The Mingled Cup, part 3

In the Early Church, "mixed wine" was so common, they believed Jesus had made "mixed wine" out of water at Cana (John 2:1-11)
In the Early Church, “mixed wine” was such a common wedding drink, they simply assumed that Jesus had made already “mixed wine” out of water at Cana (John 2:1-11)

In the first installment in this series, we provided a survey of the manufacture and consumption of wine in the ancient Greek, Jewish, Roman and Christian cultures. In all these cultures, merum—“pure wine,” or “undiluted wine”—was mixed with water prior to drinking because the consumption of straight merum was both unpalatable and uncivilized. Because merum was unfit for consumption except by barbarians, the whole civilized world added water to merum to make wine. Wine for drinking, therefore, was simply “pure wine” mingled with water. Or, more succinctly, wine was called “wine with water” or “wine and water,” in reference to its two ingredients: “pure wine” (merum) and water.

In our second installment, we reviewed the three earliest Patristic references to mixed wine—Justin Martyr, Irenæus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria—and found their uses to be consistent with that ancient description of wine.  Clement even went so far as to affirm that the wine Jesus made at Cana was already mixed with water. What we call “wine” today, they called “wine and water,” “wine with water,” the “mingled cup” and “mixed wine” or just “wine,” and its description was usually juxtaposed with a reference to the mixing of ingredients to make bread. Mixed wine was as common as baked bread, and there was no reference to a liturgical mixing of either of them at the Lord’s Table. “Mixed wine” is simply what “wine” was called.

This week, we will continue by examining Cyprian of Carthage, Aphrahat the Persian Sage, Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan. What we find is a continued absence and ignorance of liturgical mixing of wine and water until the end of the 4th century.

Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200 – 258 A.D.)

Like Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian extracted symbolic meaning from the mixing of water with wine. As we noted in our previous entry, Clement was not at all consistent in his symbolism. In one case, the merum referred to believers and the water referred to their sinful lusts—both referring in some sense to men (Clement of Alexandria, The Pædagogus, Book I, chapter 6). In the case of the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), the water referred to “the old law,” and the merum to “the new word”—the water and wine both in some sense referring to the Scriptures (Clement of Alexandria, The Pædagogus, Book II, chapter 2). In another case, the water was Jesus, “the smitten rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4), and the merum was Jesus, “the great cluster the Word, bruised for us” (Numbers 13:24)—both the water and the merum referring to Christ (Clement of Alexandria, The Pædagogus, Book II, chapter 2).

Cyprian, like Clement, understood Jesus’ miracle at Cana to be a miracle of changing water into water mixed with wine, but he  took a slightly different tack: the different ingredients served as figures of different people. The original water in the waterpots without merum was a figure of the Jewish people apart from Christ, for “among the Jews there was a want of spiritual grace,” and therefore “wine also was wanting,” a reference to the lack of merum, or “the blood of the grape” (c.f. paragraph 6), in the water. But the miracle of “water made wine” showed “the marriage of Christ and the Church,” because Revelation 17:15 had referred to the people as water (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 12). Now the people, or water, were no longer lacking Christ, or merum, or “the blood of the grape,” as the Jews had been.

Cyprian continued in the next paragraph to employ terms of marital union—conjugal copulation—to show how that “sacrament” of the wedding miracle should inform the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in which wine also is included with water:

“But when the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people is made one with Christ, and the assembly of believers is associated (copulatur) and conjoined (conjugitur) with Him on whom it believes; which association (copulatio) and conjunction (conjunctio) of water and wine is so mingled in the Lord’s cup, that that mixture cannot any more be separated.” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 13; Migne P.L., vol 4, col 384).

Thus the mixed cup of the Lord’s Supper signified the people married to Christ, just as it had in Jesus’ first miracle at Cana. Like Clement, Cyprian believed that “wine and water” is simply what “wine” was—merum plus water—and thus, that is what Jesus had made miraculously at the wedding.

The occasion for Cyprian’s detailed opinion on mixed wine in the Eucharist was an ongoing controversy in which only one ingredient, water alone, was being used in the cup at the Lord’s Supper. He addressed that illicit practice extensively in Epistle 62.  Some Christians—in order to avoid martyrdom in a time of persecution—were leaving out the merum, and Cyprian would have none of it:

“For when Christ says, ‘I am the true vine [John 15:1], the blood of Christ is assuredly not water, but wine; neither can His blood by which we are redeemed and quickened appear to be in the cup, when in the cup there is no wine whereby the blood of Christ is shown forth, which is declared by the sacrament and testimony of all the Scriptures.” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 2)

As we have established over the last two entries, at the time of these writings and for centuries before, “wine” was a mixture of merum or “pure wine” with water, and as easily called “wine” as “wine and water” as “mixed wine” as “mingled wine.” Thus, while Cyprian insists that “the blood of Christ is assuredly not water, but wine” (Epistle 62, paragraph 2), and that Jesus used “bread and wine” (Epistle 62, paragraph 4), and that the prophets foretold “the wine of the cup of the blood” (Epistle 62, paragraph 6), he also insists that what is in the cup of Christ is neither “water alone” nor “wine alone” but both ingredients mixed together:

“Thus the cup of the Lord is not indeed water alone, nor wine alone, unless each be mingled with the other” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 13).

By this means, Cyprian had simply recited what the whole world knew about winemaking: that “wine” is simply a mixture of pure wine with water, and that Jesus had used “wine” in the Last Supper. And therefore, He had used mixed wine. And therefore so must we.

Cyprian also explained, like his predecessors, that the adding of water to wine is “just as” the adding of water to flour to make bread, and that mixing water with wine is “in like manner” with the grinding and mixing of grain to make bread. He juxtaposed those two manufacturing processes more than once:

“Thus the cup of the Lord is not indeed water alone, nor wine alone, unless each be mingled with the other; just as, on the other hand, the body of the Lord cannot be flour alone or water alone, unless both should be united and joined together and compacted in the mass of one bread; in which very sacrament our people are shown to be made one, so that in like manner as many grains, collected, and ground, and mixed together into one mass, make one bread; so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know that there is one body, with which our number is joined and united.” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 13)

“For when the Lord calls bread, which is combined by the union of many grains, His body, He indicates our people whom He bore as being united; and when He calls the wine, which is pressed from many grapes and clusters and collected together, His blood, He also signifies our flock linked together by the mingling of a united multitude. If Novatian is united to this bread of the Lord, if he also is mingled with this cup of Christ, he may also seem to be able to have the grace of the one baptism of the Church, if it be manifest that he holds the unity of the Church.” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 75, chapter 6)

Note well in these two citations that Cyprian is just as emphatic that the people are shown to be one with Christ by the mixing of bread as he is that they are shown to be one with Christ by the mixing of wine. If Cyprian intended to represent the mixing of water with wine as a uniquely liturgical rite, he should have said that adding water to wine was different than adding water to flour; or that mixing water with wine was different than mixing and grinding of grain. Instead, he insisted that they were just like each other, and in fact he uses the mixing process for bread to support his insistence on the mixing of wine. The fact that he used the nonliturgical mixing of bread to prove the necessity of mixing wine is in itself evidence that he did not consider the mixing of wine to be a liturgical rite. A nonliturgical act can hardly serve as the imperative for a liturgical one. It would make no sense, he thought, to mix one and not the other. Bread is mixed. Therefore, the wine ought to be mixed as well.

If Cyprian had truly been liturgizing the mixing of water and wine, then he must have been liturgizing the grinding and mixing of grain, and the adding of water to flour, too. Obviously, he was doing neither. As was common in the early writings, references to mixing water with wine were allusions to what was a “common drink.” Those references were made in juxtaposition to the making of bread, a “common food.” These were not invocations of a liturgical rite, but descriptions of common agricultural manufacturing processes, highlighting the fact that Jesus had used common agricultural products, appropriately, as figures of His incarnation to become part of creation like us.

That Cyprian was not passing on an apostolic precedent for the later Roman novelty of adding water to wine during the Mass is also evident from the fact that he speaks of correcting the error by insisting repeatedly that wine must be added to water.

Consider first the arguments of Roman Catholic defenders and apologists of the liturgical rite of pouring water into the wine during Mass. They insist that the apostolic rite is to add water:

[W]ater must be added to the wine at the actual celebration of the sacrament.” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 74, Article 8, Reply to Objection 3).

“During the celebration itself, a small quantity of water is to be mixed with it.” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, Chapter III.1 (50))

“The brief rite of pouring water into the wine used for consecration is very ancient.” (Father Edward McNamara, Zenit Roman Catholic News, Why Water and Wine?, June 29, 2004)

“The simple act of pouring water into wine, and the prayer accompanying it, is a synthesis of the whole Mass, of the whole Catholic faith, and of all salvation history.” (Jeffrey Pinyan, Praying the Mass, Mixing the Wine with Water, 2010)

But adding water to the cup was not at all Cyprian’s focus. There was already sufficient water in the cup as it was. He insists, rather, we must add wine. This he states repeatedly:

“the cup which is offered in remembrance of Him should be offered mingled with wine.” (paragraph 2)

“the Lord … offered bread and the cup mixed with wine” (paragraph 4)

“the cup which inebriates is assuredly mingled with wine, for water cannot inebriate anybody. And the cup of the Lord in such wise inebriates…” (paragraph 11)

“[we are] instructed by the Lord to offer the cup of the Lord mingled with wine” (paragraph 17)

In these four places he argues for adding wine to water, and in two other places for adding water to wine (paragraphs 5, 13). Should not Cyprian have argued consistently and dogmatically, in order to convey accurately an apostolic tradition, that the cup of remembrance must be “mingled with water,” and “mixed with water”? If that was his point, his insistence that wine must be added to the water is not a very appropriate way to explain it.

Of course, Cyprian had no apostolic or liturgical rite in mind. His only point was that celebrating the Lord’s Supper with only one ingredient of the wine—water—was as unthinkable as celebrating the Supper with only one ingredient of the bread: “flour alone or water alone” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 13). Since we would not use water alone or flour alone in place of bread, we ought not use either water alone or merum alone in place of wine. It was that simple.

Perhaps the most telling statement comes when Cyprian insists that Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul had “enjoined” us explicitly in the Scriptures to use wine mixed with water. Indeed, Cyprian cites the very passages of Scripture in which we are so “enjoined” to abide by the Lord’s tradition of using a mixed cup, and we agree with him, in his context. After insisting passionately based on Scripture that the color of the liquid in the cup must be red so that “the Lord’s blood may be understood” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 7), Cyprian then argues from Scripture again to prove that Jesus and Paul said that we must use mixed wine and not water alone:

“… teaching by the example of His own authority, that the cup should be mingled with a union of wine and water. For taking the cup on the eve of His passion, He blessed it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Drink all of this; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many, for the remission of sins. I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day in which I shall drink new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father [Matthew 26:28-29].’ ” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 9)

“Moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul, chosen and sent by the Lord, and appointed a preacher of the Gospel truth, lays down these very things in his epistle, saying, ‘The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, This is my body, which shall be given for you: do this in remembrance of me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you shall show forth the Lord’s death until He come [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. ‘ ” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 10)

“But if it is both enjoined by the Lord, and the same thing is confirmed and delivered by His apostle, that as often as we drink, we do in remembrance of the Lord the same thing which the Lord also did, we find that what was commanded is not observed by us, unless we also do what the Lord did; and that mixing the Lord’s cup in like manner we do not depart from the divine teaching;” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 10)

We invite the reader to go back to Cyprian’s two Scriptural citations above and read them slowly, taking time to note the exact point at which the apostles instructed in writing to use mixed wine, for Cyprian was persuaded that these Scriptures proved his case authoritatively.

While our Christian friends are rereading the citations, we invite our Roman Catholic readers to notice something of no small significance: Cyprian invoked apostolic Scriptures as the authoritative source of an apostolic tradition. In other words, Cyprian did not believe he had received any unwritten, oral apostolic instructions on mixing water with the wine during the Lord’s Supper. Rather, he believed that he had received “the Lord’s own tradition” from the Scriptures themselves, based on the original writings of the apostles.

Now that our Christian friends have had a chance to reread Cyprian’s proof texts for an apostolic tradition, we will simply observe what is plainly obvious: in these citations, neither Jesus nor Paul said to mix the wine. Yet Cyprian was convinced that these Scriptures proved his case. Why was Cyprian so emphatic that these Scriptures, which do not mention the mixing of wine, proved his case that Jesus and the apostles taught us to use mixed wine?

The question remains a puzzle only to Roman Catholic apologists and those who do not know the ancient manufacturing process for wine. To Cyprian, and indeed to the whole Mediterranean world of his day, the consumable beverage we call “wine” was not “water alone” but was made of “merum mixed with water,” or “pure wine mixed with water,” or more simply “wine and water.” That was the beverage of feasts and festivals. To Cyprian, the simple fact that Jesus had used “the fruit of the vine” was sufficient proof that He had used mixed wine—because that is simply what wine was back then. Jesus would not have served merum alone at the feast, and He obviously had not served water alone, either. Therefore He had used mixed wine. Cyprian knew it, and the whole Mediterranean world knew it with him: Jesus’ reference to “the fruit of the vine,” and Paul’s recapitulation of it later, proved that Jesus had used “common wine,” and “common wine” was “wine mixed with water.”

Those ignorant of the definition and manufacture of wine at the time of the Early Church, however, are compelled to read into Cyprian something that he would have denied: namely, that he had received an oral tradition in support of something not mentioned in Scripture. He made no such claims. His proof that we must use “wine mixed with water” instead of “water alone” or “wine alone” was based on the simple Scriptural fact that Jesus had used wine. And “wine” was “merum with water”—as commonplace as the mixing of grain, the grinding of grain, the mixing of flour with water, and the baking of bread. Cyprian was unaware of any liturgical obligation, or apostolic rite, of mixing either of them at the Lord’s Table.

Cyprian concludes his Epistle by insisting, “in mixing and offering the cup of the Lord,” we must “keep the truth of the Lord’s tradition” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 19). His rationale? “[T]he cup of the Lord is not indeed water alone, nor wine alone … just as, on the other hand, the body of the Lord cannot be flour alone or water alone” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, paragraph 13). To put a fine point on it, to Cyprian, the mixing of the wine shared a common imperative with the mixing of the bread, and the imperative for mixing the bread was neither liturgical nor ritual. Therefore, the imperative for mixing the wine was not liturgical or ritual, either.

This was not a tradition of mixing the cup at the table, nor a tradition of mixing the bread at the table, but of using common bread and common wine in the Lord’s Supper. He had not invoked an unwritten oral tradition of pouring water into wine, but a Scriptural mandate to use wine, for he knew of the aberration of using water alone for the wine—a practice as silly as if they had been using water alone for the bread. The Scripture did not allow it.

As we proceed in our next section with Aphrahat, we shall find that in a properly prepared feast, the wine was mixed with water before, not during, the feast.

Aphrahat the Persian Sage (280 – 345 A.D.)

Aphrahat made only passing reference to the Lord’s Cup in Demonstration 12, recalling that Jesus “also blessed the wine… ” (Aphrahat of Persia, Demonstrations, Demonstration 12, chapter 6). In Demonstration 6, Aphrahat made the same connection that Cyprian had between the Last Supper and the Marriage Supper, for Jesus promised that He would not drink “this fruit of the vine” again until He drank it with the apostles:

“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)

The beverage at the Marriage Supper will be the same beverage as at the Last Supper. Thus, when Aphrahat depicts the Marriage Supper, he speaks of the Apostles drinking again with Jesus. Quite notably, Aphrahat describes for us what “this fruit of the vine” actually was, for he writes of the water and wine already mixed before Jesus even took His place at the Supper Table. Mixing the wine was part of the preparation for a feast. It was not part of the feast itself:

“The table is laid and the supper prepared. The fatted ox is slain and the cup of redemption mixed. The feast is prepared and the Bridegroom at hand, soon to take his place. The apostles have given the invitation and the called are very many. … The marriage cry is at hand.” (Aphrahat of Persia, Demonstrations, Demonstration 6: On Covenanters, chapter 6)

Jesus had served “fruit of the vine” at the Last Supper, and would serve “this fruit of the vine” again at the Marriage Supper. In making that connection, Aphrahat revealed something about his understanding of the Last Supper: The “fruit of the vine” was a reference to wine, and wine was “merum mixed with water,” or the mixed cup, and the cup was mixed prior to the feast.

Thus, even in the mid-4th century, there was still no evidence of any knowledge of an apostolic tradition of Jesus mixing the cup at the table. “Water mixed with wine” is simply how wine was made, and the wine was mixed prior to the feast. As Roman Catholics well know, the Roman Mass is ostensibly both a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and a foreshadowing of the Marriage Supper (Catholics United for the Faith, The Mass and the Heavenly Wedding Feast). Yet in his depictions of the Supper, Aphrahat was clearly unaware of the institution of a liturgical rite of mixing the wine at the table.

But by the end of the 4th century, the widespread knowledge that “water mixed with merum” was a common drink—as conveyed by Justin, Irenæus, Clement, Cyprian and Aphrahat—was about to be set aside, and something new was going to be introduced. We trace the change to the time of Hilary of Poitiers. In a departure from what three centuries of Christians had known to be true, Hilary insisted that Jesus had turned water into merum at Cana, and that the host and wedding guests had all drunk the merum straight.

Hilary of Poitiers (c. 310 – c. 367 A.D.)

In a sudden change from the prevailing beliefs of the preceding centuries in which it was understood that “mixed wine” was the wedding beverage of choice, Hilary denied that Jesus had made “water” into “water mixed with wine,” and proposed the unthinkable: that Jesus had turned the water into merum. After the miracle, Hilary insisted, there was no more water left in the waterpots at all, and what remained was wine alone without water, which was then served to the wedding guests unmixed:

“On the wedding day in Galilee water was made wine. Have we words to tell or senses to ascertain what methods produced the change by which the tastelessness of water disappeared, and was replaced by the full flavour of wine? It was not a mixing; it was a creation, and a creation which was not a beginning, but a transformation. A weaker liquid was not obtained by admixture of a stronger element; an existing thing perished and a new thing came into being. ” (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book III, chapter 5).

Based on what we know of ancient winemaking, there was not a household in all of Galilee that would have served straight merum to its wedding guests. It simply was not done. Rather, merum was mixed with water in advance of the feast to prepare wine, as Aphrahat correctly depicted, and that is the kind of wine Jesus would have made for them. But Hilary insisted on something that would have been both unfamiliar and impractical in Jesus’ day, and certainly unknown to the earlier writers.

The emergence of an opinion like Hilary’s hardly seems ground shaking, but it was a momentous departure from the understanding of the Early Church, whose writers had objected strenuously to the consumption of unmixed wine. It would not have occurred to them that Jesus had made, and the host then served, merum at the marriage at Cana. Once the concept of serving merum at the table was introduced, the earlier writings of Justin, Irenæus, Clement and Cyprian took on a new, foreign and unintended meaning. Later writers inferred invalidly that the adding of water must have taken place at the table as well. And so began a new belief: that the apostles had arranged for there to be merum at the Last Supper and that Jesus must have added the water to the merum Himself.

It is with Ambrose that the common practice of mixing merum with water to make wine was moved from the kitchen to the dining room.  Thus was born in the late 4th century the Roman liturgical and allegedly “apostolic” rite of adding water to the wine at the altar as part of the Eucharist.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 340 – 397 A.D.)

When teaching new catechumens the history of the liturgy, Ambrose was the first to describe a ritual in which water and wine and bread were brought forward separately to the altar, so that the wine and water could be mixed during the service:

“We said, therefore, that the cup and the bread are set on the altar. What is poured into the cup? Wine. And what else? Water. But thou sayest to me:  ‘How then did Melchizedek offer bread and wine? What means the mixture of water?’ …  the priest touches the cup, the water streams in the cup, springs up into eternal life, and the people of God drink, who have obtained the grace of God.” (Ambrose of Milan, Concerning the Sacraments, Book V, chapter 1, paragraphs 2-3)

No such ritual is found in all the Early Church before the end of the 4th century, and certainly not in the Scriptures. Nor had any writer argued for such a ritual. They had merely argued that Jesus used common wine and common bread as figures for His incarnation—and common wine was “wine mixed with water.”

Ambrose is the first known patristic writer to describe the actual table rite, and it is clear that he had misunderstood his predecessors. He had drawn from Clement’s writings about mixed wine in order to arrive at the new ritual, and argued, as Clement had, that the water in the cup signified the Rock that followed the Jews in the wilderness, the blood signifying Christ’s death. He conveyed the symbolism in Clement’s terms: “For them water flowed from the rock, for thee blood from Christ; the water satisfied them for a season, the blood cleanses thee for ever” (Ambrose of Milan, Concerning the Mysteries, Chapter VIII, paragraph 48). But from this symbolism he inferred something that Clement had not implied: specifically, that the minister of the Lord’s Supper was himself to perform the mixing as part of the rite:

“First of all, what does the type which was prefigured in the time of Moses tell us? That when the people of the Jews thirsted and murmured because they could not find water, God bade Moses touch the rock with his rod. He touched the rock and the rock poured forth a flood of water, as the Apostle says, But they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. It was not an immovable Rock which followed the people. Drink thou also, that Christ may follow thee. Behold the mystery. Moses, that is to say, a prophet; the rod, that is the word of God. The priest touches the rock with the word of God, and the water flows and the people of God drink.” (Ambrose of Milan, Concerning the Sacraments, Book V, chapter 1, paragraph 3)

Additionally, Ambrose was the first to suggest that water was mixed with wine because, after Jesus’ death, “from his side water flowed and blood”  (Ambrose of Milan, Concerning the Sacraments, Book V, chapter 1, paragraph 4). That argument, too, was a novelty. Even Chrysostom of Antioch (349 – 407 A.D.) at the end of the 4th century, was still maintaining that the water from Jesus’ side corresponded to Baptism, the blood corresponding to the Eucharist, not to the mixing of water and wine in the cup (John Chrysostom, Homilies on John, Homily 85 (John 19:31-34)).

Clearly Ambrose had learned something that Justin, Irenæus, Clement, Cyprian, and Aphrahat had neither taught nor received from the apostles, for there is no reference to this ritual in the Scriptures, or the ante-Nicæan and early 4th century Nicæan Church. Ambrose’s description marks the era of the birth of Rome’s liturgical novelty of mixing wine as part of the liturgy.

As we continue in our next installment, we will discover how Ambrose’s late 4th century novelty, coupled with ignorance of the ancient manufacturing process of wine, led to a comical, medieval dispute between the West and the East. The West insisted erroneously that Jesus had mixed His wine at the table (He had not), and the East denied it, insisting instead that Jesus had used straight “merum sine aqua,” merum without water (He had not). Such were the combined fruits of ignorance mixed with the novel late-antique liturgizing of a common agricultural manufacturing process to make it part of the Eucharistic liturgy.

13 thoughts on “The Mingled Cup, part 3”

  1. Thank you Tim for such a thoroughly researched article. There are many things to think about. I do need some clarification on something, though.

    You said “Wine for drinking, therefore, was simply “pure wine” mingled with water. Or, more succinctly, wine was called “wine with water” or “wine and water,” in reference to its two ingredients: “pure wine” (merum) and water.” And “What we call “wine” today, they called “wine and water,” “wine with water,” the “mingled cup” and “mixed wine” or just “wine…“Mixed wine” is simply what “wine” was called.”

    You give references to Christian writers that used these terms, and I can understand it in the Christian setting with all the symbolism used with blood and baptism and wine and water. It would be hard not to see it becoming liturgical. Are there ancient writings in support for non-Christian Mediterranean people calling wine “wine and water” or “mixed wine” or “mingled wine” or was it strictly a Christian custom?

    1. Thank you, DK.

      Yes, referring to “mixed wine” as “wine” and “unmixed wine” or “pure wine” as “wine” was not limited to Christians alone.

      For example, in part 1, I referenced Herodotus’ History, Book VI, and that linguistic imprecision occurs there as well. Herodotus refers to the habit of Spartan Kings having wine sent home to them after a feast:

      “If the kings do not come to the public supper, each of them must have two choenixes of meal and a cotyle of wine sent home to him at his house;” (Herodotus, History, Book VI)

      Notice that he has simply made reference to Spartan “wine.”

      Then when he speaks of the Scyths on an embassy to Sparta, the Scyths introduced drinking unmixed wine:

      “But his own countrymen declare that his madness proceeded not from any supernatural cause whatever, but only from the habit of drinking wine unmixed with water, which he learnt of the Scyths. … They therefore sent ambassadors to Sparta to conclude a league, proposing to endeavour themselves to enter Media by the Phasis, while the Spartans should march inland from Ephesus, and then the two armies should join together in one. When the Scyths came to Sparta on this errand Cleomenes was with them continually; and growing somewhat too familiar, learnt of them to drink his wine without water, a practice which is thought by the Spartans to have caused his madness. From this distance of time the Spartans, according to their own account, have been accustomed, when they want to drink purer wine than common, to give the order to fill “Scythian fashion.” (Herodotus, History, Book VI)

      The significance of the citations is that when speaking of the Spartans, Herodotus simply referred to their beverage as “wine.” But when differentiating the Spartans from the Scyths, Herodotus said the Scyths drink their wine unmixed with water. Thus, the Spartans’ “wine” was actually “wine mixed with water,” and the Scyths’ “wine” was “wine without water,” or “purer wine than common [wine].” Therefore “common wine” was “wine mixed with water,” (also known as “wine,” as Herodotus called it), and “pure wine” or what would become known as merum in Latin was “wine without water” or “wine unmixed with water.”

      Thus, it was not Christians alone who used that language to refer to wine, mixed wine, and unmixed wine.

      Thanks,

      Tim

  2. Thanks for your quick response, Tim.
    I saw your reference to Herodotus and where he made a distinction between common wine which was mixed with water and pure wine which was not. However, he did not actually call wine “wine with water” or “wine and water,” or “mingled wine”, or “mixed cup” like you said above–“Mixed wine” is simply what “wine” was called.” He just called it wine.

    On the other hand, Christians actually called wine “mingled wine” or “mixed cup” or “wine and water” where Herodotus did not. The term he used was simply “wine”. Herodotus makes the distinction in reference to, obviously, the potency or strength of the wine and the alcoholic effects it has on the person drinking it– “thought by the Spartans to have caused Cleomenes’ madness.” The Spartans preferred a wine diluted with water whereas the Scyths preferred theirs undiluted.

    In contrast, the use of “mingled wine” or “mixed cup” or “wine and water” by Christians has a decidedly different connotation in that the water takes on a religious meaning instead of just a description of the wine’s purity. Even though the wine brought in to the service may very well have been manufactured with water, the extra water poured into the wine at the table would be demonstrative of the mingling of Christ’s blood with those baptized. It is not surprising to me that it became liturgical.

    Are there any other ancient writings by non-Christians where they actually called wine “mingled wine” or “mixed cup” or “wine and water” like you said; that “mixed wine” is simply what “wine” was called?

    Thank you–
    DK

    1. DK,

      Yes, there are other ancient writings by non-Christians where they actually called wine “mingled wine.”

      “From the same urn they drink the mingled wine.” (Homer’s “Iliad,” Book III.368)

      You wrote,

      “…the extra water poured into the wine at the table would be demonstrative of the mingling of Christ’s blood with those baptized. It is not surprising to me that it became liturgical.”

      “Would be demonstrative” is very hopeful, but not very sound, reasoning. There was no “extra water poured into the wine at the table.” At least not before the end of the 4th century. As the earliest reference to mixed wine demonstrates (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 65), the wine was mixed before the liturgy, then brought forward already mixed. Irenæus makes no reference to the mixing at the table. Clement makes no reference to mixing at the table. Cyprian makes no reference to mixing at the table. Aphrahat makes no reference to mixing at the table. Then suddenly at the end of the 4th century, there is liturgical mixing at the table. By saying “the extra water poured into the wine at the table” became liturgical, all you have done is presume the antiquity of the rite in order to prove the antiquity of the rite—which is the sum and substance of Rome’s arguments for her own legitimacy.

      What’s missing in your argument is actual “extra water poured into the wine at the table” before the end of the 4th century.

      Best regards,

      Tim

      1. Thanks for the other reference, Tim.
        I seem to have trouble pulling up that quote in context from the Iliad. Is book III considered volume III? Is it line 368 or page 368? Google is kind of confusing. Anyway I can’t find that particular quote, no big deal.

        I did not mean to put you on the defensive. I think we can both agree that there is no direct evidence in Patristic writings of water being poured into the wine at the table. If there had been, Catholic apologists would certainly have quoted it. What I said was it is not surprising to me that IT BECAME liturgical. Maybe the first explicit mention of it was in the 4th century, but that does not mean it couldn’t have started earlier than that. Jesus may very well have done it at the last supper and it didn’t get written down simply because it was so very common that it was not very notable. It was just taken for granted.

        In my opinion, it doesn’t make very good sense for the custom of pouring water into the wine at the table all of a sudden started in the 4th century and the church decided at that time to make it liturgical. I feel it was probably a gradual thing catching on over time as the church began to understand the religious connotations of the action and demonstrated it accordingly.

        Something I have noticed about Scripture is that not everything can be gleaned from it. Scripture mainly answers the questions who, what, when, where, and why. But it doesn’t always answer the question how. It seems the how has been left up to tradition. For instance, nowhere in Scripture does it say exactly how a Sunday service should be conducted. How many hymns should be sung before the sermon? How long should the service last? How should we construct the layout of the sanctuary? Should women sit on one side of the church while the men sit on the other? Is the choir to be located behind the podium, or should it be located behind the congregation in a second floor balcony?Are musical instruments allowed to accompany the choir? Is the choir to be separated from the congregation or is the congregation the choir? How often should we take communion, every Sunday or once a quarter? Should it be given from one cup down infront or is it ok to pass the supper down the aisle on a tray and breaking a piece off the bread and taking a little individual cup? None of these things are spelled out in Scripture, and yet these little things can turn into big things that divide us.

        I guess the point I am trying to make is, why is the pouring or mingling or mixing of water into wine a problem? The Patristic writers really demonstrate some wonderful and beautiful teachings concerning it.

        Thanks–
        DK

        1. Thank you, DK,

          You asked,

          “…why is the pouring or mingling or mixing of water into wine a problem?”

          That is a good question. For some reason, Roman Catholicism believes it is of paramount importance to the salvation of souls:

          “The holy Synod notices, in the next place, that it has been enjoined by the Church on priests, to mix water with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice; as well because it is believed that Christ the Lord did this, as also because from His side there came out blood and water; the memory of which mystery is renewed by this commixture; and, whereas in the apocalypse of blessed John, the peoples are called waters, the union of that faithful people with Christ their head is hereby represented.” (Council of Trent, 22nd Session, Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, Chapter VII On the water that is to be mixed with the wine to be offered in the chalice)

          The Canons anathematize anyone who does not agree.

          The question before us is one of truth, knowledge and revelation. The doctrine is imposed on a whim: “it is believed that Christ the Lord did this”. What is the proof? There is none. The best Roman Catholicism can do is impose on Christ and the apostles a rite for which there is no evidence until the end of the 4th century.

          You observed,

          “Maybe the first explicit mention of it was in the 4th century, but that does not mean it couldn’t have started earlier than that.”

          That statement right there is foundation upon which all of Roman Catholicism is built. Mingling water with wine is just one of the many doctrines, practices and beliefs of Roman Catholicism that is alleged to be apostolic, but for which the evidence is lacking until the end of the 4th century.

          You also stated,

          “In my opinion, it doesn’t make very good sense for the custom of pouring water into the wine at the table all of a sudden started in the 4th century and the church decided at that time to make it liturgical. I feel it was probably a gradual thing catching on over time as the church began to understand the religious connotations of the action and demonstrated it accordingly.”

          That statement right there is the apology for all of Roman Catholicism. There are so many many doctrines, practices and beliefs of Roman Catholicism that are alleged to be apostolic, but for which there is no evidence until the end of the 4th century, that all manner of sophistry is employed to make the puzzle fit. In the end, Roman Catholicism is left (as you are) with the presumption of continuity as proof of continuity. Cardinal Newman used that exact approach in his Development of Christian Doctrine:

          “It is not a violent assumption, then, but rather mere abstinence from the wanton admission of a principle which would necessarily lead to the most vexatious and preposterous scepticism, to take it for granted, before proof to the contrary, that the Christianity of the second, fourth, seventh, twelfth, sixteenth, and intermediate centuries is in its substance the very religion which Christ and His Apostles taught in the first, whatever may be the modifications for good or for evil which lapse of years, or the vicissitudes of human affairs, have impressed upon it.”

          To him, it was axiomatic that Roman Catholicism was the apostolic Church of Christ, and it was offensive to be required to prove it. And from that axiom, Newman concluded that the Roman Church of the 19th century was in fact the very religion which Christ and His Apostles taught in the first. It is true, I grant him, the sudden emergence of Romanism at the end of the 4th century “would necessarily lead to the most vexatious and preposterous scepticism” about the very nature of the origins of Roman Catholicism itself. Thus, that sudden, stepwise 4th century emergence must be papered over and swept under the rug under the banner of an alleged, imagined continuity for which there is no proof.

          In any case, there is a much simpler explanation for the sudden emergence of Roman Catholicism at the end of the 4th century. The 4th Empire of Daniel’s visions had been fragmented, and from among those fragments would emerge the most nefarious antagonist of Christianity ever to arise upon the earth (Daniel 7:20-21). That antagonist is Roman Catholicism, and it emerged right on time, according to Daniel’s vision. To a Roman Catholic, of course, “it doesn’t make very good sense for the custom of pouring water into the wine at the table all of a sudden started in the 4th century.” It doesn’t make very good sense that so much of what Rome holds to be indispensable to Christianity, was foreign to the early church, but started at the end of the 4th. That is because a Roman Catholic assumes axiomatically that Roman Catholicism is the true church. That is the strong delusion that God send upon the earth (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Laboring under that delusion, the Roman apologist is left with your reasoning to justify his religion:

          “I feel it was probably a gradual thing catching on over time ….”

          In substance, there is no difference between your statement, and Cardinal Newman’s. And yet Rome has anathematized people based on that “feeling.”

          Thanks for your thoughts,

          Tim

          1. Thanks, Tim.
            You have given so much more to think about.
            Are you saying that making the mixing of water and wine into a liturgical rite to demonstrate “because it is believed that Christ the Lord did this, as also because from His side there came out blood and water; the memory of which mystery is renewed by this commixture; and, whereas in the apocalypse of blessed John, the peoples are called waters, the union of that faithful people with Christ their head is hereby represented” is antagonistic? I look at it as a part of “do this in remembrance of me”. How can that be antagonistic?

            Please don’t give up on me, Tim. I am just having a hard time understanding your line of thinking.
            Thank you,
            DK

          2. DK, no, I have no recollection of saying that was antagonistic. Not sure how you got that out of it.

            Best,

            Tim

  3. The writings of Justin Martyr state that Communion was administered to the newly baptized….. ( beginning of 2d century)…. On the table was the Cup, Consecrated Bread, and -water-………I have seen at least 4 or 5 different views on divorce and remarriage… All on various Christian sites, publications etc….All claim to be the exact Biblical doctrine..

    1. Allan,

      I believe you are referring to Justin Martyr’s First Apology, paragraph 65, the relevant portion of which is provided here for your benefit:

      “But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water;”

      There is no mention of water being present separately on the table. It is already in the cup with the wine when it is brought forward.

      Perhaps you are referring to paragraph 67, which says, “bread and wine and water are brought” to the president. But as Justin said two chapters earlier, the “wine and water” refers to the mixed contents of the cup, since “wine and water” is simply what “mixed wine” was called.

      If you have a different reference that I have overlooked, please let me know. Can you find a reference to water being separately on the table before the end of the 4th century? I ask because it seems to me that there ought to be an ancient pedigree for such an important rite, but as is often the case with Roman Catholicism, they cannot trace their origins earlier than the late 4th century, and I am unwilling to leave the apostolic religion of Christ for such a novel religion as Roman Catholicism.

      Thanks,

      Tim

    2. Allan, thank you again for your response. (It came to my e-mail inbox, instead of through the com box, so I will merely paste it here):

      Thank you very much for the rapid response,sir! The booklet in front of me is entitled, “Shepherds Notes, The Writings of Justin Martyr”…. Page #22 states the newly baptized received for the first time, the wine, and the water and the bread..All separate as it seems by the and,juncture stated twice…The first century catacombs did have fish and crosses painted on them in a primitive fashion. Was such symbolism, heretical? Also, the ” Ancient Churches of the East had an Agape bread distribution at the end of liturgy.. This was a memorial and might be the mixed wine and water distributed with bread by the President…… The Mormons declared the Church went completely heretical right away……….The gate’s of hell would have prevailed that way of thinking… Apostle Mark went to. Africa, Apostle Thomas tower. India, Apostle Andrew to Byzantium… So all wasn’t Rome oriented…… There is an expression “throwing the baby out with the bath water”……. Some Protestant Churches insist on one cup for Communion, not small plastics… Anyways thanks for providing information

      You are very welcome. The section from which you are reading in Shepherd’s Notes is the editor’s summary of Justin, not Justin’s actual words, although it appears that the editor’s words are not precisely the way you quoted them. The editor wrote,

      “…following baptism, in the presence of the church and the witnesses, when the newly baptized received for the first time the wine and water and the bread. A prayer was said for the new members and Christians all over the world…”

      You wrote, “the newly baptized received for the first time, the wine, and the water and the bread.” Would you mind double-checking to see if your edition has the extra “the” in it? Mine does not. In any case, the newly baptized certainly did receive “wine and water”. As Justin said, the wine and water were already mixed in the cup when the cup was brought forward: “There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water;”. That is the cup that was distributed. No mixing took place at the table.

      You also wrote that there was “an Agape bread distribution at the end of liturgy” which “might be the mixed wine and water distributed with bread by the President.”

      The problem with your statement is that Justin said the wine and water was already mixed when it was brought to the person presiding over the liturgy. Therefore, there was no early rite in which the “president” mixed the water and wine at the table.

      In any case, I do not believe the church was heretical right away. The great apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3) took place at the end of the 4th century. That’s why so many Roman Catholic teachings cannot be traced any earlier than that.

      Thanks so much for your comments.

      Tim

  4. DK, you wrote:

    “Something I have noticed about Scripture is that not everything can be gleaned from it. Scripture mainly answers the questions who, what, when, where, and why. But it doesn’t always answer the question how. It seems the how has been left up to tradition….Are musical instruments allowed to accompany the choir?…Should it be given from one cup down infront or is it ok to pass the supper down the aisle on a tray and breaking a piece off the bread and taking a little individual cup? None of these things are spelled out in Scripture, and yet these little things can turn into big things that divide us.”

    I think you might be here referring to circumstances of worship vs. those things which are established biblical doctrine and forms of worship.

    Our Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) states:

    “VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] ***and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[14]***

    VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:[15] yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.[16]”

    I highlighted two of your “how” points above. One in reference to how are instruments used in worship, and how to serve wine/bread at the Lord’s table in a common cup or individual cups. I will share a couple links to some discussion on these two points from a reformed perspective that might be of helpful review and study to see as we would not view them as purely circumstantial but rather points of doctrine and worship. I hope you find them helpful in your research.

    http://www.reformedpresbytery.org/books/comncup/comncup.htm

    https://rpcottawa.org/uploads/articles/Instrumental_Music_in_the_Public_Worship_of_the_Church–Girardeau.pdf

    “INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN THE PUBLIC WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH. By John L. Girardeau, D. D., LL.D., Professor in Columbia Theological Seminary, South Carolina. Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson. 1888. The Presbyterian Quarterly, July 1889.

    The author in his eloquent conclusion anticipates that some will meet his arguments with sneers rather than serious discussion, which he proposes to endure with Christian composure. It is a reproach to our church, which fills us with grief, to find this prediction fulfilled in some quarters. Surely persons calling themselves Presbyterians should remember that the truths they profess to hold sacred have usually been in small minorities sneered at by the arrogant majorities. So it was in the days of the Reformers, of Athanasius, of the Apostles, and of Jesus himself.

    The resort to this species of reply appears the more ill-considered, when we remember that Dr. Girardeau is supporting the identical position held by all the early fathers, by all the Presbyterian reformers, by a Chalmers, a Mason, a Breckinridge, a Thornwell, and by a Spurgeon. Why is not the position as respectable in our author as in all this noble galaxy of true Presbyterians? Will the innovators claim that all these great men are so inferior to themselves? The ideal seems to be that the opposition of all these great men to organs arose simply out of their ignorant old-fogyism and lack of culture; while our advocacy of the change is the result of our superior intelligence, learning and refinement. The ignorance of this overweening conceit makes it simply vulgar. These great men surpassed all who have succeeded them in elegant classical scholarship, in logical ability, and in theological learning. Their deprecators should know that they surpassed them just as far in all elegant culture. The era of the Reformation was the Augustan age of church art in architecture, painting and music. These reformed divines were graduates of the first Universities, most of them gentlemen by birth, many of them noblemen, denizens of courts, of elegant accomplishments and manners, not a few of them exquisite poets and musicians. But they unanimously rejected the Popish Church music; not because they were fusty old pedants without taste, but because a refined taste concurred with their learning and logic to condemn it.”

    https://www.naphtali.com/articles/worship/dabney-review-of-girardeau-instrumental-music/

    Lastly, as I read your dialogue with Tim the one thing that came to mind as a former Roman Catholic was the doctrine of implicit faith in the church that I had to overcome. I think what Tim does here is attempts to document thoroughly history of the early church tradition and the Roman Catholic tradition. He then seeks to compare each to Scripture using the “literal sense” interpretation method as best as possible.

    The reader can than judge for themselves if his source quotes are accurate and his interpretation of those quotes are the true intended meaning (e.g., literal sense) of the author. You may disagree with his interpretation of the early fathers writings, but it is difficult to argue his quotes are not accurate. I see many Roman Catholics drop in to disagree with the sources and usually leave after they have been convinced they sources are not accurate or twisted by either Roman apologists or entirely misquoted to promote an agenda.

    Hang in there!

  5. DK, here is another historical reference that might be helpful on the mode of worship and why instruments were not commonly used by the Early Church fathers. I quote from the reference below if you don’t have a chance to read it.

    “Whence then originated the practice of having organs in the worship of GOD, under the gospel dispensation? It’s origin does the advocates of instrumental music in sacred song very little credit; for Decormenin in his lives of the Popes, (himself a Romanist,) says, “in the year A. D. 600, Pope Vitalian introduced into the churches the use of organs to augment the eclat of religious ceremonies.”

    “3. It is contrary to the practice of the primitive Christians and early fathers, as church history teaches.

    In examining the evidence of the primitive Christians, it will be necessary, for the satisfaction of all parties, to refer to the fellow-laborers of the Apostles, known to church historians by the name of the Apostolic Fathers. They are five in number: Barnabas, Clement, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp.

    They must have been well acquainted with the manner of worshiping GOD, by the professors of religion in their day, and it cannot be doubted that they were all in existence long before the Council of Nice, whilst some of them, with the greatest probability, may be referred to a point of time, within the first century after our LORD’s death, or even after his birth.

    We shall not take up time to examine each of them, but observe that in the Epistle of Barnabas, written about the close of the first century, or certainly before the middle of the second, he says in relation to a Christian’s guidance in worship, and it is in reference to praise that he is speaking: “Thou shalt preserve what thou hast received, neither adding thereto, nor taking therefrom.” Now the worshipers in those days had received from the Apostles the command to sing psalms: “Is any merry?” says James, “let him sing Psalms.” “Singing and make melody in your heart to the LORD.”

    Clement had seen the Apostles and conversed with them, and had still the sound of their preaching in his ears and their tradition before his eyes, as Eusebius says. The Apostle Paul mentions him in the fourth chapter and fifth verse of his Epistle to the Philippians, and many of the Romanists claim him as the second bishop of Rome. Not a word have we from him respecting a departure from the example of CHRIST and His Apostles, in the manner of praising GOD, “Let us approach him in holiness of soul, lifting up holy and undefiled trends towards Him,” says he.

    Ignatius was valiant for the honor of GOD, and set the seal of his blood to the truth he proclaimed, about seventy years after the death of our LORD. A careful investigation of his literary remains brings to light no single trace of adding instrumental music to the matter of sacred song in the worship of the Church at Antioch, where he ministered for a length of time.

    Next to him comes to our notice the venerable Polycarp, who suffered martyrdom at a very advanced age in Smyrna, about one hundred and thirty years after our LORD’s death. A little before his death he offered his Thanksgiving to GOD, for His mercy in redeeming him. “For this and for all I praise Thee; I glorify Thee through the Eternal High Priest JESUS CHRIST and LORD!” There is no trace of any deviation from the footsteps of the flock in the manner of praise with him.

    These Fathers, living nearest to, and some of them in the time of the Apostles, often conversed with them, and leave us no room to think that in the slightest degree they deviated from the example of CHRIST and his Apostles, in the manner of presenting the offering of praise to GOD. They were the disciples or successors of the Apostles, and well acquainted with the doctrine, worship, and government of the Church; and used no instrumental music that we hear of in the praise of GOD.

    Their example brings us past the middle of the second century, to the time of Justin Martyr, who was born in Palestine, of heathen parents, about the close of the first century. He examined the evidences of Christianity, and by GOD’s blessing was brought to embrace the precious truth. Here we begin to have more specific evidence, for in his Book of Questions and Answers, to Jews and Gentiles, we have a distinct reference to sacred song, where he gives this answer: “Plain singing is not childish, but only the singing with lifeless organs, with dancing and cymbals, etc. Whence (says he) the use of such instruments and other things fit for children is laid aside, and plain singing only retained.” Now the evidence of such a man on the doctrine and manner of worship, must be received with great interest, he utterly rejects the idea of the addition of instrumental music in the worship of GOD. This good man sealed his testimony with his blood about A. D. 165.

    Again we have the testimony of Cement of Alexandria, a celebrated Christian Philosopher, he flourished about A. D. 190. He declares that musical instruments in the worship of GOD are unfit for rational creatures. “Keeping the whole of our life as a feast, every where and in every part persuaded that GOD is present: we praise him as we till our lands; we sing psalms as we are sailing; the Christian is persuaded that GOD hears every thing, not the voice only but the thoughts.”

    Tertullian, a contemporary of Clement, states in his well known piece entitled, “De Corona,” that while the people were assembling, they were in the practice of singing some verses out of the psalms or hymns of David.

    The evidence of the third century gives no examples of instrumental music in the worship of GOD. Origin, the great scholar and commentator, lived and wrote in the second century and early part of the third, he says, “hymns or psalms are sung (not played on an organ) to GOD, and the only begotten.”

    The evidence of the fourth century gives no encouragement to the use of musical instruments in sacred song.

    Augustine, born about A. D. 354, in his famous work “De Civitate Dei,” bears testimony to the frequent use of what he calls “Davidic um psalterium,” and after expressing a fear that he had too often enjoyed the singing simply is a gratification to his ears, and mentioning a like fear on the part of Athanasius, (who flourished about A. D. 350,) yet approves the practice, and his words deserve notice, as skewing the general usage at the time, in the service of GOD.

    Basil, a Christian Father, born about the year A. D. 328, acquired the name of the Great, in contradistinction to the multitude of bishops and pastors of the same name who succeeded him. He is often appealed to tamer the title of the Great Teacher of the Truth. His declaration is “that he thought musical instruments unprofitable and hurtful in the service of sacred song.” He calls them the inventions of Jubal, of the race of Cain. At page 955 of one of his works, he says: “In such vain acts as the playing on the harps or pipe, as soon as the action ceases, the work itself vanishes, so that really, according to the Apostle’s expression, the end of those things is destruction.”

    And again at page 951 he says: Laban was a lover of the harp and of music, with which he would have sent away Jacob—”if thou hadst told me, I would have sent thee away with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp. But the patriarch (says he) avoided that music as a thing that would hinder his regarding the work of the LORD, and his considering the works of His hands.” This is a long extract, but coming from such a great Teacher of Truth, it strengthens the evidence of the early Fathers against the unscriptural innovation of instrumental music in the worship of GOD.

    Before leaving this century, we refer you to the great ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, born about A. D. 270 flourished in the end of the third and beginning of this century, he was bishop or pastor of Caesarea in Palestine. He was a man of brilliant talents and extensive scholarship, he had ample means of knowing the practice of the church in regard to sacred song. He refers to the celebrated correspondence between Pliny, the Roman Governor of Bithynia, and Trajan, the Emperor.

    Trajan, though by nature lenient, was a firm upholder of the Roman government and Roman gods. He renewed the old laws against secret assemblies, and thus put into the hands of persecuting governors a weapon that they freely used against the christians. Hence, says Eusebius, multitudes were put to death for their faith. Pliny abhorred the bloody work to which he was called as governor, and sent a letter (still extant) to Trajan asking advice, he states in it what he knows from the confession of christians concerning their mode of social worship, he says “that they rose before light and sung by tunes a hymn or psalm to CHRIST as to GOD.” The great historian goes on to say that in the year A. D. 265, Paul, a pastor of the church at Samasota, was condemned and excommunicated for his heresies, by an ecclesiastical council held at Antioch. Amongst the charges brought against him, it is said “he stopped the psalms that were sung in the honor of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. These testimonies go to show, beyond all doubt, that singing (not playing on an instrument) was a part of divine worship on the Sabbath day, when the congregation assembled in the House of GOD.

    The evidence of the fifth century makes nothing more for the pro-organ men than any of the preceding ones already examined. Chrysostom, born at Antioch, about 354, calls David the hymn-writer, and states that psalms were sung on LORD’s days, according to a custom handed down from the Fathers. He expresses his dislike of organs in public worship, and says in expounding the hundred and forty-ninth psalm: “But now, instead of organs, Christians must use the body to praise GOD.” Jerome flourished in this century, and in his remarks on Ephesians 5:19, he speaks of the matter of the song employed in divine worship, but makes no allusion to musical instruments as necessary to give it greater effect. “Ore tantum verba Dei resonemus.” We sing only the word of GOD.

    Isidore, of Pelusium, was another renowned man. He died about A. D. 450. He says that instrumental music was only allowed to the Jews by the Almighty in a way of condescension to their childishness. In book second and epistle 176, he says, “if GOD bore with bloody sacrifices because of men’s childishness at that time, why should you wonder he bore with the music of a harp and a psaltry?”

    We have thus examined the leading writers and fathers of five centuries, and find not one solitary expression to encourage pro-organ men to introduce an innovation in the worship of GOD. It is then contrary to the general usage of the people of GOD, for hundreds of year a after the incarnation of the Blessed Redeemer, and must under this dispensation, be altogether unscriptural, and consequently unwarranted.

    I take an extract from the “Apostolic Constitutions.” Dr. Murdock says in a note in Mosheim’s Church History, “they are of considerable use in determining various points of practice in the church during the third, fourth and fifth centuries. And Rev. Professor Eadie, of Scotland, says they are supposed to have been compiled in the Eastern or Greek Church, in the latter part of the third or the beginning of the fourth century. And as describing the discipline and practice of the church in the East, they are of some value. In book eighth and chapter 32, it is said, “if any come to the mystery of godliness, being a player on a pipe, a lute, or a harp, let him leave it off or be rejected.”

    The Homilies of the Church of England, too, condemn the practice of instruments in the worship of the sanctuary, at an early period, for it is said in one of them: “Alas! gossip, what shall we now do at church, since all the saints are taken away? since all the goodly sights we were wont to have are gone? since we cannot hear the like playing upon the organs as we could before? But, dearly beloved, we ought greatly to rejoice and give thanks that our churches are delivered from all these things which displeased GOD so sore, and filthily defiled His holy house, and His place of prayer.”

    In connection with this I may add (though I am anticipating my subject,) that many of the ministers of the Church of England, in the first convention of Queen Elizabeth, in 1562, earnestly labored to have organs and that pompous way of singing laid aside, and failed to carry it only by one vote.

    But to return to the sixth and seventh centuries; it may be observed that there is little said on the subject of instrumental music, by the writers in those periods. Corruption in the worship of GOD was beginning to set in, and the number of faithful protesting witnesses was gradually decreasing. An unscriptural innovation in divine ordinances had no very strong nor lengthened opposition to contend with. Yet still it came only by degrees. Neander is about the best ecclesiastical authority on this subject, and he says it was not until the eighth century that the idea was entertained to any great extent.

    Whence then originated the practice of having organs in the worship of GOD, under the gospel dispensation? It’s origin does the advocates of instrumental music in sacred song very little credit; for Decormenin in his lives of the Popes, (himself a Romanist,) says, “in the year A. D. 600, Pope Vitalian introduced into the churches the use of organs to augment the eclat of religious ceremonies.”

    Cardinal Bellarmin, born in 1542, corroborates the statement. He says the second ceremony are the musical instruments that began to be used at the above date. Rev. Dr. Vinton, of Trinity Church, New York, testifies to the same thing, in his lecture on music in the Musical Pioneer; and further states that in the dark times of the middle ages, the monks and friars gave great attention to the art of organ building. Let the advocates of the organ, then, give this statement due consideration; for when the gospel was first corrupted, and then lost amidst the dark days of Romish apostacy, the poor blinded monks and friars must have a substitute, and they gave great attention to the art of organ building, instead of the preaching of the gospel, the cultivation of personal holiness, and the practical exhibition of it amongst their hearers. Their piety was gone, if they ever had any, and their hearts were unaffected and unchanged. The itching ears of the people, the ignorant masses, however, must be tickled, and hence organs were built and used. But listen to the terrible denunciations of heaven against all such innovations and corrupting unscriptural practices: “Woe to them that chant to the sound of the viol and invent to themselves instruments of music like David.”—Amos sixth chapter and fifth verse.”

    http://www.covenanter.org/reformed/2015/7/27/robert-johnsons-pamphlet-a-discourse-on-instrumental-music-in-public-worship

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