« PreviousContinue »
BY WAY OF REPLY
LETTER ADDRESSED BY PERSEVERANS TO
THE ENGLISH ISRAELITE.
Humbly submitted to the Consideration of the Mis-
BY THOMAS WITHERBY.
AN ATTEMPT TO REMOVE PREJUDICES
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
BY STEPHEN COUCHMAN, THROGMORTON-STREET;
OF THE .
ENFIELD-WASH, Middlesex, July 3, 1809.
1 Have just read your Letter to the English Ifraelite, I and as my name is introduced in it, and you put a question to me, I think it incumbent on me to reply. In doing this I hope that I shall be kept from that angry spirit you have so unhappily indulged.
I am not ashamed to profess that I think the Lon. don Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews, is acting unadvisedly; greatly to the INJURY NOT ONLY OF THE JEWISH NATION, BUT ALSO TO THE CHRISTIAN CAUSE ; and in contradiction to the precepts of the New TESTAMENT as well as the old.
I entreat you to lay aside that warmth of temper which you discover in your letter, the cause of truth will not be benefited by it; and I assure you, that if truth is on your side, and you can convince me of it by a calm reply, that I shall gladly and thankfully acknowledge my obligation to you.
The London Society, nor the Missionary Society, from whose hands they seem to have taken up this matter, are not without precedent in their endeavours to PROVOKE the Jews to the discussion of questions which they conceive it to be their duty to decline. In this respect the London Society are retracing the steps of the celebrated Dr. Priestley.
In order to form a right judgment upon the question, whether the Jews are right in avoiding any literary discussion upon religious topics, which in the first page of your letter you admit to be the principle which is known to exist among them, it will be proper to consider their situation in this land.
After their long banishment from our shores--in the time of Cromwell the question whether it would not be advisable to readmit them among us was discussed, and they were permitted to return, upon three express conditions :- 1st. That they should make no profelytes. 2dly. That they should bury their own dead. And, 3dly. That they should maintain their own poor.
These conditions they have ever observed; and it is from a sense of duty, therefore, and I may say gratitude for the general kind treatment they have experienced in this land, that they avoid the discufsion of questions, which they cannot in the very nature of things discuss without wounding the feelings and giving offence to those whom they wish to consider as their benefactors: but it is not only from these motives that their conduct, their exemplary conduct, in this matter is to be traced; they have a divine precept, which was given to them during their captivity in Babylon, and which being equally applicable to them in their present situation, they consider as their great rule of conduct: you will find it in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah in these words: 6 Thus 66 faith JEHOVAH OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, 66 Seek ThE PEACE OF THE CITY whither I have “ caused you to be carried away captives, and pray » unto JEHOVAH for it; for in the peace thereof 66 shall ye have peace.” Jere. xxix. 7.—They do conform to this divine rule of conduct, and well know that anger towards them, which would be the natural result of discussions of this kind, would not only be productive of great inconvenience to themselves, but also have a direct and manifest tendency to the breach of the peace of that city, wherein it hath pleased JEHOVAH OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, their gracious and merciful God, to give them place to sojourn.
In this land we have lately had the honour to afford protection to those who denominated us a nation of heretics i all this was forgotten and forgiven in the time of their necessity, and they were received as afflicted brethren. Now pray, my dear Sir, let me urge you to consider whether it would not have been a most ungenerous part, if we had taken advantage of the time of necessity, and urged the French priests to become Protestants? Would it not have been a dreadful breach of the laws of hospitality! It was not attempted; the blood of an Englishman would have revolted at the ungenerous action : I leave you