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§ 56. Sacred Places.

Although, as the omnipresent Spirit, God may be worshipped in all places of the universe, which is his temple,685685    Comp. John 4:24. yet our finite, sensuous nature, and the need of united devotion, require special localities or sanctuaries consecrated to his worship. The first Christians, after the example of the Lord, frequented the temple at Jerusalem and the synagogues, so long as their relation to the Mosaic economy allowed. But besides this, they assembled also from the first in private houses, especially for the communion and the love feast. The church itself was founded, on the day of Pentecost, in the upper room of an humble dwelling.

The prominent members and first converts, as Mary, the mother of John Mark in Jerusalem, Cornelius in Caesarea, Lydia in Philippi, Jason in Thessalonica, Justus in Corinth, Priscilla in Ephesus, Philemon in Colosse, gladly opened their houses for social worship. In larger cities, as in Rome, the Christian community divided itself into several such assemblies at private houses,686686    ἐκκλησίαι κατ̓ οἷκον, Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19. which, however, are always addressed in the epistles as a unit.

That the Christians in the apostolic age erected special houses of worship is out of the question, even on account of their persecution by Jews and Gentiles, to say nothing of their general poverty; and the transition of a whole synagogue to the new faith was no doubt very rare. As the Saviour of the world was born in a stable, and ascended to heaven from a mountain, so his apostles and their successors down to the third century, preached in the streets, the markets, on mountains, in ships, sepulchres, eaves, and deserts, and in the homes of their converts. But how many thousands of costly churches and chapels have since been built and are constantly being built in all parts of the world to the honor of the crucified Redeemer, who in the days of his humiliation had no place of his own to rest his head!687687    Luke 9:58.

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