The million-peopled city
The Persecution which the recent London Converts have had to endure.
So great has been the opposition, that even natural affec- tion, and that among a class in whom it is so peculiarly strong, has given way to the bigotry of creed. The dearest relatives have cast from them, as objects of hatred, those whom before they most loved. One woman recently said to a missionary, around this church, " I have one young child, and if that child were but to turn Protestant, I solemnly vow, that I would sacrifice him to God," at the same time taking up a large pair of scissars to show, by action as well as word, how ready she would be, for the sake of her religion, to plunge the scissars into the flesh of her own offspring. The priest referred to was specially sent to the locality from , by the authorities of the Romish Church, to counteract the success of the work of conversion which was going on. His knowledge of the Irish language, it was con- sidered, would give him an advantage, where God's Word had begun to be preached in Irish, and where Irish-speaking
|missionaries were diligently at work. On his arrival, he sent agents about Bermondsey to find out the residences of those who had professed themselves converts, or who admitted Bible-readers into their houses. He then denounced their names from the altar, and desired the congregation to employ all means to bring them back to the true fold, from which they had strayed, adding, that if they did not succeed, he should employ the authority given him by the Church to curse them. It was, however, quite enough for the priest to denounce the names of these persons, to induce the congre- gation to use them ill, and, while doing so, they doubtless considered that they were doing God service. The work of persecution forthwith began. Many were knocked down in the public streets, others were beaten and their lives threat- ened, others were struck with brickbats on their heads. It was with the design of putting a stop to such proceedings that a warrant was applied for against the priest, that it might be shown how English law would not permit such atrocities, but that all in this free country may worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. And the result of the trial led to his departure from the neighbour- hood, while one woman in the Court, at the trial, was so favourably impressed towards Protestantism, especially by hearing the Protestant clergyman request mercy for the priest from the magistrate, that it ended in her renouncing Popery and embracing the pure faith of the . She has ever since herself been most zealous in making converts to Protestantism.|
The efforts of the missionaries of the have had their share in the success, as will appear from the following extracts from the monthly schedules forwarded to that Society, by the , Incumbent of :-
.-The work of one of the missionaries has
|led this month to 12 persons renouncing Popery. I am sorry to say, the persecution has become so hot that he is prevented from visiting some places where he was formerly welcome, but this, I trust, will only be a temporary hin- derance. The priests are very violent in their proceedings. The second missionary has been very active and zealous among the Romanists. Two adults will, I expect, soon renounce Popery, and 6 children have this month been induced to attend school.|
"August.-Since the last return, several have given in their names as converts from Popery.
" September.-The missionaries' work is progressing well. Three persons have lately declared themselves Protestants, as the result of their work; but I expect many more very soon, as there is now a great spirit of inquiry.
" October.-A capital month. One missionary has brought in 14 converts. He is obliged to be very much with me, helping in the reception of inquirers, which will account for his not having visited more families. One very good convert has been brought in this month by the second missionary. He has many very hopeful cases on his hand, but it must be remembered that his ground is not so advantageous, though most important, as it has not been so much broken up.
"November.--Since the prosecution of the priest there has been a great opposition to the entrance of the mission- aries, but I trust this will be only temporary. The con- vincing of the poor people that the priests are not invulner- able will, it is hoped, make a good impression. Indeed, already several, since the trial, have expressed their intention of quitting Popery.
" December.-During the month 8 persons have, by the missionaries, renounced Popery, and a great many are influenced by the truth."
To show the difficulties with which some of these converts
|have had to strive in the step they have, by God's grace, taken, a few details are given from the last Report of one of the Bermondsey missionaries of the :-|
" On - -, while he was at work on a wharf, a cask was let fall. It just missed him, and he escaped unhurt. The Romanist who let it fall laughed, and coolly said, 'A good job, if it had killed him.' The poor man has been since frequently pelted with stones, and hurt; but he bears all with Christian fortitude, and says they could do nothing which would more tend to convince him of the errors of Popery. "- - was knocked down, while standing in front of his own yard; his head came on the curb-stone, and his life was in great danger. The people immediately ran for the priest, who was soon in attendance, but he told him that he was a convert, and wished to see , the Pro- testant clergyman. The latter at once went, but was quickly surrounded by a crowd of persons, who prevented him from speaking to the injured man. One took hold of a stool and was about to strike the clergyman, but was prevented by another to whom the clergyman was known. I then made an effort to speak to the man, but to no purpose. About 15 women gathered round, and when he tried to answer any question I put to him, they put their hands on his mouth to stop him. He soon became quite unconscious from the effects of the blow he had received.
" The priest, some time since, offered the converts, that if any of them would return to the true fold, he would pay their passage to . There were only 6 who accepted his offer. These he employed for some time in trying to bring others with them, but they were unsuccessful. On their asking him at length, when they were to be sent off, he told them that they must look out for work in London, and excused himself from sending them to . They
|therefore left him again in disgust, doubly convinced that Popery is a monstrous delusion. They have ever since attended regularly Protestant worship, and they often warn the other converts not to be led away by false promises, but to hold fast the religion of the Gospel. They have thus become strengthened in the faith."|