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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 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 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 attendpoor
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 by their appalling character, grasped at the hope that the census of 1851 might reveal 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.
Respecting the prosecution of greatly increased efforts on behalf of London, we may truly say, what Napoleon is reported to have said, when informed by his famished and half-frozen army, that the advance beheld the gilded minarets of Moscow, glittering in the distance—“ It is high time.”
“ Thus saith the Lord my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not,” Zech. xi. 4, 5. This was one of the sins which had determined the Lord of old to deliver his people into the hands of the fierce Chaldean invaders. *
Meditating then on the terrible ungodliness around us, and remembering that vengeance is God's, who will assuredly repay, (Rom. xii. 19,) in view of the perishing condition of many tens of thousands of souls on every hand, we cannot but cry with Habakkuk :
“O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid : O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” Amen.
* See the whole chapter.
Clerkenwell, past and present- Description given in the
“Illustrated London News"— Testimony respecting the labours of the Mission-Missionary trials and consolations
- Treatment of the police-Strange characters at a tea
meeting-A policeman murdered— Remarkable interview“ Adaptation of the London City Mission to the wants of
the poor—Former condition of the district-Improved system of police—The Gospel alone capable of saving the lost—“ Jack Ketch’s Warren"-Executions at Newgate from the district-The old watch—A woman alive after she was hung-One-pound notes-House of call for footpads and highwaymen-Systematic confederation of villany-An old watchman's testimony respecting the new police-A housebreaker's testimony to the MissionaryHis plan to abolish pick-pocketing of handkerchiefs—The fears of the guilty—“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing”—Irish fights—Strange detail of an old Bow Street officer— Vulgarity not to be sympathized withIgnorance- Benefits of school efforts—Statement of a superannuated dustman-Sparkles and heaven-Ignorance respecting the amount of Metropolitan ignorance-Grant from the City of London-Fortune-telling a proof of
ignorance-Description of fortune-tellers-Hopeful conversion of a fortune-teller-Further . particulars of her case-Her hopeful death-Gross ignorance respecting our Saviour-Respecting baptism-Prayerlessness—Vain doggrel-Absence of education in the district-Mode necessary in instructing the ignorant-A young Missionary deceived—Lamentable ignorance of a sweep-Chimney sweeps' cancer–His death-Geographical ignoranceFurther details of ignorance, the Ganges and AdamIgnorance of many who attend public worship-Depravity and dirt—The Fleet Ditch—A flood-Loss of life-Helplessness of the decent poor respecting the locality of their habitations-Mortality, disease, and intemperance from sanitary evils—Further general details— Want of cleanliness—The Missionary labours under suspected itch—Bugs, fleas, etc.-Stenches-Starvation - Affecting details - A description of starving—The forsaken-Horrid temptation -A happy dream-A word to the young-A clean shirt under difficulties—A clean gown-Case of a sick cabman -Intention of these details—Want of clothing—An unusual garment—Reflection-Beds packed top and bottom-Strange occupations—A reduced lottery agentAnother case, dirt and cholera-A strolling player's testimony respecting fairs, gaffs, etc.—Object of these details -Lamb and Flag Ragged Schools-Hon. and Rev. B. W. Noel's statement — “Record” newspaper - Encouraging response--Day Schools established-Mr. Bennoch's statement—Vote by the Common Council—Testimony of the “Quarterly Review” as to Missionary usefulness—Public meeting-Extract from Sixth Annual Report-Lines on the schools by a barrister and poet-Concluding observa
tion, London City Mission Magazine. PRESUMING the reader to have perused the introduction-this work being not a book of opinions, but of incident, narrative, and fact