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in mutiny with the Mohammedan; we read of questions of misrule, of idolatry patronised, and of Christian profession having its penalty at the hands of a professedly Christian Government—what is it that shall terminate all these evils? It is the prevalence, the predominance of Christianity; not Christianity ruling as if her kingdom were of this world, but Christianity saturating the people—forming the mass by righting the individual—until it come to be the case, that as the name of Jehovah is one, so shall His praise be one throughout the whole earth. Surely all that is adverse to our humanity may well constrain us to labour with a view to the Jew's conversion, as well as to the furtherance of every other department of the interests of the kingdom of Christ. And may we not say, especially in reference to the Jews, as not having had a fair proportion of effort, but as largely rewarding the effort made, and as clearly connecting with its more extended achievements that which is universal: “ Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and amen."
Civil Dear of the Jews.
Since our last Number, the Civil Year of the Jews has commenced. It would aid Christians in their sympathy with that people, if, in addition to other almanacks, they would refer to the one which the Jews publish; it is to be obtained of J. Vallentine, 7, Duke-street, Aldgate. It would disabuse of the idea that little science belongs to them. It would show that they are not so prejudiced but that they can record our notations of time, though many of them be founded in superstition; and their chronological table of remarkable events would indicate how sensitive they are in reference to the recognition of their civil and political claims, and how abidingly grateful for any attempt to mitigate their temporal sufferings. This and last year's almanacks combined, give “A Key to the Jewish Calendar, showing the Origin of Sabbaths, Fasts, Festivals, &c., either by Scripture ordinance or otherwise." Under the head, “Sabbath,” the following is given :
"The first ordinance of Sabbath. Genesis ii. 2, 3.
The Pentateuch is divided into fifty-two portions, called Sedroth, for the fifty-two weeks in the year. One of these portions is read every Sabbath, till the whole Pentateuch is finished, and that week is called by the portion read, which is shown in the column of the calendar.”
Having given these particulars under “Sabbath," then the following particulars under the head “Tishri” (the derivation of the name of the first month is uncertain, our female friends might understand it imperatively as bidding them to proceed uprightly). There is no month that is so elaborate as this one. Deeply interesting at all times, the events in India, so painfully to be deplored, and which will not fail to enlist the feelings and efforts of our Jewish friends, may find a kind of symbol in one of their mournful commemorations. The whole of the particulars of the month are thus given :
“1st and 2nd. Rosh Hashana–New Year. 1st of the Civil Year; assumption that the world was created thereon; an holy convocation, no work to be done. Yom Truah, the sounding of the cornet. Lev. xxii. 24.
“It is also called Yom Hazicoran, i. e. the day of memorial, as it recals to remembrance how the Eternal regarded the piety of our patriarchal ancestors, and that we should endeavour by our actions to merit that the Almighty may remember us also favourably, and write us in the book of life.
The first ten days of Tishri are called Ahasarts Yemy Hatseuva, the ten penitential days; the Sabbath intervening between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is called Shabbath Shuva, on account of the Haphtorah read, 'Shuva Israel.' 'Return ye, Israel.” Hosea xi. 2.
“ The event which gave rise to the reading of the Haphtorah, or conclusion, is, viz.-after Antiochus Epiphanes had smitten the Egyptians, he made war with the Israelites in Jerusalem, using them very cruelly; he also gave orders to destroy all their books, and prohibited reading the weekly portions of the Pentateuch on Sabbaths. The Israelites then selected certain chapters from the books of the prophets, corresponding as nearly as possible with the text of the portion of the Pentateuch; these chapters were read instead, and are still continued, in addition to the weekly readings, in commemoration of that event.
“ 3rd Tishri—Fast of Guedaliah. In consequence of his assassination. 2 Kings xxv. 26; Jeremiah xli. 2, 3, 4, 6.
“10th Yom Kippur-Day of Atonement. Exodus xxx. 10.
“This solemn Feast is decreed, for the pardon of sin, to all those who are contrite and true in their repentance; that forgiveness is not to be expected unless we have forgiven those who have injured us, and that by sincere repentance only we may hope for forgiveness; as in Jonah iii. 7, 8, 9, 10.
- The sacred ceremonies and strict observances. Leviticus xvi. 1. “Its injunctions, and the penalty for infringing. Lev. xxiii. 26 to 33.
“15th. Tabernacle-A feast of rejoicing for the gathering of the harvest; the Feast of Tabernacle is in commemoration of the Children of Israel dwelling in booths on their coming out of Egypt; the first two days are kept sacred. The four following days are called Chol Hamoed; such business only is allowed to be carried on as is absolutely necessary.
“ Ceremonies thereon. Leviticus xxiii. 34-43.
“21st. Hoshana Rabba-Feast of branches, is held more sacred than the four former days; prayers are said, that the following year may not be one of droughtiness.
“ 22nd. Shemini Azareth-Eighth day of solemn assembly. The temple consecrated by Solomon; this was also a day of great rejoicing, when the waters were drawn for the use of the temple. 2 Chron. vii. 28. Neh. viii. 13. “ 23rd. Simchath Torah—the rejoicing of the law. On this day the last section of the Pentateuch is read, and then we immediately commence a part of the first section, so that the same is continued without intermission. We rejoice in the holy writ with which the Almighty has favoured us, and which points out the road to happiness in this world and eternal bliss: we also rejoice at having lived to finish and commence it again. 2 Chron. viii. 10, 11.
“The Sabbath immediately following is known by the name of Shabbath Bereshith, i. e. on account of the portion read on that day, commencing Bereshith (the beginning). Genesis i. 1.
“ The day after the three convocations, i.e. Passover, Feast of Weeks, and Tabernacle, is called Isru Hag; it was kept as a holyday for those who were prevented entering the temple on the previous day.”'
The second paragraph indicates that fault of our natures,--a clinging to the idea of merit--that fatal stumbling-block. Hosea xi. 2, should be xiv. 2, in our version, xiv. 1. How corrective of self-righteousness is the sovereign and gracious dealing of Jehovah !
The fourth paragraph accounts for Paul's declaration, Acts xiii. 27, and for our Saviour's reading Isaiah lxi. in part, marking where he stopped (see Luke iv.) The doing of Antiochus, so affectingly detailed in 1 Mac., served to elicit the exploits of the Jews by the help of their God, and also to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by making the people more conversant with the prophets. Would that the tendency had been realised !
The fifth paragraph is the fast of Gedaliah (2 Kings xxv. 26; Jer. xli.) It is this which suggests an association of thought. Here was possibly a plea of usurpation; here was treachery; here was the abuse of kindness and wholesome rule. The triumphing of the wicked was short. This fast, now observed, was, according to Zech. viii. 19, to be, together with others, to the house of Judah, joy and gladness and cheerful feasts: therefore, saith the prophet, “love the truth and peace.” It is practically plain that, in Jewish estimation, the time is not arrived for this, and political events tell us it has not. But the Lord will hasten it, when is the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people : and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah ii. 2, 3, 4.)
It will be seen, by the almanack, that the Day of Atonement has just passed. The paragraph following the reference to this is very instructive. The people of Israel take too low a position when they would make their repentance to coincide with that of the people of Nineveh. Their repentance must be that of Ephraim in Jer. xxxi. 18, and that of the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Zec. xii. 10. Lev. xvi. is a Levitical Gospel.
“The 22d. the Temple consecrated by Solomon "-Let the clause be marked :—“Every one who knows the plague of his own heart."
On the 23d. the remark is made,—“We rejoice in the holy writ with
which the Almighty has faroured us, and which points out the road to happiness in this world and eternal bliss: we also rejoice' at having lived to finish (the Penteteuch) and commence it again.” “The road to eternal bliss,” is surely that which Abraham trod-he believed unto righteousness. In offering Isaac, faith wrought with his works—and he was called the friend of God; and the Gospel was before preached unto him, saying, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
And now on the Sabbath succeeding (the 17th Oct.) the Scriptures are recommenced " In the beginning God created,” &c.
This month, indeed, is without rival-except, it may be, the first month of the ecclesiastical year--in the richness of its particulars and associations. Does not this article at least supply a specimen of how the Christian mind can, in a degree, run in a channel with the Jewish, that shall be personally profitable and relatively sympathetic ?
Look unto Abraham, your father.
PERHAPS the patriarch Abraham occupies the most important place in God's purposes and plans, of any mere man that ever lived upon earth. His personal history has a prominent place in God's Word, and he is frequently referred to in all parts of the Holy Book. His history was wonderful, his character amiable, his destiny glorious; but the most astonishing thing of all was as regards himself, that he was called “ the friend of God.”
We propose now to consider him as a father," and thus attempt to obey the divine command, “Look unto Abraham, your father.” For many years of his early life, yea, and down to old age, Abraham had no child to call him “father.” But that God who gave him his new and significant name, had promised that in his own time he would make his relationships agree with his name.“ The Lord did as he had spoken"
. (Gen. xxi. 1). Isaac, the child of many hopes, was born, and from him sprung a literal seed to Abraham, "numerous as the stars of heaven.'!
But the promise on which Abraham rested included much more than this, as one of Abraham's children clearly proves : “ They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's sced, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. iii. 9, 29). More still did the great word in Gen. xii. 3, and Gen. xv. 5, include. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ' (Gal. iv. 16). The same Person pointed out in the first promise as "the seed of the woman” is here referred to as the “seed of Abraham.” The first shows that the Deliverer would be of our race and wear our nature; the second points out the nation out of which He should arise, and the purposes for which He would come. The first great promise speaks of the destruction of evil--the second of the introduction of blessing; while further down the stream of time, where the house or family of Messiah is indicated,' and He is called “ the seed of David," his royalty, or the triumphant reign of blessedness through him, is foretold. How glorious does Messiah appear as the seed of the woman;" “ the seed of Abraham;"
“the seed of David !”-our brother, our friend, our king; avenging, blessing, reigning.
But to return to Abraham. It is evident that the last view we have taken of Abraham's seed, or the personal seed, is the most important. The great object why Israel as a nation was set apart was, that Messiah might rise up among them; and there never had been a spiritual seed either of Jews or Gentiles, if God had not fulfilled His covenant with Abraham and raised up a horn of salvation in the house of his servant David.”
Thus Jews and believing Gentiles may look unto Abraham as father ;” and while they do so they should look beyond him to that God " who called him alone and blessed him," and who, in doing this, especially manifested himself to be “the God of glory” (Acts vii. 2). The words before us refer, as the above quotation proves, to "the call of Abraham." This is an event which we do well diligently to study. It concerns alike both Jews and Gentiles. The history and destiny of the Jews, and the privileges and prospects of believing Gentiles, all stand connected with Abraham. It is to the Jew that God speaks in Isa. li. 1, and He speaks with a view to encourage his faith in His glorious words relating to Israel's restoration. After Jehovah had said: “Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah that bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him,” He adds, “ for the Lord shall comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.” These words seem to be addressed to a godly remnant “who follow after righteousness, and seek the Lord," and who stand out in striking contrast with those described in the preceding verse, "who compass themselves about with sparks, who walk in the light of their own fire, and who must lie down in sorrow.”
In requesting attention to the call of Abraham, we purpose to show that God's dealings with the honoured patriarch on that occasion offered a striking illustration of His own love and mercy. Here he is seen as "the God of glory” (“ His glory is His GOODNESS," Exod. xxxiii. 19); also that it yields a great encouragement to all believers to hope for all that God has promised. The following things are strikingly brought out in connexion with this call-we can do little more than mention them.
1. Failure on man's part.-Only a few hundred years before the time of Abraham, God bad arisen in judgment, and swept the earth clean of transgressors. But again sin triumphed. Almost everywhere idolatry
. prevailed, and the knowledge of God seemed likely to be blotted out of His own world. In order to prevent this, to maintain the knowledge and worship of Himself on the earth, God determined to raise up a nation to be the depositories of His truth; the witnesses for His unity, holiness, and goodness, and the worshippers of His name. How wondrous are the ways of God, thus to take occasion, from man's utter failure, to introduce His own plans, and on each successive failure to make clearer and more gracious discoveries of Himself! But how terrible is that depravity which thus abuses the divine goodness, and which seems to labour to exhaust God's patience, and call down His indignation !
2. Special grace on God's part was manifested in the call of Abraham.We have said that the true knowledge of God was almost gone from the earth, and that idolatry very generally prevailed. But the light was not quite extinguished. God had a few true-hearted worshippers left. In