Page images
PDF
EPUB

;3;

[ocr errors]

of blessings received-though much might be urged on these grounds--but on much higher ground; “first to the Jew” is God's own order, founded in infinite wisdom, in the interest of the Jew as an instrument in blessing the world.

Had the Church, in her missionary operations, gone first to the Jew, she would, in proportion to her success, have annihilated the most powerful opposition to the Gospel, and secured the most able, intelligent, and successful missionaries. For the Jews are in all lands ; have access to all people ; are familiar with the manners, customs, and languages of all nations; and have a physical constitution acclimatised to all countries. They already believe in the same God we believe in ; they believe as divine two-thirds of our Bible, and which constitute the foundation of the remaining one-third. They are waiting for a Messiah. This people are highly accessible all over the world. This Gospel of Christ carried to them through one language---Hebrew, which is not difficult to learn--secures, in their conversion, an agency for preaching in every land and language "the unsearchable riches of Christ." “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, in those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah

[ocr errors]

viii. 23).

We would not have the Church of Christ slacken her efforts, either at home or abroad, for the direct and immediate conversion of the Gentiles, since the present generation of sinners-Jews and Gentiles—is passing away into eternity, and if anything be done for the salvation of either Jew or Gentile it must be done at once—now. But surely the one should be done, and the other not left undone. Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles, but wherever he went he offered salvation “ first to the Jew.” Why should not all ministers and missionaries to the Gentiles do the same, specially in the case of Jews residing within their sphere of labour ? Why should not the Lord's stewards put the Jew first on their subscription list for this New Year? Why should not ministers and people, in private and in public, give the Jews a prominent place in their prayers ?

Our regular work in preaching Jesus to the Jews needs prayer and help. Our “ House of Call” needs prayer and help. Our Orphanage needs prayer and help.

Rome needs prayer and help. The casual Jewish poor need prayer and help, in clothes as well as money. O! blessed God, God of Israel, whose are the silver and the gold, touch the hearts of Thy rich children to give freely and liberally to Thy cause in all directions, and dispose them to observe Thine own instructions, " to the Jew first and also to the Gentile."

The Lord permitting us, we will give in the next number of the Herald a few striking facts, illustrating and enforcing the importance of observing this divine order.

J. WILKINSON.

We would here seriously ask our readers, and the Christian Church at large, Does not this passage teach the Church the order to be observed in the conduct of Christian missions ?Has this order ever been inverted or annulled? Apostolic precedent, as well as apostolic precept, favours this order. “Beginning at Jerusalem,” we dare not quote, as many good people do, as meaning the same as "first to the Jew.” “ Beginning at Jerusalem" means literally " beginning at Jerusalem,” to all Jerusalem Christians ; but to London Christians " beginning in London," i.e., begin where you are ; and show your fitness for the work of preaching the Gospel, and your estimate of the Gospel as meeting the need of sinners, by seeking the salvation of the souls perishing at your door. “Beginning at Jerusalem” is an appropriate subject for Home missionary guidance ; but the order “first to the Jew" might be observed with great advantage both to Home and Foreign missions.

It is a strikingly interesting and instructive fact, that the Apostle Paul, though pre-eminently the Apostle of the Gentiles, never entered town or city during the whole of his apostolic career but he sought out his brethren, and preached the Gospel “first to the Jew.” It is true that some have hastily thought that he did this only for a time, and that when some Jews “contradicted and blasphemed" at Antioch in Pisidia, the apostle then turned from the Jews to the Gentiles. He did indeed turn from those blasphemers to the Gentiles there and then assembled, and waiting for their offer of eternal life through Jesus, and on the same terms. But even to those blasphemers Paul said, “It was necessary the word of God should first have been spoken to you ; but seeing ye put it from you,

and' judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.' Why was it necessary ? First, because it was God's order ; and, secondly, because of the difference in the religious education and training of Jew and Gentile. The same salvation, through the same Saviour, and on the same terms, would do for both Jew and Gentile, but the same sermon would not. To the Jew he showed from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus is Messiah, but the Gentile he urged to turn from dumb idols to serve the living God. The question arises, did Paul turn from all the Jews, and for ever, when some blasphemed at Antioch in Pisidia ? If he dd, of course he will labour in future only among the Gentiles. Let us follow him to his next place, and see what course he pursued. He went to Iconium-what to do there?

came to pass in Iconium, that they (Paul and Barnabas) went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake that a great multituda, both of the Jews and also of the Greeks, believed ” (Acts xiv. 1). And in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts, we find they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews; and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath-days-Saturdays-reasoned with them out of the Scriptures—the Old Testament manuscripts

and some of them believed" (Acts xvii. 14). To preach the Gospel “first to the Jew” was Paul's manner, or regular custom, and thus we have apostolic precedent, as well as Scripture precept, for observing the same order. The priority of the Jewish claim does not rest simply and solely on the ground of justice for first wrongs, nor on the ground of gratitude, simply on account

זמu

66 And

[ocr errors]

of blessings received—though much might be urged on these grounds--but on much higher ground; “ first to the Jew" is God's own order, founded in infinite wisdom, in the interest of the Jew as an instrument in blessing the world.

Had the Church, in her missionary operations, gone first to the Jew, she would, in proportion to her success, have annihilated the most powerful opposition to the Gospel, and secured the most able, intelligent, and successful missionaries. For the Jews are in all lands ; have access to all people ; are familiar with the manners, customs, and languages of all nations; and have a physical constitution acclimatised to all countries. They already believe in the same God we believe in ; they believe as divine two-thirds of our Bible, and which constitute the foundation of the remaining one-third. They are waiting for a Messiah. This people are highly accessible all over the world. This Gospel of Christ carried to them through one language-Hebrew, which is not difficult to learn-secures, in their conversion, an agency for preaching in every land and language "the unsearchable riches of Christ." “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, in those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah

viii. 23)

We would not have the Church of Christ slacken her efforts, either at home or abroad, for the direct and immediate conversion of the Gentiles, since the present generation of sinners—Jews and Gentiles—is passing away into eternity, and if anything be done for the salvation of either Jew or Gentile it must be done at once-now. But surely the one should be done, and the other not left undone. Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles, but wherever he went he offered salvation “first to the Jew.” Why should not all ministers and missionaries to the Gentiles do the same, specially in the case of Jews residing within their sphere of labour ? Why should not the Lord's stewards put the Jew first on their subscription list for this New Year ? Why should not ministers and people, in private and in public, give the Jews a prominent place in their prayers ?

Our regular work in preaching Jesus to the Jews needs prayer and help. Our“ House of Call” needs prayer and help. Our Orphanage needs prayer and help. Rome needs prayer and help. The casual Jewish poor need prayer and help, in clothes as well as money. O! blessed God, God of Israel, whose are the silver and the gold, touch the hearts of Thy rich children to give freely and liberally to Thy cause in all directions, and dispose them to observe Thine own instructions, “ to the Jew first and also to the Gentile."

The Lord permitting us, we will give in the next number of the Herald a few striking facts, illustrating and enforcing the importance of observing this divine order.

J. WILKINSON.

1875.

Notes of a Visit to Mission Stations

in Europe.

BY THE SECRETARY.

[Continued from page 233.] LEAVING Warsaw early in the morning of the 25th of August, I came, by a long journey through Southern Poland, to Cracow. In the compartment of the railway carriage in which I travelled the six passengers were of five different nationalities, as we found to one another's amusement on inquiry. In one corner a member of the Greek Church was counting his beads, in another a Protestant was reading his New Testament, and in another a Roman Catholic priest was occupied with his missal. And the way was enlivened by a sharp argumentative encounter between the Roman Catholic dignitary and a gentleman of Jewish family, on the subject of religious education. The ultimate answer, repeated again and again to all appeals against requiring men of one belief to submit their children to the teaching of another, was that all education given by Catholics must be Catholic. The enormous claim to submission put forth by a minute and elaborate system, in whose arrangements the hand of man so often appears, is a great hindrance to the work of bringing the Jew to Christ. The Jew in such cities as Cracow, in reply to the missionary's appeal, says, "Show me a Christian.” How can he reply ? Shall he say, “I point you to the devotees, prostrate with extended hands, on the pavement before the gorgeous altar in the Roman Catholic Church, as we saw them at Cracow ?” The Jew may reply, “Why should I change my religion; Judaism is more simple and spiritual ?” Or shall he reply, “ These are Christians, and point to many so-called Protestants of the continent who seldom attend a place of worship, and who call in question the greatest verities of their 'professed belief, and give no signs of Christian vitality ?” The Jew may reply, “They have no more spiritual life than I possess.” Indeed, the missionary must be content in some cases with saying “I am a Christian.” Such is the difficulty of the missionary's work in some towns, in which he cannot point to a Christian Church showing in the lives of its members the superior fruits of the Gospel. But all the more on this account is it most urgently necessary that there be missionary testimony to hold up before the Jews a Christianity not coercive, but persuasive ; not, on the one hand, cold and dead, but living and fruitful; and, not on the other, concealed by human tradition, but simple, sublime, and powerful for good, because sent from God.

Cracow was visited by the Scotch deputation in 1839. They say of it, “We were deeply impressed with the importance of this city as a field of labour in the cause of Israel. Their vast numbers, their afflictions, and their readiness to hear the truth, seem to invite the efforts of the Gospel missionary. At the same time the difficulties are very great, from the opposition of a Popish government, the worse than indifference of nominal

1875.

Protestants, and the want of temporal support for awakened Jews.” They found the Rey. Thomas Hiscock missionary there, and several Jews who had been under his instruction had been baptised. The Rev. L. Hoff and other agents of the London Society have laboured there since with encouraging success. And I had the pleasure of friendly association there with their present missionary, Mr. G. H. Händler, whom I found on my unexpected arrival occupied with interesting Jewish inquirers after Christian truth. As you walk the streets of Cracow you meet Jews at every step, and their number, estimated by the Scotch deputation at 22,000 out of a total population of 49,000, is believed to be now 27,000. In some parts of the town they 'seem to be the sole inhabitants, and in every part a foreigner finds it difficult to escape their importunity as they offer to change your money, or sell you some of their wares. On the bridge that crosses the branch of the Vistula, I was accosted by one who had been in England, and who was glad to converse with one from country that had made on him so favourable an impression. Without having any business with me, or receiving anything from me, he accompanied me a long distance for this purpose. He declared himself a Christian Jew. On the walls of the town I observed bills announcing the opening of a German Protestant school. After much delay and difficulty the Government authorisation had been obtained by the missionary, who, with his wife, takes great interest in this part of the work. A paid teacher is employed, and the missionary has also the advantage of the services of an active assistant missionary. But there is room for further agency, and Cracow must be named, with regret, as one of those large Jewish centres which our Society is not yet strong enough to reach.

LEMBERG. The next station visited was at Lemberg, a well-built town, picturesquely situated in a valley, needing but a noble river to make it one of the most attractive places on the continent. Here are magnificent churches and the palaces of bishops of the Greek and Latin Churches; on one height stands a citadel, and on the opposite a denk-hügel or memorial hill, commemorating a political event which no longer has any significance, is being raised by the hands of volunteer workers. From both these heights the view is most pleasing, and amidst the numerous buildings the round top of the principal Jewish synagogue is easily seen. The population of Lemberg is about 90,000, of which about 30,000 are Jews. In 1839 the Scotch deputation reckoned them at 15,000, but since that time some disabilities in respect to the holding of property having been removed their numbers have increased. It is still, however, difficult to ascertain their exact number. Some of the resident Jews are very influential in commerce, and some in literature. As in England, a professional agent is usually employed when property is to be purchased, so in Galicia and Roumania few persons would venture to conclude an important purchase without the intervention of a Jew. Here, also, great Talmudists are found, modern books are translated into Hebrew, and such works are produced as Krochmal's Theology of the Future. The

« PreviousContinue »