Lectures on The Conversion of the Jews
THE INTIMATE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH IN THE LATTER DAYS AND THE RESTORATION AND CONVERSION OF THE JEWS
was written by the REV. RORERT S. CANDLISH, A.M., Minister of St. Georges Parish, Edinburgh and occupied pages 164-187 of the original publication]
"Now, if the fall of them be the riches of the world and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness ..For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" Romans xi.12, 15.
IT is not intended, in this discourse, to enter at length, or with any minuteness of detail, into the wide field of unfulfilled prophecy. The particulars of the future destiny of Israel, the time, the manner, and the accompanying circumstances of their restoration and conversion, must be left in a great measure untouched. For the present, it will be enough for our purpose:- to dwell on the broad and general announcement of the Prophetic Wordthat, in the latter days, they are to be restored to their old inheritance and converted to the faith of the Gospel, and to consider that fact its connection with the blessed prospects of the Church of Christ;in the humble and earnest hope that the views, thus suggested, may tend to stir up our heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel, that they may be saved.
The fact itself is rather assumed than asserted by the
apostle in the passage now before us. He takes it for granted as undeniable,
and reasons accordingly respecting it. He meets with the strongest and most
peremptory disavowal, the supposition, that the rejection of Israel, at the
period of the first preaching of the Gospel, could be either general or final.
It was not general - for even then there was a remnant, according to the
election of grace. It was not to be final - for though blindness, in part, had
happened to Israel, it was only till the times of the Gentiles should be
fulfilled, and still all Israel was to be saved. The apostle, as himself an
Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, cannot tolerate
the very putting of the question, "Hath God cast away his people?" He regards
it as implying an impeachment of the foreknowledge of God, who, when he chose
this people as his own, saw beforehand the very worst that was to occur (verse
2), and an imputation on the unchangeableness of his purpose, for the gifts and
calling of God are without repentance (verse 29).
And again, as the apostle of the Gentiles, speaking to the Gentiles, Paul impresses on their minds a sense of their deep debt of obligation to the Jews. The partial and temporary rejection of the chosen race, he represents as ordained for the benefit of the Gentiles (verse 11); and, lest the Gentiles should become presumptuous and high-minded, he bids them take warning from the fate of those against whom they might have boasted (verses 17-22). And, finally, lest they should cease to sympathize with the Lords chastened people, he bids them lay it seriously to heart, that their own interests are intimately interwoven with those of that very people; and he urges the emphatic consideration of the text, " If the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" The apostle here appeals to our reason in this matter. He not merely announces that the receiving of the Jews is to be life from the dead; but he puts it to us to say, if it is not fitted and likely to be so. It cannot, therefore, be presumptuous in us, depending on Divine assistance, after, first, dwelling for a little on the event itself here predicted - the fact that the fullness of the Jews is to be pre-eminently, and far more than their fall, the riches of the world - to state, secondly, some considerations which may serve in some degree, to show how it may very well be expected to be so.
I. In regard to the matter of fact, that the favour which is yet to be shown to Israel, is not only closely connected with the future prosperity of the Church and the triumph of the Christian faith in the world, but is to be the immediate cause or occasion of it, the apostle must be understood, in this passage, not as prophesying himself, but rather as recognising and interpreting the predictions of former prophets. He speaks in conformity with the whole strain and spirit of the Old Testament Scriptures. He does not make a new statement. He confirms and sanctions a statement uniformly made before. All the holy men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, regarding the blessed state of the Church in the latter days, and the restoration and conversion of the Jews, invariably join these two events together. In proof of this assertion, we may simply state to you the result of an inquiry which every one of you may repeat and verify for himself, with some labour, indeed, but with deep interest and with great profit. If, with the aid of any convenient book of reference, you search the scriptures, in regard to this particular point; if you take, for example, into your hands so common and familiar a work as Dr S. Clarke's collection of the "Promises of Scripture;" and if, turning to the head of "Promises relating to the state of the Church", you carefully study the chapters of the Bible which are referred to under that head, you will be very much struck as you observe how constantly the two events in question - the prosperity of the Church, and the return of the Jews - are represented as bound up in one another. You may proceed in this experiment in either way you choose, by taking either of these two events as your leading theme, and you will find, in all the predictions relating to it, a plain and prominent reference to the other. Thus the promises relating to the state of the Church are arranged in an orderly series, under the titles of "Enlargement of the Church; Glory of the Church; Increase of Light, etc, and Means of Grace; Increase of Purity, Holiness and Righteousness; Peace, Love, and Unity in the Church; Submission and Destruction of the Enemies of the Church; Destruction of Antichrist, and Babylon; Favour and Submission of Kings to the Kingdom of Christ; Security, Tranquillity, and Prosperity of the Church; The Perpetual Continuance of the Church."
Now, examine the promises in each of these sections - not as you read them isolated and detached in this book of extracts, but as they stand in the Bible itself - examine them in the full light of the context and connection in which they severally occur, and we are greatly mistaken if you do not perceive in all of them a sufficiently distinct recognition of Israels coming blessedness, and if you are not satisfied that, in regard to each and all of the elements of that gracious and glorious state, which the Church longs to see attained, it is the declared purpose of God, that its attainment shall be seen ultimately to depend, in no inconsiderable degree, on the high destiny of Israel. Again, reverse the method of investigation. Take the chapter of the book (Clarke) which directly treats of the restoration and conversion of the Jews, and enumerates the promises relating to these points, and the result will be equally satisfactory, for still you will perceive that in almost all of that series of predictions, while the receiving of Israel, the fullness of Israel, is the main object in the prophets eye, he does not overlook, but rather always enlarges on the manifestation of the Divine glory, and the establishment of the Divine kingdom throughout all the earth; which, simultaneously with Israels fullness, and chiefly by means of it, may in the latter days be confidently looked for.
On the whole, therefore, we may safely conclude that the Apostle Paul is fully justified, not only as himself a prophet, but as an expounder simply of the prophets who have gone before - according to the entire strain and analogy of their predictions - he is justified in assuming, as he clearly does in the text, not only that the Jews, though in part and for a time rejected, are yet, as a nation, to be saved; but also, that their fullness is to be pre-eminently the riches of the Gentiles, and the receiving of them is to be to the world life from the dead. They rise themselves, and they raise the world.
II. But we proposed to
state some considerations which may serve, in some degree, to show how it may
very well be expected to be so.
1. We put a case, which, with all reverence, may suggest a simple and touching analogy. We read, in one of the parables, of a certain man who made a great supper, and bade many, and who, when they that were bidden refused to come, rather than allow his bountiful provision to be lost, seated around his table the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind. Nay, so bent was he on having his house filled, that he would compel the very outcasts from the highways and hedges to come in.
. (1.) Place yourselves now in the position of this strange company, this motley group, thus unexpectedly admitted to a sumptuous entertainment, and allowed to enter a noble mansion. The master of the feast, the owner of the house, has been sadly disappointed in the hopes which he cherished - wounded in his best, his tenderest affections. His friends, his family, his own children themselves, for whom he has made all this ample provision, and to whom he would have communicated it all, have despised and deserted him. He is deeply grieved; but his temper is not soured. He does not shut up and harden his heart; his affections are still warm, his home is still open. He must have something that he can love and bless, and goes forth in search of objects on whom he may lavish the overflowing tenderness and liberality of his soul. He finds you languishing and pining in abject want; your substance wasted, your spirits mortified and abased. He proffers to you the invitation, which they of whom he might have expected better things have spurned. He addresses to you, strangers and outcasts, the gracious call which his own have disregarded. He embraces you instead of the companions and the children whom he has lost. He clasps you to his bosom; he introduces you to the small remnant of his household; you occupy the places, you appropriate the privileges, of those who should have sat at his board and rejoiced in his smile. And in offices of unwearied kindness to you, he seems to bury all feelings of regret for the past, and to forget the ingratitude with which his love has been repaid. Thus far, you are clearly gainers by the fault or folly of those who were before you; you are the better off for their going away. Their loss is your benefit; the birthright which they despised is come to you, and you reap the fruits of their miserable infatuation.
. (2.) But still, is all well? Is all well in the family into which you have been so graciously received? Is all as well for you as you might wish or hope it to be? True, you have no cause to complain of the treatment which you receive; you have no fault to find with the householder, or with the economy of his household, or with the manner of his dealing with you. He is not straitened in his bounty towards you. He is very pitiful, and abundant in loving-kindness; and however wide you open your mouth, he fills it. But is there no longing of his heart, no yearning of his bowels, towards the former objects of his love, which does shed over the whole establishment a sense of gloom and of desolation, of which even you yourselves cannot fail to be painfully conscious? Is there not something about the very air of the whole house, which conveys the indescribable impression that all is not right, - that there is a blank - that there is a loss? The rooms are as spacious and well ordered as in any circumstances they could be; the tables are as sumptuous, the accommodations as complete. All things are on a scale of the most boundless munificence, and there is no lack of the most interesting conversation. Still, you cannot fail to perceive that there is an impression of somewhat being amiss. There are places which might have been otherwise occupied - seats on which others might have been sitting; and, whether it be imagination or reality, you seem to see the eye of the father, without any inclination to disparage or to be unkind to you, still looking round through all the circle of his new attendants, and missing those whom he would fain have seen among the nearest and dearest of them all.
. (3.) Nor can you wonder that it should be so. For, have
you indeed supplied to this most bounteous of open-hearted parent, the place of
those dear children into whose privileges he adopted you? Have you been all to
him that he might have required or expected you to be? Have you done all that
might have been done to fill the void in his bereaved affections - to heal the
sore wound of his aching heart? Has he indeed found in you the dutiful and
affectionate children, whose behaviour towards him, and towards one another,
might make him forget the sons and daughters of his former love? Alas! Does not
conscience testify that he has but too good reason to be dissatisfied and
disappointed in you? You have not been warned by the history of your
predecessors - you have not avoided their faults - you have not supplied their
deficiencies. In what are you better than they? Has he found in you a firmer
faith, a warmer love, a purer service, a closer fellowship, than he might have
found in them? Have you been more devoted to him? Have you been more united
among yourselves? In your apostasies, your backslidings, your rebellions, in
your dissensions, and debates, and controversies, may he not discern the very
same spirit which, in his ancient family, so righteously provoked his wrath?
And as he looks on the sad symptoms of deadness and disorder, which every where
prevail among you, ah! may he not see enough to make him think with relenting
fondness of those who, however wilful and wayward, could scarcely have served
his purpose or satisfied his desires worse than you have done? For have you
indeed fulfilled the end of your calling more fully than they might have done?
Have you done what in you lay to be to your kind and hospitable entertainer
instead of those who had gone away, - to make up to him for the loss of the
children whom he first loved?
. (4.) Thus, in the family out of which the original household have been displaced, and into which you, in their room, have been adopted, there prevails a general feeling of depression and disappointment, which shows that there is something wanting. You are not satisfied yourselves. At first you were greatly elated by the unexpected promotion; you were carried away by the joy and triumph of your new prerogative; you were high-minded, and did not fear. Soon you fell into the worst principles and practices of those whom you displaced; you became cold, worldly, and formal; you adopted a system of self-righteousness and self-confidence; you departed from the simplicity of a childlike reliance on the father who had embraced you and a childlike affectionate intercourse with him; you turned what should have been your home into a hall of state; you multiplied ceremonies, and learned all courtly arts to cover the real estrangement of your hearts. And then you fell out among yourselves. You made your fathers house a place of wrangling - the din of war resounded through its mansions, the fire of wrath blazed in its courts. These things, you feel, may well have wearied him; at least, they have begun to discourage you; you see that something is grievously wrong, and you do not see how it may be remedied.
. (5.) Now, in such a state of the household into which you have been received, what more natural than that the Master should begin to think of those for whom originally he built his house, and prepared his feast? If they, after their long banishment, now at last disposed, and may be persuaded to return and to accept the overtures which once they cast away from them, may they not return with a spirit chastened by much affliction, and a heart that, amid their varied experience, has now at last begun to learn wisdom? And how will the householder receive them? And how will his reception of them affect his treatment of the guests whom he in the rneantime received as his own? Will he be so entirely and exclusively engrossed with his long lost, but now recovered children, as to have no love to spare for you, the sons and daughters of his more recent adoption? Nay, will not the joy with which his heart overflows, embrace you also in its ample tide? His love will only go forth the more fully and freely towards you, now that his own soul is satisfied; and the only thing which caused a cloud on his brow, and an aching void in his breast, is finally removed. There is no longer throughout the household the painful sense of a heavy loss, which, however the householder may try to prevent it from intruding, still cannot fail to mar the freedom of the intercourse, and to impose a certain feeling of constraint. Now - there is the ease of a glad relief - there are all the sympathies of a cordial jubilee. And when the old family resume their proper place in their fathers house, which is freely conceded to them by their younger brethren, may it not be expected that a new element of order will he introduced - a new bond of union - a new source of life and love? That which was out of joint is now put right; that which was lame is healed; that which was wanting is repaired; and the whole economy is arranged on the model which from the first was intended, but which has long been frustrated and hindered. The household is at last complete; and the thousand questions of precedence and pre-eminence, the disputes on sundry points of detail, which have arisen mainly from the defective state in which it has long subsisted, wanting the elder brethren - the first-born - the heirs - these will be satisfactorily settled and set at rest.
Yea, brethren, we may indeed anticipate from the
restoration of Israel to their old place in the Divine favour, an effect
precisely similar to what we might expect to witness, when the first-born
children should return again from a temporary estrangement to a family, in
which their loss has been very inadequately supplied, and has never ceased to
be painfully felt. The apostle is, in these verses, not merely stating as a
matter of fact, the connection between the restoration of the Jews and
the prosperity of the Church in the latter days; he is appealing to our reason,
to judge if such a connection be not, in the nature of things, extremely
probable. The word of prophecy is undoubtedly more sure on such a point, than
any reasoning of ours can be. At the same time, it is satisfactory to follow
out the hint which the apostle gives, and to dwell on some of those views,
which might naturally lead a reflecting Christian to anticipate, as likely to
flow from the future return of Israel, a vast increase of riches and of life to
the churches of the Gentiles, and to all the world.
I. The reconciliation of the first-born, the elder brethren - those for whom, in the first instance, the feast was provided - may be expected to produce a most salutary effect upon the whole economy of the household. At present, their absence creates a void, which is but imperfectly filled up, and gives occasion for much misunderstanding and misrule, and many endless questions of order and precedency - all of which may be either superseded, or settled and set at rest when the original plan of the establishment is seen realized, and the family is at last complete. The restoration of Israel, we may well believe, will introduce, amid the deadness and distractions of the rent and torn Church of God, a new element of unity and of life: every holy principle of faith and love will receive a new impulse, and be anew directed in the right way; and the actual exhibition of the Divine model, then finished and fulfilled, will clear away many doubts, and end many controversies, which seem destined to fret the spirit and waste the energies of Christ's people, until He himself again interposes, to show, as in a new primitive and apostolic era, after what form and fashion he really wishes his house to be built, and its affairs to be ordered and transacted. In this way, in the prophecies of the Old Testament, the final establishment of Israel is represented, as giving peace (Isa. ii. 2-5, xi.6; Hos. ii) - as increasing knowledge (Isa. xxv. 6, 7 ; xi. 1, 2, 9, 10), - and as introducing universal holiness, (Ezek. xx. 41; Zech. xiv.)
II. We may refer to
another principle, in illustration of the way in which the receiving of
the Jews may very probably be expected to be to the world as life from the
dead. It seems to be the plan and intention of God, that the cause of true
religion in this earth should proceed and prosper by means of a series of
movements - a succession of impulses. At certain intervals, impressions are
from time to time given, which continue to work their proper effects, until
their power, as it were, is spent, and some new application of force is needed.
It is true that the growth of religion in an individual heart, or in a general
community, is slow and gradual, like the growth of a seed cast into the ground.
It springs up, and enlarges itself into luxuriant grain, or into a stately and
spreading tree. But tares come up also, and choke or corrupt the grain, and the
tree is apt to become feeble, to wither and fade away. The seed must be renewed
in due season, the ground must be tilled anew; else the power of right
vegetation will soon expend and exhaust itself. So also is it with the progress
of religion. It advances, for the most part, by means of successive impulses at
due intervals applied. It has its stages of revival. Thus, in your personal
experience, in the history of your personal godliness, you may have found that
there is not one uniform, continuous, unbroken process of advancement in the
life of God; but, for the most part, an alternation of progress and decline, a
series of starts - each carrying you so far forward on your course, till its
force is worn out. You do not move on at one steady pace; but now you are
impelled to make a run, as for your life, by some application from without, or
some eager movement of spirit within; then, by and by, your speed relaxes
itself - you linger and loiter, till a new fit or feeling of eager haste seizes
you, and you rush keenly on as before.
When the Lord, for example, first laid his hand upon you, and his Spirit began to strive with you - when you first became acquainted with his unspeakable gift, with the unsearchable riches of Christ, then there was an era of great life to your souls; you did run well, and nothing hindered you; you were fairly aroused - alarmed; you felt the urgent necessity of prompt and decided measures. You were eager to escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust; you felt the terror of the Lord; you were touched with a sense of the Saviours beauty; you could give no sleep to your eyes, till, having closed with the terms of his Gospel, accepted the offered pardon, and cast the burden of conscious guilt away - washed in his blood, clothed and girt about with His righteousness - you set out on your new career of holy self-denial and self-devotedness, you made haste, and delayed not to keep His commandments.
Need we remind you of what, it may be, too soon followed? Your first impressions became gradually more and more faint; your zeal cooled; you began to grow weary. The things of sense and time again hid from your view the realities of the world unseen; and a spirit of cold and dead formality began to steal over your discharge of religious duties, - your Sabbath exercises - your labours of love. But the Lord did not forsake you. He again took his own work into his own hands. He awakened you once more from sleep. Sharply, it may be, and painfully, he pierced your soul anew; he broke your heart; he brought you under new convictions, softened you to new relenting, kindled in you new desires. It was a time of refreshing and revival.
Has this brethren, been in any measure your experience? And are there any of you, in whom, at this very season, the force of a first, or a second, or a third revival, seems to be nearly expended? Are you conscious, even now, of a languor and inertness about your spiritual tastes and your spiritual exercises, different from what sometimes in better days, you have experienced? Then, is it not high time for you now to seek a new awakening, a new revival, a new impulse from on high? And delay not till God in very mercy may find it necessary to deal with you in a way of aggravated severity, till your slumber become so profound, that it can be broken only by the loud cry of sorrow, or the sharp sting of shame. Let this very day be marked as one of the eras - the critical periods - of your spiritual career; and give God no rest until he revive his work in you and speed you anew on your heavenward way rejoicing. And as it is in individuals, so also it is generally in communities. Among them, too, religion very often prospers and prevails by means of successive revivals. There is a movement of the Spirit of God in a certain place, at a certain time. Mens minds are stirred - sin is signally rebuked - and a tone of religious feeling beyond what was conceived possible before, begins extensively to prevail.
But alas! How often has it been seen, that the effect is but too transitory, The impression passes off - the enthusiasm subsides - conversions become rare, and almost cease to be looked for - and things settle down once more to the old level of decent, common-place, observances. But what then? Are such movements to be undervalued because they too often are found to be of such brief duration? Nay, is not this precisely such a result as might be anticipated beforehand? If you roll the stone according to the downward inclination of the plain, a single impulse may suffice to send it on, with accelerated speed, till it reach the foot of the descent. But, in causing it to move in the opposite direction, you must repeat the impulse almost every instant. If the impression which religion gives were according to the bent of the human heart and the course of this world, it might he expected that a progress once begun, would go on indefinitely for ever. And is not this the very delusion of those who place their confidence, for the worlds regeneration, on the gradual working of those elements of improvement which they see now in operation, - who believe in the perfectibility of the human race, and the all-sufficiency of ordinary existing means? There will be, as they think, an uninterrupted process of amelioration; and the silent influence of the spread of knowledge will quietly and insensibly usher in the millennial glory. Do these speculators, these dreamers, deny or overlook the fact of mans depravity? Do they forget, that in all past history it has been found, that the truth - that true religion - has been deteriorated, and not improved, by its prolonged sojourn on earth; that it needs ever and anon to make a new descent from heaven, and to start from a new commencement? Was it not so in the Antediluvian times? God at first made known his will to fallen man, revealing his plan of mercy and appointing his ordinances of worship. But immediately the race degenerated and religion declined. In the days of Enos, again (Gen. iv. 26), there was a revival of the Lords cause, and a stand made by the Lords people against the growing profligacy of the age. But this new life soon began, as before, to languish. Even Gods children left their first love, and all flesh corrupted their way on earth. After the flood, a new and fair chance, as it were, was given to the world - a new and fresh impulse to the work of God in his Church. How long was it until idolatry universally gained ground? Again God interposed to start his cause anew, by the calling of Abraham; and afterwards we trace successive interpositions, for the same purpose, in the exaltation of Joseph, in the deliverance from Egypt, in the giving of the law, in the mission of prophets, in the captivity of Babylon, in the renewal of the Jewish polity under Ezra - in all these, and similar instances, we trace the operation of the same rule in the Divine procedure, according to which, as it were, he sets his hand, at intervals, to the main-spring of the instrument, which otherwise would relax its movements, and might stop. And in every instance, we see the same result - a gradual process of decline until a touch from on high revives the work.
The same remark applies to the history of Christianity.
The first preaching of the Gospel seemed to introduce a power fitted to move
the world; and its early success gave promise of a progress, not by any
obstacles to be turned aside or checked. Alas! How soon did that apostasy
begin, which nothing but Gods grace, anew imparted at the Reformation,
could arrest. And since the Reformation has the true faith been steadily
progressive? Has it not been corrupted and enfeebled? Has not its spirit in all
the Reformed churches become languid and inert? Nay, it would even seem as if
the very impulse, which is to bring in the more glorious state of millennial
blessedness, is not to retain its force forever. It is darkly, perhaps
doubtfully, intimated, that a decay of godliness, and a sad falling away, may
even then he looked for; as if to prove, that not on earth, nor among fallen
man, will the truth preserve its power, without continual renewals of the
impulse by which it is set in motion from on high. Such, it would appear, is
the law of progress applicable to religion, in the heart of man, and in the
world at large. If so, it is evidently incumbent on individuals, and on
communities, to be continually looking out and waiting for revivals, to be
seeking and expecting renewed interpositions and impulses from God, and to be
lying on the watch to discern, to seize, and to improve them. From neglecting
to observe this law, we may miss many an occasion, we may lose many an
opportunity of most blessed and salutary awakening; we may disregard the work
of the Lord's hand, we may resist the strivings of his Spirit. Were we rightly
observing, in the prayer and patience of faith, what God is doing, in his
providence and by his grace, we might far more frequently, as well as far more
unequivocally, see and feel his immediate interposition, to revive his work and
cause his Word anew to have free course and be glorified.
Now it is in exact accordance with this principle or rule that the return of the Jews should be the occasion of a new and extensive revival in the Church and should give a new impulse to the cause of God in the world. It may well be expected to be a new era, from which a new life may begin. The very sight of a nation born in one day - a people suddenly and at once brought forth - exhibiting in instantaneous maturity, and in all the freshness of a first love, the Divine power and the holy graces of the gospel, realizing again the promise of the early apostolic days - renewing, on a larger scale, the wondrous spectacle, which the little band of brethren at Jerusalem, after that memorable day of Pentecost, presented to the eyes of men; - this of itself would almost be enough to work such a change in the whole character of the prevailing Christianity, that old things might be seen to pass away, and all things to become new. New ideas of what Christianity really is - a new tone feeling - a new standard of attainment - new views and sentiments on almost all things - and an entire new spirit of zeal and life - might be expected to pervade and take possession of all minds. The Spirit being poured upon them from on high, the wilderness would be a fruitful field; and what before was reckoned a fruitful field, would then, in comparison with the new examples of fertility, be counted for a forest. - Isaiah xxxii. 15.
III. Especially may
such a result be anticipated, when it is considered that the nation which is
thus, in the face of all men, to be renewed, is the nation of Israel. This
people, now for a long season scattered and peeled, have been terrible and
wonderful from the beginning hitherto (Isaiah xviii.), and they will be
terrible and wonderful to the end. In their singular preservation, amid
unexampled judgments, they present to the world a standing proof of the special
providence of God over them. And, as at first, the remnant or the election of
Israel, who believed in the Lord Jesus, were the chosen agents and instruments
of God in gathering in the first-fruits of the Church; so in the end Israel is
to be honoured in the gathering in of its full harvest, at the close of the
worlds history. Their conversion itself will be so manifest a token of
the Divine faithfulness and power, that it will strike conviction into the
minds of men, and compel them to recognise the finger of God; the new energy
and vitality, which their fresh zeal and love will impart to the Church, will
stimulate its efforts, and render its testimony more decided; and their own
direct exertions, on behalf of Him whom they have so long denied, will be
blessed by God for the bringing in of the Gentiles, even to the ends of the
earth. Re-invested with their hereditary prerogative of nearness to God -
received again into His favour - re-established in the land which he gave to
their fathers - and having once more erected in their city the dwelling-place
of God, the seat, so to speak, of his government, the centre of his operations
throughout all the earth, - they will walk in the light of Gods
countenance, they will shine before all men in the beauty of his holiness.
Farther: the Lords interposition in behalf of his people is to be accompanied and attended by visitations of a fearful nature, on the nations and inhabitants the world, - visitations fitted to overawe and subdue. Dreadful judgments are, in Scripture, announced as about to come in the latter days, connected with the overthrow of the Antichristian power, and the vengeance to be taken upon all those who have been partakers in its guilt. It is to be a time of terrible convulsions, when yet once more the earth and heavens are to be shaken; and there are to be portentous signs among all nations. But, amid all the shock and crash of the reeling and staggering work, the Lord is signally to manifest his power, as ruling the storm and commanding the whirlwind. There must be "wars, and rumours of wars;" the Gentiles must be visited for their impiety in having so long "trodden Jerusalem under foot," and despitefully used and persecuted these whom God, though he was smiting them, still loved and honoured. His righteousness as Governor among the nations must be vindicated; his elect, who cry to him day and night, must be avenged; the rejection of his blessed Gospel by people must be signally punished. The souls of them that were slain for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus, still cry with a loud voice from under the altar, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
Ah! There is much to be done for the settlement of the Lords controversy with the world and for the deliverance of his people, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, before he shall he glorified in their triumphant and joyous return, and shall be manifested as the terror of the proud, and the confidence of all that call on His name. And then, at last, the ancient people of God appear as the centre of a happy world, as bringing in, after many judgments, the glorious harvest of the Gospel. At last, after many fears and many disappointments, that harvest is secured; "for, as the rain watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, so that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater," so the Word of God now prospers. "His people go out with joy, and are led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills break forth before them into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands." Such is Israels high destiny, and such its bearing on the prospects of the world. "The Lord will arise and have mercy on Zion. The time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come; for his servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory." - Psa. cii. 13-16. Let us reverently adore the unchangeable majesty of the eternal God, and trust in his faithfulness. "Our strength may be weakened in the way, our days may be shortened; but He is the same, and his years shall have no end. The children of his servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before him" - Psa. cii. Amen.
THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS: A SERIES OF LECTURES DELIVERED
BY MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND and PUBLISHED by JOHN JOHNSTONE, HUNTER SQUARE; EDINBURGH and R. GROOMBRIDGE, LONDON
IN THE YEAR MDCCCXLII.
You can read Lecture Number Two by Andrew Bonar, here.
With Grateful thanks to Robert Crozier for all his hard work in scanning and reading this lecture.
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