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remote from the conceptions of this age, that the preachers themselves were unable to form a correct idea of them. * The Agapae had lost their original import. They were now Feasts, at which certain members of the Churches, who were in good circumstances, supplied the poor, and afforded them better provision than they could otherwise enjoy: the gloomy and ascetic spirit which we observed in the former period, manifesting itself against the Agapae, still continued to exist. The council of Gangra, already mentioned, which opposed this ascetic prejudice, took the Agapae under its protection, and pronounced an anathema, in its eleventh canon, against such as treated with contempt Agapae, instituted from Christian motives, and when brethren were invited to them in honour of the Lord, refused such invitations. Other councils forbade Agapae, not in themselves considered, but when celebrated in Churches.
With respect to the communion service, it had its foundation in the true Chựistian conception of the Holy Supper, as a representation of the divine fellowship of believers with their Saviour, and with one another. Every thing was therefore directed towards the impressing of these thoughts on the hearts of Christians, that they were now raised to fellowship with Christ in his exaltation, and that they should, in spirit, be raised towards him in heaven; that while all was a free communication of divine grace, still, through the direction of their minds towards the Saviour, and through faith in him, they must become susceptible of these favours; and that without love to one another, they could not abide in fellowship with the Redeemer. The Deacon invited all mutually to give the fraternal kiss, as promotive of brotherly communion in heart, without which there could be no true celebration of the Eucharist. The Deacon then required of those who were assembled to examine themselves and one another, so as to discover whether there were any among them unworthy; not merely to see that there was no Catechumen, no unbeliever, no heretic among them; but further, that no one should retain hard thoughts of another, that there should be no hypocrite there. “Let us all uprightly, with eyes directed to the Lord, stand with fear and trembling," (in consciousness of our unworthiness and weakness, and in the view of the exaltation of Him, who will unite us to himself.) The Deacon then said,
As for example, Chrysost. 27 Hom. Ep. Corinth.
(in order to bring it more distinctly before their minds that it was only the soul which is directed to heaven, that can participate in communion with the Saviour,) Lift up your hearts!* And the congregation answered, We have lifted them up unto the Lord. In accordance with the primitive signification and solemnity, here followed the invitation of the Bishop to the congregation to join in thanksgiving for all the blessings of creation and redemption; and the assembly answered, Yea, it is just and right that we should thank the Lord! Before the distribution of the Supper, the Bishop said, “Holy things to the holy!” in order to suggest that what is holy can be received only by holy minds. The congregation, in return, declared their conviction that no man is holy of himself, that One alone is holy, by faith in whom alone sinners can be sanctified; saying, “One alone is holy, One Lord, Jesus Christ, evermore to be praised, to the glory of God the Father.” During the celebration of the ordinances the 34th Psalm was sung, as an invitation to joy, particularly the 9th verse.
As it respects the consecration of the elements, it was considered the most important that the words of institution, as given in the Evangelists, should be pronounced without alteration; for it was believed that while the priest repeated the words of Christ, “This is my body-this is my blood,” the bread and wine, by means of the magical power of these words, were in a miraculous manner connected with the flesh and the blood of Christ. $ These words of institution, however, were wrought into a prayer, in which God was called upon graciously to receive the offering. S When the Bishop or Presbyter was ready to consummate the consecration, the veil which concealed the altar was drawn aside, and the minister disclosed to the congregation the elements of the Eucharist, hitherto hidden, and lifted them up, as the body and the blood of Christ. There is no passage of any ecclesiastical writer of this age, which informs us that the assembly at this
Ανω τας καρδιας, or Ανω τον νουν. Sursum corda. + Εχομεν προς τον κυριον.
Chrysost. Hom. I. de proditione Judæ, $ 6.
A form of this kind is contained in the work De Sacramentis, l. iv. c. iv. and is remarkable, as it recognizes the primitive conception, and represents, not Christ, but the bread and wine, the symbols of his body, as the object of the oblation. Hanc oblationem quod est figura corporis et sanguinis domini nostri, offerimus tibi hunc panem sanctum.
VOL. IV. No. I.-D
moment kneeled, or prostrated themselves upon the earth. We know that this custom was introduced at a much later period into the western Church; but it accorded very well with the prevalent conceptions and expressions of the Greek Church; and this outward mark of veneration was more generally in use among the Orientals, and employed with a more general import, than among the people of the west.
The confounding of what was internal with what was external in the Eucharist, occasioned many manifestations of a superstitious reverence for the merely external; and this superstitious reverence was in no degree conducive to the proper use of the means of grace. On the contrary, the more regard there was to the power of the sacrament to sanctify by some magical energy, the less was the mind directed to that which is required in the inner man, for the due appropriation of the religious and moral meaning conveyed by this means of grace. This is apparent from the reprimands which the fathers of the Greek Church found it necessary to insert in their homilies.
We observed in the foregoing period, the rise of a diversity as to the frequency of participating in the Communion. This diversity still continued. In the Roman, Spanish, and Alexandrine Churches, daily communion was customary, at least in the fourth century; in other Churches, Christians were accustomed to communicate more or less frequently, according to their several spiritual necessities. With respect to this diversity of practice, there was a difference in the view taken of this means of grace. The one party, who advocated the less frequent celebration of the Lord's Supper, said that believers should select certain times, in which, by a strict and abstinent life, by self-collection and self-examination, they might prepare for worthy participation, so as not to eat and drink judgment to themselves. The others maintained, that except in cases where one was excluded from the communion and laid under penance, by order of the Bishop, on account of flagrant transgressions, the Lord's Supper should never be neglected; that it should indeed be used as a daily means of salvation. Augustin and Jerome reckon this diversity among those things in which every man, without injury to Christian union, may proceed according to the usage of his Church, and his own private views. “Each of them,” says Augustin, “honour the Lord's body after his own manner; thus there was no controversy between Zaccheus and that centurion, though the one joyfully entertained the Lord in his house, Luke xix. 6., the other said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,' Matt. viii. 8. Both honoured the Lord, though in diverse, and I may say, opposite ways; both felt themselves miserable in their sins, and both obtained mercy.” Chrysostom inclined to the opinion, that as the celebration of the communion of believers with the Lord, and with one another, in the Eucharist, belonged to the essence of every ecclesiastical assembly, so all should partake of the communion, when celebrated in the Church; always, however, with the understanding, that it be done with right feelings, otherwise it becomes a matter of condemnation to him who unworthily partakes of holy things. “Many,” says he, in a sermon preached at Antioch, “partake of the Lord's Supper once a year; others twice; the hermits in the desert can often partake only once in two years. We should praise none of these in and for itself, but should decidedly concur with those only, who come to the communion with pure hearts and consciences and unblemished lives. Such persons may at all times come to the Lord's table; those, however, who are not thus minded, eat it to their condemnation, even if they partake but once." He laments that many who felt themselves unworthy to partake of the Communion on the stated days, nevertheless had no scruple in communicating once a year, after the fast, at Easter, or Epiphany; just as if they were not as guilty at one time as at another, by taking the Lord's Supper unworthily. He laments, likewise, that amongst those who, on the other days of Church assembly, remained during the whole Missa fidelium, very few partook of the Communion, to which the whole service had reference; so that here all was mere formality. “Either they belong to the unworthy, who are required to depart from the assembly, or if they remain, as belonging to those who are worthy, they must also participate in the Lord's Supper. How great a contradiction,
those who join in all the confessions and hymns, still partake not of the Lord's body!”
Where the custom of daily communion was still prevalent, but where divine service was held, and the Eucharist consecrated only once or twice a week, on Sunday and Friday, or four times, on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, there was no way left for those who wished to have the Lord's body for their daily nourishment, but that they should take home with them a portion of the consecrated bread, (there was a superstitious dread of taking the wine, which might so easily be spilled), so that every day, before they proceeded to worldly employments, they might communicate, and purify, and strengthen themselves by communion with the Lord. Even on sea voyages, they took some of the consecrated bread, in order to communicate on the way.
ART. II.--THE PRESENT CONDITION AND PROSPECTS
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
The radical principle of Presbyterian Church government, is, that all the ministers of the Church of Christ have received the same office; and however they may be distinguished by gifts, or other circumstances, are all upon an equality, as it relates to ecclesiastical power and privileges; that is, the ministerial acts which one is authorized to perform, all may perform; and in ecclesiastical meetings, whether for counsel or judicial decision, the voice of one is equal to that of any other. This is commonly called PARITY, among the presbyters to whom the government of the Church is committed. In regard to ruling elders, there is not a unanimity among Presbyterians, whether they are of divine appointment, or whether they are merely the representatives of the Church, who are delegated by the body to act in their place, just as our legislators, in the State, are the representatives of the people. The former is, no doubt, the opinion of much the larger number of Presbyterians, of different denominations; but many learned and eminent men have maintained the latter opinion. At present, we have no occasion to discuss this question; we are only concerned to ascertain, what are the essential principles of Presbyterianism? And, therefore, passing by all minor points, we assume it as a clear and radical principle, that according to this theory of ecclesiastical polity, a presbytery is essential to the complete organization and successive continuance of the Church; but no synod, or other ecclesiastical body, however it may be useful and convenient, is absolutely essential. A single congregation of believers, with their proper officers and pastor, is complete for certain purposes; for the administration of the word and sacraments, for example, and
* Hieron. Ep. 48 ad Pammach, $ 16. Basil. Cæs. Ep. 93.