|Vol. VII, No. 5
Ab 5609, August 1849
The Letter Of Acceptance Of Rev. Dr. Wise.
Albany, April 4th, 1849.
To The Respected Society of the Friends.
GENTLEMEN:—Through your secretary, Dr. Waterman, I was informed that I was elected an honorary member of your association, “The Friends.” Permit me to express my best thanks, with the assurance that the formation of this society gave me unfeigned joy; and my election as an honorary member is very flattering to me indeed. The union of active men guided by conviction and reason, has ever been led to happy results; and thus I have good reason to expect from your association a happy result likewise; and should this fail to be accomplished in one or two years, I hope your courage and your perseverance will not slacken, and that you will not yield, seeking for the aim which you strive to attain. On the contrary, I am convinced you will take as your motto:
“The good progresses slowly, but surely.”
The tendency of your society is of a religious progressive nature, moving entirely upon and within the field of Judaism. The materials constituting the base of action must be the doctrines of Judaism in general, positively and dogmatically, the origin and development of the same, including the history of our nation. Next to this, it should be the object of the association to form out of this material a firm foundation, and to adhere to it afterwards. The association can and dare not act outwardly, nor settle even its own internal object, nor determine on its plan of action, until it has laid this firm foundation, and has fully conceived and understood its principles and its tendency. At the laying of this foundation, reason, science, and the demands of the present have a right to advance their principles, and to claim for themselves a due consideration; for reason, like the doctrine of the Jews, is of divine origin, and science is the result of reason. History is the expression, as well of divine love and providence, as of the << 275>>doctrines of the Jews, and the “present” is the last product of history. Consequently Judaism, reason, science, and the present must stand peaceably and harmoniously side by side.
It is therefore desirable for the society to include as members men of all branches of science, of all shades of intellect; for only out of the diversity of opinions, and from the most heterogeneous elements, can you hope to build an immovable structure.
If the association has once gained a firm basis, and conceived its tendency, it will then become its duty to carry it out by word and deed. The word that has been accepted in this association must be communicated to the world at large, unchanged and unaltered, through the medium of the press, and every member must become an advocate for these ideas before the great mass; for the great mass of the Jews must for ever remain the object of the society, and cannot be lost sight of.
But the word must be followed by the deed, and for this reason must every member be bound to act according to the acknowledged principles of the society in their religious and social life.
Remarks By The Editor.—In admitting Mr. Beckel’s letter, we only gave him the privilege of expostulating against the tendency of isolation and the opposition to a thorough union, which he alleged to have discovered in the establishment of the society of Friends. We knew nothing of their object, nor a single one of the members, and only wondered that Dr. Lilienthal should join a movement which might be turned to evil, as these societies of intelligent men have often led to evil results in Europe. Had we seen their constitution, we might have understood their tendency; but in the absence of this, we had no right to refuse Mr. B. a hearing, since he alleged, and this with some show of reason, that it was a part of a movement to defeat the proposed assembly, in which we take a deep interest. Since the publication of our June number, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. L. in person, during a brief sojourn he made in Philadelphia, when he assured us that he had not changed his friendship for a union meeting, and would attend one if assembled. Consequently neither he nor his associates of the Friends can be charged with an attempt to undermine the convention; and we, give, therefore, an opportunity to Dr. Waterman to plead for his society. We could not say anything in their favour in June, because, as we said, we had not the least knowledge of their names, objects, and tendency; wherefore we had to wait for one of the members, as has been done now, to state the facts as they exist. We trust, therefore, that the gentlemen who have formed the association will really endeavour to scatter light and truth, and become as distinguished <<276>>for religious conformity as they are superior in intelligence to the multitude. If they act so, they shall find in us a strong advocate; but if they use their union for the sake of favouring sectarian feelings, we shall not spare the rod, if in our power. In conclusion, we must say that Mr. Beckel is nowise blameable for opposing a movement which he thought wrong; and we think that Dr. Waterman’s explanation will satisfy him as well as it has done us, and that there will be peace between the parties.—Ed. Oc.