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Among the corrupt developments, which indicate a loss of religious character, is the growing disrespect for the sacred obligation of an oath. The time was, when Christianity was avowed and felt to be the religion of this country, and when its influence was respected and cherished, that less of the crimes of smuggling, false swearing, and disrespect of official oaths on the part of public servants, and of the obligations of good citizenship, marked the American than
any other people. Alas ! how changed have we become. The fear of God presides not always in our custom-houses, or our courts of justice ; and even the fear of man throws less and less of its protective influence around.
This is but the legitimate consequence of another sad symptom of our departure from God—the disrespect and desecration of the Sabbath. Among all the institutions of religion, none possesses more conservative power, than the regular observance of a sacred day of rest, to be appropriated, with the recurrence of each week, to the worship of Almighty God. Without this, the other institutions of Christianity lose more than half their efficiency. The sanctuaries will be deserted, the preaching of the gospel circum. scribed, the rites of religion forgotten, and the day, designed and adapted for intellectual, moral and religious improvement, and which throws the Ægis of its protection aroạnd the virtues, health and happiness of a people, become the fruitful occasion of idleness, dissipation, and incurable corruption in the young and rising generation. Yet, this day has lost much of its controlling and sanctifying influence over the minds and hearts of a very large proportion of our population. What hosts of merchants travel through the length and breadth of our land on this day! Business is transacted in stores, warehouses, and landing-places, in different parts of our country.
Hundreds of cars and steamboats press
their way along our nunierous rail-roads and rivers, bearing crowds of passengers and heavy freights, impatient of its restraints. Stages and wagons line our public roads, thousands of recesses, restaurateurs, petty groceries, taverns and hotels, are thrown open, on that day, for the traffic in intoxicating liquors, and gather crowds of the dissolute and inebriate. The laws for enforcing its observance have become a dead letter. Our post-offices are opened for the receipt and delivery of letters and mails
Even the halls of our legislative chambers are not exempt from its profanation. Its desecration, by the transportation of the mails, has been legalized ; petitions for reformation have been disregarded ; and examples have been set, by men of influence and station, which sanction the growing indifference of multitudes to the claims of that sacred day.
We bring no railing accusations against any; it is not our province to do so ; but we cannot be blind to the fact, whatever may be the modes of extenuating or apologizing for it, that the Sabbath has much less hold upon the consciences and affections of the great inass of the community than it formerly had.
We fear that we shall be suspected of indulging in lugubrious strains, but the detail of proof that our religious character, as a nation, has been impaired, is by no means exhausted. There is a national sin, sanctioned by the constitutions of several of the states, and allowed by that of the United States, by which we stand before the world accused of contradicting, by our usages, as well the declaration of of our independence, as the dictates of Christianity. Nor can we omit to mention the measures pursued by our government, to drive the aborigines of our forests from the soil consecrated by the footsteps and the ashes of their fathers; the horrid scenes of beastly intemperance, and the abundant opportunities for defrauding and extorting from the miserable inebriates, presented by the distribution of annuities ; and the sufferings and ravages of disease and death occasioned by the removal of the tribes and the cupidity of the çontractors.
In addition to all these, we can discern various indications of a corrupt and diseased state of public sentiment and feeling, directly at war with the genial influence of Christianity and the conservative power of our institutions. We allude to the very common, and often boldly avowed doctrines, that our public servants, intrusted with the enactment of laws, are to obey the will and wishes of their constituents, whatever they may be, whether dictated by ignorance or malice, irreligion or infidelity; and in their obligations to the people, to lose sight of their obligations to God, their Maker and their Judge, which bind them to the observance of His law, and to the discouragement of vice and immorality; to the maxims and spirit of party, which are at war with the free exercise of the
elective franchise ; to the bribery, corruption and perjury, which are not deemed inappropriate to secure the election of party candidates; to the practical influence of the notion, that the successful candidate elected is the representative, not of the whole population, but only of his own party constituents; to the recklessness and utter disregard manifested as to the moral character of the men nominated for offices to the spirit of insubordination which displays itself anong the youth, and the absence of parental authority in the families of the land ; to the spirit of violence, which brooks not delay, but urges forward the angry mob, or the selfconstituted lynch-judges, to gratify their thirst for vengeance, by trampling the laws and authorities under their feet, and inflicting what is called “summary justice” on the objects of their hatred ; to the utter indifference manifested towards the obligations and sacred treaties which bind the government, while a rapacious spirit of plunder dignifies itself with the epithets of patriotism, or the love of liberty, or sympathy with the oppressed ; to the vituperative and defamatory character of the political press, which delights to traduce and destroy the reputation of our public men, or candidates for office; to the party antipathies and sectional jealousies which are engendering dangerous factions, and threaten the severance of the once happy ties which bound together these United States.
But the heart grows sad with the recital. The result of these things, if not checked and corrected, is certain ; yet, zeal for our country's welfare excites hope in the midst of despondency; and, numerous as may be the proofs of deterioration, and fearful and ominous as may be the prospect before us, the conviction still sheds its cheering influence, that we have enough of Christianity left to retrace our steps, and, by repentance and reformation, recover the ground we have lost. Some rays of light still fall upon the darkness, and direct us to the remedy. The standards of morality and religion are on the advance, notwithstanding the abounding of impiety and lawlessness. A love for our republican in. stitutions yet operates. Our folly has been rebuked. We are suffering a wholesome discipline, which, though it has almost prostrated the cornmerce of the country, and produced universal embarrassment, is, nevertheless, working health and cure, and will eventually, by securing a disgust for luxurious extraragance and waste, the study of retrenchment and economy, the practice of industry and frugality, and the cultivation of the virtues of private character, restore prosperity.
We talk of millions lost by reckless speculations, and the depreciation of property. But if the loss will check the spirit of evil covetousness that prevailed, the thirst for accumulated wealth, the taste for extravagance and luxury, the power and influence of dangerous monopolies, and lead to the development of the industry and resources of the country, the diligent and laborious cultivation of the soil, the reformation of former and existing evils, and a return to habits of virtue and integrity, a care for the proper education of our youth, a respect for religion, and for the purity and simplicity which marked the halcyon days of our beloved Washington, we shall not have purchased these things at too dear a rate. Where Christianity exerts its influence, ten thousand forms of social and domestic bliss, throw out their sparkling lustre, and reveal the fact, that—" Happy is the people that is in such a case ; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Jord.”
THE PRESENT STATE OF THE JEWISH RELIGION.
By Mr. E. S. Calman, Missionary to the Jews in Palestine.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE. BY THE EDITOR.
The following article is a communication from Mr. Calman, written as long ago as 1836, and addressed to two friends in England, by whom he is supported in his missionary labors. It was copied by the Rev. Eli Smith, then at Beyroot, and sent to the former editor of the Repository, but its publication has been delayed, by request of the author, for the purpose of obtaining the consent of his friends in England. We are now gratified in being allowed to present it to our readers. It is accompanied with every evidence of veracity and candor, in the writer, and contains many things which to us are new and instructive. It will constitute a valuable addition to our stock of knowledge of the sufferings of the Jews, and of the internal state and existing spirit of the Jewish religion. To
put the reader more fully in possession of the character and circumstances of the writer, we insert the following extract from Mr. Smith's letter accompanying the MS.
“Mr. Calman is himself an Israelite, and a thoroughly educated Rabbi; but now a simple and warm-hearted believer in Jesus of Nazareth. He was born in Poland, where a childless and rich uncle adopted him in order that, according to the belief of the Jews, he might pray him out of purgatory upon his death ; and who, upon his decease, sent him to another relation in Courland, to be educated. Here, losing the property he had inherited from his deceased uncle, through the management of relatives, he was educated for the service of the synagogue, and became the Rabbi of the place where he lived. Hoping to increase his income, he subsequently went to Riga, where the Jews are numerous, and practised the profession, religious and highly honorable among the Jews, of superintending the slaughter of animals for the Jewish market. Having providentially escaped, here, an act of Russian despotism, which endangered his life, and being joined by a dear friend and townsman, who had just been banished with all the Jews from St. Petersburgh at the accession of Nicholas, he quitted Russia for Germany.
At Berlin, the chief Rabbi of all Prussia, having duly examined him, gave him a diploma authorizing him to act as Rabbi in any part of the kingdom, upon the strength of which he obtained a situation. But, being unable, as a foreigner, to reside there longer, he left at the end of a year for Amsterdam, having parted with his friend at Berlin. From Amsterdam, mere curiosity to see London, before going back to Russia, whither he had concluded to return, brought him to England. Here, while seeking a place as Rabbi, he most unexpectedly encountered again his friend and townsman. Visiting the room of this friend one day when he was absent, he found the New Testament open upon his table. So shocked was he, that he at once, not only threatened to write to his relatives, but never to have any thing more to say to him himself. So affected was