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The formation of human society, hood, must be referred to the sa The earliest communities of the origin and their cement, not in mere social affections, much the advantages of co-operat sentiment, submitting to the itself in the same worship. so is none more primitive what is holy and divine. deed, when the feelings of by analysis into a little themselves over the wh. wonder, this bond con the selfish and diso titude of men toget simply the same opi: brood of scepticism Tradition, the sam
CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT PRIEST, AND WITHOUT RITUAL.
BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU.
" TO WHOM COMING, AS UNTO A LIVING STONE, DISALLOWED INDEED OF
MEN, BUT CHOSEN OF GOD, AND PRECIOUS; YE ALSO, AS LIVELY STONES, ARE BUILT UP A SPIRITUAL HOUSE, A HOLY PRIESTHOOD, TO OFFER UP SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES, ACCEPTABLE TO GOD BY JESUS CHRIST."-1 Peter ii. 4, 5.
The formation of human society, and the institution of priesthood, must be referred to the same causes and the same date. The earliest communities of the world appear to have had their origin and their cement, not in any gregarious instinct, nor in mere social affections, much less in any prudential regard to the advantages of co-operation, but in a binding religious sentiment, submitting to the same guidance, and expressing itself in the same worship. As no tie can be more strong, so is none more primitive, than this agreement respecting what is holy and divine. In simple and patriarchal ages indeed, when the feelings of veneration had not been set aside by analysis into a little corner of the character, but spread themselves over the whole of life, and mixed it up with daily wonder, this bond comprised all the forces that can suppress the selfish and disorganizing passions, and compact a multitude of men together. It was not, as at present, to have simply the same opinions (things of quite modern growth, the brood of scepticism); but to have the same Fathers, the same Tradition, the same Speech, the same Land, the same Foes,
the same Priest, the same God. Nothing did man fear,
The primitive aim of worship undoubtedly was, to act upon
freshest colours of en was open to every hard expressed itself in sym strangers, but intelligible national tradition. This, guage of arbitrary character sacredness without meaning; consigned to a class separated fok of the priest and his profession; no longer natural, but legendary a of rites that spake with silent
는 interpreter of the wants of me the gods. Not till the power familiar converse with the earth come deaf and dumb to the mediating priest arise ;-need speech of ceremony, wherebshape before the eye of the
Observe then the true id Priest is the representative on behalf of human nature bears a message upwards being below, his influen weak, and the cries of t" ing supplication befos the sins and remorse piating tribute at the the avenues that le without his interp
religion, so sanctified by the association, that it appears sacrilege to desist from their employment; and when their meaning is lost, they assume their place, not among empty gesticulations, but among the mystical signs by which earth communes with heaven.
The vivid picture-writing of the early worship, filled with living attitudes, and sketched in the freshest colours of emotion, explained itself to every eye, and was open to every hand. To this succeeded a piety, which expressed itself in symbolical figures, veiling it utterly from strangers, but intelligible and impressive still to the soul of national tradition. This, however, passed again into a language of arbitrary characters, in which the herd of men saw sacredness without meaning; and the use of which must be consigned to a class separated for its study. Hence the origin of the priest and his profession; the conservator of a worship no longer natural, but legendary and mystical ; skilful enactor of rites that spake with silent gesticulation to the heavens ; interpreter of the wants of men into the divine language of the gods. Not till the powers above had ceased to hold familiar converse with the earth, and in their distance had become deaf and dumb to the common tongue of men, did the mediating priest arise ;--needed then to conduct the fingerspeech of ceremony, whereby the desire of the creature took shape before the eye of the Creator.
Observe then the true idea of Priest and RITUAL. The Priest is the representative of men before God; commissioned on behalf of human nature to intercede with the divine. He bears a message upwards, from earth to heaven ; his people being below, his influence above. He takes the fears of the weak, and the cries of the perishing, and sets them with availing supplication before him that is able to help. He takes the sins and remorse of the guilty, and leaves them with expiating tribute at the feet of the averted Deity. He guards the avenues that lead from the mortal to the immortal, and without his interposition the creature is cut off from his
Creator. Without his mediation, no transaction between them can take place, and the spirit of a man must live as an outlaw from the world invisible and holy. There are means of propitiation which he alone has authority to employ; powers of persuasion conceded to no other; a mystic access to the springs of divine benignity, by outward rites which his manipulation must consecrate, or forms of speech which his lips must recommend. These ceremonies are the implements of his office, and the sources of his power;
the magic by which he is thought to gain admission to the will above, and really wins rule over human counsels below. As they are supposed to change the relation of God to man, not by visible or natural operation, not (for example) by sug. gestion of new thoughts, and excitement of new dispositions in the worshipper, but by secret and mysterious agency, they are simply spells of a dignified order. Were we then to speak with severe exactitude, we should say, a Ritual is a system of consecrated charms; and the Priest, the great magician who dispenses them.
So long as any idea is retained, of mystically efficacious rites, consigned solely and authoritatively to certain hands, this definition cannot be escaped. The ceremonies may have rational instruction and natural worship appended to them ; and these additional elements may give them a title to true respect. The order of men appointed to administer them, may have other offices and nobler duties to perform, rendering them, if faithful, worthy of a just and reverential attachment. But in so far as, by an exclusive and unnatural efficacy, they bring about a changed relation between God and man, the Ritual is an incantation, and the Priest is an enchanter.
To this sacerdotal devotion, there necessarily attach certain characteristic sentiments, both moral and religious, which give it a distinctive influence on human character, and adapt it to particular stages of civilization. It clearly severs
the worsh! external to the able by them mighty; they n themselves withi tion to the Infinite. but in the remoter spector of their life; no to be visited in absence And that God dwells in duces the feeling, that man Consecrated intervention is from the defiling contact of stricted from unlimited person driven to another in my trang this system, our nature appe: with the divine, and those make the opposition strong decadence, its poor self-flat giant guilt
, become familia
cut off from sympathy w level of melancholy, or t ness of vicarious reliance hare for its chief aim, to mind of sin and shame, for principally to these rituals profess themse pour forth the privacy the cumbrousness of sacred officer? Th for the weakness, soul; it takes awa ding the light of earth and hell, w God. Nay, for