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all other times such inhabitants of Jerusalem or the whole country as should choose to go to the temple to worship or sacrifice. Hence it is that we so often read in the New Testament of men going up into the temple to pray, or at the hour of prayer. They made it a point to be there at the offering of the morning or evening sacrifice, feeling as we may suppose, their devotion quickened and assisted by the thought of a national worship, and the consciousness of the sympathy of thousands lifting up their hearts at the same moment to Him who heareth prayer. These different courts and degrees of approach to the sanctuary, add beauty to that most exquisite parable of Publican and Pharisee: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a Publican. And the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,—God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tytbes of all that I possess. And the Publican standing afar off would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.”
There must have been something exceedingly grand and imposing in the Jewish national worshipa whole nation assembled in one temple, itself a mag
nificent structure, and adoring the Almighty at once, while the smoke of their common sacrifice ascended to heaven! Besides the priests, there were employed in the temple service a great company of singers, accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments then in use.
For this service most of the Psalms were written, those sublime and glorious compositions, which have stood for ages unapproached in the literature of the world, which combining in a wonderful manner the purest and most exalted devotional sentiments, with the most forcible inculcation of truth and duty, afford the most life giving food for the mind and heart, and are surpassed only by the words of him who spake as never man spake.
“ O come let us sing unto the Lord;
- Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord,
During the burning of the sacrifice, that most beautiful benediction of Moses was pronounced upon the whole congregation: “ The Lord bless thee and keep thee, The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.”
The religion of the Jews, and especially their temple worship, made an indelible impression on their minds, and took a hold upon their affections, which has never been exhibited in any other people. Religion and patriotism, two of the strongest passions of the human breast, united to bind the heart of the Jew to the city and temple where his fathers had worshipped. Its very soil to him was holy ground, and to rescue it from pollution his blood was ever ready to flow. Wherever he was upon the face of the habitable globe, he yearly sent to Jerusalem a contribution for the maintenance of its sacred services. Wherever he might be, the sacred city and temple were uppermost in his thoughts; and in the
desert or the city, his hour of prayer was the hour when the morning or evening sacrifice was offered up at Jerusalem. And to this day pilgrims of that afflicted and scattered nation come on their final journey to lay their bones in that consecrated soil, where repose the ashes of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob.
The first temple built by Solomon continued in its glory only thirty-seven years, when it was plundered by Shishak, king of Egypt. It afterwards underwent a variety of fortune under the different reigns of the kings of Judah, till at last it was taken and robbed of all its precious things by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, five hundred and eighty-eight years before Christ. It continued in a state of absolute desolation for fifty-two years, when the foundations of a new one were laid by Zorobabel, the lineal heir of the throne of David, at the command of Cyrus, king of Persia. This temple stood until seventeen years before the Christian era, when Herod the Great enlarged its size, and rebuilt it with a splendor and expense which far surpassed either of its predecessors. In this temple, though still unfinished, the infant Jesus was presented to God by his parents as their first born son, according to the provisions of the law. In this temple he appeared in the capacity of the Messiah, and delivered many of those immortal discourses which have gladdened and strengthened millions of hearts from that day to this. It was finally
destroyed by Titus, seventy years after the birth of Christ, and now its site is occupied by a Mahommedan mosque, and no Jew or Christian is permitted to come within its precincts.
I turn now from the temple to the synagogue. Though the provisions under the first temple for worship may seem to us ample, those for religious instruction, compared with our present usages, must appear deficient. There is a tradition that this was the opinion of the Jews themselves after their return from the Babylonish captivity. It is said, that during their exile, they were led to reflect on the causes of their awful apostacy from Jehovah. And among them occurred as one of the most prominent, the ignorance into which they had fallen of the laws of Moses, and the fundamental principles of their religion. After their return they attempted to remedy the evil by building synagogues, or places of assembly, in every town and village throughout the country.
A more probable account of the matter to my mind is, that after their return from Chaldea the difficulties of imparting religious instruction were greatly increased, and roused them to new efforts. The Hebrew had become a dead language, and of course inaccessible to the mass of the people, except by an interpreter. They could no longer read their Scriptures at home, and when they pleased. The office of religious instructor could no longer be performed by