Shalome ben Shalomoh – personal testimony
A narrative of the conversion of Shalome ben Shalomoh, given to the church of Christ, assembled at their meetinghouse in Rosemary lane, September 29th, 1699.
I hope, men and brethren, that “what I am about to say may prove as effectual as the sermon which Peter preached to the men of Judea and Jerusalem, at the hearing of which there was a universal crying out, ” Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts ii. 37.) If that be your inquiry, take Peter’s answer, “You must believe and be baptized, that the Holy Ghost may come upon you.” (ver. 18.)
I, Shalome Ben Shalomoh, was born of Jewish parents, my father’s name Shalomoh, my mother’s Leah; was circumcised the eighth day in Pusnouny, in Poland, where I lived till I was twelve years of age; at which time it pleased God (who works all things for the good of his elect) that all our family, myself alone excepted, died from a great plague, which had universally spread itself through that land. Being left thus destitute, I had an inclination to travel, and in my travels, a boy, who was in the Duke of Brandenburg’s army, came and said to me, ” Why do you not turn a Christian?” “A Christian,” said I, “why, think you I will worship images?” — for such was my ignorance, that I thought all Christians were Papists, there being none but Papists who were called Christians in the country where I was born — ” Do you,” said I, “believe the Bible, the Old Testament, the five books of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Song of Solomon ?” ” Yes,” said he, ” we have all these.” ” Do you,” said I, “worship images?” ” There are,” said he, ” two sorts of Christians, Protestants and Papists ; we believe no other Saviour but Jesus Christ alone.” ” Well,” said I, ” carry me to a minister.”
He accordingly brought me to the Duke of Brandenburg’s minister, who opened to me something concerning Jesus Christ, from the live books of Moses; as, first, that in Gen. iii. 15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed ; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel;” which appeared to me, when God opened my eyes (for I could not see it before) a lively representation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ; as also from that in Num. xxi. 9, when God commanded Moses to lift up a brazen serpent on a pole, that every bitten Israelite, looking thereto, might be healed, did I learn that Jesus Christ was the true brazen serpent, by believing on whom alone it was that I could obtain salvation and eternal life. He also endeavoured to show me how that many of the Psalms were prophetical of Jesus Christ, particularly Ps. ii. 7, ” Thou art my Son, this day have I begottenthee.” And Ps. ex. 1, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,” &c. And Ps. 22: 16-18, “The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me, they pierced my hands and my feet, I may tell all my bones, they look and stare upon me, they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture ;” which did to me clear up something of what Jesus Christ underwent as he stood surety for His elect. From Isa. ix. 6, ” 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.” I learned something of the human nature of Jesus Christ. He also endeavoured, from Gen. 1: 2, ” And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” to evince to me the being of the Holy Ghost. The notion of a Trinity I took in from Gen. 1. 26, “Let us make man;” and from Gen. 11. 7, when God, coming down to see the city and tower which the children of men had built, saith, ” Go to, let us go down and confound their language.” From Gen. xlix. 10, ” The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come,” &c.
I saw that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, in which I was satisfied; and though as yet I had nothing more than the notion of things, yet, as the eunuch said to Philip (Acts viii. 3ti), so said I, ” What hinders me to be baptized ?” And baptized I was, in Berlign, in Brandenburg, and the Duke stood my godfather. I became not a Christian for silver or gold, but was constrained thereto by the mighty power of Jesus Christ. I was beholden to none, but to the almighty power God.
After this I was recommended to a minister in the city of Rynehiirg, on the Rhine, by whom I was further nominally confirmed in the Christian faith ; and from that time I had a mind to travel into England ; Where, under the denomination of a Christian, I lived a great while, reveling in all manner of wickedness, committing iniquity with greediness. As I grow older, I thought it was high time to reform, knowing I must give an account of deeds done in the body. I then resolved to lead a new life, and venture on the mercy of Christ, which, though I prayed for night and day, yet I could not find it. I made many resolutions to live better, and broke them as fast, knowing nothing of the person of Jesus Christ; at length, I was, by continued prayer, very solicitous for repentance ; yet, thought I, should I repent, it will not avail me unless I could forsake my sins ; to prayer I went, and in agony I was ; I flung up mine eyes and heart to heaven. “Lord Jesus Christ,” said I, ” though thou wilt not show mercy to me, though I must perish, yet will I trust thee still.”
Terrors of conscience still pursued me, so that I often thought, through want of ease in my conscience, though I should trust in Jesus Christ, yet I should be damned. J thought many times, as I passed over the fields, that I saw the Lord Jesus Christ coming in the clouds ; upon which, when I began to consider my own condition, I passed judgment on myself as one that deserved hell and damnation. I found, as I thought, the devil binding me in chains, which made me cry out, as Rom, vii. 23, 24, ” I am carried into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members ; O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” The terrors of hell took
hold of me, I thought I saw the pit of hell ready to receive me. How to get peace of conscience I knew not ; nothing but hell and damnation sounded in mine ears. 1 thought I must be damned if I turned not to Jesus Christ. In these agonies of spirit I read once and again the book of one Baxter, which I thought would have been a great means of my salvation. But, alas! that drove me more into hell; I thought I should by it have sunk into utter despair. I could find nothing in it for my consolation. What course to take I knew not. I desired the Lord Jesus to do a miracle upon me, in breathing the breath of life into my soul, which was dead in sin, as He formerly raised those who were naturally dead from their graves. I pleaded His power, as he in Matthew viii. 2, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean; and cleansing I stood in need of, for I saw my sin so black, that I abhorred myself in dust; I thought I was not worthy to roll myself on Jesus Christ; yet I resolved to venture, I knew I could but be rejected, as 2 Kings vii. 4, “If we say we will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there ; and if we sit still here, we shall die also; now, therefore, come, and let us fall into the host of the Syrians, if they save us alive, we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall but die.” I always concluded prayer after this manner, “Lord, though thou wilt not hear me, yet will I trust to thee.” I prayed (as one sensible of my own insufficiency) that God would by His Spirit teach me to pray. There was yet a secret hope in me that God would call me. However, I resolved to lean on the Lord Jesus, praying that He would give me the spirit of Him that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, to raise me from the death of sin ; such was my affection to Jesus Christ, that I often wished myself in a cave, so that I might enjoy Him, though I endured the greatest hardship.
These conflicts of spirit the devil set in upon me, told me, ” it was impossible for me to be saved;” “for,” said he, “your parents have wished a curse upon you ;” and insinuated, as if I was by that curse bound over to eternal damnation. “How,” said he, “can you believe that the Son of God should be born of the Virgin Mary? or that he who was born of her, should be the Saviour of your soul ? Know you not what a fellow (which word went through my soul) God knows he was?” “It is impossible,” said he, ” that he should ever save you.” To whom I answered, and said, ” Satan, get thee behind me : God,” said I “and the Lord Jesus Christ are both one ; God at first created the world out of nothing, created man out of the dust, and of a rib taken out of Adam made He a woman ; yea, Christ Himself was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary : and now, O devil, what is too hard for such an Almighty power which has done all this ? Thou hast no power over Him, nor canst thou disannul what He hath done.” After this, my inclination stood bent to frequent the assembly of God’s people ; though whither to go I was at a loss.
I learned there were many churches; one cried, “Here is Christ;” another cried, “Here is Christ!” I knew there was but one Christ, however; and I thought I would associate myself with a sober people ; at length I went among the Quakers, but alas! There I found nothing to my satisfaction, so that I was at a loss again; and so continued for many years, going nowhere, but lived without Christ, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger to the covenants of promise, without God in the world. At last my heart began to burn within me; whither, thought I, shall I go? I prayed that the Lord, if He had any love to me, would show Himself to me in Jesus Christ (for I always did, even when I lived in the flesh, as many nominal Christians do, look for God in the lace of Jesus Christ), and point me out a way.
At length I came to Whitechapel, where my apprehensions concerning my state were dreadful. I went one night to bed, and there thought I heard a voice, distinctly saying, ” Arise, arise; if you look not about you, and repent not, you must certainly be damned.” This was a sad sermon preached to me, which, from a slavish fear and dread, drove me to worship God, not from a sense of His love, but as I said, from a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation: my very heart trembled within me! “Lord!” thought I, “it is high time to repent; what shall I do?” Meeting a young man, I told him my sad condition. He told mc, “Unless I was born again of the Spirit, I could not enter into the kingdom of God.” This new birth was altogether a mystery to me. “What shall I do, then?” said I. I fell to weeping. “Pray,” said I, “help me to a minister — a good gospel minister.” I prayed many times that God would direct me to a right church, though with never so much affliction, the Head whereof is Christ. I have often seen, as I thought, Jesus Christ perfectly at the right hand of God.
He brought me to a gospel minister, to whom I declared my mind, who went evangelically to work with me; he went far beyond Baxter. Baxter drove me back; but this gentleman told me there was free grace for all that came to Jesus Christ. This proved a happy day to my soul: he told me the Lord accepts Jew and Gentile, as in Gal. iii. 28. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” After some discourse with Mr. Humphrey, who made some discovery to me of God’s way of salvation by free grace, of the way of the work of the Spirit of God on the spirit of a man, in raising him up from the death of sin, I read in a book in which I found the citation of that Scripture (John xvii. 26), “Father, I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” And, thought I, now there is an open door to come to God through Jesus Christ : it came on my soul with such power, that it appeared to me as if a door had been set open for any to enter in who will, how abominably vile and filthy soever they be.
I thought I saw Jesus Christ, yea, the very Godhead shining round about me, through the manhood of Jesus, for in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. ii. 9.) And now I am persuaded, whether I direct my prayer to God the First Person in the Trinity, or to Jesus Christ the Second, it is the same; they being the same in essence, equal in power and glory.
As I was reading the book referred to above, it pleased God to dart in a beam of divine love in Jesus Christ on my soul; though, for about an hour and a half, my bed shook under me. I shivered and trembled, and thought my very heart was broken within me. “Lord,” thought I, “what shall I do to be saved?” But it was soon cleared up to me by the Spirit of the Lord, that I should be saved by Jesus Christ, and Him alone ; and I am sure there is salvation in no other than in Jesus Christ; no, there is not. And now I would give my body to be burned ; yea, had I a thousand lives, I would lay them all down, rather than be an unbelieving Jew ; for, saith Christ, ” If ye believe not that I am he (?*. c. the Messiah), ye shall die in your sins — and whither I go ye cannot come.” (John viii. 21, 24).This is a miserable sentence to all unbelievers. I often wondered when I heard ministers pray for unbelieving Gentiles; surely, thought I, the Gentiles all believe in Jesus Christ. But alas! Believing is (quite another thing than I took it to be, a thing of far greater difficulty than most arc aware of: he that comes to God must believe that he is every way such as the Scripture declares Him to be. (Heb. xi. 6.) He must believe that all His attributes are highly exalted, and infinitely advanced in our salvation ; that the law is much more highly magnified and made honourable (Isa.xlii.21), by the obedience of Jesus Christ, God and man, than it could possibly have been by the perfect obedience of sinless Adam ; he must believe, that what Christ has done and suffered for us, as our surety, in our room and stead, is the only righteousness whereby we are justified before God, and accepted with Him ; and that this very righteousness becomes ours, pleadable by us by virtue of God’s divine act of imputation, Jesus Christ being all in all. (Col. iii. 11.) But, alas! by how few are these gospel mysteries really and truly believed ? I am one in whom the Covenant of Abraham is fulfilled, as it is in all those who believe in Jesus Christ. But if you do not believe, you must die in your sins. I am afraid that my forefathers, (though I must judge as charitably of them as I have warrant for), yet I fear lest many of them are gone down to the pit of eternal destruction; and yet I am ” a brand plucked out of the fire.” (Zach. iii. 2.) Now if God saved not his own covenant children, his own spouse, those who were naturally in the root, what will become of those who are grafted in, and yet believe not that Jesus is the Christ? (1 John ii. 22.) But I know, and am persuaded, “That Jesus Christ loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. ii. 20), which is the main point; and that by His death and resurrection my soul is saved.
I see that Jesus Christ, as He is God, is my Father; but as man, He is my elder brother. It hath pleased God to discover to me some- thing of the glory of that covenant that he made with Abraham. (Gen. xvii.)
If by the Laws of Moses we understand the whole revelation contained in the Pentateuch, it certainly presents us with the different forms of theological polity; assured it is a covenant of grace, ratified and confirmed in the blood of Jesus. God hath given Himself to me in absolute covenant made with Abraham, and to my seed as a part of me. When I take the Lord’s supper in faith, I see that, as really as the bread is broken, and the wine poured forth, the body of Christ was broken, and His blood poured forth for the remission of my sins. When I recollect my former state, that when I lay in my blood, and was led captive by sin — when I thought not on Jesus Christ; yea, before I was born, Jesus Christ thought of me, and laid down His life fur me, and made satisfaction for my sin ; when, I say, I consider these things, I am made to pray for the Spirit of” praise, that I may glorify God for ever, who by the riches of His grace hath brought me in, as the first-fruits of that great harvest of the Jews; when a nation shall, be born in a day.
Herschell, Ridley (Ed.) Jewish Witnesses for Christ. London: Aylott and Jones, 8 Paternoster Row. 1848