« PreviousContinue »
spirit, a desire of mental and spiritual improvement, with habits of prayer, are what the Comunittee most appreciate and seek after, being fully persuaded that men of this class, if otherwise eligible, will soon improve and become good Missionaries.”
The work of the Mission is, of course, quite incompatible with the prosecution of literary habits in the ordinary sense. On this account, the Society very wisely prohibits its Missionaries from publishing books, or, in short, from undertaking any duties calculated to hinder the prosecution of the work of the Institution, which is strictly—the visitation and religious instruction of the poor in their own dwellings.
Having thus made a single remark respecting the origin and progress of the Society, and the character of the agents employed, next let us just glance at the work before it.
From statistics, very carefully collected, five years since, by the City Mission-statistics which have been admitted as correct on all hands, it is found that after deducting for infants and parties necessarily left in charge of houses and property, fiveeighths, or 1,312,500 of the population might and ought to attend Sunday service in our churches and chapels, but the number of sittings being less than half that number, it follows that upwards of 700,000 persons could not attend public worship if they were willing to use the leisure they possess in so doing. But to show how far the godless population are from hallowing the Sabbath or reverencing
the sanctuary, it is an appalling fact that the attendance on public worship did not reach by ONE-THIRD the accommodation provided, whilst the accommodation provided was. LESS THAN ONE-HALF of what ought to be required, and could be made use of, did all possessing the opportunity so to do attend.
Further, it is an astounding statement, which, did it not rest on the plainest evidence, would be unbelievable, that in the Island of Jamaica there were more communicants out of a population of 380,000, than there were in ALL LONDON, with a population, in 1841, of 2,103,279.*
Once more, it is proved that in three of the
* This is so startling a statement as to be almost un. believable; a word in explanation had better therefore be added.
“In Jamaica there were, besides the Government provision of clergy, and the efforts made by America, Missionaries supported by six different Missionary Societies, viz., the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Church Missionary Society, the Moravian Missionary Society, the London Missionary Society, the Wesleyan Missionary Society, and the Baptist Missionary Society. The returns of two only of these Societies, namely, the Wesleyan and the Baptist Missionary Societies, give in 1845 no less than 59,662 communicants.
“ The number of churches and chapels in London, in 1843, was only 799. But if we reckon them at 800, and allow 70 communicants for each church and chapel, (which is a number almost more than we can reckon as an average, remembering how large a number of the churches are in the City, and very nearly empty, and how large a number of the chapels are small buildings,) 800 times 70 will give us
South Sea Islands, Tonga, Habai, and Vavau, numbering 18,000 inhabitants, the attendance on public worship was 9,000, or one-half, whilst in the most favoured parish in London, Islington, with a population, in 1841, of 55,690, the whole of the churches and chapels were capable of seating less than one-half, and various of those churches and chapels were, and are, very far, indeed, from being filled.
The statements respecting Jamaica and the South Seas are given on the authority of the Reports of the great Missionary Societies occupying those promising scenes of labour.
If the reader wishes to see more of such illustrations, reference is given to the City Mission Magazines.
We most earnestly contend for a very great extension of Foreign Missions, but we contend, also, thắt to neglect our own home population, whose godless condition is thus terribly proved, necessarily involves guilt on the part of the Church, for which we must yet give account.
The object of the London City Mission is the evangelization of the vast mass of heathenism in our midst, commencing with the very poorest and
but 56,000.”—London City Mission Magazine, January, 1846.
Unbelievable as this statement might at first sight appear, its truthfulness is perceived to admit of no question.
May its appalling character stimulate every Christian heart to increased prayer and increased effort !
most neglected portions of London. It seeks to effect this object by a system of visitation of the poor at their own dwellings, TEACHING THE GOSPEL PLAN OF SALVATION, and by every possible means exercising spiritual care over those who are "as sheep having no shepherd."
It has been a favourite phrase with some minds, to term the Established Church the Church of the poor, and with others to speak of Methodism as the poor man's religion, but the fact is---Heathenism is the poor man's religion in the Metropolis.
Multitudes of neglectors of public worship are to be found amongst classes of society removed from the poor, but the poor are, in the dense mass, neglectors of public worship altogether.
The parish in which I have long labouredClerkenwell—is, civilly, one parish ; ecclesiastically, two, St. James and St. John.
The population was, in 1851, 53,584 souls.
In the two parish churches, the average attendance of poor is about eighty at each church; many of these are pensioners, and others receive occasional temporal relief. At the district churches and Dissenting places of worship, the attendance of poor is small indeed. I do not believe, in the whole parish, one hundred poor people could be found attending public worship, who do not, more or less, frequently receive eleemosynary relief to induce them so to do.
Thus, about one poor person in fifty occasionally attends public worship; or, where the attendance is
regular, it arises generally from a share in the distribution of weekly bequests of bread.
It will be perceived that the really fearful statistics of neglect of religion in the Metropolis are founded on the census of 1841. It would not be surprising if some Christian reader, oppressed with their appalling character, should grasp at the hope that the census of 1851 might have revealed a better state of things as respects accommodation for public worship, and more cheerful statistics respecting the proportion of the population availing themselves thereof. Such a hope, if indulged, is doomed to more than disappointment.
The Missionary of the district to which this book refers, has been supported during the past ten years by a single annual contribution from a member of the British Legislature, Osman Ricardo, Esq. There only wants the Christian heart, and at least two hundred and fifty members of that House could each support a Missionary, without the slightest personal inconvenience or self-denial.
It seems impossible that the truly converted soul should become acquainted with the facts contained in the preceding statement, without feeling a deep interest, and making some effort to aid this hallowed object. The Lord works by human instrumentality, the universe is a universe of means, but the Society must look through the means to the hand that moves them, to Him that “sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers," Isa. xl. 22.