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בס"ד

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An Act of Faith, at Augusta, Georgia.

 

Mr. Editor—The past week has been an eventful one in the history of our youthful congregation, and we again trespass upon your columns to place upon record its remarkable incidents. During that period five children have entered into the Jewish covenant, and three of these under circumstances of peculiar interest, and the most gratifying character. As worthy examples ever to be emulated, as instances of youthful zeal and piety, appropriate models for universal imitation, the cases we are about to report deserve a bold pre-eminence, and merit wide-spread applause. As guides for the youth of this and future generations, they should be blazoned forth through your pages to the Israelitish world, and circulated wherever the followers of Moses lift up their voices in prayer.

It was not the novelty of the ceremony (though these were the first instances of its performance in Augusta), that attracted such general attention. It was not the number, who in so small a congregation, and within a time so brief, were named in accordance with ancient usages, that excited so great a sensation. These causes were of themselves inadequate to give the occurrence so remarkable a character. It was the age, the birth, the nativity, the parentage, the previous education and training of three of the boys, which threw around the proceedings an unusual interest, and elevated them above all ordinary ceremonies of a similar nature.

The age of the eldest was thirteen, that of his companions ten and nine,—periods of life when we are most regardless of our spiritual welfare, most vulnerable to the impressions of the majority around us, most fearful of the scoffs of the ignorant, and the  keen shafts of ridicule, and least fortified by strength of mind, by reason, and above all by religion, to sustain or resist their attacks.

They were all the offspring of Christian fathers; born in the interior of the State—in spots far removed from any Jewish congregation, where even the persecuted and wandering Israelite had failed to leave his transitory footsteps, they not only lacked those feelings which intercourse with those of a kindred faith is apt to engender, but were exposed to influences directly the reverse. Thrown among associates of a different sect, encompassed by the prejudices of a Christian community, and placed under teachers who never fail to inculcate their peculiar theological opinions, these youths were all unfitted by pre<<362>>vious education, early associations, and former habits of life, for the important step they have recently taken. And yet upon such a soil as this, has been scattered the seed of our holy religion, which after luxuriant growth, has brought forth a rich harvest, abundantly overpaying the labours of the husbandmen.

Deprived of their fathers while they were yet young, they naturally began to cling still closer to the maternal bosom, and as naturally imbibed the mother’s religious impressions, which even, if dimmed by years, are seldom entirely obliterated. Uninfluenced by counsel, unmoved by persuasion, unbiassed by the hope of reward, and unshaken by parental entreaties, these boys stepped boldly forward, and from a self-conviction of its propriety, conformed to the ancient rite. Voluntary sacrifices!! The offerings of pious hearts!

For a short time previous, they had been attendants of the Hebrew Sabbath school. Studious, attentive and reflecting, they had there read their Bible, studied the obligations of their creed, and knowing the command of God as expressed to Abraham, determined to obey it. Poor boys! they were without a father’s advice to guide, a father’s voice to cheer them. “If God requires it I will go through it again,” was the exclamation of one of them at the conclusion of the ceremony, a remark indicative at once of religious zeal, and manly resolution. In truth, the stoicism displayed by each of the. boys, the power of reflection they exercised, and the cheerfulness with which they carried out their resolution when formed, constituted the main features of this truly pleasing occurrence. It was a novel and beautiful sight, to witness a boy of ten, the pioneer in this movement, arguing with his companions, as to the propriety of observing the Jewish ordinance, and they convinced by his reasoning, and their own reflections, yielding at last a willing assent. As interesting was it to note the firmness their intelligent countenances exhibited, as, when warned of the importance of the course they were about to pursue, they reiterated their final decision.

Cases parallel to these above described, may have occurred; but none have been attended with more interesting incidents, none can surpass them in the purity of purpose and moral sublimity of the acts. A source of congratulation and rejoicing to us of the congregation, we desire, Mr. Editor, that all Israelites should participate in our pleasure. We present these cases to your readers, and proudly demand that they be conspicuously enrolled in the annals of Judaism. T. J. M.

August 17th.

Note by the Editor.—We recommend the above cheering incident, illustrating the influence of religious instruction upon the minds of the <<363>>young, suggestive as it is of so many reflections, to the earnest thought of all our readers. And should this article reach the eyes of those who have in violation of the law left their children uncircumcised, (of which we regret to say there are several in this country,) we would earnestly beg of them to reflect on the momentous omission of which they have been guilty. It is the privilege of every Jewish child to be initiated in the covenant of Abraham; so that it may have the option of being an Israelite or not when it arrives at maturity. And what right have parents to stand in the wary of their son’s future prospects, by neglecting to initiate him in the Jewish church? If they themselves are wicked Jews, though circumcised, their children can follow their example in this respect, despite of their circumcision; and if, on the contrary, the latter wish to be strict observers of the Mosaic law, why deny them the opportunity of being so? will all of such have the faith and courage of the young Israelite at Augusta? It is much to be wished that they should; but it is not always to be expected. We hardly know how to stop when we commence speaking of such a subject; but we forbear at present; let the example speak, it is more eloquent than words; and perhaps “a line may reach some obdurate hearts, who would fly when a sermon is preached to them.” One word before we close: Let all our readers who are pious Israelites, urge upon those whom they know to have neglected the law, to remedy the omission without delay. Friendly conversation may do a great deal; it has done good at all times.