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the custom, after the reading of the law and the prophets was concluded. And thus did St. Paul at Antioch; which also being remarkable, especially with respect to the subject of his teaching, it was proper for the historian to mention. If a stranger happened to preach at any of our places of worship in the present day, those who heard him would naturally mention this circumstance to their friends, particularly if there were any thing singular either in his manner or his subject. But who would think of observing that he was present at the prayers, and joined in them with the others? His being there to preach implied this. No person, therefore, who pays any attention to the meaning which general custom has assigned to these expressions, can doubt that when it is said, it was the custom of Christ and his apostles to attend the Synagogue on the sabbath day, this implies, that they constantly joined in the usual services of these places; and we see at once, that so universal and so long established was the practice of social prayer in the habits of their countrymen, that it would never occur to them to give a particular command to enforce the observance of it, as if it were something new, or generally neglected.
In addition to this, we are informed by the Evangelists, that Christ also celebrated the Passover with his disciples; and as this was not only a re
a See Prideaux's Conn. part i. book vi. p. 380.
ligious ceremony, but was accompanied by prayers and praises altogether as social as those of the Synagogue, it may be proper to add a brief account of the manner in which this festival was observed, as affording another indisputable proof, that Christ approved of social worship, and recommended it to his followers by his example a. On the day of the Passover the people formed themselves into companies of such a number as one lamb would serve, according to the Mosaic institute. These lambs were all brought to the Temple to be slain, with certain ceremonies, by the priests; and whilst this was done, the Levites were employed in an act of praise, which consisted of singing the 113th and five following Psalms©; and as the number of lambs to be slain was very considerable, and the Levites continued to sing these psalms during the whole time, they usually had to repeat them more than once or twice. This singing was introduced by a prayer, and during the whole of the former, all the people who were present joined with the Levites at frequent intervals, either by singing Hallelujah, or some pas
Lightfoot's Temple Service, chap. iii. p. 125. See also Lewis's Hebrew Antiquities.
b Exod. xii. 4.
The Psalms were sung by the Levites with the same responses of the people on eighteen days in the year, at the different festivals.
d See Rev. xix. 1–6. The Hallelujah there described bears considerable resemblance to Lightfoot's account of the singing in the Temple at the Passover, except that the former greatly excelled the latter in grandeur.
sages of the psalms just mentioned. When the paschal lambs were slain, they were taken home by the different companies to which they belonged, to be eaten in the evening with many ceremonies a besides thanksgiving and singing. At the paschal supper the chief of the company, an elder, and if a family, the head of it, recited the prayers and thanksgivings in the name of the rest, who joined with him by responses. Among the several forms of devotion used on this occasion, the following is the tenour of that which was recited over the wine: "Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast created the fruit of the vine. Blessed be thou for this good day, and for this holy convocation which thou hast given us for joy and rejoicing. Blessed be thou, O Lord, who hast sanctified Israel," &c. Another thanksgiving was the following: "O Lord our God, let all thy works praise thee, and the saints, the righteous that do thy will, and thy people of the house of Israel, all of them with acclamation. Let them praise, and magnify, and exalt, and sing aloud the name of thy glory with honour and rejoicing for remembrance of thy kingdom; for it is good to praise thee, and lovely to sing unto thy name. Thou art God for ever and ever. Blessed be thou, O Lord our king, who art greatly to be praised. Amen." The president concluded thus: "Let
a Such as washing, eating bitter herbs, and the peace-offering, besides the paschal lamb. For the whole account, see Lightfoot, p. 125.
the soul of all living bless thy name, O Lord our God, and let the spirit of all flesh glorify and exalt thy memorial for ever, O our king. For thou art our God for ever, and besides thee we have no king, redeemer, or saviour." Before the concluding benediction, they sang what the Evangelist calls a hymn, that is, they recited the six psalms mentioned before.
It was the custom for the company to drink four cups of wine on this occasion. The third cup was called the cup of blessing, partly because the blessing, or grace after meat, was said over it, as terminating the meal; and chiefly to distinguish it from the first cup, for over that as well as this a particular blessing or thanksgiving was uttered. The apostle Paul alludes to this custom when he mentions the cup of blessing, 1 Cor. x. 16. And the excesses of the Christian professors to whom he wrote, probably arose from their celebrating the Lord's Supper too much after the manner of the Passover, and abusing the customs of it, though in those customs themselves there was nothing that had a tendency to intemperance; for the company were limited to a certain quantity of wine, which was by no means immoderate.
It was also the third cup, called the cup of blessing, which Christ took, and, when he had pronounced the thanksgiving over it, as the president of the company, bid them take and divide it among themselves. After this he broke the unleavened bread, for they had before eaten the
lamb. The fourth cup was called the cup of the hallel, because it was used at the time of the singing. This Christ took, and appointed to be the cup of the new covenant of his blooda.
Here then again were social prayer and praises, which Christ himself, as the president, delivered, and in which the apostles joined by responses.
THE SOCIAL WORSHIP OF CHRISTIANS.
Passages in the New Testament in favour of Social Prayer.
WE come at length to the distinct examination of the particular passages that occur in the New Testament relative to social prayer. And though the statements that have been given, and the observations that have been made, concerning the religious worship of the Jews have occupied so considerable a portion of these pages, they were evidently necessary on several accounts, and the whole have a bearing on this branch of our subject. We have shown the high antiquity as well as the universality of social prayer in the time of Christ, and that it formed in all periods of their
Lightfoot's Temple Service, chap. xiii. p. 158.