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And will not one such good obtained, be to you an ample recompense for all the
you can give to the improvement and happiness of many families? It is a poor excuse for the neglect of this duty, “I have not leisure for it.” Look back, at the close of any week, upon the wasted hours of it which you may call to remembrance, and ask yourself, - deliberately, and seriously, I mean,-how you would feel in a review of these hours, if you had given them to faithful endeavours to relieve, and bless some of those, who greatly need your kindness? Or, I will say to you, on the first day of a week, determine that you will find half a dozen hours in it, or at least half an hour in each day in which you will faithfully visit some poor families, for the purpose of doing all the good, -I mean the moral good, -that you shall be able to do in them; and when you are resting yourself from your labours, or are lying upon your pillow, on Saturday night; look back to the hours which have been so spent, and say,
you have suffered in your business by the appropriation you have made of them? Or, have they subtracted any thing from the amount of your happiness? Or, have they spread any gloom over the future, either with respect to this life or the life to come? Or, can you give the leisure of Sunday to a holier employment, than that of thus visiting the poor! Here, my dear sir, is the true ground on which to take our stand, for obtaining the greatest, the most effectual, and the most permanent good, for the poor.
And here I would take my stand, in answering the question, how may we most effectually meet, and resist, that secret and open licentiousness, that profligate violation, not of good morals only, but of decency,
that abandonnent of multitudes to vice, and even to the grossest vices, which has too long been considered as an evil, necessarily incidental to large cities; and therefore to be first silently endured, and then, as it is in some of the cities of the old world, authorized by law; and, even made a source of the public revenue ? This false and base doctrine, as low in the sources from which it springs, as the causes are vile which produce and nourish all this evil, ought to be fully exposed, -brought to the light in which it shall be seen in its true character, and consequences. Do you ask me, then, how we may resist, and how we may hope to check this tendency in cities to deep and radical corruption ? I reply, that something may be done by wise legal enactments; and much might be done by these means, if the efforts of wise legislators were seconded by a strong accordant moral sentiment in the community. The true difficulty, however, is, that moral sentiment is not strong enough to demand the requisite laws; or, if a few shall demand them, this sentiment is not extensive enough to secure their execution. Let us then fairly meet this difficulty at once, and direct our whole attention to it. Public sentiment must be enlightened on the great topics, of the evils incidental to cities, of the causes of these evils; and of their actual character and influences. Men of intellect, and of moral energy, must feel strongly, that they are responsible for the good which they can do, in enlightening and directing public opinion and judgment; and they must be aroused to a sense of this responsibility. The public newspapers must speak plainly upon these great interests. They must be made the subjects of conversation; and in essays level with common compre
hension, they must be brought before all our families. The characters of restorateurs, of taverns, and of all places of resort, should be as freely discussed, and as openly talked of, as the most ordinary questions of the day. And a house known to be vile, to be a trap for the young, and a haunt of the abandoned, should be as publicly designated, as a pest house would be in a city. Yes, and all who are known to be supporters of such a house, be they young or old, married or single, the sons of merchants, of mechanics, or of the poor, should be branded by public sentiment as INFAMOUS; and so they will be, when public sentiment shall be as enlightened and as active as it should be. But if a profligate can pass one evening with gamblers, or prostitutes, and be welcomed on the next in the splendid drawing room, and treated as if he were as highly estimated, and perhaps even more so, than are the modest, the virtuous; if it be thought that a young gentleman is indulging in a very natural, and not very reprehensible love of pleasure, who is known to be fond of a fashionable eating house, and sometimes to go to a brothel, while yet, in that which is called good society, he maintains the decencies of life; or, if it be thought not very disreputable to be occasionally intemperate, if general indications are in favour of sobriety; and not a very crying sin to be a seducer, if the victim of his licentiousness has been a child of poverty; then, law is a dead letter. The contagion will spread. Cities will become more and more sinks of depravity. Fathers and mothers, in increasing numbers, as a city increases in its inhabitants, will have to mourn over their blasted hopes, and our cities, like the worst of those of the old world, will by and by be rotten to the
very heart, and ready for destruction. May God avert from us this awful condition! But, my friend, that he may, we have ourselves something, and much to do in the work. A new interest, I think, is excited on this subject. May it spread and strengthen, till the moral sense of the community, in its collected power, shall make our cities, in purity, and righteousness, models for the cities of the world!
To you, my dear sir, who have dedicated yourself to the office of a minister of the poor, I need only add, that you may, and I doubt not that you will, do much for the virtue and piety, and thus for the best relief and comfort of many hundreds of your suffering fellow creatures. It will be well for you if the affluent shall enable you to contribute something for the supply of the distressing want, which you will sometimes be called to witness. You may also be greatly useful in directing the charity at once of individuals, and of societies. And, if your office shall be rightly appreciated, you will be enabled to connect intelligent and virtuous individuals in the more favoured classes of society, with families of the poor, to whom they may be the best possible benefactors-instruments of their moral redemption. In discharging the duties of your office, you will find much to try, and to depress,- I will not say to discourage, you. But there is no office sustained by man which will give a larger compensation for its cares, and pains, and sorrows. I rejoice in the truly liberal principles, in which its establishment has been begun in your city. You have only to act upon these principles, and the good that will result from your ef- . forts will be certain and great. A ministry exclusively for the poor, by which Christian instruction, and con
solation, and encouragement, will be carried, as widely as possible, to every habitation of the destitute; by which the poor, as far as it shall be found practicable, shall be persuaded, following their own convictions of duty, to unite themselves with the Christian societies around them; and by which they will obtain a friend, an adviser in all their difficulties; one to aid them in the charge of their children; one to whom they may speak with confidence of all their sufferings, and all their interests; and who will prove himself worthy of this confidence: the establishment of this ministry will be an era in the history of your city. We have now four ministers who are so employed in Boston. God grant that, with you, and with us, this ministry may be as permanent, and an object of as deep interest, as that of our churches! And may you so accomplish your work in it, as to obtain the acceptance and reward of a faithful servant.
Yours, very faithfully,