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CH A P. V.
Of Bowing towards the Altar at the first coming
into the Church; a Custom generally observed by ignorant People; its Meaning and Antiquity.
W E may observe the Generality of old
W 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 East: For in the ancient Church they worshipped that Way upon several Accounts, First, 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, Austin says, * When we pray standing, we turn our Faces to the East, from whence the Day springs, 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 Paradise, which is towards the East, he ought to look that Way, which is an Emblem of his
* Cum ad orationem ftamus, ad orientem covertimur, unde cælum surgit, &c. Ut admoneatur animus ad naturam excellentiorem fe convertere, id est, ad Dominum. Aug. de Serm. Donini, in Mont. Lib. 2. Cap. 5.
Desire to return thither. St. Damascen therefore tells us, Tuat † because the Scripture says, That God planted Paradise in Eden towards the East, where he placed the Man which be had formed, whom he punish'd with Banishment upon his Transgression, and made him dwell over against Paradise, in the western Part; we therefore pray, (says he) being in Quest of our ancient Country; and as it were panting after it, do worship God that Way. Thirdly, It was used when any were baptized. They first turn'd their Faces to the West, and so renounc'd the Devil; and then to the East, and made their Covenant with CHRIST. Lastly, 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 West, So shall the coming of the Son of Man be ; and he is to come in like Manner as he ascended. And that he ascended up Eastward from Mount Olivet, St. † Damascen assures us. For (says he) when he ascended into Heaven, he was taken up Eastward, and his Disciples worshipped him that Way. And therefore chiefly it was, that in the ancient Church they prayed with their Faces to the East; and that many of our own Church at this Day, turn their
* St. Damafc. Lib. 4. C. 13. Orthod. Fid.
Faces to that Quarter of the World, at the Repetition of the Creed.
What may more confirm this, and speak it to have been the universal Opinion of the Church, is the ancient Custom of burying the Corps, with the Feet to the East, and the Head to the West; which Custom is continued to this Day in the whole Church of England: This was observed for the same Reason, That, at the Coming of Christ to Judgment from the oriental Part of Heaven, our Bodies might be found in a praying Posture, with their Faces towards the East.
Our learned Countryman Gregory tells us, “ That the holy Men of Jerusalem hold a Tra“ dition generally received from their Ancients, " that our Saviour himself was buried with “ his Face and Feet towards the East.” It is affirmed by the Geographers of the holy Land. And Bede says, * That as the Holy Women enter'd at the Eastern Part into the Roundhouse, 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 excisa est, viderunt angelum fedentem ad meridianam partem loci illius, ubi positum fuerat corpus Jefu; hoc enim erat in dextris, quod nimirum, corpus, quod fupinum jacens caput habebat ad occasum, dexteram neceffe eft habere ad auftrum. Bed. in Dic. Sanct. Pafchæ, 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. Cassalion says, * The Faithful of old were so observing of this Ceremony of looking towards the East, that they not only ftri&tly observed 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 Discourse of the folemn Interment, hath these Words upon this subject, “ We may note the Pofiture and “ Position of the Corps, which among the Chri“ stians hath always been to turn the Feet to “the East, with the Head to the West; that “ so they may be ready to meet the LORD, " whom the Ancients did believe should ap“ 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 “the East, as soon as they were raised. There " are some ancient Authors tell us, That the 66 old Inhabitants of Attica buried thus before
* Adeo tenaces fuere prisci illi fideles in hoc ritu refpiciendi in orientem, ut non solum ipfi viventes, hoc in eorum precibus exacte fervarent, verum etiam mortui eorum corpora supina in fepulchris facie orientem respicerent. Cal. de Vet. Rit. Chrif. P. 30.
the “ 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 shew“ing them dead Bodies looking that Way, " and Sepulchres turned towards the East, as “ they used to bury. Diog. Laert. Vit. Salon, “ &c. And the Scholiast upon Thucidides says, “ It was the Manner of all the Greeks to bury " their Dead thus: Though a learned modern " Writer supposes these Authors mistaken, and “ cites Plutarch and Elian to prove, that the “ Athenians turned their Dead towards the “ West. However it is certain, that all Na“ tions had one certain Way of placing the “ Corps, from which they would not vary; “and we Christians have so 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 Conclusion, as well knowing that this ancient Rite was struck at by the whole Herd of Sectaries, as a filly Fancy and an idle Dream: Who never would observe it, were it not that they are sometimes obliged; but would with those who are not obliged, act 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 those of his own Houshold; so, 'tis to be lamented, that some who pre