Page images

In perusing Mr. Herschell's Brief Sketch of the Present State of the Jews,* I was struck with two observations which I think it my duty not to let pass without noticing, and expressing to you my opinion respecting them. The first is the following:

“But I wish to state my conviction, that the expectations formed by many good men of the effects to be produced simply by the distribution of New Testaments among the Jews, and by sending out a few men to argue with them on cer tain Scriptural questions, are vain and extravagant; and expose many well-meaning persons who entertain them, to a constant succession of disappointments.” pp. 22, 23.

To such a bold observation as this, my first remark would be, that we have ample evidence, and direct assurance from the Holy Gospel, (Mark 16: 15, Luke 24; 47,) that the mea. sure of sending forth missionaries to proclaim salvation through Christ Jesus, unconnected with the example of the church, has been commanded by our divine Redeemer. This blessed injunction has never been revoked, nor was it issued under any such conditions or exceptions as this; that, if Is. rael would listen to the glad tidings of the gospel, then the disciples were to continue preaching, and if not, they should forbear. I perfectly agree with Mr. H. that the example of the true and genuine church of Christ would be a most expedient and effectual means of diffusing and inculcating the knowledge of the gospel upon those who walk in darkness. But where this desirable means is impracticable, I would decidedly say, that the church of Christ is under obligation to

* A Brief Sketch of the Present State and Future Expectations of the Jews : in a Letter addressed to his Christian Friends. By Ridley H. Herschell. (Third Edition, very much enlarged.) London : 1834. pp. 140, 18mo.

It appears that the author of this little volume is also a convert from Judaism, and his statements are doubtless worthy of credit. His work is important as containing some views of Judaism and the Jews, at present, which are new and probably just. It is however especially to be valued as having been the occasion of calling forth the more full and matured statements of Mr. Calman, in the present article, who has noticed the principal points in which the views of Mr. Herschell seem to be deficient or erroneous.



act upon the simple command of Christ mentioned above, following the example of the Apostles, and more especially that of Paul, who persevered in obeying the command of his Lord, even after he had become acquainted with the hardness and stubbornness of his brethren, not at all discouraged even by the slanderous reports of the Jews respecting the church of Christ. Acts 28: 22—26. Nor did he give up even after he had experienced the severest revilings and persecu. tions; but went on perseveringly in spite of every difficulty and discouragement, in accordance with what the Holy Ghost taught through him in 2 Cor. 2: 15, 16. Moreover, is not the gospel the power of God unto salvation to the Jew as well as to the Greek ? And if so, then the question remains, “ How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed ? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent ? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.”—If Mr. H.'s assertion is grounded upon the scanty effects which missionary exertion, and the distribution of the New Testament, have produced; what I have said above will show that this can never justify us in abandoning the duty of preaching salvation through Christ Jesus to those who are far fronı him. And I hope to show in the sequel, that in view of the effects produced, the case is not altogether so discouraging as some may suppose, but the contrary. For as far as my experience extends, I can decidedly say, that much has been done among the Jews through the above instrumentality.

Yet, knowing what I do of the spirit and measures too common to associations organized for the propagation of Christianity among the Jews, I feel constrained to make a few observations, tending to abate the boldness of Mr. H.'s remark. For I cannot myself avoid the conviction that such associations must ever be liable to disappointments. In what manner they are organized and conducted, you know very well. Pamphlets and circulars, forwarded to religious persons, bring them together, and after a short prayer, the object is set forth by the most eloquent and distinguished men of the assembly. And according to the excitement produced by their eloquence, is generally the amount of the contribu. tion, or subscription, obtained. The guinea having been

given, the donor thinks he has done all that he is called upon to do, for the conversion of the ancient people of God, and expects to hear soon of the good effects produced by his liberality. Without ever supplicating in his prayers,' either for the outpouring of the Spirit upon the benighted Jews, or that strength of faith and power of love may be given from on high to the poor tried missionary, he eagerly looks into the monthly publications, to find if that blessing has been given for which he has not prayed, expecting to purchase with gold and silver that precious treasure, the price of which, the Lord has stipulated, should consist of the prayer of faith. Being thus disappointed with the scanty success which the above publications report, he recalls his annual donation, supposing he may contribute it to a better and a surer object; or if he does not withdraw his guinea, he does his heart, and his interest. Thus it is not wonderful that such associations have so many times entangled themselves in pecuniary embarrassments. Their subscribers require continually new excitements to keep alive their first feeling of interest, just as oxen in ploughing require continually the goad to keep them in motion. Do you ask for the reason and origin of such erroneous feelings? They arise, if I mistake not, from not pursuing this blessed work upon right principles, and from right motives. Instead of being impressed with a sense of the duty, which the Lord has laid upon his disciples to preach salvation through his name, and laying the same for a foundation to stand upon, other plausible reasons are invented to suit the fancies of men. Were it not thus, they would not be so soon discouraged as we often see them to be, because the Lord does not crown their labors with success, but would easily surmount that trial of faith, as the prophets and apostles overcame, and performed their duty at the expense of their property, comfort, and even of their own lives. But you will not understand these remarks as aimed at all missionary societies. Some, I have reason to believe, have surmounted, in a great measure, this unfavorable state of things. My second

observation would be ; that the Jews have a higher claim on the church of Christ, than any heathen nation. For the Jews, being unable to distinguish between the genuine church of Christ, and the nominal Christians, who have always been their persecutors, spoilers, and deadly enemies, and indeed have now not forgotten their malignancy,

as I shall state hereafter, comprise them all in one phalans, as persecutors, and profaners of God's name by worshipping idols; while the heathen have been exempt from at least nominal Christian persecution. The prophet Isaiah saith, by the Holy Ghost, “Comfort ye, eomfort ye my people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.” Though this prophecy had a primary fulfilment in John the Baptist, who was the voice crying in the wilderness; yet I am led to think that it has also a reference to the genuine church of Christ, charging her to comfort his ancient people. They have literally received from his hand double for all their sins. Many, many nations have been instruments for executing God's wrath upon his people the Jews, but none more so than nominal Christians. Ninety. nine shares in a hundred of this work have been theirs. And if nominal Christians have thus acted as persecutors, and thereby caused the name of Jesus to be profaned ; I would say that the genuine church of Christ ought to try to accomplish what the prophet saith : “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people," and thereby remove the stain that nominal Christians have brought upon Christianity.

Now in what way can such a glorious work be accomplished, while true Christianity is scarcely found, except in blessed England, and happy America ? How shall the Jews of corrupt Poland, Russia, and the East, know that the genuine church of Christ have a great love toward theni, and are actually a holy people, who do glorify God in all their deeds ? Can there be any other way, than to send out to them fit persons, full of love, piety, meekness and selfdenial, as the church's representatives, to assure them of her good will toward them, and at the same time to reprove nominal Christianity by their spirit of holiness, persevering love, and renunciation of all communion with nominal Christians ? By such blessed means would the Jews not only be comforted, but would discover that some of those Christians whom they had indiscriminately taken for their deadly enemies, are their best friends, and love them for Christ's sake. Thus would the malignancy and prejudice they have hitherto entertained on account of the corruption of nominal Christianity be removed, and they would of course desist from

[ocr errors]

ascribing all the calamities that have befallen them in Chris. tian countries, to the doctrines and commands of Christ in the New Testament. This unfavorable feeling being once removed, they would gradually advance to the investigation of the Christian Scriptures, and these, ere they had finished the gospel of Matthew, would inevitably speak to their consciences, that they had sinned against God, and against his anointed, in ascribing such unholy doctrines to him who is so holy and lovely.

Were the true church of Christ in any measure acquainted with the persecutions suffered by the poor Jews in Roman Catholic countries, their sympathies would be called forth far more than they have hitherto been, and they would also send delegates to condole and weep with them, for the hardships they endure. The church reads of the persecutions and cruelties of Roman Catholics, as a history of what has ceased to be. But I am certain that those who have resided in corrupt Poland, will not say so. They will have learned that Roman Catholicism is the same now, that it was in the darkest ages ; and that, if its professors, and their leader the Beast, were not restrained by secular powers, they would soon assume their former authority of condemning every body to the flames, whose faith differed from theirs. At present the poor Jews are the chief victims of their ferocity, for they have no power to resist it. The fullest exhibition of their enmity and cupidity toward them, is made at Easter. To justify which, they have recourse to a most horrible legend, viz. that the Jews use Christian blood for the passover cakes. To fix this dreadful imputation upon them, they have even been accustomed there, to throw dead children whom they had transfixed, into the houses of some rich Jews, or into the synagogues, on some night before the commencement of the passover, and the next morning, surround the houses or the synagogues, and produce the children. As soon as this was done, the sentence was well known. The men and women were either committed to the flames, or executed upon the gallows, and their property divided among the persecutors, or consecrated to the church. Thousands of rich Jewish families have shared this fate, and every year were they liable to it, until the Russians took possession of the kingdom, in 1796, and abolished such infamous proceedings. Since that time, such a thing rarely happens, and if

« PreviousContinue »