« AnteriorContinuar »
Therewith the Giant much abashed said
That he of little things made reckoning light;
So he the words into his balance threw;
Ne would within his balance well abide :
And by no means could in the weight be stay'd : For by no means the false will with the truth be weigh'd. “Now take the right likewise," said Artegal,
“And counterpoise the same with so much wrong.”
And swat, and chaf’d, and proved every way:
The ear must be the balance, to decree;
“ But set the truth and set the right aside,
For they with wrong or falsehood will not fare,
Whether of them the greater were attone:
For it was not the right which he did seek;
He shouldered him from off the higher ground,
Upon a rock with horrible dismay,
His timbered bones all broken rudely rumbled :
Long waited, saw his sudden desolation,
Therefore resolving to revenge his blood
267.–Of the Lord's Day.
CAVE. TIME is a circumstance no less inseparable from religious actions than place, for man consisting of a soul and body cannot always be actually engaged in the service of God: that is the privilege of angels, and souls freed from the fetters of mortality. So long as we are here, we must worship God with respect to our present state, and consequently of necessity have some definite and particular time to do it in. Now, that a man might not be left to a floating uncertainty in a matter of so great importance, in all ages and nations men have been guided by the very dictates of nature to pitch upon some certain seasons, wherein to assemble and meet together to perform the public offices of religion. What, and how many were the public festivals instituted and observed, either amongst Jews or Gentiles, I am not concerned to take notice of. For the ancient Christians, they ever had their peculiar seasons, their solemn and stated times of meeting together to perform the common duties of divine worship; of which, because the Lord's-day challenges the precedency of all the rest, we shall begin first with that. And, being unconcerned in all the controversies which in the late times were raised about it, I shall only note some instances of the piety of Christians in reference to this day, which I have observed in passing through the writers of those times.
For the name of this day of public worship, it is sometimes, especially by Justin Martyr and Tertullian, called Sunday, because it happened upon that day of the week which by the heathens was dedicated to the sun; and therefore, as being best known to them, the Fathers commonly made use of it in their Apologies to the heathen governors. This title continued after the world became Christians, and seldom it is that it passes under any other name in the imperial edicts of the first
But the more proper and prevailing name was Kugrax, or Dies Dominica, the Lord's-day, as it is called by St. John himself, as being that day of the week whereon our Lord made his triumphant return from the dead. This, Justin Martyr assures us, was the original of the title. “ Upon Sunday," says he, “we all
assemble and meet together, as being the first day wherein God, parting the darkness from the rude chaos, created the world, and the same day whereon Jesus Christ our Saviour rose again from the dead; for he was crucified the day before Saturday, and the day after (which is Sunday) he appeared to his apostles and disciples :" by this means observing a kind of analogy and proportion with the Jewish Sabbath, which had been instituted by God himself. For as that day was kept as a commemoration of God's Sabbath, or resting from the work of creation, so was this set apart to religious uses, as the solemn memorial of Christ's resting from the work of our redemption in this world, completed upon the day of his resurrection. Which brings into my mind that custom of theirs so universally common in those days, that whereas at other times they kneeled at prayers, on the Lord's-day they always prayed standing, as is expressly affirmed both by Justin Martyr and Tertullian; the reason of which we find in the author of the Questions and Answers in Justin Martyr. “It is," says he, “ that by this means we may be put in mind both of our fall by sin, and our resurrection or restitution by the grace of Christ; that for six days we pray upon our knees, as in token of our fall by sin; but that on the Lord's-day we do not bow the knee, does symbolically represent our resurrection by which through the grace of Christ we are delivered from our sins, and the power of death.” This, he there tells us, was a custom derived from the very times of the apostles, for which he cites Irenæus in his book concerning Easter; and this custom was maintained with so much vigour, that, when some began to neglect it, the great council of Nice took notice of it, and ordained that there should be a constant uniformity in this case, and that on the Lord's-day (and at such times as were usual) men should stand when they made their
So fit and reasonable did they think it to do all possible honour to that day on which Christ rose from the dead. Therefore we may observe, all along in the sacred story, that after Christ's resurrection the apostles and primitive Christians did especially assemble upon the first day of the week: and, whatever they might do at other times, yet there are many passages that intimate that the first day of the week was their more solemn time of meeting. On this day it was that they were met together when our Saviour first appeared to them, and so again the next week after: and on this day they were assembled when the Holy Ghost so visibly came down upon them, when Peter preached that excellent sermon, converted and baptized three thousand souls. Thus, when St. Paul was taking his leave at Troas, upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, i.e., as almost all agree, to celebrate the holy sacrament, he preached to them, sufficiently intimating that upon that day it was their usual custom to meet in that manner, and elsewhere giving directions to the church of Corinth (as he had done in the like to other churches) concerning their contributions to the poor suffering brethren, he bids them lay it aside upon the first day of the week, which seems plainly to respect their religious assemblies upon that day, for then it was that every one according to his ability deposited something for the relief of the poor, and the uses of the church.
prayers to God.
After the apostles the Christians constantly observed this day, meeting together for prayer, expounding and hearing of the Scriptures, celebration of the sacraments, and other public duties of religion. “ Upon the day called Sunday," says Justin Martyr, “ all of us that live either in city or country meet together in one place ;” and what they then did he there describes, of which afterwards. This, doubtless, Pliny meant, when, giving Trajan an account of the Christians, he tells him that they were wont to meet together to worship Christ stato die, upon a set certain day; by which he can be reasonably understood to design no other but the Lord's-day; for, though they probably met at other times, yet he takes notice of this only, either because the Christians, whom he had examined, had not told him of their meeting at other times, or because this was their most public and solemn convention, and which in a manner swallowed up the rest. By the violent persecutions of those times the Christians were forced to meet together before day. So Pliny in the same place tells the emperor that they assembled before daylight to sing their morning hymns to Christ, whence it is that Tertullian so often mentions these nocturnal convocations. This gave occasion to their spiteful adversaries to calumniate and
asperse them. The heathen in Minucius charges them with their night congregations, upon which account they are there scornfully called Catebrosa et lucifugax natio, an “obscure and skulking generation;" and he very first thing that Celsus objects to is, that the Christians had private and clancular (secret] assemblies, or combinations. To which Origen answers, “ that, if it were so, they might thank them for it who would not suffer them to exercise it more openly; that the Christian doctrine