Priest or Beast?
A Very Sad Story
By Missionary J. L. Hart, Argentina
The Baptist Argus, 1908
A woman lay dying. Her life had been a sad one and in her death she was lonely. She had followed the regular routine of her class, which in her native country, the Argentine, is to think little when young, think little when grown, and think little when old. It meant "mate" drinking in the morning, "mate" drinking at noon, "mate" drinking at even. She thought that to be a woman was to be unfortunate: that her master man, owned her till he tired of her, when she went to another home. Almost each of her children had a different father, though she loved them nevertheless. Now they were grown up, the girls duplicating the life of their mother, the boys that of their father.
She is dying. Dying alone, were it not that she managed to call to her assistance an Englishman whose trend was not then in the way of heaven. She begs of him to call in the priest. Little did she care for the church and her priests in the days of health. They were no better than she. But she had imbibed the idea that the church though impure on earth had power in heaven, that there was a difference between the priest sacerdotally and the priest privately. The latter may be no good to her when in health, but now she needed the former in death. Call in the priest, then.
"Tell that woman that she is not in my parish," says he to his English visitor. "But, poor woman, she dies soon. Does such a little thing matter in time of death? The same occurs at the house of the second priest - nor is the parish his. An argument follows. Poor woman has no money. O, the power of money in life; the power of money in death - with a priest! The sense of honor in the breast of the visitor sets his soul ablaze before such a state of things. "You'll come to that woman, or you'll hear more of this." This and other threats brought priest number one to his senses. Hire him a coach. Put up with his insolence. Chase after your hat which he has knocked off your head – for know you not he carries the "host" in his pocket. Now get down in the city street and follow the man with the candles, ringing that bell. Now we are at prayer. Smite your breast, ignorant heretic, when you come to the words "miserable sinners".
It is over. Over with the farce of the priest; over with the life of the woman. She has gone out of this world - let us hope to a better one, though it is hard to hope that much when the poor soul’s confidence was apparently not in the sinner's Savior.
Here are many such who have no other end before them, no other present about them in Latin American countries. There are millions of them.
"Can we whose souls are lightened
With wisdom from on high;
Can we to men benighted
The lamp of life deny?"
Southern Baptists, can we afford to do this?
[From The Baptist Argus, April 16, 1908, p. 6; Baylor U. digitized documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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