|Vol. IV, No. 10
Tebeth 5607, January 1847
The Mission Of The Messiah.
What people have God so near them as thou, O Israel?
Perhaps no religious question has called forth more speculation and difference of opinion than the simple one of, who the Messiah is to be, and what shall be his mission? for upon it hangs the faith of the Christian and the hope of the Israelite. A question, like each grand truth in nature, extremely easy of solution, if once looked for amidst simple causes; but like them oft sought for in vain, because mankind love too well to hide themselves within the dark web of mystery that fancy throws around them, to follow the straight and sunshiny path that wisdom points out. More difficult still of solution, because each one seizes upon a theory, and then gives that shadowing to facts so as to cause their proposition to have an appearance of correctness, (as if it were possible to construct a building that would bear the storms of ages by commencing at the housetop, instead of beginning with the foundation,) leaping over in their eager haste, at one bound, the whole law, where alone the solution is to be found. Let us examine in the first place the simple structure upon which the Mosaic creed is raised.
Man, the creature of impulse, whilst passion holds its sway, could only be brought to acknowledge the superiority of the spiritual over his corporeal nature by the full development of the reasoning faculties. These faculties, again, could only become strengthened by the investigation of things within his comprehension. Therefore a religious system that would inspire him with a pure and trustful faith, under every circumstance of life, must be founded upon those simple and self-evident truths that are within the grasp of every grade of intellect. The first question, then, that would occur to the budding mind would be—As I myself was formed without any agency or innate power of my own, this beautiful world, and the hosts of magnificent systems with which it is surrounded, could not have made themselves, as they appear less life-like, less endowed with constructive powers than myself; and whether they have existed for thousands or millions of years, there must still be a commencement to the line of time, even if stretching far beyond the finite gaze of our intellect. They therefore must have been created by a Being vastly superior to myself; for I find that I cannot through any possibility call even the smallest atom into existence. This great Being must be self-existent; because I find, by the whole experience of man, that a created being has no faculty through the exercise of which he is enabled to call any matter into existence. A Being so immeasurably superior to man, cannot derive power or become more perfect through the influence or agency of any created thing.
Now, these very doctrines are what the laws of Moses proclaim. They teach us that our Creator is an eternal, immutable Being; that He has called all these vast creations into existence, for His glory, not for His necessity; and that, having endowed inan with His spiritual essence, He has given him a law beautiful for its simplicity, through the following of whose precepts he may keep this pure essence free from contamination. Omniscient and immutable, He constructed the law upon a basis that should last for ever. And that generations yet unborn should not doubt its authenticity, the glory of His presence appeared to a nation assembled at the same time, and in their hearing pronounced it perfect and unchangeable.
Now, the primordial principles of this law were—Firstly, The eternal self-existence of God; secondly, His perfect unity and incorporeality; and thirdly, As an omniscient and benevolent Being, our actions are all known to Him, all acted upon by Him; and that He is our only Redeemer, and will acknowledge no saviour except himself.
Now, as regards the first principles, either God is an incorporeal eternal unity (as his law every where proclaims), or He is not. If He is, then man’s constructions or suppositions cannot alter His essence; if He is not, then the whole law must fall to the ground as a baseless imposition, and bury the reasoning faculties beneath its ruins; for so long as its two great witnesses exist—reason and nature—the most sceptical must bow to the truths of revelation. Then, if the law be true in one respect, it must be so in all; and this law proclaims there is no god save the Lord, nor any saviour save our God. Taking these words for our guide, the Messiah appears to us in his Scripture garb, as a wise and just prince, a lineal descendant of David, who will teach righteousness by his example, and wisdom by his precepts; a man amongst men; not governing by the strong hand of power, but by the potent one of love; who, scorning strife, and infused by his Maker with the spirit of benevolence, shall be an enemy to vice and oppression, whether found on the monarch’s throne or in the peasant’s hovel; who, like the moon, shall shine, not with his own, but with a reflected light, whose rays, falling calm and sweet on the broken heart, shall be like a healing balm, causing the buds of hope to burst forth into flowering luxuriance, until tears shall no longer be known as the outpourings of grief, but as the gushings of a heart filled with light and joy. Still then, even then, will God be our only Saviour; for who would beg the servant to mediate with the ruler, when the ear of God is always open to the prayer of the contrite? who would ask the dweller on the threshold to intercede for forgiveness, when he himself could enter the presence chamber and lay his petition at the foot of the throne of his heavenly Father?
What people have God so near them as thou, O Israel? Yes; thou requirest no mediator save thy own repentant heart. A temple thyself! and thou hast but to sanctify it and make it holy, and, God, even the God of Israel, will in it take up his abode, and guard thy goings out and thy comings in, and the rays of his presence shall so circumfuse thy being, that though the sun should flee away upon the wings of the morning, and the bright orbs of space be covered with the pall of night, no gloom shall hover round thee, but guided by the Omnipotent Saviour, thou shalt pass world upon world in thy circling flight, until the glories of eternity shall encircle thy brow, and thou and thy redeemed race shalt acknowledge, with one accord, that the glorious King of kings is not so circumscribed in power, but that He can save all that He has created without a sacrifice, or listen to their prayers without a mediator, and that the Messiah is but an earthly prince, the first in virtue as the first in power.