[The Societies.] The SPIRITUAL GOVERNMENT.33


have applied themselves to form Methods, to find out Means of accomplishing so good an Undertaking; regulating themselves always by Ecclesiastical Constitutions, as the Society for Reformation do themselves by the Temporal Laws of England. Thus about March, Anno 1698/9, began this Society, which since hath been daily increased by the Accession of many Persons: So that at present it consisteth of Bishops, eminent Clergymen, Lawyers, &c. Besides their Correspondents, who are carrying on the same Work in all the Counties of England and Wales, and in the Plantations beyond Seas. Many little portable Books of small Price, that cost but little Money, are printed frequently in London, and given away privately to poor Families and poor People, and of late at the Church Doors, being printed and bought out of the publick Stock, given by well disposed Persons: That so Piety and Knowledge, and Devotion, might be brought in among the Poor and Ignorant; many whereof, of themselves well disposed, want only Means and Opportunities of Instruction. Thus on Good Friday, 1704, were given away at the Churches of London and Westminster, and several other Parishes near London, many Thousands of such good Books; viz.

A Pastoral Letter, being an earnest Exhortation to take Care of the Soul.
The Necessary Duty of Family Prayer.
Account of the Progress of the Reformation of Manners.
The present State of the Charity Schools.
The Representation of the Immorality of the English Stage.

Good Books printed and given away.

There be also printed for these Religious Purposes, Books of Preparation for the Receiving the Holy Sacrament; small Books for the Use of Seamen in their Voyages, and Soldiers in their Camps and Services.

This Society meets Weekly to deliberate about what is expedient for the carrying on their pious Ends; and they have made a Progress beyond what could in Probability have been hoped for in so short a Time. They have, by their own Subscriptions, and of others which they have procured, bought a great Number of useful Books for the furnishing of the Plantations with Parochial Libraries, to invite worthy Clergymen to those Parts. They have dispersed great Numbers of Good Books for the instructing of poor Families in the true Principles of Christian Religion, as was mentioned before. They are using Means for the providing Catechetical Libraries in the smaller Parishes of the Land, to enable the Inferiour Clergy the better to perform their Duty of Catechizing according to the 59th Canon; and the greater Parishes with learned Libraries: Which will be of great Use to the poorer Clergy, to assist them in their successful Opposition of Errors and Heresies. And they have particularly applied themselves to the setting up of Schools for the Education of poor Children. Many of which are erected, and now erecting, in the Country. And in and about London and Westminster are many set up, in which near a Thousand poor Children of both Sexes are taught to read the Bible, and to repeat and understand the Church Catechism. The Boys are taught to write and cast Accompt, to fit them for Trades; and the Girls to knit, work with the Needle, &c. And by this means we have a fair Prospect of a great Reformation of the poorer sort, by bringing up such Numbers of them piously and honestly; and so in future time to become serviceable to the Publick. Of these Schools more will be said hereafter.

What Good this Society hath done.


I might subjoin here the great Advantages those that live in the City have for their publick Devotions. For there be set up in the Churches the Use of Publick Prayers said, not only every Day, but almost every Hour of the Day, at one Church or other. That so, if a Man's Occasions do obstruct his going to Church, to pay Almighty God his Devotions at one Hour, he may at his greater Leisure do it at another. Lectures are likewise performed by Learned and Excellent Preachers every Day in the Week, in one Church or other; some in the Morning, and some in the Afternoon, or Evening, for the Comfort and Edification of all that will please to resort thither. And especially in Lent be Sermons preached Wednesdays and Fridays in four Churches in London and Westminster, according to the pious Appointment of the Bishop of London; as also are the Preachers appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury out of peculiar Parishes in London. Such Helps there be now in the City to Religion and a good Life.

Constant Publick Prayers, and Lectures every Day.

But again to return to the Societies. Another is set on foot in London by a generous and most extensive Charity, to carry Religion all the World over; and it is called, The Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. This Society hath obtained a Patent for making them a Corporation from King William, whose Letters Patents bore Date at Westminster the 16th of June, in the 13th Year of his Reign. The Cause whereof, as mentioned in the said Patent, was, that in many of the Plantations, Colonies and Factories beyond the Seas, belonging to England, the Provision of Ministers is very mean, and many others of them wholly destitute and unprovided of a Maintenance for Ministers and the Publick Worship of God. And that for lack of Support and Maintenance of such, many of the King's Subjects wanted the Administration of God's Word and Sacraments, and seemed to be abandoned to Atheism and Infidelity. And also for want of Learned and Orthodox Ministers to instruct his said Subjects in the Principles of true Religion, divers Romish Priests and Jesuits were the more encouraged to pervert and draw them over to Popish Superstition and Idolatry.

Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

This Society therefore was erected for a sufficient Maintenance to be provided for an Orthodox Clergy to live among them, and such other Provisions to be made, as might be necessary for the Propagation of the Gospel in those Parts.

The Members incorporated by these Letters into this Society, under the Name of The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, were the Archbishop of Canterbury, and ninety three others both of the Bishops, Clergy, Nobility and Gentry; enabling them to purchase 2000l. per Annum, Inheritance, and Goods, and Chattels of any Value.

Upon the Third Friday in February yearly, to meet at some convenient Place, and to chuse one President, one or more Vice-President or Presidents, one or more Treasurer or Treasurers, two or more Auditors, one Secretary, and such other Officers, Ministers, and Servants, as should be thought convenient for the Year ensuing.

The first President to be Thomas Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; who within thirty Days after the passing of this Charter, was to cause Summons to be issued to the several Members to meet, and procede to the Election of one or more Vice-Presidents, Treasurers, two or more Auditors, a Secretary and other Officers; to continue until the third Friday in February, which should be in the Year 1701.

They and their Successors, on the third Friday in every Month yearly, or oftner, if occasion require, to meet and transact the Business of the said Society. That at any such Meeting they may elect such Persons to be Members of the said Corporation, as they, or the major Part, shall think beneficial to the charitable Designs thereof.