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The Project Gutenberg ebook of Some Jewish Witnesses For Christ, by - səhifə 24

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"We spent the previous evening with her, and I read St. Paul's conversion, and the sufferings of our Saviour, which affected her much, and I earnestly asked God to be with us on the following day. She said: 'How thankful do I feel that the fear of man is entirely removed from my mind, so much so that I[381] have not only told my intentions to my servant, but have given her leave to publish it abroad, and told her, should she meet my relations, how to tell them of it; in fact, I wish all my relations to know it, and I pray God they may be brought to the knowledge of truth ere they die."

Moritz, (Moses) Johann Christian, was one of the most distinguished of the early missionaries of the L.J.S. He was born at Bernstein (Pomerania) in 1786. His mother died when he was only four years of age. Before she expired she blessed him, and said, "You will live to see the advent of the Messiah. Remain steadfastly in the faith of your fathers, that you may have a rich share in their Kingdom." These words made a strong impression upon the child and were realized by him in a different manner than the mother expected. Moritz received a Talmudic education from private teachers, but modern literature attracted him most. His father and his teacher warned him against it, and indeed they had reason for doing so, for he began to express his doubts about the divine origin of the Talmud, and one rabbi declared that his mind was deranged and that he would eventually become a Meshummad. On account of his disagreement with his stepmother, Moritz left his home at the age of 16 and went to Berlin to an uncle. At that time Prussia had suffered much from the war with Napoleon, and Moritz went to London in 1807, and brought a recommendation to the rabbi Dr. Herschell. The rabbi received him in a friendly manner, and[382] warned him to beware of the missionary Frey, yet he did not regard it. The quiet Sunday in England impressed him, and enquiring of Jews for the cause of it, they said, "If we Jews should keep the Sabbath holy, as the Christians here do their Sunday, the Messiah would soon come." This utterance he considered as a hint to him for seeking to become acquainted with Christianity. He then got a New Testament and read day and night, comparing it with the Old. He felt his sins and took refuge in Jesus by faith, which he at once confessed before the Jews. His father was informed of his son's intention to become a Christian, and he came to London and tried his best to win him back to Judaism, but had at last to leave him with imprecations and the assurance that he would never get anything of his property. Moritz went then to the German Pastor, Dr. Steinkopf, by whom he was instructed and baptized. In 1811, he went to Gottenburg, Sweden, where he maintained himself by giving lessons and selling books. In 1817 he was introduced by Lewis Way to the mission, and having received a special call from the Czar Alexander he went to Russia that year and laboured till 1825. At that time he wrote two letters to the Jews, based on Jer. xxxi. 31-34. (Elberfeld, 1820.) In 1825, after being in the Missionary College, he entered the service of the L.J.S., and was sent to Hamburg, where he at once formed a Prayer Union. From Hamburg he itinerated to Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Bavaria, Würtemberg, receiving God's smile and blessing upon his efforts wherever he went. In[383] 1843, he returned to Gottenburg where he testified to his brethren of the truth of the Gospel till 1868, when he died in the Lord, after 42 years service under the L.J.S. It may be mentioned that his wife, a Swedish lady, who shared his toils and hopes with him for fifty years, died in 1864, and after her death he gave all her savings to the L.J.S.

Mossa, Nathaniel Immanuel, gives the following particulars of himself:—"I was born on October 29th, 1833, at Friedland, near Beskow. My father was a Jewish merchant, first in that town, and later in Spandau, where I passed my boyhood. When I had completed my studies at the Werder Gymnasium in Berlin I entered the University in order to study medicine. I graduated in 1858, and the next year passed the State Examination. I then entered the army for one year as a volunteer doctor, and was sent to Spandau, and then to Jüterberg. Here, in the hospitable house of Dr. Gross (later in Barmen), I learned Hahnemann's method of treatment. After having finished my military year's practice, I settled in Bromberg, and soon found a promising sphere of activity. This, however, was interrupted by my participating in the military expeditions of 1864 and 1866. Also in 1870 I was called to serve in the army as physician, and took part in the siege of Strassburg, and likewise of Belfort, and returned home with the decoration of the Iron Cross. I then renewed my medical work at Bromberg, and continued it for twenty years, and was also a contributor to the 'General Homœopathic Periodical.' Owing to the precarious health of my only child, I[384] was at length obliged to exchange the northern cold climate for that of the south, and hence settled in 1883 at Stuttgart. In 1894, in addition to my medical work, I undertook in 1894 the editorship of the above-named journal. I have also for some years acted as President of the Committee of the Society of Homœopathic Physicians at Würtemberg.

"As for the story of my spiritual life, I may say, with all humility, that our gracious Lord favoured me early in my youth. Already as a school-boy I had the opportunity of learning the Gospel, since the Bible was our book for reading in my first Christian school. I was at that time much attracted by the works and utterances of Jesus, and deeply touched by His death, and impressions perseveringly strong were made upon my mind. The instruction and earnest converse I had with two fellow-workers of the British Society, Dr. Koppel and Dr. Fürst, helped me."

This short extract from Dr. Nathaniel Immanuel Mossa's autobiography is supplemented by the information supplied by Pastor de le Roi concerning him:—

"One day a Jewish Rabbi of his town asked him to give an address to Jewish prisoners, and he took for his text: 'Seek ye the Lord while He is to be found, call ye upon Him while He is near,' and he illustrated the text by the example of the prodigal son. This was the turning point in his life. He himself began to seek Him until He found Him or was found by Him. He afterwards went to[385] Bromberg, where he heard Koppel giving an exposition on Isa. liii. and he joined in his labours as a doctor in the Institution at Salem. Koppel recommended him for baptism to the L.J.S. missionary Bellson, in Berlin. Later in life he settled in Stuttgart, where he was a great comfort and support to Gottheil, and after his death, he himself acted as missionary of the British Society there till he was called home."

Myers, Rev. Dr. Alfred Moritz, was born in Breslau, of strict orthodox parents. At the age of twelve his teacher was a famous Talmud rabbi, and he lived and moved and had his being in the Talmud and in nothing else. Consequently he became disgusted with it, and when he heard that two missionaries had arrived in Breslau, he visited them and received tracts from them. For this he was punished, and when his mother died, he left his home for London in 1830, and then went to Liverpool, where he heard the Gospel from the Rev. H. S. Joseph, and after many inward struggles was baptized in 1839. He studied theology, and became a clergyman of the Church of England, and a famous preacher. He was Vicar at Barnet, and afterward of All Saints, Dalston. He wrote an autobiography, "Both one in Christ," London and Liverpool, 1839, "The History of a young Jew," Chester, 1840. "The Jew" translated into German, 1856. He wrote also for children—"The Peep of Day," "The Night of Trial," upon the first missionary at Southsea, "Line upon Line," "Reading Disentangled." He died in 1880.[386]

Nachim, Rev. M., born in the town of Odessa in 1836. He writes:—

"I was initiated into the covenant on the eighth day (according to the Jewish rite), and I received the name of Reuben, after my grandfather, who had been chief rabbi. I do not know the time when I began to learn Hebrew, but I do remember I was not quite eight years old when I commenced to study the Talmud.

"In the year 1854, I started on a journey to Palestine. When in Constantinople I met a Hebrew Christian colporteur named Solomon, who offered me a New Testament.

"Up to this period of my life I had never heard there was such a book in existence! That dear Christian man induced me to visit the London Jews' Society's missionary (the Rev. Dr. Stern). Space does not permit me to go into detail, but that memorable visit, which lasted several hours, thanks be to our Heavenly Father, changed my future life. It was then for the first time I heard that Christianity was not, as I had been led to believe, a system of idolatry, but based on Moses and the Prophets, and I left Dr. Stern's house with a burning desire to hear more, and learn more about it. For two years I visited Dr. Stern constantly, and the more I learned of the saving truth as it is in Jesus, the more agonized was my struggle; but at last, though my pillow was oft bedewed with tears, as I realized fully what decision for Christ would involve, I was enabled by Divine grace to say, 'I count all things but loss, for[387] the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things;' and on September 16, 1856, I was baptized in Constantinople by my beloved spiritual father, Dr. Stern, and I then received the name of Michael (who is like unto God). From that time I had an earnest desire to witness for Christ amongst my brethren; and in 1860 I entered the mission field in connexion with the London Jews' Society, with whom I remained till November, 1869, and then I commenced my missionary labours with the British Society.

"In closing this brief outline of my life, I desire to express my deep gratitude to our gracious Lord, who has permitted me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Russia, Roumania, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Turkey and Bulgaria, and has blessed the message to many a Jewish heart, and to the salvation of many souls. I have also been privileged to preach the Gospel to many members of my own family, holding influential positions in Russia, and I am thankful so say that nine of my cousins have been baptized.

"My future is in God's hands, and my earnest prayer is, that the remainder of my life may be more fully dedicated to His service and for His glory."

Naphthali, Israel, was one of the earliest missionaries of the British Society. He was appointed in 1842, and laboured mostly in Manchester. In 1851 he could report twenty-three converts as the fruit of his labours. In 1870, it was recorded that through his instrumentality fifty Jews acknowledged Jesus as[388] their Saviour, amongst whom was Aaron Sternberg, who afterwards became an earnest missionary of the same Society. Naphthali was an earnest, spiritually-minded Christian; who reached the age of 86, and died in the Home for Aged Israelites in 1886.

Nathaniel, (Julla), a North African Jew, was one of the earliest Jewish converts in England after the Reformation. He was baptized in the parish church of All Hallows, Lombard Street, London on April 1, 1577, by the Rev. John Fox, who preached a sermon on that occasion on Rom. xi. in Latin. That sermon was published in English by James Bell in 1587. Nathaniel, too, gave an address to the congregation after his baptism. ("Jewish Intelligence," 1827, pp. 28, 321, 406, 445.)

Navorsky, son of Moses bar Hayim, who lived in the Archduchy of Posen in the seventeenth century. His father was a tenant farmer, and when he died the Polish nobleman, to whom the farm belonged, after demanding from the widow the payment of false debts, which she refused to pay, drove her away from the farm, seized her son and had him forcibly baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. When the Saxons invaded Poland, one of their officers gave the nobleman a dog for him in exchange. This officer, being a Christian man and a member of the Moravian brethren, treated him kindly and instructed him in the truth of the Gospel, of which he had hitherto been in total ignorance. Later he joined the Lutheran Church and lived a pious Christian life. He died in 1750.[389]

Neander, Auguste.[16] On the 17th of July in the year 1850, an imposing funeral cortège slowly wended its way through the streets of Berlin, attended by a Royal carriage and by numerous Government officials, clergymen, professors and students of the Universities of Berlin and Halle, assembled to pay their last tokens of respect and esteem to the distinguished man who was being carried to his final resting-place. Along the whole route from the residence of the deceased to the cemetery, a distance of two miles, immense crowds of people thronged the streets, filling all windows, doors, and available places of observation. Before the hearse were carried the Bible and Greek Testament of the man who had done more than any of his contemporaries to keep alight in Germany the torch of pure and undiluted Christianity. The whole scene was a striking tribute to the worth and work of the eminent professor and Church historian, Auguste Neander, who for thirty-eight years had exercised unbounded influence in the domain of theology, not only in the University of which he was a distinguished ornament, but also throughout Europe. And this man was a Christian Jew, whose conversion and devotion to Christianity were destined to be fruitful in great results, the end of which we have hardly seen to-day.

David Mendel, to give him his original name, was born at Göttingen of poor Jewish parents on January 10th, 1789. He was a scion of the famous Mendel[390] family, connected by descent with the great Jewish reformer Moses Mendelssohn, whose successful efforts to elevate and uplift his then degraded race ended in all his descendants eventually embracing the Christian faith. In the words of a modern Jewish historian, whose love of truth led her to place on record what must have cost many a regret to avow:—"As we read the story of the wise and liberal philosopher, who broke through the barriers and let in the light of learning and of social countenance on mediæval benighted Judaism, we shall see that the very children of the emancipator were dazzled by the unaccustomed rays, that his sons wavered and his daughters apostatized, and that in the third generation—only the third—the fetters which degraded were called degrading, and the grandchildren of Moses Mendelssohn, the typical Jew, were Jews no longer."[17]

Young David Mendel received his early education at the gymnasium or public school at Hamburg, it being his parents' intention to bring him up in the legal profession, in which, there is very little doubt, he would have become distinguished. In 1806, however, having, through the influence of two fellow-students, Chamisso the poet and another named Neumann, embraced the Christian faith, he determined to devote himself to the study of theology, and thenceforth the whole course of his life was altered. At his baptism he had taken the Christian names of Johann Auguste Wilhelm, after those of his two[391] friends, to which he added a new surname, Neander, or the "new man," and the new aims of his life were thus expressed in a letter which he wrote to the pastor who had baptized him: "My reception into the holy covenant of the higher life is to me the greatest thing for which I have to thank you, and I can only prove my gratitude by striving to let the outward sign of baptism unto a new life become, indeed, the mark of the new life proclaiming the reality of the new birth."

Auguste Neander, as he was thereafter known, now entered the University of Halle, where he studied Christian dogmatics under the celebrated Professor Schleiermacher, whose speculations in doctrinal theology verged very closely upon heterodoxy, and who is pronounced by an authority to have been "the greatest theological writer that Germany has produced since Luther, and, indeed, he may be called the founder of modern rationalism on its better side."[18] Intercourse with this erratic and brilliant genius produced no perceptible taint of rationalism in the mind or scholarship of the scarcely less brilliant pupil, whose public teaching contrasted so powerfully with that of his erstwhile master. "It was a sad and singular sight," wrote the biographer of Neander, "to behold his former teacher, Schleiermacher, a Christian by birth, inculcating in one lecture-room, with all the power of his mighty genius, those doctrines which lead to the denial of the Evangelical attributes of Jesus Christ, whilst in another his pupil Neander,[392] by birth a Jew, preached and taught salvation through faith in Christ the Son of God alone."[19]

When Neander left Halle he repaired to his birthplace, Göttingen, to pursue his theological studies in the university of which Planck was at that time the leading spirit. It was there that Neander acquired the practice, so conspicuous in his writings, of taking nothing for granted and digging deep to the very origines of things. It was this invariable reliance solely on first hand and primitive information which makes his literary work so valuable. In 1811 Neander became a private "coach" at Heidelberg, in the university of which he was appointed a professor of theology in the following year. Youthful as he still was, his fame had by this time spread far and wide, and within a few months he was elected to a similar position in the recently founded University of Berlin, which the King of Prussia desired to elevate to the foremost rank among the sister universities of his kingdom, and to make a great centre for the teaching of theology. There Neander remained till the day of his death, fully justifying his selection as one of the leading lecturers in that seat of learning.

The foregoing are the chief events in an otherwise uneventful career, entirely passed as scholar and tutor within the sheltered seclusion of university life. It has been said that such an atmosphere makes for self-indulgence. Of course, it may easily[393] degenerate into this state. And yet how many university dons could we name, whose saintly and scholarly lives, long hours spent in teaching, and nightly burnings of the midnight oil give the lie to such a sweeping assertion! That it was far from being the case with Neander the following slight sketch of the man himself, his labours and his writings, will abundantly demonstrate.

Neander was of an exceedingly lovable disposition, humble-minded, retiring, pious and zealous. He was as simple as a child in the ordinary and every-day concerns of life, eccentric and singular beyond description, absent-minded to the last degree, and generous to a fault. His charity was unbounded. His wants being few, he could give the bulk of his income to others. The proceeds from the sale of his numerous works were devoted to philanthropic and missionary purposes. He could never keep any loose cash in his pocket, or turn away his face from any poor man. If he did not part with the well-worn coat off his back it was because he preferred to bestow the new one hanging in his wardrobe.

His industry was prodigious. Being a single man, for he never married, he could devote all his time and energies to his calling—which was that of scholar, writer, and lecturer. He was never ordained, and so never preached in the ministerial sense of the word; but he never lectured without teaching Christianity in its practical as well as doctrinal and historical aspect. Religion was never obscured by theology. His lectures were attended not merely by under-graduates[394] and students, but also by leading professors of his own and other universities—Protestants and Romanists alike sitting at his feet. Three lectures a day he invariably gave, and those on different subjects. To the students he was a father and a counsellor, ever ready to bestow, though never eager to thrust, his advice upon all who sought it. He was universally beloved for his kindness of heart and his gentleness, and respected and admired for his talents, scholarship, and teaching powers.

The supreme object of Neander's life, studies, and labours, is thus concisely stated by himself in the preface of the first edition of his magnum opus:[20] "To exhibit the history of the Church of Christ as a living witness of the Divine power of Christianity, as a school of Christian experience, a voice sounding through the ages, of instruction, of doctrine and of reproof, for all who are disposed to listen." Neander was not merely the historian of the dead past or laudator temporis acti. To him the past was indeed great, eloquent, and glorious, but he regarded it chiefly as the beginning of a greater present and a more glorious future, and as the foundation of the stately building of the Church that is being reared throughout the ages. He had unquenchable faith in the abiding presence of Christ in His Church, and of its consequent power to mould and transform the world. The parables of the leaven and of the mustard seed were pregnant with meaning to him, and in his[395] history he elaborately traced the process of development in the past centuries—a process which amounted to a steady and ever forward progress, even furthered by all attempts to hinder it. And this, because Christianity is a Divine power which descended from heaven at the Incarnation of Christ, and gave a new character to the life of the human race.

We can well understand how exhilarating and energising such teaching as this must have been when directed, as it was of set purpose, to counteract the then new-fangled doctrines of Schleiermacher, and more especially of Strauss, who in his "Life of Christ" had sought to eliminate from Christianity all that was Divine, and therefore to destroy its regenerative power on the hearts and lives of mankind.

To Neander, then, a Christian Jew, an immense debt of gratitude is due from all who hold the Catholic faith undefiled. He stemmed for a time the tide of Rationalism which threatened to engulf in its turbid waters not only Germany, but the whole of Christendom. His aid was expressly chartered to undo the harm caused by the speculative teaching of Strauss. When others would have suppressed the latter's work by force, Neander, discountenancing such carnal weapons, boldly and mercilessly met his heresies by the issue of his own "Life of Christ."

We have already dwelt upon his two greatest works. We can only barely mention the others. They were, to give them their titles in English—"The History of the Planting and Training of the[396] Christian Church by the Apostles," "Biographies of Julian the Apostate, St. Bernard and St. Chrysostom," "Anti-Gnostikus, Development of the Gnostic System," "Memorabilia from the History of the Christian Life," "Unity and Variety of the Christian Life," numerous essays contributed to religious periodicals, and "Memoirs of the Proceedings of the Berlin Royal Academy of Sciences."

Neander's restless activity doubtless shortened his life, and death overtook him before the work which he had set himself to do was done. He had completed his "General History" only to the middle of the fourteenth century. He died whilst dictating a page of this unfinished history, with the words, "I am weary; I must sleep; good night;" upon his lips. To another famous historian, Bede, it was granted to see, but only just to see, the completion of his labours. When dying, the amanuensis who wrote for him his translation into Saxon of the Gospel according to St. John, said: "Master, there is but one sentence wanting." Bede answered: "Write quickly!" and when the sentence was written, he replied: "Thou hast the truth—consummatum est," and with the Gloria Patri upon his lips, he breathed his last. Neander's work is like a broken column, and yet who shall say it had been better otherwise? Surely not those who believe that "man is immortal, until his work is done."

Neander, Rev. John, thus wrote of his conversion to a sincere acquaintance:—"My dear friend,—Cheerfully do I respond to your call, and as briefly as possible[397] will I relate to you, how wonderfully God has dealt with me; how He, the Almighty God, looked down upon me while I was yet deeply sunk; how He called me, and lifted me up from the dust; and how He brought me out of darkness into His marvellous light; praised be His name. Amen.


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