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§ 397. of the worship in the synagogues. 501
§ 397. Of the Worship in the SYNAgogues.
We do not find mention made of public worship in the Synagogues, except on the Sabbath, Matt. 12:10. Mark 1:21. 3: 1. 6: 2. Luke 4: 16, 32, 33. 6: 6. 13: 10. Acts 13: 14. 15:21. 16: 13–25. 17: 2. 18; 4. What is said of Paul's hiring the school of one Tyrannus at Ephesus and teaching in it daily, is a peculiar instance, Acts 19:9, 10. Yet there can be no doubt, that those Jews, who were unable to go to Jerusalem, attended worship on their festival days, as well as on the Sabbath, in their own Synagogues. Individuals sometimes offered their private prayers in the Synagogue. When an assembly was collected together for worship, the services began, after the customary greeting, with a dorology. A section was then read from the Mosaic Law. Then followed, after the singing of a second doxology, the reading of a portion from the Prophets, Acts 15:21. Luke 4: 16. The person, whose duty it was to perform the reading, placed upon his head, as is done at the present day, a covering called Tallith, to which Paul alludes, 2 Cor. 3: 15. The sections, which had been read in the Hebrew, were rendered by an interpreter into the vernacular tongue, and the reader or some other one then addressed the people, Luke 4: 16. Acts 13: 15. It was on such occasions, as these, that Jesus, and afterwards the Apostles, taught the gospel. The meeting, as far as the religious exercises were concerned, was ended with a prayer, to which the people responded AMEN, when a collection was taken for the poor. The customs, which prevail at the present day, and which Vitringa has treated of (de Synagoga veteri, p. 946—1050.) were not all of them practised in ancient times. The readers, for instance, were not then, as they are at the present day, called upon to perform, but presented themselves voluntarily, Luke 4: 16; the persons also, who addressed the people, were not Rabbins, expressly appointed for that purpose, but were either invited from those present, or offered themselves, Acts 13: 15. Luke 4: 16. The parts to be publicly read likewise, do not appear to have been previously pointed out, although the book was selected by 502 § 397. of the worship IN THE synagogues.
the ruler of the Synagogue, Luke 4: 16 et seq. Furthermore, the forms of prayer, that are used by the Jews at the present time, do not appear to have been in existence, in the time of Christ; unless this may perhaps have been the case in respect to the substance of some of them, especially the one called KRI ShMA, ~f spy, concerning which the Talmudists, at a very early period, gave many precepts and of which also something remains to be said by us. The name is borrowed from the first word, which occurs in the fourth verse of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, viz, you; ; but this formulary of supplication embraced not only this passage, viz. Deut. 6: 4–9, but also 11: 13–21, and Num. 15: 37–41; in which passages, it is inculcated on the Hebrews, to retain the law of God perpetually in mind, to meditate upon it, to apply it to themselves, and to reduce it to practice. It was a precept among the Rabbins, that every Jew was bound in duty, having first furnished himself with Phylacteries and having placed the Tallith on his head, to repeat these passages on the Sabbath, and on Monday and Thursday; in the morning, with three, and in the evening, with four doxologies. This was to be done in the Synagogue. But when this could not be the case, he was to recite the passages, wherever he might be, standing either in the streets or the public square. It was the practice among the Pharisees in the time of Christ to visit the corners of the streets, at the hours when these supplications were uttered, so that it might be seen from more than one direction, with how much devotion they recited the passages in question, Matt. 6: 5. Vitringa de synagogA, pp. 1051–1060. It was an observation among the Jews, that the recitation of these passages and of the doxologies excited or produced in their minds the kingdom of God, or of heaven. (See Wetstein's New Testament at Matt. 6: 5. T.I. p. 256.) The meaning of this remark, as is evident from an attentive consideration of the facts, that may be brought in reference to it, is nothing more than this, that these exercises excited within them devotional or religious feelings, which they expressed by the phrase kingdom of God or of heaven. The phrases, the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heaven are sometimes used in the New Testament for the gospel dispensation, or the reign of the Messiah, because it was expected, that religious feelings, practice, and joys would be consummated in
§ 399. Mode of worship PRActised by the Apostles. 503
Him. It is also used for the state or residence of the blessed after death; because Messiah's kingdom endures beyond the grave, and receives its final consummation in another world.
§ 398. The LANGUAGE IN which the Service was performed IN the SYNAGoGUEs.
The object of the erection of the Synagogues was the instruction of the people in moral and religious truths, which evidently could not have been secured, had not the services been partly at least in the dialect, understood by the people generally. There is no doubt, therefore, that the prelections in Hebrew were rendered by an interpreter into the vernacular tougue; and this is the statement of the Talmud on the subject.
In the Synagogues of the Hellenists, the Alexandrine Version was read, as Tertullian, (Apol. 18,) testifies. Hence very many of the Talmudists make mention of this version in very honourable terms. The more recent of them, however, observing, that the Christians, in their attacks on the Jews, drew their most efficient weapons from this Version, became hostile to it, and strove to exclude it from the Synagogues, but their attempts in this respect were defeated by the emperor Justinian.
The doxologies and prayers were also, for the reason above given, recited in the language, which prevailed among the people. Some Hebrew words, it true, were retained, viz. AMEN, jos, Hallelujah, r *%+, Sabaoth no sax, which are retained in common use at the present day in Christian churches, and which occur also in the New Testament. The dialect in popular use, in which the services of the Jewish Synagogues were performed, was the Aramean. As instances, see Mark 15: 34. &oi, Aoi, Mauna oaday&avi, "onpa: No.: "nox *nix, also Mark 7: 34, sqquba, the same with the Aramean Firens, be thou opened.
§ 399. Mode of Worship practised by the Apostles.
It was by ministering in synagogues, that the apostles gathered the first churches. They retained also essentially the same *w- worship with that of the Synagogues, excepting that the 504 $ 399. Mode of worship practised by the Apostles.
Lord's Supper was made an additional institution, agreeably to the example of Christ, Acts 2: 42. 20: 7–11. I Cor. 11: 17–34. They were at length excluded from the Synagogues, and assembled at evening at the house of some Christian, which was lighted for the purpose with lamps, Acts 20: 7–11. The Apostle with the Elders, when engaged in public worship, took a position, where they would be most likely to be heard by all. The first service was merely a salutation or blessing, viz. the Lord be with you, or peace be with you. Then followed the doxologies and prelections, the same as in the Synagogues. The Apostle then addressed the people on the subject of religion and urged upon them that purity of life, which it required. Prayer succeeded, which was followed by the commemoration of the Saviour's death in the breaking and distribution of bread. The meeting was ended by taking a collection for the poor, especialiy those at Jerusalem, 2 Cor. 9: 1–15. comp. Justini Apolog. I. Those, who held some office in the Church, were the regularly qualified instructers in these religious meetings; and yet laymen had liberty to address their brethren on these occasions the same as in the Synagogues, also to sing hymns, and to pray, which, in truth, many of them did, especially those, who were supernaturally gifted, not excepting the women. Those females, who were not under a supernatural influence, were forbidden by the Apostle Paul to make an address on such occasions, or to propose questions, and it was enjoined on those, who did speak, not to lay aside their veils, 1 Cor. 11: 5. 14: 34–40. The reader and the speaker stood; the others sat ; all arose in the time of prayer. Whatever was stated in a foreign tongue, was immediately rendered by an interpreter into the speech in common use. This was so meccessary, that Paul enjoined silence on a person, who was even endowed with supernatural gifts, provided an interpreter was not at hand, I Cor. 14:1–33. It was the practice among the Greek christians, to uncover their heads, when attending divine service, I Cor. 11:11–16. But in the East, the ancient custom of worshipping with the head covered, was retained. Indeed, it is the practice among the Oriental christians to the present day, not to uncover their heads in their religious meetings, except when they receive the Eucharist.
§ 400. of Idol deities. 505
Their stated public religious meetings were held by the Apostles on the first day of the week, i. e. Sunday, or, as it is called in the Apocalypse, the Lord's day, Rev. 1: 10. Unless, indeed, we are to understand from what is said in Acts 20: 6, 7, that the first day of the week means the evening of Saturday, at which time, (in the evening,) the Jews began to reckon their days.
§ 400. Of Idol Deities.
That the knowledge of the existence and character of God, as taught in the Bible, was derived from divine Revelation, may, independently of other considerations, be reasonably inferred from this, viz. that men, left to themselves, do not appear to have been able, at the time when the early parts of the Scriptures were written, to form such an idea of the Supreme Being, as is therein communicated. In truth, the history of mankind enables us to assert with confidence, that no nation whatever of itself ever attained to such a sublime idea.
Even the Greek philosophers, after having wandered in the mazes of errour for more than two hundred years, acknowledged him indeed, as the framer or architect of the world, the being, that gave to it its form and symmetry, but did not acknowledge him, as its creator, much less widen the range of their thoughts to the conception of Him, as the creator and governour of the universe. Furthermore, they do not appear to have had any true