תמונות בעמוד




The term Jews is the appropriate denomination of the descendants of Juilah, which soon included under it the Benja. mites, who joined themselves to the tribe of Judah, on the revolt of the other ten tribes from the house of David. After the Babylonish captivity, when many individuals of these ten tribes returned with the men of Judah and Benjamin to rebuild Jerusalem, the term Jews inciuded them also, or rather was then extended to all the descendants of Israel who retained the Jewish religion, whether they belonged to the two or to the ten tribes : whether they returned into Judea or not. Hence, not only all the Israelites of succeeding times have been called Jews, but all the descendants of Jacob are frequently so called by us at present, and we speak even of their original dispensation as the Jewish dispensation.

The expectation of the promised Messiah is the leading tenet of the religion of the modern Jews ; and in this they differ widely from Christians, who believe that the Messiah has al. ready come, and that in Christ Jesus all the Jewish prophecies respecting him were accomplished. Infatuated with the idea of a temporal Messiah and deliverer, who is to subdue the world, and reinstate them in their own land, the Jews still wait for bis appearance ; but they have not fixed either the place whence, or the time wben, he is to come. Finding it difficult to evade the force of certain texts in Isaiah, &c. which speak of a suffering Messiah, some have had recourse to the idea of two Messiahs, who are to succeed each other ; Joseph, of the tribe of Ephrain, in a state of humiliation and suffering ; and Ben David, of the tribe of Judah, in a state of glory, magnificence, and power. As to the character and mission of their Messiah, be is to be of the tribe of Judah, the lineal descendant of David, and called by his name, and to be endued with the spirit of prophecy ; and his especial mission is, to restore t... dispersed sheep of Israel, plant ibem safely in their own land; subdue their enemies, and by that means bring the whole world to the knowledge of the one true God. The Jews say, that his coming and their restoration have not yet taken place, because they are still unworthy to be redeemed,

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and have not repented, or have not yet received the full measure of their punishment. Yet, they insist that their redemption is not conditional, but will take place at the appointed time, though they should not repent ; that God will not redeem and restore them for any merit of their own, but for his name's sake, for the sake of the few righteous, and also in consideration of what they will be after their redemption, when they will all be good and righteous. They believe that Judea will be the seat of those wars which will precede their redemption ; and that, after due vengeance taken on the nations for the cruelties exer: cised on the people of God, during this long and deplorable captivity, they will terminate in the complete subjection of all nations to the power of the Messiah, and in the introduction of universal peace and happiness that shall never more be interrupted. Though they profess to know nothing of the abode, or present state, of the ten tribes, yet they believe that they are lost only in naine, and shall be restored together with Judah and Benjamin that all those Jews who have embraced Christianity or Mahometanism, shall then return to the religion of their fathers ; and that their nation, thus restored and united, shall never again go into captivity, nor ever be in subjection to any power; but that all the nations of the world shall thenceforward be subject to them. Judea will then again become fruitful ; Jerusalem“ will be built on its ancient ground-plot ;" and the real descendants of the priests and Levites will be reinstated in their respective offices, though they may have been forced to apostatize. Then also will be restored the spirit of prophecy, the ark and cherubim, fire from heaven, &c., as formerly, in the tabernacle, in the wilderness, and in Solomon's temple. In fine, then will idolatry wholly cease in the earth, and all men will acknowledge the unity of God, and his kingdom, (Zech. xiv. 9.) Such are the expectations of the modern Jews, with respect to the Messiah and his kingdom, which they still avow to be not of a spiritual, but of a temporal nature.

The Jews are scattered over the face of the whole earth, wherever at least there can be found the least traffic of a profitable nature, connected with what are called civilized nations.

The early history of the Jews is to be found in the books of the Old Testament; and the Pentateuch particularly should be consulted for a complete system of Judaism.

The religious tenets of the modern Jews are to be found in the celebrated confession of faith drawn up by Maimonides at the close of the twelfth century. It is as follows:

1. I believe with a true and perfect faith, that God is the Creator (whose name be blessed,) governor, and maker of al} Creatures ; and that he hath wrought all things, worketh, and shall work, forever.-2. I believe, with perfect faith, that the Creator (whose name be blessed) is one ; and that such an unity as is in him can be found in none other; and that he alone hath been our God, is, and for ever shall be.-3. I believe, witba.

perfect faith, that the Creator (whose name be blessed) is not corporeal, not to be comprehended with any bodily properties; and that there is no bodily essence that can be likened unto him.-4. I believe, with a perfect faith, the Creator (whose name be blessed) to be the first and the last, that nothing was before him, and that he shall abide the last for ever.-5. I believe, with a perfect faith, that the Creator (whose name be blessed) is to be worshipped, and none else.-6. I believe, with a perfect faith, that all the words of the prophets are true.7. I believe, with a perfect faith, that the prophecies of Moses our master, (may he rest in peace !) were true ; that he was the father and chief of all wise men that lived before him, or ever shall live after him.-8. I believe with a perfect faith, that all the law, which at this day is found in our hands, was delivered by God himself to our master Moses, (God's peace be with him.)-9. I believe, with a perfect faith, that the same law is never to be changed, nor any other to be given us of God (whose name be blessed.)-10. I believe, &c. that God (wbose name be blessed) understandeth all the works and thoughts of men, as it is written in the prophets ; he fashionetb their hearts aliké, he understandeth all their works.-11. I believe, &c. that God will recompense good to them that keep his command, inents, and will punish them who transgress them.-12. I believe, &c. that the Messiah is yet to come ; and although bę retard his coming, yet I will wait for him till' he come.-13. ! believe, &c. that the dead shall be restored to life, when it shall seem fit unto God, the Creator (whose name be blessed, and memory celebrated world without end. Amen.)

But ihe great and distinguishing doctrine of the Jews, like that of Mahometans, is that there is but ono God.

Many intelligent Jews disclaim any notion of a trinity of persons in the Godhead ; and some of them have asserted that this doctrine is the greatest bar to the conversion of the Jews to the Christian faith. The chief, however, of the conversions that have as yet taken place amongst the Jews, have been to the trinitarianism of Christians.

Although the modern rabbis denounce the most dreadful anathemas against all who presume to calculate the time of the Messiah's appearance, the expectation of this great event is a leading tenet of their faith. Numbers of them are still buoyant with expectations of a temporal monarch, who shall lead them in triumph to their native land, as they deem Palestine to be.

The Jews believe that two great ends are to be effected by the resurrection, the one particular, and the other general.

“ The first great end, which I call a particular one, as it is for the Jewish nation only, is to effect, that those who have been persecuted and slain, during this long and dreadful cap. fivity, for adhering to the true faith, may enjoy the salvation of the Lord, according to what the prophet says, (Isaiab xxvi. 19, and lxvi. 10.) The second great end, which I call a gen. eral one, because it affects all mankind, whether Jews, Gen.

tiles, or Christians, is to bring all nations to the knowledge of the true God, and to effect, that the firm belief of his unity may be so unalterably fixed in their hearts, as that they may attain the end for which they were created, to honour and glorify God, as the prophet observes, Isaiah xliii. 7.

Several other doctrines are maintained by the Jews, which are not contained in the thirteen articles already given. The rabbis acknowledged, that there is in man a fund of corruption ; and the Talmud speaks of original sin thus ; “We ought po! to be surprised that the sin of Adam and Eve was so deeply engraven, and that it was sealed as it were with the king's signet, that it might be thereby transmitted to all their posterity ; it was because all things were finished the day that Adam was created, and he was the perfection and consummation of the world, so that when he sinned, all the world sinned with him. We partake of bis sin, and share in the punishment of it, but not in the sins of bis descendants."

The rabbis teach, that the evils in which men were involved by sin will be removed by the Messiah. They do not, however, entertain the idea that this illustrious personage will make an atonement for sin ; this they suppose is done by the fulfilling. of the law and circumcision. They pray God to remember unto them the merits of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.

The Jews maintain, that the souls of the righteous enjoy the beatific vision of God in Paradise, and that the souls of the wicked-are torinented in hell with fire and other punishments. They suppose, that the sufferings of the most attrocious criminals are of eternal duration, while others remain only for a limited time in purgatory, which does not differ from hell with respect to the place, hut to the duration. They pray for the souls of the dead, and imagine that many are delivered froin purgatory on the great day of expiation.

They suppose that no Jew, unless guilty of heresy, or certain crimes specified by the rabbis, shall continue in purgatory above a year; and that there are but few who suífer eternal punishment. Maimonides, Abarbanel, and other celebrated Jewish writers, maintain the annihilation of the wicked. Others suppose, that the sufferings of hell have the power of purifying souls and expiating sin.

It appears from authentic accounts, that many Jews at the present day have imbibed the principles of infidelity, and no longer receive the writings of the Old Testament as divinely inspired, or expect the coining of the Messiah.

The accusation of infidelity is confirmed by a distinguished Jewish writer, David Levi, who complains, that there are two different parties in the nation who slight the prophecies which speak of their future restoration, and ridicule the idea of a Messiah coming to redeem them. The one consists of such as call themselves philosophers, enlightened men, who, says he,

are perfect deists, not believing a syllable of revelation, and

not ascribing our sufferings to the immediate providenee of God, but to a concatenation of causes in a political light.” The other party are such, as either through the length of the captivity, or the easy circumstances that they are in, and the splendid and voluptuous manner in which they live, neither look for not desire a restoration.

The Jews, since the destruction of their temple, bave not offered any sacrifices; and several religious rites, which were enjoined upon their ancestors, cannot be observed by the nation in modern times, on account of their being local, and confined to the promised land.

The modern Jews, however, still adhere as closely to the Mosaic dispensation as their dispersed condition will permit them. Their religious worship consists chiefly in reading the law and prophecies in their synagogues, together with a variety of prayers. As formerly, while they enjoyed an established religion, they still have liturgies, in which are all the prescribed forms of their synagogue worship ; " and those who have not time to go to the synagogue must say their prayers at home three times every day, i. e. in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night.”. They repeat blessings and particular praises to God, not only in their prayers, but on all accidental occasions, and in almost all their actions. It is a rule among them that no day must be passed without reading a portion of the law at home, nor any affair undertaken till they have implored the divine blessing. They are strictly prohibited from all vain swearing, and pronouncing any of the names of God without pecessity. They abstain from meats forbidden by the Levitical law ; for which

reason, whatever they eat must be dressed by those of their own nation, in a manner peculiar to themselves.

At the east end of every synagogue is an ark, or press, in conmemoration of the ark of the covenant, which was in the temple. Here the Pentateuch is deposited, written on a volume or roll of parchment with the utinost exactness, and wrapped up in silk curiously embroidered. When the Jews say their prayers in the morning they put on a talith or vail over their other clothes, and a robe with fringes at the four corners, with tassels, called Tzitzith; and also the tephilin or phylacteries. It is an article of faith among us,

says David Levi, that every Jew must every morning, during the time of reading the Shema, and saying the nineteen prayers, at least, have on the phylacteries, because it is a sign of our acknowledging the Almighty to be the Creator of all things, and that he has power to do as he pleases; and therefore on the sabbath, and other festivals, we do not put on the phylacteries, because the duly observing of them is a sufficient sign of itself, as expressed in Exodus xxxi. 12, 13.

In the synagogue worship, the cohen or priest leads the devotional exercises by chaunting prayers ; but layien are admitted to read the book of the law to the people; the preçe.

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