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ISAIAH II. 5.
בֵּית יַעֲקב לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה בְּאוֹר יְהוָה
HOUSE OF JACOB, COME, LET US WALK IN THE
OF THE LORD.
The morning shines forth on us in beauty; the sun bathes us in his ocean of rays: he is glorious to behold when he cometh forth in his majesty from his bridal chamber, which the Lord hath appointed unto him in the blue firmament of heaven. Yet, wait but a moment, and thick vapours obscure him; the eye of man then seeks him in vain; he hides his countenance in a thick veil of clouds.
But there is one sun of far greater beauty and glory. He who has once beheld that brighter sun never again loses him: for him whom he has once illumined, that sun will never again set. Clouds obscure not his crown of rays; he shines in the darkest night. His light penetrates the heart, and when the heart is dead, still he shineth on! Ye know, my friends, of what I speak. There, in that land, on which the eye of the Lord ever rested, there, above the mountain which he chose for his dwelling
place, first arose this bright and glorious sun. On Sinai (also called Horeb), thousands of years past, a flame was kindled that sheds warmth and light even unto this day; a fountain was made to spring, out of which ye, my people, first drew, still draw, and will continue to draw until the end of days, the waters of life. There gushed forth a source-a source inexhaustible, unfathomable, as He who caused it to flow. "HOUSE OF JACOB, COME, LET US WALK IN THE LIGHT OF THE LORD.”
This day we solemnise the holy birth-day of our divine religion. If thou celebratest the birth-day of an earthly joy, and givest thanks unto the Lord that it has been granted unto thee, a joy that endureth not, but passeth speedily away, how must thou rejoice in thy heart on this day, on which heavenly joy was born unto thee, that remaineth unto thee, and thy children, and thy children's children, now and for evermore. If the restored sick thank the Lord with tearful eye for renewed health, for once more breathing freely in the rosy light of existence,—though that breath may again falter, that light be again speedily quenched,-how unspeakable will be his gratitude, if a heavenly, an immortal life, an eternal light has become his portion, that lights him as a sun of mercy on his course through the devious paths and obscure wanderings of his earthly being. O rejoice then, congregation of the Lord! praise him for the light of religion and of the law, that beamed on you early, and will beam on you in the latter days.
But let us celebrate this birth-day of religion, in a manner worthy of our God, worthy of our nature, Unto
us, my brothers and sisters, must this celebration be matter of especial rejoicing, for it is the first feast of weeks, or niyaw, the first feast of light, which we have solemnised in our own sanctuary. Let us then come into his presence witn softened feelings, and render unto him thanks more fervent than in the years that are past !
66 HOUSE OF Jacob, COME, LET LIGHT OF THE LORD!” Thus do I call upon you, in the words of the prophet Isaiah; for with these words begins his second discourse. But let us now attentively enquire, in a manner worthy of reasonable men, of God-loving Israelites,-First, What is that which the prophet calls the light of the Lord ? Secondly, Where does this light of the Lord shine forth most brightly ?
Light, my friends, is synonomous with reason. Without light we should grope in eternal obscurity, even in the most beaten path. Without reason, without this fountain of light, we should be incapable of perceiving in all things what is good or evil, true or false. If, then, God calleth upon us to walk in his light, He calleth upon us to seek to know Him and His holy word according to reason and truth; to meditate and search for light upon the matters most important to us,—upon our destiny, our duties, our view of the future, our relation to our fellow-men, and to our Creator himself. To seek after truth, to see with our own eyes, to allow to the reason the exercise of its powers and rights, will bring us near unto the Lord, and enable us to behold Him in his light. To this goal we are all to approach: the whole house of Jacob, says our
text, should be led towards this goal; we should combat pernicious errors and prejudices; we should correct false representations and opinions; we should oppose superstition and fanaticism, in order that there be day within us and around us,-in order that we may walk in the light of the Lord. To walk in the light of the Lord, to use our reason in the examination of His word, we term enlightenment—religious enlightenment. Doubtless, my friends, you have often heard religious enlightenment lauded by some of our co-religionists as the greatest blessing granted to man; and we have all in truth ourselves experienced the good and cheering results which this heavenly gift has produced. But are you not aware that others of our brethren, shudder and recoil at the mention of its name? Are you not aware that this portion of our community regard enlightenment as a disturber of peace; as the deadly foe of religion? Whence does it arise that one and the same thing can be so differently judged and treated? that one sees light where another beholds nought but darkness, which is to him, as to the lisping child, an object of terror? Whence does it arise, my brethren, that one feels the blessing of heaven, where another fears the curse of hell ? Whence does it arise that one considers this enlightenment as the herald of evil, another, of good ?
We must seek to solve this question; and, for this purpose, we must examine more closely the meaning of the word enlightenment. This word, my friends, applied first to objects in the material world, is now adapted to abstract ideas. It signifies a clearing up to our sight and our sense of that which was previously obscure and
confused. When the dark clouds part, and the blue firmament is no longer hidden from our sight, we say the sky clears up.
A human being whose inward heaven is obscured and overcast, in whose mind confusion prevails, in whose intellect false and true notions are mingled, and who is subsequently enabled by means of wise instruction to separate the true from the false, and who ceases to be enveloped in the mists of error—that man is enlightened. Heaven has opened unto him the portals of day, and light and heat pervade the previous domain of night, at the call of reason :- Let there be light -Light was!
Religious enlightenment consists, then, in the correcting and fixing of our opinions on all matters which are connected with our religion, in the purifying our belief, and in freeing it from the additions heaped on it by pernicious fanaticism and silly prejudices, in forcing on us the conviction that true religion is not a matter of memory, but the occupier of the heart; religious enlightenment relieves our spirit from slavish dread of worldly rulers; it points out to us the true end of our existence, and the true relation in which we stand to our Creator, and teaches us, that to serve our brother, is to serve God; to love our brother, is also to love our Heavenly Father. It teaches us, that a pure and true faith leads men by the cords of love, and bids us not to raise the sword of vengeance against those whose belief differs from ours, if they do but right, and fulfil their duties. It teaches us to seek to imitate our Heavenly Father, who embraces all creation with the bond of love, who presses them fast to His parental