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quiries after-- a phantom, which has hitherto eluded their grasp.--or the latter the more refined delight they propose in their pious wrestlings and waitings for a good conceit of themselves: no reason to be scared by the scornful sneer of those, or the more solemn frown of these. Let this Truth be my companion, and I will not be ashamed in the presence of all the sons of Socrates, though joined with those of Gamaliel. In company with this 'Truth, I dare act the part proper to man. I dare give free scope to my conscience toward God, and look into his perfect law, as knowing that, however heavy the charge turn out against ine, the resurrection of Jesus affords “ the answer of a good conscience before God," as it shews a righteousness to be already finiihed, by which God can appear just in justifying me, even in the worit view I can have of myself, or, which is more, even in the worst view I can appear in before him, who knows all things. By being thus encouraged to look into the “ perfect law of liberty," and continue therein, I see the extent of it to be vastly wider than I was hitherto willing to notice. And by seeing what a righteousness was requisite to honour it, and what expence was needful to expiate every the least transgression of it, I am ied to hold every precept of it more sacred than ever I did before. I know that I cannot disregard any precept of it without, at the fame time, ditregarding the revealed righteousness. I consider the perfect law, the law that requires godliness and humanity in perfection, as the facred and invariable rule of correspondence with God. And though on this fide the grave I cannot come before God at any time, and say, I have no fin, yet the Truth both binds and encourages me to aim at no less than perfection. While I keep the perfect law in my view, which, like a faithful mirror, discovers all my deformity, I can find no reason to glory over the most infamous of mankind. The nearer / come to the light, which makes manifeft all things that are reproved, I have the more reason to say, Behold, I am vile. I can have no room for glorying, then, but in the bare Truth;
and I have good reason confidently to oppose the righteoulcis i revealed there, to all that is admired in its ftcad among I men."
(To be continued.)
FEMALE benefit Society was formed in February,
1996, in Wisbeach, which has continued to the present time, and I hope will continue for many years to come. Thinking this inftitution, so far as it extends, calculated to alleviate the distresses of and render useful to each other, the female part of the human species, I will send you some account thereof. Perhaps it may not be deemed unworthy of imitation in other places.
The fociety I am about to describe consists wholly of women, and all its affairs are transacted by them---the male sex having nothing to do with it---except that its stock which is not wanted for immediate disbursement, is lodged upon interest in the hands of a man; and donations thereto are received from any person who chuses to contribute his mite towards its fupport.
The females who compose this society are divided into two classes. The first class consists of honorary members, i. e. those who contribute thereto without having any claiin upon it for relief. On paying five fillings for admillion, fix-pence for a copy of the articles, and fix shillings and fix-pence for a year's subscription in advance, a female is admitted as an hono- , rary member, and by continuing to pay fix shillings and sixpence each year in advance, honorary membership is continued. The fecond class confifts of those who become members with a view to receiving relief, according to the rules specified in the articles, which class is limited to one hundred persons, and is not to exceed that number at any one time. Any female who is not above forty-five years of age, and resides in the parish, whose character is decent, may be admitted a member of this class, until it be full, on paying two millings and fixpence entrance, three pence for a copy of articles, and fix-pence half-penny per month afterwards. A secretary and stewards are elected annually by the honorary members from among therníelves, which officers, with the rest of the honorary members, form a committee for transacting all the business of the society. The business of the secretary and stewards is to keep the accounts, receive and disburse the money, visit the fick
members are recer
All the affairs of the society are regulated, not by will, but by written rules, which cannot be altered but by the consent of four parts out of five of the subscribers present, at an annual or some special meeting, to be convened for that purpose. Their public meetings are held at the town-hall---their private business transacted at such places as the secretary and stewards think most proper to fix on.
Every person of the second class, after being a subscriber to the fund one year, is, when so far fick or lame as to be incapable of pursuing her usual employment, entitled to three shillings and six-pence a week for the first month of her confinement, and afterwards two shillings and fix-pence a week till she is recovered. Any member of this class, who is married, when brought to hed, is paid five shillings a week for one month, and two jhillings and fix-pence a week if her illness continue for a longer time. But none of the weekly allowances are paid to any member who removes her residence from Wilbeach. The sum of twenty fillings is paid to a married woman on the death of her husband, and five shillings for each of her children then living, under fourteen years of age. The monthly subscriptions of each single member and widow (who shall not have received any allowance from the fund upon her lying in, or the death of her husband) will cease when she arrives at the age of fifty-eight years; and if a married woman or widow, (having received relief as above) at fixty years of age; and the will then be paid the sum of four pounds a year for life, by four equal quarterly payments; but such member will not, at that time, receive any other allowance from the fociety. The rules ftri&tly prohibit one member's reproaching another for receiy.. ing relief from the fund, and guard against rude behaviour, by connecting with such conduct, admonitions, reprimands, fines, and even exclusion, if the person be found incorrigible. Unbę. coming language, at the meetings of the society is guarded against by fines. All fines go to the general fund.
Those who receive the benefits of this society must maintain a decent and moral character: hence its regulations are calculated to prevent notorious vice. I
This fociety knows no religious distinctions; but extends its benefits equally to members of the establishment and to dile, senters'; as such it is calculated to abate party spirit and to pro. . mote liberality of sentiment and friendly intercourse.
It is likewise calculated to bring the rich to a better acquaintance with the fituation and distresses of the poor, conse-, quently to excite to a greater feeling and practice of bene. VOL. III.
volence, and to connect the different ranks of society more closely together.
It may be said, the plan would have been better if less re: stricted; but the restrictions were deemed necessary to prevent its outgoings from destroying its resources.
The following was the state of the society and its affairs on February 1, 1799, as communicated to me by a friend--
Honorary members - - - - - 72
I am, dear Sir,
WISBEACH, MAY 10, 1799.
(See p. 53.) DEAR SIR, VERY feeling mind must shudder at the details historians
have given us of the fanguinary executions of the Court of Inquisition, which we might pronounce the most deteftible engine of cruelty that had ever existed, were we not informed, that the court established by Charlemagne, called the Vhemic Court, even surpassed it in wanton cruelty. The Vhemic Court. went so far as to punish every Saxon with death who was so wicked as to break his fast in Lent. “The same law, says Voltaire) was established in Franche Compté, in the beginning of the seventeenth century. A poor gentleman, named Claude Guillon, being reduced to the utmost poverty, and urged by the most intolerable hunger, eat, on a fish day, a morsel of horse-fleth.” This crime being proved against him, he was sentenced to death, and was actually beheaded on the 28th of July, 1629. It must appear to every impartial person, the crime of eating a piece of horse-flesh, to keep a man from starving, though in a time of Lent, was not so great a crime as spending twenty or thirty pounds for a fupper of sea fish, in the same time; and yet this was done, and the church herself had
conscience enough to partake of it. This bloody court was totally abolished in the reign of Maximilian the First. The Inquisition has almost breathed its last, and every friend to humanity will rejoice at its interment. We have been terri. fied by frightful stories of Hottentots and New Zealanders--but did either of them comınit the crimes which have disgraced a great part of the civilized, and what has, long been called the Christian world.
In reviewing these things one is led to ask, Of what use is all this severity? Is the world bettered by it? Is the quantity of vice and crime lessened thereby? Is it at all calculated to reclaim the offender, and bring him to a sense of his duty ? ---With respect to all these particulars, I think the contrary has been the fact. All punishments ought to be for the good of fociety, therefore should be calculated to produce that effect.How can the severity of punishment accomplish this? Will it deter others from vice? No; we have every year too many sad instances to the contrary. Can the world be pleased with spectacles of death? Can it be profited thereby? That scenes of cruelty operate against the common good of society, no one will deny; and capital punishments seem to produce the same effect. People who once would have felt considerable pain at seeing a fellow-creature bound and imprisoned, can now look calmly on, and see a poor wretch suspended between heaven and earth. If punishinents are not proportioned to the nature and extent of the crime, society cannot be bettered by the infiction of them. That system which teaches men to confound all distinctions, and to think that it is no greater crime to kill a father than to steal a sheep.--that to coin a six-pence is as great a crime as to shoot a man, must be somewhere defective, and inadequate to answer the end that ought to be intended by pu. nishment. That system must certainly be the moit likely to be useful, that allots a proportionate degree of punishment to a certain degree of crime---that would punish the robber much less than the murderer---that would correct the ferocity of the multitude by mild, and not by fanguinary measures. What effect had all the cruelty of the bloody tribunal in France, under the direction of the monster Robespiere? It has rendered his name detestable, and his meinory will be loaded with
execrations for ages to come. It is to be feared, the punish' ment of death has been productive of much evil to fociety.
Upon this part of the subject I hope I shall be excused by your readers if I express myself in the words of a writer quoted in my last; his book being in few hands, I hope will plead for