without Controul; without either Shame, or the Fear of the Laws; fo that they were feen and heard at Noon-Day, and in our Open Streets; and as if we were refolved to out-do the Impieties of the very Heathens, Prophaneness, and even Blafphemy, was too of ten the Wit and Entertainment of our Scandalous Play-Houfes, and Sincere Religion became the Jeft and Scorn of our Courts in the late Reigns.
And thus Debauchery diffused it felf throughout the whole Body of the Nation, till, at laft, our Morals were fo corrupted, that Virtue and Vice had with too many changed their Names; it was reckoned Breeding to wear, Gallantry to be Lewd, good Humour to be Drunk, and Wit to defpife Sacred things; and it was enough to have rendred one fufpected. of Phanaticism, or an abjectness of Spirit, and a matter of Reproach, not to fuffer ones felf to be carried away with this Torrent of Wickedness, and not to glory in thofe fashionable Vices. Nay, it was thought an unpardonable Rudeness, even for a Clergy-Man or Magiftrate, to reprove or punish one that was Guilty of them, notwithAanding the Solemn Obligations of their Oaths and Vows to do it. And even after the Acceffion of His prefent Majefty to the Crown, tho' Popery immediately vanished, Immorality and
and Prophaneness fill kept their ground, as if they expected an Establishment with our Liberties, after fo long and Peaceable a PofJefion.
Reformation was indeed talkt of by fome Perfons as an Excellent thing, and as a proper way of Expreffing our Thankfulness to Almighty God for his Mercies to this Nation, and to procure a Continuance of them to us, and to our Pofterity: But Vice was lookt upon as too formidable an Enemy to be provok'd, and Publick Reformation was thought fo difficult an Undertaking, that thofe that gave it very good Words, judged it not safe to fet about it in the time of War, whilft there were fo many in Arms on the other fide; and therefore they feemed to decline the Thoughts of it till we should fee the End of the uncertain War we were ingag'd in; tho' they were, I conceive, otherwife inftructed by God's exprefs Command to the Jews. When the Hoft Deut.23.9° goeth forth against thine Enemy, then keep thy Self from every evil thing. When things were in this difmal and almost defperate State, it came into the Hearts, it feems, of Five or Six private Gentlemen of the Church of England, to engage in this difficult and hazardous Enterprize; who confidering that the higher the Tide of Wickedness was, the more need there was of Oppofing it; that our crying Sins were our greatest Enemies, and molt threatned our Ruin; that we have Laws in Force against B 3 them i
them; and that they should have the Laws of God, with the Prayers of good Men on their fide, refolved, whatever Difficulties they met with, to make their Efforts for Promoting the Execution of our Laws against Prophaneness and Debauchery, and the Suppreffing of them by ádvifable Methods.
This was fuch an Undertaking as we might well believe would foon alarm the Enemy, but which the Patrons of Vice would make no doubt to defeat, before any Progress could be made and which the Prudent and Wife Men of the World, who rely on fecond Caufes, with too little regard to the firft, the Almighty Creator and Governor of the World, with whom, as King Afa expreffes it 2 Chron. in his Prayer, it is nothing to help, whether with many, or with thofe that have no power, would look on with Pity, if not with Derifion; and fo it proved, that the Champions and Advocates of Debauchery put themselves in Array to defend their wretched and infamous Liberties; they fet themfelves to Ridicule, to Defame, and to Oppofe this Defign, and to Overthrow the Hopes and Expectations of the Undertakers: And fome others, whom in Charity we would not look on as Enemies of Religion and Virtue, tho' we cannot easily esteem them our Friends, whofe Conduct has fo greatly obtructed the Progrefs of this Defign, confulting Human Prudence, or rather Worldly
Policy, too much, and perhaps their own Ob ligations too little, were very forward to cenure these Attempts as the Effect of an imprudent and an unfeasonable Zeal: But notwithstanding a furious Oppofition from Adverfaries, the ill Offices of thofe from whom better things might have been expected, and the unkind Neutrality of Friends, these Gentlemen, who in a little time began to add some others to their Number, not only kept their Ground, but made farther Advances; for our late Excellent QUEEN, of Glorious Memory, having this Affair laid before Her, in the Absence of the King, by a Prelate of great Learning and Fame, the late Lord Bifhop of Worcester) She had juft Sentiments of it, and therefore thought it became Her to give it Countenance; She Graciously condescended to Thank those who were concerned in it, and readily promised them Her Assistance; and afterwards, upon this Application made to Her Majefty, She was pleafed to fend Her Letter to the Justices of Middlesex, commanding them to put the Laws against Prophanenes and Vice in Execution with all Fidelity and Impartiality; and to this end, that they fhould be careful and diligent in encouraging all Perfons to do their part in giving Informations against Offenders, as they were obliged by their Qath, as Magiftrates, to do; and when there was further Occafion, She fhew'd She was in earnest to promote this Defign, by taking other