Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/241
Nay, but Judæa itself, the Holy Land, the land of God's Israel, perishes too,—and perishes for want of righteousness. Yes, Israel's visible Jerusalem is in ruins; and how, then, shall men call Jerusalem 'the throne of the Eternal, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it?' But the true Israel was Israel the bringer-in and defender of the idea of conduct, Israel the lifter-up to the nations of the banner of righteousness. The true Jerusalem was the city of this ideal Israel. And this ideal Israel could not and cannot perish, so long as its idea, righteousness and its necessity, does not perish, but prevails. Now, that it does prevail, the whole course of the world proves, and the fall of the actual Israel is of itself witness. Thus, therefore, the ideal Israel for ever lives and prospers; and its city is the city whereunto all nations and languages, after endless trials of everything else except conduct, after incessantly attempting to do without righteousness and failing, are slowly but surely gathered.
To this Israel are the promises, and to this Israel they are fulfilled. 'The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.' It is so; since all history is an accumulation of experiences that what men and nations fall by is want of conduct. To call it by this plain name is often not amiss, for the thing is never more great than when it is looked at in its simplicity and reality. Yet the true name to touch the soul is the name Israel gave: righteousness. And to Israel, as the representative of this imperishable and saving idea of righteousness, all the promises come true, and the language of none of them is pitched too high. The Eternal, Israel says truly, is on my side. 'Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and thou handful Israel! I will help thee, saith the Eternal. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me. The Eternal hath