« AnteriorContinuar »
Abraham Jacobs, now, or late, dwelling at Reading, in Berkshire. I have conversed with this man, who, in the course of our conversation owned to me, that he could not resist the convincing evidence contained in the prophecies of a suffering Messiah, to be numbered,' though perfectly innocent, * with the transgreffors,' and die an ignomia nious death, antecedently to his entrance on a kingdom, to be given him by God, in reward of his obedient sufferings and death; a kingdom, the distinguishing characteristics whereof I shall enlarge upon, in the fequel of this address. But that has happened to Jacobs, which too frequently happens to other men, viz. 'Incidit in Scyllam, qui vult vitare Charybdim,' in steera ing clear from one rock, he has struck upon another; for at the very time, as I frankly in effect told him, he saw his Lord, Christ, be lost sight of his God, Jehovah, having embraced Christianity on the Athanafian plan, by far the most absurd of the three fanciful hypothefes, I before explained to you.' Now it is very probable, this honest Israelite was so struck with the perspicuity of the prophecy, respecting the fufferings and death of the innocent Meffiah, that he never gave
himself leisure to reflect on the manifest absurdity of supposing his person, or essence, to constitute one third part of the supreme Being. But when a Christian appears labouring the point of your conversion, on the ground of a full conviction, that both your sacred writings, and genuine Christian Scripture, will support him in asserting, that the suffering Messiah was a man, of the seed of David, as being begotten by the husband, Joseph, on the body of his wife, Mary, both lineally descended from that king of Ifrael ; it surely is incumbent on you, my friends, to re-consider your own prophecies, and, with minds open to conviction, feriously examine, whether the suffering Jesus of the Christians, the remote son of David, and immediate son of Joseph and Mary, be your predicted Messiah or not.
I now proceed to describe the distinguishing characteristics of that kingdom of the Messiah, which is to be given him by God, in reward of his obedient sufferings and death. These are two. The first respects its nature, viz. that it shall be established in righteousness,'truth and love. The lait respects its duration, viz. that it
shall never be destroyed,' according ta the Prophet Daniel, ii, 44, whom you seem to erroneously class among your apocryphal writers. The same Prophet adds, 'it,' the kingdom, ' shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, the kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided,
and it shall stand for ever,' that is, during the whole of the future age of the reign of the Messiah, at the end whereof, as before . ' noticed, he is to deliver up his kingdom to God, who gave it him,'that God may be all in all. Now your Messiah is called, by Isaiah,the 'father of this future age,'which waits the accomplishment of other prophecies, I may hereafter produce to you, before it can arrive, and consequently, Christ is not yet entered on that kingdom given him by God, which will take place when he shall personally reign, and execute judgement and justice' over your people, converted to a faith in him, in the New Jerusalem, &c. Your ancestors were so captivated with the dazzling prospect of his reigning as a king, that they overlooked his sufferings as an instrumental savior, though expressly predicted in your prophecies, and hence became fa enraged at the disappointment, that they
put him to death. I remember (for little relative to your conversion and welfare escapes my attention and memory) to have heard, that many of the learned and wise among you agree in admitting, that your various calculations of the time of your Messiah’s appearance have proved erroneous, and particularly, that the last of your feveral supposed æras of his coming has been past these 200 years ; permit then this circumstance to operate with you as an additional motive to a love of truth, to · search your Scriptures, and especially the 53d chapter of Isaiah, where you will find the lamb-like sufferings, and ignominious death of your guiltless Messiah, to be the leading features of his character, “For the transgressions of my people was the stroke upon him, and he made his grave with the wicked,"&c.'because,' or, perhaps, though,
he had done no violence, neither was deceit in his mouth. But your Prophecies, providentially preserved to us, blessed be God, through the continued joint care of Jews and Christians, when attentively examined, will not only prove a means of correcting your errors, respecting the chaTacter of your Messiah, but of detecting
forgeries, in what is called the canon of the New Testament, with respect to what is stiled his nature, person, or essence ; for from these prophecies alone, can such points be ascertained and established, or in other words, we cannot be justified in speaking of the effence, or indeed of the character and office of your Meffiah, in any any other terms than they authorize us to speak.
That there has been one interpolation, in the first Epistle of John, is evident from the testimony of Sir Isaac Newton, who declares that the celebrated passage, i John, v. 7, is not to be found in any Greek manuscript older than the invention of printing; and it seems to be universally given up as such, by Athanasians, Arians, and Socinians. In the English translation of the Bible in my possession, published in the year 1549, it is printed in a smaller letter than the rest of the chapter, and included in parentheses; as are also the words “in earth,' in the subsequent verse, to denote that both were wanting in the original Greek. This interpolation is afcribed to Jerom, and adopted by Cardinal