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- God's Answers - 4/28 -


windows, in streets which were never so lighted before. But these and all other efforts for the poor East End were interrupted in the autumn of 1866. She felt the Lord called her to accompany her sister and brother-in-law, Mr. Merry, with their young family across the Atlantic. Mr. Merry's object was to settle his four sons in the Western States of America. The voyage proved most perilous and stormy. On arrival in New York, Mr. Merry's health entirely broke down, and the medical opinion given was that nothing would restore him but return to his native land. In March 1867 they were welcomed back with exceeding joy. How mysterious did this trial appear! Why were those who had sought the Lord's counsel so earnestly, permitted to undertake a voyage apparently so useless, and accompanied by so much anxiety and suffering? How little could any one then conjecture that the Lord was thus training His children for the great life-work before them! Not for the welfare of their own family were Mr. and Mrs. Merry to be permitted to settle in those broad western lands; but many voyages were to follow, and they, and subsequently their children also, were to be fellow-helpers in the glorious work of finding homes on earth, and training for a heavenly Home, thousands of children who would have been otherwise homeless and uncared for. "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Blessed hereafter! when we shall see _all_ the way the Lord our God has led us; not a smooth way, not an easy way. "The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way;" "but the Lord led them by _the right way_."

With her usual energy, Miss Macpherson again entered on her God-given work among the poor of the East End, and at once resolved to do all in her power to help the destitute children with whom she came in daily contact.

In the very month of her return, the first girl was rescued and received into her own Home, then at Canonbury. Her story was thus written at the time:--"E. C., aged sixteen, was sent to my lodgings to know if I could provide a home for her. In August 1866 the father of this poor girl had bidden her farewell as she was leaving home on an excursion with the Sunday-school to which she belonged. On her return, cholera had numbered him among the dead. The mother threw herself into the canal, and, though restored, was lying helpless in a workhouse. E. C., who had before been learning dressmaking, was tossed about from one poor place of service to another--her clothes all pawned, or in tatters--till her last resting-place was on the flags. Then she applied at the Rev. W. Pennefather's soup-kitchen in Bethnal Green, and slept in the room at that time rented above it. The two following days were occupied in vain endeavours to procure admittance into one of the existing Homes for girls, the third, in preparing clothing for her, while, at the same time, _no way_ appeared open for her to be received anywhere. When her clothing was ready, our first visit was to a sufferer paralysed and convulsed in every limb, at times compelled to be fastened to his bed,--one whose garret reminded one of the dream of Jacob; for answers to prayer were so direct, it seemed as though heavenly visitants were ever ascending and descending. He prayed, and while he was yet speaking, the Lord sent His 'answering messenger.' Miss Macpherson had felt it laid on her that day to come to the East End to my help, though knowing nothing whatever of the present need. When poor E. C. returned from the baths and washhouses in her clean clothing, (having sold her former rags for twopence-halfpenny), she was met by the loving offer of a home. She seemed afraid to believe it, and followed, as if in a dream, the friend so mercifully raised up for her. She was afterwards placed in service with a Christian friend, and her two little brothers were among the first inmates of the Revival Refuge."

Most mercifully for the poor little matchbox-makers was Miss Macpherson's return ordered at this time. Much sympathy had been awakened concerning them, and much help had been sent for their benefit from the kind readers of the "Christian" paper. They numbered many hundreds, and Miss Macpherson undertook care and responsibility concerning them, for which the strength and powers of an older labourer were totally unfit. In this, and countless other instances, Miss Macpherson has proved herself ever ready to "fulfil the law of Christ" (Gal. vi. 2). The case of these infant toilers had rested on her heart from the first moment she had been made acquainted with their sufferings. The first sight of them is thus described by her own pen:--

"In a narrow lane, having followed high up a tottering spiral staircase till we reached the attic, the first group of tiny, palefaced matchbox-makers was met with. They were hired by the woman who rented the room. The children received just three farthings for making a gross of boxes; the wood and paper were furnished to the woman, but she had to provide paste and the firing to dry the work. She received twopence-halfpenny per gross. Every possible spot, on the bed, under the bed, was strewn with the drying boxes. A loaf of bread and a knife stood on the table, ready for these little ones to be supplied with a slice in exchange of their hard-earned farthings.

"This touching scene, which my pen fails to picture, gave me a lasting impression of childhood's sorrows. Never a moment for school or play, but ceaseless toil from light till dark."

Miss Macpherson's first attempt for their benefit was to open evening schools, the inducement to attend which was the gift of sadly needed clothing. These schools were opened in various localities, the chief gathering being held in a house kindly provided for us by Charles Dobbin, Esq., still one of our unwearied benefactors.

Not only reading, but the art of mending their tattered garments was a new thing to them, and their outward condition was such, that when for the first time a country excursion was planned for them, it was with the greatest difficulty they were made fit to appear.

Whilst making every exertion to raise the matchbox-makers from their hitherto almost helpless state, her heart yearned over their brothers. A tea-meeting was given for boys by the veteran labourer George Holland, at the close of which one lad was noticed so much to be pitied, that it was felt, if nothing could be done for the others, he at least must be saved.

Money was not plentiful, the need of the East End was then comparatively little known, but a young believer, the son of that honoured servant of the Lord, W. Greene of Minorca, had just set apart a portion of his salary to help some poor, London boy, and the letter telling this was on its way from the Mediterranean when this lad's history became known. Thus he was educated, and eventually raised to a position in which he became a helper of others.

Many other homeless boys were found among that evening's guests, and Miss Macpherson felt it was impossible permanently to raise their condition without receiving them into a Home, where they could be taught and trained to regular work. The Lord gave the desire, and through the active sympathy of E. C. Morgan, the editor of the "Christian," the means were provided. A house was found at Hackney, and named the Revival Refuge, where thirty boys could be at once received. A few weeks afterwards, looking at these bright, intelligent young faces, it was difficult to believe in the dark surroundings of their earlier years. So great was the encouragement in caring for them, spiritually as well as physically, that Miss Macpherson could not rest without enlarging the work, and a dilapidated dwelling at the back of Shoreditch Church "was fitted up to receive thirty more boys."

In the house first mentioned, besides the matchbox-makers' evening schools, mothers' meetings and a sewing class for widows were conducted by Mrs. Merry, and the upper storey was devoted to the shelter of destitute little girls. But in these, as in all Miss Macpherson's undertakings, the Lord blessed her so greatly that more accommodation was required for the constantly increasing numbers.

The needed building was provided in a way that could have been little conjectured, but the Lord had gone before. Along the great thoroughfare leading from the Docks to the Great Eastern Railway, lofty warehouses had taken the place of many unclean, tottering dwellings formerly seen there. During the fearful visitation of cholera in 1866 one of these had been secured as a hospital by Miss Sellon's Sisters of Mercy, and water and gas had been laid-on on every floor, and every arrangement made for convenience and cleanliness. When the desolating scourge was withdrawn the house was closed, and many predicted that it would never be used again. In the following year Mr. Holland suggested how well it would be to secure it for a Refuge. The doors had been closed twelve months when Mr. and Mrs. Merry and three other friends entered the long-deserted dwelling, and joined in prayer that where death had been seen in all its terrors, there souls might be born to God, and that the voice of praise and prayer might be heard within those walls which had once resounded with the groans of the dying. Then the doors were locked, and for twelve months more remained as before. Then they were again opened, and on a gloomy winter's evening, with one candle the vast unlighted dwelling was again entered. The little company included R. C. Morgan, Charles Dobbin, and Henry Blair, of the Madras Civil Service, whose interest in the work now begun, only ended with his death. Through the kindness of these friends the building was secured, and the rent promised, but then a new difficulty arose. It had been hoped that Mr. Holland, who had first suggested the effort to secure the building, would have been willing to undertake the charge, but the work at George Yard was too dear to be given up. And now, who would bear this burden? It could hardly be believed that any woman would undertake the responsibility, for women had not then been called forward in this country so prominently as they now are. Here may be seen something of the Lord's purpose in having permitted Miss Macpherson's voyage to New York. In that city she had seen the faith and courage the Lord had given to women to "attempt great things" _for Him_, and the day is well remembered when many prayers were answered that she would accept the post. It is a post far advanced into the enemy's territory, for the adjoining streets are known as the "Thieves' Quarter." Three thousand, it is supposed, have their headquarters here. In the square mile in the midst of which the Refuge, (now called "Home of Industry"), is situated, 120,000 of our poorest population are to be found. From the first Mr. and Mrs. Merry gave themselves as willing and invaluable helpers to the enormous work connected with the undertaking. It appeared great from the beginning, but little could any one have imagined how it would go on spreading and increasing. It is difficult, or it may be impossible, to name any form of distress or any class which has not been here relieved and blessed. Every hour of the day, and even far on into the night, the voice of praise and prayer has been heard in some part of the building. Even in the vaults beneath the pavement was a little sanctuary made. Under the very stones, before trodden by them as homeless wanderers, some have joined in asking the Lord's blessing on those who had rescued them.

In February, 1869, the Lord granted us the desire of our hearts, and the Home of Industry was opened with praise and prayer. "The Lord had done great things for us," but far more than any heart then, conceived were the blessings yet in store.

On February 22, Miss Macpherson wrote as follows in the "Christian":--

"BELOVED HELPERS,--To-night how your hearts would have rejoiced to have seen me and my happy hundreds of little toiling children in our


God's Answers - 4/28

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