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The Sea of Galilee Mission of the Free Church of Scotland
Chapter I. The Origin of the Mission

PALESTINE was chosen as the first sphere of the Church of Scotland's Mission to the Jews; and although its occupation was long deferred, it has now become not the least hopeful of our missionary stations. A year or two after the Mission to the Jews had been sanctioned by the General Assembly, no step had been taken for its working till the deputation to Palestine was appointed with a view to future action. But in the event, our first mission was not in the Holy Land but in Budapest, which the deputies visited on their return; and there the God of Israel blessed our efforts with precious and ample first-fruits, which filled us with gratitude and hope.

The deputation to Palestine owed its origin to the health of Robert M'Cheyne having been weakened by overworking in the Lord's vineyard. When his friends were

considering what might be best for his restoration, Dr. Candlish, always, fertile in Christian expedients, stopped me one day in the street with the suggestion, "What would you think of sending M'Cheyne to Palestine?" With my cordial concurrence, he followed it up with his own ceaseless

energy, till the memorable deputation was sent forth, with Andrew Bonar (M'Cheyne's special friend) and the venerable Dr. Keith and Dr. Black. Many still remember M'Cheyne's lines :—

"How pleasant to me is thy deep blue wave,
Thou Sea of Galilee!"

For many years subsequent to the deputation, Palestine lay still unoccupied by us; and a devout and honourable lady, Mrs. Smith of Dunesk, sister to the Earl of Buchan, and a daughter of the famous Henry Erskine, left 500 for a mission to the Jews in their own land. To her belonged the distinction of having laid the first stone in the Church of Scotland's Mission to Israel. Her love for them was intense; that "salvation is of the Jews" was with her a firmly-cherished text; and she grieved that the churches were so slow in seeking "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." A year or two before their cause was taken up by the church, she placed 100 in my hands, and said, "Put that into the bank for the Church of Scotland's Mission for the Conversion of the Jews." I hesitated to take charge of the generous gift, because not only was there no such mission, but the subject had never been mooted in the Assembly. She replied, "Let it remain in the bank till the church takes it up." When I took it to the bank, the banker at first declined to receive it, because they could not open an account for a mission that had no present or prospective existence. But, after talking it over, he took it, with the words, "Very well; we never refuse money." However, the tide of evangelical life and of zeal for the salvation of the lost was then rising rapidly amongst us, and in less time than I could have conceived possible the General Assembly founded its Mission for the Conversion of Israel.

Most sadly, for one generation after another, through long aces, has the chosen race of Israel been despised, oppressed, and persecuted by the Gentile world. The first Convener of our Jewish Committee, the venerable Dr. Keith, told me that a friend, when kindly speaking of him to another, added the qualifying exception, "But he has a strange notion; he believes in the conversion of the Jews." In our own day, "Shall I give water to the murderer of my Lord?" was the scornful repulse by a Dutch Boer to one of the sons of Jacob who humbly begged a cup of water to quench his thirst under the extreme heat of a scorching summer, which had dried up all the wayside springs. "Go away, dog," he replied; "shall I give water to the murderer of my Lord?"

For eighteen centuries this denial of a cup of cold water to the Jew has been and still is the too frequent response of many who profess themselves followers of Him who said, "Give me to drink," as he sat wearied and thirsty by Jacob's Well, and who has opened the fountain of life freely to us and to all who thirst for its waters. For His murderers He prayed,

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Let us hasten to use our high privilege of carrying to their children this free gift of the living waters, that along with us they may drink and live.

"Let him sink; he is only a Jew," was the voice of the careless onlookers at Cracow some years ago as they stood on the banks of their river, into which a young man had fallen, and witnessed his dying struggles to regain the shore. From the banks of the Vistula there soon rose a second and heartier shout. "It's all up with him," they now cried in a tone of triumph; "he is sinking," when another young man broke through the crowd, who tried to hold him back, and plunging into the river brought the drowning Jew to the shore, unconscious but saved. The jeers of the bystanders for saving the life of a Jew were the only salutations that greeted the brave and noble deed; but these suddenly ceased when the scene was reversed, and they learned that the drowning man was a Christian and his brave rescuer a Jew!

The world's history is hastening to its crisis, and the day may not be far distant when "the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men." Meanwhile let us all be moved with pity for our neglected brother, as we stand ourselves saved upon the shore and see him beating for life against the stream. Let us hasten to his rescue, saying to each other, "Let him not sink, for he is a Jew," of the seed of Abraham and of the

kinsmen of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save "the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Who can tell but that many now living may yet witness that event of world-wide magnitude—the repentance of the Jews unto life in the day of their visitation, when "all Israel shall be saved"? Although they have made their heart like an adamant stone, the promise remains sure that their heart of stone shall be taken away, and a new heart shall be given unto them and a new spirit, when the spirit of grace and of supplications shall be poured upon them, and they shall look on Him whom they have pierced. As Joseph made himself known to his brethren when he said, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt," and as Christ revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus, saying, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest," so, in the day of their calling, the Lord will say unto Israel, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren." Day by day even now He is saying, "Since I spake against Ephraim, I do earnestly remember him still; I will surely have mercy upon him." And the day is fast fastening on when He "will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth." In that day the Lord "will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned against Him;" and it shall be unto Him a name of joy, a praise, and an honour before all the nations of the earth.

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