Page images
PDF
EPUB

experience—for progressive instruction. One class consists entirely of believers who come together for prayer and mutual edification with the help of the Missionary; another is composed of inquirers, and others come to learn English or French. Besides this, a school has been established, first gathered in the Missionary's kitchen, and now removed, through the need of more accommodation, to a room hired for the purpose. Here a qualified teacher has been engaged, and every branch of an ordinary useful education is thoroughly taught. Let it be remembered that this is in Turkey, where, in former days, the people would as soon have expected to see the sun fall from heaven, as to witness the slightest stir of mental or moral improvement.

There are two other spots, in the same country, where a similar regeneration is in process through the same kind of agency; and one of the little schools for Jewish boys and girls, commenced amidst great difficulties, has already furnished a promising young student to a training institution in Switzerland, where he is preparing to preach the glad tidings to the heathen.

In some cases whole families have been transformed. In the spring of the past year a Jew and his youngest son, a lad of sixteen, living in Kronheim, were led to the knowledge of Christ through a missionary of the British Society. The father was timid, but the son was bold; and when the former was ready to faint under the cruel treatment he had to sustain from his wife and daughters, this young boy would stand by bim and strengthen him. And thus they went on, hand in hand, the son really leading the sire, till they both resolved to make profession of their faith; and they stood side by side, on the same day, before an assembled congregation, to cast in their lot with the disciples of Christ. After this, they had a daily cross to bear; but they were faithful, and it was not long before their consistent conduct began to impress those around them. The wife and daughters, who had been such bitter foes, yielded their hearts to the truth. With them, the eldest son gave himself to the Lord, and they are now an unbroken family, united in the bonds of Christian love.

Not only the orphan but the widow has found comfort under the care of Jesus. Early in the past summer, a Jewish lady, in deep mourning and thickly veiled, called one evening at the house of a missionary, holding in her hand a little book which, she said, she had found among the papers of her deceased husband. “I have been reading this little volume,” she remarked, “because it was my husband's; but I find several things in it which I cannot understand, and, as I believe you gave it to him, I thought I would take the liberty of calling on 'you to ask if you would kindly give some explanation. • But,” she added, “ do not mistake me; I have not come to you with any intention of becoming a Christian ; quite the contrary. I am a Jewess, and intend to remain so; but I like to be able to understand what I read, and I thought you would not mind the trouble I am giving you.” It was not her intention to become a Christian, and who ever does intend to become a Christian, till the truth applied by the Spirit of God reaches the heart ? However, the truth did come to her with the demonstration of the Spirit and with power. She has, since then, endured severe persecution with unshaken firmness, and she is now with Jesus in His heavenly kingdom. During the last autumn her health became impaired, probably through the troubles she experienced; and, in the early part of November, it pleased God to take her to Himself. Her death was not only peaceful, but joyous.

Not the least interesting of the fields of Jewish evangelisation is found among the Rabbinical schools and colleges which abound in Poland. To these retreats, where Jews often pass almost their entire life from early boyhood, the missionary gains access, and many a young mind, ardent in the pursuit of sacred knowledge, is thus led into the light. Many of the devotees of the Talmud have become mighty in the Scriptures, and, like Apollos, have “mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” The Jewish students at some of the foreign universities are also beginning to visit the missionaries, and some of them receive the word with all readiness of mind, and search the Scriptures daily, whether these things are so.

The limits assigned to this paper forbid further illustration; but it is cheering to know that the British Society, with its twenty-five missionaries in England, France, Prussia, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Turkey, and Africa, is, by God's blessing, doing a good work; and it is to be hoped that its proposed British Christian Home, Orphanage, and Schools in London, for Jews, will soon be reared as a monument of Christian love to the people “ whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever.

CHRISTIAN WORK IN SPAIN. Our readers will probably be surprised to know that, notwithstanding the boasted proclamation of religious liberty in Spain, no Bibles can be carried into that country from without—at least not without smuggling or bribing the Customs' officers. And our Bible Society very properly declines to do either. The laws, however, do not forbid the printing of the Scriptures in the country ; and the Society, taking advantage of this fact, have resolved to print ONE MILLION copies of separate Gospels (Valera's Protestant version) at Madrid. Orders have already been given for the printing of 200,000 Gospels, 5,000 large Bibles, 25,000 small Bibles, 25,000 small Testaments, and 10,000 large Testaments. The work is now in progress, and the Society looks with confidence to its friends and supporters for the means necessary to accomplish this noble project.

A correspondent of the Bible Society writes from Madrid on the 28th of January :—“I hope your appeal for a million Gospels is being promptly

responded to. Yesterday I watched for half-an-hour a man of faith who was vending, at a halfpenny each, the Gospel of St. John, as fast as he could take the money and hand the book to the scores who were at every moment pressing upon him, and struggling to obtain a copy. The crowd often stretched half across the street, and the police aided to keep order. A fresh packet of fifty had to be opened every five minutes. He sold 1,000 in less than two hours. Such a sight has never before been witnessed in Madrid. It would have done your heart good to see this, and to reflect that, as a fruit of his labours, perhaps 1,000 persons in Madrid were last night reading, for the first time in their lives, the words, God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'

“A large impression of St. Matthew has been exhausted, and, to judge by appearance, the 40,000 of St. John which our good brother has printed will not last long. I have also every day calls from private friends in the provinces, which I supply as best I can, till my room becomes a packing warehouse, and I have no time for my own work, which is a source of regret.”

Some of our readers have doubtless seen the account which the correspondent of the Daily News, writing on January 25th, gave of the first Protestant service in Madrid, but many have not, and it is so deeply interesting that we reproduce the greater part of it:

“ Yesterday morning I went to Plaza de Santa Catalina de los Donados. I found out No. 2 by following a stream of Spanish people bent on the same errand.

The delay in finding the street made me a few minutes late, so the service had commenced when I arrived. As I passed up the staircase I heard, for the first time since I left England, congregational singing to one of Luther's grand old tunes. The room had evidently been a dining or reception room, opening into an ante-room. It had a double row of neat red-cushioned benches, with a narrow passage in the centre, a harmonium in one corner. When I entered the seats were full, and I had some difficulty in finding one. Shortly after it became crowded, and many had to go away, unable to find even standing room. At the extreme end was a small recess with a pulpit, or rather desk. The preacher was a middle-sized man, with a good forehead, and a countenance rather inclined to be handsome. He wore the black gown and white lappets of the Church of England, and the service, which he read in Spanish, was part of her beautiful service. The singing was from a printed sheet of four hymns, which was given to every one on entering. One of these was a translation of that beautiful one of Miss Elliot's, beginning

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me;' and another was the Doxology. I counted 139 present ; but how many of these were Protestants, and how many had come from mere curiosity, of

[ocr errors]

were men.

course I could not tell. That a goodly number, however, were the former, was unmistakably evidenced by the singing, when it is remembered that in the Roman Catholic churches the people do not sing; all that is left to the priests. This singing was started with a heartiness and a precision impossible amongst those who were not accustomed to it, and the congregation so easily took it up and sustained it as to prove that most of them were familiar with the music. It was the more marked as the majority present

There were not a dozen females, nor a half-a-dozen children. “The preacher, who, I afterwards learnt, was Pastor Ruet, the Spaniard who has done so much for Protestantism in Algeria, took for his text Matthew xxviii., 16th to 20th verses. He is a man of wonderful eloquence, which he wielded with evident power over his audience. I noticed one or two priests among them, besides many of what one might call the upper classes.' The discourse lasted exactly half-an-hour, during the whole of which period he was listened to with the most rapt attention. His manner was deeply earnest, without the least approach to rant.' After picturing the scene of his text, and expounding the lessons derivable from it, he alluded to the fact that recent events permitted every Spaniard to think for himself, and to exercise the right so long denied to them, but permitted to other countries, of worshipping God according to the dictates of conscience. In the exercise of that right he, a born Spaniard, was conducting the Protestant worship of Protestant Spaniards. The services would be continued twice every Sunday so long as the authorities sanctioned freedom of worship, which, it was hoped, the Cortes Constituyentes would confirm.

“In his enunciations of Protestant doctrine, he very wisely used no fanatical declamation against the Church of Rome and its customs. Such would not do with a people so superstitiously attached to it as the Spaniards are. I have frequently seen them stop a priest in the streets to kiss the hem of his garment! Gently and calmly he showed how the one Mediator between God and man was so powerful as to render any others quite superfluous. He said he was far from speaking with disrespect of the Virgin ; on the contrary, he felt sure that if departed saints were permitted to see what was going on below, the Virgin's breast must fill with joy at witnessing the first inauguration of Protestant public worship in the capital of Spain. In that worship, rich and gorgeous temples might be all very well where the people could afford them; but they were not absolutely necessary. A room, a desk, a Bible, and the light of heaven, were all that was really requisite.

“Throughout the whole discourse there was an absence of that system some excellent clergy of our own Church adopt, of talking to the people as if they were children. He appealed as a man to men, and invited them to bring to bear on the question of Protestantism all the learning and intelligence they possessed."

THE

CHRISTIAN WITNESS,

AND

CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE.

THE CONGREGATIONALISM OF OUR FATHERS; OR, THE

INTERDEPENDENCE OF INDEPENDENT CHURCHES.

By the Reb. James Browne, B.A., Barnsley. If it be assumed that, in theory, all action in our Independent Churches begins, proceeds, and is completed and confined within themselves, it will be found that the practice of these Churches is not regulated by such a theory. There is hardly an exception to the fact that these Churches believe that they have claims upon other Churches of the same faith and order, and that they act in the conviction that the claims will be admitted. One Church considers itself entitled to the assistance of neighbouring Churches in some religious services it may be holding, and unless those Churches furnish it both with speakers for their meetings and hearers to listen to the speakers, they are regarded as churlish and unbrotherly. Ministers, too, of these Churches consider that they do not properly illustrate the “ communion of saints” in their own connexion unless they more or less frequently interchange pulpits and preaching-services with their brother ministers; and we are all disposed to admit the propriety and necessity of such intercommunion. A Church, in the exercise of its undoubted rights, has called a minister to its pulpit—a pastor to rule over them, to feed them with knowledge and grace--and it proposes that this pastor should be inducted into his office by some solemn inaugural services, and it reckons upon the attendance and aid of the neighbouring pastors to assist in their solemn assembly, and to obtain from these pastors a recognition of the propriety of the steps which they have taken, and a reception for their chosen teacher into the fellowship of the pastors and ministers of the district. In the case of the removal of a member of one of these Churches to a distance, inquiry is made for an Independent Church of the place to which he has removed. If there happens to be one, the stranger

Q

VOL. V.--NEW SERIES.

« PreviousContinue »