« AnteriorContinuar »
But words still more express and authoritative are to be found in the commission given by our Lord to his disciples; a trust and duty delegated to the Church, and binding in its observance, to the very end of time. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
creature.” Has any part of this Divine commission as yet been repealed? Is it not universal in its character, and without limitation in its object? Is not the Jew one of the great family of man? Or is he to be blotted out from the numerical list and catalogue of mankind, and to be denied the rights of humanity? Give him, then, at least his allotted share; and if the boon be intended for all, let the Jew enjoy his common right, and not be defrauded of his portion in the universal blessing.
The Jew, however, possesses not only an equal but a priority of right. The injunction of our Lord was “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”* St. Paul declares the Gospel to be the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The apostolical practice was in conformity with these declarations. Peter was specially appointed to be the apostle
* Luke xxiv. 47.
† Rom. i. 16.
of the circumcision; and St. Paul, though invested with the office of apostle to the Gentiles, never failed first to enter into the synagogues of the Jews in every city, wherever he found them, proving that Jesus was the very Christ. What was the measure of their success is attested by the fact that the first Christian Church was formed of Jewish converts; and that no less than three thousand souls were added to the Church under one single sermon of St. Peter. Nor ought the remark to be omitted, that however the Jews may be cast away nationally, they never were rejected individually; there was always, according to St. Paul, “a remnant according to the election of grace.”* To that remnant, then, it is our duty to address the Gospel, leaving to God to whom and when he may see fit to apply it.
Alas ! how have these positive commands and plain declarations been overlooked, and the Jew left to the world's neglect and contumely, and yet the world's benefactor! The medium of light and knowledge to all mankind, yet suffered to remain enveloped in prejudice and guilt! Left, too, to sink under this reproach and scorn, and live or die as he may—to feel the throbbings of a broken heart, or to learn the stern philosophy that can neither weep nor suffer—to grow callous by
* Rom. xi. 5.
repeated shocks, and find out the way to love nothing, and to hate everything, because the general object of estrangement and neglect. No man, whether Jew or Gentile, was ever yet reclaimed by modes like these. Let us, then, now try the experiment of love and mercy. The heart that is wounded and alienated by neglect, may be won by the accents of sympathy and love. The process of vegetation is retarded by the wintry blast, but it is called forth and nurtured by the vernal sun.
Let us approach the Jew in the spirit and with the tidings of the Gospel. Let us pour oil into his wounds; let us direct him to the cross of the Saviour, to David's Lord and God; and addressing him with the zeal and winning affection of the apostle, exclaim, “ Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” *
Having thus enforced the duty, I would now beg to remark
The encouragement that we have to engage in this cause, from the signal success that has already attended it.
The experiment has already been made. Upwards of thirty years ago, an Institution arose entitled “The London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews.” Its
+ Rom. x. 1.
object was simple, scriptural, and practicable. It did not profess to promote the national conversion of the Jews. This act, by general consent, is admitted, from the declarations of prophecy, to be reserved for the hand of God alone. It left the debateable ground of prophecy to its own proper domain, to the counsels of Him who doeth according to his will, in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. It took the simple path of duty, as enforced by the authority of Divine commands. In the course of its labours, it has circulated among the Jews several thousand copies of the holy Scriptures. It has established schools for Hebrew children, and has opened an Episcopal Chapel for Divine service in Bethnalgreen, under the license and sanction of the Bishop of London. The Liturgy of the Church of England has been translated into Hebrew. Forty-seven missionaries and missionary agents have been sent forth, of whom twenty-three are converted Jews. The Society has been instrumental in the formation of similar Institutions in Berlin, Breslaw, Konigsberg, Posen, Cracow, Warsaw, and other places; and it has established a Mission on Mount Zion, where a church is now in progress, the first Protestant sanctuary that will have been erected in Jerusalem since the apostolic ages. As to the result of these labours, two
hundred and seventy-nine individuals of the Jewish nation have been received into the Church of Christ by baptism, and eight Jewish converts ordained clergymen of the Church of England. In the Prussian dominions upwards of fifteen hundred Jews have been baptized. Dr. Tholuck, an eminent Professor in the University of Halle, observes, “ More proselytes have been made during the last twenty years, than since the first ages of the Church. In Breslaw there are three Professors, formerly Israelites; in Halle, five; in Berlin, one. Some of these are of the highest scientific reputation, and are now faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This encouragement is still further increased if we contemplate
The signs of the times.
Their character is truly extraordinary, whether we consider them in their political, moral, or religious aspect.
A singular instability is perceptible in all earthly things; and “there is a shaking of the heavens and the earth.”
There are fearful elements of disorder pervading the whole social system.
There is a great conflict of opposite contending principles. Light and darkness, truth and error, religion and infidelity, social order and democratic