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nence from public offices, and a rigid church discipline. It exalted the virtue of martyrdom, opposed all use of prudential means to escape the persecutor's rage; affirmed the obligation to fast till evening on every Wednesday and Friday, and to abstain from the eating of flesh and luxuries for two weeks in each year; denounced second marriages, and, while allowing the legitimacy of a first marriage, expressed more or less preference for celibacy. Regarding the Church as properly the assembly of the holy, the Montanists argued for a stern treatment of those who violated its sanctity. For lesser sins, committed after baptism and reception into the Church, there must be a show of radical repentance; while mortal sins, such as adultery and apostasy, committed by one in these holy relations, must be punished by irremediable excommunication. perhaps, pardon one thus sundered from Christian fellowship; but the Church is not authorized to proclaim His pardon by restoring the culprit to its communion. In all this, great moral earnestness may be discerned, but also an excessive rigor and spirit of legality.
Through repelling Montanism, the Catholic Church reproduced some of its peculiarities. The infallibility claimed for the Montanist prophets came finally to be asserted of the episcopal hierarchy, and practically was credited in the latter, as much as ever it was in the former, with the power to add to the Scripture revelation. Again, the ascetic tendencies of Montanism found a parallel, or rather were transcended, in the wide-spread system of Monasticism, which came to be treated by the Catholic Church as a favored child.
God may, CHAPTER V.
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP AND LIFE.
1. SUNDAY AND SUNDAY SERVICES.
There are clear indications that the first day of the week was from the outset a special day to the Christians (Acts xx. 7 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 2). Already in the apostolic age, it acquired the name of the Lord's Day” (Rev. i. 10). Writers following close upon the apostolic age state plainly that it was a day specially observed by the Church. The letter of Pliny to Trajan certifies us that the Christians were accustomed to meet for worship on a “stated day,” and other sources of information leave no doubt that his reference was to the first day of the week. Ignatius of Antioch, who also wrote during the reign of Trajan, speaks of those who had come into possession of the new Christian hope, as “no longer observing the sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day.”i The Epistle of Barnabas says: “We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus arose from the dead.” 2 The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles assigns Christian worship to the “Lord's
“ On the day called Sunday,” says Justin Martyr, “ all who live in the cities or in the country gather together to one place.” All time was counted 1 Epist. ad Magnes., ix. 2 Chap. xv.
8 xiv. 1.
* 1 Apol., lxvii. i Cont. Celsum, viii. 22. Compare Hom. in Gen. x. 3.
sacred by the early Christians. “To the perfect Christian,” said Origen, “ all his days are the Lord's, and he is always keeping the Lord's day;”! but evidently Sunday was pre-eminently the sacred day of the early Church.
In what sense was Sunday a sacred day? Was it regarded as the Jewish sabbath transferred from the last to the first day of the week, a day coming under the positive prescription of the Fourth Commandment? By no means. All the writings of the first three centuries are destitute of any intimation of such a belief. The unmixed impression which comes from the perusal of this whole body of literature is, that the Christian sacred day was viewed as independent of the Jewish, having indeed a certain kinship with it as respects use and design, but in its origin and sanctions just as distinct from it as Christian baptism was from Jewish circumcision. Not one of the Fathers of this period so much as hints that he finds in Sunday a commemoration of God's rest from the work of creation. Not one of them betrays the least consciousness that the Fourth Commandment was to be looked upon as applying to Sunday. That which Sunday was regarded as celebrating, was no event connected with the physical creation (except the creation of light, as referred to by Justin Martyr), no event of Jewish history, but the crowning event of the ministry of redemption, the resurrection of Christ. It was the festival of the resurrection, the day of holy rejoicing, on which fasting or even kneeling in prayer was counted inappropriate. So far were the early Fathers from seeing in Sunday the old Jewish sabbath with all its sanctions, only carried over from the last to the first day of the week, that we find several of them specifying the abolition of the latter. Justin Martyr and Tertullian state expressly, that, like circumcision, the sabbath is under Christianity abolished. What could be more distinct than these words from the latter of these writers ? “ The precept (to keep the Sabbath] was not eternal nor spiritual, but temporal, which would one day cease. ... It was not with a view to its observance in perpetuity, that God formerly gave them such a law." Irenæus also indicates that he did not consider the sabbath law of the old dispensation as having any statutory force under the new dispensation, speaking of it as being like circumcision, a type or sign of something beyond itself, a sign, namely, “that we should continue day by day in God's service.”2 The broad distinction apprehended between the Jewish and the Christian day is indicated also by the tone of the first statement which we find of an obligation to abstain from secular work on Sunday. This is in a writing of Tertullian, not earlier than the end of the second century, and reads as follows: “Only on the day of the Lord's resurrection ought we to guard not only against kneeling, but every posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business, lest we give any place to the devil.”3 Tertullian here refers the obligation to abstain from business on Sunday, not to any Old-Testament command, not even to apostolic tradition, but to the need of having the outward conditions favorable to that state of mind which is appropriate to the day,
1 Dial cum Tryph., xviii., xix.; Adv. Judæos, iv.; Adv. Marc., v. 4. 2 Cont. Hær., iv. 16.
8 De Orat., xxii.
Sunday, in virtue of the event which it celebrates, ought to be to Christians a day of joy, peace, and tranquillity of soul; to avoid needless distraction, worldly business should be suspended : such is the sum-total of his argument. A later passage, in the Apostolic Constitutions, brings forward the same grounds for making Sunday a day of rest. How far the early Church agreed with Tertullian in recognizing an obligation to abstain from labor on the Lord's Day, is difficult to determine. No doubt, from the beginning of Christianity, the requirements of public worship made it in part a day of abstinence from secular toil. But, on the other
, hand, there is no indication of any positive prohibition of such toil within the first two centuries. This, taken in conuection with the fact that the Sunday laws of Constantine included no prohibition of agricultural employment, would favor the conclusion that it was only gradually that the Church came to insist upon refraining from worldly business on Sunday. The natural demands of a specially sacred day, more than any thing else, brought about the result. Secular work interfered with the wish to distinguish and to hallow the first day of the week above all other days: hence, naturally, a growing demand that it should be suspended on this day. As regards the Jewish sabbath, many Jewish Christians no doubt continued for a time to observe it, but its observance was never imposed upon Gentile Christians.
The stand-point of the early Church upon this subject will probably be regarded by many as something to be deplored. It is certainly quite in contrast with a tradi
1 viii. 33.