페이지 이미지

Nisroch, Rimmon, Nebo, Dagon, Ashtaroth, Baal—the sun, moon, planets, and all the host of heaven,—were endowed above other nations, with a monotheistic instinct. The many and frequent lapses of the Jews into polytheistic worship, are also at variance with this theory. That mere natural instinct does not lead men to the belief in the unity of God, it might be proved from the fact that polytheism, or belief in many gods, even if it do not and cannot precede belief in a God, still may precede, and probably has often done so, belief in one only God. And that mere philosophy does not lead men to this belief in the unity of God, there is a curious illustration in the history of the Jews themselves, when, in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the most learned men among the Jews and those most addicted to Greek philosophy, entered into a plot to destroy the worship of one God, and to introduce pagan rites.

But it is nevertheless true, that we owe to the Jew the preservation of the revealed truth of the One Supreme God, the Creator (not only the architect as Anaxagoras held, but the Creator) of the world and of men-the Father of spiritsbesides whom there is no other God. This is assuredly the root-principle of religion, and to the Jews are we indebted for the conservation of this precious truth, perceived with inspired clearness by Abraham, and handed down through the patriarchs and prophets to the time of the fuller revelation of the nature and will of God in Jesus Christ, who himself, after the flesh, was a Jew. This belief in one God is the groundwork of morality as well as of religion ; since polytheism could afford no standard of right action, though flashes of natural virtue are seen in all ancient religious; but Judaism, or the pure Judaism, clearly set forth the solid basis of the divine will, or law, of God, for Christianity, ethical and spiritual, to rest upon. Christianity does not repudiate (we call upon our Jewish brethren to note this) true Judaisın, but rather builds upon it. Here is the moral foundation of a more spiritual religion. Christ did not destroy the law and the prophets; he confirmed their teachings, leading them up to higher developments of the nature and law of God, showing the true character of that law to be love, and, as exhibited toward inan, to be human redemption from sin. The law came by Moses, but

grace and truth by Jesus Christ. We see the unity and at the same time the difference of the two religions. This grace and truth which belong to Christ's religion, belong to the individual heart, as the revelation and gift of God through Christ to it, whereas Judaism, even as we see it in the Old Testament, was more of a general and national, than a personal faith ; to be sure the best spirits like David and Isaiah pierced through the theocratic to the personal truth; but it represented God as the law-giver of a nation, and every Jew as a member belonging to this national kingdom of God, and claiming its common privileges and benefits, rather than one, who in and by himselt, was united to God by his own act of faith. Although, therefore, Judaism contained the germ of a higher faith, yet it was but the germ. In Christianity God is brought nigh the heart of man, and in his Son we may see the Father, and come to Him, and love Him, whereas in the Judaic system God was abstracted from the intimate fellowship of man

-a king ruling in the loneliness of his terrible majesty, with “clouds and darkness” about His throne—a being of holiness and power, rather than of love and grace.

But we would speak especially of the modern aspects of this wonderful people and their religion, as far as we are acquainted with them. It were an invidious task to show that the ancient pure faith of the Jews, which the Saviour himself pronounced to be a standard of moral guilelessness, has, as a general thing, sunken in these days into many superstitious and gross errors, being brought slavishly under the influence of the traditional law, or of the Talmud and other Rabbinical scriptures, which exercise a minute and rigid despotism over every act, destructive of free will, and tend to make the Jew still more of a bigoted Jew in his intolerance and isolation. The Talmud, although an English writer has recently expended great powers of brilliant scholarship to establish its claims to an original authenticity, and an almost equal authority with the Old Testament, has, in the opinion of the most eminent Hebraists, by its assumptions and interpretations, gone far to destroy the spirituality of the law of Moses, and to introduce the most puerile and even vicious beliefs and customs—such

as prayers offered to saints and relics, the doctrine of Purgatory, the allowance of usury, the forbidding of agriculture, the repressal of all sympathy with other faiths and nations, and the inculcation of a Jesuitical dealing with others than Jews, that have greatly corrupted the morality of the Jewish character. Not only has the veil been upon the heart of congregations where Moses is read, but it is to be feared that Moses is not much read at all; and if he is, it is in the synagogues in the Hebrew tongue, which language is a dead language now to multitudes of the younger Jews, in England and on own country, who, if they are taught to read Hebrew, are taught to read or pronounce merely the character, without un. derstanding its meaning.

On the other hand, the tendency among some Hebrew communities, is strong towards out and out infidel opinions, especially among the Jews of Germany; and many of the most learned and acute opposers of supernatural truth, of late years, have been of the Jewish race.

But let us, before going further, endeavor to give some little idea of the number and extent of the Hebrew race at the present time, and the countries where they are principally to be found.

Berghaus, in his “ Physical Atlas," quoted by Max Müller gives the following division of the human race according to religion :

[blocks in formation]

The number of Jews who are now upon the earth is commorly computed in round numbers to be six millions, which is somewhere about Berghaus's estimate. Of these the greater part are in the East, in the Mohammedan portions of Europe, Asia and Africa. There are said to be not less than five hundred thousand of Jewish descent under the name of “Falashas,” in Abyssina. The word “ Falasha” means “exile." This people still preserve a kind of hieratic or sacred language

used in their devotions, which differs from the native “Am. haric,” and which is called the “ Agaou," in which occur many Hebrew and Biblical words. The Jews are found in large numbers in Poland, and in all parts of northern Germany, where in their changed names and mental traits they have been powerfully assimilated by the strong German genius, and can hardly be discriminated from the native Teuton. There are also nearly five hundred thousand Israelites in Hungary, who have lately laid claims to be regarded as one of the legally recognized confessions; and there are some hundreds of thousands in the United States.

In many respects they are still a favored people. They are intellectually a highly-organized race. Every age reproduces in traits of mental fineness and power, the Bezaleels, Davids, Solomons, Ezras, Gamaliels, of ancient days. In philology, mathematics and music, the Jews have led the way in modern times. The university of Cordova at its greatest illumination, was but a reflection of Jewish mind; and the literature of Spain is more highly indebted than is commonly supposed to Hebrew genius. In philosophy there are such names as Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, and David Friedländer. We have only to mention an Augustus Neander, as an instance of the deep grasp which the llebrew intellect is capable of in theology, and philosophy of history-a Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn, in the musical art--a Heinrich Heine, a Bertbold Auerbach, and a Benjamin D'lsraeli, in literature—the Rothschilds, in practical fields of traffic. In the productive arts that are directed to the attainment of wealth (which was the original peaceful occupation of the Jew) this people are to a proverb unrivalled. Under the most grinding disabilities they have overcome competition, and money has flowed into their coffers; and thus, though studiously concealed, their influence, through their immensely ramified business resources, has ever been considerable in the affairs of men. They are the princes of haute finance. Auerbach says : “ The Jews, scattered among all peoples, have become constituent elements of the traffic of the world.” The Jew loves money as well as ever; he is a money-changer as of old; he incarnates the money-passion; but it is interesting, almost amusing, to read in the words of a Jew, such a strong, if it be half-ironical, VOL. XXIX.


assault, upon a modern phase of financial wisdom and form of bonded money-capital that now prevails throughout Christen. dom,—as the following extract by the author last quoted, introduced in one of those remarakable fictions that search the springs of human action and society withi subtle penetration, if not from the highest spiritual point of view:

"Government securities are to-day the curse of our world. Whom can you lend millions to ? Nobody but the government. If there were no government seeurities, there would be no one who could lend so much. Once, nobody could lend so many millions, for he could not invest so much; but now, there are these securities, and the whole world is living on usury ; and usury is canonically prohibited. In old times the rich man had a quantity of real estate ; a great deal of field and forest. Then he was a dependent on God's dear sun, and when all had reached its full time, and was ripe for the harvest, he gave a tithe to the Church. But now, wealth is laid away in fire-proof and burglar-proof safes ; not depend. ent on sun, wind, and weather, not to be seen by the world, and no tenth of the produce to be given, and only a little premium, in the shape of coupons, to be presented at the banker's. The harvest of the man who holds government securities consists in cutting coupons; these are the sheaves which he houses in his granary. If the Lord were to come to earth to-day, he would find no temples from which to drive the traders and money.changers, for they have built temples of their own. Yes; the citadel of Zion to which the rich men and princes flee for safety to day, is the Bank of England! What will be the fate of humanity and governments, if this increases, or the national debt goes on at this rate ? The whole earth will be one great hypothecation, pawned to whom? By him who lends long, but will some day demand his reckoning. A general conflagration will come, against which no safes are proof-a new deluge that shall swamp millions and millions of national-debt. I shall probably live to see the failure of the Bank of England."

Who would have supposed that Christian civilization would ever have received a rebuke like this on the subject of usury from a Jew!

Modern Judaism seems to be principally represented, as far as we have learned, by two parties—the regular orthodox Jews who preserve to some extent the traditions and forms of the ancient Hebrew worship, though much under the corrupting influence of the Talmud and Rabbinical usages—and, in this country, by a more recently organized party called “ The Re formed School.” There seems to be among the orthodos party (and this we conceive to be a hopeful sign) a strong desire for a more regular and efficient religious life, and a more distinct union of organization among themselves, which last idea has already been extensively carried out as far as their charitable institutions and efforts are concerned, but the

« 이전계속 »