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Women at their own habitations. The text I made choice of was these sweet words of the Lord Jesus, “ I am the bread of life,” John vi. 35.
It is no reproach to any other benevolent scheme for softening or relieving the ills of our fallen state (for they are all excellent in their kind) to observe, that the Lying-in Charity for the Delivery of Poor Married Women at their own habitations stands as high in its pretensions for public favour, as almost any one institution that can be named. It would be invidious to make comparisons between the public institutions of charity, when all possess one and the same family feature; but while all possible respect is paid to those noble edifices of national grandeur, the hospitals, and asylums, which rear up their magnificent heads in the various parts of the metropolis, and challenge respect from every beholder, I must contend, that the secret and unobserved acts of charity which are going on in the many haunts of obscure poverty have many advantages, and none more so, than the provision which this society holds forth for the delivery of poor married women. Let the reader be told, that no less than four thousand four hundred and seventythree poor women have been delivered at their own habitations, by the aids of this charity, during the last year; and that upwards of one hundred and sixtyone thousand six hundred and twenty-three have received that relief since its institution! And what an evidence will such an account bring with it of its great utility ? If the number of births, within the bills of mortality, includes (as is supposed communibus annis) twenty thousand; it will then follow, that about a fifth part of these come within the department of this lyingin institution; and indeed the committee state, that a certain class of persons, such as the characters for whom it is evidently intended, seem to look up at it as among their privileges to partake of, and make application accordingly. What a noble charity must this be!
It is not among the smallest inducements to the preference given by the poor to this charity, that in the relief administered here is no separation of families ; the mother (if she be a mother before) doth not leave her little brood at home, while she, goes into the hospital for delivery; neither is the wife deprived of the sight and attendance of her husband; but her presence is still useful to look over her household, and the husband's presence is rendered advantageous to soften her sufferings, and to keep alive, or to awaken those affections which such seasons are above all others calculated to induce. These are very strong recommendations with the affectionate poor. The reader may perhaps be earnest to know through what channels subscriptions may be conveyed for the support of so noble a charity; it may not be amiss therefore to add, that the office is at No. 13, Godliman Street, Doctor's Commons.
THE SURREY DISPENSARY.-LORD'S DAY AFTERNOON, MAY 22, 1803.
In the parish church of St. George the Martyr, in the Borough, I preached a sermon for this charity, from those words of the prophet, " I will make a man more precious than fine gold,” &c. Isa. xii. 12.
The best idea of this Institution may be gathered from the treasurer's account of it, which states that 'there evidently was required some kind of charitable institution between the hospital and the poor-house ; for the former affords relief only to those who will become inhabitants, and those whose diseases admit of their personal attendance ; the latter affords comfort to those who are destitute of any domestic accommodation. A dispensary like that of the Surrey, forms an intermediate arrangement that meets the defects of
both. Here the poor and industrious workman and his family may receive the aid of the physician, surgeon, and midwife, in all diseases and accidents, at their own habitations. Here the sick, hurt, and lying-in woman, can have every assistance, without the evils which necessarily arise to a family, when any one who is sick is removed. In a dispensary, medicines and other means of cure are regularly administered ; and, at stated hours, those that are capable of attending may receive advice and medicines, with as little loss of time as possible. So that, by this system of a dispensary, medical charity is widely diffused, and every description of sickness is in some degree provided for, to which the arrangements of hospitals, with all their allowed excellence, cannot extend.'
The Surrey Dispensary hath admitted patients from the 2nd of March, 1778, to the 2nd of April, 1803, in point of number, no less than eighty-two thousand six hundred and eight. The Dispensary is in the Borough, where subscriptions are received.
THE LOCK HOSPITAL.
It is too well known to need the observation, at least the being much insisted upon, that the distinguishing feature which marked the Lock Hospital in its first formation, was the earnest desire of stretching forth the hand of pity to a set of beings, made more immediately wretched by their own depravity. It was thought but the common act of humanity to extend relief to misery, in whatever form it might be found, without being too exact to scrutinize in the first view of things, how great a degree of guilt had entered into the cause of that misery. But it was grace in the soul, which prompted the first promoters of the Lock Hospital to carry their views yet further, and cherished the hope, that if the blessing of God
followed the design, by converting the sinner from the error of his way, they might save a soul from death, and hide the multitude of its sins.”
Stimulated by these views, the Lock Hospital was first formed, in the year 1747. And since that period, twenty-seven thousand of the most wretched of human beings have found shelter and protection under its merciful roof; and many of them not only have been evidently snatched from the jaws of death, and restored as useful members of society; but, what is infinitely more delightful to consider, have given the most unequivocal proofs, in their after conduct in life, of the real conversion of their hearts to God.
I hope that I was clearly in the path of duty in preaching a sermon recommendatory of the institution, on the Lord's-day evening, May the 22nd, in the chapel of the Hospital. The subject I endeavoured to make as appropriate as possible, being gathered as well from the consideration of the charity itself, as from those interesting words of the Psalmist, “ I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments,” Psalm cxix. 176.
MONDAY, MAY 23. This day, forming a parenthesis to the ministry of the pulpit, I availed myself of it for an enjoyment which had been long proposed since my arrival in town; but for which I had hitherto found no opportunity. I had heard that there was a gracious man, who lived somewhere about Brixton Causeway, on the Surrey Road, whom the Lord in his providence had thought fit to make his prisoner. Long sickness had deprived him the privilege of public ordinances; so that it fared with him as with the church of old, in those days when there was no open vision, “the word of the Lord was precious.” In the present state, some of our sweetest enjoyments become so, only when, in the want of them, we are thereby made more sensible of their value. Few have grace enough rightly to appreciate them when in the fulness of possession. I determined if the Lord favoured the wish, to visit this man, that I might both learn this truth from his own mouth, and at the same time gather information also, respecting the general state of his mind under soul exercises.
I have always found visits to the sick truly profitable; and, if I may venture to say so without offence, I would add, that according to my apprehension, it forms a most important part in the province of a clergyman's duty. Indeed, I do not see how it is possible without it for a minister to get acquainted with the spiritual circumstances of the people among whom he labours. I remember to have read of a minister of the last century (and it struck me very forcibly at the time, that it formed the highest testimony to his character) whose congregations were so numerous, that very frequently his church could not contain them; and yet it was said of him, that amidst this large assembly, there was scarcely one with whose spiritual state he was unacquainted.
If my reader be of my sacred order, he will, I hope, think on this subject as I do; for if ever a minister's labours are made eminently useful, they must be so under the blessing of the Holy Ghost, from a conduct of this kind. That preacher will certainly be most likely to speak to the experience of the hearer, who hath studied most the various workings of the heart. And in the office of his public ministration, he will best know how to offer “a word in season to weary souls,” who is best acquainted with the groans and complaints of exercised believers in private. What a lovely view hath the Holy Ghost given of the Redeemer under this character, in that sweet allegory of the