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making short visits to the Poor, saying to them something easy to be remembered, but truly Christian, friendly and useful. For, let us only a moment consider their circumstances.-We call for the most part, we find their small dwellings in confusion the husband, out at work: the wife, harassed with the little children all about: something going on wrong: a noise, a cry, possibly a quarrel: some sick; others, perhaps, not quite sober. Think, too, of the seemingly-desperate immoral state of thousands: intemperance and vice have debased, or destroyed, more than half the powers of their understanding, their faculty of attending, or their memory. Multitudes are found so depraved and diseased, that they seem to have scarcely any mind or conscience left: and this, in many cases, at a very early age. Oh! the awful power of Sin and Satan! Then these unhappy creatures are so numerous, that, to do many of them good, visits must be short; or we should be spending all our time and strength upon only a few.
But, can much good be done in a short visit? Yes.
When there is a single purpose, a word from God, a short fervent prayer, and a little act of charity, ten minutes may do as much good as twenty. Much may sometimes be done in five minutes. Yea, even one sentence may be blessed, in
turning a sinner from the error of his ways.-The Writer of these pages fears, chiefly, lest he should have made his Addresses rather too long; considering the design which he had in view. Should this be found sometimes to be the case, two or three paragraphs may easily be selected, as forming by themselves a complete sense. Or, recourse may be had to the later pages of this Volume, where single sentences are given. The same remark may be applied to some of the Prayers; a few sentences of which will be as much, as very sick persons would be able to attend to. "The spirit is willing; but the flesh is weak."
Further, it may be considered, that, if we make short visits, we may make them the oftener: and this is particularly desirable. Those of the Poor, that are going on well, like to be looked in upon frequently and those that are not going on well, need it.
In considering who are the Persons that may use this little Volume, the Writer would respectfully suggest, that it may, for a while, prove a useful Manual to his younger Brethren in the Ministry. He would, indeed, trust that it will not be long ere they lay it aside; after having acquired the faculty and habit of offering, from their own hearts, a few sentences, explaining and applying Scripture, to
those whom they may visit. This is our proper office; and it is confessed, that written Addresses are a very imperfect substitute for free, extemporaneous Discourse.
But, further, it is hoped that this work may prove advantageous, in assisting the labours of many others, who are piously engaged as Visitors of the Sick and Poor. Many Females, born to every comfort, and trained to every useful accomplishment of life, account it their honour to devote a portion of their time to this blessed employment: other Individuals, possessed of affluence and rank, yet deem it a Christian privilege to enter the abodes of sorrow, and of humble piety; and very many, in all situations of life, unsparingly allot their leisure moments to this labour of love. It is felt by them, that, not in the great Congregation alone, not only in Family Worship, not even in the Closet, are their best lessons always learned: these are better learned, often, when the circle around us is a room full of poor sufferers, or when our visits lead us to the sick-bed of some poor, humble, dying Saint. There the Saviour is found to be unspeakably precious; and the mind of Christ is more copiously imbibed by the Visitor, while he is doing the work of his Master, in showing pity to his poor and afflicted Members. Yet such Individuals may very often
feel diffident of their power and ability to expound a passage of Scripture: and they may, therefore, be not unthankful for the occasional assistance of a little Manual like this.
A short Prayer is added at the end of each Reading for it is often found that the Poor and Afflicted, if they are willing to hear the Bible, are willing, also, to join in Prayer. It is very desirable, in such cases, that the Petitions offered up should have a certain degree of connexion with what has been just read, or conversed upon. Prayer, we should ever remember, is the great method appointed by God for obtaining every blessing': and however hurried or confused the family visited may, at first sight, appear to be, yet a few calm words of Devotion will seldom fail to quiet the most disturbed hearts, and to cheer the saddest.
The design and use of the Scripture Verses at the end of the Volume, are sufficiently explained in the Prefatory Remarks with which they open.
The manner in which it is recommended that these Addresses should be used, is, not as Tracts to be left at a Cottage. But it is suggested, that the pious Visitor should previously meditate on the Portion of Scripture to be explained; and then, with his heart full of it, read slowly, and, if he pleases, comment a little on the Exposition that follows; parti
cularly, in a Catechetical or examining way. And this may often be done very naturally, if young persons are present. But it is especially recommended, that the Portions be read to the Poor, rather than left to be looked at by them: though sometimes the Book may be left afterwards, that they may read the Portion to one another. For a Tract left, is not always read; and even if it be, yet, in reading with the eye, the thoughts travel too fast; but in reading aloud, (if I may alter Milton's expression a little,) the Human Voice Divine sends the sacred thought flowing on more warmly to the heart of every hearer.
Remembering that the Sick cannot attend to much, and that the uneducated do not well understand, the Writer has been careful to use plain words, and simple sentences. Yet he believes that most of these Addresses will bear reading over a second time, to those among the Poor who are not generally in the habit of hearing discourses on Religion. To them, the simplest religious statements have a considerable degree of obscurity; and the language of Scripture itself is, to such persons, a perfect novelty.
Most of the passages of Scripture here expounded have been used by the Writer many times, when visiting the Poor and Sick. A few of the others