In his letter to Marion M'Naught (7th May 1631) Samuel Rutherford writes of his "...thinking much of the incoming of the kirk of the Jews...", instructing on our duty to "...pray for them...", to be ready to "...give them a meeting." and asking "What shall we do for our elder sister, the Jews?"
In this second instalment from A Pisgah-Sight Thomas Fuller reminds us of the many obstacles both external, and internal, which obstruct the conversion of the Jews. Let us therefore not be part of any such hindrance or follower of any doctrine contrary to the expected calling in, but rather found as Rutherford desiring "... that glad day to see us and them both sit down to one table, and Christ, at the head of the table."
First External Obstruction - Distance in Civil Society
First, our want of civil society with their nation. There must be first conversing with them, before there can be converting of them. The Gospel doth not work (as the weapon) at distance, but requires some competent familiarity with the persons. Whereas the Jews, be∣ing banished out of England, France, and Spain, are out of the call of the Gospel, and knowledge of the Sacraments in those countries.
Second External Obstruction - Idolatry of Rome
Secondly, the constant offence given them by the Papists their worshipping of images, the present Jews hating idolatry with a perfect hatred, whose knees may sooner be broken, then bended to such superstitious postures. And, to speak out the plain truth, the Romanists are but backfriends to the Jews conversion, chiefly on this account, because the Rabbins generally interpreted Dumah, or Edom, to be Rome, and Edomites, Romans, in their expositions on the Old Testament. And therefore, all those passages have (by order no doubt from Superiors) been lately purged out, and expunged from the Venetian edition of the Rabbins. Yea, there is a constant tradition, current time out of mind, amongst the modern Jews, that after the destruction of the City of Rome, their nation shall be put into a glorious condition. No wonder then, if cold, and dull the endevours of the Romanists, for the conversion of the Jews, who leave that task to be performed by Moses, and Elias, whom the Papists fondly fancy, shall towards the end of the world personally appear, and by their powerful preaching, persuade the Jewish nation unto the Christian Religion.
Third External Obstruction - Dissolute Christian Living
Lastly, the difference in judgments, distance in affections, dissoluteness in lives among the Christians themselves. In vain do we holler to the Jews to come over to us, whilst our voices are hoarse with railing one at another; and beckon with our hands to them, to be on our side, whilst our hands are imbrued in the blood of those of our own religion.
The Internal Obstruction - Blindness
But far greater then all these, is that internall obstacle, that πώρωσις, that blindness which is happened unto them, inflicted on their ancestors, continued, and increasing on their posterity. How bedlam-like was their behaviour at Saint Paul's mere mentioning of preaching to the Gentiles Acts 22:23, They cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, as endeavouring to thicken, and condensate the same, that no audible sound might penetrate unto them. Great is God's providence in ordering it, that a fog,and a tempest never can be together at sea, the fog vanishing so soon as the tempest ariseth, otherwise smaller vessels would be cast away, which want the direction of the compass to guide them: but woeful is the present condition of the Jews, having a fog of ignorance, and a tempest of violence, both together in them in the highest degree, most bold, when most blind; stumbling at what should stay them; slighting the Surgeon, when sorest; scorning the Physician, when sickest; miserable, if they knew their condition; and more miserable, because ignorant thereof.
Yet Obstacles Are Easily Banished by Infinite Power
But though these obstacles, and obstructions were more, and mightier then they are, should God but give the word, they are instantly removed. Long was the service of the true God disused in Judah (during the idolatrous reign of Ahaz) so that great was the difficulty, to bring the whole nation to the solemn observation thereof. Yet, Hezekiah quickly effected it, because (as the text observes) 2 Chr. 29:36, God had prepared the people, and the thing was done suddenly. So, when He shall be pleased to set his hand to the Jews conversion, all impediments notwithstanding, in the twinkling of an eye, their eyes shall be opened; and their hearts turned, in the turning of an hand.
In the third instalment from A Pisgah-Sight we will look at the general call of the Jews.