Philip Freeman.

The principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) online

. (page 6 of 33)
Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and Arnobius, in a passage to be referred to hereafter,
vouch for the practice of the third and early part of
the fourth century in Africa.

Thus have we, from the apostolic Ignatius down-
wards, until we reach the explicit account of St. Basil,
towards the close of the fourth century, a continuous
stream of testimony to the prevalence of ordinary
service. Thus did it please God to set from tlie
beginning two great lights in the firmament of the
Church, the greater and the less, to divide the light
of her Eucharistic Festival from the comparative dark-
ness of her ordinary days.


" Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to tlie hole of the
pit whence yc are digged. Look unto Abraham your father and unf o
Sarah tiiat bare you."

In proceeding to speculate, next, on the character
which the ordinary and non-eucharistic devotions of
the first Christians would be likely to assume, we
discern two models then existing, after one or other
of which they might conceivably be fashioned : two
sources from which their contents might not impro-
bably be drawn. The one is the Eucharistic lliLe
itself; the other the Jewish Ritual.

I have already spoken of an hypothesis which would
connect these services with the Eucharistic by repre-
senting them to have i)cen a residuum of it ; and
though that view of theui raiiiiot be sustained, we
might nevertheless not. unn;if miilly look tf) find thrm


framed after that greater service as a model, or borrow-
ing their contents from it. And in such expectation
\vc should be further encouraged by our knowing that
the Church, in subsequent ages, largely enriched her
ordinary ritual from time to time with features or
portions of her Eucharistic Service. Nevertheless it
must be confessed that, on examination of so much
of the ancient ordinary services as we have reason for
thinking to have been of primitive date, we find little
that answers to this notion ; at least in the ordinary
services strictly so called. The additions made to the
nightly services on Sundays, (or festivals,) when the
celebration of the Eucharist was transferred to the day-
time, had indeed, as might be expected, a eucharistic
bearing, in the way of preparation for the rite. But
in the services of other nights, — with a single ex-
ception, of which hereafter, — it is difficult to discern
anything positively and essentially eucharistic, either
in structure or contents. Of course, since the Eucha-
rist, according to the ancient universal conception of
it, embraces and exhausts all the possible elements
of worship, there must necessarily be an affinity, and
essentially and at bottom a connection, between it
and any other Service the Church can offer. But the
actual scheme of the primitive nocturnal services was
conceived, to all appearance, after another idea.

As the Eucharistic Ritual of the early Church strikes
its roots deeply into the old Israelitish sacrificial ordi-
nances, and is framed in many respects upon them "■ ;
so, there is great reason for saying, did the primitive
Christian worship of a more ordinary kind take its rise
in those services of the Temple and the Synagogue,
which had been superadded in the course of time, by

* See below. Part II., chapter on the Theory of Eucharistic Worship.


David, or Hezekiah, or Ezra, to the original letter
of the Mosaic institution. So that while the staple
elements of that institution passed on into the great
realities of Christ's Offering of Himself, and into the
supreme act of Christian service instituted by Him in
especial connection with it, the more ordinary kinds
of Jewish worship merged, in a parallel manner, into
corresponding Christian action. Independently of the
beauty, and the conformity to all analogy, of such a
provision as this, — by which, as by so many other ar-
rangements, the continuity between the elder and the
later covenant would be secured, — a little reflection
will shew that such was, even humanly speaking, the
natural course of events "". The simple and yet all-in-
cluding record, which holy Scripture has preserved to
us, of the ritual of the Apostolic Church on and after
the Day of Pentecost, while it distinctly recognises two
kinds of service, the one Eucharistic, the other not,
makes attendance on the ancient Israelitish ritual a
not unimportant feature of the latter. "They con-
tinued stedfastly," it is first said, " in the Apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and
in prayers ^." But this was not all. As a part of their
non-eucharistic devotion, they also " continued daily
with one accord i?i the Temple^ in contradistinction
to their " breaking bread in the house, or at home,"
(so it should manifestly be rendered ; sec below, ch. ii.)
And we have scarcely less evidence of the converts
from among the Jews (at least) continuing to attend
diligently upon the services of the Sijnayoyue. For
besides the frequent mention of the Apostles' resortmg

• Eusebius (Eccl. llibl. II. 17-) recognises Uiis probability; .speaking
of the early Christians of Alexandria a.s li, 'Edpalui', dis ioiKt, ytyovdrat,

rairj) rt 'louSatKurfpov rh rSiP •naXaiuv tri tA irKtlma Siarripovi'Ta^ (Oij.

•• Acts ii. 42, 4fi.


thither, this seems to be clearly implied by Acts xv. 21 ;
where the weekly reading of Moses in the Synagogues
in every city is spoken of as a means of conveying to
Jewish certainly, perhaps even to Gentile converts, the
knowledge of certain fundamental precepts or dictates
of religion. It would surely be natural, then, that
when distance from the Temple, and other causes,
gradually threw^ the Christian body entirely upon their
own resources for their ordinary ritual, that ritual
should bear some impress of the influences by which
it had at the first been cradled and fostered.

And if w^e may safely — as, for reasons which will
appear presently, I conceive we may — look upon cer-
tain features as having appertained to the nocturnal
services from the first, then we certainly find unmis-
takeable proofs of paternity and derivation subsisting
between the Temple and Synagogue^ services and
those of the primitive Church.

The earliest writer who gives us any detailed account
of the latter, is, as we have already seen, St. Basil, in
the fourth century. They consisted in his day of psal-
mody with prayers intermingled ; the whole ushered
in with a profoundly penitential confession. And of
these Psalms, as we learn from him and other writers,
the greater part were sung (to all appearance) con-
tinuously, and without selection ; while others were
fixed, and used constantly, as the 51st, with which
the night- service concluded, and the 63rd, which
followed shortly after in the morning ofHce. The
mode of singing was in part alternate, in part with

** Jahn, (Archaeologia Biblica, §. 398,) a very matter-of-fact writer,
entirely adopts this view. " It was by ministering in Synagogues that
the Apostles gathered the first Churches. They retained also essen-
tially the same mode of worship as that of the Synagogues ; excepting
that the Lord's Supper was made an addilioutd institution," &c.


a leader ; a response being made by the people at the
close of each Psalm ^ Now in all this there is a mani-
fest resemblance, of a general kind, to the Jewish
Temple service, such as we have reason to believe it
existed in our Lord's time ^ For it too consisted en-
tirely of Psalms and prayers, the former making up
the bulk of the service ; and commenced with a peni-
tential prayer. Moreover, some one Psalm was fixed,
only varying with the day of the week ; and the singing
was alternate, or by way of response or burden.

And as St. Basil and others thus witness to a
general resemblance between the service of his day
and the ancient Jewish services, so through another
source of information we seem to be certified both of
the primitive date of this resemblance, and of the ex-
istence of yet other and closer correspondences. The
existing daily Offices of the Greek Church, as has
been well observed", answer with extraordinary fidelity
in several particulars to the accounts given by writers
of the third and following centuries of the Eastern
Offices of that day. This fact, while it by no means
assures us of — wiiat, indeed, may easily be disproved
— the equal antiquity of every particular of their pre-
sent complicated structure '^, yet invests them with
considerable value as witnesses on points about which
there is concurrent evidence in favour of an early date.
]f these Offices have thus preserved certain of their
features for 1500 or 1000 years, those features may

-= St. Basil, Ep. Ixiii. ad Ncocits. J'.in

Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 33)