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The Project Gutenberg ebook of Some Jewish Witnesses For Christ, by - səhifə 26

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Pick, Israel, a brother of the above, had received a strict Talmudical education. When he came to the age of discretion he began to waver between rabbinic orthodoxy and freethought, but he felt an inward call to do something great for the emancipation of his brethren and for restoring the Jewish kingdom. At first he was engaged in journalistic work at Vienna, and then he became a preacher and teacher in a synagogue at Bucharest, where he endeavoured to infuse vital religion into the congregation, but had to leave them disappointed. His enthusiasm for the temporal and spiritual welfare of his people caused him to correspond with missionaries and to lay before them a plan for the establishment of a Hebrew Christian National Church. He also addressed a letter to that effect to the Jews in Amsterdam in 1853, but received no encouragement anywhere. At last he embraced Christianity and was baptized by Daniel Edward at Breslau in 1854. On this occasion he wrote: "A Word to my People," afterwards "The Star of Jacob," "Kol nidre night," "Is there no Physician there?" In all these writings he displayed almost a prophetical spirit, speaking from the fulness of a heart[414] inflamed with love to his people, and no less to his Saviour. This enthusiasm led him eventually in 1859 to Jerusalem, and then he was heard of no more. The probability is that he was killed somewhere in Palestine.

Pick, Joseph, after studying in Basel and in the L.J.S. College, was appointed missionary at Strassburg in 1877, and in 1888 he was transferred to Cracow. He was a gifted and an energetic man and laboured in both places under peculiar difficulties. In 1897 he visited London, and on his return died rather suddenly, his loss being deeply felt by all who knew him.

Pick, Rev. Dr. Bernard, was baptized in Berlin in 1861. Later he went to the United States, where he studied theology and was appointed to a church at Rochester, New York. He was a prolific writer. The following were from his pen: "The Mission among the Jews," in the Encyclopædia of Biblical, theological and ecclesiastical literature (New York, 1881, pp. 166-177). "The Talmud, what it is and what it knows about Jesus and His followers" (New York, 1887). "Luther as a Hymnist," 1888. "Historical Sketch of the Jews since the destruction of Jerusalem," 1887.

Pieritz, G. Wildon, born at Klecko in Posen, in 1808, baptized 1835, laboured as a missionary of the L.J.S. in the forties of the nineteenth century at Jerusalem, in Damascus, and subsequently settled at Oxford, where he was engaged in teaching. He was a learned and spiritually-minded man, as his articles in the "Hebrew Christian Witness, 1874-5," testify.[415] He was the author of "The Gospels from the Rabbinical Point of View," London and Oxford, 1873.

Pieritz, Rev. Joseph Abraham, was a missionary of the L.J.S., stationed at Bristol in 1844, and laboured amongst the Jews generally in the West of England, also in Dublin and other places. He afterwards went out to British Guiana, and became rector of the parish of St. Patrick, Berbice, where he died in 1869, aged sixty-five, as the result of a carriage accident. His funeral was taken by the Bishop, and was attended by over 2,000 persons.

Polan, Rev. Mark, was born at Wilna, a town known as the "Jerusalem of Lithuania," where a high type of Judaism prevailed and where Rabbinical learning flourished, and where also the Greek churches mostly represented a sensuous and ritualistic Christianity. At Wilna there is a flourishing trade in cereal products, and Mark's father was a corn merchant. His parents gave him a rigorous religious training. His mother could speak Hebrew well, and the boy was instructed in the Talmud and other Rabbinical writings. As an illustration of the sectarian rigour of the Jews at Wilna, it may be mentioned that a law having been passed compelling education in the Russian language, the Jews proclaimed a Fast and made provision for the private tuition of their children.

Young Polan left his native place in 1872 intending to proceed to Australia and join a relative there. A change of plan, under pressure from home, led him[416] to linger first at Königsberg and then in London. In London he soon came in contact with missionaries. His aim, however, was not enquiry but opposition. Rumours then reached his friends that he had become a Meshummad, but careful enquiries satisfied them that their suspicions were mistaken and he was left unmolested.

But the living God was also watching and guiding. Gradually his attitude to Christianity began to change. For one thing, the absence of images in the English churches made an impression upon him. The first Christian book that he read was the "Pilgrim's Progress" in Hebrew. Then there came eager readings of Commentaries written on St. Luke, Acts, Romans and Hebrews by Dr. Biesenthal, once a rabbinical Jew; he was thus led to a careful study of the New Testament. In the Rev. Theodore Meyer the enquirer at last found a wise and loving instructor and friend. From the first, Mr. Meyer's erudition and sincerity drew forth the confidence and interest of the young Jew.

After four years' instruction, Mr. Polan came forward for baptism, and it was arranged to take place in Park Church, Highbury. An incident, however, happened which led to its postponement. On the eve of his proposed baptism he had a dream which led him to withdraw, and was the cause of severe and protracted mental struggles. It is said by the rabbins, and believed by the Jews, that in Paradise a dark veil is made to hang before the parent whose child has become an "apostate." In his dream Polan[417] saw his mother in Paradise behind the dark curtain. The effect upon his mind was such that he could not face baptism; nor did he, until nearly a year afterwards. It may have been that the first decision was resting mainly upon mental conviction of the truth. At any rate, there followed more serious consideration and prayerful searching of the Scriptures, with the result that a certain word of the Lord reached his heart and touched it with signal power. The word was: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me."

Under the power of this word this earnest seeker emerged into the light. Ultimately, in 1878, he openly confessed Christ by baptism, the ordinance being administered by Mr. Meyer in Park Church, Highbury.

The inevitable ostracism and persecution, with their attendant sufferings, followed. It was a welcome mitigation to the new convert's trials that his father did not entirely cast him off. And the spirit in which he suffered may be gathered from the reply he sent to his brothers and sisters, when, at his father's death, they hurled over him their anathemas, telling him that his name had been expunged from the family register. "It has caused me great pain," he wrote to a friend, "but though my name is not now in the family tree, it can be found in the Lamb's Book of Life."

In those days Mr. Polan was a member of Park Church, Highbury. The pastor at the time was Dr. Edmond, who, with Mr. Meyer, proved a spiritual father to the young Hebrew Christian. There he was surrounded by strong missionary influences, and through[418] the Fellowship Association which supported two foreign missionaries, a desire in him was awakened to become a messenger of the Cross in the foreign field.

In 1878 Mr. Meyer wanted a helper in his mission to the Jews, and Mr. Polan was invited to take up the work. In this opening he recognised a call of God to give his life to testifying for Christ to his Jewish brethren. For twelve years he served as a valued helper of Mr. Meyer, like a son with a father, busily engaged in district visitation and taking part in the services. Personal studies also occupied his attention, and he found time to his great joy and profit to attend the course of lectures on "Systematic Theology" delivered at Queen's Square by the Rev. Principal Dykes.

On the retirement of Mr. Meyer, Mr. Mark Polan succeeded to the headship of the Mission to the Jews in East London. In 1888 he became an elder in the John Knox Church, Stepney.

Poper, Rev. Heinrich, D.D., was born at Breidenbach, Germany, in 1813. His father died before his birth, and his mother went back to her home at Hildesheim. There he prepared himself to be a teacher, and began to give lessons to Jewish and Christian children at the age of fourteen. Later he came to the conviction that the Talmud was not in accord with the Bible, and after three years inward struggle, he came to England and was baptized by Reichardt in 1839. He was for a time in the Operative Jewish Converts' Institution, and then in the Hebrew Missionary College, and in 1844 he was sent as[419] missionary to Frankfort-on-the-Main, where he laboured with great efficiency until his departure in 1870. In 1859 Dr. Poper reported that there probably were from five hundred to a thousand proselytes in the district. (See "At Home and Abroad," by the Rev. W. T. Gidney, 1900.)

Posner, Sigismund August (Löbel), was born in 1804, of wealthy parents at Auras in Silesia who gave their children a strict orthodox education; he was well instructed in the Bible. When studying at Berlin, Mr. Lachs, Director of the Deaf and Dumb Institution, sowed in his heart the seed of the Gospel, which took root and led eventually to his conversion, and he was baptized by Pastor Schultze in 1828. His father was at first grieved, but became afterward friendly to him. He studied theology and became a very earnest preacher of the Gospel, so that only decided Christians liked to hear him. He died in 1849. His biography was published by Professor Tholuck for Sunday reading.

Rabinowitz, Joseph, was born at Resina on the Dniester, September 23, 1837, and died at Kischineff, 1899. He was the son of David ben Ephraim, and belonged to a rabbinic family. On the early death of his mother, her father Nathan Neta took him to be educated at his house. When he was six years of age he could repeat the Song of Solomon by heart. He remained with his grandfather till 1848, when he went to other relations. At the age of thirteen they betrothed him. Being compelled by an imperial ukase to acquire the Russian language, his eyes were opened to[420] a new world of literature, and he began to think for himself. In 1855 Jehiel Hershensohn (Lichtenstein), his future brother-in-law, gave him a L.J.S. New Testament in Hebrew, declaring at the same time that possibly Jesus of Nazareth might be the true Messiah, at which news he was very much surprised. However, the immediate effect was that he left the Chassidim and went back to Orgeyev to his grandfather, and studied the Bible more and Russian law, so that he could act as a solicitor among his people. In 1856, he was married, and was then regarded as an influential citizen of the town, especially when it was seen that he took an active interest in the education of children and that he contributed important articles to the Jewish newspapers, and gave lectures at Kischineff, in which he advocated the principles of reform and progress. In 1878 he wrote an article in the Hebrew paper, "Haboker Or," in which he requested the Rabbis to work for the improvement of the condition of the Russian Jews by teaching them the necessity of becoming gradually an agricultural people, and he showed this by his own example in cultivating his garden himself. Not long afterward persecutions broke out in Russia, and he went to Palestine on a mission of enquiry with a view of establishing a Jewish colony there. But when he arrived in Jerusalem and became acquainted with the sad temporal and spiritual condition of the Jews there, his heart sank within him, and he was about to leave the Holy City in despair, but before doing so he went to the Mount of Olives. There he sat down in deep[421] meditation, and reviewing the sad history of his unfortunate people, the thought came to him as an inspiration: "The key to the Holy Land is in the hands of our brother Jesus." This thought he made then the matter and basis of his future work. Returning to Kischineff, he drew up thirteen theses, the substance of which was that Jesus is the only Saviour of Israel as well as of the whole world. With great courage and enthusiasm he then endeavoured by word and pen to propagate his conviction, and gained in a short time many adherents both at Kischineff and in other towns of Bessarabia. Having in 1885 published his "Symbol of the Israelites of the New Covenant" in seven articles, Professor F. Delitzsch and the Rev. John Wilkinson encouraged him, and in Glasgow an association was formed in 1887 for the support of his movement. Rabinowitz was baptized in Berlin by Professor Mead, of Andover U.S.A., in 1885, and henceforth his mission work took a more decisive but also perhaps a more restrictive character. He was asked by Provost Faltin, pastor of the Lutheran Church at Kischineff, to join that Church, but for good reasons he declined to do so, as neither he nor his adherents who had just come out from the synagogue could worship in a church where there was a crucifix. For still stronger reasons he could not join the Russian Church as he was asked to do by the highest authorities. Consequently he had to build a hall, in which he preached the pure Gospel as long as he lived. The result of this movement was that not only Rabinowitz, and his wife and seven[422] children with his brother and family, and other individual Jews who heard the Gospel from his lips publicly confessed Christ as their Saviour, but also that the attitude of the Jews in general toward the person of our Lord has since then changed for the better.

Ragstatt, Friedrich de Weile, was born at Metz in 1648. His father David was a teacher in several congregations, and naturally gave him a good Jewish education. At the Jewish school, he learned from the Talmud the old tradition that the Messiah was to come after 4,000 years had elapsed since the Creation. This led him to enquire, and eventually he was instructed by Dr. J. Alex. Neuspitzer, pastor of the Reformed Church at Cleves, in 1671. In 1672 he entered the University of Leyden, and in 1677 he became pastor at Assenen; and then in 1680 at Spyk, in South Holland, where he officiated till he died. Ragstatt was the author of the following works:—(1) "Jefeh Maréh" (Amsterdam, 1671), written in Latin, in which he endeavoured to prove, as against the Jewish controversialists, especially Lipman of Mülhausen, the Messianic mission of Jesus. A Dutch translation of this work, which contains also an account of Shabbathai Zebi, was published at Amsterdam, in 1683. (2) "Viytmunden—de Liefde Jesu tot de zeelen," ib. 1678. (3) "Van het gnaden Verbond," ib. 1613. (4) "Two homilies on Gen. xlix. 10, and Mal. iii.," The Hague, 1684. (5) "Noach's prophetie van Bekeering der Heyden," Amsterdam, 1688. (6) "An Address delivered on the occasion of the baptism of the Portuguese Jew, Abraham Gabai Faro," ib. 1688. (7) "Brostwepen des Geloofs," ib. 1689. (8) "Jesus[423] Nazerenus Sions König on Ps. ii. 6," Amsterdam, 1688.

Rapoport, the well-known banker in Paris, was baptized with his wife, two sons and four daughters, by Pastor Abric at Passy in 1879.

Ricardo, David, was born in London 1772, of a Portuguese family, and died in 1823, at Gatcomb Park, Gloucestershire. He embraced Christianity in his youth (see Brockhaus, 12, 523) and was therefore forsaken by his father. He entered the Stock Exchange with little means and amassed a fortune. He was the author of "Principles of Political Economy and Taxation," 1817. In 1819 Ricardo entered the House of Commons for Portarlington. Nearly all his brothers became Christians. To his memory there is a professorship at the London University by the name of Ricardo.

Ricio, Peter, son of a Jewish jeweller, was born at Berlin in 1809, and died in 1879; he distinguished himself as a Christian in his investigations in physical science. Amongst other works, his "Lehre von der Rechnungs elementale," became epoch-making and secured for him the membership of the academies at Petersburg, Göttingen and Munich, and the degree of Doctor from Paris.

Rohold, S. B. The story of his conversion is thus told by himself:—

"It was in the well-beloved city of Jerusalem that I was born, and there also my early days were spent. More than half the inhabitants of Jerusalem are Jews, and mostly very pious, having come from all parts[424] of the world to be buried in the Holy City when they die. The belief amongst these Jews is that when Messiah comes there will be the resurrection, and the bodies of those who were buried beyond Jerusalem will have to suffer much rolling until they reach the city. Thus to prevent this they have their burying place in the ancient city, being zealous for their religion, without enquiring as to whether they are really right in doing so. My father's family was very well known, belonging to one of the most pious sects of Jews in Jerusalem. It was the great delight of my father to speak of his ancestors, who were great rabbis; and for half a century he occupied an honoured rabbinical position himself in Jerusalem (Rosh Hashochatim). My dear mother also, whose ancestors were leading Jews amongst the rabbis, was fond of telling us wonderful stories of her grandfather, who was a famous disciple of the great Geonim of Wilna. Needless to say, both my parents were careful to train their children in the religion of their forefathers. Being the youngest son of the family, I was much petted, and they did their utmost to bring me up in the fear of God, and in all the customs, rites, and rabbinical traditions, whilst they taught me to look upon Christianity as idolatry. Truly my parents loved me very much, and did all in their power to educate me in what they believed to be right, and their one desire was that I might occupy the seat of my dear father, to which all my teachers gave them full hope. Thus the early part of my life was spent in study within the home circle. It was in[425] the year 1893 that I had conversation for the first time with Christians.

"In that beautiful spot, the so-called Garden of Gethsemane, I one evening met two servants of God, who began speaking to me. At the time it seemed that I had gone into the Garden merely by accident, but now, as one looks back over the past, it can be clearly seen that a loving unseen hand was guiding me. These two Christians explained to me from the Scriptures how that Jesus of Nazareth is in very deed the promised Messiah, Israel's greatest hope. As they reasoned with me, there was one passage of Scripture which I could not get over, that 'the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.'

"With this new light upon the Word of God I was given to understand that the promises regarding the coming One told not only of His glory and majesty, but also of His suffering and death (Isaiah liii. and Psalm xxii.).

"Slowly I began to see how great and true Jehovah is, and how that His divine word regarding the Messiah has been literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ. I saw my helpless condition, and realized as never before that my own righteousness was as filthy rags. And oh, what joy came to me, when the gracious promise of God was fulfilled, a promise which came to me now with such a new meaning. 'A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within[426] you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you.' (Ezekiel xxxvi. 26, 27).

"Having then accepted Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour, I began to wish that my own loved ones might know Him, whom to know is life eternal. But I feared to tell them of my new-found treasure, and it is impossible for me to describe the unrest and agony of soul that I passed through in consequence. It was only at the Throne of Grace that comfort could be found, and there I sought the strength and help I so much needed. After this it seemed very clear that the Lord was speaking to me through His Word, and was thus answering my prayer for guidance. The word which came to me was that given to Abram of old—'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will shew thee.' (Genesis xii. 1).

"To leave those who are dear to one, the relations and friends, yes, even to leave all for Christ's sake, is not easy; yet I knew it would be best to do what appeared to be the only right thing. It was a hard command to obey, but still I had the Lord's promises to take with me,—'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world' (St. Matthew xxviii. 20). 'If ye shall ask anything of the Father in My name, He will give it you' (St. John xvi. 23). Trusting therefore in God alone, and persuading myself that He would be faithful in fulfilling His promises, I started on my journey. And by the help of Almighty God I came[427] to England, arriving here as a perfect stranger, not knowing the language, and without an earthly friend. It was a time of great temptation, but the God of my fathers kept me. Letters came from my friends and relations in Jerusalem, trying to persuade me to go back, and my dear father said it would bring down his grey hairs in sorrow to the grave if I did not return. Truly I felt the presence of my Redeemer, and realized that He had called me. This joy filled my heart, and the peace which passeth understanding was my portion. I praise God for those Christians who have learned to sympathize with His ancient people. The Lord raised up kind friends who helped me through my difficulties, and daily I learned more of my Saviour's love, and found that 'His goodness faileth never.' His word says, 'They who put their trust in Him will never be put to shame,' and as I trusted, so I proved the truth of it. After spending some time in England, the way opened for me to enter the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow.

"Here I had opportunity of studying the Word of God, for which I was very thankful. At length a call came for me to enter active service in the vineyard of the Lord at the Bonar Memorial Mission to the Jews of Glasgow. On this work the Lord was pleased to set His seal, sending friends to encourage me, and in other ways blessing me abundantly."

Romann, Nathaniel, was born at Kobylin, Posen, in 1819, and was educated in the rabbinic schools of Lissa and Breslau, attending also at the latter place lectures at the University. From the reformed rabbi, Dr. Geiger,[428] he learned to reject the Talmud, and from the missionaries Teichler, Caro, and Cerf, he learned to accept the Gospel, and to become a whole-hearted Christian. He then became a teacher in a Christian school at Zieginhals. In 1851 he was accepted by the L.J.S. as a candidate for missionary work, and after preparing himself in their college, he was sent to labour in Breslau and Berlin, where he discharged his duties faithfully, becoming a blessing to many Jews, till his death in Berlin in 1871.

Ronkel, Philipp Samuel Van, was born at Groningen, Holland, in 1819. His father was a teacher in a Jewish school, and when Pauli visited him, he shewed him a New Testament, which he often read, but concealed it from his son. Pauli said to him, "You may hide the New Testament from your son, but you cannot thereby frustrate the counsel of God." Philipp was well educated in rabbinic law, but he found no pleasure therein, nor did the services in the synagogue attract him. He was brooding upon something which his parents could not find out. At the age of nineteen he entered the academy of Groningen, and studied classics. A professor there drew his attention to the influence which Jesus exercises upon thinking humanity. From that time the personality of the Saviour occupied his mind, and he began to read with delight the poems of Da Costa. Just then he was requested by the Jewish congregation at Leerdam to deliver a sermon at the dedication of a new synagogue, and he took for his text Haggai ii. 10, and manifested in his sermon that he was[429] inclined towards Christianity. It then happened that a Christian pastor visited a poor sick woman, but she refused to have his services. Ronkel then tried to see what he could do with her, and succeeded in getting an attentive hearing from her to his stories about good women of the Old Testament. She then asked him to read the Bible, but he had not one with him, and her own Bible she had torn to pieces when the pastor visited her. Then she asked him to pray, but he had never offered up an extempore prayer. In this perplexity he thought he could repeat the Lord's prayer in Dutch, which he had learned in Greek. He then repeated it with such fervour that the woman shed tears. This was the turning point in Ronkel's life. He took now the decisive step, and was baptized on Christmas Day, 1856, Da Costa being one of the witnesses. He became a true Christian, according to the testimony of his own father. Later he became one of the most eloquent preachers in Holland, and the Lord prospered the work which He had committed to his hands.


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