On the Reverence due to the Altar by Jeremy Taylor
Bishop of Down and Connor
I PERCEIVE that you also in this generall disrelish of the Practises of H. Church have an interest, and yet onely so farre, as ex timorata Conscientia to scruple at that of which you are sufficiently convinced in your Understanding. Indeed Sr it is observed amongst those who have experience of Soules that the Scrupulous man is an honest man, but alwayes the weakest: this I attribute to your age, and the publike Dyscrasy, the other to God, and your good Conscience. But that I may in this also doe you service, I shall according, to your desire give you an account of those reasons which move the Church in her addresses to the place of publike worship, but especially the Altar, to adore God Almighty with lowly bendings of the Body. I shall doe it in asserting of several propositions, all which make up the whole account, that I may, (for it is lawfull to Christians, though forbidden to the Jewes,) by steps ascend to the Altar, and so discover the nakednesse of them that oppose it.
First Sr I take for graunt this onely (for I shall prove all the rest) that God is to be worshipped. It is the maine buisinesse of our life, the end of our creation, the perfection of the Creature, the [to ou eneka] of his being reasonable, and endowed with excellent facultyes of body and understanding; and although wee usually make it a [parergon], yet nor God, nor nature intended it soe. God is to be worshilped with our best, nay all our facultyes.
I say with our facultyes of body, as well, as soule, for in this case God lookes for no lesse then a Holocaust, or whole burnt offering, body, and soule. Nay, the body itself is a Sacrifice that God must have presented to him, not upon, but at his Altar. Parakalo umaV (saith S. Paul) [parastesai ta somata humon thusian zosan], your bodyes a living Sacrifice, and the manner of this S. Paul subjoynes in the following wordes [hagian], and [logiken latreian]. It must be holy, or a Sacrifice [en toi hagiois]; in holy offices, and it is latreia, in the worship of God; all which put together say thus much: Your bodyes must be offered up as a Sacrifice in God's worslrip, that is in adoration (for that's God's worship Corporall) at the Altar (for it is a Sacrifice). But besides the Command, see the reasons, for it is [logike latreia], saith S. Paul, a reasonable worship, or a worship according to right reason.
1. How shall we hope to have our bodyes glorifyed by God, if wee will not glorify God in our bodyes? 2. How shall all the workes of God praise him, if our bodyes which are God's workmanship doe not in their manner this worke of God, that is to worship, and praise him? 3. As the soule and body make up a complete man, so the adoration of both makes the Complete Leiturgy: for actiones sunt suppositorum saith Philosophy.
4. It is the duty of the second Commandement to worship God with externall adoration, aud reverence. The first Cornmandement commands internall to God, and therefore denyes it to Idols: the second Commandement denyes worship to Idols: externall worship (for else we confound the 2 first Commandments worse than the Church of Rome does) and therefore asserts it to God, for that is Idolatry to give that to an Idol, which is due to God, Quoniam is honos idem tribuitur aliis ipse omnino non colitur, saith Lactantius. There are yet 7000 in Israel saith God to the Prophet, that have not bowed their knees to Baal, that is, that were not Idolaters, for they were to bow their knees in divine worship onely to the God of Israel. [Proskunein ta agalmata] is forbidden in the second Commandement, therefore [proskunein ton Theon] the praeceptive part of it. And Epiphanius reports it to be a haeresy of the Osseni, that they sayd it was no sin etiamsi simulachra ipsos adorare contingat persequutionis tempore instante, si solum in Conscientia non adorent; to adore with their bodyes though their soules detested it was Idolatry, and to deny it was haeresy.
Now let us take a short estimate of [proskunein] and that will end this buisinesse. The Wise men of the East came to the Babe lying in the Manger [kai pesontes proskunesan auto], They bowed downe, and worshipped him. [Panta soi doso ean peson proskuneses moi], if thou wilt fall downe, and worship me. Now marke Christs arswer to the tempter Kurion ton Qeon sou proskunhseisV,we must adore, or worship God, that is, so as the Devill would have had Christ done to him, [peson], falling, or bowing doune the body. Thus Dagon was found in Azotus [epi tou proskunountos ten kiboton schematos keimenon], saith Josephus; in the posture of a worshipper; hows that? See it 1. Sam: 5. 4. Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth, that is, schma proskunountoV, the guise of worshippers. And thus it is used both in prophane, and sacred authors, for externall veneration alwayes, [anagken sphi prospheronton proskuneein basileia propspiptontas] saith Herodotus in Polymniae. [proskuno ge prota men ton helion] etc. Aristoph: in Pluto. [ten phatnen proskuneson]. S. Greg,: Nazian: Orat 5.
This being the meaning of [prokunesis], or worship of God; understand all those places of Scripture, where we are called on to worship God, to bow downe to him, to fall downe before his foot-stoole, of externall, or corporall adoration. For where the externall is onely expressed, there although the internall be also meant, as being the root frorn whence the externall must come, yet there the externall is not excluded. That which is onely nam'd is not onely to be left out, especially since externall worshippings are expresse acts of duty, and subordination to the person worshipped. Thus to be uncovered in these Westerne parts is a tendry of our service, and ever was since donare pileo was to make a free man of a slave. But among all nations inclining of the head, or bowing of the face to the ground, nay even in nature it selfe it is a duty of inferiours to Superiours, for it is deponere magnificentiam propriam, to lay our glory at the feet of another, that's a true [prokunesis], a worship, or adoration. And this not to be given to God, or to be given to an Idol, does promerit God's anger. Esa: 2. 9. They worship the worke of their owne hands. How doe they worship it? The meane man boweth done, and the great man humbleth himselfe, therefore forgive them not. I think it is cleare that worship of God supposes externall, and to worship God in spirit is not opposed to worship him in body; for it might as well exclude honourin God with our Substance (as Solomon bids), for of themselves our bodyes are as spirituall as our money; and then as we should not cone, and bow down low before his footstoole, so neither should we bring an offering, and come into his courts. Nay spirituall worship no more excludes bodily, then corde creditur does exclude ore fit confessio; unlesse we say that faith is no part of divine worship: for if it be, then spirituall is not onely internall, or at least excludes not the other. Colere Deum etiam externis ritibus est adorare eum spiritu, et veritate, si procedat ex sana doctrina cum decore Sanctitatis, et dilectionis, saith S. Austin.
The next step to the Altar is, that God is there specially to be worshipped, where he is most praesentiall. For although God bee present in all places alike in respect of his essence, yet he exhibits the issues, and effects of his presence more in some then in others. And that thither the addresses of our adoratiots must be where God ie specially present, nature teaches us. We looke merr in the face when we speake to them, and if we may any where pray to God, and adore him because he is every where present and heres us, then by the same reason we must specially adore him where he is specially present, (because his presence is the determination of our addresse) that is in Heaven, and in all Holy places; And therefore the generall addresse of our devotion is towards heaven; so Christ taught us to say, Pater noster qui es in Coelis etc. so we doe in lifting up our eyes, and hands for there is his court, and his glorious satellitum of Angells, and his royall throre. But this generall addresse is limited by a more speciall, and that is in Holy places, places consecrate to the service of God by acts of publike, and religious solemnity, in them, and from them to Heaven. Thus it was in Solomons Temple; If they pray towards this place, then heare thou in Heaven etc. Est ergo Altare in Caelis. Illuc enim preces nostrae, et oblationes nostrae diriguntur et ad Templum quemadmodum Johannes in Apocalypsi ait, et apertum est Templum Dei, et Tabernaculum. Ecce enim inquit, Tabernaculum Dei in quo habitabit cum hominibus: saith S. Irenaeus. For Gods seat is in Holy places: his presence is there; his face is there: his feet is there: his throne is there.
See this by constant testimony of Scipture: Jacob in Bethel, surely saith he God is in this place: how know you Jacob? Oh, sa's he, it is the house of God, and the Gate of Heaven. Quam reverenda sunt haec loca! When God had given direction to Moses for the Tabernacle and to place the Cherubims before the Mercy seat, that God tooke up his residence there was so knowne a thing, that it became to him like an attribute, or an appellative; Oh thou that sittest betweene the Cherubirns, said David; The Philistins had soone learnd that; for when the Arke was come into the campe of the Hebrews they were affrayd, for they sayd, God is come into the Campe.
Gods presence is there. Serve the Lord with gladnesse, and come before his presence with a song Psal. 100. for though this be the same with the forner, yet they are severall expressions us'd by God himselfe. And therefore the Arke was called the Tabernacle of the Congregation, not because of the peoples meeting with the preist, and one with another, but Gods meeting with the people. Num. 7. 4. And thou shalt lay them in the tabernacle of the congregation where I will meet with you. And when Moses had any buisinesse of particular consequence with God, thither he went, for there he knew he was. 7. Num: v. 89. And when Moses was gone into the Tabernacle of the Congregation 'to speake with him,' he heard the voyce etc.
His face is there. This is intimated to us in the shewbread layd upon the table of the proposition in the Tabernacle, which was called amonst the Hebrewes, Facebread; and the so expressly reads it [artous enopious], countenance loaves, bread set there where Gods countenance is present.
His throne, and feet are there. The place of my throne, and the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name shall they no more defile, in setting their threshold by my threshold, and their posts by my posts. Ezek: 43. 7. And againe, The glory of Lebanon . . shall beautify the place of my Sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
Gods memoriall is there. An Altar of earth shalt thou make mee . . in all places where 'I record my name' I will come and blesse thee. In the places where he appoints himselfe to be worshipped, there he records his name, and there he promises his presence, and that in bring a blessing, where I record my name 'I will come' and blesse thee. All these are but various expressions of that which the prophet David speaks in plaine termes, The Lord is in his Holy Temple the Lords seat is in Heaven.
The consequence of these is playnely thus much, Therefore these places are holy, therefore proper for Divine adoration. That they are holy is plaine, not onely by consequence, but in direct terms: Gods Sanctuary is called the beauty of Holinesses, and the beauty of Holinesse must needs be Holy, and therefore Adorate Dominum, worship the Lord in the beauty of Holinesse. There they are together. And againe Holinesse becommeth thy house for ever, Holinesse for Holy places, Sancta Sanctis: Holinesse is its ornament, and beauty psal: 93. That's one of them, the other is in psal: 99. Exalt the Lord our God, and fall downe before his command. Nay at Gods approximation to Moses in the Bush, God commanded him to be discalceate, and gives no other reason for it, but because the ground was Holy; it was an essentiall consequent, reverence or adoration to Holinesse. The place was Holy, and yet it as but in vicina praesentiae Domini, God was but hard by it. Nay the ground near Jericho became Holy at the presence of an Angel, and yet it was not enough for Joshuah to bow there, and worslip, but he must pull of his shooes too, accordirg to the custome of those Easterne people, and as his Mr Moses had done before him.
Thus farre we have command. Let us have example too. It is the forequoted text. And Joshuah did so. That is, he did his worship in that Holy place. David a little further in an aequal case, he did his worship toward it, that though he was not there, yet his adoration might relate thither. ps: 138. 2. I will worship toward thy Holy Temple: and Daniel did soe when he was farre enough off, as farre as Babylon from Jerusalem. Nay themselves plac'd their dead with their faces towards the Temple; and so the Fathers were buried in Hebron, which is South from Jerusalem; they are layd North, and South as Venerable Bede observes it: the same devotion that Catholike Christians have now adayes, and alwayes had to ly East and West, as if to rise wt their faces towards the East, where the Christian Altar is placed, and our Sacrifice commemorated.
Obj: Oh but whats all this to us? The Jewes might well doe according to the exigence of the Ceremoniall Law but we must not. This was all Judaicall. Sic obgannire solent.
Though we had no particular caution for this, we should not be much troubled with this objection. 1. Because there is enough in nature, and reason to satisfy, because all this is no more, then what the Patriarchs by the Law, and light of Nature did, as Jacob at Bethel. 2ly. God gave commands, and rules for this whole buisinesse before the Ceremoniall Law was taught, as to Moses, to Josuah, or at least to one of them. 3ly. These commands were not peremptory, but reasonable; grounded upon the aequity of the thing: and when Moses did discalceate, he did it by virtue of the reason; for either God commanded that veneration, because it was essentiall reason it should be so, or else Moses did it for that reason, for else it was unreasonable to urge a reason to command an action, if the reason were not sufficient of it selfe to enforce either the command, or the action. 4ly. Where did God command adoration towards the Holy or consecrate places in all the Ceremoniall Law? and yet David did it, and Daniel did it, and Solomon prayed for a blessing upon such addresses, and yet none of these men lov'd a curse so well, as to adde any thing to Moses Law, therefore they did it by the dictate of the Law of Nature.
But (thanke God) we are sufficiently instructed in the New Testament for this particular; for the Law of Nature runs alwayes through the veynes of all true religions, onely in the church of the Jewes this was the more explicate, because their Liturgy was much upon the externall, and this also is as explicate in this particular in the Gospell because it is an act of holinesse. And first I shall lay this for a ground that whatsoever Christ taught as for the future was doctrine purely Evangelicall. For hee never spoke at all for the observation of the Ceremoniall Law that we read of in Scripture; the tithing mint, and cummin was the neerest to be ceremoniall, but it was not indeed, and if it had, yet our B. Saviour tells them of their duty in that particular, as in the tyme past, these ought ye to have done.
Now see what Christs doctrine was. Hee whip'd the buyers and sellers out of the Temple, and for his authority quoted a prophecy intended for the Gospell, by the confession of all sides and the exigence of the place it selfe. My house shall be called an house of prayer to all people. Christ meant not this of the Jewish Temple, but of Christian Churches. 1. Because he knew the Temple was shortly to be destroyed, and he told his Disciples so. 2ly. It was such Tenples as must be for all nations; that could not be the Jewes Temple, for to bring in Greekes thither would have defiled it (for such was their objection against S. Paul for introducing Trophimus and the H. Ghost answers the objection not by excusing, but by denying the fact) and to bring in any of the uncircumcision would have prophan'd that, and so they must have done. For circumcision was now abolished, and yet all nations must pray in Gods house. 3. Then when Christ urged this place, he quoted it in the future tense kleqesetai: although this house shall be destroyed, yet Domus meus domus orationis vocabitur. Well! here we see was a house for prayer in the tyme of the Gospell, and this was Gods house Domus mea God hath tooke seisure of it: and here God will dwell. For howbeit God dwelleth not in Temples made with handes (it was S. Stephens exception) yet in the same place he answers, that Solomon built him a House for all that. A house, not to circumscribe him, but for him to manifest his presence by peculiar issues of his favour, and his holinesse. In this sense is all. And so Clrist speaking concerning swearing, whoso sweareth by the temple sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. God dwells in his owne houses, that is in houses of prayer. For these places put together say as much. Adde to these a third, and that is, that these places are holy, and therefore better then anything else that is not separate for so divine a use: which is better of the gold, or the temple that Sanctifyeth the gold? The very stones of the Temple, or church are better in God's aestimate then unhallowed gold, nay then gold that is hallowed of the Temple: where observe that gold receives a holinesse from a clurch where it is offered, and that therefore the Church is more Holy, for it must have more then it gives, unlesse it should empty it selfe, and by hallowing the gold become it selfe unsanctifyed. Now this which Christ sayd is of an eternall truth, for it is a dictate of the Law of Nature, or right reason, no part of Moses Law, and therefore as Evangelicall as any other dictate whatsoever; which is the more credible too, because it was a peice of an Evangelicall sermon that Christ was preaching.
Nay we have an Altar too erected us by Christ in his first Sermon that he preach'd. For directing his disciples how they should in the tyme of the Gospell make their addresses to God he charges them if at any time they come to offer with malice couchant in their breasts, that they should leave their gift at the Altar, and goe, be reconciled. There we have for the Gospell places of prayer, and a place for oblation: a church, and an Altar. Igitur Ecclesiae oblatio quam Dominus docuit offerri in Universo mundo purum Sacrificiam reputatum est apud Deum; saith S. Irenaeus upon this very place. Oblationes enim et illic, oblationes autem et hic. Sacrificia in populo, Sacrificia in Ecclesia: and a litthe after Ita ad ipsum verbum dedit populo praeceptum, faciendarum oblationum, quamvis non indigeret eis, ut disceret Deo servire. Sic et ideo nos quoque offerre vult munus ad altare frequenter sine intermissione. And Christ tooke an order that these and all other holy things should be kept from prophanation in that Evangelicall praecept deliver'd in the same sermon, Nolite dare Sanctum Canibus, give not things holy to dogs, that is to prophane persons, keepe holy things from unholy men, dogs must not come into Churches. For without shall be dogs. Rev: 22. It was spoken of the caelestiall temple, of which ours are adumbrations, or rather ours are the gates of that. Bethel or Gods house is the gate of Heaven. But cleerely, and litterally here is a distinction of Holy and prophane, which is very materiall to this discourse and the ground of all.
And all this is no more then was prophecyed of before Christs comminge; The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the firre tree, the pine tree, and the box together to beautify the place of my Sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious; of my feet, that is, of my residence in holy places according to the analogy, and stile of the old Testament. And that this was fulfilled in the Gospell S. John tells us in his Revelation. 21. 3. And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himselfe shall be with them, and hee shall be their God. And this text is to this purpose cited by S. Irenaeus an Apostolicall man. lib. 4. avers: haeres: cap: 34.
Thus in the very cradle of the church, the Aposthes and first Christians had their Synaxes in Churches. Their houres of prayer they kept in the temple, and had their meetings as long as they could for feare of the Jews, and for the necessity of their travell. At Corinth we find a Church, and that of so much veneration, that S. Paul would not suffer them to keepe their feasts of charity in it. Have ye not houses to eate, and drinke in, or despise ye the church of God? The Eucharist as to be eaten in their church, and their Agapae in their owne houses.
And from hence ras it that the Councell of Laodicea borrowed her 28 Canon [ou dei tas agapas en tois kuriakois e en tais Ekklesiais poiein]. To this I shall adde the saying of S. Clement, whose name S. Paul saith has written in the booke of life in his unquaestion'd epistle to the Corinthians, [Panta taxei poiein opheilomen hosa ho despotes epitelein ekeleusen kata kairous tatagmenous tas te prosphoras, kai leitourgias epitheisthai . . . . pou te kai dia tinon epiteleisthai thelei, autos orisen hypertatei autou boulesei]. Our Lord (saith he) by his supreme will hath taken order for the Tymes, and the Places of our oblations, and liturgyes, and by whom they shall be ministred. He hath taken an order, that is, he hath determin'd the Tymes, and Places, houres, and dayes of prayer in churches or oratoryes. And so it came to passe saith Epiphanius. Et fuerunt quidem antiquitus orationum loci tum inter Judaeos extra civitatem, tum inter Samaritas, velut etiam in Actibus Apostolorum invenimus, ubi purpurarum venditrix Lydia Paulo occurit, et sic quoque divina Scriptura narrat wuod videbatur locus orationis esse, et accesserunt et docuerunt stoli mulieres, quae illo tempore convenerant.
The summe is this. Where God is present, there he is to be worshipped, and so according to the degree of his presence. He is specially present in Holy places, as Temples, Churches, Altars, therefore here are the places of our adoration. Such places are in the Gospell, as well as in the Law of Moses, for they are here both by the Law of Nature, and of the Gospell too. And although here I might conclude, that in Churches, and at Altars God is to be adored by the bendings, and prostrations of the body (for these premises inferre thus much) yet I shall give a particular account of the behaviour of Christians in Churches, and specially at Altars, for that being a place of the greatest Sanctity, there ought to be the expressions of the greatest devotion.
The prophecy of Esaiah concerning the liturgyes Evangelicall told us beforehand our dutyes. Esa 60: 13. 14. I will make the place of my feet gloorious, and beautify my Sanctuary, the sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee, and all they that despised thee slall bow themselves downe at the soles of thy feet, that is in the Christian Sanctuary, for the Sanctuary God calls the place of his feet.
All they that despised thee, speahing by a Prosopopaeia to the Christian Church, that is, the Gentiles shall bow in thy holy places. And so S. Paul told them, that if they prophecyed, or praved in knowne tonues [eiselthosi de idiotai e apistoi], if there come in ignorant people, or unbeleivers, they are converted. And lat doe they upon that conviction? [pesontes eop propopon proskunesousi to Theo]; they will fall downe on their faces, and worship God: but where is this?
ean sunelthe he Ekklesia hole en humin esti], when the church is assembled in one place; adoration in the church plainely, and why there, and then? [hoti o Theos ontos en humin esti], because God verely is amongst you. I, but it seemes God is not there for the Sanctity of the place, or by way of residence, but in case you prophecy so as to be understood, then sayth S. Paul, the unbeleiver will say God is amongst you, that is by way of assistance. I answer that the collection is not ad mentem Apostoli, for though they speake with tongues, yet God is amongst them, for saith S. Paul, the spirit truly prayeth viz: in various tongues, Gods spirit is there in languages, but if they prophecy so as to be understood, then the heathen can say best that God is amongst you; so that unlesse you prophecy though God be amongst you, yet the unbeleiver knows not whither he be, or noe, and so cannot truly affirme, that he is: but he is [ontos] as S. Paul sayes, veryly, and indeed, though the Heathen know it not, for the peoples understanding, cannot make God there more present, unlesse we should say that because the people cannot, therefore God does not understaud, which were blasphemy. The issue of this is the same which the 5 gererall Councell held at C. P. observes (sub Menaa act: 5.) that the church is [oikos proskunetos], a worshippng house, or a house appointed for the worship, or adoration of God Almighty.
This worshipping, or adoration in Churches was not so indefinite, but that it was instantly limited to be towards the East, or the place of the Altar, insomuch that amongst the first blossomes of Heresyes, that of the Osseni as reckoned by Epiphanius, of whom Alxai the false Jew vas a Coryphaeus, prohibit enim (saith the father) orare ad orientes, asserens non oportere sic intendere, saing we ought not addresse our devotions, or adorations that way. That was his haeresy; for that thither our adorations are to be directed is an Apostolicall tradition, if we will beleive as authentick records, as any we have extant. Justin Martyr in Resp. ad Qu: 118 ad Orthodoxos, having sayd that the Church hath received order for the place, and manner of prayer from the Aposthes (as S. Clement sayd we had from Christ) addes, ideo Christianos omnes precum tempore spectare ad Orientem: quia ortus tanquem mundi pars honoratior, adorationi Dei destinatus est. Marke that; the East is the determin'd place for adoration: and this by the practise of all Christians, and this taught from the Aposthes. The certainty of this derivation from the Aposthes is further to be seene in Origen. Homil. 5. in Numer: in Tertullian cap. 16. Apologet: S. Gregory Nyssen in lib. de Oratione. Athanasius Quaest: 14. de plurimus et necessariis quaest: and divers others.
the reasons of this determination of Christian worship are diversly given by the Fathers according to their various Conceptions, all hereof, or the most were postnate to the thing, and are to be seene in S. Gerrnans Theorica rerum Ecclesiast: and Damascen: lib. 4. orthod: fid: cap. 13. where he sayes this addresse of our adoration is studiose observanda, Chriustum scil: cum in cruce penderet ad occasum prospexisse, euque nomine ita adoramus, ut eum obtueamur. The true reason I know not, I meane that which was truly introductive of the practise, for postnate there are enough, but this I know, that our adoration thitherward, and the placing of the Altar there were coaetaneous for ought appeares, and if I may have leave to conjecture, I think that this was the truer reason of the addresse of our worship, even because the Altar was Positum in Oriente; my reason is this;
1. Because I find in antiquity [proskunein pros anatolas], and [emprosthen tou thusiasteriou] used promiscuously, and, 2ly, because I find in artiquity the praerogative of holinesse not given to the orientall part of Heaven, but to the site of the Altar in the Church I doe: which two things put together methinks say, that therefore the adoration was alwayes that way, because the Altar or Holy Table (for the difference is but nominall) being alwayes like the tree of Paradise planted in the East, and being more Holy then the other parts of the Church, I meane by a relative holinesse, did best determine our worship, as having God there the most presentiall. And if I be not mistaken, Walafridus Strabus shall confirme it; for when he had reckoned three Altars, one at Jerusalem, one in the Pantheon at Rome, the other in S. Peters that were not set in the East as examples of singular exception from the Common rule addes, Usus tamen frequentior et rationi vicinior habet in Orientem Orantes converti. Though these Altars were not in the East, yet the most common use is for worshippers to turne to the East when they pray. As if their addresse to the East was onely because of the Altars being there placed.
For 1. The Altar was alwayes the place of Preists in the Christian Church, the preists peculiar, for none but he was to enter in thither, insomuch that S. Ambrose would not permit the Emperour Theodosius to enter [para tas kichladas], as Theudoret reports, within the Cancells of the Altar to make his oblation there: and although this was in the Greeke Church permitted to the Emperour, yet it was against the Law of the Catholike Church, as appeares in the 19 Canon of the Councell of Laodicea, which was before the 1 Nicene, [monois exon einai tois hieratikois eisienai eis to thusiasterion, kai koinonein], et Can: 44. Concil: Agath: Can: 66. Concil: C. P. in Trullo Can: 69. And it was a punishment for Preists to be thrust in laicam communionem, that is, to be put out of the sept, or Cancell of the Altar to communicate, as appeares in the Canons of many Councells.
2. In proportion to this were the degrees of prerogative severally indulged to severall people, the Altar being the terminus of reconciliation, the several stations of ppenitents were the degrees of approximation to it: The [klaiontes] in the Church-porch, the [akroomenoi] by the reading place, the [hypopiptontes], at the chancell doore, the fideles up to the very rayles, that was their height.
3. The Altars had alwayes in all religions, as if by the law of Nature, and so also by the same analogy in the Gospell a Jus Asyli, it was a Sanctuary. Our Altars are therefore a mercy seat not onely because Christ is on them, who is our [hilasterion] (Rom. 3. 25.) or mercy seat, but also because offenders that fled thither were defended from Death, or violence. It is observed by Josephus, that in the Hebrew tongue the same word signifyes a Temple, and Safety, [to gar hieron ta soluma kata ton Hebraion onomase glossan, ho estin asphaleia], because there as safety to them, that fled thither, to their Altars. It was alwayes so in the Christian Church: S. Gregory Nazianzen gives us a fayre testmony of it. Illa autem cum nulla ratione hanc vim effugere posset, consilium capit non majoris audacie quam prudentiae plenum, ad Sacram etenim mensam confugit.
Vultis in vincula rapere? vultis in mortem? Voluntas est mihi, non ego me vallabo circumfusione populorum, nec altaria tenebo, vitam obsecrans, saith S. Ambrose Ep. 3. But for this see Socrates lib. 7. cap. 33. Cassiod: lib. 12. Niceph: lib: 14. c. 32. The reason of this right of Sanctuary at Altars was the Sacrednesse of the place that none durst draw them away, that had throwne themselves into its protection. And this Right God himselfe would see kept inviolate, for when Souldiers sent from Stilicho drew Cresconius frorn the Altar by violence, S. Ambrose fell downe before the Altar, and wept, but the Souldiers were miserably torne in peices by Leopards saith Paulinus in his Life. Nay further yet; For himselfe hath undertaken to be the Guardian of them who fly thither for Sanctuary psal: 27. 4. 5. v: One thing have I desired of the Lord which I will require, even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fayre beauty of the Lord, and to visit his Temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his tabernacle, yea in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide mee, and set me up upon a rocke of stone.
4. Altars were the places where the Christians always performed their most solemne devotions, and in cases of afflictions went thither to impetrate Gods favour. Thus Gorgonia went to the Altar to be cured of her feaver, and was miraculously delivered: Alexander Bp. of Constantinople being persecuted by the Arrians ad altare progressus in faciem coram Sacra mensa se prostravit, et cum lachrymis oravit: saith Epiphanius. S. Ambrose being affrayd of Justinas fury, sub altari positus sibi, et Ecclesia, Deum Defensorem parabat, saith Ruffinus: and their liturgyes were alwayes performed at the Altar, I meane the most solemne parts of it in all ages of the Christian Church.
Mira loci pietas, et prompta precantibus ara
Spes hominum plucida prosperitate juvat.
5. And lastly, (which containes the reason of the former, and of its holinesse) the Altar or Holy Table is sedes Corporis et Sanguinis Christi. S. Chrysost: hom: 21. in Cor: et alibi. And if the Altars, and the Arke and the Temple in the Law of Nature and Moses were Holy, because they were Gods Memorialls, as I shewed above, then by the same reason shall the Altar be [hyperagion], highly Holy, because it is Christs Mernoriall, there we commemorate his Death, ard passion in the dreadfull, and mysterious way that himselfe with greatest mysteriousness appointed. [touto poieite eis ten emen anamnesin] doe this for my memoriall. Here are all the Christian Sacrifices presented. Panem accepit, et calicem similter et suum Sanguinem confessus est et novi Testamenti novam docuit oblationem quam Ecclesia ab Apostolis accipiens in Universo mundo offert Deo, saith that Apostolicall man S. Irenaeus. Wee doe beleive that Christ is there really present in the Sacranent, there is the body and bloud of Christ which are verely and indeed taken and received by the faithfull, saith our Church in her Catechisme. Now if places became holy at the presence of an Angell, as it did iT} Josuahs case to whom the captaine of the Lords Host appeared, and in Jacobs case at Bethel, and in all the old Law, for God alwayes appeared by Angells, shall not the Christian Altar be most holy where is present the blessed Body and bloud of the Sonne of God? I but, what when the Sacrament is Gone? The relation is there still, and it is but a relative Sanctity we speake of, it is appointed for his Tabernacle, it is consecrate to that end, and the destination of man, the Presence of the Sone of God, the appointing it to a most holy end, the employment in a most sacred worke, and the Presence of Angels (which, as S. Peter saith, desire to looke into these mysteryes,) if all this be not enough to make a thing most holy, there is no difference, nor can be any in the world betweene Sacred and prophane.
But I mentioned Angels, and let me tell you that the Catholike Fathers alwayes thought the Holy sept, or the Altar place to be full of Angels. I shall name two, or three and doe you judge of it. This I am sure that the Sacredness of the employment, and the glory of the mystery will as well require it; and the Fathers from the excellency of the thinge can as well know that the Angels are there as the Jewes could know that they were in their temple, qui tamen ea de re nulli dubitarunt, as may be seene in the Oration Agrippa made to the Jewes to dehort them from rebelling against the Romans apud Josephum.
But see their testimonyes. Non dubites assistere, Angelum, wuando Christus assisit, Christus immolatur, saith S. Ambrose.[tote kai Angeloi paresthekasi to hierei, kai ouranion dunameon hapan to bema boa, kai ho peri thusiasterion pleroutai topos eis timen tou keimenou], saith S. Chrysostome. The place of the Altar ecchoes out at the noyse of heavenly powers. Then the Angels stand by the preist and the place is filled with them in lonour of him that lyes on the Altar. The expression is Rhetoricall, but the intentum, the thing is dogmaticall. For I pray else what is the meaning of S. Paul, Let the woman have covering on her head in the church, because of the Angels, but because as S. Chrysostornes phrase is, the Church is locus Angelorum, the place of Angels? according to that admirable expression of the proplet David psalm: 68. v: 17. The charets of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of Angels, and the Lord is among them, as in the Holy place of Sinai. that is, amongst those Angels, just as he is when he is in his holy places, and the mountayne destinate for his Temple.
Well! Sit anima mea cum Christianis. I pray God I may goe into the lot of the Christians: this is, and alwayes hath beene Christianity to speake highly of the Sanctity of Altars. Seption qusiasterion, the venerable Altar saith the councell of C. P. [zoopoia trapeza], the life-bringing table, saith Damascen de imagin: orat: 2. and [zoophoros] the same. Tou Qeou qusiasthrion, Gods Altar so Dyonisius, to theion thusiasterion] the same S. Denys, and the 12 Councell of Toledo. Compositum, et Sacrosanctum Altare by S. Ambrose. Reverendum by Eusebius Emissenus. hom: 4. de Pascha: Mensa Mystica, et Regalis by S. Chrysostom. homil: 6. ad populum Antiochen: and de Eucharistia in Encaeniis, and [trapeza ton amnon ekousa] orat: 24. in 1 Cor. 10 . qusiasterion frikodesteron Chrysost: hom: 20. in 2. Cor. iera, frikte, eirhneV tou Cristou trapeza. idem. orat: 55. to basilikon soma kaqemenon epi tou qronou. Gods Chayre of state, the Tabernacle of Christs glory; so the Greeks called it, as Genebrard notes out of Simeon Thessalonicensis. Oculus Ecclesiae. So every where [esti de kai thronos theou kai hilasterion] , saith Synesius. Gods throne, and mercy seat. That I may say of the Holy Altar, as David of the Holy city, Glorious things are spoken of thee oh thou Altar of God.
The actions of the church were accordingly, for thither shee made her worshippings, there she did her divine adorations, and to it they exhibited religious reverence. When I have showne you this I shall trouble you no more, or but very little. I shall put them both together, and then give you a distinct account.
In the 2. booke of the Ecclesiasticall Hierarchy attributed to S. Denys, wee find this practise of a Devout person, [ton hieran aspezomenos trapezan]. Saluting the Holy Table. Nothing more famous then Tertullians aris Dei adgeniculari cap: 9. de poeniten: Pamelius in his edition of Tertullian, reads it Charis, contrary to the faith of all ancient copyes, for no man before him ever read it so, you shall easily observe in those controversy writers that spoke before Pamelius came out with his crotchet. S. Gregory Nazianzen speaking of his sister Gorgonia [tou thusiasteriou prospiptei meta tes pisteos]. She falls downe with faith berore the Altar. And [ton kephalen eautes to thusiasterio prostheisa], submitting or bowing her head to the Altar. The same Father in 40 oration gives a command, [aideste ten mustiken trapezan]. Reverence, or have in veneration the mysterious table.
S. Athanasius tom: 2. Quod duae in Christo naturae. p. 304. Edit: Paris: [kai nun hoi prosiontes to hagioi thusiasterioi periptussomenoi de touto kai meta phobou, kai charas aspazomenoi] Entering to the Holy Altar, embracing it, and saluting it etc.
Socrates reports of Alexander Bishop of Alexandria [eis to thusiasterion hypo ten hieran trapezan eauton epi to stoma ekteinas euchetai]. Entering into the sept of the Altar, he prostrates himselfe at the foot of, or under the holy Table, and extended, or being flat on his face he prayes.
S. Hierom in his 48. ad Sabinianum reprehends him for a villainous practise in the Church, for being in love with a Mayden, he layd love letters by the Altar just where shee should come to adore, which showes plainely the practise of the faithfull people in that tyme. Tu (saith he) inter ostia quondam praesepis Domini, nunc altaris amatorias epistolas fulciebas, quas postea illa miserabilis, quasi flexo adoratura genu, inveniret.
Marke but the addresse of a christian Captaine, and his camerade to a battell
Deus unus, Christus utrique
Hujus adoralis altaribus, et cruce fronti
Inscripta, cecinere tubae.
lib: 2. contra Symmachum.
First they would adore God at his Holy Altar, and then to battell.
[Makrothumesate adelphoi, hina proteron proskunesomen to hagion thusiasterion. sayd the Councell of Constantinople sub Menna act. 5. Summun alteri subjectans verticem, we find in S. Ambrose, lib. 1. de Virgin:
And wee find it complaind of as a fault, In altaria, atque in Sacraria Dei, passim omnes sordidi, ac flagitiosi sine ulla penitus reverentia sacri honoris irrumpunt: It was the complaint of Salvian. lib. 3. p. 03. To come thither without reverence or veneration is sordid, and flagitious. And no wonder, for it as the Haeresy of the Euchetae, or Massaliani, Templorum et Ararum adjecere contemptum (saith Damascen de haeres:) I would our people knew this, and car'd for 't. Nay Synesius epist: 67. blames himselfe highly, that being a sinner hee should dare to touch Gods Altar, [hoti anthropos en hamartiais apotrophos thusiasterion hepsamen Theou]. Holinesse becommeth Holy places, to come thither religio est, and it must be with addresses of religion [sebo .. hulen zoephoron, trapezan ten ton arton hemin tes zoes choregousan], saith Damascen. de Imagin: Orat : 1. and orat : 2. we find a [sebas kai prosunesis tes zoopoies trapezes]. Nay S. Mary of Egypt did with veneration kisse the ground where that holy thing was set, saith Damascen: orat: 3. [hoipsasa toinun emauten epu tes ges, kai to hagiou ekeino proskunesasa edaphos] etc. And the reason is expressed by S. Chrysostom hom: 21. in 2. Cor: c. 10. [su de to men thusiasterion touto timas hoti dechetai tou Christou soma]. Thou doest reverence or honour the Altar, because it is the seat of the body of Christ.
And in the Rubrick of S. Chrysostoms liturgy nothing more ordinary then [poiousi pros anatolas proskunemata tria]. And stanteV pro thV agiaV trapezeV, proskunousi, And [opisqen thV hagiaV trapezeV klinaV thn kefalen] and the same [emprosqen]. And these adorations the Greekes called [metanoias], as is every where to be seene in the Greeke Liturgyes, and in the Jus G. R. because the very frequent multiplying of them was injoyned them as speciall acts of devotion by their confessors.
The same is very frequent in the old Latin offices. In the Ordo Romanus almost every where. Pontifex inclinato capite ad altare p. 2. et p. 7. se altari inclinans, et adorato altari; The same if you please you may see in the Missa latina Antiqua, which is confessedly 1000 yeares old, and was set forth by protestants to be a redargution of the surreptions, and innovations in the later Missals. I should tire you, and my selfe too, if I should transcribe but the tith of the Instances, that are every where in the ancient liturgyes, specially in that famous one called Missa Mozarabum. These witnesses are enough to make faith of the practise of the primitive church, how shee behaved her selfe in her addresses into the Churches, and specially her ascents to the Altar.
One thing I desire to warne you of, that is that these phrases of adorato altari, and prospiptein to qusiasterio, and proskunein thn agian trapezan, must be understood warily and as they were meant: not that any divine adoration was given to the altars either relatively, or transitively, but 1. They are the Metonymicall expressions of the subject for the adjunct: adoratis altaribus, that is, adorato Christo praesente in altaritus: inclinato capite ad altare, that is, inclinata capite ad Deum ibidem, atque in sacris residentem: and wee have good warrant to authorize this expression--for saith our Blessed Saviour, When you goe into a house [aspazesthe eauten], salute, or worship it, not the walls, but the inhabitants, so it is for altars. Thus Alexander worshipped the name of God written upon Jaddus the High Preists Mitre. Alexander did neither adore Jaddus, nor the Mitre; ou touton eipe prosekunesa, ton de Qeon ou thn arcierosunen autoV tetimetai, saith Joseplus antiqu: lib. 11. c. S. So is ours. Our worship is towards holy places, but the adoration is intended to God. But this is in case of' divine worship, for such worship is onely for God, and neither relatively, nor transitively is for the Altar, much lesse is it there to be determin'd.
But there is a veneration, or reverence to be given to holy things for their relative Sanctity, and this is the same in degree with civill worship, onely it is distinguished in the matter, this being in materia religionis, or for the relative Sanctity, or relation to God, that being for the politicall excellency, or superiority. This is distinguished from divine worslip not in the externall, but by the internall, that is by the act, or intention of the worshipper, for if it be to acknowledge a divine excellency, there it is divine adoration, and must bee onely for God, if to acknowledge a relative, or subordinate Sanctity, then it may be to the Altar, but the internall must destinguish it, f'or although the bending corporally be the same, yet the understanding, or soule must make a difference. Thus Abigail when she came to David she fell on her face, and worshipped, prsekunhse is the word, she ador'd; the externall was the same with that in her devotions, yet no idolatry neither. Thus when David called after Saul from the Cave of Engedi, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himselfe. He could no lower to God Almighty then the earth, but the leart or intention is it that makes the difference. By this we have another exposition of the forequoted authorityes of the Fathers, for although to the Altar they gave externall bendings, yet this was no divine worship, it was but religious, and that for the relation to God Almighty. And this passed from the Altar to God Almighty. Heare their owne Testimony. Panta to Qeo anakei mena proskunoumen, auto deto sebaV prosagonteV, saith Damascen. lib. 4. orthod: fid. c. 12. and S. Chrysostom in the place before quoted, hom: 21. in 2. Cor: Tu autem altare hoc honoras (not for any innate excellency in it selfe, much lesse for any latent divinity, but) quia suscipit corpus Domini, for its relation to the body of Christ for which it is appointed as an Arke or Tabernacle.
If you ask how this differs from worshipping God before an Image? I answer, onely in these two thinges. 1. Because one is forbidden, the other is not 2ly Because an Image hath no relative Sanctity in it, God is not present there as he is at altars. If this will not satisfy you, but that you still suspect a snake, and feare least this worship, which is neither ultimate, nor divine at all, but in degree no more then civill, though in matter religious, and in manner relative, if, I say, you still suspect, then I pray Sr doe but conster that saying of God to the Children of Israel. Levit: 19. v. 30. Yee shall keepe my sabbaths, and "reverence my Sanctuary." Is this reverence other then religious? If not I am sure it cannot be less then relative. And then you have a religious relative reverence to be given to things consecrate by the command of God himselfe. Quam reverenda sunt haec loca, sayd Jacob at Bethel. I but perhaps this reverence is nothing but a high, and reverent esteeme of it. Suppose it be not; yet I am sure doing bodily curtesy to a thing cannot be more then a high, and reverent estimation in the soule, take it how you will, provided it be but proportionate to the esteeme, for we must have it no more and then it is but at expression of the inward, and so cannot be greater. But you shall not for this beleive me, nor your selfe onely. When God bad Moses pull of his shooes because the ground was holy, this was mandatum reverendi locum quia Sanctus est, saith Rupertus Abhas, Hugo de S. Victore, Tostatus, Dyonisius, Carthusianus, and Cajetan upon the place. So that reverence my Sanctuary is as much as all this comes too, which I was affrayd you should scruple at in the sayings of the Fathers.
And if you will hear a man not praejudic'd for this side speake, I name the man, Amesius, and I thinke he speakes home enough in his cases of Conscience. l. 4. c. 31. ß. l. An religiosa reverentia, et honor deferenda sint iis rebus quae spectant ad cultum? Resp: sic. Quia imperatur a religione. A religious reverence, and honour is granted. I but this must be a singular reverence too, and that in relation to God, Honor enim ille qui deo debetur non potest illi debito modo exhiberi, nisi cum singulari reverentia tractentur ejus instrumenta; and ß. 2. propter arctam illam connexionem, et relationem, quae inter actum aliquem, et instrumenta actus intercedit. How farre short this falls of the former, if it be driven home to its utmost issue, and bolted to the Bren, I ken not: doe you judge.
If you aske when, at what tymes, or parts of service these adorations are to be done? I answer, they are to be done pro more Ecclesiae
---------consilium resque locusque dabunt.
But yet more determinately. Meethinks the analogy, or exigence of the thing it selfe requires, that it be done in accessu, et recessu alwayes. For the accesse wee have a direction I thinke in Scripture. Micah 6. 6. Whereith shall I come before the Lord, and bow my self before the high God? And consider whether our church in her invitatory to the morning office does not intimate as much, O come let us worship, and bow downe, and kneele before the Lord our maker psal: 95. according to the last translation: and the title of the psalme in the latin Bibles, is Venite adoremus. For the recesse we have a fayre precedent for it in holy Scripture too. 2. Chron: 29. 29. Hezekiah and his company, when they had made an end of offering bowed themselves, and worshipped. Vade tu, et fac similiter.
Will you to this gve me leave to adde the practice of the Heathen? Theres no hurt in it, for they having not the law yet by nature doing the things contained in the law became a law unto themselves. I argue not from hence, because they doe it, therefore wee Christians must. But this. It is our duty by the law of Christendome, and of all religions, and nature it selfe, as appeares by the practise of heathen people, and let not us be more rude in our addresses to God then they that know him not, least our familiar knowing him intrench too much upon contempt.
Intramus compositi, ad sacrificium accessuri vultum submittimus, togam adducimus, in omne argumentum modestiae fingimur. saith Seneca. 1. 7. e. 30. Natur: Qq. And Apuleius saith that Merentiust was an Atheist, eo quod si fanum aliquod praetereat, nefas habet, adorandi gratia manum labris admovere. apolog: 1. p. 181. Kissing the hand was as much reverence with them, as bowing the knee with us.
Ut templi tetigere gradus, procumbit uterque
Pronus humi, gelidoque pavens dedit oscula saxo.
saith Ovid of Deucalion, and Psrrha, speaking of them pro more patriae religionis. And Justin Martyr p. 95. edit: Paris: saith that the Gentiles when they came to worship were commanded apoluesqai, to be discalceate it may bee they learnd it from Pythagoras, who was a great Doctor of the Gentile rites: [anupodetos thuei kai proskunei]. apud Jamblic: protrept: 21. apoblepon eiV ta iera ton qeon meta tinoV timeV, kai hosiotetoV sebomenoV, saith Julian of somebody in fragmento. p. 537. Of this I will make the use that S. Chrysostom does homil: 24. in 1 Cor: AndreV asebeiV, kai barbaroi thn patrida kai thn oikian afenteV, kai elqonteV meta fobou kai tromou pollou proskunesan. Mimesomeqa toinun kan touV barbarouV emiV oi ton ouranon politai. It is no shame beleive it for us who are intitled heires of Heaven by promise to imitate so pious practises even of barbarous, and heathen people.
Shall I end my discourse with the testimony of Bishop Jewell? art: 3. divis: 29. of his reply to Harding? Kneeling, bowing, standing up, and other like are commendable gestures, and tokens of devotion, so long as the people understandeth what they meane, and applyeth them to God, to whom they are due. This is fayre; it is no will-worship then for it is lawful at least: but because my premises inferre more I had rather conclude with the words of S. Austin in Psal: 94. Non solum non peccamus adorando, sed peccamus non adorando. I will but adde the saying of Venerable Bede concerning an irreligious person though a professor of Religion, but one that was too rude in his addresses to God in the Church, Unde accidit illi, quod solent dicere quidam (it seemes it was a proverbe in those dayes, that's 900 years agoe) Qui non vult EcclesiÊ januam sponte humiliatus ingredi, necessi habet in januam inferni non sponte damntaus introduci. lib. 5. hist: cap. 15.