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MYTHS OF THE JEWISH CABBALA.
MUDS. These are a huge and heterogeneous mass of theological and social decisions made by Jewish doctors or rabbis of eminence in an attempt to adapt the old law, called the law of Moses, to the changed condition of the Jewish people after the captivity in Babylon, the wars of the Maccabees, the paganizing influence of the Herods, and the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, ending in the dispersion of the nation in want, slavery, contempt and woe, over the civilized world. This series of trials, entailing general ruin, tended to throw over the Jewish character a depth of gloom which was disturbed rather than relieved by Messianic expectations. Between the lurid dreams of the latter and the dark and bitter experiences of the former, the national mind, driven to and fro by hope and fear, readily yielded to the Oriental fancies which seemed to explain the stern conflict by the recognition of a bad principle as well as a good one. Indeed, since the atmosphere in which they lived constantly grew darker and darker, I soon obtained the ascendancy in their thoughts and affections. Hence you may find in the Talmudic literature a substantial and ramified demonology. That literature, considered as an accepted tradition to which the Jews attached the highest value, bears the name of Cabbala, which signifies at once a transmitted and a secret doctrine. Here you have not only a complete dualism, but a developed demonology, combined, as ever, with such black arts as the times were fitted to engender. The Cabbalists fill all the spaces of creation with good and bad spirits, divide them into distinct orders, place chiefs over them, distinguish the orders and their chiefs by individual names, and allot to them each his own office. The evil spirits are called Satanim, Shedim, Soirim, &c. As to their origin, the opinion of the Cabbalists Some hold that God created them on the Friday evening, just before the end of the week of creation, but, as the Sabbath approached, he was unable to complete his work. On this account they could not attain to the perfection of the pure spirits, or be clothed with a body like that of men.
FOUR FEMALE DEVILINGS IN THE CABBALA.
According to others, God created an angeling, by name Lilith, by whom Adam had numberless bad spirits. Other male and female demons were created besides those which fell after the creation. The principal male devil is Samael, who seduced Eve, continually leads human beings into evil, and is indeed Satan, or myself, who, performing the function ascribed to me in the book of Job, keeps the privy council of heaven informed of the misdeeds of men. Then there is Melach Hammareth, who executes the verdicts of death pronounced on high. Several Cabbalists name him also Azazel, the scapegoat; moreover, Adam Belial, in contrast with Adam Cadmon, or the typal man; Asmodeus, too, whom we have seen in the book of Tobit (iii. 8); moreover, Bedargon, only a span long, and on that account provided with fifty heads and sixty-four eyes; he bears imprinted on his body, as significant symbols, all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, except M and T, which denote death. According to the Cabbalistic doctrine, God created four female devilings: Lilith, who, under the name of Eve, appeared in being with Adam, who, however, separated from her on account of her bad temper; whereupon he married the real Eve, who had been formed out of one of his ribs. Lilith won Samael's affection, and became his wife. The two lived unhappily together, for she was always grumbling and nagging. The second was Naamah, the wife of a devil by name Shemeron. Of this marriage Asmodeus was born. The third bore the name of Mashkith, of a lively temperament, the opposite of Lilith, and in consequence somewhat often at cross purposes with her. Lilith held sway over 480 troops of devils, Mashkith over 478. The fourth deviling, by name Iggereth, appears less frequently. According to Rabbi Solomon, Luria has an ugly trick of rushing out of hell every Wednesday and Friday night to infest human dwelling-places with her 1800 evil spirits, making the time perilous as well as hideous. The number of evil spirits is incalculable. They swarm around every human being; a thousand on his right hand, ten thousand on his left. Their
NUMBER, NATURE AND MOVEMENT OF DEVILS.
abode is a dark region under the moon. Their bodies, formed in the lowest parts of the earth, are of water, fire and air. They are divided into armies, each having a commander, whose orders they are bound to obey. Evil spirits pass in a moment from one end of the world to another, and, like angels, know beforehand what is to come to pass. They enjoy their meat and drink, and propagate their species after the manner of men.
Secret doctrines, at first existing among the Jews alone orally, and communicated to none but the initiated, came in time to be consigned to writing, and the tendency to a systematic form, called forth by the prevailing philosophy of Aristotle, took hold of the masters of the Cabbala, and led them to throw their conception into a certain order. The thirst for concealed wisdom led men to the fountains of the Cabbala, and after Aristotleism had run its race, and students began to turn to Alexandrinism, these found their own ideas in a Platonic Pythagorean form, and presented a cloud of mysteries to the human mind. Hence arose the black arts of astrology and alchemy, which in time gained the advocacy of such learned men as Bonaventura, Thomas Aquinas, Raymund Lullius, Pico della Mirandula, John Reuchlin, &c. As secret doctrines and magic are commonly yoke-fellows, the Cabbala set it forth as an axiom, that there is the closest connection between this world and the upper and lower regions, and that consequently the Cabbalistic adept had a commanding influence in heaven and hell, which gave him not only general wisdom and power, but special control over witches and witchcraft. Indeed, with the aid of the Cabbala, the magician of the middle ages could not only keep me in order, but augment all kind of earthly good. A conviction to this effect struck deep roots into the heart of the people. Hence grew up and prevailed a host of falsities, which beset and worried poor mortals for centuries, such as belief in Satan, in witches and their commerce with devils, Satanic conjurations, magical covenants of friendship and enmity; while by a reci
THE APOSTLE PAUL CONDEMNS DEMONOLOGY.
procrated influence these superstitions encouraged belief in the Cabbalistic mysteries whence they had sprung.
The further progress of these terrible evils will be traced by and by.
Meanwhile you have now before you a pretty full picture of the thick and gross darkness into which the religion of Jesus was born, and through which it had to struggle during the earlier centuries of its existence. Well has Jesus himself described the condition of his Church in those ages when he said (to quote the version of Dean Alford), " If the light that is in thee be darkness, how dark is the darkness!" (Matt. vi. 23). Dark indeed, since those who should have been the lightbearers of the times had themselves been eclipsed by the clouds which, coming from foreign lands, covered the surface of the Church.
Before I pass on to the New Testament evidence, I must briefly but distinctly notice some words which Paul addressed to Timothy and Titus. These I here set down: 66 Charge some that they teach no other doctrine (than that of Christ), neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith; turning aside unto vain jangling, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm" (1 Tim. i. 4-7). "Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (demons); speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. iv. 1, 2), "doting about questions and strifes of words (vi. 4). Shun profane and vain babblings (2 Tim. ii. 16) of evil men and seducers, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. iii. 13); for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped" (Tit. i. 10, 11).
This long and varied description tallies completely with the demonology which I have set before you in somewhat full particulars. If Paul has not, as he seems to have, a direct
THE TEACHINGS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
reference to those Oriental fictions which you know to have infested Palestine, and in a measure other countries where the Gospel had been introduced, he uses language so nicely characteristic of them and their espousers, as to comprehend not them only, but their spirit and aim, wherever and whenever manifested. And thus demonology of all kinds is condemned; not only that of Paul's days, which, though substantial and multiform, was scarcely more than a shadow of what was to come, and what did come, before society had fairly got out of the middle ages.
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
JUDE; THE APOCALYPSE; THE EPISTLE OF PETER; THE EPISTLES OF PAUL; THE EPISTLE OF JAMES; THE BOOK OF ACTS.
BEFORE I open the venerated pages of the New Testament, I wish to take a look at myself as I am described by ecclesiastical authorities.
Here is one picture. It is the character given of me by a French pastor of high character and varied learning-moreover, holding the true faith according to-what? Well, I hardly know what; but certainly according to himself. Thus he speaks in the brief and modest Preface he has prefixed to his work :*
"The author has judged it necessary, in a season of general doubt and disbelief, to put his readers into the right position in regard to the essential points of faith, by placing himself
* "Dictionnaire Biblique Populaire, par Auguste Meylan, Pasteur dans l'Eglise libre du Canton de Vaud " 1 vol. 8vo. 1869.