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He in whom they believe are joined and mixed ; so in the cup of the Lord, water alone cannot be offered, nor wine alone, for if any one should offer wine alone, the blood of Christ is without us; but if water alone, the people are without Christ, but when each is mutually joined by a pouring together, and making one, then a spiritual and heavenly sacrifice is performed.”
* In another epistle the same father says, “ When the Lord calls his body bread, which is made up of the union of many seeds, he indicates that the people are in union; and when he calls his blood wine, extracted from many bunches of grapes, and pressed into one, he signifies the flock joined together by the mixture of a multitude in union.”+ In the same epistle he again refers to it: “Likewise it appears, that the blood of Christ is not offered if there is no wine in the
сир, nor is the Lord's sacrifice celebrated with legitimate consecration, unless our offering and sacrifice answer to his passion : but how shall we drink the new wine of the creation of the vine with Christ, in the kingdom of his Father, if in the sacrifice of God the Father, and of Christ, we do not offer the wine, nor mix the cup of the Lord according to the Lord's tradition ?
Cyprian, Ep. ad Cecil.
† Cyprian. Ep. Carthag.
It is true indeed that there are one or two heretical opinions which prevailed about this time, which in some way detract from the unanimity of the Christian world, such as the following: the Hydroparastatæ, or Aquarians,* who thought it wrong to use wine in the Eucharist, and, as their name imports, consecrated water in its stead ; also the Marcosians, f who commenced at the latter part of the second century, taking their names from Marcus, a disciple of the Valentinian heresy; Marcus was reported, amongst other infamous practices, to be expert in tricks of legerdemain and magic, and this he used to carry on, for the sake of acquiring notoriety, in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Irenæus says of him,
« Pretending that he was giving thanks for the wine mixed in the chalice, and very much prolonging the words of his invocation, he made the wine appear of a purple or red colour, so that it might appear that Christ's blood was dropped into the chalice in consequence of his invocation.” But with the exception of these and similar absurdities, which were ex-. pressly called heretical, and therefore denote the general opinion of the church, we may safely say, that for the three first centuries, the sacrament of the Eucharist was preserved
* See Bingham Eccl. Antiq. Book xv. Sect. 7. + See Echard Eccl. Hist. and Mosheim.
in the pure and simple state, both in
, practice and doctrine, in which our Lord ordained it. We have sufficient testimony from the fathers above quoted, that notwithstanding the violent persecutions which the Christians continually suffered, and the many heresies which arose throughout the church on other points, still the sacrament of the Eucharist maintained its ground, was considered as the Lord's ordinance, free from all superstitious ceremonies, the bread and wine signifying--not being in reality, but signifying—in a spiritual manner, the body and blood of the Saviour of the world.
THE FOURTH CENTURY.
We now come to a period most important in the history of the Church. At the commencement of this century, the Christian religion not only was freed from the long succession of persecutions, with which it had before been nearly overwhelmed, but it even became the religion of the state, and a Roman Emperor, one of the most powerful and politic that ever guided the sceptre of the imperial city, became first its advocate, and afterwards its professor. The first of these events may be dated at A.D. 313, the latter at A.D. 324. Its close was equally important, for though at first Christianity was only tolerated, and took but its share in the opinion of mankind; in the reign of Theodosius, about the year 380, we find its advancement so rapid, and its hold on the people so secure, that by a royal edict the Christian religion was prescribed as the only true religion, the worship of idols forbidden, and the pagan temples of the Roman gods subverted and abolished. But though Christianity thus gained in political power and importance, it was beginning to lose in spiritual sincerity; it was beginning to be divided by schisms and dissensions, upon points of mystery and faith, and the root of those perversions of the gospel and of simplicity, was now planted, which was soon to grow up into papal domination, and temporal tyranny. “ The rites and institutions by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities were now adopted, with some slight alterations, by Christian bishops. Hence it happened that in these times the religion of the Greeks and Romans differed very little in its external appearance from that of the Christians. They had both a most pompous and splendid ritual ; gorgeous robes, mitres, tiaras, wax tapers, crosiers, processions, lustrations, images, gold and silver vases ; and many such circumstances of pageantry were equally to be seen in the heathen temples
and in the Christian churches."* In the midst of these dangers it was not likely that the sacrament of the Eucharist should altogether escape: we accordingly find many signs of approaching changes, and, though these changes
as yet hardly visible, still they point, with a very clear finger, to those great errors of the church of Rome which were afterwards to follow. “ It appears by innumerable testimonies, that the Lord's Supper was administered in some places two or three times in a week, in others on Sunday only, to all those who were assembled to worship God. It was also sometimes celebrated at the tombs of martyrs, and at funerals, which custom undoubtedly gave rise to the masses, that were afterwards performed in honour of the saints, and for the benefit of the dead. In many places the bread and wine were holden up to view before their distribution, that they might be seen by the people, and contemplated with religious respect; and hence, not long after, the adoration of the symbols.”+
Many of the fathers have left us accounts of the forms used in this century. We have express liturgies composed by St. Basil ţ and St.
* Mosheim, vol. i. p. 351. + Mosheim, vol. i. p. 357.
. BASIL, commonly called the Great, Bishop of Cæsarea. Opposed to the Arians. Died, A.D. 379.