PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY COMMUNION, NEW-YORK.
HOBART PRESS, 57, ANN-STREET.
THE following letters are in substance what has passed, at different times, between the writer of them and an intimate Christian friend. They are printed at the earnest solicitation of the undersigned, and for the purpose of circulation only among those who take a kind interest in the subject of which they treat. They are not a publication.
So much misapprehension Las prevailed, as to the nature of an organization for the more effective administration of charity, in the Church of the Holy Communion, that there seems a need of something authentic, for the satisfaction of them whose good opinion it is desirable to retain. Upon the merely curious, and the talkers of the day, it would not be worth while to expend words of explanation--nor indeed, upon the public at large. They cannot understand that for which they care nothing. The world praises or condemns without reflection, and always according to the current opinion and the prejudice in vogue. But there are others who are disposed to look favorably upon any beginnings in our Church, of that more [iii/iv] earnest and unreserved devotion, which accepts the service of charity as a vocation, and makes it a work of life. They construe benignly any movement in that direction. They do not eagerly catch at idle rumors respecting it. They are ready to bid it God speed. At the same time they have uneasy apprehensions. They know that things which begin well, not unfrequently end ill. They are warned against tendencies to Romanism, in anything that seems to resemble it. The very name of Sisterhood carries with it questionable associations. The misgivings of such are not to be made light of, and to relieve them is one object of the present pages. At once then let it be said, that while we do not underrate the good that is done by such orders, as the Sisters of, Charity in the Roman Communion, we are thoroughly persuaded that they cannot be copied among ourselves. They are essentially Roman. To say nothing of their faith, their perpetual vows--their constrained celibacy--their unreserved obedience--their subjection of the conscience-- their rounds of ceremonies and devotions--the whole tenor of their exterior religious life, makes them a homogenous part of the system of that Church. They could exist no where else. There can be no imitations of them in a Protestant Church. [Some of the "Anglican" Sisterhoods are imitations. They are not genuine productions of Evangelical Charity in its Protestant simplicity. They have a foreign garb, indicative of a foreign taste. The "Institutions of Deaconesses of which an interesting account will be found in the present pamphlet, is much more to our mind.]
[v] "A Sisterhood," (the appellation is too good to be given up,) as here contended for, is a very simple thing. It is a community of Christian women, devoted to works of love and mercy among the poor. For the most part they form a household of themselves; that being necessary in order to their mutual sympathy and encouragement, and to their greater unity and efficiency in action. They are held together by identity of purpose and concordance of will and feeling. Their one bond of union is simply the "Love of Christ constraining them." As long as that continues a constraining motive, cordially combining the members, their society will last. In proportion as that languishes and fails, it will decline and dissolve of its own accord. In this respect, as well as in so many others, it differs from any of the charitable orders of the Roman Church. Granted that these latter are actuated by the genuine life of true charity, they all have another and independent life, derived from the system of which they are a component part, and which may be called their ecclesiastical life. Hence they may continue to exist, in virtue of the latter, while the former is extinct. Though the power of the Gospel be departed, the force of the Church acts upon them, impelling them on [v/vi] and keeping them in motion. They may be in a state of moral apostacy--personal piety and virtue may be rare, or have entirely left them; abuses and corruptions may be multiplying, nevertheless they live and prosper. They have lost none of their mere ecclesiastical vitality. They retain the imparted energy of the Church. Now Protestantism has no such power. It belongs to a consolidated Church. Protestantism possesses not the art of keeping dead things alive. Orders of charity, should they come to pass among us, will be such really and actually as long as they last. They may not last long, but they will be what they profess to be, as long as they do last. They will not survive their true and proper existence; they will derive no after being, no perfunctory and mechanical life from the Church. As the spontaneous product of charity, they will thrive just as the spirit of charity continues to be their indwelling spirit. Their corruption would lead to their dissolution. Having only one life, when they are dead they will die.
Nothing, then, is to be feared from a truly Protestant Sisterhood. When it degenerates it will come to an end. It depends for its continuance, wholly upon the continuance of the zeal which called it into being. The uniting principle among its members, is their common affection for the object which has brought them together, and which by giving intenseness to their mutual affection as [vi/vii] Sisters in Christ, tends to strengthen and confirm their social existence; but there is no constraint from without on the part of the Church, nor any from within in the form of religious vows, or promises to one another, to insure their perpetuity as a body, or to interfere with their freedom of conscience as individuals. While one in feeling and action, each yet stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." Not that they hold themselves ever ready to adjourn, or that they would be satisfied with an ephemeral existence. Each and all feel that they have entered upon a sacred service, which they are at liberty to quit, only at the call of duty elsewhere. They naturally cherish their union. They look forward to its permanence in themselves, and their successors who may he called thereto. But they do not know. They walk by Faith. As they trust their Society has come to pass in the gracious ordering of God, so they believe it will be upheld by Him, as long as He has work for them to do, and it pleases Him to give them grace to do it. Handmaidens of the Lord, waiting upon his good pleasure, they are not anxious for the future, content to leave it in His hands.
If it be asked, how such a purely voluntary association can have any formal connection with the Church in her corporate capacity, the answer is, through the pastor or pastors of the congregation or several congregations to [vii/viii] which the Sisters belong. As things now are, and are likely long to be, Sisterhoods can exist only under parochial charge.
From the foregoing may be gathered the nature of the institution contemplated in the Church of the Holy Communion--and, alas! little more than contemplated. As yet, the longing hopes of several years have been scantily realized. It is surprising how much has been said out of doors, what exaggerations of fancy there have been, of what has scarcely had an existence. A few hearts are united--fewer hands--how few it is sad to think, considering the work that asks to be done. We do not despair of their being multiplied. Prejudice will not last for ever. In the meanwhile we can only pray and wait, knowing that if what we pray and wait for be for the honor of our Lord, and for the good of his elect among the poor to whom we minister, He will bring it to pass. If not, it would be sin to desire it. In this confidence we rest.
W. A. MUHLENBERG.
MY DEAR S.:--
As you are anxious for some more precise and detailed information as to the motives and principles of our proposed Sisterhood than has hitherto reached you, I have imposed upon myself the task of doing what I can to satisfy you. I the more cheerfully make this, attempt because I have sometimes thought you not quite sure that such a life has no claims upon yourself, and because you can appreciate what is good and true, although presented in a guise with which you are not familiar. And then, too, you absolve us from any fondness for Romanistic mixtures, which is no little satisfaction in these days of alarm, when so many are frightened at a name, and too timid or too distrustful of their own faith to look at the good that is doing in another communion, lest they should seem to approximate to the error that alloys it. Yes, you do us the justice to believe that we heartily eschew the [9/10] entangling vows, the meritorious devotions, the auricular confessions, and the self-righteous austerities which mark the Romish system. You are sure that we attach no ideas of superior sanctity to the unmarried state in itself, or apart from the opportunities which it affords for wider usefulness and more frequent devotion. You know that in choosing it we aim at a life of grateful love to our Lord Jesus Christ, based upon the principles of the Gospel in their simplicity, living together for the strengthening of each other in holiness, and economizing our time, means, and all that we possess, only to have the more to give to them that need.
All this you. already understand, and in a great degree sympathize with, but you question how far such a form of the. Christian life is called for, and whether home be not a woman's true sphere. "Is not home, you ask, "the home in which God's Providence has placed us, with all its sacred relations and varying duties, a sufficient field for the exercise of every Christian grace? In its demands upon our forbearance and self-denial, as well as upon our active services of love, may we not daily take up our cross and follow Christ? and does there not seem something of presumption in setting ourselves loose from such duties to mark out a new and unusual path?" I [10/11] answer, "Yes, in very many cases, undoubtedly, yes." I can think of homes where the removal of its young female members would be a violence as unacceptable, it may be, to God, as unprofitable to themselves. One such we both know-a sweet country home, where a true Christian simplicity is the law of the household, regulating furniture, dress, meals, and every other expenditure-where the father's profits disperse themselves in gentle streams of charity along the channels marked out for them by the mother and daughters, who all, refined, educated women, divide their days between the exercises of devotion, the culture of their minds, the interchange of all tender and graceful affections among themselves, and the outpouring of large sympathy and pains-taking beneficence to the poor-a sisterhood of mercy in all that makes such sisterhoods of worth.
But, my dear friend, are such homes common? In more primitive and simple times, indeed, when there was less wealth and less luxury, they may have been so numerous as to preclude the question of any different way of life, but in these days, you must admit, they are rare anywhere, and in our great cities almost wholly unknown.
Look at the homes of the higher classes immediately around us, Christian homes as they are [11/12] called, and in their degree often are. By what laws are they regulated? By "the claims of society," "the custom of the times," "the demands of our position," and other false principles belonging to a highly artificial and luxurious age. Look at all the equipments, arrangements, and habits of such a house, and see if you can find there a sufficient field for the exercise of every Christian grace arid opportunities for the highest attainments in holiness; or rather, whether it be not a perilous life for salvation at all.
Follow a daughter of one of these homes through the hours of an ordinary day. She shall not be one of the butterflies of fashion, but an earnest-minded, true-hearted, woman, such as God, in his electing grace, from time to time marks for his own amid circles and associations, seemingly the most unpropitious. Her mind has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to understand something of the meaning of the injunction, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." She would fain do it; it is her morning prayer that she may have grace to make some advances towards it; but "the claims of society" are upon her, the bondage of fashionable life holds her fast. She attires herself in the rich apparel becoming her station, and divides her morning between the marts of vanity and [12/13] visiting, or receiving visits. At dinner she shares the usual sumptuous fare, and then, the conversation of the hour, music, and the social party or more public entertainment close the day. Night comes, and in the solitude of her chamber, she returns to the thought of working out her salvation. Perhaps, as she turns over the leaves of the sacred volume, her eye falls upon such passages as these:-"How hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of heaven." "Sell that ye have and give alms." "Watch, therefore, for at such an hour as ye think not, the Sun of Man cometh." The words sink into the depths of her soul with the power of Him from whose lips they fell. Earth in its emptiness, judgment and eternity as realities, rise before her. She groans in anguish over the recollection of day after day of self-gratification, and lavish expenditure, and profitless conversation, and aimless existence. With tears of contrition she implores pardon; and, from the bottom of her heart, resolves by God's grace, that she will not henceforth live unto herself. But the peace that comes with this good resolution is quickly broken again, for how can she make the morrow materially different from to-day? She will be required to take her place again in the same round of frivolous engagements, the same atmosphere of luxury [13/14] will surround her, the same compliance with the demands of an unreal life will be expected of her. She cannot alter the fabric of the society in which she finds herself, and her parents, nominally Christian though they be, so far from understanding her, would but try to divert her melancholy, as they will deem it, by fresh dissipation. She may, indeed, interest herself in a few poor persons, and make some other amendments in her daily routine; but this will not satisfy the yearnings of her heart. Light has broken in upon her soul, and pictured there a blessed life of undivided, generous love to Christ and to her brethren, which she must seek to make her own. What shall she do? Where shall she go? Shall she, as in a similar Case within my own observation, let the world stifle conscience, and content herself with doing the best she, can in a life of worldliness? Or shall she, as two others we heard of not long ago, seek in Rome a channel for those more fervent impulses, which our own Church has not yet learned to guide? Dear S-, are Protestant sisterhoods all unnecessary? Shall there be no provision amongst us for spirits such as these?
I have drawn my example from fashionable society as most readily illustrating my meaning, but you own mind will easily suggest parallel [14/15] cases in plainer life. You will be able to think of more than one good Martha, "careful and troubled about many things," and busy with a thousand matters of no higher bearing than the conventionalities of the circle in which she moves. And this, not because she does not discern or desire something better, but because it is the habit bf those around her, and because no way is offered to her for the complete devotion of her time and talents to that "one thing needful," which in her inmost soul she feels to be the true end of existence. Surely, to such a one, the exchange of a round of busy idleness, for the life of positive usefulness which sisterhoods afford, would be no mean gain.
And now look at another class in society, if indeed they are in society. Lonely, unportioned, unattached women, who have reached middle life without finding it convenient to marry, or whose affections have been crushed by death, or by still more bitter disappointment. They have an abode, it may be, in the dwellings of friends, whom decency, rather than sympathy, impels to offer them a shelter; but, in the isolation of heart, which doubles the sense of their real homelessness, what would it not be for them to find a peaceful refuge for their remaining days in such a home of Christian love as we are now considering?
 I do not say that these are the most valuable candidates for the sisterhood, and great care would be necessary in receiving such, lest mere weariness of earth be mistaken for a true looking towards heaven. But among the very large number of women that compose the class, there must be hundreds of "an honest and good heart," needing only the influence of a high-toned religious household to deepen their good dispositions into living convictions of duty, to draw out in deeds of active love the affections thrown back upon self, to warm the soul chilled by unrequited tenderness with the blessed whispers of Christ's love, saying in every act of mercy, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Is there, in this view, no need, of sisterhoods among us? Nay, is it not the lack of such houses and of profitable employment, and the consequent waste of the active, loving energies of woman's nature upon idle frivolities and vain pretensions to a notice accorded only to prosperous youth and beauty, which make a single life the disgrace so many seem to think it? God hasten the day when a choice between marriage and the consecration of life to a ministry which the Church shall recognise, will be nothing strange. That would, indeed, effectually wipe off the obloquy of [16/17] an unmarried condition; and until this may be, would it not be something to elevate the character of involuntary single women by giving them, as I have said, the employments for which God has fitted them?
"But, after all," you say, "these cases are rather exceptions than the ordinary history of woman's life-marriage is our natural lot." Marriage is, indeed, our natural lot, and oftentimes God so orders the circumstances of life as to show it to be an unmistakeable duty. It is for us, each one for ourselves, to see if that duty be ours. As Christians, we are bound to find out what our individual vocation is, what God will have us to do, whether He has entrusted to us the five or ten talents necessary to preserve our Christian integrity unscathed as wife and mistress of a household, claiming, at the best, as much carefulness, for this life, as for that which is to come, or the one talent for serving Christ, in the persons of his poor, within the shelter of a sisterhood. Marriage is natural, and to leave father and mother, and go to the ends of the earth with the companion of our choice, is ' natural, and to forsake country and home to better one's worldly condition in a more prosperous land, as we see in young women coming to these shores every day, is natural. These [17/18] are ventures for earth, and the propriety of them none will impugn. It is only heavenly ventures that men look upon with suspicious eye. Parents feel that, however painful it is to part with their daughter for a distant home, they have no right to forbid a suitable union on which her heart is set, and why not use the same just reasoning when she asks liberty to act up to a heaven- born impulse within her, to follow Christ alone? They will unhesitatingly resign her to all the uncertainties, temporal and spiritual, which attend even the most promising marriage; they will accept congratulations on an event which removes her from them to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, a thousand or more of miles away, and yet refuse to listen for a moment to her choice of a way of life, which, besides that it demands less separation, has in it, upon Christian argument, as good a promise of the life that now is, and, certainly, not a worse for the life which is to come. It is extraordinary that Christian parents cannot see the inconsistency of this. Especially is it hard to understand how a Christian mother, making the eternal welfare of her child her daily prayer, and asking sincerely that she may live to God's glory, could take upon herself the responsibility of resisting such a desire.
 Marriage is holy, too, and perhaps nothing on earth is more beautiful than a truly Christian marriage. But, then, let not the married, and those who contemplate marriage, deny, though they understand it not, that God may give it to some to hear a call to a life wedded to His service alone. May it not be that something of such a call is to be found in words like these: "No man that warreth entangleth himself in the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath called him to be a soldier:" or again, "if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
But you have yet another objection-the difficulty of any number of women, differing as they must in tastes, inclinations, and dispositions, living together harmoniously. Are you not forgetting, in such a thought, the nature of the bond by which such households are held together? Sisters in Christ, how can they but live in mutual love and peace? She who could make discord of such harmony, would not be a true sister, and, perhaps, the probationary term of some who think themselves called to the life, may show that they have mistaken their vocation. A devoted heart is a sister's first requisite, but then good sense, good temper, and a power of adapting herself to [19/20] "pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest." And is it not strange that there is room for such a question amongst us? Must it not be that a selfish contentment in our own abundant share of the Good Shepherd's "green pastures," has hardened our hearts to almost utter forgetfulness 'of the fainting multitudes on the outside, that this enquiry is yet to make in our branch of the Church, at this late period of its history? But, thank God, there is a movement upon the face of the waters, and in the desire after a life of entire devotion which we see springing up in the hearts of Christian women in different directions, and in the fervent prayers of others, who long to see such institutions arise, though they may not personally share their labors, we have tokens of a working of God's spirit, sufficient to sustain our courage against a world of blind prejudice and senseless opposition.
However, not to take for granted what is yet to be proved, let us return to the simple question, "Is there Christian work to be done which only Christian sisters can do?" And, dear S., go for an answer to the hundreds of children in our streets, too wretched and too abandoned to find a place in our Sunday Schools, and ask them if they are every day trained in the way that they should go, lest they one day make the population of the [22/23] prison and the penitentiary. Go to the abodes of squalid sickness in our lanes and alleys, and see if day by day, the hand of Christian love smooths the restless pillow and administers the judicious remedy, at the same time binding up the broken heart with the blessed consolations of the gospel, and pouring its oil and wine into the wounded conscience. Go to our prisons and penitentiaries, and enquire if the sinful and the sorrowful there are daily won to Him who " bare our sins and carried our sorrows," by the accents of unfeigned pity reading from the Book of Life "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?" If there be an affirmative to these questions, most glad I am but, my dear S., you must show me where it is. Not in the utmost zeal of Christian wives and mothers, all full of alms-deeds as so many of them are, for such work requires daily hours of patient labor and self-devotion inconsistent with the imperative, heaven-sanctioned claims of husband, child, and household-not in the best efforts of devout women acting separately, for the work is too great, and the qualifications needed too varied for one alone to touch it. We remember, indeed, an Elizabeth Fry, but the prominence given to her name proves the exception rather than the rule. No, the past twenty years show us nothing [23/24] others-a patient mind, a submissive will, and a true humility are its indispensable accompaniments. Those, who, upon trial, find themselves without these qualifications must take it as an indication of God's will that they should serve him in the ordinary way. It is enough for us that we do God's will. So then, my dear friend, I cannot sympathize with you in this apprehension. No, the life of a true sister of mercy must needs be a blessed one. To have companions altogether of one heart and one mind-to have so much of the distractions of the world cut off-to lie at peace for the future, having no further solicitudes for the present life-to have opportunities of usefulness which may be desired, but in vain sought for elsewhere-to have our time divided between prayer and praise and such labors of love as best mould the heart for the home of perfect love, whither we trust we are tending. Oh! can Christian women, free to choose, see no beauty in such a life, that they should desire it? And will you not think of it, dear S.? will you not pray over it? Should you be content to dismiss it from your mind until you are clearly and conscientiously convinced that God has called you to something different?
In my former letter, my dear friend, we discussed the demand for sisterhoods in reference to those who will chiefly compose them; another and more important aspect of the subject remains to be considered it would be but a low view of such institutions to look at them merely as a refuge, however desirable, for the world-enthralled or the world-weary, nor could such a principle alone either originate or sustain them. No, a far higher question is the true one. We are not to ask, "Are there, here and there, individuals to whom such a religious home would be an inestimable blessing?" but, "Is there work to be done amongst us which only persons living together in some such manner can accomplish?" Grant this-allow that there are wanderers to reclaim, ignorant ones to teach, and wretched ones to comfort, with whom only the combined and unremitting efforts of disciplined and devoted women will avail: and we need not canvass the possibility of finding workers, but rather believingly
like an adequate Christian influence brought to bear upon these masses of human wretchedness; nor, with the present relations of the Church and the world, will the next twenty years show anything better without the multiplication of something like sisterhoods of mercy.
For, allowing that an earnest disposition for such service exists in the heart of many a thoughtful and pitiful woman, does she not feel that she is held back from action by a want of the strength which results from sympathy, co-operation and pastoral authority? And here, I think, we reach the true nature of sisterhoods-for if love to Christ be a reality-if everywhere, and in it lowest degrees it gives birth to acts of mutual forbearance, and generous kindness, and spontaneous, disinterested love-if it is the best cement of every human affection, and the highest bond of union among the members of each truly Christian home, why then may there not be entire households of persons bound together by no other tie; brother- hoods or sisterhoods in Christ, recognizing this, relationship alone, finding it a sufficient channel for all their social affections, and a blessed instrument and heavenly help in such a life of devotion to Christ as they see themselves called to in the gospel? Think again, dear S., of the amount of work which we have seen waiting for some of us, [24/25] among the miserable children in our streets and in the thousand cases of sickness and suffering all around us-work or which these hurrying, money-making days leave no energy, and the ordinary way of life no time, yet work which, we must think, our blessed Lord had in view when he said, "I was naked and ye clothed me, sick and ye visited me." Think of all this, and then picture to yourself a company of twenty or thirty devout persons, united into a family by their mutual love to Christ, led by that love to count all men their brethren, and resolved together to devote their whole energies to the service of those brethren; see them combining amongst them all the talent necessary for ministering effectually to each several case of suffering or need, ready submissively and without partiality to use their respective talent where it will most avail, and all this not occasionally and upon inclination only, but unremittingly, upon principle, as the one business of life, and see whether there be not in such associations, some fitness of the remedy to the disease. Whether sisterhoods-not the abodes of lawless enthusiasm and ungoverned impulse, but parochial institutions having the sanction and decent order of the Church, and the protection and guidance, each one of them, of its own parish minister-whether such institutions are not [25/26] adapted as no other form of charity could be to these long neglected regions of misery and degradation.
"Two are better than one," the wise man says, "because they have a good reward of their labor, for if they fall the one will lift up his fellow," and our Lord sent forth his disciples two and two, and not singly, perhaps in consideration of a necessity of our social nature which the world has outstripped the Church in understanding and turning to account. For what great public work is ever undertaken without the association of numbers? No, men found out long ago that the character which is ineffective alone, when brought into action with others differing from it may help to form a most powerful and harmonious instrument. Societies and Associations on all sides of us prove this. We see in them, the timid and the bold, the phlegmatic and the sanguine, the cautious and the rash, acting and reacting upon each other, filling severally the places for which they are fitted, and finding in their numbers wisdom, and in their union strength. It is only the value of combination in a life of unreserved devotion to the work of relieving the sufferings of those for whom Christ died that men are slow to perceive. Yet there are facts in proof here, if we wilt but see them. And if we may not look [26/27] at Rome for an exemplification, turn to Lutheran Kaiserswerth with its branch establishments reaching even to this land, and its hundred or more of pious and cheerful sisters, year after year, bringing down on their heads the blessing of thousands; or to the Protestant Deaconesses in Paris, making the desert Faubourg St. Antoine (one of the worst quarters of the city, and where their house stands) to "rejoice and blossom as the rose;" or to the Anglican sisterhoods (which surely could exist in a less questionable form) with their orphan houses, their infant schools, their ragged schools, their industrial schools, their houses for the sick, the aged, and the friendless. Oh! is there not something in all this to make even those of us who have happy Christian homes, ask whether we may not render acceptable service to God by separating ourselves from those dear delights for such work's sake? Not, of course, to the violation of any paramount duty to our relations, for, obedience rather than sacrifice is an essential Christian principle, and she would be a very indifferent member of a sisterhood who could wilfully violate the "first commandment with promise." But then there are lighter connections and less binding family obligations, such, I mean, as an advantageous marriage, would, in the eyes of the world, fully justify us in setting [27/28] aside, which surely, we may, without just reproach, give up for Christ's sake.
And then again, those Christian homes which we love so well, on which we lavish almost all our earthly and all our heavenly treasure, is there no danger of our setting them up as idols in our hearts P See how the comfort, the pleasure, the luxurious indulgence of one beloved member of our household beguiles us of what would supply the real wants and needful comforts of twenty of our less refined fellow members in Christ. It may not be. wrong thus to care first for those whom God has given first to our love, but is it wrong, on the other hand, for some to refuse to make to themselves such homes lest they should love them too well, and be tempted to keep back for their sakes, what is due to their kindred in Christ?
St. Paul instructed his Corinthian converts that it was "good for the present distress" to seek no bond of this world's affections. This, with many other passages of Scripture enjoining a similar renunciation of earthly ties and interests, is decided by common consent to be obsolete, to refer entirely to the early Christians and their heathen connections, with no application for the elect of Christ of our own day. It may be but, to borrow the thoughts of a valued friend, is there [28/29] not, in the present strange concord of the Church and the world an influence as deteriorating to the Christian life as ever was contact with heathenism? Nay, more dangerous because more subtile and disguised. For in those first days of Christianity men knew where they were, and to say, "I am a Christian," was to set foot within the arena-to embrace the stake-to bare the breast to the sword of persecution, it was to give up all for Christ. In these days, to make the same profession is to retain so fair a portion of the good things of this life as to make it doubtful whether we shall not have all our evil things in the life to come. It is to be in the Church and the world both, or rather to have conscience question us sometimes which we are in. If it is not so, if the line of demarcation between the service of God and that of Mammon be not greatly obscured, what is the meaning of those frequent questions, "Is there any harm in such and such indulgences?" "Is it wrong to allow ourselves such and such expenses?" "Must Christians give up every amusement," &c. Contrast, my dear friend, this low, bargaining religion of the day, trying how much it can enjoy of this world and not fall altogether short of the next with the avowal of the Apostle, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my [29/30] Lord," and see if there is now no "present distress" to call those whom God may make fit for it, to a life of marked separation and devotion. " The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." How can we read the New Testament in its simple, obvious meaning, and defy the necessity of some movement to counteract the luxury of the times, as severe as that luxury is excessive? No, when sometimes natural tenderness is grieved, and the heart oppressed by the remonstrances and regrets of loving but undiscerning friends, more careful for the pleasures of mutual intercourse than that we each live up to our vocation, it needs but to turn to the pages of the blessed Gospel, and there crimes a heavenly re-assurance, and the reality of all this stands out so plain and clear that one wonders any earnest, candid mind can fail to see it. But so it is. "He that is able to receive it, him receive it," saith our Lord.
And thus, my dear S., I have said what I can for the subject so dear to my heart. To plead with some for sisterhoods, is to oppose a little warm breath to the impenetrable iceberg, and sometimes when I am questioned, I feel so benumbed by the frigid atmosphere as to have scarce a word of defence for a cause of which I have no more doubt than that the sun is in the [30/31] heavens at noon-day. But you are not one of these. No, our hearts have beaten too long in unison, our sympathies have too often sought the same channel, we have too often joyfully drawn water together from the wells of salvation, to make it other than an interesting task to try to bring you wholly to my own mind in this most cherished object of my life. Have I at all succeeded? Oh! if you could see the opportunities of usefulness that daily offer to the two or three of us ready to do what we can. If you could understand our pleasure in what we are able to do, and our regret at the much which, for want of help, we are obliged to leave undone. If you could know how we long and pray for companionship, you would reflect much and seriously before you decide against us. You will not say, dear S., that these regrets, these longings, these prayers are wrong? And if they are right the whole is proved.
May the Lord, the disposer of all hearts, give us each grace faithfully to act up to our light!
Several forms of what may be termed the Constitution of the Society have been drawn up, but none in all their parts satisfactory. Experience alone can perfect them. The following outlines will be sufficient to enable those concerned to understand more definitely what is proposed, than they could from the general observations in the Introduction. Any fuller information can be had from the pastor of the Church of the Holy Communion.
The Members of the Society are of Four Classes, but are all fellow-workers in the service of their Lord, as sisters together in Him.
1. UNITED SISTERS.
2. ASSOCIATE SISTERS.
4. SERVING SISTERS.
THE UNITED SISTERS live together as one family, over which one of their number presides as the First Sister. They are at least twenty-five years of age, and must have been one year Probationers.
THE ASSOCIATE SISTERS live, at their respective homes, but take part in all the works of the Society, [32/33] and conform to all its rules, except those which relate immediately to the Household. They are at least twenty-five years of age, and must have been one year Probationers.
PROBATIONERS are those who enter the Society with the intention of becoming United or Associate Sisters, if they should be found so qualified. They are at least twenty-one years of age. If under that age they must have the written consent of their parents or guardians.
SERVING SISTERS-Are those who are qualified only to do the more laborious work of the household. Although in the capacity of domestics, they are treated and cared for as on an equality with their fellow-members as sisters in Christ.
No one can become a United, or an Associate Sister, or a Probationer, unless unanimously chosen by the United Sisters, and with the consent of one half of the associate Sisters.
All laws, rules and regulations must be made conjointly by the United and Associate Sisters, subject to the approbation of the Pastor of the Sisterhood-that is, the Pastor of the congregation to which the same belongs. Rules affecting only [33/34] the United Sisters may be made by themselves, without the Associate Sisters, but subject to the Pastor's approbation.
Whenever a member of any these first classes has a desire to leave the Society, she shall signify the same privately to the Pastor, who shall communicate it to the Society--and there shall be no let or hindrance to any one leaving the Society, whenever that shall be her deliberate mind.
It is understood that no Sister will contract any matrimonial engagement, or take any steps thereto, while she continues a member of the Society.
The Society, as consisting of communicants of the Church, is under the spiritual care and jurisdiction of the Pastor of the congregation of which it is part. It is his auxiliary in befriending the destitute poor, in visiting the sick, in instructing the ignorant, in dispensing alms, and in all services for whom he may require such aid.
While active service in the works of love and mercy is the great duty of the Sisterhood, as a body, and of the members in particular, there is to be a constant care for advancement in personal [34/35] holiness. To this end no rules can be made; but no Sister would be worthy of her vocation who is not constant in reading the Word of GOD, in private prayer, and in attendance upon all the means of grace. As the Society is founded on Evangelical Charity, only as long as that is the pervading and animating principle of its members will it answer the end of its existence.
The following interesting document appeared some time since in the Evangelical Catholic. It was then received from the author, Rev. Wm. A. Passavant, head of the Institution of Deaconesses, at Pittsburgh, Pennylvania-who accompanied it with a letter in which he says:
"The work is progressing slowly, but I trust surely. There are several, probationers now in the Institution, and we hear of others who are coming. Time, however, will be necessary, to wear away the prejudices even of the pious, and suffer them to look upon the Institution with favor.
I might add, that those who wish to join, come at first only for three weeks, then for three months, then for nine months, and finally for a year. If after this time they are persuaded in their own mind, that God has called them to glorify Him in such a service, and that their health and qualifications allow their entrance, they are received, by a vote of the remainder, as members of the community. No vows are tolerated, though [36/37] they join for a term of five years, in order that they may be sent out to of her institutions if necessary. And yet, should they desire to retire from the service at any time during these five years, they are at liberty to do so by giving due notice of their intentions to the Parent Institution. We daily feel the importance of a very clear understanding on this subject. Their continuance and service is only acceptable as long as it is the result of free and grateful love to Him who has redeemed their souls.
That the office of Deaconess is an Apostolic institution, is admitted by every respectable writer on ecclesiastical history. Their origin may be traced up to those holy women who, with the Apostles, followed the Saviour in his journeyings, and "ministered unto him of their substance." It is certain, at least, that St. Paul speaks in turn of "Phoebe, our sister, a servant (ousan diakonon, i. e., a deaconess), of the church at Cenchrea," and bears of her the honorable testimony that she was a succorer of many; of Tryphena and Tryphosa, of "the beloved Persis," of whom he says, that they "labored much in the Lord." On this [37/38] subject the distinguished historian, Neander, remarks: "That the peculiar gifts of the female sex might be made available for the outward service of the Church, in rendering the assistance of various kinds for which women are peculiarly fitted the office of Deaconess was established, in addition to that of Deacon, at first in the churches of the Gentile Christians." [History of the Planting and Training of the Christian Church.] The Apostolic Wesley, in his sermon "On Visiting the Sick," bears the following important testimony to the same fact: "It is well known that in the primitive Church there were women particularly appointed for this work. Indeed, there was one or more such in every Christian congregation under heaven. They were then termed Deaconesses, that is, servants-servants of the Church and of its Great Master. Such was Phoebe, mentioned by St. Paul, Rom. xvi. 1, 'A Deaconess of the Church at Cenchrea.' It is true most of these were women in years, and well experienced in the work of God. But were the young wholly excluded from that service? No! neither need they be, provided they know in whom they have believed, and show that they are holy of heart, by being holy in all manner of conversation." [Sermons, Vol. ii., p. 335, N.Y. Ed.]
The earliest Fathers of the Church, moreover, [38/39] speak of the same order of persons. In their writings we find frequent witness to the great services they rendered in the exercise of charity and the propagation of the faith. As servants of Christ and of the Church, they performed all manner of good works, watched over the young of their own sex in the religious assemblies, afforded them all requisite assistance in baptism, and instructed them in the duties of that solemn rite. [Council of Carthage.] But their chief duty was to minister to the poor and to the sick, and in general, to exercise themselves in every work of mercy. Ignatius, in writing to the Church at Antioch--of which he himself was pastor--save, "salute the Deaconesses in Christ Jesus." Tertullian speaks particularly of a Deaconess who was of a very tender age. [Tertull., vel de virg.] Their office was so respected, that a bishop was deposed for having received into it a woman who had been excommunicated: [Sozam, lib. iv, c. 14.] and it often fell to their lot to share the glories of martyrdom with the most holy confessors of the faith. [Plin., Ep. Ad. Traj.]
How long this order continued in the Christian Church is not absolutely certain. Up to the commencement of the fourth century it, however, preserved itself free from abuses, but became [39/40] corrupted in the fifth and sixth, and ended by disappearing in the Latin Church in the, eighth, when the Papacy became finally constituted. In the Greek Church this office continued several hundred years, and Deaconesses pursued their self-denying service in the Christian Churches of Constantinople to the close of the twelfth century. [Suicer, Thesaur, tom. 1., p. 896.]
It was the great Reformation of the sixteenth century which again restored to the Church the office of Deaconess. By teaching that the service of God did not consist in the idle and superstitious seclusion of cloister life, but in a life of action and mercy, it imparted a spirit of healthful energy to the whole Church, and brought into existence those numerous agencies and societies which are causing the wilderness and the solitary place to sing for joy. As early as the year 1530 the office of Deaconess was renewed in several Protestant churches and cities of Europe. [See Kitchen Ordnung der Stadt Minden, art. 21, &c.] In 1560, the Protestant, Henry Robert de la Marck, Sovereign Prince of Sedan, instituted in his dominions a society of "Denioiselles de Charite," [40/41] (Ladies of Charity) for assisting the poor, the aged and infirm, and supplied it himself with the needful funds for rendering it permanently efficient. [Histoire de la Principaute de Sedan.] The first General Synod of the Reformed Church of the Lower Rhine and the Netherlands, which assembled in 1568, expressed its approval of the proposed endeavor to restore this office to the Evangelical Church, and adopted various articles concerning its public exercise. [Dr. Jacobson's Urkunder-Samlung. &c., p. 506, 47, 73.] The mission of these servants of the Church was one wholly of free-will they pronounced no vows, and were chosen from among those who were experienced in the work of God. The sole engagement they made, was that of devoting themselves to works of mercy. It was only after the lapse of eighty years, that in the Romish Church, where the influence of the Reformation was already bearing fruit, St. Vincent de Paul instituted the "Soeurs de Charite," (Sisters of Charity.) In the meantime, the persecution of the Huguenots had stifled among the French Protestants the work commenced by Henry Robert de la Marck; while in Germany and the Netherlands, Deaconesses were found in individual congregations, at the close of the last century. Under the icy reign of rationalism and infidelity, which succeeded the first and [41/42] second Reformations, this institution with many others went to decay.
But it was reserved for the present century permanently to restore to the Church this simple yet most efficient agency of doing good. The want of something of this kind had long been universally felt and acknowledged. Various expedients were resorted to to supply "this lack of service," but all were found to be partial and deficient. There was wanting an office not only to fill a void in the present organization of the church, to organize and make effective the charity of individual flocks, to supply the yearnings of many a Christian soul, but also to act efficiently in the propagation of the faith-to combine the devoted efforts of individuals under the directing influence of the Christian Church-to create a staff of holy, active, disinterested agents, whose mission should be to succor every form of human misery-to look after the poor in every situation of life, and to undertake the management of all charitable and humane institutions, whether then existing or thereafter to be founded by evangelical Christians. That "more excellent way" was the unpretending order of deaconesses-the servants of the Saviour, who seek, by works of mercy and compassion, to evince their gratitude to Him who hath redeemed their souls.
 We cannot better describe the restoration of this office to the Christian Church in modern times, than by quoting the language of the Chevalier Bunsen, Prussian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, at the first public meeting for the establishment of a German hospital in London. [First Annual Report of the German Hospital at Dalston, London, 1845.] The resolution before the meeting was, that the necessary steps be taken to procure the services of several deaconesses from the Training Institution in Prussia, in the capacity of matron and nurses for the new hospital. In proposing this resolution, Mr. Bunsen observed, "that there had existed since the year 1836, at Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf on the Rhine, an institution which, as it seemed, has given to the Protestant churches the blessings of one of the most useful foundations in Christendom. It was ii the year above named that Pastor Fliedner renewed the ancient and apostolic institution of deaconesses. He found such deaconesses existing in the ancient Christian congregations for relieving the poor and the sick. There were (he thought) poor and sick brethren and sisters in the Christian community now, and why should there not be Christian nurses for them, acting in the same spirit as the deaconesses of old? And why, if they are to be [43/44] found, should they not be called deaconesses, as in the times of the apostles? The deaconesses of old made no vows, why should ours? Is not (thought Pastor Fliedner) our church built upon the principle of inward faith, and should that principle not be able to produce the works of self-sacrifice and charity, without external means, calculated to be binding upon the mind, to compel acts which can only be acceptable to God as a free-will offering? These were his thoughts, but in the spirit of the apostles, he did not stop there. He resolved to act-to carry out in faith his thought of faith. He and his excellent wife, (since gone to her rest,) assisted by voluntary contributions, founded an infirmary (Krankenhaus,) annexed to their own modest dwelling-house, and invited such Christian women who were unmarried and widows, as should feel disposed to assist them, to be trained as nurses in and for that establishment.
The principle he laid down was, that the deaconesses must be willing to be servants of Christ alone, to devote their time and faculties entirely and exclusively to him, and not to look forward to pecuniary emoluments, or any other comfort the world can give, but to do the work of charity and self-denial out of gratitude to him who came down to serve them, before they knew him, even to death.
 The rules of the establishment at Kaiserswerth are the following:-The candidates must not be under eighteen years of age, and serve from six months to two years on probation. After this probationary time, those among them who have been found fit individuals for the work of Christ, receive, during divine service, a solemn Christian blessing, and then enter upon their duties as deaconesses at the infirmary, which contains from 100 to 110 beds. They engage to serve at least five years, after which time they are allowed to leave, or may renew their engagement. It is understood, however, that if nearer, personal, or family duties should make them wish for a change of situation during that period, every reasonable facility shall be granted to them for that purpose by the direction, vested in a committee. They receive no salary: a very moderate annual sum is paid by the institution or family they serve to the institution at Kaiserswerth, which defrays their personal wants, enables them to keep themselves decent and respectable, and entirely provides for those whose health has suffered in consequence of their hard service.
Such was the fervor of the young Christian women in that part of Prussia, that many of them followed this call of Pastor Fliedner. A great union was soon afterwards formed by Christian [45/46] friends in the two Prussian provinces of Rhineland and Westphalia, under the superintendence of the Protestant Provincial Synods, for the purpose of taking care of the poor and sick of these territories. Many ladies, who could not devote themselves personally to this office, formed auxiliary societies. The success which the establishment at Kaiserswerth has met with has been very great; for according to the Ninth Report, 1850, above 150 deaconesses are now at work in different parts of Germany. Sixty are occupied in seventeen hospitals and orphan houses at Berlin, Dresden, Frankfurt, Worms, Cologne, Elberfeld, London, Jerusalem, &c. Several labor in large congregations, which have no hospital, and about twenty are sent out to private families.
The hospital at Kaiserswerth has received, in these ten years, about 4500 patients of all diseases, of both sexes, and of all religious persuasions, the largest number of them gratuitously.
The deaconesses are not only of the lower and middle classes, but several also of the higher and the highest ranks of life. One young Baroness of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenberg has just been educated at Kaiserswerth, and is now the matron of the large new model hospital at Berlin, lately established by the King of Prussia, in which at least thirty deaconesses will find work, [46/57] and which is to become a great nursery for training dcaconesses to serve in the different parts of that kingdom. Two other ladies of high rank are at present at Kaiserswerth, devoting themselves to the same offices. Some nurses have also been educated at Kaiserswerth for Switzerland, for France, and for Holland, and the calls from many parts of the continent for deaconesses from Kaiserswerth are so numerous, that this establishment cannot satisfy them all. It appears, from the testimonies of the administration and the medical officers of those public institutions, and is a fact of general notoriety, that wherever those deaconesses have been entrusted with the care of an hospital or a branch of the same, a visible change for the better takes place in all departments, and the satisfaction, the gratitude, and the blessings of the patients follow those self-devoted nurses every where."
It is not merely by making provision for the sick and suffering that this institution is exerting its sanctifying influence over many countries of Europe. In its practical working, many of the deaconesses were found to have greater natural capacities for imparting instruction, than nursing the sick. This gave rise, shortly after its commencement, to the establishment of a seminary to educate young female teachers for infant schools [47/48] and female day schools in the villages and Protestant parishes in the country. The success of this institution has been so great, that nearly 400 female teachers have been educated under the tuition of the deaconesses of Kaiserswerth. Upwards of 20,000 children, in different parts of Prussia, principally of the poorer and more neglected classes, have been gathered into schools, and receive from these teachers the elements of a good Christian education, and are taught knitting, sewing, and other useful employments. Through this simple, yet effective instrumentality, thousands of poor children have been brought from ignorance and misery and led to their heavenly friend.
Another Branch Institution which the Parent Establishment contains, is devoted to the education of deaconesses for the care and improvement of female prisoners and penitents. With it is connected a Retreat for released female prisoners, and those who, by God's grace, have been rescued from a life of shame. During the twelve years which this institution has existed, it has received into its peaceful walls more than 180 poor and deeply fallen persons, many of whom, by Christian instruction and example, have been confirmed in a better course of life, and ale now good servants and respectable members of society.
The helpless situation in which many children [48/49] are left by the death of their parents, gave, rise to an Orphan House in connection with this institution. In this porch of mercy, a large number of these poor unfortunates find a second home, and under the kind tuition of the deaconesses ate trained to habits of piety and usefulness.
Indeed, the blessing of the Almighty has rested so abundantly upon the parent institution at Kaiserswerth, that although it has sent forth its devoted servants of the Church over France, Switzerland, Prussia, Holland, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, it now presents the aspect of a little village-whole streets being occupied by the buildings appropriated to the different institutions under its fostering care. All these have been erected by the voluntary contributions of Christians in different countries of Europe, and now stand as monuments of the faith and piety of their honored yet humble founder. His sole capital was faith in God. More than this was not needed. It was sufficient, richly to supply all his wants, through Jesus Christ.
It was after having studied the practical working of this office in the hospitals, insane, orphan, and other asylums of Prussia, France and Germany, and every where seeing the humanizing and christianizing influence of these Christian ladies in the different fields of human suffering, [49/50] that arrangements were entered into with the Direction of the parent institution at Kaiserswerth for the establishing of a branch in the United States. For various reasons, Pittsburg was selected as the best location for the American Institution. Four deaconesses arrived in New-York in the month of July, 1849. They work by the rules of the parent house in Prussia, and for the present remain in connection with it. Should the way be opened in future, it is understood that every encouragement will be given by the parent establishment, to the organization of an institution entirely independent from foreign connection. In the mean time, however, ladies of suitable character and qualifications, who wish to devote themselves to works of mercy and charity, will be received as inmates of the institution, according to the rules of the parent house.
Finally, we bespeak in behalf of this institution, the sympathies, prayers, and contributions of the humane and merciful. Who, after considering the facts already mentioned of its usefulness and efficiency, can yet doubt that this highly interesting institution-this Bethesda for bodies and souls, which provides with the water of life the five fields of human infirmity and misery-the field of the sick, of the poor, of the ignorant, of parentless children, and of the guilty-should [50/51] have refreshed and brought from death to life many perishing souls? Who will not hope, that the humble commencement about to be made in this country, may be the beginning of a new era in the development of evangelical life and Protestant charity? And especially after the great number of interesting cases related in the annual reports of this institution, where these deaconesses have been the instruments of seeking that which was lost, of bringing back that which was driven away, of binding up that which was broken, of strengthening that which was sick-who can doubt that it will, in particular, open a field of useful and blessed occupation to female Christians in America?
Attention is called to the following beautiful extracts, from a Plea for Sisterhoods, by the present Bishop of Brechin, Scotland. Although adapted more peculiarly to the state of society in England, they will come to the hearts of many among ourselves. There are other parts of the bishop's plea not altogether to our mind; but all that he says here is relevant to such institutions as we might have, without any semblance of the objectionable features of those in the Romish Church.
"To marry, to guide the house, to bear children, to educate them in the fear and love of GOD, is the natural lot and duty of woman. But in any artificial state of society (such as our own is in a high degree) many cannot meet with such marriage as would be real happiness to them. And to what then meanwhile is life given? To the daughters of Clergymen or of landed proprietors, the poor and schools around them are an object to interest life. But take the educated [52/53] classes who have no country-houses! What have they, apart from religion, on which to employ their time? What is the round of their being? Take it at the best, cultivated, accomplished, polished, fragrant minds! Accomplishments-to draw, to paint, to play well on musical instruments, to study languages, are useful in forming the female mind, but what are they as the occupation of life? In fact, they are mostly left off, and what succeeds? What, at best, but a nominal cultivation of mind, to read the literature of the day, books which, if of no use, may be at least harmless, to enliven society, to write letters, or talk kindly and courteously? What is this as the outward employment of an immortal soul? The very semblance of charity is caught at, to give some interest to employments of which the mind is weary. Charity bazaars (whatever they are in themselves) are a boon to those who work for them, in that, for once at least, or for an interval, they have an end for what they do. In truth, weariness of such a life as this, is continually the source of unhappy marriages and life-long sorrow. The end proposed in marriages which issue in this, is continually no object out of GOD, not pride, or wealth, or station, but an object for which to live. Young women wish to marry, and so do marry, often without considering enough what is required to a [53/54] 'marriage in the LORD,' or thoughtlessly, because they wish for a home and the employments of a home. And the unmarried state becomes a reproach, because in fact it is so often not chosen and those who remain in it, are wearied with the nothingness amid which they are yet obliged to live.
But who shall say, even of those who at last with no future in this world, no hopes beyond it, cling to a world which despises them, or abandon a vain and seductive society after it has stranded them on its weedy shores, how many might not have been rescued from this miserable shipwreck? All hearts have a chord which may be touched. How many enter upon a miserable round of deadening pleasures, and fill themselves with the husks, because no one has touched the string to which their inmost feelings would have responded! It is a noble, heart-stirring, Divine object, to give a life to minister to the poor of CHRIST, to visit Him in His sick, to educate for Him the little ones whom He has redeemed, to guard female purity by training poor female children, until past the age of most peril, and in which most go backward-to win back to CHRIST some who are fallen. Who shall say how many who afterwards sink in frivolity, or sickliness of heart, might not, at an earlier period, have been roused and kindled to [54/55] devoted service, had any such objects been set before them? To how many men has it not been a safeguard, in hours of temptation, to have had their younger thoughts awakened to the desire to serve GOD in Holy Orders! Their earlier purpose has, by GOD's grace, been a shield around them:; it has steadied their steps in slippery places. They had been set in the right way, had a star before them, and left it not. Woman's heart has deeper, more glowing, often too, more unsullied, feelings. Who shall say to how many it would not, in a manner, be a new life, spread a new world before them-a world which shall not pass away, the unseen, blissful, unchanging world of everlasting love and enjoyment in GOD,-to set before them the Judgment Day, and bid them think what it would be to them in that day, to stand before the Throne of the LAMB, by Whose Blood they had been themselves redeemed, together with those five, ten, fifty such lambs of His, who, but for their loving care, would have gone astray and been lost for ever? Would not almost any heart, yet unseared, beat, glow, burn with the thought that one soul which might otherwise have been lost for ever, shall be, through her loving care, for ever like unto the angels, praising and loving her REDEEMER?
It is through sorrow and bitter disappointment [55/56] that very many in every class turn to Him. And keen, withering disappointment is so much the oftener woman's, portion, because her love is deeper, more hidden, more undistracted. GOD does not accept those only who give Him their earliest and best. He bids, 'Gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing be lost.' Of course it requires longer trial and self-examination to know that any one is not for the time only sickened with the world, but is indeed called to the service of GOD. Yet, as a fact, GOD does in this way, whether by the death or other loss of one loved, bring before the soul the vanity of all things created, and through this blessed bereavement; presents Himself as the object of the soul.
It heals disappointments, gathers up the prostrate soul, purifies it, gives it new life and energy at such seasons, to have a future set before it, which can have no disappointments, an adequate object in which the soul can take interest, some thing for the soul again to love, where no love is unrequited, no deed of love neglected, since He saith, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.' * * * * *
But her again there is a large class of minds already religious, at the least with good warm feelings which might readily be led on to a real [56/57] simple love of GOD, to whom a 'home' would indeed be a welcome haven. Those who live in the comfort of their own homes, surrounded by the sweet faces of those they love, have no idea of the quantity of isolation that exists in this cold world. Thousands and thousands have no relations; others have been abandoned by unnatural parents; others have had those they leant on taken. away by death; others have been desolated by their natural protectors forming new ties. All up through the different grades of society, this state of things more or less exists. In all there are persons who by circumstances are detached from home connections, or whose ties are so slight as to make a legitimate occupation, which carries with it the sympathy and love of many and the sisterly relation of the holy and the pure, a real blessing. Till one meditates upon it, one can hardly conceive the quantity of solitariness that exists in this country, from these things; and we hesitate not to assert, that comparing it with the other nations of Europe, there is none in which a home and refuge such as these Sisterhoods afford, would be such a blessing as here.
And all that has been said here applies only to outward condition: it is not for me to say what rest and comfort they hold out to the weary and world worn-what repose, what peace even on [57/58] this side the grave may be found by those who otherwise feel that they have but to lie down and die-on whom the sun of mere earthly happiness may never rise again-who, chilled into temporary selfishness by some withering blow, gradually begin to thaw as active benevolence and hourly prayers give them evidence, that, in spite of earthly care and earthly attachment, 'the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.' Isa. xxxii. 17.
But may we not say more than this? Is there not in this holy work a blessing far removed from the consolation it affords to the victims of an unnatural society? Is there no positive inducement to make the young and the happy devote themselves to this first of lives? Surely, yes. If all ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,' if 'love is of GOD,' and 'whoso dwelleth in love dwelleth in GOD and GOD in him,' what shall be said of a life which is one long act of well doing, one long ever renewed walking with GOD, one ever varying, never wearying round of holy love of GOD and man? All are not called to such a life as this; but who shall say that to those who have the vocation it is not a blessed one? Surely to have one's duties marked out and abundantly seconded; to have one's opportunities of [58/59] devotion cared for and in every way fostered; to be saved from temptation, and to have every aid to religion supplied, is, at least, a blessed, genial atmosphere, where holiness and peace may flourish And then to have the great chapter of daily care and earthly vexation blotted out,-to know that no fear for the future, no ill-regulated anticipations of what is to come, no dread of neglect or starvation in old age, may disturb the daily life-to be assured that nothing save the blessed sympathy with others' sorrows, and the pain of seeing the sufferings of their brethren, need come between them and their view of the celestial city-to feel that even on earth they do anticipate the duties and pleasures of heaven, their blessed day being divided between singing GOD's praises and doing GOD's will."
O Lord Jesus Christ, who in the days of thy humanity didst accept the ministrations of women to thy sacred person, vouchsafe to regard the supplications of thine handmaid, and suffer me to do something to prove my love to Thee. Lord, show me what Thou wilt have me to do. Thou knowest the hearts of all. O search and try mine, see whether there be in me a spirit of entire devotion to thy service, and create it if there be not, and strengthen it if there be. Overcome, O Lord, the dulness and slowness of my mind, and make me to understand more and more of the unsearchable riches of thy grace. Overcome the earthliness of my affections, make me to love Thee as well as I can love at all, and suffer me to have no affection independent of Thee. Overcome, especially, O God my Saviour, my self love; root it out of my heart as thy grace only can, and implant in its stead love to Thee, as the great motive of my life, the spring of all my thoughts, and words, and [61/62] actions. Thou hast left us, O Lord, the poor and miserable, saying, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it unto Me;" O grant me grace and opportunity to spend my days in ministering to such in thy name. Touch my heart with heavenly pity, fill my soul with holy zeal, increase my faith, root and wound me in love, clothe me with humility. Make my way plain before me and give me strength and courage patiently to surmount every obstacle with which Thou mayst see fit to try me. Breathe upon thy whole Church the spirit of love unfeigned. Give us for darkness, light; for prejudice, the charity that "hopeth all things;" for strife and envyings, a holy emulation in thy service and for thy glory. Even so, Lord Jesus, for thine own mercies' sake, who art, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, GOD over all, blessed for ever. Amen.
Jesus, I my cross have taken
All to leave and follow thee;
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be:
Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought, or hoped, or known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and Heaven are still my own.
Let the world despise and leave me;
They have left my Saviour too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue;
And whilst thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may bate, and friends may scorn me,
Show thy face, and all is bright.
Go then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn, and pain,
In thy service, pain is pleasure,
With thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called thee, Abba, Father;
I have set my heart on thee;
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.
 Man may trouble and distress me,
Twill but drive me to thy breast:
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heav'n will bring me sweeter rest,
Oh! 'tis not in grief to harm me,
While thy love is left to me;
Oh! 'twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmix'd with thee.
Soul, then, know thy full salvation;
Rise o'er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in ev'ry station
Something still to do, or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father's smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to save thee,
Child of Heaven, canst thou repine?
Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Arm'd by faith, and wing'd by prayer,
Heaven's eternal day before thee,
God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.