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to take a little of the powder of this stone infused in water, in order that the above-mentioned desirable effect may be produced. Mount Sinai, Mount Horeb, the frontiers of the Holy Land, the Holy Land itself, in* short, all the countries from the Red Sea to Jerusalem, are, as it were, so many sources which have immemorially supplied the Greeks with fictions, and their bigots with superstition. Upon Mount Horeb the Greeks pretend to show the place in which the prophet Jeremiah concealed the tables of the law, and a particular stone, on which are several Hebrew characters, carved by the prophet himself. According to this idea, they pay to this stone a superstitious homage, which consists of a number of prayers and innumerable signs of the cross, performed with the utmost hurry and precipitation, and consequently with very little zeal or devotion.
The Greeks ascribe to the waters of Jordan, and almost all the fountains of the Holy Land, the supernatural virtue of healing several distempers. The plant generally known by the name of the Rose of Jericho, is, in their opinion, a sure defence against thunder and lightning, and a speedy relief for a woman in the time of her travail. A certain traveller, Morison, assures us, with an extraordinary air of piety and devotion, that this last quality is owing to the Blessed Virgin, of whom that vegetable is the figure or representation.
SEC. II.- RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES AND CUSTOMS OF THE RUSSIAN
It is impossible perhaps to settle with any certainty at what period, or by whom, Christianity was first introduced into Russia. What we learn
with most appearance of probability is, that the Grand of Christianity Duchess Olga, or, as her name is pronounced, Olha, grand
mother to Wladimir, was the first person of distinction converted to Christianity in Russia, about the year 955, and that she assumed the name of Helena at her conversion ; under which name she still stands as a saint in the Russian calendar. Methodius, and Cyril the philosopher, travelled from Greece into Moravia, about the year 900, to plant the gospel ; where they translated the service of the church, or some parts of it, from the Greek into the Sclavonian language, the common language at that time of Moravia and Russia ; and thus it is thought that this princess imbibed the first principles of Christianity. And, being herself fully persuaded of its truth, she was very earnest with her son, the Grand Duke Sviatoslav, to embrace it also ; but this
, from political motives, he declined to do. In the course, however, of a few years, Christianity is said to have made considerable progress
in that nation. It is fully ascertained that, about the end of the tenth century,
the Christian religion was introduced into Russia, chiefly through their con, nexion with Greece; and coming from this quarter, it was very natural that the doctrine and discipline of the church of Constantinople should become at first the pattern of the church of Russia, which it still continues to follow in the greatest part of its offices. Hence likewise the patriarch of Constantinople formerly enjoyed the privilege of a spiritual supremacy
over the Russians, to whom he sent a Metropolitan whenever a vacancy happened.
Little occurred in the ecclesiastical history of Russia, except, perhaps, the rise of the sect of the Raskolniki, which excited considerable tumults and commotions in that kingdom, till Peter the Great ascended the throne of Russia; who, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, made some remarkable changes in the form and administration both of its civil and ecclesiastical government.
This great prince made no change in the articles of faith received among his countrymen, which contain the doctrine of the Greek church; but he took the utmost pains to have this doctrine explained in a manner conformable to the dictates of right reason, and the spirit of the gospel ; and he used the most effectual methods to destroy, on the one hand, the influence of that hideous superstition that sat brooding over the whole nation; and, on the other, to dispel the ignorance of the clergy, which was incredible, and that of the people, which would have surpassed it, had that been possible
To crown these noble attempts, he extinguished the spirit of persecution, and renewed and confirmed to Christians, of all denominations, liberty of conscience, and the privilege of performing divine worship in the manner prescribed by their respective liturgies and institutions. This liberty, however, was modified in such a manner, as to restrain and defeat any attempts that might be made by the Jesuits and other members of the church of Rome, to promote the interests of Popery in Russia, or to extend the jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff beyond the chapels of that communion that were tolerated by law; and particular charge was given to the council, to which belonged the cognizance of ecclesiastical affairs, to use their utmost care and vigilance to prevent the propagation of Romish tenets among the people. All this caution had, no doubt, arisen from the repeated efforts of the designing pontiffs of Rome and their missionaries to extend the papal empire over the Greek churches, under the pretence of uniting the two communions; and, with this view, a negotiation was entered into in 1580, under John Basilides, Grand Duke of Russia, who seems to have had political ends to answer in pretending to favour this union. But, although the professed object of this negotiation failed, the ministry of Possevin, the learned and artful Jesuit, who was charged with the mission on the part of the Roman pontiff, was not without fruit among the Russians, especially among those residing in the Polish dominions.
Proposals for uniting the two communions have been made by different popes, as Honorius III., Gregory IX., Innocent IV., Gregory XIII., and last of all, by the Academy of Sorbonne in 1718; but the Russian sovereigns and the nation have always remained firm and true to their religion : at the same time, all religions, without exception, are tolerated in Russia. In the year 1581, in the reign of Czar John Vasilievitz, Pope Gregory XIII. proposed to that sovereign that the Lutheran clergy should be banished from Russia ; but he was answered, that in that country all nations have a free exercise of their religions ; and now in Russia there are Lutherans, Calvinists, Hernhutters, Armenians, Jews, Mahometans, Pagans, Hindoos, &c. &c. Roman Catholics are to be met with in al
most every government, particularly in those conquered from the Polish dominions : their clergy are governed by their own rulers, and are totally independent of the Russian ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Peter likewise introduced a considerable change into the manner of governing the church. The splendid dignity of patriarch, which approached too near the lustre and prerogatives of majesty, not to be offensive to the emperor and burdensome to the people, was suppressed, in 1721, by this spirited monarch, who declared himself and thus became like the British monarch) head of the national church.
The functions of this high and important office were entrusted with a council assembled at St. Petersburg, which was called the Holy Synod ; and one of the archbishops, the most distinguished for integrity and prudence, was appointed as president of it.
The other orders of the clergy continued in their respective rank and offices; but both their revenues and their authority were considerably diminished. It was resolved at first, in this general reformation, to abolish all monasteries and convents, as prejudicial to the public, and unfriendly to population ; but this resolution was not put in execution; on the contrary, the Emperor himself erected a magnificent monastery in honour of Alexander Newsky, whom the Russians place in the list of their heroes and saints.*
In her doctrines, the Russian Church agrees with the Greek Church ; Doctrines.
like her, she receives the seven sacraments or mysteries; allows
no statues or graven images, but admits pictures and invocation of saints.
During the celebration of the mass, the laity, not excepting the prince himself, are obliged either to stand or to kneel, and be uncovered; and to
observe the same position during the performance of all Divine Service.
the other parts of divine service. Bergius, in his State of the Russian Church, assures us, however, that “ The ancient Russians always pray either standing, or prostrate upon the ground ; carefully avoiding the posture of kneeling, for fear they should be thought to imitate those soldiers who mocked the Lord Jesus CHRIST.” The Grand Duke, who sat on the throne in the time of Olearius, always prostrated himself to the ground when he attended public worship. For this reason there are no stools or benches made use of in the Russian Churches, except when there happens to be a homily read, or a sermon preached. No dogs are suffered to enter the church door; and everything which has the least tendency to interrupt their devotions is prohibited. None but those who officiate at the altar are admitted into the sanctuary. The Czar, however, is allowed to enter it at the ceremony of his coronation, and when he receives the communion ; some others of the laity, who are persons of distinction, are likewise admitted into it, provided they take care to keep at a great distance from the altar.
The Russian mass is always performed in the ancient Sclavonian language ;
and a great part of it is said in a low voice. Like the Greeks, the Russians bow down before the host, and adore it. From the preface of the mass to the communion, the doors of the sanctuary are shut, and a curtain is drawn before it, which covers the altar : in Easter-week, how
* All Religions.
ever, the sanctuary doors are always open, even during mass. To the other ceremonies observed at the communion, in conformity with those of the Greeks, we must add, according to Olearius, that the Muscovites administer the sacrament to those who are deprived of their reason, by touching their lips only with the bread dipped in the wine ; that they are not allowed to give the communion to a woman who lies in, in the room where she was brought to bed ;—those who have taken a false oath before a court of judicature, or have been guilty of any notorious crime, cannot receive this sacrament of the Eucharist till they are at the point of death; and that it is customary to give those who are sick, some water or some brandy, in which several of their sacred relics have been first infused, before they give them the communion.
Their Bible is translated into the Sclavonian language from the Greek Septuagint; but they never suffer it to be carried into church, for fear of profaning it by the several immodest passages that are to be met with in the Old Testament. It is the New Testament only, and some particular passages extracted from the Psalms and the Prophets, which are read in their churches; they are, however, allowed to read the whole Scriptures at home in private.
In Father Le Brun's Collection of Liturgies, we find the contents of a small Muscovite ritual, in wbich directions are laid down for the observance of the following customs :- 1. Several prayers to be read on the day that a woman is delivered of a male infant. 2. On the eighth day after the birth of such infant, being the day on which he is to receive his
3. On the fortieth day after her lying-in. 4. For a woman that has miscarried. 5. At an exorcism. 6. At a reconciliation in Church. 7. On a divorce. 8. When the communion is to be administered to the
9. Prayers to JESUS CHRIst, and the Blessed Virgin, for a true believer at the point of death. 10. The order or method to be observed at the burial of such persons who die during the festival of Easter, or in Holy week. 11. For a priest after his decease. 12. For the burial of an infant. 13. Prayers for a blessing on the provisions made for Easter; for their cheese and eggs ; for their first fruits, and those who offer them ; for the consecration of a house, and the entering into possession of it ; for sinking a well, and the purification of it when any filth has fallen into it. 14. Prayers for those who have eaten any unclean meats. 15. Prayers for the purification of an unclean vessel. 16. For all sorts of grain ; for seed-time, &c. It is presumed that the foregoing will be sufficient to give the reader a tolerable idea of the several customs which are observed by the Russians on particular occasions, and the observance of which is especially enjoined by their ritual.
One peculiar custom, however, we cannot omit: viz. that when they take possession of a house, they consecrate it at the same time with salt. Cornelius le Brun, in his Travels to Muscovy, gives us the following account of the consecration of the Czar's palace in 1702:-" The floor was strewed all over with hay, and on the right hand a table was placed, garnished out with abundance of large and little loaves; over some of them was thrown a handful of salt, and a silver salt-cellar, full of salt, set upon others.” This custom of consecrating with salt, which is attended by all friends and relatives, is repeated for several days together, and is an
emblem or token of that prosperity and success which they wish may attend them, and of their friendly hope that they may never afterwards want any of the necessaries of life. When they quit their habitations, they leave some hay and bread upon the floor, which are symbols of those blessings which they wish may attend those who take the house after their departure.
The constitution of the Russian monks, their fasts, and their profound ignorance, are much the same as those of the Greek monks. Peter the Great was the first who attempted to lay a duty or tax upon the convents; he commanded that no persons should be admitted into them but those who were fifty years of age, or upwards, he having observed that a considerable number of able young fellows were shut up in them, and thereby rendered useless to the state.
The Russians have a peculiar regard for relics, images, and pictures of saints ;-for the invocation of saints, the crucifix, and the sign of the
cross ; for an infinite number of inclinations, genuflexions, Relics, Images, and prostrations, not only before those objects which are
adorable, but those likewise which demand only a common reverence and esteem ; and also for numberless processions and pilgrimages. The cathedral church at Moscow is in possession of the Jesus Christ, and a picture of the Blessed Virgin, drawn by St. Luke! The Russians look upon this picture as the palladium of their state. Other churches boast of being possessed of the bodies of several Russian saints; and thirty-six gold and silver shrines, full of very valuable relics, are to be seen in the church of the Annunciation. These shrines, or boxes, are said to contain, amongst other things, some of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, one of the hands of St. Mark, and some of the bones of the prophet Daniel, &c.
Their images or pictures, which are generally painted in oil upon wood, must be made by some Muscovite, and are sold, or, according to their prevaricating phraseology, exchanged or bartered for a certain sum of money. To sell them is looked upon as a sin ; but in the time of Olearius, the patriarch would not suffer any foreigners to have them in their houses for fear they should profane them. This precaution was carried to so high a pitch, that a Dutchman having purchased a house that was built with stone, the Russian who sold it scraped the wall on which the picture of a saint had been painted, and carried the rubbish off the premises.
Every Russian, whether his condition be high or low, has his own titular saint, to whom he offers up his morning and evening prayers, and whom he neglects not to consult on all occasions of a doubtful or hazardous nature. In the shops at St. Petersburg, an image of this titular saint is always placed in a conspicuous position, and you cannot possibly pay a higher compliment to a Russian when you enter his shop than to make your obeisance to his favourite saint. A Russian shopkeeper is a notorious cheat, but if you have paid a becoming respect to his saint, it is supposed that you are immediately admitted into his good graces'; and although the majority of the saints were themselves the most consummate cheats and impostors, yet it is believed that they do not sanction similar practices in others. For this reason, a familiar nod or a polite bow to & Russian image becomes, in many instances, a positive act of good policy,