« ZurückWeiter »
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 almost 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 burden. some 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 assenabled at St. Petersburg, which was called the Holy Synod ; and one of the archbishops, the most distinguished by his 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 honor of Alexander Newsky, whom the Russians place in the list of their heroes and saints.
DISTINGUISHING DOCTRINES.-This church agrees almost in every point of doctrine with the Greek Church subject to the patriarch of Constantinople. It, of course, receives seven Msyteries or sacraments ; admits no statues or graven images, but pictures only, upon which the name of the saint must always be inscribed. Dr. King assures us, that the more learned of the, Russian clergy " would willingly allow no picture or representation whatever of God the Faiher; for the figure of * the ancient of days,' from Daniel's vision, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair oi his head like the pure wool, is by them interpreted to be the second person of the Trinity, who so appeared to the prophet ; yet it must be confessed, that the common practice is so contrary to their opinions, that, in a great number of churches, as well ancient as modern, this figure, and Jesus, and the Dove, are painted together to signify the Trinity : nay, there is now in the church of St. Nicholas at Petersburg, a picture of an old man holding a globe, and surrounded with angels, on which God the Father is inscribed." Dr. King further observes, that during the reign of Peter the Great, the synod censured the use of such pictures, and petitioned the emperor that they might be taken down ; when he, though
concurring in opinion with the synod, declined giving any command for that purpose, conceiving that his subjects were not ripe for such a reformation, and that it attempted, it might give rise to an insurrection.
The Apostles' Creed is received by the members of this church, as containing nothing repugnant to sound doctrine ; but it is not sanctioned by public authority, like the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds ; nor is this last ever recited in public. We are told, that “in the Russian Greek church there are neither sermons, nor exhortations, nor catechising.” But such an assertion, without explanation or qualification, can scarcely be admitted, particularly as the contrary can be evidently proved by there being many volumes of sermons, exhortations, and catechetical lectures, printed and published by the Russian clergy. They have also been charged with rebaptizing all proselytes from other communions ; but this Archbishop Platon denies, and remarks, that, in regard to baptism, they do not differ in any thing from the church of Rome,-that they do not rebaptize proselytes from any communion of Christians, excepting those who are unsound in the doctrine of the Trinity ; and that all others are admitted members of their church, on their submitting to the mystery of the Holy Chrism.
WORSHIP, RITES, AND CEREMONIES.- Under these heads likewise, there is but little worthy of remark here, unless that, in addition to the forms and services of the Greek church, most of which the Russians have all along adopted, they still retain various ceremonies and superstitions of their own. At present, however, instead of strictly observing all the canonicaì hours, they have service, both in monasteries and parish churches, only three times a day : viz. the vespers,-the matins, and the liturgy, or communion.
The church service, in general, is performed in the Sclavonian language ; but in some places it is also performed in the Greek, both ancient and modern : and, in the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, they use the liturgies of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom.
The Greek Church does not allow any musical instruments ; but the rhyme observed in singing the hymns produces a inelody, with which the ear may be very well entertained.
Every person is obliged, by the civil law, to communicate at least once in the year, which is commonly done in the fast before Easter; and they scarcely ever receive the holy communion oftener.
“ If there be any who desire to participate of the holy mysteries, the priest is to divide the two remaining portions of the holy lamb," i. e. the last two of the five consecrated loaves, “ into as many small parts as will be sufficient for all the communicants ; and, putting them into the holy cup, he administers the body and blood of the Lord together, according to custom. But they are not to receive till after the deacon has said : Draw near with faith and godly fear. Then they who communicate are to go near, one after another, bowing with all humility and reverence ; and, holding their hands crossed on their breasts, are to receive the divine mysteries ; the priest, as he distributes them, mentions every coinmunicant's name : N. N. the servant of God, doth partake of the pure and holy body and blood of our Lord, our God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, for the remission of his sins, and for eternal life. Amen. The communicant then wipes his lips with the holy covering, and kissing the holy cup, retires bowing.
In the Greek Church there are two offices for the benediction or sanctification of the water, called in the Euchologion, “The office of the Lesser Sanctification,” which may be performed at any time when there is a want of holy water for baptism, or any other use of the church ; and “The office of the Great Sanctification,” which is celebrated on the Holy Theophany or Epiphany, about the first of January, in memory of the baptism of Christ; by which the Greeks believe that the nature of all waters is sanctified ; and that such virtue remains in them after this ceremony, that those taken in the night, when this service is performed in the church, will remain uncorrupted for years, and be as fresh water just taken from the spring or river."
This solemnity is annually celebrated at Petersburg in the following manner :-On the river Neva, upon the ice, which is then strong in that country, there is erected for this ceremony, a kind of temple of wood, usually of an octagonal figure, painted and richly gilt, having the inside decorated with various sacred pictures, representing the baptism of our Saviour, his transfiguration, and some other parts of his life, and on the top a picture of St. John the Baptist. This is called the Jordan, which name used to signify the haptistry or font, or any basin in which holy water is consecrated. There the attention of the spectators is drawn to a large emblem of the Holy Ghost, appearing to descend from heaven, a decoration common to almost all Greek churches, in which a peristerion, or dove, as a symbol of the Holy Ghost, is usually suspended from four small columns which sụpport a canopy over the Holy Table. The Jordan is surrounded by a temporary hedge of the boughs of fir-trees ; and, in the middle of the sanctuary or chancel is a square space, where the broken ice leaves a communication with the water running below, and the rest is ornamented with rich tapestry. Around this temple a kind of gallery is erected, and a platform of boards, covered with red cloth, is laid for the procession to go upon, guarded alsu by a fence of boughs. The gallery communicates with one of the windows of the Imperial palace, at which the emperor and his family come out to attend the ceremony, which begins as soon as the liturgy is finished in the chapel of the Imperial palace, and the regiments of guards have taken post on the river. Then, at the sound of the bells, and of the artillery of the fortress, the clerks, the deacons, the priests, the archimandrites, and the bishops, dress. ed in their richest robes, carrying in their hands lighted tapers, the censer, the Gospel, and the sacred pictures and banners, proceed from the chapel to the Jordan, singing the hymns appointed in the office, and followed by the emperor, the grand duke, the senators, and the whole court.
When arrived at the place where the ice is broken, the archbishop of Moscow, or other officiating bishop, descends, by means of a ladder, to the side of the water. There he reads the prayers appointed in the office,-dips his cross three times, and ends the ceremony by an exhortation appropriate to it ; and the waters are then thought to be blessed. As soon as the service is finished, the artillery and soldiers fire ; after which the prelate sprinkles the water on the company around him, and on the colours of all the regiments that happen to be at Petersburg, which are planted round the Jordan. He then retires, when the people crowd towards the hole, and drink of the waters with a holy avidity. “ Notwithstanding the cold, the motbers plunge their infants, and the old men their heads into them. Every body makes it a duty to carry away some for the purification of their houses, and curing certain distempers, against which the good Russians pretend this holy water is a powerful specific.”
CHURCH GOVERNMENT AND DISCIPLINE.-From the first introciuction of Christianity into Russia, till the year 1589, this church had been always subject to the patriarch of Constantinople, but no sooner was Job consecrated patriarch of Russia, than she declared herself independent of the other ; yet it appears that she has since frequently appealed to the see of Constantinople, not only in the way of advice, but judicially. Thus, it was by the authority of the patriarch of Constantinople, that Alexis, father of Peter the Great, deposed Nikon, the Russian patriarch,* whose power and influence had arisen to that astonishing height, that he even excommunicated the Czar. Peter the Great was too clear-sighted not to discern the dangerous consequences of this enormous power of the patriarchs, which had grown up by degrees, from concessions made to them by the Czars,-from the great wealth that they possessed, from their influence with the clergy, and from their family connexions ; and therefore, upon the death of the patriarch Adriun, in 1700, he suppressed that dignity, and gave the administration of the affairs of the patriarchate to Stephen Jaworsky, metropolitan of Rezan, with the title of Exarch or vicegea rent of tlie patriarchal see. But small and daily occurrences were the only business wbich came before the exarch ; all affairs of importance were brought before the sovereign, or an assembly of the other bishops, to deliberate upon them; which assembly of the exarch and bishops was then known by the name of the Holy Council.
* This, however, did not take place without the formality of a coun. ril, which was held in 1667.
This government of the Exarchy lasted only till the year 1721, when Peter the Great declared, in a full assembly of the clergy, that he thought a patriarch to be neither necessary for the adininistration of church affairs, nor expedient for the siate ; and therefore he had determined to introduce another form of ecclesiastical government, which should keep the medium between that of a single person and general councils ; and this new mode was to be a constant council or synod, with the name of The Holy Legislative Synod. Of this college or synod, whose seat was fixed at St. Petersburg, he, at the same time, declared himself to be the supreme judge, as well as head of the church. It at first consisted of twelve members, three of whom were bishops, and the rest archimandrites, hegumens, and protopopes, &c. ; but the number bas, since his time, been frequently changed by the sovereign, on whose will, the nomination of all the members, their appointments as such, and the time they serve in that capacity, entirely depend. And, besides these, an officer, a laymian, called the Chief Procurator, always attends at their deliberations, who is considered as placed there on the part of the crown, and has a negative upon all their resolutions, till they are laid before the sovereign. Every member, before he is qualified to sit, is also obliged to take an oath of allegiance, couched in the strongest terms, in which it is declared, that no other than the sovereign should be considered as its head ; so that the checks put to the power of the clergy by the establishment of this ecclesiastical college, are so effectual, that no prince in the world can now have less to fear from them than the sov. ereign of Russia. At the same time, to elevate this college in the minds of the people, and to prevent their looking upon it like the inferior colleges, it was ordered, that in all spiritual concerns it should have the same power as the senate ;-the same respect ;-the same obedience, and the same right to punish the refractory. But in mixed cases which concern both the temporal and spiritual government, it was decreed, that the synod should consult with the senate, and present their common judgment to the emperor for his approbation.
Though matters belonging to the synod were clearly defined and ascertained in the Spiritual Regulation, yet its members were further empowered to make new laws, first presenting them to the emperor for his approbation. And Peter, baving placed the constitution and affairs of the Russian church, on this footing, wrote a letter to Jeremias, then patriarch of Constantipople, stating the changes which he had made in the ecclesiasti. cal government of his country, and desiring his approbation ; to this the patriarch replied, in a letter dated 23d September, 1723, “that he fully approved of the whole ; and all the patri. archs, since that time, have honoured the synod with the name of the Patriarchal."** To the synod the election of bishops was entrusted by the
* Dr. King, p. 446.