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Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2009

MEXICO, April 14, 1875.



WHEN Christians who are living in a land of light and freedom read or hear the passages of Scripture, that speak of "persecution for righteousness' sake," their thoughts revert to the early Christian centuries, or heathen lands present themselves to the mind as the places in which Christ's messengers now suffer for His sake. But permit me to show the effects of a form of Christianity which has long hidden under mountains of rubbish a treasure richer than pure gold, more precious than diamonds, that truth, which alone makes men rich and happy, free and wise unto salvation. A mongrel Christianity has been, for more than three centuries, the bane of Mexico; in no other land is manifested greater hostility to the pure truths of God's Word, and here are hundreds of thousands of benighted souls who blindly [1/2] pray for the restoration of that power of darkness which longs to shed the blood of Christ's truest evangelists.

The stepmother of one of our band of presbyters, so lately ordained by Bishop Lee, said to a friend of mine, "I would rather __ was dead than living thus to disgrace his family, by apostacy. If his father had taken my way, the lad would either have yielded, or gone to the other world."

The son deeply mourns the spiritual blindness of his father, brother and sister, whom he tenderly loves, and whom he has made many unsuccessful attempts to enlighten. The stepmother's unkindness long ago banished him from the paternal roof, and his father strictly prohibits all intercourse with the heretical son, but the amiability and excellence of this young man have won the regard of friends with whom he has an agreeable home.

I know a young man whose mother curses him, banishes him from her house, and desires that all possible evil may befall him, yet his only crime is that of being a Protestant.

An intelligent gentleman with whom I am acquainted has been here a month, trying to procure remunerative employment to support himself, wife and child. He became a Protestant five years ago, and until that date his mother paid him, every year, a good sum from the income of the family property. Ever since his conversion she has disowned him, and cast him upon his own resources for support. He is diligent, earns all he can, and is preparing for the ministry.

Unhappily, his wife remains a Roman Catholic, is greatly displeased at his conversion, and her family encourage her opposition to her husband.

Violent personal attacks upon Protestants occur here from time to time, notwithstanding the vigilance of the city police. A diligent city missionary with whom I came here, three months ago, made one day a narrow escape from the weapon of an assassin. But his zeal has been rewarded by excellent success, and he has had the great joy of having been instrumental in many conversions--Dan. xii. 3. In several instances where the first converts in a family were greatly persecuted, he has, by frequent visits, conversations and Bible readings, brought the whole family to a knowledge of the truth, and a consequent rejection of Rome's accumulated errors.

Ten days ago this good missionary and three of his friends walked twelve miles to a cloth factory, and held religious services in the humble home of a Protestant, who, four years ago, was converted by reading a little book that was given to him--the gospel of St. John. Curiosity led him to read it. He was so pleased with his newly found treasure that he read it to his mother and brother, and soon all became earnest lovers of the truth, and seeking opportunity to communicate it to others, they desired to have religious services at their house. The second service, which was held last Sunday, was well attended, although a zealous Roman Catholic tried to prevent all the villagers from going to it. On the next day, he and the owner of the mill manifested their intolerance, by discharging all the Protestants. But God rules. This loss of home and means of support [2/3] to several persons is only His method of sowing good seed in some new soil and strengthening the faith of His people by a severe test.

Our bishop elect, our presbyters, and their various assistants, are working with the utmost diligence. Every Sunday there are three services at the Church of San Francisco, two at San Jose de Gracia, one at San Fernando, one at San Juan, and one at a new mission in this capital. The daily morning and evening services at San Francisco always include explication of Scripture, with exhortation, and are attended by the pupils of the boys' and girls' schools, numbering now about one hundred. On the 12th inst. similar daily services were commenced at San Jose de Gracia, which will be attended by the children of its school and those of the Boys' Orphanage. These two new institutions also date from the 12th inst. A third service, with a sermon, is held at San Francisco on Wednesday evening, and at San Jose de Gracia, on Friday evening. A similar service is maintained in a remote part of the city, on Monday evening, and at San Juan on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. About twenty addresses or sermons per month, from our presbyters, fully test their industry and ability. The opening of the schools at San Jose de Gracia, supplies instruction where it is greatly needed in a very populous quarter of this city, and a school has been opened in another section, where good instruction is equally necessary. The wants of places outside of the capital are also being supplied as promptly as possible, and thus the good work is steadily expanding. The Church of Jesus, in Mexico, now consists of more than forty congregations, and a number of others are being gathered. Several of our presbyters are men of marked ability, and all are characterized by great earnestness and energy. Our congregations on Sunday are quite large, and the attendance at all the services through the week is usually very good. It is exceedingly pleasant to see the earnestness of the worshipers, and the excess of males is a feature quite in contrast with most congregations in the United States east of the Mississippi. The Psalmist's earnest wish, "Oh that men would praise the Lord!" is here realized.

On the Eve of Good Friday, as we returned from a service at San Jose de Gracia, we entered the magnificently lighted cathedral. I suppose the scenic effect is seldom equalled in a theatre, and the assembled crowd was as well entertained, and as little devotional, as the crowds that are collected by the attractions of star performers. Many remained long on bended knees and muttered many prayers, but neither their position nor their prayers hindered their attentive observation of all that occurred among the shifting masses that promenaded in and out.

Among the statues of saints that decorate the altars and various parts of the building, some are grotesque, others ludicrous, and all are tawdry. I heard a gentleman lamenting the departed glory of the street processions, which are now prohibited. His remarks seemed so puerile that, uttered by an adult, they moved my compassion. I have not yet had time to go to Guadaloupe, but a friend has brought me thence ribbons, stamped with Spanish words, which mean "Measure [3/4] of the face of Our Lady of Guadaloupe." These ribbons, if the wearer has faith, are declared to be very efficacious for the cure of sore throat. If any American physicians desire to procure this valuable remedy, a large order would probably be filled at a reduced price. The priests sell them singly at a real each. Purchasers are numerous.

Daily I wish that I could transport thousands of these people to the United States, that they might become rapidly enlightened, and return to help in instructing and evangelizing the masses in this land that nature has blessed and evil men have cursed. Again, as earnestly I wish that I could bring here thousands of benevolent Americans, who, on realizing what evils are here prevalent, would certainly assist in remedying them. Dear Christian friends, citizens of that Northern Republic, which God has so highly favored, help us to assure, increase and hasten the prosperity of this people by making known to them those blessed truths which will indeed make them free, wise, and, forever happy. Help us to carry the light of the gospel to the dark places of this land. Help us to train its children to the practice of that righteousness which alone can exalt a nation, We have begun well, but want of funds gives us every week the grief of delaying to receive destitute children, whom we are entreated to shelter. Some whom we were urged to receive, have now passed permanently beyond our reach, and will be trained to disseminate error.

My dear Christian sisters, I beseech you everywhere to organize some plan by means of which you can steadily send us efficient aid and forward the same to the American Church Missionary Society, addressed "For Mexico," and secure for yourselves the joy and blessing of being fellow-workers with our dear Saviour. Help us to teach that man's salvation is secured by no other merit than Christ's, and that we need no other Mediator than Jesus.

Your sister in Christ,

M. J. H.



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