ePub 版

ously opposed such opinions. The former denominates the words of excuse—“I am a man of business, I am no monk, I have wife and children and household to provide for" —cold and highly reprehensible words, and adds, in opposition to them, that precisely those persons who are in the storms of the world, and exposed to so many temptations, are they who more need the means of preservation and safety contained in the Scriptures, than such as lead a quiet life, far remote from conflict with the external world.* " He frequently exhorted his hearers, both in private and in his discourses, not to be satisfied with what they heard read from the Bible in the Church, but to read it also at home, with their families; reminding them, that what natural nourishment was for their bodies, the same was the spiritual nutriment of the Scriptures for their souls, that, whereby they might attain to real strength. In order to excite his hearers to the study of the Holy Scriptures, he was accustomed, (for as yet there were no passages appointed for particular Sundays,) to give out long before hand, the text which he intended to expound at a certain time, and to exhort them, in order to be the better prepared for his discourse, to make it the subject of their meditations in the intervening time. Thus likewise Augustin says: “Suffer not yourself to be sa imprisoned by earthly things as to say, 'I have no time to read or to hear the word of God.' " Among the traits in the portrait of a zealous Christian, whom he represents under the similitude of the ant, as one who gathers together in store, out of the word of God, what he may use in time of need, we find the following;t “to hear discourse, to listen to reading, to find the bible (at home,) to open and read.” Audire sermonem, audire lectionem, invenire librum, aperire et legere. And Chrysostom osten attributes the corruption of the Church, both in doctrine and life, and the diffusion of error and vice, to the prevailing want of scriptural knowledge. S

The principal rites of Christian worship, the rise of which we have noted in the foregoing period, continued to be in use also in this period. Among these, the first is, the reading of the Holy Scriptures. We have already spoken of the relation which the reading of larger portions of the Scripture had to

* Hom. 3. de Lazaro.

+ He himself gives this as his method, in the above cited Homily on Lazarus. vol. 1. p. 737. * In Po, 66. 3.

ge. g. Pref. Ep. ad Rom.

the ecclesiastical life of those times. It was at first left to the direction of the bishop, to select the passages to be read at every assembly of the Church. The historical and practical allusions to particular parts of the Christian calendar, gave the first occasion for the selection of particular parts of Scripture for the principal festivals; and of this, tradition formed by degrees a standing custom.

As it regards the connexion of preaching with the entire worship, we find conflicting and opposite errors of judgment. The one party, who saw in the ecclesiastic only the sacrificing Priest, and who placed the chief part of Christian worship in the magical operation of the sacerdotal functions, were thence led to prize too highly the liturgical element of the service, and to overlook the importance of the didactic element. Aptness to teach was considered by them as something foreign from the clerical office, as they went upon the supposition that the Holy Ghost, conferred by ordination upon the Priest, could be transferred to others only by his sensible intervention. Others, however, set too high a value upon what is didactic and rhetorical in worship, and were unable to give due honour to the essence of Christian fellowship, the united edification and devotion of saints. This was especially the error of the Greek Churches, by reason of the prevalent rhetorical culture of the higher classes in the great cities. Hence it happened, that crowds filled the Churches, when a celebrated orator was expected to preach; but that when the sermon was ended, and the prayers followed, very few remained; "the sermons”, said they, “ we can hear only in the Church, but we can pray as well at home.”* Against this abuse, Chrysostom found it necessary often to inveigh, in discourses preached at Antioch and Constantinople. From the same cause it happened also, that forgetting that which constitutes the essence of the Church, they introduced into the assemblies, customs borrowed from the theatre and from the auditories of ostentatious orators; since the Church was resorted to, for the purpose of hearing a speaker who used fine expressions, or produced great effects, for the moment, on the imagination and natural feelings. Hence it was common, at passages which made a great impression, to break forth into clapping of the hands, (xpotos). Frivolous men among the clergy, whose hearts were not filled with the holy things of their profession, had an eye to this in their preaching, in order to catch the applauses of such persons, and made it their great object to display their splendid eloquence and their wit, and to utter what was astonishing. And indeed better men, such as Gregory of Nazianzen, could not altogether overcome the weakness occasioned by this custom, and suffered themselves to be seduced, to be in their discourses too purely oratorical. Gregory says himself, in his Valedictory discourse at Constantinople, “Clap your hands, cry aloud, exalt your Orator on high!" Men of holy earnestness, such as Chrysostom, keenly castigated this oratorical and theatrical practice, and declared that by such frivolity, the whole affair of Christianity was made an object of suspicion to the Gentiles.

* H. 3. de Incomp. $ 6.

Many stenographers strove, in competition, to take down exactly the sermons of celebrated Orators, in order to diffuse them more widely. The sermons were sometimes, but very rarely, entirely read or recited from memory, sometimes delivered from a prepared analysis, and sometimes spoken altogether ex tempore. The last of these methods may be especially remarked, in the case where Augustin suffers himself to be led to the choice of a subject, by the text which the Lector himself chose, and when, as he himself says, he was sometimes constrained by momentary impressions to give his discourse a direction which he had not originally intended;* or where Chrysostom, from what he met with on his way to the church, or what occurred during divine service, took the subject of his discourse.

Church Psalmody was, during this period, regularly cultivated. In addition to the Lectores or Readers, singers were appointed, who sometimes sung alone, sometimes alternated with the choirs of the congregation. Great stress was laid upon the participation of the assembly in the singing. It is, indeed, ordered, in the fifteenth canon of the Council of Laodicea, that no one should sing at divine service, except the appointed choristers; but this is hardly to be understood

[ocr errors]

* Augustin in Psalm, 138. § 1. Maluimus nos in errore Lectoris sequi volun. tatem Dei, quam nostram in nostro proposito.

+ See the discourse, of which Chrysostom formed the first plan, on his way to Church, as in the winter he saw many sick persons and beggars, lying helpless, and was thereby moved by sympathy to excite his hearers to works of brotherly love. Vol. iii. opp. ed. Montf. p. 248. See also the direction which he gave to a discourse, when the lighting up of the lamps directed the attention of his audience to himself. Vol. iy. p. 662.

as excluding the congregation from all part in the psalmody. At least, if this is the intention, it must be regarded as a temporary and provincial regulation, and it would stand in contradiction to the prevalent usage of Oriental Churches, in which the most eminent fathers, such as Basil of Cæsarea, and Chrysostom, gave great attention to the culture of congregational singing.

In addition to the psalms in use from antiquity, and the short doxologies and hymns composed of verses from the Bible, there were also introduced into the Church psalmody, spiritual songs, composed by distinguished ecclesiastical teachers, such as Ambrose of Milan, and Hilary of Poictiers. Many voices were raised against the last mentioned class, by those who maintained that, according to ancient usage in Church music, nothing should be used which was not extracted from the Holy Scriptures. And as sectarian leaders and heretical parties often made use of hymns, to give currency to their peculiar religious opinions, so all compositions not already sanctioned by the ancient usages of Church music, were viewed with suspicion.*

It was already a subject of complaint in the western, as well as in the Greek Church, that Church music had taken a direction so artificial and theatrical, and had removed so far from primitive simplicity. Thus, the Egyptian abbot Pambo, in the fourth century, laments over the introduction of heathen melodies in Church music; thus the abbot Isidore of Pelusium, complains of the theatrical singing, especially of the women, which, instead of producing penitential emotions, rather served to excite unholy desires; and Jerome takes occasion from the words of the Apostle Paul, Eph. v. 19, to say: “Let our youth hear this, let those hear this whose office it is to sing in the Church; not with the voice, but with the heart should we praise God; we should not, like comedians, soften our throats with sweet drinks, in order to have theatrical songs and melodies in the Church; but the fear of God, devotion, and scriptural knowledge should inspire our singing, so that the word of God which is pronounced, and not the voices of musicians, may be the attraction; that so the evil spirit which possessed

*See lst Council at Braga (561) against the Priscillianists, ut extra psalmos vel Scripturas canonicas nihil poetice compositum in ecclesia psallatur. But on the other hand, the 4th Council at Toledo, (633) defended the use of such hymns as those made by Hilary and Ambrose.

VOL. Iy. No. 1.-C


Saul may be cast out of those who, in like manner, are now possessed, and not that the evil spirit be rather invited to those who have turned the house of God into a heathenish theatre.

We pass now to the administration of the Sacraments.

And first, as it respects Baptism, we may here remark what was said concerning the latter part of the foregoing period, that infant baptism was at this time universally acknowledged as an apostolical institution; yet, while this was the theory, there was considerable variation in practice. It was far from being the case, especially in the Greek Church, that infant baptism, even though acknowledged to be necessary, was in general actually introduced. The false views arising from confounding what was internal with that which was external in baptism, and which tended in after times to produce an inordinate esteem of infant baptism; as well as the frivolous and indifferent mode of thinking which many indulged respecting all higher concerns, merely making an exchange between Christian and heathen appearances-all these things conduced to the result, that while infant baptism was recognized in theory to be necessary, it still obtained little actual prevalence in Oriental Churches during the first half of this period.

As it was common to compound regeneration with baptism, and as it was held that baptismal grace was inseparably connected with the outward act, without considering it as an influence which must be efficaciously transfused through the whole life: so there were many parents, devout, but fettered by misconception, who feared to commit to the weak uncertain age of their children this grace, which, if once lost by sin, could never be regained.

To a mother, who viewed the subject in this light, Gregory of Nazianzen, says: “Let the evil principle obtain no place in your infant; let it from the cradle be sanctified, dedicated to the Holy Ghost. You have a dread of the divine seal, because of the weakness of nature. How unkind and unbelieving a mother are you! Hannah dedicated her Samuel to God, even before his birth; and afterwards made him immediately a priest, and reared him with the sacerdotal garments. Instead of distrusting humanity, she put her trust in God.”+ There were others who deferred their baptism for a different reason; not from false conceptions of the understanding, but

[blocks in formation]
« 上一頁繼續 »