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RUSSI A.

CHAPTER XX.

THE DISSENTERS.

Dissenters not to be confounded with Heretics-Extreme Importance attached to Ritual Observances-The Raskól, or Great Schism in the Seventeenth Century-Antichrist appears!-Policy of Peter the Great and Catherine II. -Present Ingenious Method of securing Religious Toleration-Internal Development of the Raskól-Schism among the Schismatics-The Old Ritualists-The Priestless People-Cooling of the Fanatical Enthusiasm and Formation of New Sects-Recent Policy of the Government towards the Sectarians-Numerical Force and Political Significance of Sectarianism. WE must be careful not to confound those heretical sects, Protestant and Fantastical, of which I have spoken in the preceding chapter, with the more numerous Dissenters or Schismatics, the descendants of those who seceded from the Russian Church-or more correctly from whom the Russian Church seceded-in the seventeenth century. So far from regarding themselves as heretics, these latter consider themselves more orthodox than the official Orthodox Church. They are conservatives, too, in the social as well as the religious sense of the term. Among them are to be found the last remnants of old Russian life, untinged by foreign influences.

The Russian Church, as I have already had occasion to remark, has always paid inordinate attention to

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ceremonial observances and somewhat neglected the doctrinal and moral elements of the faith which it professes. This peculiarity greatly facilitated the spread of its influence among a people accustomed to pagan rites and magical incantations, but it had the pernicious effect of confirming in the new converts the superstitious belief in the virtue of mere ceremonies. Thus the Russians became zealous Christians in all matters of external observance without knowing much about the spiritual meaning of the rites which they practised. They looked upon the rites and sacraments as mysterious charms which preserved them from evil influences in the present life and secured them eternal felicity in the life to come, and they believed that these charms would inevitably lose their efficacy if modified in the slightest degree. Extreme importance was therefore attached to the ritual minutiæ, and the slightest modification of these minutiae assumed the importance of an historical event. In the year 1476, for instance, the Novgorodian Chronicler gravely relates:-" This winter some philosophers (!) began to sing, O Lord, have mercy,' and others merely, 'Lord, have mercy.' And this attaching of enormous importance to trifles was not confined to the ignorant multitude. An Archbishop of Novgorod declared solemnly that those who repeat the word " Allelujah" only twice at certain points in the liturgy "sing to their own damnation; and a celebrated Ecclesiastical Council, held in 1551, put such matters as the position of the fingers when making the sign of the cross on the same level as

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