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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IV:

Early Church Fathers  Index     



Teaching of the Church, p. 240.

It is noteworthy how frequently our author employs this expression in this immediate connection. Concerning the punishment of the wicked he asserts a "clearly defined teaching." He shows what the Church's teaching "has laid down" touching demons and angels. Touching the origin of the world, he again asserts the Church's teaching, and then concedes, that, over and above what he maintains, there is "no clear statement regarding it,"-i.e., the creation and its antecedents. Elsewhere he speaks of "the faith of the Church," and all this as something accepted by all Christians recognised as orthodox or Catholics.

Not to recur to the subject of the creeds70 known at this period in the East and West, this frequent recognition of a system of theology, or something like it, starts some interesting inquiries. We have space to state only some of them:-

1. Was Origen here speaking of the catechetical school of Alexandria, and assuming its teaching to be that of the whole Church?

2. If so, was not this recognition of the Alexandrian leadership the precursor of that terrible shock which was given to Christendom by the rise of Arianism out of such a stronghold of orthodoxy?

3. Does not the power of Athanasius to stand "against the world" assure us that he was strong in the position that "the teaching of the Church," in Alexandria and elsewhere, was against Arias, whom he was able to defeat by prescription as well as by Scripture?

4. Is it not clear that all this was asserted, held, and defined without help from the West, and that the West merely responded Amen to what Alexandria had taught from the beginning?

5. Is not the evidence overwhelming, that nothing but passive testimony was thus far heard of in connection with the see of Rome?

6. If the "teaching of the Church," then, was so far independent of that see that Christendom neither waited for its voice, nor recognised it as of any exceptional importance in the definition of the faith and the elimination of heresy, is it not evident that the entire fabric of the Middle-Age polity in the West has its origin in times and manners widely differing from the Apostolic Age and that of the Ante-Nicene Fathers?


Subjection, p. 343.

The subordination of the Son, as held by all Nicene Christians, is defended by Bull71 at great length and with profound learning. It is my purpose elsewhere to quote his splendid tribute to the substantial orthodoxy of Origen. Professor Shedd, in his work on Christian Doctrine,72 pronounces the Nicene Creed "the received creed-statement among all Trinitarian Churches." I assume that this note will be of interest to all theological minds. For an unsatisfactory and meagre account of primitive creeds, see Bunsen, Hippol., iii. pp. 125-132.


Proceedeth from the Father, p. 344.

The double procession is no part of the Creed of Christendom; nor did it become fixed in the West, till, by the influence of Charlemagne, the important but not immaculate Council of Frankfort (a.d. 794) completed the work of Toledo, and committed the whole West to its support. The Anglican Church recites the Filioque liturgically, but explains its adhesion to this formula in a manner satisfactory to the Easterns. It has no rightful place in the Creed, however; and its retention in the Nicene Symbol is a just offence, not only to the Greeks, but against the great canon, Quod semper, etc.

Compare Pearson on the Creed,73 and these candid words: "Although the addition of words to the formal Creed be not justifiable," etc. Consult the valuable work of Theophanes Procopowicz, Bishop of Novgorod, which contains a history of the literature of the subject down to his times.74 It is a matter debated anew in our own age, in view of advances to the Greeks made by Dr. Döllinger and the Old Catholics. Let me refer to a volume almost equally learned and ill-digested,75 written by a clever author who was perverted to Romanism, and returned, after many years, to the Church of England. It bears the marks of many unreal impressions received during his "Babylonish captivity." I refer to a work of E. S. Foulkes.


The faith of the Church, p. 347.

Before the Nicene Council local creeds were in use, all agreeing substantially; all scriptural, but some more full than others. Of these the ancient Symbol of Jerusalem was chief, and this forms the base of the Nicene Creed. It is here noteworthy that Origen speaks of "the faith" as something settled and known: clearly, he did not intentionally transgress it. Bull says,76 "Graeci Scriptores Ante-Nicaeni to/n kano/na th=j pi/stewj passim in scriptis suis commemorant." See the Jerusalem Creed, on the same page; and note, the Church of Jerusalem is called by the Second (Oecumenical Council (a.d. 381), "the mother of all the Churches." So ignorant were the Fathers of that date of any other "mother Church," that they address this very statement to the clergy of Rome.77 Compare Eusebius, book iv. cap. viii.


Endowed with freedom of will, p. 347.

Elsewhere in this treatise our author defines the will as "able to resist external causes." The profound work of Edwards needs no words of mine.78 As an example of logic the most acute, it is the glory of early American literature. I read it eagerly during my college course, while under the guidance of my instructor in philosophy, the amiable and profound Dr. Tappan (afterwards president of the University of Michigan), who taught us to admire it, but not to regard it as infallible. See his vigorous review of Edwards,79 in which he argues as a disciple of Coleridge and of Plato.

On allied subjects, let me refer to Wiggers's Augustinismus, etc., translated by Professor Emerson of Andover;80 also to Bledsoe's Theodicy,81 heretofore cited. I venture to say, that, among the thinkers of America, and as Christian philosophers, both Bledsoe and Tappan are less known and honoured than they deserve to be.


Not esteemed authoritative by all, p. 379.

Not by Jerome, nor Rufinus, nor Chrysostom. Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, is also shown by Lardner (Credib., v. 127) to have quoted "the wisdom of Solomon" only as the sayings of a wise man; not at all as Scripture. The Easterns are equally represented by John Damascene (a.d. 730), who says of this book that it is one of those "excellent and useful" books which are not reckoned with the hagiographa. But Methodius is an exception; for he quotes this book twice (says Lardner) as if it were Scripture, and certainly cites it not infrequently. Yet his testimony does not amount, perhaps, to more than an acceptance of the same as only deutero-canonical; i.e., as one of the books read in the Church for instruction, but not appealed to as establishing any doctrine otherwise unknown to the Church. We may examine this subject when we come to Methodius, in vol. vi. of this series.


This is a convenient place for the following tables, compiled from Eusebius as far as his history goes; i.e.A.V. 305. See also Dr. Robinson's Researches.

18. Alexander,82 a.d. 326.

Next: A Letter to Origen from Africanus About the History of Susanna.

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