Billeder på siden

the sun of the moral world-giving it life and animation, and creates in the bosom, all those delightful aspirations which only end with life-promising immortality hereafter. With the bible in his hand the missionary visits the dwellings of the sabbath breakers, the blasphemers, and the mockers of the religion of Jesus. The curl of scorn upon their lips gives way before its influence, their stern and hardened hearts become softened, and the sound of prayer and of praise goes up from the house of feasting and of sin, like incense to the skies, opening their way to the throne of mercy. Who will dare deny the power, and the influence of the bible? All mankind may in time doubt, but that doubt yields to argument, and falls prostrate at the shrine of truth, truth as it is manifested in that book of books :— Do away with it, and to use the words of Bishop Heber:"It were to mantle the earth with more than Egyptian darkness; it were to dry up the fountain of human happiness; it were to take thee from our waters and leave them stagnant, and the stars from the heavens and leave them in sackcloth, and the verdure from our valleys and leave them in barrenness; it were to make the present all recklessness; the future all hopelessness; the maniacs revelry, and the fiends delight, if you could annihilate that precious volume, which -tells us of God, and of Christ, and unveils immortality, and instructs in duty, and woos to glory-such is the Bible.”



Ir was on a quiet calm evening sometime in the year 1834, the sun was just gilding the tops of the trees on the western side of the river Schuylkill with its lingering rays, when three young men stepped out from the shadow of the old foundry, (the ruins of which are still standing) in the vicinity of Fairmount, and stood gazing on the scene before them. It was not the beauty of the scenery, nor the splendor of the setting sun, that seemed to occupy their attention their eyes were fixed on the numerous boats which lay scattered along the water's edge, and it seemed as if they were watching the motions of those who had them in charge. Not a word was yet spoken-the pale cheek of one of them, and the trembling lips, denoted some inward struggle, at last he spoke. "This will not do, our task must be accomplished, why should we hesitate, they are men-fellow creatures— beings like ourselves-come, let us go." His companions were more or less affected, and a feeling of awe, rather than fear deterred them from proceeding at once to the task they had undertaken. "There"-cried one, "d' you hear that?" and as he spoke a curse both loud and deep, came up from the water's edge-"come, let us move on, and at least distribute our tracts."-Yes, reader, these were three young men, who went forth with fear and trembling, to work for their Lord and Master, among the long and much neglected boatmen on the river Schuylkill, and those poor sin-stained classes, which are to be found in such immense numbers, in almost every portion of our city. How were the good

intentions met?-Listen-by mockery, laughter, and insult. Their tracts were thrown away, their admonitions scorned, and the arm was not unfrequently raised to strike the servants of the Lord in the performance of their duty. But this storm of sin and passion was soon allayed, the words of truth, the light of the gospel, broke in upon their night of gloom, and they listened, they reflected-read, and wondered why men should thus trouble themselves about their souls salvation! This wonder soon ceased when they were told, not man, but God called them to repentance!-Then as they gazed upon the placid waters, and heard the murmuring of the night breeze through the distant woods, and the falling of the water over the dam at Fairmount, their stern hearts yielded to the influence of nature and of truth, and melted away into the stream of repentance whose source is Jehovah! Yes! from these three young men, and from their visit to the boatmen on the banks of the river Schuylkill originated, the "Home Missionary Society of the City and County of Philadelphia." They communicated their thoughts to a number of friends, who warmly seconded the measure upon which they had fixed to carry out their holy purposes. Being thus encouraged, they called a meeting of the members of the different churches, of the city and county of Philadelphia, little thinking that the society they were then -in the fear of the Lord-about forming, was destined to bring about such great events, as it has already accomplished, or that it should be ever known much beyond the limits of their own immediate neighborhood.

The meeting was held-not quite twenty persons attended, and a society formed. At a subsequent meeting they adopted a constitution, the second article of which reads as follows: "The object of this society shall be to promote the extension of the Redeemer's Kingdom, in the city and suburbs

of Philadelphia, by means of preaching, prayer and exhortation meetings, as also the establishing of Sabbath Schools, the distribution of bibles, testaments, tracts, and other books of a religious nature.

The management of the affairs of the society was then committed into the hands of a Board of Managers, composed of twelve persons, which number, being afterwards found insufficient, was increased to twenty five. This Board, the more fully, and effectually, to carry out the great objects of the society, divided the city and county, from as far North as Richmond, and Cohocksink, to as far South as Moyamensing prison, and from river to river, into twelve districts, upon which they appointed committees, whose duty it was to pass through all the lanes, alleys, courts, &c., they could find in their respective districts, and seek out such as never hear the name of our blessed Master, except from the lips of the swearer, and to hold religious conversation and prayer with them, distribute tracts, institute Sabbath Schools, &c. &c.

To recount all the good it has pleased the Lord to accomplish, through these committees, would be impossible; the Board would, therefore, merely state that they have been instrumental in bringing into the fold of our Great Shepherd, hundreds, who, but for their efforts, might have been eternally lost. They have also established five Sabbath Schools, in the most neglected parts of our city, which are now in a most flourishing condition. (These schools, however, are not at present under the direction of the Board, having been transferred to the care of the churches in their vicinities, in order to make room for the establishment of others, in different sections.) One of these schools was organized, and yet meets, in Taylor's Alley, in a room that was once the "Ball-room" of one of the most notorious

dens of inquity in our city. In this room our missionary has also held religious meetings, at which upwards of one hundred persons were converted to God, in the space of seven weeks. These operations, doubtless, have been the means of utterly banishing from that neighborhood those wicked and depraved persons who were in the habit of infesting it.

But, the labors of these committees, on account of their being able to perform their duties on the Sabbath day only, were necessarily limited. The Board, therefore, wishing to extend the usefulness of the Society as much as possible, and believing that by engaging a suitable person, who would bring into the vast theatre of their operations all his time, talents, energy and influence, they would be enabled to do so, applied to the Philadelphia Conference, while in session in this city in April, 1838, for the appointment of such a person, to act as a missionary. Their petition was promptly responded to, by the appointment of the Rev. J. Woolson, whose valuable services had to be dispensed with, soon after the meeting of the Conference in 1839, in consequence of the inability of the Society to raise funds for his support. They were then without a missionary until March, 1841, when they engaged the Rev. John Hersey, who resigned his office in July following his appointment. After which the Board, under the most discouraging circumstances, elected their present efficient missionary, the Rev. John Street, which action was afterwards confirmed by the Conference, at its next session, in April, 1842.

Our missionary, in his wanderings, met with so many cases of suffering and want, that he found it absolutely necessary, in order to reach the hearts of those he visited, to add to brotherly love-charity. He could not say to the half-starved, half-clad wife and children of the strong

« ForrigeFortsæt »