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3. Of the Frequency of Sermons

Antiquities of the Christian Church
XII. Of homilies

3. Of the Frequency of Sermons

It has already been stated that the sermon consisted originally in an explanation and application of the scripture lesson which had just been read. Sermons were therefore, as a general rule, as frequent as the reading of the Scriptures. If, in any instance, a sermon was delivered without any foregoing lesson from the Scriptures, it was an exception to the general rule. In some cases, several sermons were delivered by different speakers in succession at the same meeting. At other times, several were delivered by the same speaker on the same day. Sermons were an appropriate part of every form of public worship, but they were especially designed for the catechumen; and for this reason were a part of the services designed for them. The frequency with which they were delivered varied greatly in different countries and dioceses. They were expected of course on the sabbath, frequently on Saturday; i.e. both on the Jewish and christian sabbath, especially whilst both days were observed in connection. A sermon was also essential to a due celebration of the festivals of the church.

During the fifty festive days from Easter to Whitsunday, a sermon from the Acts of the Apostles was delivered each day, in the Oriental churches; and also on each day of Lent. Afterwards they became less frequent, but were still delivered on fast days. On other occasions they were delivered in the afternoon. A sermon was also delivered at some time during the middle of the week; usually on Friday. Instances also occur in the writings of the fathers, of sermons for the forenoon and for afternoon. But it does not appear to have been a uniform arrangement. No better evidence of the consideration in which this part of religious worship was held can be given, than the fact that Julian the apostate, in his endeavors to restore idolatry, recommended the pagan priests to imitate the christian preachers by delivering similar discourses.

Gaudentius Tract, v.: Augustin Tr. in Ps. 86.

Apost. Constit. lib. ii. c. 57: Concil. Laodic. c. 19: Concil. Aurelian. c. 3: Augustin. Sernj. 237: De Tern. Serm. 49.

Basil. M. in hexaem. Hom. 2,9: Chryost. Hom. x. in Gen: Hom. 9. et 10. ad Antiochen: Socrat. h. e. lib. v. c. 21,


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