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the translation which may be expected to obviate the objections raised against the creed.'

(2) A second proposed remedy is expurgation.

It is possible, indeed, to draw a marked distinction between the doctrinal statements of the creed and the damnatory clauses which precede and follow them. The doctrinal statements have been sometimes compared to a picture, the damnatory clauses to the frame in which the picture is set.

Three professors of theology in the University of Cambridge, Dr. Westcott, Dr. Swainson, and Dr. Lightfoot, in their reply to the Committee of Bishops, on the 3rd of February, 1872, argued that the admonitory clauses may be treated as separate from the exposition itself, and may be modified without in any way touching what is declared therein to be the Catholic Faith'; and they 'ventured to express an opinion that it is the office of the Church to make such changes in the form of words by which the Faith is commended to believers as may be required for their edification and for the right understanding of her own meaning.'

Modern research, however, has tended to show that, whether the damnatory clauses are or are not as a frame to a picture, the creed was never issued without them. They are not confined to the beginning and the end of the creed. To leave out the clauses, and still more to leave out any doctrinal portion of the creed itself, would be to set an example of serious and even dangerous moment.

The practice in Westminster Abbey at the present time has been misrepresented. It is not to recite a revised or amended Athanasian Creed instead of the Apostles' Creed. It is to recite the Apostles' Creed at the point where the rubric directs that the Athanasian Creed should be sung or said in place of it, and to sing a revised version of the Athanasian Creed called 'A Hymn of the Catholic Faith' as an anthem at a later point in the service. The revision of the creed consists principally in omitting the first two and the last three verses : i.e. the so-called damnatory clauses and the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. It must depend, I think, for its justification upon the assumption that the Ordinary, whether the Bishop, or in Westminster Abbey the Dean, is legally entitled, upon his own responsibility, to break the rubric prescribing the use of the creed and to alter the creed itself. At all events it indicates the difficulty of touching the creed without touching its doctrinal statements.

(3) The policy of saving the creed by appending to it an explanatory note has found a great deal of support at different times.

The first Royal Commissioners appointed for the Revision of the Liturgy in 1689 suggested this addition :— The condemning clauses are to be understood as relating only to those who obstinately deny the substance of the Christian Faith.' The Royal Commissioners

• Swainson, Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, p. 520.

appointed in 1867 suggested this :-'That the condemnations in this Confession of Faith are to be no otherwise understood than as a solemn warning of the peril of those who wilfully reject the Catholic Faith.' Among other suggestions emanating from high ecclesiastical authorities it is right to mention that of the six professors of theology in the University of Oxford, who submitted for consideration in 1871 the following form of a note such as may tend to remove some misconceptions :—'That nothing in this creed is to be understood as condemning those who by involuntary ignorance or invincible prejudice are hindered from accepting the Faith therein declared.' But this note Dr. Pusey felt afterwards to be unsatisfactory, and it appears that towards the end of 1872 he advocated another. Finally, the Convocation of Canterbury issued in 1873 a declaration for the removal of doubts and to prevent disquietude in the use of the creed :

(1) That the creed doth not make any addition to the Faith as contained in Holy Scripture, but warneth against the errors which from time to time have arisen in the Church of Christ.'

(2) That 'the warnings' in the creed are to be understood no otherwise than the like warnings in Holy Scripture, for we must receive God's threatenings, even as His promises, in such wise as they are generally set forth in Holy Writ. Moreover, the Church doth not herein pronounce judgment on any particular person or persons, God only being Judge of all.'

That declaration was endorsed in 1879. But, as the Archbishop of Canterbury said in reply to the deputation which waited upon him on the 31st of last May, it has remained ' a dead letter ever since.'

The Bishop of Chester, in the rearrangement of the Athanasian Creed' which he has lately ‘put forward for consideration by both the clergy and the laity of the diocese,' has been bold enough to combine a series of explanatory notes with both retranslation and expurgation.

It is not possible to set out the case against an explanatory rubric as interpreting the terms of the creed in clearer or juster language than was used by Bishop (afterwards Archbishop) Magee in Convocation more than thirty years ago :

If you have words [he said] which are in themselves clear and simple, making a particular statement or assertion, it is simply impossible in the nature of things that you can by the mere exercise of your will put a gloss upon those words to explain away their meaning. Words mean what logic and grammar make them to mean. Yoự may debate as much as you please before you issue a document what the words composing it shall be, but when you have put it out you have not any right to say. These words shall mean this or that.' They pass under the dominion of grammar and must mean what they say. No man has a right to say that they mean anything more or less than their grammatical construction implies and declares.

If, then, it is desirable to afford some relief both to clergy and to

s Life of E. B. Pusey, vol. iv. p. 251; compare Life of Archbishop Tait, vol. ii.

p. 152.

VOL. LVI-No. 329

G

laity in the matter of the Athanasian Creed, and if the three suggested policies are all more or less unsatisfactory, is there any course which can be safely recommended ?

The creed is not, as it has been called in an angry pamphlet,' the curse of Christendom.' But it is unfitted for use in the public services of the Church. It is as little suited for public recitation as the Articles themselves. It is a scholar's creed; it demands a learning, a thoughtfulness, an historical spirit which cannot be presumed in congregations including a great variety of men and women, educated and uneducated, and boys and girls and little children. The language employed in public worship should always bear its meaning on its face. However stately it may be, it should convey a clear and just impression to all who use it. A document which requires to be explained or explained away as often as it is used is sure to be a source of distress and irritation rather than of spiritual benefit. Anything is better than an unnatural interpretation of solemn words publicly used. But the Athanasian Creed is so apt to be misunderstood that it ought not to be used in public services. It should be a work, not for recitation, but for reference.

My own earnest hope is that the Bishops, as the natural leaders of the Church, will try to meet the difficulty felt about the public use of the creed. It may not be in their power at present to effect legislation which would alter the rubric prescribing the recitation of the creed; but if they should resolve and declare that in their judgment it is undesirable to make the public use of the creed any longer obligatory, they would take such action as would greatly relieve the consciences of the clergy, who now feel that, if they omit the creed, they are acting against authority, and, if they use it, that they are doing what is painful to many members of their congregations, and often to themselves.

The argument for abandoning the use of the creed in public services is not only or chiefly that the creed is harshly expressed, or that it cannot by a forced interpretation be rendered harmless, but that it is suited for the study, and not for the church. It creates a false impression, and an impression which grows falser year by year. It inculcates, or seems to inculcate, a perverted view of the consequences attaching to Christian faith and Christian duty. It differs widely in letter and spirit from the simplicity of the Gospel. To quote the words with which the late Dr. Swainson ends his treatise upon the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds : The dogmas of the Athanasian Creed are for the scientific theologian; the Bible revelation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for every Christian.' Or, to go yet further back to the famous passage of Jeremy Taylor in his Liberty of Prophesying :?

• See the speeches of the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of Durham and Chester in the Convocation of York, as reported in the Guardian, February 17, 1904.

? Section ii. p. 74.

If I should be questioned concerning the Symbol of Athanasius ... I confess I cannot see that moderate sentence and gentleness of charity in his preface as there was in the Nicene Creed. Nothing there but damnation and perishing everlastingly, unless the article of the Trinity be believed, as it is there with curiosity and minute particularities explained. . . . For the articles themselves, I am most heartily persuaded of the truth of them, and yet I dare not say all that are not so are inevitably damned, because citra hoc symbolum the faith of the Apostles' Creed is entire, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: that is, he that believeth such a belief as is sufficient disposition to be baptized, that faith with the sacrament is sufficient for heaven. . . . Besides, if it were considered concerning Athanasius' Creed, how many people understand it not, how contrary to natural reason it seems, how little the Scripture says of those curiosities of explication, and how tradition was not clear on his side for the article itself . . . it had not been amiss if the final judgment had been left to Jesus Christ, for He is appointed Judge of all the world, and He shall judge the people righteously,

Perhaps no wiser words-none more Christian-could be spoken than these.

J. E. C. WELLDON.

THE VIRGIN-BIRTH

It has been said by a recent writer that 'the idea of miraculous birth has fascinated the minds of men in all parts of the world from the earliest times,' and if the question of such a birth be limited to an idea, the statement may possibly be true ; but if belief in the virginbirth of Jesus Christ as an historical fact is to be insisted on, any feeling of fascination is likely to give place to one of perplexity and doubt. Thus, when lately it became known that the vicar of a parish in England had been constrained to resign his cure of souls because he was unable to give his assent to the doctrine of the virgin-birth, the question was very generally asked whether in the present day there exists any necessity for insisting on a belief in this doctrine, seeing that to the minds of most men the story of Christ's life and teaching affords more convincing evidence of his divine mission than the narrative of any abnormal circumstances attending his birth can produce. It is not, however, proposed now to discuss either the possibility of or the necessity for a virgin-birth, nor to ask whether a purely spiritual influence could cause the birth of a human body: the question for inquiry here will be limited to the consideration of the weight or force of the historical evidence on which the narrative of the virgin-birth of Jesus Christ rests. Now, in attempting to estimate the value of this evidence, one point is clear beyond doubt, namely, that of all the writers in the New Testament two alone make any mention of a miraculous birth, while the accounts of it given by these two writers are widely divergent. Another point equally clear is that the first and the last written of the four records of Christ's life contain no statement of nor any allusion to a virginbirth. Thus, the writer of Mark's gospel, which is allowed to be the most ancient of the four records—it may possibly have been written within forty years after Christ's death-certainly never heard of the virgin-birth. And with regard to the fourth and last written gospel, if this book be the work of John the son of Zebedee, the truth of the story of a miraculous birth must be altogether discarded; for if John, in whose home Mary lived as his own mother, never heard from her of this wondrous birth, it is manifest that such an event never happened, since, from the nature of the case, any account of it, to be worthy of

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