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בס"ד

Literary Notices.

 

The Women of Israel, or Characters and Sketches From The Holy Scriptures— Illustrative of the Past History, Present Duties, and Future Destiny of Hebrew Females, As Based on the Word of God. by Grace Aguilar. Nos. 1, 2, and 3. London, 5604.—Under the above title, our valued correspondent has sent forth three monthly issues, illustrative of the characters of Eve, Sarah and Rebecca—the first, the another of mankind, and, consequently, of Israel also; the two others, the mothers proper of Abraham’s race. No later numbers than the above have yet reached us; but we are gratified to be able to announce to our readers that the work will be continued, and that a number may be expected every first day of the Jewish month, till the whole series is completed.

To those who merely read the Bible in a cursory manner, the idea must seem preposterous, to find in a character so briefly sketched as the above-named mothers, sufficient material for a sketch; not to mention an entire dissertation of from thirty-six to forty-nine pages. Still, to one who carefully studies the Word of God, there are innumerable hints, and, so to say, concentrated instruction, which will afford ample cause for thought, and reveal, by a few magical touches, which the inspired historians alone were capable of, traits of character and materials for doctrine, which wilt fill the heart of the believer with thankful astonishment at the depth of the wisdom which God has given us in his blessed book. However prejudiced the sinner may be, he must acknowledge, that a thorough acquaintance with the workings of the human heart distinguishes Moses and the prophets, and that wisdom in its broadest sense can be drawn from the living fount which their works have opened for us. In this conviction, Miss Aguilar has undertaken to sketch out the few hints which the Bible history afforded her, into perfect pictures; and she has endeavoured, and succeeded, to draw instruction and example, either to follow or to shun, from the simplest expressions of the sacred text.

Our friend has a just appreciation of the mission of the Women of Israel, although the clouds of darkness which have so long rested upon the fortunes of our race, have also thrown the veil of confusion upon their ministration. When the storm of adversity assailed the whole house of Israel—when the men of commanding talents had to quit the high-roads of life, and resort to obscure bywways to obtain the veriest crust for their helpless children—when the badge of infamy was affixed to their garments, that they might be distinguished at once as sons of Judah, who were, by prescriptive right, to be spit upon and insulted,—then was of necessity the part of our women also one of sorrow and shame. Whatever virtues adorned their devoted souls—whatever excellence they displayed in devotion to their God and truth, to their fathers, husbands and brothers, was of necessity confined to the narrow limit of the household, and well-nigh all noble aspirations were stifled in bosoms that knew nothing but contumely and sorrow. If, then, our enemies are right in saying, that for the last three hundred years the Jewish were beneath the level of Christian women, they only assert, that tyranny, which crushed the spirit of our men, was not unfelt in its influence on our sisters. But we defy them to prove that, if even less accomplished than their Christian neighbours, their virtue, their piety, and their generous devotion to all female duties, were less than their more fortunate contemporaries: and we believe that we merely express what is admitted by the universal consent of mankind, when we say, that never has woman more fully fulfilled her mission, than in the history of the women of Israel, even amidst the severest hardships to which they have been subjected. They cheered on their husbands—they supported and instructed their children, when all around was dark—and they strove to give efficacy to the instruction which their offspring received in the law, that they might in their turn continue the line of faithful adherents to the commandments, which are derived from the Lord through his servant Moses.

But whence did our women derive their civilization?—the knowledge of their mission? Our Christian neighbours assert, that they derived it from the new impulse which Christianity gave to the world, which ennobled the before degraded character of woman; and that, consequently, the Jewish matron too is indebted to this same source of civilization for whatever excellence may now be hers. Against this idea, Miss Aguilar justly contends; and she has undertaken in her sketches to trace the characters of our women to the only true source, whence Christians derive their morality—­to the pages of the Old Testament. It is in these that the duties of all mankind are developed—it is there that we are taught to know a God of love and perfection—and it is there that we are directed to give to each human being his proper position in life. Woman, consequently, has there also received her appointment; and from the Bible, therefore, and from no other source, must springy all the excellencies which adorn the character of the Jewish and Christian woman, above that of the ancient Grecian and Roman, and those modern nations, who, to this clay, have not based their morality upon the word of our sacred text. We include Christians with Jews in this regard; for the changes which the former have introduced in the observance of our duties have not deprived them of our morality, and the ennobling principles which they introduce in life; and, therefore, we claim for them the same position, whilst we cannot accord to them the merit of having, by their new system, added brilliancy to our domestic life.

This is nearly the idea which Miss Aguilar intends to illustrate, whilst she points out in her sketches the duties and destinies, as well as the history, of the women of the Bible. We refer our readers to the work itself, to show them how happily she has succeeded in carrying out her plan; and we reserve to ourself to give some farther remarks as the work proceed, or at its completion. In the mean time, we shall be happy could we be made the means of obtaining an extended circulation for this new and useful undertaking of our friend: especially do we trust, that the daughters of our people, for whom chiefly it is undertaken, will give it their hearty support.

N. B. Any orders given to us, shall be punctually transmitted to Miss Aguilar.

Seventh-Day Baptist Anniversaries.—1844—New York.—It is, no doubt, generally known, that in many of the agricultural districts of Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Ohio, and the territory of Wisconsin, besides in several other detached places, there reside a considerable number of Christians who practise baptism by immersion, and keep the Jewish Sabbath. They are familiarly known, therefore, as Seventh-day Baptists. They held their last yearly General Conference at the town of Verona, Oneida county, New York. Their total number of church-members is stated at 5,996; but as we know not what proportion the members bear to the whole society, we cannot give even an estimate of the whole body. Their number, we learn from the minutes of the Society, has increased during the last year, and has received an accession of several ministers from the first-day keepers. We hear, even, that a minister of the Episcopal church, in the city of New York, has become a convert to the seventh-day Sabbath. As we would gladly see the SABBATH more honoured than it is now in this country, we cannot help rejoicing at the increase of the number of Christians who hallow the day of the Lord. The following is an extract from the annual report:—

The committee on the state of religion, reported:

That it appears, from an examination of such communications as have been made by the churches and associations composing the General Conference, that there is cause for much gratitude to God, in the apparent prosperity which has attended the efforts of our beloved brethren, who have laboured in the different parts of our Zion. Within the bounds of some of our churches, many souls have been converted to God, and large additions have been made to their numbers. In the presentation of that particular truth by which we, as a denomination, are distinguished from a large part of the Christian world, the blessing of God has richly attended the effort. Many have embraced the Sabbath of the Bible, in opposition to the popular sentiment of the day, among whom may be reckoned several ministers of the gospel, whose talents and piety are such as to promise lasting benefit to the cause of God. And while the church has been praying that labourers may be sent into the Lord’s vineyard, an answer to the prayer has been, found in the number of young men now making preparation to enter upon the work of the ministry. It is, moreover, an encouraging fact, that the churches of our order are generally adhering to the faith of the Gospel with steadfastness. Most of the communications sent to this body, represent them as being in a state of union and Christian fellowship.