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immediately sprinkled it, with solemn silence, seven times, toward the front of the Sanctuary. The next thing was to set fire to the pile, and to throw into it, as it was burning, some cedar wood, some hyssop, and some scarlet wool; first showing each of the articles, however, to the company around, and saying of it three times over in succession, This is cedar wood, or hyssop, or scarlet wool, as the case might be; to which, in each case, they with great gravity replied, Well, well, well. After the burning was finished, the ashes carefully collected, pounded, sifted, and laid up
The red heifer, though not presented directly at the altar, had in it, notwithstanding, the nature of an offering for sin; as is manifest from the use that was required to be made of its blood, and from the fact that, like the bodies of those beasts whose blood was carried into the sanctuary, it polluted those who were concerned with the burning of it, as being itself a polluted thing, by reason of the guilt of the people that was supposed to be laid upon it. Its ashes, therefore, had a purifying efficacy, on the same principle that made blood to be regarded, in other cases, as making atonement for the soul: they comprehended, as it were, the essential virtues of the expiatory death, by which they had been procured; and, when applied to the unclean, werc designed to signify, properly, an application of the merit of that death, as having, in its nature, power to cleanse them from defilement. Thus the whole institution pointed, with peculiar emphasis, to the death of Jesus Christ, and expressively represented its availing virtue to purge away the guilt of all sin from the conscience, as well as to procure complete deliverance from its pollution and power. The Apostle Paul, accordingly, teaches us, that its shadowy and symbolical efficacy, like that of the sin offerings, presented on the great day of atonement, found the actual reality, of which it was the figure, only in the blood of Calvary for as the sprinkling of the water of separation upon such as were defiled, rendered them ceremonially clean, and so fitted them to come before God, in the solemn service of the sanctuary, from which they had been shut out; so this blood, wherever its virtue is applied, cleanses the soul from real guilt, and qualifies it to approach the
living God, in an acceptable manner, with a service altogether spiritual, for which, until thus purged, it is found totally unfit, and can have no liberty whatever. "If the blood of bulls and of goats," the apostle argues," and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!"
To be descended regularly from Abraham, the father of the chosen race, was accounted a distinction of the highest sort, and such as elevated every person to whom it belonged, far above all others of the human family. (John viii. 33-59. 2 Cor. xi. 22. Philip. iii. 5.) Still, the Gentiles, who were destitute of this advantage, were not utterly shut out from the possibility of becoming united with the Jewish church, and obtaining a part in its sacred privileges. By renouncing idolatry, and every false religion, and consenting to embrace the faith, and follow the worship of Israel, they might find admission into the holy family, and become adopted, with all their posterity, into the same highly favoured state that its other members enjoyed, in virtue of their descent from its original head. Such as at any time made use of the opportunity thus afforded, were called proselytes.
There were some Gentiles who became convinced that the Jewish religion was true, and renounced all idolatry for the worship of the one living and true God of the bible, and yet were not willing to take upon themselves the right of circumcision. These were not, of course, received as full members of the Israelitish church, and might not have part in its more important privileges; still they were regarded with considerable favour, and were spoken of as pious persons. They were accustomed to ent the synagogues in company with circumcised Israelites, and used often to visit the temple, also; they were not bound, of course, to bring their sacrifices there, when they wished to offer any; but as they were allowed to do so, they generally embraced the privilege, and had them presented at the altar of the
sanctuary. They were not suffered, however, to offer sacrifices there of any other sort than burnt offerings; and it scarce needs to be mentioned, that they could not accompany their victims into the court where the altar stood, but were under the necessity of having them presented, altogether, through the priests. This class of persons, we are told, were denominated Proselytes of the Gate.
Such as came fully into the Jewish commonwealth and church, by submitting to the rite of circumcision, and taking upon themselves the obligation of the whole cereimonial law, were called Proselytes of righteousness. These were completely grafted into the Israelitish stock, and mingled with the original branches, in the full and lasting participation of all its advantages. In latter times, the Jews, especially the Pharisees, exerted themselves with much zeal to bring other persons to embrace their religion; though, according to the declaration of our Saviour, it was to no good purpose.*
*The former editions of this book have contained a more full discussion of this subject than is here presented. It has been abridged by the committee of publication, for reasons which they doubt not would be entirely satisfactory.
SACRIFICES Could be offered no where else than at the sanctuary, the great centre of the whole Ceremonial Service; but other exercises of religious worship might be performed in any place. The law, however, did not prescribe any other manner of public worship, than that of the tabernacle and temple, and we are not informed that any regular meetings of the people for social prayer and praise, and for the purpose of receiving religious instruction, were in use, at any time, before the captivity. There were schools of the prophets, indeed, where young men were trained up with every advantage of this sort, for the service of God; and it was not uncommon, it seems, for persons that desired such a benefit, to betake themselves, on Sabbaths and new moons, to places where prophets resided, that they might be instructed from their lips; but all this brought only a small portion of the community under the direct influence of such religious privileges, and fell far short of any thing like a general system of regular meetings through the nation, of the sort that has been mentioned. Some have been confident that such a system of regular weekly social worship, was actually in use, and have pretended to bring evidence for their opinion from the bible; but the evidence they produce is not satisfactory, and we are left at last to a mere conjecture, in support of the notion; that is, we find it, whether it be false or true, without historical notice. But of the state of things in this respect, under the second temple, we are not thus ignorant. After the captivity, social meetings, held weekly, for religious worship, became common all over the land. They were styled Synagogues.
Of the origin of Synagogues, we have in history no account. They seem, however, to have come into use, if not at an earlier period, at least immediately after the nation returned from its captivity. One opinion on the subject
is, that Ezra, acting under the direction of God, caused them to be established for the purpose of securing among the people generally, a familiar acquaintance with the law, thus guarding them in the most effectual manner against the evil of idolatry; for Ezra had a commission from Heaven, to restore the Jewish church, and re-organize its worship, after the confusion into which it had been thrown by the captivity, so that he has always been regarded by the Jews as another Moses, and styled, accordingly, The second Founder of the Law. There can be no doubt that the institution, in whatever way it originated, was admirably adapted to answer the end that has been mentioned, and that it did actually operate with the most salutary influence, in this way, during all the period of the second temple.
The word Synagogue means, properly, a meeting or congregation; it came naturally, however, to be used also as the name of the place or house where a congregation was wont to assemble. At first, synagogue-meetings appear to have been held either in the open air, or in private houses; but after some time, the idea of erecting buildings of a public kind, expressly for such use, was conceived and carried into practice. These soon rose wherever, in any country, a settlement of Jews was found, as well as over all their own land. Originally, we are told, it was usual to erect them in fields, some distance off from other houses; but afterwards they were put up in cities; and it was required that they should always stand in the highest places, and should exceed in height all the houses about them. To build a Synagogue, was considered a deed of piety, greatly acceptable in the eye of God, as to build a church has often been esteemed in Christian countries. Hence it is not to be wondered at, that they were exceedingly multiplied in some places, far more than the necessity of the people called for. Jewish tradition assures us that there were no less than four hundred and eighty of them, in the single city of Jerusalem: a lying statement we may well suppose; but such, as in its exaggeration leaves no room to doubt that the number must have been very great. Any person, a Gentile as well as a Jew, might build a Syna. gogue; for the holiness of the place was supposed to result