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Answer to No. VI.
From Ham descended one, we read in God's most Holy
Word, Whose daily occupation was, to hunt before the Lord.
(Gen. x. 6, 8, 9.)
In journeying on their weary way by toil and heat
oppress'd, ’Neath Elim's welcome palm-tree shade did Israel find rest.
(Exodus xv. 27.) When, from Assyria, Pul came to fight with warlike
band, By taking silver he confirmed Menahem in the land.
(2 Kings xv. 19.) As Moses watch'd the battle from the mount, and rais'd
his hands in prayer, Aaron and Hur on either side, his heavy arms upbear.
(Exod. xvii. 12.)
To Zoar fled Lot by God's command, and was in mercy
spared, Or he in Sodom's overthrow and fearful doom had shared.
(Gen. xix. 23.)
Ishbosheth, slain so cruelly, by traitors, on his bed, Their awful crime God visited with vengeance on their head.
(2 Sam. iv. 5—7.)
Barzillai, faithful to his king, did quickly answer
“Nay,” “In my own country will I die,” when urged with him to stay
(2 Sam. xix. 34–37.)
How thankful Noah's children felt, at the dawning of
that day, When Ararat's top received the ark-all danger pass'd away.
(Gen. viii. 4.)
Hiram, a man of wisdom, did God upraise,
(1 Kings vii. 14.) Hath God forgotten Israel ?
Oh! search the sacred Word;
Saith thine exalted Lord ;
For God delights in thee!
SHORT SERMONS ON JEWISH SUBJECTS.
* For they being ignorant of God's righteousness and
going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness
of God.”-Romans x. 3. The Apostle Paul manifested the greatest love to his brethren the Jews. He thought no labours too great, no sufferings too severe, if by enduring them he might benefit their souls. He knew what his own sad state had been when he was living without Christ; how unhappy he was, and how great the danger to which he was then exposed. He had experienced, and was rejoicing in, the love of Jesus when he wrote the words of our text, and compassion for his perishing nation finds expression in the words,—“My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” But there was an obstacle in the way of their salvation, something which
prevented it, and what was this? It was no sentence of blindness sent upon them from God : it was no exclusion of them from the compassionate consideration of the Lord Jesus Christ; but it was self-righteousness. They went about to establish a righteousness of their own, and would not submit to God's righteous method of justifying the ungodly. A crucified Messiah was a stumbling-block to them; and salvation, by grace, through faith in Him was, too generally, rejected by their Pharisaic hearts. The religion of the Jews of the present day, bears a great resemblance to that of the same people in Paul's day. They still endeavour to establish a righteousness of their own. In describing their state, all over the world, we might adopt the Apostle's language. Oh that we had His loving heart, and that each of us could truly say, “ My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved!”
We propose, in illustrating the religion of the Jews, to refer to their Prayer-books, and from the solemn language of their addresses to God, in which surely there should be the prostration of humility, to shew that the principle which runs through it all, is self-righteousness.
We referred on a former occasion to a passage in the Jewish Prayer-book, in the service for the Day of Atonement, which says, “ Every one of the children of men has merits and sins. If his merits exceed his sins, he is righteous ; if his sins exceed his merits, he is wicked; if they be equal, he is a middling, or intermediate person.”
In estimating the comparative state of a man, the quality as well as the number of his sins is to be regarded, and when the good and evil in him
are equal, then transgression, or obedience, may turn the scale. “If a man sin one sin, he gives the preponderance for himself and for all the world to the scale of guilt, and causes destruction; but if he perform one commandment, he gives the preponderance both for himself and all the world to the scale of merit, and causes salvation and deliverance both to himself and them; as it is said, “The righteous is the foundation of the world ; '* which means, that righteousness gives the world a preponderance in the scale of merit, and delivers it. And on this account all the house of Israel are accustomed to abound in almsgiving, and in good deeds, and to be diligent in the commandments, in the interval between New Year's Day and the Day of Atonement more than in all the year besides.”+
“ In the ten days of repentance between the New Year and the Day of Atonement the merits and the sins of every man are weighed. Every one who is found righteous, whose merits exceed his sins, is sealed for life. Every one who is found wicked is sealed for death. But the judgment of the intermediate class is suspended until the Day of Atonement. If they repent, they are sealed "for life, but if not they are sealed for death.” In the service for the Day of Atonement, after the declaration that on the New Year it is written, and on the Fast-day of Atonement it is sealed, who are to live and who are to die, we meet with the sentence,
“But PENITENCE, PRAYER AND CHARITY AVERT THE EVIL DECREE."
* Prov. x. 25.
Hence the greater diligence in religious dutiesthe almsgiving and fasting between the New Year's Day and the Day of Atonement. Then enmities are professedly laid aside ; then are injuries forgiven, and reconciliation is made that merits may abound, and the balance be in favour of the sinner on the Day, of Atonement, when his life or death is to be sealed !
In the service for the New Year we read :"The memorial of every action done during the whole year is this day recited. 0 Thou who hast formed them, reject not their hope by the remembrance of their sins. If the decree for the chastisement of our sins is gone forth in wrath, may He, who supports all, grant pardon for his own sake and remember the merits of our ancestors.” Then follows an enumeration of deeds and of saints of old, the memorial of which is pleaded as the ground of forgiveness.
The merits of many of their ancestors is pleaded, as of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, of Moses and Aaron, and others of the illustrious of their nation. Thus, their own personal merits arising from their own conduct, and the merits of the righteous dead, are presented before God as the ground of their hope, as the reason why the evil decree should be turned aside. Thus, the delusive imagination is fostered, that the saints of old have a superabundance of merit, were so righteous that, on their account, their children mayh
have hope, and that their own deeds of charity, their fasting and prayers,—even though offered by one, confessedly so much of a sinner that his evil deeds are equal to the merit of his good ones,—that these can alter the decree of the Eternal, and cause them to be written for life in the year to come. Oh sad