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The following pages have been written with the view to satisfy all who respect, and submit to, the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, of that principle which even sound reason teaches, that if there be any revelation from God to man at all,-if He have given any rule of life to any,—the same must, in the same degree, be equally binding upon all men alike. This principle God also declares by Moses, “ Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. xxiv. 22; Numb. xv. 16.) The Gospel declares the same, “God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts x. 34, 35.) I purposely quote these words, though much stronger are found, apparently more to the point, because those words were expressly spoken on a like occasion, to show the equal dealings of God with all men.
On this subject, however, we meet with two extreme parties; the one holding that there is indeed no difference between Jew and Gentile in Christ, but maintaining, that the equality arises from the fact of the Jews having no more hope as a nation; and, together with the hopes and promises to the seed of Abraham, they also reject the hope of the Church, which is briefly, and scripturally, declared in the creeds of the Church; in the Nicene running thus, “ And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end;" of which hope the apostle says, “ Comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. iv. 18.) Let those who deny the hope of Israel say, whether they can find any “comfort” in the “words" the apostle here speaks of. The other party, again, make the difference between the Jew and the Gentile so great, as to make
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it scarcely practicable, that they should form one visible Church together, they make the hopes of the Church, and those of “ Israel after the flesh,” so different from one another, as but just to leave a little link, that they may not fall asunder altogether; but Christ declares, “ And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John X. 16.) Both these parties undervalue the work of Christ: the one, by not admitting the promise, to Gentile believers, of a full participation in the inheritance of Israel, as if the Jews were the legitimate children of God, in Christ, and Gentiles a kind of step-children ; they explain themselves by saying, the Gentile Church, as such, will fade away, and fall, before the Jewish Church, which is to be, as it were, new organized: but Christ has founded his Church upon a rock, and declared, that “ the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. xvi. 18), and that he would be with his Church "unto the end of the world” (xxviii. 20); and the last sign before his coming is stated to be, the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom,” “ in all the world,” which must be done by the Gentile Church, though numbering many, and multitudes of Jews within her bosom; as then only will “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in ” (Rom. xi. 25); and at the sealing of the elect number of 144,000 of the tribes of Israel, we behold, and, “lo a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” (Rev. vii. 9.) The other party undervalue the work of Christ still more, by thinking he is to be a satisfied,” for “the travail of his soul” (Isaiah liji. 11), by seeing the world remain as it is, lying "in wickedness” (1 John v. 19), till “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. i. 8); and denying altogether the often repeated promise, that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. ii. 14.)
The former of these two parties, by a natural consequence, sometimes go a step further, and make the difference between
Jewish and Gentile believers still greater, by insisting on the necessity of Jewish Christians' continued observance of the legal institutions, by the side of the Gospel. It was with the view of combating this dangerous error, that I sat down to write this tract. To refute them is, indeed, an easy matter, as they themselves admit, that the Gospel imperatively forbids Gentiles to join in those institutions; but think they may infer, from certain facts related in the Acts of the Apostles, that the cautions given to Christians on this subject, in the Gospel, apply only to Gentile, but not to Jewish, Christians: all that would then be necessary to show is, that those persons either mistake the bearing of the facts, or else draw unwarranted inferences from them, or both, which I believe is really the case. As the subject involves, however, the most important principles, I thought I could not do it justice without treating it at large, as affecting the unity of believers, and the connexion between the law and the Gospel.
Hoping that by solving the questions here proposed, on the purest scriptural basis, I may be contributing my humble mite towards the elucidation of truths, which it is high time should occupy a more prominent place in the Church than they have done ever since the “ dark ages," and suspecting that false and erroneous views on these questions have hung, like darkening clouds, over the eyes of many who, therefore, either rejected the glorious hopes of the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ altogether, or else met with too many perplexities to derive the full “comfort” intended in these hopes, I recommend this little imperfect attempt to my beloved brethren in the bonds of the Gospel, and to the blessing of the great Head of the Church, on so much of it as is in accordance with his holy Word, which alone I took for my guide. May He bless it to the glory of the Father! Amen.
G. W. PIERITZ.
P.S. The italics used in the following pages are intended to answer no other purpose than that of emphasis.