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GLEANINGS FROM THE VINEYARD.
see him, but as the message he brought was of “death, judgment, and eternity," he refused to listen to his counsels, nor would he allow the Bible to be read in his presence. The youth, however, repeated his visits, warning and entreating the dying man, until within a short time of his death, when the relatives refused him admission into the house. But his zealous efforts were not always received with so much ingratitude. A poor, but pious man, living in the neighbourhood, had been long under severe affliction, and at no time did our young friend find so much happiness as when sitting by his bed. He recognised in him “a bruised brother," and felt for him that strong and tender sympathy which suffering only begets. There were not a few parallels in their experience. The wife of the afflicted neighbour was a drunkard, had sold his very Bible for drink, and for a long time he had not been able to keep even a borrowed
one in his room, lest she should dispose of it in the same manner. The young visitor, with his Bible, received, therefore, a warm welcome, and often has he staid till nearly midnight, reading and praying with the poor man, and striving to cheer and comfort him while bowed down with painful and protracted sorrows. His affection for the tender-hearted youth was stronger than for a son. When speaking of him to others, he has often said, “Next to communion with God, he is my greatest comfort: I quite forget my troubles when the dear 'lad is with me.”
For upwards of a year he has taught a class in the Ragged School, both on the Sabbath and week-evenings, and certainly it is not too much to
say, that few teachers have ever prosecuted their labours with more untiring zeal and self-devotedness. His influence over the children -especially lads about his own age—is very remarkable; this chiefly arises from his unusual decision, mild and affectionate manner, and transparency of character. No one need mistake his motives, or find it difficult to ascertain for what end he labours. Without sentimentalism he is ever ready to confess the Saviour, and strives with characteristic prudence to make his pupils feel that “there is none other name given under heaven among men, whereby they can be saved." Of course his warnings are often rejected, yet in time of sickness the most wicked lads in the school have sometimes sent for him to read and pray with them; but seldom does he accede to their request without giving them first to know, that prayers without repentance cannot save. His efforts on their behalf have been untiring, and in some instances have been accompanied with the best results. On one occasion, meeting one of those lads in the street, he said, “ John, I wish you would come to my school, I'm so happy now, and so would you
would come; will
you not come next Sunday ? " John replied, “ I cannot-look at my clothes." “Never mind your clothes, John," was the reply,“ do come, and if
don't see any one there as shabby as yourself, go away again." John consented, and the following Sabbath found his way to school. His
young friend strove hard to interest and instruct him, and for a time made an impression upon his mind which became visible in his outward conduct. He had not, however, completely forsaken his former companions, and on one occasion was induced to assist them in carrying away a quantity of iron which he knew to be stolen ; he
was apprehended by the police, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, while the more guilty parties escaped. As is too often the case, he returned from
GLEANINGS FROM THE VINEYARD.
prison more hardened and wicked than before ; but the charity of his young teacher was of that kind which “
never faileth;' he had learned to hope all things," as well as “endure all things," and accordingly he again set to work, with his usual mild persuasiveness, in seeking the reclamation of the young delinquent. He was brought back to school, and treated, not as a thief, but as a fallen friend. The prayers offered for him have been answered and the instructions blessed; for the last six months his conduct has been blameless; and now his kind instructor hails him, not only as a “ brother in tribulation,” but also “ in the faith and patience of the gospel." He has been employed for some time at a factory, where he endures much persecution and ridicule on account of his religious principles, but, up to the present time, he remains stedfast, “striving to overcome evil with good.” He has distributed a considerable number of tracts among the workmen, especially “The Swearer's Prayer." On a late occasion, while waiting to receive his wages along with the other men in the factory, a rough indifferent fellow wishing to expose the poor boy to the ridicule of the others, called out, “ Well, Jack, what is the text to night?” John meekly replied, " The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” This noble reply, which instantly silenced the scoffer and his associates, strongly reminded us of Him, (whose Spirit no doubt prompted it,) and of whom it is said when in similar circumstances, “no one durst ask him any more questions."
But to return briefly to the young teacher; it has been already stated, that the
poor lad has suffered much through the dissolute habits of his worthless father, and it may be added, still continues to do so. Many are the prayers and expostulations he has used, but of no avail, for he still continues his reckless course—the shameless tormentor of his wife and children. Were it not for the tender sympathy the poor youth bears for his suffering mother, he would long since have left his home, and sought a refuge elsewhere; but for her sake he meekly submits to the most heartless abuse, working some days almost without food when his earnings have been taken from him by his brutal parent, who either spends them on drink, or in the support of an abandoned woman with whom he lived for several years.
In an educational point of view his opportunities have been few, having received his chief instruction at the Ragged School. But his views of the elementary truths of Scripture are remarkably clear; and whether in the Sabbath School, at the beds of the sick, or reasoning with his former comrades in the streets, he has shown an amount of judgment, prudence, and adaptation for such work, superior to many who have been more highly privileged. It need not be added, that his sole desire is to be useful, labouring for God and the souls of men. With the view of better qualifying himself for this work, he has for some time attended a week-evening school, to learn writing and cyphering. He could not be induced to give up all his evenings for this purpose, and thus wholly discontinue his class in the Ragged School, but he arranged to give them each alternate week, reserving the other for his own instruction.
Who can tell the amount of good that this youth if spared may, under God, be the means of accomplishing ? He is at present as a feeble light, “shining in a dark place;” but some who were constrained to yield to his influence have been led into the paths of rectitude and
THE PRODIGAL RESTORED.
peace. Once he was like a fountain of evil, “ destroying much good," and urging others on to ruin; now he is a centre of blessing, ready for every good work, and practically manifesting in living language, that the grace bestowed upon
him was not in vain." February, 1851. Having known this youth personally for a very considerable time, we bear most willing testimony to the accuracy of the above statement. Each opportunity of further acquaintance has but increased our admiration of his character, and the wisdom and prudence he has shown in his unceasing efforts to do good. The plan proposed by Miss Peek and her friends is excellent; it is a measure which, for the last six months, we have earnestly wished to see carried out, for we feel assured that if he received the elements of an ordinary education, such as might be acquired in twelve or eighteen months, he would become a most invaluable labourer among the neglected masses of our population. Compared with the good which might thus be effected, the expenses would be trifling, chiefly the cost of providing him with food, lodging, and a few clothes. We once thought of proposing that it should be raised in contributions of five shillings and under, were it not that we earnestly wish to see a sum raised within a few weeks, such as will warrant the preliminary steps being taken, and which one liberal hand might easily accomplish. Besides adding our own contribution, and any other assistance we can possibly render, we shall be glad to receive donations to any amount (in stamps or otherwise) from those who may find it more convenient to send to Exeter Hall than to Miss Peek, who, we are glad to know, has kindly consented to act as treasurer. We believe that very many of our readers will not only feel it a duty, but a privilege, to assist so interesting and laudable an object; and as it is the first proposal of the kind ever made in connection with the Ragged Schools, we confidently hope that the originators of the effort will meet with prompt and liberal support, commensurate with its prospective benefits.—[Ed.]
THE PRODIGAL RESTORED. It is not always easy to trace the causes of destitution and misery, or discriminate between the unequal quantities of truth and falsehood, that are often compounded in the well-woven tale of a ragged urchin. This difficulty is often increased through the restraint laid by the feelings upon the judgment, It seems hard to question the plausible and piteous tale of a poor emaciated creature, prowling in rags and filth, and shivering with cold and hunger. Nor is it always needful that we should do so, for at least one portion of the facts of the case-a most important one-is unmistakable. There is no mistaking the fact by those who see it, that a fellow-creature is in rags and wretchedness, and that, unless rescued from the effects of a cause, or causes, which may be studiously concealed, irretrievable ruin will be the consequence, An effort, therefore, on his behalf, becomes a plain duty, whether the real facts are traceable or not. He may have been the cause of his own ruin, but unless assisted, he will never become the primary agent of his reclamation. Not forgetting to exercise proper caution in every instance, we are therefore
THE PRODIGAL RESTORED.
disposed, even in doubtful cases, to go to work at once, instead of waiting for the fullest information; looking to God for his blessing, and resting assured that, if needful, he will
, by an overruling providence, perfect the discoveries that may be lacking at the outset. Taking action on such premises, the question is not so much, “Is the case a deserving one ?” as, « Is it such as, from moral or physical maladies, stands in need of my help P" If suffering is the effect of sin in the sufferer, then there is wider scope for Christian effort and religious influence, and the results may prove as rich a recompence as if the cause had been traceable to another source. Our remarks are strikingly illustrated by the following interesting narrative :
A boy, of about fourteen years of age, was observed as a most regular attendant at the evening school in Exeter Buildings. The master spoke highly of his conduct, and pressed his case on the attention of visitors, hoping to excite an interest in the poor friendless boy. His knowledge of the Scriptures far exceeded that of the other boys; he was quick and intelligent, but at times seemed much depressed, from causes which at first he studiously concealed. In giving the first version of his history, he said that he belonged to Portsmouth, where his father had lived and worked under a Mr. T- in the dockyard, for many years; he was now an orphan, having lost both parents ; he lived by begging, but sometimes suffered much from hunger, failing often to obtain relief. He slept on doorsteps, or in houses that were building, and had not changed his clothes from August till November ; but though much pressed by want, he had never parted with his Bible, and at the close of the day appeared regularly at the school-door with it under his arm ; his name was written in it in full, which he said had been done by the friends he had lost. His clothes had become so tattered as to cover him with difficulty, and his boots at length refused to perform their humble duties. Their place was supplied, however, by a kindhearted schoolfellow, who, being one degree better off, cheerfully gave him a pair of old shoes which he did not require for himself.
One Sunday evening last November, a lady accompanied her husband to the school, for the purpose of assisting the teachers, and among the six lads placed under her care was little William, with his own Bible. His ready answers attracted her attention, and made her curious to know something of his history. He gave her the particulars already stated, adding that he was then very hungry, as he had tasted nothing since ten in the morning. At the close of the school, she took him home with her, supplied him with food, and then gave permission to return the next morning, an offer which was gladly accepted. After the second interview she wrote to Mr. Tat the Portsmouth dockyard, who immediately communicated the information to the boy's parents, and received the following letter (dated Kingston, Portsea) from his poor distressed mother, who seemed to be hoping, and yet doubting, whether it was really her lost son :
"SIR,—With most heartfelt gratitude to God and you did we receive your letter. It is with great grief I state my son William left home on the 3rd of August. I advertised him five times in the Hampshire Telegraph, adding, any information would be thankfully received by his distressed parents. My child has been taught the Scriptures from his childhood ; we knelt in family prayer with his brothers and sisters about an hour before he left and took his Bible with him. Sir, he told you truth with regard to his father's situation as a rigger. He has a brother a young man, an apprentice also in the yard ; and he himself is a candidate for shipwright apprentice in the dockyard. He was bound apprentice to a cabinet-maker; his indentures are cancelled. His father applied for a situation at 68. a week, which became vacant a fortnight after he left-it was kept open many days. Would he return, and be a good boy, he may yet do well; I should have felt much happier had he told the truth. He and his brother quarrelled during his father's and my absence. William was a very naughty boy, and I corrected him for it, when he in his wilfulness left home. Would God, who in his mercy has so far answered my unceasing prayers, convince and convert him! Would you, sir, be so kind as to inform me how I can convey him home; he, with all
AFTER CRIME AND BEFORE CRIME.
his faults, would be welcome. Be so kind as to use your influence to persuade him to return, and may God return you a hundred-fold in this world, and with life everlasting—the sincere prayer of your grateful servant, etc."
This letter was forwarded to the lady before-mentioned, who then wrote to the boy's mother, informing her of the wretched condition of her son. The following is an extract from her reply
“MADAM,–Words cannot express my thankfulness to Almighty God, who has wonderfully directed you to snatch from the lowest grade of society one who, by the grace of God, may live to glorify his God below, and find his way to heaven. Madam, what abundant encouragement to proceed in your labours of love! With regard to his coming home, I will send a suit of clothes with half a sovereign sewed in the coat pocket, in a small basket covered with oil-skin, by railway train. My husband would gladly have gone, but his income being small, and having to pay for loss of time, his wages but 18s. per week, and we have three more children to provide for. Relying on your great goodness to send him by train, I will send the parcel, etc.”
This letter was shown to William, and when he was asked if he knew the handwriting, he burst into tears, and said, “Oh, it is my mother!" On its being said, “How can that be, as you say your father and mother are both dead? he replied, “Yes, I thought they were dead to me, for I never thought of seeing them again.", Upon seeing the clothes, he recognised them, and said,
They are my own best clothes. The lady gave him a little money, and told him he might go and bid his late companions "good bye,” thinking this liberty would test his sincerity in wishing to return home ; but he soon returned, and she went herself to the station, and put him under care of the guard.
After his arrival at home, his mother wrote as follows :
“MADAM,—On Tuesday evening, at nine, my husband had been sent for; my anxiety became intense. About half-past ten he returned with my long lost boy, who had come by the express train ; he said, 'I have caused you many tears, but I hope I shall not any more.' It appears to have been more an act of indiscretion than of vicious principle; but had not God in his mercy directed you to interpose in his behalf, the result might have been fearful ; but our God delighteth in mercy. Blessed be his holy name! He had not the least intention of coming home; if he could get a situation, he would write to us. Oh, thoughtless boy! On examining him, I was shocked to see him. I cannot help thinking what a state he must have been in. We never can be sufficiently thankful for your great goodness ; on looking back on the way the Lord has brought me these forty years of my life, I cannot but say, 'Goodness and mercy have followed me all my days,' etc.”
From subsequent accounts, we learn that he still continues grateful and happy, and we may hope that, having proved by bitter experience that “the way of transgressors is hard,” he may prefer the place of “ a hired servant in his father's house,” to the life of prodigality and wretchedness from which he has been rescued. May the prayers of his pious mother and teachers be yet more abundantly answered; so that she may have reason to rejoice over him in a twofold sense, saying, This my son was dead, but is alive again ; and was lost, and is found !”
AFTER CRIME AND BEFORE CRIME. Of the many curious and painful contrasts to be encountered in this great city of contrasts, few are more striking to the senses, more repugnant to correct feeling, and more pregnant with important consequences, than the treatment which the criminal population receives from Government and from society respectively before and after crime. It was recently my fortune to see this contrast in one of its boldest forms; and with an interval of time between the witnessing of one extreme and the other so brief, that none of its features could be lost in the pause. How much society thinks it wise and needful to do for those who have sinned against it, I saw in the Model