THE FAITH OF BARTIMÆUS.
REV. WILLIAM R. NICHOLSON, D.D.,
RECTOR OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, BOSTON,
PREACHED AT THE
Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia,
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE
JANUARY 6th, 1870.
THE ELEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT AND
THE FAITH OF BARTIMÆUS:
ITS LESSONS FOR US IN
OUR CHRISTIAN WORK AMONG THE JEWS.
"BLIND BARTIMÆUS SAT BY THE HIGHWAY SIDE BEGGING. AND WHEN HE HEARD THAT IT WAS JESUS OF NAZARETH, HE BEGAN TO CRY OUT, JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME. AND MANY CHARGED HIM THAT HE SHOULD HOLD HIS PEACE; BUT HE CRIED THE MORE A GREAT DEAL, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME. AND JESUS COMMANDED HIM TO BE CALLED, AND SAID UNTO HIM, WHAT WILT THOU THAT I SHOULD DO UNTO THEE? THE BLIND MAN SAID, LORD, THAT I MIGHT RECEIVE MY SIGHT. AND JESUS SAID UNTO HIM, THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE. AND IMMEDIATELY HE RECEIVED HIS SIGHT."--
Mark x., parts of the last seven verses.
THIS is one of the most beautiful of the Saviour's miracles. All the miracles have not the same local relations, and in this difference lies their great and varied instructiveness.
The miracle, merely as such, is but a skeleton wonder; the miracle in the midst of its circumstances is that same wonder clothed upon with a living form and a speaking face. A poor blind beggar, in his accustomed seat by the roadside, learns that Jesus, the Nazarene, is near him. At once he bethinks himself of his blindness, and cries out "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." And when the people bid him be silent, he becomes only the more urgent, "Son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus is prevailed upon by the cry, calls the wretched man to Him, puts His own power at the command of the beggar, and then, mentioning that the effectiveness of the cry is due to the faith of the crier, instantly makes him to see: [13/14] according to Matthew, touching the blind eyes, and according to Luke, saying this one word, receive thy sight. These are the facts in the case so far as we need them for our present purpose; and we may briefly arrange them thus: Bartimæus trusted in Jesus as being Son of David; he was commended of Jesus for such faith, and in reward of his faith he received from Jesus the blessedness of sight. But, first of all, let me say, that I have selected this case of Bartimæus as strikingly illustrating, in certain regards, the nature and requirements of our work amongst the Jews.
The fundamental principle of his faith, on which rested the actual exercise of his faith in the Person of Jesus, is that which characterizes, even to-day, every Jew in the world, if only he has remained true to his traditions, not having lost his own mental identity in the all-destructive infidelity of the day. We may accept him as a perfect type of his race, and especially as exemplifying what is the particular state of mind which we must expect to find in those of them, whom we may get to listen favorably to our Christian teachings; meanwhile, the reception which Jesus accorded him--a reception so freely tendered him from precisely his own point of view--also exemplifies what should be our sympathy with the Jews in certain features of their Messianic faith, if we are to work among them with any tolerable degree of success. This is why I now ask your attention to this very simple, though ever so beautiful, incident of the gospel history. I exceedingly deprecate any misconception of my subject as to its intended attitude on this occasion. I do not present it as carrying the main issue; but only as illustrative of what must be, in certain regards, our own faith and hope, if we are to be in full sympathy with our chosen work. Of course, the main business in whatever missionary undertaking, whether among Jews or Gentiles, is to preach among them the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of men--to hold Him up in His blood and righteousness, as any man's only salvation from condemnation [14/15] and death--sweetly to enforce Him on the hearts of men as Him who knew no sin, and yet was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. It is a question simply and essentially of the salvation of souls; and for any such work we need to be ourselves afire with love to Jesus as distinctively the Saviour of sinners, and with love to individual souls as distinctively those for whom He died. Herein is the foundation of our cause. These are its essential claims. We plead with you for promoting the cause of the salvation of individual Jews by faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, all this being well secured in our own minds, we should not forget that he is the most effective teacher of men on any subject, who is not merely their teacher, nor even merely their well-wisher, but who gives his instructions, and makes his arguments burn, in a real living sympathy of interest with interest. And then possibly we might quicken your own efforts at sending onward among the Jews such properly qualified preachers of the Gospel to them, if we could bring you to feel how warm with a living human beauty was that faith of Bartimæus, a sympathy with which is so requisite for putting your thoughts and feelings in effective communication with the work; for it is then we plead best for such a cause as is already fully acknowledged in its leading importance, when we so make use of its outlying connections as to call forth in its service some one or other of the operative feelings of our nature; as, of two specimens of the very same argument, both equally well reasoned, that will be the more powerful, which, though not more effective than the other for convincing the understanding, yet does what the other does not--touches into action as well our sentiments of the beautiful or the sublime; or, to compare great things with small, and Divine things with secular, what was it but the ancient historic greatness of Greece--a mere sentiment--which, at her revolution of fifty years ago, thrilled the nations with so exquisite an interest, and [15/16] made so uncommonly eloquent that clearest and simplest of our human instincts, the sense of the injustice of oppression. Even so, with God's blessing, might we be borne onward by the inspirations of that blind beggar's faith, as upon a flood-tide of wonder and delight, to the more faithfully discharging our Christian obligations to the perishing souls of that now scattered, yet wondrously destined people.
First, then, as to the faith of Bartimæus. What did he mean by "Son of David?" Of course, that Jesus was descended from David. Beyond question, however, not barely that; but also something as involved in that. The mere idea of ancestry could have been worth to him just nothing at all. By "Son of David" he meant office as well as pedigree; and office by virtue of pedigree. He meant that as Jesus was descended from David, so did he inherit from David; that as being the Son, so must he be the successor; that in Him would be continued David's kingdom and throne. Such, undoubtedly, according to the universal usage of human speech, is the true analysis of this phrase; and such we know to have been at that time the common understanding. For do you not remember how, when Jesus rode on an ass's colt from Bethphage into Jerusalem, the marching multitudes shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David--Blessed be the Kingdom of our father David--Hosanna in the highest;" and how they pulled off their garments and cast them in the way, and cut down branches off the trees and strewed them in the way? Thus, conclusively, the people took part in that procession, as believing it to be the pageantry of an earthly royalty, for these things did their forefathers when Jehu was made king; they regarded "Son of David" as a visible king, and as being so by virtue of His lineage from King David. This then is what Bartimæus meant by it; any different interpretation is simply impossible. And, of course, this was the construction which the people put upon their scriptures; for such an expectation of "Son of David" [16/17] could only have been due to some acknowledged authority for it.
They found in their scriptures these express words: "The Lord hath sworn unto David, of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. I will make thee an house, I will set up thy seed after thee, and thy house and thy kingdom shall be established forever. On Zion (the hill of Zion) will I make the horn of David to bud (a new horn of power coming up in place of the old fallen one)." Especially, the prophet Nathan was commissioned to convey certain tidings to King David. That monarch of Israel had revolved the thought of building a house for God; and although he was prevented from doing so it became the occasion of his receiving this message: "Also the Lord telleth thee," said Nathan, "that He will make thee an house. I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and will establish His kingdom, and the throne of His kingdom for ever. I will be His father, and He shall be my son. Insomuch that when guilt is laid upon Him, although I chasten Him with the rod due unto men, yet my mercy shall not depart from him. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David." [*2 Sam. vii.; 1 Chron. xvii. (Bp. Horsley's translation.)] This communication, you will perceive, related to Messiah; for that no less a personage than He is here spoken of as the promised descendant of David, is evident in that He is described as one upon whom guilt should be laid, and who, therefore, should be chastened with the rod due unto men. And it concerned the fortunes of the Kinghood of David himself, since it made known the intended establishment for ever of his own house and kingdom, and pointed out the mode in which the royalty of David was designed to be continued and perpetuated, namely, in and by the person and reign of Messiah, who, for that identical reason should proceed out of the bowels [17/18] of David--should put on human nature in the very lineage of David; and, conversely, whose actual birth in David's line should prove His sufficient credentials as heir Apparent to David's throne. It was thus made known to David that his should be a perpetual Kingdom, and especially that it should be perpetuated by transmission from himself. And yet the process of transmission should not be perpetual; there was not to be an endless succession of Kings; but the Kingdom should be inherited by one, ultimately, in whom all succession would terminate by reason of His being himself a never-failing successor. In what he said the prophet recognized both the Godhead of Messiah and His atoning work for the sins of men; but it was the focus in which concentrated all parts of his communication, that Messiah, the Divine Priest of our profession, should inherit David's own throne and kingdom, and that, thus inheriting, He should occupy forever.
And precisely so were the tidings responded to "Then went King David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight. O Lord God! but thou hast spoken also of Thy servant's house for a great while to come. And Thou hast regarded me in the arrangement about The Man that is to be from above, O God Jehovah." [*2 Sam. vii.; 1 Chron. xvii. (Bp. Horsley's translation.)] These words are a demonstration that it was not merely the promised coming of Messiah which Nathan had made known; to say nothing of the fact that this was not the first time David had heard of the Great Redeemer. Further, that it was not simply the counting of Messiah among David's posterity. True enough, that any man should have been made sensible of exalted prominence in the ancestral arrangement for such a Personage, was a most high distinction; and Abraham, David, the blessed Virgin, and all the others, cannot but be regarded as forming the peerless line of earth's nobility. [18/19] Still such was not the head and front of David's acknowledgment before God. But the summit of the news was this--that, as the progenitor, according to the flesh, of the incarnate God, David should entail upon Him his own throne and kingdom; that that same royal house, which God had founded in the person of David, should re-appear and be continued in the person of the Saviour of the world; and this was that famous covenant of God with David of which we hear so much, and which exerted so directive an influence over subsequent Scriptures. And so, "Thus saith the Lord, if ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season, then may also my covenant be broken with David, my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne." "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Father of the everlasting age, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, even forever."
These words, I say, and many others like them, the people found expressly declared, and, as we have seen, they exemplified what was their understanding of such words. Whether right or wrong in their interpretation, they did hold that thus they were authorized to expect the coming of a lineal King of the house of David--the recoverer of the fallen throne of David, the re-establisher of the visible Kingdom of David. And, of necessity, as being one of the people, poor blind Bartimæus had caught the contagion of this same understanding of scripture; thus he felt, whether right or wrong, and that he was honoring the very authority of God, in regarding Jesus as the reviver of David's royalty. But the meaning of Bartimæus went still further; forasmuch as he besought this Prince of the house of David to take away his blindness. His business on the highway was simply that of a common [19/20] beggar; but now, instead of soliciting the usual alms, he desires a miraculous blessing. Whence this alteration in his begging? Only from what he believed to be the difference between Jesus and all other passers by; and that difference he summed up in the word, "Son of David." He had not thought of begging for such a piece of charity, had not Son of David been passing by; but we see that he did think of it the very instant he believed it to be so. In his view, then, Son of David, as such, was possessed of most extraordinary power. He did believe that the raiser up of David's throne would exert from that throne a power which David never had--a power which should be even the conqueror of nature, and the spring-head of various blessedness to a suffering world. And, as he believed, so must others have believed; for a sightless object like him could only have been an echo to the people.
Now the people found in their scriptures such like descriptions of Son of David as the following: "He shall judge the poor of the people; He shall save the children of the needy; He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase; the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. In his days shall be abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." Such was their authority for the expectations they entertained. Whether rightly or wrongly, they did hold, that, according to such like scriptures, Son of David would not only resuscitate the Kingdom of his father, but that same Kingdom He would make incomparably more glourious than ever; a kingdom whose seat of power would be that fallen [20/21] throne rebuilded, but whose triumphs of power would be seen in the conquest of even the infirmities and the ills of life. Thus it was that Son of David came to be the people's word of hope--the word of power and of love, the one note of acclamation, the one flame of enthusiasm, the one theme of song, the one pulse of the nation's joy. As long as the people believed in this identity of Jesus, then they glorified Him with shout and homage; but when, instigated by wicked men, they ceased to believe in it, then their hosannas were turned into the mobocratic cry, Crucify Him, crucify Him. What then was the faith of Bartimæus? He held firmly to this identity of Jesus. In the keeness of his misery he was a self-thoughtful man, and elevated above the fickleness of the multitude. For himself; then and thereafter, Jesus must be Son of David; with the keen instinct of a sufferer, and in his deepest convictions, he could tolerate nothing else; he did profoundly believe it. And as he believed that Jesus was Son of David, so for that very reason did he trust in Jesus. He trusted in Him to take away his blindness precisely because he held him to be the successor of David, and the rebuilder of David's earthly throne. Listen to his petitions: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me;" and the second time, "Son of David, have mercy on me." In his first petition, using the ordinary address, Jesus, he qualifies it by the addition of Son of David; and then dropping every other name he says only Son of David--presenting it in all the majesty of its singleness, as just that on which he rested the entire weight of his prayer. Thus, "Son of David" was the sole plea he made use of in asking for sight. Nay, that second uttering of Son of David had in it a sublime defiance of difficulties; for it was his own mode of answering the rebuke of the multitude. His thinking of Son of David was what kindled up his courage, and assured him, in the very face of rebuke, that even he, a poor sightless wretch, would be listened to; and we see his faith as "leaping over a wall" in the buoyancy of [21/22] the expression, "O, Son of David." Nor did he let go this word till he had achieved his success--till Jesus had invited him to come, and even to say what he willed to have done--then, when already he had virtually gained his purpose, he expressed his quieted confidence in the words, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."
It is impossible not to see that Son of David was the one triumphant argument of his interest. It was not a mere epithet--one of several indifferent forms of address, but the characterization precisely descriptive and all-prevailing; the one word of all his yearning heart, the authorization of his hopes, and the very pleading of his prayers. His whole consciousness was astir at the word. It was not a fossil name dug up from the graveyard of antiquated things; but a warm and living truth, a thought of power, the sum total of his soul's delight. In fine, it was to him the sole expression of all the preciousness of Jesus.
Now you cannot uproot a faith like that; nor can you do much as promoting the gospel among such a people, if at the same time you have no sympathy with them in it; for it is to them the most cherished feature of their Messianic hopes.
And, now in the second place, notice this--that Jesus did expressly commend the faith of Bartimæus. As we have seen, he expected Jesus to bless him, precisely and only for the reason that he held Him to be Son of David. And so believing, all his interest and gladness and courage and urgency and trust, all came from what he believed to be the scriptural meaning of Son of David. This was the faith which precisely the blind man had; this it was, then, which Jesus expressly commended. Did Bartimæus have an irrepressible confidence in the truth of his views, and exult in them as furnishing forth his own feeling of the preciousness of Jesus? Such was the faith which Jesus commended. Not abstractly the mere feeling of trust, but also the matter of his trusting: for never do [22/23] the Scriptures exhort us to mere belief as dissevered from its object, but always to the belief of the truth. Otherwise the act of trust in Jesus would be degraded into merely a senseless charm. Jesus, then, did pronounce in favor of the substantial correctness of this man's views of Himself. Accordingly, did He not evidence forth the same approval in accepting from the shouting multitudes the spreading of their garments in the road, and the strewing along of the triumphal branches? For thus He did appropriate to Himself a part of the customary ceremonial of a new accession to the throne.
And the commendation of the faith of Bartimæus was also the endorsement, as to this particular matter, of the then current understanding of the Scriptures. So far as it concerned the visible form and the transcendent glory of the Davidic kinghood of Jesus, He did thus Himself assure the nation that they had the true meaning of their Bible. Undoubtedly, their views were exceedingly defective, and, in certain connections of the subject, utterly false. For instance, that the re-established kingdom of David would be one of perfect righteousness and heavenly purity; a kingdom not in fellowship with the corruptions of this present evil world, but crushing and destructive to every work of sin; an earthly kingdom, and yet in most jubilant harmony with all the spotless splendor of God; this teaching, I say, of their scriptures, the mass of the people had failed to take in. What was the true dignity, what the amazing condescensions of Son of David; that He was not only David's son, but also David's Lord, that while, according to the flesh, He inherited David's throne, yet was he the Adam from above; Emmanuel, God with us,--here again they had skipped the meaning of their Scriptures. Especially, that Son of David must first pass through great sufferings; that He should be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; even smitten of God, wounded, bruised, afflicted,--such words of Holy Writ they made no account of, but thought only of the predicted [23/24] glory, very much as we are prone, reversely, to make but little of his glory, and to think quite exclusively of His sufferings. Least of all did they perceive that in those sufferings were to be laid the very foundations of His visible kingdom on earth; that as on Him should be laid the iniquity of us all, so out of His stripes should come the world's healing, and that this should be the name whereby He should be called, Jehovah, our Righteousness, and therefore that out of His fatal sufferings He should even come forth to see of His travail and be satisfied; and that thus and therefore should He be the predicted Branch of David, a king, to reign and prosper, to execute judgment and justice in the earth. All these things, so plainly stated in their scriptures, they failed to see; nevertheless they did see that Son of David should be a visible king among men, reigning in David's throne on the hill of Zion, and wielding an all-conquering power over both man and earth--wherein they were right. Of course, with such defectiveness of view, they had no adequate appreciation of the predicted kingdom, nor were they prepared for entrance into it, for only a man converted from the love of sin, and justified in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, could be in full sympathy with a kingdom, whose king had achieved His throne by means of dying for the sins of His subjects. But what they did understand was a thing of beauty and joy to their aching, panting hearts--a king of men, and a king among men, and His dominions as the garden of the Lord.
Now the difference between Bartimæus and the mass of the people seems to have been this--that although he had no true conception of all the scriptural harmonies of the Davidic kingdom any more than had they, yet he was in just that state of heart that had he known it all, he would have given up his confidence to it as thoroughly and gladly as to that which already he knew. It seems that his affliction, by the grace of God, had chastened his spirit, and somewhat purged him from the corrupt self-seeking of the [24/25] world; no scriptural view of Son of David could now have offended him; like the paralytic in the Gospel, he had faith in it all potentially, though not as yet actively. In common with his countrymen, he did not appreciate the lowliness of Jesus. Dazzled and ravished by the bright side of the truth, he had become a one-sided believer, and knew not that the darkness of the nether side was indispensable to the brightness of the opposite, even as the morning-glories are begotten of the night, and our broad daylight is just the counterpart of the darkness of our antipodes. But unlike the most of his countrymen, the faith of the beggar did not stumble at the lowliness. He did not understand it; but although a difficulty, it was not an objection in his mind. He rested on the sufficient evidence in spite of the seeming contradiction; and in this willingness of his heart he did virtually embrace both sides of the subject, though not apprehending the harmony between them. His was just the heart to have wept over its sins and have clung to atoning blood, and rejoiced in Jesus' righteousness, and loved the prospect of so pure and holy a kingdom; and so we may well imagine what a sympathy of delight Jesus felt in assuring him that he had so much of a true faith, and in blessing him for his devotion to the Davidic kingdom, and saying to him, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."
From all which it appears that the re-established kingdom of David is to be the very summit of the work of redemption, so far as this present world is concerned. It was needful for him to suffer, to die, to rise from the dead, to go away for awhile; but like the nobleman of the parable, He has gone into a far country in order to the act of inauguration, and then like the same nobleman, He will return to set up His throne and occupy His kingdom; to reign on Mount Zion before His ancients gloriously--to make the hearts of the world willing in the day of His power--to cover the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, to subdue the hostility of nature, to touch the winds in [25/26] their fury with His sceptre, and to make them be still; to make the light of the moon as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun sevenfold, to enthrill creation with the music of that one resounding song, O, the unsearchable riches of Christ! And shall we not, therefore, deal with the Jews amongst whom we would labor in the service of the gospel as did Jesus with Bartimæus,--take them into our sympathies from precisely their own point of view?
And now, thirdly, think for a moment that not only was it a correct faith, but also effective even for the time then being. It procured for Bartimæus the gift and blessedness of seeing. He believed, and immediately he received his sight. That was an actual instance of how productive is such subject-matter of faith. The truth believed in was the kinghood of Son of David; the living reality of the truth believed in gave the blind man his sight. Such subject-matter of faith is not a dead carcass of curious fancies, but the truth of the living God, quick and powerful. True, the Davidic kinghood belongs to the age to come--will be the great central fact of the age to come--but the Scripture speaks expressly of a present testing of the power of the age to come. That is, as it were, the coming event casts its shadow before. There are forerunners of the great regeneration. The age to come has been stationing its pickets all along the course of time, and by a victory here and there has given earnests of what it will do when all its splendid battalions have been marshaled in actual array. Son of David is yet to appear in His royalty; meanwhile, however, the world has been echoing to the resounding tread of her advancing King. Here, for instance, a touch, a word, and the work was done--blindness dissolved into perfect sight. It was both proof and example of the universal glory of the time to come; both proof and example of the ease and thoroughness of all those predicted renovations by the agency of Son of David. It will not be till then, indeed, that distorted nature shall be rectified, and all its latent energies developed; but already sicknesses [26/27] have fled, and blooming health has smiled at the word of Son of David; the very water hath blushed into wine; a Bartimæus has been made to see, a Lazarus raised from the dead. These were earnests of the age to come. It will not be till then that the Better Covenant will assert itself over the hearts of men in all the greatness of its power, and its terms of grace, "I will," "They shall," be uttered in the world-wide voice of David's Son and Lord; nevertheless, even now we catch the scattering rain drops of the impending flood, and here and there a Lydia is made free in the constraining love of the Better Covenant. Oh, how productive it is, this destined kingdom of Son of David. How far away from being a speculative subject of thought or a matter of indifference. How it lights up the face of gloom, and makes sorrow sparkle through her tears. It is such a faith as we need; it can out-sing the illusions of sin, and its tested sweetness seems only better and better. And thus, also, the healing of Bartimæus was an instance of how productive is the mental exercise of such faith; for it was his own hearty trusting which brought his blind eyes under the touch of Son of David's power. Bartimæus delighted in Son of David the King, and Son of David delighted in Bartimæus the believer; his faith honored the scriptures, and glorified the Saviour. Our own exercises of heart must put us into connection with the subject. We learn how blessed it is to have familiar thoughts of it--scriptural thoughts--earnest thoughts. The Saviour doth love to have us entertain it--to have us cultivate it--to have us exult in it--to have us be looking for His glorious appearing.
And, now, in conclusion, suppose for an instant that you might blot out this hope from all the horizon of Christian thought. So far as the future of this world is concerned, the blackness of darkness would take its place. For look back to that first promise God ever made to fallen man; and thence look onward, and see how that first promise developed into the promises to Abraham, to Jacob, to [27/28] David, to Isaiah, to Daniel, to Amos, to Micah: why, they all are summed up by God himself in that one prophetic word, "I have set my king on my holy hill of Zion." Consider, too, how comprehensive were the operations of Divine prophecy,--what a boundless range of view, still what microscopic details--the many-charactered agents whose pens and tongues it made use of, whether kings or herdsmen, patriarchs, lawgivers, or heroes--its word-predictions, its imposing symbols, its mapping out of distant times and events--its temple ceremonies--its poetry, its language, now simple as infant lips might try, now beautiful in its rhythmical flow, and anon the most gorgeous the world ever heard,--and yet almost that whole immensity of Old Testament means and appliances--nearly all of that universe of prophecy--was expressly designed of God for setting forth--what? God himself giveth us the answer--"I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
Turn now to the Gentile peoples, and see how they have been longing for the deliverance of the world from its disorders; how, as beset by difficulties, bewildered by philosophy, crushed by suffering, yet instinctively feeling that this world could not be abandoned of its God, they sang of the golden age to come: read the Roman annalists, Suetonius and Tacitus, who show that men were standing tiptoe, and stretching upward their thoughts to the coming of a Great Unknown: listen to the foremost man of all Greece as exclaiming, "Oh, when shall that time come. How greatly do I desire to see that man who he is:" so that even heathendom may teach us, that of all the possible hopes of the human race as such, this is what hath in it the most of a genuine humanness of sweetness and power. Yes, Jesus as the destined king on David's throne,--my brethren, it is no new thing that even Gentiles should exult in this specific view of the Saviour. The intense Jewishness of it, indeed, is the very light of our own Epiphany Festival; for Gentiles they were who came [28/29] from the East, asking, in the days of Herod the King, for Him who was just then born King of the Jews. Herod, an Ascalonite by birth, was disqualified for the office he actually held; that old tyrant was an usurper. Here, then, was the distinction recognized by writers on the laws of nations: Herod was king de facto, Jesus de jure; Herod the usurper, Jesus the rightful Heir. The legitimate kings of that people were of the race of David; and they were kings jure divino, because kings by force of God's covenant with that patriarch. But why should those pilgrims of the East have been moved of God to undergo their long journey simply to find a true king of the Jews? How strange at first sight it is, that they, a people entirely distinct, should have come so far, and so persistently, to pay their homage precisely to a Jewish king, and for the reason that He was Jewish.
However may be accounted for their expectation of a great coming king of the Jews, certain it is that they regarded his Jewish Kinghood as destined to be a great blessing to the world; and in honor of this their belief, God gave them the guidance of the miraculous star. Now, the covenant of the kingdom, under which Jesus was born King of Israel, has for its object no less than the re-establishment of the Theocracy, though in a higher and more glorious form than before; and with the restoration of the Theocracy to Israel, God has inseparably connected the restoration of the world to himself: the latter following, of necessity, upon the other. The kind of government appointed for the tribes of Israel was purely theocratical; God himself ruling over them as their immediate and absolute king. And as an earthly king resides in his palace among his people, has his ministers of government, and administers the affairs of his empire, so God dwelt in the Tabernacle among the people by the symbol of his glorious presence above the Ark, where the cherubim, with outstretched wings, exhibited the royal throne on which rested the cloud glittering with fire; and Moses, and Aaron, and [29/30] others, were His ministers; nor could treaties be formed with the nations, nor wars waged, without His own immediate command. And while the Theocracy remained unchanged from its original institution, the commonwealth of Israel prospered. But for their rebellions and sins, and after considerably modifying it, at length God withdrew the Theocracy from Israel; and according to His message to Nebuchadnezzar, committed to the Gentile nations the supremacy of governmental power in the earth, though not at all in the form of a Theocracy; and that supremacy of power the Gentile peoples have continued ever since to hold and abuse; ruling separately from God, in the might of their own power, and for the honor of their own majesty, in the midst of continual upturnings and mutations, of confusions, and all evil works, till the whole surface of the globe has been cultivated into fields of blood, and it is as if the lion, the leopard, and the bear, had been turned loose to hold high carnival among the denizens of the forest,
Oh, for the restoration of the Theocracy! It is the only thing for the nations; a theocracy, however, not such as was fanatically dreamed of by Fifth-monarchy men in England, nor by any speculatist, but such as God has expressly provided for in the Person of His own Eternal Son. And, in order to this, long before the withdrawal of it, God chose David, and graciously condescended to make with Him a covenant, that just as he was become king under the immediate arrangement and supervision of God, so the Christ, descended from him according to the flesh, should come at length into his place, and rule divinely, but more gloriously, the people of Israel. And then that Gentile grant of supremacy of governmental power in the earth shall be revoked, and Israel again be set forth as a praise and a blessing amongst the nations. But not as the former theocracy, so shall the latter be; for now it is Jesus Christ who will take to Himself His great power, and reign. The land of Israel, bearing upon her bosom "the city of the Great King, the city of the Lord, the Zion of [30/31] the holy one of Israel," will be made "an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations." She shall then have gold for brass, and silver for iron, and brass for wood, and iron for stones: all the sounds of discord and violence hushed forever within her borders; her officers, peace--her exactors, righteousness--her walls, salvation--her gates, praise. For His people shall be willing in the day of His power; they shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of God's own planting, the work of His hands, that He may be glorified. And the Lord shall be their everlasting light, and the days of their mourning shall be ended. But if, saith the Apostle, the present lapsed condition of Israel be the occasion of an outpouring of God's riches of mercy upon the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? Much better for the nations will be Israel's honor, than Israel's disgrace. Yea, the Lord shall be king of the whole earth in that day; and the Gentiles shall see light in the light of the Theocracy, and in the brightness of its rising. And all the forces of the Gentiles, the abundance of the sea, the multitude of camels, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah, the flocks of Kedar, the rams of Nebaioth, the gold and the silver and the incense--all shall be controlled by one prevailing feeling of consecration to God.
And so, when I think of that Star of the Gentiles, and I watch it as again it sublimely appears to lead the way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and I see it, as though it were the Eye of God, resting in its course, and looking down with its beams of light upon the very roof which covers the infant King, I am ravished with a divine amazement at the deep-toned harmony of the scene with all the yearnings of the human race, and I feel exultingly that found at last is the True Restorer of the world. Blot out this hope of the Davidic Kinghood of Jesus? blot it out from the teeming Bible! blot it out from our human yearnings! No, verily; a thousand times, No. If the nations go on tumbling to pieces, we hold onto this hope. [31/32] If poverty, distress, persecution, nakedness, befall mankind, we look Zionward, and smile in sympathy with the coming change. For there I see "Great David's Greater Son;" there I see that not one thing will be left which shall not be put under him: the Lord hath said it, and the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish it.
But I ask myself this one question--Am I ready for the kingdom? Am I now loyal to the coming King? Doth He now reign in my heart as the Divine Saviour from sin? The atoning blood which alone hath made possible His kingdom in so glorious an outward form--is that my refuge? Am I now his penitent, trusting, loving worshipper? Have I righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost? for such is the kingdom of Christ in the heart. And if thus I am ready for the kingdom in its development in the earth, then I shall be here to see it, and even share in it. Aye, those that sleep in Jesus will He bring with him; the earth and the sea shall give up their dead; and the children of the resurrection shall themselves be kings in the kingdom of their Saviour.
ELEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT
BOARD OF MANAGERS.
In reviewing the work of the past year the Board feel that there is great cause of thankfulness for the blessing of God on their feeble efforts to promote the spiritual welfare of Israel's children. Though our mission may still be considered as the "day of small things," it is nevertheless a day of growth. The last year's labors have been marked by much encouragement. The Missionary has again visited New York, Boston, Providence, Jersey City, Newark, Pittsburgh and Danville, and his message among the Jews has, on the whole, met with a good reception. The leading clergymen of the above named cities also received him in the kindest and most cordial manner, pledged their co-operation in the work, and generously performed their promises. This has enabled us to appoint the greatly needed Assistant to the Missionary; and we feel thus encouraged to prosecute our work.
The Assembly of the "Reformed Rabbins," held in this city last November, has done much to excite and promote a discussion among the Jews of the most vital importance. Those who thus met together were evidently bent on destroying the fundamental truths of Revelation--while the controversy thus excited by the Reformed Sect has been carried on vigorously by learned Jews, who have earnestly protested against the unhallowed zeal with which [iii/iv] the innovators have called in question the most sacred doctrines and observances of the Jewish nation.
Indeed, it must be admitted by Christian as well as Jew, that the dogmas of this party are not only worthless, for the achievement of any real good to man, but even calculated to do great injury to the cause of revealed truth. These rationalistic dicta of the Assembly are:
1st. The rejection of the belief in Israel's restoration.
2d. The rejection of those prayers which refer to the coming of the Messiah.
A leading Jewish paper thus fitly notices their proceedings: "By these dicta the Messiah, Jerusalem, Canaan, the restoration of Zion, and of our national and spiritual glories, are suppressed as a stain and a shame. What ruins! What abysses! Never can they repair the mischief--never can they find again the pathway of the Sanctuary--the way of the Israelite heart."
One of the immediate effects of this rationalistic teaching is productive of good; it causes many to consider and reflect upon the claims of Christianity. Orthodox Jews express their astonishment on hearing from the Missionary that Christianity is essentially a belief in the Messiah--that it teaches the future restoration of the kingdom to Israel--as well as God's favor and designs of mercy to them for the "father's sake."
The New Testament is now more sought after and read, and the teachings of Israel's Messiah are thus promoted among them.
Our Missionary often meets with Jews who confess that they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but who are deterred from making an open profession of their faith in Him from a variety of reasons--chief among them, however, is the fact that such an avowal involves a complete sundering of family ties and associations, and in many cases inability to procure a living would be the consequence.
In fact this is one of the principal difficulties with which we have to contend. Were we able to find suitable [iv/v] employment for converts who might need it to render themselves independent of charitable aid, each year would doubtless see the number greatly increased of those who "were added to the faith." In the social and religious system of the Jews, material help by way of employment, as well as money, is usually extended to co-religionists at all needing such aid. All such assistance is, of course, refused to any who leave Modern Judaism. The London Society, in order to meet this difficulty, established the printing and book-binding trades, for the sole purpose of enabling the converts to sustain themselves.
Here we have nothing of the kind, and it is not possible for our Missionary to provide for such cases. May our Heavenly Father inspire the hearts of some who wish well for Israel's children, to assist us in this most important branch of our work--either by means enabling us to furnish employment, or assistance in procuring situations for those who would gladly make open profession of their faith, were not beggary the consequence.
Appended to this will be found a resume of the Missionary's labors for the past year, so far at least as his official acts can be statistically expressed.
With the unmistakable tokens of the Divine blessing in the past, the encouragement of the present, and the favorable outlook for future labor, the Board feel justified in calling for yet larger contributions at the coming Good-Friday offering from those who in truth and sincerity "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
REPORT OF THE MISSIONARY.
During the past year several applications for instruction and baptism were received. On Christmas Eve last one Daughter of Abraham was baptized; one is still under instruction, and the rest could not be accepted. Twenty-nine [v/vi] Sons and Daughters of Israel have been admitted, by the holy rite of baptism, into the bosom of the church since our organization. This number does not embrace those who joined our churches outside of this city, nor those who joined the Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist denominations. The visits paid from January 1, 1869, to January 1, 1870, numbered 239, excluding 40 visits at New York, Newark, Boston and Danville, Pa. Visits received from inquirers and baptized Jews, 129. Books and tracts distributed during the year: Bibles, 3; New Testaments in Hebrew, 14; parts of New Testament, 10; Book of Common Prayer in Hebrew, 3; Pilgrim's Progress in Hebrew, 4; pages of tracts distributed, 14,450. The Missionary officiated 82 times, preached 77 times, baptized 1 adult of the house of Israel and 3 infants; administered the holy Communion 9 times.
Your obedient servant,
LOUIS C. NEWMAN.
December 31, 1869.
CONSTITUTION OF THE SOCIETY.
This Society shall be called the Protestant Episcopal Association for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews.
Subscribers of two dollars or more per annum shall be considered members, and a payment of twenty dollars at one time shall constitute a life member.
The officers shall be a President, Vice-Presidents, twelve Managers, a Treasurer, a Corresponding Secretary, and Recording Secretary, who shall be elected by the members of the Society at the annual meeting in January, and shall have charge of all its affairs, appoint its missionaries or other agents, and make, from time to time, by-laws for their own government.
OFFICERS FOR 1870.
RT. REV. WM. BACON STEVENS, D.D.
RT. REV. SAMUEL ALLEN MCCOSKRY, D.D., D.C.L.,
RT. REV. WM. HENRY ODENHEIMER, D.D., LL.D.,
REV. M. A. D. W. HOWE, D.D.,
REV. B. WATSON, D.D.,
REV. E. A. HOFFMAN, D.D.,
REV. E. A. WASHBURN, D.D,
REV. GEORGE LEEDS, D.D.,
REV. PHILLIPS BROOKS,
REV. H. J. MORTON, D.D.,
REV. T. M. MARTIN,
REV. R. NEWTON, D.D,
REV. WILBUR F. PADDOCK,
REV. W. W. SPEAR, D.D.,
REV. J. T. WALDEN.
REV. SAMUEL E. APPLETON,
REV. CHAS. W. DUANE,
REV. H. FARNUM CHASE,
REV. CHARLES E. MURRAY,
REV. THOMAS F. DAVIES,
REV. C. W. QUICK,
LEWIS R. ASHHURST,
H. M. KIMMEY,
S. K. ASUTON, M.D.,
T. G. MORTON, M.D.,
L. MONTGOMERY BOND,
ZEBULON LOCKE, ESQ., 1010 Market Street.
REV. CHARLES T. KELLOGG, 710 North Eighth Street.
SAMUEL ASHHURST, M.D., 1423 Walnut Street.
REV. LOUIS C. NEWMAN, 411 Wetherill Street.
ASSISTANT TO THE MISSIONARY.
MR. BERTHOLD F. STEINER, Divinity School, West Philadelphia
Z. LOCKE, Treasurer, in account with Protestant Episcopal Association for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews.
Jan. 1. To balance on hand $135.61
Collections at Annual Meeting 49.80
Cash from R., Honesdale, Pa. 5.00
J. R. Brown, at Pittsburgh 20.00
Hon. R. C. Winthrop, Boston 20.00
Good Friday Coll. Ch. of Epiphany, Phila. 154.47
St. Peter's Church, Phoenixville, Pa., 9.25
St. James' Church, Lancaster, Pa. 6.56
Calvary Church, Northern Liberties, Phila. 7.16
St. Stephen's Church, Phila. 74.76
St. Luke's Church, Germantown, Pa. 29.20
Church of the Faith, Mahanoy City, Pa. 6.95
St. John's Church, Ashland, Pa. 1.69
St. Luke's Church, Phila. 81.20
Church of the Mediator, Phila. 22.00
Church of the Advent, Phila. 5.00
St. James' Church, Kingsessing 10.00
Christ Church, Pottstown, Pa. 5.00
Calvary Church, East Liberty, Pittsburgh, Pa. 7.00
St. Phillip's Church, Summit Hill, Pa. 3.00
St. John's Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. 7.00
St. Paul's Church, Upper Providence, Pa., 7.00
Grace Church, Honesdale, Pa. 6.22
St. Mary's, Burlington, N. J. 12.84
Church of the Holy Trinity, Phila. 152.00
St. Mark's Church, Phila.73.40
Trinity Church, Southwark, Phila. 24.00
Trinity Church, Woburn, Mass. 10.00
All Saints' Church, Lower Dublin, Pa. 6.65
St. Stephen's Church, Wilkesbarre, Pa. 31.00
St. Mark's Church, Mauch Chunk 26.87
St. Paul's Church, White Haven 2.59
St. John's Church, Marietta, Pa. 8.60
Church of the Holy Apostles', St. Clair, Pa. 3.50
St. Paul's Church, Cheltenham, Pa. 170.87
St. James' Church, Schuylkill Haven 6.00
Church of Our Saviour, West Philadelphia 35.04
Emanuel Church, Kensington, Phila. 10.00
St. Paul's Church, Bloomsburg, Pa. 15.04
Trinity Church, Easton, Pa. 15.00
St. John's Church, Carlisle, Pa. 6.68
Carried forward, $1283.95
Brought forward, $1283.95
To Cash from
St. Peter's Church, Baltimore, Md. 50.00
St. Mark's Church, Southboro, Mass. 16.21
Grace Church, Baltimore, Md. 50.00
Trinity Church, Princeton, N. J. 15.67
St. Paul's, Boston, Mass. 100.00
Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. 25.00
Christ Church, Phila. 9.50
Emanuel Church, Boston, Mass. 157.52
St. John's Church, Longwood, Mass. 85.00
Trinity Church, Boston, Mass. 60.00
St. Luke's Church, Chelsea, Mass. 10.00
St. James' Church, Bristol, Pa. 5.00
Christ Church, Media, Pa. 3.00
St. Peter's Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. 9.15
Grace Church, New York 50.00
Church of the Redeemer, Lower Merion, Pa. 6.00
Christ Church, Germantown, Pa. 36.00
Church of the Nativity, Phila. 11.00
St. Peter's Church, Phila. 120.24
St. Andrew's Church, Phila. 80.00
Church of the Ascension, Phila. 10.00
Church of the Atonement, Phila. 52.71
St. John's Church, Charlestown, Mass. 22.00
Rev. M. Stickney Church, Boston, Mass. 10.00
Calvary Church, Germantown, Pa. 29.75
St. John's Church, York, Pa. 35.00
St. John's Church, Providence, R. I. 106.10
St. Matthew's Church, Sunbury, Pa. 2.97
St. Mark's Church, Northumberland, Pa. 1.03
Christ Church, Allegheny City, Pa. 14.50
St. Luke's Church, Lebanon, Pa. 10.21
Grace Church, Mt. Airy, Pa. 13.85
Grace Church, Lawrence, Pa. 10.00
A. E. W., Chester, Pa. .50
Church of the Covenant, Phila. 17.80
St. Mark's Church, Frankford, Pa. 51.53
St. Philip's Church, Phila. 25.00
St. Matthew's Church, Phila. 7.00
Church of the Incarnation, New York 50.00
Grace Church, Allentown, Pa. 5.25
St. Matthew's Church, Jersey City, N. J. 30.00
St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, Md. 84.50
Diocese of New Jersey 88.50
Carried forward, $2861.44
Brought forward $2861.44
To cash from St. John's Church, Jamaica Plains, Mass. 25.00
St. John's Church, Charlestown, Mass. additional, 10.00
Emanuel Church, Holmesburg, Pa. 6.00
Mrs. Randolph 100.00
Edward H. Williams, Life Member 20.00
Thank Offering, Mrs. E. B. Stork 100.00
By Cash paid Rev. L. C. Newman, salary $1,500.00
Rev. L. C. Newman, extra appropriation $300.00
Rev. L C. Newman, poor's purse $300.00
B. F. Steiner, salary $300.00
Missionary's Travelling Expenses $167.33
Printing, Postage, &c., $119.89
Dec. 31. By balance to new account, $340.22
E. and 0. E. $3,027.44
Z. LOCKE, Treasurer.
The undersigned having examined the Treasurer's accounts, find them correct.
LEWIS R. ASHHURST, H. M. KIMMEY Auditors
February 14, 1870
Our friends are particularly requested to remark that this balance is not sufficient to meet the expenses of the Society to the end of our fiscal year on the 1st of April. Three months additional salary of the missionary and his assistant will then be due, and the collections on Good Friday will none of them be realized till late in that month. So that the Treasurer will then be overdrawn.