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My very dear Young Friends,
IN the month of April, 1896, I was accepted by the Directors of the Missionary Society, as their Missionary, and the following month went to the Missionary Seminary at Gosport in Hampshire, England, being then in my seventeenth year. During the vacation in 1806, I accompanied two of my fellow students in their weekly visit to the Poor House ; observing a great number of children at play in the yard, I pitied their condition, and felt a desire to tell them of Jesus the Friend of sinners ; I spoke to them, and told them that they might come and hear me speak to the sick people, if they did not make any noise. They seemed pleased at the notice which was taken of them, for many of them were orphans and without a friend to pity or instruct them, several of them came into the room where I was speaking, others soon
followed, and they remained very still and atDentive. Having finished my exhortation to the
sick and aged, I turned round and addressed the young and ignorant, and endeavoured to impress their minds with the importance of seeking God while young and to make them sensible of their lost state and condition by reason of sin ; I had not spoke long before many of them were in tears, this animated my concern for their welfare and encreased my affection for their souls. ' .
On the following week I paid them a second visit, and no sooner did I enter the yard, than the first child that saw me, ran to the rest crying out “ The Parson is come, the Parson is come,” I was much pleased to see the eagerness of the children to hear what I had to say to them: there were more that thirty children waiting in the room till I had done speaking to the sick and aged who were present, after I had addressed the children, I enquired if there were any good done by my speaking to them last week ; a wo. man who performed the office of a nurse, said that she would only answer for those who were in her room and of whom she had the care, she said that the children came to her desiring that she would teach them their prayers, which she said ihey never did before, and that they were all longing for Monday to come again; after that I addressed the children at the Poor House for several weeks. I then first began seriously to consider the great importance of speaking to little children, and to think upon some means whereby I could be useful to the rising generation. When I related these things to an aged disciple of Christ, she rejoiced with me, at the same time praying that the Lord would make me an instrument in his hands of doing good among the young, she proposed to collect together a number of children, and asked me if I would preach to them, to which I readily consented.
On Tuesday September 2, 1806, I commenced a regular weekly lecture to the children; my first congregation consisted of only nine in number, but " who hath despised the day of small things?” the Lord does not and why should we. This lecture was changed to Wednesday and afterwards to Friday evenings; after preaching six months to them, and collecting a great number of children, one of my fellow stu. dents proposed to take a part of the labour and to divide the children, desiring the boys to meet on the Wednesday and the girls on the Friday evening; this lecture was continued once or twice a week for four years ; once a year, on the second of September we had what was called an anniversary, a day kept in commemoration of the commencement of the lectures ; the different services of the day were as follows : In ihe morning a prayer meeting at seven o'clock, a sermon to children at half past ten, and another in the afternoon at half past two o'clock; in the evening a sermon was delivered to the parents of the children, the teachers of the school, committee and subscribers to the school ; on that day the childrea have been there at six o'clock in the morning, they have come from a village two miles distant and continued till after the evening service. It has been like a little jubilee among the children, and they have spoken of it and looked forward to it with joy in their countenances as well as their hearts. While in England I addressed upwards of three thousand different children at various places; I could relate a variety of anecdotes and accounts which would be both pleasing and instructive, but must forbear; one circumstance however occurred during my residence at the seminary, which gave me peculiar pleasure, Gosport is divided from Portsea and Portsmouth by a river similar to that of the Delaware between Camden on the Jersey shore and the city of Philadelphia. In the month of July 1810, I crossed the water with some friends to view a collection of wild beasts at a public exhibition ; after visiting this, I saw a bill announcing the wonderful phenomena of three beautiful Albini children, I said to a lady in company, I must go and see these children ; at first sight I thought them figures of wax, but on a near approach perceived them to be living children, I still thought them foreigners till I heard them speak, and was rejoiced to find that I could understand them, thinking that I should have a good opportunity of talking with them and telling them of Jesus the friend of little children. The mother gave us the following