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the observance of the Lord’s Supper? In the church at Jerusalem, it is clear, from the narrative in the second chapter of the Acts, that there was a great deal of social intercourse among the christians, and that, prevented by circumstances from meeting together in large numbers ‘to break bread’—a technical phrase for observing the Lord's Supper (compare Acts ii. 42; xx. 7)—they were accustomed to do so, xar 3, Xoy, in private houses; but where is the evidence that the social meal and the sacred rite were ever united, or observed as consecutive parts of the same ceremony ? That this was the case at first, and during the earlier ages of christianity, has been very generally assumed, but we are quite unable to see on what grounds. The unvarying practice of the churches of the second and third cemturies was to observe the Lord's Supper by itself; and the social meal, where any such was provided, was partaken of at a different time. Justin Martyr, whilst formally describing the worship of the christians, gives no hint whatever of an Agapé as forming any part of their service.* In the African church, which of all others adhered most rigidly to primitive forms, we find that the social meal had no connexion with the eucharist, but was an entertainment sui generis; t and in the account given by Pliny of the services of the christians, we are expressly told that after they had met in the morning of the sabbath, and bound themselves by a sacrament, they “were wont to separate, and afterwards to come together again to partake of food, and that of the ordinary kind, and quite harmless.’ f In opposition to this array of evidence in favour of the opinion that the Agape was not observed along with the Lord's Supper, we have found positively nothing that is deserving of a moment’s consideration. On what ground, then, we ask again, is it affirmed so confidently and so constantly, that in the mother church at Jerusalem, and among all the earlier churches this practice prevailed ” The only passage in the New Testament where these Agapae are supposed to be named, is in the twelfth verse of the Epistle of Jude, with which Dr. Halley compares 2 Pet. ii. 13, where he proposes to read &yánai; for 3rérau;. That these two passages refer to the same class of persons, that they affirm the same things concerning them, and that consequently the reading in both should be the same, we have no doubt. But the question remains, which is to be altered? whether shall we
* Apol. i., c. 65. + Tertull. Apol., c. 39. † Quibus peractis, morem sibi discedendi fuisse rursusque coeundi ad capiendum cibum, promiscuum tamen et innoxium.—Ep. ad Traj. Imp. Bingham translates promiscuum, ‘common to all; but we have Augustine’s authority for taking it in the sense we have given.
change &márai; into &yárai, in Peter, or &yárai; into &rárais in Jude? Our author seems to think there can be no question about the matter, but with us it is a grave and serious question. He appeals to the readings of the MSS.; how, then, stands their evidence? The answer is, that it is pretty nearly alike on both sides. The reading &yáraig, in Peter, has in its favour the authority of the Vatican MS. and the Alexandrian by a correction, of the Peschito-Syriac version, the margin of the Philoxenian, the Arabic, and the Vulgate. The reading, &rárai;, in Jude, is supported by the Alexandrian MS., the Codex Regius, a MS. of the 11th century in the British Museum, and one of the 15th. The evidence thus furnished will be admitted to be nearly on a par; or if a preference be allowed, it will be in favour of that reading which is supported by two uncial MSS. over that which is supported by only one, and the correction of another; to say nothing of the doubt which attaches to all various readings adduced on the authority of the Vatican MS., from the very imperfect collations which have hitherto been made of it. So far, nothing is certain, but that the reading of the text in the one passage has affected the readings of the other; which was the original reading, remains still in doubt. Happily, however, there is one circumstance which may serve as an instantia crucis to guide us here; and that is, that the various reading in Peter is incomplete, and therefore bears on its face evidence of having been an after correction, whilst that in Jude is complete. It is obvious, that if the true reading be &yáraig, the pronoun following must be pov, and not airāy, and if the true reading be &nd raig, the pronoun following must be adrāv, and not judov, for iv dyárzi; atrów and év &ndarai; “pov are alike meaningless. In none of the MSS., however, and in none of the versions which read &ydraic in Peter, have we judy; all give ãvrov, except the Arabic of the Polyglot, which omits the pronoun altogether. All the MSS., on the other hand, which read ărăraic in Jude, read also ovrov for usiv. On the assumption, then, that the original reading was the same both in Peter and Jude, this seems to us to decide the question as to what that reading was ; for the question comes to be, whether we shall alter the passage in Peter into ov &yáraic àvrov, and so make nonsense of it, or alter the passage in Jude into èv àmàraig &vrov, which makes a very good sense, for we should translate the passage thus: ‘These are by their own deceiving (or deception) stumbling-blocks, revelling together without fear, feeding themselves,’ &c. Sö much for this point in textual criticism; if our remarks be sound, they will go to deprive Dr. Halley and those who agree with him, of the only case in which the Agapae are supposed to be mentioned directly in the New Testament. If, however, the reading in Jude be retained, it will still remain for him to prove, that by dyáraic tutov the apostle did not mean simply the Lord's Supper. That this ordinance was sometimes so designated, is proved, we think, by a passage in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans ($8), where he says that “in the absence of the bishop it is not lawful either to baptize or to observe the Lord's Supper (474mmy trotein).' Dr. Halley, indeed, contends, that Ignatius refers here to the love-feast; but this we think very improbable on many grounds, and among these is that which our author adduces in support of his interpretation, viz., that Ignatius had just before referred to the eucharist, for such a repetition is altogether Ignatian. By almost all who have written on the Agapae, reference has been made to 1 Cor. xi. 20–22, as affording evidence that such observances were recognized by the apostle, who is here supposed to be reproving an odious abuse of them. Dr. Halley tells us that, he ‘must speak with some hesitation’ on this point; but he evidently inclines to the opinion that the apostle really had these love-feasts in his eye, in writing this part of his epistle. He seems to think, that our only choice lies between viewing the object of the apostle's strictures as an abuse of the Lord's Supper, and viewing it as an abuse of the Agapae. Were this the case, we should be inclined to agree with him in the conclusion to which he comes; but we suspect, that it is to neither the one nor the other of these that Paul refers. It is rather a suspicious circumstance attaching to the conclusion our author has adopted, that, in order to reach it, we must suppose that the practice of the Corinthians, in reference to the Agapac, differed from that of all the other churches so far as we know; for it is clear, as Dr. Halley remarks, that if it is the love-feast which Paul here refers to, the observance of it must have preceded the observance of the Eucharist, whilst the testimony of ecclesiastical writers is uniform in affirming that the Agapae followed the Eucharist. This naturally induces the suspicion, that it is not an abuse of the Agapae which the apostle reprehends in the Corinthians, but the observance of some custom peculiar to themselves, and not under any form agreeable to the mind of the apostle. This is confirmed by the consideration, that had he been occupied here in reprehending an abuse of some practice harmless, if not commendable in itself, he would hardly have given the censure without following it up with some intimation of how it became them to observe the practice so as to preserve it from leading to the evils of which he complains. Nothing of this sort, however, is done; the censure is delivered, and the apostle passes on to describe the institution and design of the Lord’s Supper, and to tell them how they should observe it. All this seems to us to point to the conclusion that the practice which had crept into the church at Corinth, was one altogether unlawful on Christian grounds in itself, and which had come to supplant and supersede that true feast of love which the Lord had appointed for his people. With this view, the apostle's words appear to accord. He is speaking before of ‘the coming together’ of the Corinthian church, and declares, that though the assembling of believers was designed to be for their mutual advantage, yet with the Corinthians it proved the opposite, for they came together not for the better, but for the worse. How was this? Because they did not come together for the purpose for which other churches came together, viz. to eat the Lord's Supper. This was in the apostolic churches the main object for which the brethren assembled in church (#y ixxxmang=in their congregational capacity, ver. 18. Comp. Acts xx. 7.) But, for this purpose, the Corinthians did not assemble. On the contrary, they came together in groups, to observe a practice which necessarily produced schism and bad feeling in the church, by displaying invidiously the distinction of the rich and poor in a place where all such distinctions should be merged. This the apostle accordingly denounces, and having done so, proceeds to tell them the true object for which they should come together, and the proper mode of assembling for that object. Such we conceive to be the train of the apostle's remarks in this context, and with this, the supposition, that the object of his reprehension was something which ought not in any form to have been tolerated in the church, fully accords. What the practice censured really was, has been well described, we think, by Raphelius in his note on this passage, where he traces it to the old Greek custom of having banquets to which each guest brought his own provisions, and the abuse of which to results much the same as those described by Paul, Socrates, in his day, sought to remedy, (Xenoph. Mem. Lib. iii. 14. 1.) We have now glanced at the passages usually adduced to prove the existence of the Agape as a regular observance in the apostolic churches, and our firm conviction is, that no sufficient evidence of such a practice can be adduced. As for the Agapae ‘mentioned by the ecclesiastical writers as practised at a subsequent period, they appear to us to have grown out of the mere tendency, so common to all men, to cement the bonds of friendship and brotherhood by eating and drinking together. Meetings for this purpose were common national customs in all those countries where the Christians resided, and it is not to be wondered at that they should have followed so simple and so natural a mode of expressing their mutual affection, more especially as it afforded an excellent opportunity for the rich to dispense of their abundance for the advantage of the poor. This much at least is certain, that these Agapæ had no connection whatever with the observance of the Lord's Supper, which took place at a different time, and anterior to the Agapè. In addition to the evidence above afforded of this from Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Pliny, we would simply quote the following passage of Chrysostom When all the believers come together, after they bare heard instruction, after prayers, after the fellowship of the mysteries, and after the assembly is dissolved, they do not forthwith go home, but the rich and wealthy bring food and meats from home, invite the poor, and prepare common tables, common feasts, and common symposia in the church itself.'*
With these somewhat hasty remarks we must now dismiss this subject, on which, perhaps, some of our readers may think we have dwelt too long. The question, we grant, is not one of very high importance, but having expressed our dissent from the opinion most commonly held, we felt constrained to append to that expression some of the reasons on which our dissent is founded.
To the first lecture, Dr. Halley has added three long and valuable appendices on the following topics, 'the difference between the ancient discipline and the Romish Sacrament of penance;' 'Unction not the Sacrament of the Dying;' 'On the Service of the Synagogue as affecting the Institution of the Christian Church. Amid much that is highly valuable, there are one or two points in these Appendices, especially the last, on which we should feel inclined to break a lance with the author, did not our rapidly diminishing space warn us that it is time to proceed to the other parts of his work.
Lecture II. is 'On the Perpetuity and Design of the Sacraments. In the former part, the author maintains, chiefly against the Society of Friends, the perpetual obligation of baptism and the Lord's Supper as ordinances of the Christian religion. In no part of the work has he displayed more successfully his logical vigour and sound scholarship. We have seldom seen the argument based by the anti-ritualists on our Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, (John iv. 21-24), more successfully disposed of than in our author's remarks on Barclay's inference from this passage, 'That every system of worship by ceremonial observances, like that of the Jews or the Samaritans, being entirely abolished, the worship of the Christian church is exclusively spiritual, without any external rite or symbolic ordinance whatever.'
* Homil. 54, cited by Suicer Thes. Eceles, in 'Ayarn. Com. also Hom. 27 in Ep. I. ad Cor.