« PreviousContinue »
prophecies be fulfilled : yet sufficient light, I apprehend, is given by the scriptures of the prophets to warrant our general conclusion; that as the Jews have been a blessing in the midst of the nations in former ages, so they shall be hereafter, and to a far greater degree; (the Saviour himself, and the writers of the sacred scriptures excepted ;) and that the universal promulgation of Christianity shall be effected, in a very considerable degree, by Jewish converts, ministers, and missionaries. In attempting, therefore, the conversion of the Jews, we take the most effectual method of evangelizing the heathen, and of eventually promoting the grand end of all missionary attempts :--and this should never be lost sight of in our reasonings on the important subject.
Having now closed what I purposed to consider, I shall conclude with a few detached observations.
Many objections to the design itself of this so ciety have been advanced, which it may be proper briefly to notice. Some have even objected to it as if it were an attempt to counteract the purposes of God concerning the Jews! But, even were there no predictions concerning the conversion of this people, to be adduced in connexion with the Lord's revealed purpose of leaving them for a long succession of ages to blindness and unbelief, there would be no force in the objection. The purposes of God, whether secret or revealed, are not our rule of conduct. The descendents of Ham are doomed to servitude by the prophecy of Noah, as recorded by Moses : but does this command us to enslave them? Does this sanction the slave trade
Is this an objection against the labours of those who have nobly and, I bless God, successfully sought its abolition i
The law of God, in general, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” and the command of Christ in particular, Go and make disciples of all nations, “Go and preach the gospel to every “creature," form our rule of duty: and, instead of excepting the Jews from the comprehensive commission, our Lord expressly required the apostles to begin at Jerusalem, and to address first the tribes of Israel.
But, in fact, as far as prophecy is concerned, we are not only not attempting to counteract the revealed purposes of God, but we are endeavouring to accomplish them, in the only unexceptionable way ; even by obeying his explicit commandments. For it is evident that the Jews will be converted to Christ, and that the time is at hand. None of us may live to see the accomplishment of this glorious event; but must no one plant an oak, because he cannot hope to see it become a full grown tree? David was assured that the temple would not be built till after his death; yet he made all the preparations which he could, and his preparations were exceedingly useful to Solomon in building it.
But “the time is not yet.”—This is the stale objection to all zealous attempts, when those who are not duly zealous are required to give their selfdenying or expensive assistance. I answer, “ It is “not for you to know the times and the seasons, “which the Father hath put in his own power.' Surely it is high time that we set about performing what at all times has been our bounden duty; * though we have hitherto neglected it. If the page of prophecy said nothing about the conversion of either Jew or gentile, our obligation to attempt their conversion would not be at all diminished. It was as much the duty of our ancestors a thousand years ago, as it is our duty at present: but the Lord, in his mysterious wisdom, did not see good to use so many and powerful means of calling men's attention to it, as he hath in our days. If no dates at all were fixed for the accomplishment of this or the other prophecy, the case would not be altered as to our obligation ; though it would as to our encouragement in hoping for success. For the time of sowing at least is come : and the seed which we now sow may be of exceedingly great importance, in making way for the time of harvest.Should the attention of the Jews be called to the subject; should they be led to study, with this subject in view, their own scriptures ; should comparatively but a few of them be converted to Christianity, and become zealous for the conversion of their brethren; should any eminent men be raised up from among themselves, in the several countries where they reside, determined to venture all consequences, in avowing their faith in the Lord Jesus: the aggregate effect of such events, in no long course of years, might be absolutely incalculable.Let but a few grains of wheat be sown, and sow all the produce next year, and in like manner from year to year, and it would not be long before the increase of these few grains would suffice for seed to a whole country, or even a whole continent.- Who hath despised the day of small things?”
* But the Jews are so excessively prejudiced and 'hardened; your labour will be in vain. Certainly, if not prospered by the almighty power of God. And so will our labour be among professed Christians. “ Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but "God alone giveth the increase.”—“Is” then any thing too hard for the Lord?”
• Is his arm “ shortened that he cannot save?" And has he not expressly declared, that in the latter days he will “circumcise the hearts of the Israelites to love “ the Lord ?” that " the veil shall be removed from “their hearts?" Are not these the latter days? And does our God generally work without means, or by means ? Let us then use the proper means, and both simply depend on him, and fervently. pray to him, to fulfil his prophecies concerning Israel, “ by taking away the heart of stone out of their flesh, and
giving them a heart of flesh ;” by “pouring on “them the Spirit of grace and of supplications, that “they may look on him whom they have pierced, "and mourn ;” and let us not doubt, but earnestly believe, that he will both accept our services, and establish the work of our hands. When I remember, my brethren, how hard and obstinate an unbeliever I myself once was ; and that, nevertheless, the Lord brought me at length to address Jesus, in the words of Thomas, “My Lord, ånd my God; ” I cannot possibly despair of any human being: I cannot doubt but the same agency is sufficient to make the most scornful Jew on earth join, in addressing the crucified Nazarene, as his Lord, his God, his Saviour.
But 'many Jews, who have embraced Christi‘anity, have afterwards disappointed our expecta'tions; and I am ready to suspect them all.”—He who has laboured as a minister, and looked round
upon the professors of religion, for thirty or forty years, will not wonder, though he mustgrieve, at seeing those who once appeared true converts, nay, whom he himself looked up to, draw back, and disappoint the expectations of pious persons. Yet, having also observed that many have stood their ground, and exceeded his expectations, he will not suspect all who profess the gospel ; but will endeavour to unite caution with candour in his conduct towards them; and still go on“ doing what “he can,” though not able to do all that he would.
Thus, my honoured brethren, let me animate you to proceed. Your design is noble; take your measures from the word of God; ask wisdom from him by ceaseless prayer ;—for never did any undertaking more require heavenly wisdom. Be willing to pass through evil report, and good report:” but refute the evil report, not so much by words, as by your steady uniform good conduct. Every thing, it appears to me, should be done to conciliate the Jews, except soothing them into a favourable opinion of their state and character in the sight of God; and nothing said or done, which so much as hints at any other thought of superiority to them, except that of being more highly favoured by God's special grace.—But I forbear: many of you have had far more opportunity of investigating the subject, than I have had ; and my service at this time was to bear testimony to the excellence of the design ; which having done, I conclude with earnestly commending it to the patronage and special blessing of the God of our salvation : to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever : Amen!