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Continued from page 232. WHILE public attention is being increasingly drawn to the extension of means for the moral and religious benefit of our fellow creatures and fellow countrymen, and the necessity for yet greater activity and zeal in such efforts, is more and more painfully impressed upon us ; it is gratifying to find that humbler and simpler attempts to lessen the amount of human misery, are often encouraged by success. Thus while waiting in hope for the extended results of the higher plans, we may work while we wait, and as we can, and not find our labour fruitless.

Indeed these less public attempts are calculated from their very character, to meet the cases of many who shrink down from bolder and more open efforts to benefit them. Some particulars respecting a poor woman will help to illustrate this remark.

A meeting for prayer and exposition of the Scriptures having been commenced in a Sunday school-room near where she lived, and where her children were instructed ; she was induced from their telling her of it, to attend on the first evening, and she was noticed to be deeply affected. Her attendance was continued regularly, and after a few times, she was spoken to, but seemed to shrink from notice. Her earnest attention, and the deep feeling marked by many tears, invited a more particular attention to the case, and in the course of some conversation with her, she expressed the deepest sense of her own sinfulness, accompanied by expressions of the most hopeless wretchedness of mind. Although evidently in great poverty, any sense of ber temporal wants was quite overborne by the pressure of a burdened conscience. On seeking her in her home, she was found living in a miserable little kitchen or rather cellar, with her husband and two boys. The place though confined and dark, was made the best of; it was clean, and although little in itonly one chair on which to sit—yet all was tidy; and however otherwise miserable a place may be, if this is the case you may sit down without shrinking, and it is a great thing on visiting the poor, to be completely at your ease in their dwellings, and to avoid any action, especially a word, that may shew that you feel the poverty of the place. An observation this poor woman made on one occasion, may mark this. She had been telling the visitor, with expressions of thankfulness to God, that some gentleman in connection with the parish, had called on her, although she had not applied, and gave her a portion of the relief, which had been raised, that severe winter, for the poor generally, and mentioned that when he came down, his first expression was, “Why ! how can you live in such a wretched place ?' And she added, " Ah, I thought to myself, Mr. — never made such a remark.' The expression was doubtless made hastily and from sincere pity: but it touched the woman's feelings, who still felt it was her home. The first visits only brought the visitor into a fuller acquaintance with the grief of her heart. She said she was a wretched backslider, and once knew the way of truth and rejoiced in it, having been a

member of a dissenting Church in another part of London, where she used regularly to attend ; although the family in whose service she tben lived, were opposed to all religion, and did not like her attending anywhere. From there she married a native of Ireland, without sufficiently ascertaining his character. He at first was willing to go with her on a Sunday, but soon left her to go alone, and then began to oppose her going, or insist on her attending a Romanist chapel. For some little time she was firm, till at last his violence frightened her into submission. From that time religious feelings declined, conscience became numbed, and she sunk into wretched apathy. Things were but indifferent also for this world, while she felt less and less disposition to make exertion of any kind. Their condition was made worse by a sudden visitation upon her husband, of deafness without any apparent cause; it probably however happened in some way through his drinking, as he was in the habit of getting intoxicated frequently. He was deprived of all power of hearing anything, the only exception being that he heard the clap of thunder which accompanied that remarkable winter storm on the first Sunday morning in 1841, when the steeple of Spitalfields church was struck by lightning. This warning produced no beneficial effect upon his mind. It helped with other things, to disturb her in her lifeless state of soul, and sometimes a desire was excited to attend a place of worship, but the scantiness and poverty of her clothing, now operated as a hindrance, and when a remembrance of her past religious course was at all awakened, it then began to excite feelings of remorse. These remembrances and feelings were necessarily more frequent, when one Sunday morning her boys, whom she had regularly sent to school, told her that some one was coming to speak to the poor people of the neighbourhood in the school-room that evening, and that they were told to ask their parents to come. As it was just by, and the evenings were dark, she thought that she might slip in there, and determined to do so without telling her husband. She came and listened, it opened up every holy remembrance, and every thought was a dagger to her, every remark brought home conviction to her soul, not simply of sin, but of backsliding sins, and she went home weeping bitterly. The Saviour and all his grace was spoken of, but this was not for her--she could not be forgiven. In this state of mind she continued for some weeks “ filled with her own ways." The visitor could not but feel a deep interest in her case, and an anxious desire that she might find peace and joy in believing. Every suitable promise was urged and argued upon, and the various examples of God's boundless mercy, but her constant replies were, · Yes, but I have had such privileges; I was not left in ignorance as most are. I was well taught in a Sunday School, and could read my bible, and have heard and rejoiced in bearing the preaching of the Gospel, and I have taken myself away from it all.'. She felt as it is common to feel in such cases, and also in those of deep affliction, that there could be no case like hers. The sinfulness of unbelief in doubting the plainly declared mercy of God, and limiting his power and love, and, in at all diminishing the value of the atonement, was still pressed upon her consideration, and it pleased God at length to remove gradually her unbelief, and to enable her fully to receive the mercy of the Saviour. Then a holy joy succeeded anguish, and her mouth was filled with praise, Still it did not drown her sense of sin, but rather flowed from it. Her heart was broken before by conviction, now it was melted by the love of Christ. And as her faith increased, it became both encouraging and refreshing to converse with her. The deep feeling and holy joy, were humbling to her visitor, and could not but quicken prayer for increase of like grace Oh, how, entering into such feelings, mingling emotions, and hopes on such matters, makes one forget temporary local circumstances, and gives a glory and an interest to the meanest walls. The fruit of her revived faith and principles soon began to appear. Her husband often reproached her that she earned nothing, though he would waste much of his own earnings in drink, and knew her weak state of body. She had little hope of getting anything to do, and was ashamed to apply to any one who had known her when more decent, but some attempts were made that the man might have no cause to blame her for again attending the worship of God; and that he might see that it was productive of good. Some little work was obtained for ber, which she gratefully and diligently attended to, and thus helped to improve her living, which had been lately at the lowest. But all this did not prevent the renewal of her husband's opposition, when he found that she had begun again to go out of the Sunday, and with more frequency, as she often attended the Rev. Mr. Hughes’ afternoon lecture. He at first was willing to receive and read the tracts which were left, and also the Scriptures; but soon began to turn them into mockery, and insist that if she followed any religion it should be his. She still persevered, and he began again to use violence when intoxicated. On one occasion, when something bad forced the mention of his conduct to the visitor, she stopped herself, saying - But oh, how could I now go back, and again leave off - this is very trying, but I would not endure again what I did in my mind, after I had fell back before, for anything. At last, one week in the winter before last, he became quite outrageous; and in the middle of the night during a most bitter frost, turned herself and child out into the street; the other boy was not her's. A neighbour sheltered them, and the next day she thought it best to leave him entirely; and endeavour to support herself away from him. This she barely managed to do for a little time. He however found himself, in consequence, so wretchedly situated, having no one to attend to his house and boy, that having found out her place he used every intreaty to bring her back, promising to get a better room, and never to binder her attending a place of worship. For the elder boy's sake, principally, she yielded, and for a time he kept his word, and did not molest her ; but his spirit was suppressed, not extinguished ; and before very long, began again to shew itself in reproaches, and then again in violence : so much so occasionally, that it seemed impossible for her to remain with him in safety. She has however continued to do so, enduring all as her appointed lot of trial : as forming part of that tribulation through which she must enter the kingdom of heaven; and indeed it has been eminently sanctified to her. Though sometimes cast down, her hope was not destroyed, and her faith has ever risen triumphant over her difficulties, and afflictions. One of her husband's last outbreaks was interrupted by her somewhat premature confinement, which softened him down into some attention to her. She then suffered much in body, but never did her trust and joy in God her Saviour rise higher. “Oh, sir,' said she to the visitor, I really feel as if I could go through such another time to have the Lord with me as I have had. It was too much, it really was too much almost for my poor body to bear. I feel as if I never could doubt again. He surely would not have shewn so much mercy, and so supported me, if I had not been his child.'

The husband's enmity never appears to have quenched an earnest desire for his good. It seems to be her constant prayer, that bis heart might be turned.

An opportunity was afforded her a little time back of illustrating the power of her principles in another way. She had not only an enemy in her husband, but his mother, a Romanist like himself, had done what she could to influence his mind against her, particularly on one occasion. She was taken seriously ill, and this poor woman at once availed herself of the opportunity of endeavouring to show her some kindness, and to return good for evil. Speaking of the circumstance, she remarked, 'I have often thought whether I did really forgive her; I am sure I have wished to do so, though I have so much felt her conduct, and now it seems as if an opportunity was given me to prove if I really could do it.' She did indeed prove it by every possible attention, but nothing could be more ungrateful and insolent than the way in which everything was demanded and received. Every attempt at spiritual good was resented, and even in the hospital the unhappy creature resisted any means of recovery she did not like. She would not at first be cleansed, for she was disgustingly dirty in person and habits, and this enhanced the patient perseverance of her daughter-in-law in her attentions. What a striking contrast did these two present of the degrading tendency of sin, and the renovating and elevating power of grace.

While this poor christian's course has been and still is, one of peculiar trial, still the apostle's words have been verified, that godliness has “ the promise of the life which now is” as well as “ of that which is to come.” Although still living in a very humble way, yet by bestirring herself, and other things, her condition has been much im. proved ; she has often remarked with the liveliest gratitude, that she has wanted for nothing needful, since she renewed her religious habits, whereas they had often before been without bread; and while without sufficient nourishment herself, she still could not wean her last boy till after he was three years old, because she had no proper food to give him! The effect of this upon her constitution is evident. But her “ inward man is renewed in strength day by day," and her spirit strong in the Lord, and animated with heavenly hope, smiles through the poor tenement that detains it, weaned by her trouble from the world, she longs to inhabit “ that house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.”

The few cases that have been mentioned in these papers, afford a slight illustration of the condition of some of our poor, and of the encouragement afforded to any attempts to benefit them. But how anxious should every christian be that these attempts should be less partial, and extended in a measure more commensurate with the de

mands upon our christian feelings and sympathies. Judicious District Visiting deserves greater encouragement, but more than this is wanted. A constant domiciliary visitation by suitable pious men, sent out simply on their spiritual errand, is deeply needed everywhere. And why, seeing that such a visitation is utterly beyond a clergyman's power, even in an ordinary parish, should not such an authorized agency be provided by the Church ? The writer has been witness to much positive spiritual good, which City missionaries have done in some districts by their efforts; but such an agency ought to be left to a Society to institute and control ?

A country incumbent, writing to one of our religious periodicals,* has suggested the revival of the ancient office of reader in the church, as making no innovation, while it would supply the clergyman's lack of services,-bis communications certainly deserves attention. The ase sistance such men might render, he thus suggests: • These readers might save the officiating minister's strength, by reading the lessons in church, and by superintending his Sunday schools. They might visit in a given district, inquiring after absentees from church and school, and calling upon the careless to attend the means of grace. They might read the word of God to the families they visited, and converse with them on its momentous truths. They might give private instruction to candidates for confirmation and other persons standing in need of elementary instruction. And perhaps in cases where a poor population had sprung up at some distance from the parish church, they might be employed to read the prayers, and catechise the school children publicly, and so make some provision for the infirm, who might not be able to attend the parish church. * * * An authoritative recognition of such an office, on the part of our church, would suggest it to all clergymen, and remove the objections which at present would keep several from employing the laity in such ways. * * Such individuals might be rendered highly useful to the Church, for we especially need a further means of serving the lower classes.'

It is a hopeful sign that this need is being increasingly felt, still it is not yet felt so deeply and so universally, even among professing christians as it ought to be, and as a consequence the spirit to supply the deficiency is not fully awakened. Not only is it the duty of the heads of the Church to be alive to the call which the wants of our population make upon them, and to re-echo that call to every member of the church, but there wants the feeling and the spirit to meet the call when made, by needful support, and by presenting really suitable agents for acceptance. In the meanwhile let us be earnest in prayer to the great Head of the Church, that he may quicken the people to a more holy zeal, and raise up the suitable instrumentality. Let us intreat that his harvest may be ripened in every field, and in obedi. ence to his express command. "Pray the Lord of the harvest that he may send forth labourers into his harvest.”

* Christian Observer, March 1841.

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