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The Project Gutenberg ebook of Some Jewish Witnesses For Christ, by - səhifə 23

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Mendelssohn, Nathan, the third son of Moses Mendelssohn, was born in 1782. In 1809, he was baptized[364] by the Reformed Pastor Petiscus, assuming the name of Carl Theodor Nathanael Mendelssohn. He became a mechanic by profession, and was at the head of a large industry in Silesia. He was a sincere Christian, and took an interest in missionary work among the Jews. He requested the missionaries of the L.J.S. in 1826 to supply him with Bibles for distribution among his workmen. He died in Berlin in 1852.

Mensor, Rev. Dr. Meyer, studied theology in Berlin, where he received the degree of D.D. in 1846. He was subsequently chief rabbi of Chicago. After embracing Christianity, he was ordained by the Archbishop of York in 1861-2. After holding several curacies in the North of England, he was appointed Vicar of Stoke Mandeville in 1879, where he preached the Gospel for many years, and took a great interest in missions to the Jews.

Meyer, Friedrich Christian, born in Hamburg in the second half of the seventeenth century, died in Belgium about 1738. After having been baptized at Bremen, he became a missionary and travelled for thirty years. He was the author of the following works: (1) "Licht zu Erleuchten die Juden," exalting the glory of Christ (Leipzig, 1711). (2) "Meirath Enayim," a pamphlet written in German, in which the author drew a parallel between Moses and Christ, shewing the supremacy of the latter (Amsterdam, 1713). (3) "Der Abscheuliche Mord Christi," in which he endeavoured to demonstrate that the duration of the exile of the Jews can be attributed[365] only to the Crucifixion of our Lord, Hamburg, 1719. (4) "Vera Immanuelis Generatio," written in Hebrew, and demonstrating the Deity of Jesus from the prophets, especially from Isaiah vii. 14.

Meyer, Hermann Edward, was born in Gross Glogau in Germany, 1796, and converted in 1817; he studied in Halle, and became professor of law and philology in Greifswald and in Halle. He wrote mostly about Greek laws, "Attischen Process," Halle, 1824. In 1828 he became editor of the "Allgemeine Literatur Zeitung," and especially contributed to the "Allgemeine Encyklopædie" of Ersch and Grüber. He died in 1855.

Meyer, Rev. Jonas Theodor, was born in Crivitz, a small town in Mecklenberg, January 30, 1819, and died in New Jersey, March 14, 1896. His early Hebrew education he received from a Polish Jew in the Cheder, and then he was sent to relatives in Schwerin, where he studied in the Gymnasium, so that at the age of fifteen he was in the first class. As far as religion is concerned, he was taught to fear God, but he knew very little of the love of God, so that he only lived to appease the divine wrath by ascetic practices and good works. This did not satisfy his soul, and he resorted to worldly pleasures, but neither did he find satisfaction in them. At this juncture he met with the writings of R. S. Hirsch, the then leader of orthodoxy, and with those of mystic Plessner, which awakened him somewhat from his spiritual slumber. He then began to study the Scriptures, and trusted to God's grace and mercy for the pardon of his sins, yet[366] he found no peace. Thereupon he came in contact with Dr. Holdheimer, the leader of the Reformed Jews, and by him was appointed teacher in Schwerin, in 1841, and subsequently recommended as Reformed rabbi to a congregation in Butzow. But the Reform movement at that time went to extremes. The rabbis denied the belief in the Messiah at a congress, from which Meyer dissented. He was placed in a predicament between the extremes of Orthodoxy and Reform, in neither of which he could observe vital religion, so he began to study the New Testament. At first only its sublime ethics attracted him, but by and by it was the Person and life of Christ which drew him by the Holy Spirit to Himself. Then he met the missionary Dr. Schwarz, and from him he heard the Gospel, and attended the lectures of Neander on Galatians, and those of Hengstenberg, on the history of the kingdom of God, on the Old Testament, and on its Christology, and was baptized by Dr. Schwarz, July 18, 1847. In 1848 he left the University of Berlin and went to Scotland, and studied theology at the College of the Free Church at Aberdeen. Afterwards he became assistant Professor of Hebrew to Dr. Duncan in New College, Edinburgh. In 1857 he was ordained by Dr. Candish to do ministerial work among the Germans in Edinburgh. In 1858 he was sent as a missionary to the Jews in Galatz, Roumania, whence he was transferred in 1862 to Ancona, Italy. From there he was sent in 1867 to Amsterdam, to succeed Dr. Schwarz, who went to London. In 1871 he was requested by the English Presbyterians to take charge[367] of their mission in London, in which he laboured ardently and successfully until his retirement in 1894.

Mollis, Rev. M. L., thus writes of himself:—"I was born in Russia of Jewish parents, and in the heart of Talmudical study, zeal for traditional observances, and great orthodoxy. My education was therefore thoroughly Jewish, and I sincerely and firmly believed in all I was taught, both at home and in school, as being the commandments of God, and that in the keeping of them there was great reward.

"Thus far a good foundation was laid, in which I gloried and thanked God that I was born a Jew and well brought up and instructed in the holy law of God and the prophets, and, moreover, in the Oral Law and the teaching of the wise men in Israel.

"I may also add here that I was likewise taught several modern languages, and received a fair secular education. For this I have to thank several members of my family at home, who cherished some higher plans in reference to my future career. My father and mother were dead, and it had been their desire that I should learn the banking business when I was old enough. This was not to my taste, and after trying it for awhile, I left home, and went first to Odessa and then to Roumania to visit my uncle. I did not stop very long with him, but left the country and went eastward.

"It was during my travels abroad that I first came into contact with Jewish missionaries, and heard of Jesus Christ. I had not read the New Testament before, or even heard of such a book, as far as I can[368] now remember. I was therefore perfectly ignorant of Christianity, and knew nothing of the Gospel. Of course, I heard at home of Russian and Roman Catholic Christianity, but I was a Jew and forbidden to enquire into their religion, or to read their books. One thing, however, I remember, made some impression upon me, and that occurred when I was in Odessa. I saw there some Germans who were Lutherans, and noticed how different they were in their lives and manners from other people around them, but I never enquired where the change came from. And so it was at first when I heard of the missionaries, for I really did not quite know their religion and what they were teaching. I went one day out of curiosity to hear one of them read and expound some chapters on Isaiah the prophet. But when the reader asserted that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, I felt indignant and strongly opposed him. It was an insult, I thought, to suppose that the Jews were in error in regard to Jesus of Nazareth, that the Christians were right, and that our holy religion was inferior to Christianity. I visited, however, the missionary several times afterwards, and argued with him. In the meantime the New Testament was put into my hands, and I was requested to read it. I did so, but I did not relish it, because of the Deity ascribed therein to Jesus Christ. This was the crucial point with me at the time. Still, I continued to read the New Testament; but, I confess it with shame, I often threw the book away from me, or dropped it down on the ground.[369]

"Thus for two years the struggle went on, but I searched the Scriptures earnestly and diligently, and besought the Lord to help me, until, by the grace of God, I found the truth, and Jesus Christ was revealed unto me as the suffering, despised and crucified Messiah, who endured all for my sins, for the sins of my nation and of the whole world. The change that came upon me was indeed great; my pride vanished, my dislike of Christ disappeared, all opposition to the truth ceased, and I felt a wonderful love to Him who first loved me, and who gave Himself for me.

"I can only speak of it now as a new creation. But it was the view of Jesus Christ upon the Cross which melted my heart. I cannot explain it in words, but it was a reality, and held me fast and absorbed all my thoughts until I could almost realize the words of the prophet Zechariah, 'And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced and mourn.' And I did mourn too!

"This was no doubt the most remarkable incident in my conversion, and, like Paul of old, I 'determined not to know anything among men, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.'

"After my baptism, I wrote home and told them of my conversion, and my faith in Jesus Christ. There was no answer for some time, but it came at length couched in rather mild terms, and expressing a hope that I knew best what I had done, and had taken the step after being fully convinced that it was the right one. But I could read between the lines that they were grieved at home in that I had[370] left Judaism and embraced Christianity, and thus, according to their notion, had become 'a Meshumed.' Still, my joy in the Lord increased daily, for I knew in whom I had believed.

"As to my future calling, I was uncertain for some time, although it was in my heart to preach the Gospel to my brethren, but the Lord opened a door for me, and I was thankful to realize that it was His doing and not mine.

"After three years' training in a college, I was appointed to labour first in England among the Jews, and then I went abroad and preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles in lands beyond the seas. Whilst abroad I was greatly blessed in my labours, and in one place I officiated in a church and dispensed the Word of Life to Jews and Gentiles for several years.

"Since my return to England, I have spent all my time in missionary operations among my Jewish brethren in various towns of this realm, and have sought, by the grace of God, to lead them to Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and Redeemer.

"It has been my privilege to preach the Gospel to a very large number of Jews and Jewesses during my missionary career, and the good Lord has been pleased to grant me tokens of His favour and approbation in souls of the House of Israel, whom I have led to the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. I rejoice to know that I have spiritual children who are walking worthy of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Some of them are in the ministry, and others following honest callings and leading quiet[371] Christian and useful lives to the honour and praise of God. And I may be permitted to add that many others perhaps, though unknown to me at present, have been led to believe in Jesus Christ through my humble instrumentality, and who are known of God."

Montefiore, Lydia, was born a Jewess, and was the aunt of Sir Moses Montefiore, Bart. Her parents were orthodox Jews, and she was taught strictly to observe the Sabbath as a sacred day, as well as the feasts and fasts, and other ceremonies prescribed by the law of Moses. Early in life she was instructed in the duties enjoined by the rabbis on Jewish women. At the same time she had instilled into her youthful mind the lofty idea of the Unity of God, and the pre-eminence of the Jews.

After the death of her parents she visited America, and some of the countries of Europe, but finally took up her abode in Marseilles, where she remained until her death. "In March 1854," writes Mr. J. P. Cohen, "I arrived in Marseilles as missionary under the auspices of the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews, and in the following month I was introduced to Miss Montefiore by a lady who felt a deep interest in her spiritual welfare, but before doing so she said, 'You will find her an out-and-out Jewess, and a great bigot.'

"On entering her house the lady said, 'I have brought an Israelite, Mr. Cohen, and his wife to see you.' She received us very kindly, and after the ladies had had some conversation, observing the Bible on a small table by her side, I said, 'You read your[372] Bible, I see.' 'Yes,' she replied, 'it is my greatest comfort.' I took the sacred volume and read Isaiah liii., and at the close asked her what she thought of that wondrous chapter. 'I should like to hear your opinion upon it,' replied Miss Montefiore. I told her I could unhesitatingly say that it referred to the life and death of the Messiah; and that it had been literally accomplished in the person of Jesus, whom I believed to be the promised Messiah. 'Then you are a Christian,' she said. 'I am happy to say I am,' was my reply. 'God has graciously opened my eyes to behold in Jesus my promised Redeemer.' Turning to the lady who had introduced us, she angrily said, 'I thought you told me they were Israelites?' 'So they are, true Israelites,' replied the lady. A short pause ensued, and from the quivering of Miss Montefiore's lips and flushed cheeks, I could plainly see that her Jewish pride was roused, and with much vehemence she said, 'I think it is most insulting to call on people, and try to convert them from the faith of their fathers. Why not let every one remain in the religion in which they were born? I must tell you I am a thorough Jewess: I was born a Jewess, and I have lived eighty-three years as a Jewess, and hope I shall die a Jewess.' But quickly recovering her composure she said, 'I repeatedly hear Christians say that they love the God of Abraham. I cannot conceive how they can do that, and not keep the law which He gave to His servant Moses. If Christ has done away with the law of Moses, how can He be the Messiah?' I replied that this was one of the many[373] erroneous ideas the Jews have of Christ. He did not come to destroy the law, or the prophets, as the Jews seemed to think, but to fulfil all that the law and the prophets wrote concerning Him. It was He who made known the true meaning of all the Mosaic ordinances and institutions. He explained their righteous precepts, the latter of which at the time of His coming the scribes and Pharisees had rendered of none effect through their traditions. Besides, I told her that God had promised to make a new covenant with us, and to write His law in our hearts. Here she rather abruptly interrupted, and asked where that new covenant was to be found. 'It is not in my Bible,' she said. 'Pardon me, it is in your Bible,' and I shewed her Jer. xxxi. 31-33, which she read with evident surprise.

"We conversed for a long time; Miss Montefiore shewing great interest in all I said, and as we were about to leave she pleasantly remarked, 'I cannot understand how a Jew who believes in Jesus can still be an Israelite.' I told her not to think I ceased to be a Jew because I believed in the Lord Jesus, far from it; He was a Jew Himself; all His first disciples were Jews; He personally preached only to Jews; and it was not till the Jews refused to listen that His apostles were sent to the Gentiles. She seemed much pleased with this piece of Scriptural truth, and on bidding her adieu, she asked us to call again, and said, 'I shall be pleased to see you at any time, except on the Saturday, which day I set apart for prayer and Bible reading.'[374]

"I soon paid her another visit, and after a little talk about passing events our conversation turned on repentance, which appeared to be her favourite topic. I said, 'What we want most is to have our sins forgiven; not always to be repenting of them, but to forsake them altogether. God did not say to our fathers when in Egypt, "When I hear you repenting I will save you," but He says, "When I see the blood I will pass over you" (Exod. xii. 13). The blood was Israel's security then, and it is the blood now that makes atonement for the soul (Lev. xvii. 11). 'And without shedding of blood there is no remission.'

"After a little hesitation she said: 'We have no priest, no temple; the place appointed where alone it was lawful to offer sacrifice is inaccessible to us (Jews). Surely the Almighty will not require of us that which we cannot perform; He will mercifully accept our prayers, our fastings, our observance of the Sabbath, and the reading of the law, as I do daily, as a substitute for performing the law.' 'Dear madam,' I said, 'let me beg of you not to rely on such bruised reeds, nor build your soul's salvation on such sinking sand; they are but vain excuses; they may quiet your conscience, calm your fears, and lull you into a false security, which you may only discover when too late.'

"The following will shew her idea of repentance. In writing to a friend in March 1853 on this subject, she said: 'You say repentance is not sufficient for forgiveness of sins. Then why did King David say to God, "Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; Thou delightest not in burnt offerings; the[375] sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise!" Let us follow God's commandments, and do unto others as we would they should do unto us, and be patient under all adversities. But the last, I fear, I am deficient in, for I am often very irritable and impatient.'

"It was wonderful to see how her views of the Messiahship of Jesus became daily more distinct.

"I have just returned from a visit to our aged friend, Miss Montefiore, after having had a most interesting conversation, or rather, I might say, a Bible reading with her. I was greatly pleased to observe that her tone, when speaking of the Saviour, was much milder than in any of my former visits; and her anxiety for the truth was so great that it gave me real pleasure to be with her. She said: 'All I want to know is the truth. I shall receive nothing, unless I see it plainly revealed in my Bible.' She expressed a wish to read the New Testament, and asked where she could procure one. I told her I daily expected some Bibles and Testaments from London, and that as soon as they arrived I should be most happy to supply her with one.

"About this time the cholera was raging in Marseilles, and hundreds were daily cut down by this most painful epidemic; and not feeling well myself, our friends strongly advised us to leave the town for a few weeks. During our absence the Spirit of God worked mightily in this lady's soul.

"On our return we heard she had frequently enquired after us, and often said, 'I miss them much,[376] I hope they will soon return.' Accordingly Mrs. Cohen did not lose any time, but called upon her at once, and was received by Miss Montefiore with great affection. Having been reminded of the near approach of the Day of Atonement, and 'without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,' she said, 'Yes, I know it, and feel it more than ever. I once kept the Day of Atonement with fasting and prayer, in the vain hope of making propitiation for my sins, but I am beginning to feel I want something better than the blood of bulls and goats to atone for them. I often repeat those words, "Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." 'Unbelief,' she said, 'has been, and still is, our sin; the veil is still over our people's eyes; but it shall be removed, for God has promised it. They will not search the Scriptures as I do.' With clasped hands and uplifted eyes she said, 'I'll tell you what I say to the Anointed One (Jesus, I mean), "If I have done or said anything against Thee, pardon, oh pardon me, for I did it in ignorance."' This was indeed good news to us, and we earnestly prayed God to deepen these convictions, to teach her by His Spirit, and give her much grace to impart them to her Jewish friends and relatives. The New Testament which I promised, but was unable to give her on account of our sudden and unexpected departure, was supplied her by a friend during our absence, the reading of which proved a great blessing to her.

"A few days before Yom Kippur she said, 'The more I read my Bible, the more I am beginning to[377] feel my being born a Jewess can never save me; I must have something better than my fastings and prayers.' Every visit I paid her I could see a considerable change in her sentiments respecting the Lord Jesus. It was pleasing to me, who had prayerfully watched her for so many months, to observe how gradually her Jewish prejudices disappeared, her views of the Gospel becoming more and more clear, and her love for Jesus increasing daily. It was in the beginning of October 1854, she expressed a wish to be baptized, provided it could be done very secretly, on account of her position. She said, 'I should not even like my servant to know of it' (who had lived in her service four years). I told her to remember that 'the fear of man bringeth a snare,' and that Jesus Christ tells us that, 'Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven'; I also advised her to read the tenth chapter of St. Matthew, at the same time to make it a matter of serious prayer before God, and I would do the same, and that we would converse more on this subject at another time.

"Let me here remark that Miss Montefiore had a niece in England, who had already embraced Christianity, and her heart's desire and prayer to God for her aunt was, that she might be saved. Every letter she sent her aunt contained some exhortation to search the Scriptures; she also forwarded her religious books; but the contents of the letters were soon forgotten; nevertheless, I believe that the first link in the chain of human agency in Miss Montefiore's[378] conversion was to be found in this niece's persevering prayers for her aged relative. Not having heard from her aunt for a year, and knowing nothing of our Christian intercourse, the lady was surprised and thankful to receive the following letter:—

"October, 1854.

"'Dear L.,—I have at last taken courage to reply to some of your letters, dates n'importe. I have read "The Book and its Story," the missionary's aid for converting the blind and the stupid. I read it with much interest, and I pray ardently it may bring the whole world to believe, as I now do, that Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, was ordained to be crucified to take away all our sins; and that by believing in Him we shall be saved. Madame R. lent me the Old and New Testament bound together. The Old Testament I almost knew by heart, but the New I had never before read. I have studied it closely during many evenings, which has sorely pained my eyes; but, oh, how plainly and typically the Bible shews the coming of Messiah! I have thought so long since, before you endeavoured to bring me to believe. Oh, my dear L., had God so ordered your abode close to me, I should have listened better than by your letters, and perhaps been baptized ere now. Pray keep very secret the words of this letter. I cannot say more. My heart is too full.

"'My country residence of ten weeks did not improve my health. The fatigue was too much for me at my time of life. I continue very feeble. The Lord's will be done! If He heals me, I shall be healed;[379] if He saves me, I shall be saved. Thanks to our Heavenly Father the cholera is over at Marseilles. I have lost my poor landlady, she died in the country, leaving Marseilles to escape the cholera. I went with regret, as I was not afraid. I completed last week my eighty-first year, so excuse the defects, for my age's sake. "He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him." Amen.—Your truly affectionate,

"'Lydia Montefiore."

"'What word can express my surprise,' writes that lady, 'at the declaration contained in the former part of this letter! An actual declaration in the belief of a crucified Redeemer! Over and over again did I read the words, "And I pray ardently that the whole world may believe, as I do now, that Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, was ordained to be crucified to take away all our sins, and that by believing in Him we shall be saved." Could this be from one of whom it was said only two years before, "She is an out-and-out Jewess?" The Lord did at last convince her that Jesus was the Messiah of whom Isaiah spoke in his liii. chapter, as he writes: "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed. He was cut off out of the land of the living."' Her desire for immediate baptism daily increased; and she frequently made it a subject of conversation with her Christian friends. At a subsequent visit she said to me, 'The Lord has given me a deep sense of my former sins, but I have rolled them all on Jesus for pardon, and[380] now I shall not be happy until I am baptized.' I again told her seriously to consider the step she was about to take, in declaring she was not ashamed of Jesus; and asked her whether she had made up her mind to endure persecution for Christ's sake. She said, 'My confidence is in God; He will not lay more upon me than I am able to bear.' The conversation that day was more about faith in God, and less of man, which I was very glad to hear. At another visit, when speaking about baptism, I said, 'Now, suppose you are baptized, and your friends should ask you whether it was true,—what would you say?' She said, 'I would tell them it was quite true, and that I felt assured, if they searched the Scriptures prayerfully, as I had done, God would remove the veil from their eyes, as it has pleased Him to remove it from mine; and then they would also believe in Jesus, the true Messiah, and in the power of His resurrection, as I have done.' It was truly delightful to see how gradually the fear of man subsided, and her confidence in God daily grew stronger. I accordingly introduced the Rev. J. Monod, who very kindly visited her several times; his visits were much blessed to her; and having been satisfied with her faith in Christ, he baptized her on Thursday, January 18th, 1855.

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