Primitiae, Premices

Primitiae, Premices Primitise is, with the ancient pagans, the name given to the first-fruits of the fields and gardens, which were annually brought as offerings to the temples or abodes of the priests. We find this custom among almost all nations of antiquity and also among the Israelites. Like many other religious customs and institutions of the Jews, this kind of exterior worship, considered as a tribute of gratitude for God's blessings, was adopted by the Christian Church, and urgently recommended by the fathers, the kind and quantity of the gifts being left to be determined by the pious feelings of the individual: "Non erant speciali nomine diffinitae, sed offerentium arbitrio derelictae" (De decim. et prim. 3, 30). They certainly bore the character of free offerings, while the tithe-with the Jews always, since Moses's time; with the Christians at least since Charlemagne's time- represents a strict right; for, that the premises should not remain below the sixtieth part, and not exceed a fortieth of the complete harvest, is only an approximate indication, to be found in Jerome, Comment. in Ezech. c. 46. With the more general and stricter execution of the laws about the tithe, in the Carlovingian age, the premises disappeared, little by little, or were preserved only in part, and in a changed form.

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