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East. Even on this account we see a peculiar appropriateness in the selection of “the seed of Abraham as the home and abode of God's incarnate Word. And that peculiar grandeur and power of soul have never forsaken the nation, even in its lowest degradation. The horrible persecutions of Jews by Christians in the middle ages revealed in the persecuted an invincible power of passive resistance. Their marvellous success in commerce and in politics now attests their skill and force in practical administration. But this general power manifests itself in a special aptitude to teach, a remarkable power of thought and expression. What that power may be for evil is seen in the case of the Hebrew Spinoza, for two centuries the ruling spirit in that flood of philosophic unbelief, of pantheistic atheism, which threatens to overwhelm the religion of Christendom. What it may become for a true philosophy is shown by the Hebrew Jacobi, “ the German Plato,” the profoundest and most powerful opponent of the modern sophists, of that philosophical scholasticism which has overrun all Germany and Christendom since the days of Kant. And what by the grace of God it may become for the kingdom of Christ is nobly illustrated in the magnificent Hebrew-Christian teacher Neander, perhaps the greatest of those who have striven in our time to roll back the tide of unbelief and death.
But the gospel is peculiarly preached “to the poor;" and therefore is most effectively preached by the poor. It is adapted and addressed to the condition of man as a sufferer. Jesus is “ the consolation,” the Holy Ghost is "the Comforter.” And the preacher of the gospel, therefore, needs not only greatness or power of soul, but tenderness of heart, so as to be a meet harp for revealing the tender heart of God: he must be a harp of many strings, able to enter through intelligent sympathy into the experience of every heart of man, especially of the poor and afflicted. And in order to this qualification of sympathy, he must have the discipline of experience, experience of all the lot of men, especially their lot of suffering. On this account, perhaps, among others, as in the selection of the Apostles, so in God's ordinary providence through all ages, the mass of gospel preachers have been called from the ranks of the poor; have been men whose personal acquaintance with man's life, cspecially its hardships and privations, has trained them to many-sided sympathy. In this respect the Captain of our salvation was perfected by suffering : perfected not only in His righteousness as a priest, and in His full revelation of God as a prophet, but
also and especially in His sympathy as a teacher. Having been “ tempted in all points like as we are,” He is able “ to have a fellow-feeling with our infirmities,” and so to speak the word of gospel comfort as effectually to "succour us when we are tempted." In order that in His human nature there might be a meet instrument of manifesting the tender love of God, He was not only a man but“ a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief:' a poor man, a carpenter, a carpenter's son, He was trained by experience of grief and pain to be the prince of preachers to
Now, of this training for sympathy through suffering, surely no nation has ever received so much as the poor and suffering nation of the Jews. Egypt, Babylon, the Roman oppression to madness and death, the fiendish persecutions by mediæval Christendom, the long, long separation from Palestine, that home of Israel's heart-Ah! what sufferings do these words recall to mind ! Where in our world could the “Man of Sorrows" have found another kindred with natural experience so like His own as in this poor prodigal son whom God once called out of Egypt? The cup of suffering which other nations have tasted in some form, the Jews have drunk in every form to the dregs. All God's billows of affliction have rolled over them. And now, “ tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,” they are distinctively the suffering nation among the nations.
But through all that depth and duration of suffering God has been labouring, as with a furnace seven times heated, for the perfection of His harp. When Israel, long fallen by His iniquity, shall have returned to the Lord his God, he at least shall be a harp of many strings: among the nations he shall be the preacher
perfected by suffering,” prepared for expressing every movement of the loving heart of God, and applying the healing balm of the Gospel to every bleeding heart of man. And if only this nation, with its 5,000,000 members, its lot of ubiquity, and gift of tongues, and grace of outward revelation, and wondrous training through manifold experience, were savingly converted, it would constitute, indeed, “an exceeding great army” for the world's conversion, the grandest army that our world has ever seen. When Jerusalem is reached, all nations are touched: when she is kindled with the spirit's fire-baptism, she will prove “a hearth of fire among the wood," ready to kindle the whole world into a blaze. Therefore, even with a view to the salvation of the world, let the Gospel be preached “to the Jews first,” let us follow the order, “ beginning at Jerusalem.”
3. They are the worst. They are the chief of sinners, peculiarly the children of the devil (John viii. 44). No other nation has sinned as they have sinned, so long and deeply and desperately, against the light of God's offered mercy, first in “ Moses and all the prophets,” then in the person of Jesus the Christ, and finally in the Apostles and Evangelists throughout the new dispensation of the Spirit. Therefore we ought to preach the gospel of salvation “ to the Jews first.” For first, in so doing we act in the spirit of the gospel as a dispensation of healing mercy: we illustrate the abounding grace of the great physician, who hastens to go first with his remedy where the malady is deadliest. It is thus we interpret His words, “ Beginning at Jerusalem”—“Now that I am risen, and redemption is visibly achieved, preach salvation to all in my name, for there is salvation for all in my grace. But go first to the reprobate daughter of Sion, and say to her from me, ‘Even for thee there is mercy yet. True, thou hast sinned, as never mortal sinned before. Thy wicked hands have platted for me a crown of thorns, and beaten me, thy King, with servile stripes. Thou hast pierced my hands and my feet with nails, and my side with an hireling's spear. Thy malignant tongue blasphemed me, thy malice slew me on the accursed tree. But with all this thou hast failed to conquer my love. For my love is stronger than thy deadly hate. And all will be forgiven, all will be forgotten, if only thou repent: yea, thou shalt receive free grace for repentance, if only thou look on me whom thou hast pierced. The pierced feet will make haste to welcome thy returning; the pierced hands will be stretched forth to receive thee to my bosom; the spear which pierced my side has opened for thee a way to God's love in my heart; that broken heart is a casket of precious balm for thy healing and renewing; a royal sceptre shall reward thee for the rods that beat me; and a crown of glory will I give thee in return for thy thorny crown of shame. So may all nations see that I am able and willing to save to the uttermost; when my gospel is preached first wherc it is needed most, when my abounding grace is first proclaimed to the very chief of sinners,” Thus we see the divine Redeemer's heart! Although not one Jew were ever converted, the mission to the Jews must tend to the Church's revival and the world's conversion, by the illustration it gives of the wondrous strength, the unconquerable devotedness of God's love to the lost, even the wickedest and worst, thus continuing to pursue them through all nations and ages.
And second, when Jerusalem has yielded at last, and believed and repented for salvation, what shall her actual salvation be but spiritual resurrection to the world ? For she will love much because she has been forgiven much. All her natural advantages of ubiquity, and tongues, and theological knowledge, and disciplined aptitude to teach, she will devote to the Lord,“ teaching all nations” with an ardour and devotedness of love proportioned to the greatness of her sin in the past. And of the Gospel she preaches by words she will always present a most impressive illustration in her person, pointing, like Paul, to the silent sermon of her own salvation by grace, and repeating the cry of that Hebrew of the Hebrews, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." If we would save the greatest of sinners, and gain the greatest of preachers, and see the noblest of sermons in her life, for the salvation of the world, let us always adhere to the order—“Beginning at Jerusalem."
CHRIST THE RESURRECTION
AND THE LIFE:
JOHN THOMSON, D.D.,
“I am the resurrection and the life.”_JOHN xi. 25.
THE narrative in which these words occur is one with which we are all familiar, and certainly it is one of the most touching in the Bible. It not only reveals the Saviour's mighty power, and His marvellous wisdom in His method of dealing with the bereaved sisters of Bethany; but it shows also how deep, and tender, and true is His sympathy with His people, amid all the trials of this vale of tears. At first, indeed, our Lord appeared to be quite unmoved by the mournful tidings of their brother's dangerous sickness; for, instead of hastening at once to their relief, “He abode two days still in the same place where He was,” until Lazarus was dead and gone. His delay, however, was not caused by indifference, as they might be ready to suppose; but His object was to enlarge and elevate their conceptions of His character, to increase their faith in Himself, and to manifest to all around His divine glory, as the Author of spiritual and eternal life. Though the two sisters had a real faith in Jesus as their own Saviour, still it was as yet a weak faith; and hence they said, mournfully and almost reproachfully, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,”—as if He had not power, whether present or absent, to preserve their brother alive. Still, however, Martha added, “I know that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee.” She did not seem to know that Jesus had power in Himself to raise the dead. She had very high thoughts of His power with God;