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pected that they would spare us this last injury, not perhaps from any regard to us, but from a regard to the peace of society, the general interests of religion, and the hallowed nature of the service. Is it said that they must pray for our conversion in order to be consistent? We can only say, in reply, that there are some things worse even than inconsistency; and that it argues no good for their system, if, in order to preserve a consistency with it, they must sacrifice their moral principles or their good feelings. If, however, they must pray for our conversion, it would seem to be a subject fit only for their private devotions, and not to be prayed for formally, publicly, and in concert ;unless indeed, the real object was not so much to procure our conversion, as to prejudice the public against us; in which case it is true the latter is the proper and natural course to be pursued.
It is not that we despise the prayers of our brethren. We ask them to pray for us; but not in the spirit of wrath, not in the spirit of jealousy and pride. Heaven has no ear for such prayers, nor can they have any other effect on earth but to exasperate and inflame the bad passions of men. We ask for their prayers, but we do not wish them to affect to pray for us, merely that they may have an opportunity to tell the people that we are blind leaders of the blind. We are very conscious that we need the prayers of all good men; and we ask our brethren of every name to pray for us, as we will endeavour to pray for them in return-in that spirit of charity, and humility, and singleness of heart, without which all our prayers, whether for ourselves or for others, must be in vain, or worse than in vain.
The Christian and Civic Economy of large towns. By THOMAS CHALMERS, D. D. Minister of St. John's Church, Glasgow, Scotland. No. 2. On the Influence of Locality in Towns. pp. 27. New York: E. Bliss and E. White.
THIS distinguished preacher is already well known in this country as the author of several popular works. We have
had occasion to express our dissent from the arguments offered by him. Still, it cannot be denied that he is a preacher of great influence; an eloquent and powerful writer. In his own country he enjoys a high reputation as a theologian and philanthropist; and in this his works are eagerly and extensively read. His style is certainly diffuse and turgid. To use his own phrase, he often 'superficializes.' But this is not its worst quality. It is artificial, gaudy, elaborated, involved, and like ancient portraits, wraps up the subject in almost impenetrable decoration.
Dr. Chalmers is publishing in quarterly numbers a series of essays under the title quoted above. Four of these periodical pamphlets have been received in this country, and number two has been re-published in New York, with a recommendation, by the board of managers of the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism. This number is on the influence of locality in towns, and to this our observations will be limited.
Dr. Chalmers became first known to the public as a philanthropist, by an article in the forty-sixth number of the Edinburgh Review, in which he strongly reprobated gratuitous charities, and satisfactorily proved that the time and money expended in attempts to diminish pauperism, by alleviating it, tend directly to its increase. This article attracted the attention of enlighted philanthropists, and opened the eyes of thousands of zealous, but less thinking, benevolent persons in Great Britain and the United States. It showed the ability of the author to discuss a subject of such vast importance, which entitles his opinion and reasonings in his later publications to candid and serious consideration.
The object of the pamphlet before us is to recommend a new mode of benevolent exertion on behalf of the ignorant and poor. Dr. Chalmers is decidedly opposed to the whole machinery of charitable societies, and prefers individual and local exertions. He objects to such societies for prevention or relief of poverty, ignorance, and vice, that they expatiate at large, and over the face of the entire territory of a town. Great things have been attempted, rather than to do small things thoroughly and well. In Sabbath schools the teachers are indiscriminately stationed in all parts of a city, and the pupils are as indiscriminately drawn from all parts. Only a superficial action can then be maintained. 'There is,' he observes, an impatience on the part of many a raw and sanguine philanthropist, for doing something great; and, akin to this, there is an impatience for doing that great thing speedily.
They spurn the condition of dwelling among littles; and unless there be a redeeming magnificence in the whole operation, of which they bear a part, there are some who could not be satisfied with a humble and detached allotment in the great vineyard of human usefulness."
The new scheme recommended by Dr. Chalmers is plausible, practicable, and simple. It is not a return to the old system of family charity, to the deserving applicants alone, whose condition is well known to the almoners. It does not wait to be supplicated, but seeks out and relieves the wretched. The plan is simply this; Let a small portion of a town, within certain defined geographical limits, be assigned to an individual. Let his place of benevolent exertion be within this locality, or as near as possible to its confines. Let him ascertain the physical, moral and religious wants of all the inhabitants within these limits. Let him restrain his attentions to these inhabitants, instituting a sabbath school in his district; encouraging the poor inhabitants to attend on church; circulating among them religious and moral publications, and tracts on domestic economy; promoting their temporal and spiritual welfare; inducing them to habits of cleanliness, sobriety, saving, and industry; acting as their counsellor, friend, overseer, and instructer.
Dr. Chalmers states that the system has succeeded in Scotland equal to the most sanguine expectations; that those who have tried it are charmed with the success of their labours, and think a general practice of the system would entirely change the state of things among the poor; that the visiting of the poor, by the rich, has a kindly influence; the readiest way of finding access to a man's heart being to go into his house. He states the advantages of this system to the visiter. Having a select and defined field of exertion, he feels himself more powerfully urged, than under the common arrangement, to undertake the renovation of the condition of the poorer classes; he will feel a kind of property in the families; he finds that he makes progress in his benevolent enterprise, unlike those who are members of societies which operate on a large scale, skimming over the surface of society. He can go over the families with far less waste of time, and more fully and frequently repeat his attentions; 'he I will turn the vicinity he has chosen into a home-walk of many charities, and be recognised as its moral benefactor.'
The advantages to the visited are great. A greater number will attend a sabbath school, for instance, if the instructions are given in their neighbourhood. The teacher's personal charac
ter will have more weight among those who have become acquainted with him than it could have if he were more a stranger. 'Under a local system, the teachers move towards the people. Under a general system, such of the people as are disposed to christianity, move towards them.' Under this system all the poor are brought forth under the old only the more decent and regular families. This system pervades: the old only attracts. In one a great show is made of benevolent exertion, while vast numbers are overlooked.'
Dr. Chalmers cites an instance of the successful effects of this system, in the Salt Market Sabbath School Society. The district selected bore a population of 8624, about as large as one of the wards in this city. To cultivate this extent, four indivi duals appropriated to themselves each a portion of it. They opened Sunday schools; the number of scholars was 420, amounting to more than a ninth of the whole population.
These persons found that many a crowded haunt of this district was as completely untouched by the antecedent methods, as are the families in the wilds of Tartary-that hundreds of young, never at church, and without one religious observation to mark and to separate their sabbath from the other days of the week, have thus been brought within an atmosphere, which they now breathe for the first time in their existence-that, with a small collection of books attached to each humble seminary, there is a reading of the purest and most impressive character, in full circulation amongst the parents, and the children who belong to it; and, what is not the least important effect of all, that, by the frequent recurrence of week-day visitations, there is both a christian and a civilizing influence sent forth upon a whole neighbourhood, and a thousand nameless cordialities are constantly issuing out of the patriarchal relationship, which has thus been formed between a man of worth, and so many outcast and neglected families.'
The effect of these exertions is to raise and transform the poor, to enlighten the actual heathenism in which so many live in a christian community, to banish the practical infidelity of no inconsiderable part, it is feared, of the poorer classes. The district referred to underwent a rapid improvement; the dress and exterior of the poor, their manners, conversation, and geneneral appearance and habits, were essentially benefited.
A gentleman, in Glasgow, assumed a district to himself, which he resolved to cultivate, on this system of local philanthropy. In rank and condition of the inhabitants it was greatly beneath the average of the town. The population was 996; which be, in the first instance, most thoroughly surveyed, and all of whom, he has now most thoroughly attached, and that, by his friendly and enlightened services. He established four sabbath schools. New Series-vol. IV.
He also instituted a saving bank, which takes in deposites only from those who live, or who work, within the bounds of this little territory. The bank may thus embrace a population of 1200, and in one year from its commencement, the whole sum deposited was $1047. During this year sixty families of this small district opened their accounts with the bank, and received an impulse from it, on the side of economy, and foresight. Any general saving bank for the town at large, would not have called out one tenth of this sum. He is fast rescuing the obscure department in which he lives from all the miseries which attach to a crowded population of poor, by a most judicious benevolence.*
'A single obscure street, with its divergent lanes and courts, may form the length and breadth of his enterprise; but far better that he, with such means and such associates as are within his reach, should do this thoroughly, than that, merging himself in some wider association, he should vainly attempt in the gross, that which never can be overtaken but in humble and laborious detail. Let him not think, that the region which lies beyond the limits of his chosen and peculiar territory, is to wither and be neglected, because his presence is not there to fertilize it. Let him not imagine himself to be the only philanthropist in the world. Let him do his part, trusting, that there are others around him who have zeal enough, and understanding enough, to do theirs. The example of a well-cultured portion of the territory, will do more to spread a beneficent influence over the whole, than is done by the misplaced energies of men who cannot be tempted to move, till some design of might and of magnificence is proposed to them. It is far better to cultivate one district well, though all the others be left untouched, than to superficialise over the whole city.'
Dr. Chalmers' plan has thus been stated, and some reasons adduced entitling this system to a decided preference over the present mode of charitable exertion. It is not to be imagined that it originated with this gentleman. Time out of mind, individuals have delved into the abodes of ignorance and poverty, and in the sight of God and the unfortunate alone, have searched into and relieved, the misfortunes which afflict mankind. No doubt many of these unobtrusive philanthropists, perchance on account of their misgivings respecting the obligation of giving into the treasuries of societies, have the name of indifference or callousness to the claims of the poor. In this city, some years since, a similar plan was devised, combining individuality with
*This system has been commenced in the city of New York, by some individuals, and their success has been encouraging. The Christian Herald, from July to December, 1821, contains interesting accounts of the success of these labourers in the vineyard of christian philanthropy.