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´╗┐Title: A Guide for the Religious Instruction of Jewish Youth
Author: Reggio, Isaac Samuele
Language: English
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Proposed to Teachers by


Rabbi and Professor, Member of the Oriental and Leipsic, Halle,
etc., etc., etc.

Translated from the Italian by M. H. Picciotto.

London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co.,
Stationers'--Hall Court.

London: Printed by J. Wertheimer and Co.


Notice by the Translator.

Author's Preface.



    1. His existence. Cosmological argument.

    2. First Cause, necessary, eternal.

    3. Omnipotent, free, provident, omniscient, infallible.

    4. All-wise, good, pure, immutable.

    5. God.

    6. Psychological argument.

    7. Moral argument.



    8. His faculties.

    9. His destination.

   10. Intellect.

   11. Reason.

   12. Free will.

   13. Immortal soul.

   14. Double tendency.

   15. Contrast.

   16. Choice.

   17. Conscience.

   18. Feeling.



   19. Idea of religion.

   20. Necessity for man.

   21. Faith.



   22. Obstacles.

   23. Tardy development of reason.

   24. Ascendancy of sensuality.

   25. Want of opportunity.

   26. Social life.

   27. Internal anarchy.

   28. Limitation of human understanding.

   29. Uncertainty of human knowledge.

   30. Experience.

   31. Necessity of a revelation.



   32. Its actuality.

   33. Its truth.

   34. Its fundamental principle.

   35. Relation between God and man.

   36. Divine plan.

   37. Essence of revelation.

   38. Lofty aspiration of man.

   39. Prophecy.

   40. Prediction of the future.



   41. Rationalism antagonistic to faith.

   42. Self-love in the physical world.

   43. Self-love in man.

   44. Heroism of man.

   45. Proceeding from love.

   46. Is the cause of faith.

   47. Is not the offspring of imagination

   48. Depends on the subjection of the sensual appetites.

   49. Furnishes evidence to faith.



   50. Contingency in revelation.

   51. Its removal.

   52. Choice of a portion of mankind.

   53. Beginning from an individual.

   54. Election of that individual.



   55. Abraham.

   56. His virtues.

   57. Aim of his vocation.

   58. Covenant established with him.

   59. Circumcision.

   60. Abraham's progeny.

   61. Providential measures.



   62. Egyptian bondage. Moses.

   63. Preamble of the revelation.

   64. Modality of the revelation

   65. Decalogue.



   66. First Commandment,

   67. Second,

   68. Third,

   69. Fourth,

   70. Fifth,

   71. Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth,

   72. Ninth.

   73. Tenth.



   74. Their character.

   76. Their twofold direction.

   75. Their sanction.



   77. Knowledge of God.

   78. Opportunity of such a knowledge.

   79. Immediate relation between God and man.

   80. Love of God.

   81. Fear of God.

   82. Other duties towards God.



   83. Justice.

   84. Negative duties.

   85. Positive duties.

   86. Other duties.

   87. Charity and benevolence.

   88. Duties toward the animate and inanimate nature.



   89. Fundamental rule.

   91. Sanctification.

   90. Duties towards the body.

   92. Other special obligations.



   93. Religious idea.

   94. Its vicissitudes among the Jews.

   95. Mosaism.

   96. Prophetism.



   97. Action, creed, hopes.


THE name of Isaac Reggio of Goritz, is now a celebrity in the Hebrew
literary world. A man of vast mind, a profound scholar, a philosopher,
and an elegant writer, his numerous works on Theology, Hermeneutics,
Philology, History, and Literature, written in Hebrew, in Italian, and
in German, have tended much to revive the taste for Hebrew literature,
and to reconcile modern education to the study of Jewish antiquities.

The present little book is one of his latest productions in the Italian
language. In a style at once concise and perspicuous, and with a form of
reasoning suited to the scientific requirements of the times, he
introduces the student to an enlarged view of Religion, ascends with him
to the heavenly source from which it emanated, and leads him, through
the paths of virtue and love, to the comprehension and admiration of the
objects contemplated by it. In short, he teaches--if I am permitted the
expression--_the philosophy of religion_.

I humbly, but firmly believe that, in the hands of able Jewish teachers,
this work will considerably assist them to infuse into religious
instruction a little more spirituality, and to impart a more
comprehensive view of religion, than the routine of former days deemed
necessary, and that, by so doing, they will be better able to enlarge
and satisfy the minds, improve the hearts, and generally advance the
moral education of youth.

Notwithstanding the well-intentioned and beneficial efforts of many
friends of education among the British Jews, and the praiseworthy
exertions of some excellent teachers, the education of the mass is, we
must confess, still in a condition, in which the attainment of those
objects has not ceased to be a desideratum. We may or may not be on a
level with our neighbours, but we have very urgent and special calls of
our own for self-improvement, we have a particular mission to fulfil,
with its concomitant duties. Such self-improvement and such duties are
demanded by the spirit--not of _the age_, as is too commonly said and
believed--but of an age which began thirty-two centuries ago, at the
revelation on Mount Sinai--the spirit of Judaism, of well-understood
Judaism. Our age, with all its boasted and undeniable progress, is
still, morally, far below the type designed by Providence for humanity
in the Sinaitic dispensation, far behind the spirit which dictated and
pervades the pages of the sacred volume, and which, when thoroughly
understood and generally acted upon, must bring about the supreme reign
of justice, charity, and universal love, and--as far as attainable--the
ultimate perfection of mankind.

It has appeared to me that these truths find a plain and logical
exposition in this little work, and that its contents may not prove
uninteresting even to the general reader. I also believe that a more
correct apprehension of the true spirit and principles of Judaism by our
Christian brethren, than is commonly arrived at, will have the twofold
effect, of gradually leading to a larger measure of justice being dealt
to the Jew, and inducing the latter to a higher degree of self-respect.
For these several reasons, I have volunteered to translate it for the
use of the English public, while other versions are being prepared in
Germany and France. I trust that those to whose lot has fallen the
honourable but arduous task of educating and informing young minds, and
to whom it is more particularly addressed, will give it their earnest
consideration, for the sake of whatever good they may cull from it, as a
material in aid, while they are laying the foundations of virtue in the
hearts of the rising generation.

That the results may correspond to the intentions is the sincere wish of



IN the exercise of the sacred mission entrusted to you by
Providence--that of educating our youth to piety and religion--it must
have frequently occurred to you, to wish that such an instruction could
be imparted, not in the shape of dogmas demanding to be admitted without
investigation, but as doctrines addressed to the intellect by proper
demonstrations, and finding their way to the heart by stimulating its
noblest feelings. The little book that I present to you is intended to
satisfy, at least in part, that wish. You will not find in it a complete
treatise on Jewish Theology, or a systematic catechism, but only the
essential elements, which may serve to the future elaboration of both.
You will find deposited in it the rough materials, which some abler
hands will perhaps one day employ in constructing an edifice, in which
our youth may find a safe refuge from the storms of doubt, unbelief, and
irreligion. I have purposed to avoid all exuberant ornaments of style,
all pompous parade of erudition, and contented myself with a plain
diction, and a strict laconism. I have not quoted authors who preceded
me in the same field; I have not called up for investigation what of
valuable or defective could be found in them; in short, I have not
instituted comparisons, scientific disquisitions, or critical
examinations of the opinions of others. A series of aphorisms, simple,
plain, unadorned, of easy understanding, drawn from no other source than
the Divine Word, presented with the greatest possible perspicuity and
precision, progressing in a regular chain of consequential propositions,
and containing in few words the most important points of the Israelitish
creed--that is the form in which I have thought more proper to present
to those, who are already versed in the Bible and in Hebrew literature,
a skeleton of the vast religious science, in which they may perceive at
a glance the principal characteristic of Judaism, its various
ramifications, subsidiary parts, and special tendencies; they may then
easily discover and account for the multifarious phases, in which it
manifested itself in the various epochs of the universal history of
mankind. To supply the deficiencies, to adorn those naked propositions,
to provide them with evidence deduced from the sacred text, to enlarge
them with appropriate applications, to illustrate them with examples, in
fine, to reduce the whole into such a catechistic form as will suit a
sound system of instruction--such is the task which remains entrusted to
your intelligence, and to your zeal. By employing the proffered
materials with that discretion which is peculiar to your ministry, with
that method which the tender minds of your pupils require, and with the
love inspired by the sublimity and importance of the subject, yours will
be the merit of having propagated the seeds of truth that will bring
forth charity and universal edification; to me suffices the happiness of
having, in some degree, contributed to so noble a work.



I. WHOEVER directs his mind to the contemplation of the objects that
surround him, the aggregate of which is called the universe, will soon
perceive, that the parts of which it is composed undergo continually
various modifications and successive changes, every one of them
exercising some influence on the others, and receiving from them some
alteration. This state of mutual dependence, in which the parts of the
universe stand in relation to each other, leads us necessarily to
conclude, that none of them has within itself the reason or cause of its
existence, but that all of them together depend upon a cause which is
out of themselves, and through which they began to exist; the universe,
then, has had a cause, an Author.

II. This Author of the universe, if he had not in himself the reason of
his existence, must also have it in others, and these again in others.
Consequently, we must either suppose an endless progression of causes
and effects, which is repugnant to reason, or arrive at last at a Being
existing by and of himself,--that is to say, one who owes not his
existence to others, and has caused all other things to exist;--and in
that case, the reason of his existence must be part of his _own_ essence
and nature, and, consequently, inseparable from him and indestructible.
The Author of the universe is then a Being necessary and eternal; and as
to Him all things owe their existence, it follows that through Him they
began to exist, and He created them from nought.

III. He, who could create all from nought, has a power without limits,
and nothing is to Him impossible; He, who has given existence to all
things, has also ordained the laws to which they are subject; He, who
has ordained at His will the laws of nature, has also the power of
changing or suspending them at His will; and lastly, He, who caused all
things to exist, can alone keep them in existence, governing and
directing them with ceaseless providence; and such continual action
implies, of necessity, that He should know everything, that nothing
should be hidden from Him, and that in Him error should be impossible.
The Author of the universe is then omnipotent, free, all-provident,
omniscient, and infallible.

IV. Again, whoever attentively contemplates the universe cannot help
discovering, with admiration, in every part of it a stupendous art, a
constant order, a systematic correspondence of means to ends, which
demonstrate that all has been arranged on a predetermined plan and for a
fixed purpose, to which all the particular dispositions developed in the
course of the natural phenomena are exquisitely adapted. This order and
this harmony--which manifest themselves, also, in all the progressive
courses of nature--indicate a self-developing excellence, and a tendency
to an ever-increasing perfectibility, such as can only emanate from a
cause infinitely intelligent and good; and as such qualities cannot be
attributed to a being corporeal, because limited and subject to changes,
it follows that the Author of the universe is all-wise and good, pure
and immutable.

V. Now, this Being, necessary and eternal, whom the contemplation of the
universe alone reveals to us as the Author of everything, as omnipotent,
free, all-provident, omniscient, infallible, pure, immutable, all-wise,
and good, is He whom we call GOD.

VI. But our conviction of the existence of God need not be derived
exclusively from the wonders of the universe; for every man can find in
himself the evident proof of the existence of that supreme cause. In
fact, man feels within himself that he thinks; and if he were even to
doubt it, he could not deny that at least he doubts; and the doubt
itself is already a thought. Admitting that he possesses the faculty of
thinking, he must admit that there is within himself a substance, a
being, a something which thinks. But this being, who is conscious of his
own thoughts, is also conscious that he exists not by himself, that he
has not existed from all eternity, that he is subject to changes, that
even the simple ideas, which compose his thoughts, are not produced by
himself, but acquired through his senses from external objects; and, in
short, that he depends upon various causes placed without himself, and
undergoes vicissitudes, which it is not in his power to remove.
Therefore man has not within himself the reason of his own existence,
but he must trace it to another, who is the Author of it. Now, this
Author cannot have received His own existence from another, if He is to
be considered the primary cause; otherwise we should fall into a
succession of causes and effects to infinity. Then, the true Author of
our existence is one who exists by Himself, and as such He is eternal,
omnipotent, all-wise, etc., etc.; He is God.

VII. Another source, affording the proof of the existence of God, man
finds in himself when his intellectual faculties have attained a certain
degree of culture and maturity. He then knows himself to be a moral
being; that is to say, a being who, placed between good and evil, can,
of his own free will, adhere to the former and reject the latter, if he
follows the dictates of his reason. Then the moral sense awakens in his
mind the idea of a supreme blessing, of a progressive and infallible
moral perfection, of a future final accord between virtue and felicity,
and their necessary co-existence. Now, he cannot expect this supreme
blessing from anything that surrounds him in nature, because he does not
find in the latter the desired union of happiness with virtue, enjoyment
with merit. He must, therefore, seek it in a Supreme Cause existing out
of nature--in a Cause which should contain in itself the type of the
moral law, embrace the whole extent of that law with infinite
intelligence, and act up to its dictates with a powerful will. This
Supreme Cause is God.


VIII. MAN has many advantages and privileges over all other creatures.
Not only can he, like other animals, perceive through his senses all the
surrounding objects, but he can compare with one another the perceptions
received, associate them together, separate them, and form new ideas. He
can know for what purposes things exist, investigate their causes and
effects, discern between good and evil, between just and unjust; he
alone can communicate his thoughts to others; he alone can speak.

IX. Everything produced by an intelligent Author must be intended for
some purpose--must have a _destination_. Man, the noblest creature on
earth, must also have a destination. We shall arrive at a clear
knowledge of that destination, when we shall have considered the powers
and capabilities possessed by him; for the means with which nature has
endowed him, for the development of his activity, evidently point out
the goal which that activity is designed to attain.

X. Now, the capabilities that we discover in man are the
following:--Besides a body constructed with wonderful skill, but weak,
corruptible, mortal, man has within himself a vivifying principle, which
substantiates in him the knowledge of things with the aid of the senses,
renews in him perceptions once received, unites them, separates them,
and forms out of them new ideas. This thinking principle is certainly
different from the body, of which no part is apt to think, and is what
we call the _soul_; the act itself of thinking proceeds from a faculty
of the soul which we call _intellect_.

XI. But the soul can also judge, conclude from causes to effects,
distinguish between good and evil, between just and unjust, conceive an
idea of things never perceived through the senses; it can recognise the
supreme Author of the universe, it can adore God. This faculty of the
soul is called _reason_; intellect and reason are the principal or
superior faculties of the human soul.

XII. Reason points out good as a thing desirable, and evil as a thing to
be avoided; yet man feels within himself a desire or impulse towards all
that is pleasurable to the senses, although reason may represent it to
him as an evil. And, on the other hand, he is conscious of his perfect
freedom of choosing good, however disagreeable to the senses, and of
abhorring evil, however tempting it may appear; he has, then, the
faculty of directing his action to one or other of these two courses;
his soul is endowed with _free-will_.

XIII. A being endowed with intellect, reason, and free-will cannot be
composed of parts, because the operations proceeding from such faculties
presuppose a comparison of various relations with each other, and a
deduction of consequences from their principles; and these operations
require such a unity and simplicity in their subject as are absolutely
incompatible with the nature of matter, composed, as it is, of parts.
The human soul is therefore a simple being, a _spirit_, and, as such,
indestructible, _immortal_.

XIV. Man, then, unites in himself two natures, belongs to two classes of
beings very different from one another, is a citizen of two worlds. In
his body he is linked to the material world, undergoes all the
vicissitudes of matter, is subject to the incentives of the senses, and
is impelled to gratify the wants and cravings of physical enjoyment. As
regards his soul, he enters into the sphere of intelligences, he feels
himself attracted by the ideas of the beautiful, of the true, of the
just; he participates in the condition of the spiritual beings, aspires
to the immense, to the infinite; and is susceptible of an
ever-increasing perfectibility, finding within himself the power of
abhorring moral evil, viz., vice, and of cleaving to moral good, viz.,

XV. Man has, therefore, within himself a germ of discord between the two
principles of which he is constituted, a contrast between the exigencies
of the body and those of the soul--between the appetites of the senses
and the dictates of reason; and as this latter alone is competent to
form a judgment on what he ought or ought not to do, it follows that
reason alone should be consulted and obeyed in determining upon every

XVI. Now, by freely and spontaneously resolving to conform all the
actions of his life to the dictates of reason, which commands him to be
wise in his self-government, upright with others, and pious towards the
supreme Author, man will have worthily corresponded to the end for which
he was created--he will have fulfilled his _destination_; for it is
clearly the destination of man to make the best possible use of the
sublime faculties with which his soul is endowed; and the best possible
use he does make when he subordinates his inferior to his superior
tendencies, the cravings of the body to those of the soul; in a word,
when he obeys the dictates of reason.

XVII. When man obeys the dictates of reason, an internal voice in his
heart tells him that he has done right; he feels satisfied with himself,
and is penetrated with a sense of true joy. When, on the contrary, he
consciously infringes the laws of reason, he is not only deprived of
that internal approbation, but an inextinguishable voice rises
reproachful within his heart; he is no longer satisfied with himself,
but feels uneasiness and perturbation. That internal voice, which judges
man's actions, and generates happiness or sorrow, is what is called

XVIII. But the human soul, when it concentrates itself within, has also
the faculty of feeling the sense of its own individuality, and
perceiving that the state in which it is is its own. By virtue of this
sense, which we may call feeling, the soul is led always to desire its
own welfare, its own happiness; thence springs love or hatred,
inclination or aversion towards an object, as this object seems apt to
occasion pleasure or pain. But man, sooner or later, discovers that a
true and permanent pleasure cannot be obtained through any of the
physical enjoyments on earth, which he may not always be able to
procure, or, when procured, leave after them weariness and disgust. He,
consequently, cannot place in them his true happiness; and his internal
sense tells him that there are other enjoyments of a purely spiritual
nature, which alone can satisfy the highest aspirations of his soul. The
exercise of his moral duties--which, through his freedom of action, lies
always within his power, and by which alone he can tranquillise his
conscience and fully delight in self-contentment--is that which offers
to his soul true and permanent enjoyment; that alone is worth desiring.


XIX. ON man governing himself morally well in life, it becomes manifest
to him, on the one hand, that his conduct, being conformable to the end
for which he was created, must also be agreeable to the will of the
Creator. On the other hand, that same internal sense, which prompts him
to satisfy the demands of his own conscience, leads him, also, to
elevate his mind towards God; and he feels at the bottom of his heart
that he would be wanting in the principal element of his happiness if he
referred not his every thought to the Author of his existence. This
twofold direction of the mind towards God is called _Religion_, a word
derived from the Latin _religare_, for, as a moral being endowed with
intelligence and freedom, man feels always a certain tendency to
disengage himself from the physical order of terrestrial things, and to
_link_ himself again to the Supreme Cause from whom he emanated.

XX. All the peoples of antiquity exhibited, in their successive
developments, the aptitude of the human soul to entertain religion
within itself, nay, the necessity in which it finds itself to connect
the exercise of moral duties or virtue with the Supreme Source of all
morality. In fact, God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, wills
nothing but what is good; and in no better mode could man ever manifest
his gratitude to the Author of his existence, than by doing that which
is agreeable to His will. Hence it is, that whoever is true to his
destination, is said to be true to God; and he who is virtuous is
religious. There is, then, in the human soul a natural disposition to
religiousness or piety; and the history of all ages testifies that no
people ever existed, who, however rude and uncultivated, has not had
some presentiment of the relations which bind the rational creature to
its Creator. Man is born to religion.[1]

[Note 1: These truths are now readily admitted by all well-thinking
men. It was very easy, and very amusing, for the philosophy of the
eighteenth century, to ridicule the ignorance and superstition of the
ancients, and to denounce the modern peoples which followed in the same
direction, though by different tracks. But the true philosophy of the
present age, which has penetrated deeper into the recesses of the human
heart, has arrived at the double conclusion, that a superior power has
implanted therein certain elements which it is not in human power to
remove; and that what is inherent in human nature cannot he combated,
but must be wisely directed. Hence, modern civilisation deals lees than
preceding ages in abstractions; and in its Intellectual development,
accepts religion as a starting point in the laborious but open walk,
which leads to human happiness,--The TRANSLATOR.]

XXI. This need for man to be religious constitutes the basis of _faith_.
As man is said to _know_ that which is proved to him by experience, or
by the testimony of the senses, so he is said to _believe_ that which
is to him a real want, although it cannot be demonstrated to him either
by experience or by the evidence of the senses. _Knowledge_ is based
upon _objective_, and _belief_ upon _subjective_ proofs.

The existence of God, the providence with which He governs the world,
the immortality of the soul, the excellence of virtue, the just
expectation of a final triumph of good, and of an improvement and future
perfection of the human condition, are truths which have their
foundations in man himself, that is, in the _nature_ of his soul; they
originate in him, even without the concurrence of reflection, almost
from an innate feeling of the heart, which impels him to admit them;
they are founded on subjective proofs, and man _believes_ them as
necessities of his own nature. These religious truths are therefore
called _natural_, and their disciples are said to profess a _natural


XXII. YET, notwithstanding the possibility for man to attain happiness
by only following the voice of reason, experience has shown, in the most
unmistakable manner, that natural religion is insufficient alone to
guide mankind in the right path, to preserve him from error, and to
regulate his life with constant conformity to his destination, under all
circumstances and in all conjunctures. Such insufficiency is caused by
various obstacles, presented by the self-same nature of man, and the
objects that surround him, and which prevent reason from exercising an
absolute dominion over the heart, and naturally weaken its influence on
human actions.

XXIII. First among these obstacles, is the circumstance, that the
intellectual faculties do not exhibit so much vigour in early youth as
the animal or appetitive faculties. Long before the force of reason has
developed itself in the mind, the sensual tendencies have already grown
giants in the heart, impelling man to desire ardently all that has the
semblance of pleasure, however fugitive and deceitful. The will, which
is in its full vigour even in a child, has already carried into effect
most of these desires, and has thus produced such a habit of grasping
impulsively, and without reflection, at everything that presents itself
in the aspect of an enjoyment, that reason often arrives too late to
destroy the ascendancy gained by the lust of the heart, and to claim its
dominion over all man's actions.

XXIV. Besides, reason is sometimes in danger of losing its supremacy,
even after having asserted it. Instinct, which, in brutes, holds the
place of free-will, confines their physical cravings within certain
limits, and we never see an animal wallow in intemperance; but man, just
because enjoying absolute freedom of will, may extend his desires beyond
every limit, and so much strain and invigorate them as to succumb under
their influence. Therefore reason, whether from its tardy development,
or from the unlimited ascendancy of sensuality, holds the reins of its
power always with uncertainty, and is not ever certain of being obeyed.

XXV. Another obstacle is to be traced in the want of opportunity and
time, or, in other words, in the little time that man can spare to
devote to reflection, in the presence of the multifarious cravings of
his body. These cravings, increased, no doubt, by luxury and an
inclination, to superfluities, demand daily and hourly to be satisfied.
He is, then, obliged to work unceasingly to earn or procure the means of
satisfying his own physical wants, as well as, not unfrequently, those
of a whole family. Aliment, clothing, habitation, comfort, recreation,
and other innumerable cares, real or artificial, require so much labour
and exertion, that little or no time remains for the great majority of
mankind to devote to the assiduous reflections and researches necessary
to determine what duties reason imposes upon them to fulfil, and what
actions to perform.

XXVI. A third obstacle to the development of the moral force in man is
the very social life which, by his own nature, he is called to enter.
The safety of the social fabric demands that the property of each
individual be distinct and acknowledged, and establishes a diversity of
ranks, offices, honours, and positions, which ill agree with human
cupidity. Hence a conflict of desires, a collision of ambitions, a
contest of interests, which at all times generate among men discords,
machinations, frauds, usurpations, treachery, violence, and rapine. Add
the consequences of the pride and ambition, which each more or less
entertains, to reach or surpass some others in power, wealth, or fame,
whence many causes of disappointments and heartburnings, of hatreds and
jealousies, of persecutions and calumnies, of acts of vengeance and
injustice of every form, and it will be easily conceived how little,
under the influence of _so_ many evil passions occasioned by social
life, could populations, in the course of time, be disposed to submit
willingly to the severe and exclusive regimen of reason.

XXVII. Independently of these external impediments, there exists a kind
of internal anarchy in man, arising from the want of a force exercising
the functions of an arbitrator between the mind and the heart, and
inclining the latter to shape its decisions on the motives of the
former. The truths, which he is frequently able to discover, satisfy his
intellect without affecting his will, minister food to the mind, but
operate not on the heart; in short, they establish a theory, but command
not practice. Hence it often happens that man sees right, approves it,
and yet adheres to wrong. Even after having gathered an abundant harvest
from long studies and profound meditations, he still feels the need of a
guide to direct his steps--of a means, available at all times, and
competent to enable him to subordinate the appetitive to the
intellectual faculties, and to cause the will to follow the judgments of
the mind rather than those of the heart.

XXVIII. The inadequacy of natural religion alone becomes still more
manifest, when we consider the weakness and limited extent of the human
understanding. To meditate assiduously on an abstract object, which does
not fall under the perception of the senses, is given only to a few
individuals endowed with uncommon penetration. But by far the greater
part of men, disinclined to submit to long and arduous researches,
concerning what they ought or ought not to believe and to do, prefer
living thoughtlessly; and when they even try to enter upon spiritual
meditations, they soon feel discouraged, and, often distrusting their
own powers, throw up the difficult task half way, to resume the course
of a reckless mode of life.

XXIX. But even the few privileged beings, who believe themselves equal
to the task, and plunge earnestly into spiritual researches, must
confess to the insufficiency of the intellectual powers, and admit, that
beside some few principles which they have succeeded in establishing,
many doubts remain to be cleared, many questions to be solved, many
objections to be overcome; and they must ultimately conclude, that
reason by itself is unable to answer on all that interests man to admit
or to deny, to seek or to avoid, to believe and to do, to hope and to
fear. There is not, in this wide range of spiritual subjects, a
proposition held by one as true, which has not been discarded by another
as an error; and there is not a paradox or an absurdity that has not
found some supporters, who maintained it as a truth. Doubt and error, in
abstract and metaphysical questions, are natural and inherent in
mankind, so long as reason is their only luminary in the research.

XXX. The experience of all ages teaches us that the obstacles above
stated have always exercised their influence upon the development of the
moral sense among men, by retarding, and sometimes even rendering
impossible to them, a clear and sound conception of their destination,
and a firm resolve to conform to it.

All the nations of antiquity, which, left to themselves, never received
from without any spiritual and religious instruction, could never rise
from the slough of sensuality and superstition; they sank deep in
idolatry, and ultimately adopted creeds and practices abominable and
repugnant alike to the excellence of reason and the dignity of man. On
the other hand, all the nations that totally or partly succeeded in
extricating themselves from a state of brutality and barbarism, must
acknowledge that not to the development of their intelligence alone they
owe their regeneration, but to certain sublime doctrines--originated in
causes quite extrinsical from human nature--which, having found their
way to them through a concourse of favourable and apparently fortuitous
circumstances, were more or less readily admitted, as notions gained
from without, and by degrees ingrafted, under various modifications, on
their own primitive ideas.

XXXI. It being, then, almost impossible, or, at least, extremely
difficult, for man to arrive, through the sole action of the faculties
inherent in his nature, at his intended goal, to shape his course
accordingly, and thus to lay the foundations of his future happiness, it
was necessary that an intelligence far superior to his own should come
to his assistance, communicate to him some fundamental truths concerning
his present and future life, enlighten his intellect, guide his reason,
invigorate his will in the paths of truth, justice, and righteousness,
and thus facilitate to him the attainment of his sublime destination. It
was necessary that God himself should instruct him in what was most
important to know, manifest His will to him, and explicitly point out to
him the way he was to follow, the obstructions he was to avoid, and the
goal he had to reach. Man, then, was in need of a _revelation_.


XXXII. THIS revelation was actually vouchsafed. It pleased the supreme
Being, through His infinite mercy, to manifest His will, and make known
some great and precious truths, which men would have vainly attempted to
discover with the unaided operation of their reason; He chose to
undertake, to a certain extent, the education of mankind. From the
beginning of the world God revealed Himself to the first man; and He
continued afterwards for many ages, as His eternal wisdom deemed proper,
to communicate to such individuals as were the worthiest among mortals
the instructions which were afterwards to work the salvation of all
mankind. Those instructions, which contain truths by far more comforting
and sublime than any results which man could have arrived at through his
own faculties alone, constitute the substance of Revelation; and he who
acknowledges their divine origin, and conforms to them the actions of
his life, is called a professor of the _revealed religion_.

XXXIII. That God has really revealed Himself to some individuals of the
human species is an historical fact, the truth of which is proved, like
all truths of a similar order, by testimony and documents. But
independently of the existing evidence, the possibility of such an act
can be easily conceived by the human understanding, when we consider
that everything is feasible to the omnipotence of the Creator; and
nothing is more consentaneous to His infinite goodness and wisdom, than
the blessed purpose of granting to human frailty an assistance
calculated to lead the noblest of creatures to the attainment of the
exalted end for which he was created. To conceive, also, the precise
modes and forms in which such a revelation is effected or conveyed, it
was given only to those elect who were themselves the recipients, and
who are called Prophets. But we can arrive at the knowledge of the
principal characteristics which constitute prophecy, after we shall have
placed in a clear light the essence and the final object of revelation.

XXXIV. All the revealed doctrines may be reduced to one fundamental
principle, from which they originate, and on which rests the whole
edifice of revelation. This principle may be expressed as
follows:--Besides the general relation of dependence existing
indistinctly between all creatures and their Creator, there is a
relation more intimate and special between God and man--a relation of a
spiritual and sentimental nature, arising from the circumstance of the
latter being created in the image of God, by virtue of which man is not
subject exclusively to the blind government of the physical laws of
nature, but, almost independent of them, he walks under the immediate
influence of his celestial Father; this independence, however, cannot be
accomplished before he has succeeded in subduing his sensual appetites,
and has bent them to follow the divine direction. Thus acting, he will
not remain a passive spectator of the vicissitudes which accelerate or
retard the fulfilment of that which the Divine wisdom purposed as the
final aim of the creation, but, through the immortal spirit transfused
in him, he will feel impelled to take some active part in the great work
of the ultimate universal perfection, and to associate his own will to
the will of the Creator.

XXXV. The relation between God and man is a tie of love. God being
goodness itself, this finds a more extensive field for its manifestation
in the rational creature than in any other. On the other hand, man,
possessed of a spiritual soul, is superior to matter, and is capable,
more than the other terrestrial beings, of receiving within himself an
abundance of the Divine benevolence, which _diffuses itself throughout
the universe in exact proportion to the various aptitudes of the
recipients_. It is precisely in consequence of the understanding with
which man is endowed, and of his aptitude to nourish love for the
supreme Being, that he has been elected, from among all terrestrial
creatures, to enter into a more intimate relation with God, and to
co-operate, in as much as lies in his power, to the accomplishment of
the divine plan.

XXXVI. The plan of the Creator is immeasurably profound, and therefore
inscrutable. Nevertheless, in so far as it is permitted to the human
mind to penetrate it, and as it has pleased the Divine mercy to reveal
it, we know with certainty that it is all directed to diffuse happiness
and beatitude over all creatures, in proportion to their respective
capabilities of participating in them, and to guide all beings towards
that end, which, in the scheme of the universe, was pre-ordained by the
Infinite Wisdom as _the best_. Now, the inanimate portion of the
creation progresses unconsciously in the way ordained by Providence,
obeys physical immutable laws, and is, therefore, only a means to a more
exalted end. But the moral being, who has self-consciousness, resolves
on action after deliberating upon what he thinks best, and carries out
his resolve with free will; he is, then, himself the aim of his life.
Therefore, to lead this being towards his own destination, it was proper
not to subject him to restraint under laws of necessity, otherwise the
freedom of his will would have been destroyed; it was only necessary to
enlighten him, to place before him some fundamental truths, capable of
dispelling all doubts from his mind, and detaching him from errors and
superstitions, and thus to offer him means and inducements sufficient to
direct his attention and will towards the end designed by the Divine

XXXVII. It is these truths, offered as means and inducements, that
constitute the essence of revelation. Through revelation, man was made
acquainted that God created the universe out of nought, that He governs
it with His wisdom, and can work every change which He deems suitable;
that He created man in the Divine image, that is, with an immortal soul,
capable of receiving within itself the Divine idea, of conceiving its
sublimity, and carrying it into effect. Through revelation, man learnt
that God is One, omnipotent, holy, of infinite forbearance and mercy,
and an inexhaustible source of pure love; that He created as a stock of
all the human family a single individual (to proclaim thereby the
principle of universal brotherhood and mutual love between all the
members of that family); that He desires to be loved, worshipped, and
served by it, with purity of heart, with elevation of spirit, and with
unflinching constancy. Through revelation, we are taught to use wisely
the earthly gifts, and to turn their material enjoyment into a subject
for edification and the glorification of God; to exercise right,
justice, rectitude, charity, piety, and humility; we are also taught
that God judges the human actions, punishes those who contravene His
will, and is disposed to pardon the sins of those who feel a true
repentance. And, lastly, through revelation, an invitation is tendered
to man to elevate his mind to the Creator, to imitate Him, to approach
Him through self-sanctification; and a perspective is opened before his
mind's eye of an interminable future of beatitude beyond the grave, as
the ultimate goal of his longings, and a just reward to his virtuous

XXXVIII. When an individual, after long and serious meditations, and
through a concourse of favourable circumstances, acquires a
comprehension of this divine plan, and conceives it in its fullest
extent and excellence, he will feel an irresistible attraction towards
such a contemplation, and an ineffable admiration will seize all his
mind; an internal intense desire will spring up in his heart to see it
carried out, nay, to contribute himself to its accomplishment, since the
first tendency is already engrafted on his very nature. In proportion as
this desire extends its roots in the heart of that individual, so will
he make it his exclusive pre-occupation, voluntarily sacrifice to it
every worldly consideration, and so will he feel impelled to devote
himself to promote, promulgate, and bring to universal knowledge those
truths which, as stated, form the essence of revelation; his soul will
become the receptacle of the Divine idea, his tongue and all his body
the organs of its fulfilment; his whole life will be an expression of
the idea which pervades him; he will feel within himself an irresistible
call to constitute himself, of his own authority, and without any regard
to worldly powers, a preceptor to mankind, an adviser and censor of all,
a supporter of right and virtue, a herald of truth, and a defender of
the cause of God; he will defy every obstacle with unbending spirit,
will employ all his powers, physical and moral, to the attainment of his
aim; and sometimes he will end by becoming a martyr to his holy project.
In short, his will becomes identical with the will of God.

XXXIX. Such a man is a prophet. His mind elevated to the highest degree
of intelligence, his heart bent constantly to love what is good, he has
almost assumed a second nature, and he lives upon earth a purely
spiritual life. Of all that surrounds him, nothing is of any value in
his eyes but that which may contribute to the accomplishment of the
Divine design; in all passing events he sees but as many dispositions of
Providence calculated to direct men to the path in which they are called
to walk; the very thoughts which cross his mind, and the wishes which
form themselves in his heart, he regards them not as the productions of
his own soul, but as emanations from the Spirit of God which dwells in
him, and pervades all his being. Such a mode of viewing things is, after
all, not a mere effect of his imagination, but a true reflex of the
influence that actuates this man, an influence springing from the fact
already stated, that his will has identified itself with the will of
God. Hence the prophet is called a man inspired by God, for it is the
Divine Spirit that pervades, agitates, and directs him; it is the Divine
Spirit that found in him an instrument for its operation, an organ for
its manifestation, a medium to carry out its high designs, a
representative of God on earth, who shall recall men to their Divine
origin, and lead them on to their ultimate destination.

XL. From the foregoing exposition of the characters of prophecy it will
appear obvious, that those are greatly mistaken, who think that the
exclusive or even the principal ministry of the prophet consists in
foreseeing and foretelling future events. The prophet may occasionally
find it necessary to his ends to predict some events, which he does by
virtue of the Divine spirit infused in him; but this is for him only an
accessory means to the chief object, which is to propagate and promote
among men divine knowledge and religious life. With an all-wise
provision, God disposed that, as a rule, the future shall remain hidden
from mortals, that they may exert themselves to render it propitious by
their good actions; and if He sometimes permitted, as an exception, that
it should be revealed to them through the dispensers of His word, it was
not to gratify an idle curiosity, but to excite men to worthily conform
their works to coming events.


XLI. THE preliminary notions hitherto set forth are to be regarded as
placed in the vestibule leading to the temple of Revelation. Now, before
we cross the threshold, it may be well to meet at once an objection
which will possibly be offered by modern incredulity. It is fashionably
said, that rational man can admit nothing as true except that which is
proved to him by logical demonstrations; and as for the acceptance of a
revealed religion faith is a necessary element, and this must exclude
(as commonly pretended) every kind of proof, therefore all reasoning is
out of the question, and the very basis of that which is sought to be
inculcated as a truth, renders it inadmissible. Such an objection,
however erroneous in reality, has too grave an appearance, and its
consequences would be too lamentable, to permit us to disregard it. It
becomes, therefore, indispensable, before entering the sanctuary of
Revelation, to remove the obstruction of such an error, even at the cost
of a digression from our path, in order to consider the matter in its

XLII. One of the primary laws of existence in the physical world is
self-love; that is, an instinct in every creature to procure its own
good, even at the expense of others, so that the preservation of one is
attended with the destruction of some others. All nature is in a
perpetual struggle within itself, and every component part receives the
elements of its own life and increment from the destruction of others.
This we see repeatedly happen under our own eyes, as well in plants as
in animals, and so evidently, that we need not here record instances to
confirm it. It is through this contrast of individual interests, through
this perpetual alternation of production and growth with decrease and
destruction, that Providence ordained the preservation of the world in
its totality, while the individuals perish and the species remain.

XLIII. Man also, considered only in his physical nature, is subject to
the universal law of self-love; and until he has arrived at a correct
appreciation of his moral nature and duties, he will allow himself to be
impelled by that law to possess himself of all that he thinks suitable
to his own advantage, regardless of the detriment of others, and even of
their very existence; and so will, on the other hand, every one else,
being in the same condition, act towards him. But the effects of
unrestrained self-love are by far more mischievous in man than in the
irrational animals, for the intelligence with which he is endowed
affords him more means and artifices to accomplish his selfish views, so
long as he is governed by these and not by nobler impulses. Hence it
happens also, that so long as a man lies under the fascination of
self-love, society, of which he is called to become a member, places him
in a condition, from which he looks upon his fellow-men as the natural
enemies of his individual happiness; and he feels a propensity to throw
obstacles, either by malice or violence, in the way of others, to
prevent their attaining that which is denied to him.

XLIV. But we find, also, in man another principle diametrically opposed
to self-love, which, proceeding from the noblest prerogatives of his
soul, distinguishes him from the irrational creatures, and invites him
to a career totally opposite to theirs. This principle, commonly called
virtue, we shall express by the more comprehensive name of _heroism_. As
by self-love man is inclined to sacrifice the welfare of others to his
own, so by heroism he is led to sacrifice himself to the welfare of
others. When we see a mother struggling to death, and with admirable
self-devotion, against overpowering waves, or ferocious beasts, or
devouring flames, to save her child from certain destruction, it would
be stolidity and folly for us to bring into comparison with this act,
the cares bestowed by a brute in feeding her young, since as soon as the
latter has carried into effect the order of nature, she forsakes them,
and, when grown, does not even recognise them; whereas the love of a
mother endures beyond the grave. When a husband, bound with the
indissoluble tie of affection to the woman of his heart, voluntarily
sacrifices to her everything dearest in the world, and finds in her
affection ample recompense for his direst privations, who would dare to
attribute this to the physical sexual tendency common even to the
brutes? a tendency, which, besides manifesting itself only at detached
periods of time, disappears altogether in old age, whereas conjugal love
runs beyond the confines of time. The same may be said of a friend, who
would give his own life to save that of his beloved, of a generous
warrior who risks everything for his country's sake, and of a host of
others, who magnanimously devote themselves to the relief of suffering
humanity; in short, of every one who feels himself moved by a superior
force to cross over the boundaries of selfishness and sensuality, and to
become a hero.

XLV. In all these phenomena, a principle directly adverse to that of
physical nature manifests itself. While in the latter, self-love is a
necessary supreme law, in the spiritual life of man we see prevailing,
as a foundation to morality, a voluntary sacrifice of self, offered on
the altar of love. No pain or regret ever accompanies such an offering;
on the contrary, a sensible man undertakes it with cheerfulness, as a
manifestation of his exalted nature, and derives from its performance a
purer joy than all other earthly enjoyments could afford him. But this
love, which limits and conquers self-love, this love which so well
testifies to the excellence of man, whence does it proceed? Assuredly
not from physical nature; this is, on the contrary, based upon a law
which would destroy love. It must emanate, then, from a source, itself a
prototype of moral perfection, a perpetual spring of the purest love;
and this source is God. Through the effects and impressions of this
celestial love, man feels the need of approaching his Creator, of
finding in Him the provident Ruler of the human destinies, and of
expecting from His kindness the future triumph of good, and an ultimate
perfection of all things. God, providence, and the immortality of the
soul, become then for him incontestable truths: and at such a knowledge
he does not arrive by way of laborious instruction and logical
demonstrations; but it springs up, as it were, in his inward feeling,
which prompts him to regulate his life according to that sublime model
of moral perfection; therefore, although reason furnishes not to him
logical proofs of these truths, yet he finds the presentiment of them
within his heart, he feels them, he accepts them with a force more
sentimental than intellectual, he embraces them with enthusiasm, and can
no longer detach himself from them; in short he _believes_ them.

XLVI. Thus, with the same confidence with which man admits as true, what
is demonstrated to his reason by solid arguments,--and he is then said
to be _convinced_,--does he likewise give his assent to the noble
inspirations of his heart, not yet depraved by abject inclinations,--and
he is then said to be _persuaded_. Thus there are two kinds of truths,
equally ascertained, and therefore equally admissible; the one
proceeding from intellect and called rational truth, the other formed in
the heart, and called moral truth. The source of the latter might also
properly be called _good sense_, which in fact acts, in many
circumstances of life, in lieu of pure reason. A man endowed with good
sense, and who has not yet become a slave to sensual appetites, will not
doubt for a moment, even without having ever been acquainted with the
proofs, that lying, calumniating, blaspheming, false swearing, robbing,
murdering, betraying friendship, country or honour, are culpable and
abominable actions. Other truths based on good sense are also the
following: the faith we have in friendship, in the rectitude of those
who administer justice, in the fidelity of a beloved object, in the
tenderness of parents, in the excellence of virtue, and above all, in
the wisdom, goodness, and providence of God; all these things we admit
within our souls, not in consequence of a cold calculation of the
intellect, but through an irresistible impulse of the heart, and in
consequence of a sort of presentiment springing from the consciousness
of our own noble spirituality, which develops itself and gains force, in
proportion as we elevate ourselves above the material propensities to
which we are subject as citizens of this earth.

XLVII. Those who, throwing themselves on a severe rationalism, will
recognise nothing as true but what is demonstrated to them like
mathematical theorems, will look upon the sentiments above referred to
as delusions of the fancy, because they see them founded but upon
feeling; but they who think so are manifestly in error. If faith in God,
in His providence, and in the immortality of the human soul, were a mere
product of the imagination, it would last only so long as the semblance,
which had given it aliment, exists; and when man is awakened to the
sense of realities and facts calculated to destroy the delusion, he
would be seen to withdraw from the meshes of his error, and his reason
triumphant would confess the former aberration of the mind; yet it
happens not so. In the moment we are struck by some grave calamity, when
we see fond hopes, long cherished, vanish in an instant, or when we are
on the point of losing what is dearest to us, why is faith in God and in
His providence not then weakened in the religious man? Why, on the
contrary, does he cling to it more and more? The reason is, because such
a faith is not a cold theorem, against which some doubt may eventually
arise, but a truth rooted in the love inherent in our nature; and
consequently it acquires vigour with the growth of love, and its power
cannot be extinguished but when we cease to love. So, also, the other
impulses to heroism and to exalted moral action, by which we are induced
to great sacrifices, or led to believe ourselves capable of
accomplishing them, are produced in us by faith in an eternal Source of
pure love, by that faith which carries with itself the surety of a
future life and a future kingdom founded upon love. Therefore, in
proportion as man succeeds in subduing his own passions, or as these
grow faint by age or other causes, so his love grows more vigorous; and
as earthly objects gradually disappear, so faith rises and shews itself
all-pervading and invincible.

XLVIII. As a condition indispensable to the entertainment of faith, we
have already insisted on the necessity of previously freeing the heart
from the sway of the sensual appetites; and it is not without a grave
reason, for therein precisely consists the secret of the solution of the
great question agitated in all ages between the so-called rationalists
and the supernaturalists. Intellect and reason are rays from the Divine
wisdom, bestowed upon man to assist him to discern between true and
false, between good and evil; but such a function is not exercised by
those faculties with an absolute power over the human will; they, on the
contrary, are subservient to such desires and passions as have acquired
a preponderance in the heart; they are similar to those ministers of a
prince who, in offering him advice, only aim at facilitating the
attainment of their master's wishes; or to the known effects of a glass
applied to a jaundiced eye. So long as man remains faithful to his moral
duties, and desires nothing but what is good and honest, his intellect
and reason always offer him valid arguments to confirm him in his
purpose, and to augment his love of virtue; and then, also, the noblest
dogmas of faith, God, providence, and immortality find easy access to
his mind, and are Harboured with joy. But if depraved propensities have
corrupted his heart, so that his aspirations are in a wrong and base
direction, then these same faculties become ministers to the predominant
passion, and suggest to man sophisms, fallacies, and specious
subtleties, whereby to disown that which he heretofore respected, to
upset the edifice of his faith, to lull his conscience and quiet
remorse, to excuse his weaknesses and break through every restraint, and
thus to warrant every kind of fault and vice. Hence it is that the
knowledge and discernment of what is true or untrue, in the moral world,
depends, in a considerable degree, upon the practice of good or evil;
hence it is, that the judgments of the mind are modified by the
inclinations of the heart, and that virtue opens the way to faith, and
vice is the author of infidelity.

XLIX. From what we have hitherto briefly stated, it will appear
sufficiently obvious that the dogmas of revealed religion, though based
rather on the ground of faith than on that of philosophy and strict
criticism, are yet, for an upright man, susceptible of a degree of
evidence equal to that of any other demonstrable truth, inasmuch as they
have their foundation in human nature itself, and can be rejected but by
him who rebels against the noblest impulses of the heart, to give
himself up to the sway of passions or inordinate appetites.

One of the features, which most enhances the value of religion, is
precisely this, that it is the product, not of transcendental devices of
the mind, but of faith in God, itself springing from love, and that
consequently, it is not originated by the intellect, but infused by a
Divine grace. Thus we see every day, in our own experience, that the
loftiest thoughts of virtue and heroism are not suggested to us by a
long and laborious chain of syllogisms, but break upon us unexpectedly
as inspirations of the heart; truly--considering the divine spirit
dwelling within us, and which we have but to harbour carefully--they
break upon us like inspirations of heaven.

Having, as we hope, satisfactorily disposed of the objection usually put
forward by the so-called rationalists, we shall now proceed to relate
the modes by which Divine revelation historically came into actuality.


L. THE benefits which the Eternal Wisdom had determined to confer upon
mankind through revelation, depended, however, on a condition without
which, they could never have been realized. It was necessary that men,
on their part, should be inclined to receive the bidding addressed to
them, that they should direct their attention to the truths to be
gradually promulgated to them for their own advantage; in short, that
they should feel disposed to correspond to the Divine intentions. It was
no part of the plan of the Divine wisdom that men should be in any way
constrained, for that would have been depriving them of the precious
gift of free will, and destroying their essence. But this very liberty,
of action granted to man, rendered the realization of the Divine thought
doubtful; and it might have happened that a generation, sinking itself
into complete corruption, would have lost every trace of the truths
already revealed; and thence a necessity would have arisen for one or
more repetitions of the communication, with equal uncertainty of
permanent success.

LI. To avoid such a danger, it pleased the Divine Mercy to found upon
earth a permanent institution of an exceptional, wonderful, almost
preternatural character, through which the preservation of the principal
doctrines, that form the substance of revealed religion, could be
insured to mankind. As seeds of rare and precious plants are preserved
with care, that the species may not perish, so the Ruler of Providence
designed to establish among us a repository wherein to keep the germs of
all that which concerns man's spiritual life; and He so ordained that
they should be there jealously guarded, and with particular diligence
cultivated, in order to bring about their slow and gradual, but sure
propagation among all the individuals of the human family. This
provision is a most luminous proof of the unbounded love and mercy of
the Divine Artificer towards the rational creature, to whom a powerful
assistance is thus offered to attain his noble destination, without in
the least impairing his liberty of action.

LII. Such a provision consists in God having chosen a small portion of
mankind to be a medium for, and co-operator in, the grand work, and
having entrusted to it the special important mission of perpetually
preserving within its pale, the principal dogmas of revealed religion;
of keeping always alive on earth the remembrance of that relation which
was established from the beginning of creation between the Creator and
the human family; and, in short, of contributing with all its might to
the practical realization of the Divine idea. The chosen few had
consequently to propose to themselves, as the goal of their career, the
defence of the sacred deposit entrusted to them from all attacks that
might be directed by malice, ignorance or superstition; they had to
promote the propagation of the notions of monotheism; of the divine
origin of man, and of the duties incumbent upon him to practice justice,
charity, rectitude, and piety; they had to protest incessantly against
polytheism, and against all and every idolatrous and superstitious
creed, as adverse and injurious to the development of the principles of
revealed religion; they had to confirm these theories by making
themselves the exemplars of a religious life, and by bearing witness to
them, when necessary, by their own martyrdom; they had thus to become
the effectual instruments to the gradual diffusion throughout the world
of those elements of truth, of virtue and happiness, calculated to bring
forth the ultimate and universal perfection of mankind.

LIII. In order that the individuals charged with such a grand mission
should be competent effectually to fulfil it, it was necessary that they
should themselves have been always free from the pernicious influence of
the errors and corruption, which had already spread almost throughout
the world; it was necessary that their minds should have remained
unpolluted by the notions of the extravagant and degrading idolatries,
which were in practice among almost all the ancient nations; and that
their hearts should have remained untouched by the contagion of
universal depravity. The soil to which any seed, however good, is to be
committed, would never respond to the expectations of the husbandman, if
it were not cleared from weeds and thistles. Those individuals had,
therefore, to be drawn aside from the general society of men; and from
their infancy educated and prepared, so as to receive within their
virgin souls the seeds that were afterwards to produce in them, and
through them, the spiritual regeneration of all mankind. But here
another difficulty presented itself; who would have undertaken the
charge of watching over those individuals from their infancy, and
keeping them in such an isolation, as to make them inaccessible to the
general depravity? It was, then, necessary to begin by a single
individual, whose descendants should receive from that stock the
education capable of fitting them for their future mission.

LIV. The providential measure once decreed, of selecting an individual
as guardian of the revealed truths, and making him the father of a
posterity, whose duty was to preserve them and to make them fructify, it
remained only to determine the selection of the person. And here it is
obvious that not a capricious hazard, not an indulgent predilection, but
only a strict justice and wise impartiality could determine the
important choice. Whoever would have aspired to such a glory--and
everybody could have aspired to it--by no other means could he have
attained it than his own merits. Such a man must have, of his own accord
and spontaneously, withdrawn himself from the general current of
depravity; opposed, by his own impulse, the absurd ravings of his
contemporaries; displayed a lively attachment to virtue, and a steady
abhorrence of evil; cultivated, above all, justice, charity, and
righteousness, in his every action; that man must have thrown off the
subjection of the senses, and all cupidity of earthly things, and,
almost assuming a second nature, have soared towards the eternal Source
of truth, the Creator of the universe, offering as a sacrifice to Him
his own dearest personal interests, and, if required, his life itself.


LV. SUCH a man did appear on the stage of the world. It was the
patriarch Abraham. The rarest qualities of mind and heart concurred
admirably to render him fit for the high mission. By the superiority of
his intelligence, he arrived at the rejection of the captivating, but
absurd, idolatrous opinions of his contemporaries, and at the
recognition of a unique supreme Cause of all things, omnipotent,
all-wise and holy, that governs all with impartial justice and infinite
mercy. The nobility of his sentiments led him to labour and exert
himself in the diffusion of these holy notions wherever he found
himself; and he was most sedulous in drawing the attention of men to
that which most concerned their spiritual life. An unparalleled
cordiality towards not only his own friends, but all who approached him;
a self-abnegation, carried to the point of refusing the best deserved
remuneration; a humility ready to waive any right of his own in order to
support that of others; a hospitality full, generous, unasked; a
continual exercise of charity and justice, which had become in him a
second nature; in fine, a submission of all himself and his dearest to
the will of God,--such was the character of that celebrated luminary of
antiquity, of that man truly divine, of that exemplar of sublime virtue.

LVI. Although so many pre-eminent merits indisputably assigned to him
the distinction we have pointed out, yet the Divine wisdom decided to
subject his constancy to various trials, with the view of making
manifest to the world the excellence of that virtuous character, and the
justice which dictated the choice. In the continual antagonism between
the material and spiritual interests involved in the events of his
agitated life, he had opportunities to display the noblest firmness in
causing the latter to prevail. Involuntary peregrinations, conflicts
with foreign potentates, domestic discords, dangers, hazards, hopes
deferred, and promises well nigh forgotten, became to him so many
occasions for the exercise of the highest virtues: and last, the holy
resignation with which he prepared to immolate his beloved son, thinking
thereby to respond to a Divine bidding, raised his glory to an
unapproachable summit. If the other deeds of his edifying piety caused
him to be appointed a herald of the true religion, this last heroic act
brought down upon him the greatest blessing, in the shape of a promise,
that even to his remotest posterity would be extended the mission of
jealously preserving the revealed truths, and effectually cooperating in
their propagation, so that through that posterity would be _blessed all
the families of the earth._

LVII. Abraham's vocation marks a luminous and highly interesting epoch
in the history of humanity. It was the commencement of the execution of
that plan of education of mankind, which, conceived since the beginning
in the Increate Mind, came by means extraordinary, yet consistent with
the natural course of earthly events, to diffuse itself gradually and to
acquire a progressive force among the various ramifications of the human
family. In that vocation we perceive the first threads of a wonderful
tissue of events, as well in the physical as in the moral world, which
went on preparing a slow but always progressive development of the human
intelligence, and will go on to produce ultimately the full final
accomplishment of the same primitive plan, so grandly conceived. In
fact, in the very act of electing this patriarch, God revealed the
ultimate object of the election by saying, that He chose him, in order
that he might transmit to his latest posterity the obligation--which was
to become characteristic of it--of exercising and promoting CHARITY and
JUSTICE, the two chief columns on which rests the edifice of human
perfectibility, two conditions indispensable to the fulfilment of the
Divine idea, and therefore called _ways of the Eternal_.

LVIII. Abraham and his race having been called upon to perpetuate the
idea of the relation existing between God and man, it was obviously
necessary that such a relation should be fixed and established in a more
precise mode in the individuals of that race than it was in any others;
in other words, it was necessary to show clearly that the idea, which
was to be promoted among others, was firmly seated, under permanent and
concrete forms, in those who were called upon to propagate it. This
permanency of the relation exhibited itself, then, to Abraham and his
posterity under the form of a _covenant_ between God and that family,
whereby the contracting parties, as it were, promised and undertook to
maintain certain conditions, upon which depended the subsistence of that
relation. The mutual conditions established were, in substance, nothing
else than the universal relations subsisting between God and every
rational being, but expressed, with respect to Abraham's, family, in
more special and characteristic terms, viz., under a form in which God
promised Abraham that He would be particularly _his God_, his Protector,
Guardian, and Benefactor; and the Abrahamites, on their part, bound
themselves to recognise _Him alone_ as the Deity, to whom adoration and
loyal obedience were due. Thus the covenant, which had been formerly
established in general terms with Noah, as the representative of all
mankind, was afterwards confirmed in more specific terms to the
Abrahamites, as those who were appointed to keep and to promote among
mankind the fulfilment of the conditions of the said relation.

Considering the Abrahamitic covenant in this point of view, all
objections of unreasonable exclusiveness and unjust predilection, which
have been sometimes urged, must disappear. The God of Abraham is the God
of the universe; and the descendants of Abraham propose to themselves
nothing more than the attainment of that same happiness to which every
mortal can aspire.

LIX. In order that the idea of the contracted covenant might remain
firmly impressed on all Abraham's progeny, it was necessary to
institute some external mark, which should continually recall it to the
mind; for an idea being but an abstraction, it could not be very long
retained in men's minds, without some symbol or visible sign capable of
keeping its remembrance alive. It was also necessary that the adhesion
of that progeny to the covenant should not begin to take effect in
individuals in the adult age only, and as a result of one's own
spontaneous reflexions, as had been the case with the first stock of
that family, but that it should present itself as an accomplished fact,
and, therefore, irrevocable and obligatory; so that every future
offspring should bear from his birth an external indelible mark,
characterising him as a follower of that principle, and qualifying him
to enter into the pale of that association. By such means the
preservation of the covenant was insured, and a beginning was made in
the system of those external, symbolical, and commemorative acts, which
were to be thereafter prescribed to all that race, when sufficiently
increased to form an entire people distinct from others. This external
mark, instituted before the birth of the elect progeny of the patriarch,
is the _circumcision_.

LX. Before Abraham's descendants attained that degree of maturity which
would fit them to receive a revealed legislation, they had to pass
through various stages of progressive material increment and
intellectual development, and also to undergo several sad vicissitudes
produced by the inevitable relations of contact with other nations.
Throughout all this period, which we may call preparatory, the Divine
Wisdom was pleased to take that race by the hand, guiding its first
steps, and watching in an extraordinary manner over its destinies, so as
gradually to prepare it for the high mission for which it was designed.
We, therefore, perceive, during that epoch, a continual intervention of
the Divinity in regulating the particular concerns of the patriarchs and
their successors, and an incessant care to draw their attention to the
future destiny of their grandchildren, and to their duty of preparing
worthily for it. Such a care manifested itself, particularly, in various
providential measures, the objects of which evidently were to remove
from them everything that might exercise over them a sinister influence;
to enlighten them on the importance of their election, and to make them
acquainted beforehand with the severe trials in store for them for
several centuries, before they could deservedly reap the intended

LXI. To this category of providential measures belongs the state of
isolation and of precarious subsistence, in which, by the Divine will,
the first fathers had to live, in respect to their neighbours, in that
same land which was yet promised to them as a perpetual inheritance;
whereby they were brought to learn from the beginning that the great
work, which their children were called upon to accomplish, was not
absolutely dependent on the possession of a land under their own
sovereignty, but rather on the religious doctrines to which they were to
remain faithfully attached. To it belongs, also, the severance or
removal of the elder branch of the first two families, which was too
much inclined to material interests, to teach thereby that physical
superiority is not at all requisite to the preservation of a covenant
based entirely on spirituality. And, lastly, to the same category of
measures belongs the decreed long servitude of the Abrahamites in a
strange land, in which, not only the door to social enjoyments would be
shut against them, but a barbarous tyranny would also deprive them of
the free exercise of acts which are an imprescriptible right of all
mortals. Through the instrumentality of such an oppression, the profound
counsels of the Eternal Wisdom designed so to regulate the first
education of that growing people, that, refined in the crucible of
adversity, it should early learn to renounce the subjection of the
senses, and turn its heart and soul to God, from whom alone it could
hope salvation. It was only by depriving that people of all human
support, and of all extraneous influences on its culture, that it could
acquire a character, firm, independent, tenacious in the principles
adopted, adverse to foreign notions, faithful to its vocation, and that
its mind could be deeply impressed with the sentiment of a constant
adoration of the Supreme Being, as its only Deliverer, Legislator,
Father, and Sovereign.


LXII. THE descendants of the patriarchs, grown into a numerous people,
were, then, obliged to undergo the severe trial of a long servitude in
Egypt, from which they could expect no rescue otherwise than by a
recourse to the God of their fathers. If the privations of earthly
enjoyments tended to strengthen their spirits and courage against
adversity, and to direct their desires towards gratifications of a more
elevated nature; if the repulsive conduct of their oppressors (by
character hostile to all strangers, and by system constituted in
different castes, each of which jealous of its own privileges) favoured
in a great measure their isolation, and kept them from a pernicious
contact and association, it was the prayer which they offered up from
the bottom of their hearts to the Supreme Ruler of their destinies,
whose covenant with their progenitors they remembered; it was that
prayer that hastened the termination of so severe a discipline, and drew
near the epoch of their glorification. A fit instrument only was wanted,
through which the deliverance should be effected, an organ to
communicate to the people the Divine laws, a medium for the new solemn
covenant which was to be proclaimed between God and Israel. This elect
from among all mortals--whose noble character, resplendent with all
human virtues, was heightened by the true grandeur of an unexampled
humility--was the holy legislator Moses, the divine man, the faithful
expounder of the will of God, the first link of the glorious chain
connecting the human family with its Maker. He was appointed to deliver
miraculously the Israelitish mass from the yoke of Egypt, and to lead it
to the skirts of a mountain, where the grand act of the revelation was
to be accomplished.

LXIII. Before imparting that revelation, the Divine wisdom vouchsafed to
declare to the people at large, in brief but clear words, the ultimate
object intended to be attained by such an institution, and the principal
condition conducive to its realisation. Therefore it was, that God began
his communications by saying to Israel, through Moses, "_I have brought
you unto me_" a concise and sublime sentence, which comprehends in
itself the whole system of revealed religion, for the recognition of the
intimate relation which brings the rational creature near to its
Creator, is the true goal of man's destination. He added that, to
facilitate the attainment of that object, He had adopted the means of
electing a small portion of mankind to be His missionaries ("_although_"
said He, "_all the earth is mine_"); that He wished, therefore, to form
of them _a sacerdotal kingdom_, that is, a class of persons, who, as
priests of God, should watch over, conserve, and promote spiritual
interests upon the earth; and that in consequence of the gravity of such
a task, He required of them that they should become a _holy people_,
that is, a people peculiarly devoted to self-sanctification--which
substantially consists in imitating, in as far as human nature permits,
the Divine perfections, or virtues.

LXIV. The awfully solemn act which succeeded this preliminary
manifestation is the most portentous event to be found in the annals of
the world. Two millions of persons, ranged around the skirts of a
mountain, witness a majestic supernatural vision; and amid thunder and
lightning, dense vapour and blazing fire, the whole ground trembling and
the mountain echoing, a sonorous voice from heaven descends on the
terrified ears of the people, and carries distinctly and unmistakeably
to humanity the high message of God. By the pomp and circumstance which
attended the glorious scene of the first revelation, God was pleased to
afford an incontestable evidence of the truth and divinity, not only of
the doctrines which were then and there being revealed, but of those,
also, that were to follow; the unimpeachable testimony of the senses of
a vast multitude, brought to bear upon the first and fundamental
communication, was capable of producing so full and lasting a conviction
in the minds of the numerous hearers, as to remove for the future all
doubt as to the divine origin of revelation. Through an immediate
sensible perception--which by its nature carries the most irrefragable
certainty--Israel, then, received from God Himself the first dictates of
a religion, of which that people was to become the professor,
conservator, and propagator, in perpetuity; and equally convinced of the
true mission of its leader, Moses, it naturally accepted from the latter
all subsequent instructions, as laws emanating from the same divine

LXV. The word of God pronounced in that memorable instant, and known
since under the name of Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, could not,
however, embrace the whole sum of religious truths that were intended to
be revealed, because it would have been humanly impossible to the people
to persist in that extraordinary state of intimate spiritual or
prophetic relation with the Deity, till the end of all the revelation.
Therefore, the Decalogue exhibits only some fundamental points, which,
from their importance, deserved to be more prominently impressed; it
marks the outlines of the foundation upon which the edifice of revealed
religion was afterwards to be raised. Yet, although the promulgation of
the entire divine code was a work reserved for the blessed legislator
Moses, the Ten Commandments present, nevertheless, a compendious but
complete system of institutions, referring to all those social and
religious subjects, which most interest mankind. In fact, the three
relations of man towards his Creator, his fellow-man, and himself, are
traced in the Decalogue in a masterly manner, classified according to
their order, and elucidated by placing prominently forward one
culminating point, which serves to determine their true character. Such
is the wise economy of all revealed laws, that generally avoiding
abstractions, they select as a standard one special case of the most
interesting, and leave it to thy care of the human understanding to
generalize, and deduce from it universal theories.[2] Consequently, on
analysing the ten emanations of the Divine Will, we must transfer
mentally each of them to the class of duties to which it belongs, and
consider it as intended to represent all that class.

[Note 2: The author has already informed us, that he confines
himself, in this book, to the enunciation of principles, and leaves to
teachers the task of demonstrating, developing, and applying them, in
course of instruction. Nevertheless, as this proposition recurs more
than once in these pages, and contains a very important principle, it is
perhaps desirable, for the general reader, to offer here an elucidation,
by the following examples of its application.

We are taught, "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray,
thou shalt surely bring it back to him again" (Exod. xxiii. 4). We are
to understand, that the lesson thereby conveyed, is not confined to the
particular case named, but that we are commanded to cast off
selfishness, and to extend our kindness and charity even to enemies,
actively exerting ourselves for the assistance and benefit of others,
whenever opportunities offer themselves in our every-day life.

Again, we are enjoined, "Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a
stumbling-block before the blind" (Lev, xix. 14). We are clearly to
conclude therefrom, that any net of treachery, in itself already
detestable in the eyes of God, becomes doubly so when directed against
the unconscious and the helpless; and a very wide range of treacherous
actions would, therefore, come within the meaning of this prohibition.

The paramount importance of this hermeneutical rule will be any apology
for having dilated on a point, which must be already well known to
biblical students.--The TRANSLATOR.]


LXVI. THE first commandment, which regards the relations of man with
God, lays down that the acknowledgment of the Supreme Being is the basis
of all the revelation, and gives us to understand that such a conviction
then began historically to manifest itself on earth, taking root first
in the people of Israel, whom therefore the Deity addresses, saying, "I
am the Eternal, _thy_ God," signifying, "by _thee_ alone acknowledged
hitherto." It also establishes the immutable eternity of the absolute
Being, conveyed in the etymology of the ineffable Name; next, his
indivisible unity, indicated in the word _El_, which denotes the sum of
all the powers, and the aggregation of all the attributes, in one and
the same essence. The same text proceeds then to arouse the feelings of
gratitude, which must bind especially this people to the powerful hand
that had delivered it from ignominious servitude: and this involves the
obligation in the same people of devoting itself entirely to God, and
subordinating all its tendencies to religious feeling. The last two
words of this text allude to one of the great principles on which
revealed religion rests, the Eternal having thereby proclaimed, not only
the individual equality of all the Israelites before the law, but also
the personal liberty of all men, which principle, being regulated
according to the true idea of right, becomes the fundamental basis of
civil society.

LXVII. The worship of the only God, coupled with the absolute rejection
of every form of idolatrous and superstitious creed, forms the subject
of the second commandment, which completes the portion of the Decalogue
regarding the relations of man towards the Creator. It severely
prohibits every kind of idolatry, both that which substitutes for the
true God false and imaginary beings, or even beings real but contingent
and created, and that which would associate in His worship a veneration
for others, under the title of mediators or protectors; it then
interdicts the making of any image whatsoever, when intended to
represent the infinite and incorporeal Being, and bids us neither to pay
to any such simulacra a religious respect or veneration, which is due to
the true God alone, nor to practise such conventional acts, as, however
insignificant in themselves, are yet held by idolaters as modes of
worship. Lastly, this commandment conveys the obligation to dissent
from, and reject, every superstition and every error, requiring us to
preserve pure and intemerate the adoration due to the Supreme Being,
who, in this sense, is represented in this text as jealously watching
over human actions, and a not indifferent spectator of good or evil;
therefore a sure punisher of the guilty, and an eternal remunerator of
him who faithfully adheres to His law.

LXVIII. As a transition from the duties towards God to those towards our
fellow-men, the two succeeding precepts are opportunely placed, one of
which concerns the act of invoking the Divinity between men, and the
other the mode of elevating men towards the Divinity. In the
multifarious contentions arising in social life, it sometimes occurs to
have recourse to God, to convalidate an assertion, or to test a truth.
Now, in the act of attestation called oath, the third commandment
prohibits with the greatest rigour anything that might offend the
sanctity of the ineffable name of God, which is invoked by the deponent
in attestation of the truth of his words. Consequently the text
declares, that if such a solemn invocation were made to confirm a thing,
which is not wholly conformable to the intimate conviction and most
scrupulous conscience of the swearer, the consequences would be a
profanation of the name of God, and a scandalous immorality, to the
detriment of society at large; for this could not subsist without an
upright administration of justice; and the latter would be upset and
trampled upon by perjury. In order to shew more prominently the gravity
of this matter, and to protect society, an avenging God protests that He
would never leave unpunished whomsoever should render himself guilty of
the monstrous crime of perjury.

LXIX. From the moment when the work of creation was completed, the
Divine wisdom ordained that an intimate relation should subsist between
man and his Creator, and called that day holy and blessed on which so
merciful an institution was inaugurated and began to come into
operation. This relation, which, as we have already stated, forms the
basis of revealed religion, tended to emancipate man from the sphere of
materiality, and to render him conscious of his higher destination, and
capable of accomplishing it. It was, therefore, natural that the people
called upon to give the religious principle a durable consistency on
earth, should keep a perpetual commemoration of that day which
represented the bond subsisting between the Divinity and humanity; it
was proper that the day should not only and simply be remembered, but
that it should, also, have some feature exercising a predominating
influence over material life, by making this subordinate to the
spiritual requirements. The fourth word of the Decalogue prescribes,
then, that the Israelite should for ever remember the holy day of
sabbath, as a representative of religion, and should, during that day,
abstain, and cause all his dependants to abstain, from all manual labour
and earthly occupation, that might distract him from the contemplation
of heavenly subjects, which should exclusively occupy his mind on that

LXX. Among all man's duties towards his fellow-men, those of children
towards their parents are assuredly the highest in degree, because
without them the bonds which hold society together would be destroyed.
These duties form the subject of the fifth commandment. To define their
character in a single trait, a profound wisdom has selected the word
_honour_, thereby pointing to a respect which arises, not from fear and
terror, but from gratitude, love and submission. Additional importance
is given to this precept by the consideration, that the revealed
religion could not have been preserved and made known to the latest
posterity but by the instrumentality of an uninterrupted tradition from
generation to generation; and the faith to be placed in such a tradition
depended, to a great extent, on the respect in which parents would be
held. The reward promised to him who observes this commandment, is in
perfect and natural harmony with the observance itself; man's life will
be prolonged and blessed by honouring the authors of it.

LXXI. The three conditions most prominent in human society, viz., life,
matrimony, and property, are referred to in the subsequent words, which
form the sixth, seventh and eighth precepts of the Decalogue. To
concentrate in one word all that is to be observed regarding these
essential elements of a social state, the sacred text confines itself to
proclaiming, in an absolute mode, their _inviolability_, therefore
adopting the negative or prohibitive form. It is desired to prevent and
forbid every arbitrary act, and every unjust attempt, directed to
deprive the legitimate possessor of, or to restrict and in any other way
to disturb him in, the full, free, and exclusive enjoyment of his own.
To respect the life, the conjugal bed, and the property of others, is to
consolidate the bonds of society, to pay homage to the eternal
principles of justice, upon the practice of which God willed that the
preservation and prosperity of mankind should depend.

LXXII. In order that our conduct towards our neighbours be strictly in
accordance with justice, it is necessary, generally, that it should be
based upon an honest and straightforward character of veracity, and that
our outward demonstrations, in deeds and in words, should not be at
variance with our inward convictions, respecting the merits or demerits
of our fellow-men. Falsehood, detraction, calumny, and other similar
vices, injurious to the peace and reputation of others, as well as
simulated friendship, and hypocrisy, may all be comprehended within the
denomination of perfidy; and as an extreme and most distinct
manifestation of perfidiousness is to be found in false testimony, hence
the ninth commandment is addressed to this vice, and forbids the
witnessing against our fellow-men anything that is not entirely and
strictly conformable to the truth. It is easy and natural for us to step
from this special prohibition to the spirit which dictated it, and to
conclude that the precept is generally directed to remove from society
all perfidy and wrong, as contrary to truth and justice.

LXXIII. A certain involuntary or instinctive desire of that which is
pleasing, is in human nature itself; but this vague and voluble feeling
may, by deliberate reflection, convert itself into an act of free-will,
and, eventually increasing in strength, become a vehement affection, an
uncontrollable passion. Now, so long as that feeling does not pass into
an act of appropriating the thing desired, human law cannot deal with
it; but Divine law, which has for its object the internal perfection of
man, steps in to regulate the movements of the heart, when they are
accompanied by a deliberate will of possessing. Therefore, the tenth and
last commandment of the Decalogue, which refers to man's duties towards
himself, aims at the human will, and prescribes limits, within which the
desires, tending to procure possession, should be confined, forbidding
specially to covet that which belongs to others. It is not thereby
intended to absolutely prevent the formation of a natural wish, but it
is directed to confine it within just limits, that it may not expand and
be transformed into a usurpation.


LXXIV. THE succeeding revelations, which were made to the blessed
legislator Moses, and by him collected into a body of statutes and
rules, known under the title of Pentateuch, bear the same relation to
the Decalogue as that of a finished edifice to the first outline which
traced its limits and compartments--they are the elaboration of it, they
branch into the same triple classification of duties which we have
remarked in it, and present its development and completion. What in the
Decalogue appeared, as in nucleus, under the form of duties of man
towards God, towards his fellow-man, and towards himself, is developed
by those laws into detailed instructions, through which the people of
Israel was to learn the knowledge of God, to practise justice and
charity, and to effect its own sanctification; three cardinal points,
corresponding to the three classes of duties above mentioned, which
embrace the whole sum and substance of revealed religion. We shall not,
therefore, proceed to enumerate here, one by one, those multifarious
laws,--a great part of which, being contingent on the existence of the
temple and the possession of Palestine, have now no practical
application,--but we shall only treat of the three principles which form
the bases of them all, viz., God, Justice, and Sanctification, leaving
to the intelligence of those who sedulously investigate the single
precepts, the easy task of tracing them to one or other of the said
three categories.

LXXV. To the elucidation of these three principles we must, however,
premise two observations. In the first place, it is to be remarked, on
the one hand, that although the human intellect can by itself (provided
it be not overruled by the sway of sensual appetites) recognise
summarily the excellence of such principles, and give them unreservedly
its sanction, yet its perceptions with respect to their specialities
remain very imperfect, for several reasons: first, because it finds
itself unable to rebut and conquer one by one all the objections which
the infidel may bring forward; secondly, in consequence of the doubts
which its own limited powers sometimes suggest, impairing its own sense
of the truth; and lastly, because wanting the knowledge of many details
and circumstances, about which it can form no judgment, the intellect
cannot construct a complete rationalistic system of moral theology.
Whereas, on the other hand, emanating as they do from the infinite
wisdom and mercy of God, formulated in the shape of positive precepts,
and corroborated by the portentous manner of their promulgation, those
principles acquire an undisputed authority, remove every doubt, illumine
the mind with unexpected sublime truths, satisfy the heart which finds
them consentaneous with its own feelings, and are thus more apt to
accomplish the objects towards which they are directed. And if there be
among them some precept, of which we do not in our present time clearly
perceive the true tendency, we accept it, nevertheless, with that filial
confidence inspired by its divine origin; and, by analogy, we consider
it as calculated to contribute to the promotion of our own weal.

LXXVI. In the second place, it is necessary to distinguish, in the
aggregate of this revelation, the universal theories applicable to, and
concerning all mankind, from the special prescriptions obligatory only
on those to whom they were addressed. Generally, all the children of
Adam are bound to know God, to practise justice, and to procure their
own sanctification; such duties are inherent in human nature itself,
they correspond exactly to the destination of man, and none can exempt
himself from them, without rebelling against nature and the sovereign
Author of it. Consequently, the doctrines contained in the revealed law,
in regard to these three points, apply to all rational beings, and
everybody is called upon to participate in, and profit by, them; they
are the inheritance of all mankind. But it was obvious that those, who
were in the first instance selected to receive those dogmas, and to
become their jealous conservators and perpetual propagators, should have
some distinctive and peculiar devices, and be charged with observances,
qualifying them for adepts to the ministry of such a sublime mission.
Hence it is, that among the precepts of universal appurtenance there are
several which Israel alone is bound to observe, and these consist partly
of external acts to be performed, either at certain stated times, or at
all times, partly of particular forms and rules to be followed, either
in reference to one's self or to others, and to some external objects of
animate or inanimate nature, and partly, in fine, they prescribe
abstinence from certain things which to all others are left permissive.
It will be easy to every attentive student to discern and point out the
prescriptions of this class, as their very nature is sufficient to
characterise them; we shall have, however, occasion to mention them,
after we shall have endeavoured to place in a clear light the three
principal articles of the revelation.


LXXVII. IMMENSE efforts have been made by human reason to elevate itself
to the conception of the Deity, to demonstrate His existence, and to
deduce with solid arguments His principal attributes. Yet, even that
quantum which human reason believes to have succeeded in establishing on
this exalted subject, has always had to encounter in the fields of proud
philosophy tenacious, or rather pertinacious, adversaries. Whereas
revelation, extricating man from the labyrinth of transcendental
abstrusities, presents him at once with a well constructed system of
theological science, which he has only to receive within his bosom, to
lead a happy life on earth, and attain his true goal beyond the grave.
The Divine word informs us of God, as a pure spirit, eternal and
immutable, incorporeal, absolute (that is, not dependent upon causes
without Himself), omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-perfect and
therefore all-holy (that is, possessing all the attributes in the
highest degree of perfection); one, because admitting not in Himself
distinctions of multiplicity, and sole, because beside him there is no
God; Creator of the universe from nought, therefore distinct from all
things created (which we would call, if allowed the expression,
_extramundane_); Creator of man in His image, having endowed him with
intelligence, liberty, and an immortal soul; provident and immediate[3]
to man, watching over his actions, punishing faults and rewarding
merits, and pardoning him who truly repents of evil committed; He is a
perpetual source of the purest love, hence a merciful father to all His
creatures, unto whom He continually pours forth treasures of His
kindness; He strengthens the weak, comforts the afflicted, enlightens
the ignorant, protects the oppressed, and grants the prayer of those who
trust in Him; He governs human events according to His will, now causing
human enterprises to succeed, anon to fail; always directing them to the
ends contemplated by His infinite wisdom, for He is the all-wise, just,
and faithful, whose promises are infallibly accomplished, and whose word
subsists to eternity. He sometimes suspends the order of nature, and
works miracles, whenever He deems it suitable to His high designs. He
established a covenant with the Abrahamitic race, and revealed to it His
holy law, by this means to illuminate and bless all mankind.

[Note 3: This expression is here used to indicate the direct and
special relation of God with man, and the direct government of mankind
by God, without intermediate agencies, in contradistinction to the other
terrestrial creatures, whose relation with the Creator is only general,
and which are governed through the medium of pre-established physical

LXXVIII. Although these notions do not complete the idea of the
Divinity, much less can they claim to define His essence--for to the
very limited faculties of the human mind this will always remain
inconceivable--yet they are sufficient to afford such an instruction on
divine subjects as to satisfy the wants of humanity. With the guidance
of the elements offered, and by a conscientious meditation on those
Divine attributes, man will be able to dispel the superstitious notions
and the errors into which they have fallen, who have not consulted the
Divine word on such a subject; he will be able to sketch in his own mind
an idea, however incomplete, of the sublime object of his adoration, and
thus preserve himself from much that is evil. Having been destined to
live in society, and compelled to work in order to supply the
multifarious wants of his body; always more or less struggling with the
interests of his fellow men to secure a possession often disputed to him
by malice, or violence; and evil example and ignorance and the sensual
appetites being concurrently at work--man became naturally, in the course
of time, too easy a prey to passions, vice and error; he was overpowered
by materialism, and fell into sin. Therefore, the idea revealed to him
of a holy God, who watches over his destinies, who punishes the guilty,
rewards the virtuous, and pardons the penitent, is the best balsam that
could be administered, the best truth that could be taught to him; it
saves him from error, removes him from sin, invites him to direct his
view to heaven, restores him within the Divine grace, and opens to him
the prospect of an interminable beatitude.

LXXIX. Among those attributes, however, one becomes prominent, from its
importance; it is that which establishes an immediate relation, or
communion, as subsisting between the Creator and the rational creature;
a fundamental point on which the whole religion hinges. The intimacy of
such a relation manifested itself at the very beginning of the world by
God having created man _in His image_, by which expression it is meant,
that the Divine Maker bestowed some part of His perfections on the
noblest creature on earth, endowing it with intelligence, free-will, and
immortality; these high prerogatives conferred upon man, to a certain
degree, a similitude with his Maker, and from this similitude was
naturally to follow a closer relation of mutual love, than exists
between God and the other created things. Such a relation assumed a more
definite form when God took man under His special guardianship, whilst
He left the government of inanimate nature to physical laws, unalterable
and compulsory, which He had established in the first instant of
creation. The stupendous connection was lastly completed, by God having
communicated His will to men, and traced out to them the course they had
to follow, in order to render themselves worthy of the great boon, and
to attain the end destined for them. From all these circumstances it
became evident that God is _immediate_ to man.

LXXX. As, in general, all the revelation, has for its object to benefit
humanity, so, in particular, when the divine word is directed to impart
to us the knowledge of God, it intends to teach us the duties we are
called upon to fulfil towards the Author of our existence; duties which
we could not well discharge if we were wanting in that knowledge. Now,
the first of these duties is to _love God_. Such a noble feeling, which,
as we have already stated, derives its origin from a relation of
similitude between him who loves and the object beloved, cannot be
kindled in us by effect of a mere command, as the motions of the heart
are not produced by authority. Therefore, while holy writ inculcates the
love of God, it at the same time indicates to us the means whereby this
sublime love will be promoted; and the means is _to walk in the ways of
the Eternal_. To understand the connection between the means and the
end, we must consider the different degrees of which love is
susceptible, and motives by which it is actuated. He who loves God
because of great favours received, is apt to feel a diminution of
attachment, or even indifference, on being overtaken by misfortune. He
who loves Him with a view to benefits in a future life, is also in
danger of ceasing to love, if some doubts were to arise in his mind and
to weaken his hopes. But when man loves God because he understands, and
admires, and adores in Him the aggregate of all perfections, and feels
within himself the flame of a desire to approach the Divine Majesty,
then his love is an inextinguishable love, for he abnegates his own
self, and centres his motives exclusively in the object beloved. This
kind of love, however, presupposes a uniformity of tendencies, which
causes the one who loves to esteem and to endeavour to appropriate the
qualities admired by him; and in this precisely consists the
resemblance, which produces the true love. Justice, faithfulness,
righteousness, mercy, and many other Divine attributes, which in the
biblical language are called _the ways of the Eternal_, cannot be fully
and worthily appreciated, except by him who uses all his endeavours to
adorn himself with such virtues, as far as his limited nature allows.
And now we can understand, why he cannot truly love who walks not in His

LXXXI. Another principal duty, issuing from the same revelation, is that
which is commonly called _fear of God_, an expression very frequent in
the sacred text, but which requires to be explained. The Hebrew word
used is susceptible of two different interpretations. It might apply to
the fear of retribution, suggested by the reflection that an
all-powerful God will not leave unpunished the transgressors of his
commands; or the same word might signify the sense of reverence and
unbounded veneration, with which the frail creature must feel almost
overwhelmed when thinking of its exalted Creator, who knows all, sees
all, and governs all. The former originates in the intellect, the latter
in the heart. It is obvious that the fear of punishment is not a
sufficient restraint to deter man, at all times, from sin; for in the
ebullition of impetuous passions, the intellect becomes offuscated and
impeded in the exercise of its functions, or frequently is itself
pressed into the service of the predominating passion. Not so the awe
and reverence inspired by the majesty of the Supreme King of the
universe. It pervades all the heart, disposes it to feelings of
submission and obedience, convinces it that man is at all times in the
presence of his Maker, and thus prevents inordinate material appetites
from bursting forth and rising forcibly to uncontrollable preponderance.
Hence it is that the fear of God, taken in the latter sense, is a
powerful prop which supports the religious edifice, is the most
effectual and valuable lesson we derive from the revelation of the
Divine attributes.

LXXXII. From these two principal duties, spring, as corollaries, others
of no less importance, which come, also, within the sphere of the first
cardinal point of biblical revelation, the knowledge of God. He, who
truly loves and fears God, will surely feel the necessity of placing in
Him exclusively all his trust, for he is convinced that there is no
being in nature, besides God, that can offer an infallible support to
human hopes. He will find in his heart an almost irrepressible impulse
to praise the Divine perfections, to extol His glory, to offer sincere
homage to the Sovereign of the universe, to worship and serve Him with
purity of heart, to thank Him for favours received, to supplicate Him
for help, to confess to Him sins committed, and to ask His pardon with
contrite spirit. All these and other like acts of filial dependence and
piety, find their expression in that elevated form of external worship
called _prayer_, which, whether exercised publicly in appropriate and
consecrated temples, or recited in the solitude of the domestic
closet,[4] whether strictly following an established formulary, or
pouring out the impulsive feelings of the heart, is always an urgent
want and an indispensable duty of every religious man. Lastly, the true
love and fear of God imply the obligation of avoiding, in all that
pertains to Divine worship, everything that might have the appearance of
idolatry, of intrusion of intermediate powers, or of any superstition
whatever; above all clearly emerges the duty of not abusing the holy
name of God, either by uttering it on trivial occasions--which would
tend to diminish the reverence due to Him--or by profaning it with an
invocation to a false testimony, whereby the detestable crime of perjury
would be consummated.

[Note 4: Public, as compared with private worship, has the undoubted
advantage of being in itself a public homage to the omnipotence of God,
and a solemn testimony of the dependence of man on Him. True, solitary
worship is often more likely to be attended with the requisite mental
abstraction from all worldly objects, and intellectual elevation of the
soul towards its Divine Source--a condition of mind indispensable to
establish a true spiritual communion in Prayer, and without which all
our orisons and ritual ceremonies would be but mechanical and
meaningless performances, a body without soul. It is this condition of
the mind that, in Talmudical style, is called [Hebrew: het-nun-vav-kaf],
as is well known, and that later ascetic writers termed [Hebrew:
tav-vav-dalet-dalet-vav-bet-het-he], from the circumstance that it is
superinduced by solitary meditation. But whenever this condition
is attained in a public service, then indeed is that service
"divine," and humanity is exalted in its approach to the Throne of


LXXXIII. ON determining the duties of the individual towards his
fellow-men, and towards all that surrounds him in nature, revelation did
not think it proper to refer the motives to human intelligence, and to
allow the bases of justice and benevolence to rest on human reason
alone; but it said, "Do what is right and just and good in the eyes of
the Eternal thy God; and refrain from all that is not such, because it
pleases not thy God," whereby it wished to proclaim that the notions of
just and unjust, of good and evil, of rights and duties, should be
considered as emanating from, and prescribed by, the Divine wisdom, and
therefore obligatory only because agreeable to the Divine will. In this
also the revealed word purposed to come to the assistance of human
frailty, and to render superfluous the abstrusities--as arbitrary as
uncertain and controvertible--about which eminent philosophers tortured
their brains, for many centuries, to fix, as they thought, the
principles of the so-called _Jure_ in its innumerable ramifications of
natural and positive, public and private, civil and criminal,
commercial, maritime, canonical, feudal, of police, of finance, of war,
and what not, without ever yet arriving at a complete accord in their
specialities; whereas all right obtains a solid and effective sanction
when its origin is referred to God, who comprehending in Himself the sum
total of right, justice and moral good, and having communed with man to
enjoin to him their exercise, willed that the carrying out of their
dictates should be considered as an act of religion, of service rendered
to Him, and that violating the one or failing in the other, should be
alike regarded as an offence committed towards Him, which He will punish
severely. God, then, is the source of right; He made man acquainted with
it through His law, and committed to him its performance on earth after
rules prescribed by His will.

LXXXIV. In promulgating the duties of man towards his fellow-men, the
holy scripture assumed sometimes the negative form, to forbid all that
which may cause injury to others; and sometimes the positive form,
enjoining the practice to be followed towards all. To the first class
belong the following prohibitions, viz., of nourishing hatred, rancour,
revenge; of calumniating, or in any way whatever damaging the
reputations of others; of assailing their honour or good fame; of
restraining or obstructing others in the exercise of their rights, or in
the use and enjoyment of their properties; of practising deceptions,
impositions, frauds, and all forms of insincerity, usury, extortions,
and violence; of laying obstructions in the way of the weak or helpless;
of giving false testimony; of speaking untruth; of reporting even truth,
when it may lead to discord and strife; of occasioning danger; of
offending decency and good manners; of causing scandal; of withholding
wages or remuneration due; of keeping in pledge the clothing or
implements of the poor; of using two weights and measures; of
associating with the wicked; of breaking a pledge-word; of violating or
assailing the conjugal happiness of others; of coveting anything that
belongs to others; and other similar prohibitions recorded in the sacred
code, which can be easily collected as pertaining to this class.
Moreover, it will not be unreasonable to complete this list by the
addition of a few more particular actions, which, though not
specifically mentioned, must yet be understood to be forbidden; for, as
it is a constant rule in biblical exegesis to deduce general theories
from single laws which appear to refer to particular cases, so must, by
analogy, be comprised in an enunciated forbidden action all others of a
similar nature, character, and tendency, as being understood in the

LXXXV. The positive precepts concerning a man's conduct towards his
fellow-men, are naturally enunciated in directions of a tendency
precisely opposite to those expressed negatively; that is to say, it is
_enjoined_ to practise the reverse of what has been forbidden. Now, to
begin with the more general prescriptions; it is enjoined, in the first
place, to love one's fellow-men as one's own-self, all mankind, without
any exception, being comprised in this expression, as we meet again the
same injunction with regard to the _stranger_, whom we are commanded to
love as ourselves; and Scripture explained already what is to be
understood by the word _stranger_, when it said: "Thou also hast been a
stranger in the land of Egypt"; from which it is evident that the love
inculcated extends even to adversaries and enemies. It is next commanded
to respect in every individual the dignity of man, created in the image
of God, which establishes the inviolability of person, and the equality
of all before the law, so that there should be no privileged caste, no
hereditary preeminence; desiring, on the contrary, that "under the
protection of the same law and same right should dwell the native and
the foreigner." The personal liberty of every member of the human family
is also proclaimed, as it is with that intention that the Decalogue has
put prominently forward the circumstance of Israel having been delivered
from servitude; and if, on the one hand, the condition of the times,
which had rendered the use of slavery natural and universal, did not
then admit of its sudden and immediate extirpation; on the other,
Scripture designed to mitigate its acerbity by provident and humane
laws, so as to make obvious the tendency to its future total, though
gradual, extinction. To prevent pauperism, as well as to cure its evils,
the rich were enjoined to lend money to those who needed it; and the
law, starting from the presumption that the poor man would not, or at
least should not, desire to borrow and incur a debt, unless being
deprived of the necessaries of life, ordered that such a loan to the
destitute brother be gratuitous, whilst in commercial transactions with
foreign people it permitted the charge of some reasonable interest on
loans of money, as an equivalent for the service rendered.

LXXXVI. The administration of justice being, according to the revealed
principles, a divine office, was naturally to be confided to persons
carefully selected for their intelligence, probity, incorruptibility,
and superiority to every human regard; these are therefore invested with
a judicial representation of the Divinity on earth, and are enjoined to
proceed according to the rules of the strictest justice, without ever
deferring either to the pitiable condition of the poor, or to the
influence of the powerful. As a corollary to this system, every person
is bound to appeal to these authorities in any emergency, and to refrain
from taking the law into his own hands; even for the correction of the
disorders of one's own child, the law requires a recourse to the
constituted authority, not permitting the infliction of punishments of
any kind, without the intervention of those appointed to administer
justice. Passing to the other observances, which grow out of the grand
duty to be just to all, we are strictly commanded to respect the
property, the rights and the honour of others, to be solicitous of their
welfare, as much as of our own, to act honestly, sincerely and
faithfully on every occasion, to fulfil our promises, to facilitate to
others the success to which they are justly entitled, and to pardon our
enemies. From the multifarious and varied ties which bind the individual
to family and society, issue the special duties of husband and wife, of
fathers, of children, of relations, as well as the regard due to
misfortune, respect to the aged, the virtuous, the learned, the
magistrates, and the authorities of the state, attachment to the
country, and obedience and loyalty to the sovereign, who, in the
language of the Bible, is constituted by God to govern the destinies of
the people committed to his or her care. All these duties, which branch
off into many specialities, are either explicitly declared, or
incontestably result, by analogies and sound hermeneutical deductions,
from the various texts referring to such subjects.

LXXXVII. But not to strict justice alone our conduct towards our
fellow-men must conform itself; we are bound to act on the principles of
the most generous benevolence and charity. Those acts of a noble mind
and a magnanimous heart, commonly called virtue, which are by moralists
only _recommended_, as meritorious works, are by the Divine law
_enjoined_, as obligatory, in the most absolute sense. Alms, for
instance, are, in the Mosaic law, a duty of the rich, and a right of the
needy. God is the owner of the land; He gave it to the diligent to
cultivate, and through His blessing their labours prosper; He assigned
to the poor His dues on the cultivated soil, and ordered that to them
should be left the total produce of every seventh year, the tithes of
some other years, and the gleanings of the fields and vineyards. It was
not thereby intended to render charity legal and compulsory, depriving
it of its noblest attribute, which is spontaneity, but to show more
conspicuously the importance attached to it, having otherwise left free
all acts of kindness and mercy, to which the law does not fix any
measure. To this class also belong the precepts, which make it a duty to
give timely assistance to him who is about to succumb to fatigue and
labour, to supply with provisions the discharged servant, to restore
before sunset the clothing taken in pawn, to obviate danger in building
a house, to put no obstructions before the blind, to grant every kind of
relief to whomsoever stands in need, without exacting, or even
expecting, any remuneration, to rescue those who are in danger, to
defend the weak, to protect the widow and the orphan, to attend the
sick, and to give sepulture to the dead. These and other similar
prescriptions, which make of charity a duty, carry with them the great
lesson, that justice must go always hand-in-hand with mercy, since the
all-just God is also all-merciful, and he who satisfies not both alike,
does not fully discharge his duties to society.

LXXXVIII. The Mosaic dispensation, which considers the whole world as a
grand unit, and tends to carry out the idea of moral good to its fullest
extent, could not leave unnoticed the relations of man with beings of
different species; therefore it also mentioned duties that we owe to the
irrational creatures and inanimate beings. True, God granted to man a
superiority, a dominion over all things created on earth, permitting him
the use, and even the destruction, of them, whenever this is necessary
to his own welfare, or conducive to his own advantage; but He wisely
restricted such power within certain limits. Mosaism regards the entire
universe as a temple manifesting the glory of God, and directs us to
admire in the single component parts the profound counsels and infinite
wisdom of Him who created and harmonized so many wonders. Thus we are
commanded, in the first place, to respect the laws of nature, as
established by its Supreme Author from the creation, and not to do
capriciously things that are in direct opposition to such laws. From
this principle spring the various prohibitions to couple sexually
different species of animals, to practise on them castration, to
constrain simultaneously to joint labour beasts of unequal strength, to
muzzle them while thrashing, and to use towards them any kind of
cruelty. Nay, it is enjoined that they, also, should participate in the
general rest ordained for men on festivals. It is well for us to reflect
how incomplete are as yet the modern institutions for the prevention of
cruelty to animals, when compared with those of the ancient Mosaic code.
Even the simultaneous sowing of heterogeneous species, and the
ingrafting of plants, are considered as violations of the law of nature,
which had established the distinctions. In the second place, in order
that man, while using all things for his benefit, might not imagine that
he is their absolute master, and should not forget the true Owner, who
conferred them upon him under various reservations, he was enjoined not
to appropriate at the same time two things, one of which had been born
or produced from the other; but in the act of converting to his own use
some object or being, he should spare that which gave it birth, and not
lay his hands upon both simultaneously. He is thus to learn to respect
the causes while enjoying the effects; and from the secondary causes he
will mentally ascend to the primitive one, which produced them all from
nought. This is the sense and intention of the prohibitions of taking in
a covey the mother with the young, of slaughtering a quadruped together
with that which gave it birth, of cutting down a tree, were it even for
the necessity of a siege, while we are enjoying its fruit.


LXXXIX. THE third class of duties comprises those which man has towards
himself; and here the fundamental rule, from which they all emerge,
sounds thus--"Sanctify thyself, for I, the Eternal, am holy," which, in
other words, may be rendered as follows--"Imitate God, for thou wast
created in His image." As, however, this sanctification of self cannot
possibly be effected without knowing and loving God, and without walking
in his ways by practising justice and charity, it follows that this
third article is the cardinal point, which virtually comprehends in
itself the other two--it _is_ the ultimate object of all the revelation,
which purposed nothing more or less than the perfection of man; to this
grand end the whole scheme of revelation was designed.

It is clear that, in regulating the precepts of sanctification, the
revealed word had not alone to deal with the human soul, but to take
into account the body also, without whose concurrence man cannot attain
perfection. Designed for a receptacle of an immortal spirit, and for an
instrument to carry out the actions of life, the body must be preserved
entire, pure, and inaccessible to all contamination that would be an
obstacle to the high spiritual functions to be accomplished by its
means. To ensure this inaccessibility, as far as possible, the Divine
law prescribed for all mankind a rule, which, though to the short
understanding of many its character may not appear very clear, was
deemed by the eternal wisdom as calculated to promote morality.
Previously to Abraham's vocation, God forbade Noah and his children to
feed upon blood; and the scriptural declaration, that the soul of
animals resides in their blood, seems to indicate that the motive of
that prohibition is to prevent the human body being brutalised by
absorbing within itself, and assimilating, a large amount of an inferior
vitality, and thus causing the material propensities to preponderate in
man. But even if the true reason of that prohibition remained unknown to
us, this would not be the only instance of man being obliged to
acknowledge his own ignorance, and to bow reverently before an explicit
and rigorous commandment of God.

XC. The principles inculcated by the Mosaic code, for the preservation
of the body, involve, primarily, the prohibition of attempting its
existence, and, secondarily, that of cutting _off_ or injuring any part
of it. Suicide is, therefore, explicitly declared a crime; and several
precepts are directed against mutilations, marks, and all sorts of
deformations. The law does not permit voluntary macerations of the body,
capricious abstinences from lawful things, multiplied or prolonged
fasts, or subtractions from what is necessary to life. It, on the
contrary, intends that bodily health should be cared for, that
cleanliness and decency, in every respect, be regarded, a proper
development of the physical faculties promoted, and an employment
procured for them consonant with the superior requirements of man. It
_is_ likewise due to the physiology of the human body, not to use any of
its limbs in a manner contradictory to its organisation, to provide for
the restoration of equilibrium or health eventually lost, to avoid risks
of injuries or disorders, and to take advice of skilled men in cases of
disease. But food, drink, recreation, physical enjoyment, and every
other indulgence usually allowed to the advantage of the body, are
required by the law to be moderated by certain rules of a moral
standard, having in view more elevated ends than the mere gratification
of earthly wants; so that even the most vulgar acts may, from the
intentions which accompany them, acquire a certain religious importance.
In short, the government of the body must be such as to favour, and not
to hinder, the exercise of what concerns spiritual life.

XCI. Passing to other moral requirements which come within the sphere of
man's duties towards himself, it is unnecessary to demonstrate here how
it is incumbent upon every man to choose a state in society adapted to
his individual faculties and aptitude, to be industrious, sober and
decorous, to fix on a well-regulated distribution of his time and work,
to be economical without parsimony and liberal without prodigality, and
generally to follow such rules of wisdom as tend to render life
prosperous, and human conduct acceptable to society. All such rules are
self-evident, and grow necessarily out of the general principle which
demands of the functions of the body to subserve the attainment of
self-sanctification. But we must now speak precisely of this
sanctification, to point out briefly in what it consists. From the
Divine prescript, "Sanctify yourselves because I am holy," we clearly
conclude that the type of sanctification is to be sought, not in
ourselves, but in God; therefore, to sanctify ourselves is to shape our
own acts and will upon the known will of God; to be fully penetrated
with the idea of Him; to hold steadfastly to Him; to take Him for a
guide in the walks of life; to make Him the goal of our actions and the
centre of our hopes; to devote our solicitude to the accomplishment of
the high designs of His eternal wisdom; to perform whatever is agreeable
to Him; to imitate, as far as possible, His perfections; in short, so to
act, that what in Him is absolute may become in us subjective; and thus
the sanctity of God will produce man's own sanctification. Having
established this sovereign principle, revelation has accomplished its
intentions, has attained its object, for the whole sum of the Divine law
is concentrated in it; and worship, morals, judicial laws, and all
single observances prescribed, are but branches or constituent parts of
this principle; they all flow from, and return to, it, with a systematic

XCII. Besides the three cardinal articles above stated, the observance
of which, in their general tendencies at least, is incumbent on all
mankind, there are in the sacred code various special prescriptions
obligatory only on Israel, as him who first received the revelation, and
who is bound to preserve it with particular means, and to testify it for
ever, by his acts and by his very existence. Through such prescriptions,
the law designed either to keep alive among the people the idea of the
high mission entrusted to it, and the memory of signal favours which
Providence prodigally conferred upon it in the early times of the
institution, or to initiate it into a more scrupulous sanctitude, by
interdicting to it some things that are left permissive to others. It is
not necessary here to give a complete list of such precepts, as the mere
inspection of the sacred text suffices to point them out; and we shall
confine ourselves to indicating some of the more important. Pre-eminent
among them stands the sabbath, the elevated tendency of which has been
already explained in the Sinaitic revelation; next come the three
Festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, which, besides being
linked to, and combined with, rural events and circumstances, are also
designed to commemorate luminous epochs in the national history; the
great day of atonement, as a highly important act of reconciliation with
God; the circumcision, as an ineffaceable mark of the adoption of
Israel; the assiduous study of the Divine law, as the purest source of
truth, and repository of the religious idea; the fringes in the
garments, the phylacteries or frontlets, the inscriptions on the
door-posts, and such like commemorative means; the redemption of the
firstborn children; and the offering of the first fruits, as a
demonstration of filial dependance on, and gratitude to, the Supreme
Cause; the prohibition to feed on certain loathsome animals, and
reptiles and insects, in order not to assimilate to the human body
substances of a low, imperfect, and possibly deteriorated organization;
the interdiction of marriages between certain degrees of relationships,
because wanting in the antagonism required in connubial unions;[5] the
duty of offering up prayer, one of the noblest offices of piety, and the
most effectual medium of communion with God; that of confessing sins,
the inevitable consequence of human frailty; the injunctions to reject
idolatry, divinations, charms, exorcisms, sortileges, and all manner of
superstitions, all of which are obstacles to the development of the
religious idea; and several other precepts, which may be found dispersed
throughout the sacred code, all having similar tendencies, and coming
more or less directly within the scope we have assigned to them.

[Note 5: Another probable reason of this prohibition is, that the
practice of such unions would be fraught with great domestic disorders
and unhappiness, and consequent social evils. But it is opportune here
to remind the leader, that many attempts have been made, in the course
of centuries, by eminent expositors, to assign to many of the Mosaic
ordinances motives of various characters, rationalistic and
metaphysical, sanitary, political, and mystical, but all more or less
conjectural. To the religious man the positive knowledge of the true
motives is not at all essential for the performance of the divine
precepts; and in the words of our author himself, as stated elsewhere,
"we have to bow reverently before an explicit and rigorous commandment
of God, and we consider it as calculated to contribute to the promotion
of our own weal."--THE TRANSLATOR.]


XCIII. CASTING now a retrospective glance on what we have hitherto
briefly stated, it will be easy to deduce, from the aggregate of these
notions, the principal characteristic of that wondrous institution,
which it pleased the Divine mercy to found upon earth for the benefit of
the human family, selecting for its organ the people of Israel; an
institution, which, in reference to the means adopted for its
preservation and propagation, is called _Judaism_. The scope of Judaism
is, then, the propagation among men of the _religious idea_, and this
comprises the doctrines revealed respecting the Deity and respecting
man, in consequence of which the latter will be able to attain his true
goal. Respecting God, revelation teaches that He is a Being
absolute--that is to say, that has in Himself all the sources of
existence, of will, of power, and of action--hence He is eternal,
all-perfect, all-powerful, all-holy; He is unique, because there is no
God beside Him; and He is one, because in Him there can be no
multiplicity or division of parts; He created out of nought the
universe, which He governs by pre-ordained physical laws, and all that
exists owes to Him its existence and conservation. Respecting man,
revelation teaches that he has an immortal soul, made in the image of
God--that is, endowed with various spiritual faculties similar, in their
nature, to those of his Maker--therefore susceptible of a progressive
perfection, which he will attain by sanctifying himself--that is, by
imitating God and carrying out his commands. To that effect, God entered
into an immediate relation with man, whereby He not only provides for
the preservation of mankind, as He does for that of all other things
created, but He, moreover, granted him a supernatural assistance to
improve his moral condition; and this assistance consists in having made
him the recipient of a revelation, by which He instructed him in the
best rules of life, and declared to him that He will be his support, his
protector, his judge, his loving father, and his guide towards eternal

XCIV. But the religious idea is not simply a theory that may be accepted
or rejected without affecting the human actions, it is not an
abstraction confined within the sphere of contemplation; it is a
practical system, which requires to be put into execution, and to be
manifested in every part of the human conduct. As such, it was to pass
into the hands of men, to direct their actions; and they could conform
to it only to the extent of their intellectual comprehension of its
spirit. Now, every institution, however excellent in itself, is liable
to vicissitudes, as soon as human ingenuity seeks to comprehend it, and
human weakness to carry it into effect. Even as the intellectual powers
and the modes of viewing things vary among men, so the religious idea,
in its practical application, was subject, in the lapse of time, to some
alteration among those who became its depositaries. Judaism did not
remain always pure and consentaneous to its ends; and, although based on
a foundation unchangeable in its nature, and eternal, its practice was
sometimes at variance with its spirit, and its essence was either
neglected or misunderstood, according to certain circumstances of the
national development, as we are informed, even by the records of sacred

XCV. There can be no doubt but the inspired man, who first was
commissioned to proclaim the true religious idea, had fully realized in
his mind the vastness and immense consequences of that new institution
in its ultimate universal compass. In his eloquent addresses there are
even some broad traits which allude to a fulfilment reserved to the
latest posterity. Nevertheless, it is obvious, that, having to instruct
a people who were not yet prepared to realize such an idea, and in an
age when the opinions of all mankind ran into totally different
directions, he had to take into account the condition of the times and
of men, and to use a language suited to his hearers. At the same time it
was not designed, or expected, by the holy legislator to see at once
realized the last and comprehensive results to which the revealed
doctrine aspires; it was sufficient to have given it existence and form,
and to have instituted a repository capably of preserving it, leaving
its final universal triumph to the development of humanity and progress
of civilisation. Considered in these points of view, Mosaism has the
appearance, in its exterior garb, of a special law, adapted to peculiar
circumstances, and circumscribed to few persons, but in reality, and
apart from that kind of integument, it contains the universal doctrines,
destined to become the inheritance of all mankind. The blessed Prophet
clearly foresaw that the new ideas preached by him would meet with many
an obstacle, before they were thoroughly adopted, even by those who were
called upon to preserve them; hence the greater was the force with which
he inculcated the monotheistic principle, and the necessity of
segregation from foreign and idolatrous influences; thus his laws
acquired an aspect of _particularism_ and nationality, whereas on being
carefully studied, and deeply penetrated, they exhibit their more
general and sublime tendency. Therefore, in judging of Mosaism, and in
interpreting the body of laws contained in the Pentateuch, we must never
lose sight of the two following necessary cautions; viz., to deduce
general theories from particular cases; and to take into account the
circumstances of time and place, in order to seize that which is
designed for all times and all places.[6]

[Note 6: The attentive student of the Pentateuch must see,
especially when assisted by the best commentators, that several
ordinances are the creatures of circumstance and time, and consequently
of an essentially transitory character. Among these stand foremost all
such as refer to the treatment of, and relations with, the Canaanitic
families. The strict separation of Israel from those corrupt and
idolatrous populations, and their ultimate destruction, were conditions
necessary to the establishment and success of the new order of things.
As soon as the end of those ordinances was accomplished, they naturally
ceased to have any other than a historical value. Therefore, he (if any
such there be) who would transfer to the Gentiles of our days the
principles of the policy that was inculcated towards the Canaanites of
the time of Moses, would not only he committing a sad mistake, but
running counter to the spirit of Judaism, and violating the very letter
of the law, elsewhere clearly expressed. "Thou shalt love the stranger
as thyself," is the motto which God inscribed for perpetuity on the
banner of Israel.--THE TRANSLATOR.]

XCVI. What the inspired Arch-prophet had foretold came too truly to
pass, as soon as the people of Israel, mixing too freely with their
corrupt neighbours, wished to imitate them, and assumed the form of a
monarchy. Ambition and lust of power could ill agree with a law, which
establishes individual liberty and equality of rights. Consequently, it
was not long before Paganism ascended the throne, attended by a hideous
train of profligacies and crimes; and, what then remained of the Mosaic
institutions, consisted only of the material service of the temple, and
some exterior acts mechanically performed, but sadly lacking the idea,
which alone constitutes their merit. To put an end to so great a
disorder, Prophetism rose. With admirable zeal, energy, eloquence, and
abnegation, thundering in the courts, the temple, and the public
markets; now by word of mouth, then by writings; now threatening, anon
exhorting; always struggling with infinite obstacles, and setting at
defiance the tyranny of the ruling powers with the sole prestige of the
animated word, Prophetism undertook to revivify the religious idea,
almost extinguished, or crushed under the weight of universal
perversion. But to repress with greater force the overflowing depravity,
and to combat the evil with an opposite extreme, it was proper to divest
the religious idea of its particularising and national forms, and to
present it in its more comprehensive and general character, in its
celestial beauty of a future reign of happiness, based on love, justice,
liberty, and universal peace. This was precisely what Prophetism did.
Therefore, he would be greatly mistaken, who would suppose, in the
expressions used by the Prophets, any intention of slight towards the
ceremonial laws, and those biblical prescriptions, which are specially
intended for the chosen people. True, these are to be regarded as means
calculated to a superior end; but they remain in full force and validity
until that end (which is in store in the Eternal Mind) shall have been
fully and finally attained. The Prophets eliminated nothing from, and
added nothing to, the law; they sought to revive the religious idea,
which is the foundation and aim of the law; they brought it into
prominence, to impress it more forcibly on the minds of a people who had
nearly lost it. But they did more; they bounded over the confines of the
present, transferred themselves through the imagination to a future
final re-arrangement of the human conditions; and, giving to the
religious idea its greatest possible latitude, depicted a future state
of ideal perfection, which, while it offered a vivid contrast with
contemporary corruption, left to posterity an imperishable monument of
their inspired eloquence and exquisite foresight.[7]

[Note 7: The original has here several succeeding paragraphs devoted
to a historical review of various phases of Judaism, which it describes
under the names of Talmudism, Rabbinism, Caraism, and Cabalism.
Believing this digression, or appendix, to be unnecessary to the general
purposes of the present book, I have omitted it in the translation,
_with the sanction of the distinguished Author himself._--THE


XCVII. JUDAISM is now clearly delineated before us. From the outline
that we have endeavoured to sketch, it is evident that the religion of
the Jew imposes upon him solemn duties towards God, towards his
fellow-men, and towards himself. A sincere, pure, undivided, active,
loving worship of his heavenly Father, and a constant practice of
justice, benevolence, and charity, in their widest sense, will lead to
his self-sanctification, which is the aim intended for him. These are
his fundamental duties, as far as regards actions. Many of the
observances prescribed by Holy Writ teach the modes and means of
carrying out such duties. All such prescriptions as are strictly
connected with the existence of the temple, and the sojourn in Palestine
are dispensed with, since the destruction of the former, and the
dispersion of Israel on the face of the earth. But no doubts can exist
as to the others, which are all, and for ever, in full force, having
been ordained for all times and all places.

But the Jew has also a creed to profess. According to the Scriptures, he
is bound to believe in the unity, eternity, omnipotence, omniscience,
unerring justice, and infinite mercy of God; in His general providence
over all the universe, which He created and which He governs, and His
more special providence over man; he is bound to believe in the divine
origin of the Mosaic revelation, in its truth and immutability, and in
its efficacy to promote his own sanctification; he is bound to believe
in the spirituality and immortality of the human soul, in its
destination and aptitude to perform all that is good, and in the future
reward of the virtuous and punishment of the wicked; and, lastly, he is
bound to believe, that, in order to make known, preserve, and propagate
these dogmas, a covenant was established between God and Israel, in
consequence of which the latter is called _servant of God, son of God,
holy people_, and has the particular mission to conform to the will of
God, which is called _walking in the ways of the Eternal_. These various
points are, however, so intimately connected with each other, and form
so complete a system, that one being admitted, the others follow as
legitimate consequences.

It now remains for us only to add a few words concerning the hopes of
Israel. The future--as great in its consequences as extraordinary in its
conditions--which the Jew has a right to expect, has its foundation in
the Divine promises, and, consequently, its accomplishment, though long
in the womb of time, is infallible. By virtue of such promises, Israel
expects a complete material restoration and spiritual perfection, not of
his own people only, but of all the human family; so that every
individual of the human species may then correspond, in all respects, to
the lofty requirements of his nature, and attain the ends
pre-established for man by the infinite wisdom of the Creator; and this
not only during his earthly life, but also beyond it, in his immortal
condition. As to the modes by which these heavenly universal promises
will come into actuality, we must rest satisfied with very feeble and
vague notions, and not require an exact comprehension of specialities,
which, in our present limited power of mind, we might be unable even to
conceive. It is sufficient for us to be able to deduce with certainty
from prophetic words, that (as regards the future condition of this
life) an increased intelligence, and a more energetic will directed
towards what is good--which in the biblical language is called
_circumcision of the heart_--will be the means of diffusing throughout
the world the knowledge of the One God, and the exercise of virtue,
under the regimen of an incorruptible justice, a generous benevolence, a
universal peace, and an uninterrupted prosperity and happiness. To
Israel, in particular, the gathering of his scattered members, the
restoration of his ancestral inheritance, and the re-establishment of
his nationality, have been promised and repeatedly assured; and the
glory of that epoch forms the subject of the most glowing pictures of
inspired poetry. But the fulfilment of these promises the Jew must
expect from the wonder-working hand of God alone, without any personal
efforts of his own. Meanwhile, he is to consider himself, as he truly
is, a citizen of the country in which he dwells, a brother to his
fellow-citizens, a dutiful observer of the law of the land, and a loyal
subject of the sovereign, whose authority is constituted by God.



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