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in that age, took notes for himself of the traditions which he had heard from his rabbins, and taught publicly by word of mouth. And so every one wrote for himself as much as he was able of the explanation of the law, and of its precepts according to what he had heard, and also of the innovations, which were introduced in every age in the form of decisions, which were not taught by tradition, but by inference from some one of the thirteen canons, and which were unanimously sanctioned by the great court of judgment. And so matters went on continually till the time of our holy Rabbi, who collected all the traditions, and all the decisions, and all the explanations and interpretations, which they had heard from our Rabbi Moses, and which the courts of judgment in every succeeding age, had taught respecting the whole law; and out of the whole, he composed the book of the Mishnah, and taught it to the sages in public. So it became revealed to all Israel; and they all wrote it, and deposited it in every place, that the oral law might not be forgotten in Israel. :

“ All this," as Prideaux observes, “is mere fiction, spun out of the fertile invention of the Talmudists, without the least foundation, either in Seripture or in any authentic history for it. But since all this is now made a part of the Jewish creed, and they do as firmly believe their traditions to have thus come from God in the manner I have related, as they do the written word itself, and have now, as it were, wholly resolved their religion into these traditions, there is no understanding what their religion is at present without it." +

Immediately on the publication of the Mishnah, it was received by all the Jews, both Eastern and Western, I as an authoritative copy of the oral law: and the doctors who succeeded Rabbi Judah taught it in all their schools, and devoted themselves entirely to the task of discussing and deciding the various questions which arose out of it. These discussions soon increased to a prodigious bulk, and gave occasion to two publications, called the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Gemaras. The first Gemara, compiled about A.D. 300, contains the commentaries on the Mishnah, by the doctors of the school of Tiberias, the university of the Western Jews, and, together with the Mishnah, constitutes the Jerusalem Talmud. The second Gemara, which is much more voluminous than the former, and more highly esteemed by the modern Jews, contains the comments of the Eastern or Babylonian doctors on the text of the Mishnah. It was begun in the fourth, and

• These thirteen canons, with explanations and examples, may be seen in Wotton, Vol. I. Chap. III. ; or Allen, Chap. III. They also are alleged to have been given to Moses on Mount Sinai!

† For a complete refutation of this traditional tale, our readers may consult Wotton Vol. I. Disc. I. Chap. 4, 5, 6: or Allen, Chap. IV.

| “Multitudes of the Jews, who had survived the destruction of their city and temple, . . . . . . by degrees formed themselves into a regular system of government or rather subordination, connected with the various bodies of their brethren dispersed throughout the world. They were divided into the Eastern and Western Jews: the Western included Egypt, Judæa, Ital and other parts of the Roman Empire : the Eastern were settled in Chaldea, Assyria, and Persia. In process of time both these parties chose a distinguished personage to preside over each of their respective divisions. The heads of the Eastern Jews were styled, Princes of the Captivity ;' and those of the Western Jews were known by the title of Patriarchs." —Adam's History of the Jews,

p. 93.

finished probably in the sixth or seventh century; and, together with the Mishnah, forms the Babylonian Talmud.

After the completion of the Gemara, (says Maimonides,) in consequence of the dispersions of the Jews into distant countries, and the breaking up of the great court of judgment, no laws could be made, binding the whole nation of Israel. But the institutions mentioned in the Gemara are binding on all Israel, seeing that they were sanctioned by all Israel; and that the sages who established them, were the persons who received the oral law by uninterrupted tradition from Moses.

In process of time, however, the Gemara, which was to have explained every difficulty in the oral law, itself began to require explanation: and a new class of eminent men arose, who composed various treatises on this all-engrossing subject. These books continually increased from the time of the composition of the Gemara to the middle of the twelfth century, the period at which our author flourished.

And now, (says he,) when troubles are become still greater, and the wisdom of our wise men is lost, these very explanations have become extremely difficult, to say nothing of the Gemara itself, both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem. Therefore I, Moses the son of Mammon the Spaniard, have shaken my lap. (Nehemiah v. 13.) leaning myself on the Rock, blessed be He! I have studied all those books, and have thought it right to compose from them all a clear statement of whatever is lawful or unlawful, unclean or clean, and of all the other matters of the law, in a plain and concise style ; so that the oral law may be arranged in the mouth of every one, without any further objections or answers;

- not that one should say so, and another, so ;—but a statement clear, obvious, and correct, according to the judgment which results from all the compositions and interpretations which are to be met with from the days of our holy rabbi to this time. So that all cases may become clear to small and great, with respect to the decision of each commandment, and also with respect to the things which the sages and prophets have established. To sum up the matter, that no man should stand in need of any other book whatever relating to any one of the decisions of Israel; but that this book should comprise the whole oral law, with all the institutions, customs, and decrees, which have been established from the days of Moses our rabbi to the time of the composition of the Gemara, according as the eminent men have explained them to us in all the treatises which they have composed since the completion of the Gemara. Therefore I call the name of this book Mishneh Torah [i. e. the second part of the law), because a man having first read the written law, if he then read this book, will know by it the whole oral law, and will have no occasion to read any other book between these two.

Maimonides then explains the plan according to which his work is divided and subdivided so as to embrace all the commandments of the law. These commandments are six hundred and thirteen in number;*

The reasons given for this number are ingenious. Thus one rabbi argues that the decalogue contains six hundred and thirteen letters; and therefore, since the decalogue is an epitome of the whole law, the law must contain six hundred and thirteen command. ments. But this is contradicted by others, who affirm that the decalogue contains six hundred and twenty letters; and therefore this proof will not stand. We wonder it did

of which two hundred and forty-eight are positive commandments, agreeing with the number of the limbs of a man; and three hundred and sixty-five are negative commandments, agreeing with the days of the year according to the revolution of the sun. The work is divided into fourteen books, the first of which is the only one from which Mr. Bernard has made his selections. It is entitled the Book of Knowledge ; and contains precepts relating

1. To the foundation of the law.
2. To the government of the temper.
3. To the study of the law.
4. To idolatry.
5. To repentance.

The precepts relating to the foundation of the law, comprise ten commandments, viz. six positive, and four negative; which are these :

1. To know that there is a God. 2. Not to think there is any other God besides THE LORD. 3. To regard Him as One. 4. To love Him. 5. To fear Him. 6. To hallow His name. 7. Not to profane His name. 8. Not to destroy any thing on which His name is called. 9. To hearken to the prophet who speaks in His name. 10. Not to tempt Him.

We might go on with a similar analysis of the other sections; but the foregoing statement will, we trust, enable our readers to form some idea both of the nature and of the value of this work of Maimonides ; the most important part of which, has now, through the exertions of a foreigner, first made its appearance in our language. Should further testimony be required, the following character of the work from the learned Dean Prideaux will be decisive :

Out of this Talmud, MAIMOnides hath made an abstract, containing only the resolutions or determinations made therein on every case, without the descants, disputes, fables, and other trash, under which they lay buried in that vast load of rubbish. This work is entitled by him Yad Hachazakah ; and is one of the completest digests of law that was ever made; I mean not as to the matter, but in respect only of the clearness of the style and method in which it is composed, the filthy mass of dirt from under which he dug it, and the comprehensive manner in which he hath digested the whole. Others among them have attempted the like work, but none have been able to exceed or come nigh him

not occur to them that seven precepts were given by God to the sons of Noah; and these being subtracted from the six hundred and twenty, there will remain exactly six hundred and thirteen. Another reason is derived from the text, Deut. xxxiii. 4. Moses commanded us a law. The word inin, a law, is by Gematria six hundred and eleven; and these, added to the two commandments, I am the Lord thy God (Exod. xx. 2.), and Thou shalt have no other Gods before me (Exod. xx. 3.), which were delivered by the Almighty himself, make up the six hundred and thirteen (Talmud, Maccoth, Sect. iii.). Talk of Jesuitical reasoning! What think you of this, gentle reader ?

therein. And for this and other of his writings, he is deservedly the best author among them. - Prideaux's Connection, Part i. Book v.

Our observations on the opinions here brought to light, must be reserved for another occasion: and we close our remarks for the present, by requesting our readers to notice the striking similarity which appears, in the very outset of our inquiries, between the rabbinical corruption of the old dispensation, and the papal corruption of the new. Both are built on the same foundation, TRADITION ; and both “ have made the word of God of none effect by their traditions." By both, the written word is pronounced unintelligible ; and its meaning is to be sought, not by the aid of good sense and sound learning, but from a traditional interpretation preserved in the works of the Fathers of their respective Churches. In both, therefore, the truth can be attained only by similar means. in the Reformation of the Romish Church, consisted in a resolute denial of the absolute authority of the Fathers, and a return to the plain grammatical meaning of the Holy Scriptures: and so in the modern Jewish Church, the first step to spiritual freedom will be to abjure the authority of the Talmud, and to sit down with an humble and teachable spirit at the feet of Moses and the prophets.

(To be continued.)

The first step

Art. II.-Sermons. By the Rev. PLUMPTON Wilson, LL. B. Rector

of Ilchester. Vol. II. 8vo. Pp. xvi. 420. London: Rivingtons.

1832. We have several times had occasion to commend Mr. Plumpton Wilson's versatile ability and steady zeal ; but our panegyric has hitherto been confined to the less ostentatious form of a literary notice. Mr. Wilson's sermons on Christian Duty have now reached a second edition ; and a new volume has just issued from the press which will not disappoint the expectations of his most ardent friends. It has been from no indifference to Mr. Wilson's merits that we have not hitherto noticed them more prominently, as we trust we shall convince our readers before we finish the present article ; but the circumscription of our limits, the multitude of excellent works which the champions of the faith in our traduced Church are constantly pouring upon the world, and the almost infinite number of subjects, all of mighty interest, which the present crisis accumulates upon us, compel us sometimes to shrink into a column, where our hearts could expand into a pamphlet; and we would rather afford even these brief and sketchy records of our opinion than appear indifferent to the interests of merit, especially at a time when talent consecrated to the

VOL. XIV. NO. IX.

SY

service of the sanctuary is so eminently needful, and so little encouraged by earthly remuneration; even by the unsubstantial but not unrefreshing meed of fraternal praise and sympathy. This, at least, we can give; we give it cordially and conscientiously; and we wish we had better to bestow. We wish, with all respect for the Ilcestrians, and with all deprecation of their very natural wrath at such an avowal, that we could transplant Mr. Wilson to a more congenial climate, where his blossoms might shed a wider fragrance, and his fruits diffuse more extensive health and nutrition. We would not infer that Mr. Wilson's parishioners are insensible of his claims on their regard ; that could scarcely be: but eloquence and talent like his should be allowed their free and legitimate influence, which they cannot strictly attain on any arena more limited than that of a metropolis or an university. The press is, unquestionably, a powerful instrument in the hand of genius-but the preacher's influence is not extended by it proportionally to that of other candidates for popular attention. Sermons are less read than almost any literature ; and a sermon, being always composed on a rhetorical plan, is imperfect without the living graces of oratory. Even Shakspeare's " thoughts that breathe, and words that burn,” breathed far more loftily and burned more ardently on the lips of Kemble and Siddons than from the paper to the eye. “What if you had heard him yourselves ?” was the involuntary testimony of the humbled Grecian orator. We have heard Mr. Wilson ourselves; and we know the influence of that mild, calm, solemn, musical enunciation which steals the heart through the arrested ear; the dignified and placid demeanour, in still accordance with the eternal truths it so happily enforces; the devotional awe, the one single spirit of attention which absorbs the soul beneath the holy tranquillity diffused by the resistless constraint of that gentle spell :

a Christian charm

To dull the shafts of worldly harm.” What reader can feel this? In perusing Mr. Wilson's sermons, some faint renewal of that spirit comes upon us, but only sufficient to make us regret the absence of the magician. To one who has never bowed beneath that sorcery, these sermons, with all their beauty, are unknown in their perfection-again, then, we repeat, Mr. Wilson's proper field is that which will bring the greatest number of hearts beneath his "golden sceptre;" and, we will add too, the greatest number of cultivated intellects ; for to them he is best qualified to speak, not only as a member of the brotherhood, but by the bent of his genius. Indeed, if he will allow us to say one word in qualification (we have no more), the defect of his sermons appears to be that their language and speculation belong to a higher atmosphere than what we should conjecture

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