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בס"ד

The Difference Between Judaism and Christianity.

(Concluded from p. 464.)

By the Rev. Dr. W. Schlessinger

Jesus said in one passage: “You shall know them (the false prophets) by their fruits; a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit.” (Matt. vii. 16-18.) Now it happens that experience teaches us that the noblest trees produce, along with good fruit, much that is not edible; but we will keep him to his word. What have been the fruits of Christianity? has not Mr. Miller himself to acknowledge that for fifteen hundred years the tree which Christ had planted produced nothing but bad fruit, until Presbyterianism finally grew out of it, and that this very tree bears, at this day even, more bad than good fruits? We must once more revert to the passage cited above (Exod. xxxiii. 1-4), of which we have spoken already. As at one period Israel were deprived, on account of their sin, of the blessing that God should go before them, and they were compelled to content themselves with an angel: thus also caused their sins in not paying atention to the divine voice and becoming an exemplary people to <<515>>other nations, that from their own midst should arise an agent through whose means a large portion of the human family were lifted up from the low degree of heathenish absurdities to a higher state of knowledge of God—a knowledge which after all bears in itself such a mixture of truth and error of light and obscurity, that it has called forth an unending series of controversies, persecutions, autos-da-fé, and religious wars, through which causes Israelites especially have suffered much and grievously.

But in the same measure as the sons of Jacob have to suffer for their sins, have the descendants of the heathen to suffer for their idolatry. For mortifying, deeply mortifying must it be to thinking Christians to reflect that they have so long been, and are still, paying divine honours to a human being who is descended, to the exclusion of all other nations, from that very people which they have the most derided, despised, hated, and tortured. A time, however, will come, when an infinitely greater blessing will be poured as a stream over mankind through means of Israel, which shall cause the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth in its full reality. Israel will then, it is true, not receive the homage due to God alone, but still be acknowledged as a people of God, and a seed blessed of the Lord.

And as in former times, the brothers of Joseph were ashamed, after being convinced of the nobleness of his soul, that they had at first hated and sold him as a slave: so also will the nations be filled with shame concerning all the wrong that they have inflicted on their fellow-men, the people of Israel. At that time there will be no longer witnessed religious disputes, nor any others; all mankind will adore the one and true God, and love each other as children of one Father; then will love and truth walk hand in hand over the world, righteousness and peace will kiss each other; yea, then will the whole earth be full of the glory of the Lord; all flesh will be penetrated with the true spirit, which is a spirit of God; but it is for this very reason that no son of man will presume to be one and the same with God, the Holy One, whose name be praised for evermore.

In page 47, Mr. M. explains how the original constitution which God gave to the Israelites had been a theocracy. The <<516>>Lord alone should be the King, but the people should never be subjected to the power of tyrants, to that of a mortal. It was indeed not prohibited by law to elect a king, but his power was limited by specific enactments, &c. And Mr. M. draws thence quite correctly the conclusion that the kingdom of the Messiah can be nothing else than a continuation of the old state constitution of Israel, a farther development according  to the principle of this theocracy. This accomplished Mr. M. opens his heavy batteries against us, and a whole regiment of notes of interrogation march by before our eyes.

“How does it happen that, according to the belief of orthodox Judaism, a pure theocracy can be changed into an unlimited monarchy of human power? How does man come to be the king of the earth for all times, &c? Wonderful progress, this, in theocracy and republicanism! A colony of Christian Jews [an idea having its origin in the Babel of the confusion of tongues corresponding to reality as much as the idea of a triune god] in Palestine could establish a republic, and consecrate it to their god and Messiah in heaven; but orthodox Jews never expect to be happy in their own land without a poor mortal king.”

Mr. Miller in his zeal seems to have quite lost sight of the fact that precisely that which he adduces in proof of the Messiahship of Christ is actually the strongest argument against it. For so long as all the states of the earth are not ruled according to the principles of pure theocracy, the Messiah cannot possibly have come, according to the teaching of the prophets. The same prophets who predicted that a descendant of David should establish the kingdom of God on earth, also predicted that, at the same time, God alone should be the King of the earth. When, however, on some future day, all mankind shall live in obedience to the Lord’s will, and exercise justice and righteousness, then shall we have to fear neither tyrannical power nor despotism; and it must be a matter of perfect indifference to us, so long as all the nations live together in peace and harmony, and war is waged no more, whether then a king or a president stands at the head of affairs.

Just as Moses was in point of fact the king of his people, without having laid claim to the name, honours, or income of a king: so also do <<517>>we believe will the true Messiah direct and govern, in the coming future the affairs of the sons of men and be king in the most beautiful and the noblest sense of the word. This Messiah will be, as formerly Moses, the most faithful servant of God, and he will succeed to bring into reality the aspirations which the noblest and best of all ages have cherished in their bosoms; and just because through him the words of the prophets will be fulfilled, and he will still desire to be honoured only as man, not worshipped as God, will the orthodox Jews also not deny him their confidence and acknowledge him to be the true Messiah.

We might with propriety close here our remarks; we believe to have said more than enough to convince the Presbyterian gentlemen how impossible an amalgamation of Judaism with their species of Christianity must ever be. Still Mr. Miller is not wearied in his noble enthusiasm for his cause. In his desperation to overcome rabbinical obstinacy (religious faithfulness would here be the correct expression), he even goes to enlist auxiliary troops among the Mahomedans. What is impossible in this world! Mr. M. of a sudden becomes an advocate of the Islam (pp. 31-.54). He opines that the Rabbins must at times be in no small dilemma to assign rational grounds why they do not surrender to the Ishmaelites.

But he may rest perfectly quiet on that score, since the Ishmaelites and their conquests are to us but an additional proof of the authenticity and divine origin of the Bible. But this selfsame Bible has placed the descendants of Abraham by his wife Sarah much higher than those by his servant Hagar. And of Isaac’s children it is again Jacob only, and not Esau, in whom the divine blessing is to see its fulfillment; as we read in Malachi i. 2, 3:

“Is not Esau a brother of Jacob? saith the Lord yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.” Nothing so demonstrates the value and the strength of the Jewish faith, as that neither the conquests of the Califs, of the Saracens, and of the Turks, nor those of Christianity, could in anywise annihilate it. We will admit that Christianity preaches a great deal, and this often against worldliness. Mr. Miller takes a great delight in it, to attach to Jews the opprobrious epithet of “worldly-minded,” and notwithstanding <<518>>this, the Jews cannot be altogether so very greatly attached to the interests of this world, or else they would have long ere this exchanged their belief for another, on account of the preponderance of earthly advantages. He that in opposition to millions protests against the divinity of Christ, must of necessity have within himself a spark of the love of truth; he must believe in a future the outward appearance of things must be valueless to him, although in many other respects he may be worldly-minded.

The Jews, ever since the time that the Lord chose them as his priestly nation, have always been in a minority; what, from this point of view, signify the sufferings of Christ, compared with the sufferings which Israel has had to endure? To die in defence of an idea, to become a martyr for his faith, is not the worst which can befall a man. But a people which has for eighteen hundred years been chained to the pillory of contempt, has been bound upon the torture-bench of exclusion for opinion’s sake, has been pained through the needle-thrusts of derision, and been torn by the instruments of martyrdom which cutting irony so fearfully wields,—such a people has  endured more than a thousand-times-repeated crucifixion, and must be filled with a divine idea.

The prosperity and the blessing which we hope for from the kingdom of the Messiah shall not redeem Israel alone from all its afflictions; but, by Israel’s becoming again a united people, all mankind will at the same time be relieved from all their evil positions. Israel will then have the consciousness of having suffered for the welfare of the human family, and this consciousness every one will gladly leave it in possession of, without envy or cavil.

The naked reality, the world as it is, forces indeed the confession from us that there is very little prospect for the speedy arrival of God’s kingdom; for both in monarchies and republics prevail much meanness, much godlessness, and much crime. And do you expect that the Jews who, but a few years back, immigrated into this country from Europe, shall already have become an example of religiousness and the fear of God? No, Mr. M., that would be demanding too demanding     of poor human nature. We must, in good truth, deplore as you do that many Jews will sooner discuss theatrical representations than the <<519>>word of God; still, Judaism is not to be blamed for this state of things, but the departure from Judaism. Let the Israelites, whose mouths have been stopped up so long, once be able to recover their breath; permit them to enjoy the free development of their principles; let them first obtain a clear and distinct insight into the will of God in themselves,—and as soon as they have become once more the worthy priests of the Lord, and attained the conviction that the happiness of each individual depends on the welfare of all, they will joyfully proclaim the word, the teaching of the Lord, to the nations of the earth. So long as streams of blood are seen to flow in order to introduce constitutional governments, so long has the divine kingdom not commenced, and here it matters not whether this blood be shed by the followers of Christ or Mahomed, or by a Robespierre.

Whoever wishes to be saved, let him read what the Psalmist has prescribed for us in his fifteenth chapter; but he will find no trace of the necessity of a belief in a second person in the God­head. To sum up all in one word, whatsoever of beauty, sublimity, and truth, Christianity may exhibit, is derived from Judaism; is of Jewish origin; but un-Jewish and allied to Paganism is the belief in the divinity of Christ. And as sure as the words of the prophets are true, so surely at some future day, the Presbyterians, together with all other Christians, yield up this belief, known to many by the name of “the great false-hood.” But all this will happen, “not through strength, not through might, but through my spirit, saith the Lord Zebaoth.”