Page images

the Turkish Empire, in the Danubian Principalities, in the Ionian Islands, and in Venice. The Island of Cyprus, though belonging to the Turkish Empire, has an independent ecclesiastical government, under the rule of its bishops, four in number; and the churches of Montenegro and Mount Sinai also enjoy ecclesiastical independence, though each consists only of a single bishopric. Of the three national churches, that of Greece is least dependent on the secular power. In fact, since the kingdom of Greece has been established, it has never had a sovereign who belonged to the prevailing faith of the people. The lately deposed Otho was a Catholic, and his queen a Protestant. The present king, George the First, is a Protestant, belong. ing to the Lutheran church. Many of the Greeks are opposed altogether to the union of church and state. Economos, whose name has already been mentioned, wrote a very able argument against this mixture of things sacred and secular.


The Greek church, like the Papal, makes the number of sacraments, or mysteries as she calls them, to be seven. She is however more careful than the papal to assign a preeminence to baptism and the Lord's supper.

She gives the name of confession to that which the Romish church calls penance ; and her anointing is not like the extreme unction of the Western church. It is used, not as a preparative for death, but rather as a means, through the prayer of faith, of the recovery from sickness and forgiveness of sins. It is defined in the larger Orthodox Catechism of the Russian church, as “a mystery in which, while the body is anointed with oil, God's grace is invoked on the sick, to heal him of his spiritual and bodily infirmities.” Or, as it is in the Catechism of Platon, " the mystery in which the priest anoints the sick with oil, and prays to God to heal him and forgive his sins."

Baptism is defined by Platon as “the mystery in which,

when the body is washed in water, the soul is washed in the blood of Christ." Its effects are explained as consisting in regeneration, the remission of all sin, and the entering into covenant with God, whereby we obtain a title to everlasting life. The form of baptism in the Greek church is always a triple immersion. The priest, pronouncing the baptismal formula, plunges the child into the water simultaneously with the pronunciation of each of the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Greek church does not allow the validity of baptism by aspersion or affusion; nor will she receive proselytes from those communions which practise these modes, unless they submit to the triple immersion. The Russian church was, however, prevailed on by the influence of the patriarch Nikon, about the middle of the seventeenth century, to make an exception to this rule in favor of the Roman Catholic church. The members of that church, who may wish to unite with the Greek church in Russia, may be received without any other ceremony than the chrism or confirmation. This exception does not include Protestants, nor has the example been followed in any other division of the Greek church. In administering baptism, the priest does not say, “ I baptize thee"; but, “the servant of the Lord (here follows the name) is baptzied," etc. The Greeks defend this form on two grounds; first, as being more modest on the part of the administrator, who is made too prominent, they say, by the use of the first person; and, secondly, as intimating the voluntariness of the baptized person, since the verb may be taken either as the passive or the middle form.

The Greek church gives the rite of chrism or confirmation, immediately after baptism. Indeed the two offices are combined into one. The administration of this rite is not, as in the Romish and Anglican churches, the prerogative of the bishop, but, as in the Lutheran church, it is performed by presbyters.

In the case of adults, auricular confession is regarded as a qualification for communion. But in pronouncing the

absolution connected with this, the priest does not say, " I absolve thee,” but “may the Lord absolve thee."

The Lord's supper is thus defined by Platon : “ The holy eucharist is a mystery, in which the believer receives, under the form of bread, the very body of Christ, and under the form of wine, the very blood of Christ, for remission of sins, and everlasting life.” The word “ transubstantiation" was never used by the Greek church till after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, in 1453. It is said to occur for the first time in the confession of faith presented by the patriarch Gennadius to the sultan Mohammed II., shortly after the capture of the city. The Greek church differs from the Roman Catholic in regard to the precise moment of the scrvice when the miracle of transubstantia. tion is wrought. While the Romish church assigns the miracle to the moment when the priest pronounces the words “this is my body," the Oriental church assigns it to a subsequent part of the service, when the priest prays, in the words of Chrysostom's rubric: “ Make this bread the precious body of thy Christ, and that which is in this cup the precious blood of thy Christ, changing them by thy Holy Spirit.” They thus involve themselves in inconsistency; for the priest repeats the Lord's words, “this is my body," and the people respond, “ Amen; we believe it,” before the change of substance is effected. The communion is always administered in both kinds, and to all infants after baptism, as well as to adults. In regard to this last point, Stourdza bas the following significant note : " The Orthodox church administers the sacrament to infants at the breast, desiring to sanctify them from the cradle : The Western church does not give the communion till a more advanced age. There is more of faith in the former of these usages; more of reason in the latter."

OF WORSHIP. The worship of the Greek church differs in this important particular from that of the Romish, that the services are not VOL. XXI. No. 84.


conducted in an unknown tongue. For the ecclesiastical Greek, though differing from the written, and still more from the spoken, language of the present day, cannot be regarded as a foreign or unknown tongue to the worshipper. Another difference which the spectator at once notices is, that there is far less in the Greek church than in the Latin of that ecclesiastical mummery and pantomime, in which the priest alone plays his part, without any apparent consciousness of the presence of the people. So far as the worship of images is concerned, the only important difference (if indeed this is important) between the two churches is, that the Greek disallows the use of graven images, and limits herself to pictures painted on board or canvas. She professes also to disallow the use of pictorial representations of the Deity, excepting those of the Son, who, as having actually assumed the nature of man, may be lawfully represented in a human form. But in practice this distinction is little regarded, and pictures of the Father, as a venerable old man with a flowing beard, and of the Holy Spirit, as a dove, are very common, both in churches and in private dwellings. The Greek church also professes, in her better formularies, to guard the members of her communion against the abuse, or superstitious use, of images. Thus Platon, in his orthodox instruction, says: “ The respect which may be lawfully paid to pictures degenerates into the heinous sin of idolatry when reverence is directed to the picture in itself; when one picture is considered holier than another; when an ornamented picture is more honored than a plain one, or an old one more than a new, or when persons decline to pray where there is no picture." But, in fact, the church's caveat is little regarded, and all these prohibited forms of abuse are common. The images used in the Greek church are not likely to attract the idolatrous reverence of those who look upon painting as almost a divine art. They are far inferior, in this respect, to those used in the Roman Catholic church.

The invocation of saints is as universal in the Greek

church as in the Latin. The mother of Christ, the evervirgin, the all-holy, is invoked quite as often and as fervently as her divine Son.

The veneration of relics is also as much a part of the Greek worship as of the Romish.

Prayers for the dead who have departed in faith are defended on the ground of the unity of the church. Believers on earth and spirits of the just made perfect in heaven make up one communion of saints.

The abundant reading of the scriptures is a marked feature in the services of the Greek church. This has undoubtedly contributed to keep her from sinking to the level of ignorance and superstition which is seen in countries entirely under the sway of the pope. It has also operated effectually to prevent the Greek language from becoming obsolete, and has prepared the way for that purification and improvement of the language, which has been going on with such remarkable rapidity since Greece became an independent kingdom.

In respect to fasting, the rules of the Greek church are less minute than those of the Roman Catholic. Fasting is a duty of the Christian. It involves the three elements of the time, the quantity, and the quality of food. As to the second, the church, in view of the diversities of age, constitution, and circumstances, does not lay down any rule. But as to the times of fasting and the quality of food she gives direction to her faithful children. She prescribes entire abstinence as a preparation for receiving the eucharist, and four principal feasts in the year. These she regards as means of improvement, and not as meritorious works. As to the quality of food, her general principle is to prescribe the less substantial and less savory kinds of food, as a security against excess.



e come now to consider the doctrine of the Oriental church in regard to the world to come. The Greek church

« PreviousContinue »