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A Key to the Knowledge of Church History (Ancient)
by John Henry Blunt
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A KEY TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHURCH HISTORY

[Ancient]

Edited by

JOHN HENRY BLUNT, M.A.

Editor of "The Dictionary of Theology," "The Annotated Book of Common Prayer;" Author of "Household Theology," Etc. Etc.



"This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations."—St. Matt. xxiv. 14



Rivingtons Waterloo Place, London Oxford, and Cambridge MDCCCLXXVII [New Edition]



PREFACE

This Volume offers to the reader a short and condensed account of the origin, growth, and condition of the Church in all parts of the world, from the time of our Lord down to the end of the fifteenth century, the narrative being compressed into as small a compass as is consistent with a readable form.

In such a work the reader will not, of course, expect to find any full and detailed account of so vast a subject as Pre-Reformation Church History. Its object is rather to sketch out the historical truth about each Church, and to indicate the general principles on which further inquiry may be conducted by those who have the opportunity of making it.

It is hoped that those whose circumstances do not admit of an extended study of the subject will find in the following pages a clear, though condensed, view of the periods and Churches treated of; and that those whose reading is of a less limited range will be put in possession of certain definite lines of thought, by which they may be guided in reading the statements of more elaborate histories.

It may be added, that the writer's stand-point throughout has been that of a loyal attachment to the Church of England, as the authorized exponent and upholder of Catholic doctrine for English people.

M. F. B. P.

July, 1869.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH AMONG THE JEWS . . . . . 1 II. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH AMONG THE HEATHEN . . . 25 III. THE EXTENSION OF THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD . . 30 IV. FINAL SETTLEMENT OF THE CHURCH BY ST. JOHN . . . . . 45 V. THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 VI. THE CHURCH UNDER THE ROMAN EMPIRE . . . . . . . . . . 66 VII. THE EARLY HISTORY OF PARTICULAR CHURCHES . . . . . . 73 VIII. THE INROADS OF MAHOMETANISM . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 IX. THE DIVISION BETWEEN EAST AND WEST . . . . . . . . . 94 X. THE CHURCH OF THE MIDDLE AGES . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 XI. THE MEDIAEVAL HISTORY OF CONTINENTAL CHURCHES . . . . 120 XII. THE MEDIAEVAL CHURCH IN GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND . . 142

INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155



{1}

CHAPTER I

The foundation of the Church among the Jews

A.D. 33-A.D. 38

Before entering upon an account of the Foundation and After-History of the Christian Church, it may be well to consider what that Church really is.

Section 1. Definition of the Church.

[Sidenote: Twofold nature of the Church.]

The Church may be regarded in a twofold aspect, as an external Corporation, and as a spiritual Body.

[Sidenote: 1. An external Kingdom.]

In the first light it is a Kingdom, in the world, though not of the world, extending through different and widely-separated countries, often seemingly divided by outward circumstances, but, in reality, having all its parts subject to the same Invisible King, governed by laws which He has given, and by means of those whom He has appointed to be His representatives on earth.

[Sidenote: 2. A spiritual Body.]

In its spiritual sense the Church is the One Mystical Body of Christ, of which men are made members by Holy Baptism, and in which they are nourished and built up by the Holy Eucharist, and the other means of grace. These means of grace {2} are dispensed by Priests, who receive authority and power to execute their ministerial functions from Bishops, successors of the Apostles, and are assisted in their ministry by the inferior order of Deacons.

[Sidenote: Future destiny of the Church.]

The members of this Mystical Body, after passing through their appointed probation in this world, and being built up more and more, if they continue faithful, into Christ their Head, are removed to join the Church at rest in Paradise. There they await the Resurrection and Final Judgment, after which the "Church Militant here on earth" will become the Church Triumphant in Heaven.

[Sidenote: The Church exists through and by the Incarnation, applied to each individual in Holy Baptism, and the Holy Eucharist.]

The existence of the Church is the consequence and fruit of the Incarnation and Death of her Divine Head; the spiritual life of all her members being derived from their union with our Blessed Lord's Sacred Humanity, whereby they are also made "partakers of the Divine Nature[1]," their birth-sin being at the same time washed away by the Virtue of His Cleansing Blood. This Life, once begun, is kept up in faithful Christians by believing and persevering use of the Mystical Food provided for its sustenance in their souls—the Blessed Body and Precious Blood thus given to them being a continual extension of the Incarnation; whilst their actual sins are forgiven by the absolving Word of the Priest, and the Pleading of the One Sacrifice, unceasingly presented in Heaven, and constantly shown forth and mystically offered on the Altars of the Church on earth.

{3}

[Sidenote: Foreshadowings of the Church and the Redeemer's sacrifice under the Patriarchal]

From the time of the Fall and the merciful Promise of a Redeemer, "the Seed of the woman," there is also a foreshadowing of the Church as the appointed way by which mankind should lay hold on the salvation thus provided for them. The Patriarchs were priests in their own tribes, for which they continually offered up sacrifices to Almighty God; and to this patriarchal system succeeded the Mosaical Dispensation with an elaborate ceremonial, each minute detail of which was laid down by direct revelation from God Himself.

[Sidenote: and Mosaic dispensations.]

In this system of Divine Worship given to Moses, sacrifices of animals still held the most prominent place, typifying as they did the great Oblation to come, and perhaps conveying a certain Sacramental grace to the devout offerers and partakers of them. To these perpetual sacrifices, offered morning by morning and evening by evening, there was also joined a continual round of praise and thanksgiving. [Sidenote: Much of the Jewish ritual absorbed in the Christian Church.] When our Blessed Lord came "to fulfil the Law," this Jewish ritual was in a great measure engrafted into the worship of the Christian Church. The Passover feast, as well as animal sacrifices and the feeding on them, were done away, and replaced by the "Unbloody Sacrifice" and Sacramental Communion of the Gospel covenant, whilst circumcision and ceremonial purifications disappeared to make room for the "true Circumcision of the Spirit," and the regenerating streams of Holy Baptism. But the "Hours of Prayer" and Praise were still retained, "the singers arrayed in white" became the white-robed choirs of the Christian Church, and the threefold order of the Christian {4} ministry represented the High Priest, Priests, and Levites of the old dispensation.

[Sidenote: Jewish Worship a preparation for Christian Worship.]

We must not be led to think that the Jewish Worship was contrary to the Mind of God, for He Himself appointed it. It was, without doubt, a part of the great Scheme of Redemption—a preparation for the Gospel, the means ordained by the Divine Wisdom for keeping up in men's minds the future Coming of the Messiah. But when the Great Deliverer was indeed come, there was no further need for the types and shadows of the Law, and they disappeared to make way for the "substance" of the Gospel. [Sidenote: The Church Militant a preparation for the Church Triumphant.] So when the number of the elect shall be accomplished, and the Church Militant changed into the Church Triumphant, her Worship and her Sacraments will have their full fruition in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the unceasing adoration of the redeemed in the Heavenly Temple.

Section 2. Our Lord's Work in the Foundation of the Church.

[Sidenote: Our Lord prepared for the Foundation of His Church by instituting Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, and by appointing the twelve Apostles.]

Our Blessed Lord's Ministry was spent in making preparations for the foundation of His Church. At His first entrance on that Ministry, He "sanctified Water to the mystical washing away of sin;" at the close of it, He blessed the elements of Bread and Wine, and made them the channels of His constant Presence with His Church, "a perpetual memory of His Precious Death" before God. He also appointed human instruments, who, in His Name and by His Authority, should carry out {5} this mighty work, and be the foundation-stones of the new spiritual building, bonded together and firmly established in Him the "Chief Corner Stone." "The wall of the City had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb[2]."

[Sidenote: The Apostles taught and trained by our Lord's Example and Teaching.]

The Apostles were solemnly set apart by our Lord after a night of watching and prayer[3], and from that time became His constant companions, witnessing His mighty works, listening to the words of Heavenly Wisdom which fell from His Sacred Lips, and thus experiencing, under the guidance of the Head of the Church Himself, such a training as might best fit them for their superhuman labours[4]. [Sidenote: Special instructions given them, and not understood until after the Day of Pentecost.] A large portion of what is now stored up in the Holy Gospel for the instruction of the whole body of Christians, was in the first instance spoken to the Apostles with a special view to their Apostolic vocation; to them it was "given to know the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven." Doubtless much of what they were thus taught remained unexplained "Mysteries" to them until the Coming of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost to "guide them into {6} all Truth," and especially to instruct them in the real meaning of what had before seemed to be "hard sayings" in their Master's Teaching.

[Sidenote: This Teaching continued after the Resurrection.]

Again, after our Blessed Lord's Passion and Resurrection, we read that He was "seen of them forty days, speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God[5]," i.e. to the Church, the Kingdom which, by the agency of the Twelve Apostles, He was about to establish in this world. No record is left us as to what these "things" were of which He spake to them; but we cannot doubt that the Words of Divine Wisdom would remain deeply engraven on their hearts, and be a treasure of strength and counsel in the trials and perplexities of the untried path which lay before them, the Holy Spirit "bringing to their remembrance" any sayings of the Saviour which human frailty might have hindered them from remembering[6].

[Sidenote: A commission given to the Apostles for all their official acts,]

The Apostles received from the Great High Priest before His Ascension, a commission to execute the various functions of the priestly office, to baptize[7], to teach[8], to consecrate and offer the Holy Eucharist[9], and to absolve[10]; besides a general and comprehensive promise that all their official acts should be confirmed by Him, in the words, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world[11]." [Sidenote: but not exerted till after Pentecost.] We do not, however, find that this commission was acted on by the Apostles before the day of Pentecost; the Saviour's will was, that it should, so to {7} speak, lie dormant until the seal of the Holy Spirit was impressed upon it. During the days of expectation which followed our Lord's Ascension, we read that the holy company who were gathered together in the "upper room," "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication[12];" but we have no mention of any celebration of the Holy Eucharist, whilst immediately after the Descent of the Holy Ghost we are told of their daily continuance in "the Breaking of the Bread[13]."

Section 3. The Day of Pentecost.

[Sidenote: A.D. 33. Participation of the Blessed Trinity in the works of Creation, the Incarnation, and the Foundation of the Church.]

As the Three Holy Persons of the Ever-blessed Trinity had shared in the work of the First Creation of the world, the Father speaking by the Eternal Word, and the Holy Spirit brooding over what before was lifeless: and as in the work of the Incarnation the Father had sent the Son to take upon Him our human nature through the operation of the Holy Ghost: so, in the Foundation of the Church, the Power of the Holy Spirit co-operated no less than the Will of the Father and the Life-giving Grace of the Son.

{8}

[Sidenote: The waiting at Jerusalem.]

The Apostles had received from their ascending Lord a command to await in the City of Jerusalem this "Power from on High," which was to be sent upon them[14]. We can easily see the fitness of this injunction, when we remember that they were about to become the founders of the New Jerusalem, the true "City of God" in which the many "glorious things spoken[15]" by the Old Testament Prophets were to have their performance to a certain extent even in this life, but fully and perfectly in the Life to come.

[Sidenote: St. Matthias chosen.]

Immediately after our Lord's Ascension the Apostles, under the immediate guidance of Almighty God, made choice by lot of St. Matthias to fill up the vacancy in the Apostolic Body caused by the apostasy of Judas, and then awaited in prayer and worship the promised Coming of the Comforter. [Sidenote: The coming of the Holy Ghost.] After ten days of expectation, on the morning of the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, the Promise was fulfilled: with the sound "of a rushing mighty Wind," with the brightness of "cloven tongues like as of fire," the Holy Spirit descended "and sat upon each of" the Apostles[16]. Thus they were inspired and enlightened with Power and Knowledge, and all the other sevenfold gifts of the Paraclete[17] in fuller measure than had ever been vouchsafed to the Prophets and Teachers of old, as well as with miraculous endowments, that so they might be enabled to carry out the Commission entrusted to them by their Master.

[Sidenote: The gift of Tongues.]

One effect of this wonderful Visitation was {9} immediately and strikingly apparent to all who stood by, for on these twelve unlearned men of lowly birth was bestowed the power of speaking fluently and intelligibly in languages of which, before, they had been altogether ignorant. [Sidenote: The people come together.] The fame of this great wonder soon spread amongst the multitude of foreign Jews who were then gathered together at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Pentecost; many of them were probably at that very time in the Temple, of which the "upper room" is thought to have formed a part, and they quickly came around the Apostles, anxious to judge for themselves of the truth of what had been told them. [Sidenote: Their amazement.] Very great was their astonishment at what they heard. It seems as if words are multiplied in the Sacred Narrative to impress us with a sense of their awe and wonder. It is said that they "were confounded" or "troubled in mind," that "they were all amazed and marvelled;" and again, that "they were all amazed, and were in doubt" at this startling exhibition of the "Power" of God[18]. [Sidenote: Though some refused to believe.] Some indeed "mocked," despising the work of the Spirit, as they had before despised the work of the Son; but many opened their hearts to the softening influence, and of them it may truly be said that "the fear of the Lord" was "the beginning of wisdom."

{10}

Section 4. St. Peter's First Sermon, and its Results.

[Sidenote: A.D. 33. Conversion of the 3000.]

And now at once the converting power of the Church was exercised. St. Peter, the chief of the Apostles, took the lead, as he had already done in the election of St. Matthias, and preached to the impressed and eager multitude that first Christian sermon, which was followed by the conversion and baptism of "about 3000 souls[19]."

[Sidenote: The promise of St. Peter fulfilled.]

Thus was fulfilled, in one sense at least, the promise of Christ to St. Peter: "Upon this rock I will build My Church[20];" and he, who first of the Twelve had faith to confess the Godhead of our Blessed Lord, was rewarded by being the first to whom it was given to draw men into that Church, which in His Human Nature Christ had purchased for Himself.

[Sidenote: Further results of St. Peter's sermon.]

In estimating the importance of the results which were brought about by St. Peter's sermon, we must not only take into account the actual number of those who were at once added to the disciples, large as that number was, but we must also remember that many of these converts came from far distant countries, whither, on their departure from Jerusalem, they would carry the tidings of the Faith which they had embraced. Hence they in their turn became forerunners of our Lord and of His Church, preparing the hearts of those amongst whom they dwelt to listen to the proclamation of the {11} Gospel, when, in God's appointed season, it should be preached to them.

Section 3. The First Beginnings of Persecution.

[Sidenote: A.D. 33. Growth of the Church.]

The Church now steadily grew in influence and numbers; "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be" [or "were being"] "saved[21];" and on the occasion of a second sermon, preached by St. Peter after the healing of the lame man "at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple," "about five thousand" were converted[22]. [Sidenote: Beginnings of persecution.] The opposition of the Jewish rulers was powerless to check the ever-advancing tide; and this first beginning of persecution, by calling forth from the whole Church an earnest act of worship and supplication, was the occasion of "great power" and "great grace" being given to enable her to do and bear all for the sake of her Lord[23].

[Sidenote: Conversion of St. Barnabas.]

Immediately afterwards we read of the conversion of St. Barnabas, the first convert mentioned by name, a Levite, and apparently a man of wealth and position[24]; and then we are told of the awe and reverence produced in the minds of the people of Jerusalem, and the neighbouring country, by the abundant exercise of the Apostolic power of working miracles[25]. [Sidenote: The gift of working miracles.] This great working gift of the Holy Ghost, bestowed, like the Gift of Tongues, on the Day of Pentecost, had similar results. Fear was followed by faith, and {12} "multitudes both of men and women" were added to the Church.

Persecution once more followed, this time with greater severity; the Apostles were imprisoned through the influence of the sect of the Sadducees, and, being set free by a miracle, were called before the Sanhedrim and scourged, only escaping death by the wise and merciful interposition of the Pharisee Gamaliel.

Section 6. Worship and Discipline of the Infant Church.

[Sidenote: A.D. 33.]

Before going farther into the History of the Church, we may pause to consider the account given us in Holy Scripture of Christian Worship and Discipline in the time immediately following the Day of Pentecost. The same chapter which contains the narrative of the Descent of the Holy Ghost, has also a short epitome of the daily life of the Apostles and their converts, during that brief interval of undisturbed peace which preceded the beginning of the bitter conflict between the Church and the world.

[Sidenote: Holy Baptism. Apostolic Doctrine.]

First we read of Holy Baptism as the source of the Christian Life[26], and then of steadfast continuance in the one Faith as taught by the Apostles, who were, so to speak, a kind of living Gospel to their converts. [Sidenote: Oral teaching.] None of the Books of the New Testament were as yet written, so that all instruction being oral, faithful must most fully have sought "the Law" of the Saviour at the "mouth" of His twelve chosen servants, who had listened to His gracious words, and had been themselves taught by {13} Him Who is Wisdom. [Sidenote: Value of tradition.] The Apostles' Creed is a mighty instance of this traditional teaching, which has come down even to our own days; and many points of Church government, and discipline, and ritual, merely hinted at, or not even referred to in the writings of the New Testament, were preserved to the Church by means of spoken tradition. St. Paul several times mentions these oral traditions, and in one instance speaks of them to his converts as equally binding with the written words contained in his Epistles[27]. The substance of such important traditions became ingrained into the system and belief of the Church, and it was thus of comparatively little importance that their exact words were forgotten.

[Sidenote: Apostolic fellowship. Faith and love towards God]

To oneness of "doctrine" belonged also oneness of "fellowship." There was as yet "no schism in the Body;" and this inward Faith and Love found their outward expression both towards God and towards man. Towards God in "the Breaking of the Bread," the Daily Sacrifice and Thank-offering of the Holy Eucharist "at home[28]," i.e. in their own upper room, the first Christian Church, as well as in their constant attendance on the daily "Prayers" and praises still offered up in the Temple. Of the conduct of the first Christians towards each other we are told twice over, immediately after the Outpouring of the Day of Pentecost, and again after that increase of "boldness," which was granted to the earnest cry of the Church on the approach of persecution[29].

{14}

[Sidenote: and towards man.]

Both these accounts speak to us of their full realization of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. They "were together;" they "were of one heart and of one soul:" the need of one was the need of all; each felt his brother's wants, as if he himself suffered; and so great was the liberality of those who had "possessions and goods," that there was not "any among them that lacked." "They had all things common," as to the daily use of God's worldly gifts.

[Sidenote: The Holy Eucharist as a Sacrifice]

The Holy Eucharist was to the Church then, as it is still, the chief act and centre of Divine worship. In this new Sacrifice the Apostles showed forth and pleaded before God, the One Sufficient Sacrifice, which they themselves had seen "once offered," with unspeakable sufferings, and all-prevailing Blood-shedding upon the Cross of Calvary. [Sidenote: and a means of union with Christ.] In it they adored Him, Whom they now acknowledged with every faculty of their souls to be indeed their "Lord" and their "God;" in it they found again the Real and continual, though invisible, Presence of the Master and Friend for Whose sake they had forsaken all earthly ties; and by it they were brought into closer union with Him, than when of old they had walked and talked with Him beside the Galilean Sea, or beneath the olive-trees of Gethsemane; for now, they were indeed "nourished and cherished" by Him and made more and more "members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bones[30]." [Sidenote: Thankfulness of the first converts.] What wonder, then, that we read of the "gladness and singleness of heart" of the {15} Apostles and their converts thus living in the constant joy and presence of their Lord, and that "praising God" is mentioned as one of their distinguishing marks:—

"By 'Deo gratias,' as they pass'd, The faithful folk were surest known; That watchword for the daily strife Might well their thoughts and tongues employ, Who made the Church transform their life, And the great Offering crown their joy[31]."

[Sidenote: Continued attendance of the Apostles on the Temple Services.]

We may here remark the many indications which are given us throughout the Book of Acts, that the Apostles, who were themselves Jews, did not, even after the Foundation of the Christian Church, oppose or neglect Jewish ordinances and worship, so long and so far as the union of the two dispensations was practicable. In this they followed the example of their Divine Master, Who, from His Circumcision upwards, paid obedience to that Law which He came to fulfil, and Who was a constant attendant at the services of the Temple and of the Synagogues. There was no violent rending away from the old Faith, until God, in His wisdom and justice, saw fit to ordain the destruction of the guilty city Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish Temple, and Altar, and Priesthood, none of which had then any further purpose to serve in the Divine plan for the redemption of mankind.

[Sidenote: In the cases of St. Peter and St. John,]

Thus we read of St. Peter and St. John going up to the Temple to worship at the ninth hour of prayer[32], and of their afterwards preaching to the people in that part of the {16} Temple called Solomon's porch[33], of the daily preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles in the Temple[34], and of their constant resort to the Jewish Synagogues during their stay in such places as possessed them[35]. [Sidenote: and of St. Paul.] Even five and twenty years after the day of Pentecost we find that the very tumult which resulted in St. Paul's apprehension and consequent journey as a prisoner to Rome, was immediately excited by his having "entered into the Temple[36]," in performance of one of the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law.

Section 7. The First Schism and the Appointment of the Diaconate.

[Sidenote: A. D. 33. The first deadly sin in the Church.]

Great and deadly sin had already made its way into Christ's fold, and been cast out from the midst of it by a fearful judgment. Ananias and Sapphira had "lied unto God," and been struck dead for their impiety; and the "great fear" excited by this first display of the judicial powers of the Church had been followed by another influx of conversions; for "multitudes were added to the Lord[37]." [Sidenote: A.D. 34. The first schism.] And now came the first division in the body, "a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews[38]."

[Sidenote: Distinction between "Grecians" (or Hellenists) and "Hebrews."]

By the "Grecians" are meant those Jews of foreign birth and education who had adopted Greek customs and the Greek language so entirely, that some even of their most learned men did not understand Hebrew {17} but read the Scriptures of the Old Testament in the Septuagint Version. They were much despised by the stricter and more narrow-minded "Hebrews," the natives of Palestine, or Syro-Chaldaic Jews; and the rivalries of these two Jewish sects were carried even into the bosom of Christ's Church. [Sidenote: Complaint of the "Grecians."] The Grecians, or "Hellenists" complained that their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of alms; perhaps grounding their complaint on the fact that the Twelve were all Hebrews. [Sidenote: Deacons ordained.] And the Apostles commanded that "seven men of honest report" should be chosen from the body of believers, and presented to them, that they might be ordained by Imposition of Hands to minister to the bodily wants of the poor and aged. This was the first institution of the Order of Deacons[39], the lowest of the three holy offices which were to be continually handed down and perpetuated in the Church. Thus did the Apostles begin to impart to others such a portion of the ministerial grace, of which they themselves had been at first the sole recipients, as might enable those whom they ordained to aid them, in a subordinate degree, in the work of building up the mystical Body of Christ.

[Sidenote: Increasing conversions.]

This fresh proof of the vitality of the Church through the active, living Presence of her Divine Head, was followed by a new feature in the still increasing conversions to her fold. It was no longer the poor and the unlearned only, or chiefly, who listened to the teaching of the Apostles, {18} "a great company of the Priests were obedient to the Faith[40]," while, on the other hand, a growing and more bitter spirit of persecution was soon to develope itself.

Section 8. The Martyrdom of St. Stephen.

[Sidenote: A.D. 34. The Seven Deacons.]

St. Stephen, the foremost and saintliest of the Seven Deacons, and St. Philip, the second in order, are the only two of whom we have any further mention in the Book of Acts; but it is believed that the last named, Nicolas of Antioch, was the author of the heresy of the Nicolaitanes, which our Blessed Lord twice over tells us that He hates[41]. Nicolas seems in this way to be a sad reflection of the awful example set by the traitor Judas, the last reckoned Apostle.

[Sidenote: Their functions.]

It is clear that the ministrations of the first Deacons were not of necessity confined to the "serving of tables," which was the primary occasion of their appointment. St. Philip both preached and baptized[42]; and St. Stephen brought down upon himself the hatred and malice of the Jews by the boldness and power of his preaching. Both preaching and baptizing do still, under certain restrictions, "appertain to the office of a Deacon[43]."

[Sidenote: Probably all Hellenists.]

Judging from the names of the Seven Deacons, there seems good reason for supposing that they were all or most of them Grecians or {19} Hellenists. St. Stephen was undoubtedly a Hellenist, and his early training made him a ready instrument for the work to which the Holy Ghost had called him. Freed by education from many of the associations and feelings which bound his Hebrew brethren to the Holy City and the Temple, he could realize more plainly than they could do, the future of the Christian Church apart from both these, and boldly proclaimed his convictions. [Sidenote: St. Stephen's preaching rouses Hebrew prejudices.] By this conduct he aroused all the deeply-rooted prejudices and exclusive pride of the Jewish mind, even amongst those who, like himself, were Hellenists, and to whom he seems more particularly to have addressed himself. Up to this time, what opposition there was to the teaching of the Apostles, seems to have come chiefly from the unbelieving sect of the Sadducees[44]; for the people had espoused the cause of the Christian teachers[45], and the Pharisees had advocated lenient conduct towards those who confessed, as they themselves did, a belief in the Resurrection[46]. [Sidenote: The Pharisees join with the Saducees in opposition to the Church.] But now all was altered; priests and people, Sadducees and Pharisees, were alike vehement against those who ventured to assert that the "Holy Place and the Law" should ever give way to a Holier than they; and foremost amongst the persecutors was the fiery, earnest, intellectual man who was afterwards the holy Apostle Paul[47].

[Sidenote: St. Stephen's speech a direct Inspiration.]

The defence of the heavenly-minded Deacon before {20} his malicious and bloodthirsty enemies must be looked upon as a direct Inspiration of the Holy Ghost, a fulfilment of our Blessed Lord's promise to His Church[48], and a Divine commentary on Old Testament History, showing that God's mercies were not restrained to any particular place or country, and upbraiding the Jews with their abuse of their many privileges and their rejection of the Saviour. But the words of this first Christian "Apology against Judaism" fell for the time on unheeding ears; and its only present apparent result was the violent and yet triumphant death of him who had been chosen to utter it. [Sidenote: His blessed martyrdom.] Beneath the stoning of the enraged multitude, the First Martyr "fell asleep," blessed in his last moments with a foretaste of the Beatific Vision[49].

Section 9. Results of St. Stephen's Martyrdom.

[Sidenote: A.D. 34. Good brought out of evil for the Church.]

We may here pause to recollect how God had all along been bringing forth good out of seeming evil, in what concerned His Church. The first dawnings of persecution drew down increased "boldness" in answer to thankful prayer; the first great necessity for exercising the judicial office of the Church was followed by "great fear" and multiplied conversions, as well as by the first miracles of healing wrought in the Church; the first schism was the occasion of the origin of the Order of Deacons, directly after which event we hear of "a great company of the priests being obedient to the Faith," {21} the first martyrdom helped to bring about the conversion of the chief persecutor; and now the first general persecution which came upon the Church was to have for its result a far more widely-spread diffusion of the knowledge of the Kingdom of God than had before taken place.

[Sidenote: Extension of the Church according to our Lord's promise.]

This extension of the Church was in exact accordance with our Lord's words to His Apostles just before His Ascension, that they should be witnesses unto Him "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." Jerusalem was already "filled with" their "doctrine," and now the disciples were "scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria," and "went every where preaching the Word[50]." [Sidenote: Still confined to Jews, and Samaritans, or to proselytes.] Still it would seem that they confined their preaching to such as were either Hebrews, or Grecians, i.e. foreigners more or less professing Judaism[51]; or, as in the case of the Samaritans, to such as were of mixed Jewish descent, and clung to the Law of Moses, though with manifold corruptions; or, again, to proselytes like the Ethiopian eunuch. The Apostles, we read, continued at Jerusalem, doubtless by God's command and under His special protection.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Samaria.]

The conversion of the despised city of Samaria was effected by the instrumentality of the Deacon St. Philip[52], whose preaching and miracles were followed by the baptism of large numbers of the people, and, amongst them, of one Simon {22} of Gittum, better known as Simon Magus (i.e. the magician, or sorcerer), who had claimed supernatural powers, and given himself out to be an emanation from the Deity, or even God Himself. [Sidenote: St. Peter and St. John sent to confirm.] St. Philip, as a Deacon, could not complete the gift begun in Holy Baptism, and St. Peter and St. John were sent down by the Apostles from Jerusalem, that they might confirm the Samaritan converts by prayer and the Imposition of Hands. Confirmation in those early days of the Church was wont to be accompanied by a bestowal of miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost; and the wondrous signs following upon this, the first Confirmation mentioned in God's history of His Church, led the still unbelieving Simon to long for the ability to confer similar powers. [Sidenote: The unbelief of Simon Magus.] He dared to offer money to the Apostles with this view, and drew from St. Peter such a reproof as for a time pierced through even the heart which had hardened by an abuse of holy things. But this penitence was of short duration. He became the author in the Church of a deadly heresy called Gnosticism, mixing up what he had learnt of the doctrines of Christianity with heathen philosophy and sinful living, and making pretence of being endowed with miraculous gifts. [Sidenote: His end.] This first heretic is said to have perished miserably whilst endeavouring to fly through the air at Rome[53], St. Peter praying at the same time that he might no longer be suffered to hinder the salvation of souls.

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[Sidenote: The Gospel preached in Antioch.]

Another important result of the Sauline persecution was the preaching of the Gospel in the important city of Antioch by the Greek-speaking Jews who sought refuge there[54], and who addressed themselves to their Hellenist countrymen. It was in this city, the third in rank in the Roman Empire, and afterwards the mother of Gentile Christendom, that the first branch of the Church speaking Greek as its original tongue, was now beginning to have its foundation; and it was also here that the disciples were first called by the honourable name of Christians[55].

Section 10. The Conversion of St. Paul.

[Sidenote: A.D. 34.]

It has been said "that, to combine the ceremonial shortcoming of the eunuch with the imperfect faith of the Samaritan, is to arrive at the admission of the Gentiles[56]." Preparation had been made in both these instances for the carrying out of the Divine scheme by means of St. Philip, whose fellow-Deacon had gladly laid down his life in witnessing to the truth of it; and now God's great instrument for the conversion of the gentile world was to appear.

[Sidenote: Conversion of Saul.]

The furious persecutor Saul was struck to the earth by the sight and voice of the Lord, whose disciples at Damascus he was bent upon ill-using; and his miraculous conversion was followed by his baptism and the devotion of all his powers to the promulgation of that "Faith which once he destroyed."

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[Sidenote: His fitness for his mission.]

It is not hard to perceive in St. Paul a peculiar fitness for the work to which God called him. His zeal and self-devotion, deep affections, and warm sympathies, were joined to clearness of judgment and great intellectual powers; whilst, from the circumstances of his birth and education, he had much in common with both Hebrew and Hellenist Jews. Though born in the Greek city of Tarsus, where he came in contact with the classical ideas and learning of which traces appear in his writings, his father was a Hebrew, and sent him to finish his education at Jerusalem under the care of the learned Pharisee Gamaliel. Thus he became zealous in the Law; and hence his deep tenderness for his brethren of the seed of Israel, and his thorough insight into their feelings and prejudices, were united to an acquaintance with gentile ways of life, classic learning, and foreign modes of thought.

With St. Paul's conversion came a time of peace and increase to the Church, during which St. Peter's first Apostolic journey took place, undertaken with the especial view of strengthening, by the Laying on of Hands and by Apostolic preaching and counsel, those who, throughout Judea and Samaria, had been regenerated and made "saints" by Holy Baptism[57].



[1] 2 St. Peter i. 4.

[2] Rev. xxi. 14.

[3] St. Luke vi. 12-16.

[4] "Apostle" is derived from the Greek word "Apostolos," i.e. "one sent." The Apostles were "sent" by Christ, the Great High Priest and Chief Pastor of the Church, Who comprehended in Himself the whole of the Christian Ministry, whilst the Apostolic Office comprehended all that could be delegated to man. This comprehensive Apostolic Office was afterwards broken up into the three Orders of—1. Deacons; 2. Priests and Bishops in one; 3. Bishops. After the special work of Bishops was defined (see chap. iv.), Priests were Priests only, and not Bishops, unless they had special consecration to the higher office.

[5] Acts i. 3.

[6] St. John xiv. 26.

[7] St. Matt. xxviii. 19.

[8] St. Matt. xxviii. 20.

[9] St. Luke xxii. 19, 20.

[10] St. John xx. 21, 22.

[11] St. Matt. xxviii. 20.

[12] Acts i. 13, 14.

[13] Acts ii. 42, 46. It is said (St. John iv. 2) that "the disciples of Jesus baptized;" but this baptism, like that of St. John Baptist, was a "baptism of repentance," not of Regeneration—a preparation for the Gospel, not a consequence of it. So the preaching of the Apostles, spoken of in St. Matt. x. 7, was (like the Baptist's preaching) an announcement that "the Kingdom of Heaven" was not come; but "at hand," and an exhortation to make ready for it.

[14] St. Luke xxiv. 49.

[15] Ps. lxxxvii. 3.

[16] Acts ii. 1-3.

[17] Isa. xi. 2, 3.

[18] Acts ii. 1-13.

[19] Acts ii. 14-41.

[20] St. Matt. xvi. 18.

[21] Acts ii. 47.

[22] Acts iii.

[23] Acts iv.

[24] Acts iv. 36, 37.

[25] Acts v. 12-16.

[26] Acts ii. 41-47.

[27] 2 Thess. ii. 15. See also ch. iii. 6. 1 Cor. xi. 2. "Ordinances," margin "Traditions."

[28] Acts ii. 46 (margin).

[29] Acts iv. 31-37.

[30] Eph. v. 29, 30.

[31] Poems by Prof. Bright..

[32] Acts iii. 1.

[33] Acts iii. 11.

[34] Acts v. 42.

[35] Acts xiii. 5. 14; xiv. 1; xvii. 1, 2; xviii. 4.

[36] Acts xxi. 26-33.

[37] Acts v. 1-14.

[38] Acts vi. 1, &c.

[39] Deacon, from "Diaconos," a Greek word, meaning a ministering attendant.

[40] Acts vi. 7.

[41] Rev. ii. 6. 15.

[42] Acts viii. 5. 38.

[43] See Office for "Making of Deacons," Book of Common Prayer.

[44] Cp. Acts iv. 1, 2, 5, 6, and Acts v. 17.

[45] Acts ii. 47; iv. 21; v. 13. 26.

[46] Acts v. 34-40.

[47] It seems not unlikely that Saul of Tarsus in Cilicia was one "of them of Cilicia" mentioned in Acts vi. 9.

[48] St. Luke xii. 11, 12.

[49] Acts vii. 56.

[50] Acts viii. 1. 4.

[51] Acts xi. 19, 20.

[52] It may be, that the recollection of our Saviour's visit to the neighbouring city of Sychar, or Sichem [St. John iv.], would help to influence the Samaritans.

[53] From the rather indistinct account of Simon's death, it seems probable that he became a victim to such a temptation as the "Cast Thyself down," which was set before our Lord.

[54] Acts xi. 19, 20.

[55] Acts xi. 26.

[56] See "Some Account of the Church in the Apostolic Age," by the late Professor Shirley, p. 27.

[57] Acts ix. 32.



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CHAPTER II

The Foundation of the Church among the Heathen

A.D. 38-45

[Sidenote: A.D. 38]

During St. Peter's journey, the course of God's good Providence led him to the sea-port town of Joppa, on the borders of Samaria and Judaea, and there we read that "he tarried many days," a measure of time which is supposed to be equivalent to three years. At the expiration of this time an event occurred which had a deep and lasting influence on the life of the Church of Christ. [Sidenote: Further fulfilment of the promise to St. Peter.] Hitherto no Gentiles had been admitted into her fold; but now it was to be given to St. Peter first to unlock to them the door of union with Christ through His Human Nature; for to him had first been committed the Power of the Keys, as a reward for his adoring confession of Christ's Divinity[1].

Section 1. The Conversion of Cornelius.

A Roman soldier quartered at the great stronghold of Caesarea was honoured by being the occasion of the {26} gathering in of the first heathen converts. [Sidenote: A.D. 41. Conversion of the gentile Cornelius.] This centurion was not a proselyte, but a Gentile, one however who feared and served God according to the light given him through reason and natural religion. He was commanded by an angel from God to send to Joppa for St. Peter to show him the way of salvation, whilst another express revelation prepared the holy Apostle for a step so contrary to all his most cherished habits and prejudices. [Sidenote: Descent of the Holy Ghost on gentile converts.] Taught by God Himself no longer to consider or treat the Gentiles as "common or unclean," St. Peter obeyed the summons of Cornelius; and, even whilst he was preaching to him and the many gentile friends he had gathered, the Holy Ghost descended visibly upon them as upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost. The Gift of Tongues accompanied what we may almost call a second Foundation of the Church; and we may readily believe that those Christianized Jews who had accompanied the Apostle from Joppa were "astonished" at this indication of what was in store for the Gentiles in the Kingdom of God.

[Sidenote: Holy Baptism not superseded.]

It is worthy of remark, that notwithstanding this direct and extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Ghost—but once before, and never since, vouchsafed to any child of Adam—yet it was not considered by St. Peter to do away with the necessity for Holy Baptism. "He commanded them to be baptized[2]."

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Section 2. The Apostolic church in Jerusalem.

[Sidenote: A.D. 41. Jerusalem still the centre of the Church.]

Up to this time, and for long afterwards, Jerusalem continued to be the centre of the Church of Christ. Within her walls was the home of the Apostles during the intervals between their missions to the Christian converts in the neighbouring towns; and, as a natural consequence, it was here that the first Councils or Synods of the Church were held. [Sidenote: The Hebrews wish to impose circumcision.] Here, too, were the head-quarters of those disciples who not only clung to the Mosaic law themselves, but wished to impose circumcision and the other precepts of the Old Dispensation on gentile converts. They yielded indeed to St. Peter's plea of special and Divine direction, when summoned to Jerusalem to answer for having eaten with men uncircumcised; nay, they even rejoiced in the prospect of the gathering in of the Gentiles; but they had yet to learn the temporary nature of the Ceremonial Law, and to realize that in Christ circumcision and uncircumcision were equally valueless.

[Sidenote: St. James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem.]

The government of the Church in Jerusalem was conferred on St. James the Less, perhaps on account of his being "the Lord's brother;" and he remained in the Holy City as its Bishop, when, about twelve years after the Day of Pentecost, the other Apostles were for the first time dispersed beyond the borders of Palestine, over the face of the known world. The immediate occasion of this dispersion was the persecution by Herod Agrippa, which resulted in the martyrdom of St. James {28} the Great[3] and the temporary imprisonment and miraculous deliverance of St. Peter (A.D. 44), a deliverance granted to the earnest prayers of the Church.

Section 3. The Apostolic Church in Antioch.

[Sidenote: A.D. 42. St. Barnabas at Antioch.]

We have no account in the Book of Acts of the Foundation (in the strict sense of the word) of the Church in Antioch. We read of St. Barnabas being sent thither from Jerusalem to visit and teach the converts amongst the Greek-speaking Jews, he being all the more fitted for this office by his connexion with Cyprus, whence came some of those who had first spread the knowledge of the Gospel in Antioch. But St. Barnabas was not yet of the number of the Apostles, the Foundations of the Church (as neither was St. Paul, whom he lovingly sought out and brought from Tarsus to aid in his work); and consequently we do not read that the "laying on of hands" formed any part of their ministrations. [Sidenote: St. Peter believed to be the founder of the Church in Antioch.] There is, however, a very ancient tradition which tells us that St. Peter visited Antioch and founded the Church in that distant city whilst on his way to the still more distant Rome, after his miraculous escape from Herod's prison (A.D. 44); and in the ancient Church of England Feb. 22 was observed in commemoration of "St. Peter's Throne at Antioch," that is, of his episcopal rule there.

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[Sidenote: Obstacles to the conversion of the gentiles.]

It was some years before the conversion of Cornelius and his gentile household was followed by any extended proclamation of the good tidings of the Gospel to the heathen world. It was not God's Will that all obstacles should be at once cleared away from the onward path of the Church; and the question of the relation in which the heathen were to stand to the Law of Moses after their conversion to Christianity, presented many difficulties. St. Peter and the other Apostles seem to have waited patiently until God should vouchsafe to show them how these difficulties might best be overcome; and on the Church in the large gentile city of Antioch it first devolved to send forth missionaries to the heathen.



[1] St. Matt. xvi. 16-19.

[2] Acts x. 48. It does not seem to have been the usual custom of the Apostles to administer Holy Baptism themselves. See 1 Cor. i. 14-17.

[3] In reference to the martyrdom of St. James, we may remember the prophecy of his Divine Master (St. Matt. xx. 23). "James tasted the first draught of Christ's cup of suffering; and his brother John had the longest draught of it."—Wordsworth on Acts xii. 2.



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CHAPTER III

The Extension of the Church throughout the World

A.D. 45-70

Section 1. The First Mission to the Gentiles.

[Sidenote: A.D. 45.]

[Sidenote: St. Paul and St. Barnabas sent to preach to the heathen.]

It would seem that in the special Eucharistic offerings and Lenten discipline mentioned by St. Luke[1], the Church in Antioch was seeking guidance of her Divine Head as to her duties with respect to the gentile world in the midst of which she was placed; and that the command of the Holy Ghost to consecrate St. Paul and St. Barnabas as Apostles to the heathen was an answer to her cry.

We are not told whose "hands" were "laid" on the two newly-made Apostles in the solemn Consecration Service which followed, but it is likely that St. Peter was at that time at Antioch, and also that the Church in that city was already governed by a Bishop of its own. [Sidenote: They complete the Apostolic number.] It may here be remarked that the number of the Apostles was now completed. Those whom they ordained to be {31} Bishops or Overseers in the Church of God, as St. Timothy at Ephesus, and St. Titus at Crete, though they received in the "laying on of hands" power to execute such of the highest offices of the Apostolic function as were to be perpetually continued to the Church, yet were not fully Apostles. [Sidenote: Difference between Bishops and Apostles.] They had grace given to them to confirm, to ordain, and to communicate the power of ordaining to others, but they were not endowed with the extraordinary and supernatural gifts bestowed by the Holy Ghost for the Foundation of the Church; nor did they receive the same direct and outward call as was vouchsafed to the Twelve by our Lord Himself, and to St. Paul and St. Barnabas by the special appointment of the Holy Spirit. They were not to found the Church, but to build up on its Apostolic foundations.

[Sidenote: Mission to Cyprus.]

The first missionary journey of St. Paul and St. Barnabas was to Cyprus, the native country of the latter. Here the preaching of the Gospel, begun in the Jewish synagogue[2], was continued before the heathen proconsul Sergius Paulus; and through it and the judicial blindness inflicted by St. Paul on the false prophet Elymas, the gentile ruler was won to Christ. [Sidenote: St. Paul, the chief Apostle of the Gentiles.] St. Paul had now begun to take the lead as the chief Apostle of the Gentiles; it was he who, at Antioch in Pisidia, preached that sermon to the Jews which they would not heed, but which found acceptance with the heathen whom they despised. [Sidenote: Missionary journey through Asia Minor.] The Jews persecuted and blasphemed, but the Gentiles believed; and, in the account given {32} us of the labours of the Apostles here and at Iconium, we are reminded of the multitude of conversions and of the gladness of heart of the converted in the first days after the great Day of Pentecost[3].

[Sidenote: A.D. 46.]

At Lystra the Apostles found themselves for the first time in the midst of a thoroughly heathen population, without any admixture of Jews; but here also they did not hesitate to preach the first Christian "Apology against Heathenism," and to display the miraculous powers with which the Holy Ghost had gifted them. [Sidenote: The Apostles confirm and ordain.] Their Jewish persecutors followed them and drove them to Derbe, the farthest limit of their journey; and from thence they retraced their steps, visiting each place where they had preached the Gospel, "confirming" their numerous converts, and "ordaining" Elders or Presbyters to have the care of those who were thus admitted to the full communion of the Church.

Section 2. The Ministry of the Apostolic Church.

[Sidenote: A.D. 46. Ordination of priests.]

This[4] is the first mention we have of the ordination of Elders, or Presbyters (or Priests[5], as we are most in the habit of calling them), though the fact of the existence of such officers has already been hinted at[6] as well-known and recognized. Thus we see that, as when at first "the number of the disciples was multiplied," the Apostles delegated part of their work to the Order of Deacons, so {33} afterwards, when the Church continued to grow and increase, they provided for her needs by instituting the Order of the Priesthood, conferring on others, in God's Name and by His Authority, a larger portion of the ministerial grace they had themselves received from Him. [Sidenote: Functions of the Priesthood.] The distinguishing Grace given to those who were called to the Office of Elder or Presbyter by the "laying on of hands," was, as it still is, the power of consecrating and offering the Holy Eucharist, that so, according to St. Paul's words to the Elders of Ephesus, they may "feed the Church of God[7]," not as in the case of the Deacons, with "the meat that perisheth," but with "the Bread of God, which cometh down from Heaven."

[Sidenote: Consecration of Bishops]

Of the Ordination of Bishops[8], apart from the Apostolate, we have no mention in the Book of the Acts; but that the Apostles did ordain successors to themselves, so far as their office was to be perpetual in the Church, we have ample proofs in the Epistles of St. Paul to St. Timothy and St. Titus. [Sidenote: Their functions.] To both these holy men, Bishops or Overseers of the Church in Ephesus and Crete respectively, St. Paul gives injunctions as to their duties, particularly in ordaining Elders or Priests, the distinguishing work of a Bishop[9].

Section 3. The First Council of the Church.

[Sidenote: A.D. 46-51.]

For a "long time" after the return of St. Paul and St. Barnabas to Antioch, with the news that God had, through their {34} instrumentality, "opened the Door of Faith to the Gentiles," the Church in that city seems to have continued to flourish in peace and prosperity. [Sidenote: Difficulties as to the observance of Jewish rites.] But difficulties with regard to the observance or non-observance by the Gentile converts of the rite of circumcision and other precepts of the Mosaic law, arose to disturb this quiet.

[Sidenote: A.D. 52. Hebrew Jews go to Antioch.]

The Hellenist clergy in Antioch, less wedded to Judaism, had apparently received into communion, without doubt or question, those amongst the heathen around the city who had been added to the number of the faithful by Holy Baptism; but when tidings of this freedom of communion reached the more severely Hebrew Christians at Jerusalem, certain Hebrew Jews of them hurried to Antioch, anxious to bring the converts there under the yoke of the law. Though unauthorized in this mission by the rulers of the Church in Jerusalem[10], they urged with such persistency the necessity of circumcision for the salvation of all, that the opposition of St. Paul and St. Barnabas only raised "no small dissension and disputation," and it was agreed that the advice of the Apostles and Presbyters at Jerusalem should be sought on this important question. [Sidenote: St. Paul and St. Barnabas go to Jerusalem.] St. Paul and St. Barnabas then, "and certain others with them" (amongst whom was Titus, an uncircumcised Gentile convert[11]), went up to Jerusalem, where at this time happened to be St. Peter and St. John, as well as St. James, the Bishop of that Church[12].

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[Sidenote: The First Council.]

The Apostles and Elders, under the presidency of St. James[13], met together in the First Council of the Church, a large body of the laity being also present, not indeed to take part in the discussion, but to hear it, and to receive and acknowledge the decision arrived at[14].

St. Peter, who had first been commissioned to carry the tidings of the Gospel to the Gentiles, boldly proclaimed the sufficiency of "the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" for their salvation[15], and St. James, who was probably himself a very strict observer of the Jewish law, yet did not hesitate to declare that it had no binding force on those who were not Jews by birth. [Sidenote: St. James presides as Bishop of Jerusalem. Decree of the Council.] He, as President of the Council, proposed the decree to which the rest agreed, and which was in substance, that the Gentile Christians should be commanded so far to respect Jewish prejudices as to "abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled," whilst they were also enjoined to keep themselves from the sin of "fornication," into which the Gentile world was so deeply sunk.

The decrees of the Council did not enter into or provide any solution of the minor difficulties connected with the intercourse between Jews and Gentiles in the Church of Christ. Doubtless "it seemed good to the Holy Ghost" that these questions should be left to be solved by time and experience and the general exercise of His Gift of Wisdom.

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[Sidenote: Claim for Divine Authority. Guidance of the Holy Spirit vouchsafed to General Councils.]

We can hardly fail to be struck by the confident language in which the First Council of the Church claims for its decisions the full weight of Divine Authority; and though it differed from later Catholic Councils in that it was presided over by inspired men, yet we may well believe that to those General Councils which really deserved the name, the Holy Spirit vouchsafed such a special measure of His guiding Power, as might suffice to preserve their decisions from error, and enable them to hand down unblemished the deposit of Truth which Christ left with His Church.

Section 4. St. Paul's Second Apostolic Journey.

[Sidenote: A.D. 53. St. Peter's probable visit to Antioch.]

St. Paul and St. Barnabas bore back to the Church in Antioch the decree of the Council at Jerusalem, and it was probably about this time that St. Peter paid to Antioch the visit of which we read in the Epistle to the Galatians[16], when his fear of "them which were of the circumcision," led him to shrink from continuing to eat and drink with the Gentiles, and drew down St. Paul's stern rebuke. [Sidenote: Separation of St. Paul and St. Barnabas.] The difference of opinion about St. Mark soon after separated the two Apostles, whose labours amongst the heathen had been till now carried on together, and St. Paul began his missionary travels without an Apostolic companion[17]. He went first through Syria and his native country Cilicia, {37} "confirming" the baptized, and then to the scene of his first contact with actual heathendom at Derbe and Lystra. St. Paul's course of conduct with regard to the circumcision of St. Timothy, a native of Lystra, shows us clearly how fully his mind had grasped all the bearings of the question between Jews and Gentiles[18]. [Sidenote: St. Paul's indifference to circumcision in itself.] Circumcision and uncircumcision were alike matters of indifference to him, in no way affecting salvation, excepting so far as they might tend to the edification of others. He did not blame those converted Jews who still thought it needful to observe the Mosaic law, but he resisted to the uttermost all attempts to make that law binding on the Gentiles, and would not sanction any thing which might seem to imply that the Life-giving ordinances of the Gospel were not sufficient for every need. St. Timothy, uncircumcised, would have obtained no hearing from Jews for the Gospel he preached, and therefore he was circumcised as a measure of Christian expediency.

[Sidenote: St. Paul crosses over to Europe. St. Luke joins him.]

After founding Churches in the semi-barbarous regions of Phrygia and Galatia, St. Paul was led by the express direction of the Holy Spirit to an altogether new field of labour, and it is here, just on the eve of St. Paul's departure from Asia for the continent of Europe, that St. Luke joins the Apostolic company. [Sidenote: Jewish influences give way to Greece and Rome.] The Church was now spreading far westward and coming into closer contact with the philosophy of Greece and the power of Rome, whilst Jewish influences shrank into insignificance. There was no synagogue in the large and important Roman colony of Philippi, {38} and only women seem to have resorted to the place of prayer outside the walls of the city, whilst at Thessalonica, where the one synagogue for the whole district was situated, the accusation of the Jews against the preachers of the Gospel was no longer of a religious, but of a political nature. [Sidenote: Opposition to the Gospel political.] "These all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar[19]." In same way the malice of the rulers of the Jews against the Divine Head of the Church had found vent in assertions of His plotting to destroy the Temple, or to make Himself a King, according as the Jewish populace or the Roman governor was to be stirred up against Him[20].

But if Jewish prejudices no longer offered the same formidable opposition to the soldiers of the Cross, as before in Palestine and the neighbouring countries, the Apostle and his fellow-labourers had now to encounter fresh enemies not less deadly. [Sidenote: Vice and superstition mixed with intellectual unbelief.] In the highly civilized cities of Greece they encountered on the one hand the full tide of heathenism with all its degrading vices and superstitions, and on the other, Pagan philosophy with its hard sceptical temper and intellectual pride. Influences such as these may account for the comparatively small results which seem to have followed the preaching of St. Paul at Philippi, Thessalonica[21], and Berea, and the prominence given to women as being more easily touched by the good tidings of the Gospel. [Sidenote: Open conflict with Satan.] At Philippi is noticeable the conflict between the visible power of Satan and the Power of {39} One stronger than he, in the casting out by St. Paul of the evil spirit of Python from the soothsaying woman. This was an earnest of the final issue of that great contest between the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God, which was now beginning in the very strongholds of darkness, and is to continue to the end of time.

We may also remark the first mention of the title and rights of a Roman citizen claimed by St. Paul for himself and St. Silas after their illegal imprisonment.

[Sidenote: A.D. 54. Athenians little inclined to believe.]

At Athens St. Paul came in contact with the most intellectual and philosophical minds of heathendom; but heathen philosophy made the Athenians very little inclined to accept the supernatural mysteries of the Christian Faith. They listened indeed with eager curiosity to the "new thing" which the great Apostle proclaimed "in the midst of Mars' Hill;" and yet when their intellectual pride was required to bow itself down, to acknowledge something more than a Neology, and to believe in the supernaturalism of the Resurrection, they only "mocked" the teacher. St. Paul, therefore, departed from the city where his cultivated mind had been stirred at the sight of so many great intellects "wholly given to idolatry[22]." [Sidenote: Athens afterwards a Bishopric.] But yet his visit was not without its fruits; and Dionysius, a member of the great Council of the Areopagus, is believed to have been the first Bishop of the Church in Athens[23].

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[Sidenote: Corinth the centre of the Church in Greece.]

From Athens St. Paul went to Corinth, and it was in this luxurious and profligate city that he founded a Church which became the centre of Christianity in Greece. [Sidenote: St. Paul turns from the Jews.] The obstinate unbelief and blasphemous opposition of the Corinthian Jews caused St. Paul, for the first time, to withdraw himself entirely from the services of the synagogue; but he continued at Corinth a year and six months, being protected, according to God's special promise to him, from all the machinations of his Jewish enemies. [Sidenote: Opposes the errors of Greek philosophy.] This lengthened stay was probably occasioned not only by the presence of "much people" who were to be converted to Christ, but also by the necessity of strengthening the Corinthian converts against the subtleties of the heathen philosophy by which they were surrounded, and with which St. Paul was well fitted to cope by his early education. The errors of Gnosticism seem also to have penetrated at this time as far as Corinth.

[Sidenote: A.D. 55. A.D. 56.]

After leaving Corinth, St. Paul paid a hasty visit to Ephesus, and then, for the last time, returned to Antioch.

Section 5. St. Paul's Third Apostolic Journey.

[Sidenote: A.D. 56.]

[Sidenote: Ephesus the centre of the Church in Asia Minor.]

The next journey of the great Apostle of the Gentiles led him first through Galatia and Phrygia, "strengthening" the Churches he had already founded, and then brought him to the rich and important maritime city of Ephesus, destined to be a third great centre of the Gentile Church, and to hold in Asia Minor the same position as did Corinth in Greece {41} and Antioch in Syria. Here again St. Paul was forced to withdraw altogether from the Jewish synagogue, after three months of earnest preaching and teaching.

Ephesus was the great seat of the worship of the heathen goddess Diana, or Artemis, and was also full of those who practised "magical arts" or sorceries, so that its inhabitants were doubly enslaved by the Evil One. But the kingdom of darkness could not stand against the Kingdom of Light. [Sidenote: Great power given to the Church. A.D. 57. A.D. 58.] Great as was the power of Satan, still more mighty was the Power which the Lord Jesus gave to His Church. "Special miracles" were wrought in the place of "lying wonders;" the Jewish exorcists were confounded, and the sincerity of the Christian converts was proved by the costly sacrifice of their once-prized books of magic. "So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed[24]."

St. Paul passed between two and three years at Ephesus, during which time he is supposed to have founded the Church in Crete, leaving St. Titus as its Bishop, whilst Ephesus was placed under the episcopal charge of St. Timothy. But eventually the riot excited by Demetrius drove the Apostle from that city. [Sidenote: A.D. 59. A.D. 60.] [Sidenote: His visitation charge to the Elders of Ephesus.] On his return to the neighbouring city of Miletus, after his journey through Greece and Macedonia, we read of his sending to Ephesus for the clergy of that place, and delivering to them a solemn charge respecting their duties to the flock which God had entrusted to their care[25].

It is during St. Paul's long sojourn at Ephesus that we have the first indication of his intention to visit the {42} remoter regions of the West, and more particularly its capital, imperial Rome[26]. He probably at that time expected to see its wonders under different circumstances than those of a prisoner, though before he finished his homeward journey to Jerusalem, he had supernatural warnings of what was coming upon him[27] from the malice of his Jewish enemies.

Section 6. St. Paul at Rome.

[Sidenote: A.D. 60.]

The anxiety which St. Paul ever felt to avoid giving unnecessary offence to his fellow-countrymen, and his readiness to follow the precepts of Judaism when they did not interfere with the liberty of Christianity, were, in God's good Providence, the indirect means of his being sent to preach the glad tidings of salvation, not in Rome only, but in still more distant countries. [Sidenote: St. Paul goes to Rome. A.D. 63-65.] It will not be necessary to enter into the particulars which drew upon St. Paul the unjust indignation of the Jews, and induced him to appeal from their persecutions and the popularity-seeking of Festus to the justice of the emperor: we need only remember that the conclusion of the Book of the Acts shows him to us a prisoner "in his own hired house" at Rome, and there preaching and teaching "with all confidence," first, as ever, to the Jews, and afterwards to the Gentiles.

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Section 7. Extent of the Labours of the Apostles.

We are told but little in Holy Scripture as to the particulars of the Apostles' work in founding the Church of God, except in the case of St. Paul, and we are not allowed to trace even his labours to their end. [Sidenote: Preaching of the Apostles in all known countries.] From other sources we learn that the twelve visited almost every known country of the world, so as to give to each separate race of men then existing an opportunity of refusing or accepting the offer of the salvation of which they were the ministers and stewards. We are also told that all, except St. John and perhaps St. Matthew, crowned their life of toil in the service of their Lord by a martyr's death. St. Peter and St. Paul both suffered at Rome in the First Persecution under Nero, and most likely on the same day, A.D. 67.

The following Table[28] will show the probable field of the labours of each Apostle, so far as the record of it has come down to us:—

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Supposed Fields of Apostolic Labour.

Name of Churches. By whom Founded.

Palestine and Syria All the Apostles.

Mesopotamia (Turkey in Asia) St. Peter and St. Jude.

Persia St. Bartholomew and St. Jude

India St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas.

Thrace (Turkey in Europe) St. Andrew. The flourishing Church of Constantinople afterwards sprang up on this field of his labours.

Scythia (Russia) St. Andrew.

North Africa (Egypt and St. Simon Zelotes. St. Mark Algeria) specially connected with Alexandria.

Ethiopia (Central Africa). St. Matthew.

Arabia. St. Paul.

Asia Minor (Turkey in Asia) St. Paul and St. John.

Macedonia (Turkey in Europe) St. Paul

Greece St. Paul.

Italy St. Peter and St. Paul.

Spain St. Paul.

Gaul (France) and Britain St. Paul and St. Joseph of Arimathea.



[1] Acts xiii. 2.

[2] The first offers of salvation continued to be made to the Jews, even after the recognition by the Church of her mission to the Gentiles.

[3] Acts xiii. 48, 49, 52; xiv. 1.

[4] Acts xiv. 23.

[5] "presbyter," afterwards shortened into "Prester" and "Priest," is derived from the Greek word "Presbyteros," "an Elder."

[6] Acts xi. 30.

[7] Acts xx. 28.

[8] The word "Bishop" is derived from the Greek "Episcopos," and signifies an overseer.

[9] 1 Tim. v. 1, 19, 22. 2 Tim. i. 6. Titus i. 5; ii. 15.

[10] Acts xv. 24.

[11] Gal. ii. 3.

[12] Gal. ii. 9.

[13] St. James, as Bishop of the Diocese, taking precedence in this instance even of St. Peter.

[14] Compare Acts xv. 6. 12.

[15] This is the last mention of St. Peter in the Book of Acts.

[16] Gal. ii. 11-14.

[17] Acts xv. 36-41. The last mention of St. Barnabas in the Book of Acts.

[18] Compare Acts xvi. 3; and Gal. ii. 3, 4.

[19] Acts xvii. 7. Comp. Acts vi. 11.

[20] Comp. St. Mark xiv. 58; and St. Luke xxiii. 2.

[21] Both Philippi and Thessalonica eventually became the seats of flourishing Christian Churches, to whom St. Paul wrote Epistles.

[22] Acts xvii. 16-33.

[23] There are some reasons for thinking that men of cultivated minds and high social position were preferred for Bishops in the early as well as in later ages of the Church.

[24] Acts xix. 1-20.

[25] Acts xx. 17-35.

[26] Acts xix. 21.

[27] Acts xx. 23; xxi. 11.

[28] From Blunt's "Household Theology."



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CHAPTER IV

Final Settlement of the Church by St. John

A.D. 67-100

It seems probable that most of the Apostles had entered into rest before the Destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and that St. John the Divine was the only one of the Apostolic body who long survived that event.

[Sidenote: St. Peter began to found the Church, St. John completed its foundation.]

To St. Peter, one of the "pillars" of the Church, it had been given to begin the great work of laying the foundation of the Mystical Temple of God; to St. John, the other of the two, was allotted the task of perfecting what had been begun, so that a sure and steady basis should not be wanting on which the New Jerusalem might rise through time to eternity[1].

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Section 1. Second Council at Jerusalem.

[Sidenote: A.D. 67.]

[Sidenote: Purposes of the Second Council.]

There is good reason for believing[2] that after the martyrdoms of St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and about the time of the invasion of the Holy City by Vespasian, a Second Council of such of the Apostles as still survived was held for the purpose of electing a successor to the See of Jerusalem, and definitely settling the future government of the Church. [Sidenote: Bishops only rarely appointed at first,] Bishops had already been consecrated in certain cases, as at Ephesus, Crete, and Rome; but during the time that the Apostles were still engaged in founding and governing the different branches of the great Christian community, the appointment of Bishops (in the sense of heads of the Church) seems to have been the exception rather than the rule. [Sidenote: but now everywhere to replace the Apostles.] A new era was, however, now coming upon the Church; her Founders were gradually being withdrawn from her, and it was necessary that she should receive such a complete and permanent organization as would enable her to transmit to succeeding ages the saving grace of which the Apostles had been the first channels, that so what had been founded through their instrumentality might be continued and extended through the ministry of others.

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[Sidenote: The establishment of the Apostolical Succession the special work of St. John,]

This work of organization was fitly entrusted to St. John, who for so many years was left upon earth to "tarry" for the Lord, on Whose Breast he had leaned, and Whose teaching had filled his soul with adoring love, and with those depths of spiritual knowledge which are stored up for us in the "Theological Gospel." [Sidenote: and the necessary consequence of his teaching.] It seems natural that he to whom it was given most fully to "enlighten" the Church respecting the Blessed Mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Two Holy Sacraments, should also be charged with the care of providing for the continual transmission of the sacramental grace of the Incarnation through the "laying on of hands," and that he who saw and recorded the glorious ritual belonging to the Heavenly Altar, should organize that system by which Priests might be perpetually raised up to show forth the same Offering in the Church below.

Thus, though up to the time of St. Paul's martyrdom (A.D. 67) Episcopal rule, as distinct from Apostolic, would seem to have been exceptional, before the death of St. John (A.D. 100), government by the Bishops had undoubtedly become the recognized rule and system of the Church.

Section 2. Development of the Church.

Before entering into any details respecting the final settlement by St. John of the Order, Discipline, and Worship of the Church, it may be well to remind ourselves that the Mystical Body of Christ only gradually attained her full shape and constitution, following, like God's other works, His law of growth and {48} development, and adapting herself, according to her Lord's designs for her, to the needs of her members. [Sidenote: Development in the minds of the Apostles as to the work of the Church.] There is no reason to suppose that the Apostles, even after the Day of Pentecost, had clear ideas of the destiny which was in store on earth for the Church which they were engaged in founding. The gathering in of the Gentiles, the existence of the Church entirely apart from the Temple and its services, the place she was to occupy in the long reach of years before the Day of Judgment[3], all these were only made known to them by the course of events and the teaching of experience, conjointly with, as well as subordinate to, the general guidance of the Holy Spirit. So, too, as regards doctrine. [Sidenote: As to doctrine.] We cannot for a moment doubt that the Apostles, who had been taught by the Incarnate Truth Himself, and inspired by the Holy Ghost, held firmly "all the Articles of the Christian Faith;" but we may also believe that their insight into these verities would be deepened, and their expression of them become clearer, as adoring meditation and the Teaching of the Comforter brought more and more to their remembrance the Words and Works of their Lord, and unbelieving cavils forced them more and more fully "to give a reason of the Hope that" was in them[4]. The same thing may be noticed {49} respecting the Faith of the Church. [Sidenote: Development of the teaching of the Church.] Held firmly in its fulness from the beginning, it was yet only gradually set forth in Creeds, Liturgies, and Definitions of Faith, according as the love and belief of Christians required expression, or the errors of heretics drew forth clearer teaching on the truths they attacked. [Sidenote: Reserve in the teaching of the Church.] To this we may add, that the early Church was very careful to keep the knowledge of the deep mysteries of the Faith from those who were not Christians. It was only after their initiation by Holy Baptism that those who had, as Catechumens, been instructed in the rudiments of Christian doctrine, were admitted to a full knowledge of the belief and practice of the Church, especially as regarded the Holy Eucharist, which was very commonly spoken of under the name of the Holy Mysteries.

Section 3. St. John at Ephesus[5].

[Sidenote: St. John's work at Ephesus.]

About the time that Jerusalem was besieged by the armies of Vespasian (A.D. 67), St. John withdrew to Ephesus (whence for a while he was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian[6]); and from this city he travelled about through the neighbouring country, organizing, amongst others, those Seven Churches of Asia Minor, to whose Angels or Bishops he was bidden to write the Seven Epistles contained in the Apocalypse.

{50}

[Sidenote: Fitness of Ephesus as a centre of organization,]

Here in Ephesus, the eye of Asia, the great mercantile seaport of the then known world, his influence could most easily make itself felt amongst the far-off members of the Christian body, which by this time had extended throughout the whole Roman empire. All the civilized world was then subject to the sway of Rome, except India and China; and it may be that even these two latter countries were not excluded from the influence of the Gospel. It is not, of course, meant that Christianity was the recognized religion of all or any of the Roman provinces; but that in each of them the Church had a corporate existence, and was a living power, drawing into herself here one, and there another of the souls who were brought into contact with her, and really, though gradually, spreading through and leavening the earth.

[Sidenote: and of orthodox teaching.]

Again, at Ephesus St. John could best combat and confute, both by his words and writings, the subtle and deadly heresies which were especially rife there. "False Christs," such as Simon Magus, the first heretic, Menander, Dositheus, and others, no longer troubled the Infant Church with their blasphemous impostures, but in their stead false teachers had arisen, seeking to "draw away disciples after them" into the more subtle error of misbelief about our Lord and His Incarnation. [Sidenote: Errors of the Corinthians.] [Sidenote: The Docetae, and other variations of Gnosticism.] Thus the Jew Corinthus taught that Christ was a mere man, born like other men, though united to Divinity from His Baptism to His Crucifixion; whilst to the errors of the Corinthians the Docetae added that the Body in which our Blessed Saviour suffered, was only a phantom, and a body but in appearance; both these heresies, {51} and others of a similar nature, appear to have been variations of that Gnosticism to which St. Paul refers in his Epistles, as "science" (or gnosis) "falsely so called[7]," and which was long a source of danger and trouble to the Church. Gnosticism may be traced back to that Simon Magus, with whom St. John first came in contact at Samaria, and in all its varied distortions of the great Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation, through an admixture of Jewish and heathen error, there was always an unvarying denial of our Lord's Divinity.

[Sidenote: St. John's universal patriarchate.]

For about a third of a century St. John continued to exercise a kind of universal patriarchate over the Church, being regarded, we cannot doubt, with almost unbounded reverence and affection by all its members, and perhaps first presenting that idea of one visible earthly head of the Church, which afterwards found its expression in the popedom.

Section 4. St. John's Writings.

[Sidenote: St. John's writings close the Canon.]

The Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation of St. John, written as they were at a long interval after the rest of the New Testament, and closing the Canon of Sacred Scripture, may be usefully referred to, as giving us some idea of the appearance of the Church when its government and theology were finally settled.

[Sidenote: How his Gospel differs from the other three.]

St. John's Gospel differs from those of the other three Evangelists in having been written for men who from their infancy had grown up in the Faith of Christ, and who {52} were thus more ready to enter into and profit by deep sacramental doctrine; whilst at the same time the dangerous heresies which were beguiling souls from the truth, called for more detailed and dogmatic teaching than had at first been needed. [Sidenote: Dwells on our Lord's Divinity,] Hence in place of an account of our Lord's Human Birth, St. John sets forth His Eternal Godhead and wonderful Incarnation, leaving no space for unbelief or cavil, when he proclaims for the instruction of the Church, that "the Word was God," and yet that He also "was made Flesh." [Sidenote: and on the two Sacraments.] Again, the last Gospel does not bring before us the Institution of the two great Sacraments of the Christian Covenant; though it, and it alone, does record the teaching of our Blessed Lord Himself with regard to the New Birth in Holy Baptism, and the constant Nourishment of the renewed life in the Holy Eucharist.

[Sidenote: The Epistles correct heresies.]

Having established the Faith in His Gospel, St. John in his Epistles sternly censures heresy and schism, thus witnessing to the end of time that the charity of the Church must never lead her to countenance false doctrine.

[Sidenote: The Apocalypse sets forth Discipline and Worship.]

We may look to the Book of the Revelation for some light as to the discipline and worship of the Church of St. John's days. We have there in the mention of the Seven Angels or Bishops, each ruling over his own Church and answerable for its growth in holiness, a confirmation of the fact that episcopacy was now fully organized as the one form of Church government which had replaced the extinct hierarchy of the former dispensation. Nor does it seem unreasonable to believe that St. John's vision of the Worship of Heaven {53} was intended to supply to the Christian Church a model to be copied so far as circumstances should permit in the courts of the Lord's House on earth, much as the elaborate system of Temple Worship, which was entirely swept away with the destruction of Jerusalem, had been in all things ordered "according to the pattern" which the Lord had "showed" first to Moses and afterwards to David. That the Primitive Church did thus consider the Heavenly Ritual set forth in the Apocalypse as the ideal of worship on earth, is proved by the accounts which have come down to us of the arrangement of Churches and the manner of celebrating the Holy Eucharist in early times.

[Sidenote: Arrangement of Churches in primitive times.]

"The form and arrangement of Churches in primitive times was derived, in its main features, from the Temple at Jerusalem. Beyond the porch was the narthex, answering to the court of the Gentiles, and appropriated to the unbaptized and to penitents. Beyond the narthex was the nave, answering to the court of the Jews, and appropriated to the body of worshippers. At the upper end of the nave was the choir, answering to the Holy Place, for all who were ministerially engaged in Divine Service. Beyond the choir was the Berna or Chancel, answering to the Holy of Holies, used only for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and separated from the choir by a closed screen, resembling the organ screen of our cathedrals, which was called the Iconostasis. As early as the time of Gregory Nazianzen, in the fourth century, this screen is compared to the division between the present and the eternal world, and the sanctuary behind it was ever regarded with the greatest possible reverence as the most sacred {54} place to which man could have access while in the body; the veiled door, which formed the only direct exit from it into the choir and nave, being only opened at the time when the Blessed Sacrament was administered to the people there assembled[3]. The opening of this door, then, brought into view the Altar and the Divine Mysteries which were being celebrated there. [Sidenote: Its resemblance to what the Apocalypse tells us of Heaven.] And when St. John looked through the door that had been opened in Heaven, what he saw is thus described: 'And behold a Throne was set in Heaven . . . . and round about the Throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold . . . . and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the Throne . . . . and before the Throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal.' Here is exactly represented an arrangement of the altar familiar to the whole Eastern Church and to the early Church of England, in which it occupies the centre of an apse in front of the seats of the Bishop and Clergy, which are placed in the curved part of the wall. And, although there is no reason to think that the font ever stood near the altar, yet nothing appears more likely than that the 'sea of glass like unto crystal' mystically represents that laver of regeneration through which alone the altar can be spiritually approached. Another striking characteristic of the ancient Church was the extreme reverence which was shown to the Book of the Gospels, which was always placed upon the altar and surmounted by a cross. So {55} 'in the midst of the Throne, and round about the Throne,' St. John saw those four living creatures which have been universally interpreted to represent the four Evangelists or the four Gospels, their position seeming to signify that the Gospel is ever attendant upon the altar, penetrating, pervading, and embracing the highest mystery of Divine Worship, giving 'glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the Throne, who liveth for ever and ever.' In the succeeding chapter St. John beholds Him for whom this altar is prepared. 'I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the Throne, and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as It had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.' It cannot be doubted that this is our Blessed Lord in that Human Nature on which the septiformis gratia was poured without measure; and that His appearance in the form of 'the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing,' represents the mystery of His prevailing Sacrifice and continual Intercession. But around this living Sacrifice there is gathered all the homage of an elaborate ritual. They who worship Him have 'every one of them harps' to offer Him the praise of instrumental music; they have 'golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of saints,' even as the angel afterwards had 'given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the Throne;' they sing a new song, mingling the praises of 'the best member that they have' with that of their instrumental music; and they fall down before the Lamb with the lowliest gesture of their bodies in humble adoration. Let it {56} also be remembered that one of the Anthems here sung by the Choirs of Heaven is that sacred song, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come;' the Eucharistic use of which is traceable in every age of the Church[9]."

The ritual of the early Church naturally gathered round the Holy Eucharist as the central act of worship in which the Lord was most especially present, and therefore to be most especially honoured. From the first days of the Church this had been the one distinctively Christian service; and now that the Temple services had ceased, it became more apparently even than before, the fulfilment and continuation of the sacrifices of the elder dispensations[10]: whilst it was also the Memorial of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Representation on earth of the continual offering-up of "the Lamb as It had been slain," before the Throne of God in Heaven.



[1] St. Peter and St. John had been specially trained by their Divine Master for their special work. They with St. James, the first Apostolic martyr, had witnessed His Transfiguration, His Agony, His raising of Jairus's daughter, and had been admitted into more intimate communion with Him than the other Apostles.

[2] From passages in the works of St. Irenaeus and Eusebius. See "Some Account of the Church in the Apostolic Age," by Professor Shirley, pp. 136-140.

[3] The Apostles appear to have believed at first that our Lord's Ascension would be very speedily followed by His triumphal return to Judgment, and the glorification of His faithful people.

[4] On this point we may remember that St. John, who saw deepest into the Divine Life, did not write his Gospel till near the end of his earthly labours, almost sixty years after the Day of Pentecost.

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