This Kingdom is then essentially a Jewish Kingdom.
PROPOSITION 68. This Kingdom is then essentially a Jewish Kingdom.
This follows from the Abrahamic, Sinaitic, and Davidic covenants; this is uniformly taught by the Prophets in associating and identifying the Kingdom with the nationality of the Jews; this again is confirmed by the election of the Jewish nation, the oneness of the Kingdom, the preaching of John, Jesus, and the disciples, the renewed covenant, the offer of the Kingdom, the engrafting of Gentiles, the rejection of the nation only until the times of the Gentiles are ended, the postponement of the Kingdom, etc. The whole tenor and analogy of Scripture sustain this position; and it is but a weak, unsatisfactory, inconsistent procedure to deny what is so plainly the burden of Holy Writ.[*]
Note. Such a denial can only rest in a destructive criticism and arbitrary handling of the most precious covenanted promises contained in the Bible. It can only be sustained by a system of interpretation which constantly, with singular rashness, asserts that the plain grammatical meaning of the covenants and predictions cannot possibly be maintained. Doctrines are summarily disposed of by bestowing upon them the epithet “Jewish;” and learned men suppose that the doctrines contained in our faith receive their condemnation by being designated “Jewish.” It is a favorite phrase with some writers, and scornfully emphasized, and judging from the frequency with which it is used, it is regarded as one of the most effectual means to bring our doctrines into disrepute with unreflecting and unscholarly persons. Let us briefly refer to the reasons for employing this phrase against us, and show how inexcusable and uncharitable such an exhibition of intended “sarcasm” is in those who profess the name of Christian. It is evidently intended to indicate that our doctrines are erroneous, thus making “Jewish” or “Judaic” an equivalent to “error.” Yet these same writers profess to believe much that is “Jewish.” They believe what Jews said and wrote, they profess that “salvation is of the Jews,” that Jesus and the apostles were Jews, that we Gentiles are engrafted upon the Jewish stock, etc. Why then institute a comparison which, if it has any logical force, must be antagonistic to their own faith and hope, founded so largely upon what is “Jewish”? It is used by way of reproach, to stigmatize our views as if they were antichristian, etc. How unjust this is, will appear, if such writers only consider how largely they themselves are indebted to a Jewish source for many of the most precious articles of their own faith. Gratitude, to say nothing of other motives, ought to restrain such a usage of terms. It is employed to hold others up to ridicule, to irritate, etc. But this, in the eyes of the intelligent and of the humble Biblical student, recoils upon its authors, seeing that it seriously reflects upon their own appreciation of indebtedness to Jews for the sublime and saving truths of Christianity. If any doctrine of ours is erroneous and as such stands related to errors of the Jews (as Pharisees, etc.), let the fact be demonstrated by proper argument, instead of seeking refuge in terms which are so general and include so much that is noble and excellent.
Obs. 1. It is a standing proposition, even among some who profess to be defenders of Christianity, that, as Renan (Life of Christ, p. 373), expresses it, “the general progress of Christianity has been to separate more and more from Judaism,” and the inference is drawn that the wider such a separation is made, the better for true religion. Everything distinctively Jewish is to be sacrificed, giving place to a substituted Gentileism. This is especially true of the leading doctrine of the Kingdom; the Jewish view is denounced, and a wide departure substituted as better adapted to the wisdom, standing, etc., of Gentiles.[*]
Note. This will be met in succeeding propositions. Briefly let us trace the rise and progress of this rejection of “Jewish conceptions,” this scornful usingof the term “Jewish,” (or as Ruge calls it, “Asiatisamus”). The apostolic, and immediate succeeding, church was (as we shall show Props. 69–75) intensely Jewish in its conceptions. The reproach of being Jewish belongs to a period later than that distinguished for its pure Chiliasm (comp. candid remarks of Neander, Ch. His., vol 1, p. 294, etc.). The universality and unity of teaching prohibited the usage of the word in any other than a respectful sense. But when the general Millenarian views were attacked by Origen and others, this state of things changed. Origen (L. 2, c. 12) says: “Those who deny the Millennium are those who interpret the sayings of the Prophets by a trope,” those who maintain the Mill. “disciples of the letter,” who interpret “Judaico-sensu, after the manner of the Jews.” From this arose the reproach, often reiterated, thus expressed by Jerome (Hieron. in Es. l. 18 in Proem. p. 477 Ed. Bend.—quoted by Prof. Bush, Mill. p. 16) “If we understand Revelation literally, we must judaize,” etc. This usage was accelerated by (1) the adoption and extension of the spiritualistic Interpretation; (2) the rise and progress of the Papacy; (3) the fall, conduct, and dispersion of the Jewish nation; (4) the persecution of the Jews. In the course of time such was the bitterness against the Jews, that everything “Jewish” was despised. Of course when Bishops (even e.g. Cyril of Alexandria, see Socrates His. Eccl., vii. 13), persecuted Jews it was easy to discard “Jewish forms.” A variety of prejudices excited and fostered this anti-Jewish spirit, which continued unchecked for many centuries. In more modern times, out of a host unduly biased, Semler may be adduced as materially strengthening the movement by which everything objectionable is to be discarded under the cry of “Jewish notions.” He even undermined the authority of Scripture under the plea of its Jewish character, making it local and temporary (Hagenbach, His. of Doc., vol. 2, p. 386), so that Tholuck well remarked that “he carried the torch which kindled the conflagration.” Thousands of volumes are filled with its spirit, and at times it becomes simply outrageous, as e.g. in The Lyceum (a Free Religionist periodical designed for the young, in Jan. No. 1875) says: “we detest the thought of an old Jewish God living in this age of the world.” Multitudes, however, who have imbibed this prejudice against “Jewish conceptions,” could never be brought to utter anything so disgusting as the Lyceum’s blasphemies. Yet men of ability venture into this direction of disparagement, as e.g. Beecher (as reported in Cin. Daily Gazette, Nov. 11th, 1874), who spoke slightingly of the Patriarchs “as compared with the manhood we now have,” etc. Comment is unnecessary to such endorsement of Parkerism, etc.
Obs. 2. It is fully admitted by able writers, of all classes, that the Scriptures, taken in their literal aspect, do expressly teach a Jewish Kingdom; but our opponents contend that this literal rendering is to be discarded for a spiritual or mystical one, mainly on the ground that the literal has not been verified. But we cannot, dare not thus receive the Word of God. This Jewish form is decidedly in our favor; we accept of it gratefully, and with it of the reproach heaped upon it. For it is Jewish, based on Jewish covenants, the Jewish Scriptures, the Jewish Prophets and Apostles, the Jewish nationality connected with the Theocratic ordering, and the Jewish Son of Man in descent and office. We would not abate this, if we could, believing it to be indispensable in order to preserve the true doctrine of the Kingdom, and the unity of Purpose in its establishment. The time too, if we are to credit recent utterances, has gone by when sober reasoning based on Scripture is to be set aside by charges of doctrine being “too Jewish.” Able works, showing the intimate connection of the Old and New Tests., acknowledging and pressing our indebtedness to that which is “Jewish,” are paving the way for such a result among the pious thoughtful. The masses, indeed, will not be reached, but the scholarly, if also devout, cannot overlook it.[*]
Note. We accept of the intended reproach given by Herbert Spencer (The Study of Sociology), when he designates the New Test., by the significant phrase “The Jewish New Testament.” We rejoice in its Jewish cast as a matter logically essential to secure covenanted blessings. But when Sara S. Hennell (Christianity and Infidelity) declares, that the Gospel of Christ was “a noble outburst of Jewish fanaticism,” which our times are outgrowing, it is only too evident that she never studied its connection with a covenanted Divine Purpose, and its continued vital relationship to “the Hope of Israel.” The Essays and Reviews, repeating the rationalistic ideas of others, utterly discards everything distinctly Jewish under the word “Judaism,” and as part of its religious scheme gives us a “Christianity without Judaism,” the result of which is to sever Christianity as much as possible from the Old Test. Mansel in the Bampton Lectures (p. 287) remarks, “Mr. Powell in his zeal for ‘Christianity without Judaism,’ seems at times to forget that Judaism, as well as Christianity, was a revelation from God.” Powell, however, would soften this objection by the low estimate he takes of revelation. His contempt for “Judaical origin,” “the Judaical school,” and “Judaical Theology,” includes of course the very foundations of the Kingdom, the covenants and related predictions. For he opposes not merely that which God designed to be temporary under this term, but the oath-bound promises of God upon which Christianity (as provisionary, etc.) itself rests. Let the reader consider the precise promises of the Jewish covenants and the Jewish predictions, all uniting in a glorious Messianic Kingdom under the reign of a personal Son of David on a restored Theocratic throne with a Jewish supremacy, overthrow of enemies, irresistible power, vast dominion, etc., and it is utterly impossible, without a total perversion of the covenants and prophecies, to separate the Jewish cast from Christianity which is designed to prepare “heirs” to inherit these promises and this Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is folly to ignore, or to deny, this Jewish relationship, and in place of it attempt to make out a fulfilment of these things in the past history of a fighting, struggling Church.
Obs. 3. It is certainly strange that the old prejudice, originally urged by Celsus against the Jews as in no special and favorable relationship to God, should be so deeply rooted in the minds of many at the present day so that everything that can be even remotely reduced to a so-called “Jewish form” or “Jewish husk” excites a degree of bitterness and hostility, which, to say the least, indicates something akin to the Gentile “high-mindedness,” against which we are cautioned by Paul (Rom. 11).[*]
Note. In tracing (see note 1) this prejudice, the old monkish and popish view had much to do with its extension. To account for its prevalence in more recent times, we must also look to the results flowing from the fashion revived by Voltaire and others, viz.: of attacking Christianity through Judaism. In resisting such attacks even good men went too far, separating Christianity from the Jews, making the former something independent of the latter, and, in the midst of a misjudged zeal, manifesting contempt toward everything “Jewish.” The rule of Jerome, quoted under Prop. 23, seems to have been their guide in the controversy. To-day we have books (e.g. Renan, etc.), circulated, which proclaim that Jesus entertained respecting the Kingdom “Jewish expectations,” that deceived Himself and His immediate followers; works in reply apologetically admit “the Jewish forms” either as a necessary accommodation, or as a transition excrescence, or as something only to be apprehended in a very spiritual sense. Our position is such, that we are not driven to that abject apologetical tone, which, to the triumph and delight of unbelievers, must either admit the ignorance of the disciples or deny the express words of Revelation, or engraft another and different meaning upon the grammatical sense. We cordially accept of these “Jewish expectations” (as found in the Bible), and show (1) their logical connection with a consecutive Plan, (2) why they have not yet been fulfilled, (3) when they will be realized, (4) and what provision is made for their ultimate verification. Surely the time is passed with the intelligent “to” (so Paley justly said) “wound Christianity through the sides of Judaism.”
The charge of Celsus against the early Christians that they deserted the ancient Jewish doctrine (the exact reverse of unbelieving objection of the present day), is a misapprehension of the truth, as clearly shown by various writers. But is not this specification virtually correct when urged against those who reject the grammatical sense of the covenants, Abrahamic and Davidic? The main doctrines, which, by way of pre-eminence, are Jewish, pertaining to the Jewish nation as such, cannot safely be excluded without entailing, to a greater or less extent, such an accusation. Chiliasm alone refutes it by a practical faith and hope.
Obs. 4. The doctrine of the Kingdom, arising from the covenants, must, in the nature of the case, be essentially Jewish, being covenanted to a Jewish people (and engrafted ones, the seed of Abraham), and standing related to a Jewish throne and Kingdom (the incorporated Theocratic-Davidic). Hence we are prepared to accept of the statement of Shedd (His. Ch. Doc.), that our views were of Jewish origin (discarding his ungenerous reference to Cerinthus, with which compare the candor of Neander, or the Reply of Shimeall), in a sense however different from his own; also, of Mosheim (Com. de Rebus Chris., p. 721), that they were derived from the Jewish views of the Kingdom; or, of Walch (His. of Her., vol. 2, p. 143), that they are of Biblical origin, sustained by the Apoc., and explained by Jewish opinions. A multitude of writers, either honestly or in scorn, attribute to it (viz.: our doctrine of the Kingdom) a Jewish origin (as e.g. Prop. Bush in Millennium;—Dr. Hodge in Sys. Div., vol. 3, makes it an objection, so also many of our Reviews, books written in opposition to us, etc.), and this is asserted by way of evidence to indicate weakness, but we receive as corroborative of real strength and unity. The most learned theologians (as we shall quote hereafter) are beginning to see this, and acknowledge our doctrine to be a legitimate outgrowth from that which preceded it.[*]
Note. Rev. Dr. Sprecher, translator of Dr. Dorner, informed me that Dorner fully admits Chiliasm to be a legitimate historical reality, and not merely derived from Jewish conceptions that are to be discarded. Many begin to occupy a similar position. Even unbelief (as e.g. Potter in The Genius of Christianity and Free Religion) declares “Christianity to be developed Judaism,” basing it upon the fact that the link between Jesus and the Hebrew people is found in “the Messianic idea,” as given in “the Jewish prophets and literature.”
Obs. 5. The Lord Jesus Christ is to-day as much “the King of the Jews” as He was when the superscription was placed upon the cross. This title pre-eminently belongs to Him as the covenanted Davidic Son, as the promised Theocratic King, and we hail its association with the cross, inasmuch as it proclaims the assurance that the malignity of His enemies, resulting in His death, cannot and will not remove His rightful claim to the position of Jewish King. So long as we have such a King of Jewish birth and the legal Heir of the Jewish throne and Kingdom, it is unbecoming to employ the term “Jewish” in any other than a respectful sense.
Obs. 6. To illustrate, aside from the covenants and reasoning already given, how intensely Jewish this Kingdom is, we refer (by way of anticipation) the reader to two or three particulars. (1) At the restoration of this Jewish nation, while Gentile nations shall experience great blessedness, the supremacy among all nations is accorded to the Jewish nation, as e.g. Micah 4:8, and 7:15–20; Zeph. 3:14–20; Zech. chs. 10, 12, 14, etc.: (comp. Prop. 114). (2) Jerusalem shall be wonderfully exalted in that day, as e.g. Zech. 8:3; Jer. 3:17; Joel 3:17; Isa. 24:23, etc. (3) The land itself shall be highly honored, as e.g. Ezek. 36:34, 36; Isa. 51:3; Zech. 2:12; Isa. 60:15 and 62:4, etc. To separate these predictions from their connection with the Jewish nation, is a destroying of their consistency and force, for the same identical nation, Jerusalem, and land that was suffering under Gentile dominion, is to enjoy such honor and happiness. To apply these predictions to another and mystical nation, city, and land is to make the threats all “Jewish” and the blessings all of a Gentile nature;—which procedure is a gross violation of the well-founded laws of language. Hence we reject it as unwarranted, deceptive, a degradation of the election, and as virtually making God unfaithful to oath-bound promises.
Note 1. Even Renan (Life of Jesus, p. 56) notices the predictions in this style: “that one day Jerusalem would be the Capital of the whole world, and that the human race would become Jewish,” etc. The last remark he no doubt founds on the Jewish supremacy and Theocratic rule of David’s Son, but it is not quite accurate seeing that Gentile nations are predicted as continuously existing, acknowledging and enjoying the blessings of such a rule. Comp. Prop. 168.
Note 2. The anti-Judaic spirit manifested by Neander, himself a Jew, has been noticed by others. Thus e.g. the writer of the art. on “Neander” (North Brit. Review, Feb. 1851), observes: “His phraseology, his ideas, his principles, bear no trace whatever of a Jewish origin, if, indeed, the violence of the reaction be not the best proof that he was a Jew. This has told for good, by leading him always to exalt spirit above form, the inward principle above the outward manifestation, the religion of the heart above ceremonial worship. It has sometimes told for evil, by making him often confound spiritual Judaism with formal Pharisaism.” To this we add: it told largely for evil, seeing that moulded by his philosophy, it prevented him from observing the continued and ever-abiding relationship that Christianity sustains to pure Judaism in its covenants and prophecies. (Comp. Dr. Shaff’s remarks on Neander in His. Apos. Church.) Multitudes assume his position. On the other hand, eminent writers, who themselves advocate Chiliasm, use expressions, which are liable to misapprehension. Thus e.g. Dr. Dorner (Person of Christ, vol. 1, p. 408) says: “Christian Chiliasm, so far from being derivable from, may in part be more justly regarded as a polemic against, Judaism on the part of Christianity. This, in particular, is its character, when it has apparently borrowed most features from Judaism.” Dorner here evidently refers to one form of Judaism limited to circumcision and the observance of the Mosaic ritual (and Rabbinical traditions), which Chiliasm unrelentingly opposed, and then to a broader form which embraced the covenants and promises, adopted by Chiliasm. Now many persons make “Judaism” and “Jewish” synonymous with the contracted form, and, prejudiced, are unable to appreciate the higher form, and the depth and preciousness of its many promises. There is a Judaism founded on the temporary provisions of the Mosaic economy and the traditions of the past, which is irreconcilable with our doctrine of the Kingdom; and there is a Judaism grounded upon the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, and the promises to the nation, which is inseparably connected with our belief—indeed, is fundamental to it. The Props. on the election 24, and 55–65, alone evidence this union.