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Extract of a letter from a Minister of the Gospel, re
siding in the northern part of this State, to a Christian friend in this City. It is one among
It is one among the many accounts frequently received concerning the deplorably destitute condition of the people of this country in the back settlements, with respect to religious privileges.
DEAR CHRISTIAN FRIEND, I have lately taken a tour to the west. This visit has produced a train of ideas in my mind, which I take the liberty of communicating to you, as one who I know is deeply interested in the cause of the Redeemer. I have been several times to the north and west ; five times in the Canadas; but I never was so deeply impressed with the desolate state of our frontier settlements, as on my late journey. I was from home 23 days, preached 17 sermons, and travelled 300 miles.
I will give you a statement of towns which came within my own knowledge, that are wholly destitute of regular Ministers, with a single exception in a corner of Richland :-Western, Lee, Florence, Campden, Bengal, Ellisburgh, Richland, Rotterdam, and Oswego. Some of these are populous towns, and all of them are able to support the Gospel; but, alas ! there are none to break the bread of life to precious souls. Here is a district containing 10, 15, or 20 thousand inhabitants, and but one individual to proclaim salvation to perishing sinners. To the north as far as the St. Lawrence, and east to Champlain, there are probably not six Gospel Ministers; an extent of territory including the quarter of the State of New-York, with a population of 70 or 80,000 souls, sitting comparatively in a state of darkness and death. I present to your view a subject sufficient to draw tears of blood from the eyes of Christians. Who could refrain, after viewing the melancholy picture, from exclaiming, Who is on the Lord's side? Are there any who have a spark of grace, who will refuse to give every aid in their power, to send the means of salvation to their fellow-citizens? My bowels yearn over my hrethren, and I am willing to do all in my power for their relief.
After stating the subject in a very imperfect manner, an important and momentous question presents itself to every Christian in the State : How shall the evils which carry death
and destruction to thousands, be remedied? In answer, I observe, it is the cause of God which presents itself to every Christian's view, who are bound by every principle, moral and religious, to bring into operation all the means in their power, and rely upon the divine blessing for success. In place of sending Missionaries to the East-Indies, or even to the heathen in the wilderness, charity requires that we should begin at home, and turn our attention first to our neighbours. But you will see, that all the Missionary Societies in the State, with the aid of the other States, in their present condition, are inadequate to remedy the evils. It will require an hundred additional Ministers, to supply the wants of this State: but where can they be found ? In reply, God is pouring out his Spirit on our seminaries, and thus fitting and inclining the minds of our youth to consecrate themselves to his service. God always fits instruments for his work. The great day of his power and grace is at hand. In the mean time, let Missionary Societies unite in sending forth as many pious, zealous, and prudent Ministers as they can support; give particular directions and instructions to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, distribute books, form libraries, or ganize Churches, and do all the work of Evangelists.
I have, dear friend, laid before you a subject I feel deeply interested in, and hope you will coincide with me in its importance; and I doubt not you will bring into operation all the Christian energies of your mind, to promote the cause of our common Lord.
I remain your friend, and servant in the Lord.
(CIRCULAR.) To the several Bible Societies in the United States of
America. BRETHREN, It is with peculiar pleasure that I once more address you, on the interesting subject of the extension of the Redeemer's Kingdom, by disseminating his Gospel wherever it is not known. After serious reflection, I determined again to solicit a meeting of Delegates from such Bible Societies as shall cordially join in this measure. Having laid this proposal before the Bible Society of New York, it took a more enlarged view of the plan, and adopted the following resolutions :
“ Resolved, 1st. That it is highly desirable to obtain, upon as large a scale as possible, a co-operation of the efforts of the Christian community throughout the United States, for the efficient distribution of the Holy Scriptures.
2d. That as a mean for the attainment of this end, it will be expedient to have a Convention of Delegates from such Bible Societies, as shall be disposed to concur in this measure, to meet at
next, for the purpose of considering whether such a co-operation may be effected in a better manner than by the correspondence of the different Societies, as now established; and if so, that they prepare the draft of a plan for such co-operation, to be submitted to the different Societies for their decision.
3d. That the Secretary transmit the above resolutions to the President of the New-Jersey Bible Society, as expressive of the opinion of this Board, on the measures therein contained, and at the same time signifying the wish of this Board that he would exercise his own discretion in bringing the subject before the public.
" In pursuance of the foregoing resolutions, requesting me to designate the time and place at which the proposed meeting of Delegates from the different Bible Societies in the United States shall take place; after mature deliberation, and consulting with judicious friends on this important subject, I am decidedly of opinion that the most suitable place for the proposed meeting is in the City of New
York, and the most convenient time, the second Wednesday of May next; and I do appoint and recommend the said meeting to be held at that time and place. Should it please a merciful God to raise me from the bed of sickness to which I am now confined, it will afford me the highest satisfaction to attend at that time, and contribute all in my power toward the establishment and or. ganization of a Society which, with the blessing of God, I have not the least doubt will in time, in point of usefulness, be second only to the parent institution (the British and Foreign Bible Society), shed an unfading lustre on our Christian community, and prove a blessing to our country and the world.
ELIAS BOUDINOT, President of
N. J. Bible Society. Burlington, Jan. 17th, 1816.
The Board of Managers of the New-York Bible Society have appointed five of their members, Delegates to the above-mentioned Convention.
THE Stereotype Plates for the Bible, to be edited in this City, by the New York and Auxiliary New-York Bible Societies, are about half done. The printing of the first edition is delayed by the want of suitable paper for the work. Persons desirous of contracting for the supply of common medium paper, are requested to send in their terms to the Editor of this publication.
THE HISTORY OF SUNDAY SCHOOLS
(Continued from page 10.) MR. RAIKES had very soon occasion to answer another inquiry “ from Bradford in Yorkshire.” His letter is dated " Gloucester, June 5, 1784," and agrees in substance with the foregoing: yet, as it may serve to complete the interesting information upon the subject of the Sunday School, the last which we can receive from the inventor himself, we shall insert it.
Having found four persons who had been accustomed to instruct children in reading, I engaged to pay the sum they required for receiving and instructing such children as 1 should send to them every Sunday. The children were to come soon after ten in the morning, and stay till twelve: they were then to go home and return at one; and after reading lesson, they were to be conducted to church. After church they were to be employed in repeating the catechism till half past five, and then to be dismissed, with an injunction to go home without making a noise; and by no means to play in the street. This was the general outline of the regulation.
“ With regard to the parents, I went round to remonstrate with them on the melancholy .consequences that must ensue from so fatal a neglect of their children's morals. They alleged, that their poverty rendered them incapable of cleaning and clothing their children fit to appear either at school or at church ; but this objection was obviated by a remark, that if they were clad in a garb fit to appear in the streets, I should not think it improper for a school calculated to admit the poorest and most neglected. All that I required, were clean faces, clean hands, and the hair combed. In other respects, VOL. I.--No. 2.
they were to come as their circumstances would admit. Many children began to show talents for learning, and a desire to be taught. Little rewards were distributed among the most diligent; this excited an emulation. One or two clergymen gave their assistance, by going round to the Schools on the Sunday afternoon, to hear the children their catechism. This was of great consequence.
" Another clergyman hears them their catechism once a quarter publicly in the church, and rewards their good behaviour with some little gratuity.
“ They are frequently admonished to refrain from swearing; and certain boys, who are distinguished by their decent behaviour, are appointed to superintend the conduct of the rest, and make report of those that swear, call names, or interrupt the comfort of the other boys in their neighbourhood. When quarrels have arisen, the aggressor is compelled to ask pardon, and the offended is enjoined to forgive. The happiness that must arise to all from a kind, good natured behaviour, is often inculcated.
“ This mode of treatment has produced a wonderful change in the manners of these little savages. I cannot give a more striking instance than I received the other day from Mr. Church, a considerable manufacturer of hemp and flax, who employs great numbers of these children. I asked him whether he perceived any alteration in the poor children he employed." "Sir,' says he, the change could not have been more extraordinary in my opinion, had they been transformed from the shape of wolves and tigers to that of men. In temper, disposition, and manners, they could hardly be said to differ from the brute creation. But since the establishment of the Sunday Schools, they have seemed anxious to show that they are not the ignorant, illiterate creatures they were before. When they have seen a superior come, and kindly instruct and admonish them, and sometimes reward their good behaviour, they are anxious to gain his friendship and good opinion. They are also become more tractable and obedients and less quarrelsome and revengeful. In short, I never conceived that a reformation so singular could have been effected among the set of untutored beings I employed.?
6 From this little sketch of the reformation which has taken place, there is reason to hope, that a general establishment of Sunday Schools, would in time make some change in the morals of the lower class. At least it might, in some measure,