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ZECHARIAH VIII. 23. "
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." . .
If any one, entirely" ignorant of history, should accurately study the writings of Moses and the prophets, he must be fully convinced, that according to these ancient records, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would, in every age, be the most distinguished and extraordinary people on earth; and would be, in many respects, honoured and made a blessing to the nations above all others of the human race: and likewise that the posterity of .Tudah would be by far the most illustrious of this distinguished people. On the other hand, should any one, wholly unacquainted with the ancient scriptures, fully and impartially study the history of mankind in ancient and modern ages, he must, from facts alone, deduce precisely the same conclusions; provided he had but right views of eminence, honour, and usefulness. For, doubtless, the seed of these patriarchs have been, beyond comparison, the most singular people that ever lived on earth: nay, after making all fair deductions, they have been honoured by God, and made blessings to mankind, above all other nations: and the descendents of Judah have been, and are, incomparably the most illustrious of that favoured race.
This coincidence of deductions from scripture alone, without the knowledge of history, with deductions from history alone, without the knowledge of scripture, is a most wonderful circumstance, and demands our special attention, as one among the innumerable demonstrations, that the scriptures (I speak especially of the Old Testament,) are indeed the infallible word of God;—" known "unto whom are all his works from the beginning "of the world."
My brethren, I am no Israelite, but " a sinner "of the gentiles," who should count it an inestimable privilege to partake of the crumbs which fall from the table of this ancient family of God; did I not humbly hope that I am permitted to sit down at the table as one of the children. I cannot, indeed, excuse or palliate criminality either in Christian or Jew. "I know not to give flattering "words;" I must not therefore be expected to soothe the Jews in the opinion, that they are less criminal in rejecting the Messiah, than they are stated to be even in the New Testament. I nevertheless honour the nation to whom God committed his ancient oracles, and by whom they have been communicated to us gentiles. I honour the race whence prophets, whence apostles, whence Christ himself arose. I feel myself" a debtor," to a vast amount," unto the Jews," from whose scriptures, (for the most, at least, of the New Testament was written by Jews,) I derive all my hope, all my comfort, all my joy in the Lord; and among whom my beloved and divine Saviour received his human nature, and exercised his personal ministry: and it would be a high gratification to me, could I by any means, repay even a small part of the debt which I owe to that race, of whom it was of old predicted, "that in them should all nations be blessed."
So far from joining in the illiberal scorn, too generally poured by men, called Christians, on the dispersed Jews, which, whatever their personal character may be, never arises from Christian principles, but the contrary; I feel for them as I should for a father, who had indeed disgraced himself, and whose conduct could not even be palliated; but who after all was still a father. Thus Shem and Japhet acted towards Noah, when intoxicated; thus did not Ham and Canaan.
Called by this recently instituted Society, formed expressly for the benefit of the Jews in this and other lands, to preach a sermon, and so to give my sanction to the undertaking, and to solicit the concurrence and aid of my Christian brethren; I could not allow any subordinate considerations to induce me to decline a service, so congenial to my views and feelings. I am not called (I am not competent,) to decide on the measures of any man, or body of men; but to bear my testimony, (I would it were, in such a cause, far more weighty, and, as more weighty, could be made known more extensively ;) to bear my testimony, I say, that the design is noble; that it is truly Christian :—and a higher commendation cannot be given, in human language, by the greatest orator on earth: and I pray God, the " Giver of every "good gift," to endue those who are, and those who shall hereafter be, the conductors of it, with the fervour of zeal and love, and the meekness of wisdom, and to raise up instruments for the work, whose labours may be crowned with abundant, with immense, success!
More than thirty years ago I was led, in the course of my studies, to consider very deeply the deplorable state of the heathen, the Mohammedans, and the dispersed Jews; and to reflect on the obligations under which Christians lay, to seek their spiritual and eternal good: but, being a very obscure individual, and meeting with scarcely any who, either in their writings, their preaching, their conversation, or even in their prayers, indicated the same views, I could only almost without encouragement, pray that God would 'stir up the 'wills of his faithful people,' to attempt something further in the important concern. Little did I then expect to see Societies formed, zealously recommended, honourably patronized, and liberally supported, for the express purpose of accomplishing the object of my, at first, almost hopeless, yet persevering, prayer. Little did I indeed suppose, that I should live to preach for three of these Societies' "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and for"get not all his benefits!" Two of these Societies I have already recommended to public attention from the pulpit and the press, as far as my feeble testimony could be heard, and obtain regard: