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At her death the mother committed her son to the care of him who had visited her in her illness. He was sent into the country and placed in a good situation, but without being reclaimed. It was very plain that nothing would do but a course of distinct moral discipline. Accordingly he was placed in the Farm School where he is doing well, and promises to become a useful member of society. Unless so saved, he would now very likely have been on the road to the prison or the gallows.
The next case is that of the son of a widow woman. He was a boy of fine capacity, and had been in one or two stores,—but showed so much of rudeness and passion as to displease his employers. At last being about twelve years old, he went to sea. On board ship his unruly dispositions still grew in strength, -and he came home to rove about the streets and be the ringleader in gangs of quarrelsome boys. His mother in great distress sent for the Minister at large. After a great deal of labor and anxiety, he was placed in the House of Reformation at South Boston. He has now been there a year, and is one of the most regular and praiseworthy lads in the institution. He habitually visits his mother and manifests a strong affection towards her. His strong faculties brought into the service of virtue may yet greatly bless the world.
In another case there were three children. The mother had died. The father was intemperate. The Minister at large was desired to visit the grandmother, a very old lady. Passing up a staircase which led through total darkness, he found her room at the head. The poor woman was in utter perplexity as to what should be done with the children, two of whom were girls. They were sickly, -pale almost to whiteness, their flesh shrivelled. The two girls were placed in the Female Orphan Asylum.
A letter was some time since received by the Minister at large from the Leverett street jail, written by a man confined there for debt. He had recently lost his wife. And thus three little girls were left without the care of father or mother. They had been placed at board in a very obscure place in the northern part of the city, but the wo
man who had taken them, said she could keep them no longer. The father, who had strong affection for his children, greatly troubled at their condition, wrote the letter to implore aid. They were introduced into the Female Orphan Asylum, and are growing up in all happiness and goodness. The eldest has gone into the country, where she lives useful and beloved.
The father is now able to support himself. His face kindles with joy, and his tongue is eloquent with thanks, whenever he sees or hears from his children,-whenever he meets the friend, who, by placing them in that excellent institution, has been instrumental in procuring such blessings for both the offspring and the parent. I might write almost without end, giving cases like these, which are of frequent occurrence.
I will present but one other, which took place very recently. It is that of a child most cruelly abused by her stepmother. The father, soon after the death of his first wife, married a woman, who, though herself ruled by her passions, had a character marked by a certain kind of commanding energy. They were both intemperate. They lived at this time in Ann street, at the centre of a most filthy lane and in a most wretched apartment. The woman's cruelty to the little girl had incensed the neighbors, to whom the child had even been obliged to go for food. The tyrant-mother had actually torn out hair from her head, and knocked out teeth from her mouth. And she continually imposed tasks altogether beyond her strength. One of the neighbors at length persuaded the father to go with him to the Minister at large, that the child might be given up to better treatment and influence. The father was willing to give her up. The stepmother objected. Still from time to time the Minister at largo visited them, and urged them to place the child where she could be educated. Calling one day at the room, we found both the parents at home. The father seemed more anxious than ever before, and was now willing to say decidedly that the child should be removed. And the woman herself, alarmed by the strong admonitions she had received, had very much softened her tone of objection. The father called the pale trembling girl to his side. "Tell,' he said to her, ' tell where you slept last night.' At first she hesitated and seemed as if some fearful spell bound her tongue, that it should not move. She was then urged to point her finger to the place where she slept. She pointed to the moist dirty floor at our feet!—The innocent sufferer is now placed in what must be a new world to her afflicted soul,--the Children's Friend's Asylum.
I spoke of a boy sent to the Farm School. A considerable proportion of those in that excellent institution, have been sought out and saved through the efforts of the Ministry at large. This Ministry has also often sent those needing kindness and instruction to the Female Orphan Asylum, the Children's Friend's Asylum, and, where the case made it needful, to the House of Reformation. Many have been raised to knowledge and virtue by being introduced into the Public Schools.
I have been giving some cases circumstantially. Let me add as presenting the general truth about many that must be omitted, the vividly but truly descriptive language used by Rev. Mr Dewey in his earnest and nobly successful appeal to his Society in New York City. And oh! more than all--could you behold poor, pale, forlorn, innocent childhood in those scenes, shivering under reckless threats and blows, more even than from cold and nakedness; children--ah! sacred nurture of parental care, in which yours are reared up-children, unlike yours, trained to vice and beggary by the very first accents of lawful command that they ever hear; trained to falsehood and sin before they ever knew the voice of truth and purity; offered up in all their trusting simplicity, a spectacle (God pity it!) to make a heart of adamant bleed offered up, helpless, innocent victims, upon the altar of their parent's dissoluteness and misery; yes, my friends, if you could see and know all this, you would feel that something must be done in a case so awful and appalling.'
I would say a word as to the importance of this influence exerted by the Minister at large. But what words can describe it? What calculations can measure it?--When the joy of salvation can be adequately portrayed, when the depth of Despair can be sounded, then, and then enly will the limits of this influence appear,
Even in the higher ranks of society, and with every aid of wealth and outward comfort, they especially need and rejoice in the encouragements and sympathies of the younger and stronger,--and in particular being on this world's verge, where as it were a single step carries them within the world of spirits, they require spiritual help and consolation. But full of sadness and low indeed is the condition of those aged Poor, who without earth's enjoyments have their weeping dim eyes fixed only upon earth's dust—this world falling from beneath them so that their feet have no resting-place, and no brighter world appearing above to which they can lift their withered hands and stay themselves.
The young man, who is poor, spends in his hovel only the time needful for sleep and food,-and though he labor hard, it is with a healthful frame and usually in the open air, with the great sun over him, the life and beauty of nature around him, and through his healthy organs of sense flow into his soul sublimities unsurpassed by any reached from the balcony of the marble palace. But the poor old woman stays the livelong day in the filthy, comfortless room. The surrounding mass of buildings sometimes shuts out all sight of pleasant fields, all passage of wholesome air, and perhaps even the larger part of the heavens, --so that even the sun does not visit her loneliness till noontide, and the clustered stars show but a narrow arc of their courses. And then sickness overtakes her and bows her form, till she prays for her rest, and 'chooseth death rather than life.' Indeed, what life has she now if she have not the life of the soul, Christ living 'in her. And what an obligation, then, rests on us to give to all the infirm Poor, laden with years, that inward help and hope which may save them from dying in the bitterness of present fortune, and turn the trials of earth into the pledges of coming glory. What a savage trait in our civilization were they left in utter neglect! What an approach to the cruelty of those wandering tribes who left their old, as worn out brutes, upon the way-side to die! How far would it go beyond a mere violation of the command, • Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head and honor the face of the old man and fear thy God!' And to what a loss would it subject us of that best treasurereverence for all that is high and holy. It is true, feebleness and uselessness, so far as vulgar uses are concerned, attend extreme age. But the hoary head is oftentinies of more use, in this teaching of reverence, than many a young idle head, though clothed with the locks of strength and beauty. The subject is so affecting, that, though having gone too far already in general remark, I am hardly able to restrain myself even here. I will give some cases in which much good influence has been exerted by the Ministry at large.
The first is that of an old lady whose immediate connections are Catholics. Her husband is dead. Her daughter living and married, with children. She herself, however, through all life's changes, has cherished steadily and strongly the Protestant faith. Of her own accord she went to the Chapel. For this difference of sentiment has been added to her burden of years and infirmities a great deal of unkind feeling and treatment from her own daughter! She accustomed herself to visit one of the Chapel-flock and unburthen her heart, and receive that Christian sympathy which was denied her in her own home. The Minister at large has for a long time visited her constantly, and though she says little, being very feeble, her whole manner testifies what joy her spirit silently drinks in from these visits. Her religious associations make her great and almost only comfort. They are her angel-helpers as she walks painfully towards the grave, in which, from her great age and weakness, she will, no doubt, soon lie down.
The next is the case of a lady still older, though somewhat stronger, than the one of whom I have been speaking. Yet she is unable to walk well without some kind of help. She has a friend not greatly younger than herself, with whom we were conversing, on one occasion, when suddenly the door of the adjoining chamber was opened, and the old lady came hobbling into the room pushing