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- The American Woman's Home - 70/80 -
persons, no invalids, and no sinful ones for whom such sacrifices are to be made?
Why are orphan children thrown upon the world, why are the aged held in a useless, suffering life, except that they may aid in cultivating tender love and labor for the helpless, and reverence for the hoary head? And yet, how few children are trained thus to regard the orphan, the aged, the helpless, and the vicious around them!
Great houses are built for these destitute ones, and all the labor and self-denial in taking care of them is transferred to paid agents, while thousands of families are thus deprived of all opportunity to cultivate the distinctive virtues of the Christian household.
In this connection, let us look at some facts recently published in the city of New-York.
The writer, Rev. W. O. Van Meter, says in his report:
"The following astounding statistics are carefully selected from the Reports of the Police, Board of Health, Citizens' Association, and more than twelve years' personal experience."
He then gives the following description of a section of the city only a few rods from the stores and residences of those who count their wealth by hundreds of thousands and millions, many of them professing to be followers of Christ:
"First, we see old sheds, stable lofts, dilapidated buildings, too worthless to be repaired, lofts over warehouses and shops; cellars, too worthless for business purposes, and too unhealthy for horses or pigs, and therefore occupied by human beings at high rent.--Second, houses erected for tenant purposes. Take one near our Mission, as a fair specimen of the better class of '_model_' tenant houses. It contains one hundred and twenty-six families--is entered at the sides from alleys eight feet wide; and by reason of another barrack of equal height, the rooms are so darkened, that on a cloudy day it is impossible to sew in them without artificial light. It has not one room that can be thoroughly ventilated.
"The vaults and sewers which are to carry off the filth of one hundred and twenty-six families have grated openings in the alleys, and doorways in the cellars, through which the deadly miasma penetrates and poisons the air of the house and courts. The water-closets for the whole vast establishment are a range of stalls, without doors, and accessible not only from the building, but even from the street. Comfort here is out of the question; common decency impossible, and the horrid brutalities of the passenger-ship are day after day repeated, but on a larger scale.
"In similar dwellings are living five hundred and ten thousand persons, (nearly one half of the inhabitants of the city,) chiefly from the laboring classes, of very moderate means, and also the uncounted thousands of those who do not know to-day what they shall have to live on to-morrow. This immense population is found chiefly in an area of less than four square miles. The vagrant and neglected children among them would form a procession in double file eight miles long from the Battery to Harlem.
"In the Fourth ward, the tenant-house population is crowded at the rate of two hundred and ninety thousand inhabitants to the square mile. Such packing was probably never equaled in any other city. Were the buildings occupied by these miserable creatures removed, and the people placed by each other, there would be but one and two ninths of a square yard for each, and this unparalleled packing is _increasing_. Two hundred and twenty-four families in the ward live below the sidewalk, many of them _below high-water mark_. Often in very high tide they are driven from their cellars or lie in bed until the tide ebbs. Not one half of the houses have any drain or connection with the sewer. The liquid refuse is emptied on the sidewalk or into the street, giving forth sickening exhalations, and uniting its fetid streams with others from similar sources. There are more than four hundred families in this ward whose homes can only be reached by wading through a disgusting deposit of filthy refuse. 'In one tenant-house one hundred and forty-six were sick with small-pox, typhus fever, scarlatina, measles, marasmus, phthisis pulmonalis, dysentery, and chronic diarrhea. In another, containing three hundred and forty-nine persons, _one in nineteen died_ during the year, and on the day of inspection, which was during the most healthy season of the year, there were one hundred and fifteen persons sick! In another (in the Sixth Ward, but near us,) are sixty-five families; seventy-seven persons were sick or diseased at the time of inspection, and one in four _always_ sick. In fifteen of these families twenty-five children were living, thirty-seven had died.'
"Here are found the lowest class of sailor boarding-houses, dance- houses, and dens of infamy. There are _less than two dwelling-houses for each rum-hole_. Here are the poorest, vilest, most degraded, and desperate representatives of all nations. In the homes of thousands here, a ray of sunlight never shines, a flower never blooms, a bird song is never heard, a breath of pure air never breathed." A procession of vagrant and neglected children that in double file would reach eight miles, living in such filth, vice, and unhealthful pollution; all of them God's children, all Christ's younger brethren, to save whom he humbled himself, even to the shameful death of the cross!
Meantime, the city of New York has millions of wealth placed in the hands of men and women who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, and to have consecrated themselves, their time, and their wealth to his service. And they daily are passing and repassing within a stone's throw of the streets where all this misery and sin are accumulated!
So in all our large cities and towns all over the land are found similar, if not so extensive, collections of vice and misery. And even where there are not such extremes of degradation, there are contrasts of condition that should "give us pause." For example, in the vicinity of our large towns and cities will be seen spacious mansions inhabited by professed followers of Jesus Christ, each surrounded by ornamented grounds. Not far from them will be seen small tenement-houses, abounding with children, each house having about as many square yards of land as the large houses have square acres. In the small tenements, the boys rise early and go forth with the father to work from eight to ten hours, with little opportunity for amusement or for reading or study. In the large houses, the boys sleep till a late breakfast, then lounge about till school-time, then spend three hours in school, stimulating brain and nerves. Then home to a hearty dinner, and then again to school.
So with the girls: in the tenement-houses, they, go to kitchens and shops to work most of the day, with little chance for mental culture or the refinements of taste. In the large mansions, the daughters sleep late, do little or no labor for the family, and spend their time in school, or in light reading, ornamental accomplishments, or amusement.
Thus one class are trained to feel that they are a privileged few for whom others are to work, while they do little or nothing to promote the improvement or enjoyment of their poorer neighbors.
Then, again, labor being confined chiefly to the unrefined and uncultivated, is disgraced and rendered unattractive to the young. One class is overworked, and the body deteriorates from excess. The other class overwork the brain and nerves, and the neglected muscles grow thin, flabby, and weak.
Notice also the style in which they accumulate the elegances of civilization without even an attempt to elevate their destitute neighbors to such culture and enjoyment. Their expensive pictures multiply on their frescoed walls, their elegant books increase in their closed bookcases, their fine pictures and prints remain shut in portfolios, to be only occasionally opened by a privileged few. Their handsome equipages are for the comfortable and prosperous--not for the feeble and poor who have none of their own. All their social amusements are exclusive, and their expensive entertainments are for those only who can return the same to them.
Our Divine Master thus teaches, "When thou makest a feast, call not thy kinsmen or thy rich neighbors, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense he made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, for they can not recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Again, our Lord, after performing the most servile office, taught thus: "If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought to wash one another's feet."
In all these large towns and cities are women of wealth and leisure, who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. Some of them, having property in their own right, live in large mansions, with equipage and servants demanding a large outlay. They travel abroad, and gather around themselves the elegant refinements of foreign lands. They give, perhaps, a tenth of their time and income (which is far less than was required of the Jews), for benevolent purposes, and then think and say that they have consecrated themselves and _all_ they have to the service of Christ.
If there is any thing plainly taught in the New Testament it is, that the followers of Christ are to be different and distinct from the world around them; "a peculiar people," and subject to opposition and ill-will for their distinctive peculiarities.
Of these peculiarities demanded, _humility_ and _meekness_ are conspicuous: "Come and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly, and ye shall find rest." Now, the grand aim of the rich, worldly, and ambitious is to be at least equal, or else to rise higher than others, in wealth, honor, and position. This is the great struggle of humanity in all ages, especially in this country, and among all classes, to _rise higher_--to be as rich or richer than others--to be as well dressed--to be more learned, or in more honored positions than others. This was the very thing that made contention among the apostles, even in the company of their Lord, as they walked and "disputed who should be the greatest." "And Jesus sat down and called the twelve, and said unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same _shall be last and servant of all;_" and "he that is least among you shall be great."
At another time, the ambitious mother of two disciples came and asked that her sons might have the _highest_ place in his kingdom, and the other disciples were "moved with indignation." Then the Lord taught them that the honor and glory of his kingdom was to be exactly the reverse of this world; and that whoever would be great must be a _minister_, and who would be chief must be a _servant_; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister.
Again, he rebuked the love of high position and the desire of being counted wise as teachers of others: "Be not ye called Rabbi, neither be ye called Master; but he that is greatest among you shall be your servant, and whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased."
Then, as to the strife after wealth, into which all are now rushing so earnestly, the Lord teaches: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth. Whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath can not be my disciple. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves with bags that wax not old--a treasure in heaven that faileth not." To the
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