« AnteriorContinua »
Chrysostom,* in which the prayers and thanksgivings are given at length. St. Chrysostom's words are these : “ We offer unto thee this rational and unbloody service, beseeching thee to send thy Holy Spirit upon us and these gifts. Make the bread the precious body of thy Christ, and that which is in the cup, the precious blood of thy Christ; transmuting them by thy Holy Spirit, that they may be to the receivers for the washing of their souls, for pardon of sins, for the participation of the Holy Ghost, for obtaining the kingdom of heaven.”+ In addition to this, we have many allusions in St. Chrysostom's homilies. In commenting on the words, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ,” he says, “We also, in offering the cup, recite the ineffable mercies and kindness of God, and all the good things we enjoy; and so we offer it, and communicate, giving him thanks for that he hath delivered mankind from error, that he hath made us near who were far off, that when we were without hope, and without God in the world,
* CHRYSOSTOM, John, surnamed Chrysostom on account of his eloquence, (golden mouth,) Archbishop of Constantinople, A.D. 398. The empress Eudoxia having set up an image near the church, Chrysostom lifted up his voice against the abomination. On account of this he suffered much persecution, was driven into exile, and died in his sixtieth year, the brightest ornament of the Christian church.
+ Chrys. Liturg. t. 4. p. 614. .
he hath made us the brethren of Christ, and fellow-heirs with him. For these, and all the like blessings, we give him thanks, and so come to his holy table."* And the Council of Antioch, which was held in the year 341,7 gives as one of the canons, the following very strong remark upon the necessity of all persons communicating in the sacrament: “ All such as come into the house of God, and hear the holy scriptures read, but do not communicate with the people in prayer, and refuse to partake of the Eucharist, (which is a disorderly practice,) ought to be cast out of the church.”
From the above passages we sufficiently see that the sacrament of the Eucharist, as to essential doctrines, still maintained its place in the general body of the church. Many superstitious observances, might, no doubt, have been originated in this century; and we have one very remarkable writer, Cyril of Jerusalem,* who enters into some detail as to the ceremonies which seem to have been in use at that period. In what is called his Mystagogic Catechetical Discourses, he gives the following directions : “When the priest says, “Taste, and see how good the Lord is,' the persons receiving the bread are to open their hands, place the left on the right, keeping the fingers closely attached to each other, for fear of letting the smallest crumb fall; and after eating, they are to bow down the héad as in adoration, and then drink off the cup: while their lips are moist with the wine, they are to apply their hands to them, touch their foreheads, eyes, and ears, with their wet fingers, and finally, to render thanks to God for being permitted to partake of this holy communion.” | And not only in ceremonies, but also in doctrines, this author may seem to convey at first sight many questionable assertions. He certainly does explain, more strongly than any writer of his time, the nature of the sacramental elements; for thus he speaks:“Consider them (the elements) not as mere bread and wine; for by our Lord's express declaration, they are the body and blood of Christ ; and though your taste may suggest that they are bread and wine, yet let your faith keep you firm. Judge not of the thing by your taste, but, under a full persuasion of faith, be you undoubtedly assured that you are vouchsafed the body and blood of Christ.”* Now these are certainly very strong expressions, and, coupled with the directions above cited, as to applying the wine to the ears, eyes, and so forth, we might be led to suppose that the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation was now commencing. But we must place passage against passage; and, most fortunately, there is another very remarkable expression in the same author, which will immediately set us right; for he says in the very same work, “ We receive the Eucharist with all fulness of faith, as the body and blood of Christ. For under the type of bread you have his body given you, and under the type of wine you receive his blood, that so partaking of the body and blood of Christ, you
* Chrys. Hom. in 1 Cor. p. 532.
In the church where St. Chrysostom presided, some persons happened to remain during the communion service, and yet would not communicate. Upon which Chrysostom addressed them thus: “Are you unworthy of the sacrifice, and unfit to partake of it?-neither then are you worthy of the prayers.
Do you not hear the herald proclaiming, ‘All ye that are penitents withdraw !' All they that do not communicate are penitents."
The people were divided into two classes. They were either fit to be communicants, and therefore were in duty bound so to do-or they were unfit, and therefore penitents. Would that there were but these two classes in our church of England. -See Bingham and Chrys. Hom. in Ephes.
* CYRIL OF JERUSALEM. Ordained presbyter, A.D. 344, and bishop, 350. Deposed three times from his see, but ultimately restored by the Council of Constantinople in 381, and died in the year 386.
Waterland had so high an opinion of Cyril, that he says, "I do not know any one writer among the ancients who has given a fuller, or clearer, or in the main, juster, account of the holy Eucharist, than this the elder Cyril has done.”—Waterland's Review.
See the observations given in a note at page 62, on the writings of St. Ambrose.
+ Cyr. of Jerus. Myst. Cat. iv. & v.
may become flesh of his flesh, and blood of his blood.”* Here there is evidently nothing more than the spiritual communion intended; and, therefore, it is but fair to infer, that in the former quotation, the expressions, though strong, are nothing more than that figurative and hyperbolical way of speaking, which the fathers delighted to use.
But whatever may have been the opinions of St. Cyril, we have abundant testimony from other quarters that the general body of the church still continued in the orthodox faith. In addition to the authors already cited, we have Eusebius,t who expressed himself as follows : “ Christ himself gave to his disciples the symbols of a divine ceremony, commanding them to make a representation of his body, for when he no longer wished us to give heed to bloody sacrifices, nor to those which were sanctioned in the law of Moses, in the slaying of different animals, he commanded us to use bread as a symbol of his own body, and thereby suitably signified the splendour and purity of this food.”
* Cyr. of Jerus. Myst. Cat. iv.
† EUSEBIUS,-born probably at Cæsarea, and bishop of that see, A.D. 320. Origen excepted, he was the most learned and laborious of all the writers of antiquity, and in quantity surpassed even Origen. His ecclesiastical history is the work by which he is best known.-Eusebius, lib. viii. Demonstr. Evang.