Imágenes de páginas

to be seen assembled in one church all that the churches of Europe, Africa, and Asia could boast of as most considerable, and all the shining lights of the world." *

Tillemont then describes the circumstances of the assembling of the Council, the entrance of the Emperor Constantine, the disputes, the proceedings relating to the forming of the creed, and the result, with an account of the decrees and canons. To the whole are appended the history of Paphnutius and his speech on celibacy. This Tillemont gives as a "story" taken from the historians, that is, Socrates and Sozomen. He does not vouch for its truth. Of that, he says, he leaves others to judge. It "is what we find in history," he says; and he adds some testimony to show that the story is apocryphal.†

We then have an account of the "disputes of the philosophers with the prelates," in which occurs the famous story of the "holy old man," a bishop, say some, a laic, say others,

"a man of unaffected simplicity, and as ignorant as he could be" as to all worldly knowledge. His speech is given, by which, it is said, he silenced and converted one of the philosophers, a feat which passed for something miraculous. The name of the saint is not given. Baronius thinks it was St. Spyridion; but to this there are objections. Eulogius has been given as the name of the philosopher, but on no good authority. Historians differ in their account of the dispute, and the whole is involved in uncertainty.‡

We do not commend Tillemont's style. As to that of Dr. Stanley, we should be at once set down as heretics, we suppose, should we so much as venture to hint that it has a fault; and yet we are not perfectly sure that on subjects of this kind the more simple and quiet manner of Dr. Milman is not preferable, apart even from the temptations to unfaithfulness which beset a writer who adopts a more pretentious and sparkling style, and must fill his pages with a succession of high-toned pictures. This, however, is a reflection which sug

Tillemont's Hist. Coun. Nice, tr. by Thomas Deacon, Sec. 5. Lond. 1732. ↑ Ibid., Sec. 17, and note 20. Ibid., Sec. 18.

gests itself only after we have laid down Dr. Stanley's volume, and the mind has had time to recover itself, and return to its sober mood. While reading, we are so dazzled by the author's brilliant rhetoric, that we are, for the moment, not disposed to criticise. We must except, however, the passages relating to Arius, which must be read with sorrow, and a feeling little short of indignation, we think, by every honest mind not warped by theological prejudice.

As to the authorities for the portrait of Arius, we will here add, that, in another part of the volume, and in another connection, Dr. Stanley intimates that there may be some question of the genuineness of the letter ascribed to Constantine, now found in the third book of Gelasius. He says that "Constantine, if the letter be really his, condescended to an invective against him [Arius], mixed in almost equal proportions of puns on his name, of jests on his personal appearance, of eager attacks upon his doctrine, and of supposed prophecies against him in the Sibylline books."* Excellent! Yet this is precisely the document on which half the objectionable part of Dr. Stanley's description of Arius is founded,—a letter, by his own intimation, of doubtful authorship, dealing in "puns on Arius's name and jests on his personal appearance." Why did it not occur to the Doctor to express some doubt of the trustworthiness of the letter at the time he was using it in making up the description referred to? After all, however, he appears to have no settled opinion on the subject of its genuineness. Thus, in a note appended to the passage just quoted, he seems inclined to take back what he has said on the doubtful authorship of the foolish or wicked letter. He quotes a short passage from Socrates, and adds, that it "confirms the genuineness of the Emperor's letter; gives some explanation of it as a mere ironical and rhetorical display, and shows that it was writtten after the Council," and not before, as Newman, and, we may add, the Prince de Broglie, with more reason, we think, assert.f The application of the quotation from Socrates, however, is merely conjectural, so far as relates to this particular letter. All this does not, so far as we can see, help the matter. As

† L'Église et l'Empire Romain, I. 388.

* Pages 171, 172.

long as the passages we have extracted are allowed to stand in the text, without any intimation of the suspicious character of the sources whence they were drawn, or as long as they are allowed to stand at all as an authentic description of Arius, the writer, we conceive, is chargeable with gross injustice to the heresiarch, and with holding very loose notions of the responsibilities of an historian.

We are glad to have done with fault-finding; and, having said thus much of the one great blemish of Dr. Stanley's book, we will afford our readers the pleasure of a few extracts in a different strain. The following is well said. Speaking of the "Arian sect," Dr. Stanley observes:

"For three hundred years after the date of its origin it represented considerable power, both political and religious; and this not only in the Eastern regions of its birth, but in our own Western and Teutonic nations. The whole of the vast Gothic population which descended on the Roman Empire, so far as it was Christian at all, held to the faith of the Alexandrian heretic. Our first Teutonic version of the Scriptures was by an Arian missionary, Ulfilas. The first conqueror of Rome, Alaric, the first conqueror of Africa, Genseric, were Arians. Theodoric the Great, king of Italy, and hero of the Nibelungen Lied, was an Arian. The vacant place in his massive tomb at Ravenna is a witness of the vengeance which the Orthodox took on his memory, when on their triumph they tore down the porphyry vase in which his Arian subjects had enshrined his ashes. The ferocious Lombards were Arians till they began to be won over by their queen, Theodelinda, at the close of the sixth century. But the most remarkable strongholds of Arianism were the Gothic kingdoms of Spain and Southern France. In France it needed all the power of Clovis, the one orthodox chief of the barbarian nations, to crush it on the plains of Poitiers. In Spain, it expired only in the sixth century, where it was renounced by King Recared in the basilica of Toledo.".

pp. 71, 72.

[ocr errors]

"Still, the fundamental principle of the old Arianism, as separated from the logical form and the political organization which it assumed, has hardly ever departed from the Church. It has penetrated where we least expected to find it. The theological opinions of many who have thought themselves, and been thought by others, most orthodox, have been deeply colored by the most conspicuous tendencies of the doctrine of Arius. Often men have been attacked as heretics, only because they agreed too closely with the doctrine of Athanasius. 'In

gemuit orbis et miratus est se esse Arianum,' is a process which has been strangely repeated, more than once, in the course of ecclesiastical history."-p. 74.

Of the word consubstantial Dr. Stanley says:

"The history of the word is full of strange vicissitudes. It was born and nurtured, if not in the home, at least on the threshold of heresy. It first distinctly appeared in the works of Origen, then for a moment acquired a more orthodox reputation in the writings of Dionysius and Theognostus of Alexandria; then it was colored with a dark shade by association with the teaching of Manes; next proposed as a test of orthodoxy at the Council of Antioch against Paul of Samosata, and then by that same Council was condemned as Sabellian.” — p. 159.

From pages 173-175 of Dr. Stanley's work may be gathered the following interesting summary. It is certain that the Nicene Creed was "meant to be an end of theological controversy." "The Council of Sardica declared that it was amply sufficient, and that no second creed should ever appear." The next General Council, that of Constantinople, in 381, "did not venture to do more than recite the original creed of Nicæa." "The Council of Ephesus showed its sense of the finality of the Nicene Creed still more strongly," decreeing that "henceforward no one should propose, or write, or compose any other creed than that defined by the fathers in the city of Nicæa." "It was not till the next Council, the Fourth General Council, at Chalcedon, A. D. 431, that the original exclusive supremacy of the old Nicene Creed was impaired. Then for the first time, amid much remonstrance, the additions of Constantinople [that is, which there made their appearance, but were not drawn up by the Council] were formally acknowledged, and the enlarged creed, in its present form, was received, though not as superseding the original creed of the First Council, with a protest against any further changes."

The idea of putting a stop to creed-making! If, as Dr. Stanley informs us, the creed still recited by some Eastern sects is "that of Nicæa alone," the fact shows a persistency of ideas and character quite noteworthy. Whether or not it is well to remain thus firmly moored to the past, is a question

on which people may differ in opinion. It would have been better to have stopped with the Apostles' Creed, so called; better still, to have been content with the confession of Peter, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."


The idea of calling the Athanasian Creed a "hymn" may strike some persons as singular. Dr. Stanley speaks of it as "the ancient hymn, Quicunque vult,' which throughout the Middle Ages, and by our own reformers, was believed to be the creed of Athanasius." He adds: "The learned world is now aware that it is of French or Spanish origin. It not only contains words and phrases which to Athanasius were unknown, but it distinctly, and from the first, asserted the doctrine of the Double Procession of the Spirit, which never occurs in the writings of Athanasius, and which, in all probability, he would have repudiated, with his Oriental brethren of later times." In a note to this passage, Dr. Stanley says: "It has, indeed, in later times, found its way into the Psalters both of Greece and Russia, though not of the remoter East."*

Its triumphs, it seems, have been mostly in the West. In one of the Tracts issued a few years ago from Dr. Stanley's own University (Oxford), called "Tracts for the Times" (No. 75), the writer speaks of the "Psalm Quicunque, commonly called the Athanasian Creed." He says that to "consider it a psalm or hymn of praise, and of concurrence in God's appointments," is a "far truer view" than "as a formal creed." He asserts, moreover, that, "by using it weekly, its living character and spirit are incorporated into the Christian's devotions, and its influence on the heart as far as may be secured. The time too," he adds, "should be observed, the dawn of the first day of the week." A good beginning, truly. We shall not dispute the writer's taste, and only hint at the sweet and charitable tone into which the feelings must be put for the week. We should prefer, however, the views of the "remoter East," or of old Athanasius himself.

We conclude with observing that the flippant and disparaging tone in which Arius is now sometimes spoken of receives no sanction from such writers as Milman and Neander. Dr.

* Pages 290, 291.

« AnteriorContinuar »