The SPIRITUAL GOVERNMENT. [The Societies.]32


of lewd and vitious Persons, to awaken them to a Sense of their Sins. And it hath been observed, that there have been sundry Examples of such, who have been brought to a Sense of their Sin and Danger; and many who were at first exasperated against those that were the Instruments of awakening them out of their dreadful Lethargy, and stopping them in their sinful Courses; yet have afterwards blessed God for their Recovery, and heartily thanked those who have by those Means brought them to Sobriety.

And of late, how this Society have, in Pursuance of their Design in prosecuting Sin, namely from December 1714 to December 1715, appears by this List, printed by the Society's Order.

Account of Vice punished, An. 1714.

Lewd and disorderly Practices,1152
Keeping of Bawdy and Disorderly Houses
(whereof none within the City)
Keeping Gaming-Houses,8
Exercising their Trades, or ordinary
Callings on the Lord's Day,
Profane Swearing and Cursing,263

The next Account, viz. from December 1715 to December 1716, stood thus:

 Prosecuted divers sorts of Offenders, viz. 
 { Lewd and disorderly Practices,1066
 { Keeping of Bawdy and Disorderly
{ Houses (whereof none within the
{ City of London)

} 9
For{ Keeping Gaming-Houses,8
 { Exercising their Trades, or ordinary
{ Callings on the Lord's Days,

} 621
 { Profane Swearing and Cursing,102
 { Drunkenness,14

Subjoining these remarkable Words, "That if Impiety and Debauchery had gone on, spreading and encreasing amongst us for the last six and twenty Years, at the prodigious Rate they did for many Years before, we had assuredly been one of the most profligate Nations in the Christian World; and that under the clearest Light, and greatest Advantages for knowing and practising our Duty, of any other Nation: Which must probably have reduced us to a very miserable Condition long before now. But by the Blessing of God upon the various Endeavours of the Societies, of several sorts, for promoting Religion and Reformation of Manners, a wonderful Check hath been given to the Prevalency of the most scandalous Vices, and in many Instances a visible Reformation hath ensued."

In the Month of February, Anno 1717, a Cause was tried before the Lord Chief Justice King, between some Constables of the Society for the Reformation of Manners, and one Ingram of Fleetstreet, upon an Action of false Imprisonment. The former proved, that on May 24, 1716, at Night, as they had taken up some ill Persons in Fleetstreet, and were carrying them to Bridewell, the said Ingram, who was then Constable for the Night, not satisfied with the Legal Authority which they shewed him upon Demand for the Execution of their Office, brought out his Watch, stopt them, carried both them and the Persons they had taken, to the Compter, where they committed them Prisoners all Night. This being fully proved by several credible Witnesses, and the Evidence on the other side being very contradictory and trifling, the Lord Chief Justice gave a very handsome Charge to the Jury; wherein he represented the ill Consequence that might attend the discouraging so laudable a Society, as that for the Reformation of Manners. And the said Ingram was thereupon cast in 20l. Damages.

Some Constables of this Society vindicated.

One John Dent, in St. Clement's Parish without Temple Bar, was of this Society for the Reformation of Manners; a good Man, zealous for the Honour of God, and a great Hater of Sin and Wickedness; employing himself for 17 or 18 Years, in aiding and assisting at the apprehending and prosecuting of several Thousands of Lewd and Profligate Persons; and also of Sabbath-Breakers, profane Swearers, and Drunkards. In which Cause he was couragious, and feared no Encounter. He was the first that took into his Arms John Cooper a Constable, who about seven Years before was murthered in the Execution of his Office, in suppressing the publick Lewdness and Disorders at May Fair, though there were then above forty Soldiers with their Swords drawn about him. At last he himself, having endured many Abuses, Blows and Wounds, was barbarously murdered by three private Soldiers in March 1708, in the Execution of the Laws against Immorality and Profaneness. As the last Honourable Respect to this Man dying in God's Cause, his Funeral was solemnized at St. Clement Danes Church the 24th of March 1708, with a Sermon preached by Thomas Bray, D.D. upon 1 Tim. 6. 12. Fight the good Fight of Faith, &c. He was accompanied to his Grave with about 30 Constables and Beadles, and between 20 and 30 of the Reverend Clergy, all going before his Corpse; and 12 Justices of the Peace holding up the Pall, and immediately following it, and a great Train of other Gentlemen of Quality, and among them some Aldermen of the City; and lastly, above a Thousand worthy Citizens and others conducting him to his Grave. It was a Sight, said the foresaid Preacher, at which, he was persuaded, the Powers of Darkness did tremble.

One of this Society murthered.

John Dent.

And here let me insert another Restraint put upon Vice; and that is, in regard of the Stage, exceedingly resorted to, especially by the younger sort of Gentry. Those Plays had contributed not a little to loose Principles and Practices. For the reforming hereof the late Queen Anne had taken Care; who, for the Correction of the Stage, did on the 14th of December 1704, set forth this Declaration.

Care taken for Reforming the Stage.

"Whereas We have thought fit, for the better Reforming the Abuses and Immoralities of the Stage, that a new Company of Comedians should be established for our Service under stricter Government and Regulations than have been formerly. We therefore, reposing special Trust and Confidence in our Trusty and Well-beloved John Vanbrugh and William Congreve, Esqs; for the due Execution and Performance of this Our Will and Pleasure, do Give and Grant unto the said John Vanbrugh and William Congreve, full Power and Authority to form, constitute and establish for Us, a Company of Comedians, with full and free License to act and represent in any convenient Place during our Pleasure, all Comedies, Tragedies, &c. and to settle such Rules and Orders for the good Government of the said Company, as the Chamberlain of our Houshold shall from time to time direct and approve. Given at our Court at St. James's the 14th Day of December, in the third Year of our Reign."

And further, for the promoting of good Religion, as well as stopping the Course of Immorality and Profaneness, there is another Fraternity in London, called The Society for the promoting Christian Knowledge; and this both at Home and Abroad. For this Purpose other Persons of Honour and Quality have united themselves, who

Society for promoting Christian Knowledge.