Imagens da página

coming of the Messiah ; and have been from the times of Jesus to the present hour. What is the present posture of this people in respect to Jesus? They reject him as an impostor, and justify their forefathers for putting him to death as a blasphemer. Archbishop Whateley has given us the language, as he tells us, of “ a learned modern Jew" on this subject, who affirms that Jesus “falsely demanded faith in himself as the true God of Israel;" and adds that “if a prophet, or even the Messiah himself, had offered proof of his divine mission by miracles, but claimed divinity, he ought to be put to death” according to the command in the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy. From this passage it will be perceived that this learned Jew understands Jesus as the Apostles did, as orthodox Christians now understand him, as his Jewish forefathers understood him; and for this reason he justifies the act of the Savior's rejection and death. In the article entitled “the Jews and their Religion,” drawn up by the “ Rev. Isaac Sesser, pastor of the Hebrew Portuguese congregation, Philadelphia,” and published in the “ History of all the religious denominations in the United States, we find the following passage in respect to the Messiah: “ The Messiah whom we expect is not to be a God, nor a part of the Godhead, nor a son of God in any sense of the word; but simply a man eminently endowed, like Moses and the prophets in the days of the Bible, to work out the will of God on earth in all that the prophets have predicted of him."? Here again we see the purely humanitarian theory of the Jews in regard to the Messiah, evidently intended to be placed in opposition to the claims of Jesus as understood by this writer. In “Greenleaf on the Testimony of the Evangelists,” pp. 529,532, the reader will find the comment of “Mr. Joseph Salvador, a physician and a learned Jew,” upon the trial and condemnation of Jesus.” Speaking of the scene which occurred before Caiaphas, this Jewish defender and impugner of Jesus, remarks: “ The question already raised among the people was this: has Jesus become God? But the senate having adjudged that Jesus, son of Joseph, born at Bethlehem, had profaned the name of God by usurping it to himself, a mere citizen, applied to him the law of blasphemy, and the law in the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy, and the 20th verse in chapter 18th, according to which every prophet, even he who works miracles, must be punished, when he speaks of a God unknown to the Jews and their fathers: the capital sentence was pronounced.” In reference to the sentence he says: “the sentence was founded upon this fact, that he had unlawfully arrogated to himself the title of Son of God.”. These are the words of an enemy of Jesus—a Jewish plea in modern times, 'to justify the murderers of our blessed Savior. They involve the same construction of the Savior's claims, as that 1 Whateley's Kingdom of Christ, p. 14.

; pp. 365, 366.

adopted by the Sanhedrim that condemned him. By a stern necessity this is, and must be, the Jewish argument for rejecting Jesus of Nazareth. It should be remembered also, that this plea is by no means an invention of modern Judaism. As it was used at the time in which Jesus suffered, so it has been used ever since by the Judaistic enemies of our Lord. The nation has holden fast to its own act-perpetuated its own deed—and in its condition has fulfilled the declaration of Moses, that God would require it of them, if they should refuse to hear the great prophet. The Talmudists never call Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. In their dialect he is “a magician, a broacher of strange and wicked worship; one that did miracles by the power of the devil, to beget his worship the greater belief and honor." “ Ben-Satda,” by which they mean the Christian's Christ, a term of awful reproach, “ brought magic out of Egypt by cuttings which he made in his flesh." This strange and wicked worship,” to which this refers, plainly alludes to the divine claims set forth by Jesus, when he was upon earth, and subsequently preached by the Apostles. It is the comment of enemies, showing that orthodox Christians have correctly understood their Lord and Master. Buxtorf, in his Talmudic Lexicon, cites a curious piece of Rabbinical testimony, admitting the subornation of false witnesses against Christ before his crucifixion, and describing the mode : “ Against none of those guilty of death by the law are snares to be laid, except against one that has endeavored to pervert another to idolatry and strange worship. And it is thus performed: they light a candle in an inner room, and place the witnesses in an outer, so that they may see him and hear his voice, without his seeing them. And so they did to the son of Satda (Mary); they placed men privately in the next room to witness against him, in Lud (Jud or Judea), and hanged him upon the cross

on the evening of the passover."2 What was this “ idolatry and strange worship” taught by him, contemptuously styled the “Son of Satda," and requiring the subornation of false witnesses ? It plainly refers to the claim of Jesus, that he was the “Son of God,”-a title understood to imply a divine nature, and so understood by the Sanhedrim, and by their Rabbinical apologists. These Jewish testimonies shed valuable light upon the gospel account of the issue between Jesus and the Sanhedrim. It was a great question about the nature, the constitution of his person. Who was he? He answered this question, and was condemned for the answer.

The merits of this question, as between Jesus and the Jews, or between the Christian and the Jew, it is not the purpose of this article to consider. It would be easy to show, that the divinity of the Messiah was clearly taught in the predictive testimony in regard to him; and that, therefore, Jesus being the true Messiah, claimed no more than he ought, according to the prophets. The miracles he wrought were such as to assign the most perfect competency and credibility to his own testimony, though not so viewed by ihe prejudiced Jews. The miracles subsequently wrought by the Apostles in his name, and the fate of the Jewish nation, are to be added to the proof, that what Jesus said of himself was true. It was no blasphemy for him, being divine, to say so. He knew his own nature, and was competent to speak of it. His condemnation upon his own testimony, is placed in such a relation to the constitution of his person, that the credibility of the Christian religion turns upon the justness of his claiin. To make him simply a prophet, an extraordinary human teacher, is to justify the act of the Jews in condemning him, and make a prophet of God give false testimony. Hence the divinity of Jesus Christ is essential to the credibility of the Christian religion. How any sect of religionists can assume to be Christians, profess any respect for Jesus as a teacher of truth, place any confidence in his words, and yet deny his divinity; this is one of those marvels in theology I shall not undertake to explain. It is a fact worthy of notice, that the Jews denied, in respect to the Messiah of prophetic promise, what the different species of “Unitarians” now deny in respect to Jesus Christ, as the Messiah of gospel history. The former, though wrong, are far more consistent than the latter. They repudiate Christianity and its founder in totoan awful mistake. yet having the consistency of error. If the “ Unitarians” are right now, then the Jews were right eighteen centuries ago, and are still right. Both agree in a common denial : both are offended with a common affirmation. That, for asserting which the Jews rejected and condemned the Savior, is the very idea which modern Unitarianism equally denies, while it professes great respect for Jesus Christ as a teacher, and assumes to be a true expression of the Christianity he taught. Its inconsistency in this respect is glaring and painful. The condemnation of the Lord Jesus is placed in such historical relations, that whoever receives him as an infallible teacher of irreproachable character, must also receive him as a divine person, or be inconsistent with himself.

1 Lightfoot's Works, vol. xi., p. 106. . For this passage I am indebted to Hale's Analysis of Chronology, vol. iii., p. 209.

With a single explanation I shall now pause in these observations. The death of the Savior, considered as an atonement, as woven into the gospel systein and constituting an essential part of the science of salvation, it has not been the aim of this article to examine. The single aspect, which has given shape to this whole inquiry, is contained in the title : “ Jesus Christ attested by miracles, and yet rejected by the Jews." This is primarily an affair of history; and in this light purely, we have endeavored to consider the subject. The existence, life, doings, sayings, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Savior, are matters of fact, events in a wonderful series; they constitute historical Christianity, the “ kingdom of God” evolved in the facts pertaining to the great oracle of that kingdom. In relation to human belief, the historical precedles the doctrinal parts of Christianity; the “ Evangelicon" (so the fathers styled the gospel memoirs) is necessarily the basis of the “apostolicon” of the New Testament. That there was a Jesus of Nazareth, who appeared on earth, a true original of which the evangelical narrative is a transcript, and that as we see him in this narrative, so he was in the days of his flesh; these are points which are vital in the faith of every Christian. He is set before us as the worker of miracles, yet as rejected by men with the opportunity of seeing and knowing these miracles. The credibility of the narrative, considered as making such a report, has formed the field of the previous inquiry. The writer's object has been, not only to explain the fact of the Messiah's rejection in its relation to second causes, but also to show, that there are no sufficient elements of improbability to invalidate the bistory which reports the fact. The divine intendment in the Messiah's mission; the doctrinal use made of his history; the inspired exposition of Jesus and his cross—these wonders form the immortal garniture of the history; and for them we more appreciate the history, and for the history, the more appreciate them. In their light we can the better understand, not the motives of the Jews in rejecting the Messiah, but why Jesus, with such high prerogatives, such awful powers, such infallible knowledge, permitted himself to be this treated. These sublime aspects of the history present to us its final cause, Jehovah's purpose, God's economy triumphing over the madness of men, and amid the fiercest rage of wickedness, announcing peace and pardon in the ear of a ruined world. Great and lowly, lovely and awful, simple and mysterious personage is Jesus Christ, the wonder of history, the Redeemer of men! May we see him, know him, love him, trust him, be saved by him, and dwell with him for ever and ever.



By Rrv. SAMUEL M. HOPKINS, East Avon, N. Y.

Lives of Men of Letters and Science, who flourished in the time of

George III. By Henry, LORD BROUGHAM, F. R. S., &c. The life of Voltaire, with which this series of literary portraits opens, is evidently brought forward by the author with considerable satisfaction. He expected it to create a sensation, both among the friends and the enemies of revealed religion. He accordingly undertakes to show in his preface, why neither class should find fault with him. It should satisfy the latter, that while disapproving Voltaire's method of attacking the Gospel, he has done full justice to the excellence of his heart, and the splendor of his literary merit. The former, if disposed to quarrel with the biographer's extreme tenderness towards the character and principles of his subject, should be mollified at observing that he decidedly condemns the use of poisoned shot in his warfare against Christianity. If after this any sparks of dissatisfaction remain, they must be wholly extinguished at learning that,“ with powers infinitely below" those of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hume, he has written nearly as much, in one way or another, for religion, as they have written against it; and that several persons have intimated their conversion from infidel opinions, by reading his notes and Illustrations of Paley.

Occupying this conspicuous post on the walls of Zion, Lord Brougham feels enabled to indulge his amiable tendency towards compliment, and 10 bestow all sorts of knightly courtesies on bis antagonists. Voltaire, to be sure, had his failings, but he also had extraordinary virtues. “ His nature was open and ardent.” “ Jealousy formed no part of his character.” This, by the way, agrees but indifferently with the assertion in another place, that “his constant undervaluing of Rousseau's genius can scarcely be ascribed to anything but jealousy, if not of his talents, yet of his success.” “ He had a rooted horror of envy, as mean and degrading."." He had an excellent heart;" “ It would be unjust, nay, ungrateful, ever to forget the immense obligations under which he has laid mankind by his writings.” “The impression which this great genius has left will remain ; and while his failings are forgotten, and the influence of his faults corrected, the world, wiser and better because he lived, will continue still to celebrate his name."

It stands in rather singular contrast to all this, the hearty good will with which the auihor, a Protestant and a Christian, comes down upon Luther and Calvin. There are no amiable qualifying

« AnteriorContinuar »