Page images
PDF
EPUB

1875.

Jewish population of Galicia is very large. Statistics give the number as 478,000 so far back as 1857, and it has since much increased. This is out of a population of five millions, and in the whole empire of Austria the Jews are said to number 1,300,000.

The Rev. Daniel Edwards, now of Breslau, missionary of the Free Church of Scotland, began his work at Lemberg in 1848, but after two and a half years was obliged by the government to leave the town. About the year 1867 the London Society took up the work, and we had the pleasure of meeting their missionary, Rev. J. Lotka, and of spending Sunday afternoon in the study of the Scriptures at his house, when a young Jew, who is receiving Christian instruction, was also present. The Jews of Lemberg are about equally divided into Orthodox and Reformed. They present a large but difficult field, and demand in a missionary to them an unusual combination of gifts. An eloquent preacher who spoke pure German might gain a hearing, but he would require to know the Talmud well, and to be able to confront and confute its errors by the faithful and skilful use of the Hebrew Bible, and he must at the same time know thoroughly the objections of modern scepticism, and be able to meet them. As at Cracow so here, Roman Catholicism presents Christianity in such a way as to disgust and repel the Jew. This we felt particularly on one occasion, when, in company

with Mr. Lotka, we saw a service conducted by six persons, the congregation consisting of about twelve. The genuflexions, the wearing of apparel, the ringing of bells, the muttering, the waving of incense, &c., caused us to leave the splendid but tawdry church saying, with deep distress of mind, “Alas ! that the missionary should first have to remove the bad impression this has produced in the mind of the Jew before preaching the Gospel in its simplicity to him.” Mr. Lotka had been accompanying the Secretary of the London Society in a visit to Odessa, and to the Crimean Karaite Jews, of whom we learned interesting particulars. And we were glad to find in the course of our journey that these visits of the Secretaries of the two societies produced a good impression on the missionaries and on all concerned, by showing the interest felt in the work by British Christians, and the desire of the societies that it should be carried on in the most intelligent and efficient way.

Lemberg must be mentioned, with regret, as one of those places with a large Jewish population that our Society is not yet strong enough to reach in the ordinary way by sending a qualified missionary. We have, however, here two Christian Jewesses, who are conducting a school. They began teaching about three years ago, but did not at once receive the permission of government. We were much pleased with those of their scholars we saw, they were intelligent Jewish children of a superior class, but as it was then holiday-time, we did not see the school in full operation. Of their 18 scholars, 14 are Jewish, and 4 Roman Catholic.

While this is being printed we hear, with great pleasure, that the school has increased to 61, of 'which 30 are Jewish children. Some of the children already give pro nise that the results of careful Christian training will be seen in later years. This is, at present, the whole of the contribution we

are able to make to Christian work amongst the Jews in Lemberg. The British and Foreign Bible Society has a depôt in this town, and employs four colporteurs to carry the Scriptures to various parts of the country. Mr. P., father of our friends the teachers, is depositary. He is an earnest Christian Jew, and has many opportunities of speaking to his brethren. He visits several towns with large Jewish populations, and sometimes remains with his store of Bibles for days in the midst of the great fairs that are held in this part of the world, when thousands of Jews are gathered together. As a bookseller he excites less prejudice than a missionary would have to contend with. He has often introduced the New Testament, and he was able to give me an account of several anxious inquirers he had met with. I was glad to avail myself of his company to pay with me a specialfvisit to that most Jewish town, Brody, which I went out of my way to see, and of which I must give an account next month.

(To be continued.)

Our Missionaries.

ROME. DR. PHILIP writes :-“In one of my last letters about the work here, I told you that I expected every day the return of our application, with the permission to open our school, from the Minister of Public Instruction, and said that here, in Italy, one requires much patience. We waited till the 11th instant, but as no reply had come yet, and having done all that is required by the scholastic law of the country, I resolved not to wait any longer, and opened the school on the 12th by reading a portion of Scripture and with prayer, though there were only three boys, of whom two were my little boys and one a Roman Catholic. Though I had made it known verbally, yet I could not have had the programme printed without having first obtained the permission from the authorities, which, however, even to this day, has not been sent, but, notwithstanding, I had a programme printed and circulated. Next day one Jewish boy came, the day after another Roman Catholic boy, and the day following another Jewish boy, but no others since. But at the same time I must inform you that in the meantime I have made it a rule not to take any under seven years of age, as they would require the constant attendance of a woman. This, no doubt, will appear to you a very dark side of the subject.

“From these statements you will observe what a counter-current we have to meet now. Let us allow it to run on and to spend its strength. I have resolved not to give any inducement whatever, nor to recommend any to your Committee, especially at this commencement, either in the way of food, clothing, or even books, except the latter in cases of actual poverty. All this, as you may easily imagine, is a great trial to me, and a subject of my most earnest prayer before the throne of grace. But I shall hold out ; and as I know that many (notwithstanding all the free things in other schools) are not contented for several reasons, and wish to withdraw their children from these schools, I still hope that we shall have a good number of scholars in our school in due time. Several of our evangelical schools here, on account of the inducements held out,--dinners, clothing, &c.,—had, at first, their schools full, but when the inducements diminished, the

1875.

number of scholars diminished at the same time, and one even from seventy boys is reduced to eleven. I would by far rather see our small beginning waiting in hope, trusting in the Lord, to see the number gradually increasing. The Sun sets, but to rise again in all his brightness to give light and life.

“ The church, too, I have opened. Every Sunday morning I have regular service (in Italian), and though the attendance is still small, it will increase: every Sunday one or two more come. But at this hour few Jews come, because it is the time when the Ghetto and the whole neighbourhood is crowded with contadini (peasants and field labonrers), who have come to make their purchases. But I think it of great importance to have regular service every Sunday, especially as no other evangelical party has yet come into the neighbourhood, except a meeting place for soldiers, of considerable interest, and where I saw, not long ago, sixty taking the communion. I had several meetings in the evening, though not very numerous, but the most were Jews.

From next Sunday (D. V.) I shall have regular meetings especially for the Jews, every Sunday and Wednosday evening, and I have no doubt that I shall always have a good attendance of both men and women.

“Every morning, from nine to one, I am at the mission premises, where I have a small room to receive in, and as it becomes gradually known that I am regularly there, Jews will come in from time to time to have a quiet conversation. Besides this, I continue my visits, and am well received by all and have many an opportunity to speak about the love of Christ, and to prove from Scripture that He is the Messiah. But of late I have not been able to trace much progress. There is a growing moral atmosphere in Italy now, which seems to shut up the mind and heart against the influence of the Gospel; Rationalists, Republicans, and Freethinkers, and all the wiles of Satan seem to be at work against religious progress.”

In a letter of subsequent date, Dr. Philip writes:—“Since I wrote the number of scholars has increased but very slowly, and up to this date we have only nine-two of these are my little boys, whom I send to encourage, and the rest, seven in number, are all Roman Catholics—not one Jew. Three Jewish boys came, one after another, but came only for two or three days, and then no more. The first did not return, because I declined to buy clothing for him; the second, because I would not give him any new books, so that his father might sell those which he had from another school which he had frequented ; and the third did not return because we do not feed the children.

" Then as for the meetings. Since I wrote to you last, I have had only one good meeting especially for the Jews, and several others, but attended by a few only. God willing, next Saturday evening we shall have another, which I hope will be better attended. Then, beside these special Jewish meetings which I hold, we shall have one every second Saturday of each month, at which all the evangelical ministers here, in turn, will give addresses especially to the Jews. The Sunday and Wednesday evening meetings are more promising, though very few Jews come to the former.

Besides this part of the work, I continue my daily round of visits in the Ghetto, and whilst I have frequent pleasant intercourse, and apparently growing minds and hopeful souls before me, I have had of late a good many disappointments and discouragements, seeing indifference about religion becoming so prevalent among the Jews; and I fear, the more they become so, the more they live freely and patriotically with their Italian neighbours.

“But I have also my little room on the premises, and here frequently more hopeful inquirers, like Nicodemus, drop in to ask“ how can these things be ?” and “ how can a man be born again when he is old ?” One of those who frequently come is an earnest well-educated teacher. Lately, after a long conversation with him, he seemed to be surprised on hearing mo

1875.

quoting the verse, Zechariah xii

. 10, and especially the words, “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.”.

He read them over and over in my Hebrew Bible, but he was determinate in his opinion that these words were not in the Bible of the Jews. He was to look into his Bible on arriving home. I believe he did so. He did not come back next day as promised, but I met him. He confessed his ignorance of a passage which he said he had read over hundreds of times. He seemed much struck by this passage; it has evidently made an impression on his mind. May God make it a blessing to him, and enable him to look unto Him whom they have pierced."

A Hard Saying. . THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL AMONG THE JEWS.—Excellent letters against the Conversionists have appeared in the Hereford Times and the Western E.cpress. One of these letters is signed “A Jew," the other is signed “ Alibia.” Each writer develops the views which we have constantly maintained in this journal. In the letter signed “A Jew,” we learn that one of the tract distributors signs his article merely as a “Surgeon," and takes good care to omit his address. We remind “A Jew” that if “A Surgeon had given his address, the advice offered to us by a contributor, to return the tract with a brick enclosed in an unpaid envelope through the post, would doubtlessly induce “A Surgeon” to abandon the cure of souls for the cure of bodies.

“Alibia” cleverly tells the Conversionists that half the price which they pay in the endeavour to convert Jews who will not be converted, would doubtlesse convert to morality those who need such conversion ; he eloquently adds that “ to the children of Israel, the Law of Moses, divine in its peerless worth, will ever be the basement of a faultless faith, and the strength of a matchless hope.”—Jewish Chronicle.

[We are sorry to find the above paragraph in the columns of our generally careful contemporary. There is something most contemptible in the counsel to send a brick in an unpaid envelope, and we only notice it as an additional inducement to our readers and friends to be more thoroughly in earnest in the great work of presenting the Gospel of the crucified Jesus before those who reveal the weakness of their cause, and expose the joints of their armour, in so uncourteous and ignorant a manner. Probably there is no other body in the world whose agents could thus presume to offend against the written laws of ordinary decency and honour. Let it not harden our hearts against them, but remember Paul's inspired words, “ Being defamed, we entreat." There are countless Jewish trophies to victorious grace, and by God's grace there will be countless more.— Ed.]

Poetry.

AN APPEAL TO THE CHILDREN OF ENGLAND,

DEAR children who love Israel's God,

Will you not love His Israel too ?
And love them for Messiah's sake,

Who was once Himself a Jew,

[ocr errors]

, 1

Many of those who loved Him best,

When He dwelt here upon this earth,
Were of the holy chosen seed,

And like Christ of Jewish birth.
They were little Jewish children

Thus whom Jesus loved and blest ;
Who often climbed upon His knee,

Nestling closely to His breast.
Ye dear little ones of England,

Will you often kneel in prayer,
Praying for the Jewish children,

And our God, through Christ, will hear ?
And He will bless you when you pray,

When you pray for Israel's peace;
And every blessing He will give,

And joys that will never cease.
Give, and do all for Jesu's sake,

Who did very much for you;
Tell the sweet story of His love

To the little Christless Jew.
Then, bye-and-bye, in glory bright,

In the Father's house above,
You'll sing with them redemption's song,
To Messiah, whom you love.

A. G. C. P.

[ocr errors]

Chippings from Kindred Blocks. WAERE are the Jews now? Their Messiah has come; they are still holding these Scriptures—the Old Testament Scriptures--which furnish us with the foundation of the Christian system, and which bear testimony to their King born at Bethlehem--born King of the Jews. He presented Himself to them as their King, and His citizens hated Him, and persecuted Him, and said “ We will not have this man to reign over us.' Art thou a King, then ?" asked Pilate: our English version says, “ Thou sayest that, &c., I am á King." He never said anything of the kind. He asked the question. Our English version ought to read thus: “Thou sayest it; I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause was I sent into the world.” Write over the cross, “ Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Write, he said so? No, He did not say it; it is written, let it remain. It remains, and He is King of the Jews, both by title and by right. David's throne is vacant, but it will not always be. They read in their prophets, Messiah is to come and bless Israel and bless the world. Messiah has come, Israel is not blessed as a nation, and the world is not blessed, and the world is waiting the blessing of Israel.Hebrew Christian Witness.

« PreviousContinue »