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The Hope of Israel.

(Continued from previous issue)

To the Editress of the Christian Lady’s Magazine.

Mr. M’Neile appears to imagine that we were never acceptable to the Lord, or had access to Him except through the merits of sacrifices. He is completely and entirely mistaken—for the Eternal “heard our groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham, and with Isaac, and Jacob, and God looked upon the children of Israel and had respect unto them when they cried, and their cry came up unto Him by reason of their bondage,” —Exodus 2:24, 25, and 28,—and as we were in Egypt, so we are now. The children of Abraham, the seed of Isaac, He remembereth and heareth us now, as then, and we have access to Him even as our ancestors of Egypt; sacrifice offerings were instituted before the Egyptian bondage; but there is no mention of their being necessary to obtain the merciful hearing of the Eternal, at a time when they could not be continued. Instead of having “no access to Him,” we are expressly told what we are to do at the period of our second captivity in the chapters I have already quoted—Levit. 26:40, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45, and the whole of chapter 30 of Deut.; also chapter 4:27, 28, 29, 30, 31—so as to obtain not only access but forgiveness. There is not the very smallest mention of either the necessity of sacrifice or high priest through whom to offer our prayers, nor the very faintest allusion of atonement to render them acceptable. Lest we should become disheartened and despairing, born the utter impossibility of our now obeying all the ordinances of the law, as were observed when we were in our own beautiful land: Moses expressly tells us how we may obtain hearing and forgiveness in the lands of our captivity; expressly tells us we have but to pray with firm faith in the infinite mercy of the Eternal, not in our own righteousness, to be heard and answered;—to repent; to acknowledge former transgressions and the punishment of our sins; to come with lowly contrition and humble faith—and we shall be forgiven and restored in the Lord’s own land. Mr. M’Neile argues from the gospel, which book, no Israelite may acknowledge divine; he explains the pure, changeless, unalterable Word of God, by his peculiar belief, therefore, however satisfactory his quotations may be to his own creed, they can in no possible way affect an Israelite. Even those from the Old Testament, seeming so unanswerable to gentiles, are meaningless to us; because we acknowledge not that book by which alone gentiles are taught to read the Bible. Even, therefore, though the field of argument may appear the same, it is in fact impossible to be so. An Israelite reads and believes the Bible alone—the covenant of the law, the promises and threatenings as they are written, explained, only by the light of the past, the condition of the present, and from these two proved epochs—faith for the future. An Israelite needs no more than these, and his Bible. A Christian never looks into the Bible, but as he believes it explained by the gospel. It is in vain for him to assert he argues from the Bible alone. He neither does nor can; for long before he is conscious of it, the gospel alone is his guide and explainer of the Bible. And as he feels it impossible to divide the two, so is it impossible for the true heir of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the first-born of the Lord, to unite them. He may say he does so for ambition, for gain, for bread; but never yet has a true Israelite, who knows, loves, studies, and believes his Bible, become Christian from conviction. I do not call those Israelites who know nothing of their faith—nor converts those who became Christians, when they had been nothing—and who were perchance first guided to the Bible by Christian guides. I speak of the true-loving, lowly-minded, faithful Hebrew; whose sole weapon of defence and shield of glory is the Word of God.

Mr. M’Neile's next paragraph* is solely relating to Christian doctrines, and rests between you, dear madam, and himself: I shall not, therefore, refer to it, except to express my regret, that any fellow-creature can entertain such fearful and condemning doctrine, as to assert there is any one person, who, earnestly seeking to know and love the Lord, is yet utterly cast off from divine blessing and subjected to the Eternal’s abiding wrath. How dare man with his weak and limited understanding and sinful inclinations and finite thoughts, pronounce such judgment on the ways and nets of the Eternal!

* [ The Christian lady replies: ] One word more.—You seem to think that converted Jews who have become one with us in Christ (Eph. 2:14-22), are still heirs of the land of Judea according to the national covenant, instead of being heirs with us of the resurrection in the likeness of Jesus: that they are to be members of the nation over whom the King is to reign (Micah 4:7), instead of being members of the body of the King himself. May I ask what you anticipate for Abraham? Is he to be a member of the Jewish nation in Palestine; or is he to be a member of Christ reigning over the whole earth? What is the blessing of Abraham? I believe it to be, not the minor blessing of the nation in the land, but the greater blessing of the King over all lands; oneness with us; for the blessing of Abraham is come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, and they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Gal. 3:9, 14. I believe the minor blessing of the nation in the land, is for those only of the nation who shall be alive in their natural flesh at the coming of Messiah. And I believe that those who die in the mean time in unbelief, have no blessing at all, but that the wrath of God abideth in them.

I will not, or rather I will endeavour not to doubt Mr. Hugh M’Neile’s professed love for us; but if he truly desire our salvation, let him leave us to our God—to Him whose witnesses we are; who hath promised without any condition annexed to the blessed promise whatever, that though “for a small moment I have forsaken thee, yet with great mercies will I gather thee. In little wrath have I hid my face from thee, for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord, thy Redeemer.” With such blessed promises, ay, hundreds of such ever near us—it is vain, utterly vain, for weak finite man to tell us, unless we acknowledge a crucified saviour, that we are utterly and eternally cut off. No such condition is annexed to the blessed words proffered to us; no such condition throughout the whole of the Old Testament, is made the means of our salvation.

He is right, that in looking to our own righteousness alone, we are indeed likely to stumble; and that our trust must be in the pure righteousness of God, to perfect our feeble efforts and bring them unto Him; but we look to God alone. In our captivity, we have no high priest, nor do we need one, for the offering up our prayers. The priests and officers of the temple were but part of the ecclesiastical polity of the Jews. A brief survey of the narratives of the Bible, particularly of the parents of Samson, of Hannah, David in his wanderings, &c., will prove unanswerably, that the Jewish nation never needed mediators to bring up their prayers before God, or to render them acceptable; and in our captivity, as we are so repeatedly told, we have but to repent, acknowledge the transgressions of our ancestors and its chastisement, and turn once more to the Lord—for in the Lord shall Israel be saved with an everlasting salvation; “ye shall not be ashamed, nor confounded world without end.”

I know not, my dear madam, how to apologize for writing to you so much at length; but in attempting to refute your correspondent’s heavy charges against Israel, it was impossible to do otherwise. Justice might demand the insertion of this letter into your Magazine. I do not demand it; because I well know, that it might be twisted and turned by mere superficial readers, into disrespect against the religion of that dear and noble country, where Israel has now for some centuries found a home. Such indeed is neither intended, nor I trust written. I have but come forward to defend—to prove that there are some Israelites, who not only glory in their Faith, but are bold enough to avow it, and give their reasons for so doing; some Israelites, who look but to the Bible as their only guide to God, and their only guard from man.

“Far rather would I be annihilated this moment, than cease to believe on Him who gave himself for me.” Such a sentiment (your own words, dear madam), I can not only understand, but appreciate and love; because I too feel “far rather would I be annihilated this moment,” than desert the faith of my fathers, of Moses and David, and so deny the God of love, one of whose chosen servants and witnesses I am. I can feel with all those who so love their own faith, that they would die for it. I can feel with all those, whose prayers would lead all their beloved to the same fountain, the same goal, as they believe in and seek themselves. I can understand your wish, that the chosen of the Lord should worship with you and acknowledge the same Saviour; because I too feel—“Would that the veil could be removed and all nations know the God of Israel as He is, without the need of the bloody sacrifice to which alone they look;” though from my belief that all the varied religions of the world are working the Eternal’s will, I can better wait His time than you, in your prayers for us. It is, because we have so many feelings in common that, despite the wide difference in our actual belief—the spirit in our hearts is the same, that I have thus ventured to address you, and freely answer the letter of your correspondent. Your observations upon it, I acknowledge, with thanks; for they are such as to raise, not degrade, the people of the Lord in the eyes of the gentile world. One observation, I take the liberty to correct; because it is not quite in accordance with the Hebrew belief.

Speaking of the Jews as still heirs of Judea, you add “Of course, if they do not choose it, they will not be forced by their brethren, or by us, to re-occupy their ancient territories.”* According to our belief, there will not be a choice left us; simply, because at the Lord’s appointed time, we shall be gathered as we were from Egypt, only to a much greater extent, from the “North and from the South, from the East and from the West.” The spirit of the Lord will so work within us, that not one of us will linger in the lands of our captivity—and this will be the grand distinction between our final redemption and our former one from Babylon, where the greater number remained captives by choice—thus proving it is not of this redemption, the prophets speak. We shall not indeed be forced, because every man’s spirit will be his own incentive—and not one man, woman, or child, the old, the feeble, and the weak, will be left behind. The prophets teem with these consoling and strengthening words.

* [ The Christian Lady replies: ] Of course, if they do not choose it, they will not be forced, by their brethren or by us, to reoccupy their ancient territories; but it does not appear that the Bishop and his circumcised church feel any objection to retain the portion that has, pro tempore at least, been assigned to them. Not long ago, we were unrolling a large, fine map of the Holy Land, in the presence of a son of Abraham according to the flesh, who exultingly exclaimed: “Here is a ground-plan of our estates!” Did he not speak truth? we honoured him for a measure of faith that would shame many an heir of the heavenly Canaan. This dear Jew possesses not in that land so much as he might set the sole of his foot upon; yet he claims in it an unalienable estate, because God gave it to Abraham, and confirmed it to his posterity, and has promised that it shall again be theirs in actual possession. Would that we, who look for a better inheritance among the saints in light, could always so walk by faith and not by sight, as to be able to lay our hand on the kingdom, as mapped out in the Word of God, and say with the bold confidence of that unquestioning Israelite, “This is mine!”—from Charlotte Elizabeth’s remarks on Rev. H. M’Neile’s letter.

And now, my dear madam, leaving you to forgive all that may seem presumption, all that may read more harshly than intended in this letter—I shall conclude, and remain with the purest feelings of respect and regard towards yourself and those who think with you on my beloved nation,

Your true friend,
A Daughter of Israel.

NOTE—We request our readers to compare the sentiments of our fair correspondent with those advanced in the sermon in the present number.