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We know that Spanish bishops, when they recited the Nicene Creed, did so for the express purpose of disowning the Arian heresy ; but Mr. Ffoulkes, in his many writings, tells us that Charlemagne's intentions were of another kind. His object was to place a barrier between the East and the West, and to make the division between the Latins and the Greeks the more distinct. But we need not believe in this malignity of the Emperor, for it is not proved, and Mr. Ffoulkes does not say that there is any evidence of it beyond this,—that on his hypothesis it accounts for facts he does not apparently understand himself. The notion gravely put forth by him is this, that Charlemagne forged the Athanasian Creed for the purpose of defending the insertion of the “ Filioque” in the Nicene Creed. These are his words as quoted by Father Jones :
“ This effect ” [the creed or its use] “was deliberately planned by Charlemagne, and planned for a twofold purpose. First, to justify the interpolated creed to the Pope, and convict the Greeks of error in rejecting it ; and, secondly, to substitute the Catholic faith of Athanasius' in the West as a standard of orthodoxy for that of Nicæa.” P. 17.
This most singular notion is dissected by Father Jones, and we shall leave it in his hands, for nothing can be added to his exposure of its absurdity. Mr. Ffoulkes, we believe, belongs to the school of culture and historical research, and we poor Catholics, who hold the Creed as our fathers held it before us, are generally objects of pitiless scorn to that school. But still, we think that we have never yet shown so many signs of intellectual weakness as our censors have shown, for if we do cling to beliefs which they reject, there is nothing contemptible in that ; we are so far the more respectable ; for it is assuredly more respectable to hold what we have been taught than to give way to all the new discoveries which men think they make, the great bulk of which, in the course of time, is invariably found to be new mistakes, or old mistakes clumsily revived.
This is the notion put before us by Mr. Ffoulkes to account for the existence of the Athanasian Creed. The Emperor Charlemagne wished to remove out of sight, or out of memory, the Nicene Creed, which is said or sung so frequently in the Mass, and to which the people had become used. To accomplish his purpose he forges, or procures the forgery, of another creed ; but he does not get rid of the old creed, nor replace it by the new ; and Mr. Ffoulkes has not shown that any attempt whatever was made to change the Liturgy. Then, again, the Athanasian Creed which the Emperor wished to substitute for the Nicene Creed, was never used in the Mass anywhere ; whether it was used at all in the public offices of the Church in the time of Charlemagne is a matter about which men have doubted. Then, again, it is very difficult for ordinary people to see what Charlemagne could possibly gain by the use of the Athanasian Creed when he had interpolated the Nicene Creed for his purposes. It would most assuredly have been easier for him to do his work, whatever it was, by means of the “interpolated ” Creed, with which the people were familiar, and among whom the "interpolation ” excited no trouble and, so far as we know, no surprise.
The discussion about the origin of the Athanasian Creed is, in one sense, a dishonest one; for it is carried on chiefly by men who wish to get rid
of the doctrine as well as of the form. Mr. Ffoulkes, in his Christendom's Divisions,” Part II. p. 551, says that Charlemagne, by his “ interpolation” had “well nigh succeeded, as Photius has well shown, in committing the Church to a formal denial of the first article of the Christian faith.” A little further on he asks this question, and by that question he plainly shows that he does not hold the Catholic doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Ghost, or that he does not know what that doctrine is.
“As it is,” he asks, “ who can deny that the original procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father has been imperilled by including it in the same proposition with His derivative procession, however eternal from the Son ?”
The words printed in italics are so printed by Mr. Ffoulkes. He certainly does not hold the Catholic doctrine that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one source. This dislike to the doctrine is a fact which is more or less hidden from view; but it is a fact, and people must not be surprised if they are told that this dislike is the true fount from which the river of their disputations runs.
Mr. Ffoulkes has admitted that the Athanasian Creed did not take the world quite by surprise, and that there is a “ resemblance between it and the known formularies of the age of Charlemagne.” That is quite true, and Father Jones has taken the pains to show that there were many formulæ of the kind. He has pointed out that as early as A.D. 676 or 677, a synod held in Autun speaks of the “ Symbolum S. Athanasii ;” but he, we think too generously, yields that synod to the objections made by Mr. Ffoulkes, though he says that, “from the time of the Brothers Ballerini the genuineness of this canon and its date have been looked on as settled.” Father Jones will allow us to quarrel with him on this point, and, we trust, the more readily, because he admits that he cannot see anything in Mr. Ffoulkes's observations to suggest a single serious difficulty with regard to it.”
Difficulties have been made about the origin of the Apostles' Creed, but we cannot give it up because learned men cannot agree about its origin. And no good reason has yet been shown why we should be careless about the Athanasian. The latter is a summary of doctrine unsurpassed for its terseness and clearness. It is true, and it is of very little importance, that we do not know who wrote it, or when. Even if it could be shown to have been written some centuries after the death of St. Athanasius, it can make no difference whatever, for it is quite certain that the use of it in the Church is not grounded on the fact of anthorship, but on its reception ; and if Mr. Ffoulkes could show that the reception of it was brought about by forgery, fraud, or violence, he could do nothing towards getting rid of it, until he first gets people to disbelieve the doctrine which is set forth in it.
“There can be no doubt,” says Father Jones, "that the Creed was put forward in the early part of the ninth century as the work of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria ; that it was put forward is an approved and familiar exposition of the Catholic faith, and that authority was claimed for it on this ground. That it was put forward as having come down from former generations, and that those who so used it did not anticipate, nor did its use excite surprise, comment, or opposition. That it was put forward in the most public manner, by the most le:urned ind respected doctors and prelates, in
synod and in controversial works, for use in the Divine Office, and in the instruction of the faithful. There is no need to prove this point by quotations, for they are found in almost every treatise on this subject, and are not questioned by any. I conclude, therefore, that it is neither probable nor credible that it was then an entirely new or unknown document, or that there was no reason of any kind for attributing it to St. Athanasius.”—P.31.
This is a most just and sensible summing up of the whole controversy ; it describes a condition of things which nobody can reasonably question, and to the argument derived from it, Mr. Ffoulkes and his friends ought to furnish an answer if they can find one.
The learned men of the ninth century-if they were the first who did so— must have had some reasons for accepting the words “symbolum Sancti Athanasii,” in addition to the formula about which they did not dispute because they held the doctrines thereof. Is it likely that an order of the Emperor could carry conviction to the minds of all priests and bishops, and that they should have accepted a formula already in their hands as the work of St. Athanasins if they had not always thought so ?
But Mr. Ffoulkes assumes that the creed was forged in the year 800 : by that he probably means that it was reduced into its present form at that time. Now, there were bishops and priests living in those days of all ages, from twenty-four years of age to seventy or eighty, and Mr Ffoulkes asks us to believe that they all accepted the imperial decision without a murmur or a doubt. Priests in those days were like priests in these days ; let the experiment be made now.
We find from Father Jones that the forgery was made in the year 800, according to Mr. Ffoulkes ; that is, the forgery of the creed itself, not of the name only. It is something to have a fixed time, and we are glad it is so in this case ; we also gather further from the answer of Father Jones that Mr. Ffoulkes could not assign an earlier date to the forgery, because the proofs on which he relies compel him to assume that the forgery could not have been completed before the year A.D. 800.
To this we reply, that if the forgery was made in the Court of Charlemagne in the year 200, the creed could not be known two years before, in 798, in Worcester and Canterbury. But it was known, not only then, but a long time before, in this country, perhaps ever since its conversion by St. Augustine. In the year 798 Denebert was elected Bishop of Worcester ; and, as usual, had to make a profession of obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethelard, and his successors, on his consecration. In that pro-. fession--printed by Hearne in the “ Textus Roffensis,” p. 252, and by Messrs, Haddan & Stubbs, “ Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents,” vol. iii. p. 526—are to be found the following words :Insuper et orthodoxam Catholicam Apostolicamque fidem, sicut didici,
paucis exponam verbis, quià scriptum est. 1. Quicunque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est illi ut teneat Catholicam fidem.
2. Fides autem Catholica hæc est, ut unum Deum in Trinitate et Trinitatem in Unitate veneremur.
3. Neque confundentes Personas, neque substantiam separantes. 4. Alia enim est Perscna Patris, alia Filii, alia Spiritus Sancti.
5. Sed Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, una est Divinitas, æqualis gloria, co-æterna Majestas.
6. Pater a nullo est factus, nec creatus, nec genitus.
8. Spiritus Sanctus a Patre et Filio ; non factus, nec creatus, noc genitus, sed procedens.
9. In hac Trinitate nihil prius aut posterius, nihil majus aut minus, sed totæ tres Personæ co-æternæ sibi sunt et co-æquales.
10. Ita ut per omnia, sicut jam supra dictum est, et Trinitas in Unitate Unitas in Trinitate veneranda sit.
Suscipio etiam decreta Pontificum et sex synodos Catholicas, &c. Here are ten clauses of the Athanasian Creed, not successive, it is true, but taken out of it by the bishop for the purpose of expressing his orthodoxy, and it is remarkable how little change has been wrought in the formula in the course of a thousand years and more. In the first clause--we have numbered them ourselves for convenience-sake—“illi” is no longer retained. In the fourth clause we have a different arrangement of the words from that in use :
“ enim ” and “est” have changed places. In the sixth clause, Mr. Stubbs, differing from Hearne, has printed, “ Pater a nullo factus est," probably on the authority of the MS. in the British Museum, which he quotes. In the tenth clause there is another change : the bishop said, “ the Trinity in Unity, and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped,” but now we say, “ the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity,” a variety probably owing to the scribe, or, perhaps, the bishop may have trusted to his memory too much.
From this passage out of the Profession of the Bishop of Worcester in 798, we do not think that anybody can withstand the inevitable conclusion that the Athanasian Creed was at that time what it is now. That is not all, the bishop is not expressing his belief in words chosen by himself, he is repeating a well-known formula, a formula not invented by himself, but one that he had been taught “ sicut didici.” For our own part, we believe that the bishop was repeating a portion of the Divine Office well known to him and to all ecclesiastics, and that the Athanasian Creed in its present form had been known to him from his earliest years. We do not say that it was known to the first converts from heathenism made by St. Augustine, because we do not know; but we do say that we know of no reason why it should not have been taught in England by the first missionaries of St. Gregory the Great. Certainly, if we find the symbol in this form in the year 798, and can trace portions of it in the decrees of councils, and in professions of faith for centuries previously, we see no great difficulty in holding that it might have been in use two hundred years earlier in England, when St. Augustine, in 597, was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Vicar of Christ; or, Lectures upon the Office and Prerogatives of our
Holy Father the Pope. By Rev. Thomas S. Preston, Pastor of
ages. They react upon the spiritual life of her children,-upon the devotions of the people, - upon the current of theological, philosophical, and general thought throughout all her after history. It is impossible, therefore, to exaggerate the effect of such grand definitions as those which have distinguished the Pontificate of our present Holy Father. The definitions of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Lady, and of the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, when speaking ex cathedrů on faith and morals, will leave luminous traces behind them which will never be effaced. Even in the next world they will be worn by the Church triumphant amongst the brightest of her jewels, when “the marriage of the Lamb shall have come, and His Bride shall have made herself ready.” Amongst the many effects of these definitions at the present time, hardly any is more remarkable than the renewal of vigour and strength which they have brought to the spiritual prerogatives of the Vicar of Christ. The peculiar circumstances under which each definition took place ; the absence of all opposition to the one which, like the whole system of Marian doctrine itself, grew silently out of the deep mind of the Church; the strong, and, in some respects, unlooked-for opposition to the other, although its roots, like those of some ancient and giant oak, had long been visible to the eye, clasping the solid earth with a tenacity which no tempests, however violent, had been able to weaken,—these alike, each in its own way, have but served to bring the Vicar of Christ and the Holy See still more prominently before the eyes of all Catholics as their supreme teacher and guide. Even as the temporal influence of the Holy See has been gradually declining, owing to the perversity of the world, which, as our Lord foretold, has rejected the Church, as, long before, it had rejected Him, so the spiritual influence of the Pope has been gradually growing, until, never in the history of the Church, has it been so clearly recognized by her children that Peter is indeed the foundation of Christ's kingdom, in whom and by whom, and through whom, and for whose sake the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.
We cannot wonder, then, that the office and the prerogatives of our Holy Father the Pope are made more frequently than ever before the subjects of sermons and lectures. It becomes necessary to point out, both to those within the fold and those without, how all-important this office and these prerogatives are, and that as these are admitted or rejected, so the whole religion of Christ and His Divinity must stand or fall. Our Lord's promises to Peter are too clear to allow of any doubt. The Church which He founded is so dependent upon these promises, that without them