Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library


Our Defenders vs. Our Calumniators.

(Continued from page 522.)

“There is but one other remark in this peculiarly vindictive and intemperate effusion which is worthy of notice: ‘Gentlemen, your Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews should be disbanded. The maintenance of its officers is not a sufficient incentive to its support.’

“In reply to this gentlemanly insinuation, I will only add, that the whole expense of officers to carry on the operations of the Society is about $600 annually, and that this includes the compensation for editing an able and valuable monthly periodical of some 3,000 subscribers. The officers who have been named, beside about thirty more, work for nothing and find themselves; and I hesitate not to say, that for economy in the payment of its officers, and self-denying disinterestedness in gratuitous labours on its behalf, the ‘Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews’ may safely challenge a comparison with any other one of the religious institutions of the day.’


The opportunity is a fair one for a very few additional words on Ludwig’s alleged grounds of quarrel, which are these:—1. The name of the Society is insulting to the Jews;—2. Its method is erroneous;—3. Its spirit is bad;—and 4. Its labours are fruitless. Ludwig himself would probably excuse us from saying any thing further about motives, and the “support of officers.” Nor, indeed, as to the other points <<602>>have we any expectation of satisfying Ludwig, or the slightest wish to do so. This “Christian minister,” we take it, belongs to a kind of Christians who are multiplying with singular rapidity in our day, and the highest attainment of whose Christianity is to salute Christ civilly across the street, when they are most bent on degrading his person, and office, maligning his truth, and slandering his friends. May God ever save us, and the cause we love, from their smiles and fair speeches. But, as we said, there are a few things which, for the sake of others, may as well be explained.

  1. We are informed by a gentleman, thoroughly acquainted with the subject, that when the founders of this Society applied to the Legislature of this State for an act of incorporation, they had selected a name expressive simply of their design to evangelize the Jews, and that the present name was imposed, for whatever reason, by the Legislature itself. The reason probably was, that the way in which the Society at that time intended mainly to operate, was by means of an agricultural settlement in this country; and were that most preposterous scheme now resumed, especially if in the shape of an Industrial Domain, there are “Christian ministers,” we presume, of the gospel according to Charles Fourier, who would then consider our name just the thing, and no “insult” at all. For our own part, we should have preferred the name originally contemplated, although Mr. Herschell of London, we recollect, would rather have it as it stands. And that may suffice for the name.
  2. Then for the method, the “Christian minister” thinks the true plan would be “to apply the doctrines of the gospel more and more to social questions.” But what if the Jews don’t believe the doctrines of the gospel any more than the “Christian minister” does? How, then, shall either they or he apply them, or concur in their application by such as do believe them, and believe, moreover, the faith of them to be essential to the salvation of any man, be he Jew or “Christian minister?” The Society is fully determined to adhere to Paul’s method.
  3. Another grievance, and that which more than anything else seems to have stirred Ludwig’s passions, was the statement by one of the speakers that a large portion of the Jews of this country—(we did not observe that he said, “the large majority”)—are “practically infidels.” All such imputations Ludwig treats as “false—scandalously false,” and asserts on the contrary that “the Jews search the Scriptures more, even the New Testament of our Lord; they are more earnest in prayer; they are more constant in the recog<<603>>nition of the Divine Mercy; as a body, they abound  far more in the fruits of the spirit, than the American Christians!”—From this, it is apparent enough to what spiritual school Ludwig belongs. For “a Christian minister,” his tastes must be rather peculiar. A man with him is all the more a Christian, the less he believes, and the more he hates Christianity.

    Now, at the risk of renewing the agitations of Ludwig’s bosom, we deliberately reaffirm what was only incidentally alluded to by Dr. D. No reader of the Jewish Chronicle will suspect us of any wish to strengthen the wicked prejudices from which Israel has so long suffered, and still suffers even in this land. We are well aware of their many noble natural qualities, and social virtues, and lose no opportunity of holding these up to the public eye. But for all that we will not, in order to please the Jew, flatter him to his eternal ruin. Ludwig’s eulogium proves nothing but his own melancholy incompetence to judge of such matters. Whatever “zeal of God” yet survives in Israel, is a zeal “not according to knowledge;” while the general aspect of their spiritual condition is precisely what prophecy of old declared it should become, and what all Christian missionaries in all the ends of the earth declare it to be—barren, desolate, and “very dry.” Indeed, next to the numerous instances of conversion to the faith of Christ, by far the most encouraging symptom of the case is this—that candid and devout Jews, and some even who are not so candid and devout, admit this severe testimony to be true. What, for example, would have been Ludwig’s emotions, had he heard it asserted that in one of the largest synagogues, as it is the wealthiest and most fashionable in the world, “there are not six or seven young men who are well acquainted with their sacred writings?” But that, according to the present Chief Rabbi of England, was the amount of Bible and Talmud “searching” in the Duke’s Place congregation, London, in the year 1846; and the London Jewish Chronicle “perfectly agreed with the Chief Rabbi’s observation!” Or, what if Dr. D. had said, that the Israel of our day “can lay no claims to the title of a religious community?” Well, the Occident of Philadelphia had confessed only a little before, that that dreadful fact has “become perfectly evident!” And a very sensible correspondent of that magazine in May of last year thus describes the Ministers of the Synagogue:—“In this country, where we have about sixty Hazanim, perhaps there are not more than ten among them, that could answer the most plain or simple question about their religion!”—Poor Ludwig!
  4. And now, with regard to Ludwig’s anxiety to see the fruits of <<604>>our labour, we certainly adopt the principle embodied in one of the resolutions passed at the late anniversary, viz., that the duty of the Church of God in this thing does not at all depend on the measure of increase which God may be pleased to give; and we therefore cordially sympathized in the admiration expressed by Mr. Pomeroy, of Maine,* for the steadfast spirit of Mr. Schauffler of Constantinople, who, amid all the discouragements of his “very hard field,” remains unwearied at his post. A similar trial of faith is the common experience, not of Jewish missions alone, but, (as the several Missionary Boards well know,) of gentile missions also. And, considering that it is only three or four years since this Society, after its first great reverse, has fairly addressed itself to its appropriate work of preaching Christ’s unsearchable riches to Israel, we assert with confidence, that very few missionary enterprises, whether in the Jewish vineyard, or on heathen ground, have been favoured with a larger degree of spiritual success than that which already cheers our faith, and animates our hope of yet greater things. And in making this comparison, we do not even take into the account the many peculiar difficulties with which the Society has had to struggle. If, then, Ludwig’s objection is good for anything, it is, to say the least, equally valid as applied to the other kindred institutions of the time. Are we uncharitable in thinking that this “Christian minister,” notwithstanding his disclaimer, meant it to be so applied?

* At the meeting of the Amer. Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

N. Y. Jew. Chr.