Images de page
PDF
ePub

1870.

the meanwhile, we entreat the prayers of the Lord's people, on the one hand, and their active, loving help on the other; for upon this depends, under God, the fulfilment of the effort, the number of the inmates, and the general prosperity of the work.

The Leyton Home stands away from smoky London, with its many dangers and temptations, in the pleasant, green, quiet country, and yet within half an hour's journey from the centre of the city.

Truly we may rejoice with trembling, and, humbly confessing that this work is Jehovah's, and His alone, may call upon all who love His name, and who wait for the appearance of His Son from heaven, to see what God hath wrought, and to help to carry forward what He hath permitted thus to be begun. W. G. HABERSHON,

Treasurer.

3 Cry from Poland.

WITH the exception of Palestine, perhaps no country in the world is of greater interest to the friends of Jewish missions than Poland. As early as the 10th century, great numbers of Jews resorted thither; and ever since that period they have always formed a considerable part of the population. In fact, the Jews are, at the present time, more numerous in Poland than in any other country. Why they have clung so tenaciously and in ever-increasing numbers to that land is easily explained, if we remember that Poland received them, and, as a general rule, treated them kindly, while all other European countries banished them from their soil.

By their industry and peculiar sharpness of mind, they became an influential body, and at one time (under Sigismond III., in 1596) they were even bold enough to attack in print some of the rites of the Christian religion, and to appeal to the whole Polish nation to conform to Judaism. Of course, they were soon silenced; but that they could ever have ventured on such a step shows how secure they felt themselves. To their honour be it said, the Jews made use of their prosperity for something better than merely amassing wealth;-they took pride in the cultivation of their religion, and one synagogue after another, one college (Beth Hamidrash) after another, sprang up throughout the length and breadth of the country, so that Jewish literature and learning flourished in Poland to an extraordinary degree.

Hence, Jewish parents in many parts of the world would send their children to study the Talmud under the celebrated Polish Rabbis, who maintain what is called a yesheeva, or Talmudical university, and they counted their scholars by the hundred. From these yesheevas Rabbis were selected for congregations far and wide, at home and abroad; and whoever excelled in such establishments was sure to become known wherever Jews resided.

1870.

The only trace of any consideration being shown to converts from Judaism is found in a curious Polish law, which enacted that, if a Jew became a Christian and distinguished himself in the army, he became by right a noble. That such cases did occur is beyond a doubt, for to this day not a few of the Polish nobility acknowledge their descent from Jewish families.

Apart from this peculiar way of recommending Christianity to Jews, nothing seems to have been undertaken, with a view to their conversion, till about half a century ago, when the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews extended its labours to Poland. After some years of preparation in the way of collecting information and removing various hinderances, the two first English missionaries, the Rev. Dr. McCaul and Rev. W. F. Becker, settled there in the course of the year 1821.

66

The record of their work is most cheering, for they found access to the Jews everywhere, and their preaching was not in vain. Dr. McCaul's labours are of special interest and importance, as they gave him opportunity of acquiring that thorough knowledge of the present Jewish religion which enabled him afterwards to slay, so to speak, the giant of Talmudism, and to vindicate the New Testament as completely as he has done, in his volume entitled "The Old Paths." For some thirty-four years the mission prospered, and in many parts of Poland converts from Judaism were gathered in. The New Testament and useful tracts on Jewish subjects were widely circulated among all classes of Jews. Missionstation was added to Mission-station, and the opposition of the Rabbis (by the-bye, no bad proof of the good result attending the mission) served only to stimulate the missionaries to greater activity.

Thus everything went on well, when all at once the outbreak of the Crimean war closed this hopeful mission-field. On the 8th of February, 1855, all the missionaries had to leave Poland and to return to England, regretted and respected, not only by Christians and proselytes, but also by the Jews generally; and, ever since, it has been impossible to obtain admission into Poland for any foreign missionaries. Fifteen years have thus been lost, and it seems quite hopeless for any. English society to think of a resumption of the work which came to so abrupt an end.

But quite recently a welcome cry has reached us from Poland, saying, Come over and help us!" Polish Protestants, in fact, tell us, "Though you are precluded from working here, either among Roman Catholics or among Jews, as foreign societies, by means of your own agents, yet you may help us; for we are allowed to do the work, and are anxious to carry on the mission, but we are too weak to undertake it alone."

This refers more especially to a Hebrew Christian landowner (Mr. A. Janasz), who employs on his vast estates great numbers of German Protestants, and who, for several years, has made various efforts to spread the knowledge of the true Gospel among Jews and Gentiles. Every Sunday he conducts divine service in his own house, after the manner of our

Jan. 1, 1870.

Protestant places of worship, and rich and poor attend in goodly numbers, there being no Protestant church or chapel in the neighbourhood. Subsequently to the Polish insurrection of 1863, the Lord put into his heart a desire to do something for the numerous orphans to be found everywhere in Poland. He at first took two destitute orphans under his care, and at present provides for ten, whom he brings up in the true fear of the Lord. He has also employed a Bible-woman, who visits from house to house in Warsaw, and meets with most encouraging results. Mr. Janasz has lately engaged, as a missionary to the Jews, Mr. Paulus Dworkowicz, a Christian Israelite and native of Poland, who, having studied for the last six years at the Basle Missionary College, is specially qualified for this work. An appeal having been made to the British Society to assist Mr. Janasz in his undertaking, the committee have readily responded; and Mr. Dworkowicz will proceed to Warsaw soon after his ordination, which is to take place at Tübingen in the course of the present month.

To extend this work so happily begun, Mr. Janasz intends to erect an Orphanage on his estate (Plochocin), with which is to be connected a "Home" for inquiring Jews, and is ready to give the site for the building, and also to contribute £250 towards the building expenses, besides £100 as an annual grant towards the maintenance of the undertaking.

To appreciate the extent of the mission-field thus re-opened, we may add that in Warsaw alone there are between 70,000 and 80,000 Jews, whilst in the remainder of Poland, and the Russian provinces formerly belonging to it, upwards of 2,000,000 Jews are to be found!

[ocr errors]

An Answer to Dr. H. Adler's Sermons."

FOR preaching and publishing his "Twelve Sermons," Dr. Hermann Adler deserves the best thanks of all Christians. He has served the cause they love in more ways than one. Believers in Christ feel that the worst enemies of Christianity, as indeed of every kind of truth, are indifference and its twin-sister, ignorance. What truth wants is, that men should think, examine, prove; and even if the spirit in which this is done is hostile to the truth, still, so long as men are roused from stupor and induced to exercise their minds, truth cannot but be the gainer in the long run. To this desirable object the Doctor has contributed. By preaching these sermons he has called the attention of his own congregation, and by publishing them he has sought to direct the mind of a wider circle of his brethren, to some of the points at issue between the Synagogue

* "On some Points in Dispute between Jews and Christians; being an Examination of Twelve Sermons by Dr. Hermann Adler." Price 1s. Longmans & Co., Paternoster Row, and all booksellers. 8vo, 78 pp.

and the Church. Christians cannot but be thankful for that. The author of the Sermons has also helped the cause of Christianity by selecting the Old Testament Scriptures as his battle-field, and particularly by drawing attention principally to some of the passages usually called Messianic. The controversy between Christianity and modern Judaism really resolves itself into this one central point-"Is Jesus of Nazareth He of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets, wrote ?" i.e.-Does the Old Testament contain a prophetic element which finds its exhaustive fulfilment in Jesus, and nowhere else? If this is shown to be the case, Christianity has conquered. For this conquest Dr. Hermann Adler has greatly cleared the way, by attacking principally the Messianic passages; and for this Christians ought to feel obliged. But he has rendered Christianity a still greater, because more direct, service, by calling forth the reply referred to at the head of this paper. Ina pamphlet of only seventy-eight pages, the anonymous writer follows the preacher step by step, and from passage to passage, exposes his fallacies, brings into the witness-box, on points of philology, exegesis, and hermeneutics, the Doctor's own brethren in the faith, and shows that all, or nearly all, the oldest Rabbis and recognised teachers read the passages in question as relating to the Messiah, and that, if so read, they either have been fulfilled in Jesus, or the time of their fulfilment is gone by―i.e., either the promises of God in Christ have been Yea and, in Him, Amen, or they are not divine promises at all, but were fabrications for the purpose of awakening in human hearts lofty and glorious aspirations and hopes, with the sole object of disappointing them!

The essay teems with learning. It shows that the writer is thoroughly familiar with his subject, and has read very extensively the Jewish and Christian authors who have written about it. But, for all that, it is thoroughly readable. No intelligent Christian or Jew need be afraid to take it up. The Hebrew and German quotations in it are translated, so that any one familiar with English alone can easily follow the argument. All who take an interest in the Jew would do well to read this brief treatise, and, if they have the opportunity, to circulate it among the members of the Synagogue. Next to giving to the Jew the Holy Scriptures themselves, we can do him no better service than to put into his hands works which show the unsoundness of modern Jewish fancies, and vindicate the Christian exposition of the divine Word.

We hope to return to the subject (please God) next month.

H. LIEBSTEIN.

A Happy Mistake.

AN American Israelite, whose acquaintance I made during the recent solemn festival, and who in conversation admitted that his religion consisted in nothing more than formal attendance at the synagogue

1870.

during their cardinal feasts, was so favourably impressed at our first accidental meeting, that he requested a further interview. But I must first mention how I made his acquaintance.

One day, whilst on my errand of peace, a gentleman passed me and saluted me. As I did not know him, I turned to look after him. He came up, and asked me whether I was not the Grand Rabbi, Isidor. I answered in the negative; but said that I was a rabbi, but of the Christian order. He was startled, and asked for an explanation, which I gave him frankly and distinctly. A gloom seemed to pass over his face; but prejudice, evidently, not being his ruling passion, it soon vanished.

We were just on the quay, before a promiscuous heap of second-hand books exposed for sale. I saw amongst them a copy of Osterwald's Bible. I took it up, and asked him whether he had read that book." 'No," was his reply. “And yet," I rejoined," of all men the Jews should be the last to ignore it, as it was exclusively their own book; written by holy and inspired men of their own nation, and containing, next to the account of their extraordinary past history and their former intimate relations with Jehovah, the promise of Israel's future glory and the world's redemption in the Messiah, the Son of the Most High." A dubious smile was his reply; but a long conversation followed, when I showed to him from the Scriptures how these things were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.

66

My interlocutor listened with silence and apparent interest, purchased the Bible, marked the passages I had shown him, and, having given me his name and address, requested me to call upon him in a few days, when he should have examined the subject. I was exact to the appointment, and found Mr. H. awaiting me: his Bible was on the table, open on the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Indeed," said he, after I entered the room, "either Christianity is true, or those extraordinary passages you showed me have no meaning." I availed myself of this excellent opportunity to consolidate his favourable impressions by abundant proofs from Scripture. He listened intently, and, at last, gave in his acquiescence to the fact of Jesus being the promised Messiah; but expressed his incapability to seize, as yet, the mystery of his twofold nature, the human and the divine. We have since then met again. Mr. H. is sincerely anxious to arrive at the truth. He is employed as a banker's clerk. I shall endeavour to see him often.

Last Saturday night, I enjoyed a spiritual fête. One of my converts, Victor Cohen, who has been, during thirty years, in the service of the late Baron Delessert, lives at Passy, retired upon his own little means, acquired with his wife during their long service. Last Saturday, I was invited to his neat and modest home, where his brother Jean (likewise my convert) met me, with his wife and daughter, together with their third brother Paul (also a converted Israelite, but brought to the truth previous to my arrival in Paris), with his wife and children. I passed a most pleasant and edifying evening in their midst, and blessed the Lord for making His truth effectual in Israel, and for having granted me some fruit for my hire.

« PrécédentContinuer »