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ADDRESS on seconding the Third Resolu
tion at the First Anniversary Meeting of the BRISTOL AUXILIARY SOCIETY for PROMOTING CHRISTIANITY AMONGST THE Jews, October 3, 1816.
In rising to second the motion which has been assigned me, I trust I shall be excused if I venture to take a somewhat extended view of the great question connected with this Society.
And here I am ready to admit, what I well remember to have felt in my own mind, that the attempt to promote Christianity among the Jews does not on the first appearance seem very attractive. There is a mingled feeling of contempt and despondency in the minds of Christians towards the fallen house of Israel and Judah, which indisposes them from making those compassionate and persevering efforts which their case demands. We turn from the subject with indifference, if not with disgust, and employ our labours and our prayers on objects more congenial to our prejudices or more flattering to our hopes. But surely such a state of feeling is both unreasonable and sinful. Surely it must spring from self-conceit of our own privileges as Gentiles, or from distrust of the future promises of mercy to the Jewish people, or from a perverse inconsistency in the exercise of our charity towards the miserable. There is nothing, I can safely say, which fills me with greater shame than the recollection of my own share in this guilt. And therefore I am anxious, in the very outset of what I have further to offer, to remove if possible so fatal an obstacle -an obstacle which bars up the way even to the candid consideration of a subject, which, the more it is understood, will I am persuaded the more strongly commend itself to our judgments and our hearts.
For I really must be permitted to think, that in whatever light we view the efforts of this Society, whether as simply directed to instruct and relieve an immense body of unhappy and degraded individuals, or as involving the whole subject of the restoration and glory of the antient people of God, there are few benevolent institutions which have so large and undisputed a claim on our support.
For no one, I conceive, will deny, that the Jewish dispersion contains a number of not less than five millions of immortal souls, living without God and dying without hope ; and yet capable of grace and pardon as well as ourselyés; destined to appear before the same bar of God ; and who can only be rescued from destruetion by the same mighty redemption of the divine Saviour. Nor can it be doubted that this people are at present, for the most part, in a peculiarly wretched condition ; without a country, without religion, without morals, without education, without character; filled with enmity against the name of Christ; the scorn, in short, and the rebuke of the earth. As little can it be denied that their former privileges, as that favoured nation to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises-shed yet a ray of splendour even over their fallen state; whilst the incalculable benefits they have been the means of communicating to the world—benefits which comprize all we enjoy here and all we hope for hereafter-benefits which comprehend even that adorable mystery of our salvation which alone gives us the pre-eminence over the Jew or the heathen, constitute at least a claim upon our warmest gratitude.
What then are the steps which our Society is taking for the benefit of this most interesting people? It is educating their children in the Christian faith. It is translating the New Testament into their sacred language. It is delivering Courses of Lectures on the evidences of the Messiahship of Christ. It is publishing books on the questions in controversy between the Jews and Christians. It is supporting a Jews' Episcopal Chapel for the public worship of God. It is maintaining a correspondence in various parts of the world with persons interested in the welfare of the Hebrew people. It is affording in particular cases temporal relief to those whose profession of Christianity exposes
them to inevitable desertion and ruin. It is opening a point of union and protection to Jews from every quarter, who are sincerely inquiring into the evidences of our religion. It is thus gradually lessening the deplorable hostility of the Jew to the Christian name, and convincing him that we can deplore his infidelity, whilst we pity and love the person of the infidel, and aim at instructing and saving his soul.
How admirable then is such a design, even in the confined view we are as yet taking of the subject! Surely the Jew is our brother; and his pitiable case should at all events touch our compassion, and lead us to employ a proportionate zeal in promoting his salvation, considering him simply as a fallen and wretched sufferer. And when we consider the number of children that have actually been educated in this school, amounting to nearly two hundred; the large portion of the Hebrew translation of the New Testament which has already been printed under the patronage of six most learned Prelates of our Church, and in a manner to obtain the commendation of the first oriental scholars a work so important, that if it were the only object of our Society, it would of itself more than repay all its exertions—when we consider the number of true converts to the faith of Christ which has blessed our labours, and the interest for their temporal and spiritual improvement which has been created in various countries, I really think this infant Establishment presents as strong and affecting an appeal to the piety and benevolence of Christians as was ever advanced by any charitable association.
But how inadequate a view have we taken of this subject, in considering the Jews merely as on the same footing with the suffering and ignorant nations around us. There are other and more commanding topics to be adverted to; topics which raise the question from the ordinary mass of beneficent efforts, and place it upon a peculiar and most sacred elevation.
For may I not be allowed here to ask, in