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Was Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah?
A three nights' discussion between Mr. Robert Roberts, Editor of the "Christadelphian," and Mr. Louis Stern, an Orthodox Jew, of Birmingham, [England], in the Temperance Hall, Birmingham, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, October 17th, 18th, and 19th. Rev. B. Wright, Unitarian Minister, in the Chair.
Was Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah?
THE CHAIRMAN, in opening the meeting the first night, said, In order that no person might come to a wrong conclusion respecting his presence in the chair: that he had no high opinion of the value of public discussions to those in search of truth. His impression was that truth was best served by writing, as writing did not so much lead to rouse those feelings which were often seen in connection with discussions of that character. After asking a fair hearing for each side, he called upon Mr. Roberts to open the discussion.
MR. ROBERTS: Ladies and gentlemen, my position to-night indicates that I do not altogether share the sentiments of the Chairman as to the utility of discussion. I agree with him that results of critical value are not to be arrived at in the course of controversy for any number of nights, but I think the stimulus given to the minds of listeners in the direction of the question agitated, tends much to subsequent interest and attention to the subject, and, therefore, indirectly, is ultimately of great value. Therefore I have willingly accepted the challenge given to me by Mr. Stern, believing that the great truth embodied in the proposition of to-night will obtain more attention when canvassed by controversy, than even if expounded in a lecture. However, letting that pass, I address myself to the duty that devolves upon me, which is to maintain that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. That affirmation embodies an issue that is exceedingly simple and convenient for discussion. We both agree, I presume, as to the two principal ideas that go to make up the proposition; we both agree as to what is meant by "Jesus of Nazareth", historically at all events; that he was an actual personage who appeared among the Jews 1,800 years ago. From Mr. Stern's character as an orthodox Jew, I am justified in presuming that we are also agreed as to the idea represented by the term "Messiah;" a Jewish expectation of now almost untold centuries, that a certain great personage would arise among them who would be their ruler, their king, their head, their leader, who would re-establish their ancient commonwealth, and give them universal dominion in the erecting of a universal empire upon the basis of the Jewish nationality restored. Agreeing on these abstract points, the issue is simply this: was the one, the other? was Jesus of Nazareth that personage? Mr. Stern says No, I say Yes; and I will proceed to give substantial reasons for that answer.
My first reason is, that he appeared at the time when according to the prophets of the Jewish nation the Messiah of Israel ought to have appeared. I refer you to a prophecy of Daniel (9:24-25), which I will read:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, UNTO THE MESSIAH THE PRINCE, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."
I assume it as a point conceded on all hands, and that, therefore, needs not to be discussed in connection with this controversy, that these seventy weeks are the symbolic equivalent of 490 years, upon the principle that in prophetico-symbolic usage, a day stands for a year, of which you will find a distinct and unquestionable illustration in the fourth chapter of Ezekiel, to which I will not now refer you more particularly. Seventy weeks multiplied by 7 (the number of days in a week) give a total of 490; and, therefore, presuming that Mr. Stern, in common with the Jews in general (and he will be at issue with his own brethren if it is otherwise, and the professing Christian community also), accepts the seventy weeks as symbolic of a period of 490 years; we have only to find out the commencement of the period, to ascertain the time when the Messiah ought to have appeared. The question is, what is the starting point of the period? The answer is as plain as could be desired: "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem:" to understand which, we have to remember that at the time these words were addressed to Daniel, the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, where Daniel himself was at the time he received the vision. Jerusalem was lying in waste and desolation. The time had arrived for the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (which I presume Mr. Stern will not question), that at the close of seventy years, Israel should be restored to their land. In view of these facts, the definition is an intelligible definition. From the issue of the edict that was to effect the re-building of the ruined city of Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, there should elapse a total period of 490 years, divided into three minor parts of 7, 62, and 1, with references to leading historical events that were to mark the interval. It comes to be a matter of simple historic enquiry as to when the edict was issued, and we find our answer within the two boards of the Bible. We find the issue of the edict recorded in Nehemiah 2. There we are told that Nehemiah, who was cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the Persian king, was sad in the royal presence, and to the question put to him why he was sad, he answered thus (third verse):--
"Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, if it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, THAT I MAY BUILD IT."
Thereupon the king gave orders for Nehemiah's wish to be granted. He placed a military escort at his disposal, as appears from verse 9, and issued an official direction to the men in authority in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, to assist Nehemiah in the execution of the work. I am not unaware that previous to this, Ezra had co-operated with the Jews under an edict of Cyrus, for the rebuilding of the Temple, but the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem itself, transpired in the days of Nehemiah, who received and executed that order. The question is, what was the date of that order? Chronologists are agreed that the date was before Christ 456 and a fraction. How old was Christ when he died? Thirty-three and a fraction. Add thirty-three and a fraction to 456 and a fraction, and what is the result? 490 years -- the very period defined in Daniel.
I, therefore, put forward, as the first reason for maintaining that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, the fact that he appeared at the precise period required by the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. The Jews themselves expected the appearance of their Messiah at that time. For this, we have the testimony of Josephus, who says that the Jews believed that that was the time when one of the Jewish nation should rise up to carry out the purpose declared in the prophets. His words, which will be found in his 7th book, 31st chapter, are as follow:--
"That which chiefly excited them (the Jews) to war, was an ambiguous prophecy, THAT AT THAT TIME, someone within their country should arise that should obtain the empire of the whole world. This they had received, that it was spoken by one of their nation."
Here we have testimony of an historian whom I presume Mr, Stern will not call in question, that the Jewish nation were in expectation of the Messiah's appearance, because of a prophecy which fixed upon THAT TIME as the period of his appearing. His testimony is confirmed by what we read in the New Testament, that at that time "all men were musing in their hearts whether John the Baptist were the Messiah or not." How do the Jews account for this national expectancy 1,800 years ago, on their theory that the Messiah did not appear? There are many strange and conflicting explanations on their part. They do not agree amongst themselves. Their explanations, ancient and modern, illustrate the straits to which their rejection of Jesus reduces them.
Buxtorf says "That the greater part of the modern Rabbins believe that the Messiah has been come a good while, but keeps himself concealed because of the sins of the Jews. "
Jarchi affirms that "The Hebrews believed the Messiah was born on the day of the destruction of Jerusalem. "
Talmudists -- that he is in Rome.
"A great number believe he is not yet come, but strangely divided as to the time and circumstance of his appearing. "
So you see Mr. Stern's own nation are divided in the most extraordinary manner in their methods of accounting for the non-appearance of the Messiah, in harmony with the prophet Daniel, whose prophecy requires that he ought to have appeared 1,800 years ago. The Jewish writers referred to in the extracts I have read, recognise the fact that the time fixed in the prophets, arrived ages ago; they deny that Jesus, who appeared exactly at that time, is he; they cannot point to anyone else as answering to the requirements of the prophecy. Hence the dilemma which they make such extraordinary efforts to get out of.
But, according to the proposition I have to maintain, there is no difficulty. The Messiah did appear, and Jesus of Nazareth was he, which proposition I proceed to elaborate a little more in detail.
I contend in the next place that Jesus of Nazareth answers to all the signs by which it is possible for the Jews to identify their Messiah. I should like Mr. Stern to let us know upon what principle the Jews are to tell their Messiah when he appears. I presume it would be upon the principle of his correspondence to the things declared in the prophets, If that is not the principle, there is no principle. But that is the principle undoubtedly, and therefore it gives me a basis for this argument, that in every material and immaterial particular, Jesus of Nazareth answered to the features and peculiarities that were to characterise the Messiah to be sent to Israel, and that, therefore, he was he.
The first of these is, that the Messiah was to be the Son of David. Jesus was the Son of David. This is capable of inanswerable demonstration, but I will not at this stage say all that can be said on this point. I produce the genealogies of Matthew and Luke as prima facie evidence, leaving Mr. Stern to deal with them. When he attempts to disprove them, I will follow and answer his arguments, and embrace the opportunity of unfolding a few things on the subject that may not be present to his mind. The genealogies upon their own face are evidence of Christ's descent from David. I will so far anticipate objection to them, as to suppose the remark that Matthew's genealogy is not Luke's genealogy. That is a fact. What is the explanation of the fact? Jesus had a mother, and a legal but not a natural human father. If he was to be the seed of David, it was necessary he should be shown to be such by both lines. One therefore is the line of Mary, and the other that of Joseph. I must briefly indicate the principle upon which the conclusion is arrived at, that one is the genealogical descent of Mary and the other of Joseph. In the first place, they are different lines. This will be admitted by all. The lines agree from Abraham down to the family of David (Matthew's not going farther back than Abraham), the identity can only be shown from that point. At David, the lines diverge; you find that one line descends through Nathan, the son of David, and the other line descends through Solomon. With the exception of one point of apparent casual contact, the two lines keep distinct until the days of Jesus. Therefore it cannot be denied they are two distinct lines. The next question is, Were they both received among the early Christians? They undoubtedly were, for although doubt has been thrown on the genuineness of the genealogy of Matthew, it is because it is omitted from one or two early manuscripts. The bulk of evidence is in its favour, for where there are one or two manuscripts that lack Matthew's genealogy, there are many in which it appears, upon which the argument may be briefly stated thus: It is far more likely that the genealogy was omitted from one or two manuscripts for sinister reasons, than added to a great number in the private possession of those who had means of ascertaining the genuineness of the documents. In fact, the latter is an impossible supposition, for the imposture would have been detected in a moment. This matter may be considered to be finally settled by Tischendorf's discovery, in the convent of Sinai, of the most ancient manuscript yet known. This manuscript contains Matthew's genealogy. It is indisputable that the two genealogies were accepted by the first Christians. If so, how can we imagine that they were both the actual genealogy of Joseph? Would they have received and recognised two contradictory accounts of so important a matter? Inconceivable! They received both, because both were separately true; the one setting forth Mary's descent, and the other Joseph's. If it be asked why Mary's name is not given, my answer is the answer that Mr. Monaet gave to Mr. Gratz the other night, for a different purpose. He said it was a rule among the Jews not to insert the names of females in the genealogies, which is probably the reason why Mary's name does not appear. Where a female is nevertheless an essential link, she appears by her husband as Mary does in the genealogy of Luke. There is no violation of propriety in this, for Joseph, as the husband of Mary, was "a son-in-law of Heli", Mary's father. A difference is observable between the two genealogies in this respect: that is, as to the mode in which they are drawn out. In Matthew, it is said, "Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob," and so on; but in Luke it does not employ the term "begat", a form of speech which would have been incompatible with putative sonship, legal or imputed sonship. It begins as follows: "Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, which was (the son) of Heli." "Son of" is not in the original. I admit that idiomatically it is implied, and therefore properly inserted in the English translation. Nevertheless, it is a form of speech which does not affirm that Joseph was the natural son of Heli. It is a form of putting it that admits of Joseph being called the son of Heli, although he was the son of Jacob, being son-in-law to Heli, through marriage with his daughter Mary. Jewish rules did not admit of Mary appearing except in this way. I will leave that subject at present, reserving further arguments until Mr. Stern shall have stated his objections to the genealogies. But I proceed to remark that the proof of Jesus being the son of David is by no means confined to this genealogy. I rely greatly upon this fact, that the question of whether Jesus was the son of David was never raised until modern times; that in the first century, when there was access to the public registers -- when, if Christ was not the son of David, it could have been proved while the temple yet stood and whilst Mary's genealogy and Joseph's were in existence -- the point was never raised at all. Do you think Christ's enemies, who crucified him, would not have been glad to seize upon so fatal an objection to his claims, if they could have done so? In his own day, it was the general repute that he was the son of David, both among the common people and amongst those who had an opportunity of being critically certain. First, as to the common belief, I quote the following passages:
Matt. 9:27: "And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us."
Matt. 12:23: "All the people were amazed and said, Is not this the son of David?"
Matt. 15:22: "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy upon me, 0 Lord, thou son of David."
Matt. 20:30: "And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, 0 Lord, thou son of David."
Matt. 21:9-11: "And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth, of Galilee."
And at the fifteenth verse it says, "When the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David, they were sore displeased." This proves two things, first that the popular impression was that he was the son of David, and second, that the popular impression was brought under the cognition of the scribes and pharisees; and they never challenged it, although they had the power of disproving it, if Jesus were not the son of David. The objection is only now raised in these remote times, when it is possible to raise it without incurring that authoritative contradiction, which could have been given in the day when the public documentary evidence existed in the temple.
But I give you better authority, than popular impression. I give you the authority of a priest who waited on his office in the temple. I do not suppose Mr. Stern will dispute that Zachariah was of "the course of Abia." In that position of access to the public archives then, we find him saying "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets which have been since the world began." Remember these are the words of a priest in the temple, having a distinct and intimate relation to the records of genealogy, which either confirmed or destroyed the impression concerning the origin or extraction of Jesus. And I say that if a man in that position confirms the popular impression that Jesus belongs to the house of David, it would require far stronger argument than any person living in the nineteenth century can produce to shake belief in the well-foundedness of that impression ("Time" called).
MR. STERN: Mr. Chairman and friends. Before I commence to answer Mr. Roberts, I beg you will listen to a few remarks that I have to make with regard to my position here to-night. In the first place, I am not here to-night as representative of any body of Jews in Birmingham or in any other place. I have undertaken the subject entirely on my own responsibility, and if I am defeated in this discussion, it must not go forth that Judaism has been defeated by Christianity. It will then only be the defeat of one man, who holds that Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah, against another man who held that he was. I may also say that this discussion is not approved by the Jews in Birmingham, especially by the English portion of them, for reasons best known to themselves. One of the principal reasons is they are afraid this discussion may cause ill-feeling between Jews and Christians. I am not of that opinion myself: I have entirely a different opinion of an English audience. But suppose it was to cause ill-feeling (I am only taking it as a supposition, for I am sure it will not) -- supposing it was, what then? I would far rather cause ill-feeling and have the truth on my side, than live in a state of bliss all my life with falsehood and error. Some of the Jews of Birmingham have gone so far as to assert that I am in league with the Missionary Society, that I have got this discussion up for the purpose of exposing Judaism. I am quite serious on this subject. These statements have really been made. I publicly contradict these statements. I am not in any way connected with any Missionary society; and whoever has said so has told a falsehood. And I hope that my opponent will say that I am not in any way in league with him, for any such vile purpose. If I had anything to say against Judaism, I should certainly come forward like a man, and give my opponents a chance of replying to me. Now, I am announced on the placard as an orthodox Jew; and so I am, but I am not so orthodox as to come here and say that, simply because I am a Jew, all the truth lies on my side and all the error on the side of these who are opposed to Judaism. I believe that among the hundreds of millions of people who inhabit this globe, there will be found some at least, as noble and as courageous. Some of the greatest intellects have been found outside Judaism, and it would be the height of impertinence on my part, to come here and say that, being a Jew, I hold the whole truth, and that no one else has a right to express any different opinion to mine. I have come here to-night to receive information as well as discuss the question before us.
With these few remarks I wish now to endeavour to answer Mr. Roberts. You need not be surprised if this discussion should lead me to embrace Christianity, but I must say that if it is his object, he must bring forward sounder arguments than he has used in his first speech. You have given Mr. Roberts earnest attention in all that he has said. I am sure he has said a good many and some very startling things. He says (if I understand him right), he believes in Judaism, and I believe he even says that he is a Jew. If it will give him any pleasure, I hope he will live long enough to enjoy it. I won't begrudge it him. But there is certainly this difference between us: Mr. Roberts is here as a Jew with Jesus as his saviour: I stand here as a Jew without Jesus as my saviour. As being "in Jesus" implies a belief in Christ, I hope he will pardon me if I sometimes class him among the ordinary Christians. He maintains that Jesus appeared exactly according to Daniel, consequently he must be the Messiah. If he did appear accordingly to Daniel he must be the Messiah, but let us examine what Daniel says:
"Whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me and talked with me, and said, 0 Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy."
You have heard what I have read. This is the same quotation Mr. Roberts read, but it doesn't exactly agree with me the same as with him. Oh! says Mr. Roberts, you mustn't take the seventy weeks as seventy weeks; instead of representing weeks of days, you must take them to represent weeks of years: seventy times seven years. This is a most startling assertion, and I am perfectly satisfied, if this is the case, that it will really settle the question, and I am sure that if it is so, it is a great pity that we hadn't a Mr. Roberts long before now. Now sir, I hold that words have no meaning except as conveying thoughts of one individual to another; that is to say, if I have a thought which I wish to convey to any other person, I either learn their language or get them to learn mine. The tongue becomes the mould of the thought, and after the words are expressed, the party who is addressed does not alone hear the words, but he can almost see them as well: they are shaped before him. If seventy weeks should here mean weeks of years, see what a position we should be placed in. In the first place, how should we understand when anyone was conversing with us? This is a revelation from God to man. God, having a thought, wished man to know it, and through Daniel sends a messenger who is to say something to the people, so that no doubt they should understand him; but Mr. Roberts says it doesn't mean what was really said. Why, I should not be here at all to-night if I could attribute such puerilities, cruelties, to the supreme power. The word God to me represents all that is good, and all that is good can include nothing bad; and it would be a very bad action, I hold, for a supreme being to speak to any of His people in a language they could not understand. But Mr. Roberts refers me to the New Testament to prove his statements. Well, I have told him before; I have announced it; and you have perceived by the placards that I am a Jew. Mr. Roberts knows very well that the New Testament is looked upon by the Jews as an immoral book. We are allowed to read any book almost, but it is positively looked upon as a sin to have the New Testament in our possession. We are even allowed to read the Mysteries of the Court in London, but not the New Testament. Still he refers me to it. I may as well tell him that as a Jew I look upon the New Testament as a compilation of falsehood and forgeries; and I will not alone say this, but I will bring you one of your greatest authorities in the church to prove my statement, -- Dr. Mosheim. But I shall not enter into this now, for I may not have time to finish the subject. But I will say this, to me, as a Jew, I do not understand how a man can be born without a father. My opponent may try to explain it and cloak it over as much as he likes; he can use his eloquence as much as it is possible. Although I am willing to accept any reasonable explanation; but when I say that, it must be reasonable to me, mind, not to my opponent. But I hold this to be quite unreasonable. I should like to go into the matter, but I do not feel equal to the task before a mixed audience like the one we have here to-night. Privately I have no objection to discuss the matter with Mr. Roberts, but I do not consider it a fit subject for this audience. I think words would have to be used that would not be very soothing; at least to the gentler sex who are present. I am sure I have too much respect for the ladies to bring the slightest blush of shame upon their countenances. But what does he tell me about Jesus? He refers me to Saint Matthew, and from him I am to gather the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph. As I understand it, the book of Matthew begins: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Now is this the book of the generation of Jesus Christ? If Mr. Roberts earnestly refers me to this I hope he will abide by it; and before I discuss it, I wish him to tell me before this audience that he will abide by this genealogy. It is no use telling me that there is another one, if that contradicts this. When we are talking about this book, we are not talking about the ordinary subjects of the day. We are not talking about penny-a-liners, about books written in 1871; we are talking about what is believed to be an inspired book, which is supposed to have been written by the apostles, who, some of them at least, were along with Jesus when he was alive. Inspiration means this: that whether a person be present or not, he can describe everything minutely and accurately, so that there can be no mistake whatever about it. Take Moses for instance, he could write down everything that had Occurred for hundreds and thousands of years before his time, But what are we to say of men who are supposed to be inspired by the same power, and yet so contradict each other? But before I undertake to discuss the subject, I wish Mr. Roberts to say distinctly whether he will abide by the genealogy of Matthew? (Mr. Roberts: Yes.) And I wish to ask by whom, to whom, when, and in what language were St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John written? Where are your originals? Produce them. Where are your manuscripts? Produce them. If they are not to be found, please tell me what has become of them, and let us have some idea whether there is any hope of ever obtaining them again. I am afraid my friend will not be able to produce these originals, for I stand here and publicly declare the originals never were in existence. There never were any. No one dares come here and declare in 1871 that there ever were originals. There is no authority. No records can be gone to. We cannot go farther back than the second century. How can we rely upon them? I think the only reliance would be that whatever parties wrote them, they were never inspired by God to do so. For on such an important and serious subject as this, at least they should be all alike, at least they should not all contradict each other in the most important points. But, what do we find? Mr. Roberts can hardly quote two passages in the book that will agree with each other; and I am quite certain the Old Testament contradicts the New, although he jumps from one to the other and says they agree. I hope Mr. Roberts will answer the questions I have put to him, before he proceeds with any other matter.
MR. ROBERTS: I should think it unnecessary for me to make any pledge on the subject referred to by Mr. Stern; but if it is any satisfaction to him, I will say that certainly he is not in league with me in any sense. The challenge is entirely bona fide, both as regards the giving and the accepting. Having said thus much, I address myself to his arguments, He asked me where the originals of the New Testament are. I presume he believes in the writings of Moses, and I ask him if he is prepared to say where the originals of those writings are? I know he cannot: yet he believes in Moses, whence I argue that he cannot logically object to my belief in the New Testament, on the ground that I cannot produce the very documents written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and others. There are certain obvious and universally recognised principles on which documents are received as authentic, though the originals are absent. The literary world believes in Herodotus and other ancient writers, although the originals are not in existence. The absence of the originals is no evidence against their genuineness. If it is, Mr. Stern must not believe in Moses: but he does. He does so on the generally-accepted rules of evidence referred to -- rules that do not depend upon the arbitrary maxims of the schools, but are based upon natural laws of evidence, that enable us to lay hold with absolute confidence upon certain documents as written at certain times by certain men, although we are not in possession of the originals. The people contemporary with the production of a thing, have knowledge of the inception of that thing, and if among them obtains a certain universal reputation upon evidence which they are in a position to judge of as to its truthfulness, such as the authorship of a book, that reputation is evidence to after posterity. If a book produced in Birmingham passes current among those who have opportunities of knowing the facts of the case, as the production of a certain individual, and the authorship is not questioned, succeeding generations are justified in receiving that generally-accepted reputation or impression as evidence of the authorship. When in addition to this uncontradicted reputation, the internal evidence of the work itself accords with the outside reputation, the evidence is of a character that can never be overturned. And it will be my duty in the course of this discussion to show that the New Testament is supported by this class of evidence, and that the evidence is collaterally strengthened in many ways; evidence which is certainly not to be disposed of by the sweeping assertions which Mr. Stern has made. It is not sufficient for him to say that the New Testament is a forgery. Let him show it. I deny that it is a forgery. I am prepared to prove not only its authorship, but that every part of it agrees with every other part, and not only so, but that in its entirety, the New Testament agrees with every part of the Old Testament. To start with, I put forward the book. It is prima facie evidence of itself, When Mr. Stern brings evidence of forgery, I will go into it. At present my assertion must go for what it is worth, as against his assertion.
Mr. Stern speaks of Jesus having no father. This is a misrepresentation: Jesus had a Father. That Father was the Father of Adam. How did Adam come upon the scene? Was there not a divine Father? Do not Mr. Stern's own writings say "Have we not all one Father?" Is that not the God of his nation? It is; and if the God of his nation could be the father of Adam, and he could find no difficulty in receiving that, why should there be a difficulty in the God of his nation being the father of Jesus? Abstractly there need be no difficulty whatever.
I proceed to prove that it is even so, that the God of his nation was the father of Jesus, and that therefore Jesus does not present the ludicrous instance depicted by Mr. Stern, of a man without a father. Mr. Stern speaks as if I referred to the New Testament for proof of my argument of the seventy weeks; and because he denies the New Testament, he thinks the argument is gone. This is altogether a mistake. I rely first upon the historical fact which he will not question, that Jesus of Nazareth appeared 1,800 years ago. I next point to the fact that this admitted date of his appearance coincides with the period fixed by the prophecy of the seventy weeks for the appearance of the Messiah. This argument is strong. The difficulty for him is great, and to get out of that difficulty he certainly resorts to extraordinary tactics. He says the weeks are literal weeks. Does this help him out of his difficulty? It only makes the difficulty greater, for if his argument is sincere, the Messiah ought to have appeared about 450 years before the crucifixion of Jesus. Did the Messiah appear at the end of seventy literal weeks? No! Mr. Stern will tell you that the Messiah has not yet appeared at all. No Messiah appeared seventy weeks after the mission of Nehemiah to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, but there did appear 490 (or seventy weeks of) years after that date, Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Messiah, and who gave such irresistible evidence, that thousands of Jews, as Mr. Stern is bound to admit, accepted him, and preached the fame of him to other nations: as one result of which we have a gigantic political system all over Europe, which bears the name of Christ on all its records.
Is it so that seventy weeks do not mean seventy weeks of years? Is Mr. Stern seriously prepared to abide by his assertions that Daniel always means literally what he says? (MR. STERN: Hear, hear.) Very well, let us look at another part of Daniel. In the 8th chapter of that book, we have another prophecy, in which a period of time is defined. At the 8th verse we read that:
"The he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn (between his eyes) was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn. And it waxed exceeding great towards the south, and towards the east, and towards the pleasant land. And it (the little horn of the goat) waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground and stamped upon them."
Is this a description of literal events that were to take place? Was a little horny substance coming out of the head of a beast, to stamp the stars under its feet? (MR. STERN: Yes; if it wasn't a little horn, I don't know what Daniel meant.) We have the matter explained. That goat was the symbol of the Grecian power, and the horns refer to the sub-divisions of that power, as we read in verses 21 and following: "The rough goat is the king, or kingdom of Greece; and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation." Then we read of a certain little horn budding out of one of the four, representing the Roman power which should make its appearance in one of the four divisions of the Grecian empire. In connection with the movements of that little horn we have a definition of time, 13th verse:
"Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto TWO THOUSAND and THREE HUNDRED days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. "
I ought to have said that the vision, as a whole, as you will see by reading the chapter through, represented the prevalence of the Persian, Grecian and Roman powers over the Jewish polity. Out of one of the four divisions of the Grecian empire, according to what we find at the close of this chapter, appeared the Roman power, concerning which it is said at the 24th verse:
"And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and SHALL DESTROY THE MIGHTY AND THE HOLY PEOPLE."
What power has destroyed the Jewish nation? The Roman. Now, here is a question. Over what length of time does this vision extend, which began with the appearance of a ram representing the kingdom of Media and Persia, and ending with the indefinite triumph of a power appearing first in Grecian territory? Mark the answer, which will be found at the 14th verse: "Unto two thousand and three hundred DAYS; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Now the period of time from the appearance of the Medo-Persian empire, to the destruction of the Jewish nation by Rome (which is a mere fragment of the period covered by the vision), was over 600 years -- six centuries. But the length of the vision is defined as 2,300 days, and if literal days, less than seven years. According to Mr. Stern's way of treating the seventy weeks, this is the fact. According to him, we are to read this prophecy thus: Persia will arise, Greece will arise, Rome will arise and tread the Jewish people under their feet, all in seven years! This shows the absurdity of his argument. The period is spread out before us in history. We can look back to that long, dismal, black vista of years, and we can see the Jews trampled under foot for more than 2,000 years. We are living at the expiration of that period, when the sanctuary shall be cleansed. History tells us that the 2,300 days were significant of years. Mr. Stern himself will be obliged to admit it. He is obliged, in the case of the seventy weeks, to resort to quibble to get out of the facts which tell so fatally against his rejection of Jesus of Nazareth,
I will now resume the chain of evidence which I was proceeding to trace when called to time. I was producing evidence that Jesus was the seed of David. I next produce the case of Paul. It is impossible upon the principles of honest criticism to deny the historic reality of the apostle Paul: and I don't know that in all the efforts of scepticism I ever heard of the attempt being made. It is a moral impossibility that such letters as bear his name could be produced either by an imposter or a fiction writer. I presume Mr. Stern will not deny that Paul was a Jew -- a man brought up in Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel -- who stood in friendly relation to the head quarters of the Jewish opinions -- who was acquainted with the public genealogies. Now, with all these means of information at his command, Paul says in Romans 1:3: "Jesus Christ our Lord was made of the seed of David according to the flesh," and he repeats the statement in 2nd Timothy 2:8; he says: "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel." Last of all, we have the evidence of Jesus himself, in whose resurrection Paul, though a bitter rejecter, like Mr. Stern, came to believe, through a personal interview. This very personage proclaims himself to be of the house of David in the last chapter of Revelations: "I am the root and the offspring of David."
Therefore in respect of the lineal extraction of Jesus, I submit that the evidence is conclusive that in that particular, Jesus of Nazareth answers to the requirements of the prophets.
The next point is that the Messiah was to be born in a certain place. In Micah 5:2, it says--
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel."
Where was Jesus of Nazareth born? We have the evidence. It is contained in the 2nd of Matthew, where we find that the chief priests and scribes, the head men of Mr. Stern's nation, at that time, were distinctly under the impression that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. I presume Mr. Stern entertains the same notion, though he does not believe the Messiah has yet appeared, that from that now ruined and dilapidated village, the Messiah shall come. In Matthew 2:1, we read:
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him."
If any one objects to Matthew's authority, we have the authority of Luke, Paul's companion in travel, which you cannot overturn. In Luke 2:4, we read:
"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.)"
The sixth verse says:
"And so it was that whilst they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, and she brought forth her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
So that the Christ of the New Testament, at all events, answers to the Messiah of Jewish prophecy, in being born at the right time, of the right family, and in the right place.
I come to another point. The Messiah of Jewish expectation was to be born of a virgin. I refer to Isaiah 7:14, whereat Mr. Stern smiles, for he no doubt thinks I have let myself into a trap; but I have not done so. I am well aware of the difficulties that are thrown against this passage. The passage is:
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
The word for "virgin" is almah, which I will contend is a proper distinct substantive for an unmarried female. The rejecters of Jesus say that it means young woman. Well, a virgin is a young woman, so that even supposing they were right, the word does not exclude virginity. But they are not right. This is proved by the fact that in all other places in which the word is used, it is applied in the sense of unmarried females. I will read to you all the cases in which the word occurs, and you shall be the judges whether or not it is used in the sense in which I seek to apply it. In the 24th of Genesis, the "virgin Rebecca goes forth to meet the servant of Abraham." I suppose that Mr. Stern will deny that Rebecca was a virgin. In Exodus 2:8, the maid the sister of Moses, who was living with the mother of Moses, went and called the child's mother unto her -- that is, to the daughter of Pharaoh, who had picked up Moses.
Time being called, Mr.Roberts resumed his seat amid some interruption.
MR. STERN: I do hope you will allow Mr. Roberts a fair hearing, and let him explain those Hebrew words as well as he possibly knows how, whether they be correct or not. If I did not feel in a position to answer all that Mr. Roberts may have to bring forward, I should not have come here, and if you are afraid that I shall not be able to maintain my position I will kindly ask you to retire. I am perfectly satisfied that I am quite capable of answering all that Mr. Roberts has to say on the subject, and I pray you will leave it to me. Mr. Roberts has taunted me with committing sin in reading the New Testament, or with being ignorant of its contents. I still hold that it really is a sin, not alone to read the New Testament, but for a Jew to have it even in his possession. But I have undertaken this subject for the purpose of getting to the truth of the matter. You must understand that the Jews are continually pestered with a lot of missionaries, who tell us we are blind, when we can see; that we are lame, when we can walk; and deaf and dumb, when we can hear and speak. I consider it is high time for us to come forward and give our opinion on such books, which were written in our language and to us; and I consider that whenever a missionary lays down his gauntlet and gives battle to the Jews, we ought to come forward and give such opinions as we know, and such explanations as we have been brought up to on those words -- the Hebrew. There was only one excuse, and that was intolerance. We have to-day in England the same liberties as any other creed. There are no thanks due to you. These are due to those who have passed away. The liberty that we enjoy to-day has been very dearly purchased, and I think it would be a pity if the Jews did not come forward to take up such subjects as these. I will admit that I have read the New Testament; that I have committed sin; and I hope the Almighty will forgive me, having done so in my search after truth. Besides, Mr. Roberts would never wish me to come here without having read it. One question he asked me: If seventy weeks do not mean seventy years, how long is the prophecy to last? I acknowledge that I do not know. According to the gospel of Mr. Roberts it means seventy times seven years. Why did not Daniel say so then? Why did not God inspire Daniel to say that seventy weeks means seventy times seven years? He asks me whether "a little horn" means "a little horn"? Well, if a little horn doesn't mean a little horn, I don't know what it does mean. Then to go to Moses to show the authority of the New Testament! It is part of my task to show what Messiah we expect (Impatience). If you are impatient you can take your departure. I will instruct the door-keeper to return you the money you have paid. (The manifestation of impatience still continuing, the Chairman appealed to the audience to allow each speaker to say what he liked in his own time). My friend says that the Jews have always refused the subject, that we have rejected the Messiah. Well, now if the Jews at the time of Jesus, expected the Messiah, what would be more natural when he did come than that they should have accepted him? But they did reject him, and I consider that is quite sufficient proof that he was not the Messiah. Mr. Roberts, in 1871, comes forward and says he was; the Jews who lived at the time, and understood the Hebrew as well as Mr. Roberts does to-day, proved that he was not. He tells us that the New Testament is sufficient to show that the gospels cannot be false. It is admitted beyond all doubt that the present New Testament is so bad, that it requires a new New Testament to replace it. There is at present sitting in London, a synod of the greatest intellects that the present generation probably can produce, for no other purpose than to revise and replace this New Testament by another one. Why does it want revising? We Jews do not want any revision of ours. We are satisfied with things just as they are. But my friend says that until I proved the discrepancies and the things which contradict each other in the New Testament, he will not answer my statement. Well, I will just see if I cannot quote one or two. One law which I quote from our Bible, is this: "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. " I believe that is a law which everyone of you would be willing to accept, and would uphold, and would like everyone to obey. Now, supposing I am to embrace Christianity, what then? Before I can embrace Christianity I am told this: "If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." There is another law: "Thou shalt not kill;" but the New Testament says, Luke 19:27: "But those mine enemies (these are Christ's words), which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." Well now, that is enough for the present to show me that they don't agree with what is in the Old Testament. I have only made two quotations. I will now proceed to the 7th of Isaiah. My friend says that in that chapter he finds a statement made, which proves that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Well, now I dare say that most of you are acquainted with this part, but it so happens that he has quoted just a few words in the centre of the sentence, leaving out the context. Now with your permission I will just read the beginning of it
"And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; and say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted, for the two tails of these smoking fire-brands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remallah's son. If ye will believe, surely ye shall not be established. Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, 0 house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."
And so it goes on to the 8th chapter, where it says:
"Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalal-hash-baz. And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, my father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria ."
As far as I can understand this, it seems very intelligible. Ahaz was frightened of two kings who were coming against him, and so Isaiah went to him and said: "Do not be frightened; they won't prevail against you." Ahaz did not believe him. -- My time is up.
MR. ROBERTS: I suppose, ladies and gentlemen, that Mr. Stern wishes you to understand that in Isaiah 8, we are to find the fulfilment of the prediction contained in the seventh concerning the birth of Immanuel, of a virgin. I understand so from his quotation.
MR. STERN: Don't anticipate what I have to say.
MR. ROBERTS: We are told that the prophet went to the prophetess, and the result was the appearance of a child called Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Now names, according to Hebrew practice, are significant of some meaning. That is, they express some fact concerning the child or the circumstances to which it is related. The meaning of Immanuel, for that was to be the name of the child (referred to in chapter 7), of the virgin, is God with us. I presume Mr. Stern will not object to that definition. Now, what is the meaning of Maher-shalal-hash- baz. Is Mahershalal-hash-baz the equivalent of Immanuel? It is not. It means "In making speed to the spoil, he hasteneth the prey." It was a proper name bestowed with regard to the events predicted in the previous chapter -- the desolation of Syria and Ephraim at the hands of the king of Assyria.
Besides, what a curious thing it would be if almah in Isaiah 7:18, didn't mean a virgin -- "The Lord himself shall give you a sign" -- a marvel, a token, a wonder. Is it a very extraordinary thing that a young woman should have a baby, a married young woman? The idea of God selecting an incident of every-day occurrence as a sign, is sufficiently absurd to bring its own condemnation. The sign which the prophet here says God would give to Ahaz was to be a real sign and a sign direct from God. The name of Immanuel pointed forward to a flesh-manifestation of God himself in connection with a virgin of the house of David. And if Mr. Stern asks why that was intimated in connection with an immediately-impending local calamity about 700 years before Christ's appearance, my answer is to be found in the promises made to his own fathers. The purpose of God with Israel reaches forward to a definite pre-purposed result, that in Abraham and his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, and his seed should possess the gate of his enemies. That it is a long-standing promise that the seed of Abraham is to prevail over all enemies, Mr. Stern will admit. Now, here was Ahaz confronted with a great military confederacy threatening the destruction of Israel. We are told that the hearts of the people in Jerusalem were moved like trees shaken by the wind. This crisis is selected as a fitting occasion for the introduction of the promise of a token that God would deliver Israel not only from Rezin and Pekah, but from all enemies on the face of all the earth, in all time succeeding to the deliverance. The token was to be the appearance of a child to be named Immanuel. Immanuel is none else but the Messiah. This is shown by the connection to which I invite Mr. Stern's attention. There is not only a local application, but a pointing forward to the Messiah himself, if you trace the prophecy through. It culminates in these words:--
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this."
The concluding declaration of this splendid prediction, that it is a matter in which the zeal of the Lord of hosts is to be the instrument, fittingly tallies with the words, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign"; and gives special significance to the bestowal of the name Immanuel upon this marvellous child. But not seeking to dwell unduly on one point, I will just for a moment notice the objections Mr. Stern has brought forward in disposal of the New Testament. They are just of the character I expected. He quotes "Thou shalt not kill," and contrasts with this the prospective words which Christ employs concerning himself: "Bring them hither and slay them before me." It is really too idle to deserve notice. Does Mr, Stern mean to say that the command not to kill, was to apply in all possible circumstances? If so, how does he understand the stoning of Achan for trespass, or the slaughter of the Canaanites, when Israel crossed the Jordan under Joshua? The command not to kill had to do with ordinary civil relations. It is not inconsistent with the judicial function which the very same law prescribes. So though Christ was under the law of Moses in the days of his flesh, this is not inconsistent with the fact that he is to exercise judicial power in the day of his glory. I should like to know how he reconciles the objection with his own idea of the Messiah. Is it not written of him that he shall slay the wicked? (Isaiah 11:4). Now, though Mr. Stern does not believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, he must believe that when the Messiah does come, he will "slay the wicked." How then about "thou shalt not kill?" If it is a contradiction against Jesus, it is a contradiction against Moses, against Joshua, and against the Messiah himself, even if Jesus were not he. It is a contradiction which does not exist. The precept not to kill is one regulating private life, but does not interfere with the judicial right to take away life when the general interests call for it. Who calls into question the prerogative of the Queen, in the name of the public well-being, to take away the life of a murderer?
Mr. Stern next introduces a matter which is a little more plausible on the face of it, but no more substantial in reality. Moses says, "Honour thy father and thy mother," against which Mr. Stern quotes the saying of Christ, that we are to "hate father and mother." Now, I claim that Christ be allowed to explain himself, and I presume that if Christ were here, as he was once face to face with his antagonists, Mr.Stern would not deny him that privilege. I contend that his employment of "hate" is to be construed in the light of his own teaching. He says that a man must hate his own life. Does Mr. Stern contend that he therefore taught a man to commit suicide? No. In what sense were they to hate father and mother, sister and brother, husband and wife? In Matthew 10 he says "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth," (Mr. Stern: Hear, hear) -- that is, at that time. "I came not to send peace but a sword," and the history of the world since that time has shown the truth of his words. "I am come to set son against father." How? Let history illustrate. Sons who received Christ were estranged from fathers who did not receive him. They could only retain their friendship by denying Christ, but Christ called upon them to hate father rather than let love of father induce them to please father by rejecting him. They were not to love father more than him. He demanded to be put first. His words are "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me," and "he that findeth his life shall lose it." Therefore the contradiction Mr. Stern would make out is a contradiction only in appearance, which will only impress those not accustomed to look below the surface. So much for his alleged "contradictions"; and I will undertake to demolish every contradiction that he can possibly bring up, in the same way.
He asks how it is that the people in London are preparing a new version. The answer is so very obvious that it is a wonder it did not occur to Mr. Stern. In the 300 years that have elapsed since the present version was written, certain English words have passed out of use; and it is merely a question for the most part of substituting for obsolete words, words of modern usage. The use of such arguments against the New Testament is evidence either of the want of logical skill on the part of Mr. Stern, or a little want of something else which I need not particularly mention.
He says that because a few Jews rejected Christ, that is sufficient evidence to him that Jesus was not the Messiah. I should like him to define the principle upon which this argument is based. If he could say every Jew rejected Jesus, I could understand the argument. If every Jew contemporary with Jesus rejected him, there would certainly be strong ground for Jews of all subsequent ages to take the same attitude; but all Jews did not reject him. Thousands of Jews accepted him; and the subsequent belief in him by the Gentiles, was owing to the activity of Jewish preachers. Will Mr. Stern deny this? He cannot. The Gentiles accepted Jesus because Jews came out from Jerusalem and declared he was the Messiah. Therefore when talking of the Jews who rejected Jesus, let him not forget the multitudes of Jews who accepted him. Let him try to explain to himself why the believers believed. If he takes the scepticism of a part of the Jewish nation as proof that the Messiah has not come, how does he ask me to deal with the belief of those who believed in him? Let him remember that belief is of more weight than unbelief, for belief is the result of positive reasons: whereas unbelief may be the mere result of ignorance of evidence that exists. Those who were farthest from the evidence were those who rejected him; the Scribes and Pharisees, who stood apart in an attitude of hostility, stung to the quick by Christ's denunciation; for he told them to their faces that they merely appeared righteous, but inwardly they were like the beautiful graves that contained rottenness and dead men's bones. It is no wonder that the Scribes and Pharisees rejected him and that the nation under their leadership rejected him. Their rejection is no evidence against him at all. A large section of the common people heard him gladly, and at one time they wanted to take him by force, and make him a king, but the time had not come, and he took occasion to withdraw from them. -- (Time called.)
MR. STERN: Mr. Roberts commenced by referring to my objection as far as honour thy father and mother is concerned, and in answer to what I advanced he said he must allow Christ to explain himself. Now Christ is represented to say something to the effect that no preference to father or mother must be shown before him. I believe I understand that. But I have to say that so far as I am concerned, if Christianity really requires me to hate my father or mother, brother or sister, and really requires me to hate my own life before I can accept Jesus to be the Messiah and my Saviour, then I most solemnly declare that I will never hate them. Then my friend says, if I do not believe in the New Testament, I do not believe in the Old. That is very logical, I must say. The subject of the discussion is "Was Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah?" Now before I came here, he knew that I believed in the Old and he knew that I did not believe in the New. What is the use of him telling me that if I do not believe in the New, I do not believe in the Old? We have always believed in the Old and rejected the New; we have always looked upon the New as a compilation of falsehoods and forgeries. But I will reserve this subject for another occasion. I will proceed to Isaiah. My friend asks me, does Maher-shalal-hash-baz mean Immanuel? We are not discussing that; we are discussing was Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah or not. I will ask him does Jesus mean Immanuel? Is Jesus the equivalent for Immanuel? He says every name in Hebrew has a meaning. So it has, and among every nation. But he says there is a particular meaning in Immanuel. He says Immanuel means "God with us." Of course it does, but we have got lots of Immanuels among us, and I should consider it would be the height of presumption on my part to assume that God is with us in consequence. He says if "virgin" does not mean a virgin, what does it mean? Well now in the first place I hold, that the passage here is not properly translated. You must understand that it was translated by people who had an interest in translating it for themselves. The words spoken by Isaiah to Ahaz were given to Ahaz as a sign during the time that he was there, so that he might not fear those enemies who were coming against him. "The Lord himself shall give you a sign." It would be a very nice sign to tell Ahaz -- suppose I were to go to him and say "Don't be frightened; God is with thee; as a proof of which in 700 years' time a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel." That would be a good sign and very comforting to Ahaz, wouldn't it? He must die first to get to know the truth of it. If Ahaz had any reason in him, he would prefer to take the matter in hand and stand and fight the battle out. But my friend made rather a joke of the words spoken by Isaiah. There is nothing very wonderful for a woman to bear a son, but it is certainly beyond my comprehension how she could bear a son without a father. That is unreasonable. But here are words as part of the statement. You must understand that the word (aalmha) means a young woman; (hoo-aalmha) "that young woman" or "this young woman." There is a young woman-(hoorou). She has already conceived, and she shall bear a son, and his name shall be called Immanuel. He alluded to his own wife, who was then near her confinement, for farther on it says he took witnesses to record and went unto the prophetess, who was then in labour and she had a son. But, says my friend, Maher-shalal-hash-baz does not mean Immanuel. But of course it does mean something. It is a matter to explain, and I have come to give my view of the matter. It says that before a child should be three years old, these two firebrands were to be cut off. Now how can anyone possibly think that this refers to Jesus who was not born till 700 years later? Well, now Mr. Roberts quotes other places where it means virgin, and I admit that he is quite correct; but even there it is not properly translated. Some words in Hebrew require three, four, five, six, and sometimes seven English words to represent them, and some words could not be translated into English at all. There is the word bas kol. If you look at the English translation it is beth kol; and perhaps if I were to ask you what it means, you would not be able to tell me though it is in your own translation. But I will prove to you that my friend is so far in error on this point, for although the word aalmha can be used for a young woman who is a virgin, where virginity is meant to be particularly expressed, the word peseeloo must always be used. I not alone challenge any Hebrew scholar who is here, but any Hebrew scholar from any part, to disprove my statement of this fact. Although I admit the word hoo-aalmha can be used as implying a virgin as well as peseeloo, yet where the word peseeloo is particularly necessary the word hoo-aalmha can never be introduced. So much for his argument about the virgin. Let us now see if I cannot find one or two other things that he has said. He says we must not doubt the New Testament doctrine, for the simple reason that it has been accepted by the majority of Christians, and he says we must not go by those who rejected it, but only by those who accepted it. I am prepared to prove to you in the words of Mosheim himself, that the Jews who embraced Christianity in the first century, were the same as those who embrace Christianity to-day. The most ignorant, Mosheim says -- but I think I had better read it in his own words: -- "Therefore Jesus chose, out of the multitude that attended his discourses, twelve persons whom he separated from the rest by the name of apostles. These men were illiterate, poor, and of mean extraction, and such alone were truly proper to answer the views of the divine Saviour." I believe that to be correct. I believe that Christianity is only suitable for the most ignorant and most poverty-stricken people, and those of mean extraction; but any men who have intellect at all, and who wish to use their reason, I am perfectly satisfied are not the people to embrace Christianity.
MR. ROBERTS: The argument to which Mr. Stern has treated you, upon the Hebrew words almah and bethoolah (This is the same word as peseeloo (used by Mr. Stern), but differently pointed, and consequently pronounced differently.), would just be as good in my mouth with regard to the English word "maid" and virgin. The etymology may point more clearly to virginity in one case than the other, but conventionally (and, after all, it is the usage that determines the meaning of a word) they are both equally strong. The grammatical axioms, upon which Mr. Stern has been working his argument, have been generated in the controversy that has been carried on for the last 1,800 years between Jews and Gentiles. It is, of course, inconvenient to the Jews that the virgin spoken of should really mean a virgin; and so they have whittled it away, until, so far as definition goes, they have got all the meaning out of it. But it avails nothing. So Mr. Stern relies on the collateral bearings of the question. He lays stress on the pronoun "you". He insists that this must be applied to Isaiah's contemporaries. The answer to this is to be found in and is characteristic of the language of God, which illustrates what He himself says: "As heaven is high above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts." When He says a thing, it has more than an immediate bearing. It extends to the whole scope of the matter. When He says "you", in His communications with Israel, it is a national "you", and not necessarily restricted to the generation to whom it is addressed. We have a notable illustration of this fact in Deut. 18:15. Applying the word used to that generation, we should see where Mr. Stern would be landed. "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." This is said concerning the Messiah, by Moses, to the Jews, three thousand years ago. Mr. Stern believes that the Messiah has not yet appeared, and, therefore, God didn't mean His words to apply to that generation, as would appear, by a narrow construction of them, to be the case. This ought to dispose all reasonable men to believe that when God said He would give "them", in Israel's day, a sign, He referred to the nation as a whole.
But Mr. Stern contends that this child was born within a year of the time of the prophecy. Very well; please observe this: "Before the child shall know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings!" Therefore, within three years (at the outside) from that time, Ephraim and Syria should have been broken. How will this agree with the 8th verse of the very same chapter: "The head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore-and-five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people." According to Mr. Stern's construction of the sign of the child, it ought to have been broken within three years, because it was to happen before the child should know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. This shows the erroneousness of Mr. Stern's argument. The prophecy can apply to Christ alone, who answered both the local and other circumstances of the case. But, says Mr. Stern, Jesus does not mean Immanuel. It does. What is the derivation of Jesus? Mr. Stern must know well that Jesus is the mere Greek dressing of Yah-hoshua -- otherwise Joshua; which means God (Yah), shall save (shuah). Therefore, the name "Jesus" expresses the same doctrine as Immanuel: viz., that the child so named was God-manifest in the flesh, sojourning with Israel for their salvation. But see how his question recoils upon himself. He says the child referred to is the child whose birth is recorded in the succeeding chapter -- Maher-shalal-hash-baz, How is this? How does he reconcile the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz with the predicted name Immanuel? I have shown the doctrinal identity of Jesus and Immanuel. I ask him to do the same with Maher-shalal- hash-baz.
I shall now proceed with the line of evidence I was pursuing, and which I shall pursue more deliberately to-morrow night. When Mr. Stern speaks of the uselessness of quoting the New Testament in which Jews do not believe, he does not understand my argument. My argument is not that they have to believe the things I quote from the New Testament because they are there: I quote these things to show that the matters declared concerning the Messiah, in the Old Testament, are fulfilled in the Messiah presented in the New. If this is established, and the New Testament be proved to be true, my argument is unanswerable. That is the question; and I will say that the evidence of the truthfulness of the New Testament is the biggest gun I have to fire. I will prove that the New Testament is true, and that Jesus rose from the dead. If I prove that, the Messiahship of Jesus is established. My argument, at present, is that Jesus answers to all the characteristics of the Messiah foretold in Moses and the prophets. I have shown this in three particulars, the time, the place, and the family.
Now I proceed to a fourth. The prophets teach that the Messiah should not be of purely human extraction, but should have God for his father. I refer first to Psalm 116:16, which though not irresistibly to the point, is in harmony with the idea presented in Isaiah 7. The Messiah speaks thus: "Oh Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid; thou hast loosed my bonds". By the two taken together, we are reminded of the necessity that Christ should be born of a virgin, arising out of the general prediction concerning him to be found in Gen. 3:17. There he is spoken of under a general figure. "The seed of the woman shall bruise thy (the serpent's) head." I ask Mr. Stern to give a reason why the words are not "the seed of the man." The seed of the woman was to be the instrumentality -- the means of remedying the evil that came from the woman listening to the lie of the serpent. The woman being the cause of the transgression, in leading Adam astray, was to be the means also of deliverance from the condemnation into which, by her, he came. She was, apart from the man, destined to be the means of the introduction of the Saviour into the world. Hence the designation, "Seed of the Woman." I need not say how completely this is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. But how could a child be born of a virgin? The account in Luke and Matthew is a complete answer. In Matthew we read: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit". In Luke: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore, that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." The womb of the virgin was preter-naturally quickened by the divine energy that formed all things in the beginning, and thus the product was a Son of God, answering to the before-time mysterious predictions of the prophets, which I proceed to continue to quote:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
I ask Mr. Stern to explain how, upon Jewish hypotheses, the Messiah could bear the name of God. Why should he, individually, be described in the language here employed: "Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." The New Testament supplies the reason. Jesus of Nazareth, as born of Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was God's offspring, and therefore, naturally, inherited the name of his Father. This is an explanation which the Christian system supplies, and which the Jewish system cannot; for the Jewish system says the Messiah is to be merely a man, merely the son of David. In this connection, I would introduce the argument employed by Jesus himself in controversy with the Jews on this very point. It was an argument they were not able to answer, and which Mr. Stern will not be able to answer. I refer to Matt. 22:42, where we read:
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David call him Lord, how is he then his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions."
I now ask the same question of Mr. Stern. Upon what principle, agreeable to Jewish genealogy, does David call his son "Lord"? There is an explanation in connection with Jesus of Nazareth which their system cannot afford. Jesus of Nazareth, as the Son of God, is higher than David, though born in the line of David according to the flesh. He is God manifest in the flesh, and, therefore, Lord of David. He says of himself, "I am the ROOT and the offspring of David" (Rev. 12:16); "The Father who dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10). "He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me" (John 12:4-5); "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also" (John 14:9). Therefore, was Jesus greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon, greater than David; and, therefore, could David say as concerning the power that was his very origin, "He is my Lord"; although he could also say of Jesus as the flesh-medium of that power, "He is my son." This, indeed, is the great mystery solved in the genealogy, which brings me back to a point I omitted to mention. It might be considered a strange thing that the genealogy of Joseph should be given, if Joseph were not the father of Jesus. But you will see that it was necessary; for if Mary were married to one who was not of the house of David, her individuality would be merged in his, here Davidic extraction would have been marred or covered, and the relation of the Messiah to David interfered with. Therefore, it was necessary that the husband of Mary, equally with Mary herself, should be a descendant of David. By this the Messiah, though not begotten of a human father, was, indubitably, David's son.
Then it may be said -- and this is another point that I expected Mr. Stern to bring forward; but he has not been quite so sharp as his co-religionist, Mr. Monaet, in the debate with Mr. Gratz -- he has not laid hold of the point upon which Mr. Monaet insisted when he asked what relation Jesus was to David, since he can only establish his relation to David through a woman? -- (Time called.)
MR. STERN: Mr. Roberts has had something very important to say on a point that I do not seem to have been so sharp upon as another gentleman. I am sorry for that; for however little I say, it brings out the greatest things of Mr. Roberts; but since the matter has been discussed, and since my Jewish brethren are satisfied that they have got the best of it, I do not see why we need feel disappointed. I am very pleased that we have had the greatest gun-shot. There is, therefore, no more danger -- at least it will be fired in the first opening speech of to-morrow night. With regard to his statement of Isaiah to Ahaz, I hold that I have proved, to the satisfaction of this audience, that the word hoo-aalmha can never be used where the, word peseeloo is necessary -- I say, if I have proved it to your satisfaction -- of course, I rely upon your sense of justice for that, for I am perfectly satisfied that you are not all Hebrew scholars, consequently you will have to leave it to a higher authority. If I have proved that, the whole argument of my friend falls to the ground. I have proved that it is a wrong translation, and that it does not really mean what Mr. Roberts would have you believe. I do not care what it does mean. My friend refers me to Genesis, and he made some statement about what sort of Messiah we did expect; if Jesus of Nazareth is not the one, if we expect someone else. I wish it to be plainly understood, and I hope Mr. Roberts will take notice of this, that I have not come here to discuss who our Messiah is to be; I have come here to discuss whether Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. It has nothing to do with what we expect. There is no doubt that among Jews there are differences of opinion, and I have no objection, on some other occasion, to discuss that subject, but since we are not here for that purpose, I hold it would not be treating the audience in a courteous manner if we discussed it now; for, instead of going on to discuss who was Jesus of Nazareth, I should have to bring forward what we expect. He will certainly puzzle me if he asks me such questions as this. He refers me to Gen. 3 about the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. I don't know whether that has anything to do with Jesus. Surely, he doesn't think that I shall deny that every man is the seed of woman as well as of man. I have no doubt that every one who stands here is of the seed of the woman. It certainly is not, as I say for the third time, a subject for me to discuss here. I will leave the matter with what I have said. But what wonderful things he tells us about the seed of the woman, which shall bruise the serpent's head. I say this is the most intelligible passage that can be read. It is not necessary to call it a prophecy; it is what anyone with any sense at all would see -- that the serpent would probably bite the heel of the seed of the woman, and that the seed of the woman would break its head by striking it with a stick; more especially when we know that in eastern countries, where men usually walk without shoes, serpents abound. What is more likely, than that a serpent will bite a man's heel, and that the man will turn round and strike it with a stick? Whether that is an argument that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, I will leave to your judgment. My friend said something about the established fact of Jesus having risen. Well now, the only fact that we have about him having risen, is that which is recorded in the New Testament. It seems to me most unreasonable for him to bring such an argument. Supposing you had a prisoner at the bar, accused of theft; if you asked him to explain matters, he would, no doubt, try to excuse himself. A statement is brought forward, which, at the outset of this question, he knew that I not alone doubted, but entirely disbelieved. He brings the New Testament to prove New Testament statements. What has that to do with me? But let us see what these inspired gentlemen, who were with Jesus, say. One of them, after being told that Jesus had risen, would not believe it. I allude to Thomas-a-Didymus. "But", they say, "we have seen him and conversed with him." "But that has nothing to do with me", Thomas says; "and unless Jesus appears to me, so that I may put my hand in his side, and put my fingers in the prints of the nails, I shall not believe." This is one of the disciples who was with Jesus at the time. Then my friend says we have got proofs. What proofs have we got? It was not proof enough for Thomas-a-Didymus when the eleven disciples, who were with him, actually saw Jesus; and if he would not take their own words for it, how much more reasonable for me to deny the statement to-day, 1,800 years after the event. And look how he was justified in his scepticism; for Jesus was kind enough to appear to him and say, "Reach forth thy hand and touch my side, and put thy fingers in the marks of the nails." Thomas then believed. And if Jesus will appear to me; if Jesus wishes really to save me -- you are really in earnest, the same as I am at this moment -- if Jesus has a desire to save a soul, as some call it -- and mine wants saving as well as others -- then I beg and pray let him come forth now; let Jesus in 1871 appear to me, so that I may put my hand into his side. (Hisses.) You may hiss as you like; I deny what you believe; I have come prepared to deny it. I have come here with a certain amount of sayings, and, whether you are pleased or not, I shall say them. I demand of you to hear me, in the name of Englishmen -- in the name of liberty, for which we have not so much fought as we may have to do: the liberty which has been left by our forefathers, and which many of them purchased with their blood -- I say it is reasonable in me to ask it, if Thomas-a- Didymus asked it. Let him come forth that I may put my fingers into the prints of the nails, then I shall believe. And yet, I don't know whether I would even then. Thomas-a-Didymus was with Jesus when he was alive; he would, probably, recognise him. I never saw Jesus, and if he were to come, I should not recognise him; and so it would be all the same.
Friends, I thank you for listening to my statement. To-morrow night we shall resume the subject. I have a great deal yet to say, which I will try to say in the most gentle way, so that it shall not hurt your feelings; but, unless you give me liberty of Speech so that I may express my opinions freely; if you only allow Mr. Roberts to say what he has got to say, and refuse to concede to me the same privilege, how will you be able to judge between us? We shall not get at the truth. I have come so that we may, once for all, settle this matter. It is quite right for one as well as another to express his opinions freely, and we may, perhaps, at the same time, get to understand one another, and if we get wrong, we may, perhaps, put it right; and who is more likely to do it than ourselves? I thank you kindly for your attention.
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