Imatges de pàgina

and added a third for the sabbath; it is even said, that he instituted eighteen prayers, that there might be room for selection, and also to afford variety in the service. The first of these begins in the following manner :

“ Blessed be thou, O Lord God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the great God, the powerful, the terrible, the most high, the liberal distributor of good things, the former and possessor of the world, who rememberest good actions, and sendest a redeemer to their descendants for thy name's sake. King, our help and saviour, our buckler, blessed be thou, O Lord, the buckler of our father Abraham.”

It is asserted that Gamaliel, who lived in the time of Jesus Christ, and who had such violent quarrels with St. Paul, ordered a nineteenth prayer, which is as follows:-

“ Grant peace, benefits, blessing, favour, kindness, and piety to us, and to thy people Israel. Bless us, 0 our Father! bless us altogether with the light of thy countenance; for by the light of thy countenance thou hast given us, O Lord our God, the law of life, love, kindness, equity, blessing, piety, and peace. May it please thee to bless, through all time, and at every moment, thy people Israel, by giving them peace. Blessed be thou, O Lord who blessest thy people Israel by giving them peace. Amen. * "

There is one circumstance deserving of remark with regard to many prayers, which is, that every nation has prayed for the direct contrary events to those prayed for by their neighbours.

The Jews, for example, prayed that God would exterminate the Syrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians; and these prayed that God would exterminate the Jews; and, accordingly, they may be said to have been so, with respect to the ten tribes, who have been confounded and mixed up with so many nations; and the remaining two tribes were more unfortunate still; for, as they obstinately persevered in

* Consult, on this subject, the first and second volumes of the Misha.

remaining separate from all other nations in the midst of whom they dwelt, they were deprived of the grand advantages of human society.

In our own times, in the course of the wars that we so frequently undertake for the sake of particular cities, or even perhaps villages, the Germans and Spaniards, when they happened to be the enemies of the French, prayed to the holy virgin, from the bottom of their hearts, that she would completely defeat the Gauls and the Gavaches, who in their turn supplicated her, with equal importunity, to destroy the Maranes and the Teutons.

In England, advocates of the red rose offered up to St. George the most ardent prayers, to prevail upon him to sink all the partisans of the white rose to the bottom of the sea. The white rose was equally devout and importunate for the very opposite event. We can all of us have some idea of the embarrassment which this must have occasioned to St. George; and if Henry VII. had not come to his assistance, St. George would never have been able to get extricated from it.

SECTION II. We know of no religion without prayers; even the Jews had them, although there was no public form of prayer among them before the time when they sang their canticles in their synagogues, which did not take place until a late period.

The people of all nations, whether actuated by desires or fears, have invoked the assistance of the Divinity. Philosophers however, more respectful to the Supreme Being, and rising more above human weakness, have been habituated to substitute, for prayer, resignation. This in fact is all that appears proper and suitable between creature and Creator. But philosophy is not adapted to the great mass of mankind; it soars too highly above the vulgar; it speaks a language they are unable to comprehend. To propose philosophy to them would be just as weak as to propose the study of conic sections to peasants or fish, women.

upon it:

Among philosophers themselves, I know of no one besides Maximus Tyrius who has treated of this subject. The following is the substance of his ideas

The designs of God exist from all eternity. If the object prayed for be conformable to his immutable will, it must be perfectly useless to request of him the very thing which he has determined to do. If he is prayed to for the reverse of what he has determined to do, he is prayed to be weak, fickle, and inconstant; such a prayer implies that this is thought to be his character, and is nothing better than ridicule or mockery of him. You either request of him what is just and right, in which case he ought to do it, and it will be actually done without any solicitation, which in fact shows distrust of his rectitude; or what you request is unjust, and then you insult him. You are either worthy or unworthy of the favour you implore: if worthy, he knows it better than you do yourself; if unworthy, you commit an additional crime in requesting that which you do not merit.

In a word, we offer up prayers to God only because we have made him after our own image. We treat him like a pacha, or a sultan, who is capable of being exasperated and appeased.

In short, all nations pray to God: the sage is resigned, and obeys him.

Let us pray with the people, and let us be resigned to him with the

sage. We have already spoken of the public prayers of many nations, and of those of the Jews. That people have had one from time immemorial, which deserves all our attention, from its resemblance to the prayer taught us by Jesus Christ himself. This Jewish prayer is called the Kadish, and begins with these words :-“0, God! let thy name be magnified and sanctified; make thy kingdom to prevail; let redemption flourish, and the Messiah come quickly!"

As this Kadish is recited in Chaldee, it is has induced the belief, that it is as ancient as the captivity, and that it was at that period that the Jews began to hope for a Messiah, a Liberator, or Redeemer, whom they have since prayed for in the seasons of their calamities.

The circumstance of this word Messiah being found in this ancient prayer, has occasioned much controversy on the subject of the history of this people. If the prayer originated during the Babylonish captivity, it is evident that the Jews at that time must have hoped for and expected a Redeemer. But whence does it arise, that in times more dreadfully calamitous still, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, neither Josephus nor Philo ever mentioned any expectation of a Messiah? There are obscurities in the history of every people; but those of the Jews form an absolute and perpetual chaos. It is unfortunate for those who are desirous of information, that the Chaldeans and Egyptians have lost their archives, while the Jews have preserved theirs.


PREJUDICE is an opinion without judgment. Thus, throughout the world, children are inspired with opinions before they can judge.

There are universal and necessary prejudices, and these even constitute virtue. In all countries children are taught to acknowledge a rewarding and punishing God; to respect and love their fathers and mothers; to regard theft as a crime, and interested lying as a vice, before they can tell what is a virtue or a vice.

Prejudice may therefore be very useful, and such as judgment will ratify when we reason.

Sentiment is not simply prejudice, it is something much stronger. A mother loves not her son because she is told that she must love him; she fortunately cherishes him in spite of herself. It is not through prejudice that you run to the aid of an unknown child nearly falling down a precipice, or being devoured by a beast.

But it is through prejudice that you will respect a man dressed in certain clothes, walking gravely, and talking at the same time. Your parents have told you that you must bend to this man; you respect him before you

know whether he merits your respect; you grow in age and knowledge; you perceive that this man is a quack, made up of pride, interest, and artifice; you despise that which you revered, and prejudice yields to judgment. Through prejudice, you have believed the fables with which your infancy was lulled; you are told that the Titans made war against the gods, that Venus was amorous of Adonis; at twelve


of age you take these fables for truth, at twenty, you regard them as ingenious allegories.

Let us examine, in a few words, the different kinds of prejudices, in order to arrange our ideas. We shall perhaps be like those, who, in the time of the scheme of Law, perceived that they had calculated upon imagi

nary riches,

Prejudices of the Senses. Is it not an amusing thing, that our eyes always de. ceive us, even when we see very well, and that on the contrary our ears do not? When your properly formed ear hears—“You are beautiful; I love you"—it is very certain that the words are not-" I hate you; you are ugly;" but you see a smooth mirror-it is demonstrated that you are deceived; it is a very rough surface. You see the sun about two feet in diameter; it is demonstrated that it is a million times larger than the earth.

It seems that God has put truth into your ears, and error into your eyes; but study optics, and you will perceive that God has not deceived you, and that it was impossible for objects to appear to you otherwise than you see them in the present state of things.

Physical Prejudices. The sun rises, the moon also, the earth is immovable; these are natural physical prejudices. But that crabs are good for the blood, because when boiled they are of the same colour; that eels cure paralysis, because they frisk about; that the moon influences our diseases, because an invalid was one day observed to

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