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smitten them, and became the first fruits of their people to the Lord ? *
With regard to the real origin of the Russian church, the truth appears to be, that it owes its existence, as a branch of the Greek church, to the accident of the geographical position of the country. Excluded from the western world by her remoteness, by the difficult and inhospitable routes through which she was to be reached, and by the barbarism of her inhabitants, Russia, during the early ages of christianity, had no communication with christian nations, save through the Greeks. Hence she derived her notions as to what constituted christianity. She could not well do otherwise than become essentially Greek, as regarded her national religion. Askold and Dir were converted at Constantinople, and they returned to Kieff to sow the seeds of christianity there. Eighty years after their time, mention is made of the church of St. Elias, in that city, where Prince Igor and the Byzantine ambassadors swore to the observance of a treaty. The Emperor Basil, the Macedonian, sent a bishop to the Russians. And in Codinus' catalogue of the sees, subject to the patriarch of Constantinople, the metropolitan see of Russia appears as early as the year 891. It was to Constantinople that the widowed Princess Olga took her way, (A. D. 965,) to gain a knowledge of the true God, and there she received baptism at the hands of the patriarch Polyanetes, the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself standing
ponsor. Having taken the name of Helena, she received from the patriarch instruction in christian doctrine, and returned to Russia (which she governed during the minority of her son Sviatoslaff,) to spread the new faith and to add one more illustrious woman's name to the long roll of those heroines who did so much to establish christianity in other lands. She acknowledged the patriarch of Constantinople as the head of the church in Russia, and in this she was followed by her successors until the year 1583, long after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. In that year, on the death of Dionysius, metropolitan archbishop and regent, the
archbishop of Rostoff, Iob, was made patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia, and the Russian church became independent of the patriarch of Constantinople.
Now if there had been no schism between the sees of Rome and Constantinople, the Russian church would have formed part of the universal christian church, just as the churches of France and Spain would have done. But as it happened that there arose an inappeasible quarrel between them, Russia naturally followed in the footsteps of her instructor and mother, the Greek church. There is no need to trace the history of this schism : it may readily be found in the pages of Gibbon, Mosheim and Neander.
It would scarcely help us to understand the present position of the Russian church, affected as it now is, and has been, by a variety of political and social convulsions, extending over many centuries, whereby the character of the Russian people has been considerably modified. It will be well to point out wherein their church differs from the Roman, and to trace the fortunes of it from the time when it assumed a national character. And this is what we propose to do in the present article; yet there is one important consideration connected with the schism between the eastern and western churches which must not be lost sight of,—and that is, that Russia was a great loser by it; for, as she took sides with Greece, she was cut off from the community and advantages of European civilization and sympathies. She thus became isolated; and, consequently, all the reforms and aspirations of the rest of Europe passed unnoticed by her. Even the Crusaders appealed to her in vain ; and the patriarch of Constantinople, from personal hatred to the Latins, transferred his see to Nicea, in Bithynia, rather than have anything to do with them. Had the Greeks and Russians coöperated with the Latins in the attempt to drive the Saracens out of Palestine, that object might have been achieved; but, as they did not, and, on the contrary, did all they could to thwart the Crusaders, they were punished ultimately by the oppression of themselves by the infidels. The Greek church was enfeebled by oriental apathy and ignorance, while the Latin was preserving the intellectual treasures of
antiquity. In the west were progress and the germs of freedom, but in the east were slavishness, corruption, and venality. The taint spread to Russia, and poisoned her vitals. What would have been her destiny had she received her faith from Europe instead of Asia ?
At the time of the introduction of christianity into Russia there were two religions struggling for empire. One was the worship of Peroun, the Thunderer, the ancient religion of the Slavi ; the other that of Odin, the religion of the Scandinavian pirates, who ultimately subjugated the Slavi, and gave them the name of Russians. The latter being the religion of the hated few, soon disappeared, and christianity was left to contend with Peroun alone. But the worship of Peroun was the religion of the multitude, supported by long usage and identified with the popular democratic institutions, while christianity was the religion only of the more enlightened class. Thus the Princess Olga, with all her zeal, was able to do but little, even with her son Sviatoslaff, and she was forced to content herself with indoctrinating her young grandson, Vladimir (afterwards surnamed the Great), who, thus trained, watched his opportunity, on his accession to the throne, for establishing the new faith. In concert with the elders of his council, he sent chosen men to make inquiries into the merits of the different systems of religion then prevailing, and thus prepared the public mind for what he intended should follow. While these agents were prosecuting their inquiries, Vladimir suddenly attacked Cherson, in the Tauride, a possession of the emperors. By stratagem he got posession of the city (A. D. 992). Then he sent to Constantinople to demand the hand of the Princess Anna, and the emperor consented to give it to him on condition that he embraced christianity. The prince acceded; the envoys reported favorably as to the Greek church to the Russian people, and the scheme was ripe. Vladimir and his suite were publicly baptized by the bishop of Cherson, at that city. He returned to Russia, with his bride, and erected in Kieff a church, that of St. Basil, on the very mount which had been sacred to Peroun, adjoining his own palace. Thus was Russia “christianized." (?)
Now what was the christianity thus imported into Russia ? It was that which had been formed by a succession of councils and decrees of emperors. In the main, the doctrines of the eastern and western churches were the same, with the exception of certain views as to the two natures in Christ, the observance of easter, the administration of baptism, and the ceremonials of the church service. The canons of the councils which the eastern church adhered to, the ecclesiastical laws of the Greeks, and some portions of their civil law, together with the scriptures, were taken as the basis of ecclesiastical administration in Russia. The oriental systems of monasticism and asceticism were likewise adopted, and tithes were established by Vladimir for the support of the clergy. The country was apportioned into bishoprics, and the bishops were ordained by metropolitan bishops who had received their ordination from the patriarch of Constantinople. The right of judging causes was granted to the bishops. and the metropolitan of Kieff, and they judged according to the Nomocanon of the Greeks.* At the grand ceremony wherein these grants and privileges were conferred, Vladimir said—“If any one shall transgress this, my ordinance, which I have enacted in conformity with the ancient Greek Nomocanon, may the curse light upon him !" The ordinance more especially referred to in this anathema was the law which he proclaimed, viz. : that no one of his successors, nor of the boyars, nor any other person, even unto the end of the world, should venture to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the clergy, This ordinance was deposited, in writing, in the church of the Holy Mother of God at Kieff. It is given at full length in the notes to M. Mouravieft's work.+
The sovereign of Russia thus divested himself, his sucoessors, and his nobility, of extraordinary judicial powers, in order to confer them on the clergy. He gave them jurisdiction in almost every case of crime and heresy, disputed property, wills, legacies, marriage and divorce;
* As to this Nomocanon, a short account of it will be found in the preface to Beverege's Synodicon. Also in Hase's History of the Christian Church, pp. 135. 260.
| History of the Church of Russia, Notes, pp. 357-8. VOL. XX.NO. XXXVII. 5
but reserved to the sovereign the right to punish treason and rebellion. The bishops were empowered to supervise the measures, weights, scales and balances of the town and the market, Heavy fines could be imposed on all offenders, who were also threatened with everlasting punishment hereafter. In judicial matters between a person belonging to the church and another man, the tribunal appointed to judge the cause was to be partly civil and partly ecclesiastical; but in matters in dispute between “persons belonging to the church,” the metropolitan or bishop was to have sole jurisdiction. The list of persons belonging to the church was sufficiently comprehensive; it comprised “the stewards (tiouns) of their estates, the priests (popes), deacons and their .children, the wife of a priest, and the whole body of clerks; moreover, the monk, the nun, the woman who bakes the holy bread, the cloistered pilgrim, the physician, the man who by a holy miracle is restored to health, the slave whom his master releases for the good of his soul, the stranger, the blind and the lame; especially the monasteries, the hospitals, and establishments for the care of guests and strangers.”
This may be called the charter of the Russian church. By it the clergy, at one bound, acquired an amount of power which the Roman church, after centuries, failed to gain ; and, in addition to the enormous privileges before-mentioned, each bishop possessed the right of appointing all the priests, deacons and inferior servants of the church in his dioceses. If they were guilty of any fault, he had power to suspend them, and, after trial, eject them. He had also the right of appointing all the archimandrites or abbots and abbesses to the religious houses in his diocese, of raising them to higher rank, or depriving them of it. The metropolitan had no right to interfere in the affairs of the diocese; the only power he had over a bishop was to try him, if any accusation were brought against him, and, if he were found guilty, to degrade
The bishops were, in fact, independent princes, their relation to the czar being undefined, but they owed him allegiance, and had no control over his public policy, and
Mourarios, History of the Church of Russic, pp. 359, 360.