Christianity Meek and Loving

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXVII (4) start of chapter

From a serial, entitled 'The Little Wanderer's Friend,' much information may be derived; valuable as indicating the spirit in which not a few of the so-called benevolent institutions are conducted, and the numerical extent of their operations. From the number for May 1865, an interesting paragraph or two may be quoted, in illustration of the liberal and tolerant spirit of those institutions of which that agreeable little publication is the accredited organ. A pleasant article, entitled 'The Heathen of New York,' affords the writer a happy theme for the display of his national feelings and religious convictions. 'The mass of the population,' the writer says, 'consists of the most ignorant, bigoted, degraded foreign Catholics, who know no higher law than the word of their priests. Their Christianity is mere baptized heathenism.' Considering the miserable condition in which the mass of the population are found by the writer, it is fortunate that spiritual succour is so near; for we have this consolatory assurance in the same article:—

'We are in the midst of it. Our mission is in front of one of their large churches—under the shadow of their cross. They listen to our songs, while we witness their idolatry. They curse while we gather in the children, teach them the truth, feed, clothe, and send them to kind Christian homes.'

The missionaries, of whom the writer is the faithful organ and eloquent mouthpiece, are not content with their limited sphere of action in front of one of the large churches of the 'baptized heathen' of New York: they must even meet them on the shore, or on the ship's deck; and thus, if they cannot arrest the in-flowing tide of emigration, at least, by extending the hand of brotherly love and the word of God to their poor misguided brethren who cross the ocean, convert it into a deluge of enriching blessedness. 'Last year 155,223 persons landed here from Europe, of whom 92,861 were from poor, ignorant, bigoted, Catholic-cursed Ireland.' In this manner these unhappy heathens are to be spiritually regenerated: 'Let us meet them ere they leave the ship, and extend to them the kind hand and the word of God. They are our misguided brothers.

Let us be kind and teach them the truth. Let us help the needy and teach them the truth. Let us gather the children in.' The children are always the objects of the pious solicitude of these apostolic missionaries; they first gather them in, and they then send them to 'kind Christian homes,' in which all memory of their former 'heathenism' is lost. The success of their operations is thus detailed in their own words:—

The Home for the Friendless

Led off in this work, and for about thirty years has opened its arms and embraced perishing infancy and neglected childhood. But how little has it done compared with the work yet remaining! Encouraged by its success, a few warm-hearted Methodist ladies organised the

Five Points Mission.

They entered the 'gates of hell' to save the perishing; and a glorious monument to Christianity has been erected. Steadily, earnestly, and successfully do they labour, but want, sin, and woe increase around them.

The Five Points House of Industry

Was originated in 1851 by Rev. Mr. Pease, and 'its fame has gone throughout the country.' After years of struggling he was compelled to seek quiet and rest. Mr. Barlow took his place, and, with an earnestness which sought to imitate Him, concerning whom it was said 'the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up,' he laboured until called to exchange—'sowing in tears' for 'reaping in joy'—to give up his abode in 'Cow Bay' for the 'place' which Jesus said 'I go to prepare for you.' Each year the work increases, and, although since 1851 over 11,000 have come under their care, many of whom have been saved, yet, to a stranger, it seems as if Christianity had done nothing.

The Children's Aid Society,

Under the direction of Mr. Brace, with its Industrial Schools—lodging rooms—boys' meetings—has gathered in and sent to homes more children than any other institution in the world during the last eight or nine years, yet a stranger could not perceive a ripple upon the surface of this sea of sin and want.

Our Own Work

Has been so constantly kept before the public that it seems useless to speak of it. Four years ago this Home for Little Wanderers was opened, and nearly 1,000 children gathered in the first year. The next year 1,224, and last year 1,543.

With such success attending their efforts, the reader will learn without astonishment that these modern Apostles to the Gentiles are not discouraged; they only want more faithful praying Sunday School teachers, and four more earnest Christian men as Missionaries. 'Our hands are tied,' cries the figurative yet eminently practical organ of the Mission. 'Four hundred and fifty cords bind us. Reader, will you cut one of them? We mean, will you be one of the 450 who will give or collect from your Sunday School or friends, and send us $1 per week until May 1866, and thus leave us free from all pecuniary anxiety, and with nothing to do but to gather the children in?'

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America