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For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
THE CASE OF THE JEWS, CONSIDERED WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THEIR SUPPOSED LITERAL GATHERING.
BY REV. WILLIAM SCOTT, OF THE CANADA CONFERENCE.
EVERY Christian who reflects on those portions of Scripture prophecy which refer to the evangelization of the world, and who also considers the constitutionally aggressive and instrumental character of the church, must be gratified with the consideration, that the whole of Christendom has been roused to the discharge of its solemn obligations, and that therefore very vigorous efforts are now making in order to the diffusion of those saving truths which "first began to be spoken by the Lord, and were confirmed unto us by them that heard him." It would appear as though the Christian Church now felt the force of Cecil's celebrated remark, "The state of the world is such, and so much depends upon action, that every thing seems to say to every man-Do something-do it-do it." Something is doing, and the visions of the ancient prophets are, in a measure, realized: "There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God."
It is one of the pleasing signs of the times, that a more than usual degree of sympathy and benevolence has been enlisted in favor of the scattered tribes of Israel.* This strikes us as being conclusive evidence that the Divine Being is graciously pleased to stay his
* The London Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews has existed now for thirty-one years, and has been the means of extensive good. In their twenty-ninth report, published in 1837, the following encouraging language is used:-"The committee have unfeigned satisfaction in stating, that, while they consider that during the past year a decided advance has been made toward the great object of promoting Christianity among the Jews, they have no less convincing evidence that a deep interest in the spiritual welfare and future prospects of this long-neglected people is growing up in all parts of the country." We trust this will soon be universally the case throughout American Christendom! In 1838 the London Society employed forty-seven missionaries, twenty-three of whom are said to be converted Jews.
VOL. X.-Oct., 1839.
avenging hand, remembering his covenant with Abraham, and the sure mercies of David. The claims of the Jews upon our Christian liberality are powerfully set forth by the Apostle Paul: "For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy." We have received the gospel through them. The first predicted and glorious outpouring of the Holy Spirit, certifying the establishment of the Christian dispensation, descended upon Jews more particularly; and the first Christian church was established at Jerusalem. The holy apostles were Jews, commissioned first to preach the gospel to their countrymen; and He who shed his blood for the salvation of the world was of the seed of Abraham. What other considerations do we need to induce us to emulate the zeal of Paul, who said, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh?" The apostle then adds a summary of their formerly exalted character and privileges: "Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." The Jews are not our brethren in the same sense they were Paul's, but this epitome of their history and advantages invests them with peculiar claim's upon our attention and regard. Who can think of their former distinction, their reception of genuine revelations from God, their uncorrupted preservation of the Scriptures; of their being for many hundreds of years the appointed conservators of pure religion, and of their hosts of believers who died in the faith, and are a cloud of witnesses to the truth, without ardently desiring the salvation of their descendants? Who can reflect on the present, contrasted with the former condition of the Jews, now suffering every sort of misery, laboring under national degradation and civil disabilities, and worse than all, their having been the dupes of falsehood, given up to believe a lie, for nearly eighteen hundred years, without fervently breathing the prayer of the poet :
"Come, then, thou great Deliverer, come!
That, quicken'd by thy dying love,
Another very strong claim which the Jews have upon our prayers and exertions, arises from the fact, that they are so frequently and distinctly the subjects of Scripture prophecy. All the various and numerous nations of the earth are included under the general denomination of Gentiles. The Jews are distinct; and though they may be included in the general promises of salvation through Christ, yet, as if the blessed God were not satisfied with thus embracing the world collectively, he declares by his prophets, "all Israel shall be saved." "I will pour upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn
because of him." It is probably the vast number of prophecies respecting the Jews, scattered throughout the volume of inspiration, which has caused the great diversity of opinion respecting their meaning, and therefore concerning the future destiny of this extraordinary and supernatural people. Their literal gathering to their own land is by many considered a subject of unfulfilled prophecy, and the vast majority of predictions respecting the Jews are considered as referring to this event, with which, however, their conversion to Christianity is sometimes associated and included.* Those fond of speculation and conjecture are engaged then in ascertaining the locality and identity of the tribes of Israel, usually spoken of as "the ten lost tribes." We propose giving a few general remarks illustrative of these subjects:
The present condition of the Jews, the position of the whole world with reference to them, and the present enterprising spirit of the Christian Church, appear to us to render it absolutely necessary that their future destiny, as far as it is prophetically revealed, should be known. At any rate, this may legitimately be a matter of investigation, proceeding in the spirit of humility and sincerity. The truth in the case cannot but have a very powerful influence on all Christian operations for their evangelization. A tract has lately been published in London on the "return of the Jews, proving that that most interesting event is just at hand, and setting forth the important consequences which are declared to follow." Now if it should appear that their future literal gathering is not contemplated in the prophetic writings, it is evident that our efforts for their spi
* We believe this opinion has been generally maintained and expressed by ministers and gentlemen advocating the Christian claims of the Jews. public meeting held in London in 1830, H. Drummond, Esq., said, "They had read their Bibles, and they knew that the promise of the pouring out of the Spirit upon the whole of the Jewish nation, was not to be fulfilled till after the restoration of the Jews to their own land." Several others expressed the same views at the same meeting. The Rev. E. Bickersteth, at an anniversary of the London Jews' Society, held in York (Eng.) in 1838, said, "He believed in his heart they (the Jews) would be literally restored to their own land." That author, in his Practical Guide to the Prophecies, says, “There are many expressions in the Old Testament, which may lead us to expect, not only the conversion of the Jews, but the NATIONAL RESTORATION FROM THEIR PRESENT DISPERSION, to their own land." The small capitals are authorized. Dr. Clarke and Mr. Benson seem to hold the same opinion, though they are very often equivocal on this subject.
Even the illustrious Milton, whose glowing imagination, in harmonious verse, has delighted the whole civilized world, puts the following language into the lips of the Redeemer while contending with Satan in the wilderness. However, his use of the potential mood throws some doubt on his opinion, as herein expressed :
"Yet he, at length, time to himself best known,
Paradise Regained, book iii,
ritual good must receive a very different direction, and will be attended with very different results. The numbers of Jews now existing is also a consideration. There are probably two millions in Russia-tens of thousands in Poland-and they swarm in the remotest parts of China. In short, they abound in almost every European nation, and are to be found in every part of the east. It is supposed the Jews are now as numerous as they were during their greatest height of prosperity in Canaan. They have only to a very limited degree amalgamated with the nations among whom they have lived, and but a very small proportion of them are inhabitants of Palestine. They have been preserved in a remarkable manner for special purposes; and our conviction is, that their conversion to the Christian faith will have a very glorious influence upon the nations with which they are associated, and that those effects do not depend upon their return to their own father-land. It is our belief that their conversion and display of Christian graces, in the countries where they now live, and which are for the most part without the "pure and undefiled religion" of Jesus, after so long a rejection of the true Messiah, will tend amazingly to the overthrow of Mohammedan and pagan systems of error, as well as those of Rome and China.
"Now if the fall of them (the Jews) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness?" "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" It does not appear to us that the blessings specified in these words can be secured to the world by an abandonment of those countries where, through the agency of Christian missions, they might be evangelized; but by there and thus acknowledging the grand Christian principles, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise;" "They are not all Israel, who are of Israel;" "He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God."
To those who are disposed fully to investigate this subject, we would suggest the adoption of a plan of inquiry something like the following:
1. Let the prophetic writings be carefully examined in chronological order, following the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, with a view to define which of the prophecies have or have not been fulfilled. It may be well in this branch of inquiry to ascertain whether any intimations of a literal gathering are to be found in any predictions which may have been made known after the reformations carried on in the Jewish state by Nehemiah.
II. Let the New Testament writings be examined with a view to the inquiry, Whether the literal gathering of the Jews to their own land is consistent with the genius of the Christian dispensation, which is the perfection and consummation of every other divinely appointed system of religion.
III. It may not be amiss in the farther prosecution of the question, to compare the writings of various commentators and critics, to see how far their assumptions in favor of a literal gathering are consistent with their own modes of interpretation and criticism.