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ART. VI.-The Doctrine of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, in its Relation to Mankind and to the Church. By ROBERT ISAAC WILBERFORCE, A.M., Archdeacon of the East Riding. London Murray. 1848. pp. 548.



"MUCH depends," says the learned and accurate Waterland, "upon our having true and just sentiments of the Incarnation, in which the whole economy of our salvation is nearly concerned. To corrupt and deprave this doctrine is to defeat and frustrate, in a great measure, the Gospel of Christ which bringeth salvation: wherefore it is of everlasting concernment to us, not to be guilty of doing it ourselves, nor to take part with those that do". Therefore all the ancient Catholic Creeds are so particular in delivering their statements of this doctrine; the two shorter ones comprehending it in more simple historical expositions of the fact, the Creed of St. Athanasius guarding it with more strict definitions against the corruptions of a later age. We know not how far Waterland may appear to have made good his argument, that this Creed was written before the Council of Ephesus. date for its origin is earlier than those assigned by the critics who do not claim it for Athanasius; and yet it may appear somewhat too late, if we grant that the statements about our Lord's Incarnation have reference only to the errors of the Apollinarians. The errors of the Apollinarians had been synodically condemned, as it would appear, by St. Athanasius at Alexandria not long before his death, and by Damasus at Rome a few years later. The date of this Roman Synod, recorded by Theodoret, was, according to Pagi, A.D. 375; after which, though there were some movements of the sect at Antioch, and in other parts of the East, it appears to have been of no great extent or prevalence. St. Augustin speaks of it as scarcely having a remnant left in his time. (In Ps. xxix.) Is it then probable, that in a creed drawn up, as Waterland supposes, in A. D. 429 or 4302, the writer would have taken all this care to guard against a heresy which had had its day, without regard to others that were then beginning much more to occupy people's minds? For the commencement of the unhappy doctrine of Nestorius, as it is agreed, was made in a sermon preached on Christmas Day, a. D. 428. Waterland's arguments for supposing Hilary of Arles to be

1 Hist. of the Athan. Creed, c. x.

• Ibid. c. viii.

the author of this Creed are by no means improbable. It seems to be near a certainty that it was of Gallican origin, and internal evidence is strong for ascribing it to some writer of the earlier half of the fifth century. But it is not at all clear, that there is no allusion in the latter part of this Creed to the errors of Nestorius and Eutyches. It seems much more likely that the writer wished to guard the flock of Christ from both one and the other. Let us, however, hear Waterland himself on this point:

"There is not a word in the Creed," he says, "directly and plainly expressing two natures in Christ, or excluding one nature; which critical terms, against the error of Eutyches, are very rarely or never omitted in the Creeds drawn up in the Eutychian times, or the times immediately following. It is true, there is, in the Athanasian Creed, what may be sufficient to obviate or preclude the Eutychian heresy; as there is also in the larger Creed of Epiphanius, A. D. 373, and in the works of Nazianzen and Ambrose, and in Pelagius's Creed; and in the writings of Austin and Vincentius of Lerins, both before the year 435, many years before Eutyches. The strongest expression of the Creed against the Eutychians, and which has been most frequently urged in this case, is, Unus omnino, non confusione substantiæ, sed unitale personæ : which is yet used by Vincentius, and by Austin too, almost in terms. And if this be no reason for making either of those authors, or the tracts ascribed to them, later than Eutyches, why shall the like expression be of any force in respect to the Athanasian Creed? There is nothing in the Creed, but what was common and ordinary in Catholic writers before the Eutychian times; but there are wanting those critical, distinguishing terms of two natures, or one nature, necessary to be inserted in the Creeds after these times, and never, or very rarely, omitted."-Hist. of Athan. Creed, c. vii.

This is the first of four arguments, which he adduces, to prove, that the Creed was earlier than the Council of Chalcedon. That it was also earlier than the Council of Ephesus, he endeavours to prove by similar arguments; namely, that there is no condemnation in full, direct, and critical terms, of the Nestorian heresy, nothing of the term Theotocos, of one Son only, in opposition to two Sons, or of God's being born, suffering, and dying which kind of expression the Creeds are full of after Nestorius' times. He considers, in short, that, as "the Apollinarians really held a doctrine very near akin to that which was afterwards called Eutychian; and they maliciously charged the Catholics with that very doctrine which was afterwards called Nestorian; so the Catholics, in their charge upon the Apollinarians, condemned the Eutychian doctrine long before Eutyches; and, in their defence of themselves, they also condemned the Nestorian tenets before Nestorius."

These arguments are certainly not so conclusive, but that much might be urged with equal probability on the contrary side. The later Creeds, of which Waterland appears to speak, were not, like this, composed for public recitation in the Christian assemblies, but, like the famous anathemas of Cyril of Alexandria, were to be applied as tests of orthodoxy to persons whose agreement with the Catholic doctrine was suspected. In the Creeds recited in the public service, there was a studious care to avoid, as far as possible, the introduction of terms relating to existing controversies, a studious preservation of the ancient formularies, and of the sound words together with the faith, which they believed to have been received from the beginning. Nothing is more observable than this principle in the acts of all the early orthodox Councils: this preserved the Church from losing its way amidst the labyrinth of Creeds and Confessions, as Socrates well calls it, which beset it in the age of Constantius; and it is the eminent praise of the distinguished Fathers, whose wisdom guided the faithful through such dangers, that they clung with equal foresight and moderation to this principle. It was only the plain necessity of the case, which induced any departure from it, as in the introduction of the oμooúolov at Nice, and the clauses regarding the Divinity of the Holy Spirit at Constantinople. There was no need in those symbols, which were intended for the common use of all Christians, to introduce any mention of the term ɛOTÓKоg, or to guard in express words against other subtleties of the time; for, as St. Leo well observes, the first three sentences of the Apostles' Creed, faithfully received, are enough to destroy all heretical illusions. Accordingly, the Fathers at Chalcedon took all pains to show, that they meant to add no new article to the Creed of Nice and Constantinople; but placed on record their decision on the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches, and secured the ancient doctrine by other clear distinctions of the two natures united in our Incarnate Saviour; to which they all subscribed, but which it appears not to have been their purpose to subjoin to the Creed delivered down to them from the two earlier Councils. Supposing then this Third Catholic Creed to have been of the time of the Council of Chalcedon, the absence of those more direct critical terms, on which Waterland founds his argument, may be accounted for, if we regard the Creed itself to have been composed for the public use of the Christian congregations, as it certainly was, rather than as a formulary to be sub

3 Confessio, qua fidelium universitas profitetur, credere se in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, et in Jesum Christum filium Ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum, qui natus est de Spiritu Sancto, ex Maria virgine; quibus tribus sententiis omnium fere hæreticorum machinæ destruuntur.-S. Leo, Epist. x. ad Flavian. c. 2.

scribed by persons admitted to different orders in the Christian ministry.

But, secondly, we do not stand so much upon this answer, as to admit that Waterland is right, in saying, that the doctrine of this Creed is drawn up in terms which mark it to be altogether more ancient than the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. As far as regards the clauses of the Creed relating to the Incarnation, to which we find it sufficient to limit the present inquiry, he confines his proofs almost exclusively to St. Augustin. But if his opinion is well-founded, that these clauses are to be explained by reference to the doctrine of Apollinaris and his followers, the proofs should be taken from those portions of St. Augustin, where the great Latin Father is expressly speaking of the Apollinarians; and to these should be added other proofs from the Letter of St. Athanasius to Epictetus, from Epiphanius, from the Confession addressed by Pope Damasus to Paulinus, from St. Jerome, and whatever contemporary writer has condemned the heresy in question. But such proofs can scarcely be found. The error of Apollinaris on the doctrine of the Incarnation, was a single and strange assertion, that God the Word dwelt in the humanity of Christ in the place of a reasonable soul. This, with its consequence, that our Lord had only a living soul, without the mind or reasoning faculty, in His manhood, we find constantly exposed by the orthodox Fathers of the time: but the definitions in the Creed include not only a contradiction of this, but of other errors akin to it. It will not be found, that either in any public symbol, or treatise of the Fathers before the two later Councils, any such strict definitions of the Church's doctrine on the Incarnation were yet proposed for public acceptation.

It will occupy too great a space to extract the several parallel passages, which Waterland brings to illustrate that part of the Creed of which we are speaking; beginning with the twentyseventh versicle, "Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation," and ending with the thirty-fifth, "For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ." The resemblance is not equally close in all; but some are remarkable enough; as the last five consecutively :


"31. Equalis Patri secundum Divinitatem: minor Patre secundum Humanitatem.

"32. Qui licet Deus sit et

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"Equalem Patri secundum Divinitatem, minorem autem Patre secundum carnem, hoc est, secundum Hominem."-Epist. cxxxvii.


"Agnoscamus geminam sub

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But, after all, this proves nothing as to the age of the Creed. The Fathers at Ephesus and Chalcedon appealed to the authority of many more ancient doctors against Nestorius and Eutyches; and it is natural to suppose that they would employ, as far as they could, the very words of those venerable forefathers of theirs in the faith. In the West, the writings of Augustin appear at once, while he was yet living, to have been held in that honour, which they have never lost. It was natural for the compiler of the Creed to search up and down in those writings for doctrinal statements, which would serve to enshrine the truth he was anxious to secure. What it was necessary for Waterland to show, was, that not only were these modes of statement in use before the times of Nestorius and Eutyches; but that they were discontinued, and other modes of statement introduced, after Nestorius and Eutyches had appeared. This, indeed, he has in some measure attempted to do; but we think unsuccessfully.

In the first place, it would certainly seem, that, a modern critic, who had no particular theory to defend, would be struck with the close resemblance between several of these clauses and the definitions of Chalcedon:


"30. Perfectus Deus, perfectus Homo, ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens.

DEFINITIONS OF CHALCEDON. Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν, τέλειον τὸν αὐτὸν ἐν θεότητι, τέλειον τὸν αὐτ τὸν ἐν ἀνθρωπότητι, Θεὸν ἀληθῶς, καὶ ἄνθρωπον ἀληθῶς, τὸν αὐτὸν ἐκ ψυχῆς λογικῆς καὶ σώματος,

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