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בס"ד

Vol. VII, No. 2
Iyar 5609, May 1849

The Proposed Assembly.
Letter IV.

On the Formation of the Union of the Congregations of
Israelites in the United States.

(Exposition of the Divine Plan for the Government of Man. Continued.)

GENESIS.

The account of the creation, as given in Genesis, is supposed to have been derived either through a direct revelation to the first man, and from him handed down, traditionally, to posterity; or through the sacred historian, having been divinely inspired and instructed to commence with it the books in which is recorded a full disclosure of the divine will and plan of government for man; that the whole might for ever testify to the Creator’s having, from the earliest period, instructed man in that which was most important for him to know, respecting his origin, his state here, and his final destination.

There are good reasons for believing that the first was the case; but that the tradition, having in the course of time become exceedingly perverted, rendered a repetition of the revelation necessary, at the period when the instruction for completing man’s education, on his duties, and on divine things, was about to be vouchsafed.

The truthfulness of that which is sometimes termed “the Mosaic cosmogony;” is daily becoming more apparent, for, exclusively of the concise and sublime language in which it is narrated, so suited to the dignity of divine promptings, its superior rationality over all other theories and systems the ingenuity of man has ever imagined or devised, and the facts, elicited through scientific researches and investigations, offer evidences sufficient to satisfy the most sceptical, that its origin is divine.

Were it our purpose, as it is not, to argue whether a divine revelation was ever accorded, as we Jews implicitly believe it was, we might, in few words, prove the affirmative. We have only to consider man’s nature, his passions, desires, and appetites his self-love, and his thousand other motive qualities, all given for wise and beneficent purposes; <<95>>and that through the perfect freedom of thought and action conferred on him, he can, and does frequently, pervert these gifts to the worst of purposes; to render him, at times, more terrific than the fiercest beast of the forest, at others to sink him below the vilest and most contemptible of created beings; that, designed for the social state, he would and does, contrary to all other creatures, evince feelings hostile rather than friendly towards his own species, especially when instigated by wrongly conceiving that his own well-being requires him so to feel, losing then all sense of justice, and becoming utterly oblivious of others’ rights, he would, again, tender this earth, as it was once rendered, a scene of universal contention, violence, and corruption,—an abode of unbearable misery and unmitigated wretchedness.

These, which are undeniable premises, compel us to confess that, except we could suppose man had been less justly dealt by his Maker than all other creatures, he must, of necessity, have been divinely instructed from the earliest period.

It is, then, as clearly demonstrable as any mathematical proposition, that it having pleased God to create man as he is, a revelation was vouchsafed to direct him in the legitimate use of the powers given to him; to instruct him, in short, in that which, to him, is all important, the science of self-knowledge and self government.

Sceptics and philosophizing moralists, having required some just notions on morals, derived from the revelation in which they affect to disbelieve, may assert, as long as they please, that through their unassisted reason mankind would, in process of time, attain, not alone the knowledge of what constitutes virtue and right doing; but that they would likewise practise both; the history of the race, however, sadly disproves the accuracy of their theory, for the whole experience of the world has confirmed the fact, that man cannot discover and establish even a perfect rule of human duty, much less attain to the knowledge of those sublime truths, the proper nourishment, of his soul.

Preciously slow, indeed, would have been the progress of the species towards perfecting their nature, had not He who formed them—a just Creator—known them better, and extended to them that beneficent care they needed in common with the other creatures, to whom it had been dispensed as manifested in their instincts; while to man instruction suited to his living soul was superadded to his natural instincts.

It will scarcely be imagined, we suppose, but that man, like the other creatures, and indeed all things, was originally created in a mature state; his instincts, however, being weaker than those of the animals of lower grade than himself, would not serve him so effectually as theirs served them, not even for selecting proper nutriment for his <<96>>corporeal frame; for while all other creatures choose, instinctively, out of the many hundreds of kinds of grasses and products that carpet and embellish the earth, those that nature or rather nature’s God, has allotted to each as their proper and wholesome nutriment, while they unerringly reject those that are deleterious to them: man dares scarcely venture upon any food of which experience has not already taught he might safely partake.* What, then, would have become of this, the highest endowed of all creatures on earth, had he been, which he was not, from the first, left to learn from experience to distinguish among the many productions the earth presents to him, those that sustain life, from those that cause death and more especially would he need to be instructed in that which alone can cause his soul to live?†

* Gen. 1:30. † Ibid. 1: 29, and 2:9.

Again, so liable is he to be misled and to form wrong notions of things through his senses, that, on first viewing the works of the creation, he would naturally have imbibed a thousand erroneous ideas on the objects that immediately surrounded him; almost everything would, to his view, appear as constituting part of himself, and, when through another of his senses, he became aware of his mistake, he would fall into another; conceiving himself inferior to many of the other creatures; and judging from their magnitude and superior bodily powers, he might have considered it necessary to propitiate them, by paying them homage as gods! Or, if capable of raising his thoughts a degree higher, perceiving the genial influence of the sun’s warmth, and witnessing its beautiful illuminating effects, he might have deemed that luminary the creator of himself and all other things and consequently entitled to his adoration.

It cannot, therefore, be supposed that man was left to wander in such mental darkness upon points like these until, which never would have happened, he had through experience and his unassisted reason discovered who was his creator, and in what relation he stood to him!

It is not our individual opinion alone, but that, likewise, of men of the profoundest minds, that the knowledge of the single truth of the unity of the Godhead was of such difficult attainment as would have rendered it improbable, if not impossible, that it should even have been discovered; and, after it had been revealed, it was so difficult to be retained as to be again lost. In support of these opinions, we need only to appeal to the proof afforded by the fact, that history records not a single nation as being acquainted with the doctrine of the pure unity of the Godhead at the time it was, amid thunderings and lightnings, again proclaimed to our nation at Sinai, to be through them announced to the <<97>>world. To the first man this truth was undoubtedly revealed, to be by him transmitted to posterity. For it is reasonable to suppose that knowledge would be gradually and progressively imparted to the first of the human race; perfect in his corporeal conformation, we may conclude that his mind was equally perfect in all its faculties, though, as yet, informed only on material objects through his senses, and on them very inadequately. We must not, however, imagine that his education was conducted by that slow process the tender nature of an infant mind now necessarily requires, but that, while still in an orderly manner, it proceeded with a rapidity consistent with the mature powers of the mind of the student, and the infinite wisdom and influence of the divine Preceptor acting upon it, led by whom all errors would be avoided.

The first chapter of Genesis indicating the course pursued, we shall not be wrong in believing, because the most essential to be known, that the first lesson consisted in his being taught, that one only God has created himself and everything he held, by which was thrown into his mind the first and most important elementary truth!

The order of the creation would be the next step.

Proceeding to the third, the great book of nature would be opened to him, when the glories of the mineral kingdom, the beauties of the vegetable, and the beneficently balanced compensations of the animal kingdom, would be disclosed and displayed before his wondering eyes.

Who can conceive or describe the ecstasies of this highly endowed being, fresh from his Maker’s hands, his feelings unperverted, his mind unshackled by any false impressions, on first witnessing the countless forms and hues, matter, under the Creator’s plastic hands, had been made to assume?

How would all the dormant faculties of his soul have been awakened, on being let into the secrets of the respective natures, properties and qualities of matter so modified,—the beneficent purposes for which all had been conceived, and so wisely planned and contrived,—on perceiving that among the myriads of sentient beings, there was not one, be it ever so minute and apparently insignificant, whose wants had not been amply provided for, whose allotted happiness had not been sedulously attended to?

Directing his view heavenward,* he is informed that the sun, the moon, and all the heavenly host are, likewise, the handiwork of the same Creator, who had deigned to watch over the well-being of the minute creatures he had been contemplating!

* Gen. 1:14-18.

(To be continued.)