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Suggested by Rembrandt's celebrated Picture in the
Viewing those lines so finely wrought,
And all that can our faith confirm,
While we to distant times return;
And by the Holy Spirit led,
(For what without His help are we?)
Search out those times of mystery,
By cloud and fire, through sea and land.
Names, which our northern boasted clime,
To Western Asia's sacred shore? Names that ascend to those high times When He the mercy-seat would shake, Reminding Israel of their crimes,
Or them into communion take. Names, which their splendour have deriv❜d, Not from the fount of this world's springs; But at their honours they arriv'd
By mandate of the King of kings.
Ascended to its tops in fear:
This was the house of Israel's fame.
Like reeds beneath the tempest's roar. And why is Judah thus disgrac'd?
Why does the house of Israel mourn? Why is that dear and favour'd race
Condemn'd to this world's jest and scorn.
It is because their KING came down,
They knew him not; they slew their Prince; Though high in glory now He reigns,
They have been slaves and wand'rers since. Present they are in every land,
But yet they find a home in none;
The highest state to which they come.
A COMPANION FOR THE SEASON OF
With an Appendix, containing Hints for the Nursery. By Thomas Searle, of Stony Stratford, Author of "An English Grammar in Verse." pp. 224, 18mo. cloth, Second Edition.
"MATERNAL SOLICITUDE" has been unaccountably disregarded or forgotten to a surprising extent, by our pious and gifted authors. This cannot have been from want of affection, as many of our most interesting writers on devotional subjects are known to have been among the most worthy examples of conjugal tenderness. We will not attempt to assign a reason for the neglect of maternal claims, but offer our sincere thanks to Mr. Searle for the valuable manual which he has presented to the public. In our judgment, he has entitled himself to the gratitude of the whole Christian commu. nity, and we can only express our desire that it may become known in a degree equal to its merits.
THE PATH OF LIFE.
This mortal life, of few and feverish days,
That bound it trembling to its native dust;
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At what period of the Jewish history synagogues were first erected cannot be determined. Some suppose they were used while the temple of Solomon was standing, and even in the times of the Judges. Prideaux, Stackhouse, and others, think there were no such buildings before the captivity: but that some places of public worship and religious instruction existed, besides the temple of Solomon, we have certain evidence for on the burning of that splendid edifice, B. C. 588, the inspired prophet Asaph complains of the savage fierceness of the Babylonians, and their dreadful ravages, destroying their synagogues: "They have cast fire into thy sanctuary; they have defiled by casting down the dwelling-place of thy name to the ground. They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burnt up all the synagogues of God in the land." Psalin lxxiv, 7, 8.
Dispersed in foreign countries, the Jews became more thoughtful of their religious privileges, and more 2 D
zealous in seeking divine instruction. They assembled in private houses for religious conference and worship; and, where they could obtain license, they erected meeting-houses for their accommodation. On their reestablishment in Canaan after their return from BabyIon, and especially after the reformation under Ezra and Nehemiah, these buildings became common. after-ages, when Alexander the Great induced 100,000 Jews to settle in his newly-erected city, Alexandria in Egypt, with privileges both civil and religious equal to his native Greeks, they built a most magnificent edifice, concerning which the Jews were accustomed to say, "Whosoever hath not seen the great synagogue at Alexandria, hath not seen the glory of Israel."
In the time of our Saviour's ministry, there were twelve synagogues in Tiberias, a city of Galilee, and no less than four hundred and eighty in Jerusalem; besides many in different parts of Canaan, as intimated in the New Testament. In the Acts of the Apostles, we find mention made of synagogues of the Jews in many distant cities, which were visited by the apostolic missionaries.
By the Jewish polity, a synagogue might be erected in any place where there were teu Batelnim persons of mature age and free condition, who had leisure to attend to divine service daily; as ten persons, according to the Jews, were a congregation. Our blessed Lord appears to allude to the smallness of a synagogue, or church, in his declaration, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," Matt. xviii, 20. Any person, even a Gentile, might build a synagogue; and thus we find that a Roman centurion is commended by the Jews: "He loveth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue." Luke vii, 5.
Over the door of these buildings was such an inscription as "This is the gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter;" and upon the walls within were written such sentences as— "Remember thy Creator" Keep thy foot, when thou goest into the house of Silence is commendable in the time of prayer"-"Prayers without attention are like a body without a soul."
1. Prayers were the first part of the service of the synagogue. Originally it appears that their devotional exercises were extemporaneous, as all the prayers mentioned in the Scriptures were; but in the time of our Saviour they had prescribed forms. Dr. Prideaux says, 'Their prayers at first were very few; but since they are increased into a very large bulk, which makes their synagogue service very long and tedious; and the rubric, by which they regulate it, is very perplexed and intricate, and encumbered with many rites and ceremonious observ. ances; in all which they equal, if not exceed, both the superstition and the length of the popish service. The most solemn part of their prayers are those which they call 'Shemoneth Eshreh,' that is, the eighteen prayers. These, they say, were composed and instituted by Ezra and the Great Synagogue; and to them Rabbi Gamaliel, a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, added the nineteenth, against the Christians." The learned Doctor remarks: "It must be acknowledged, that some of these prayers seem to have been composed after the destruction of Jerusalem."-" Our Saviour found fault with their prayers for being too long in his time. (Matt. xxiii, 14; Luke xx, 47.) Many additions in their liturgies have made them much more so since."
2. Reading the Scriptures constituted another part of the synagogue service. The Shema, the Law, and the Prophets, were the divisions of the sacred books. The Shema consists of three portions of Scripture: the first is from the beginning of the fourth verse of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy to the end of the ninth verse;
the second from the thirteenth verse of the eleventh chapter to the end of the twenty-first verse; and the third, from the thirty-seventh verse of the fifteenth chapter of Numbers to the end. And because the first of these portions in the Hebrew Bible begins with the word Shema, i. e. "hear," they call the three together the Shema, and the reading of them "Kiriath Shema," that is, the reading of the Shema.
Besides the Shema, the Five Books of Moses were read on the Sabbath, they having been divided into so many portions for the year. After the dispersion under Antiochus, king of Syria, so many sections of the Prophets were read instead; and when the Maccabees had restored the true worship, both were retained, the Law for the first lesson, and the Prophets for the second. Hence we understand the order of the service, as mentioned Acts xiii, 15, in the synagogue at Antioch, when "after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto" Paul and Barna. bas, to exhort the people.
3. The Exposition of the Scriptures, and Preaching, formed part of the Jewish service. Expounding the Scriptures, according to Prideaux, "was performed at the time of the reading of them," and preaching "after the reading both of the Law and the Prophets was over. It is plain Christ taught the Jews in their synagogues both these ways." Stackhouse justly remarks, "After that the Hebrew language had ceased to be the mothertongue of the Jews, and the Chaldee grew up into use instead of it, the custom of the synagogue was, that one should first read a paragraph of the Scriptures to the people in the Hebrew tongue, and then another interpreted it in the Chaldee, which they better understood. And this seems to suggest the reason why those sections of Scripture came to be divided into verses, viz. that by this means the reader might certainly know how much he was to read, and the interpreter how much he was to interpret, at every interval."
Dr. Prideaux's observations contain an edifying comment on Luke iv, 16, &c. "When Jesus came to Nazareth, his own city, he was called out, as a member of that synagogue, to read the Hapterah, that is, the section or lesson out of the Prophets which was to be read that day. And when he had stood up and read it, he sat down and expounded it, as was the usage of the Jews in both these cases. For out of reverence to the Law and the Prophets, they stood up when they did read any portion out of either; and, in regard to themselves as teachers, they sat when they expounded. But in all other synagogues, of which he was not a member, when he entered into them (as he always did every Sabbath-day wherever he was), he taught the people in sermons, after the reading of the Law and the Prophets was over. And so St. Paul taught the Jews in their synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia; for there it is expressly said, in the sacred text, that his preaching was after the reading of the Law and the Prophets was ended.”
"From what has been said," as Stackhonse remarks, "it appears that the ministration of the synagogueservice was not confined to the sacerdotal order; for the priests were consecrated only for the service of the temple, which was widely different from this, as consisting chiefly in the offering up of sacrifices and oblations; but to this in the synagogue, any one that by learning was qualified for it was admitted. Only, for the preservation of order, there were in every synagogue some fixed officers, whose business it was to take care that all religious duties were therein decently performed.
4. Officers of the Synagogue.-The rulers of the synagogue, of whom we frequently read (Mark v, 22; xiii, 9), appear to have been trustees of the property, and managers of the general affairs of the places of worship. The minister (Luke iv, 20) of the synagogue, whose business
it was to offer up to God the public prayers of the congregation, and being for this purpose delegated as it were by them to God, is therefore, in the Hebrew language, called Sheliach Zibber,' i. e. the angel of the church, or congregation; from whence the name of the bishops of the seven churches, mentioned in the Revelations, is manifestly borrowed." Besides this angel of the church, each synagogue had its "Chazanim," or deacons, whose business was to take care of the books and sacred utensils of the house of God. And, if need were, an interpreter was hired for a salary, to recite the Chaldee lessons, as they were read in Hebrew to the congregation.
5. The Times of Public Worship. The ordinary days of worship in the synagogue were Monday, Thursday, and Saturday; learning from Exod. xv, 22, that the soul needs the water of life from the word of God oftener than every three days. Half of the Sabbath lesson they read on the Monday, and the other on the Thursday. On the Sabbath they read the whole, both morning and evening: the latter "for the sake of labourers and artificers, who could not leave their work to attend the synagogues on the week day." Three times a day the synagogue was open for prayers; to which custom, it is thought, Daniel's practice had regard, Dan. vii, 10. On festival days the services commenced earlier, especially in the temple-service.
The rulers of the synagogue were magistrates, and the government which they exercised consisted in punishing the disobedient, and in taking care of the alms. Their censures, excommunications, fines, and scourgings were dreaded: but as the law allowed them to give only forty stripes, they reduced the punishment to thirty-nine, lest they should exceed that number. Paul alludes to this custom, when, enumerating his sufferings, he says, "Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one." 2 Cor. xi, 24. Every synagogue was furnished with two treasury chests, one for donations to their own poor, and another for those to relieve strangers. No beggars were suffered in the land: hence the remarks of the emperor Julian the apostate, in the fourth century, "What a shame is it that we should take no care of our poor, when the Jews suffer no beggars amongst them; and the Galileans (as he called the Christians), impious as they are (so his inveterate malignity led him to characterize them), maintain their own poor, and even ours."
The establishment of public worship in the synagogues, and expounding the Scriptures, after the Babylonish captivity, constituted a new era in the church of God. Before that period, idolatry was the prevailing sin of the Israelites; but, except in a few cases of apostacy, in the times of dreadful persecution, the whole people, down to the time of the advent of Christ, were most determinately set against that dreadfully criminal folly. Besides which, it became necessary for each synagogue to possess a copy of the Holy Scriptures the frequent reading of them made the people familiar with their divine contents; and, considering how widely the Jews were dispersed, even among the Gentiles, and that their sacred books were translated into different languages for popular use, it appeared to be the most admirable means of preparing the way of the Lord, in making known his gospel of salvation to all nations. This great and useful peculiarity has been adopted as appropriate to Christianity; and the most precious privileges, which any people can possibly enjoy on earth, are ordinances of divine worship as prescribed in the New Testament, and the faithful preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are mercifully ordained to be enjoyed by all nations; and by these means "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
REVOCATION OF THE "IRREVOCABLE EDICT OF NANTZ."
(Continued from p. 188.)
THE Edict of Nantz having secured liberty to the Protestants of France, genuine piety flourished in some of their churches. Many of their pastors were men of eminent learning, orthodoxy, and personal religion; by which they were prepared to endure affliction for the sake of Christ, as well as to rejoice in his salvation. Not a few, however, were men of little acquaintance with experimental godliness. The distinguishing doctrines of the gospel, therefore, as held by the reformers, were slighted, or even denied; and a political worldly spirit was their distinguishing characteristic. The governors of the fortified towns, which the Calvinists were allowed to hold for their security, observing the sleepless malice of the crafty Jesuits, became active in taking measures for their own preservation. This vigilant precaution was magnified by their ene-. mies, and represented as dangerous to the state; on which pretext cruel persecutions and destructive wars were carried on against them, and the barbarities of the sixteenth century were renewed against these Dissenters in France.
They were also characterized by an equal degree of perfidy. The atrocious cruelties exercised upon them, are supposed to have been to an equal or even to a greater extent. In the former part of the century, under the direction of Cardinal Richlieu, prime minister of Louis XIII, a man of great talents, but an enemy to the reformers worthy of popery, the cautionary towns were taken from the Calvinists. One shameful invasion of their rights succeeded another during the administration of the cardinal: the most inhuman laws, which the blind rage of bigotry could frame, and the most oppressive measures which ingenious malice could devise, were employed to destroy these conscientious dissenters from idolatrous superstition, or to bring them by force under the papal yoke.
After the death of Cardinal Richlieu, the popish bishops, together with the Jesuits, had the principal influence in the cabinet of Louis XIV, and their characteristic zeal rather increased against the Calvinists. Finding their unweared political intrigues insufficient, they prevailed on the king in 1685, contrary to the most solemn obligations which human or divine laws can frame, to revoke the "Irrevocable Edict of Nantz."
The consequences of the revocation of this celebrated Edict, corresponded to the wickedness of the act itself.
It was intended, by one grand effort, to extirpate the very remembrance of the Protestant profession in France. For this purpose, troops of soldiers were commissioned to accomplish by fire and sword this bloody work, which they proceeded to execute with every species of unheard-of brutality. M. Claude informs us, that they bound some before great fires, and let them go when they were half roasted! They hanged others with ropes under their arms, and plunged them repeatedly into wells of water to drown them! They bound mothers that gave suck to posts, and laid their helpless infants before them, languishing for days and nights, to perish in their sight! Amid hideous cries and blasphemies, they suspended men and women, stripped of their clothes, some by their hair, and others by their feet, and suffocated them with burning hay! After other indignities, they stuck the body with pins and needles from head to foot; and others, being naked, they rolled along the floors, covered with pieces of broken glass. Many, endeavouring to escape these horrid torments, were pursued by the soldiers into the fields and woods, where they were shot like beasts of
prey! These scenes of freezing horror were witnessed by inany of the popish clergy, who beheld them with sportive laughter and fiend-like exultation.
By these dreadful proceedings Calvinism was not indeed wholly exterminated in France, but the true church was reduced exceedingly low. The preachers and professors had fifteen days allowed them to leave the kingdom; in which time many, eminent for piety and learning, fled and found asylums in Protestant countries. Eight hundred thousand, who were artizans, escaped from the persecutions; many of whom, settling in Spitalfields, London, and in the county of York, contributed greatly by their factories to the wealth and prosperity of England*.
Perhaps it would be impossible accurately to determine in what degree the manufactures of our country have been benefited through that political blunder of popish bigotry in France: but a remarkable coincidence at that period deserves our present notice. The silk manufacture had but a short period previously been introduced into England; probably by the persecuted French Protestants, who were mostly weavers. printing of calicoes commenced in England in 1676, and soon after, looms for weaving them were brought over from Holland. But the crowds of French weavers, thus driven from their own country in 1685, finding an asylum in England, by their ingenuity, sobriety, and industry, gave a new impulse to our trade, whilst that of their native country was injured: and by their means, those amazingly extensive branches of English Inanufacture have contributed greatly to the elevation and opulence of Great Britain.
* Timpson's Church History through all Ages, p. 264-266.
ON THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES.
No. V. THE MERCY OF GOD.
3. THIS mercy is exercised through an all-sufficient propitiation. The Divinity of the Son of God seems to be indispensably necessary to the scheme of redemption, and to be proved by every part of it. It was not in the power of any human being, however high his attainments in virtue, to render himself acceptable in the sight of an infinitely holy God; and if no man could deliver his own guilty soul, surely argument is not needed to prove that he could not deliver that of his condemned brother, much less of unnumbered myriads; there must, therefore, have been a distinction between Christ and his brethren according to the flesh, which placed Him at an immeasurable distance above them. But, moreover, as it would not have been consistent with the justice of God himself to create a being fitted to accomplish an atonement, it follows of necessity, that before our Lord assumed the garb of mortality, He had existed from eternity in the glory of the Godhead. It was absolutely necessary that He who undertook to bear the guilt of a ruined world, should know precisely at what cost their redemption could be effected; and the language of our Saviour clearly implies, that He had received from God exact instructions as to what He must do and suffer, ere the rebels and wanderers could be received back to friendship. Now all this intelligence and these instructions, clearly demonstrate the pre-existence of our Saviour.
The immense importance of having correct views of the character of Christ, makes me anxious to set it forth in what I conceive to be its true light. There
to be two essential qualities necessary to be possessed by our Surety, viz. 1. Ability to save; 2. Willingness to do so. On each of these I will make a few
(1.) Ability to effect the redemption of mankind must have been possessed by Jesus Christ. The divine law, both in theory and practice, had declared, that without shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin; and common sense could not fail to decide, that the blood of bulls and of goats could never effect this important object. It was, therefore, necessary that some mighty One should arise, who by His death should make atonement for transgressions. A creature could not accomplish this; for as every creature derives the whole of its existence, and every thing it enjoys, from the hand of God, the sacrifice of its life would be no offering to the Almighty, but simply a return to Him of what was His own. Neither do I conceive that any creature would be justified in laying down his life for another; for since God has bestowed it on him, he is bound to keep it until called upon to restore it to its original Giver. The conclusion, therefore, is forced upon us, that "as the Father hath life in Himself, even so the Son hath life in Himself," and that He has power to lay down His life as an offering for the sins of mankind.
(2.) Willingness also is a necessary part in the character of a Redeemer. Do away with this, and you do away with salvation altogether, and reduce the Saviour of mankind to a level with the children of men. Ample testimony, however, is afforded us of the readiness with which Christ became a curse for us, that He might redeem us from the curse of the law. St. Paul, when treating on the extent to which human pity will reach, supposes it to be just possible, that if the life of a benefactor of the world were in danger, some generous being might be found willing to lay down his own life as a rescue. How transcendantly then is the love of Christ exalted far above that of the children of men, when we behold Him bleeding and dying for His enemies. There was no exterior cause to induce Christ to die for us; and had not mercy been an attribute inherent in His nature, He would have spurned from His embrace the ungrate ful descendants of Adam, and instead of healing their sickness and curing their diseases, would have blasted them with the withering breath of uninitigated vengeance. No shadow of respect was shown Him by his creatures, no tenderness of sympathy to call forth his mercy; but, on the contrary, the blackest ingratitude was stamped on every action, and written on every heart. Let us not, therefore, hesitate to confess, that his desire to save us must indeeed have been a great one, since nothing could induce Him to alter his purpose.
It is not in the power of human reason to comprehend the mystery of man's redemption, and to the remarks which I have already made it seems necessary only to add, that Scripture assures us, that a Person such as I have described did descend upon this earth: that in Him was united all that can be considered necessary for the accomplishment of the grand work He came to perform that after a life of unexampled suffering and purity, He voluntarily submitted to the death of the cross: and that, in consequence of this, God has positively, distinctly, and repeatedly declared, that the sins of mankind are atoned for, and that He waits to be gracious to all who will accept His mercy. "Now in Christ Jesus, they who were sometime far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
II. But before closing this subject, I consider it will be necessary to make the two following remarks.
1. Who are they that will obtain mercy? Since so mighty an atonement has been effected for the sins of men, I think it is quite clear that by no other means can man be accepted before God. Oh! we may be