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no connexion with miracles, or with any extraordinary circumstances whatever. If Christ encouraged this practice among them, what imaginable reason can be given why it should meet with his disapprobation, when found among others? Certainly the passage before us implies the contrary.

But in what manner did the apostles themselves understand the design of their master relative to this subject? In this case they at least were competent judges; and that their conduct is decisive in favour of our argument, the proofs we have to adduce from the New Testament, leave no room for doubt. A similar remark, however, to that which has been made, relative to the extraordinary nature of the circumstances and character of our Lord, applies to them as well as to him. As his successors in the great work of propagating pure and undefiled religion in the world, they were endued with the like miraculous powers."As thou, O Father, hast sent me into the world,” says he, "so send I them into the world;" and to the apostles themselves, "The same works that I do shall ye do also; and greater works than these shall ye do." Their business was to increase the extension of Christianity in every direction; to instruct, to convince, and to persuade : and hence we should expect to read more of their public teaching, and of their labours and sufferings in this great work, than of any thing else. Such we find to be the case. Their circumstances were always extremely unsettled and precarious;

and in the midst of persecution, affliction and distress from every quarter, considerable time would elapse before Christian churches, or organized societies, could be generally formed for religious worship and instruction. In such circumstances opportunities for social prayer could never be regular, and seldom without danger of interruption. At first they appear to have frequented the Temple and the Synagogue for this purpose. But after the communication of the miraculous powers on the day of Pentecost, in spite of all opposition and discouragement, their numbers began rapidly to increase; and from the very beginning of their labours, we find decisive proofs, notwithstanding all the disadvantages of their circumstances, that meetings for religious worship, or social prayer, were among the first things that occurred. These instances are at least as numerous as could be expected, and are amply sufficient to show that they were in the habit of performing this duty with great constancy and fervour.

When they had been spectators of the ascension of their venerated Master, they returned without delay to Jerusalem, and "were continually in the Temple praising and blessing Goda." This was at least public devotion, and no doubt social also, for such was the stated worship of this "house of prayer," and they had no other, as yet, in which to assemble for the purpose.

In the continuation of this history by the same a Luke xxiv. 52, 53.

writer in the Acts, we are informed also, that upon the return of the disciples to Jerusalem from mount Olivet, on this occasion "they went into an upper room, where abode Peter and James, and John, and Andrew and Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with certain women also, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren." The word here translated with one accord signifies unitedly, in conjunction, as is evident from all the other passages in which it occurs in the New Testament, which are eleven. The disciples, therefore, already a considerable number, continued with one accord (unitedly, in conjunction) in prayer and supplication. Will any one say that this was not social prayer?

We are informed immediately after, that one of the next things that occurred, was another act of social worship. When one hundred and twenty disciples were met together for the purpose of filling up the vacancy occasioned by the apostasy of Judas, they joined in solemn prayer to God; "and having prayed, they said," in continuation of their religious services, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which of these two

a Ch. i. 12-14.


Acts ii. 1, 46. iv. 24. v. 12. vii. 37. viii. 6. xii. 20. xv. 25. xviii. 12. xix. 29. Rom xv. 6. See Pope's Answer to Wakefield.

Acts i. 24.

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thou hast chosen," &c. No one, surely, will deny that this was an act of social worship. The principal prayer is omitted, and that part only is given which related immediately to the object of their meeting; and the probability is, that it was delivered by one individual (Peter, no doubt, who had just addressed the company) in the name of the rest, who concurred with him; for when it is observed in the plural number, "they prayed,” and "they said," it cannot be supposed that each of them delivered his own prayer separately, for in this case no one will believe they would all have uttered the same words a.

On the day of Pentecost about three thousand persons-convinced by what they saw, and by the plain facts which they knew to be true, as stated by Peter-on the spot where they had taken place, and immediately after, were added to the number of the disciples. "These all steadfastly continued in the doctrine of the apostles, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers."The other acts mentioned here were social acts; and why not prayers also, like the rest? How, moreover, could it be known that they all conti

It may be proper to observe, that both these instances of social prayer took place before the descent of the holy spirit, that is, before the miraculous powers were communicated to the apostles; so that there is no pretence for applying to these instances the observation that has been made respecting other cases of social prayer occurring in the New Testament, namely, that the prayers of the first Christians were among the miraculous gifts," and on that account afford no example to us. Acts ii. 42.


nued steadfast in prayer, if these prayers were entirely private? Will any one pay the slightest attention to the ridiculous supposition, that three thousand persons were guilty of the absurd ostentation of telling each other that they continued steadfast in prayers?

Soon after this a Peter and John, having been called before the heads of the Jewish nation, when they delivered the noble reply to their command not to preach in the name of Jesus, "Whether it be right before God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard;" returning to their own company, and reporting all which the chief-priests and elders had said unto them, the whole assembly lift up their voice to God with one accord (unitedly, in conjunction). The prayer follows, which, being of considerable length, was delivered, no doubt, by one individual, the rest joining with them, for it can scarcely be supposed again, they would all have repeated the same form of words separately and extemporaneously, especially when the prayer was so long and of so singular a description.

a Acts iv. 23.

b The increase of the disciples in so short a time after the ascension was very rapid; for we are told in the preceding chapter, that when Peter had been preaching a second time to the people, though the priests, &c. had cast him and John into prison, many of those that had heard the discourse of Peter believed and the number of the men was about five thou sand."


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