Изображения страниц

public, and divided the day into hours of prayer. Of these the ninth, occurring at 3 P. M., or even-song, was regarded with the most veneration. It was remembered as the hour at which our Saviour expired; at which Peter and John went into the temple; and Cornelius was visited with an angel. It was, moreover, the time of the Jewish evening sacrifice. These considerations acccumulated upon that hour an unusual sacredness, and caused it to be observed with more care than the others. A prayer was prescribed for midday, which expressed the tender solicitude of the age in behalf of those engaged in worldly cares, and its apprehension of the spiritual dangers of the path to wealth. It was called the prayer for protection against the noon-day devil, Savo μεσημβρινόν, and both in spirt and in substance was one which we could wish our commercial Christendom might learn to repeat. It must be confessed, however, that this equally homely and felicitous phrase is due to a corruption of the Scripture. "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day." The last clause of which the Septuagint had rendered, "nor for the devil destroying at noonday." Antelucan prayers and vigils were observed by some; and our Methodist brethren, who pray the old year out and the new year in, have kept alive a devout custom of the ancient church.

The Lord's Prayer was not at first used in those parts of the service to which the catechumens were admitted. After they had been for some time under instruction, and had reached a higher grade, known as the competentes or the approbated, and were to be baptized immediately, they were for the first time taught this form. The early Christians regarded this prayer as their own, in a peculiar sense, and could not consent to its use by any who were not entitled to call God their Father. Hence it was named the prayer of the faithful. But, as Palmer observes, when Christianity had prevailed, and the necessity of adhering to a discipline which supposed the existence of heathen and heathen converts had passed away, the Lord's Prayer came to be repeated in the introductory and public parts of the service.

Many other fixed forms of worship appear with more or less uniformity in all the liturgies, as, for instance, what is called the sursum corda, or the Kyrie eleison; but these, as well as that most interesting part of the ancient worship, the litanies, cannot receive, in this Article, the amount of attention which they demand.

In respect to the recitation of the creed, which, as an act of confession, may be viewed as a kind of adoring prayer, we will say, in brief, that the primitive church had no such practice. Peter Fullo has the credit of having brought it into the Eastern church, about 471. The West had a creed of its own production, in the Athanasian, which is attributed, by competent authorities, to Hilary, Archbishop of Arles, about 430. There is said to be evidence of its use in the Anglican service as early as 880. The Nicene and Apostolic creeds do not appear in the western rituals until much later A. D. 1014.

The matter of ecclesiastical vestures should be treated in connection with that of the liturgies as a kind of foil to that subject. By way of approximation to what we should say about them, if it were the proper place, we will add that however we might agree with Cardinal Bona in other respects, we entertain great doubts of his opinion that the cloak which St. Paul left at Troas was an ecclesiastical vestment.

It remains for us to give a brief account of the fate of the ancient Christian liturgies and customs of divine worship.

The rise and extension of the Mohammedan power wrested from the church the lands in which most of these sublime praises and forms of Christian intercession originated, and closed from her the edifices in which they were now used by a corrupt ecclesiasticism. The new faith was not able, however, to extirpate the old, and, as we understand the matter, the liturgy of Chrysostom and others of the ancient time are still used by a constituency which Neale and his Oxford friends would have us call the "Holy Eastern Church."

In the West, a more intolerant power was rising at Rome,

and as she spread her pretensions over the world, the national liturgies of other countries were supplanted by the Roman office. In an evil hour Charlemagne yielded to her wishes, and the Gallican discipline was prohibited and became obsolete. About A. D. 1060, the arts of Rome so far prevailed in Spain as to effect the abolition of her national ritual in Arragon, and afterwards in Castile and Leon; until, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Mozarabic or indigenous liturgy of Spain, akin to the Gallican, was almost extinct, and would have been quite so, had not Cardinal Ximenes founded a college and chapel at Toledo, for the express purpose of perpetuating it.

banishing the naTo do this was her

In England, Rome never succeeded in tional forms from the use of the church. unremitting endeavor, and she seemed to be in the way of achieving it, when the Reformation cost her that kingdom.

On the soil of Italy the worship was conducted anciently with many variations from the Roman office. But the Papacy waged ceaseless war upon those monuments of early piety, not sparing even the venerable Ambrosian ritual of Milan. The Milanese, however, more happy than some of their Italian neighbors, have been able to preserve, to the present time, some of the ancient rites of their see.

In conclusion, turning aside from this purely historical train of remark, we venture the opinion that the study of this subject cannot fail of enriching the worship of unliturgical churches. Where forms are excluded, the culture of the clergy becomes more necessary, and it is our conviction that the Christian liturgies, including those of the Reformation among them, give the purest models of public prayer. A clergyman of our denomination needs to have a liturgy in his own mind; or, what is better, he should have a chastened religious taste, a mind filled with the substance of common prayer, and a heart attuned to the urgency and the faith of supplication. Then, whether his voice rises amid the suppressed sobs of death, or in the stillness of a waiting assembly, at the family altar, or in less rever

ent assemblies, it will be worship offered in the holy of holies, it will be prayer leading reverently to the throne of grace. Whatever may be thought of the value of rituals, there will hardly be any dispute that public prayer so far differs from private as to make it exceedingly desirable that a minister of our churches should subject himself to the influence of the best models of common prayer. They will teach him the difference between public and private devotion, and how to express not so much his own faith and desires as those of the worshiping church and the common wants of God's people. By such practice he will become able to give his exercises the distinctive character of worship, and to lead the church into a service that shall call out their faith and at the same time satisfy it. Such studies will acquaint him with the objects of public prayer, make its substance, of feeling and conviction, of adoration, confession, and general or special intercession more ready for his use, and supply him with a rich and useful fund of intercessory phrases. In this way he may learn how to employ the language and the facts of Scripture, and interweaving them into the exercises of the sanctuary appear before God at the head of his people, supplicating His favor in words which He has taught us to use, and pleading examples on which the sacred word has authorized us to rely.

It is said that Dr. Arnold in reading the English service approached the words, "when thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers," with a kindling fervor of devotion, and pronounced them in a marked manner, which not only expressed his own thankful faith, but inspired the congregation with the same triumphant gladness in what Christ had done for them. We believe that every pastor may find among the written prayers of the church noble petitions, words of melting confession, and acts of worship which, when wrought into his services will produce a no less marked effect both upon himself and upon the congregation to which he ministers.

For ourselves, we feely confess that we do love many things which we have found in some of the Christian rituals;

we use them in private devotion and in conducting the services of the sanctuary, and we think that they have been of great service to us. But it does not follow that we advocate the imposition of a liturgy upon our churches. What we wish is to have our clergymen able to produce one for themselves on every occasion of public prayer. And we believe that a careful study of the devotional monuments of the church will render them important assistance.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »