« PreviousContinue »
REMARKS ON A PAPER, SIGNED S. M.,
CONTAINING OBJECTIONS TO THE MESSIAHSHIP OF JESUS.
[In the paper referred to, the writer states that, when Charles II. granted toleration to the Jews in this country, it was on condition, 1. That they should not make proselytes : 2. That their services should not be in the English language : 3. That they should maintain their own poor. If the Jews were not to make proselytes, he argues that they were themselves ' entitled to a like protection : ' "and, further, that it would not * be more than equitable, that their minds should not be agitated « with fears for the salvation of their souls, while their con* sciences are perfectly tranquil on that head.'-He further maintains, that “a strict and due observance of the decalogue * and precepts, as ordained by the Almighty,' was the only • mediator' that the Jews ever required; that repentance was sufficient to procure forgiveness, from an all-just and all-mer' ciful supreme;' and that moral conduct in this world would
secure salvation in the next.'—He then professes to set aside the argument for the divinity of the Messiah drawn from the cxth Psalm, by asserting that that Psalm was written by Abner,
Saul's general, when he united Israel under king David's * dominion ;' and that the descriptionmy Lord,' v. 1. could ' refer only to David.'—Lastly, he contends, on the authority of the genealogy, in St. Matthew, that Jesus did not at all proceed from David,' and consequently could not be the Messiah; and that we cannot evade this argument but by acknowledging Jesus to be the son of Joseph, as well as of Mary; which, he says,
would be levelling an axe at the very existence of the Trinity.' -J. S.]
I HAVE no remarks to make on what S. M. states concerning the terms on which Charles II. tolerated the Jews. I should rescind the terms: my attempt to bring Jew or gentile to embrace Christianity must not be restricted by human laws : and the more tranquil unbelievers are in respect of eternal salvation, the less tranquil am I concerning them.
My, zeal hath consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten thy “ words.” 1
The language of Israel to Moses when the law was given him from Mount Sinai ; 2 the whole of Moses's interposition between God and the people; the ark and mercy-seat, and Aaronic priesthood, and all the sin-offerings and trespass-offerings ; yea,
the whole levitical law, stands in the Jewish scriptures as a demonstration that man's obedience is insufficient to justify him before God, and his repentance to atone for his sins, that he needs a Mediator, a throne of grace, and an atoning sacrifice, and that without shedding of blood there is no remission. In this part S. M. quits the ground of a Jew, and stands on the ground of a simple Deist: and it might be of some use to him to read the epistle to the Hebrews, with as much candour as he professes to do some writings of modern Christians, as a tract
'Psalm cxix. 139
2 Exod. xx. 19. Deut. v, 24-29
full of close and conclusive reasoning, apart from all consideration concerning its inspiration. The New Testament, however, has its separate ground to stand on ; at least as strong as that of the Old Testament: while the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies and types, by the events recorded in the New, gives it a still stronger foundation : yet they are not rivals, and I do not wish to push this further.
If a man attempt a direct proof of our Lord's deity from the cxth Psalm, he attempts too much: but it proved enough respecting the promised Messiah to silence ancient Jews, yea the most learned and determined of them: for they had not yet discovered that Abner was the writer of it! S. M. offers no reason, nor even Rabbinical authority, for this most unnatural supposition. The titles of the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible have hitherto been, by learned men in general, considered as of the same authority as the Psalms themselves: and the title ascribes it to David, in the very same manner in which most of the Psalms are ascribed to him : but not a hint of Abner. Supposing, for one moment, Abner to speak, and David to be the person spoken of; it then follows, that Abner said to David, “The “ Lord hath sworn and will not repent; thou art “ a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec!' for the whole is one continued address to the same person. Was then David a priest? Could this be spoken of him, or of any other except the Messiah ? Above a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, our glorious Messiah, (and eighteen hundred more years are now past,) David in spirit calls the Messiah his Lord: but, if he had no existence previous to his birth as man, he could have no authority over David. Had Jesse lived till David ascended the throne, David might have been called Jesse's Lord, though Jesse's son: but could David be Lord over Salmon, Judah, Jacob, Abraham, &c. from whom he was descended? During their lives he had neither authority nor existence: but the Messiah had existence and authority over king David, above a thousand years before he became his son: and who was this, that had authority, acknowledged authority over David, in the full zenith of his regal dignity, but the eternal Son of God; who was in the form of God, and as such was honoured by his ancient church? Our argument does not at all depend on the meaning of the word Adonai, which in almost numberless instances means God, but not always; and we do not contend that it does in this place. The Messiah was king David's liege Lord : that suffices for our argument.-It may
| The Old Testament?--J. S.
be added that Abner's conduct and motives had been so vile, that the Lord would not employ him in establishing David's throne: and he was slain as soon as he set about it. When then did he write this Psalm? and who, pressed by an unanswerable difficulty, first started this opinion ?
In respect of the genealogy of Matthew, I believe few Christians consider it as proving Mary to be the daughter or descendent of David: but S. M. seems to forget that it proves nothing to the contrary. There is, in my view, not the shadow
of a doubt, that Luke gives us Mary's genealogy from Nathan the son of David ; and that the words “ Joseph the son of Heli,” in accommodation to the customs in keeping genealogies among the Jews, mean the son-in-law, or the son by marriage. According to Matthew, “ Jacob “ begat Joseph.”2 Now he could not be the son, in this strict sense, of both Jacob and Heli: nor is Jacob mentioned among the immediate ancestors of Heli. Joseph was then the son, in the usual sense of the word; of Jacob, and the sonin-law of Heli, who was the father of Mary. Mary was descended from David in the line of Nathan, and Joseph in the line of Solomon ; so that in every way Jesus was the son of David.3 The words, in a preceding verse,4 “ to a virgin “ espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of “ the house of David,” may as naturally be understood of the virgin as of Joseph. Zacharias the priest, who was intimately acquainted with Mary, owns her son as “a horn of salvation, “ raised up in the house of God's servant David.”5 And, though Joseph might be required to repair to Bethlehem, as “ of the house and lineage of “ David,” there could have been no need for Mary to attend him, in her situation, had not she been of the house and lineage of David. The books from which even Jews must draw all their information on this subject evidently consider Mary, as well as Joseph, as descended from David. This was well known to Jews as well as
3 Luke i. 32.
i Luke iii. 23.
2 Matt. i. 16.