« AnteriorContinuar »
the meetings. M. Delille took him for an Englishman, but on speaking to him found he was a Bavarian. He often lingered after the meetings, leaving apparently with regret, and glad to have an opportunity of personal conversation. “I have lived in London,” he said one day, " and often went to hear Mr. Spurgeon. I used to buy his sermons and distribute them among my friends. I like earnest preaching.” When pressed about his own spiritual state, he confessed that though he had often felt drawings towards Christ, still he had never come to him. He left, apparently under deep conviction.
Dipping again at random into the journal, we find the following entries :
" January 17, 1871.—Good conversation with three persons, who borrowed New Testaments. A National Guard very attentive. He thanked us when passing out, saying, “We have need of these things to make us different men. In the churches there are too many who come between man and God.'”
“ October 7.-Great attention. All seemed more or less moved under the preaching, we trust by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“October 16.-Good meeting. About 150 present. We spoke personally to many of them. One said, “ Excellent ! It is all true.' Are you here for the first time?' I asked. “Yes,' was the reply, “but it will not be the last.'”
Many similar entries occur from time to time. During the siege large numbers of soldiers attended the meetings. They were always attentive, and many showed signs of deep interest in the truths proclaimed. Occasionally incidents of unusual interest occurred, such as the following :-Our tract distributors standing at the door one day, gave a tract to a priest. He took it, and began to read as he passed on. In a few minutes he came back, and entered into conversation with the distributor. Hearing that the gospel was preached there every day, and that there was no controversy in our addresses, he said, “ You are engaged in a good work. Go on, and God will give his blessing :" "Come and see me,” he added, handing his card on which was written, " Albé lichaud, Vicar of the Madeleine.”
As an evidence of the sound judgment which characterises the work of M. Delille, it may be stated i hat he does not speak controversially. When Catholics express a desire to become Protestants, he tells them that it is not his object, he wants to lead them to a true knowledge of Christ as their Saviour, after that they must judge for themselves. Also, he resolved at the outset not to give money to any of his hearers, because, as he well says, “ We should next day have the room full of beggars and hypocrites.” Further, he lends, but does not either sell or give, copies of the New Testament.
In this work M. Delille, though always himself responsible for the conduct of the meetings, acknowledges with thankfulness the loving Co-operation of every Protestant denomination in Paris. These meetings still go on. friends who visit Paris this summer should not forget to go to the Rue Royale Chapel at 3 p.m., and, above all, those who seek the extension of the Lord's kingdom in France should not fail to plead for a rich blessing:
Another effort lately started in Paris is that of Mr. R. W. McAll.
This gentleman was till recently an Independent minister in England. When he and his wife were spending a holiday in Paris in 1871, they were much struck with what seemed to them an opening among the workmen of Paris. On their return home they consulted some friends, and after much prayerful deliberation they resolved to give up their work and their home in England and fix their residence in Belleville, among the working men of Paris. They saw that by rigid economy they could meet all personal expenses from their private resources, and they felt assured that Christians in England would cheerfully defray the current expenses in connexion with the work.
From an interesting statement read before the Congregational Union held at Nottingham in October last, we gather some particulars of the commencement of this work, and personal observation at Easter enabled us to judge of the measure of success with which it is being visited. The plan decided upon was to rent large shops in some prominent thoroughfares, open them as Mission Rooms, and invite the attendance of the workmen and their families. The fact that such people were wholly unused to attendance at religious services suggested the idea that in the meetings there should be no lengthened speaking, but a number of short pointed readings or addresses, varied by the singing of hymns, and, as often as the people might seem prepared for it, the offering of prayer. The reading of the Bible would, it was felt, form an interesting feature, that book having, sad to say, the charm of absolute novelty for multitudes. To this was added the provision of illustrated magazines, such as L'Ouvrier Français, and of other periodicals, so that all entering the rooms might be invited to read till the meeting commenced; also the opening of a lending library furnished with Bibles, New Testaments, and good books, and the distribution at the doors of tracts and Scripture portions.
The first station was opened at Montmartre in April, 1872, and at the commencement bitter opposition had to be encountered from the Atheists of the district. They attended the meetings, and disputed every statement that was made, articles against the effort appeared in the local press, and in every conceivable way it was made clear that while there was an open door,” there were also “
many adversaries." Our friends, however, persevered, prayerfully persevered ; gradually the people begun to see that these English people only sought to do them good, and long ago all open opposition bas died away.
Mr. and Mrs. McAll have now either five or six of these stations in different parts of Paris. That they are not idle will be seen when I mention that at each station, from its opening, they have held turo meetings weekly, one on Sunday and one on a week-night, besides two weekly meetings for children, which are largely attended. At three stations they have classes for teaching English to the workmen, a method which appears to secure their confidence, and at two stations Sunday schools have lately been formed. We are amazed at the amount of work our brother and sister, with their few fellow workers, are able to accomplish, especially when we remember that they are in a foreign land and teach in a foreign language. Most feelinglý does Mr. McAll speak of the need of further labourers : “ Could we obtain more helpers," he says, “we should rejoice to extend our efforts in various
directions. Would that some brother and his wife would come out and join us." The venerable Dr. Binney, writing of this work says, “ If another English couple, like minded with our friends, and able to devote themselves to such a work, were to become colleagues and coadjutors in the mission, it would both lighten labour and increase it, by cheering our friends, sharing their toil and giving vigour and variety to existing or projected forms of service."
It was my privilege to attend two of the meetings while in Paris. Both were deeply interesting. There on the broad boulevard was the large shop, well lighted with the words “ Aux Ouvriers ” over the door. On the pavement were one or two helpers giving away notices and tracts to the passers-by, while round the door stood a few people anxious to peep in when it opened to admit anyone, and evidently uncertain whether they should enter or not. There was quite a little stir about the place, in fact, it looked "all alive.” Inside was a comfortable room, hung round with Scripture texts, well lighted and furnished with good chairs, on which lay hymn sheets and little books. Mrs. McAll was playing the harmonium, and on the little platform stood Mr. McAll, a spare man of about forty-five, ready to begin the meeting.
A hymn was first given out and sung heartily by the congregation, numbering from seventy to cighty persons. Then a portion of Scripture was read and another hymn sung. Mrs. McAll aird another lady each gave a short reading from some religious periodical ; and after another hymn, I was asked to address the meeting. Though my French is not of the best, and though this was the first time I had ever attempted a public address in a foreign tongue, the people listened attentively, and seemed to understand my poor efforts to point them to Jesus. M. Lepoids, one of the pasteurs of the Baptist Church, followed with an earnest address, and the ineeting, lasting a little more than an hour, was closed with prayer by Mr. McAll. Throughout the meeting the people came and went, but those that came far exceeded those that went, and at the close there were nearly one hundred present. They were mostly working men and their wives, some old and some young, some in their blouses and some in their holiday clothes (it was Good Friday). Strange thoughts passed through our minds as we sat in that meeting. We remembered that Generals Le Comte and Thomas were shot near this spot, and that from this very quarter the Communards issued forth to their deadly deeds. One wondered who these people were into whose ears were being poured the glad tidings of salvation; and what would be the effect were a great and widespread work of God's Spirit to appear among them
Of results much cannot be said as yet. Our friends are sowing the seed, and are earnestly and prayerfully looking for the harvest of precious souls. Not that they are altogether without signs of blessingfar from it. The second meeting I attended was conducted by a man who is himself, I am told, one of the fruits of this work. The gratitude of the people for the kindness shown to them is often warmly expressed to Mr. and Mrs. McAll, showing that M. Delille was right when he said
"Our people are not hostile to religion, as so many supposed. They are only infidel because there has been preached to them a gospel which is the very reverse of good news. Their hearts are opened and their
lives changed when they are brought into personal and living contact with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Will not our readers pray that these efforts in Paris may be blessed ? The conversion to God of some thousands of Parisians would be better far for France than the evacuation of her territory, and the diffusion of the light of God's truth throughout the land more glorious than the regaining of Alsace and Lorraine, the great object which every Frenchman now has before him.
I must not omit to state that I twice spent a happy afternoon with our Baptist brethren in the Rue des Bous Enfants. Their new chapel will be ready for opening in August or September, when English friends who want à Continental trip should try to be with them. Brethren Dez and De Poid are doing good work, and God is evidently blessing them. Surely Baptists have a great future before them in a country where the contest must be between the many errors of Rome, and those who hold by the pure teaching of Scripture on all points.
Life in the Edinburgh Canongate.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE ROMANCE OF THE STREETS." N Englishman who first walks out into the streets of Edinburgh
speedily discovers that whisky is a leading article of commerce in the city. We were even given to understand that the poor regard beer very much as a luxury, and retain the spirits
an every-day beverage. The populace suffer severely by their pernicious predilections. Nay, what is more important, sanitary reformers are directly tracing the relationship between disease, vagrancy, and crime, and the drinking customs of the people, since the poor of Scottish cities delight in vile concoctions doled out to them as genuine spirits, or “ Our celebrated Toddy Mixture” at one shilling and ninepence per bottle. For a long time past the excessive mortality of Glasgow has occasioned perplexity and even alarm among philanthropists and well-to-do citizens, and very praiseworthy have been the efforts made to lower the frightful death-rate. It has been in vain, however, and recently the local newspapers using severe language towards one sanitary reformer who professes to have discovered in spirit-drinking a fountain which stimulates the growth of hot-beds of fever. Looking at the question from the temperance rather than from the teetotal standpoint, we confess to having been appalled by the figures and conclusions of this “teetotal child," as his opponents style the gentleman referred to. In one part of the city of Glasgow, where the doomed inhabitants herd thickly together in close damp courts, and where a spirit-shop flourishes for each eight score people, as many as eleven per cent. of the inhabitants were stricken by fever in a single year. We do not infer that this horrible state of affairs has its spring solely in drunkenness : but that a continuous consumption of raw, inferior spirit by an underfed populace must be attended by fatal results experience painfully teaches us.
Cheap fiery liquors are poisons which quickly and effectively complete their deadly work, so that to dispute the ground with the evils arising from their use does not merely belong to Good Templars and other teetotal clubs. It is the legitimate work of the Christian church in common, and in few places is this realised so keenly as in Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh City Mission constantly employs about twenty-four visitors, and these are supplementary to other evangelists employed by separate congregations. About a third part of the entire population are waiting to be raised by Christian agency, a large proportion being Irish Roman Catholics, on whom, priests and sisters of mercy, hard as they work, seem never to confer either spiritual or moral benefit. After having seen something of the Cowgate, we shall still remain within the field of missionary operation, if we walk over the ground from the Castle to Holyrood, where every few paces will be found to possess historical associations attractive to the tourist or the student. Here and there along the whole route of the picturesque Lawnmarket, High-street, and Canongate, is discovered an ancient close or wynd, once the abode of Scottish nobles and high-born ladies. In the majority of instances, these places, once sacred to rank and beauty, but now abandoned to squalor and vice, are named after their former aristocratic possessors. À more interesting mile of ground, beginning with the proud citadel, and ending with the palace of the ill-fated Mary, it would be impossible to find in Europe, though, as a field of missionary operation it is as repelling and as heathenish as the worst localities in London. A glance at the slatternly women and uncared-for children, tells the casual visitor that a certain proportion of the people are Irish, and that the mingling of these with the low Scotch element, has engendered a type of humanity at once shocking and distressing to behold. Here is a word picture of the Old Town as it is at night, written nearly two years ago, by the correspondent of a London newspaper :
" At eleven last night my guide met me under the shadow of St. Giles's Church. The High-street public houses were closing slowly, and reluctantly discharging their occupants. On the pavement the throng was already dense and noisy. Sobriety was the exception, not the rule. Some staggered stolidly along, muttering imbecile drivel to themselves as they lurched to and fro. Others, mad drunk, fought, yelled, and cursed. Women were the worst-raggel, barefoot, unsexed wretches, with tangled hair, bosoms half-bare, mouths full of the most terrible blasphemies. Some of them had children in their arms, whom it seemed as if they must drop at every stagger. One miserable creature, with scarce clothes enough to be decent, was picked up out of a foul gutter by the police and taken off to the cells, a policeman carrying the babe, which his mate had stumbled over in picking up the mother. The most piteous sight of all was to watch the children round the groups that fought and cursed, now scattering as some, becoming rabid, ran amuck wildly at everything, now closing up again round two who came to close grips, tearing each other, even sometimes biting like beasts. The children with timorous hands would clutch the rays of a parent, and plead whenever a chance seemed to offer, “Come awa', mither;" or “ Dinna bide, father.” Sensuality held carnival. It could not but be noted with what fearful bitterness the curses came out. A drunken London mob curse lavishly, but the whisky-maddened people of the High-street cursed each other with a hot fervour, a lurid intensity which made one's blood creep. The Old Town of Edinburgh may be broadly described as an engine for the advancement of vice, misery, and a general God-forgottenness."