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6. The simplicity and brevity of the Devotions of the Primitive Church

Antiquities of the Christian Church
CHAPTER X. Of the Prayers and Psalmody of the Church

6. The simplicity and brevity of the Devotions of the Primitive Church

The prayers of the church were offered in language the most artless and natural. Even the most learned of the fathers, who were no strangers to the graces of diction, refused all ornamental embellishments in their addresses to the throne of grace, alleging that the kingdom of heaven consists not in word, but in power, 1 Cor. 4:20. Cum de rebus agitur ah ostentatione suhmotis quid dicatur spectandum est, non quali cum amoenitate dicatur; nee, quid aures commulceat, sed quas afferat audienlihus utilitales. Their prayers were accordingly offered in the greatest simplicity, and as far as possible in the phraseology of scripture. This artlessness and elegant simplicity appears in striking contrast with the ostentation and bombast of a later date.

This contrast appears equally great also in the brevity of these prayers. It was a nriaxim in the primitive church, that many words should never be employed to express what might better be said in a few. So manifest was this excellence, that Basil, Chrysostom, and Gregory the Great, successively attempted to abridge the formularies of the church, and restore their early simplicity and brevity. 

Arnobius, Dispntat. adv. Grentes. lib. i. c.58, 59. 63

S. Proeli, De trad. Missal, horn. 22 p.580: A. Neander, i. Th. 1821. 8. S. 329, 30: Thorn. Smith, De statu Eccles. Gracae Hodierno, p. 22seq.: Heinccii Al)bildung, der alien und ueuen griech. Kirche, Th. iii. S. 227: Is. Diaconi Vit. Gregor. M. lib. ii. c. 17.


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