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the erening. These prayers on the synagogue days were made in all the synagogues at the same hour, and also in the Temple at Jerusalem. The morning and evening sacrifices being presented at the third and ninth hours, gave a peculiar solemnity and siguificance to these hours of prayer, and more than any other period in the day were consecrated by all true Israelites.
Reuben. When did these Synagogues and the Colleges commence? I never read of
command or precept for their erection.
Thomas. Many great men deny to them any great antiquity. Prideauz, Vitringa, and Reland, with many Rabbies, affirm them to have commenced after the Babylonian Captivity. They pretend not any divine precept for their erection ; but admit that they were the offspring of a pious necessity, and were owned by the Lord.
Olympas. I admit much may be said on both sides of the question concerning their great antiquity. Still I must give to them a higher antiquity than the Captivity.
In the seventy-fourth psalm, which was written concerning the Captivity, it is said that the enemies of Israel had “burned up all the synagogues in the land.” Now had there been no synagogues scattered over the land, how could they have been burned at the time of the Captivity? And does not James say in Jerusalem, Moses has had readers in the synagogues of old time? Finally, was not the observance of the Sabbath, and the keeping of holy convocations or assemblies, impossible without some places of meeting?
Browu imagines that the dispute may be compromised by affirming the antiquity of public
meetings in the open air or in tents, and allowing the erection of permanent houses, and the giving of them their name, to have been of a date more recent. To which I would add, that as the word college occurs but twice in the Old Testament, and synagogue but once, we must not deny the existence of the things so designated because of the infrequency of the name. Schools of Prophets and holy convocations are of very high antiquity; and for my part I can see no more need for the production of a precept for their erection than for an oracle on building houses for families or conveniencies for the discharge of the family and domestic duties.
Our Saviour always visited the synagogues ; and it seems from the lesson of the morning, that he was one of the readers in his own synagogue at Nazareth. Would you not infer from the reading, Eliza, that he was accustomed to officiate in the synagogue in this capacity ?
Eliza. The words are, “ As his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read." Although I never heard it before, I think the words fairly represent the Saviour to have been wont in his youth not only to visit the synagogue every Sabbath, but also to stand up to read.
Olympas. Any thing peculiar on this occasion, William ?
William. I presume to read the usual lesson of the morning; and on this occasion, because it was so suitable to himself, after having taken bis seat, he began to comment upon it in such acceptable words as to call forth the admiration of the whole synagogue. The audience admired the gracious
and seasonable words which he spoke. But in applying it to himself, some captious and insinuating spirit asked, “Is not this Joseph's son ?" And what could that question mean?
William. It might mean no more than the fact that he was Joseph's son; and then the wonder grew, Whence derived he all this wisdom and knowledge? Or it might indicate disdain of bim because of his humble birth and station.
Olympas. Or it might intimate that being one of their city, their neighbour, and intimate, they felt themselves slighted because he had given them no special token of his regard for them, seeing they had heard of his generous and mighty deeds in other places. His reply to the question would indicate something of this sort.
" You may say," responded he, “Physician, heal thyself. Do for us, in thine own country, what we have heard you have done at Capernaum and other cities." He saw this temper clearly indicated, and understood this feeling to have prompted the question. And being based on a mistaken view both of himself and them, he rejected their claims in terms of great severity. “No Prophet,” said he, “is accepted in his own country."
God had not confined his favours to the limits of human prudence, nor regarded the proud conceptions of those who imagined themselves the elect of God in the dispensation of his bounties, continued he; for the Prophet Elijah dwelt not with an Israelitish widow, though many such there were ; nor was a single leper cleansed in the days of Eliseus, while a Syrian leper was healed in the Jordan. From the fortune of a Sidonian widow and a Syrian 'eper, they might have learned that Israel according
to the flesh had no exclusive right to Heaven's favours. Thus he repudiated their presumptuous claims; for which they indignantly drove him out to the precipice of the hill on which the synagogue stood, that they might thrust him down ; but he miraculously escaped out of their hands.
This ebullition of passion and madness justified his cause, and demonstrated that he knew their hearts--that they were wholly unworthy of even witnessing, much less of participating in any demonstration of his marvellous power and goodness; and that they presumed too much upon their being his townsmen, and Israelites according to the flesh and not according to the spirit.
Eliza. I would desire to hear some of the prayers that were usually offered up in the synagogues by the Jews in ancient times, that I might learn how much they resembled the prayers of Christians.
Olympas. Thomas, you can repeat a few specimens from the nineteen celebrated prayers that all the Jews were accustomed not only to hear in the synagogues, but which they were themselves accustomed to repeat two or three times every day,
Thomas. I will try.
1. “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the Great God: powerful and tremendous; the High God, bountifully dispensing benefits; the creator and possessor of the universe, who rememberest the good deeds of our fathers, and, in thy love, sendest a redeemer to those wbo are descended from them, for thy name's sake, O king, our helper, our saviour, and our shield : blessed art thou, O Lord, who art the shield of Abraham !"
2. “Thou, O Lord, art powerful for ever. Thou raisest the dead to life, and art mighty to save; thou sendest
down the dew; stillest the winds; and makest the rain to come down upon the earth; and sustainest with thy bene. ficence all that live thereon; and, of thy abundant mercy, makest the dead again to live. Thou helpest up those that fall; thou curest the sick; thou loosest them that are bound; and makest good thy word of truth to those that sleep in the dust. Who is to be compared with thee, O thou Lord of might? And who is like unto thee, o our king, who killest and makest alive, and makest salvation to spring up as the herb in the field ? Thou art faithful to make the dead arise again to life. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who raisest the dead again to life.”
15. “Make the offspring of David, thy servant, speedily to grow up and flourish, and let our horn be exalted in thy salvation, for we hope for thy salvation every day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makes the horn of our salvation to flourish !"
17. "Be thou well pleased, O Lord our God, with thy people Israel, and have regard unto their prayers. Restore thy worship to the inner part of thy house, and make haste with favour and love to accept of the burnt sacrifices of Israel and their prayers; and let the worship of Israel, thy people, be continually well pleasing unto thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who restorest thy divine presence to Zion !"
18. “We will give thanks unto thee with praise, for thou art the Lord our God, the God of our fathers for ever and ever.
Thou art our rock, and the rock of our life, and the shield of our salvation. To all generations will we give thanks unto thee, and declare thy praise, because of our life, which is always in thy hands; and because of our souls, which are ever depending upon thee; and because of thy signs, which are every day with us; and because of thy wonders and marvellous loving-kindness, which are morning and evening and night continually before us. Thou art good, for thy mercies are not consumed; thou art merciful, for thy loving-kindness fails not. For ever we will hope in thee; and for all these mercies be thy name, o king, blessed and exalted, and lifted up on high for ever and ever; and let all that live give thanks unto thee. Selah. And let them in truth and sincerity praise thy name, O God of our salvation and our help. Selah. Blessed art thou, O Lord, whose name is good, and unto whom it is fitting always to give thanks!"