THAT is a remarkable scene which occurs in the opening of the eighth chapter of St. John's Gospel. The place is in one of the outer courts of the temple at Jerusalem. The time is early in the morning. Jesus comes in and takes His seat to resume His teachings which He had left off the evening before. The people have gathered around Him, silently listening, when presently there is a stir among them, opening to make way for a party bringing in a woman held in custody. They set her in. an open space, cleared for the while in front of the Teacher, and proceed to state why they had brought her. They are some of the professionals of the Bar and Church of these days, that you see so often on the stage of the Gospel drama, acting their part of trying to entrap our Lord with their legal and theological questions.
"Master"—began the spokesman—they call Him Master for the nonce; they really cared little for His authority, but it suited their purpose to seem. to own it—"Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act; now Moses commanded in the Law that such should be stoned, but what sayest Thou?" They stated the legal penalty for both the criminal parties, but from the low state of moral sentiment at that time among the Jews, and from not having the power of capital punishment in their hands, the law was seldom executed. But there it stood. It was one of the enactments of Moses, and as Jesus had always inculcated reverence for the great Lawgiver, these rigid adherents of Law professed to be anxious for His decision in the case. "Master," they ask, "what sayest Thou?"—we know what the practice has become, but Thou in Thy wonted righteousness will decide not according to things as they are, but as they ought to be. Should this woman be put to death? This, the Evangelist informs us, "they said, tempting Him, that they might have whereof to accuse Him;" which lets us into the secret of the matter. The administration of justice was their avowed object. Their real purpose was to ensnare Christ, by a method like that which some of the same stripe of hypocrites essayed on the occasion of the tribute money. Whichever way He answered their question He would involve Himself (they thought,) in trouble or inconsistency. Thus, had He determined that the terrible punishment should be inflicted on the poor culprit before Him "Ha, ha," they at once would have cried, "is that His wondrous pitifulness? Is that all that comes of His compassion for such frail ones? He receives them graciously, says they will enter into the kingdom of heaven before any of us, and now He is for consigning this poor creature, who, after all, may not be much to blame, to an excruciating death! All sham!" On the other hand, had our Lord said, "No! let the woman go!" then their cry would have been, "See how He sets the Law at nought! He affects to honor Moses, but reverses one of his fundamental statutes; under a guise of mercifulness, He is an overturner, not an upholder of justice in the land." Eager for the rare chance they now had of exposing the object of their malice, by holding Him upon one or the other horn of their dilemma, they demand a categorical answer to their question. "But Jesus," we read, "stooped down and wrote with His finger on the ground"—leaning downward on His seat, He traced letters in the dust on the marble pavement of the court. "As though He heard them not." These words are not in the original, but are a comment of the English translators, which we may accept or not, as we please. I would rather say, As though He would not hear them as though He turned from so mean a sight a great company of men dragging forward a helpless woman and publishing her shame to the world. Thus He gave them emphatically to understand that the adjudication they professed to want was no business for Him. Saying nothing, He serenely pursued some thought of His own, writing it on the ground. But they would not be put off. We read, "They continued asking Him." They persisted in having a reply. Perhaps they attributed our Lord's silence to embarrassment. "He is at a loss what to say"—we fancy them whispering to one another, exchanging significant looks—"We have Him now. Come, Master, speak out, please; we are waiting; Thou hast heard the case, come, give judgment." So, when they continued asking, Jesus lifted up Himself and said—"He that is without sin among you let him first cast a stone at her." They would have Him break the silence, and He did. They would have judgment and they had it—the last they could have ever dreamed would tingle in their ears. They are done demanding His answer. Not now do they exchange looks; or, if they do, they are blank enow, I trow.
"And Jesus stooped down and wrote again on the ground." Before, they did not mind His doing so, except for the indifference to them which it showed, but now His writing has an altered aspect. Now, it is like the hand writing on Belshazzar's wall, but it does not need a Daniel to interpret it. Their consciences are the prophet to decipher the mystic characters. Their own past impurities, they imagine, are being written there. Their own fornications and adulteries, which, they weened, the Master charged them with in His searching decision. Dumbfounded, they looked at Him still making the pavement a tablet for His words, yet afraid to look, and fearing, too, to look at the people, who, they fancied, read the writing like themselves. For may we not so develop what John goes on to say: "Being convicted by their own consciences they went out."—They went out; what else could they do? Not stop there, with the people gazing alternately at them, and at the finger moving to and fro on the ground! They retreat, but observe how orderly they do it. [Bushnell.] The Evangelist is careful to inform us that they "went out, one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last." Perhaps they hung back for a moment, no one disposed to go first lest he should thereby seem to betray himself the greatest sinner in the lot. So, to avoid suspicion, they will depart in the order of age. As well-bred men, they give precedence to seniority, the younger bowing out the elder—"Not before you, sir, reverend Doctor—Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Jehudi," &c. They leave; the people staring after them: their long robes and broad phylacteries not quite so imposing as when they came in. They are gone. The court has adjourned. There has been an adjudication, not precisely that for which the court was called. There has been a conviction not of the accused, but of the accusers, and they, self-convicted, not daring to look a Judge in the face, who could see them through and through.
And now, did our Lord evade the question put to Him by these sturdy advocates of justice, and so elude the snare they had laid for Him? No; by His silence, in the first instance, as we have interpreted it, He gave them to understand that they had no right to come to Him with their case civil jurisdiction was not within His province. He would assume none of its functions. This He intimated by His action, and they would have understood Him, had they been honest in their purpose. They were not, they were dissemblers. They affected to constitute Him a judge, and when they persevered in it, He took them on their own ground. He did the Judge. Ascending the tribunal of His own omniscience and eternal equity, He gave sentence, and they vanished.
And the woman—has she vanished too? No, the story goes on—"Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst"—in the space now vacant by the departure of the discomfited ones. He is still seated, and the prisoner still before Him, a willing prisoner. She feels she can trust herself with a Judge from whom her accusers have shrunk away, and yet not knowing how He will dispose of her. He is the one without sin, and will He cast the first stone? She will not go until she has something from His lips. Not to add to her confusion, probably, He had withheld from her His gaze. Now His eyes are upon her. She breathes afresh as His voice melts upon her ear, and He asks: "Woman, where are those thine accusers?" Though not noticing their exit, He knows they are gone, but He thus graciously questions her, implying that He was not an accuser.—"Hath no man condemned thee?" "No man, Lord."—"Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more." Though Jesus was not an officer of the civil law, yet, on the ground of the law, He could say to her, Go. He informed her of her right. Her case had gone by default; the prosecutors had fled the court. He neither could, nor would, detain her for further trial: but as the Divine Liberator, He would confer on her a higher than civil freedom—"Go, and be a freed woman from the bondage of sin." That, it was His prerogative to say; and with such a sweet awe and constraining love did He say it that we may believe it availed to her going and sinning no more.
Such was the marked difference of our Lord's treatment of the outcast sinner and of those genteel sinners who came to Him so full of their righteous indignation at sin. Probably the bystanders wondered at the difference, and thought that distinguished personages, like those rabbis, might have been treated more courteously. But our Lord had not much consideration for the distinctions of life. He knew what they were worth. They could never divert Him from His upright and downright dealings. Those who brought the adulteress to Him, were among the gentleman of the day—in good society, as you would now say—of refined manners, as you saw from their etiquette among themselves. Their unchastities were sins of past days; or, if they were still indulging them, they took care to be safe from exposure. Their respectability was the shield of their character with men; but no shield or blind to Him who pierced their godly outside and showed what a flimsy covering it was, masking a far worse interior than hers whose dishonor they were so eager to proclaim. Poor thing! she had no respectability. The lookers on might have felt for her, but not one of them would have gone up and spoken to her. Only the more ready was He to speak to her. Only the more tenderly did He let fall upon her His eyes of purity and love—only the more graciously came the counsel from His lips: "Go, and sin no more."
Oh that we, servants of the Master, were not so miserably lacking as we often are, in His impartial, fearless, and withal loving spirit: for how apt are we to be cowed before our grandee sinners, how considerate of their social position, how delicate towards their feelings, how apologetic in any censure of their delinquencies. How prompt our charity to cover up the multitude of their sins—pillars of the Church, perchance, and therefore, for the dear Church's sake, of course we must not weaken the pillars. They have wealth and influence which, by a proper deference toward them, we may turn to good account. So if we practise a little prudence and polite reserve, why it is all for the Lord's sake—supremely concerned for the Lord's interests, quite oblivious of our own, as we flatter ourselves. With the shabby transgressor we are bold enough. If a poor fellow we have been accustomed to help has been once caught in liquor we are done with him, and warn our friends against him. But, if in the circle of our correct acquaintance we are privy to one being too fond of the glass, if we speak of it, it is in a whisper and with a caution not to repeat it for the world.
Yonder lies an old roue, with enough of his fortune left to surround himself with the comforts and elegancies of life. In some sort I am his minister, and conscience pricks me on to make him a pastoral visit. So I go. Ushered by his gentleman valet into the luxurious chamber, and subdued somehow by the imposing grandeur of everything around, treading softly his velvet carpet, I approach his stately bed, and hope I don't disturb him. I express my regrets at his continued illness, listen patiently to all he tells me about its symptoms, and what, one thing after another the doctors have tried upon him; perhaps, I tell him of some medicine that possibly might help him. After a talk upon topics of the day, feeling that I must not leave him without some religious discourse, I approximate it gradually, and with cautious delicacy. Though I know he is a wreck of dissipation, that he has been a bad fellow in his time, my intimations of the need of repentance are prefaced with the reminder that we are all—all sinners, and that all have need of repentance. Under the cover of that apology I wax more earnest, yet avoid any allusion to his specific sins, to his illicit amours, to the sums he has squandered on his mistresses—anything of that sort might be considered too personal, might offend him and close up my opportunity, I therefore satisfy myself with trusting that he will apply and take home my general exhortations; and after prayer, which I hope will be agreeable, I leave him with iterated wishes for his better health, to go next perhaps to the fourth story, rear room of a rickety tenement house, to see another dissolute, in the opposite extreme of society. With a preliminary word or two I proceed at once to the object of my call. Kindly, yet directly, I speak to the man of the wicked life he has led—set it out before him in no softened colors—bid him repent of it in the particulars, as well as in the gross. I remind him what a short time he has, to all appearance, for the great work before him, and conjure him to set about it without delay. Now, as for him, of course, it is all the better that he is so plainly dealt with. It is one of the advantages of the poor that they hear the Gospel in undiluted words, while to the rich it comes in delicate and euphemistic phrase, and seldom in a message with special and unmistakable directness to their individual souls. To the lowly, in their garrets and cellars, we are outspoken prophets and fearless—to the great, in their mansions, we do not come with the unvarnished message of God. So awed are we by the outsides of life, so held in abeyance by the glittering unrealities and mere show of the world; unwittingly influenced by its spirit, which we profess to be above; meting out its severity to the low-bred, and its leniency to the genteel, as if it were true that vice "loses half its evil, by losing all its grossness." Thus, too, adopting the distinctions founded on custom and fashion, winking at the notions of honor which banish the adulteress, but not the adulterer, from the social pale; easily forgiving the man but damning the woman for that which, in the essence of its guilt, in the All-Equal Eye, is the same. Not so, He whom we call our Exemplar; unfaltering before sinners in high estate; applying the same truth in the same terms, to great and small alike; criminating, as we have seen, learned and reverend criminators, and befriending the abject, dishonored criminal. There we have the judgment of Jesus Christ, reversing the judgment of the world, which casts the stone of infamy at the ruined, and leaves the author of her ruin unharmed. You are well aware how it is. You have all known some, unfortunate irretrievably undone, while her undoer has fared as well as ever. I have never forgotten the pale emaciated form of a young woman, a distant connexion of my own, whom in the beginning of my ministry, I visited in her lonely chamber, to which she was doomed in perpetual and almost solitary confinement, for a solitary transgression, long gone by. Her parents were your exceedingly proper people, who felt bound, in this way, to show their abhorrence of the daughter's disgrace; while the gentleman author of it was a gentleman at large.
Some three years ago, there came one morning to St. Luke's Hospital a young girl asking to see her mother, who had been a patient there. On being told that she had died several weeks before, the poor child,—for she was not more than seventeen,—was overcome with grief, and it was some time ere she recovered herself sufficiently to inquire into the circumstances of her mother's death. After relating them, and telling how her mother had grieved at not seeing her for so long, I asked an explanation of her absence, and, among other things, how she got all the finery in which she was dressed, poor girl as she was. She tried hard to evade my questioning, but, at length, after a struggle and a shower of tears, told me how she was living. I showed her what that life was, and what it would come to. She was sure I was mistaken. He was such a nice young man, she said, the son of a wealthy merchant in New-York. He loved her sincerely, ever since he met her at a ball. He rented a handsomely furnished room for her and gave her, beautiful presents. "Why does he not marry you?" "Oh, he is afraid to tell his father, but he will, as soon as he is of age." I did my best to dispel her delusion and offered her protection if she would quit her deceiver. "That would be too cruel to one so kind to me." The most I could obtain from her was a promise to come and see me again; but I have never learned anything of her since. Before this, no doubt, her eyes have been opened, and the young villain has left her to the bitter discovery. Young villain! no, not a young villain; he is a nice young man. He has been guilty only of youthful indiscretion. After more such feats of gallantry he will settle down in married life, a respectable man, true at last, perhaps, to the partner of his bosom, who knows all his secrets but one; to whom he never says anything of the baby sent over to the Island. Where is the mother of that baby? Respectability does not require he should concern himself about that.
This is only one of such stories. Some of the saddest are those of female immigrants, who, upon landing on our shores, are allured to boardinghouses where scoundrels, with lying promises, or with lures of money, with the baits of vanity, with the stupefying cup, or with violence, rifle them of their all, and leave them, lost strangers in a strange land for other harpies to devour. Oh, to hear what members of the police could tell of iniquities of this kind which are going on, night after night, in this city; scenes of licentiousness in which fathers and husbands act their parts. Could the foul orgies be all brought into one view, and these, together with those hundreds, they say a thousand, prisoned together in yon work-house in all the stages of sin, most of them young, many quite children, depraved into gross animals could the facts represented by the statistics of prostitution be filled up with living flesh and blood, and be brought before the mind in one crowded scene of loathsome abominations (if any mind outside of the nether world could bear the sight)—we should wonder at the forbearance of Heaven in withholding its lightnings from a Sodom on Christian soil.
Meanwhile, what is the Church doing—she whose it is, in the might and grace of her Lord, never to turn from the powers of iniquity in any shape? What have been her efforts, at all commensurate with the evil with which she is credited by Him who was the friend of publicans and sinners? Where are her missionaries, in this field thick with the altars of human sacrifice? "Oh, they have no heart to enter it," you tell me, "knowing how fruitless will be their labors. Those fallen ones we pity, are, as a class, the most unreclaimable of transgressors their womanly honor all gone—their affections debased into appetite—their character demolished—nothing is left in them to work upon. With the fires of passion they have burned the bridge behind them, so that the gulf they have passed cannot be recrossed. Having given themselves up for lost, in vain you attempt to reclaim them." So men talk when you speak to them on this subject. But they deal with it too sweepingly. They look at these hapless ones in the mass, and so, at the worst. The Church, practically, thinks too much in the same way, and, with all her preaching and teaching of the mightiness of grace, seems to believe it must be grace miraculous which can win back such apostates to her fold.
But we must not look at any kind of sin in the mass, when we would apply the means of salvation. The Gospel deals with sinners, one by one, and among those seemingly reprobate, there are souls, more than we think, penetrable by its power. The most forbidding of them, at times, have heavy hearts; scarce none but have their crying spells, when they would fly their gay but wretched prisons, if they knew where to fly to. "They are not all so bad," said one to me, who knew them too well. "They are not all so bad as you think them, but what can they do when every one thinks them too vile for converse?" "Except," I added, "those who help to make them viler still." And then there are the many who have not long gone astray, whose cheeks yet redden with the tinge of shame; those who have been driven by extremity to what they are, and what they despise themselves for being. Those betrayed who believed themselves betrothed, those deserted by perjured libertines to awake from their dream of bliss in the freezing night of a cold hard world those poor man's lambs, stolen from the fold, left torn and bleeding in the wilderness, by the wolves gorged with their prey. To approach these, and such as these, with the voice of brotherly and sisterly concern: to let them feel that they are not utterly friendless; to take them up, not like those would-be holy ones of old, to cast at them the stones of feigned disgust-but like the Saviour, to address them with unaffected sympathy; to go forth and meet them as friends, to whisper in the ear words of the one true Friend; to be Christ's missioners to them by night; like Himself seeking the lost, in a benighted world-such is the service of the Midnight Mission; yet no dark mission, out on midnight deeds, but a mission of blessed light, illumined of Heaven, cheered too with the light of penitence and gratitude, beaming from countenances once brightened only in wanton smiles. As the advocate of the Mission, let me assure you it is bound on no errand of religious Quixotism, as some would represent it; no romanticism of zeal, but a real and well-considered work, attended with most encouraging results. The invitation cards to the reckless street-walkers are not all refused; many accept them and come to the room and entertainment provided for them. Could you see them there, a company, for the most part of young persons, of comely looks, well-behaved, polite in their manners and speech, listening to the Bible, joining, some of them with sweet and touching voices, in the hymns, and all kneeling in prayer; why, the sight would go to your heart; you would think them well-nigh reclaimed. With a sigh you would see them leaving the meeting for the streets again, and answering you, when you remonstrate with them, that it is their business; they must get their bread. Not all—not all—some will linger behind, pleased with the opportunity of conversation with some of the ladies or gentlemen of the Committee in attendance; conversation which has often been the beginning of thoughtfulness, and, in some, of most promising change. They see they are not in the hands of hypocritical Pharisees, but of Christ's genuine followers, longing to do them good in His name, and with something of His spirit, saying to them: "Go, and sin no more."
"Go, and sin no more."—That was enough for Him to say, but not for us—for where shall they go to sin no more? Where? when their only abodes are the very haunts of sin. By the wages of sin they have their living. If they give up their sin they are utterly homeless. When any of them are willing to do better, or to make an earnest attempt for it, the Committee feel that they must be able to show them where and how they can begin. They have been used to comfortable quarters; you can't tell them to go to Blackwell's Island, as the best they deserve. If you do, they will not have a very moving sense of your interest in them.
This brings me to the main purpose of my plea. The Mission asks for the means of providing homes for those whom they would rescue, and whom they can rescue only by placing in circumstances favorable to their reformation. Not the ordinary Magdalen Asylum. They wont go there to be stamped, as they think, with an additional stigma of infamy; and I confess that that is hardly the most promising method of moral elevation, which makes herds of the debased, and expects them not to debase one another. Penitentiaries, so called, are often but colleges of corruption, where tyros in sin go through the classes and graduate in iniquity. I would not, however, deny the good of the ordinary refuges for fallen women, when wisely regulated and for true penitents. But the greater number of those of whom the Mission has hope, are not such penitents. They so far repent of their past courses as to wish to give them up, if there is a chance of their getting into decent life again. They would be converted to respectability, with a dim apprehension of conversion to God. Some have so far made a good beginning-they have taken the first step towards repentance. For such as these places must be found where they can have suitable employment, wholesome and pleasant associations, with judicious training and instruction. You can't make short work of your duty by committing them to any of the jails of charity. You must find homes for them apart; best in the country, with plain families willing to receive them from Christian considerations as well as for adequate material remuneration. This, of course, requires money, and not a little. It is cheap charity to say: "Go, and sin no more." It is a charity that costs something to set them in households, where household life will be the most efficacious of all human means in fortifying them to "sin no more," and the question now pressing is, shall this Mission be sustained in thus thoroughly doing its work? With earnest men and women devoted to it, giving to it so largely of their time, and with fruits repaying their labors, with aims so purely Christ-like—shall it fail or be crippled in its work, do only a fraction of what it might, solely for the want of pecuniary means, and that, in the midst of a Church like ours?
The "social evil," as it is called, is ever in proportion to the wealth and luxury of the community; when the Church shares so abundantly in the wealth and luxury of the community, shall she not largely do her part in mitigating "the social evil?" Money—ah, we should not have to beg long for that if all of those moneyed men, upon whom this charity has peculiar claim, would own it. If only a tithe of those who shared in the ruin of the abandoned ones we essay to save, would recognize the responsibility hence incumbent on them, and would discharge it in the only way they can. Money enough we should have, if all had the heart and conscience of one I knew, a thorough convert, who, as it is phrased, "had been wild in his day." He had never robbed the innocent of their virtue, he could thank God for that, but in using those whom others had thus robbed for his guilty indulgence, he felt that he availed himself of the robber's crime. He felt that he had done his part in still further depraving the depraved, and hardening them more hopelessly in their sin. In this way, he honestly argued with, and bitterly reproached himself, and the only satisfaction he could find was in resolving to support to the utmost of his ability a reformatory house for women; which he did for the remainder of his life-a short one, however, from the physical penalties he paid for the excesses of his former days. Would that all such repentant sinners would in like manner bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Restitution is one of the meet and surest fruits of genuine repentance. We preachers do not sufficiently insist upon it, although it is the dictate of common sense, as well as the law of the Bible. If a man steal your purse should you give much for his compunctions of conscience if he would not restore its contents? If a man defame your character, and say he was very sorry for it, would you believe him if he did not care to undo his defamation? In these cases direct and actual reparation must be made to the parties injured. Under other circumstances it can only be made in spirit and intent—virtually, as it was in the instance just related; and as it will be by all like transgressors who are in earnest in assuring themselves of their repentance.
To such, could they be got to hear me, I would say: True, you cannot undo the wrong doings of the past; you have done with the partners of your lusts. They lived on for the little day of their licentious course, in which you revelled with them. If any of them forsook it and returned to virtue, it was not because of anything you did for that purpose; all your companying with them tended to their destruction. Long ere this, most of them have gone to their places in the Potter's field, where their bodies, once your foul worship, rotten before death, lie huddled in pits, to burial rites unknown. Their souls, what has become of them? Of that you fear to think, as well you may, remembering how much you did to seal their perdition. Oh! then, as you would not share perdition with them, (if that be indeed their doom you hope, who does not? God's mercy for them, as you hope it for yourselves,) join us now in saving some at least of others in the same career, others with whom your younger brothers, or your sons, may be following your example. Join us in interposing the blessed cross between them and eternal ruin, and so make surer of your own escape from the wrath to come. Do all in the way of reparation you can. Make all the largesses of repentance in your power; not indeed for atonement, but as fruits of your faith in the blood which alone atones for sin; and of your charity, which is al essential exercise of that faith-charity offering in current coin on the altar of this Mission, at least as much as was consumed on the altar of the polluted and polluting fires of your lusts. Think of the day when He who once wrote with His finger on the ground, will point to the uncancelled sins of youth and age, not written in the dust, but in the opened Books on the Great White Throne. Men talk lightly of having sown their wild oats-take care, take care, lest the harvest of the wild oats be yet to come. Deem not that I make too much of restitution, for thus it is written here, "Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by giving to the poor." You cannot show mercy to the poor souls with whom you did your iniquities, but show it to their followers in those iniquities, so far as they will accept it, lest both appear as witnesses against you at the grand and last Assize.
And now, a word to you, my young friends, that you may never need such preaching. Be warned of the dangers that beset your way companions that bid you not to be righteous over much, or laugh at your scruples in denying yourselves the gratifications of your age-insidious literature, undermining your principles, not to speak of books defiling the imagination and inflaming the passions, thrust into your hands by young employees of the devil—the fine arts charming away the old notions of modesty syrens, enticing at every corner of the streets the seduced becoming in turn seducers,—the theatre, the saloon, the half-way houses on the short road to those other houses, where the heathen voluptuary wrote, Hic habitat felicitas, but on which the wise man inscribes: "The way to hell," "going down to the chamber of death." Resent as an insult to your manliness the offer to introduce you there. Accustom not your lips to the jesting terms for deadly vice. Be not familiar with the vocabulary of your young men of pleasure, lest talking like them, you come to think and act like them. Venture even to rebuke them, that you may, in no wise, be partakers of their sins. "Let no man," says St. Paul, "deceive you with vain words"—apologetic words, asking where is the harm of living according to nature, "because of those things "those carnal pollutions, which he had been calling by their right names, "cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." And how fearfully is that wrath seen in the physical consequences, the punishment of such disobedience! The most loathsome sights which the diseased human body, in man or woman exhibits, the most horridly disgusting, are the living corpses in which victims of lust are putrefying into their graves.
Keep your purity unsullied in thought as well as in deed. Believe that chastity is an ornament of manhood. Prize it as a pearl of the soul. Protect it with the fair egis of virtuous female influence. Decline the company that your mother or your sisters could not meet. Have no secrets that wont bear telling to them. Have a good conscience when you come home to them of an evening, or on your return from tours of business or pleasure. Could you kiss the sister that flies to meet you, with lips polluted by a harlot's kiss? Be as virtuous yourselves as you will have them to be whose hands you ask in wedlock; and to that holy estate, ordained for man in Eden, look forward at the earliest day its happiness is in your power. In your anticipations of earthly bliss, aspire to that of a family of your own. Marry in the Lord,—
"Hail, wedded love! mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise, in all things common else.
By thee adulterous lust was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets!"
Returning now for a moment to the Gospel scene with which we began; suppose that of that party which brought the adulteress to Christ there had been one with a clear conscience, one who was free from any such guilt as she was charged with; so that he did not steal away with the rest, but remained standing there in the consciousness of his integrity—think you that he would have stayed to demand the sentence of the law upon the offender? Would he have been the man to cast the first stone at her? We cannot imagine it. Innocence is pitiful. Purity is tender and sympathizing. The harsh judgments which we sometimes hear expressed by the sex on their erring sisters is, to those who know human nature, no convincing proof of their superior chastity in thought and desire. The holiest are the most compassionate. Who more compassionate than the only Immaculate One? Who least feared the touch of the polluted, or was the readiest to do them good? It is pharisaical righteousness, not evangelical holiness, which makes your sanctimonious ones; like him in that other Gospel story, in which our Lord again appears refusing to give judgment against the woman that had been a sinner. The pharisee, Simon, made up his mind that there was nothing of the prophet in Christ, or He would not suffer such a woman to come near Him; so it is the Simon Pure of our days that is horrified at missions to vile women.
It is to you we look, my Christian friends, who humbly thank the preventing Providence and the good Spirit which have kept you from falling. You can say: "By the grace of God I am what I am"—that grace which never makes a man holier, without making him, also, more loving and more charitable towards others. On you we mainly depend for supplying the material needs of our Mission, while, as I have been saying, we should have a full, aye, an overflowing treasury, if the men who gave occasion for it, would own up to the duty thence entailed on them—if they were not converted in all but their pockets—if they were as pious with their bank-books as their prayer-books—if they did not think their conversion a thing done and over. But since these "ifs" are there, we cannot depend upon them. Now and then, an old transgressor is aroused by a lightning flash of grace, and does his whole tale of duty. More would do this if we ministers were more of Nathans, and would go and say unmistakably, "Thou art the man." But as things are, especially you, my dear brethren, who have served the Lord from your youth up, to you we turn with most hopes of success. To you who have hearts for the endeavor of love to restore those whom the world, and the Church too, thinks hardly worth restoring; too low for pity, and deserving to be left the refuse they are. Certainly they have grievously, shamefully sinned. Some, with no excuse. Others, if not with excuse, yet with palliation, either in their bringing up apart from all Christian influence and amid constant exposure to temptation; or, from their having been the victims of seduction; or, from the extremities of destitution; or, allow me to add, in a fondness for finery, copying their sisters in higher life, who, by their example of vain show in dress, have more to answer for, in this matter, than they suspect. What a sermon on the subject might be addressed to Christian ladies!
From various considerations you will modify the harsh judgments of the world. Granting that there are young fiends of lust, and old brazen harlots on whom all the charity in the world would be thrown away; there are enough besides to deserve and reward your pity. And it is these you can help us to save. They are sometimes nearer to you than you know. Within your comfortable homes, while you rest at night, curtained within while the storm without makes only music to your ears, perchance there is a friendless street wanderer not far from your house. She has been allured from her distant home to the city by the hope of employment, which, after dreary search, she is unable to find. Her boarding-mistress, whom she can pay no longer, has shown her the door, and she is wending her way, she knows not whither. She can't make up her mind to that to which she has been enticed. Conscience has been stronger than the enticer. How shall she part with her good name—yet, how can she starve? Foot-sore, cold, hungry, and heart-aching, she longs for some hospitable resting-place. Where shall she find it? In any of your homes? You know she might as well attempt a fortress as to get admission to any of them. Did she dare to ask, and tell her tale, not a door, for miles of streets, would let her in.
"Oh, It is pitiful,
In a whole city full,
Home she has none!"
Is it strange, with her ignorance of the Saviour, and with half-crazed brain, she turns her steps to where she has been already invited, and where her fair looks will give her a syren welcome? She is on the way to the door. Despair has hushed her conscience. Now, she is on the stoop. She puts her hand to the bell; takes it away as thoughts of her mother flash into her mind. There she stands-stands, quivering between life and death. Her hand i; half raised. Don't let her ring! Fly to her, and make her another trophy of the Midnight Mission. One of the most encouraging facts in regard to the Mission is, that families in every part of the country come to take the young women into their houses in capacities for which they may be suited.
WOLCOTT RICHARDS, M.D., President,
8 LEROY PLACE.
DANIEL HUNTINGTON, Vice-President,
49 EAST 20TH STREET.
ROBERT S. HOLT, Secretary,
57 WATER STREET.
PLINY F. SMITH, Treasurer,
26 NASSAU STREET,
Continental Life Insurance Co.
MAGGIE GENTLE lady, meek and pale,
Sister, with the cross and veil,
Man of God, benevolent,
On thy mercy deeds intent;
Loved physician, brave and pure,
None can daunt and none can lure,
If on yonder busy street,
'Mid the ever thronging feet,
One like this ye sometimes meet,
Will ye kindly pause and greet?
One with brazen brow and mien,
Deeply stamped with shame and sin,
"Maggie" once, now only "Madge,"
With the flaunting plume for badge,
Painted cheek and wanton eye,
Jewels like the evening sky,
Jest and song and syren smile,
Souls unwary to beguile;
Oh, if aye by day or night
One like this should chance your sight,
Friends, I pray ye, if ye will,
Greet and say, we love her still.
Say we do not rudely scorn,
Only pity, only mourn;
Not a single stone would throw,
Not a thorny word would sow;
Human, like herself, we know
Human weakness, human woe,
And have only tears to give
While we murmur, "God forgive."
Say, O say, we ne'er forget;
That we love our Maggie yet!
Sisters, brothers, will ye greet,
And these kindly words repeat?
Oh! that feet which we have led,
Now destruction's pathway tread!
That the steps we loved so well,
Now have taken "hold on Hell!"
That the child of faith and prayer
Dwelleth where—"the dead are there
Oh, the breaking hearts that yearn,
Wait and watch for her return!
Oh, the floods of sorrow wept!
Oh, the midnight vigils kept!
Oh, the gathering despair,
With our only solace prayer,
Only source of peace and strength,
Blessed hope of Heaven at length!
Ask her, sisters, if ye will,
Can she thus our anguish fill?
Tell her of the babe she bore;
Darling little Isadore;
Sweetest babe that ever pressed
Cheek against a loving breast;
Tell of all her prattle gay,
Every little charming way;
How we've taught her oft to pray,
"Bless dear mamma far away!"
How with time the witching elf
Grows like mamma's very self.
Tell her he who wronged her so,
In the churchyard lieth low,
And the cruel souls that spurned,
By their own sad fate have learned
Pity for another's fall,
And would gladly cover all.
Tell her these, and beg her come
Once again to friends and home!
Tell our Maggie, if ye will,
That the Savior loves her still,
Loves in all her shame and sin,
Loves, and longs her love to win.
He who every wrong doth mark,
Every stain howe'er so dark,
Loves, and loves beyond us all.
Plead that she will heed His call,
Will the galling fetters break,
And her every sin forsake.
Plead—nor tell me it is vain;
Fondly plead—and plead again!
If ye plead in Jesus' name,
Jesus may the lost reclaim.
Tell her of the blood He spilt;
Cleansing for the foulest guilt;
Tell her in the wildest hour
He can chain the tempter's power;
Will she but the conflict brave,
He will succor, He will save.
Sisters, though the world deride,
Closer draw, and walk beside;
Take her hand, with loving touch,
Jesus did not shrink from such;
Gently take, and lead her where
Loving hearts and loving care
Wait to welcome, glad receive,
Refuge, shelter, comfort give.
Tell of hope for souls that err,
Tell her there is hope for her;
Tell her, sisters, if ye will,
God and we do love her still!
No. 38 EAST TWENTY-SECOND STREET,
NEW YORK, March 10, 1870.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of New York.
DEAR BRETHREN:—In appealing to you in behalf of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION of this city, I can not doubt that I shall have your ready, earnest sympathy. The experience of three years in this most difficult and distressing work of mercy has demonstrated that there is ample ground for encouragement. The last Report of the Board of Managers shows that there are many grateful hearts, delivered apparently from the bondage of corruption, which are even now testifying to the gracious influence of the Mission, and offering up prayers for its more abundant efficiency and success. I commend that report to your careful consideration.
It seems very desirable that the Mission should become possessed of a building of its own, in order that it may be relieved from the burden of extravagant rents, and from other inconveniences attending the use for such purposes of hired tenements.
There are obvious reasons why every part of the Diocese, not to say every part of the country, should be interested in the support of such a Mission in this city. I invoke the kind cooperation of the Clergy, and earnestly hope that the Mission may speedily obtain the means of establishing itself in a commodious and permanent house, with every needed appliance for enlarged usefulness. Praying God to give you His blessing.
I am your affectionate brother,
Bishop of New York.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of New Jersey.
BROTHERS IN CHRIST:—The incarnate Son of God, the great Shepherd of the Flock, declared, by word and act, that he came to seek and to save that which was lost. It is the privilege and duty of the Church, which is his mystical body, to perpetuate his divine message and work of charity. Now, there is no department of Christian benevolence so imperative, and yet so difficult, as that which seeks to save through Jesus' grace and merits those who are lost to purity, and thereby to all that gives sweetness to home and social life. And there are no workers for Christ so worthy of our sympathy, our prayers, and our unceasing alms, as those heroic men and women, who for very love of Jesus, and calling on the Spirit of Holiness for strength, are willing to go down to the precincts of pollution, and pluck out of the jaws of hell those silly women whom Satan has taken captive through the lusts of the flesh. THE MIDNIGHT MISSION, established in the neighbor city of New York, with the approbation of the Bishop, and under refined Christian auspices, has been, for three years, successfully engaged in this godlike work, whose salutary results reach beyond the Diocese of New York into other jurisdictions.
I call upon you, therefore, ye men and women of God, within my spiritual charge, to help with your good will, and with your money, THE MIDNIGHT MISSION, whose official report can be had on application. By the tears of the penitent, whom the divine Master permitted to wash his feet,—help! By the Master's ever-living words of mercy to the penitent: "Go, and sin no more."—help! O Lord God of purity, do thou help mightily, with thy Holy Ghost, those who are dying amid the thick darkness of the midnight of sin, to arise and accept the light and virtue of the new life in Christ. O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, help, with thy perpetual benediction, all who in any degree, and for thy glory only, are striving through THE MIDNIGHT MISSION, to prolong thine own most merciful words: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven."
Affectionately your Bishop,
WILLIAM HENRY ODENHEIMER.
BURLINGTON, N. J., Lent, A. D. 1870.
My dear Brethren, the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Central New York.
Our blessed Lord's divine tenderness toward sinning women forms one of the most benignant and impressive features of his early ministry. Partly from a lack of his spirit of holy and patient love, and partly from dismay at the fearful difficulties that cling to any practical measures for dealing with the problem of public prostitution, his disciples, in all ages, have followed him in this compassion only with feeble, hesitating steps. Within a few years, some most devoted men and brave women in the Communion of our Church (which ought to lead in every Christian work) have undertaken to confront the awful evil with the power of a patient charity. Naturally their first principal effort has been made in the largest metropolis of the nation. I have been acquainted with this gracious movement from the beginning. Some of its efficient officers and promoters are my personal friends. On every account I believe THE MIDNIGHT MISSION deserves the full confidence of our people all over the land. More than that, it ought to have the prompt, unquestioning, enthusiastic support of all good men and pure women in the country. There is not a corner of the continent that is not solemnly concerned in the success of this ministration of mercy. There is not a public or private interest of the people entirely independent of it. No person that knows the meaning of the words, "mother," "sister," "wife," "daughter," can be indifferent to its objects. Its purpose is the restoration to purity, by the power of Christ, of fallen women, not "abandoned" women, for it proves that that word has no fit place in a Christian's vocabulary. The reports of the Mission fully explain its plans and methods. My hope is, that among other needy objects pressing upon us, you will all find some place and way, and a ready disposition, to remember this, in your alms and oblations as well as in your prayers.
Affectionately, in the name of Him who said to the woman that was a sinner: "Go in peace."
Your friend and Bishop,
F. D. HUNTINGTON.
SYRACUSE, March 15, 1870.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Connecticut.
MY DEAR BRETHREN:—I wish in a few words, but most cordially and earnestly, to commend to your prayers and generous aid THE MIDNIGHT MISSION in the city of New York.
Do its purposes need a word of commendation? Does not the work it undertakes for the poor souls whom it seeks to bring to Christ appeal to every compassionate sympathy of a Christian's heart, with a power to which words can not add? Are there any truer labors of Christian mercy than those which strive to save from sin and infamy, so deep and awful, that one shrinks from even thinking of them, those whose childhood, perhaps, was passed in pure and happy earthly homes, and who, at any rate, are wanderers from that house and home which the Lord died to give us?
Thus much should be said; i. e., that not only does the purpose of this Mission command our loving sympathy, its practical working deserves, as well, our confidence and aid. It has been managed, from the beginning, with wonderful judiciousness, and with a quiet prayerful faithfulness that are beyond our praise. I beg you to give it your generous support.
Affectionately your friend and servant in the Lord,
MIDDLETOWN, March 21, 1870
126 REMSEN STREET, BROOKLYN,
MARCH 15, 1870.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Long Island.
DEAR BRETHREN:—THE MIDNIGHT MISSION has already done a great work, and its Managers desire to place it on a basis which will enable it to do a greater one. Their appeal sufficiently explains their purpose; and I very earnestly commend it to you, as thoroughly deserving your sympathy and active co-operation.
Faithfully and affectionately your brother,
A. N. LITTLEJOHN,
Bishop of Long Island.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Rhode Island,
DEAR BRETHREN:—"The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." This is the work which the New York MIDNIGHT MISSION has undertaken, to save those who are lost to their friends, lost to society, lost to the ways of peace and virtue. The success which has thus far crowned this noble effort is greater than could have been anticipated,—a good proportion of those who have received encouragement and aid from the Mission, have been reclaimed from sin, and are now leading useful and honest lives.
It is very much to be desired that the Mission should possess a building of its own, and be enabled to enlarge the sphere of its operations. In order to this, an appeal is made to the citizens of neighboring States, inasmuch as the Mission receives its supplies in a great degree from those quarters; and I most earnestly commend this application to the sympathy of the people of this Diocese, and ask their contributions in its behalf. Very affectionately yours,
THOMAS M. CLARK,
Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island.
PROVIDENCE, R. I., March 14, 1870.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Massachusetts.
I CHEERFULLY add my commendation of the New York MIDNIGHT MISSION, to those already given by other Bishops; and hope that liberal aid will be rendered to it by the clergy and people of this Diocese. It is unnecessary for me to say more, as an object, so godlike, speaks for itself.
BOSTON, March 23, 1870.
THE Trustees of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION are making an effort to create a "BUILDING FUND" of $40,000, by asking for One Thousand Subscriptions of $40 each. "The Forty Dollar plan" was adopted, in order that the public generally might be able to share in the work, and that it might not be burdensome to any.
They would therefore most earnestly ask all who feel interested in this great work to send their names to the Treasurer without delay, in order that the "Forty Dollar list" may be completed for publication, a copy of which will be sent to each subscriber.
A payment of $10 only is required on subscribing—the balance to be paid in three semi-annual installments; thus making it easy for all to manage one share.
Larger and smaller subscriptions than $40 will, of course, be acceptable.
Address, PLINY F. SMITH, Treasurer, 26 Nassau Street (Continental Life Ins. Co.),
Box 2592 P. O., New York.
Trustees of the Building Fund.
WM. ALEX. SMITH, 40 Wall Street,
THOS. P. CUMMINGS, 87 Chambers St.,
ROBT. S. HOLT, Sec'y, 57 Water Street.
NEW YORK, February 15, 1870.
THE foregoing Appeal of the Trustees of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION covers no more than the precise and legitimate extent of obligation. All are interested, or should be, in this important work; for it is undeniably true, that almost every State and community in the land, contribute to the evil which has attained such alarming proportions in this metropolis; all sections are tributary to it, and all are concerned in those efforts which seek its repression and overthrow. It is to the city of New York that thousands of the misled and the lost resort from distant quarters of the country to hide their shame or follow their degrading inclinations. It is to this city, far oftener than to any other, that heart-broken parents come from remote points in search of daughters, who have lapsed from virtue, and fled beyond the reach of domestic control. On this ground a general application is made for help, in securing a larger and more suitable building for the objects of the Mission. It is an appeal which should enlist the sympathy and aid of every minister and layman throughout the land.
WILLIAM F. MORGAN,
Rector of St. Thomas Church, New York.
OF all the benevolent purposes out of which spring the many charitable institutions of our land, none is more lovely than that of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION. That purpose is to seek out those young women in the city of New York who have, for any cause whatever, abandoned themselves or been abandoned to prostitution that most hideous living death—and bring them back to religion and a godly life; to bring them to their Mother, the Church, and teach them to know and delight in the love of their heavenly FATHER.
As has been well said, if two or three little children have strayed from their father's house, how quickly a whole neighborhood rouses itself for the search, and relaxes no effort to bring them back. The whole country is awake with sympathy, and the telegraph flashes the daily results until the lost ones are restored, or their dead bodies reveal the terrible starvation and suffering they have undergone.
THE MIDNIGHT MISSION is doing this same thing for those who have strayed away spiritually from their homes. Many a young woman, who found in the first few hours, or weeks, or months of liberty a certain pleasure, but afterward was consumed by a terrible hunger of the heart, the zealous workers in THE MIDNIGHT MISSION have sought out and restored. Their statement in another column of The Churchman ought to bring them almost unlimited support in their loving work.
And this support should go to them, not from New York City only, but from the entire country. The ghastly multitude of those for whom they work are not supplied from the city alone. Day by day it is drawing in young women, now from one village, and now from another village, for hundreds of miles away. In fact, let every woman who has a sister or a daughter, or better still, let every woman whom the love of Christ has taught to regard all other women as sisters, send something to the Treasurer of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION.
ST. LUKE RECTORY,
BROOKLYN, April 21, 1870.
PLINY F. SMITH, ESQ.
My Dear Sir:—Your circular and private communication came duly to hand. I thank you for remembering me among those to whom you apply for aid in trying to raise the fallen. Inclosed I send for THE MIDNIGHT MISSION $40, being collection in my parish on Good Friday. Mine is a free and virtually a Mission Church, but I am glad to do even this little for the Christ-like and most merciful work in which you are engaged. In carrying out any great and good work, there must necessarily be some discouragements; for we can not expect the world's sympathy with the Church.
Be assured you are doing what is right and pleasing to God in the sacred offices to which you are devoted.
That the guardian angels of God may ever have you and those associated with you in his holy keeping, is the prayer of your friend and brother in the Church.
J. W. DILLER.
LENT, March 18, 1870.
Good Brother:—I am a poor priest, with no promise of pay for my labors in the Church, and yet live on what God sends me from Sunday to Sunday. I am constrained to "take the lowest seat" among my dear brethren, who are engaged in the holy and sublime work you represent. I send you a post-office order for $5, and a hearty prayer with the little offering, for the Master's blessing on the charity and the true children of the Church, who are endeavoring to bring back the lost to his compassionate bosom.
Yours in Christ and the Church,
J. JACKSON SCOTT,
Rector of Pensacola.
MR. PLINY F. SMITH, Treasurer, etc.
PLINY F. SMITH, Treasurer of the Midnight Mission.
IN answer to the recent appeal for small contributions of 50 cts. or $1 for present contingencies of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION for fallen women, please accept the inclosed; and most grateful I am that your special needs put it in our power to do anything for an object that has stirred our sympathies and worked upon our feelings as nothing ever has before.
It has been a real source of sorrow that our means would not allow of a share in the $40 offerings for your new building.
God bless and help the sad and tender mission in which you are engaged. Truly yours,
J. MILTON PECK,
Rector elect of Christ Church, Danville, Penn.
FESTIVAL OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW, 1870.
MEMPHIS, TENN., March 19, 1870.
PLINY F. SMITH, ESQ.
My Dear Sir:—Inclosed please find a check for twenty dollars ($20) for THE MIDNIGHT MISSION," from "St. Mary's Cathedral," of this city. The work in which your noble band is engaged is so thoroughly Christlike, that my warmest sympathy and hearty blessing is proffered to every one. God bless, preserve, and keep you all. The Lord with his favor mercifully look upon you, and prosper you more and more with the aid of his Holy Spirit, that you may resist all the devices of Satan, and triumph over sin through the one Great Captain of our salvation.
Yours in the love of Jesus Christ,
RICHARD HINES, Rector.
M———, PA., November 12, 1870.
MRS. MARY FOSTER.
My Dear Madam:—I inclose a money order for seven dollars. This will pay Mary's expenses here, and will leave a small amount (much smaller than what I would wish to send) for the benefit of the Mission. Mary came at a time when many a girl would have been discouraged and become dissatisfied (there being two children sick in bed in the house, one down for seven weeks), but she went to work with good spirit, and has more than satisfied us. I have her already reading with the view of preparing for confirmation, and trust she will be ready for it when I can get a visitation from our Bishop. Her offerings every Sunday are special, for the Midnight Mission, and will be forwarded to you when they amount to something of a sum.
She looks forward with much pleasure to letters from you, and seems to think everything of you. So, if you can manage thus to show her that you keep her in mind, I think it will do much toward keeping her in the right way. Wishing you and your work all success, and of course God's blessing, without which you can not succeed,
I am yours truly,
(REV.) M. J. W.
S—, Mass., November 13, 1870.
My Dear Madam:—Jennie sent you a line the day of her arrival here, and has just asked me if I would not write to you. I do so with great pleasure, for I think I can see in her a kind of quiet happiness that speaks. more in her looks than in her words. We have given her the charge of the upper part of the house, and especially of the little one, as more adapted to her capacities. But although she and baby are great friends, she seems to have times of sadness and weeping, that possibly may be brought about by taking care of the baby. She has won herself thoroughly into the affections of all in the house, and especially of Mrs. C.
My selection on a former occasion resulted rather disastrously to us financially, and my wife was somewhat incredulous when I spoke of a girl from the Midnight Mission, but she is thoroughly converted. Jennie seems to be happy, and I hope will grow daily more so. I remember with feelings of mingled pleasure and pain the acquaintance I have had with the Midnight Mission, and should I go again to New York, shall be only too happy to visit it again, for it affords a rare experience.
With kindest regards,
(REV.) R. B. C.
"No more condemned, the mercenary tool
Of brutal lust,—the saving hand of grace
Will probe my secret soul, and cleanse its wounds,
And fit the faithful penitent for heaven."—Southey.
"O! ben provvide il Cielo
Ch'uom per delitti mai lieto non sia."—Alfieri.
THE MIDNIGHT MISSION! would that I could blow
In its behalf a powerful blast, to reach
Full many a guilty conscience, and impeach
Its owner of past lewdness, till he glow
With shame, and now stand eager to bestow
Large benefactions;-hoping, from the breach
Of purity's laws, some,-won by kindly speech,
Lust's wretched victims, yet release may know.
Many there are, who early manhood spent
Indulging carnal passions, till,—intent
Wealth to amass,—they walked a soberer path;
Some have e'en Christ confessed before the world:
Can they dare hope at last to escape God's wrath,
If they do not sustain the flag of mercy now unfurl'd? J. J. R.
SOME time in the month of January, 1870, word was left at THE MIDNIGHT MISSION, that at a certain notorious house in Greene Street, two young girls were detained against their will, and were very anxious to make their escape, but were so closely guarded that escape was impossible. The information was accompanied by the earnest request that the members of the Mission would make an effort to rescue them from their loathsome prison. Accordingly, two gentlemen connected with the Mission, left their business one afternoon, and proceeded to the house designated. Admission was gained without difficulty. There being several girls assembled in the larger parlor or dance hall, one of the gentlemen asked if "H." and "E." were present (calling the girls by name), whereupon the two designated came forward, and on being asked if they wished to leave the house, replied in the affirmative. The "madam" (a desperate character) now interfered, and said: "You have no right to come here to interfere with my business; so begone, the girls can not go." The gentleman replied: "You have no right to keep those girls here against their will; if they wish to go from here, they shall go, and we will take them." Upon learning that the gentlemen represented THE MIDNIGHT MISSION, and fearing that a further resistance would result in the interference of the police (who were close at hand) the girls were allowed to depart, greatly to their joy. They remained for a considerable time happy and contented inmates of the Home, until they were restored to their friends. Even after they came to the Mission, they were instrumental in rescuing two other girls from the same house, who also placed themselves under the care of the Mission; they were all mere children; scarcely in their "teens." One of them is still an inmate of the Home, and the others, it is believed, are living virtuous lives, beyond the reach of the Greene Street monster.
The father of one of the girls (a respectable man, residing on Long Island), upon receiving tidings of his daughter, came to take her home. The interview between that broken-hearted father and his child was very affecting. He was completely bowed down, and wept like a child over his "lost" but "found" daughter, and fell upon his knees before the lady in charge, to thank her for her kindness to his erring child; he prayed that the blessing of heaven might rest upon THE MIDNIGHT MISSION, and all persons connected with it.
The following letter, from a distant part of the country, was from a gentleman, whose daughter had been rescued from a life of sin, and restored to her heart-broken parents by THE MIDNIGHT MISSION:
"October 3, 1870.
"MRS. FOSTER, Lady in Charge.
"Dear Madam:—The bearer of this is my wife, to whose care you will please assign my daughter "C." Please accept my heartfelt thanks for the care and interest you have taken in my child's reclamation. At the earliest opportunity afforded me, I shall call at the Mission to thank you in person for your kindness." * *
"Our present Mission House will accommodate but twenty inmates, besides those in charge of the house. For many months past we have been almost constantly full, and have been reluctantly compelled to reject many who (disgusted with their life of shame) voluntarily sought refuge under our roof. Is it not a painful necessity which constrains us to shut the door against any poor soul struggling (even though it be but a momentary, convulsive struggle) to overcome its corruptions, and escape from the snares which entangle it? Surely, if the public could be made to understand and realize our necessities, there are benevolent hearts that would pour into our treasury costly gifts; gifts that would involve some self-sacrifice, in order that none desiring to reform need lack opportunity.
"We ought, indeed, to own a suitable building, so constructed that each inmate should have a room to herself, in order that the serious might be separated from the frivolous; that the penitent might (unmolested by scoffing companions,) have opportunity for meditation and prayer. We have faith to believe we shall, at no distant day, have such a building as we desire. In the mean time, we call upon the pious and benevolent to sustain us more liberally in our present work."
June 18, 1870.
PLINY F. SMITH, ESQ., 26 Nassau Street, N. Y.
My Dear Sir:—Inclosed please find post-office order for $20, payable to yourself, on account of $40 which I wish to subscribe to the "Building Fund" of THE MIDNIGHT MISSION.
I trust that so noble a charity as this will not languish for want of funds.
Should you wish for the balance before I send it, please notify me. Truly yours,
O. W. WHITAKER.
MERCIFUL GOD, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that Thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his sin and be saved; we implore Thee to grant repentance to all those who are living in the haunts and trade of sin; that whether overmastered by the craft of Satan, or the subtlety of their fellow-creatures, or betrayed by their own carnal will and frailness, they may still, by Thy Almighty power, be recovered from the snare. O visit them with Thy salvation, and give them grace to glorify Thee with what Thou lovest the sighs of broken and contrite hearts, and weeping at Thy feet. Lord of Glory, hear in heaven our prayer and consider their misery: O magnify Thy mercy upon them, Thou that art the Good Shepherd, and wouldest not that even ONE should be lost and die, in Thy love call them home: cast out of them, we beseech Thee, every unclean spirit, that they may be restored to themselves, to God, and to us. And bless, O God, with Thy abundant favor, all those who are laboring in Thy Church to turn the fallen from their evil ways; that they with us and we with them, as the sheep of Thy pasture, may give Thee thanks forever, and always be showing forth Thy praise in Thy heavenly kingdom, through JESUS CHRIST our LORD. AMEN.