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THE JEWISH ADVOCATE.
On the opposite page we give a view of the front of the Episcopal Chapel and Schools of the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews. No part of the labours of that Society can be more interesting to the young Christian who has begun to think seriously of God's promises to that wonderful people, than the schools which have been established for the education of their children in the Christian faith. The necessity and importance of this work has indeed been deeply felt from the first by the friends of Israel; and, amongst the various means which have been employed by the Society for proclaiming the Gospel to the Jews, this may be said, perhaps, to be the only one which has been pursued uniformly from the commencement of the Society's labours, during a period of six-and-thirty years. And whilst, for that period, the “ Hebrew Schools” have proved, as we have good grounds for believing, a signal blessing, not only to many individuals that have been brought up in them, but likewise to many Jewish families whose children have been received; we may confidently and thankfully assert that they have been a stand, ing encouragement to the Christian supporters of the Society; and that, when other doors of usefulness were comparatively closed-when the free circulation of the Hebrew Scriptures, had scarcely been attempted-when missions to the Jews of foreign lands were regarded as desirable, rather than as practicable, on an extended scale - when mistakes and difficulties clouded the prospects of the most sanguine friends—there are many still remaining who can attest that in the most desponding periods, the Hebrew Schools were a rallying point, and a centre around which friends gathered with thankfulness and hope.
At successive Anniversary Meetings, the sight of nearly one hundred Jewish children dispelled the doubts and won the affections of many Christian friends. They listened to the voices of that youthful Hebrew band singing “Hosanna to the Son of David," and seemed to hear the melodious pledge of Israel's future restoration to Christ; for they remembered that
When His salvation bringing
To Zion Jesus came,
Hosanna to His name, And if Scribes and Pharisees were displeased, they knew that the Redeemer was pleased to recognise in those childish Hosannas the earnest of prophecy fulfilled, and the type of that glorious day when the sons and daughters of Israel shall raise an harmonious strain, to which a redeemed world shall respond~" Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
The Report which was adopted at the first public Meeting of the Society, on the 23d May,
1809, particularly specifies three definite objects which the Society had in view, as stated in an address previously circulated.
1. To have a chapel expressly for the Jews.
2. To establish a school that they may be able to receive children wholly from their parents, and bestow upon them education, board, and clothing, and to put oat girls and boys as apprentices.
3. To find employment, if possible, for inquirers and converts able to work; to visit the sick, &c.
The schools, which formed so important a part of the Society's original object, and the proved necessity for which had mainly led to its distinct establishment, were opened in May, 1809, with two Jewish children; but, by August of that year, they had increased to eighteen. At a second public Meeting, in December of the same year, it was announced that the schools contained eighteen boys and four girls, and that this establishment, then immediately connected with the chapel of the Society in Spitalfields, had attracted the notice, and, in some instances, the opposition, of the Jews. The Hebrew children were present for the first time on this occasion, and the following passage in the Report then read alludes to their presence in the following terms, which show the early hopes of the fathers of our Society :
“Who can tell but that, out of your nursery, which at present appears no larger than a man's hand, the great Head of the Church may have already decreed that one more faithful labourers in his vineyard shall go forth, whose exertions he will own and bless in a remarkable manner.”
In June, 1811, forty children had been added
to the number just mentioned, making a total of sixty-five-twenty-four girls and forty-one boys; of these, four had died, and five had been removed by their parents, leaving fifty-six children in the schools. Three of the boys had been already selected for future missionary employment, and were pursuing their studies for that purpose; and, the following year, they were examined, and their progress reported to be highly satisfactory, by the Lord Bishop of Meath ; but the subsequent difficulties of the Society diverted their attention too soon from this important object, and the plan was never carried out. The erection of the present Episcopal Chapel and school buildings was at this time proposed to the subscribers, with the view to the establishment of the schools in more close and decided connexion with the Church of England, as well as to provide more suitable and healthy accommodation for the children. The first stone of these buildings was not laid until the 7th of April, 1813, when the total number of children admitted from the commencement amounted to 110.
The stone was laid by his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, father of our most gracious Queen Victoria, who, on taking the chair at the Meeting of the Society on that occasion, emphatically declared "I should not have accepted it, but with the full and complete understanding that the establishment now formed was one intended to receive, with open arms, the children of all those of the Jewish persuasion who, either of themselves, or, if little children, whose parents voluntarily came forward to ask our assistance.”
(To be continued.)