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they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid." And when Ezra afterwards publicly read the book of the law, which had been nearly forgotten during the captivity, it was introduced by a solemn act of worship. Nehemiah viii. 6: . And when Ezra opened the book, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen,' with lift . ing up of their hands,” &c. And in the next chapter, ver. 4, we are informed, “All the people stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God one fourth part of the day, and another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.”
In Zechariah viij. 20-23, there is a passage which evidently refers to the public worship of God in Jerusalem : it is a prophecy that was delivered for the encouragement of the people in rebuilding the city, &c. 66 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities : and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts : I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord,” &c. To what can this language refer but to public social worship? To pray before the Lord, was to pray in his house, where he was supposed to dwell,
originally in the Temple, but also in the Synagogue, for there was an ark, which was considered as the seat of the peculiar presence of Jehovah.
In the prophecy of Joel, ii. 15-17, there is a command to sanctify a fast, and to call a solemn assembly for prayer and supplication, which the priests, the ministers of the Lord,” were to conduct “between the altar and the porch of the Temple,” the place, no doubt, where they were accustomed to offer
prayers, and evidently in the presence of the people, as well as in their behalf. And it may be added finally, that there was an assembly of all the males before God in Jerusalem, three times a year, not for rejoicing only, but for religious worship, and especially to express their gratitude to their Supreme Benefactor for the most remarkable instances of his favour. Deut. xvi.a
To all this it has been added, that in the first book of Maccabees, which, in the words of Prideaux", is “a very accurate and excellent his. tory,” chap. iii. ver. 44, we learn that in consequence of the apprehension which Judas and his brethren entertained of the designs of Antiochus, the congregation was gathered together, that
a Some account of the manner in which the religious services were conducted at the passover, the principal of these festivals, will be given hereafter; and it will then appear that the public worship on these occasions was entirely social.
b Prideaux' “Connexion,” part ii. book iii. p. 185. See Pope's Answer to Wakefield.
they might be ready for battle, and also that they might pray, and ask mercy and compassion. From the nature of the prayer itself, it was evidently the act of the whole people. This was about 200 years before Christ, at a time when the Jews, from having been totally remiss in their attention to the ceremonies of their religion, were become exact and strict in them even to a degree of superstition. From another instance also in this book it appears, that social prayer was then connected with the Mosaic ritual.
From the instances which have been selected, then, it is perfectly manifest that the Israelites were always accustomed to public social worship, consisting of both prayer and praise; and it is observable that of these instances some consist of thanksgiving and adoration; some of confession of sin ; others of petition; and in others all these are united. Should it be said that part of them took place on extraordinary occasions, and are therefore no proofs of the common practice of the Jews, it is obvious to reply that they are such instances only of which the historian would take any notice; the usual and every-day services of religion would of course be passed over in silence, just as days of public thanksgiving, or any
solemn act of national worship on some singular occasion, might be mentioned by historians of the present day, whilst the regular worship of the Sunday would not form a subject sufficiently remarkable to be adverted to. The whole of
these instances, however, together with the psalms composed expressly for the Temple service, and the officers appointed to conduct it, prove incontestably thať social worship was the constant and stated practice of the Jews, and that it was always connected with the observance of the Mosaic rites.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that in the first edition of Mr. Wakefield's pamphlet against public worship, which at the time excited considerable attention, he says expressly, “ I find no circumstances in the Scriptures, concerning this people, the Hebrews, that wear any aspect of public worship, as we conduct it;" but in his second edition he abandoned this topic of argument, in consequence of the satisfactory answers to it, and allows himself to have been mistaken. He adds, however, that the Jewish public worship is nothing to the purposeb; in which he appears to us to have been equally mistaken : and, among other reasons, because, in the first place, this part of the religious services of the Jews appears to have been sanctioned by the personal attendance of Christ and his apostles; and secondly, the universal prevalence of social prayer and praise among this people, accounts satisfactorily for no command occurring in the New Testament for the observance of this custom. To this
a From the able pens of Mrs. Barbauld, Dr. Disney, Mr. Simson, and Mr. Pope.
" See Pope's Answer to Wakefield.
it may be added, that social prayer is a duty altogether independent of the Mosaic institutes; but by its connexion with them it may be consi. dered as receiving an additional divine sanction.
Notwithstanding all this, however, it is still maintained that social prayer did not form a part of the Temple service, if it did of the ancient synagogues. It may be proper, therefore, to state more particularly, on the best authority that can be procured, in what the services of both these places of public worship consisted, especially in the time of Christ : and this we shall do on the authority of writers who, having made the best use of whatever sources of information on this subject remain, will be readily acknowledged to be the most competent judges of it, and who verify the statements which they make by reference: to the most ancient Jewish and other writers, as well as the Scriptures.
The Religious Services of the Temple in the Time
of Christ a.
The services of the Temple consisted of sacrifices and offerings, the reading of the law, prayers,
a The following particulars may be found in Lightfoot's treatise entitled “The Temple Service as it stood in the Days of our Saviour;" in Lewis's " Origines Hebrææ, the Antiqui. ties of the Jewish Republic;" Prideaux's “ Connexion,” &c. part i. books iii. and iv. ; Millar's “ History of the Church