|Vol. IV, No. 7
Tishry 5607, October 1846
ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם:
And they shall make unto me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.—EXODUS, 28:5.
The importance of these words, containing as they do a direct intimation of the presence of the Divinity among our ancestors, in the place devoted to His holy worship, mast strike even a superficial observer. The tabernacle was to be set apart for the Omnipotent: His praises were there to be sung; His greatness was there proclaimed; His mercies were here solicited;—and provided the fervour of true belief accompanied the offerings of the mouth, He graciously vouchsafed to promise that His Divine Spirit should ever rest with His chosen people,—His presence should ever render them a holy nation. How this promise was fulfilled, the annals of our past history can tell; but now that we are, by our sins, deprived of our sacred land, now that we have neither temple, nor sacrifices, nor priests, to atone for us, how may we hope that the Eternal will still dwell among us—that His Ineffable Essence will still sanctify and hallow our prayers?
How, but by a strict and punctual adherence to those points of the Law which we are still able to perform in our exile. We know that the Eternal is merciful; that He ever deigns to regard the invocations of those who call on Him with purity of heart; and we, therefore, humbly trust, that the same all-powerful Hand that redeemed our ancestors from Egypt—that increased their prosperity in Judea—that would not permit their total extermination, when, by their pride, backsliding and idolatry, they had incurred his just indignation,—that stretched its protection over them when Nebuchadnezzar triumphed, and imperial Rome sacked our sanctuary,—that was not closed when the Inquisition, with its unheard-of and almost incredible horrors, glutted itself with the blood of the faithful,—was never withdrawn when blind ignorance, bigoted fanaticism, and iron authority were exerted to their utmost stretch to destroy; that that same Almighty but invisible Hand will still be our buckler and our guardian, and like the “pillar of fire,” enlighten our long and dreary, but not interminable night.
On this cheering hope we must depend, and it is not a vain prop. “Put not your faith in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” No, Israel, rely not on mortal aid, trust not to the interposition of the magnates of the land; for they can avail thee nothing;—look up to thy God with anxious but not despairing eyes—offer up thy orisons devoutly and fervently to that Being who so long has watched over thy ancestors and thee, and He will not disregard thy supplications. We have no temple, but we still have holy places of worship; therefore attend them:—we have no burnt offerings, but we have prayers; therefore repeat them, not only with thy lips, (for the utterance of the lips is like a bubble of air,—it vanisheth, and its passage is not noted,) but with all thy heart, with all thy soul:—we have no trespass offerings, but we have confessions of sins; therefore, say them, and prove thy repentance by sinning no more:—we have no priests to minister for us, but we have pious and devout men, who are able and willing to teach us “the word of God that leadeth to salvation;” therefore listen to their instructions, attend to their counsels, follow their advice:—and thus shalt thou show, that though it hath pleased Providence for a time to deprive thee of thy former blessings, thou art still not unmindful of his innumerable benefits, but art ever ready to acknowledge the justice of thy punishment, and maintain a firm, unshaken reliance in His Holy Word. Let temptations assail, promises of worldly advancement be given, plentiful as the sand on the sea-shore, bright as thy dearest hopes could picture, thy wildest dreams of ambition conceive;—but heed them not: recollect that man, frail, perishable man, who is here to-day, tomorrow in his grave, makes them, and remember, that though he may think to make thee happy, his influence can only extend to things like himself, fragile and of no permanent existence;—but that a strict adherence to the law of thy Creator, though attended with taunts, contumely, and misfortune here, will not fail to secure thee bliss eternal, and a crown of glory hereafter.