« VorigeDoorgaan »
inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem, They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles added, untiL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED And, in regard of the threatenings, the heaviest of them all is that which is expressed by Isaiah, (cbap. vi. 9-12.) Go, tell this people, hear ye, indeed, but understand not ; and see ye, indeed, but perceive not.
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Loril, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.
This awful judgment was indeed to issue in temporal calamities ; but the judgment itself is spiritual ; a judgment, the nature of which prevents your feeling it, but which is a greater evil than all your other punishments put together.
Such are some of the evidences from which we conclude that Je. sus is the true Messiah. Time, place, family, miracles, character, sufferings, resurrection, and rejection by his own countrymen-all are fiulfilled in him. Never was such a body of prophecy given and accomplished in any other case. If you still shut your eyes upon the light, you must abide the consequence : for our parts, we feel the ground upon which we stand, when we say, We know that the Son of God is come.
III. It is declared that when the Messiah should come, THE WILL OF GOD WOULD BE PERFECTLY FULFILLED BY HIM—I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Agreeably to this, the Messiah is denominated God's servant, whom he would uphold-in whom he would be glorified-and who should bring Jacob again to him.
The will of God sometimes denotes what he approves, and sometimes wbat he appoints. The first is the rule of our conduct, the last of his own ; and both we affirm to have been fulfilled by Jesus.
In respect of the Divine precepts, his whole life was in perfect conformity to them. All his actions were governed by love. Your fathers were challenged to convince him of sin ; and you are
challenged to do the same. Yet
nation reckons him an im. postor! Was there ever such an impostor ? Nay, was there ever such a character seen among men ? Should the account given of him by the evangelists be objected to, we might answer from ROUSSEAU,—" The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality, contained in the Gospels ; the marks of whose truth are so striking and invincible, that the inventor would be a more astonishing character than the hero."*
When a sinful creature is said to have the law of God in his heart, it is said to be written there, or put in him by the Spirit of God ; but of the Messiah it is said to be within him. His heart never existed without the impression, and therefore needed not to have it put in him. Such was Jesus, and such the spirit that he manifested throughout his life. Let the character, besides him, be named, who dares to rest the truth of his pretensions on his being found to be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
But it was not merely to fulfil the Divine precepts that the Mes. siah was to come, but to execute his purpose in saving lost sinners. Even his obedience to the law was subservient to this, or he could Rot have been the Lord our righteousness. He was God's servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, to give light to the Gentiles, and to be his salvation to the ends of the earth. In accomplishing this, it behoved him to endure the penalty, as well as obey the precepts, of the law. His soul must be made an offering for sin ; he must be cut off out of the land of the living-cut off, but not for himself ; and this that he might make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness.
Such was the doctrine of the ancient Israelites ; and such is that of the New Testament. If.it be true, let me intreat you to con. sider the consequences. While you hold fast the traditions of later ages, you have renounced the religion and the God of your ancient fathers; and, in doing this, have rejected the only way of salvation. If the things which I have attempted to establish be true, your fathers crucified the Lord of Glory; and you, by ap:
* Works, Vol. V. pp. 215--218.
proving the deed, make it your own. Moreover, if they be true, Jesus Christ will one day come in the clouds of heaven, and every eye shall see him ; and they also who pierced him shall wail because of him! Consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.
We doubt not but the time will come when your nation shall look on him whom their fathers pierced, and shall mourn as one that mourneth for an only son ; but if it be not so with you, it is the more affecting. To see, at the last judgment, not only Abraban, and Isaac, and Jacob, but millions of your own unborn posterity, sitting down in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves cast out, is inexpressibly affecting !
I bave lately looked into some of the modern Jewish writings. It would be going beyond my limits to attempt an answer to many of their objections to the gospel ; but I will touch upon a few, which struck me in the course of reading.
They find many things spoken in prophecy of the reign of the Messiah, which are not as yet fulfilled in Jesus; such as the cessation of wars, the restoration of the Jewish nation, &c. &c. and argue from hence, that Jesus is not the Messiah. But it is not said that these effects should immediately follow on his appearing. On the contrary, there was to be an increase of his government ; yea, a continued increase. Jesus may be the Messiah, and his reign may be begun ; while yet, seeing it is not ended, there may be many things at present unfulfilled. The kingdom of the Messiah was to continue as long as the sun and the moon. It was to be set up during the reign of the fourth monarchy; but was itself to survive it, and to stand for ever.
But they object that the doctrine taught by Jesus was not of a pacific tendency—that, on the contrary, it was, by his own confession, adapted to produce division and discordThink not that I am come to send peace on earth, but a sword: for I am come to set a man at variance with his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. These words, however, as a child in just reasoning would perceive,) do not express what the gospel is in its own nature ; but what it would occasion,
through the hatred of its enemies. They describe not the bitterness of believers against unbelievers, but of unbelievers against believers, for the gospel's sake. The good works of Abel excited the hatred of Cain; but ought Abel to be reproacbed on this account? The message of peace sent by Hezekiah to the remnant of the ten tribes, iuviting them to come up to the passover at Jerusalem, occasioned the same bitter contempt among the idolaters, as the gospel does among the unbelievers of your nation ; yet surely it was a pacific message notwithstanding, and ought to have been differently received. We might as well reproach the God of Israel for his messages to Pharaoh having hardened his beart; yea, for his laws given at Sinai having been the occasion of all the wickedness of your fathers; for if he had given them no laws, they bad not been guilty of transgressing them!
They farther object, with their fathers, that Jesus pretended to be the Son of God, and so was guilty of blasphemy. But if he were the Messiah, he was the Son of God. Did not God, in the second Psalm, address him as his Son; and are not the kings and judges of the earth admonished to submit to him under that character ? Much has been said of your believing in one God ; and who re
; quires you to believe in more than one ? If you infer from hence that there can be no plurality of persons in the Godhead, you contradict your own scriptures, as well as ours. Who made the heavens and the earth ? Did not Elohim? And did he not say, Let us make man, &c. ? Who wrestled with Jacob ? And who appeared to Moses in the bush? Was it not Jehovah? Yet he is represented, in both cases, as the Angel, or Messenger of Jehovah.
Some of the prescept of Jesus are objected to, as being impracticable, and Christians are accused of hypocrisy for pretending to respect them, while none of them act up to them; that is, 66 when they are smitten on one cheek, they do not offer the other."* But this is perverseness. Jesus did not mean it literally ; nor did he 80 exemplify it when smitten before Pilate. Nor do the Jews so
* R. Tobias Goodman's Address to the Committee of the London Society,
understand their own commandments. If they do, however, it will follow that they break the sixth commandment in every male. factor whose execution they promote, and even in the killing of animals for food. The manifest design of the precept is to prohibit all private retaliation and revenge ; and to teach us that we ought rather to suffer insult, than to render evil for evil. This may be a hard lesson for a proud spirit ; but it is a true exposition of that law which requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves ; which is inconsistent with every feeling of malice, whatever provocations have been received.
But this is not all ; the very agony of Jesus in the garden provokes the malignity of these writers. The anguish of his soul on that occasion, is ascribed to pusillanimity! Have they a right then, when judging of his conduct, to take it for granted that he was not the Messiah, and that bis death was like that of another man ? Certainly they have not. The objection, if it has any force, is this-His want of fortitude is inconsistent with his being the Messiah. To this we answer, supposing him to be the Messi. ah, there was nothing inconsistent in any of those fears and sorrows which he expressed. For, if he were the Messiah, he must, according to prophecy, have suffered immediately from the band of God, as well as from man. The chastisement of our peace was upon him--It pleased the Lord to bruise him : he hath put him to grief. But if the agony in the garden were of this description, there was no want of fortitude in it. So far as the wrath of man was concerned, Jesus feared it not. He endured the cross, and even despised the shame: but, under the hand of God, he both feared and felt; and I never understood before that it was pusillanimous to fear or feel, under the hand of the Almighty! But we need not marvel ; for he who, in the language of prophecy, complained of having gall given him for meat, and vinegar for drink, added, They persecute him whom thou hust smitten?
All these objections prove the truth of what was said to Nicodemus, Except a man be born again, or, to speak in Jewish language, except he be circumcised in heart, he cannot see the kingdom of God. The gospel is a system that cannot be received by a mind blinded by prejudice, or a heart hardened in sin. He that receives Vol. VII.