Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

V. KODASHIM, of things holy, contains, 1. Zebhachim (onnat sacrifices), on the manner; time, and place, of offering sacrifices. 2. Hulin (19514 profane things), on clean and unclean animals. 3. Menahoth (1999 meat-offerings), on the offerings of flour so called Lev. 2: 1, et seqq. 4. Bechoroth (01773 first-born), on the manner of offering or redeeming with money the first-born of animals. 5. Erachin (1997 valuations), on the valuation of things consecrated by vow. 6. Temurah (17777207 commutation), on commuting for things devoted to sacrifice. 7. Meilah (6599 desecration), concerning things which after being consecrated have become desecrated. 8. Kerithuth (170973 excision), on the excommunication or “cuiting off” of souls froin among the people. The treatise on this subject is inserted here, because if sins punishable in this way be committed accidentally or unwittingly, they may be expiated by a sin. offering. 9. Tamid (100 continuance), on the perpetual or daily morning and evening offering in the temple (Num. 28: 3. et seqq.). 10. Middoth (1772 measurement), on the construction and dimensions of the temple. As the design of this and the preceding treatise is merely to preserve the remembrance of the things they describe, which belonged exclusively to Jerusalem in its former days, there is no Gemara affixed to them. 11. Kinnim (op nests), on offerings of young birds taken from the nest made by the poor. The fifth part is divided into ninety chapters.

Vi. Tauoroth, of purifications, contains, 1. Kelim (0435 utensils), which shows what utensils and vessels may become unclean, and what not; as also their manner of becoming

2. Oholoth (obne tents), on the various ways in which tents or houses become unclean, and the mode of purifying them. 3. Negaim (anya infectious diseases), on impurity resulting from contagion. 4. Parah (793 heifer), on cleansing from the impurity contracted from a corpse by means of the ashes of a red heifer (Num. 19). 5. Tahoroth (07770 purifications), on purifying from uncleanness arising from other sources. 6. Mikvaoth (5:17pa reservoirs), on the receptacles for water in which ablutions were performed. 7. Nid lah (1772 uncleanness), on the purification of women after their monthly courses and after child-birth; the only treatise in this part accoinpanied by the Gemara. 8. Machshirin (1999ən purifications), on the purifications of edible fruits on which liquids have fallen, and thus either rendered unclean or disposed to become so (Lev. 11:38). 9. Zabhim (at emissions), on purification froin uncleanness arising from the causes described Lev. 15: 2, 16. 10. Tebhul Yom (077 3199 diurnal ablution), on purification by ablution on the same day. Yadaim (077 hands), on cleanliness of the hands. 12. Oketsin (173779 fruit-stalks), on the manner in which fruits become unclean by the contact of their stalks with those of other fruits. The number of chapters in the sixth and last part of the Talmud is one hundred and twen. ty-six.

ARTICLE II.

RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY.

By Rev. Royal Robbins, Berlin, Conn.

It is one of the lessons taught us by all past experience, that human opiniors are not apt to harmonize entirely, on any subject. In politics, literature, philosophy, and even the common affairs and interests of life, we, every day, ineet with the most opposite views and sentiments. Few princi. ples, in these departments of inquiry, appear to be so well settled as to preclude all debate. On the subject of religion particularly, it has happened that the opinions of mankind have een most diverse and contradictory. Here contention has been long and fiercely maintained, although, at first thought, every one must pronounce it to be a state of things very

much to be lamented. On topics over which revelation has shed its clear light, one would suppose that there needs to be no serious dispute ; and can we be mistaken in saying that there ought not to be any?

The cessation of controversy is certainly desirable in itself, through the submission of every mind to truth and right. Much of it has arisen, indeed, from the limited range of the human understanding, from the imperfections of language,

and from the prejudices of education ; but probably the far greater part has been produced by the influence of depravity. To the source last named, it is too true that we can trace a large proportion of religious controversy, properly so called, or those debates in which the doctrines and duties of religion have been involved. The existence of contention here, and such contention as has prevailed, shows any thing rather than the prevalence of right feelings, in the mass of minds with which Christianity has come in contact. It is an indication of the imperfect, defective influence which the great truths of religion, so decisively taught in the Bible, have exerted over the human mind.

In this representation, we are aware that every one, probably, would not acquiesce; since some seem to suppose that in the present state of things, controversy of this kind is not only necessary for the suppression of error, (which will be allowed in some sense,) but that it may be positively encouraged to a given extent. We believe, however, that such an opinion is an incorrect one ; and that strife in regard to these sacred topics, should be avoided wherever it possibly can be, and even at a large sacrifice of personal gratification. These remarks lead us to the construction, which

may

be properly put upon certain precepts and examples of Scripture, touching the affair of religious debate, and in which a certain species of collision is spoken of. We read in one place the exhortation, “ that ye should contend earnestly for ihe faith once delivered unto the saints :" in another place, * that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” Paul also tells the Thessalonians, that he and his fellow-laborers “were bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God, with much contention." His example on this point we further learn, as recorded in the Acts, where, in one instance, he “ confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ:" and in another instance, while he waited at Athens," he disputed in the synagogue with the Jews and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him." These and perhaps other intimations of the New Testament, whether by precept, comment, or example, may have reference solely to apostolic times-to the peculiarity of the introduction of a new religion in the world. In this case, the wrong opinions, prejudices and habits, which had been cherished for ages, might be combatted directly, if SECOND SERIES, VOL. II. NO. IV.

5

the simple exhibition of the truth would not be sufficient to effect a moral change. To contention on the subject of religion, in that form and under those circumstances, the injunctions and practice of Paul, or of other New Testament writers, may be supposed to give countenance. But it requires more than the bare existence of such scriptural intimations, in the connection in which they are found to authorize the conclusion, that they were to be a permanent mode of diffusing and maintaining the principles of Christianity in the world. We know not how this view of the subject, as founded on occasional notices of the scriptures, can be substantiated, when so much appears in the Bible inculcating an opposite sentiment --urging the duty of peace and concord; describing the pleasantness of brethren dwelling together in unity ; requiring the servants of the Lord not to strive, but to be gentle unto all men, apt to teach; and commanding the brethren to be of one mind and to live in peace.

The propriety of controversy of the kind intended in the Bible may be limited, then, to the original of Christianityto the peculiar circumstances attending the introduction of a new religion into the world, when that religion met with influences more hostile perhaps, than have since existed—the deep-rooted bigotry of the Jews on the one hand, and on the other the proud philosophy of Gentiles who were in the zenith of their fame. Or if cases analagous to the above have occurred, in the subsequent history of the Gospel, when it has been sent into heathen countries, there likewise the controversy which consists in attacking ancient superstitions that are defended by their patrons, may be justified by the precepts and examples of Scripture. This is actually done by our missionaries in heathen countries, who directly impugn the tenets and worship of idolaters; they abstain from this course, however, when the missionary purpose is only to reform corrupted christian churches. Among the latter, they aim rather to establish the truth by fair exposition, than in the way of an open attack of errors. Thus also the onset which infidelity makes on the Gospel, in the heart of a Christian community may be met by a corresponding attitude on the part of the Christian disciple. It may be the design of Scripture, that both the offensive and defensive weapons of argument should be taken up in this case ; although, as we may soon attempt to show, this may not always be the best mode of convincing even infidels. It may appear after all, that other modes

of setting forth the truth, are generally preferable and more promising. There is much in the remark which we have somewhere read or heard, viz: if you wish to convince an infidel, give him the Bible to read. Possibly, moreover, the Scriptures may contemplate that sort of controversy which we have with impenitent sinners, if controversy it may be called, that consists in repelling by argument the objections which they make to the demands of God upon them, or in attacking their cherished and defended lusts and prejudices. The Bible may intend, in what it says concerning contention in behalf of the truth, nothing more than the above and similar occasions for the employment of this species of spiritual warfare. That it recommends and encourages what is more commonly understood by religious controversy, and what are the most frequent instances of it-debates and disputation among Christians themselves, or the body of professed Christians, among religious men who are essentially agreed in doctrine, and differ only in modes of explanation, or on topics of secondary importance, is, we apprehend, difficult of proof. Let the discrepancy of views among them be considerable, even let it be all but vital in some instances, controversy may not be the best mode of exposing the error, or impressing the truth. Especially is it far from being an eligible mode, when the differences of sentiment are so generally unimportant, or in regard to which the evil of contention is greater than the danger of error.

It may be doubted, then whether even the field of debate which has been occupied by Christian combatants generally, is a legitimate one, according to the intention of Scripture. But if this were admitted, and we are at liberty to suppose that Christians may lawfully dispute and contend among themselves in regard to the specific, minute topics of divine revelation ; yet who can say that it is any more than suffered, as being a choice of evils. It might occur that the failure of some particular truth may be a greater calamity than that of contention respecting it. In that case, contention might be tolerated notwithstanding its general bad effects, because, amidst the certainty of evils, it is always wise to choose the least. This we are inclined to believe is all that the Scripture teaches, or the reason of the thing requires, in regard to religious disputation. It is not a service in which we should love to volunteer. If ever a duty, it is a painful duty and to be reluctantly undertaken. There

« ForrigeFortsæt »