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justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.” From this language there is no escape. No wit of man can torture these gracious declarations into anything but what the plain and decisive language imports, viz., the vicarious sufferings of God's righteous servant and man's great Redeemer. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at, that this notable chapter is unpleasing to the Jewish ear, and that to this day its sound is never heard in the public service of the synagogue, nor its contents ever subjected to the partial degree of interpretation allowed by Rabbinical authority to the great body of the people.
Suppose then, that after pressing this portion of Scripture on the serious attention of the Jewish inquirer, we should open another chapter in the same prophet—I mean the twenty-fifth chapter of Isaiah—and read the following words, “ And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us : this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” In an isolated form, the generality of interpreters would feel no difficulty in applying it to the second advent of the Lord Christ, but on reading the whole chapter with the Jew we shall be obliged to admit, that so far from his nation being destroyed or set aside, they shall be pre
served for the final triumph of righteousness in the world—“ for the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth.” Yea, and their blessedness shall be extended to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem being the centre-point of light from which the rays shall diverge: “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things. ...
... And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.”* Here the synchronism contradicts the spiritualizing system that confounds the Jewish nation with the Christian Church, and that speaks of the gradual enlightenment of the world antecedent to the Lord's return; this is perceived, and the interpreter, unable to see or unwilling to receive the manifestation of the kingdom with the personal reign of the king, is forced back upon the mystical system of interpretation: “ Lo, this is our God,” is made to mean the indwelling power of the Spirit or the interference of an Almighty Providence. Surely, the Jew must be stumbled at such inconsistent commentaries. When we wish him to receive a crucified Saviour, we press into our argument every passage that depicts the suffering and humiliation of Messiah, and demand
that God's declarations of the incarnation and vicarious work of Shiloh be taken in their plain and grammatical bearing; but when he dilates on the future glory of Israel and the personal reign of the triumphant Son of David, then the Christian advocate too often deserts his own principles of literal interpretation, and requires such descriptions to be taken in a figurative and mystical sense. Is it any wonder, that since the days of Origen, the father of the fatal system of making the letter of Scripture clash with the recondite meaning, that the Christian Church has ceased to win over the ancient people of God to the profession of the true faith? And can we be surprised that the claims of that people, and the missionary work amongst them, were wholly neglected, until God in mercy has once more taught many in his Church, not to seek what Scripture can be made to say, but to receive as little children what our Heavenly Father has plainly and faithfully promised ?
It may be here mentioned, as corroborative of these views, that all our missionaries amongst the Jews have been led to the doctrine of the Second Advent, in connexion with the kingdom of righteousness on the earth, either at their preparatory studies, or from their actual controversies with the Jews. I believe that we have
not a single instance of a Jewish missionary, who has remained any time the advocate of a mere spiritual millenium ; and I am quite confident that the unanimous testimony of most experienced missionaries is, that to hope to convert any of the Jewish family by setting before them the prophecies of a suffering Messiah in their literal meaning—whilst all the prophecies which speak of the reign of the Son of David, the restoration of Israel, the renovation of the earth, and the fulness of righteousness, are explained in an obscure and mystical senseis, of all others, the most unfounded expectation and fruitless labour.
But why should there be all this jealousy about the doctrine of the Second Advent, and this unwillingness to receive Scripture testimony on the subject? Why, for example, when my text says, “ When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory," should there be an anxiety to deny that this appearance is personal, and this Zion is the very city that bore that name in David's day ? We sometimes hear it said, Because these views tend to draw the mind from the cross of Christ and from the indwelling power of the Spirit in the heart. But to this objection we have an obvious reply: give every truth its place, and aim at setting it forth in just
proportion, and there will be then no danger of advancing one truth at the expense of another. From the cross springs all our hopes of salvation and the assurance of God's love to guilty man. So far from wishing to turn men away from the crucified Jesus, our constant testimony is, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”* And I believe every sincere Christian, whether among the people or the pastors of the flock, will sincerely join with the apostle's heartstirring declaration, “ God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” † But do we hide the cross in holding out the brightness of the crown? Far from it: the one is the way to the other: the blood of redemption removes the barrier that shut up the kingdom of glory. The agonies of the garden and cross proclaim, in the plainest accents of mercy, that God is propitiated and man redeemed: and so far from making light of the work of our propitiatory Surety, we know of no way of access to the Father's bosom of mercy, or the gates of the New Jerusalem, except through
* 1 Cor. i. 23, 24. Gal. vi. 14.