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trary, in the most express terms that language could afford, extended to all others. It was the promise of the seed, that is, the Messiah, in whom, not Israel only according to the flesh, but“ALL THE NATIONS
OF THE EARTH should be blessed." And for this reason, the promise was made previous to the covenant of circumcision, under which the Jews claimed. “ Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto “him for righteousness ;” plainly becoming thereby the father of the Gentiles, or “nations of the earth, " one day to " be blessed,” in the promised Seed, or Messiah.
The Jews trusted in Moses. Wherefore, then, did they not hear Moses, and attend to what he had said to them? In the plainest words he had told them, 1500 years before, what at length appeared to St. Peter, who, for some time, had the prejudices of a Jew about him ; "that God did not respect per
sons”-he had told them, that if they rebelled against their God, they should “be punished, as “ strangers were punished; and as the nations, so “should they perish.” Nay, he had clearly predicted, that the days would come, when upon their rejection for their abominable iniquities, the Gentiles should be taken in their room, to "provoke them to jea“lousyh.” Before the time of Moses, their progeni. tor Jacob had declared, that whenever Shiloh should come, “the nations would be gathered to him'.” How
e Gen. xii. 3.
| Deut. x. 17. See Acts, x. 34. h Deut, xxxii. 20, 21.
very bold and explicit Isaiah continually is upon this topic of light, life, and salvation to be manifested, through Messiah, to the Gentiles, is well known. Malachi was the last of their prophets. He lived within 400 years of the appearance of Jesus. What a prophecy did he leave upon the subject, penned, as it were, with a sun-beam,~“I have no pleasure in
you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand : for from the rising of the
sun unto the going down of the same, my name “shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every
place incense shall be offered unto my name, and
a pure offering: for my name shall be great among "the Heathen, saith the Lord of hosts*.'
Such are the documents and the warnings, contained in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, against the first tenet of the Jews, that, as the chosen seed of Abraham, they had an exclusive and indefeasible right to the favours of Heaven. Yet, with these Scriptures in their hands, in their heads, in their mouths, and upon their phylacteries, boasting and glorying, upon every occasion, in an exact and accurate knowledge of them, did those men, after having crucified Jesus, persecute his apostles unto the death, from city to city, because the Gentiles were invited to share the benefits and blessings of the Gospel.Such is the force of prejudice ! Such the illusion of self-love!
Proceed we to consider their second position, namely, that the law of Moses, on account of its own intrinsic efficacy, and without a view to any thing farther, was ordained for perpetual observ
k Mal. i. 10, 11.
It was by no means safe, before an audience of Jews, to hint, though ever so remotely, at the inefficacy of the Mosaic rites, considered in themselves, to procure the divine favour; or to insinuate, though ever so covertly, the termination and abolition of that system. Some of the “blasphemous words” charged upon the protomartyr St. Stephen, and for which he was stoned, were these; “that Jesus of “ Nazareth should change the customs,” or rites, “ which Moses delivered!." In their ears, this was the worst of blasphemies. It does not appear, that Ste. phen had used such an expression; it is probable, at that season he was more guarded; and they who deposed their testimony against bim, are styled “ false witnesses.” By urging some prophecy, or parallel, from the Old Testament, as he afterwards urged several in his apology, it is likely he had intimated as much; and the words themselves with which he stands charged, contain nothing more than the truth, sufficiently attested by the law itself; which all along carried in it the most plenary and abundant evidence of its own present inefficacy and future dissolution; as they, who prided themselves in the study and interpretation of it, ought to have known.
For, upon the first view of the law-Let us, for a moment, suppose, with the Jew, that the legal cere
monies, in themselves, without having respect to any thing above and beyond them, were indeed effective of the purposes for which they were said to be designed.—To what strange conclusions shall we be led? We must conclude, that the death of a beast could render the Deity propitious to the offerer; that a goat could carry the transgressions of a congregation into the wilderness; that the blood of bulls could atone for sin; that water, with the aslies of a red heifer infused in it, could purge away the pollutions of the mind; and the like. But against such conclusions coinmon sense exclaims aloud, and forces us to draw another, and the only just and proper inference, namely, that such rites derived their virtue, not from themselves, but from the persons and actions represented by them; that they were a figure for the time being; a shadow, exhibiting to the faith of the pious and intelligent votary the shape and lineaments of a substance, which did not appear. This must ever be the case of external ceremonies in religion; and we ourselves should be in a situation similar to that of the Jew, if blindly and ignorantly adhering to the letter of our own sacraments, exclusive of the things they signify and the dispositions they require, we should suppose a power inherent in the baptismal water to wash away guilt, and in the eucharistic elements to confer pardon and peace.
Again : Be pleased to observe the opposite character given, at different times, of the same rites. One while it is said, that they were highly acceptable to God: that he was delighted with the savour of the sacrifices, and well pleased, as it is natural to suppose he should be, with the observance of his own institutions. At other times, we hear Him declaring with indignation, that bis soul was weary with offerings, and hated the appointed feasts ; that he could not away with the new moons and sabbaths; that incense was an abomination to him; and, in a word, that he would not eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats. Now, if we take the law and its rites to have been things really and ultiinately designed, as in themselves excellent and efficacious, they would have been always pleasing to God, like duties intrinsically good and virtuous, of which we never hear the Almighty speaking, as he doth of the sacrifices and oblations. But if the legal rites were figurative; if they were symbolical of internal dispositions and actions; then would they necessarily become pleasing and displeasing to God, in different respects: pleasing, when accompanied by such internal dispositions and actions; when disjoined from them, and rested in as meritorious, to the last degree, displeasing, hateful, and abominable. They are said to have been both the one and the other; and, therefore, were most indubitably figurative. To any considering person the thing speaks for itself.
But the Scriptures of the Old Testament did not leave a truth of such iinportance to be inferred. They have expressly declared it.
To instance in that rite, which was the discriminating and characteristic mark of the seed of Abraham, circumcision. Moses himself hath affirmed, that a spiritual or mental circumcision was intended;