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GENERALLY, as devoted to worldly wealth and enjoyments; as solicitous for distinction and influence; as easily and happily puffed with pride and conceit; and as mere creatures of flesh, as those they pity or spurn, because, forsooth, their pretensions to sanctity are not so lofty-or their notions of Christianity so mysterious as their own; nor their observances and deportment squared by the rule they have adopted. They are as impatient of injuries; as yindictive in their passions; as unforgiving in their temper; as sordid and penurious; as keen, close and avaricious in their dealings; as hard creditors; as inflexible and unpitying in exacting their rights. But all this offends no law of the land; and is not forbidden by the Decalogue, as they interpret it; but to step into a steam-boat on Sunday! that is the fatal sin, and must be expiated by eternal torments. The religion of such men is satisfied by a hard and austere observance of the Sabbath, which happens to fall in with their taste; by professing a belief in certain sectarian tenets, which they do not understand; with occasional ostentatious donations to institutions which flatter their vanity by adulatory resolutions, and give them importance by a pompous publication of their piety and generosity."*
Such language the petitioners may well pity, and will, doubtless, readily forgive; more readily, we trust, than the Reviewer can forgive himself, or regain his self-respect. On page 190, he says, - Assuredly, a Calvinist would hold it to be a much more important service to religion, to prohibit all men from an attendance on an Unitarian or Catholic church, than to stop the mails and steam-boats on Sunday; and, therefore, in his own principles of duty, he would not only be willing, but bound to prevent it, if he could. And he refrains from the attempt, only because there is a stronger power over him; but if he can hoodwink or break that power in the one case, there is no security in it for any other; and we shall hold all these rights, not on guarantee of the Constitution, but at the discretion of legislatures, to be acted upon by popular feeling and interests." This is a bold assertion, not with that boldness which is required to meet danger with unconcern, but that which enables a man calmly to contradict truth and history to the face. There are several millions of Calvinists in this country, and
The committee of the House of Representatives, speaking of these same persons, say, “ It is believed, that the history of legislation in this country affords no instance in which a stronger expression has been made, if regard be had to the Numbers, wealth, or the intelligence of the petitioners."
the assertion is not true of any one of them, we verily believe. Before the Reviewer can prove that Calvinists are particularly inclined to tyranny, he must blot out all the record of the past. They have, notoriously, been the staunch advocates and champions of liberty. The Calvinist Hampden was pleading and dying for the liberty of the world, while the infidel Hobbes was writing and raving for passive obedience. The liberty secured by Calvinists has given birth to all the world now enjoys. Calvinists* gave the world the Reformation, and England her constitution. They have ever been in advance of the rest of the world in the principles of toleration. Do Unitarians suffer from Calvinists here, in the nineteenth century, what Calvinists are now suffering from Unitarians in Switzerland? Take them, age for age, with others, and for the solitary victim to their bigotry, you will find hecatombs of martyrs. No man, with the light of history before his eyes, would hesitate to prefer leaving life, honour, or property, in the hands of the strictest Calvinists of the age, rather than in the power of those « less scrupulous” personages, whom the Reviewer has taken under his especial favour.
ART. VII.—MODERN JUDAISM.
REVIEW.-Instruction in the Mosaic Religion. Trans
lated from the German of J. Johlson, teacher of an Israelitish School at Frankfort on the Maine. By Isaac Leeser, Reader of the Portuguese Jewish Congregation in Philadelphia, A. M. 5590. Philadelphia, A. Waldie, printer. 8vo. pp. 139.
A Jewish book, in our own language is indeed a rarity; and we must solicit the indulgence of our readers, while we pause for a short time over its contents. The fortunes of this extraordinary people have been so wonderful, and their relation to Christianity so near and interesting, that we cannot but regard their very errors as instructive. In controversy, therefore, with a child of Abraham, we entertain feelings far remote from those with which we discuss the points of difference between ourselves and an idolater, or an infidel. Our
* In the sense of the Reviewer.
unavoidable associations of thought cast a melancholy interest over all that pertains to Israel, " whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.' With such feelings we took up this volume, purporting to be “the attempt of an Israelite to give his brethren a clear knowledge of the religion which they have inherited from their ancestors.' We expected to meet with error, bigotry, and perversion of the Scriptures, with much of falsehood, and much of vain tradition; but we likewise looked for subtile vindication of Jewish tenets, and above all, for some clear exposition of the hopes and wishes of that people as to their future exaltation. We have been disappointed; for while every syllabus of Scriptural truth, however partial may be its views, must contain much that is important; and every religious treatise which is opposed to Christianity, must be radically erroneous; the work under consideration is a singular instance of studied abstinence, alike from characteristic doctrine and adventurous error. It is neither a complete outline of acknowledged Judaism, nor an ingenious refinement upon that system, but a specimen of naked, cold, unimpressive Rationalism. We cannot even designate it as the body without the soul, for it is so defective and jejune, that it is scarcely the skeleton of that body.
The work is intended for catechetical instruction, and is accordingly presented in the form of question and answer, under the following general heads: The dignity and destination of man; Religion; God, and his attributes; Immortality; Revelation; the Decalogue; Tradition; Duties towards God, ourselves, our fellow men, and the state; and the means of becoming pious.
It may be remarked of the work in general, that the most frequent course of discussion is to place every doctrine upon grounds which may be ascertained by the mere light of nature, and to append such passages of Scripture as confirm the position. The dignity of man, which is the first subject, is so far exalted as to represent him (for all that appears) as being quite as glorious a being as Adam before his defection. Indeed, there is not one word which indicates the most remote suspicion of a fall; and the sum of the Mosaic creed as here represented, upon this point, is that the pre-eminent mental endowments, wherewith man is so peculiarly gifted; as also his reason, freedom of will, conscience, and the ever-active impulse which spurs him on to reach higher perfections and greater
happiness, clearly prove to us, that he is destined to advance continually in perfection, wisdom, and virtue.”
The chapter upon Religion contains a number of undeniable truths concerning the great objects of man's existence, and the beneficial influence of piety. When, however, the author comes to give us a summary of the “ fundamental articles of the Mosaic religion,” it is surprising and painful to find among them no allusion to some of the most prominent and cardinal truths, for which Jewish writers of every foregoing age have contended. Omitting the doctrines of mere Theism, the three which are stated as fundamentals,—one of them being moreover palpably false—are, that God revealed himself in a supernatural manner to the ancients, and especially to Moses;—that Moses and the prophets were divinely inspired, and that their promises and predictions will be accomplished; --and that “the more particular explanations and definitions of the written precepts, were likewise communicated and orally delivered to Moses by God; so that these traditions (which were afterwards delivered by Moses to the elders and rulers of the people by word of mouth solely, and thus handed down from generation to generation) constitute a prominent and essential part of the law." p. 12. The reader will naturally inquire, at what time did the doctrine of a Messiah, the seed of the woman, the king in whom Israel has always gloried, cease to be a prominent and essential part of the Mosaic system? To this question he will vainly seek for an answer in the volume before us; and no hint is given that any such majestic personage was ever promised.
An apparent liberality of sentiment, with regard to other religions, may be observed in the following paragraph: “ Mankind are not of one opinion concerning the mode of worshiping God. There are, accordingly, various religions, but they all, nevertheless, acknowledge a God and Creator, who desires but the welfare of his creatures. Our wise men therefore teach us, that the pious of all nations have a share of the world to come,' i. e. may enjoy everlasting beatitude.” Yet we are by no means left to conclude from this, that the Jew is free to disregard the creed which he inherits, for it is added, 6 we can in no manner whatever renounce the religion of our ancestors, without infringing the covenant, and thereby drawing upon ourselves the curses which the whole nation pronounced before the Eternal. We must, therefore, he steadfast in the religion in which we were born.” As a further
elucidation of this point, the author cites the words of Solomon, “My son, be attentive to the advice of thy father, and neglect not the instruction of thy mother," which, in a manner truly Rabbinical are thus interpreted; the advice of thy father—in heaven, which he communicated to Moses, both written and orally;" the instruction of thy mother—" of the church, namely, those precepts which have been adopted as a safeguard to the law.” p. 9.
Upon the Divine nature and attributes, the instructions are sound, and the practical inferences useful. In speaking of the immortality of the soul, the writer proves that he is far from being a Sadducee, and acknowledges the belief of a future state of retribution. It is sufficiently obvious, however, that he is disposed to shrink from the subject of future punishment. Of this he says, “ the wicked will be punished, who died in their obduracy, without repentance," but no where intimates that this punishment will be endless. His nearest approach to Scriptural truth respecting the destiny of the impenitent, is in these words: “We believe the punishment to consist in a state full of shame and compunction of the soul, which must be to it the most painful and afflicting state imaginable." p. 29.
The evidences of a divine revelation are treated in the fifth chapter, in a manner somewhat singular and perplexed; so much indeed is this the case, that we cannot mistake the prehension in the mind of the author, of their being successfully retorted in favour of Christianity. After acknowledging that the ancient prophets demonstrated their divine legation by means of miracles, he very carefully guards against any application of this test in after times. This is attempted, by denying that the prophet is under any necessity of performing miracles in attestation of his mission.
“But this the prophet is not obliged to do, except where he is compelled to suspend for a time any one of the Mosaic precepts, since in this case it might happen, that he would receive no credit, without performing a miracle.” '“Yet even in this case, it is not always necessary that the prophet should perform miracles; as it appears from Maimonides, and from the Talmud. And say our wise men: If God permits wonders to be performed, we ought to view it with a thankful heart, as a particular and extraordinary favour, of which not every age can be worthy. But we are not permitted to ask for wonders, nor to found our faith upon them, because miracles alone can never be of sufficient value to consti.