The Jews And Race Survival -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:283 (Jul 1914)
Article: The Jews And Race Survival
Author: Edward M. Merrins


The Jews And Race Survival

Edward M. Merrins

III.

VIII. Religion And The Nation

“For them that honor me, I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”— 1 Samuel 2:30.

The factors of a nation’s greatness may be numerous, but the one thing needful, without which all others are unavailing, is religion, vital and elevating. A nation may become dominant by ruthless warfare, or it may succeed by diplomatic craft in the struggle for material wealth and aggrandizement; but no true greatness or permanence can rest on such foundations.

The Jews, under divine education and discipline, developed a noble national ideal. They believed in the unity, justice, and supremacy of Jehovah, that he had intrusted to them his law and oracles, and they believed with heart and soul in his overruling Providence. Indeed, according to Renan, “the exaggerated belief in a special Providence is the basis of the whole Jewish religion.” As a corollary, they also believed that God had specially chosen them to incarnate and proclaim his law to all the world. This law was regarded not as an arbitrary imposition, but as expressing the will of the good God, and therefore setting forth an ideal for the family and the nation. In it the essential principles of morality and the deep concerns of spiritual religion found a prominent

place; and to give worshipers the repose of knowing how far its requirements had been complied with, all the forms of worship and legal observance were precisely formulated and strictly enjoined. Because it thus met all their felt needs, and inspired them as a nation with the consciousness of a sacred vocation, the law was obeyed and loved with supreme devotion. In the words of the Psalmist, it was of more value to them than thousands of gold and silver; though enemies had almost made an end of them, they forsook not its precepts. The one characteristic which made them terrible to their enemies was the daring contempt of torture and death when their religion was threatened. The inspiration of religion, and their fidelity to it, were the source of the lasting strength and goodness of the Jewish people.1

A religion so elevated and strong could not become the very life of the nation in one generation. Until this end was reached, it needed all the help and protection which external symbols and forms could give. If many of the people at various times fell into a mechanical, routine way of caring only for the exterior part of the law, to the neglect of purity and sanctification of the heart, this is a danger ...

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