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בס"ד

Consecration Sermon

Delivered at the Opening of the New Synagogue Nefutzoth Yehudah at New Orleans, on Tuesday the 3d Day of Sivan, 5610, May 14th, by the Minister of the Congregation, the 

Rev. M. N. Nathan.

Almighty God! Rock of our defence and shield of our salvation, deign to accept the service of a remnant of thine ancient people, who have consecrated this miniature temple to thy name and praise. In love and duty has it been offered; and with joyful hearts have we deposited in the ark the books of the holy law, and arranged the sacred vessels in their places. But where, alas! is the anointed priest, where the ministering Levite, where are the sacrifice, the libation, the censer sending forth the smoke of aromatic incense; and where the cloud, the manifest token of Omnipresence, our glory and safeguard—or the fire which, descending from heaven, denoted Thine acceptance of the offering? Yet Thou hast graciously promised to restore them again, and in that hope will Israel ever live, though long, very long, may the time appointed be delayed; and continue to cherish the expectation of their return to Zion, and trust in the consoling promises of thy servants, the prophets.

And upon me, O God, whom this congregation have appointed to minister on their behalf at thy altar, let a share of thy grace and favour be extended, and give me understanding and wisdom to comprehend thy revealed word, that I may instruct them aright, and counsel them to follow the path leading to Thee and salvation. Sustain me in <<120>>thy mercy, and grant that my feeble powers may be strengthened in labouring for thy glory and the happiness of Israel. Amen.

That the signal preservation of Israel is an incontrovertible proof of divine grace and favour, that Israel’s faithful adherence to its ancient tenets is pleasing to God, and its continued profession of a creed so much at variance with received and popular dogmas, and so fiercely, so relentlessly assailed, has strengthened his love rather than incurred his displeasure, are perceptible not only in Israel’s exemption from that general decadency which has affected all other nations of antiquity and their institutions, but are also deducible from Holy Writ, with whose repeated declarations they strictly and literally agree. Heaven and earth proclaim the divine decrees to be unalterable, irrevocable and everlasting; and the children of that covenant, contracted with Abraham, sworn unto Isaac, confirmed with Jacob, ratified and sealed for ever and ever at Sinai, are living evidences of the truth, that God’s Word is immutable. For had the Deity revoked his promises, or repealed that law which He commanded our fathers to make known to all future generations, you, my clearly beloved hearers, would not now be assembled to consecrate this house to the worship of that Indivisible Being “whose glory filleth the universe.”

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall endure for ever;”* for to what other cause can the wonderful continuance of our nationality and religion be attributed, or what other reason can be assigned for the anomaly we present to all the rules of history and experience?

* Isaiah xl. 8

When nations of great power, achievements, and riches,—nations whose heroic exploits have been sung to the classic poet’s tuneful lyre, and chronicled in the sage historian’s luminous page,—have disappeared from the earth, what has enabled Israel, “the smallest in number among the people,” to defy the sharp-edged scythe of Time, to ward off the blow of the ruthless destroyer? How has it escaped the natural doom of all that is earthly? Because the word of God is irrevocable, unalterable, and everlasting.

The Author of Nature made an express reservation in favour of <<121>>Israel: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Eternal that hath mercy on thee.”* “For I am with thee, saith Adonai, to save thee; for though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee.”† “Thus saith the Adonai, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and stars for a light by night. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith Adonai, then shall the seed of Israel also cease from being a nation before me for ever.”‡ The word of God has sustained us, and his law has been conferred on us as an everlasting inheritance; therefore, Israel can never be swept off the earth, nor our belief and worship be eradicated; for so has the Almighty declared.

* Isaiah liv. † Jeremiah xxx. 11. ‡ Jeremiah xxxi. 35, 39.

And can we, as Israelites, be blind to, be insensible of, the ever active interposition of that gracious and merciful Providence “which hath preserved us alive, sustained us, and brought us to enjoy this season?” Can our hearts ever cease to beat gratefully, our minds refrain from pondering, in holy and devotional thought, on the great goodness of God? Can our lips withhold the tribute of prayer and thanksgiving, for sheltering his chosen ones under the shadow of his wing; for being their covert in the storm, their shield in the day of trouble? Such unparalleled proofs of divine protection as our history exhibits should attach us with fervency and joy to the service of the One and Indivisible God; and bind us more firmly to the Holy Covenant, whose perpetuity time has so clearly, and Scripture so literally demonstrated.

If, when exposed to the pitiless shafts of cruelty and detraction, Israel, though bent to the ground like the reed before the hurricane, never succumbed;—if the most painful trials of the past failed to shake Israel’s fortitude and constancy, surely it will not be guilty of dereliction now that the black night of tyranny has been dispelled by the bright dawn of liberty! This free country, this happy, blessed, glorious land, whereon, in the uninterrupted exercise of their religion, members of every creed tread as inde<<122>>pendent citizens—and their moral worth, their value as men, their talents in the various walks of life, are not disparaged by the intolerable, injurious prejudices of the old continent,—bears witness, that Israel in security and prosperity, has not forsaken its principles, disclaimed its allegiance to God, nor forgotten his great and saving hand which guided the bark of the dauntless mariner through unknown seas, to find a port of refuge for civil and religious liberty; wherein the fugitive for conscience-sake, and the proscribed of despotism should be sheltered, and tranquilly enjoy those rights conferred by Heaven on man.

The Synagogues daily springing up throughout the length and breadth of the land, attest the loyalty, the devotedness, the zeal of Zion’s children, the earnestness to glorify the Supreme, uphold the faith of their fathers and their time-honoured institutions.  And, in this great emporium of commerce, where once the fear of prejudice deterred the Hebrew from professing himself one, we behold, in the establishment of two Hebrew congregations, and in the noble free-will offering of this beautiful structure for Jewish worship, ample proofs that neither by time, neglect, nor any external influence can the spirit of Judaism be extinguished, but only waits the opportunity of evincing its predilections for ancient principles, and shaking off its apparent torpor, the result of circumstances.

Who acquainted with the unpromising and barren appearance of Jewish prospects in this city twenty years ago, would have ventured to foretell so vast a change? And if indifference has in so short a time been supplanted by earnestness, and where neglect has given place to reverence and respect, we may yet expect to see apostacy abjure the tenets assumed in ignorance, and again conform to the doctrines from which it has departed.

Our past and present history unerringly indicates what a glorious future, as foretold by prophecy, will eventually shine on Israel. Be that future distant or close at hand, it becomes nevertheless the duty of every Israelite to pray for its advent; because universal peace, heavenly illumination, and everlasting happiness will then be the portion of the righteous, whether Jew or gentile. Little more than passive obedience could be ex<<123>>pected from us whilst exposed to the tempest of persecution; but this having happily abated, God requires something more of us than the mere avowal of lineage, profession of creed, or establishment of Synagogues.

With the wide scope afforded by freedom, means, leisure, and opportunity, we must be active in faith, diligent and unremitting in practising every precept of religious, moral, and social duty, which purifies and ennobles the soul. As the chosen pioneers of God, we must always labour in the van, ever be foremost in the march of mental and spiritual improvement and social advancement. As Hebrews and citizens, our character must be irreproachable. Then shall we realize the intentions of Providence in appointing us to be “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, a light to the gentiles.” Then will the grace of God attend us; and we shall merit those encomiums of which the prophet speaks ונודע בגוים זרעם “And their seed shall be known among the gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.” (Isaiah. lxi. 9.)

With these introductory observations, I now proceed to the verse, so fitly inscribed over the portals of this building, and selected as our text: זה השער לה′ צדיקים יבאו בו׃ “This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter therein.” (Psalm cxviii. 20.)

In the earliest ages of the world, man was conscious that the solemn duty of supplicating deity was most suitable in an appointed and fixed place, apart from all that might distract the attention or disturb meditation. Hence, Abraham erected an altar on a mountain; Isaac chose the open field for serious thought; whilst Jacob, denominated the pious man, dwelling in tents, by which his more staid and social habits are implied, conceived that an edifice was best adapted for devotion, and called the scene of his vision “The house of God, and gate of Heaven.”

But the whole universe is a temple of the Lord; for in what spot can we offer our orisons where his Omnipresence does not abide? Nevertheless as a house of worship is, by general con­sent, regarded as a temple of the Most High, let us inquire—<<124>>

1st. How shall we enter the house of God?

Prayer, the offspring of devotion, is the most natural and self-evident of all our duties; a duty in which all are born alike instructed. תפילה תלויה בלב Prayer has no fixed or definite rules; it is the spontaneous emotion of the heart, the effort of dependent beings desirous of paying homage to the Governor of the world, of expressing their gratitude for his benefits, and tendering petitions for help, countenance, and relief.

What does man possess on the earth, from his birth to the day of his death, which is not derived from the bounty of Heaven, and on what reliance does he place his hopes beyond the grave, unless it be on the mercy and justice of his Judge and Redeemer? Can he make any recompense for goodness so unbounded—for love so infinite? Will the riches of earth, the treasures of the deep—even if man possessed them—be acceptable to Him, “whose is the earth and the fulness thereof—the world and all that inhabit it?” Whatever he surveys belongs to his Benefactor, to whom the most precious gifts are distasteful, unless accompanied by that which He delights in receiving, and which the humblest can render, the thankful effusions of a grateful heart.

How utterly insignificant is man’s imaginary consequence! How apparent does it become when contrasted with the attributes of God! Who He is and what we are! His dread and awful majesty; our mean and low extraction! His eternity, and our brief existence! His innumerable worlds, and the narrow grave which entombs us! Must not the proudest mortal be humbled to the dust by the comparison? Must not the magnitude of our obligations to God, and our inability to cancel them, appall and terrify us? Can the contrast of human weakness and impotency with strength and power so bountifully, so benevolently exercised, for man’s benefit, fail to draw, from the inner­most recesses of the heart, words of praise and acknowledgment? Must not the lip move in prayer, the whole frame thrill with that pure delight and joy, which the love of God, the groundwork of religion, must ever excite?

It was the warmth and intensity of these devotional feelings, <<125>>arising from continual meditation on the all-pervading, benign influence of God, which endeared the patriarchs to the Creator. Their peaceful pursuits induced they study of his ways, the book of nature lay open to their observation, and in it they traced the wise and lofty design displayed throughout creation—the unerring order and harmony of the universe,—the beauty and grandeur of its proportions, and the affectionate solicitude of its great Architect for the work of his hands. Then, they looked into themselves, understood that they were the moral and responsible agents of the first Cause and Mover of all, and adored, loved, and worshipped Him. “They trusted in the Lord, and were enlightened, and their faces were not ashamed.” Sensible of their dependence, they implored divine protection, and their supplications at the throne of Heaven were never ineffectual.

But man, besides the debt he, as an individual, owes to a kind Providence, is, as a member of society, under still greater obligations. God never destined him to live isolated from his species, but in communities. He must participate in the general good of society: he cannot but suffer in the general evil. To increase the one, and diminish the other, must perforce be the object of his care. He cannot view with indifference anything affecting the welfare of the collective body without imminent danger to his own interests, without subjecting himself to the odious charge of heartlessness and selfishness. As a member of society, his prayers for its happiness are equally as natural and imperative as those he tenders for his own. Mutually relying on one another for aid and assistance throughout life’s journey, nowhere are our common origin, wants, failings, and end, so apparent as in the place where rich and poor, old and young, meet together to adore a common Father, “the Maker and Protector of them all.”

This idea seems to have obtained from the earliest period. Public worship, however, continued to be voluntary until the tribes of Israel were congregated in the desert, jointly exposed to the same vicissitudes, sharing the same dangers, and animated by the same sense of thankfulness for their redemption. Then the decree went forth from the Immutable, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

From this divine ordinance <<126>>arose the sanctioned public worship of the Supreme, and then was the assurance given to man, that wherever the name of the Deity should be invoked in a place selected for that purpose and dedicated thereto, there would God be found; there would He dwell and bless his creatures. From this command also may be dated the enactments subsequently promulgated in the law for the future support of public worship; the essence and spirit of which may be traced in our Synagogue regulations of the present day.

To obey this mandate truly and faithfully, there must be a sincerely religious bias and disposition in families. This, of course, presupposes a pious recognition of God, and a desire to serve Him, rendering the aid of fixed habits of domestic worship indispensable. The being who banishes God from his dwelling—who never makes prayer part of the daily routine of life—among his family, at his table, or in his chamber, cannot possibly have much regard, if any, for public worship; nor attend it from conviction of its necessity, from love to God, or the benevolent motive of joining in humble entreaty for the general happiness of the community in which he dwells. To rise in the morning and not direct our prayer to God, to retire to rest and still be unmindful of Him who sustains us, to pillow our head and court sleep without a thought of “that watchful guardian who neither slumbers nor sleeps”—to eat, drink, and enjoy without blessing our Feeder and Provider, is to cast off, to disavow God, be lost to all sense of religion, and degrade ourselves below the level of the brute creation.

And if, unhappily, such disregard of private and family worship be the rule; if people live on thoughtlessly through and by whom they are enabled and permitted to live, how can public worship prosper? Must it not also languish, its interests be uncared for, its decencies violated, and apathy and indifference prevail, instead of a lively zeal for its promotion? No one can possibly apologize for such laxity, or rather ingratitude on the score of occupation. For what is life? Is it not a gift we owe to God? And we ought surely to be aware that He has not endowed us with it for the purpose of shortening its term by overtaxing our powers in the all-absorbing pursuit of worldly enjoyment, but as a preparatory <<127>>step to an everlasting state.

Some little time then ought to be daily devoted by parents and children to Him in whose hands is the thread of our existence. ברכי נפשי את ה׳ “O! my soul, bless the Eternal, and forget not any of his benefits, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healed all thy diseases, who redeemed thy life from the grave, who crowneth thee with benevolence and mercy, who satisfieth thy mouth with good.” (Psalm ciii.)

Thus prayed David, thus should we remind ourselves of the Deity’s measureless goodness. And as this overflowing bounty is never exhausted, but daily renewed, so also should our acknowledgments as long as soul and body are united. The exercise of private prayer, and the practice of family worship are therefore indissolubly connected with the welfare and interests of the house of God into which the righteous shall enter. The Mosaic law enjoins, us on all occasions, and in every situation, “to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might.” “Teach these words to thy children, and speak of them when thou sittest in thy house, walkest by the way, liest down and risest up.” (Deut. iv.)

Nay, external helps to devotion, as the Tephillin or Phylacterils, the Zizith or fingers, and the Mezoozah or inscriptions on the door-posts were, by the foresight of God, also ordained to recall the truant worshipper to his duty. For the very sight of these will beget reflection and awaken the soul to a sense of its infirmities and obligations.

But if private prayer and family worship be neglected, and custom alone impels us to cross the sacred threshold, God will refuse a homage so heartless, disdain to dwell in this habitation, regard us with anger, and punish our hypocrisy. If we come in an unprepared state to worship Him, our prayers will be a mockery in his sight, a delusion in our own. The outward act may impose on creatures unable to penetrate the labyrinth of the human heart, but not on the all-seeing Eye that can pierce its mazes. Therefore, let the heart and soul be prepared in private, and supplication daily made at home. Then, peaceful and content, the right thinking mind will be irresistibly impelled to do so amid the congregation and assembly, not from impulse, custom, or deference to public opinion and example, but from conviction of its necessity. The periodical re<<128>>turns of such meetings will be hailed with joy, and parent and child will exclaim with the royal bard, “I rejoiced when they said unto me, Let us go to the house of God.”

2dly. How should we regard the house of God? As the connecting link between heaven and earth, the point at which these extremes meet and touch. The house of God always points to heaven, it is ever an index to the worshipper where the everlasting One is to be found, a polar star to the wandering and wearied spirit, directing it to that land of life where comfort, rest, and bliss await it. In the Synagogue the remembrance of perplexing cares is shut out, the vain notions of superiority conceived by self-esteem, ambition, station, and wealth find no admission, vice and passions are excluded; the worldliness which blunts our fine sensibilities, deadens our sympathies, and petrifies our hearts, hides its head; and man is shielded from that degrading humiliation which arrogance and pride too often inflict on the suffering poor.

The solemn stillness of the sanctuary checks self-consequence. Its noiseless precincts differ no less from the busy marts of toil and enterprise than does our present life from that hereafter. The soul-subduing quiet within its walls detaches our thoughts from that too great love of this world and its absorbing pleasures, depicts its uncertainty and teaches us to view the approach of death with tranquility. In entering its doors, a heaven on earth, through the ministering aid of religion, is presented to us; for as heaven is pictured in our mind as the abode of enduring bliss, of eternal salvation, so does religion impart to the overburdened soul, anxious to lay down its load of grief and wo, that peace and happiness ever accompany the pious and God-fearing.

Neither in the contemplation of nature nor in the retirement of our dwellings are these truths so vividly imprinted on our heart as in the house of God. The beauty and loveliness of creation, where lofty mountains amid grassy hillocks, rushing rivers and purling streams, gigantic animals and tiny insects; in fine, where every animate or inanimate object, be it great or small, displays God’s amazing and stupendous power, his wondrous and varied skill, his paternal and beneficent government, must excite <<129>>in the observant beholder holy and devotional ideas. But his imagination may wander and forget the workman in the profound admiration of the workmanship, or the season may be ungenial, and the fearful and less pleasing operations of nature’s laws may terrify the worshipper. The scorching heat, the chilling cold, the lowering clouds, the strife of the elements, may interfere with his prayers, and compel him to retire at the most auspicious moment when he is offering them.

Besides, all are not contemplative. The beautiful and sublime have little attraction for the multitude, whose taste is proverbially sensual. The dweller in cities also seldom breathes the fresh atmosphere of the country, seldom gazes on the verdant face of nature. Are these to be debarred from worshipping God, because they are insensible to, or denied the sight of his magnificent works? No better means then could have been devised than the institution of public worship, where the inequalities of education and refinement should be merged and forgotten in the universal duty of adoring a common Father.

Our sages taught that prayer cannot be perfect, if not publicly offered, that the Synagogue is a miniature type of the temple where the divine presence always abode, and they farther declare, כל מי שיש לו בית הכנסת בעירו ואינו נכנס בה להתפלל נקרא שכן רע׃ “He that has a house of worship in his city, and does not enter therein to pray, must be called a bad citizen.”

But the improvement in the spiritual health of individuals and communities effected by public worship, cannot be lasting unless the house of God be frequently and regularly attended. We must not use it as a chamber of state, only to be entered on great occasions and widely separated intervals. It is not the building of a Synagogue, but the correct and proper use of it which is the chief object. Frequent attendance is necessary to consolidate the benefits accruing therefrom, to divert the mind from temporal avocations to the sublimities and observances of religion, and encourage a friendly interchange of the courtesies and civilities of life among members of the same persuasion. If any be sick we shall pray for his recovery; on a voyage, we shall sup<<130>>plicate God to guard him from danger; if pestilence or disease threaten the community, we shall mutually intreat that the decree may be averted; if any quit this earth, we shall pray for the repose of the departed soul. By frequent attendance, our sympathies and kindness will be enlisted for the poor; the destitute, the unprotected, the bereaved, will not be unremembered, and whilst pity will commiserate within the sanctuary, beneficence and charity will relieve the orphan and widow without. It may reconcile enemies and strengthen friendships. Thus the house of God, as the connecting link of heaven and earth, may, by being often resorted to, cherish generous affections, reprove and repress bad and hateful passions, and cause the heart to overflow with good will to all mankind.

With frequent attendance must also be united reverence of demeanour, which should characterize our behaviour in the place exclusively appropriated to the Lord. That awe which the proximity of God’s majesty should inspire, should associate itself in our mind with the edifice, and the words of the patriarch never be absent from the thoughts, “How awful is this place; this is no other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.”

3dly. What shall preserve indelibly the good impressions received in the house of God?

The instruction and knowledge imparted there, is our reply. Prayer, the reading of Scripture, and exposition of its doctrines, formed, from the first settlement in the promised land, the objects of Israel’s convocations and assemblies. The people congregated on the Sabbaths, new moons, and festivals, for religious exercises, and received spiritual enlightenment from the inspired prophet and teaching priest. In the days of degeneracy, when Israel departed from God, and followed the abominations of idolatry, arose the mournful lament, “My people go astray because they have no knowledge.” The cup of wisdom was no longer presented to the thirsty, nor the bread of understanding to the hungry; their ear was not opened to reproof, nor their feet turned from iniquity; the yoke of sin was not broken, nor the bands of wickedness rent asunder; therefore God withdrew the mirror of light and perception, whose surface was dimmed by its contact <<131>>with vice, and its lustre soiled by the poisoned breath of rebellion and ingratitude.

The Shechinah, the temple’s glory, the palladium of Israel, departed in wrath, and, in the subsequent calamities which befell our nation, the awful consequences of “drawing near to God with our lips, but with hearts far from him,” are distinctly visible. The penalties of Israel’s disobedience are written in letters of blood in every history. The fruitful land whereon the eye of Providence delighted to dwell, “from the beginning of the year unto the end of the year,” has been since the prey and soil of violence. The retribution exacted has been severe, but not unmerited.

Not for adherence to their faith; not for obedience to the Mosaic law, were the people cast off and carried into captivity; but for their neglect of, their departure from its salutary principles. It was the prevalence of immorality, the pride of wealth which scoffed at reproof and assumed a license, defying God and man on the strength of its glittering hoards; it was depravity, arising from ignorance and wilfulness, which laid Jerusalem in ashes, and made its inhabitants a scorn and reproach.

“I looked for justice, and behold oppression; for charity, and the cry of distress came into my ears.” Bigotry and superstition slew many who escaped the sword of war, and, when sated with slaughter, made the miserable captives the bondslaves, the helots of insult, intolerance, and prejudice. They still wilfully persist in ascribing the past misfortunes of the Israelite to obduracy of unbelief, and vainly attempt to shake his heroic constancy by inviting him to embrace tenets whose adoption would be a crime, and swell the catalogue of former transgressions.

That the good impressions made in the house of God may not be effaced; that the feeling for religion and pious resolves may be maintained, till they be identified with our erring  nature; that faithful intentions may be confirmed, and the sinner entirely reclaimed, religious instruction must be afforded. “The ignorant fears not sin,” says the Hebrew sage. Whilst ignorance prevails, sin must flourish; nor can the ignorant ever be pious, for how knows he in what holiness consists? We must, therefore, combine with prayer and the reading of Scripture, spiritual <<132>>knowledge and instruction.

Nor must the pulpit alone be the medium of imparting them, but schools also be established for the young, where they may imbibe the words of light and life. To open the road to salvation, the doctrines of revelation must be taught; to dispel the mists of error and illumine the spirit, the light of the law must shine forth; to expose the hideousness of sin, the beauty of virtue and holiness must be unfolded. By these means may all walk in the path of rectitude, and avoid the pitfalls of iniquity; and the doubter, the unbeliever, the obdurate be converted into the convinced, the faithful, and the repentant. By these means may all learn how to enter the house of worship, how to regard it, how to make its impressions lasting: and all will consider it the gate of the Lord and all be righteous who enter therein.

“How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Seated harmoniously side by side with our fellow-citizens, all of us enjoying in common every privilege, every immunity which enlightened legislation confers, unfettered by disabilities which damp the energies and restrain the genius of man, the fields of enterprise are open to every adventurous spirit, whence he may reap the rich and plenteous harvests of prosperity. Nothing impedes what honourable ambition, what skill and industry would fain achieve. Here, there is no bar to mental culture, no obstacle to moral and spiritual improvement. Nothing shows in a stronger light the progress of truth, of God’s kingdom on earth, than the abolition of odious distinctions, whose existence serves to engender unkind and illiberal feelings.

But do we, as Israelites, owe nothing to God for these inestimable blessings? Nothing for “casting our lot in such pleasant places,” where liberty of conscience is untrammelled, and freedom of opinion assured against insult? Are not these rather designed as trials of our fidelity, to prove whether we will walk humbly and meekly before Him—worship Him as our Sovereign, love Him as our Benefactor? whether we will render our houses of prayer fit habitations for Him upon earth? whether we will show ourselves grateful for boons, a fraction of whose benefits would be eagerly prized in countries where toleration and enlightenment are yet in the leading-strings of infancy?

It is to <<133>>test you, O Israel, that the Deity thus lavishes his choicest gifts —that He has left your thoughts, your actions, your faith unshackled. Let your zeal henceforward demonstrate that you are not undeserving of what you now enjoy. Your work is only begun. Inspired by the love of God, a venerable Israelite’s* munificent hand has built the granary, but the seed must be sown by yours. The good to be done is endless. Persevere in God’s holy cause. Activity and labour are the wheels of life’s machine, idleness and sloth clog their movements, and retard their advance. In singleness of heart lies your future success; with God alone must you be, and He will bless you.

Increase respect for the Jewish name by your public and private virtues, by your reverence for our sacred institutions, by your observance of the Sabbath; promote and assist useful establishments and charities, whether Hebrew or Christian; relieve the widow, cherish the orphan, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, save poor unprotected youth from the snares of vice, and forsake not this house, where the Almighty will deign to dwell, if it be hallowed by piety, sanctified by charity and good works, and resound with the words of prayer offered up in devotion, righteousness, and sincerity.

* Mr. Touro.

Sovereign of all worlds! Parent of all mankind! O God, who dwellest amongst the cherubim, shine forth, and bless us, O our Father, in the light of thy countenance all that are here assembled. In humility and lowliness of spirit do we lift up our eyes to the clouds and darkness which veil thee from mortal vision, and implore thee to shed thy grace, thy salvation, thy loving-kindness upon this house. From the blaze of dazzling glory which encircles thy throne, from those celestial heights where unnumbered suns shine effulgent, yet pale and wax dim before thy glowing, blinding majesty, where angels and bright seraphim hymn and chant thy praises in strains of delicious melody, we beseech thee, look down, Almighty Father, upon the holy work which one of thy faithful children has dedicated to thy service and honour.

O! may thine eyes be upon it night and day; may it prosper and flourish; and unanimity and peace, righteousness and charity, holiness and goodness, animate those who worship therein, and make them steadfast in their duties to Thee, their fellow-creatures, and themselves.

<<134>>
On Israel’s teachers now present, and on all of them who in self-denial devote themselves to impart thy word, may thy Holy Spirit rest; and grant, O God, renewed health, and strength, and vigour, to that faithful servant who has so long in the western hemisphere been the advocate, the counsellor, defender, and instructer of thy people.

We pray unto Thee, O God, for the peace of this city and those who dwell therein. May its commerce increase, and its renown extend. May thy benediction rest on its spiritual teachers and their followers, on its magistrates, and those engaged in the holy work of educating youth, on its merchants and tradesmen, mechanics and artizans. May health and abundance be in every household, and justice, union, and confidence be the rallying cry and watchwords of its citizens.

O Lord, continue thy mercy to Israel, and save them from the hands of spoilers and oppressors. Be Thou with them in good and evil, and hasten, O God, the coming of that day when Thou alone shalt be acknowledged the only Lord, and thy name recognised as the only God, when all nations shall come up to thy temple at Jerusalem to worship Thee as the one, sole, and indivisible God, and repeat as we now do: Hear, O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is one. Amen.