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The Israelites and Their Law.


There can be no doubt, that the deliverance from Egypt was fraught with high and universal good for Israel and mankind. Had it never taken place, we may freely presume there never would have been unlocked, the poetry, eloquence, and inspiration of the sages and seers of Israel. For this mighty deliverance, the obvious result of a special interposition of Providence, the acknowledgment and gratitude of every Jewish heart is due to the Father of all mercies, not only for the physical benefit, but for all spiritual blessings, for all that is dear and holy to man. The outstretched arm of the God of our fathers was raised to strike for their freedom, whilst else, unpermitted to have gone forth by their oppressors, they and their posterity would have sunk into a state of perpetual degradation and slavery. Subsequently, mankind has felt the influence of this great event, in having obtained, through the medium of the chosen people, the knowledge of literature, laws, and language, such as no other nation possessed before or since,—of “laws and customs,” which are still observed by a mighty nation in every part of the habitable globe; and even in this land of freedom and toleration, the fairest, truest type of the picture which Palestine exhibited in the days of her ancient fruitfulness and abundance, the Jewish heart remains inflexibly faithful to the immortal interests of Zion, a faithfulness beyond all human recorded faithfulness. And in the dispersion of the Jews, which to them was a punishment, through the all-wise purposes of the divine will, a blessing was conferred to all the nations and kingdoms of the earth. The gracious means of diffusing a knowledge of true religion were thus brought about;—for the Jews stood before the world a mighty monument, as witnesses ubiquitous,—of the eternal power of God, of his superintendence over the affairs of men, of the truth of the oracles of Heaven. Whithersoever the Jew turned his step, there went with him the sacred associations of his history,—the marvellous links which connect the past and the present.

<<546>>And over his head there shone perpetually the bow of the promise, to herald at its appointed time the angel of mercy recalling the dispersed of Judah and Ephraim. Unsubdued in hope and constancy, he waits the appearance of the tender dove, to bring to the scattered tribes of the covenant, the olive-leaf of peace. So doth Jerusalem live in the hearts of millions of her children, dwelling well nigh from pole to pole, and preserving with a parent’s love the treasures of the divine word, the great palladium of their common union and common faith, and fully believing, that with their return to the bosom of infinite Favour and Love, coincidently the desolation and loneliness of their ancient inheritance will cease for ever, and her broken sceptre will be reinstated on the throne of civilization and freedom.

For this has Zion’s voice never been silent. Sinai, Horeb, and Carmel tower in higher, holier interest, than if they were crowned in desolate loveliness, with ruined temples, colonnades, and arches. Every leaf and blade of grass of their ground, is still bedewed with “drops of love divine,” and she kisses the Hand that has promised to make the wilderness glad, and the deserts to blossom as the rose. Her moral wilderness will be planted with the rose of Sharon, and the lyre of David will soothe the hearts of her children with the sweet lessons of his deep repentance, piety, and religion.

Shall not well-regulated freedom, the limitation of human power and the extension of human happiness and good-will to all men, indicate the dominion and power of the son of Jesse; and that his rest shall be glorious? Happy the eye that shall behold the building of thy walls, O Jerusalem! and peace and prosperity in thy palaces again. Happy the eye and the ear that shall behold and hear the lyre of David awaken those divine impulses, which, through every generation, have cheered mankind, and will again carry up to the mountain of the Lord, the voices and songs of one universal worship to the Lord of Hosts,—blessed be his name.

J. L.