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בס"ד

Public Meeting in Behalf of the Jews in Baltimore.

 

“In pursuance of a notice publicly given, in the city papers and in several of the churches, a meeting was convened in the Light Street Methodist Episcopal Church, on the evening of Tuesday, February 25, in behalf of the cause of meliorating the condition of the Jews. At an early hour the church was well filled with a large assemblage of the representatives of most, if not all, of the evangelical Protestant denominations—and evidence was thus clearly presented of the fact, that the close of God’s ancient people was awakening the same interest here, which has of late years so signally attended it elsewhere. The meeting was organized by calling the Rev. Dr. Johns to the chair, and by appointing Christian Keener, Esq., Secretary. After singing a hymn, by the choir, the blessing of God was asked in prayer by the Rev. Mr. Lemmon, of the Methodist E. Church. The chair then briefly stated the object, which was to organize a Society auxiliary to the American Society in New York, for meliorating the condition of the Jews; after which the agent of this association, Mr.——, was introduced to the audience. An address was then made by this gentleman—himself a Christianized Jew—and a number of facts of exceeding interest were brought forward. The speaker alluded with much feeling to the oppressions under which his people laboured, and to the promises and covenants of God to Israel. He dwelt at some length upon the wonderful preservation of the people, and the astonishing combination of influence in their favour recently evinced. He alluded to the friendship of the King of Prussia and the Queen of England, as a literal fulfilment of the prophecy, that ‘kings should be nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers,’ in the latter day, to God’s people. He spoke of Jerusalem as now filled to overflowing with returning Jews, many of whom, for want of accommodations, were resorting to Joppa, a neighbouring town. He spoke of the twenty-two hundred converted Jews in Prussia, and of the vast numbers in England, and also of the recent instances in the city of New York, where whole families of Jews were now daily engaged in searching the Old and New Testaments. He strongly expressed the conviction that the time of Israel’s restoration was at hand, and that it became Christians to stir themselves in prayer and faith, in contributions and missionary labours, that the Bible might be put in Jewish hands, and generous efforts made in this sure cause of the Lord. After stating the fact that the American Society had just appointed a converted Jew to labour in Baltimore, as a missionary, and that four other missionaries were now on their way from England, designed for similar duties in the United States, he concluded with an appeal to his brethren according to the flesh, to follow him—receive Jesus as the Messiah, and the whole Bible as the word of God. The chair then introduced to the meeting Mr.——, a converted Jew, and stated his personal acquaintance with him, and confidence in his sincere Christian character. Mr.——, although speaking English imperfectly, proceeded in a strain of simple but touching narrative, to address the meeting. He alluded to his former blindness, and to the causes which operated in many parts of Germany, to keep the Jews at a distance from Christianity. He named the oppressions of some countries—the loose Christianity and inconsistent conduct of many nominal Christians. He adverted to the idolatry of papal countries as a powerful repellent of the Jews. He spoke of the temptations to hypocrisy caused by the laws of Europe, restricting Jews from holding real estate. He mentioned the horrible persecution of Jews in Spain and Italy—the confiscation of their property and banishment of their persons—and then asked who could wonder that the Jews thus treated should hate Christianity? He concluded by a very affecting narrative of his own conversion, and of his present anxiety for his own family, now in Germany. The audience in many instances were melted to tears, and evinced the deepest sympathy in the addresses made. The chair subsequently read the form of a constitution for the Baltimore City Society, auxiliary to the American Association—which was accepted; and afterwards the following persons were appointed officers, with authority to nominate a Board of Managers:—The Rev. Dr. Johns, President; the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, Vice President; the Rev. Mr. Heiner, Secretary; Mr. J. H. Brown, Treasurer. Cards were passed through the audience, and several individuals made life members and members of the Society. After which, the meeting was dismissed with the benediction pronounced by the President.”—Baltimore American Republican.

NOTE BY THE EDITOR.—In the above we have another exemplification of the kind missionary spirit which is to be wielded for the melioration of the Jews in America. A disinterested and uninformed reader of this and similar articles, would be led to suppose, on merely looking at the heading, that he was to be presented with the proceedings of some thousands of philanthropists, who, moved by the undeserved oppression Jews have to suffer in Germany, Austria, Prussia, Spain, Poland, Italy, and elsewhere, had met to concert active measures to put an end to acts which disgrace humanity no less than they are a foul stain upon the Christian religion. But how wofully would he be deceived when he, on attentively reading farther, should discover that no such end was in contemplation. All that is intended, he would soon find, is merely to spread the gospel to the Jews in America, and by this means meliorate their condition, by persuading them not to be Jews (for as such their condition could not be meliorated by the combining philanthropists), but to become Christians, and partake in this wise of all the benefits which the various persuasions of Christianity confer upon their members. Now before Jews can be induced to listen to such overtures, they require something really tangible to prove to their understanding that Christian morality is greatly above Jewish morality, and that those who are Christians are really above the Jews in all that religion ought to do for mankind. Perhaps we do not regard religion in the same light as Christians do; we look upon it as pertaining to actual life, as regulating our conduct, as directing our acts, since we have as Jews but few if any articles of faith to distinguish us; whereas Christians, Protestant Christians at least, apply religion to the spirit almost exclusively, having few religious acts, as such, to perform, and deeming a deep faith in the sacrifice of their Messiah powerful enough to wipe out guilt of the deepest dye. We may, perhaps, misconceive the nature of the ideas entertained, as hitherto we never could clearly understand what is meant by this faith; but we are certain that we are not far wrong in believing that many Christians look upon good works as not sufficient for salvation. Now we do think that good works are demanded by God, hence they will cause us to be accepted, if our Maker finds our acts to have been performed from the proper motives, yes—faith in his truth and unerring wisdom. But whilst Christianity appeals to us merely as a theoretical religion, it contradicts in our view the plainest words of Scripture; and hence we reject it, and inquire, “What has it done so much for you, who profess to follow it, that you presume to meliorate our condition by bestowing it on us?”

When we look around us in this country, where Christianity has had the best means of developing itself, being controlled by no tyrannical influence, and where, in truth, people are doubtlessly more religious than where a favourite church is imposed by the state, we have a right to expect that, before appeals are made to the Jews, who have a good code of morals, (we speak now in the sense in which we always have been taught to regard religion,) all those who are without any religious impression, ought to have been at least first appealed to, in order to give them some bond more congenial to the welfare of the republic, than their mere unbridled will. But such is not the case; there are multitudes in America who never enter a church, who never have been in a Sunday school, who have never had a preacher’s voice reaching their ears; who are criminals from mere neglect, owing to the poverty and wretchedness of their parents. Only within a few days several articles in various public prints have met our eyes, two of which we cannot resist giving in this connexion to our readers.

On Boys.—The Fort Wayne (Ia.) Times and Press has an excellent chapter on the boys of that town; of which the annexed paragraph may not be altogether inapplicable to boys and parents in most other towns:—‘It does appear to us as though all parental restraint and authority were removed from the youth of the present day, at five or six years of age, and they were permuted to run at loose ends from that time on. It is no uncommon thing in our streets, to hear boys, from eight to sixteen years of age, cursing and swearing oaths and imprecations that would choke a pirate. We know plenty of such boys, and yet this community is raising money—and some of these very boys’ parents contribute to the fund—to send to the other side of the globe, to convert the heathen.—Benevolent, indeed!—Better to begin at our own firesides.’”—N. Y. Paper.

Subterranean Scenes in New York.—‘Irenaeus,’ In the last New York Observer, quotes from the notes of a friend the following sad account of a recent exploration of one of the living hells in that city, which corroborates the reports heretofore made by Dickens:

“ ‘It was midnight. We had made an appointment with an officer of the city police, one of the oldest and truest of that department, to meet us at the —House, and we were all ready. The neighbourhood we proposed to visit was unsafe for any man to enter in the night unless well protected, and we had therefore taken such precautions as the first law of nature dictates in such cases. Turning down L— to O— Street, we came to a large whitewashed door, at which the officer tapped as if giving a signal to be understood within. The door was cautiously opened, and we stood enveloped in darkness, but the sound of distant music broke upon our ears. We groped our way to a flight of stairs, down which we marched, the officer being at the head, till we cane to another door, guarded by a porter, who proved to be the presiding genius of the establishment. He knew the officer at a glance, and was as complaisant as if a new customer had come; and on being informed that we were on a pleasure excursion through his dominions, he threw open his infernal ball-room door, and there, as sure as life, was a fight such as the disordered brain of a madman might conjure, but which we had never ventured to believe was one of nightly similar scenes in this Christian city. A motley multitude of men and women, yellow and white; black and dingy, old and young, ugly and—no not handsome; God forbid that beauty should ever bloom in such a hotbed as this—but there they were, a set of male and female bacchanals, dancing to the tambourine and fiddle; giggling and laughing in a style peculiar to the remote descendants of Ham, and making “night hideous” with their lascivious orgies. Talk of the degradation of the heathen; of savage pow-wows and pagan carnivals; and stir up sympathy for the slaves of sin in the depths of Africa or Asia. Here we were within a stone’s-throw of the City Hall, in the centre of the first city in the most Christian country on the earth, and here was a sight to make the heart sicken and bleed. On one side of the room was a bar, tended by a rascally-looking wretch, who dealt out the liquors to the frequent calls of his customers; and as the drinking and fiddling went on, the fury of the company waxed fiercer, until the scene was as unreal and bewildering as if we had been suddenly ushered into the revelling halls of the prince of darkness.

“ ‘But we were glad to emerge from this den, and breathe again the pure air of heaven. A bright full moon poured on us a flood of light as we gained the upper region, and what a contrast to the murky atmosphere from which we had just escaped! It was a beautiful night! The mild moon sailed in glory over us, and the stars, “whose purity and distance make them fair,” danced like celestial virgins “in the blue ethereal sky,” and we could scarcely believe that, under such a canopy, there could be such scenes as we had just left.’ ”—U. S. Gazette.

Such things exist, in the great city where the parent society for meliorating the condition of the Jews is established, and surely the members of this charity have got enough in this to cause them to think that others besides Jews require their care. We must not omit to state that we have struck out a paragraph which we felt as too revolting to transcribe; but without it, the mere statement that such orgies are nightly witnessed under the eye of the police in a great Christian city, ought to be enough to startle many who otherwise might glory in their self­assumed guardianship over our people that they have nothing to accomplish among their fellow-Christians, though these be but nominally such. We use the words Christian city, not because we conceive it to be really so, but because of late it has become customary to call the whole of America “a Christian country,” simply because the majority are Christians, though this is doubtful too; and hence if zealots upon such an assumption wish to urge the observance of certain days as times of rest, they ought also to hear the reproach if in any one Christian city of this Christian country Christianity fails of its aim in rendering its professors worthy the name of a righteous people.

But we mean not to be so ridiculous as to charge a system with the acts of individuals; we wrote the above merely to show our conversion friends that we have ample means at command to retort upon them any thing mod every think they occasionally say about the bad state of the Jews in the countries where they are ground down by intolerable oppression.

In respect to the meeting at Baltimore, which has caused us to speak thus far, we could say a great deal; but what needs it? The good sense of our readers will easily induce them to see through the flimsy expression of sympathy for our sufferings with which both the converted speakers commenced their remarks. But it seems wonderful to us that the good-natured enthusiasts who enable such as these to make a demonstration upon the Jews, aim precisely at that which the tyrants of Europe wish to effect. If the Israelites in Europe embrace Christianity, they have nothing more to suffer; on the contrary, they become favourite applicants for office, however the people may despise them; and hence we do not see how the Jews can be more obliged to the voluntary associations of Protestants of every shade for labouring against their faith, than to the potentates of Europe who endeavour to produce the same result by other means, though these be of the coercive order. Of course our advice will not be heeded; but we must say, that we should be more pleased were such as those who met at Baltimore to keep their sympathies and tears to themselves,—we need them not, and prefer being left alone.

A few words more in conclusion. The person who uttered “that there are whole families in New York now daily engaged in searching the Old and New Testament,” could certainly not mean to say that this searching is done for the sake of embracing Christianity. Mr. Forrester, in his report published in the Chronicle, does not say this, nor would it be true; still, in any shape, we doubt if such searching ever has taken place. But in the absence of any sensible grounds for asking the people of Baltimore to get up a conversion society, something had to be said which looked like encouragement, and hence this vague talk about searching the Scriptures. It is something of a joke, we presume, to speak of the prophecies Isaiah 49:23; and 40:16, as fulfilled by the Queen or England’s and the King of Prussia’s subscribing some money to pay the apostate Anglican bishop—a bishop, by the by, nearly without a church, at Jerusalem; but we have heard the same thing with our own ears, uttered at a similar meeting in Philadelphia—so we suppose it is a favourite application, singular though it be, of one of the most beautiful predictions which the prophets have liven of the permanence of “unconverted Israel.” But we are tired of the subject, though we have not yet fairly commenced to criticise the doings of our kind well-wishers,—still we must bid them for the present farewell, till we meet again.