صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

cially in the East, there were many instances in which parents delayed to have it administered. The current mode of baptizing was the threefold immersion. The import attached to this form of the ordinance is expressed by Chrysostom as follows: “When we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever; then, as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfilleth all this.” 1 Immersion, however, was not strictly identified with the essence of baptism, as is evident from the indulgence granted to the sick. Besides exorcism and anointing, various practices were connected with baptism in different quarters; such as breathing on the candidate, giving him a taste of consecrated salt, clothing him, after his reception of the rite, in a white garment, and presenting him with a mixture of milk and honey.

Strong language was used in describing the mystery of the eucharist. Nothing less could have been expected of an uncritical, mystery-loving, ritualistic age, considering the terms employed at the institution of the ordinance. The consecrated elements were evidently regarded as something more than mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ. This, however, does not import that transubstantiation was an accepted dogma. On the contrary, there are very weighty evidences in the writings of Athanasius, Augustine, Theodoret, the Roman bishop Gelasius, and others, that the consecrated elements were regarded as the body and

1 Hom. in Joan., xxv. 2 Council of Neo-Cæsarea, Canon 12; Council of Laodicea, Canon 47.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

blood of Christ only in virtue of their symbolical import, and their being accompanied by Christ's mystical presence. The sacrificial character attributed to the eucharist does not contradict this conclusion; for the fact of a sacrifice might very well have been emphasized long before it was thought that the elements were transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ. The bread and wine constituted the mystical body and blood of the Redeemer by the presence (as was believed) of a divine component, and, made objects of religious awe by this fact, furnished sufficient basis for the idea of sacrifice that was developed. If any writers held a more ultra view, and conceived of an actual transubstantiation of the eucharistic elements, it was only a matter of individual opinion, no part of an accepted creed. The extravagance of rhetorical usage makes interpretation, in several cases, very difficult. Baur concludes that even in these cases an actual transubstantiation was not designed to be taught." If this conclusion be accepted, extravagance met a sig. nal retribution; the rhetoric of one age became the dogma of the next. As respects the sacrificial aspect, a very emphatic view was undoubtedly current. The theory was already at hand, that the eucharistic sacrifice is able to benefit the dead. “We pray,” says Cyril of Jerusalem, "for holy fathers and bishops, and all who have departed from our midst, believing that it is of


1 Kirchengeschichte, ii. 281. Wenn auch den Worten nach in so vielen Stellen der Kirchenlehrer schon jetzt von eigentlichen Verwandlung die Rede zu sein scheint, so ist diess doch keineswegs im Sinne einer dogmatischen Behauptung zu nehmen; die Ausdrücke, die darauf hinzudeuten scheinen, lösen sich bei genauerer Betrachtung immer wie der in eine blos bildliche Anschauung auf.

the greatest assistance to those souls for whom the prayer is offered, while the holy and awe-inspiring sacrifice lies before us.”'Communion in both kinds was the established custom of this age. No one thought, as yet, of depriving the laity of the cup.

The multiplication of costly edifices gave suitable accommodation to the tendencies toward a showy and imposing ritual. A special sanctity was attached to the house of public worship; but eminent teachers took pains to oppose a superstitious veneration of the mere edifice, and emphasized the truth that to the devout Christian every place is holy ground. The same factors entered into the regular Sunday service as in the previous period; namely, the reading of selections from the Scriptures, prayers, the sermon, and the eucharist. The Scripture readings were left quite generally to the choice of the officiating clergy, though a beginning was made

i Orat. Catech., xxiii. 9. Augustine speaks on the same subject still more explicitly. His language indicates that already at the beginning of the fifth century the foundation was well laid for the doctrine of purgatory. “It cannot be denied,” he says, “ that the souls of the dead are benefited by the piety of their living friends, who offer the sacrifice of the Mediator, or give alms in the church on their behalf. But these services are of advantage only to those who during their lives have earned such merit that services of this kind can help them. For there is a manner of life which is neither so good as not to require these services after death, nor so bad that such services are of no avail after death; there is, on the other hand, a kind of life so good as not to require them; and again, one so bad that when life is over they render no help. ... When, then, sacrifices either of the altar or of alms are offered on behalf of all the baptized, they are thank-offerings for the very good, they are propitiatory offerings for the not very bad ; and in case of the very bad, even though they do not assist the dead, they are a species of consolation to the living. And where they are profitable, their benefit consists either in obtaining a full remission of sins, or at least in making the condemna. tion more tolerable." (Enchiridion, chap. cx.)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

toward the prescription of a regular series of lessons. The forms of prayer varied, to a considerable extent, in different churches. Socrates indulges the statement that hardly two churches agreed in their ritual respecting prayers. Very diverse estimates were passed upon the relative importance of the sermon. In the West, there was a tendency to give it a subordinate place, especially as compared with the eucharistic service. In the East, the more cultured class, in the fourth and fifth centuries, were inclined to regard the sermon as the principal factor in the service; and their love of fine rhetoric not unfrequently found vent in enthusiastic applause. “ The sermons were sometimes, though rarely, read or delivered from memory from beginning to end, sometimes given in accordance with a plan previously prepared, sometimes uttered entirely extempore.”? Toward the close of the period, the requirement that catechumens and other non-communicants should leave the sanctuary before the celebration of the eucharist was relaxed. The absence of a pagan populace made it appear less necessary to employ precaution against a profanation of the mystery.




Reverence for the martyrs may be regarded as the starting-point of saint-worship. To the incentive from this source were added the longing after fellowship with the departed, and the bent to polytheism which still clung to the masses that poured into the Church after the conversion of Constantine. Already, at the close of the persecutions, honor to the memory of the martyrs was carried to an excess by a fraction of the Church. Very soon after that date, reverence was exaggerated into a species of idolatry; and prayers were addressed to the martyrs on the ground of their exaltation and their effective intercessions with God. Churches and chapels were built over their graves. Rites bearing the semblance of sacrifices to the glorified confessors were sometimes celebrated upon these hallowed spots. Augustine acknowledges the existence of such a custom, but asserts that it was observed only to a limited extent, and seeks to relieve it from any idolatrous intent. “Whatever honors," says he, “the religious may pay in the places of the martyrs, they are but honors rendered to their memories, not sacred rites or sacrifices offered to dead men as to gods.

1 Hist. Eccl., v. 22. 2 Neander, Kirchengeschichte, iii. 443.

And even such as bring thither food — which, indeed, is not done by the better Christians, and in most places of the world is not done at all - do so that it may be sanctified to them through the merits of the martyrs, — first presenting food and offering prayer, and thereafter taking it away to be eaten, or to be in part bestowed upon the needy."! In an epistle to Maximus he writes: “Let me assure you that by the Christian Catholics no deceased person is worshipped.”? And in one of his sermons he declares: “We do not regard the martyrs as gods, or worship them as gods; we do not prepare for them temples or altars or sacrifices." 3 Augustine in this

Au represents the most sober and conservative temper of his age. A statement more in the line of the popular estimate of the martyrs is found with Theodoret, who

1 De Civ. Dei, viii. 27. 9 Epist., xvii. 8 Serm., cclxxiii.

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »