Page images

The Hebrew Christian Editness



.אתם עדי

“Ye are My Witnesses.”—Is. xliü. 10.

No. 18.]

JUNE, 1874.


OUR MAHANAIM. IN N a somewhat similar sense, though not under identical circumstances,

we have been led to surname our now dual class of Jewish Bible Students by the term in which our father Jacob apostrophised his dual band at GALEED and Mizpah, namely MAHANAIM. In the words of that patria rch we say :-We are but too small for all the mercies and for all the truth which Thou hast executed in behalf of Thy servant; behold, we have become two bands.*

Various secondary causes have conduced to increase rapidly the number of attendants at our Bible-class, of Jews and Jewesses, which we have mentioned in the first article of our last issue. The principal secondary cause was, no doubt, the correspondence-on the subjects of our readings and expositions— between the members of our class and their friends and relatives in Town and the Country. It is a divine apophthegm, " From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The “shepherd and the “ woman ” in the well known parables, when they have recovered that which they had lost, called upon their friends and their neighbours respectively to rejoice with him or with her; the blind man who recovers his sight, the leper who is cleansed, the impotent man who recovers his bodily strength, cannot keep back the exuberance of gratitude which overflows the respective hearts of those who obtain mercy. No more can the Jew or Jewess—who has hitherto lived in enmity with God and apostasy from His Christ-control the exuberance of his or her heart's joy, on having revealed to the soul that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”+ It was this new birth in the souls of the members of our Jewish Bibleclass, which made them sob out,

* Gen. xxxi, 47, 48; xxxii. 2, 7.

† Rom. x. 4.


“ Tongue never spake, ear never heard,

Never from heart o'erflowed,
A dearer name, a sweeter word,

Than Jesus, Son of God.” It was the effect of this new birth in the souls of our Jewish Bible students, which constrained the members of our class to communicate the glad tidings to some of their friends, relatives, and acquaintances. The communications elicited in return revelations of secret workings in the hearts of those friends, relatives, and acquaintances, which have been kept studiously concealed, in some cases for months, in others for years. We have read many of the letters which passed between those anxious correspondents. They teem with the whisperings of the irresistible flood of love to Christ, the faint echoes, as it were, of the mighty voice, GOD IS LOVE!!! One secret Jewish believer takes up the words of the hymn,—which we tried to sing on a former occasion, which was evidently quoted in a letter from a member of our class to her relative in the country,--and thus apostrophises her correspondent in Town :-Yes, dearest cousin, more than that now,—dearest sister in the true Faith,

6. Ah ! this no tongue can utter ; this

No mortal page can show ;
The love of Jesus, what it is,

None but His loved ones know.'" This correspondence tended much to the increase of our numbers, and induced us to adopt the predicted words of the prophet, which our nation, in fulness of time, shall yet use under different auspices. We exclaimed : “ The place is too strait for me : give place, that I may sit at ease Who hath begotten me these ? . . . Who hath brought up these ?”—For though the drawing-room in which the class met was one of the largest in the neighbourhood, it became one afternoon inconveniently filled, and those at the furthest end from our table could not hear with comfort.-Upon which, several of the gentlemen, members of the class, proposed their respective drawing-rooms, as meeting-places of ease to the mother Church in that house. The most convenient one was decided upon; when we could not resist quoting the words of our father Jacob, with which we commenced this paper. With St. Paul we muse :—“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things : to whom be glory for ever.


* Rom. xi. 33-36.


(Concluded.) HIS

I it pray over it and study it, the more beauty I see in it year by year. “Well; because of unbelief they were broken off ; and thou standest by faith," on the very same condition. “Be not high-minded, but fear." Brethren, we do not wish to attach more importance to this than there is really in it, but it is a striking fact that this is the Epistle to the Romans, the Epistle to the Romans ; a letter, an inspired letter, from God to the Church at Rome. At the time this epistle was written, her faith was spoken of throughout the whole world; she was a Church that was spoken of as a model Church. Here we see the state of the Romish Church in particular and the Gentile Church in general at this day: it is a state told us of before by God. Now, here is the Church of Rome addressed, and God tells her not to be high-minded. Has she taken heed to that ? No. And to fear. Has she been fearful ? She has been very highminded, and she has not feared at all. Her, assumptions have insulted God for ages, and they insult Him to-day; and at the gathering of the Ecumenical Council they will insult Him further, by making claims for men which belong only to God. “Be not high-minded, but fear : for if God spared not the natural branches, the Jews, take heed." The take heed is in italics. It would literally read, “ shall also not spare thee,” the take heed” being, as I have said, in italics. “If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” Now comes one of the most important phrases in this chapter, bearing upon the Gentile Church—the Roman Church primarily, the Gentile Church generally. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness : otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” • If,”—mark the condition," if thou continue in His goodness.” Now I ask you just to wait half a minute on this passage, or on this part of the passage : “ If thou continue in His goodness." Has the Church of Rome, to whom these words were primarily addressed, has she continued in God's goodness? With all the charity we can muster we must say she has not. What is the consequence? That every other Church, whether the Greek Churcb, or the Protestant Churches which have come under this dominion, will have the same judgment meted out to them: “otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.I never read anywhere in the Scriptures of a cut-off Gentile Church being graffed in again. I do read of the broken-off branches of the Jews, that if they abide not still in unbelief they shall be graffed in.

It appears to me that the Gentiles have an immense amount of responsibility beyond the Jews. The Jews, in rejecting their Messiah, were not so blameworthy as moderns. You know their Old Testament Scriptures were in manuscript, and there were very few copies in comparison with the bulk of the nation. It is different with us in these days : we can get a New Testament for 2d., and the complete Bible for about 6d., and every one can possess a copy. Now we should have thought, if we had lived in other times, when the Scriptures were scarce, in the days of manuscript Bibles, that if we could purchase a copy of the New Testament for 2d.,

[ocr errors]

« Son of man,

and a copy of the Bible for 6d., “ Why," we should have been ready to ask,“ do all the devout people, who regard those books as from God, sit down and commit them to memory, and store every word in their minds ?” The answer of thousands would have to be, “No; you can quote hundreds of passages from the Scriptures, which hundreds and thousands of people calling themselves Christians do not know either where they are to be found, or even whether they are in the Bible at all.” We blame the Jew, but there is a tremendous condemnation resting upon us for not familiarising ourselves largely with the Father's mind; I say there is a tremendous condemnation upon the Gentile Church, and a vast amount of responsibility beyond what the Jews ever had, a responsibility arising from the light which we enjoy. “ Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off, and they also, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graffed in ; for God is able to graff them in again.” What does that say to us? It says this, Do not stand in Gentile unbelief, looking down on these dry and withered olive branches lying on the ground like the bones in Ezekiel's vision. these bones are the whole house of Israel.” Do not look down upon them in Gentile unbelief, and say sap can never flow along them more. Take hold of them under the influence of Christ's love; take hold of them by the use of Gospel means; take hold of them in obedience to Christ's command ; take hold of them gently, lovingly ; they are brittle, they are dry; hold them in the spirit of prayer, and in the use of Gospel means, to the old parent stock; and though thou canst not give them vital union, God says, “I can.” God is able to graff them in again, and graffed into their parent-stem, they shall yet bud and blossom, and fill the face of the world with fruit.

There is something very beautiful here in the next verse. step by step; and having shown that we have no right to regard the least hopeful cases amongst the Jews as absolutely hopeless, not even those branches broken off for unbelief,—for if they abode not still in unbelief they should be graffed in again,—he goes on to prove that the Jews, as they were circumstanced in relation to the knowledge of God and to the Old Testament Scriptures, constituted the foundation of Christianitythat, as with respect to these things they stood in a position which presented facilities for missionary enterprise no other people in the world could present; Paul goes on with one of the most logical and forcible arguments in the whole of his logical writings,that the Jews are easier to convert than the Gentiles-not easier for the Holy Ghost, only easier in the sense in which people have said that they are harder; for it has been said that the Jews are much more difficult to convert than the Gentile heathen. So human will says; Paul says they are easier. Which is right, popular opinion or the inspired Word of God ? Brethren, you will find, in conversing freely with people over this land, what an immense amount of infidelity there is with regard to the conversion of the Jews. I find people hastily adopting what the Times newspaper says on the conversion of the Jews. I find amongst Christian people, as I go over the country, a willingness to quote what Punch says when he speaks about the conversion of the Jews; I find people having readily on their tongues what the Saturday Review says on the conversion of the Jews. I was addressing a ladies' gathering one morning a few weeks ago at Harrogate, and a lady remarked in my presence that “ So-and-so used to be a subscriber to the fund for the conversion of the Jews, but had given up her subscription

Paul goes

of half-a-sovereign, because her daughter had read a few mornings before, in the Saturday Review, that it was of no use seeking the conversion of the Jews!” Is it not strange—it seems so to me—that there are numbers of persons calling themselves Christians in these days, who know more of what is said in such quarters as those I have referred to, and who are more influenced by such things, than they know or are influenced by what the Apostle says ? Paul says the Jews are easier to convert than the Gentiles; and this argument is sustained by one of the most forceful and beautiful arguments in the whole of Paul's apostolic writings. Paul says, “ For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these,"—these Jews,—“ which are the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree ?” How much more; not how much less.

Just a minute upon two points of this remarkable verse, as to the principle upon which olives are grafted. They graff in Palestine, not the wild on the good, but the good on the wild, and subdue the wildness of the wild root by the goodness of the good graff. If they were to graff the wild olive branch upon a good olive tree, the wild olive graff would destroy the effect of the good olive tree, and all would run wild together. Now some think that the Apostle has fallen into a mistake here. Paul was an educated man; Paul lived in Palestine; besides, Paul was inspired. They graff, then, the good on the wild, and subdue the wildness of the wild olive by the goodness of the good graff. What does Paul mean then by talking about graffing the wild branch upon a good olive tree, when they never do it ?

Mark, he says it is contrary to nature;” he does not say it is in harmony with nature's laws, but that it is contrary to them. Uninspired men most generally get their beautiful and forcible illustrations, if they get them from nature at all, in harmony with nature's laws and with natural modes. Paul here, by reversing the matter, adds force and beauty to his illustration. So much for the principle on which olives are grafted,—the good on the wild, not the wild on the good. Now on the propriety of calling the Gentile a wild olive branch, and the Jew a natural branch. There is propriety in both statements. The heathen have got gods many and lords many, and sacred books of nothing worth, while the Jew, though he is God-fearing and Old Testament-believing, denies the Lord Jesus Christ. When you go to the heathen, you ask them to give up their gods and their sacred books ; but when you go to the Jew, you do not ask him to give up faith in his God; but if you can, you agree with him; you tell him that thus far his faith is right ; but you entreat the Jew to receive Him whom God hath sent. You tell the heathen to burn their books ; you tell the Jews to search their Scriptures. “If ye believed Moses and the prophets,” the Lord said, “ye would believe Me, for he wrote of Me." There you have common ground with the Jew. Let me give you a simple illustration. Have you never walked along a narrow lane, so narrow that half-a-dozen could not walk abreast in it, but would have to go through in single file, with its high banks excluding the sun, and rendering it twilight at noontide ; but when you have come out of that lane, you have felt the glorious influence of the sun on the brightened landscape, and a delightful sense of freedom ? Well, when we go to the Jew, we do not tell him to go back again in the narrow lane of the Old Testament; we do not tell him that he is altogether wrong,

« PreviousContinue »