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new instructions directing both“Wesleyans” and “Nonconformists”--these denominations being very properly kept distinct—to be in future specified upon the bed-head cards above-mentioned. Consequently, we now can pay our visits to Methodist soldiers in hospital all over the empire, not by indulgence or sufferance, but by a right explicitly acknowledged. This recognition opens a wide field of labour, while it lays on us a heavy responsibility ; and, for grace and strength to fulfil the duty, our ministers in garrison-towns should have the prayers of those who have relatives serving in the army.
Now to the Prisons. There is not, at the present moment, any authentic information at hand of the number of soldiers who suffer imprisonment; but it seldom happens that a regiment is in so perfect a state as not to have several defaulters. This, however, does not imply any discredit to the army. If the inmates of any factory in the kingdom were to enlist in a body, and, placing themselves at once under martial discipline, were suddenly required to render silent, unquestioning, absolute obedience in matters the most minute, and apparently the most trivial, he must be a skilful officer indeed who could enforce the discipline without stirring up a mutiny. As it is, the strength of each corps is kept up by the incorporatiss of re :ruits who are gradually inured to the requirements of duty. But there are proud, or sensitive, or wayward spirits not very readily subdued. There arı refractory soldiers, who must not be allowed the indulgence of their pec iliar tempers. And there are, also, overbearing officers and provoking sergeants. Many young soldiers, too, not radically bad, may be incapable of brooking what they feel to be unreasonable severity ; or, without any provocation from such a cause, as yet unable to comprehend the reason of necessary orders, or to mould themselves, all at once, into habits of unreasoning obedience. Others, little more than grown children, are lured away into places of vulgar and vicious amusement, are overtaken with drunkenness and other sins, neglect orders, become incapable of duty, and in this state so far break the bounds of discipline as to commit offences which might be venial in a labourer or an artisan, but could not possibly be tolerated in a soldier. Guilty of some “crime,” as it is professionally called, the defaulter is brought up before his colonel, tried by a courtmartial, and, in strict accordance with the provisions of an Act of Parliament, is sentenced. Punishments are now greatly mitigated, and superior officers, with comparatively few exceptions, use a fatherly discretion in their administration of the law; but it is manifest that the delinquents must suffer, or the army might be disbanded forth with. Add to these considerations the fact, that some of the criminal class come in with the recruits, especially from great towns; and these have to be governed with severity, until, haply, they incur the severest penalties, and are drummed out, leaving behind them in the ranks those whom they have corrupted.
Pious parents, active in the cause of God, and respected all over their Circuits, have sons in every regiment; and truth compels us to own that some of these young men resemble the sons of Eli, because, probably, their
fathers were weak as Eli. Yet we must care for them, even though they have made themselves vile,” if it were only for the sake of their parents ; always hoping and believing that they are a very small minority of those who get into prison.
But, be these prisoners what they may, they were, by their own desire, marched to our congregations. Therefore, when his chaplain sees one such man disarmed, taken into custody between two naked bayonets, and a third man walking behind him with the committal-paper, can he refrain from regarding him with pity ? Must he not observe with regret his fallen countenance, and wish to follow him with a few words of Christian faithfulness? That great apostle who looked upon the people as his children, who was as a nurse among them for tender vigilance, and who himself (albeit for Christ's sake only) had known the galling of the manacles, would not have scowled on such a lad. Not he.
All this we had often felt. But, while the civil prisons of Great Britain were closed against us, the military prisons were yet more strictly closed. And here let the writer again make mention of his own experience. It is more than thirty years ago that he first saw a soldier in prison. The man was condemned to die for murder. The visit was instantly reported as an irregularity, and the Lieutenant-General commanding sent a strict order not to repeat the offence. At Aldershot the writer was never refused to visit a man whom he specially desired to see ; but he cannot remember that any prisoner ever spontaneously expressed a wish to be visited by him. Prisoners, if not altogether hardened or indifferent, shrink from the sight of their minister amidst the abounding marks of humiliation in such a place ; and he has been credibly assured, that, of about a thousand prisoners of another denomination, confined during some years in this very prison, only one formally solicited a visit of his own minister.
At Aldershot, then, as soon as the Prison Ministers’ Act of 1863 had been promulgated, the Wesleyan pastor again bethought himself of the bruised members of his flock, and applied, through the proper channel, for permission to act in the military prison, as the new law would have enabled him to do in a county or borough prison. The Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War acceded to his request, gave him full authority to minister to the men of his own congregations, who were at the same time withdrawn from the ministrations of others,-on the condition, however, that he should see them duly visited.
This condition, God helping, will be cheerfully fulfilled. A Sundayservice is now regularly held in the prison. About thirty prisoners, with warders, may be taken as the probable average attendance. They are also visited in the week. On Sundays they join in prayers with a heartiness which is thrilling. A good voice has not yet been wanting to lead the singing; and, prisoners though they be, it is impossible to doubt that they have been accustomed both to Sunday-school and congregation. On the very first visit, one of them begged leave to speak to his minister, and, having lamented that he had gone astray through unwatchfulness, begged leave to
meet in class again. That man has since repeated the request, and by February next we hope to get him there. On one day of the week these men are met in a sort of Bible-class ; and it is adınirable to hear how much they know of the sacred volume, and delightful to see worn countenances relax into confiding gratitude, and now and then lighten with a smile. Prisoner 11,429 just borrows a Hymn-Book for a week.
The prison-gates in Chatham were next opened. The Wesleyans there were taken by surprise on the first Sunday. Wondering why they had not been marched to prayers with the rest, they dolefully proceeded to the church at a later hour, when to their delight they saw the familiar face of one who had already made himself beloved in the garrison; and a young man, bursting the bonds of silence, involuntarily exclaimed, “Why,'t is Mr. Kelly!” Doubtless, the preacher's tongue was also loosened during his first address; and now he goes from cell to cell in the week, and makes the best of his opportunity to win them over to Him whom the Spirit of the Lord anointed to preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison-house to them that are bound. After Aldershot and Chatham prisons, that of Gosport follows.
Between hospitals and prisons we think we enjoy the perfection of pastoral visitation, and reverently hope to hear the sentence in due time pronounced: “I WAS SICK, AND IN PRISON; AND YE VISITED me.”
W. H. R.
THE WORKHOUSE DEATH-REGISTER.
This is simply, a record of those who have died, with columns for the date of decease, name, age, and parish to which belonging or chargeable. It is affecting, after the lapse of inany years, to turn over the pages of such a Register, especially to one who has known the departed, and who stood by the greater part of them as they lay on their beds of mortal pain, witnessing, in some cases, the last expiring breath. The old familiar book is now open before us, and, within our own recollection, (going back nearly nineteen years,) iecords the departure of three hundred and ten persons. Sixtytwo of this number died in the first decade of human life ; seventeen, in the second; twenty, in the third ; fourteen, in the fourth ; seventeen, in the fifth ; twenty-four, in the sixth ; forty-five, in the seventh ; seventy-one, in the eighth ; and forty, in the ninth. One hundred and eleven, therefore, had exceeded the age of man—“threescore years and ten.” The united ages of these amount to eight thousand six hundred and thirteen years, giving an average to each person of about seventy-seven. Had these men and women succeeded each other in the duration of their lives, instead of being contemporary, we should be carried back to a period antecedent to the history of the world itself. The inspired penman affirms, in Psalın xc., that “if by reason of strength” the days of our life " be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly
These concomitants of lengthened years are seen daily in the “Union.” The graphic picture of extreme age, drawn by Solomon in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, may be seen realized in all such institutions. The wise man describes the burdens and trials of longevity, when he tells of a day in which “the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened ; and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low; and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low : also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond-tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail : because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.” Such is a picture, truly, of “evil days;" and it has frequently been the lot of the writer of this page to hear the old people say, “We have no pleasure in them.” A word or two, however, ought to be said in reference to the earlier parts of the classification. Few will doubt the eternal safety of the sixty-two first named, not having arrived at the age of moral responsibility.* Their case was, doubtless, anticipated and specially provided for by Him who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not : for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Yet, there was a little fellow of this class, about nine years, who said on his death-bed, “I wish I had died before I had told so many lies !” Several others, of about the same age, evidently cherished joyous anticipations of heaven, and wondered “what it would be to be there."
Among those whose ages ranged from fifteen to twenty-five, were several very satisfactory cases. A young girl in her teens was enabled to triumph exceedingly, rejoicing “with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” Her clear and happy experience was in full harmony with the well-known couplet,
“ Not a cloud doth arise to darken the skies,
Or hide for a moment my Lord from my eyes.” She praised God with her latest breath, and now “sleeps in Jesus.” She much wished to raise her feeble voice in singing the praises of her Redeemer, but had not strength. It cannot be doubted that she now takes her part in swelling the anthem of the upper choir, who shout “ Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God !”—The closing scene of another young woman was equally happy. She had the witness in herself,—the Divine Spirit bearing testimony of her acceptance. Lines of beautiful hymns were frequently quoted. She would turn her pale face to the wall, and fervently pray for both young and old; pleading especially that those around her might not postpone their salvation until they came to a sick bed. Some of the aged she solemnly admonished, most earnestly exhorting them to make sure work for eternity. Her “last faltering
* Thirty-four of the number were under two years of age.
accents whispered praise.” The last word she had strength to utter was “ JESUS !” Thus
• The music of His name
Refresh'd her soul in death.” Some others, about the same age, died in the Lord; but there is no special remark to be made of them. Suffice it, that they experienced the “godly SOTTO " " which“worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of;" they “ fled for refuge” to Christ, “the hope set before them,”—uttered the conqueror's song, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ?”—and proved that “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”—One name, however, on the list, is associated with a coincidence too solemn to be overlooked. A Commissioner in Lunacy from London, whose parental home was in the country, was paying an official visit to the workhouse. He then appeared to be in the prime of life, and in full health. In one of the sick-wards he recognised the features of a female who had been formerly domestic servant in his father's family. He spoke to the girl in tones of kindness, and, putting a silver coin in her hand, bade her “ Farewell.” But we “know not what shall be on the morrow.” The two were about the same distance from eternity. After the lapse of two or three months, the commissioner and the young woman died within a few days of each other, and were buried on the same day, in the same consecrated ground; the same clergyman pronouncing the words over both," Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” “Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” This maiden died “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is expedient to pass over the intermediate sections, or classes, in order to consider more fully a few cases chosen from those who came to the grave when they were “well stricken” in age. This part of our chapter is fraught with important lessons, especially for the young. Trees are not unapt figures of men. How generally it is found, among the aged, that
“ Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined!” Which way does the tree lean? cannot be an unimportant question. As the tree leans, so it falls ; and if it “fall toward the south, or toward the Dorth, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” (Eccles. xi. 3.) “Pure ignorance” is said to be “ the absence of all knowledge.” Some of the most genuine specimens of this kind may be found in workhouses. A few examples shall be selected from the class of persons beyond the allotted age of man.
A was an old pensioner. The day before his death he was vrgently entreated to attend to the salvation of his soul. “I don't know,” said he,
what the soul is !” He was told that “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” “People say so,” was the rejoinder, “but different people have different ideas about such things.” This man had imbibed a notion, not uncommon among the poorer classes, that, because his troubles in this world had been numerous, God would be merciful to him in the next.