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When Homer Wrote his Iliad, all Greece was thickly enveloped in the grossest superstition. The gods and goddesses, which he describes, were believed by the Grecians to have positive existence, and the possession ibf those powers and authorities which he, as well as the other ancient poets, have ascribed to them. The different prayers and addresses we meet with in the Iliad, (viz. B^III. 1.371—B. VII. 1. 241—B. XXIV. 1.377 -&c.) are proofs of the sincerity of their belieF. Now, as morality and virtue are not the produce of superstition, but the reverse, it is a fair inference, that tne writer of the Iliad only meant to amuse and gratify the people.
J. H. N. (the proposer) says, long before the poetic age, the Grecians were immersed in the most gross superstition, and were deeply tinctured with idolatry, which the introduction of poetry and music, by Orpheus, tended to encrease.—Orpheus travelled into Egypt *, where he witnessed the superstitious customs, magic rites, beclouded mysteries, and other monstrous absurdities of that idolatrous nation.—A number of these he introduced into Greece; and, for the purpose of more effectually fixing the attention of the people upon them, the aid of music and poetry, monstrous romance, and licentious fiction, were blended with their religious rites. These adventitious auxiliaries fired the. minds of the multitude, and caused them to esteem and honour their authors and promoters; to follow their preposterous practices; and, to adore their imaginary divinities.—Orpheus also instituted new rites and ceremonies, of his own formation, which he taught the people; those who Were initiated in them being bound to observe inviolable secresy, and, by way of distinction, were called OgipttwrXfra).
Mussdus, Amphion (of Thebes), Metampus, &c. all near the time of Orpheus -), endeavoured (with the aid
■* SseXfodotnsfte.'BJtfl. lib. 1—also Pousanias.
of poetry and music) to instil superstition into the minds of the people. Indeed, the chief design of the learning then cultivated, seems to hare been intended to insinuate the belief of fables among the people, and to awe and entice them into idolatry, by innumerable fictitious narratives and emblematical devices. In the succeeding ages fables still encreased, and the people became dupes to the craft and ingenuity practised upon them by the unlimited freedoms of the licentious Attic bards.
Mr. Bamford also sent some observatfons on thi* Query.
Answered by J. B n.
The Athanasian Creed was long supposed to hare been drawn up by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, to justify himself against the calumnies of his Arian enemies; but it is now generally allowed, amongst the learned, not to be his. Dr. Waterland ascribes it to Hilary, bishop of Aries, for the following among other reasons i—1st, Because Honoratus of Marseilles, the writer of his life, tells us, that he composed "an exposition of the creed;" a more proper title for the Athanasian than that of creed simply, which it now bears. 2dly, Hilary was a great admirer and follower of St. Austin; and the whole composition of this creed is, in a manner, upon St. Austin's plan, both with respect to the Trinity and the Incarnation. 3dly, It is agreeable to the style of Hilary, as far as we can judge from the little that is left of his works. Upon the whole he concludes, that Hilary, bishop of Aries, about A. D. 430, composed the " Exposition of Faith," which now bears the name of the "Athanasian Creed," for the use of the clergy of the diocese of Aries: that about A. D. 570 it became so famous as to be commented upon; but that all this while, and for several years after, it had not acquired the name of " Athanasian," but was simply styled "The Catholic Faith:" that before A. D. 670 Athanasius' name was introduced to recommend it, being indwed a complete system of the
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Athanasian principles. This creed, obtained in Franco about A. D. 850, was received in Spain and Germany about 100 years later; and we have clear proofs of its being sung in our churches in the 10th century. As to the matter of this creed, it is given as a summary of the true orthodox faith, and a condemnation of all heresies, ancient and modern. Unhappily, however, it has proved a fruitful source of unprofitable controversy and unchristian animosity, even down to the present time. And indeed no better consequences could be expected from a human composition expressed in such strong, uncharitable, and unscriptural terms, upon a doctrine acknowledged on all hands to be incomprehensible.
Answered by Mr. D. Copsey.
Athanasius was a native of Alexandria, of which he was afterwards chosen bishop A. D. 326. He was a strenuous opponent of the Arians, by whom he was greatly persecuted: he assisted at the Council of Nice, under Julius, A. D. 336, where the heresy of Arius was condemned, and the confession, known by the name of the Nicene Creed, drawn up. In 360 he addressed a letter to the Emperor Jovian, in which he proposed that the Nicene Creed should be the standard of the orthodox faith. The creed, commonly called the Athanasian Creed, is said by some to have been drawn up by him in the fourth century, to justify himself against the calumnies of his Arian enemies; though others ascribe it to Hilary, bishop of Aries.— In Math. Prideaux's Introduction to History, it is said to have been made at the council spoken of above, and put among their records; whence it was afterwards taken out and published, to be generally received of the church. (Prideaux on reading History, sect. 4,. p. 77.) At the end of the section he subjoins an enquiry, whether the Athanasian Creed depends on the records of Rome? whence it was set forth long after the framing of it, in the time of Pope Julius. (Ibid. p. 82.) This creed, I believe, is not generally read by the clergy, though subscribed to in the Articles, and commanded by the Rubric. Archbishop Tillotson's opinion on it was, that the Liturgy would not be injured by its omission.
J. H. N. (the proposer) says, "As the creed called Athanasius' is not found in any of his works, and as he, as well as his contemporaries, generally refer to the creed of the Council of Nice, it is commonly agreed that he was not the author or framer of it. It first became known in the 8th century, and was given out as the creed of Athanasius. Where, or by whom, it was composed, is unknown.
"With respect to the expressions, that ' whoever will be saved must believe it;' that 'the belief of it is necessary to salvation;' and that' such as do not hold it pure and undefiled, shall perish everlastingly,' &c.; some divines say, that it is not every separate expression in the creed that is meant, but that it is the Christian Faith in general, and that the import is the absolute necessity of believing the Christian Religion. Others say, that the condemnatory expressions, only relate to those who have resolutely rejected and derided all re* ligious instruction offered to them; who have stifled their own convictions; rejected and denied the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inefficacy of the atonement. Others say, that it does not extend to any, but those who have had constant convictions and strivings of the Holy Spirit, and have as constantly hardened themselves against it; and does not affect those who have not had sufficient light to be able to comprehend the truths of the Gospel. These are some of the illustrations that the clergy put upon the damnatory sentences in St. Athanasius' Creed; but all modifications of this nature seem to be mere prevaricating subterfuges, to render elaborate harshness palatable and tolerable, and to cloak the most odious and unscriptural doctrines. Of this opinion have been several luminaries of the church of England, particularly that great and good man, Archbishop Tillotson, who in a letter written to an eminent prelate of his time, dated October 23, 1694, says, ' The account given of St. Athanasius' Creed seems to me in nowise satisfactory; I wish we were well rid of it.'"
Answered by Mr. J. Smith, of Alton Park.
It is now generally understood, that St. Athanasius was not the composer of the creed which bears his name. It has been ascribed, with apparent probability, to Vigilius Tapsensis, an African bishop, who lived in the century immediately succeeding that in which St. Athanasius flourished. The sense in which the clergy generally understand the damnatory clauses in this creed, I cannot precisely determine. v
A similar opinion was expressed by Mr. J. Baines, jun.
Mr. J. E. Savage says, "The creed in question was certainly composed by St. Athanasius;" but does not quote his authority, or adduce any argument in support of his opinion.
Mr. Jos. Bamford does not decide on the question, but seems inclined to the opinion that St. Athanasius wrote the creed in question; and says, that the clauses referred to are generally understood by the clergy in their literal sense.
Mr. J. Baines, jun. says, "Edward III. in 1340 introduced the motto ' Dieu et man droit,' i. e. 'God and my right,' when he assumed the arms and title of King of France."
Mr. Jos. Bamford observes, "mottoes must be very ancient, even as old as heraldry; for we are told in the 2d chapter of Numbers, that the Israelites had their particular standard for each tribe; and, no doubt, their different mottoes."
Answered by J. H. N. near Leeds. It was customary among the ancient German warriors, to carry their arms with them; to the senate as well as to the camp. The shield was more prized than the sword; and to leave it in battle, was to incur indelible disgrace and pusillanimity. Ambitious to make 'their shields conspicuous, they rudely carved their ^ various heroic achievements upon them; and when they rushed into battle, they repeated a short sentence,