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first, what natural reasons, and, secondly, what providential reasons, may be assigned for these three remarkable particulars.
The Jews are looked upon by many to be as numerous at present, as they were formerly in the land of Canaan.
This is wonderful, considering the dreadful slaughter made of them under some of the Roman empe, rors, which historians describe by the death of many hundred thousands in a war; and the innumerable massacres and persecutions they have undergone in
Turkey, as well as in all Christian nations of the world. The rabbins, to express the great havoc which has been sometimes made of them, tell us, after their usual manner of hyperbole, that there were such torrents of holy blood shed, as carried rocks of a hundred yards in circumference above three miles into the sea.
Their dispersion is the second remarkable particular in this people. They swarm over all the East, and are settled in the remotest parts of China. They are spread through most of the nations in Europe and Africa, and many families of them are established in the West Indies : not to mention whole nations bordering on Prester-John's country, and discovered in the inner parts of America, if we may give any credit to their own writers.
Their firm adherence to their religion is no less remarkable than their numbers and dispersion, especially considering it as persecuted or contemned over the face of the whole earth. This is likewise the more remarkable, if we consider the frequent apostasies of this people, when they lived under their kings in the land of promise, and within sight of their temple.
If, in the next place, we examine what may be the - natural reasons for these three particulars which we
find in the Jews, and which are not to be found in any other religion or people, I can, in the first place, attribute their numbers to nothing but their constant employment, their abstinence, their exemption from wars, and, above all, their frequent marriages; for they look on celibacy as an accursed state, and generally are married before twenty, as hoping the Messiah may descend from them.
The dispersion of the Jews into all the nations of the earth, is the second remarkable particular of that people, though not so hard to be accounted for. They were always in rebellions and tumults while they had the temple and holy city in view, for which reason they have often been driven out of their old habitations in the land of promise. They have as often been banished out of most other places where they have settled, which must very much disperse and scatter a people, and oblige them to seek a livelihood where they can find it. Besides, the whole people is now a race of such merchants as are wanderers by profession, and, at the same time, are in most, if not all places, incapable of either lands or offices, that might engage them to make any part of the world their home.
This dispersion would probably have lost their religion, had it not been secured by the strength of its constitution : for they are to live all in a body, and generally within the same enclosure; to marry among themselves, and to eat no meats that are not killed or prepared their own way.
This shuts them out from all table conversation, and the most agreeable intercourses of life; and, by consequence, excludes them from the most probable means of conversion.
If, in the last place, we consider what providential reasons may be assigned for these three particulars, we shall find that their numbers, dispersion, and ad
herence to their religion, have furnished every age, and every nation of the world, with the strongest arguments for the Christian faith, not only as these very particulars are foretold of them, but as they themselves are the depositaries of these, and all the other prophecies, which tend to their own confusion. Their number furnishes us with a sufficient cloud of witnesses, that attest the truth of the old bible. Their dispersion spreads these witnesses through all parts of the world. The adherence to their religion makes their testimony unquestionable. Had the whole body of Jews been converted to Christianity, we should certainly have thought all the prophecies of the Old Testament, that relate to the coming and history of our blessed Saviour, forged by Christians; and have looked upon them, with the prophecies of the Sibyls, as made many years after the events they pretended to foretell.
No. 496. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1712.
Gnatum pariter uti his decuit, aut etiam amplius,
TERENT. Heaut. Act i. Sc. l.
Your son ought to have shared in these things, because youth
is best suited to the enjoyment of them.
- THOSE ancients who were the most accurate in their remarks on the genius and temper of mankind, by considering the various bent and scope of our actions, throughout the progress of life, have with great exactness allotted inclinations and objects of desire particular to every stage, according to the different circumstances of our conversation, and fortune, through the several periods of it. Hence they were disposed easily to excuse those excesses which might possibly arise from a too eager pursuit of the affections more immediately proper to each state. They indulged the levity of childhood with tenderness, overlooked the gaiety of youth with good-nature, tempered the forward ambition and impatience of ripened manhood with discretion, and kindly imputed the tenacious avarice of old men to their want of relish for
other enjoyment. Such allowances as these were no less advantageous to common society than obliging to particular persons; for, by maintaining a decency and regularity in the course of life, they supported the dignity of human nature, which then suffers the greatest violence when the order of things is inverted; and in nothing is it more remarkably vilified and ridiculous, than when feeble
ness preposterously attempts to adorn itself with that outward pomp and lustre, which serve only to set off the bloom of youth with better advantage. I was insensibly carried into reflections of this nature, by just now meeting Paulino (who is in his climacteric) bedecked with the utmost splendour of dress and equipage, and giving an unbounded loose to all manner of pleasure, whilst his only son is debarred all innocent diversion, and may be seen frequently solacing himself in the Mall with no other attendance than one antiquated servant of his father's for a companion and director.
• It is a monstrous want of reflection, that a man cannot consider, that when he cannot resign the pleasures of life in his decay of appetite and inclination to them, his son must have a much uneasier task to resist the impetuosity of growing desires. The skill therefore should methinks be, to let a son want no lawful diversion, in proportion to his future fortune, and the figure he is to make in the world. The first step towards virtue that I have observed, in young men of condition that have run in excesses, has been, that they had a regard to their quality and reputation in the management of their vices. Narrowness in their circumstances has made many youths, to supply themselves as debauchees, commence cheats and rascals. The father who allows his son to the utmost ability avoids this latter evil, which as to the world is much greater than the former. But the contrary practice has prevailed so much
among some men, that I have known them deny them what was merely necessary for education suitable to their
quality. Poor young Antonio is a lamentable instance of ill conduct in this kind. The young man did not want natural talents; but the father of him was a coxcomb, who affected being a fine gentleman so unmercifully, that he could not endure in his sight,