TO THE MEMORY OF
BEN ZION FRIEDMAN
Rabbi and Missionary, shares
in the suffering and
a Race that has
There are few subjects about which the average Christian of the twentieth century is more ignorant than that of the relations of his ancestors with the Jews. Perhaps this is due to an inarticulate qualm of conscience, for the treatment of the Jews by Christians throughout the greater part of Christian history is a scandal which cries to Heaven.
This book gives in a brief and popular form some account of the facts, and I commend it to the mind and conscience of my fellow Christians.
A drunken father staggered into his home one night and stumbled over his little son playing on the kitchen floor. In his rage he cursed the child and savagely kicked him for being in the way. When morning restored sanity and revealed the fact that his son was seriously hurt, the father was smitten with shame and remorse. This and other influences led to the man’s conversion and reformation. But the child’s injuries proved permanent. He grew up a hopeless cripple. All the father’s heart went out to the little sufferer in his pain. He spared himself no sacrifice to repair the evil he had done, but the most he could do was to show his compassion for the child he had so terribly wronged. God, he knew, had forgiven him, but he could never forgive himself. His son’s condition was a never-dying grief to him. A great tenderness revealed itself in all his subsequent attitude to the boy. His child responded generously, and a wonderful love grew up between them.
Can you conceive of a father, who, having crippled his child, reproached him afterwards for his deformity?
God has scattered amongst the Christian nations of the world a non-Christian people. We cannot but believe that the God who “gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life” desires the evangelization of this race, yet the Christian Church, while neglecting for over a thousand years the salvation of the vast heathen world, has poured upon the Jew scorn, hatred and insult. Whatever may be the natural faults of the Jew—and, like our own, they are many, though not the same as ours—we are in a large measure responsible for their aggravation, by our ill-usage and rapacity throughout the ages during which the Jew has been placed by God under our influence.
Now that our inhumanity has largely made him what he is, we revile him for being that which our treatment has produced.
The Christian Church has during the last two hundred years done much to repair her neglect of the great commission of her Master, by the evangelization of the heathen world across the seas, but the Jew at her doors still remains, for the most part, like Lazarus at the gates of Dives, scorned or ignored.
This is a baffling problem for those who feel a responsibility for the evangelization of the Jews. How is it possible that many Christians who show devotion and self-sacrifice for the evangelism of the non-Christian world beyond the seas seem so indifferent to missions to the Jews living in thousands around many churches in this land? Why do these Churches exist at all?
Is it merely for the conservation of such spiritual life as we may possess, or is it not also and chiefly to make known to all mankind the unsearchable riches of Christ? It is the more difficult to understand, in that while we have received nothing spiritually from Islam and heathenism, we have received all from Jewry. Yet the tragic truth is that in many areas where thronging Jews jostle our Churches, those Churches, instead of regarding their presence as a call from God for their evangelization, have withdrawn from the field feeling that presence a grievance. They go elsewhere to raise funds for preaching the Gospel to the Moslem or the heathen.
The story which follows is in no sense a history of the Jews. It is an attempt to show how natural is Jewish aversion from Christianity by giving some account of the sufferings which Jews have sustained at the hands of Christians throughout the ages. It is hoped, too, that it will move Christians to sincere sorrow for the wrongs these unhappy people have suffered, and so to more patient tolerance of the faults they see in them, and an earnest resolution to show them something of the real spirit of Christ by love that conquers all aversion and finds its way into the hearts of the most obdurate.
If it be objected that it is a very one-sided presentation of the case, it may be asserted that this is inevitable from the nature of the subject. There have been good men in every age like Isidore of Seville, Bernard of Clairvaux, Johann Reuchlin, and others, who have sought to defend the Jews from persecution, yet they have been all too few, and the general attitude of the Christian Church in relation to the Jews has been very lacking in the spirit of Christ.