MEXICO, October, 1871.
I have learned that you take a sincere and practical interest in the propagation of the Gospel in this Republic of Mexico--a nation until now sadly unfortunate--unfortunate because it has not enjoyed the blessings of true religion.
The Lord has, most clearly and signally, blessed the Christian efforts that you have made in our behalf. Let me tell you how: You contributed funds in behalf of Gospel work in this, my native land. Part of these funds were employed in the publication of Christian pamphlets, which were widely distributed here. These publications were the instrumentality that the Lord selected, in order that I might begin to realize the spiritual blindness in which I found myself. I was a presbyter in the Roman Church, and most anxiously longed for salvation. With all sincerity did I follow the errors of that idolatrous sect, and imagined Protestantism, or true Christianity, to be, as it were, a pestilence that was coming to make us, in Mexico, more unfortunate than ever. I, consequently, opposed its doctrines with all my power. I sincerely thought that, in so doing, I not only did good service to my native land, but also gained merits to aid me in obtaining everlasting glory. How unfortunate was I! I knew that Jesus Christ had died for us; but that most precious belief was to me obscured, because from childhood I had been taught, that, in order to obtain salvation, besides the merits of the Redeemer, the meritorious works of men were also needed. As if, forsooth, the sacrifice of Calvary was not enough to save the soul that truly trusts in it. Being imbued with these Romish errors, it is not strange that I should oppose and attack true Christianity; that I should frequently declaim against it in the pulpit that I should go to the confessional in search of a remedy for my spiritual evils and, as one precipice often leads to another, I prayed to the Virgin Mary and to the saints, and endeavored to gain all the indulgences possible; all which practices offend and tend to dishonor Jesus, our generous Saviour.
As a natural consequence, I had not obtained peace for my soul; I doubted of my salvation, and I never believed that I had done sufficient work to obtain it; and I was truly unfortunate, because I observed with sorrow, that, after all I did, my heart remained unconverted and dragged me often into sin.
I was in this sad state when there reached me the pamphlet called "True Liberty." I read it most carefully; and, notwithstanding that I tried to [3/4] find, in the arsenal of my Romish subtleties, arguments with which to answer the clear reasoning that I found in this publication, a voice within, the voice of my conscience--told me that my answers were not satisfactory, and that perhaps I was in error.
I commenced to reject the errors of Romanism, and dedicated myself to the study of all the Protestant books and pamphlets that I could lay my hands on. I carefully read the History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, by Merle D'Aubigne, and, above all, I commenced to study the Bible, without paying any attention to the Romish notes and interpretations. This study, from the moment that it was accompanied by earnest prayer, led me to true happiness. I commenced to see the light. The Lord had pity on me, and enabled me to clearly understand the great troths of the Gospel.
I first realized that it is false--most false--that salvation is only found in the Romish Church, as the Romanists pretend. But what completely convinced me of the falseness of the Roman system was the finding that, after I distrusted my own natural strength and trusted in Jesus alone, abandoning all other intercessors, and believing that true safety, salvation, and the remedy for our guilt, are alone to be found in the sacrifice of Calvary, I felt a great change in my heart; my feelings were different; what formerly pleased me, now was repugnant to me; I felt real and positive sentiments of love and charity towards my brethren--sentiments which before were fictitious and artificial in me; in a word, I found the long-desired peace of my soul. By the grace of the Lord, I was enabled to resist temptations, and passed a quiet, peaceful, and happy life. As I had dedicated several years to the study of medicine, I was able to maintain myself by this profession. In the evening, I read the Holy Scriptures to my family, and prayed with them.
Although all this was very agreeable to me, it was not just that I should continue inactive in the Gospel cause. I soon commenced to think that I was in conscience bound to participate with my brethren the happiness I enjoyed, and especially so, as I had much facility in speaking to multitudes, torn my long practice and experience in preaching that I had had while yet a Roman Catholic. I determined to manifest, publicly, that I had separated myself from the Roman Church, and that I had joined the true Church of Jesus. But, in order to take this step, I found myself laboring tinder great difficulties, which the Devil would fain have me believe to be insurmountable. The idea of poverty from want of a livelihood presented itself to me with all its deformity; as I was aware that the moment I made such a declaration, the Roman Bishop would excommunicate me, and, as I lived among an essentially fanatic people, I felt sure that not only my patients would abandon me immediately, but that all my friends would turn a cold [4/5] shoulder upon me and also abandon me, and that my life would be menaced, and attacks made against it. These and other considerations entered my mind, and I imagine that Satan augmented them, so as to try and swerve me from accomplishing the holy resolution that I had adopted.
Nevertheless, my resolution was unshaken, and I commenced to attend the Provisional Protestant Church, which had been established in a large hall situated in the street of San Juan de Letran. Being short-sighted, I there began to know my dear brother, the Rev. Henry Chauncey Riley, solely by his voice. It filled me with comfort to hear him speak of Jesus and his precious blood the liturgy and hymns, which the congregation used, enchanted me, as they were full of the pure faith of the primitive Christian and I anxiously desired the arrival of Sundays, because in our church services, I enjoyed delicious moments of peace and joy--Christian emotions that I had never felt in the Roman sect.
I had for some time been thinking how to become personally acquainted with my brother Henry. One night, as I was at one of our churches, I heard my brother preach with so much valor and faith, that I became quite ashamed of myself and was filled with a holy envy of that Chilian who, in Mexico, in the midst of the most loathsome idolatry, and surrounded by enemies, presented himself as an intrepid soldier of Jesus, ready to lay down his life for his divine Captain. I then was determined to present myself to him alone, and to give him a fraternal greeting, exclaiming, "We are brothers; our cause is the same: let us unite our efforts, and, strengthened by our adorable Saviour, let us contend for the faith of Jesus, even though we perish in the contest."
Various persons had spoken to my brother Riley about me. I was presented to him by an elderly gentleman, who is a Protestant. We had a long interview, in which we were convinced that we were brothers in the faith; we loved one another; and, since then, we worked together unitedly. Our Lord God has deigned to bless our work: for notwithstanding the intense and furious persecution that the Romanists have raised against me, the number of true Christians is increasing most marvellously in Mexico.
We have opened the church of the former Roman Catholic Convent of San Jose de Gracia to the public, and a large congregation now attends there. We have established a Young Men's Christian Association, and also classes for young men who 'want to study for the ministry. In Central Mexico, we have many Christian congregations, and their numbers are Increasing rapidly, even among the smaller towns, where our brethren often suffer the most terrible persecutions from the Roman Catholic curates and fanatics. The Romanists have burned the houses of some of our fellow-Christians, wounding men, women, and children, in their efforts to check [5/6] the progress of the Gospel in Mexico; but, in spite of all their efforts, we have the consolation of knowing that the sacred light of the Gospel, which is now so brightly shining in my native land, and increasing in splendor every day, will not be darkened, even with all the efforts that our persecutors--the fanatical Roman Catholics--are making against it.
CHURCH OF THE EX-CONVENT OF SAN JOSÉ DE GRACIA, MEXICO.
By this brief account of the progress of the Gospel in Mexico, you can see that we have reason to hope that the Gospel seed already sown here will soon give the best and choicest fruits of holiness.
Allow me to heartily thank you for what you have done in our behalf. Fart of your contribution for Mexico was converted into Christian pamphlets, that were widely and effectively circulated here. One of these arrived at my sad dwelling, where I was despairingly suffering, because I had not been able to find peace for my soul, finding myself, as t then did, in the darkness of Roman idolatry; but, from the time that I read that Christian pamphlet--little esteemed by the worldly, but most precious to me as containing the Divine Truth--the Lord commenced to lead me, little by little, in a manner at once sweet and powerful, without in the least wounding my free will, until he guided me into the glorious light of faith, where I find myself so happy, and where, by the Lord's help, with the Bible in my hand, I have succeeded in making the Roman magnates in this capital tremble with dread and consternation.
 By what I have already said, you will clearly understand that these are solemn moments or my native land, as these may have much to do with bet future happiness. The admirable religious movement that is now making such rapid progress in this republic, is likely soon to spread the Gospel in its purity far and wide throughout this nation, and lead to a great reformation in the Mexican Church. This reformation is absolutely needed, Our society is divided between "Liberals" and "Conservative Romanists." The "Liberals" have abandoned the Roman Church. The Romanists, who have imagined from what is taught them that they can live a life of dissipation, and yet, provided they confess themselves in their dying hour, be saved, remain in the heretical sect of Rome.
The "Liberals" have plunged into the dark horrors of infidelity, and are the slaves of their evil inclinations; the Romanists are the slaves of the tyrant of Rome. In a word, true religion has not been the foundation of our society. The results of this want have been fratricidal wars, insecurity, avarice, poverty, and misery. Scenes of wickedness have been the schools where our Mexican children have been educated,
Such a heart-rending picture ought to fill Christians with sorrow. They ought to ask themselves "Why should Mexico find itself on the border of a precipice where deepest ruin threatens?"
The answer is a very simple one. Allow me to point it out with frankness; but, without meaning to give the slightest offence, for I love you for Jesus Christ's sake. Having made this observation, I must say that all you who compose the true Church of Christ in that country neighboring to ours are partly to blame for our misfortunes. I know that you are true Christians I know that you have imparted to Spain your generous protection; I know that you send your missionaries to remote parts of the world, such as Syria, where you generously and disinterestedly aid the Gospel work. Why, then, have you for so many years forgotten your brethren, who, by your very side, have been without the bread of the divine word? Why do you allow them to perish, and to sink, day by day, into deeper ignorance and fanaticism. It is well and good that you should exercise your charity with those people to whom you send the light of the Gospel, however distant they may be; but this is no reason why you should leave the Mexicans by your very side in the darkness of idolatry. I am sure that you and your friends will agree with me, that it is necessary to do what is possible, in order that true religion may be extended throughout this, my native land. If you think on this subject with earnest prayer to God, your consciences will call upon you to fulfil this duty as Christians. God has not in vain bestowed on your wealthy Church riches, nor in vain has He endowed you with generous hearts.
 We are greatly in want of pecuniary aid to defend the Gospel cause in Mexico from our fanatical enemies, among whom are very rich and powerful persons, who spend their money lavishly in publishing newspapers and other publications to try and crush us; who refit churches with splendor, where they maintain Jesuits and "Paulinos," who declaim day and night against us.
In the meanwhile, we who work in the harvest of the Lord are very much checked in our work for want of the necessary resources. With sorrow do we constantly see most promising opportunities that are offered us for doing most precious and important Christian work lost for lack of the needed funds.
For example, we have now the church of San Francisco, a splendid edifice, the first in this city, after the Cathedral, and more central than the latter. It is an immense building, of an elevated and elegant form, where the architect who directed the work realized his daring and magnificent idea. This church is a very convenient one to preach in, as it has no echo, and the voice can easily be heard there. This I well know from having preached in it when it was a Roman Catholic Church. We are sure that as soon as we can repair and open it for the preaching of the Gospel, it will be filled with a numerous congregation. When shall we be able to do this? We know not. We are collecting funds here to aid in its restoration among our brethren, but most of them are poor and can give but little, and therefore the work of reparation on the said church goes on very slowly. This delay is to us a cause of great sorrow. Will you and your friends aid us so as to push forward this work as quickly as possible? I beseech you to make a generous effort; and, as you have already commenced to aid the Christian work in Mexico, I trust that you will continue to help us. We have reason to hope that this Christian Church established in Mexico, will extend its influence throughout all these Latin countries.
We also need funds for our Theological Seminary to educate young men for the ministry. We also need funds to enable us to publish Christian pamphlets and a few books.
Beloved brother, it is yet time for you and your friends to save this Church. At present, although she is terribly persecuted by the Romanists, she is beautiful and innocent because she preserves the pure white vesture of the faith in all its purity. This Church is your younger sister, and is worthy of your love and fraternal care, and it is necessary that you should not abandon her, but that you help her with the funds she requires.
AT the time that the convents were suppressed in the City of Mexico, the magnificent Church of St. Francisco, in that capital, had all its elaborate ornaments, and even its floor removed from it.
When the massive walls and magnificent stone domes of that Church of San Francisco were purchased for the Church of Jesus, important repairs were needed to be made before it could be opened for Christian worship.
To finish these repairs, to floor the building, paint and furnish it in a simple manner, six thousand dollars are still needed at this date, March, 1874.
Christians are earnestly invited to contribute towards completing this fund; little, if they can only give little much, if they can give much.
Contributions for this object may he forwarded to the Rev. H. M. Baird, Ph. D., Cor. Secretary of the American and Foreign Christian Union, 5 Bible House, New York.
In sending such contributions, please to state clearly that they are sent: "To aid in repairing the Church of San Francisco in the City of Mexico."
Will some persons of wealth take a special interest in this effort to repair and open for Christian worship this magnificent church in Mexico, and enable us to do it in an attractive manner, as represented in the accompanying engraving?
This church of San Francisco is situated in the very centre of the City of Mexico. It is two hundred and fifty feet in length, and can accommodate about three thousand persons. When opened for worship, it is expected that this building will become a most influential one in behalf of the Christian Church in its purity, integrity, and order, among the fifty millions who speak the beautiful language of Spain.
Contributions to aid the general missionary, educational, and publication work of the Church of Jesus in Mexico, may also be sent to the Rev. H. M. Baird, Ph. D., Cor. Secretary of the American and Foreign Christian Union, 45 Bible House, New York.
In forwarding any contributions for the general missionary work of the Church of Jesus in Mexico, please to send the words, "for Mexico," with your gifts.
Friends who take an active interest in the cause of Christ in Spanish America and Spain, are invited to circulate this letter of Manuel Aguas, widely.
CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO, MEXICO.