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the Heathen an article of faith. The regulations were onerous, “ they laid burdens on men's shoulders grievous to be borne;" the doctrines inflated Jewish vanity, taught them to boast " we have Abraham to our Father," and led them to view the Gentiles at once with contempt and detestation. Hillel and his followers made vigorous but vain efforts to resist these dangerous novelties; they were conquered by the ignorant and fanatical disciples of Shammai, whose doctrines accorded better with the interests of the Rabbis and were more flattering to the vulgar passions of the populace. It adds not a little weight to the historical verity of the New Testament, that the accounts it contains of the state of the Jews at the period of Christ's ministry are in perfect accordance with the preceding descriptions, which we have derived exclusively from Jewish writers. After the fall of Jerusalem and the subsequent dispersion of the Jews, the traditional law was collected into a code called Mischna, or the “ Repetition;" sullied as this part of the Talınud is, from the causes we have already specified, we must still confess that it contains much sublime morality, many striking recommendations of universal charity, and the germs of liberal principles that required only favourable circumstances for their full development. We cannot say the same of the commentary called the Gemara, or Supplement; it cannot be better described than in the words of Berr:
“ The language, the doctrine and the intellectual character had equally degenerated. Intolerance and darkness rising from without, brought by degrees intolerance within. A subtile and punctilious spirit had usurped the place of liberal and elevated interpretations; partial and even intolerant maxims, a moral code too strictly severe, a language formed from a confused mixture of the degenerated Oriental tongues ; a Hebrew which, without being primitive, had still preserved some faint traces of its purity. Nevertheless some glimmerings of light appear even in the Gemara, and there occur in it passages
« few and far between” worthy of the Mischna, as in that work there may be found traces of approaching degeneracy."
The birth of Islamism and the fanaticism of Mohammed's early followers hastened the decadence of the Jewish schools and synagogues in the East; but they were soon revived with more than their former brilliancy in western Europe. Under the Moorish dynasty in Spain, the Jews not merely enjoyed protection, but were among the chief ornaments of that brilliant and intellectual court. Maimonides, a name of which the Jews are justly proud, laboured to simplify the articles of the national creed, the most efficient but for the most difficult step in the purification of a national faith. The most efficient, because an absurd dogma escapes notice among a crowd of other doctrines more or less irrational, but is at once condemned when placed in justa-position with the simpler doctrines contained in every creed: the most difficult, because to vulgar minds the doctrines most shrouded in mystery are always the most pleasing. The school of Cordova was the most celebrated of the Jewish academies; during its brief but bright existence it had done much and designed more for the reformation of Judaism. The epoch did not appear distant, when refined and purified it would have melted into Christianity; but, how true are the words of Æschylus:
“ O mortal, mortal state! and what art thou?
Even in thy glory comes the passing shade,
And clean effaces all the picture out."
peace on earth, good will towards men," deemed that holocausts of slaughtered victims were acceptable offerings to the God of Mercy. The era of the Crusades came; would to God that the annals of the period formed no part of the history of Christian pations! Persecution again checked the course of reformation; and the Jews were taught to hate the very name of Jesus by the conduct of those who called themselves his followers; to this period belong the “ Toldoth Jesu," and other libellous treatises on Christianity; works which were themselves the natural offspring of persecution, and were yet made the pretext for its continuance. We are freed from the necessity of dwelling on this calamitous age, because it is quite enough for our purpose to say: compare the Jew of Cordova, under the reign of the Mohammedans, with the Jew of the same country after the establishment of the Inquisition.
The Protestant Reformation wrought a great but not a decisive change in favour of the oppressed Jews; indeed the theological controversy which prepared the way and smoothed the path for Luther's efforts, arose from Reuchlin's efforts in their behalf. We allude to the generous and successful exertions made by that excellent scholar and worthy man, to save the Jewish writings from the flames to which they were consigned by priestly bigots, on the suggestion of the renegade Pfeffercorn; a struggle that can never be forgotten, from the torrent of ridicule with which Hutten overwhelmed Reuchlin's opponents, in the immortal “ Epistola Obscurorum Virorum." Under the Reformed Churches the Jews have been partially tolerated, and their privileges gradually increased; but as yet there are some Protestant nations, among which England must unfortunately be
reckoned, in which they do not enjoy the full privileges of citizens. We say unfortunately, because we think our brief summary has shown, that in every period when the Jews were oppressed, the principles of evil in their creed became prominent and active; but whenever they enjoyed security and protection, the counteracting principles of good began to work a moral regeneration.
The Jews were not ungrateful to the Reformation: in the early part of the last century they became the most zealous supporters of the Protestant succession; and it is notorious, that when the Jacobites threatened a run on the bank, the Jews, not only of England but the continent, sent in large supplies of bullion to support the credit of the British government.
In the year 1753, the Pelham administration, with a laudable desire to reward Jewish loyalty, and encourage the accession of such a wealthy people to the subjects of the British crown, introduced a bill for the naturalization of the Jews into the House of Lords: it was supported by Sherlock, bishop of London ; Secker, bishop of Oxford; and Hayter, bishop of Norwich; three names of which the ecclesiastical annals of England may be justly proud, and it passed through the upper house without opposition. Its reception in the lower house, when first brought down, was on the whole favourable; but the commercial jealousy of some merchants in the city, the resentment of the Jacobites for the efficacious check given to their machinations by the Jews, and the obstinate prejudices of those who prided themselves on preserving the folly of their ancestors, and calling it wisdom, roused a formidable resistance which the ministers should not have ventured to encounter, Appeals were made to the passions and prejudices of the multitude ; " no Judaism” became a signal as efficacious as no Popery” thirty years after; petitions poured in from every quarter; but the ministers, strong in rectitude of principle, resolved to proceed. In this determination we deem that they were wrong; for the phrase which Montaigne used in speaking of the reformation of the Calendar was perfectly applicable to the trifling privileges conceded by the bill.
“ Pope Gregory has found out an evil wbich burt nobody, and he has applied a remedy, which does nobody any good."
Sir William Northey led the opposition; he was an obstinate blockhead, whose head was filled with all that was absurd or useless in ancient and modern literature. In the first paragraph of his speech he contrived, however, to state the principle on which all intolerance is founded, and to give the essence of all the speeches that have been delivered against religious freedom ever since.
“I hope some of the gentlemen who are advocates for this bill will rise up and inform the House what terrible crime the people of this kingdom have committed; for I must suppose that they have been guilty of some heinous offence, because we have of late had some sort of bill offered every year to parliament for depriving them of their birtbright; I say depriving them, sir, for the communication of a privilege is, in so far as that communication reaches, a taking it away from those who had before the sole right to it.”
The Rev. Sidney Smith, in that unparalleled work of wit and arguinent, “ Plymley's Letters,” has stated the same principle in better terms :
“ You may not be aware of it yourself, most reverend Abraham, but you deny their freedom to disqualified sectarians, upon the same principle that Sarab, your wife, refuses to give the receipt for a bam or a gooseberry dumplin; she values her receipts, not because they secure to her a certain favour, but because they remind her that her neighbours want it: a feeling laughable in a priestess, shameful in a priest ; venial when it withholds the blessings of a bam, tyrannical and execrable when it narrows the boon of religious freedom."
But for our knowledge of the prevalence and strength of this feeling, we should perhaps have been surprised to find among the most clamorous and reckless opponents of Jewish emancipation, men notorious for any thing rather than their attachment to Christianity. But even infidels wish to enjoy the luxuries of persecution; and as a naughty boy feels angry if you refuse to grant him the privilege of worrying kittens, so men of vulgar and depraved minds feel indignant when prevented from insulting and spurning some class of their fellow creatures with impunity. We see at this very moment the planters of South Carolina contending for their own unrestrained liberty, and at the same time for the unmitigated slavery of their negroes. “I wish I were free, I wish I were free,” said an Irish radical to us some months ago. " And are you not free?" we replied; “ cannot you do as you please ?" “ Aye," said he, “ but I cannot make
I please !" And we have the honourable member for Oldham one day proposing the apotheosis of Tom Paine, and the next declaring his readiness to become a martyr for Christianity. The strange inconsistencies of that singular man would assuredly form a strange chapter in the history of human nature:
• Each hour a different face he wears,
Now laughing, now in sorrow;
And roars for power to-morrow.”
uniformity to all his aberrations, and consistency to all his discrepancies, that is, intense selfishness,-the true key to the conduct of every brawling demagogue that has kept a country in a state of agitation since the world was created.
The ministers persevered and the bill was carried; a general election was at hand, and the opposition unhesitatingly availed themselves of the popular clamour to drive their political rivals from the hustings. It is not beyond the memory of the present generation, that a party made use of a similarly disgraceful advantage; in the days of Percival, that man whom nature designed for a methodist parson, but whom cruel chance made a prime minister, the yell of “no Popery” was raised throughout the kingdom, and the nation led to believe, that the Pope with an army of cardinals was about to storm St. Paul's, and a certain Scarlet Lady about to change Westminster into Babylon. Verily, we may say of religious folly, wbat the French nobleman did of the volume he read through, deeming that he was reading through a series, " il se repéte quelquefois.”
Some very characteristic anecdotes are related of the scenes enacted on the passing of the bill; we extract the following from the Hardwicke papers in the British Museum:Extract of a letter from Dr. Birch to the Hon. Philip Yorke.
London, June 23, 1753.
753. “ The post office bas I presume transmitted to you a sheet upon the true nature of the Jews' Bill, of which Mr. Webb tells me, be designs likewise to give the public a right notion, by reprinting it with proper remarks, having obtained Mr. Basket's consent, who is the proprietor. The clamour against that act is now evidently designed to influence the election next year; and the rage of the people is ungovernable. The Bishop of Norwich was insulted for having voted for it, in several parts of his diocese whither he went to confirm; the boys of Ipswich in particular calling out to bim for circumcision, and a paper being fixed to one of the churches, that the next day, being Saturday, bis lordship would confirm the Jews, and the Christians the day following."
From the same to the same.
London, September 29, 1753. “ The Jews' Bill is likely, among many ill consequences, to have one good effect, in relieving the next parliament from the oratory of Mr. Sydenham, whose declaring for that bill has rendered the city of Exeter implacable to him; though to acquit himself of Judaism, he dispersed printed papers, justifying his attachment to Christianity, and urging as a proof of it, his travelling on Saturdays when his business required it, and his strict observance of Sundays."
The member for Bristol, as Horace Walpole tells us, offered to prove that he was not a Jew, in a more rational way than the worthy member for Exeter; but we must refer to his Memoires