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VESTIGES OF A STATE CHURCH; OR, CHRIST IN THE
1.-SYNAGOGUE OR PUBLIC PRAYERS. TROM the earliest ages we discover, in the constitution of the Jewish
people, provision being made to familiarise godly thoughts in man sunk into error and absorbed in the daily pursuits of life, or fettered by sensual intoxication and unbridled cravings. The celebration of Sabbaths and festivals, offerings and holy convocations, public devotion and instruction in God's word were to afford consolation to the sinner and support to the weak, whilst in the heart of the nation as well as in the breast of the individual they were to keep alive the sacred flame of that Hope in which alone the entire existence of the nation was centred : viz. the Messiah.
The Jews have long ago lost their national independence and their land, but with the downfall of all institutions the Synagogue and their Liturgy and Ritual remain as a pillar of their nationality, and thus prove even by those Vestiges the great benefit and blessing of a State Church, which is now really the only remaining standard of Jewish nationality.
Oh! may the Lord speedily pour out the spirit of grace and supplication on His ancient people, that they may be brought to see that the “ Root of Jesse," which Isaiah foretold " should stand as an ensign to the people," is the only means whereby the standard of their fallen nationality can be raised.
Before I enter on the substance of prayers, I must say a few words about what in the Jewish Liturgy corresponds with our rubrics, as 'I shall, in the course of my dissertations, often have to give extracts from these rubrics. I may be pardoned for alluding to their origin and the veneration they are held in by the Synagogue.
The development of Judaism, after being estranged from its original soil, had to arm itself for a new race through the course of history under different influences. The first ages after the destruction of the temple by the Romans were yet convulsed with the painful trembling of the members severed from the vital body; all ideal requirements and aspirations vanished with the dull and lethargic sorrow at an event which had terminated a long duration of habit and necessitated a new form of existence, which, on account of its novelty, seemed almost impossible. In all the absorbing and prevailing mood of grief, every freer course and every mental activity foreign to individual interests was looked upon as a sort of apostasy, and was denounced as treason to the ruling emotions of the heart. The next care, therefore, on the part of the heads of Judaism, was to secure the religious existence of the dispersed, to reestablish and to protect against the chance of mighty influences from without, that peculiar life, which, removed from its home, was deprived of its communion in the spacious edifice for assembly, as well as of the advantages derived from its peculiarly national expression. Ceremony and precept regulated every detail of Jewish life, adopted the remains of former manners and customs as religious commands, and what at first was merely adopted to suit time, place, and circumstances, took firme
and deeper root, and was gradually adopted as purely religious observance, demanding implicit obedience, for which purpose it was garbed in the mantle of sanctity and vested with Divine authority as “the Oral Law."
Religious law had always ruled in Israel : it prescribed for the free intercourse of life certain limits and landmarks, one blending itself with the other, or acting in complete harmony. Both drew from each other, and confirmed one another. The broad basis of an historical reality cannot be circumscribed by a pre-arranged system of formulæ ; and even the revealed and firmly established system is not so obdurate in the face of progressing and free manifestation of life, as to persevere in remaining immovable and stagnant. The living current gradually washes the surrounding banks, and designs its curvings and windings towards the shore. Now with the extinction of the peculiar national existence of the Jews, which during its reign had as much established the religious formule as it was established by them, begins the autocracy of these formulæ. These formulæ became the foundation of that new edifice, the Synagogue of the present day. Thus the first centuries after the destruction of the temple were occupied with the compilation and dissemination of that stupendous mass of tradition, which multiplied to such an extent that the Word of God was entirely eclipsed by it. From these traditions the voluminous rubrics were compiled, and they may be divided into two categories, viz. (Deenim), 09317, i.e., Laws (rubrics proper), and (Minhaguim) d'700, i.e., usoyes or " local customs."*
Every Jewish Prayer is preceded by a kind of preparatory hymn or anthem, and the joyfulness which prevails in these portions of the Ritual are the more elerating when we consider that in times of the deepest misery and direst oppression the daily service of the Jews began unchanged with these anthems and hymns, and that the troubles of the passing moment could never exercise the power of veiling the God of love altogether from them. These anthems generally begin with describing the omnipotence of God, and conclude with that which is the greatest sign of His love to mankind, the sending of the Son of His love, the Messiah.t
* How far these Rubrics are binding on the Jew may be gathered from the following extract of an essay by one of the most eminent of modern Jewish Rabbis, viz.. Dr. Hirsh, Chief Rabbi of the Duchy of Oldenburg :
“ The command of God is, therefore, duty, and the will of God the obligation to duty; and this not only in those duties which have been made known to us by written and oral communication, but also in those which are binding on us in consequence of those arrangements which have been made by those legally constituted authorities (i.e. Rabbis and their Traditions), who are bound by God to defend and promote the keeping of the law. . . The Jew who faithfully observes and keeps the laws of God, as the LORD gave them to the congregation of Jacob, and made them known by written and ORAL communication, as well as the ordinances of the wise men who defend and promote the keeping of the law, according to the commission given them for guarding the keeping of the law, is, in the full unlimited sense of the word, a Jer, as he does this in order to fulfil the will of God; he is a servant of God, even although he may never have understood the connection or import of even one of all the divine commands, and has attained great, yea, the greatest happiness on earth : for the pure in heart know no higher, greater bliss, than fulfilling the Divine will."
Does not such blindness, such error, call for Christian sympathy to make known to Israel Him who is the Light of the world, and came to fulfil the Divine will for us !!!
† The great prominence given to The Messiah in the Jewish Liturgy may best be
The following is the beautiful anthem which stands as the commencement of the morning Prayer in the Jewish Liturgy.*
or body. The living God shall be extolled and praised. He exists, and His existence is not bounded by time. He is one, and there is no unity like His unity ; He is invisible, and there is no end to His unity. He hath no material figure ; neither is He a body; we cannot by any comparison estimate His holiness. He existed prior to any created thing : He is the first, without either commencement or beginning. Behold, He is Lord of the creation and through all the creation evinceth His mighty power and dominion. The inspiration of His prophecy did He bestow on the men of His peculiar and glorious people. There never arose a prophet in Israel, like unto Moses who beheld His similitude. † A true Law hath God given to His people, by the hand of His prophet, who was faithful in His house. I God will never alter nor change His Law for any other. He beholdeth and knoweth all our secrets, for He vieweth the end of a thing as its commencement. He rewardeth the pious man according to his work, and punisheth the wicked according to his wickedness. At the end of days 8 (at the appointed time) will He send our Messiah to redeem those who hope for the accomplishment of His salvation. God in His great mercy will revive the dead ; blessed be His name and praised for evermore.”
What is remarkable in this anthem is that the hope of the resurrection follows and seems closely connected with the Messiah, and accords with our Lord's words, “I am the Resurrection and the Life." It is also noteworthy that there is a sentence in this anthem about the continuity and unchangenbleness of the Law, which is in diametrical opposition to Jeremiah xxxi. 31, 32, 33; and it may not be altogether wrong to suppose that that insertion was made to controvert the Christian doctrine of the New Covenant. The great Maimonides, the author of the thirteen articles of the Jewish creed, also carefully makes the unchangeableness and continuity of the Law one of the fundamentals of that creed.
illustrated by the following event : In the year 1844, a great conference of Jewish Rabbis (amongst whom were some of the most eminent Jewish divines of Germany) met at Brunswick, in order to decide on a Reform of modern Judaism. Six points were put before the meeting, one of which was the "abolition of all prayers relating to the Messiah.” In order not to be misunderstood by our unconverted Jewish brethren, who frequently indulge in charging Jewish converts with misrepresentation of facts in such cases which touch the belief in Messiah, I shall give verbatim the speaker's proposition at that conference, viz. : Dr. S. Adler said"As to what concerns a belief in the Messiah, this is a source of many disputes. We know not why! The sacred writings (i.e. the Old Testament) do not speak explicitly on the subject, therefore every one may and must form his own ideas upon it, and the prayers may preserve the indefiniteness of the Bible. The belief in the Messiah may he expressed in the prayers, but we need not always pray for this time."- Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, July, 1844. Oh how sad it is to
find such to be the belief of Israel's teachers; how truly applicable to them are 1. the words of the prophet Isaiah: “They have transgressed the laws, changed the
ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isa. xxiv. 5.) What a loud call is this to the Church of Christ to pity Israel's blindness!!
* I have given this anthem in extenso, because it is not only used as the commencement of the morning service, but also as the conclusion of all Sabbath and festival prayers. † Num, xii. 6. | Num. xii. 7; Heb. iii. 5. § Dan, xii. 13.
In order to give the Christian reader an idea what the Jew believes of the immortality of the soul and a future life, I will just give the morning confession of the Jewish Liturgy, embodying these two subjects:
“novovby. O my God! the soul which Thou hast given me is pure : Thou hast created, formed, and breathed it into me; Thou dost also carefully guard it within me, wilt hereafter take it from me, and likewise restore it unto me in futurity. All the while that the soul continues within me, I do acknowledge before Thee, O Lord, my God, and the God of my fathers, that thou art Sovereign of all works and Lord of all souls. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who restoreth the souls unto the dead bodies.''
The following is an extract of a very pathetic prayer for the speedy approach of the times of the Messiah :
“Our Father, who art in heaven, * we beseech Thee to be gracious unto us, for the sake of Thy great name, by which we are called; and confirm unto us, O Lord our God, what is written : f •At that time I will bring you again, and at the time when I assemble you, surely I will appoint you for a name and for a praise among all the people of the earth, when I cause your captivity to cease before your eyes, saith the Lord.'
Does not the great apostle of the Gentiles anxiously and hopefully look forward in similar strains, in his Epistle to the Romans, when he says, “ The receiving of them shall be as life from the dead ?" I
Oh! may the Lord hasten the time when our Redeemer shall be the Glory of His people Israel! Then, and then only, can Israel become a praise in the earth.
(To be continued.)
THE BANISHED ONES FETCHED HOME.
AN HISTORICAL SERIAL TALE, ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE CHEQUERED ANNALS OF
THE JEWS IN THIS COUNTRY.
BY AN INTIMATE FRIEND OF THE FAMILY.
BOOK II.-CHAPTER II. (Concluded from p. 120.)
NORMAN CONQUEST. “I HAVE
have given us the true history of our people's early settlement in this country. You have clearly shown from this miraculously preserved national monument beside you,- this marvellous heirloom, the archives of some of our ancestry,—that Jews have settled in this island to a significant extent before Roman, Saxon, or Dane found their way hither. I want to know on what ground do some persons assert and maintain-I have read the assertion in books, and heard it made in the course of discussion at the meetings of our Archæological Societies that our people first came into this country after the Norman Conquest ? * In many parts of this prayer there is a resemblance to “ Our Lord's Prayer."
† Zeph. iii. 20. I Rom. xi, 15.
Yes, I have heard it stoutly and persistently argued by one aspirant to hig. torical acumen that because Julius Cæsar, in his description of Britain and the inhabitants thereof, did not mention the existence of Jews in this island; ergo, the Jews could not have known anything about England then."
“I dare say,” rejoined the master of the situation, “ you, as well as myself, have long since discovered how very little originality the very great majority of English would-be critics and historians-whether on themes sacred or secular-have ever exhibited. Now and then a bold assertion or non sequitur argument is hazarded, the very boldness of which leads a certain class of students to fasten upon the assertion or argument as incontrovertible. This crude argument, if the cavil be entitled to be termed argument, is by a Mr. Caley. Here it is, printed in the eighth volume of the · English Archæologia,' page 390 :
Why did not Julius Cæsar make any mention of the Jews in this island in his history of Britain ? Did Cæsar omit nothing else? Let his writings be compared with those of later historians, and it will appear plain enough that his silence on the existence of the Jews in this country furnishes no argument against their really having been here. If, indeed, he had omitted nothing else but the Jews, there would then have been some specious force in the objection in the minds of such as have no access to such documents as we possess; but since every respectable schoolboy knows now-a-day that Cæsar's history of Britain affords but a bird's-eye view of the state of the country in his time, what is the value of the argument ? Moreover, supposing that Cæsar had written a minute and detailed description of this country, would there have been any nece
ecessity, on his part, to mention the existence of the Jews ? Certainly not: he wrote for the benefit of his countrymen, to give them some information respecting the Britons. The Romans knew who the Jews were ; it would have been a waste of time on Cæsar's part to have given them information on a subject they were already acquainted with. He might as well have described the Roman army ; especially since it is supposed, and here, in this chronicle, it is positively recorded, that many Jews accompanied him as soldiers to Britain.
“The same Mr. Caley, in the same paper, brings forward another objection to the pre-Norman settlement of our people in this island. As I have vol. viii. of English ARCHÆOLOGIA in hand, I may as well give his objection in his own words : It is not probable,' asserts that archæologist, that a total silence respecting them (the Jews] would have prevailed among the British writers of those days, had any portion of them been established in Britain. Now, I ask, to which of the early British bistorians does our objector allude ? England had no literature for several centuries since the inauguration of our era Anno Domini. Gildas, commonly called “the wise,” is the most ancient British historian extant. Here is his De Calamitate Excidis, et Conquestu Britannia—this is the only work of his printed, and probably existing. I searched in vain in it for anything of importance. That proto-Anglo-historian himself lamented, at the outset of his epistle, the want of any domestic monuments to afford him certain information. • For,' saith he, if there were any such, they were either burnt by our enemies, or carried so far by the banishment of our countrymen, that they no longer appear ; and therefore I was forced to pick up what I could out of foreign writers,