« PreviousContinue »
had actually fulfilled them; and that it may be made, through my fulfilling this precept, a spiritual garment for my soul, spirit, and breath, for my 248 spiritual members, and for my 365 spiritual veins; that through it I may have a rabbinical mantle in the world of spirits, in the garden of Eden, and be clothed in it at the resurrection of the dead in the world to come.'
Many things might be added with respect to both the preparation, the wearing, and the results attributed to the vail and the fringes. Enough has, however, been written to shew that the precept of the “ fringes,” and “ the riband of blue,” has been turned to superstitious purposes, and that the Jews are taught to attribute virtue to the mode in which the commandment is obeyed to the vesture and the fringe, and not to regard these as remembrancers only of the law of their God.
We cannot fail, on the mere mention of the word vail, in connexion with the Jews, to remember the words of the apostle regarding his
poor nation.”—“Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their hearts." And again, “ Until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which vail is done away in Christ.”
When we speak of the “ blindness in part which is happened unto Israel,” * or of the vail upon the heart, we do so as if it were a blindness inflicted, a vail spread-over on account of their rejection and crucifixion of our Lord. Now the apostle tells us, it is the same vail which was there in the time of Moses, which prevented them seeing the end and object of their dispensation,
* Rom, xi. 25.
he tells us, with reference to the blindness, it was their sad lot in David's time, and points it out as the cause, and not as the consequence of their rejecting the Lord. So our blessed Saviour attributes their rejection of the evidence afforded by his wonderful works to the unbelief of the people. They believed not on him, that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts ; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” * The blindness and hardness had existed from the commencement of their history ; they are those of all men by nature, but the terms could not be used of any other nation in the same sense, as of Israel, because no other nation bad ever the same light—the same manifestations of Divine mercy, with respect to which they could be blinded and hardened.
When the apostle mentions the circumstance of Moses's putting a vail over his face, he affords a striking illustration of the case of the Jewish nation. In Exodus xxxiv. 29–35, we read, that when the face of Moses was turned to the Lord, it was unveiled; when it was turned from the Lord, and towards Israel, the vail was on his face. So now the face of Israel is turned from the Lord, and the vail is upon them.
6. Nevertheless, when it (the nation) shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” From the
* John xii. 37–40. Isaiah vi, 9, 10.
hearts of thousands the vail has been removed by the teaching of the Word and Spirit of our God. Let us ever earnestly pray that the day may be hastened, when the whole nation may be privileged to say as Christians may,—"We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."*
THE POOR JEWS IN LONDON. We often hear the expression,
" As rich as a Jew," and but few persons imagine that the very opposite idea would more fitly characterize the vast majority of that suffering people. The expression, “ As poor as a Jew,” when applied to the most poverty-stricken of our race, would, if the history of their wretchedness were fully known, convey an idea of suffering, such as is the lot of only comparatively few of their Gentile neighbours. The following description is from the Jewish Chronicle of October 30, of the present year:
Any one who will take the trouble to visit the populous quarter where the poor (Jews) reside in Middlesex-street and its vicinity : any one who will condescend to go about on a winter's night, and unexpectedly call at some of the miserable hovels (houses we cannot call them), situate in the narrow courts and alleys, often inhabited by two or three families, including a great number of children, often so densely
2 Cor. iii. 18.
crowded that one unaccustomed to such a dwelling can hardly draw breath : any one who has the moral courage to venture into these abodes of wretchedness, will soon arrive at the melancholy conclusion, that our charities, were they twice as numerous, are insufficient to relieve this gigantic distress. They will there see children running about half naked, mothers whose haggard looks betray their anguish in not being able to satisfy the hunger of their infants, and fathers afflicted with illness, from continual exposure to the inclemency of the weather, as the greater part of these poor but industrious men have to earn their bread in the streets. The furniture, if any, in the small damp room, rarely consists of more than a thinly covered bed, a table, and a few wooden chairs. We do not exaggerate in stating (and we were so told by a trustworthy man officiating at burials) that, in many cases, the deaths of infants, children, and aged people, are mainly attributable to the want of proper nourishment. This year the distress among those people, we grieve to say, has fearfully increased the wretched appearance at the last distribution of alms' on the eve of the new moon was truly appalling."
The number of poor Jews from Russia and Poland has during the last few years alarmingly increased. They are the sons of poverty, and as they add to the number, they also increase the destitution of their people. Thus whilst there are many of the nation of Israel who are possessed of great riches, the greater part dwell in a state of extremest poverty. There are a great number of charities established in London for the relief of the destitute; but these are totally inadequate to the wants of the sufferers. Oh, that in the depth of their poverty they possessed the true riches, and could, as the heirs of eternal life, look forward to the enduring mansions, where suffering and disease are unknown !
THE JEWS IN ROME.
The Jews in Rome have endured for centuries nothing but misery and degradation ; but the present Pope appears inclined to adopt a more liberal policy toward them than was exercised by his predecessors. Their condition is thus described in a Jewish paper*:-“ The Ghetto of Rome, situated in the lowest part of the town, mostly exposed to the inundations of the Tiber, and beyond the walls of which, derision and disgrace await the Jews--the Ghetto of Rome is the notorious seat of the most appalling wretchedness. To pine their lives away in such a place, the Jewish community have annually to pay 6,000 scudi (1,2001.)! whilst the permission for such a residence must be begged from year to year, at the commencement of the Carnival, in the presence of a crowded mob at the capitol. Things were better, perhaps, in former times. The Jewish community of Rome used to prepare solemn feasts at the entrance, and at the coronation of the German emperors, which were deemed worthy of record in the annals of the kingdom, and which became a subject of historical fame, but the present inhabitants of the
* “ Jewish Chronicle," October 30, 1846.