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I am happy to know, are now widely felt, and distinctly acknowledged among us. A better evidence of the favorable state of public sentiment on this subject could not have been given, than the appointment which has recently been made by the Church Missionary Society, of a second minister at large for our city,
My ministry, during the past year, has been confined to about three hundred and fifty families. I have, however, since I have been in this service,-that is, during the last thirty months,- been connected, I suppose, in a greater or less degree, with about five hundred families. In these families there are those, who, a year, or two years ago, were living in the de. basement and wretchedness of confirmed intemperance, and are
now temperate, industrious, respected, and happy. And if I looked to these alone, small as is their number, as the compensations of my ministry, they would abundantly repay me for my labors. But the effects of it, in my own opinion, are scarcely less interesting and inportant, which are even of every day occur
It would be easy to fill many sheets with the details of them ; but it is not easy to speak of them in a paragraph. I refer to the benefits which are extended by it to large numbers among the poor, who want that which those in more favored conditions with comparative ease obtain ; I mean, a friend to whom they may resort as an adviser in their difficulties. This friend the poor find in their minister. And the minister, in his turn, finds in this intercourse, opportunities he could otherwise hardly obtain, of rendering even more important services than were sought; for he can call forth, and strengthen principles in the mind, of the highest importance to character and happiness here and hereafter. The occasions are thus constantly occurring, of suiting instruction to the wants,-the necessities of individuals. Here light may be, and is imparted, and encouragement, and comfort, of no small importance to those who receive them. There are indeed those among the poor, who have as strong a sense of character as is felt by any among us; and others who have that which is of infinitely greater worth, a deep and strong sense of christian obligation. But there are many among them, also, who feel themselves to be connected with society around them, by no other bond than that of their animal wants. And are they to be despised, and neglected, and left to the recklessness of ungoverned appetite and passion ? I am called, likewise, to see sickness, under very different circumstances from those in which it is endured by the more favored classes of society; and to visit the anxious, and doubting, and fearful, and those who are suffering the anguish of disappointed hopes, and who need all that our religion can administer for their support and consolation. Nor is it, I think, a circumstance of small account, that I have placed and kept children in our schools, who would otherwise have been vagrants in our streets ; and that unspeakable comfort has been given to many a parent, in the assistance I have rendered to them in regard to their children. I do not like thus to speak of my
ministry; for I should much prefer to perform its duties quietly, and without any notice, but from those who are the subjects of it. But the occasion seems to demand this explicitness; and this must be my apology, if, in the opinion of any, I have said more than seems to them to have been required respecting it.
It is a solemn consideration, that in all the cities of
the world, and in all times, there has been a growth of
had been thrown upon the country. At that time I was told in Birmingham, that 20,000 in a night, of those who were unemployed, and who could not obtain the employment by which they might support their families, assembled to consult upon the means of relief; and in Manchester, that the number of discontents thus nightly brought together was not probably less than 30,000. Ought we not to be alive to the possibility of our own exposure to this, or to similar evils ? Ought we not, while
we may with some rational hope of protection against them, to consider how these evils are to be most effectually .avoided? And, if all mere political expedients have failed, as I believe that, to a great extent at least, they have failed, to bring about any important changes in the character and condition of the poor, is it not time to look at them, and to consider them, even depressed and debased as many of them may be, still, as they are, intelligent and moral beings; beings of the same nature with ourselves; who do, and must, and will act from the impulses of this nature; and who are therefore to be improved in their conduct and condition, not merely, or principally, by any external operations in regard to them ; but almost exclusively, by operating upon their minds ; by carrying the true principles of improvement to the springs of conduct and character in the soul? You cannot, but to a very limited extent, break, and govern man, as the brutes are governed. Much less may you hope to regulate him as a machine is regulated. Each individual has his own passions, propensities, will, to which human laws and ordinances cannot reach ; which always have resisted, and always will resist, any external force that is brought to bear against them. And a poor man, it is to be considered, and equally the multitude of the poor, if untaught, and without the principles of moral restraint in their own minds, having nothing to lose, and possibly much to gain by any great convulsions in a state, will be the ready instruments of any demagogue, who will promise to them the spoils of those, on whose ruin he would elevate himself to dis tinction and power.—These are not the chimeras of a distempered fancy. They call for the sober thought of politicians, of philanthropists, and of Christians. Let
us then, before it shall be too late, consider what may be done by a wise direction of moral power, or to speak more explicitly, by following the light of Christianity, in the work of improving the condition, by improving the character of the poor.
And here I am happy to say, that in looking over the world for an example of the efficacy of moral power, in controlling the causes, and affecting the character of poverty in a large city, we have the gratification of finding the best with which I am acquainted
at home. We have learned, through our newspapers, something of the dreadful wretchedness of multitudes of the poor through the past winter, in some of our large cities at the south
I have no suspicion that, in these accounts, there was any overcharged statement; any exaggeration. On the contrary, I know that, from what was suffered by the poor among ourselves, the distress of thousands of families there, must have been unspeakably great. Here, however, notwithstanding the facts, that we have had among us hundreds of men, who, for months, could hardly earn their daily bread; and hundreds of women, either without employment, or laboring for a price which at best would give them only food ; and though, as a consequence of this, we have seen an unusual number of beggars in our streets, and in our houses; I do not yet believe that there has been half the amount of suffering during that time, among our own poor, even in propor. tion to our numbers, which has been endured in those cities. Nor is there any question upon the causes of this vast difference in the condition of our poor. The single fact, that in our city, containing from 65 to 90,000 inhabitants, we are annually expending, and raising by a tax, between 50 and $60,000 for the sup