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consisting of prayers, thanksgivings and benedictions, delivered by one in the name of the rest; and it is acknowledged by all, says Vitringaa, that the church received from the Synagogue the response, Amen, to the prayer pronounced by the person who conducted these services. He also remarks, it merits attention, that not only do the offices and customs of the Christians and Jewish assemblies for public worship agree in most particulars, but the sacred writers themselves make use of the same names and phrases by which to distinguish the different ministers of the Christian church, and to describe the duties of their respective offices, as those by which the ancient as wellas modern Jews were accustomed to designate their religious ceremonies and the officers who presided over them. Both in the Synagogue and the Christian church we have pastors, teachers, wise men, elders, presidents or overseers, rulers, leaders, angels of the church, and deacons; and bus, vocibus, et phrasibus, exprimant, quibus Judæi suas personas et ceremonias sacras, vel olim designare soliti sunt, vel nunc etiam hodieque designant,” &c. Then follows his enumeration of the officers of both services, and the duties attached to their stations, which so exactly correspond. In his Prolegomena he enumerates the points of resemblance between the Hebrew and Christian mode of worship, as well as the constitution of their religious societies, and the body of his work is employed in adducing the proofs.
a Lib. iii. pars 3. cap. xix. p. 1100.
b This appellation was given, as observed before, to the mic nister of the Synagogue who recited the prayers in the name of the people, and to the Israelites of the station in the Temple, who were always present there at the time of the daily sacri. fices to offer up their prayers in the name of the people; but
the duties which they performed, or superintended, were thanksgivings, benedictions, reading, interpretation, teaching, exhortation, feeding the church, singing, and prayer with the response, Amen. And he adds, what appears to be a remarkable coincidence, the precepts which the teachers of the Jews give respecting the duties required of the various officers of the Synagogue scarcely differ in the slightest degree from those which the apostle Paul delivers in cases of a similar kind in the Christian church a. it is also applied in the Scriptures to the priests and Levites.' See Deut. xxx. 13; Mal. iii. 7. So likewise we read of the angels of the seven churches (Rev. ii. 1, 8, 12, &c.), who were the overseers, the presidents, or ministers of those churches. For notices of the other officers see also the following passages :— Pastors, Eph. iv. ll. Teachers, Rom. xii. 7; 1 Col. xii. 28; Eph. iv. Il; Heb. xiii. 7.. Wise men, 1 Cor. vi. 5, xii. 28. Elders, Acts xiv. 22, xv. 2, 22, xx. 17, xxi. 18; 1 Tim. y. 1, 17; Titas i. 5; 1 Pet. v. l; Jamę3 v. 14. Overseers, or bishops, who were elders, Acts xx. 17, &c.; 1 Tim. ii. 1; Phil. i. I; Titus i. 6. Rulers, or leaders, 1 Thess.
. 12, 13; 1 Tim. v. 17; Heb. xiii. 7, 17; Rom. xv. 14, xii. 7, 8; 1 Cor. xii. 28. Deacons, Acts vi. 1, 2, &c.; Phil. i. 1 ; I Tim. iji. 4.
a Christian churches were also sometimes called Synagogues, as in James ii. 2: “ If these come into your assembly," &c. the original is synagogue. As the Jewish synagogues were used for holding courts of justice, especially upon ecclesiastical affairs, as well as for public worship, Dr. Whitby and Dr. Jennings (see his Jewish Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 64). think that it is to this use of them St. James alludes here. But this is in the highest degree improbable; for the apostle is addressing Christians, and not Jews; nor can any thing be plainer from the whole passage, than that he is here speaking of Christian and not of Jewish places of worship. It is also highly probable, that the ancient synagogues themselves, when the Jews that assembled in them became Christians, were used as places of Christian worship,
Such then are the important and essential points of resemblance between the worship of the Synagogue and of the early Christian churches, as well as their general constitution, proved to have existed by a writer to whose competency to form a correct judgement in this case, by his thorough investigation of the subject, united to profound erudition and persevering industry, few persons now, if any, will pretend. It may well be inquired, therefore, Whence did all these instances of similarity originate? In the imitation of the Christians by the Jews? As well might it be expected that the inhabitants of Greenland should voluntarily clothe themselves in the dress of the equatorial regions. Certainly the bitter hatred which the Jews from the first have always borne the Christian name, and everything belonging to it, would lead them to stand as far aloof as possible from any customs that had resemblance to Christian innovation, and Christian peculiarities. This inveterate and implacable enmity was introduced even into their prayers; for they had one by which they devoted all Christians to destruction, and which they were accustomed to repeat every sabbath in their synagogues. But at the same time when Jews, by the powerful operation of the miraculous evidence of the truth of Christianity, became converts, a change which was fitly compared to a new birth, still, from habit and strong predilection for their ancient customs, they would inevitably be inclined to introduce as
much of their former modes of worship into their new profession as was not inconsistent with its requisitions; whilst converts from Paganism, under the mild and benevolent influence of Christian principles, would have no prejudices against this worship to encounter, as they had nothing of a similar kind to substitute in its room. It would have been strange had it been otherwise. And accordingly we find from the espistles of Paul, that such was in reality the fact; for so strong were the ancient prejudices of the converts from Judaism, that one of the greatest difficulties he had to encounter was to convince them that the observ. ance of the Mosaic rites was not essential to the enjoyment of Christian privileges; though on the subject of social worship he says nothing discouraging to the practice of it; for this was not peculiar to the Mosaic institute, and had he done so, his own practice would have been liable to the censure. Hence therefore the resemblance be. tween the worship of the Synagogue and that of the first Christians is such as might have been reasonably expected, and of the reality of it there can be no doubt.
The sum of the wholé, then, is this:-That the advocates for social prayer have as much right as its opponents to express their convictions on this, or any other religious topic, without being liable to suspicion or to insult, is unquestionable;
nor can any purpose be served by abuse and scurrility, but to injure the cause which they may be intended to support. Their conviction therefore is, that public worship or social prayer is sanctioned in the clearest manner by reason, since it is perfectly congenial with the social nature of man; with his best feelings, propensities, and wishes, together with the circumstances in which he is placed, which all connect him with society, as well as with the relation in which he stands to his Creator, whose bounties he shares and whose favours 'he needs in common with the rest of his species. Were his na. ture solitary, like that of some of the brute crea. tion, we should then say, Let him bury himself, like them, in retirement, and in nothing seek communion with others : but so long as his dispositions, his wants, and his situation in the world, connect him inseparably with others, his religious duties, as well as the rest, become social; nor can any thing be more proper and becoming than the general offering of humble prayer and praise to the general benefactor. The religious and moral benefits of such a practice we consider as niost important. It contributes perhaps more than any thing else to the influence of religious principle on society at large; and whilst it gives strength to the habits of private devotion, it has a direct tendency to cherish and increase a spirit of benevolence and sympathy with others, especially in their sufferings; an advantage which