Imágenes de páginas


Of Bowing towards the Altar at the first coming into the Church; a Cuftom generally observed by ignorant People; its Meaning and Antiquity.

WE may obferve the Generality of old

People among the Commonalty, as they enter into the Church, to turn their Faces towards the Altar, and bow or kneel that Way. This, no Doubt, is the Remains of that ancient Custom of the Church, of worshipping toward the Eaft: For in the ancient Church they worshipped that Way upon feveral Accounts, Firft, That by fo worshipping, they might lift up their Minds to GOD, who is called the Light and the Creator of Light. And therefore St. Auftin fays, * When we pray standing, we turn our Faces to the East, from whence the Day fprings, that we might be reminded of turning to a more excellent Na-, ture, namely, The LORD. Secondly, That for as much as Man was driven out of Paradife, which is towards the Eaft, he ought to look that Way, which is an Emblem of his

* Cum ad orationem ftamus, ad orientem covertimur, unde cælum furgit, &c. Ut admoneatur animus ad naturam excellentiorem fe convertere, id eft, ad Dominum. Aug. de Serm. Domini, in Mont. Lib. 2. Cap. 5.

Defire to return thither. St. Damafcen therefore tells us, That t because the Scripture fays, That GOD planted Paradife in Eden towards the East, where he placed the Man which he had formed, whom he punish'd with Banishment upon his Tranfgreffion, and made him dwell over against Paradise, in the western Part; we therefore pray, (fays he) being in Queft of our ancient Country; and as it were panting after it, do worship God that Way. Thirdly, It was ufed when any were baptized. They first turn'd their Faces to the West, and fo renounc'd the Devil; and then to the Eaft, and made their Covenant with CHRIST. Laftly, They prayed that Way, believing that our SAVIOUR Would come to Judgment from that Quarter of the Heavens. For as the Lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth unto the Weft, fo fhall the Coming of the Son of Man be; and he is to come in like Manner as he afcended. And that he afcended up Eastward from Mount Olivet, St. † Damafcen affures us. For (fays he) when he afcended into Heaven, he was taken up Eastward, and his Difciples worshipped him that Way. And therefore chiefly it was, that in the ancient Church they prayed with their Faces to the Eaft; and that many of our own Church at this Day, turn their

*St. Damafc. Lib. 4. C. 13. Orthod. Fid.

+ Ibid.


Faces to that Quarter of the World, at the Repetition of the Creed.

What may more confirm this, and fpeak it to have been the univerfal Opinion of the Church, is the ancient Custom of burying the Corps, with the Feet to the East, and the Head to the Weft; which Cuftom is continued to this Day in the whole Church of England: This was obferved for the fame Reason, That, at the Coming of CHRIST to Judgment from the oriental Part of Heaven, our Bodies might be found in a praying Pofture, with their Faces towards the East.

Our learned Countryman Gregory tells us, "That the holy Men of Jerufalem hold a Tra"dition generally received from their Ancients, 66 that our SAVIOUR himself was buried with "his Face and Feet towards the Eaft." It is affirmed by the Geographers of the holy Land. And Bede fays, *That as the Holy Women enter'd at the Eastern Part into the Roundhoufe, which is hewn out in the Rock, they faw the Angel fitting at the South Part of the Place, where the Body of JESUS had lain,

* Introeuntes ab oriente in domum illam rotundam quæ in petra excifa eft, viderunt angelum fedentem ad meridianam partem loci illius, ubi pofitum fuerat corpus Jefu; hoc enim erat in dextris, quod nimirum, corpus, quod fupinum jacens caput habebat ad occafum, dexteram neceffe eft habere ad auftrum. Bed. in Dic. Sanct. Pafcha, Tom. 7.


that is, at his Right Hand; for undoubtedly his Body having his Face upwards and its Head to the West, must have its Right Hand to the South. Caffalion fays, * The Faithful of old were fo obferving of this Ceremony of looking towards the Eaft, that they not only ftrictly obferved it in their Prayers when living; but even when they were dead, their Bodies were placed with their Faces upwards in the Sepulchre, looking towards the East.

The learned Dr. Comber, in his Difcourfe of the folemn Interment, hath thefe Words upon this fubject, “We may note the Pofiture and "Pofition of the Corps, which among the Chri"stians hath always been to turn the Feet to "the Eaft, with the Head to the Weft; that fo they may be ready to meet the LORD, "whom the Ancients did believe fhould ap66 pear in the oriental Part of Heaven. Durand. "Rat. Lib. 7. Cap. 33. Or as our ingenious "Mr. Gregory believes, That they might be "in the Posture of Prayer, with their Faces to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the East, as foon as they were raised. There "are fome ancient Authors tell us, That the "old Inhabitants of Attica buried thus before ઠંડ

* Adeo tenaces fuere prifci illi fideles in hoc ritu refpiciendi in orientem, ut non folum ipfi viventes, hoc in eorum precibus exacte fervarent, verum etiam mortui eorum corpora fupina in fepulchris facie orientem refpicerent. Caf. de Vet. Rit. Chrift. P. 30.


"the Days of Solon, who, as they report, con"vinced the Athenians, that the Island of Sa"lamis did of Right belong to them, by fhewદર ing them dead Bodies looking that Way, "and Sepulchres turned towards the Eaft, as “they used to bury. Diog. Laert. Vit. Solon, "&c. And the Scholiaft upon Thucidides fays, "It was the Manner of all the Greeks to bury "their Dead thus: Though a learned modern "Writer fuppofes thefe Authors mistaken, and "cites Plutarch and Elian to prove, that the "Athenians turned their Dead towards the

[ocr errors]

Weft. However it is certain, that all Na"tions had one certain Way of placing the Corps, from which they would not vary; and we Chriftians have fo great Antiquity "for our Custom, that we ought not out of Singularity to alter it.

No Doubt but this learned Man had great Reason for this Conclufion, as well knowing that this ancient Rite was ftruck at by the whole Herd of Sectaries, as a filly Fancy and an idle Dream: Who never would obferve it, were it not that they are fometimes obliged; but would with thofe who are not obliged, ac the very Reverse, and bury North and South. I wish there were no powerfuller Enemies to it, than them now a Days; but, as a Man's Enemies are too often thofe of his own Houshold; fo, 'tis to be lamented, that fome who pre


« AnteriorContinuar »