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they were so wisely contrived as to answer the end for which they were designed. They supplied the deficiencies of the temple service. They enlightened the mind, as well as cultivated the devotional sentiments. They kept alive a knowledge of the oracles of God, and effectually cured all tendency to idolatry, and through all the bloody reigns of the successors of Alexander, and the military despotism of the Romans, kept them loyal to their invisible Sovereign, who had separated them from all the nations of the earth.
The synagogue was the cradle of Christianity. The Christian church was borne in its infancy upon the bosom of the Jewish. It was in the synagogues of Judea that the Gospel was first preached by Christ himself. It was in the synagogue of his native village that after reading, he appropriated to himself that beautiful passage of Isaiah : “ The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord,” thereby claiming to be that great prophet that was to come into the world. And when, after his
sion, the apostles were sent forth to teach all nations, they found a place to commence their labors in every considerable city of the Roman empire.
They entered the Jewish synagogue, heretofore devoted to the posterity of Abraham alone; they abolished its sectarian and peculiar rites, set wide open its doors to the nations, appropriated all that was valuable in its ministrations, and in a few centuries enthroned the God of Abraham in the reverence of the Roman world. To the temple and the synagogue then, the offspring of Jewish piety and wisdom, are we indebted for the model of our Christian institutions, which have moulded all modern civilization, and have been the chief means of realizing God's ancient promise to Abraham, “ that in his seed all nations of the earth should be blessed.” To these England, our mother country, owes her moral and physical supremacy in the world. On the preservation of these institutions rests every hope which we can cherish for the happiness, the prosperity, and even the existence of our own country. And if the time shall ever come when the Sabbath shall be desecrated, and the voice of prayer and instruction no longer heard in the sanctuary, then may we be sure that the sun of our prosperity is about to set in blood, and the day of our destruction draweth nigh.
JOHN 4: 9.—Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria ? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
A Jew, at the time of Christ, would not have thought himself complimented to have heard the Samaritans reckoned among Jewish sects, and perhaps, in strictness, they cannot be considered as such. But as many of them were originally of Jewish extraction, and received the laws of Moses as their fundamental constitution, lived in the very centre of Palestine, and are often introduced in the New Testament, a history of Christianity would be imperfect which should neglect to give some account of them.
The reign of Solomon, though so glorious to himself and so advantageous to his nation, sowed the seeds of disunion and dissolution in his kingdom. The temple, and the vast public works which he completed, could not have been constructed without heavy taxation. That was borne, during his reign, with patience
from the sentiments of pride and patriotism. But as soon as he was dead, and a son of inferior gifts and splendor, sat upon his throne, the people grew restive under the yoke, and demanded some abatement in the public burdens. The haughty answer they received from the young king, alienated their affections, and inflamed their resentment. Ten tribes revolted, and chose for their king, Jeroboam, a man alike destitute of piety and principle. To draw off the ten tribes more effectually from the house of David, he undertook to change their religion, and prevent their going up to Jerusalem, at their annual festivals. So he made two golden calves, one of which he set up at Bethel, about twelve miles from Jerusalem, on the border of his kingdom toward the South, and the other at Dan, on the northern extremity of his dominions, and said to his subjects: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold, thy gods which brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” He also ordained a feast in opposition to the festivals at Jerusalem. Seduced by such an example in high places, the ten tribes soon forsook the true God, and verged rapidly to ruin. What was wanting in the depravity of Jeroboam, seems fully to have been made up by Ahab, some generations after, for he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, introducing with her the worst species of idolatry. The kingdom of Israel was set up nine hundred and ninety years before Christ, and continued
only two hundred and fifty-four. By that time the knowledge of the true God was nearly lost among them, and they were carried away by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, beyond the Euphrates, never more to return.
As it often happened in ancient times, the conqueror settled the country which had been possessed by the ten tribes with colonies of his own subjects from Babylon and Cutha, and other countries. When they arrived there they found the country infested by lions, which had overrun it in its desolation. Imagining in their heathenish superstition, that it was because they did not know how to worship the God of the country, they sent to the king of Assyria for one of the priests, whom he had taken captive, to teach them in their Pagan phrase, “the manner of the god of the land," and he returned to them one of the priests who took up his residence in Bethel, and taught them the worship of the true God. But all he ever effected was to make them worship the true God in conjunction with other gods. The kingdom of Judah and Benjamin continued after that of Israel was destroyed, one hundred and thirty-eight years, when they too were carried into captivity to Babylon.
We hear nothing more of the successors of the ten tribes, till the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of the temple, by Zorobabel and his companions.