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INTRODUCTION OF ISRAELITISH INSTITUTIONS
more minutely, in the case of the English nation.
We have seen that Israel were not allowed to rest in the patriarchal form of government. As soon as their circumstances allowed, they were accustomed, first, to aristocratic rule, or government by a few,—these being the natural leaders of the people. They had thereafter introduced among them the democratic principle,—the people delegating their power to men who acted in their name, either for counsel or judgment. Now one of the grand changes which took place upon the dissolution of the Roman Empire, was the universal establishment of this same mixed form of government. “ Wherever they seated themselves," observes Sir Wm. Temple, "they left a constitution, which has since been called, in most European languages, the States; consisting of three orders —noble, ecclesiastic, and popular, under the limited principality of one person, with the style of King, Prince, Duke, or Count. The remainder at least, or traces hereof, appear still in all the principalities founded by these people in Italy, France, and Spain; and were of a piece with the present constitutions in most of the great dominions on the other side the Rhine."
It may be remarked, that the Northerns claim, for their Civil Institutions, an origin in the most remote antiquity; and that some of them have claimed for them, as well as for the names of some of their cities, an Israelitish origin. Their Governments, like that of Israel, were almost all representative or constitutional, a form peculiar to Israel and the nations of Europe. Their laws were strict; and administered, in each nation, generally by twelve judges, having appointed circuits, as we find recorded in the book of Samuel. Their kings, like those of Israel, were generally hereditary in particular families; but the individual was often determined upon by popular election: and the kings were more the principal agents in getting the law carried into effect, and in conducting the defence of the commonwealth,
than arbitrary monarchs, making every thing minister to their private gratification. The people themselves, by their minute subdivision into hundreds, and tens; and by their mutual subordination and oversight, exactly analogous to what was the case with regard to ancient Israel, greatly assisted in the preservation of social order : so that the civil condition, at home, of these people, was often strongly in contrast to the buccaneering or privateering excursions of the more restless portions of them abroad; of those who went forth to be avenged on their great adversary, Rome, and to take possession of the colonies of that empire, which had so continually been spoiling them of their own country, and driving them in upon the inhospitable north. Whether migrating, or abiding at home, their form of society seems to have had a most germinating power. Every little band of them formed a community, with rules, and partition of duty, such as might enable them either to maintain their present position, or expand into a powerful state, as occasion might require, or circumstances allow. This subdivision of the people, and the association of these little communities, for more general purposes, into tribes or kingdoms, prepared the way for that association of comparatively independent states, as in the German empire; or still more largely, in the great European family of nations, with regard to which so much has been spoken about the balance of
power. Thus far with regard to Government;—and as to Property, the change was equally characteristic of Israel: among whom, although land was heritable, still individuals had not absolute possession thereof. It seems to have been reckoned a kind of public property; those who held it owed certain duties to the state; they were liable to be called out in its defence. They thus were supported, in order that they might support the commonwealth. Civil offices might be paid for in the same way as military services. Thus were the people less liable to
WITH THE CHANGE OF THE EUROPEAN POPULATION. [LEC. VIII.
taxation. Thus might all, from the lowest to the highest, feel that they were members of one whole; and that, for the good of the whole, they had each duties to perform. Not only does this seem to have been the case when they were formerly in the land; but such is again to be the case, as we find it plainly written, even with regard to the prince himself :—Ezek. xlv. 8; “ In the land shall be his possession, and my princes shall no more oppress my people." It need not be remarked how naturally this accounts for the feudal system, over the origin of which, among these nations, so much mystery has hung. Feudalism universally prevailed among the nations who, after the tempest had subsided, were found settled in Western Europe. The feudal system also prevailed equally among those that were farther removed from the Romans, as among those that were
The principle among all was this, that land was public property, for which services were due to the state: to the king, as the representative of the state, by the great holders of land, in the first instance; and then, through them, by the subordinate holders; every one rendering his service to him that was immediately above him, until it reached the throne, which itself was supposed to be held by the grace of God, as expressed in the voice of the people. There was wisdom in the contrivance, beyond what could be expected to originate in barbarism, or mere chance. The system, however, was doubtless abused; and the great holders now retain the property, without the trouble of rendering the state any considerable recompence for that with which they were originally intrusted for the public good. Among some of these people, as, for example, in Norway, the right of redemption, as in Israel, also remained.
A like provision was made in Israel, for the Ministers of Religion: The Levites had their own possessions in land throughout the tribes, beside the freewill offerings that might be presented them by the people. They had also
much to do, as to the teaching and administration of the law. Correspondent to this, is the change noticed by Sir William Temple, to have taken place in the state and provision of the Clergy in Europe, after the embrace of Christianity by the northern nations.
When these nations were only, in a manner, holding military possession of Europe, and had not fully established their civil institutions, they had, (like Israel in a similar situation, as in the days of the Judges,) an order of men assisting in the administration of justice, who could only be looked for among a people, whose moral feelings had been cultivated to a remarkable degree. I advert to the order of Chivalry; to an order of men, who, sacrificing personal ease, and all expectation of private gain, went forth in search of opportunities of avenging wrong, and relieving the oppressed ;an order of men, combining in their character, besides this remarkable display of conscientiousness and benevolence, the most courteous and chaste regard for woman, and reverence for religion. With them, the sword was consecrated by religion, to be wielded by the most punctilious honour, in the support of morality. Chivalry, doubtless, degenerated much into empty parade and other abuses; but withal, it was of immense use, in improving the civil condition and social intercourse of these nations, after the confusion that accompanied their first settlement in Western Europe.
The Teutonic order of Knighthood was not more remarkable than the Teutonic League for the furtherance and protection of commerce. The vast extension of the Hanseatic League, spreading its ramifications throughout Europe, and bringing together the productions of India, the manufactures of Italy, and the bulky, but no less useful, commodities of the North; and the wisdom with which the measures of the league were planned in their general assemblies; and the vigour and regard to principle with which they were conducted
FARTHER INDICATIONS OF THE IDENTITY OF ISRAEL,
towards a successful termination, until they cleared the rivers, and all other great thoroughfares, of the predatory hands that had infested them; and made their alliance be courted, and their power be dreaded by the greatest of monarchs:all this argues an intellectual and moral capacity, such as we could scarcely expect to spring up among, or originate from, a barbarous people. And it was among the new inhabitants, and not among the remains of the Roman race in Europe, that all this took place.
The same thing, in its degree, took place in the several towns and cities of this people, where those following the same craft or occupation, generally associated together for their mutual assistance and protection,—as in guilds; and the several guilds were again combined in burgh-corporations: in which again the representatative principle was at work, and men were in training for more extensive public employment.
Of all associations among this people, that of Freemasonry is, perhaps, the most remarkable, as well as longest preserved; whereby the ancient architecture of the days of Solomon, and the mystic meaning of the ancient symbols which were used by this art in the more important buildings, such as cathedrals, were so wonderfully preserved. theory be correct, as doubtless it is, there will not be so much of vain pretension in the craft, as many have rashly supposed. Their origin may then most truly be referred to the days of Solomon, King of Israel, and Hiram, King of Tyre: and a better account may be given of our peculiar style of architecture, and its narrow - lights, than has hitherto been proposed. The rites of freemasonry also indicate such a connection with Egypt as the children of Israel anciently had.
Heraldry, or the science of ensigns —of symbols, as connected with the history of nations or lesser societies, or of distinguished families or indivi
duals, or as designating office,—and the origin and use of which have been so lost in obscurity—seems to have had the same source as the institutions already referred to. Some faint emanations of it may, perhaps, he found previously in Europe; but the great blaze of its glory is only to be seen after the settlement here of the nations we have supposed to come of Jacob. The first grand display of it was among these nations, and during the crusades. This use of such variety of ensigns, and of the language of colours, and precious stones, and metals, may best be accounted for, by the variety of standards existing among the tribes of Israel; and by the symbolical use which was made, amongst them, of these very matters, even in things the most sacred; and to which we should be glad more particularly to direct our attention, than we have now an opportunity.
The Crusades themselves are highly consistent with the truth of our view. It has been observed, that this was the only enterprise in which the European nations ever engaged; and this they all undertook with equal ardour. This, to say the least of it, is somewhat singular. And we may help to account for the frenzy, which then so generally seized the minds of men in this matter, if we suppose that still there were
some lingering recollections existing among them, of the value of the land of their fathers, some remaining hope of a happy return to the scenes of their early, and also their prophesied glory; which, mingling with the views and prospects of Christianity, as they had received it, became so blended therewith, as that the former was lost in the latter: and the yearning they had for their “ dear mother Jerusalem," and the place of their fathers' sepulchres, took the form of a zeal for the defence of the holy city, and the place of the holy sepulchre, from infidel cruelty, rapacity, and pollution. Thus the whirlwind went round; and the west was precipitated back upon the east. Like Israel, as coming up from the
WITH THE NEW EUROPEAN POPULATION.
wilderness, they made a wilful attempt to take possession of the land; in which they were put to shame, and made to turn back from before their enemies, into the wilderness, until they had been so trained, as that the land could, consistently with their true good, be given them in permanent possession. From that time to the present, the course of this people has been ever progressive. Their God has been ever, more and more, enriching them by his providence, and unfolding to them, still more clearly and largely, the treasures of His grace. They have been ever in a course of improvement. Discovery and invention have gone hand in hand; and opportunities of consecrating these to the good of man,
and the glory of God, have correspondently abounded. The providence of God, equally with the plain declarations of His word, testifies, most distinctly, to the truth of our Israelitish origin.
As to Language, it is granted that this could not of itself identify a people; or distinguish Israel, for example, from the Canaanites, who seem to have spoken the same language with that of Israel; nor does that of Babylon appear to have been greatly different: and we know that the very people referred to, have, in many cases, changed their language; so that the words used by a nation, in one age, can scarcely be understood by their descendants in another. Stiil it may be expected that a sufficiency would remain of the Hebrew, to tell of this people's former acquaintance therewith,—and such is the case. It has been observed by linguists, that a very great deal of the ancient language of Israel exists in the modern languages of Europe; and that it is through a Gothic medium that this plentiful supply of Hebrew has come. So much have these languages been thrown into a Hebrew mould, that a French Abbe has lately proposed to make use of the Hebrew, as the grand key to these languages, -as that whereby they may most easily be ac
quired; and, it is said, he has been remarkably successful.
The time of the Introduction of Christianity among this people is rather remarkable: it was just when it was fading away into mere formalism or superstition, in all other parts of the world; and when, throughout the east, it was being engulphed by Mohammedanism, so as to be threatened with entire extinction in all its original seats. Then did it reach these nations—then did it take root among them, and thence did they become, emphatically, Christendom.
And, contrary to all other people, their course has been progressive with regard to religion, as it has been with regard to every thing else.
It need scarcely be remarked, that both Poetry and Music were greatly cultivated in Israel. These were accomplishments which, it might be expected, would be eminently possessed by a people who were to be peculiarly devoted to the worship of God—the Most High over all the earth: and accordingly, they, especially the Germans, have been remarkable for musical talent, and particularly as to instrumental music; and the genius of their music appears to be very much like that of the Jews. With regard to poetry, in all its varieties, these nations have been remarkable. Poetry was greatly cultivated, even among the operatives, in the cities of Germany. And in Italy, after the genius of the Gothic race began to develop itself in verse, one of the most important changes that we observe, is the production of the Sonnet, or song of fourteen lines, in which so much was written by Petrarch. In the same age, Antonio a Tempo, a civilian at Padua, who wrote on poetry, distinguishes sixteen different kinds of Sonnet. Now, the like variety of this kind of composition prevails to an immense extent in the Scriptures, as has abundantly been exemplified in the course of these lectures. This might still more largely be exemplified in the songs of degrees in the Book of Psalms. It will scarcely be said that
BLESSINGS BESTOWED UPON THIS RACE.
these people learned to write sonnets from their perusal of the Scriptures, as conveyed to them through a Christian medium: for, as far as I know, these sonnets have lain unobserved in the Scriptures from the time the Bible was first circulated in Europe. That kind of composition, along with many others, amounting to above an hundred, seems to have been preserved among the people of Israel, during all their wanderings; although they do not appear to have recognized it in their own Sacred Writings, when these were restored to them through the medium of Christianity.
These are the people who have already been blessed with the choicest blessings both temporal and spiritual. When darkness overspread the earth, and gross darkness the people, it was upon them that the light dawned, at the time of the Reformation; just as it was towards their part of the world, as we have already seen, that the preaching and the Epistles of the Apostles, all went forth at the beginning of the Christian dispensation. And among them, or the people sprung from them, did not only that important change take place,—but also, every revival in more modern times. These are the people who have shown the greatest adaptation of mind for the study of the Scriptures. They have not merely studied them most for themselves,—they have translated them into almost every tongue, and distributed them all over the globe.
They are, besides, most in the position of waiting for the coming of their Lord, and the promised outpouring of the Spirit. These are, certainly, much less than they ought-still they are most in the position commanded and promised to Israel.
Many, also, are the temporal blessings which have been conferred upon this race;—the numberless discoveries and improvements which have sprung up among them, and by them been distributed over the globe. Among the first of these was paper, the very fine substance of
which books are now made; allowing what would formerly have been a rather extensive library, to be condensed into a volume, that may, without inconvenience, be carried in the pocket; and that this may more effectually be accomplished, and copies multiplied at (comparatively) no labour and expense, they have been given Printing. By steam power, the process of printing has been still farther facilitated, to an immense extent, and the books rapidly spread over the land, and sent even afar over the sea,—with almost the certainty of their reaching their destination at the appointed time. By the discovery of steam power has the city been spread all over the country, and the country brought, as it were, into the city; and remote corners of the earth brought into conjunction: whilst human labour is lightened, and the conveniences of life are multiplied, to an amazing extent. Nor could these advantages have been enjoyed, but for the previous discovery of the compass, by which the great waste of waters can so easily be traversed ;—and gunpowder, by which all obstructions can be so rapidly removed, in “ exalting the valleys, and making low every mountain," —so that highways may be cast up for the rapid conveyance of men, and the means of blessing them. How rapidly has education of late proceeded! How has all science been searched out, and all arts improved, —and antiquities ransacked, and inventions multiplied. The Lord hath indeed been hastening his work in these our times. He hath been putting most liberally into our hands. He hath also been opening the eyes of many here and there, to see wondrous things out of his law. May the beauty of his word be indeed made to appear,—and may its power be felt; and may, for this, the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and may his people indeed see their position-and their privilege,--and be thoroughly persuaded to live not unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again; reckoning