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Bibles. It would confirm them in their faith ;
for it is a known fact that, when an Israelite is
thoroughly acquainted with Hebrew, he under-



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 1 77

stands it much more fully and perfectly than an
English divine. He will understand the peculiar
structure of the language, not only to discover
its real meaning, but also to trace how the
Nazarene has been enabled to turn the same
passages to favour his own belief. He will be
enabled to produce argument for argument, and
guard against those errors in the translation of
the Bible which have been permitted to remain
as favouring the Christian creed. Many words
in English allow of a double meaning, and very
many also in Hebrew ; therefore we cannot won-
der the Christian translators should adopt those
renderings bearing most upon the revelation in
which they believe.

Instead of condemning them for this, and
being positive they are wrong and we are right,
simply because for many generations we have
been so taught : how much better would it be to
refer to the Hebrew Bible, to find our belief and
comfort there, and be prepared to answer every
argument founded on some particular transac-
tion, by a reference to the passage in its ori-
ginal language, and explain the sense as we
regard it.

Then indeed might the chosen children of
God be enabled to cope with those English di-
vines, who have made the word of God the study
of a life. How few amongst us now can do so !



178 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

How many shrink from all argument, and tacitly
allow the truth of the mistaken doctrines pressed
upon them ; because they feel they can bring
forward nothing to support their faith; and
others even depart from the strict line of truth,
because there are so few amongst the Jewish
nation to whom they can refer.

Yet it is sometimes thought, that religious
knowledge should be the business of priests or
ministers, not of the laymen of a nation. The
observation is just, regarding other nations ; but
not to the first-born of the Lord that one peo-
ple so peculiarly set apart that it was to be a
" nation of priests ;" even the king himself was
to " write a copy of the Law in a book, to be
with him that he might read therein all the days
of his life, and learn to fear the Lord his God,
to keep all the words of this law and these sta-
tutes to do them." (Deut. xvii. 18, 19.)

If these were the commands of the Lord in
our own land, and when His spirit still dwelt
amongst us : how much more requisite must it
be now to attend to the preservation of our law
in its original purity ; how requisite that every
child of Israel, male or female, should per-
fectly understand the language of our ancestors,
that in which the awful yet invisible Voice de-
livered His dictates to Moses, that we may indeed
feel, Hebrew is bound to Hebrew by a link nei-



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 1 79

ther oceans of water nor spreading wastes of
land can sever. It matters not, that it is the oppo-
site ends of the world in which they are domes-
ticated. The sacred language is the silver link
which, uniting them to each other, separates
them from other nations, and makes them feel
that they are indeed the witnesses of the Lord.
And while they read in rejoicing faith the Book
of Life in the language in which it was given,
or in humble adoration prostrate themselves be-
fore God's throne : must not a glowing of the
whole soul attend the addressing of the Eternal,
in the same language in which His awful voice
addressed His favoured servants ?

Thousands of years have past away yet that
language and that nation still exist ; can they,
oh can they then, doubt its truth? Surely they
must feel their religion comes indeed from their
God ; that they are members of a people, to
whom such extraordinary mercies have been
vouchsafed, and that they are the FIRST-BORN,
the chosen of the Lord !



180



CHAPTER VIL

THE SPIRIT OF RELIGION REGARDED AS PERVADING AND
GUIDING OUR CONVERSATION, PROFANE READING, ADMIRA-
TION OF THE WORKS OF NATURE, ETC.

THERE is such a marked distinction in the
two Hebrew verbs used in the fourth verse of
the SHEMANG, that it would be barely possible to
give them their proper weight, were they con-
sidered together. Df)^^' 1 ) rendered in general
" and thou shalt teach them diligently," &c. is in
the original a remarkably forcible expression,
signifying to repeat over and over again to
inculcate with diligence and constant care. It
is not enough to talk of the commandments to
our children : we must repeat them again and
again, till the law and love of their God is in
very truth impressed on their yielding mind,
" that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord
their God as long as they live." (Deut. xxxi. 13.)
How to seek this desirable end and obey this
emphatic command, we have already considered.
The second member of the sentence remains to
be regarded.



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

We find the root of D3 fna"tt " and thou shalt
speak of them" to be "IIH to utter one's senti-
ments aloud, to speak or to converse together :
and we are told in this command to speak or
converse of them " When thou sittest in thy
house, when thou walkest by the way, when
thou liest down, and when thou risest up." It
is not therefore enough only to teach the word
of our God unto our children ; it is not enough
even to make it the object of individual and
secret study ; not enough even to love Him : if
that love swell in individual hearts alone, and is
never made the subject of sweet communion
around domestic hearths, or to those friends we
love the best.

The two ordinances which close the She-
man g are generally observed. There are few
who, educated as sons of Israel with some little
care, but will don the peculiar dress for the
hours of prayer denoted in these precepts ;
few Hebrews whose residences are not adorn-
ed by the little scroll of the law upon " the
door-posts and upon their gates." And why
then, in steadily adhering to one command,
should they not be equally consistent in seeking
to obey the other ? Both proceed from the same
Divine Author ; one is of equal importance with
the other ; nay it may be that in our present sad
and captive state to love the Lord, and speak of

16



182 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

Him, His attributes, His gracious providence, is
even more necessary than the mere forms which
the next verses inculcate.

Yet when we do speak of these things ? When,
even amidst a domestic circle, does conversation
turn upon those topics which would enable us
to obey this command ? When is religious con-
versation ever introduced except to fortify our-
selves in our own opinions, to exalt our own
glory, not the glory of our God, to cry down
the belief of others, to condemn as saints and
hypocrites all whose opinions are somewhat
stricter than our own, all whose notions of piety
are too exalted, too spiritual, for the worldly to
comprehend ? When is the word of God brought
forward, except to argue on points of doctrine
in themselves of little moment compared to the
spirit which should pervade them ? Better, far
better should religion never be spoken of than
become the subject of wrangling and violence ;
for very few are the tempers which can argue
calmly. To condemn, to scorn, nay, even to
hate, is but too often the effect of religious ar-
gument ; and the whisperings of piety are lost,
they are too faint, too spiritual, to breathe amid
such stormy scenes ; and charity, universal bene-
volence, and love, the touchstone by which true
holiness is tried and proved, how may they exist
in argument where contempt is in general so



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 1 83

thinly veiled ? The Christian boasts of his
charity ; but far more should it be the watch-
word of the Jew. The handmaid of piety she is
indeed, and with the sincere and lowly professor
of either creed she is ever found ; but to the
nominal religionist* she is a word unknown.

To be convinced of the truth of his religion,
so as to be ever ready to defend it when called
upon, is the bounden duty of every Hebrew ;
but to converse of the law means not to enter
unchallenged on the trackless field of religious
argument. We have been previously com-
manded to love the Lord ; to let His words be
upon our hearts ; to teach them to our children ;
and then to give such thoughts vent in the sweet
communion of home. Were mental meditations
never spoken, human nature is such that they
would either fade and die, or, finding a contrary
extreme, become so intense and continual, that
the mind would at length revolt from their con-
templation, harassed and exhausted.

Conversation strengthens thought ; and yet
prevents the mind from wearying. Individual
sentiments are imparted, and others are received

* If this is universally admitted, how small a number of truly
religious can then be found among the Christians. The idea of
charity is not by them extended to the Jews, and the truly ortho-
dox do not admit that one who believes not in an atonement
through a divine personage can be a child of salvation. We have
our tanks, faults tuo glaring to be concealed, but our neighbours
have equally many to answer for. I. L.



1 84 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

in return. New ideas are thus given, and they
at once refresh the mind, and prepare new mat-
ter for reflection.

We are not to attend to the very letter* of the
law and speak of God at the times specified ; but
simply that our thoughts and love for Him are
to be warmed, revived, and strengthened by
means of conversation one with another ; not on
His word alone, but on His works, His provi-
dence, His love.

Nor is this conversation intended to take the
place of real consoling piety. It must spring
from an overflowing heart, not consist in elo-
quent words, which have no resting save on air.
It is to relieve the overcharged heart, not puff it
up with pride. When well-selected words flow
glibly from eager lips, and an ardent eloquence
appears to bear all its hearers along with it : the
spirit is ready to condemn others, as far its in-
feriors in religious fervour, simply because they
cannot speak so well ; and yet, while the lips
may speak so piously and well, the heart may
remain stubborn and unmoved.

That religion is often only too questionable,
which can speak its sentiment, can converse



* According to my view it should in a measure be literal. Our
customs also conform to this idea; for the reading of the Shemang,
or the subjecting of ourselves in words to the heavenly rule, is a
duty performed thrice every day, at rising, when the sun sets, and
when we intrust our spirit to God before we lie down to sleep. I. L.



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 185

eloquently on such holy things to strangers, or
in every mixed society in which it may be thrown.
That which we hold dearer than life itself, the
thoughts, reflections, feelings of a truly pious
heart, which have been cherished so long and so
closely, they can be scarcely traced to their
source, are painfully difficult to clothe in words,
except to those beloved ones to whom the heart
is ever open. They shrink from the pain of
misconception ; they are felt as too pure, too
holy, too ethereal, to be exposed to the rude
breath of a world ; and so closely are they en-
twined round the fibres of the heart, that the
eye of affection alone may see, the ear of love
alone receive them. Nor would the command
we are considering unclasp with a rude hand
these precious links which bind man unto his
Maker. It refers but to the communing at home,
the intercourse with our domestic circle, with
our dearest, most intimate companions.

Precious is that friendship whose supporting
link is a mutual love of God. The pure happi-
ness of affection, the consolations of sympathy
and confidence are His gifts, and if felt as such,
there will naturally arise some moments when
the surcharged heart must speak of its God.
Then indeed might its conversation be devoid
of that argumentative spirit which would con-
demn. Innocently, gratefully, how continually

16*



186 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

might we speak of Him ; how many new ideas
might be imparted ; how many passing reflec-
tions strengthened and improved. Were the
word of our God and works relating to, and
pleasantly elucidating it, amongst the mutual
studies of intimate minds : how calmly and
blessedly might the spiritual views of each be
exalted, the affections of each increased in
stability and worth ! How consolingly would
they feel the words of the inspired minstrel,
" To him that ordereth his conversation aright,
will I show the salvation of God." But is it
so 1 is the love of God indeed the uniting link
of friendship ? Is not such conversation, only
too often, alas! banished as entirely from the
intercourse of friends as from strangers ? It is
a peculiar pleasure to some to read the same
books, to compare notes on mutual studies, to
find the opinions of those they love agree with
their own ; and oh ! how much that pleasure is
enhanced when the same affection is borne to-
wards that sacred book, in which simple pathos,
eloquent narration, descriptive beauty, inspired
poetry all all, are combined to mark it as a
thing apart, a book like which there is no other !
What inexhaustible food for reflection does it
contain! What mutual comfort, mutual hope,
does it bestow !

There are few words more abused than that



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 187

of friendship. Connexions of pleasure, of frivo-
lity, of interest, deserve not the name. Intended
to be the union of immortal spirits whose affec-
tions die not even when earthly love is over,
what can be so likely to purify and cement that
love as a mutual reverence for, and belief in, a
God of love, and in the sacred nature of His
word? Friendship is the only earthly tie which
can exist in purity and warmth, even if the
actual creeds should differ. If the same spirit of
religion, the same deep reverence for the word
of God, the same strivings after righteousness,
and desire to do His will in all things however
contrary to our own, the same trust in His deep
love and redeeming mercy actuate the heart : it
matters not that in actual belief we may not
think alike. Often, very often does it happen
that a sincere and heartfelt follower of one creed
finds a deeper, dearer answer to his secret feel-
ings of piety and love in the heart of one equally
devoted to his own peculiar religion, than is ever
granted to him amongst his own ; and there may
be many opportunities for that pleasant com-
muning which friends so love, on the word, and
works, and love, and providence of a mutual
Father : and yet there need not be one syllable
of argument to disturb their harmony or to
diminish the affection of either.

It is not so with the ties of love. Unhappy is



188 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

that union which cannot join heart and hand in
the religious education of their children ; which
sees the father pursuing one path and the mo-
ther another ; which causes every infant trea-
sure to be hailed with a sigh instead of smile,
and generally ends in bitterness and strife, and
causes, that the offspring of such unions know
not revelation, follow not the belief of either
parent, knowing perhaps there is a God, but not
His attributes. Oh ! such a union is indeed an
awful curse, bringing with it neither the happi-
ness of earth nor the hope of heaven. How may
those, who have thus thoughtlessly taken upon
them the marriage vow, or wilfully dared the
evils attendant upon it, answer at the footstool
of an offended God, for the immortal spirits com-
mitted to their charge ? No, the same spirit
the same form the same private and the same
public worship, must be the links of love, or it
will prove but perishable joy.

The friendship of David and Jonathan is an
exquisite trait of nature and character in the
eventful life of the minstrel king. There is a
devotedness, an unselfishness in the affection of
Jonathan, that must excite the warmest feelings
of the heart towards him. He knew that David
was destined to be the instrument of the Lord
in removing his father and himself from the
throne, that David's preservation and success



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 189

preceded the downfall of Saul's house ; and yet
he loved him still, ay, risked his own life and his
favour with his father, to warn and save the
friend he loved. What can more emphatically
describe the strong affection of the young prince,
suddenly excited as it was, than the simple
words of Holy Writ, " When he (David) had
made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the
soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David,
and Jonathan loved David as his own soul ?" No
jealousy, no petty meanness clouded the exalted
nature of this love ; Jonathan was himself a
warrior of no mean repute, beloved by all his
father's subjects ; how few thus situated would
have so directly and so earnestly loved the un-
known shepherd-boy, whose extraordinary deed
of valour so suddenly eclipsed his own, and who
bade fair to more than rival him in the affec-
tions of the people, and was destined by the
Lord even to supplant him on the throne ? Little
as we know of him, there are few characters
more intrinsically beautiful than that of Jona-
than ; and well did David know how to appre-
ciate his virtues and love in return. Surely
Solomon thought of this immortal friendship,
when he wrote : " A friend loveth at all times ;"
" there is a friend that sticketh closer than a
brother;" "Faithful are the wounds of a friend ;"
" Thine own friend, and thy father's friend for-



190 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

sake not ;" "As iron sharpeneth iron so a man
sharpeneth the countenance of his friend," mean-
ing that as iron by close friction sharpeneth
iron, so the mutual conversation of friends shar-
peneth or improveth their intellectual faculties,
by bestowing on each the ideas of the other.
And in what is improvement so desirable as in
the love and knowledge of our God ? When the
spirit of piety is the supporting link of human
ties, death loses half his terrors ; for then we feel
and know that love is not confined to this world
alone. Death, though it may divide us awhile,
will prove in the end, the commencement of
eternal love. The same hopes, the same spi-
ritual desires, the same holy spirit which per-
vaded our intercourse in this nether world, will
obtain perfection in the next, and love, purer,
brighter, unchilled by doubt, unchecked by those
petty trials and alloys, which harass even the
purest friendship here love, immutable and
blessed, will await our souls on high.

But may we hope, that such will be the
termination of connexions made for earthly
pleasures ? for frivolous amusements ? for im-
provement only of the mind and talents, in which
there mingles not one thought of Him who gave
them, and who demands to be remembered and
loved? Yet, all and each of these is dignified by
the term friendship. Alas, they are but perish-



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 191

able flowers, sweet for the time, but whose
fading blossoms are only wreathed for earth.
And should not this awful consideration deter
us from forming connexions, either in love or
friendship, with those who know not, seek not
to know God, though fascinating may be their
outward attractions, their intrinsic virtues? The
more we love below, the more dreadful must be
the thought of death, if we may not hope to
meet hereafter. And if the love of God exist
not in our dearest and most intimate connexions,
how is that verse of the Shemang to be obeyed,
which commands us not only to teach His words
to our children, but to speak of them continually
to one another?

And yet it is easy to do this. The works of
the Lord are in truth inexhaustible ; His provi-
dence is daily shown around us, to ourselves,
our friends, in events continually recurring.
And when we see not His hand in all things, it
is because we will not see it. How many love
to speak of chance, and fortune, and fate ; and
yet reject with scorn the belief, that nothing can
occur below without the permission of the Eter-
nal, who, without interfering with the free-will
of His creatures, makes all things tend to His
wise though secret government above. To ex-
plain this apparent contradiction is not in the
power of man ; it is a belief which can only be



192 THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM.

felt ; yet blessed in very truth are those to whom
it is vouchsafed. Those who believe it not, can
scarcely love their God, can scarcely dare ad-
dress Him ; for if the affairs of earth are wholly
divided from the economy of Heaven, if all events
depend on man, and not on God : we cannot feel
that we are each and all individual objects of
His care ; we cannot be soothed in sorrow by
the thought, it is a Father's will, and His will is
love. The fatalist, and he who denies the ever-
active providence of God, are alike fettered by
invisible yet not the less painful chains ; and to
neither* of these can the hopes and ordinances
of religion refer.

There is scarcely any profane history which,
if read attentively, will not afford matter for in-
struction, thought, and subsequent conversation
on the wonderful providence of the Lord. Here
events can be traced from their very embryo to
their final completion, either in success or over-
throw. The airy trifles, so often the hinges on

* To the thinking mind it is a matter of astonishment how any
one can deny an overruling Providence. If any thing could grow
by chance, if any event could occur without plan or arrangement,
then indeed the unbeliever might find support for his doubt. But
is there any thing without an origin 1 Besides, do his doubts re-
move him from the operation of the chance, luck or fortune he
speaks of? Surely there is hope, and life, and consolation in the
belief, in the acknowledgment that there is a Being, high and
holy, who knows all our deeds, measures all our steps, and grants
us that success only which is best for our ultimate happiness. I. L.



THE SPIRIT OF JUDAISM. 193

which great events turn, the almost invisible
seeds of mighty revolutions stand revealed on
the pages of history, and if properly considered
often serve as keys to the continual incongrui-
ties passing around us. " The history of human
affairs," an intelligent author observes, " is but
the history of Divine Providence ;"* and the re-
mark is perfectly correct. Did the spirit of piety
pervade, as was intended, the intellect, those
very works read for profane instruction would
assist to promote obedience to the command we
are regarding.

Nor is it only history that may do this. There
are tales, simple, domestic, highly moral tales,
which, though as a whole fictitious, are in the
main point but narrations of what, could we but
lift up the veil of the world, is continually pass-
ing around us. " Truth is strange, stranger than
fiction ;" and were this fact more considered,
the very tales read for recreation and enjoyment
might be made of service in the promotion of
piety. There are many who deem the perusal
of such works but mere waste of time and in-
tellect, creating evils even worse, in filling the
mind with romance and folly. Nay, so far is
this mistaken prejudice extended, that all books

* Bigland. His Letters on Ancient and Modern History clearly
and forcibly illustrate the truth of his remark.

17



194 THE SPIRIT or JUDAISM.

but those of instruction either in history, geo-
graphy, arts, or sciences, are excluded from the
child's library. The infant mind is crammed, its
intellect exhausted, while the moral training
and the guidance of the feelings are left to their
own discretion, instead of permitting them to
expand, in admiration of the good and detes-
tation of the bad, whose actions and feelings
are recorded in tales* relative to children of
their own age.

It is the same with youth. Formerly indeed
light works were not fitted either to attract the
eye or engage the heart ; and there are very
many now, too many alas ! far more likely to
produce evil than good. Yet while England
may boast the names of Edgeworth, Hemans,
Hall, Mitford, Ellis, Sinclair, Ferrier, Opie, and
Howitt, amongst her female literati, and Scott,
and James, and Fay, to swell the brilliant list,
the young can never be in want of recreation at
once as improving to the heart, as delightful to
the fancy ; and if the mind has been properly
trained, the spirit of piety indelibly infused, even

* Miss Aguilar is right in the main regarding the usefulness
of tales properly told. But in permitting such works to be placed


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