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abode, or their occupations, to which they may return when cured: and, as wickedness (in this particular at least,) is not their maintenance, should any serious reflections be excited in their minds, they would in general meet with no other obstacles to a change of life, than such as are common to them with others who have contracted vicious habits. However all that is properly in our power, or can be expected from us, has been done in order to their reformation.
But the most of the women are of that class whose misery and baleful influence have been hinted at. Many of them, when discharged, have no method of subsistence but by prostitution; nor can procure any lodging but in a house of infamy. These have scarcely any alternative but starving or a prison, on the one hand, or returning to their former practices, on the other. Should therefore any serious impressions be made upon them, they would need the faith and constancy of a martyr, in steadily preferring the greatest hardships to a ready relief by sin, in the very first onset of a reformation!
It is indeed with sensible pleasure I observe, that some few have been fetched out of the hospital by their relations, upon application made to them; and I have reason to believe that some others have been induced to return home, and have been received. But there have been parents who have positively refused to harbour their own children, after repeated application. Others have no relations who are in circumstances to relieve them and doubtless some would gladly enter an asylum anong strangers, who would recoil at the
idea of appearing, emaciated by disease, and covered with infamy, amongst the companions of more creditable and prosperous days.-And, though the lamentable truth be allowed, that few in comparison seem disposed to forsake their licentious practices except they could otherwise lead a life of indolence and indulgence; yet we must deny the gospel to be any longer" the power of God unto "salvation," if we conclude that none will ever be influenced by it to a sincere desire and purpose of forsaking their former sinful courses and connexions, should a place be prepared and opened for their reception.
By this time I suppose the reader will have turned his thoughts to the Magdalen Hospital. Far be it from me to depreciate the excellency and utility of that truly benevolent institution, which is, I believe, always open to such persons as from the Lock properly apply for admission. But there are reasons why it cannot answer the end here proposed, or supersede the necessity of such a private asylum as I would recommend. I shall mention but one, which is of such a nature as renders it needless to assign any other. The Magdalen admits persons only once a month: patients are discharged from the Lock every week. During the intermediate space, whether one week or three, which the most would have to wait previously to admission into the Magdalen, they must and will generally return to their former abodes, connexions, and practices. When this is the case, reflection will studiously be stifled by every dissipation and excess, and before the time is expired every serious impression will be effaced. In order to do
⚫ them real good, they must, if possible, be preserved from ever seeing or conversing with their former abandoned companions: an immediate asylum alone can promise success; together with the continuation of those instructions which have excited any seriousness in their minds, or remorse in their consciences; that time may not be allowed for such impressions to wear off, but that they may have all the advantage we can give them for producing an abiding change. It is therefore hoped that none will suppose that such a design can interfere with the Magdalen, which will doubtless continue to receive the firm support of the humane, and will never want as many objects as it can provide for.1 And all impartial friends to the cause of humanity will unite in wishing the increase of such institutions, as far as they can answer the end proposed, and conduce to the real benefit of our fellow-creatures.
It is true, on the other hand, that, if the Almighty is pleased to exert his power, he can effect the sinner's conversion notwithstanding all hinderances.; and on that power our dependance must ultimately be placed. With this truth I have hitherto been supported, and borne above discouragement; and shall, I trust, continue to be so, should this attempt be unsuccessful: because then I should have done all in my power for them. But, until we have done all in our power, we presume upon, rather than trust in, the power of God,
It may and will frequently happen, that persons applying to the Magdalen, though not refused, may be postponed through want of room for present accommodation: which, in this case, must be equivalent to a repulse.
if we expect success from him. We are to use every means, and remove as much as possible, every hinderance which can prevent the efficacy of those means, and then expect a blessing from God upon our endeavours; just in the same manner, when we are seeking the salvation of the soul, as when we would cure the distemper of the body: and something further may be done in the former concern than has yet been done: at least I conceive so.
Now let a reflecting person consider the situation of a destitute female in the Lock Hospital. From a full persuasion that when discharged she must either return to her former sinful course of life, (which for the present moment is not without its attractions to a sensual, vain, and dissipated mind,) or encounter the extremest hardships; she must needs be exposed to almost invincible temptations to hate and shun instruction, to stop her ears, and harden her heart against it; and to strive to forget or discredit the alarming truths, which only tend to render her uneasy in that course of life which appears to her inevitable.
But, could we inform the female patients that an Asylum was prepared, into which any who would prefer honest employment, decent maintenance, and a regular life, might immediately be admitted upon their cure; and in which they might be continued, if they behaved properly, till they could recover their character, and be introduced into some creditable way of life: we might hope this would remove that obstacle, soften their prejudices, convince them of our friendly disposition towards them, preserve them from desperation,
and produce a more candid mind in receiving instruction. And, should hopeful tokens of repentance appear in any of them, they would not have the mortification of being told, upon application to the minister, (after all the professed desire of their welfare, which he hath intermingled with his exhortations) that nothing further can be done for them, let what will be the consequence: as I have several times, with regret, been constrained to inform them.
Such an asylum would likewise furnish abundance of additional arguments and motives, of the most convincing and affecting nature, whereby to expostulate with them. Every person would then be satisfied, that all in the power of man was done for them every shadow of objection against the Lock Charity must effectually be silenced, and it must be universally acknowledged to be both a well intended, and well directed attempt to check the progress and counteract the consequences of licentiousness; and to rescue some of the most wretched of our fellow creatures from complicated misery and ruin. I trust it may be added, that it would form an additional ground, on which we might rest our expectation both of support from men, and of a blessing from God upon the institution.
This is the design which the author, from the feelings of his heart in witnessing the misery of the objects of his instruction, at first rather conceived as a wish, than formed into a plan, which he could expect should be carried into execution at the instance of so obscure an individual. But, having mentioned the thought to several respectable persons, he is encouraged by their approbation