Online Encyclopedia

HOMILY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 645 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HOMILY, a simple religious address, less elaborate than a sermon, and confining itself to the practical exposition of some ethical topic or some passage of Scripture. The word buiXia from OytXeiv (bud', Otto), meaning communion, inter-course, and especially interchange of thought and feeling by means of words (conversation), was early employed in classical Greek to denote the instruction which a philosopher gave to his pupils in familiar talk (Xenophon, Memorabilia, I. ii. 6. 15). This usage of the word was long preserved (Aelian,Varia Historia, iii. 1g); and the Osikitaas of Acts xx. 11 may safely be taken to assign not only a free and informal but also a didactic character to the apostle Paul's discourse in the upper chamber of Troas, when " he talked a long while, even till break of day." That the " talk " on that occasion partook of the nature of the "exposition " (, —) of Scripture, which, undertaken by a priest, elder or other competent person, had become a regular part of the service of the Jewish synagogue,' may also with much probability be assumed. The custom of delivering expositions or comments more or less extemporaneous on the lessons of the day at all events passed over soon and readily into the Christian Church, as may be gathered from the first Apology (c. 67) of Justin Martyr, where we read that, in connexion with the practice of reading portions from the collected writings of the prophets and from the memoirs of the apostles, it had by that time become usual for the presiding minister to deliver a discourse in which " he admonishes the people, stirring them up to an imitation of the good works which have been brought before their notice." This discourse, from its explanatory character, and from the easy conversational manner of its delivery, was for a long time called OutMa rather than Xhrros: it was regarded as part of ' See Philo, Quod omnis frebris liber, sec. 12 (ed. Mangey ii. 458; cf. ii. 630). 176 homilies arranged in order for all the Sundays and festivals native of Meissen in Germany, who discovered his new principle while he was experimenting with cinchona bark in 1790, and announced it in 1796.4 The essential tenets of homoeopathy—with which is contrasted the " allopathy " (etXXos, other) of the " orthodox " therapeutics—are that the cure of disease is effected by drugs that are capable of producing in a healthy individual symptoms similar to those of the disease to be treated, and that to ascertain the curative virtues of any drug it must be "proved" upon healthy persons—that is, taken by individuals of both sexes in a state of health in gradually increasing doses. The manifestations of drug action thus produced are carefully recorded, and this record of " drug-diseases," after being verified by repetition on many " provers," constitutes the distinguishing feature of the homoeopathic materia medica, which, while it embraces the sources, preparation and uses of drugs as known to the orthodox pharmacopoeia, contains, in addition, the various " provings " obtained in the manner above described. Besides the promulgation of the doctrine of similars, Hahnemann also enunciated a theory to account for the origin of all chronic diseases, which he asserted were derived either directly or remotely from psora (the itch), syphilis (venereal disease) or sycosis (fig-wart disease). This doctrine, although at first adopted by some of the enthusiastic followers of Hahnemanm, was almost immediately discarded by very many who had a firm belief in his law of cure. In the light of advancing science such theories are entirely untenable, and it was unfortunate for the system of medicine which he founded that Hahnemann should have promulgated such an hypothesis. It served as a target for the shafts of ridicule showered upon the system by those who were its opponents, and even at the present time there still exists in the minds of many misinformed persons the conviction that homoeopathy is a system of medicine that bases the origin of all chronic disease on the itch or on syphilis or fig-warts. Another peculiar feature of homoeopathy is its posology or theory of dose. It may be asserted that homoeopathic posology has nothing more to do with the original law of cure than the psora (itch) theory has, and that it was one of the later creations of Hahnemann's mind. Most homoeopathists believe more or less in the action of minute doses of medicine, but it must not be considered as an integral part of the system. The dose is the corollary, not the principle. Yet in the minds of many, infinitesimal doses of medicine stand for homoeopathy itself, the real law of cure being completely put into the background. The question of dose has also divided the members of the homoeopathic school into bitter factions, and is therefore a matter for careful consideration. Many employ low potencies,' i.e. mother of the ecclesiastical year; and probably was completed before the year 780. Though written in Latin, its discourses were doubtless intended to be delivered in the vulgar tongue; the clergy, however, were often too indolent or too ignorant for this, although by more than one provincial council they were enjoined to exert themselves so that they might be able to,do so.' Hence an important form of literary activity came to be the translation of the homilies approved by the church into the vernacular. Thus we find Alfred the Great translating the homilies of Bede; and in a similar manner arose fElfric's Anglo-Saxon Homilies and the German Homiliarium of Ottfried of Weissenburg. Such Homiliaria as were in use in England down to the end of the 15th century were at the time of the Reformation eagerly sought for and destroyed, so that they are now extremely rare, and the few copies which have been preserved are generally in a mutilated or imperfect forma The Books of Homilies referred to in the 35th article of the Church of England originated at a convocation in 1542, at which it was agreed " to make certain homilies for stay of such errors as were then by ignorant preachers sparkled among the people." Certain homilies, accordingly, composed by dignitaries of the lower house, were in the following year produced by tha prolocutor; and after some delay a volume was published in 1547 entitled Certain sermons or homilies appointed by the King's Majesty to be declared and read by all parsons, vicars, or curates every Sunday in their churches where they have cure. In 1563 a second Book of Homilies was submitted along with the 39 Articles to convocation; it was issued the same year under the title The second Tome of Homilies of such matters as were promised and instituted in the former part of Homilies, set out by the authority of the Queen's Majesty, and to be read in every Parish Church agreeably. Of the twelve homilies contained in the first book, four (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) are probably to be attributed to Cranmer, and one (the 12th) possibly to Latimer; one (the 6th) is by Bonner; another (the 5th) is by John Harpsfield, archdeacon of London, and another (the 11th) by Thomas Becon, one of Cranmer's chaplains. The authorship of the others is unknown. The second book consists of twenty-one homilies, of which the 1st, and, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 16th and 17th have been assigned to Jewel, the 4th to Grindal, the 5th and 6th to Pilkington and the 18th to Parker. See the critical edition by Griffiths, Oxford, 1869. The homilies are not now read publicly, though they are sometimes appealed to in controversies affecting the doctrines of the Anglican Church.
End of Article: HOMILY
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