Historical Reprints History JEWS AND THE MOSAIC LAW


Catalog # SKU1272
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.50 lbs
Author Name Isaac Leeser



A Defence of the
Revelation of the Pentateuch,
and of the Jews for Their
Adherence to the Same.

Isaac Leeser

Whatever opinion may be formed as to the merits of this my first work, I would beg my readers not to pronounce me guilty of presumption, in attempting to write on so grave and difficult a subject, as theology. My motives are simply these. I have beheld with grief and shame the efforts made of late by many, who dishonour the name of Israel, to lessen the respect our nation has ever felt for the law of Moses and the traditions of our ancestors. I waited, but found no one in this country, older than myself, attempting to enlighten the minds of my brethren; I could therefore no longer remain silent----


Some time last fall (1828) a gentleman of this city showed me an article in the London Quarterly Review, in which our nation (the Jews) were very much abused, and their moral and religious character shamefully vilified. Though I felt very indignant at the time, I deferred noticing it publicly, until the article in question was republished in a New York paper, of the 26th of December last. I then thought it was high time to notice it, as I verily believed that its circulating without a reply would be extremely injurious to the interest of my brethren in this country. I therefore undertook, without being solicited by any one, the task of refuting the accusations it contained.

I was at first very doubtful of success; but I had soon the satisfaction of discovering that my feeble efforts had met with favourable notice. A few weeks after the publication of the first essay, I was gratified with the mild and temperate piece which appeared under the signature of "A Professor of Christianity." After replying to him, I understood that several persons at a distance had read and approved of my labours. I must confess that I felt pleased at this mark of approbation from strangers, which I in the first instance hardly expected to receive from friends; but since it was so, I came to a determination to republish my two essays, to rescue them from the perishable state in which they had appeared. It being hinted to me by a friend that in that case I ought to add some proofs in favour of our observing the proper day of the week as the Sabbath, I followed his suggestion, and began immediately to embody my thoughts relative to the truth of the mission of Moses; and though I intended to say but little, the subject grew by degrees under my hands, till it assumed the shape in which it is presented to the indulgent reader.

I had scarcely commenced, when I saw the reply of the "Professor of Christianity" to my second essay, but was prevented from answering him then, on account of the editors of the Richmond Whig (in which paper these four essays first appeared) having closed their columns against the further continuation of the controversy.

The greater number of thinking men of our own days and of past times agree in asserting, that a revelation, so called, does really exist; but they differ very widely as to the nature of this revelation. The notion of the heathens, that the gods lived in familiar intercourse with men, and taught them the necessary mode of worship, has long since been given up by a great number of nations, who have adopted, in the place of heathen mythology, the tenets of the Koran or the Gospels; but immense bodies of men, and who are far more numerous than Christians or Mahomedans, yet believe in the just mentioned theory of revelation. - Another set of men, amongst whom the Jews stand pre-eminent, believe, that the Almighty, Eternal and Only God made his will known to men, singularly pious and resigned to His will, and sent them as messengers to the rest of the world, to make known certain laws and regulations by which mankind should be governed; and to this idea the Christians and Mahomedans also adhere.

- But there are some men who suppose that no such revelation was ever made; that is to say, that God never spoke to any man; but that He has revealed Himself, that is, has made Himself known, through His creation, and has at the same time implanted within the bosom of every individual of the human family a certain and infallible guide to righteousness, which, when attentively listened to, will invariably lead a man in the path of right and justice. - The notions of the Pagans it is useless to examine here, as there are none amongst us who profess them; and then again, their nothingness must be admitted, if any one of the other two systems can be established as the correct one. And as those, who acknowledge only what they call the inward revelation, deny the necessity even of any other, it remains to be examined if there be actually such a thing as the infallible voice within, or, as it is commonly styled, conscience.

If it should, therefore, be found, that conscience, properly so called, does not exist, or is inadequate to effect the purpose of a general revelation, that is, to teach every body under every circumstance the same; it must follow that conscience, or the inward monitor, cannot be the sole revelation; as, in that case, no universal standard, unvaried and infallible, of right, could be in existence; we should therefore be obliged to arrive at the conclusion, that there must be somewhere an outward revelation, or, in other words, a promulgated law, which must be the universal standard of right; and it would next be our business to seek, where this outward revelation, this promulgated law of God, could be found. - Since, however, it is very often asserted, that man can arrive at a knowledge of right of his own accord, we will briefly examine if this can be true, or if there be not some facts which clearly prove the contrary. Suppose that conscience were a proper teacher, and would always punish with inward remorse every aberration from the path of right: we might then place an implicit reliance upon it, and thus our own unassisted reason would be the only revelation necessary. But is it true that all men, when left to themselves, will think alike?

320 + pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover


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