« PredošláPokračovať »
appointed to be used. In treating of this subject, I shall first consider the Festivals with their appropriate Offices generally; and afterwards in a more particular and distinct manner.
OF THE HOLIDAYS, OR FESTIVALS OF
THE CHURCH IN GENERAL.
The Holidays observed by our Church are either weekly or annual. Of the first sort are all the Sun. days in the year. To the second class belong the Nativity of our Lord, Good-friday, the Day of the Ascension, and all those usually denominated Saints’days.
OF THE WEEKLY FESTIVAL, SUNDAY, OR THE
The hallowing or sanctifying of every seventh day, by appropriating it to the more immediate service of God, and the offices of Religion, is a prac-. tice common to both Jews and Christians; with this difference however, among others, that the Christians, in the system of their ecclesiastical polity, transferred the repose and worship of the Sabbath or seventh day to Sunday, or the first day of the week, in commemoration of our Saviour's resurrection from the dead.
Of the practice of holding religious assemblies on the first day of the week, or Sunday, in contradistinction to Saturday, or the Jewish Sabbath, frequent mention is made in the New Testament.
About twenty-five years after our Lord's resurrection, and while all the Apostles, but James the greater, might yet be living, St. Paul preached to the disciples at Troas “ upon the first day of the “ week, when they came together to break bread *.” To the Corinthians the same Apostle writes,
“ Con“ cerning the collection for the Saints, as I have
given orders to the Churches of Galatia, even so “ do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every “ one lay by him in store as God hath prospered him, " that there be no gatherings when I come t."
The name of “ the Lord's day" likewise is nearly as ancient as the Church itself. That it had come monly obtained among Christians towards the close of the first century is evident, from St. John's manner of employing it in the Book of the Revelation. It is however probable, that this title was not generally given to the day, long before the Revelation was written ; for had “the Lord's day” been its usual appellation, when Paul preached at Troas, or when he wrote his Epistle to the Corinthians, it is not likely, that both Luke and the Apostle should have omitted to mention it by its proper name, the name given to it xar' f&cxnu; and described it only as the first day of the week.
Though we have no evidence from Scripture that the observance of the Lord's day, as a season apo propriated to religious solemnities, proceeded from any express command of our Saviour ; yet it is to
us a law of Christianity, having been instituted, if not by our Saviour himself, at least by his Apostles, and since confirmed by the constant practice of the Church.
When the early Fathers addressed the Gentiles, they scrupled not to call the Lord's day, Sunday, that being the name by which it was commonly distinguished among the Greeks and Romans. This is done among others, by Justin MARTYR, and TERTULLIAN, in their respective apologies; though it is observable, that the latter, when he writes to Christrans, commonly uses the name of the Lord's day, and especially when he would distinguish it from the Jewish Sabbath.
The religious observance of the Lord's day has been uniformly recognised by Christians of every age and sect. Yet for the first three centuries it appears, that as soon as the celebration of the public worship was finished, the congregation usually returned to their ordinary occupations. We are not, however, from thence to draw any argument as to the lawfulness of working on the Sabbath-day; for till the Christian Religion had obtained some countenance from the civil, power, its professors were obliged to comply with the existing laws of the empire, CONSTANTINE, the first emperor that publicly professed Christianity, was likewise the first that made civil regulations respecting the observation of Sunday. By an imperial edict he commanded his Pagan as well as Christian subjects, all who lived under the Roman empire, to rest on the weekly return of the day dedicated to the Saviour. The sola diers of his army were some of them Heathens and some Christians. The Christians he directed to frequent the public service of the Church, and exempted them from every other employment during the whole of the day. The Heathens he ordered to assemblé in the open fields, and at a signal given, to lift up their hands and eyes towards heaven, and to make their supplications to the Almighty, in a form of prayer, composed by himself.
Till this time the magistrates, the judges, and other officers of state, had, on the Lord's day, and even in the time of Divine Service, been obliged to attend to the duties of their respective stations. That they might have an opportunity of frequenting public worship, and not be the means of detaining others from it, the Emperor ordained, that “on this
day all legal proceedings should be suspended, that 6 artificers and labourers should lay aside their own « business to attend to that of the Lord.” To perform acts of charity or of necessity was allowed by the imperial edicts. Thus in cities the judges might take cognizance of a civil cause, relating to the manumission of slaves, and in the country agriculture was occasionally permitted *.
About the end of the reign of CONSTANSE, the son and successor of CONSTANTINE, the Council of Laodicea renewed the order for resting from labour on Sunday, in all cases whatever, excepting only those of very urgent or absolute necessity : and about an hundred years after, the Emperor Leo prohibited, under severe penalties, all public shews and amusements on this day. From this time Sunday was every where more strictly employed in the duties of public worship, and the due observance of it was one of the first laws, which the Church imposed upon the converts from Paganism to Christianity.
* Rure tamen positi liberè licenterque agriculturæ inserviant, quoniam frequenter evenit, ut non aptius alio die, frumenta sulcis, vineta scrobibus mandentur.
THEODORE, who, in the seventh century, was deputed from Rome to be Archbishop of Canterbury, made many new regulations in the Church of England; and wished to introduce such an observation of Sunday, as was practised by the Greeks
whom he had long resided. He tells us, that " on this day
they never put to sea, rode on horseback, or baked * bread ; that none travelled in a carriage, but those « who wished to attend the service of the Church, “ and were unable to walk.” The regulations of THEODORE, concerning the observance of Sunday, were sanctioned by several subsequent Councils : and it is admitted, that the Lord's day has been kept with greater solemnity in England than in any other part of the Catholic Church. “ The usage of sanctifying
Sunday” (says an able French writer, who was evidently no friend to our Reformation)“ was so strongly
engraven in the hearts of Englishmen, that even heresy and schism could not efface it *."
Baillet Histoire des Fêtes mobiles.