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the very least, encouragement enough is given and a way is sufficiently opened, for announcing his errand to them as their christian friend or christian adviser, who will preach in their immediate neighbourhood on the Sabbath, and is willing to render through the week all those attentions and services of which they may choose to avail themselves. There is often a promise to attend on the public, and still oftener an invitation to repeat the personal visit-and so the profession of a willingness to accept of the private or the household ministrations. If this process be steadily persevered in, if to these stated movements oft repeated among the people, there be added a frequent occasional movement, whenever the call of sickness or of death or any sort of family distress shall have opened the hearts and the houses of the afflicted to the entry of christian kindness—the result of these assiduities through the week, is the gradual building up of a congregation on the Sabbath. The people even of the most outlandish district, in places the most destitute and depraved, may thus be gathered into a parochial family, and trained to parochial habits. Children of all others may be made to participate most largely in this improvement. Under the moral ascendancy of the pastor, who has assumed their territory for his vineyard and earned as the fruit of his daily and weekly labours the confidence and attachment of the people, education will grow apace among them. Even by the time when only perhaps a few are converted, many will be at least humanized-for, such is the savour of Christianity, that, over and above
its own proper influence on the individuals whom it sanctifies, it has a secondary and wide spread influence over the community, whose standard of morals it exalts, and whose general habits it refines and civilizes. Altogether, with the power of that kindness which the messengers of Christianity might bring to bear upon human feelings, and the power of Christianity itself over human consciences, there never was so effective an instrument as the one which we now describe, for reclaiming men from what might appear even the most hopeless and impracticable degeneracy. For the latter power, Christianity stands indebted to its own evidence, to the aspect of likelihood which it wears even at the first, and its perpetually growing claims on the attention and moral earnestness of every inquirer till at length the conclusive revelation is made to him of such credentials, as satisfy his mind that the religion is true. For the former power it is indebted to that peculiarity in the human constitution, by which it is that the manifested good will of one man tells so immediately and with such subduing effect on the heart of another man. As a pioneer or a precursor to the ministrations of the Gospel, this principle is invaluable—though, till of late, but scarcely adverted to; and far too little use has been made of it. It of itself forms no part of the evidence for the truth of the christian religion ; but it is the avenue by which the portable evidence of Christianity finds its way to the population—not that which carries the belief, but that which gains the atten
tion that precedes the belief—not the proof, but the means for the conveyance of it.
12. Hitherto we have not enough availed ourselves of those strong affinities which bind one man to another, and extend the brotherhood of our nature, far beyond the limits of kindred or previous acquaintanceship. It may be experienced on the moment of our entrance within the threshold of a family which we never before saw. The character of the reception is almost invariable— that of genuine and entire cordiality. The errand on which we go, announces itself to be one of kindness; and, in almost every instance, it calls forth the sense and the spirit of kindness back again. By the very act of coming under the roof of one of the common people, we in a manner throw ourselves upon his kindness; and scarcely ever, in one instance, does this confidence deceive us. Insomuch that we have often felt, as if, to enter the house of a poor man or a labourer, was the readiest method of finding our way into his heart. Certain it is that nothing can be more companionable, and if not courtly at least courteous which is far better—nothing can be more polite in the best sense of the term, for it is nature's politeness under the spontaneous impulse of nature's honesty, than that which is habitually experienced in these rounds of pastoral or missionary visitation. If we want to taste the amenities of human intercourse, let us go, not in the capacity of an almoner but in the higher capacity of a christian philanthropist, either to the country hamlet or to the city lane-let us
carry our proffers of beneficence, either to the peasant in the one situation or to the man of handicraft and hard labour in the other_let it be the prospect of a christian benefit to themselves, or of an educational benefit to their children-we do not say that the consent will be gotten all at once to the practical arrangement, whatever it may be ; but, from the very first, both the visit and the object of it will be well taken; and, such is the charm of these household attentions, that a great and effectual door is opened by them, to all those results, which the manifested friendship and the moral suasion of one man, have power to effectuate in the purposes and the doings of another.
13. We can well imagine here a certain suspicion or incredulity, as if our picture was overcoloured or as if there was more of the imaginative than of the experimental in our representation. But our shrewd and sceptical antagonists do truly confound the things which differ, when they liken these every-day findings with which we now deal to the visions of Arcadia. Those cordialities of human intercourse, and the results which come out of them, have nought in them whatever of the romance or the extravagance of poetry. What Howard on the walk of general benevolence realized in prisons, any other, if he is but a man oi heart and genuine piety, will realize in parishes. Those triumphs of kindness which the one achieved in the malefactor's cell, the other will with still greater facility achieve in the ploughman's cabin and the workman's lowliest tenement. If the
moral desperadoes of a jail can be made to own the omnipotence of charity, it surely will not be more difficult to earn the same ascendancy over the commonplace men and women of our general population. It is true, that, even among these, individuals are to be found, who, though not yet convicted of crime, have all the hardihood and all that aspect of stout and resolute defiance which belong to criminals-whose hearts are hearts of steel—whose houses are houses of riot, intemperance, and shame. Yet even they, it is often found, might be melted into a sort of grateful reverence, and that, on the first apostolic entry ever made within their doors; and, what might be deemed singular yet is really not so, though sheathed in hopeless obduracy themselves so that their own reformation is by all despaired of, yet there is enough of remaining conscience and human affection within them, to make them seize on the proposal of meetings and sermons and Sabbath schools for their children. But more, though at the outset house and heart should both be barricadoed against the approaches of christian benevolence, neither yet must all prospect of good, even in these cases of rare and monstrous exception to the general law of our nature, be given up as conclusively at an end. The determined agent of this benevolence is on the highest of all vantageground. He has only to keep his post and to watch his opportunity.
Events will work for him. Providence will at length open a door for him. Calamity or sickness or death will in the course of months or years break in the house