Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The persecution of the Molokan Christians at the Orthodox Russia since 17th c. /
Οι διωγμοί των Μολοκάνων Χριστιανών στην Ορθόδοξη Ρωσία του 17ου αι.


The Evidence of their Confession of Faith

In Geneva in 1865 was printed in Russian a manual of this Sect called "The Confession of Faith of the spiritual Christians called Molokanye.' It is an account of the Sect by its own members, and having been written in 1862 deserves to be summarized.

"Before we begin to set forth our confession of faith, we have wished to refute certain false impressions that exist about us and to clear ourselves of the baseless calumnies circulated against us, chiefly by the Greco-Russian clergy."

"They tax us with being innovators, with having invented some sort of new confession, and they even call us renegades from Christianity."

"In justification of ourselves we answer that even if our faith were a novelty, that can be no sufficient cause of reprehension; for the excellence of a faith is measured not by its antiquity, but by its truth. Christ's own teaching was not revealed prior to all other creeds; it is new by comparison, for example, with Chinese, Indian, Greek and many others, and yet no one hesitates to give it a preference over these, and the preference is assigned not on the score of its antiquity, but because it is true teaching."

"If anyone is to be accused of arbitrary innovations, it is not us, but the Greco-Russian Church, since it has introduced many alterations in Christ's teaching, whereas we strictly observe holy writ; and when we abandoned that communion, far from creating any new faith whatever for ourselves, we reverted to the pure Christian doctrine, far older than that of the said Church and — what is capital — truer, for it was from God and consequently comprised in itself all truth."

"As regards our being renegades from the teaching of that Church, or what is the same thing, as regards the revival in Russia of true Christian worship, we have preserved among us the following tradition. During the reign of Tsar Ivan Vasilevich the Terrible, a certain English physician was called to the court of Moscow; they regarded him in the capital, such was the temper of the age and the savagery of the people, as Antichrist, proclaiming him accursed and barring him out of their houses and homes. Of his family there remains no trace in tradition, but by some chance he had formed an acquaintance with a well known proprietor of Tambov who was then at court. Enjoying his hospitality, and also finding him to be a lover of holy Scripture, he conversed much with him about the Bible, which was at that time in Russia a book forbidden to anyone who was not a member of the higher clergy. This proprietor had a favourite servant, a man of intelligence and reflection, a certain Matthew Semenov, who grasped Biblical truth more quickly than his master, and therefore without delay conceived a contempt for the rites of the Greco-Russian Church and for prostrations to ikons; having procured a Slav Bible, he began to instil into his neighbours the unadultered truth about the worship of God in spirit and in truth. Now in those times it was very dangerous, nay almost wholly impossible not only to utter, but even to conceive anything in opposition of the Church. Consequently Matthew's abandonment of it was no sooner noticed, in particular his refusal to prostrate himself to ikons, than he was denounced to the ecclesiastical authorities, and the unfortunate, but true worshipper of God was sentenced to death and broken on the wheel."

"Some of the martyr's disciples, peasants of the aforesaid proprietor, on their arrival at their birthplace in the Government of Tambov, began with the help of the Bible they had brought with them quietly to propagate the worship of God in spirit and in truth. A considerable number of people followed their teaching in different villages; but the teachers themselves,— such was the rigour and unbridled power of the clergy in those days — were quickly discovered, handed over
to the tribunals and cruelly knouted by the hangmen, after which they were sent for ever to prison with hard labour."

"Their followers did not cease in secret to propagate their teaching; but the common people, failing to comprehend the truth and sometimes surprising them when they were bowing during their religious services to persons in their chambers, took it into their heads that they were bowing to chinks, and so nicknamed them the Chinkers. The clergy went to work more intelligently, and observing that during Lent, they always partook of milk which is then forbidden, nicknamed them Molokanye (from moloko — milk)."

"The teaching was spread from the Tambov Government by Semen Uklein to the Voronezh Government, to the Mikhailovsky Cossack settlement on the Don and to the Saratov Government, for which cause the adherents of the doctrine were in these localities for a long time known as Semenovtsy; by Isaiah Ivanov Krylov to the line of the Caucasus and across the Volga; by Peter Dementev to the Governments of Nizhegorod and Vladimir; by Moses the Dalmatian to that of Ryazan. Many of their successors in these places were delated by the clergy and haled before the courts, many of them punished and exiled either to Siberia or the Caucasus or the Tauric Chersonese. By these martyrs for the truth, the true Christian doctrine was diffused in those regions."

"Meanwhile some of its adherents conceived it to be superfluous to read the Bible and determine Faith by what is written in it; they separated off from the Spiritual Christians or Molokanye, and formed a separate sect, who were known as Dukhobortsy. Others considered it best to fulfil the Mosaic law alone, and they do not read the New Testament, and feast, not Sunday, but the Sabbath, for which reason they were called Sabbatarians."

Here we pause, to ask what is the value of the account here given by the Molokanye of their origin, and in particular of their statement that a Matthew Semenov, servant of a proprietor of Tambov, first sowed the seed from which they are sprung in the reign of Ivan the Terrible. As we note below (p. 305) the historian Kostomarov identifies him with a Matthew Semenovitch Bashkin who in 1553-4 was tried and condemned by a council of bishops in Moscow for heresy. Nicholas Kostomarov, however, in his Historical Monographs, Petersburg, 1863, p. 454, caste legitimate doubts on his heresy. He relates the trial from contemporary documents and shows that there was nothing to incriminate Bashkin save his own confession extorted by fear and agony of the rack. He was accused of denying the Church and its sacraments, because he taught that the Church is the union of the Faithful and not a mere building of brick and stone. But this is an orthodox opinion, though so often put forward by Armenian Dissenters (See Key of Truth, Introduction p. clxiv) and by European Cathars. He was accused of slighting the Son and the Holy Spirit, because in prison he wrote a prayer addressed to our Father in Heaven. The same heresy attaches to the Lord's prayer. Also of denying the Sacrament of penance, and yet what led to his trial was the circumstance that he went to confess to a priest and disclosed to him that he took the Sermon on the Mount as his rule of life, had therefore emancipated his serfs, and held that other slave owners ought to do the same.

It was no doubt such opinions as these that got him into trouble, and they may have survived him. The Molokan statement that the Church withheld the Scriptures from the people and that Bashkin put them into their hands needs qualification. Copies even of the New Testament were in Russia rare in that epoch and to be had in manuscript only. It reminds one of the similar accusation, equally vain, brought by Lutherans and Protestants against the Latin Church.

In the rest of their manifesto the Molokanye point out that in their preaching they rely solely on the Bible, wherefore their tenets are not vain imaginings and dreams, nor rightly esteemed pernicious by the Government, whose action they attribute to the ill will of the clergy which spares no calumnies in order to blacken them and make out that they are enemies of public order and tranquillity. They are specially accused of not respecting the Tsar and the powers which be, of concealing fugutivee and of manufacturing false passports and money.

As to the last accusation they do not deny that in their ranks may be found swindlers and wrongdoers, but they point out that they are also met with in other confessions in as large a proportion. But their religion, far from encouraging such forme of villainy, is based on Christ's teaching which condemns all sorts of lying and deceit. They admit furthermore that in the past when their brethren were exposed to persecution for their steadfastness in the true faith, they concealed their martyrs and put them out of danger; but they never hid criminals and rogues, nor do so now. On the contrary they follow the Apostle's precept (Peter ii, 13-14) and obey the Powers which be. In matters of faith, however, they submit to the Lord God alone. In particular they revere Alexander II as an inspired monarch, sent from God to heal old wounds inflicted formerly on the confessors of their faith and later on themselves. The accession of this Tsar, they say, inaugurated a new era for themselves and for all Russia. War was stopped, and the peasants were emancipated from the yoke of a sinful serfdom which contradicted the will of God who created all men in his image and likeness, equals and brethren. Their own families had been liberated from recruiting and formed into a guild with provisional laws; their wives and children were legitimized, where before they were held illegitimate; by the laws of 1858 they were freed from all interference on the part of the Greco-Russian popes with their religion; finally by the circular addressed to functionaries in 1861 they were no longer prevented from sending their children to any schools they liked. The while they hail these reforms with gratitude, they yet complain that the Law subjects them to certain disabilities not inflicted on other subjects of the Tsar, and they gave the following instances.

In common with all who do not belong to the orthodox Church, they are subject to a statute of 1857, No. 82, to the effect that all Judaizing sects, Skoptsy, Molokanye, Dukhobortsy and members also of the priestless Raskol, who neither pray for the Tsar nor accept marriage, and are therefore to be reckoned peculiarly noxious, are forbidden to receive into their families under any pretext whatever persons of the orthodox persuasion.

By Statute 83 they are forbidden on any pretext whatever to have in their houses, fabrics or institutions orthodox persons as servants or workmen; nor are Molokanye in their turn to enter theirs. The police are charged to see to the carrying out of this law and for violation of it to inflict the penalties laid down in Statute 307, Ulozhenie. A note or gloss on this Statute 83 excepts orthodox persons, original inhabitants of the Trans-Caucasus, from its operation, and it is only Molokanye who are forbidden to receive the orthodox Russian inhabitants, to live with them or be their servants. By Statute 84 local authorities, so far as possible, are to prevent Judaisers from holding intercourse with the orthodox, and to that end are to refuse to any infected with the heresy passports allowing them to remove to other districts. This restriction applies equally to Skoptsy.

In the circular of the Minister of the Interior of January 25, 1836, officials were warned not to grant passports to Molokanye lest they should change their places of residence; and in another of January 23, 1839, it was stated that "inasmuch as certain Molokanye and Dukhobortsy of the Tauric Government possessed lands, the Governor of Novorossiisk and the General Governor of Bessarabia sought advice on the point whether members of these sects could own land acquired by purchase or otherwise. The matter was referred to the Emperor who gave instructions: (1) that by a regulation issued January 17, 1836, it was laid down that Molokanye were not to have orthodox persons in their houses, etc., nor to be given passports; (2) that, since passports are necessary for removal to any distance exceeding 30 versts (a verst = a kilometer), in order to impede the diffusion of noxious heresy, the adherents of these two sects shall not be left in possession of lands situated more than 30 versts from their residences, nor of any that lie in more than one circumscription or Uyezd. Accordingly on February 17, 1839, officials of Governments in which these sectaries live were secretly instructed to adopt the above rule as their guide in future, but those already owning lands beyond the prescribed radius were to be left in possession."

In addition to the above the Molokanye complain that they are not allowed to get members of other confessions to undertake military service as substitutes for themselves and so buy themselves out.

Such disabilities, they complain, prejudice them in their professions and trades, and deprive them of opportunity to earn an honest livelihood; they serve no useful purpose and do enormous harm to the Government by depriving it of the support it should find in truth and justice and in equality of all and each. Deprived of such support all its strength amounts merely to a show of force, and by this very fact it becomes a complete moral failure.

In conclusion they express their conviction that the Emperor Alexander II is unaware of the disabilities here above enumerated; for a sovereign so entirely reasonable and devoted to truth and justice, as his solicitude for the distribution of the Bible as a 'table' book and for its translation into Russian evidences him to be, would, they feel assured, remedy them the moment they were brought to his notice. They particularly express their approval of the new translation of the Bible into modern Russian, in which the Pentateuch was already completed.

This introduction is followed by an expose of Molokan doctrine as it stood in 1862 entitled The True Christian Teaching or a Confession of Faith of the Spiritual Christians, presented in the form of a commentary on the Ten Commandments. It begins with a prayer: "Instruct us, Thou who knowest all, in our labour, to the end that we may in no wise tarnish before men the eternal brightness of thy name. Help us, Almighty, to teach the ignorant thy holy truth, that they may recognize thy love and worship thee in spirit and in truth."

The commentary on the first commandment sets forth the Divine attributes of Spirit, Truth, Freedom, Beauty, Goodness, Love, Power, Life, etc. as revealed in all that is without or within us, and especially in the human soul and in the Bible.

They then reject the traditional Trinitarian doctrine and argue that the text Mt. xxviii, 19, is wrongly interpreted by the Greco-Russian Church: "Father, Son and Holy Spirit are no more than titles of God which mark the different angles or aspects from or under which we contemplate him, without losing sight of his unity as Creator of ourselves and of the earth, as Life and Spirit of the universe, as the True Spirit by which he reveals himself to us." The relationship of God to his creatures is exhibited in language which might be that of any educated Anglican or Roman divine, and a section follows directed against anthropolatry or the cult of saints and arguing that Christ's own disciples, e.g., St. Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, refused to be worshipped.

There follows a less commonplace section against baptism with water. The true baptism consists of instruction in the word of God. Baptism, whether by immersion or aspersion, is a fond thing vainly imagined in opposition to Christ's own promise that, whereas John only baptized with water, his own faithful should after not many days be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts i, 5), a promise fulfilled at Pentecost. They also appeal to Lk. iii, 16: 'He shall baptize you in the Spirit/ and in Fire, and conclude that water baptism was only valid before Christ's advent; that it was not an apostolic practice they argue from Paul's declaration that Christ sent him not to baptize, and that in baptism we share his death. The passage Rom. vi. 3-13 refers, not to baptism of the flesh but of the spirit. In John iii, 5 the words born of water were not intended literally and in Mt. xxviii, 19 the instruction to baptize etc., is epexegetic of the phrase 'make disciples of all nations.'

In this repudiation of water baptism the Molokanye agree with the Dukhobortsy, and, like them, exhibit the ancient tradition of Cathar and Marcionite Christianity.

Under the rubric of the second commandment the worship of ikons is condemned. The contention of the Orthodox that the faithful bows not to the ikon but to the saint depicted therein, is met with the reply that God alone should be worshipped and that he cannot be represented in any picture. They argue that the faithful really worship the particular ikon. Else, why carry it about from church to church? Why ascribe miracles to it? Why burn lamps before it? Why, if it be the saint that is adored and not the wood, pretend that one image fell from heaven and was not made with hands, whereas another not? Why as a rule prefer the smoky greasy boards whereon nothing is decipherable to those on which the saint's image is new and fresh? Does not the most popular image of the Virgin depict her with three hands? Has not each village and city its special idol? Was anyone ever deterred from sin by such idol worship? Do not those who prostrate themselves before them know that an idol cannot punish them for their iniquities? They know not the true God who can, and worship a wooden one who does inspire no fear. As for ikon's 'not made with hands,' is God a man, first to forbid us to worship images and then set to manufacturing them for our cult? Relics are equally condemned. Old bones are no substitute as an object of worship for Spirit. A man's spirit, not his flesh and bones, is the image and likeness of God. No doubt that is the reason why the Molokanye in worship bow to those among themselves who are filled with the Spirit and are literally Christs. In doing so they again adhere to the custom of the Cathars. To this practice however there is no reference in this tract save in the Introduction, wherein it is said that the vulgar, not understanding the reason, nicknamed them Chinkers.

Interpreting the third commandment they forbid oaths; and they inculcate observance of the fourth, insisting however that in Christendom the holiness of the Sabbath has been transferred to the Lord's Day. Following Mt. xii 1-13, they insist on the necessity of good works on the Sabbath, that is on Sunday, and regret the license, frivolities and drunkenness with which the Orthodox violate the day. They admit as worthy to be observed in addition to the Sunday the Dominical feasts of Annunciation, Nativity, Purification, Baptism, Transfiguration, Resurrection, Ascension, and Descent of the Holy Spirit. Other festivals they ignore, as being days consecrated to trivial events of no special holiness. Good Friday they observe as a Fast, eating nothing that day and only praying on it. They hold a Fast day to be not one on which you stuff your belly with fish and fungi, but one of complete abstention from food of all kinds; the distinction between one diet and another was only made by the Orthodox. All food was given by God and one food is as good as another. In any case fasts in themselves are valueless unless they are observed as an aid to the formation of good character and to holiness of life.

In connection with the fifth commandment the duty of children to their parents is illustrated from many passages in the Bible, and it is also urged that parents in their turn owe it to their children to win their loving obedience and respect by their solicitude and self-denial in behalf of them.

The reason of the sixth commandment is declared to be that man is the image and likeness of God, wherefore murder is a violation and diminution of the divine glory. Only God has a right to kill. Men are all brethren in Christ and the brand of Cain is on the brow of him that slays his brother. The Molokan acceptance of the Old Testament necessitates a somewhat tortuous interpretation of the Hebrew God's instructions to his people to slay unoffending Amalekites and others whose lands they coveted. But the expositor is quite sure that no man has a right to say to his fellow:' You must die, you deserve death.' Nor can murder be justified by the plea: Ί slew him to save my own life and property,' for Jesus forbade his disciples to protect him by force of arms; still less is murder justifiable on the ground that the murdered man was a foreigner or an infidel. Even if it can be urged that Jehovah permitted the Jews to slay their enemies, Jesus Christ anyhow bade us love our enemies.

The Molokanye have ever been classed a dangerous sect by the Russian Government, and that is perhaps the reason why in their manifesto the Molokanye append to their commentary on the seventh commandment a special disquisition upon marriage. It was ordained by God in the Garden, and it is an union not of body with body so much as of soul with soul and spirit with spirit, a fleshly union indeed for the multiplication and increase of mankind, but also an association for mutual aid and counsel and comfort. Divorce is forbidden except in case of adultery; but second marriage after the death of one of the parties is permissible. The prayers and lections of Scripture with which the sect celebrates matrimony are given in full. In these the bride and bridegroom pledge each other to perpetual fidelity throughout life, and the parents on each side must be present and give their blessing to the union before God and the faithful meet to attest it. The prayers to heaven and the angels to protect the newly-married couple and lead them in the path of peace, goodness and conjugal harmony are not surpassed for simple eloquence and fervour by those of any church. There is no crowning of the couple as in the orthodox rite, which is declared to be unscriptural and invalid.

This is followed by a section repudiating the mutilators or Skoptsy, who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. Their interpretation of the text Mt. xix, 12 is rejected and it is argued, as by orthodox exegetes in general, that it should be interpreted allegorically and was intended to be so interpreted, for otherwise both Christ and his Apostles must have emasculated themselves, which they did not.

They condemn monkery mainly because of the drunken and vicious and idle lives led by monks, and object to permanent vows, though they admit the expediency of St. Paul's advice that at times man and wife should keep apart for prayer and religious meditation.

The comment on the eighth commandment consists wholly of Scripture passages nor does the treatment of the last two call for notice. The concluding section however of the tract is devoted to the Church and is most characteristic. It begins by insisting that it is the community of the faithful who accept the teaching of Jesus and his Apostles, and appeals to such texts as I Cor. iii, 16: "Know you not that ye are the temple of God and the Spirit of God liveth in you," and I Cor. vi, 19: " Know ye not that your members are a temple of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, which ye have from God." Inspired with such sentiments the Molokanye deny that any sanctity attaches to buildings, altars, altar furniture, Antiminsia, ikons, relics and the like." What connection, they ask, can there be between a temple of God and idols? " For ye, the Apostle said (II Cor. vi, 16), are a temple of the living God, as God hath declared saying: I will dwell in them and will walk up and down in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people." Is not the Russo-Greek Church teaching about the temple a destruction of the temple of God? The founder and head of the Church is Jesus Christ himself: "When two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst." (Mt. xviii 20). "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Consoler and he shall abide with you for ever." In this context Acts ii, 1, 2, 4, is also cited along with Eph. v, 26-7; I Peter ii, 4r-5; I Cor. xii, 12,27; Eph. ii, 19-22; I Cor. iii, 11; Eph. iv, 4-6. Fortified with such texts they deny the Greco-Russian or the Old Ritualists, or the Western Church to be the true Church. These so-called Churches are in conflict with the Teaching and have thus cut themselves off from Christ.

From many passages of the New Testament, e.g., Hebrews iv, 15; viii, 1; vii, 23-27; v, 4-6, it is argued that we can have no High priest save Jesus Christ alone, and that it is vain for the orthodox Churches to entitle men such. There is one priest, who is our Lord.

The tract then describes the Molokan cult. It includes (1) reading of Scripture with, occasionally, interpretation of it to those who do not clearly comprehend its drift; (2) flinging of the Psalms and other canticles from Scripture; (3) Prayer, answering to the precept laid down in Cor. iii, 16.

But it must not be supposed that the Molokanye dispense with organization in their Church. On the contrary in each locality to supervise their affairs and to lead their services they elect a presbyter or bishop, that is a supervisor; for after the manner of the earliest Church they make no distinction between a presbyter or elder and a bishop. Their bishop has two coadjutors, who in case he is sick or absent, take his place. He is chosen in accordance with the rules laid down in Tim. iii, 2-5. They have no deacons. These, they say, were necessary in the early Church for the keeping of good order. If they found them essential to the extension of their Church, the Molokanye would elect them, but so far they have found no use for them.

The duties of a bishop are those prescribed in I Peter v. 1-3. He receives no salary as do the popes of the orthodox Church, who exact payment from their faithful for every prayer they repeat, forgetting that Jesus asked nothing when he suffered and shed his blood in our behoof.

The Molokanye scrupulously disclaim any sacerdotalism. Their presbyters or bishops are the equals only of the rest of the congregation, according to the precepts Mt. xxiii, 8, 10. In their Church there are no Greater ones, no Lesser ones, all are equal as brethren met together before God. One authority only they possess and recognize, to wit, Jesus Christ; and therefore they are the true Church. The presbyter may be deprived if he offends against the rules set out in Tim. iii, 2-5.

They have no buildings reserved for religious service, and hold that prayer hallows the building, and not the building the prayers offered in it; because God lives not in temples made with hands, and the hour is with us, when true worshippers must worship in Spirit and in Truth. They argue that the earliest Christians similarly met for prayer in private houses.

They reject utterly the doctrine of the Sacrament which has been elaborated in the great Churches of East and West, and to understand their objection we must bear in mind that in the East the word for Sacrament (a Latin word) is mystery or secret cult, the entire doctrine of which was taken over by the early Churches of the East from the old Greek mysteries and clothed with their paraphernalia. They hold that the recitation, standing, of the Lord's Prayer followed by the reading and exposition (if needful) of the Scriptures (the congregation sitting down) and by prayers with genuflexion — this service in itself constitutes communion in the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and in evidence thereof they appeal to such texts as John vi, 47-51; 53, 60-63. The fleshly communion which consists in consumption of material bread and wine, which being swallowed passes into the stomach to be evacuated (Mt. xv, 17) is a vain thing falsely imagined. Neither if we eat it, do we abound in grace, nor if we do not, lack the same (I Cor. viii, 8). The only true communion is in the Word of God. The vulgar Church teaching about the matter insults the body and blood given and shed for our instruction and salvation by Jesus.

The recital and intoning of Scripture in their divine service may last some hours and is followed by prayers in a kneeling posture according to the example of Jesus in Lk. xx, 41 and of the early saints in Acts xx, 36. They do not cross their persons, for to do so is vain and superfluous for those who carry in their hearts the passion and cross of the Saviour; nor is it anywhere prescribed in Scripture. The prayers recited by the Presbyter are given in full. The first begins thus:—

"Protect us, Lord, from the dwelling-place of thy Holiness. Accept our prayers for all men, for the King and for all in authority, to the end that we may live a life quiet and free from turbulence in all piety and purity. For this is acceptable before our Saviour, God, who desireth all men to be saved and to receive the Truth with understanding. Look mercifully and with favour, Lord, upon our offering, as thou didst on the sacrifice of Abel; accept our devotion as thou didst Enoch's; preserve us from a flood of vain imaginings, as thou didst Noe; save us from fire and brimstone, as thou didst Lot from Sodom; and enlighten us, as thou didst Abraham, our father, with thy Holy Spirit"... At the end they pray that "our bountiful mother Wisdom" may come unto them, an antique touch reminding us of "Our Mother the Holy Spirit" in Aphraates.

This prayer is followed by Psalm 50: "Have mercy on me," then a prayer which begins: "To-day we glorify thee, Lord, and bend our knee before thee our Lord and Creator, and magnify thy holy Name, and exalt the fleshless host of thy Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, and we follow the Holy Prophets and Apostles and Martyrs and thy Elect ones; for thou hast designed, Lord, that we should call upon thy all serene and sanctified holy Name. Now therefore make us, thy young men and women, worthy to dwell with thyself in the Kingdom of Heaven for ever and ever."

There follows Psalm 26: "Lord our Illumination," and a prayer:— "To thee, Lord, we bend our knees, who createdst heaven and earth. Lord, remit all our sins. Shelter us under the shadow of thy wings from the fury of the enemy. Lord, deliver us, thy young men and maidens, from eternal torment; save us with salvation eternal; Lord, sanctify us in presence of all nations, for thou hast loved thy saints. Amen."

There follows Psalm 85: "Incline thine ear Ο Lord," and a long prayer beginning: "Blessed art thou, Lord our God, and blessed is thy holy name for ever... " a prayer for replenishment and illumination by the Holy Ghost. After it they sing Psalm 114: "I delighted that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of my prayer." Then a long prayer beginning: "Lord, God of Heaven, Mighty, Powerful and Terrible, observe thy promise and be merciful to those who love thee and keep thy
commandments ... and now, Lord raise thy almighty hand and extend it from on high from thy throne, and gather together all who are thy chosen in the unity of faith. Raise, Lord, around them a rampart of awe like a wall of fire," etc.

Psalm 140 is next sung: "Lord I called unto thee," followed by a brief but characteristic prayer: "Lord, make us worthy, thy sons and daughters, to stand in thine image and make us, Lord, to resemble thy rubies; choose us, Lord, for thy foundations, as if we were sapphires; uphold us and strengthen us in thy sight as if jasper; and cleanse and purify us as crystals. Teach us, Lord, by thy Holy Spirit, and save, our Saviour, our souls henceforth and for ever."

Next is sung Psalm 87: "Lord, God of my salvation" followed by the Prayer of Manasses and the Psalm: "Lord, in thy wrath, deny me not."

The above service of prayer and praise is followed by a love feast, a "brotherly trapeza," devoid of sacramental significance. In it they do but satiate their hunger, first thanking God for the food he gives them. It is no part of the service and can be dispensed with as well as not. On the anniversary of the Last Supper they meet, and breaking bread, eat it in memory of the Lord, holding withal holy conversation one with the other; but this meal is not a sacrament in the sense of an arcane mystery. On the contrary they reject all such mysteries, because Jesus Christ at his advent revealed all mysteries as is attested in Mt. xiii, 11 and Eph. iii, 4-5 and 8-10. The mysteries of the Orthodox are idle trifling, since it is the duty of Christians to reveal divine truth to all as the only means to salvation, and not keep it secret and make a mystery of it, as the Russo-Greek popes do, who hide away under superstitious rites the truth that man is a temple of God in whom dwells the Divine Spirit, and that all commandments are included in the one precept to love one's neighbour as oneself, seeing that God is our Father and men are sons of God. This truth lies open to all in the New Testament; no other mystery was revealed to us by Jesus Christ, and he that acknowledges it, shall live for ever. No rites are to be performed, no incense burned, no water sprinkled, no tapers lit. If the Molokanye, when they assemble at eventide light candles, it is only in order to light up their chamber. Do the popes imagine that the candles which their faithful light, when they enter their churches, in any way open their eyes to the Truth of God? Were it not better if they explained the Gospel to them and enlightened their understanding?

The presbyter of the Molokanye wears no special vestments, but leads their prayers attired in his ordinary garb; the orthodox contention that the Apostles dressed up is false. Members of the sect believe in the future life, and when the spirit quits the body they offer prayer and sing Psalms 23 and 145; and before the open grave Psalm 83. Then follow Acts viii, 2, and Jesus Sirach xxxviii, 16, 17, 22. In the faith that the dead rise again, they pray that their sins may be forgiven in the spirit of II Mac. xii, 44-46. The tract ends with attestations from Scripture of the future life, e.g., Mark xii, 26, 27; II Cor. ν, 1; Isaiah lv, 17-18; Mt. xxiv, 30; John v. 28-0; Rev. xx, 12-15, xxi, 1-5.

* Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare,
Russian Dissenters
[Ρώσοι Διαφωνούντες],
Harvard Theological Studies X, Cambridge, Harvard University Press/Oxford University Press, 1921,
pp./σσ. 289-304.
[English/Αγγλικά PDF]

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