« ZurückWeiter »
fully come for insisting on its necessity. And, when as much power and time have been used in this way as in the modes in common use, a new era will take place in the history of this great sin of the nation and of the world. Is it asked what is meant, distinctively, by the exertion of this influence? I reply, it is holding actual communion with the souls that are degrading themselves; showing them in what a work of self-murder they are engaged; painting the glories they leave, and opening up the horrors into which headlong they rush.
Again, some doubter will ask, are you so fanciful as to suppose much can be done in this way? Verily I am. Even the drunkard's nerves can be made to tremble under other influences than those of brandy, and other tears than those of inflammation and weakness may be made to gush out from his red eyes.
But, even if the drunkard himself is not reformed, and I do not suppose there is much hope that we can frequently and extensively rescue the utterly sottish, yet there is another which is, perhaps, the most important, though generally unthought of sphere for this spiritual influence. I refer to the drunkard's poor, suffering wife and children. Other modes of influence leave them to neglect. Their tears and groans are introduced into eloquent speeches,-but they are left to their tears and groans ! And what ministry could angels desire more glorious than to visit them thus left, and apply the balm of Christian Truth and Hope to the wounds of their souls. And, when visited and lifted from despair by sympathy, to what heights of glory may not even an intemperate husband, though plunging them into despair, be at length an instrument in raising them, through that blessed power by which the Providence of God draws from the most dreadful, crushing evil, the highest, most enduring good. After all the countless Tracts and Volumes, that have been written on the subject, here is a chapter in the history of Intemperance yet to be written. And, when written, it will make the good man's tears of joy flow with those of grief in a mingled torrent.
I have now only to say, that this spiritual influence, I have attempted to describe, the Ministry at large is
continually endeavoring to exert. If, then, it succeed at all in its aims, is there not justification for the language I ventured to use at the outset in respect to the Ministry, that it exerts an influence of peculiar blessedness?
The fact of this success is, of course, to be proved by a statement of known results. I will, then, as usual, give as far as space is allowed me, a description of cases. I need not say that so long a preface requires me to be very brief. And, though for most persons it is unnecessary, I will here remark once for all, that it is impossible, in such communications as these, to give anything like a full account of the extent of good done to any class of persons.
The first case is that of a woman, whose strong utterance of her grateful feelings is still fresh upon my ear. Her husband has for a long time been a sot. He was put into the House of Correction at one time, but to no purpose. At times he has been partially restrained by religious influence, yet again has broken away from it, and gone to his wallowing in the mire.' But to the wife the visits of the Ministry have been wonderfully blessed. Speaking to me of one of the Ministers at large she said:-'He first pointed my soul to salvation.' I asked her in what way she had been benefited by the visits made to her--whether it had been the comfort of friendly notice merely. “They have helped me,' she said, 'both outwardly and inwardly. Without them I should have indeed sunk in despair.' I asked again, if she remembered any particular seasons of such inward help. “Oh yes!?—she replied. Just before my little Susy was born, he (her husband) treated me most cruelly. I seemed to have no hope left. The heavens seemed brass above me. I went alone to my chamber, -and for a time felt like making way with myself. But I found strength within me to resist the temptation, and I knelt in prayer. In this I found consolation,
I have given almost the very language throughout that she actually used. She has no great happiness but that of faith in a place of rest beyond the grave. And she says that, were it not for leaving her children to exposure and suffering, she should even now welcome an exchange of worlds.
from home at night, with her children, by her beastly partner. - First he threw the victuals into the fire,-and then garments from the clothes-horse. He then went on to strip clothes from the children. His wife could not soften his heart. He raged more and more furiously, and at last threatened to kill her, and proceeded to sharpen the knife! She with her children was compelled to fly. She begged admission into the house of a poor woman at some distance,--and has lived with her since. Through the help of the Minister at large, who was the next day sent for, her two boys were provided with fino situations, --her own mind was relieved,-she was brought under religious influences, and is now one of the regular worshippers at the Chapel.
The next case is that of a woman first visited when sick in her bed, to which she had been confined by excessive hard labor. She had spent her small earnings, and now want pressed heavily upon her. Her disease increased. At length consumption seized her, and she is rapidly passing to the grave. Her husband is profane and intemperate, and to the burden of her disease adds his wayward temper, now gentle, yet anon changing into unkindness. He governs himself by a strange sort of principle, which forbids his drinking at sea, but gives the rein to his appetite on land. Her connection in worldly matters with some people out of the family greatly harrasses her mind. She prizes the spiritual visits made to her, as they give what she cannot obtain from other sources, inward peace. And even her husband feels grateful for them, and, as she told me when I last saw her, has at times felt inclined, though he has not expressed his desire in words, to request the Minister to engage in prayer.
The next case is that of a woman, whose husband has been for a long time in the habit of intoxication, and has, at intervals, short seasons, when his thirst becomes a fever in the blood, and he appears completely brutish. Yet she has struggled along, and never wholly lost her love for him, but perpetually striven for his cure. She now almost despairs of that, -and a wretched place indeed would this world be to her if she had no spiritual sympathy and hope. When I last saw her she spoke of the Minister at large as her most dear and precious friend. And I know the perfect sincerity of the love she cherishes and the honor she pays. She does not give a particular answer, because the question may in some way point to that answer. Her whole manner shows that all she says comes from real conviction. I do feel,' she said, (speaking of him who had visited her) that he has comforted me in great distresses (alluding to her husbands's fits of intemperance.) He never hurt my feelings. Some seemed to think me very degraded. I know I am in poor circumstances, but I could not feel as if I were really thus degraded.'
The last case I shall mention is one where both husband and wife were intemperate, and had been so for about two years. They had violent fits of drinking together, created disturbances in the building in which they lived, and quarrelled with the neighbors. Those nearest their abode at length made complaint to the Minister at large, who had before gained some influence over them. He spoke to them very plainly about their course of life. At first they were terribly mortified and enraged. Their eyes flashed, they turned around uneasily in their chairs, and their features worked convulsively. All these things only showed that the moral reproof, whose real and great kindness they could not deny, was operating within them as a medicine fitted to their case. At length they listened more calmly, were deeply and rightly moved, and promised to change their manner of life. They really did so;-they practically and utterly abjured intemperance,-have since been altogether quiet and peaceable, and seem to be thoroughly reformed. The spiritual remedy has been with them the truly effectual one. Mid inward pains and strugglings their better nature has gained that rightful supremacy which, it is to be hoped, will never again be wholly lost.
I have thought it might be well to add to the thoughts and observations of my brief acquaintance with the Ministry at large the sober declarations of long and wise experience. I have been speaking of the influence of this Ministry on the Poor. The following passage presents the same subject, and bears strong testimony to the truth of what has been said.
• Here, however, I thank God, I can speak the language not of conjecture, nor of belief, but of knowledge. A few days will complete eight years since I entered upon the service, to which my young friends are this evening to be ordained. And I say not that I have seen all the fruits of this ministry which I could devoutly wish to have seen of it. But I have seen fruits of it, which I have felt would have been cheaply purchaood at the cost of my life in this world. Many, however, of the most interesting and important results of this service are of a kind to excite but little observation. To many who had not known a Christian friend, who were struggling alone with their trials, and were sinking under their burdens, because they knew not where to look for aid in sustaining them, all the aids and blessings of a Christian friendship may be extended; many may be saved from falling into sin, or rescued when yet they have taken but a few steps in the way of transgression; and many may be encouraged and strengthened in well-doing, who would otherwise have sunk under feebleness and discouragement; and yet, in all this there may be nothing to call forth the exclamations, lo, here! or lo, there! Nay, amidst all the events which are occurring in our world, and which are exciting our strongest interest, the Omniscient and Eternal Mind may see nothing more excellent, nothing which He more approves and loves, than the simple, quiet, unobtrusive piety and virtue of some poor and scarcely known sufferer among us;-a human soul striving to do faithfully what it feels that it should do; patiently enduring what it is called to bear; watchful against sin as the greatest of evils; and supremely desir