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RECORD OF CHRISTIAN EFFORT FOR THE SPIRITUAL GOOD
OF GOD'S ANCIENT PEOPLE.
PUBLISH YE, PRAISE YE, AND SAY, O LORD, SAVE THY PEOPLE, THE REMNANT
PUBLISHED UNDER THE SUPERINTENDENCE OF THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR THE
PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL AMONG THE JEWS.
The New Year's day—the blowing of trumpets—the season of penitence -and the day of atonement, have just been observed by Jews over the whole world, exhibiting the isolation of the people, according to the word of the Lord; attesting the truth of inspired prophecy, and wakening us up to deeper sympathy and more earnest prayer on their behalf, that the veil may be taken from their hearts, the insufficiency of their talmudic observances made apparent, and the true light welcomed and followed, until they too rejoice in the life, and liberty, and hope of the Gospel.
It has been our privilege, from time to time, to present to our readers, from the journals of our own and of other Missionaries, instances of genuine conversion : such will appear in the present Number; and to them we are enabled to add a deeply interesting narrative, as given to our Missionary, the Rev. P. E. Gottheil, in a letter from the Rev. Mr. Remy.
Oh, with what different emotions must these new-born children of the kingdom regard the One Atonement for sin of which the Levitical institution was but a faint emblem, and of which the modern Yom Kippur is but a perversion and a blind! They “ know the joyful sound” of the Gospel trumpet, and on them a new year has opened, leading onward to the new heavens and the new earth, in which they shall for ever dwell, in all the fellowship of the redeemed, and in the presence of the Lamb.
But, oh! fellow-Christians, when shall the trumpet of jubilee sound in Israel's ears? It will proclaim liberty to the captive-joy to the mourner-light to the blind—and the joy of Israel shall be joy for the world; for thus saith the Lord, “ Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations” [Is Britain one of them ?]. praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.”
" Publish ye,
VOL. X.-XLW SERIES.
Mr. Gottheil thus introduces the narrative above referred to :-“ Enclosed I send you extracts of a letter I received, a short time ago, from Naples, detailing the circumstances connected with the conversion of a Jewish brother, in the hope that they may be acceptable for the pages of the “ Herald." The particulars thus brought to our notice are another proof of how much individual Christians may do, in order to lay the saving knowledge of Christ near the hearts of one or other of these poor wanderers, that are to be met with everywhere, and thus to comfort the tired foot and the weary heart. How great the struggle in this case, and how kindly persevering the prayerful interest as well as the wisdom and decision which that dear Christian pastor manifested! Thus his labouring in a place of darkness, like Naples, is made indeed a double blessing. How many such and similar opportunities of doing good, in the best sense of the word, offer themselves to Christians, and are yet allowed to pass by unheeded and unused !"
It was in January, 1853, that I was visited by a young man, who brought an introduction from the hands of Privy Councillor Dr. Zimmerman, the leading physician of the hospital maintained under the auspices of the Protestant community at Naples. In his note, the Doctor recommended the bearer as being much in need of medical assistance. On my question whether he be a Protestant, he replied in the negative, but said that he was a Jew. On my observing that his being one of the Jewish race would be no hindrance to his being admitted, but that in that case he would have to permit my visiting him along with other patients in the ward, whilst making my daily rounds in my capacity as a minister of God,but that in his case I would confine myself to reading the Old Testament,he did not object to that arrangement, and was accordingly admitted. I therefore, henceforward, saw him daily, and endeavoured to convey comfort to his soul; though conversing with him was no easy task, in consequence of wounds in his chest and arm, and partial deafness besides. After a little while I endeavoured to draw his attention to the question of the Messiah. What first arrested his attention, was the conviction I expressed that there were yet great things in store for Israel, but that their realisation depended altogether on the conversion of that people to their Messiah. Then it became necessary to prove to him that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed that Messiah promised to Israel. I cannot detail here the conversations I had with him almost daily, mostly of deepest interest, and lasting for hours in succession; and only add, that the greatest impression on the mind of my Jewish friend seemed to be produced by the question I proffered to his consideration, viz. : whether he did not think that Israel's present state of dejection and suffering must needs be a punishment of some great sin,-and a sin, moreover, greater than that which caused the Babylonian captivity: adding, that it cannot be the punishment for idolatry, since Israel, after their return from Babylon, have not been guilty of that particular sin; that the punishment at present resting on Israel, being of so long duration already, must, analogous to God's dealing with his people in former times, be one surpassing all former sins in magnitude and depth; and that it cannot be denied that their protracted sufferings commenced with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and therefore very shortly after the Jews had rejected Jesus, etc. These considerations made Mr. B. very thoughtful; and I was particularly pleased to observe the seriousness with which he now commenced examining the Old Testament for himself, and the openness with which he stated all his objections and difficulties. I saw that he did not say things merely to please me, but on the contrary, that his heart was deeply moved and interested in the question; and I learned from the nurse in charge of the ward, that Mr. B. frequently struck a light at night, spending great part of it in reading the Bible. Thus I found him every morning ready with some fresh difficulty or objection, evidently called forth by a previous searching in Scripture, but stated with great simplicity and clearness, and testifying a serious desire after truth. His principal difficulty was the Messiah as I represented Him to be, -as the Son of God, and yet given up and dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. The first point (the sonship) I endeavoured to explain by shewing, that according to the Old Testament the Messiah was to be not only a prophet, but a king and prophet at once (after the order of Melchizedek, Psalm cx.); whilst yet in Israel no one could be priest and king at the same time, because God alone is the rightful King in Israel ; hence, if Messiah was to be of which there can be no doubt-king, He must needs also be God. In short, after about six weeks, his understanding, his reason was quite convinced, without, however, the heart or the inner man being convinced or converted, born anew. He himself felt this, and said to me: “I can offer no more objections, but yet I do not believe; I feel I am not yet conquered by all you have told me." I replied that I found all this very natural, because faith in the Messiah cannot be conveyed from one man to another by means of mere understanding, but that it requires the workings of God's Spirit; that if it were possible for any man to be brought, simply through the exertions of another man, to believe in the Messiah, it would amount to an evidence that this faith is not a right faith, because it was not of God, but of man: adding, that his very inability to believe at once must be considered by him as an evidence of the truth, and a further call to him earnestly to desire to comprehend the divine nature of the true faith, and to turn in prayer to God, who alone can open the heart. For some time I had introduced the New Testament, in the first instance to compare it with the Old; gradually we came to use it as a means of edification, and as a light in our inquiries. Already the faithful Shepherd had found His sheep, and now began to tend and bear it; our dear brother had begun to taste the good Word of God. Nevertheless the struggle continued in him, and was the more severe, as he was determined to put an end to it, one way or other. In the midst of these difficulties he conceived the idea of writing to Dr. Zimmerman, who enjoyed his full confidence, to ask his advice whether he was to remain a Jew, or be baptised and become a Christian. (I am still in possession of this very remarkable letter ;) yet before delivering it he came to speak to me about it. Of course I begged him, in this important matter, on which depended his soul's salvation, not to depend on any man, but on God's guidance. I urged him to continue in prayer and searching the Scripture, and also prayed with him myself.
In the course of time he made the acquaintance of other Christian friends, one of whom (Count Pourtalé) frequently conversed with him, and urged him earnestly to delay no longer, but to be baptised. I abstained from urging him in this respect, but told him that, in the
first instance, I had no anxiety about his baptism, but rather that his heart be converted to God,-however important I considered the sacrament itself, as a means of establishing and strengthening the faith conceived in the heart.
Meanwhile his recovery, though not complete, had yet proceeded so far that it was quite requisite to think of his departure; and then a struggle of an opposite nature arose in his mind. More anl more he felt the necessity of confessing Christ and receiving baptism, but yet he wanted courage to take that step, as he was about to return to his home, and shrunk from paining his aged parents by appearing before them as a baptised Christian. And now I felt bound to speak to him in a different strain ; for the more, on the one hand, I had warned him of unnecessary haste, yet, on the other, I pointed out to him the danger of delay arising from reasons which, however natural, would still not be admissible in the sight of God. However, I urged him no further, except by pointing out to him that, if he delayed confessing Christ for this reason only, he would be grieving his God and Saviour, who had revealed to him the light of the knowledge of His name. He felt the sinfulness of delay, but confessed, at the same time, that he had not the strength to bring that sacrifice. I could say nothing in reference to this, except reminding him of the danger which his soul must incur by his going among his kindred again, without having partaken of the seal of his faith,-how he would be tempted to deny his Master before men, and in the end be denied by Him. There was nothing left but to recommend him to the mercy of the Lord, and leave him to go his way. And thus he left, went to Rome, fell ill there again, and was tended for some time in one of the hospitals. From thence he wrote to me, expressing his regret at not having followed my advice, and asking further counsel from me. I immediately replied, but this letter, unfortunately, never reached him; and thus he left Rome, and returned to his home.
A year passed, and I knew nothing more of him, when, one day in May last year, he suddenly entered my room, and said : “Here I am, very anxious to receive baptism;" adding that, on his return to his home, he found his mother had already departed this life, whilst his father had died shortly after his arrival-not without entirely disinheriting his son, on account of the profession of Christ, which he was enabled to make before him, in all boldness and decision; that being thrown on his own resources, he had obtained employment, and thereby saved sufficient to defray his return to Naples; that on the way he twice fell ill, and at last succeeded in reaching this place after many difficulties. I was deeply touched at the thought that he should have undergone all this only for the 1 sake of professing Christ, as there was nothing else that could have induced him to do so. We now resumed our daily conversations; and in order to have the advice of others also in this matter, I requested other Christian brethren to converse with him; and after some intercourse they agreed in declaring that they considered him to be a believing and earnest Christian. And then I could no longer resist his earnest desire, yea, longing, after baptism.
The day of his baptism I shall never forget. The Sunday previous to it I had given notice that the baptism would take place that day week; and our place of worship was well filled, the solemn act itself producing the deepest impression on most of those present, especially the moment
when he repeated the apostolical crecd, which he did, manifesting the deepest emotions, whilst he replied to the questions put to him, not with a mere affirmative, but at length and in full, as it was given him by the Spirit. He has had many trials to pass through since, augmented by his increasing infirmity (deafness), but he is cheerful in hope, serving the Lord, and growing in grace. :::
Recommending him, my little community in this diaspora, and myself to yours and the brethren's love and prayerful remembrance, I am, with heartfelt love and esteem, your attached brother in Christ,
P. W. REMY,
of the Reformed Church at Naples.
The Cause of the British Society, ,
SPIRITUAL INTERESTS OF THE JEWS, AFFECTIONATELY COMMENDED TO THE ATTENTION AND PRACTICAL CO-OPERATION
OF THE CHURCHES. The following has been forwarded to the Committee by valued friends in the West of England, as the result of a spontaneous movement excited by the present state of the Society. The Committee thankfully present it, in the hope that, if not adopted as a model of action, it may induce prayerful consideration, issuing in similar results.
Lrme Regis, Sept. 6th, 1855. Ar a Meeting held in the vestry of the Independent Chapel-present, Rers. R. Penman, J. E. Isaac, J. Stembridge, A. Wayland, A. Newton, S. Knell, and Messrs. Gill and Boon,
Resolved unanimously :
I. That an Association be formed to promote the welfare of Israel, in connection with the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the news.
II. That Lyme Regis, in the County of Dorset, form the centre of the first district, and that the Association date its existence from September 6th, 1855.
III. That the Association consist only of those who receive the atonement by Christ, and recognise the Word of God as the supreme
and only rule of the Church.
IV. That the pastors, deacons, and stewards of the associated Churches be members of the Association, and its officers.
V. That Mr. Gill be appointed to promote the objects of the Association, and the Rev. S. Knell as Secretary, for six months.
Tue Members of the Church of Christ in LYME REgis, worshipping in the
Baptist, Independent, and Wesleyan chapels, to the Churches of Christ, greeting :
Having, dear brethren, long neglected our duty to Israel,—by Divine grace we resolved, at a meeting held in the Baptist chapel, July 25, to