Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/411

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
389
MISSIONARIES.

the light of reason, but who do not care to overthrow the old observances all at once. Much has happened latterly for the suggestion of which any one would have been stoned fifty years ago; and it is ever so with progress. You see, our whole Low-country home is a type of our religion. Dams are built, canals dug, to bind and restrain the wild power of the elements; on these dams life again appears, and the canals become connecting roads which hold men together. The power of centuries lies in these wise precautions. Common men even will keep this land sacred, because they know that the labor of races passed away has wrung it from the sea. If any one should come and find a better, must he pierce the dams, destroy the work of his forefathers, and for a short time annihilate fruitful fields, and populous villages and towns, now built on dry land? It is thus with our religion. Do not tear down the dams. Do not! If you return, there are many clear heads with whom, perhaps indeed at their head, you can help to reform Judaism."

"Who told you I wanted to do so? Perhaps Judaism is nothing more to me than its offshoot, Christianity—a development of mind followed by others. In the first place, I want nothing but to retain my independent life, and in that the power of no Rabbi shall hinder me."

"Have you forgotten," asked Silva, "what you