Lord Shaftesbury

Lord Shaftesbury was himself 'convinced of Darby's teachings',133 and actively campaigned for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.134 Stirred by the Napoleonic expedition, Shaftesbury argued for a greater British presence in Palestine on both religious as well as political grounds, advocating that assistance be given not only to assist Jews to return to Palestine but also for the founding of an Anglican bishopric and cathedral in Jerusalem. This he saw as the means by which God would continue to bless England as he had apparently promised through Abraham, and Lord Palmerston, providentially Shaftesbury's step-father-in-law was Britain's Foreign Secretary. In his diary for 1st August 1838, Shaftesbury wrote,

Dined with Palmerston. After dinner left alone with him. Propounded my schemes which seems to strike his fancy. He asked questions and readily promised to consider it. How singular is the order of Providence. Singular, if estimated by man's ways. Palmerston had already been chosen by God to be an instrument of good to His ancient people, to do homage to their inheritance, and to recognize their rights without believing their destiny. It seems he will yet do more. Though the motive be kind, it is not sound. I am forced to argue politically, financially, commercially. He weeps not, like his Master, over Jerusalem, nor prays that now, at last, she may put on her beautiful garments.135

As a first step Shaftesbury persuaded Palmerston to appoint the fellow restorationist William Young as the first British vice-consul in Jerusalem. He subsequently wrote in his diary,

What a wonderful event it is! The ancient City of the people of God is about to resume a place among the nations; and England is the first of the gentile kingdoms that ceases to 'tread her down'.136

A year later in 1839, Shaftesbury wrote a 30 page article for the Quarterly Review, entitled 'State and Restauration (sic) of the Jews.' In it Shaftesbury predicted a new era for God's chosen people. He insisted,

...the Jews must be encouraged to return in yet greater numbers and become once more the husbandman of Judea and Galilee... though admittedly a stiff-necked, dark hearted people, and sunk in moral degradation, obduracy, and ignorance of the Gospel were not only worthy of salvation but also vital to Christianity's hope of salvation137

Wagner assesses the significance of Shaftesbury's strategy.

Demonstrating keen political insight, Shaftesbury saw three distinct advantages for England in this plan, (1) England would outpace France in the colonial competition to control the Near East; (2) England would be insured a direct land passage to India, the 'jewel' of the British Empire; (3) vast commercial markets would be opened for British economic interests. It was not a mere coincidence that these political goals matched those of the British Foreign office concerning the Near East.138

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