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fed? Why should lamps be on the altar, if God needs no light? Why should God have left his angels and come down to sipning men? T'en affirmations of El-Balchi concerning scripture singularly remind us of the controversies of our present time: that what the scripture is, cannot be exactly known; that it contains contradictions and discrepancies; that it has some statements which are irrational, and others clearly incredible; that the whole ritual system is incoherent and evidently not intended to be permanent; that any revelation is improbable, as an unnecessary condescension of Jehovah; that God needs none of those shows and offerings which the laws of worship prescribe ; that circumcision is absurd, in seeking to improve man by mutilating him; that it is ridiculous to suppose the ashes of a red heifer to have cleansing power; that the ceremony of the scape goat is impious; and finally, that it is needless cruelty for the priest to wring the neck of an innocent beast because its owner has touched a dead body. The heresies and blasphemies of El-Balchi were severely denounced by the Caraite writers of his own and succeeding ages; but he is not for this reason to be excluded from the sect, many of whose principles he carried out.
Yet the Caraism of that early time is not to be regarded as a form of rationalism, or as mainly a criticism and nega. tion of sacred truths. It was a genuine movement of faith, excited and sustained by a religious spirit. Its principles were religious as well as rational, and it sought to know and to show the true sense of the word of God. It respected the voice of the synagogue so far as this kept to the word of the scripture. It was not a protest against revelation, but against the things added to revelation. It sought only the more to justify and to fasten the written commands of God as binding in the practice of men.
In the year 900, the Caraite sect had become everywhere recognized as the especially Biblical section of the Jewish church. It had communities, organized and flourishing, in all the lands from India and the Caucasus to the centre of
Africa and the Atlantic shore. It had a colony in the Crimea, which has kept its seat to our own day. On the last leaf of an old manuscript of the Bible in Odessa, it is noted that in Kerteh, which an ancient tradition calls Sepharad, in Unchat and Sulchat at the foot of mount Agrimisch, and in Kafa, afterwards called Theodosia, in the year 900 communities were living, who had only the scripture, and had never seen the light of rabbinical doctrine. In the year 957, the note goes on to say, missionaries came from Jerusalem with the genuine rabbinite doctrine, which they preached with such effect that not less than two hundred families were converted from Caraism.
Caraism reached, in the year 900, its highest point of development. The opposition which it awakened was the means of restoring the rabbinical party and of bringing out champions for the faith of the schools, who were able to reinstate in the reverence of the Jewish people the traditions of the oral law. And Dr. Fürst closes his survey of the early history of Caraism with a frank acknowledgment of its value as a reviving influence for effete Judaism. Caraite rivalry," he says, “was necessary to arouse rabbinism from its lethargy, to turn it to the grammatical study of the Hebrew tongue and of the sciences of medicine, astronomy, and mathematics, The Caraites broke the torpidity of the scribe interpretations of the law, frightened off the traditionalists from their toying with numbers and letters, put a stop to the expositions of the Midrasch and Haggada, which had lost all creative power. The Midraschic interpretation, so monotonous and yet taken for genuine exegesis, was forced by the influence of Caraism to become practical and real. Rabbinism was obliged to consent to unfold Judaism after a philosophical method, if it would set aside the reproaches of the Caraites. But for Caraism also was this age (900) very critical. The endless variety of opinion upon dogmas, the most wayward, arbi. trary, and contradictory views in interpretation, called out by the freedom of inquiry in the scripture, the manifold
divisions in the sect, and the tendency to freethinking, — all this must be fatal to the community as soon as any strong foe should rise against Caraism. The chainpion of rabbinism against Caraism, to whom more than to any other the defeat of the sect as a growing heresy is to be ascribed, was the Egyptian Saadia ben Joseph, who died in 942 as the head of the Jewish school at Sura. From his writings Dr. Fürst has drawn many of the details concerning the sect and the teachers, of whom he was the victorious foc.
The Caraites ceased after this time to have much literary significance. But the communities, which still remain, preserve in their customs, the lost record of Anan and his followers. When Dr. Frankl, in his Eastern journey some eight years since, visited the Caraite synagogue of the Beni Hamikra in Constantinople, he was surprised to notice that nearly all the congregation were gathered in the outer court, while the inner room of the synagogue was almost empty. He was told that the reason of this was that some of them had been in contact, on the day before, with a dead body, and that the majority probably had, on that day, “ known" their wives, but on account of the Sabbath, had not been able to purify themselves by a bath.
BY LYMAN 1. ATWATER, PROFESSOR OF MENTAL AND MORAL PHILOSOPHY
IN PRINCETON COLLEGE.
In responding to the call to contribute to the catena of expositions of the polemics of various evangelical churches and schools, now in course of publication in this Journal, the link which represents the attitude of the body of Presbyteriang known as Old school, in the premises, the writer will not long detain his readers with preliminaries. He will, at this point, offer but one or two cautionary remarks. First, the author only is responsible for this Article and its statements, except so far as it quotes the testimony of others. No one else is committed by it. It, therefore, can carry no au. thority beyond the confidence reposed in his qualifications for the task, and the intrinsic, self-evidencing weight of its statements and reasonings. More than this be cannot claim. Thus much, doubtless, all parties in interest will cordially concede.
Secondly, the doctrinal principles which Old school Presbyterians have been called, in providence, to maintain against the assaults of parties within or without the pale of evangelical Christendom, they do not regard as peculiarities, either sectarian or provincial. They are often characterized as such by adversaries and outsiders, as if they constituted a special body of dogmas peculiar to Old school Presbyterians, or even to some one of their theological schools, as Princeton. So we often hear not only of Old school Presbyterian, but of “ Princeton theology"; and this, as if they respectively were made up of a set of singular tenets unVOL. XXI. No. 81.
known, or little accepted, elsewhere in the Christian church. Old school Presbyterians regard this matter in a different light. Their own doctrines which have brought them into conflict with others, they regard as catholic in the sense immediately to be pointed out, and the counter doctrines, with which these bave been impugned, as the peculiarities of parties or sects or individuals hurled against the common faith. In order to preserve this in its integrity and purity, it has been requisite to defend it against the intrusion of such singularities, novelties, and long-exploded but resurgent errors. In saying that their contested doctrines are catholic, we mean either, 1. that, with insiguificant exceptions, they are part of the avowed faith of all the great branches of the Christian church, Latin, Greek, Lutheran, and Reformed; or, 2. that, with like unimportant exceptions, they are professed by the evangelical churches of the Reformation, both Lutheran and Reformed; or, 3. that, so far as disputes among those called Calvinists are concerned, the doctrines maintained by us are the doctrines of catholic Calvinism of the Reforined and Puritan churches, as shown by their symbols, the writings of their great theologians, and the vast preponderance in numbers among those reputed Calvinists, who hold with us on controverted points, over any of the parties who embrace either of the antagonistic schemes whereby they are assailed. Claiming thus to set up no peculiarities of our own, and to maintain only what is common to us, either with all, or with the evangelical, or with most of the Calvinistic portion of the Christian church, we come at once to our main work — the presentation of the views of Old school Presbyterians on points of difference between them and other evangelical Christians. Assuming, of course, that all agree in the sufficiency of the evidence for the being and more fundamental attributes of God, and that any controversies in regard to the nature or persons of the Godhead, are to be determined by the authority of the scriptures, the first questions to be disposed of, are those which pertain to :