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ART. I.-RITES AND WORSHIP OF THE EARLY CHRIS.
From the German of Neander*.
As the idea of the priesthood of all Christians, became more and more superseded by the notion of a class of persons pecu
a liarly consecrated to God, and set apart for divine service; in the same proportion, the original relation of united Christian worship to entire Christian life—a relation grounded in the very essence of the system-became more and more obscure. It was forgotten, that the divine worship of believers is confined to no certain places, times, or actions, but embraces the whole of a life consecrated to God. Distinguished theologians, however, such as Chrysostom and Augustin, acknowledged that vital Christianity could proceed only from that
* This article consists of a translation from the last volume of the Ecclesiastical History of Neander. The reader will bear in mind that all the statements which it contains relate exclusively to the period between A. D. 312, and A. D. 590; the second period, according to the division of this historian. It falls, therefore, within that part of the work which has not yet appeared in English; for the translation by Rose included the history of the first period only. The extract here given will probably be interesting, both as the specimen of a work which is attracting great attention in Europe, and as containing a body of instructive matter upon a very important branch of the subject.
(Ed. Bib. Rep. $ Theol. Rev. VOL. Iv. No. I.-B
primitive Christian conception, according to which the whole life of religion is viewed as the worship of God in spirit and in truth; and they endeavoured to recal this conviction, and by all means to oppose the error which made the essence of Christianity to reside in the opus operatum of mere participation in outward rites; and to impress the truth, that instruction in divine things, the reading of the Scriptures, and prayer, were not restricted to ecclesiastical assemblies, but were to be diffused through the whole Christian life.
Thus Chrysostom says in his sixth discourse against the mingling of Judaism with Christianity:* “God has suffered one temple at Jerusalem to be destroyed, and in its place has erected thousands of far greater glory; for the Apostle says, Ye are the temple of the living God. Adorn this house of God, cast out of it all evil thoughts, that thou mayest be a worthy member of Christ, that thou mayest be a temple of the Spirit; and lead others to be such also.” “Christians,” says he, in another discourse, "should not merely celebrate a single day as a festival, for their whole life should be a festival; as the Apostle says, 1 Corinthians v. 8: Therefore let us keep the feast, &c. We are not to stand by the ark of the covenant or the golden altar, since the Lord of all existence has himself taken us for his habitation, and we ever have communion with him, by prayer, by the celebration of the holy Supper, by the sacred Scriptures, by almsgiving, and by bearing him always in our hearts. What need then of the [Jewish] Sabbath, to him who celebrates a continual feast, who has his conversation in heaven? Let us, therefore, keep a never-ceasing festival; let us abstain from all evil, for this is the true festival.”+ In opposition to those who imagined themselves to be truly devout because their attendance upon the Church was punctual, he says: “If the child goes every day to school, and yet learns nothing, is this meritorious? Is it not rather a reproach? So it is also with us; for we go to Church, not for the sole purpose of being there, but that we may depart thence with great improvement in divine things. If then we go away empty, our zeal in frequenting the Church becomes our condemnation. To prevent this, let us, when we go away, endeavour, the friend with his friend, the father with his children, the master with his servants, to trans
Adv. Judæos, vi. $ 7. T. I. 661.
fer what we have heard to our life. The momentary exhortation here, cannot obliterate all our sin, but the husband must hear the same thing at home from his wife, and the wife from her husband."*
And in another discourse:t “When you have joined in singing two or three psalms, and have, in a superficial way, offered the ordinary prayers, and then have gone home, you think this sufficient for your salvation. Have you not heard what is said by the Prophet, or rather by God through the Prophet: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.?”
Chrysostom insisted at all times, that every house was a Church, that every head of a family must be the shepherd of his own household, and that he had the same account to render for the salvation of all its members; even of the servants, whom the gospel places in the same relation to God with other men.Ě He laments, that while in early Christian times the love of heavenly things had made every house a Church, so now the earthly propensities which men bring with them to the Church, had degraded the latter to the level of an ordinary dwelling. Augustin also says to the members of his Church: “It is also your part to improve the talent assigned. Every one must be bishop in his own house, and must see that his wife, his son, his daughter, his servant (since he is bought with so great a price) persevere in the right faith. The Apostolical teaching has set the master above the servant, and bound the servant in obedience to the master; but Christ hath purchased both with one and the saine ransom.”
As it respects prayer in particular, Chrysostom frequently opposed the opinion arising out of that judaic prepossession, with regard to an anti-evangelical distinction of secular from spiritual persons; that is, that prayer should not be offered in every place and from the midst of ordinary life, (which, by this very means might be sanctified,) as well as in the Church. “Since Christ has come,” says he, “he hath purified the
, whole world, and every place has become a house of prayer. Hence Paul emboldens us, without doubting to pray in every place. 1 Tim. ii. 8. Seest thou, how the world is purified, or consecrated ? So far as it concerns the place, we may every where lift up holy hands, for in this sense the whole
* H. v. do statuis, $ 7. T. ii. | Hom. vi. in Gen. § 2.
+ H1. xi. in Mat. 87. $ H. Matt. 32. $ 7.