Obrazy na stronie


successive ages. Some prayers became obsolete, and were omitted. Words and names and prayers were introduced, and acquired importance from the rise of heresy, from civil commotions, or some other

These things would induce a rapid and superficial observer to suspect mutilation or corruption, where there were very few difficulties in reality, that could not be made to yield to patient investigation and competent knowledge. .

The variations of manuscripts afford a ready argument against the text of existing liturgies. Some of these contain a portion of the liturgy, others the whole; some contain rubrics, and others do not; some prescribe the prayers and duties of the deacon and priest, others those of the priest only. In some, peculiar rites are introduced; in others, again, parts of the service are not written down, but left to the memory. All this has arisen merely from the different opinions with regard to convenience, which different persons entertained; and it is calculated to confirm the antiquity and authenticity of the main body of the liturgy, which is preserved by all manuscripts.

The value of liturgies, in affording evidence of the true nature of Christian faith and morality, would be very great, if we could refer unhesitatingly to the monuments in our possession, as exhibiting the text used during the most primitive ages. They must, however, under any circumstances, have a share in the great body of Christian evidence; and where we can shew them to have been used by certain churches, they must be considered as the public formularies of such churches, and therefore more authoritative than the sentiments of an individual. In proportion as we can trace back their text or their substance into antiquity, their value and importance increase. When their text has been traced to the primitive ages, and we are enabled to bring the sentiments of ancient divines in confirmation of their doctrines, we may receive a satisfaction and confirmation in faith, which cannot perhaps be so fully and completely derived from primitive evidence in any other way. For it was chiefly, if not only, in the mystical liturgy of the eucharist, that the primitive church spoke without reserve of all the sublimities of Christian faith. When the catechumens and infidels, who were permitted to hear the lessons and sermon, had been dismissed, there was no longer any thing to impede the disclosure of those profound truths, which the faith of the ignorant and undisciplined could not yet receive. It was then, that, in the fulness of faith and love and confidence, the brethren offered up prayers to God, and saluted one another with the holy kiss. Then the bishop, having prepared the bread and the cup, ad

, dressed the people, and exhorted them to “ lift up their hearts," and "give thanks” to their heavenly Father. After which he offered thanksgiving and blessing to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for all his goodness and mercy to the human race; and, having consecrated the elements, concluded the thanksgiving and prayers with a doxology, to which all the people answered, Amen. This order varied a little in the different liturgies, but its parts are found in all, as the reader will perceive by the following pages.

All this, however, was only heard and known by the baptized or perfect Christians; for it was a

[ocr errors]

remarkable part of the primitive discipline to conceal from all others the mode of administering the sacraments. The learned Bingham has given a particular account of this in book x. chap. 5, of his Antiquities of the Christian Church; to which I refer the reader for abundant information on the subject. The method of celebrating baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist; the nature and effect of these ordinances; the sublime doctrine of the Trinity; and the Creed and Lord's Prayer; were only communicated to converts about the time of their baptism. Christians were absolutely prohibited from revealing this information to catechumens or infidels; and whenever the early Christian writers speak on such topics, (except when controversy compels them to a different course,) there is usually some reserve in their manner, some reference to the peculiar know

edge of the faithful, and, very frequently, allusions so figurative and remote, as none but a baptized Christian could have understood.

This primitive discipline is sufficient to account for the facts, that very few allusions to the liturgy or eucharistic service are found in the writings of the Fathers; and that on the more solemn part of consecration, &c. they are almost entirely silent. I would entreat the reader to bear this in mind, if, in perusing the following pages, he should think the passages which I have collected from the Fathers too few, or too indistinct, to warrant the inferences which I have deduced from them.



The patriarchate of Antioch originally included that of Jerusalem, and comprised the countries of Judæa, Mesopotamia, Syria, and some provinces of the southern part of Asia Minor". The liturgy which prevailed in these countries merits our particular attention for several reasons. First, because the church of Jerusalem was the mother-church of Christendom, and the faithful first received the title of Christians at Antioch ; secondly, because the liturgy used there appears likewise to have prevailed to a great extent in the adjoining regions; and thirdly, because we have more ancient and numerous notices of this liturgy in the writings of the Fathers, than of any other in existence.

, In proceeding to ascertain its nature, our first step is to inquire what liturgies are now used there, and

a Bingham's Antiq. book ix. confirmed this dignity to him, c. 1, $ 6; c. 2, § 8, 9. The placing under his jurisdiction bishop of Jerusalem, though the three provinces of Palesgiven honorary precedence by tine, containing about fifty bithe council of Nice, only ob- shoprics, which were abstracted tained the jurisdiction of a pa- from the patriarchate of Antriarch in the fifth century, tioch. when the council of Chalcedon

whether any of them profess, or appear to be, the original or apostolical liturgy of that country.

The patriarchate of Antioch is chiefly inhabited by the Jacobites or Monophysites, and the Melchites or orthodox. The Monophysites derive their origin from Eutyches, whose errors were condemned by the council of Chalcedon, A. D. 451; they derive their appellation from their doctrine, for they appear to deny the existence of the human nature of Christ, which they affirm to be absorbed in the divinity, and made one with it. They are also called Jacobites from Jacob Baradæus, an eminent leader of this sect in the sixth century. The orthodox (termed Melchites or Royalists by their opponents, from their attachment to the emperors of the east) have always adhered to the profession of the catholic faith, and the communion of the patriarch of Constantinople.

The Monophysites and the orthodox in the patriarchate of Antioch, have long agreed in using liturgies bearing the venerable name of the apostle James; who, according to universal tradition, was the first bishop of Jerusalen. The Monophysites still retain their ancient liturgy. The orthodox have in the course of ages received the liturgies of the Greek or Constantinopolitan church into common use, so that now their ancient liturgy of St. James is only read on one day in the year, namely, the feast day of that Apostle. The Monophysite liturgy of St. James is written in the Syriac language, the orthodox in Greek.

A liturgy of St. James has been used from a very remote period in the churches of the Syrian Monophysites. Barsalibi, archbishop of Amida, a Syrian Monophysite, who lived in the eleventh century,

« PoprzedniaDalej »