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prophecies respecting the Messiah have been fulfilled in Jesus. In rejecting Jesus, therefore, you reject the promised Messiah.
Mr. Sam. But if we do it ignorantly, shall we not be pardoned, if we worship Jehovah, and endeayour to obey his precepts?
Mr. Levi. This, at best, is doubtful. Moses, prophesying of the Messiah, told our fathers, that God would raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto him ; and that if any one should refuse to hearken to him, God would require it of him. Besides, how can you be said to worship Jehovah, and to endeavour to obey his precepts, while, by your rejection of Jesus, you are saying, concerning the Lord and his anointed, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us?
Mr. Sam. If we cannot believe that Jesus is the Messiah, how can we help it? Will God condemn us for disbelieve ing what we cannot believe ?
Mr. Levi: The reason you cannot believe is on account of your prejudice. You either do not read the New Testament, or, if you do read it, yet, being convinced beforehand of its falsehood, you read it with a determination to find fault. When you read it, you ought to pray for the divine assistance.
Mr. Sam. I am astonished that you should become a Christian. Do not the Christians maintain that there are three Gods?
Mr. Levi. Jesus invariably maintained the divine unity. The writers of the New Testament do the same, at the same time that they plead for the divinity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Mr. Sam. Do our Scriptures say any thing about the Trinity ? Mr. Levi. They frequently glance at it.
God said at the creation, Let us make man in our image ; at the consusion of tongues, Let us go down and confound their language: and in Isaiah's vision, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? He exborts the kings and judges of the earth to kiss the Son. To the Messiah he said, Thou art my Son; this day have I brgotten thee : and concerning him, I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth.--As to the Spirit of God, he is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament.
Mr. Sam. Christians talk of God's sending his Son into the world. How can God send his Son, if the Son himself is God? This is a difficulty with which our Scriptures are not embarrassed.
Mr. Levi. Have you never read what the prophet Zechariah says? Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people ; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. It appears from this prophecy, that the Messiah was to dwell in Judea; that this glorious personage was to be Jehovah ; that he was to be sent by Jehovah; and that the nations were to be joined, or converted to him.
Mr. Sam. What kind of personality do you suppose the personality of the Trinity to be? Some Christians talk of modal personality, and some of real.
What is your opinion?
Mr. Levi. I do not know that either the Jewish or the Christian Scriptures answer this question ; and where they are silent, I think it my duty to be silent too. I believe that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the holy Spirit is God; and yet that there are not three divine Beings, but only one divine Being. As far as this, the Scripture goes; but here it ceases. To inquire further, and to endeavour to find out the unrevealed mysteries of the divine nature, argues a presumptuous and vain curiosity, and cannot but offend that great Being, who would not permit our ancestors to draw near and gaze when he de. scended upon Mount Sinai.
Mr. Sam. What good has your religion done to man: kind? Have not Christians, by their persecutions, destroyed more of the human race than have been destroyed by the plague?
Mr. Levi. If I were to tell you, Sir, of the crimes of some of our countrymen, you would reply, that Judaism is not chargeable with the crimes of its professors. Permit me to make a similar reply in defence of Christianity. The spirit inculcated in the New Testament, is not a spirit of persecution, but of love to both the bodies and souls of men. When Christianity is perverted, and rendered an engine of the state, it ceases to be the religion of Jesus Christ. Christians are not answerable for the blood which has been shed by men bearing the Christian name. The Christianity which I have embraced is the Christianity of the New Testament. I do not think myself bound, nor have I an inclination, to defend any other. What does the New Testament, therefore, say upon this subject ? Where do Christ and his apostles teach us to injure one another? Is there any thing conducive to the glory of God, and to the good of mankind, which they have not taught, both by - their precepts and by their example? Whether it be true or false, Christianity is a religion which is safe ; and it is worthy of God whether he be the author of it or not. Where are the perfections of the Deity placed in a more amiable light than in the New Testament, or where do you find a more divine morality? We are not merely taught by it to love God: but, if we cordially receive its doctrines, we shall be irresistibly induced to love him. The great difference between the Old Testament and the Xew is this. In the former, many important blessings are promised; in the latter, they are declared to have been conferred. If the Christian religion be true, (which I cannot doubt,) and if I embrace it in reality as well as by profession, I become a partaker of those blessings.
Mr. Sam. Why did not Jesus give our fathers such a proof of his being the Messiah as would have overcome their incredulity?
Mr. Levi. What greater evidence can you require than the miracles which Jesus and his apostles wrought. Was it not enough for the dead to be raised, for the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk? But these mira
cles produced no better effect upon our ancestors, than the miracles of Moses did upon Pharaoh. The truth is, that · both the one and the other possessed an obduracy and enmity of heart which it was not in the power of miracles to remove. They hated the light, and would not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved. Read the 22d psalm: you will there see the enmity of our ancestors against the Messiah predicted.
Mr. Sam. If they did what was predicted, where lay their crime?
Mr. Levi. This objection will not be esteemed valid at the bar of God. The revealed will of God, and not his secret purposes, ought to be the rule of our actions.
Mr. Sam. Can an inspired book contain such errors and contradictions, and things so incredible, as are to be found in the gospels?
Mr. Levi. If by errors you mean the errors of transcribers, they are not to be placed to the account of the inspired writers, and they are so unimportant as not in the least to affect the truth of any doctrine or of any fact, contained in the sacred volume. As to incredibility, what is there in the New Testament more incredible than in the Old? Or what is there in either beyond the power of God to effect? Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead ?-It is not to be wondered at that in the book of divine revelation there should be obscurities, and even seeming contradictions, the former of which cannot now be elucidated, nor the latter reconciled, owing to the length of time whicli has elapsed since the various parts of it were written; nor that there should be doctrines in it beyond the reach of our limited understanding.–But were the difficulties in the Old Testament and in the New more numerous and important than they are,
you find nothing, Sir, in the books of nature and of providence, which has a tendency to try your faith? May not an atheist tell you of rocks in the sea, hurtful instead of being useful, and bearing no marks of wise con: trivance; of lions, also, and tigers; and of toads, ser
pents, and noxious insects? And may he not mention many instances in which the wicked have prospered, and the righteous have suffered adversity ? Yet you do not on these accounts disbelieve a superintending providence, or the manifestation of the divine wisdom in the works of creation. In arguing with such a person you would say, that a few objections, and those doubtful, and relating to things of which we have an imperfect knowledge, ought not to be opposed to the wisdom of God in his works, visible in numberless instances, and to the universal experience and historical testimony of his kind providence. Now what I wish is, that you would only view the Old and New Testaments with the same candour. I mention the Old Testament as well as the New : for the one has its difficulties as well as the other. I do not say this to disparage the sacred volume handed down to us by our ancestors. It deserves ny reverence and my love. I receive it as the word of God. Let all that has been written concerning the rabble of heathen deities be compared with the 1080 and 104th psalms, or with many other parts of the Jewish Scriptures. As well might you compare the grossest darkness with the bright beams of yonder luminary. That luminary, however, has its spots ; the works of creation have their seeming defects : providence has its mysteries which we cannot unfold; and the Jewish Scriptures have their difficulties. Is it any wonder then that the Christian Scriptures should not be without theirs ? .
Mr. Sam. What is your opinion, Mr. Levi, concerning divine inspiration?
Mr. Levi. I believe, Sir, that every good man is under the influence of the Spirit of God. This is more the case at some times than at others, because there is frequently an extraordinary necessity for the divine interposition to comfort, to direct, to guide into necessary truth, and to recover from dangerous error. But the inspiration of the sacred writers was of a different kind. Their writings are pub lic fountains, in which all necessary truth is preserved, that the world may drink of their salubrious waters.