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Coming, then, to its strictly liturgical and restricted sense, blessing may be described as a rite, consisting of a ceremony and prayers performed in the name and with the authority of the Church by a duly qualified minister, by which persons or things are sanctified as dedicated to Divine service, or by which certain marks of Divine favour are invoked upon them. The head of each tribe and family seemed to be privileged to bestow it with a special unction and fruitfulness, and the priests at the express direction of God were wont to administer it to the people. In general estimation it was regarded as a mark of Divine complacency and as a sure way to secure God's benevolence, peace, and protection.
By tracing the dual legacy of the first Persian Emperor Cyrus in Western thought, I demonstrate that Ramsay was as much indebted to Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet's (c. C.), but he was equally inspired by the Book of Daniel, where the same Persian prince was eulogised as the liberator of the Jewish people from their captivity in Babylon.
In addition to his Jacobite model of aristocratic constitutional monarchy, it was this Bossuetian motive for universal history, which was first propounded by the German reformer Philipp Melanchthon in his My thanks go to Istvan Hont, Richard Whatmore, Mikko Tolonen, Hye-Kyung Park, Anna Becker, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments and suggestions for improvements.
With these various significations it is not the present purpose to deal. The pages of the Old Testament testify abundantly to the great extent to which the practice of blessing prevailed in the patriarchal ages. That great value was attributed to blessings is seen from the strategy adopted by Rebecca to secure Jacob's blessing for her favourite son.
The solitary case in which one inferior to a priest is empowered to bless, is where the deacon blesses the paschal candle in the ceremonies of Holy Saturday. For in the instance referred to the deacon acts by way of a deputy and, moreover, employs the grains of incense already blessed by the celebrant.
Priests, then, are the ordinary ministers of blessings, and this is only in the fitness of things since they are ordained, as the words of the Pontifical run: "ut quæcumque benedixerint benedicantur, et quacumque consecraverint consecrentur" (That what-ever they bless may be blessed, and whatever they consecrate shall be consecrated ).