Do you ask more particularly, how this shall be done? Plant, for instance, an able and devoted minister in the most degraded portion of our city. Let him employ his time in the cultivation of one thousand of these minds. Let him, by the aid of self-denying brethren, assemble them in one place on the holy sabbath. Let him visit their houses, and pray with them, every month. Let him collect the children and youth into sabbath schools and bible classes. Let him encourage among them every means of intellectual as well as spiritual elevation; and how astonishing will be the change wrought, even in the course of one year. Instead of being objects of pity, shame, and aversion; many of them become pillars of light, and exert a purifying influence upon others. Is not this elevation worth more than all the necessary expense, even leaving out of the account all the eternal results? Let, then, another and another degraded portion be selected, and in like manner be regenerated and ennobled. Especially let no one who feeds at the table of our common Lord, and lives from week to week on the provisions of his house, refuse, promptly and vigorously to co-operate in the work of mercy, while a soul is perishing in ignorance and sin!
In the mean time, let our civil fathers look well to the execution of laws, which themselves have made, for the suppression of sabbath-breaking and immorality. And let them inquire seriously, Whether all our children and youth may not be brought under the influence of instructors of good character, and other moral restraints, a thousand-fold more efficacious, for preventing crime, than statutes, and prisons, and chains.
Our hearts rejoice to see new blocks of buildings going up to decorate our city. But what is that to the present and eternal elevation of these thousand minds? Should we not then exult in the privilege of lifting all the degraded portions of our city, and of our land, into intellectual and moral grandeur? What object of ambition could there be, equal to that of thus creating an empire of righteousness—a world of intellect? Such monuments of glory shall remain, when earthly governments shall be no more, and the earth itself shall have passed away.
Never, methinks, was the language of God more distinct, than at the present crisis. To the rich he is manifestly saying, “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes; and all nations shall call you blessed.” To the ministers of religion, and to all his chosen, he is manifestly saying, “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain: O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up; be not afraid; say unto the cities; Behold your God! Behold the