Page images
PDF
EPUB

One law of the Mission is as follows:-“ Every Missionary must avoid controversy upon the constitution and government of Christian churches, his great object being to teach the people on his district the way of salvation by Jesus Christ." * Lest this regulation should be lost sight of, in the instructions to Missionaries t it is reiterated thus :

“Do not interfere with the peculiar tenets of any individual respecting Church government.”

This rule is strictly enforced; but for that enforcement the City Mission, instead of being an exemplification, on a large and increasing scale, of the practicability of Christian union, would have probably proved quite ephemeral, and been numbered ere now amongst the existences of the past. The Society was established in the year 1835; the number of Missionaries employed during that year was four.

From that small beginning, by the good hand of the Lord its course has been one of undeviating prosperity. Year by year the number of its friends, and the amount of its funds, have gone on increasing. Its receipts for the past year were £23,053, and the number of Missionaries employed 245.

It is affecting, however, to remember that this is only just one-half the number which, from a very careful computation—not forgetting efforts made by other Societies—is found to be most urgently

*+ See Appendix to the Annual Reports of the Society.

needed, to bring the mass of Metropolitan heathenism under visitation.

As respects the character of the agents of the Society, the mass are men of simple and rudimental education. The Society, however, has always had a class of learned men. A Doctor of Divinity, a man of the commonest education, and a Graduate of Oxford or Cambridge, might have been seen sitting side by side at its domestic meetings.

In an official document,* published by the Mission some time since, the following passage

occurs :

“The Committee are anxious to engage only such persons as are thoroughly qualified for the work, feeling assured that, under God, the adaptation of the agency to the work to be accomplished is of the first importance. Among these Missionaries there have been, and still are, men of superior education; but the generality have had only the ordinary advantages of common schools. It is considered important, however, that every Missionary should be familiar with his Bible, well instructed in the evidences of religion, and capable of refuting the common objections adduced by sceptics and infidels ; and it is also considered desirable that he be well read in the Romish controversy, and able, when necessary, to defend the truth against the various assailants he

may meet with on his district. Sincere and humble piety, diligence, perseverance, a catholic

* Appeal.

spirit, a desire of mental and spiritual improvement, with habits of prayer, are what the Committee 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 B¥ 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 thero 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 unbelievable ; 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, that 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 !

« PreviousContinue »