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scrupulously observe. They are obliged to fast the whole of the month
Ramadan or Ramazan, from early in the morning until the evening


Judaism is the religion of the Jews, and is divided into two sects,
the Karaites, who acknowledge as divine only the books of the Old
Testament; and the Rabbinists, who attribute an authority almost
divine to the collection known under the name of the Talmud. The
Jews are scattered throughout Europe, and many parts of Asia. Africa,
and America. Their whole number is supposed to be about 3.000.000.

As this persecuted race, who were formerly continually wasted and
destroyed, have lived in a state of tranquility for a century past, some
writers suppose their present number at six or seven millions.

This people constitute one of the most singular and interesting
portions of mankind; for about three thousand years they have existed
as a distinct nation, and what is remarkable, by far the greatest part
of this time they have been in bondage and captivity.

The calling of Abraham, the father and founder of this nation; the
legislation of Moses; the priesthood of Aaron; the Egyptian bondage;
the conquest of Canaan; the history of the Jews to the coming of the
Messiah; and their cruel and injurious treatment of this august and
innocent personage, are facts which the Scriptures disclose, and with
which it is presumed every reader is well acquainted.


The siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the Roman Gen-
eral, was one of the most awful and distressing scenes that mortals
ever witnessed, and the details, as given by Josephus, are enough to
make humanity shudder. During the siege, which lasted nearly five
months, upwards of eleven hundred thousand Jews perished; John and
Simon, the two Generals of the Hebrews, who were accounted the ring-
leaders of the rebellious nation, with seven hundred of the most beau-
tiful and vigorous of the Jewish youth, were reserved to attend the
victors' triumphal chariot. The number taken captive during this
fatal contest, amounted to ninety-seven thousand; many of whom were
sent into Syria and the other provinces to be exposed in public theatres
to fight like gladiators, or to be devoured by wild beasts. The number
of those destroyed in the whole war, of which the taking of the holy
city was the bloody and tremendous consummation, is computed to
have been one million four hundred and sixty thousand.

For about eighteen hundred years, this wonderful people have
maintained their peculiarities of religion, language, and domestic
habits, among Pagans, Mahometans, and Christians; and have suf-
fered a continued series of reproaches, privations, and miseries, which
have excited the admiration and astonishment of all who have reflected
on their condition.

False Messiahs. — The constant and fond expectations of the Jews
of a coming Messiah, who shall deliver them from bondage and cap-
tivity, and lead them in triumph to the land of Canaan, their ancient
favorite abode, has involved them in a succession of the grossest impo-
sitions, and most calamitous disappointments. An account of all the
false Messiahs since the true one was cruelly and wickedly rejected,
would fill a volume. The strange infatuation of this nation has led
them in many cases to rally round the standards of the most impious
and hair-brained pretenders to the high office of the Messiahship.

The history of this people certainly forms a striking evidence of
the truth of divine revelation. They are a living and perpetual miracle
continuing to subsist as a distinct and peculiar race for upwards of
three thousand years, intermixed among almost all the nations of the
world — flowing forward in a full and continued stream, like the waters
of the Rhone, without mixing with the waves of the expansive lak<»
through which the passage lies to the ocean of eternity.


Christianity is the religion of Jesus Christ, who appeared in the
world more than 1,800 years ago, and by the most astonishing miracles
gave evidence that his mission was divine.

Strictly speaking, none are Christians but those who are imbued
with the spirit of Christ, agreeably to the declaration of Scripture,


"If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of liis" (Rom.
viii. 'J). But there is another sense in which whole nations are
denominated Christians, viz.: where Christianity is the received relig-
ion, in opposition to all other religions. In this sense we shall use
the term in treating of the various religions of the earth in this
department of our work.

Christianity is divided into three portions — the Greek church, which
is established by law in Russia, prevails in Greece, Hungary, and part
of Turkey, and embraces 70.000,000 people. The Roman Catholic,
Latin, or Western church, maintains the supremacy of the Pope, pre-
vails in many parts of Europe, and has a considerable number of fol-
lowers in North America. In some of the West India islands, in
Mexico, Guatemala, and South America, it is the established religion.
The whole number of Catholics may be estimated at 116.000,000. The
Protestants are those who protest against the Roman Catholic Church,
and take the Bible as their guide. They may be comprised under
eleven general heads, aa follows: — Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presby-
terians, Congregationalists, Moravians, Baptists, Methodists, Friends
or Quakers, Universalists, Swedenborgians, and Shakers. These gen-
eral divisions are subdivided into forty or fifty smaller divisions. The
Protestant religion in its various forms prevails in the United States,
England, Scotland, Wales, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Prus-
sia, etc.

The following table shows the estimates of Hassel and Malte-Brun
of the various religions:


Pagans 561,829.300

Christians 252,565,700

Mahometans 1 20,105,000

Jews 3,930,000

Total. 938,421,000


Roman Catholics 134,732,000

Greek Church 56,011.000

Protestants 55,791.000

Monophysites 3.865.000

Armenians 1.799.000

Nestorians, etc 367.000

Total, 252.565,700
In 1837, page 87, we have the following:



Every object of contemplation may be viewed in various attitudes
and relations, because no created thing exists only for its own sake.
There are as many dependencies as creatures in the universe, and con-
sequently as many relations. The mighty whole is but the aggregate
of innumerable parts; and of all these there is not one independent of
the rest, or unrelated to them. This is not more true or more worthv
of observation in the material than in the intellectual system.

Religion, therefore, of all subjects the most comprehensive and sub-
lime, is capable of being placed in many points of view before the
mind, and of being regarded in reference to every human relation and
circumstance. A clear and full perception of this great truth is one of
the best antidotes against a narrow, illiberal, and dogmatic spirit.

"We occasionally read and speak of a theory of religion and of the
practice. We have religion objectively and subjectively discussed. We
have the substance and the form, the matter and the spirit, the attri-
butes and the accidents of religion. We have also the doctrines, the
precepts, and the promises — the laws, the statutes, and the ordinances
of religion. In other words, religion is capable not so much of divi-
sions and subdivisions of this sort, as of being contemplated and
regarded in all these bearings upon the individual and society. We are
at this time, however, only intent on viewing religion in reference to
its power in forming character — to its influence upon the heart and
upon the life of man. That distinction, therefore, expressed by the
Apostle in his second letter to Timothy between "the form'" and "the
power of godliness," is more apposite to our present design than any

We do not intend to regard the form and the power of godliness as
antagonist, or in the slightest degree opposed, to each otlier. They
are distinct, but not contradictory terms, or ideas, or conditions of the
same thing. The form without the power is conceivable; but the power
without the form is impossible. The power of an instrument to keep
time, and the form of that instrument, are easily distinguished; but
how often do we see the form of such instrument, clock or watch,
without this power; but who ever saw this power without a form!

Ever since Satan seduced and polluted our first progenitors, and
alienated their affections from the Lord their Creator, our heavenly
Father, from a due regard to his own dignity and the other portions of
his immense empire, hid his face from us, and is no longer visibly
present in these his lower works. Yet in the deep and unfathomable
mines of the unsearchable riches of his manifold wisdom and love, he
has instituted on earth a system of remedies adapted to the whole
nature and genius of man, and to the preternatural complexion of his


Circumstances. This is what the master spirits of Protestantism call
"the religion of the Bible;" an institution which, as it is one of the
most splendid conceptions of the Infinite Intelligence, bears deeply
Imprinted upon its surface, and infused into its essence, the glorious
attributes of its author. But in our intellectual and moral imbecilities
we are apt to take both feeble and partial views of its divine excellency,
and often to be wholly engrossed with one of its attributes or accidents,'
to the disparagement, neglect, or forgetfulness of all the rest. Hence
how often is the power, and purity, and holiness of the gospel forgotten
or overlooked in the fierce and hosUle controversies about its forms,
Its precepts, and its ordinances.

The form of godliness, as well as its power, just as "the form of
truth" in the Decalogue, and the truth itself, is indeed celestial and
divine. True religion, whether in mode or substance, in matter or
spirit, in form or power, is a native of the skies. It is heaven-born,
heaven-descended, and heaven-destined. It came from God, and it lea;ls
to God. It is therefore the wisdom, the grace, and the power of God
in every person who embraces it. Yet in all our zeal and contentions
for the simplicity, appropriateness, and excellency of its forms, we
should never forget the purity, the mildness, the gentleness, and the
holiness of its spirit and its power.

Religion printed on paper, religion existing in the percepUons of
the understanding, religion flowing from the lips and floating in the
air, and religion dwelling in the heart, and living and breathing in
every thought, and word, and action, are very different and distinct
conceptions and predicaments. Religion printed upon paper is the
work of human science and art, which can be performed as well by
the mechanical skill of the atheist as by that of the Christian. Relig-
ion existing in the perceptions of the understanding is as natural and
easy as the theory of astronomy or electricity, and can be obtained by
the same talent and application which master any branch of mental or
moral philosophy, and is ofien one of the literary and scientific accom-
plishments of the most grossly immoral and profane spirits of the age.
Religion flowing from the lips, or falling upon the ear, differs in no
respect from the enunciations of our vocal powers on other themes;
and therefore preachers, orators, lawyers of good lungs and distinct
articulation, may equally entertain, amuse, or terrify their audience,
according to all the varieties of times, subjects, and circumstances.

But religion dwelling in the heart, rooted in the feelings and affec-
tions, is a living, active, and real existence. It purifies the fountain
of moral life and health. It animates, inspires, controls, and gives a
new impulse to our active powers. It imbues the soul with a divine
life, and plants the incorruptible seeds of a glorious immortality In
man. This is religion; all the rest is machinery or imagery. Language


and all its signs, oral and written; ordinances and all their forms, as
types, and paper, and ink, are but the means or channel through, which
the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit plants or waters the unde-
caying germ of an eternal life in the intellectual and moral nature of

Religion in the Bible, in the understanding, in the lips, and in th ?
heart, may be pictured out to the child of nature by that life-giving
light, which, while it emanates from the sun, is not in the sun, nor in
the rays nor undulations from the sun, nor in the air through which
it passes, nor in the eye which sees it; but which, while it paints the
images of things upon the retina, by its control of other agencies sets
in motion the animal machinery, imparts warmth and vigor, and strikes
life into the man.

Such, in part, are the phenomena of that animal life which man in
common with other animated beings receives from the laws of Nature,
arranged and directed by the Supreme Intelligence. That vital spark
which enlivens the animal creation, like that stricken from the flint
by the touch of steel, is distinct equally from the hand that guides,
from the steel in contact, and the flint that is stricken by it; yet
without this economy and collision, that spark which now beams light
and cheerfulness around the social hearth had never begun to be.

It is indeed impossible fully to depict in colors incapable of con-
fusion, that wonderful process by which either animal or spiritual life
is infused into man. The microscope with all its powers can not detect
the delicate touches of the hand of Nature in the inmost recesses of its
sublime operations. No more can language explain, or faith appre-
hend, that agency of truth or of grace which quickens the soul, sets
in motion its powers and gives them a bias to the skies. But that the
thing is done, and that man is morally and spiritually a new creation
is as clearly taught and as faithfully propounded to our acceptance
as that Jesus Christ is the author of an eternal salvation to all that
obey him.

Types we have, and beautiful figures innumerable; but our preju-
dices and other malign influences around us interpose and veto the use
of Nature's own imagery and her analogies, from the persuasion that
the more unapproachable and mysterious the wonders of creation,
providence, and regeneration, the better for the interests of religion
and morality. Although we can not, ex-anim^,\ subscribe to this dictuw.
of the untaught and unteachable, still we can bear with that fastidi-
ousness which forbids the help of one of God's volumes to illustrato
and explain the other; provided only, we may not be registered amongst
the chief of heretics and schismatics; because, in imitation of the great
Author of our religion, we sometimes throw our eyes over the volume
of Nature for a simile or a comparison, by the help of which to set


forth more intelligibly and vividly our conceptions of the revealed
secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven.

To return: Religion in the heart, or rooted in the moral nature of
man, transfuses itself through the whole frame and identity of it-;
happy and holy subject. It crystalizes everything in human nature
that can be immortalized, and sheds a divine gracefulness over all the
workings of the human soul. It distils the dews of heaven upon the
heart — it breathes a delicious odor on society, and imbues with a heav-
enly sweetness the temper and conversation of the happy spirits who
cherish its divine and holy influence by submitting to all its sacred
ordinances and requisitions. Its active power never shines with more
splendor than when most oppressed. Hindrances, difficulties, dangers,
but increase its momentum and impart a peculiar lustre and heroism
to all its efforts and enterprises. The more it is oppressed the more
it aspires towards heaven whence it descended, and the more efficiently
it struggles with every weight and entangling influence which would
retard its flight to the supreme object on which cluster all its pure and
holy affections.

There is no exaggeration here. In the prosecution of this subject it
will more and more appear that Christian faith, hope, and love are a
three-fold cord of more than earthly strength — a mainspritg incom-
parably superior to all the other springs of human action — the power
of God stirring up the divinity that is within us, urging man to H
conquest of more glory than ever adorned an earthly triumph It will
appear that there is no hyperbole in saying with the Apostle John,
that faith conquers the world, and that the Christian is the only hero
that shall wear a crown of glory that fadeth not aw^ay.

If there be strength in the everlasting hills — if there be power in
the laws that bind the earth together — if there be might in the hand
that launched the universe, and that grasps its various powers; then,
indeed, is there power in that moral system of redemption which
almighty love contrived and infinite compassion vouchsafed for the
recovery of a ruined world. It is moreover intended by the benevolent
Author of this religion, that this new power, moral and divine, should,
with the scheme which it originated and perfected, be translated into
the human heart, and that there it should unfold and gloriously disi)lay
its almightiness in disenthralling, renewing, re-creating, and saving not
only the soul, but the man, from the overwhelming train of physical
and moral evils consequent upon his apostacy from God.

Every truth in this divine system is animated and quickened by its
intimate relation to the Spirit of the universe; and when written upon
the heart, vitalizes the soul with a life forever new, forever fair, and
forever blessed. This eternal life harmoniously pulsates with the
supreme moral power, and uncreated fountain of all the life and all


the felicity known and enjoyed through all the ranks of existence,
celestial and terrestrial. Religious truth, sometimes called "the word
of life," not only enlightens, but it also enlivens the soul. The admis-
sion of it into the heart not only gives light, but it imparts life: "The
law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the
Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are
right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes." There is, then, an enlightening, animating,
sanctifying, vivifying power in religion, both objectively and subjec-
tively considered.

Take, for example, the truth which proclaims the omniscience, and
consequent omnipresence of our God and Father; contemplate this
truth as it stands related to us and to all other truths in the evan-
gelical economy. Man, with all the glory he assumes, and all the power
and grandeur which he can appropriate from his admiring contempo-
raries, ever feels, and in all his lucid and sober intervals must confess,
that he is an imbecile, frail and helpless creature. He shrinks within
himself in the presence of ten thousand dangers, and feels that, as a
moth, he may be crushed every moment by various antagonist forces
over which he can have no control. He fears not only the falling moun-
tain, the fierce volcano, the earthquake, the mad tornado, the forked
lightning, or the ravenous beasts of prey; but he fears the insensible
malaria, the invisible miasmata, the pestilence that walketh in dark-
ness secretly, the asp, the spider, and the gnat, which may poison life
at its fountain, or sting him to death in an instant, amid all his watch-
fulness and care. All this he perceives and fears.

Awakened from the sleep of death and roused into thought, perceiv-
ing the character of a revealed God and Saviour, he finds among tho
attributes of his glory one that ineffably charms and strengthens him.
It is the thought that this self-existent, omnipotent, omniscient One,
whose countless excellencies and glories no angelic tongue, no cherubic;
eloquence can unfold, is omnipresent. On this splendid discovery, he
breaks forth into the enrapturing soliloquy — "Whither shall I go from
thy Spirit! Whither shall I flee from thy presence! If I ascend into
heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hades, thou art there. If
I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of
the sea, even there shall thy hand lead and thy right hand shall hold
me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, even the darkness
shall be light about me; yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but
the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike
to thee."

This discovery disarms danger of all its terrors, dispels ten thou-
sand fears, and gives an impulse to the soul stronger than the fear of
death — stronger than the love of mortal existence. But it is not the


isolated thought that God is omnipresent that so invigorates an-l
delights the soul: for no truth is solitary, no single attribute of God
is abstract and independent of himself, or of his other excellencies;
but it is the thought, the transporting thought that this God is my God,
my Father, my strength, my life, my bliss; that through the mediation
of his Son, the Lord Jesus, all his adorable perfections are pledged and
promised to my defense, deliverance, and rescue from all evil. Boasting
In this, the saint exclaims —

" How arc tliy svrvunls blofts'd, O L<jril I
How sure is tlioir (lefciico t
Eternal Wisdom i.s their g-uide;
Their help, (JiiiiiipuU'iici-! "

Feeble though I am, says the Christian, the Lord Jehovah is my
strength; he is my shield and my defense. Weak is my arm, but strong
is his right hand. Short and indistinct my clearest vision; but he
dwells in light: his eye irradiates the universe, illumines eternity, and
watches over all his saints. He slumbers not, nor sleeps. His angels
encamp around the dwellings of the righteous, and minister to the
heirs of salvation. At his command,

"An an>?el's arm can snatch me from the pravc."

And when my time of deliverance comes — when the time of redemption
draweth near,

'• Lofjions of angels can't confine me there.'

Embraced by the everlasting arms, the feeblest lamb in David's flock

is strong as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Thus the Christian Is

forever safe in the Lord, and strong in the power of his might.

The power of this single conception of God to beautify the soul,

has never yet been adequately expressed. Time is "too short to utter

all its praise." But it is not only precious because of its soothing

and consoing power

—"To the stranger in distress,
The widow and the fatherless,"

but its sanctifying and restraining efficacy Is equal to those preliba-

tions of future bliss to which it elevates those in whose hearts it has

a constant abiding. The thought that "thou God always seest me" —


" One glance,, of thine. Almighty Lord,
Pierces all natui'o through;
Nor heaven, nor earth itself, nor hell,
Can shelter from thy view.

"The mighty whole, each smaller part,
At once before thee lies;
And ev'ry thought of ev'i-y lu'art
Is open to thine eyes."

This thought. I say, is a sovereign gtiard against impiety and immo-
rality, as it is the oil of joy and the unction of peace to all the sons and


daughters of distress. Like the burning cherubim that guarded the
tree of life, so this consciousness of the Omnipresent Father, when
healthy and vigilant, bids Satan, and temptation, and evil passion to
stand aloof. It sanctifies and animates every place, and sheds a cheer-
fulness and delight wherever we place our foot.

Amongst that class of licensed murderers, called heroes, but one
is said to have conquered the world. That world, however, which he
conquered, finally conquered him; for his conquest was but the momen-
tary triumph of one ambitious spirit over other ambitious spirits,
equally daring, but less fortunate than himself. Like a splendid meteor,
thundering as it shines, his noisy flight, though brilliant, was short
and soon past; and to the midnight revel the victor becomes a
victim and vanishes from the wonder, rather than the admiration of
humankind. The Macedonian Chief, though often the derision of
the sage and the grave moralist, is fortunately enshrined amongst
the most instructive monuments of the weakness of earth's proudest

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 36 of 70)