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The AntiENT LITURGIES, still extant,
prove that the primitive Christians, who were probably instructed by uninterrupted Tradition from the Apostles, considered the Eucharist, with respect to the BENEPits annexed to it, in the same Light as it is represented in this Treatise.
In acquiring a just idea of the primitive doctrines concerning the Eucharist, considerable regard should be paid to the prayers in the antient Communion Service, or Liturgies of the Greek, the Latin, and the Oriental Churches. Those prayers certainly contain the opinions of very early ages; which, it is not at all unreasonable to conclude, were handed down to them by tradition from the Apostles.
It is true, indeed, that these Liturgies are not thought to have been composed by the persons whose names they bear. They appear to me to be compilations from preceding prayers or Liturgies; and to have had a name given to them, not with so much attention to truth as to convenience and popular attraction. Selections and compilations have often passed under one name; thus we say, the Poems of Dodsley, the Grammar of Lily, the Fables of Æsop; though in each of those books there is little of the author to whom the whole is attributed. - The antient Liturgies were not national, but merely adapted to the use of separate societies or churches, formed under some favourite bishop or spiritual pastor ; who compiled such prayers as he approved from more antient collections, and then gave them a general name from some particular prayer, which tradition attributed to an Apostle or Saint of earlier times. The Apostles' Creed is not thought to have been composed by the twelve Apostles, in the form it now stands in; although the articles were probably delivered to the first converts, and although it contains a summary of the Apostles' doctrine.
i do 1. 5We We have still extant Liturgies under 'the names of St. James, St. Mark, St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, of Nestorius, Severus, and others; all of early ages, but the most antient is the Clementine. This, however, is not thought prior to the fifth century; I mean in the order and form in which it now stands; for there is reason to believe that some of the prayers in it were handed down partly by memory and partly by writing, from the age of the Apostles, and perhaps from St. Clement.
Liturgies, or forms of prayer used at the Sacrament by congregations of Christians, ten, twelve, or fourteen hundred years ago, are not only great curiosities, but certainly convey the ideas which the early Christians entertained on points of doctrine.
In the Clementine Liturgy, about fourteen hundred years old, the bishop officiating at the Eucharist says: “ Send down thy Holy Spirit, that all who shall partake of this bread, the body of thy Christ, and this cup, the blood of thy Christ, may be confirmed in godliness ; may receive REMISSION of their sins *, may be delivered from the devil and his wiles, may be FILLED with the Holy Ghost, may be made worthy of thy Christ, and may obtain EVERLASTING LIFE.”
In the Liturgy attributed to St. James, are these words : “ Send down, O Lord, thy most Holy Spirit upon us, that all who are partakers of this bread and this cup may obtain REMISSION OF THEIR SINS, and ETERNAL LIFB, and be sanctified in soul and body.”
In St. Mark's Liturgy it is thus written : “ We pray and beseech thee, O thou gracious Lover of Mankind, send down from thy high and glorious habitation, the very Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, the Lord and giver of Life, who is every-where present. Send upon us and these loaves, and these cups, this thy Holy Spirit, that they may be to us, and to all that partake of them, for faith, for sobriety, for healing, for temperance, for sanctification, for.
the renewing of soul and body and spirit, for communication of the blessing of eternal life and incorruption, for the glorifying of thy holy name, for the REMISSION OF SINS.”
The Liturgy of St. Basil, as used in the Alexandrian Church: “ We sinners, and thine unworthy 'servants, pray and be. seech thee, O gracious Lord, the Lover of Mankind, that through thy good pleasure, thy Holy Spirit may come upon us and upon these. thy gifts here set before thee, and make them the Holy of Holies; and cause this bread to become the body of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for the REMISSION OF SINS, and ETERNAL LIFETO those that partake of it; and this cup, the precious blood of the New Testament of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for remission of sins and eternal life to those that partake of it.” . In another place of St. Basil: “ O Sovereign Lord, Father of Mercies and God of all Comforts, bless, sanctify, keep, defend, conform, turn from every evil, and lead to every good work, those who have