Imágenes de páginas

As to

be converted—that those who are not will be awakened from their stupidity — that they will wish to attend public worship. This leads me to observe,

" 4. That houses of worship must be erected, and congregations and churches formed. If people are disposed to worship God, in a public manner, it requires no arguments to prove that they must have suitable places for their accommodation. That such places are needed at the present time, we have already shown. the kind of house, it seems indispensable, when we consider the natural pride of the human heart, in connexion with the fact that these people live in a city, and in the midst of other churches, that it should be a house built expressly for the purpose—that it should be a church. It is unreasonable to expect that people of this description should go to a school-house, or a private room, to worship on the Sabbath, unless particularly influenced by the Holy Spirit. Lectures have been sometimes appointed in such places, and because large numbers have not attended, it has been concluded that all further efforts would be in vain.

“Should such houses be provided, and other means which have been mentioned, used, we believe, that some will become pious, and therefore churches and congregations must be formed. That Christians may be zealous and active, and grow in grace, they must unite, they must be in such a situation that they can speak often one to another, and enjoy the ordinances of the gospel.' Christians resemble, in no small degree, coals of fire, which, scattered over a large surface, afford but little light and heat, and are liable to be extinguished; but if collected together, they immediately kindle into a flame, glow, and diffuse light and heat to all around them. Since employed by the Society, I have found many sad proofs of the importance of Christian intercourse, and of professors being constantly united to the visible church: I have found many professors from other places, who have lived here for years, and not united themselves to any church; and, in consequence of it, their first love has degenerated into lukewarmness, their zeal into a spirit of conformity to the world. It is important, that Christians should unite together, not only for their own benefit, but for the good of others. Their object is not only self-defence, but invasion; not only to retain what they have gained, but to extend the triumphs of the cross. Were they thus to unite, soon would they attach large numbers to their Divine Master.

“ To commence the work, let suitable men be employed to labour as evangelists; let them be aided by private Christians: let houses of worship be erected. Were this method pursued, glorious con quests in the midst of these thousands would, with the blessing of God, soon be made; large churches and congregations would soon be formed. This general method of proceeding is sanctioned, not only by the authority of God, but by the example of the apostles and primitive Christians, and by the experience of the Church in

every age. We can only refer to the example of the great apostle of the Gentiles. After calling to mind his qualifications, both natural and supernatural, and his unexampled success, no one will doubt, that he selected the best means for the accomplishment of his object. Mark his progress. He goes out into the highways and hedges, or into the midst of the Heathen. He preaches from house to house, and in all other places where he can find any who will hear him. He does not stop here. Wherever God is pleased in any measure to bless his labours, or wherever there are a sufficient number of Christians, he forms a church, establishes the regular preaching of the gospel, and the administration of the ordinances. Without going back to past ages, we have abundant proof of the correctness of these remarks, from experience in this city. The houses of worship which have been built in the upper part of the city have not been built in vain. Large churches and congregations have been formed, and the state of society greatly improved. It is a fact worthy of notice, that the further you go from a church, both in the city and in the country, the more ignorant and vicious you find the people. I speak not of individual families, but of the great mass of the population. The very sight of a church will often cause those who are grossly vicious, to blush and reforın, or retire from its view. It is a perpetual monitor, especially on the Sabbath, when people assemble together, and will exert a powerful influence on the surrounding neighbourhood. A brothel cannot exist by the side of a church, unless it have some secret communication with the theatre, that strong hold of Satan, from which its altars may be supplied with victims. Erect a church, and the moral atmosphere will be purified — the mists of darkness and death will vanish the harsh gratings of discord and blasphemy will be changed into the sweet songs of Zion--the habitation of cruelty and vice into a Bethel — the sink of pollution into a fountain of life — the desert into the garden of God.

“ Sufficient attention has not been paid, we believe, to the manner in which provision has hitherto been made for the poor, in many of our churches. It will not answer to have PARTICULAR SEATS DESIGNATED AS SEATS FOR THE POOR. The simple fact, that people are marked as poor, will effectually exclude from the sanctuary many who would otherwise attend.' To remedy this evil, the churches may be so built, that the pews, or a part of them, shall be disposed of at a low rate. If a poor man wishes for a pew, and is not able to pay ten dollars, let him pay two, or one; or if he is not able to pay any thing, let him have one without paying for it. Let him, at all events, have a pew for his family; otherwise the whole house should be free.

“ Let it not be forgotten, that the work to be performed is so great, that the energies of private Christians must be called into action. Though missionaries or evangelists, who shall be employed, are to take the lead, Christians must co-operate, not only

by their prayers and their property, but by their active exertions. We would not be understood, however, as intimating that nothing has been done. Individuals have done much to supply the spiritual wants of the poor; but the effect of their labours has been comparatively limited, for want of system and union. Though single efforts may be great in themselves, they will produce comparatively but little effect; whereas combined, well-directed, persevering efforts, will produce almost any thing. To call into action, to combine, and to direct the energies of Christians, it is proposed,

“ 5. To form associations in every ward, and in different sections of the same ward, throughout the city. The first object will be, to ascertain the moral state of the people; and the second, to improve it: first, to ascertain what families are destitute of the Bible; what families or individuals do not attend public worship; what adults and children need instruction; what vices are most prevalent: secondly, to distribute Bibles and tracts, to visit the sick and afflicted, to persuade old and young to attend public worship, Sabbath schools, and to assemble at other places where they may receive religious instructions; to prevent, by various means, Sabbath breaking, profaneness, intemperance, idleness, and vice of every description. It cannot be in the city, in every respect, as it is in the country, where the character and circumstances of every family are almost necessarily known. In the city there are, strictly speaking, no neighbourhoods; and were it desirable, we do not expect that all who live near each other should enter into habits of intimacy. But were those who are pious, and in comfortable circumstances, to become so much acquainted with those who live near them, as to ascertain their character and condition, both as it respects temporal and spiritual things, it would produce the most salutary effects. Such a system would directly promote the temporal, and in that way indirectly, the spiritual welfare of the poor. The respectable poor often suffer for the necessaries of life. The reason why they will not make known their situation, is, that, as most persons who beg are vicious, they would endanger their character; and rather than do this, they will endure extreme sufferings, and sometimes even death itself. It is necessary not only to visit, but often to make an effort to ascertain the wants of this class

Many, both of the virtuous and vicious, suffer extremely in sickness; not because there are none to afford relief, for it is not uncommon for the benevolent to go from one extremity of the city to the other, to visit and relieve the sick; but because their situation is unknown. More may, sometimes, visit a sick person than is really beneficial, while at the very next door, there may be another, equally needy, and equally worthy of assistance, to whom no assistance is afforded. Such cases have often occurred.

“ It is known, that, during the late inclement season, a number of persons have perished in this city with hunger and cold. Had

of the poor.

there been such associations, their untimely death would most certainly have been prevented. It may be said, that this was a very unusual time, and cannot be expected to occur again. Be this as it may, Christians, we trust, feel no small degree of regret, that even a few immortal souls should, in this manner, be hurried into eternity. It is a fact, however, that people die at other times for want of attention. A respectable lady, a few weeks ago, went into the house of a poor neighbour, and found, to her great surprise, a woman lying sick, and in the cradle by her side, the remains of a lovely child. On inquiry she learned, that the woman had been reduced so low, that she could not go out to obtain relief, or make known her situation. The child had died with hunger, and would, doubtless, soon have been followed by its mother to the world of spirits, had it not been for this providential discovery. Those who are acquainted with the circumstances of the poor, know that occurrences of the same general nature are not uncommon. With such facts in view, who will pretend that some system, like the one proposed, is not indispensable? It would not only prevent the poor from suffering and dying for want of timely aid, but it would prevent the necessity of that aid. To manage their temporal concerns to advantage, many need information, advice, and direction, which, without the least difficulty, might be given by a kind and judicious neighbour. This remark is more especially applicable to strangers, who are unacquainted with the customs of the city. In consequence of disappointment or misfortune, many are disheartened, and settle down into a state of gloom and sloth, which are the precursors of personal and family vice, disgrace, and ruin. This might frequently be prevented, should some friend take them by the hand, assist them in finding employment, and encourage them to make an effort. Their characters being known, there would be no difficulty in obtaining employment, and other necessary aid, for the respectable poor. But, at present, they are mixed with the vicious, are regarded in the same light, and are treated in the same manner. Such asso ciations would greatly aid the Sabbath schools. Those who are not immediately connected with that institution, can recommend it with a degree of influence which is not at the command of the teachers. Poor children might be supplied with clothes. That some assistance of this kind is necessary; will not be doubted. But experience has taught, that it is unwise to have it afforded by those to whom the immediate management of the schools is intrusted.

“ But such associations are principally important, on account of their more direct moral influence. Many people resort to our large cities, that they may live with less restraint, and still retain their standing in society. "If a family, in a well-regulated country village, does not attend public worship, it is known, and the moral character of that family receives a wound. The same is true of the neglect of other duties, or the practice of other sins. This operates as a strong motive to restrain those who are not under the influence of the Gospel, and to induce them to attend, at least, to the outward forms of religion. How different in the city! People may here neglect public worship for years, and, because it is unknown, may be as much respected by those who are not intimately acquainted with them, as if they strictly observed the Sabbath. Let every man's character and conduct be known to the moral and pious, and a change in the state of society will be effected; for there are but few who are insensible to the opinion of their fellow-men, however they may disregard the command of God. The very sight of the moral and piouis is a check to the wicked. Should respectable persons simply pass through particular streets every day, and look at those who now exhibit in those streets all the degradation of their character, it would soon cause them to hide their heads. The voice of the pious awakes the internal monitor, and their presence encourages him to do his duty. Christians may greatly promote the spiritual welfare of the poor, by holding small meetings among them, for the purpose of prayer, and reading the Scriptures. The exertions of such associations would induce many to attend public worship, particularly those who are not grossly vicious, and strangers who have been accustomed to attend previous to their residence in the city. When they first come, they generally wander from place to place. Having no seat of their own, and being frequently unable to find one, it becomes unpleasant. They occasionally stay at home; it agrees with the practice of many around them; it gratifies the natural heart; and soon, instead of the old and good habit, a new and bad one is formed. This is not true merely of the poorer class of people, but also of a large class in comfortable circumstances. Professing Christians, who come into the city, and live here for a long time, without connecting themselves with any church or congregation, would, by this means, be discovered, and brought to the enjoyment of the ordinances of the Gospel. The number of such is not small; and what is still more surprising, pious people have been found, who have lived here for years, and have formed no religious acquaintance; not because they did not value Christian intercourse, but because they were strangers, modest strangers, whose views of propriety would not permit them to introduce themselves. They have pined and mourned in solitude, their graces have withered, and their usefulness has been comparatively limited. Tears have sometimes testified the joy they felt at being delivered from this unhappy state. Such associations would greatly encourage and aid our poor brethren who live in the midst of the most vicious, and who are ' vexed with their filthy conversation; who like' righteous Lot dwelling in the midst of them, and seeing and hearing, vex their righteous souls from day to day with their unlawful deeds.' Being on the same level with their

« AnteriorContinuar »