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the manner of which is described at large by Buxtorf.* Let the Messiah provide well for them in this world, and they will look well enough to themselves, as to that which is to come.
§12. 3. And hence ariseth also their ignorance of the whole nature, use, and end of the Mosaical law, which also contributes much to the producing of the same effect upon them. They look upon the law and their observance of it, as the only means of obtaining righteousness, and making atonement with God; so they did of old, Rom. ix, 32-34. In the observance of its precepts, they place all their righteousness before God, and by the sacrifices of it, they look for the atonement of all their sins. But, if righteousness may be obtained, and atonement made without him, to what end serves the promise concerning him? The truth is, having thus taken from him the whole office and work to which he was designed of God, and that he might not be thought altogether useless, they have cut out for him the work and employment before mentioned. For looking on righteousness and atonement, with the consequent of them, eternal salvation, as the proper effects of the law, they thought meet to leave to their Messiah the work of procuring to them liberty, wealth, and dominion, which they found by experience the law was not able to do. But, indeed, had their eyes been opened in the knowledge of God and themselves, they would have found the law no less insufficient to procure, by itself, an heavenly, than an earthly kingdom for them.
But here, by the way, some may possibly inquire, how the Jews, if they look for atonement and the remission of sins, by the sacrifices of the law, can expect
Vid. Buxtorf. Synagog. Judaic. cap. xx,
to have their present sins pardoned, without which they cannot be eternally saved, seeing they are confessedly destitute of all legal sacrifices whatever? Have they found out some other way, or do they utterly give over seeking after salvation? This very question being put to one of them, he answers, "That they now obtain the "pardon of their sins by repentance and amendment of "life, according to the promises made in the prophets "to that purpose;" and concludes, "Although there are "now no sacrifices, which were a means (tanto fa"cilius) the more easily to obtain the forgiveness of "sins, yet it may be obtained by repentance, and a de"parture from evil ways." This is their hope, which, like that of the hypocrite, is as the giving up of the ghost. For,
1. Though repentance and amendment of life are required in them who seek after the forgiveness of their sins, and many promises are made to them; yet, is this all that God required, that sin might be forgiven? They are sufficient, indeed, in their own place, but are they so absolutely also? Did not God, moreover, require and appoint, that they should make use of sacrifices, to make atonement for sin, without which it should not be done away? See Lev. xvi. And,
2. What is the meaning of that plea, that by sacrifices, indeed, remission of sins might be "more easily" obtained, but an avowal that it may be obtained without them? Doth this, "more easily" respect God, or man? If they say it respects God, I desire to know, if he can pardon sin without sacrifices, why he cannot do it as easily as with them? or what is he eased of by sacrifices? If it respects themselves, as indeed it doth, then it may be inquired, what it is that they shall be eased of, in their obtaining the pardon of sins by the use of sacrifices, when again restored to them?
Surely the present inconvenience of which they hope to be eased, can be nothing but that which they now are forced to make use of, for that end and purposerepentance and amendment of life. If, then, they had their sacrifices, the former might be spared, or at least much might be abated of what, at present, is necessary. This, then, it seems, was the end why God instituted sacrifices, that these Jews might obtain pardon of sins without either repentance or amendment! And this is that which they love as their souls; namely, that they may live in their sins, and be acquitted of all danger, by sacrifices and outward services. But
3. Atonement for sin is expressly necessary, or else all the institutions of sacrifices, for that end, were vain and ludicrous; and, therefore, notwithstanding their pretence of repentance (which was always required) no Jew can, upon his own principles, now in the total cessation of all sacrifices, obtain either pardon of sin here, or salvation hereafter. But to proceed;
$13. 4. Their corrupt carnal affections have, moreover, greatly contributed to their obstinacy in their unbelief. Hence they have coined their self-pleasing imaginations concerning the Messiah, and the work that he hath to do. Wealth, ease, liberty, dominion, or a share in power and rule, are the things that please their carnal minds. But whilst they are obstinately fixed in the expectation of such things, to tell them of a spiritual and heavenly kingdom, wherein the poorest and most persecuted person on the earth may have as good an interest, and enjoy as much benefit by it, as the greatest monarch in the world, and you do but cast away your words into the wind.
Since the propagation of the gospel, and the success of it in the world, envy, another corrupt lust, against the Gentile believers hath exceedingly perverted their
minds in their notions about the Messiah. They cannot endure that the Gentiles should be equal sharers with themselves in the promise of the Messiah. They would have him to themselves alone, or not at all; and this keeps up their desires and expectations of such a one as they have fancied for their own ends and purposes. Again,
§14. 5. Their envy against the Gentiles is greatly increased and excited by the oppressions and sufferings from them, which they undergo. I speak not now of their present and past sufferings from nominal Christians, which in many places have been unrighteous and inhuman, and so undoubtedly a great occasion of hardening them in their obstinacy, but of their long-continued oppressions, under the power of the Gentiles in general. Having been greatly harassed and wasted by them in most ages, and having a Deliverer promised to them, they are strongly inclined to fancy such a deliverance, as, being peculiarly theirs, should enable them to avenge themselves on their old enemies and oppressors. And how hard it is for them to lay aside these thoughts, unless they are freed by Divine grace, from the carnal affections now mentioned, is not difficult to guess.
§15. This is the faith and expectation of the present Jews all over the world, concerning the Messiah, in whom they place their confidence. A mere man he is to be; a king over the Jews at Jerusalem, who shall conquer many nations, and give peace, prosperity, and plenty to all the Israelites in their land. But what great matter is there in all this? Have not other men done as much, or more for their citizens and people? they fancy that their Messiah should be more victorious than Alexander? They dare not hope it. At a disputation before the Pope and Cardinals at Rome,
which they have recorded in Shebat Jehudah, they openly professed that they never expected so great glory by their Messiah, as that which they saw them attended with. But do these things answer the promises made concerning him, from the foundation of the world? Is this the meaning of the promise given to Adam? Was this the end of the call and separation of Abraham? or the intention of the promise made to him, that in "his seed all the nations of the "earth should be blessed?" Is this only the import of it, that towards the end of the world many of them shall be conquered? Was this the intent of the oath made to David, and of the sure mercies confirmed to him and his thereby? Do all the promises in the prophets set out in words so glorious and magnificent, end in a warrior, inferior it may be to many of those whose destruction they prophesied of? Or, is not this rather a way to expose the whole Old Testament to scorn and reproach? Was this the expectation of the fathers of old? Is this that which they desired, prayed for, longed for, esteeming all the glory of their present enjoyments as nothing in comparison of it? What is there in this Messiah, that he should be the hope and desire of all nations? Did God set him forth as the great effect of his love, grace, goodness, and faithfulness towards them, and then bring forth a military king? Was the church in travail for so many generations, to bring forth this fighter? Had they no eye of old to spiritual and eternal things in the promise of the Messiah?
What is become all this while, of the work every where in the scripture assigned to the true Messiah? Who shall "break the serpent's head?" Who shall take away the curse that entered as the inseparable attendant on sin? Who shall be a blessing to all nations? To whom shall the Gentiles be gathered for salvation?