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Whether St. Athanasius were the author of it, has been disputed with great'erudition, by the learned of both communions. It is observable, Ist, that in his epistle to the people of Antioch, : St. Athanasius explicitly declares, that, “ perfectly acquiescing in the Nicene Symbol, it had never entered into his mind, to form a creed of his own;" 2dly, that the creed does not contain .. the word “ consubstantial,” which, it is difficult to suppose, St. Athanasius would not have used; and 3dly, that some articles in it seem counter positions to the subsequent heresies of Nestorius, Eutyches and the Monothelites. These seem strong arguments to show that St. Athanasius could not be its author.
The Symbolic Books of the Roman-Catholic
The most important part of the Traditionary Law of the Roman-Catholic Church, consists of the Decrees of her General, or Ecumenical Councils. In the earliest ages of Christianity, the Christian prelates frequently assembled: their assemblies were called Councils. When the assembly consisted of the Bishops of one or more provinces, it was said to be a provincial council; when all the Prelates' of Christianity were convened, it was said to be a general or ecumenical council. Such councils have been often held. The subject of these pages confines them. I. To the Council of Trent. This will lead us to .mention II. The Creed of Pope Pius the 4th ; and III. The Roman Catechism.
The Council of Trent.
Those who wish to form an accurate notion of the history of this important Council, will find it useful to consider successively, Ist, The events, which took place, from the first general agitation of the measure, till the opening of the Council; 2dly, Its proceedings from its opening till its first suspension; 3dly, Its proceedings from its second opening, till its second suspension; 4thly, Its proceedings from its third opening, till its conclusion; 5thly, Its conclusion; 6thly, Its historiographers; —and 7thly, Its reception by the Catholic states of Europe.
1. The Assembly of a General Council was first seriously agitated during the pontificate of Clement the 7th. Two opinions were entertained of the prudence of the measure. Its advocates contended, that the state of the public mind, in every thing which respected religion, iinperiously called for a decision of the Church on the points in dispute ; and for a general regulation of her discipline: Its opposers contended, that the minds of men were in too great a ferment, to make it probable, that the members of the Protestant Churches would acquiesce in the decrees of the Council; and that, if they did not acquiesce, the diştinction between them and the Church of Rome would be indelibly marked, and preclude every hope of a future union : but that, if matters were permitted to remain for some time in their unsettled state, the violence of party would insensibly abate, and a time arrive, when healing measures might have their effect. This was the language of the Chancellor l'Hopital, the President de Thou, and many other distinguished personages; and Pope Clement himself, when he found there was no hope of obtaining the previous obedience of the Protestant Churches to the Council, seems to have inclined to this opinion.
On the death of Clement, in 1534, Cardinal Farnese was elected Pope under the name of Paul the 3d. From the moment of his election he made strenuous exertions to procure the assembly of the Council; but, from every side, he met with resistance. It was found difficult to fix, even on the place of meeting. Mantua was first thought of; but the Duke of Mantua insisted on conditions, with which the Pope could not honourably comply. The emperor Charles the fifth wished the Council to sit in Germany. To this Francis the first, the emperor's great antagonist, would not consent: at length, the city of Trent was fixed upon; but the incessant wars between the emperor and Francis still procrastinated the meeting. Peace was concluded between the monarchs in 1544. Some difficulties, however, still continued, and retarded the Council.
2. At length, on the 19th of December, 1545, eleven years after the election of Pope Paul the third, the Council opened. The matters for the discussion of the assenibly were proposed
by the Legates of the Holy See; then discussed, first in separate, and afterwards in full, congregations. They were finally decreed at the sittings of the Council. Little was done in the three first sessions; but, in the four subsequent sessions, the points respecting the Canon of the holy books, Original Sin, Free Will, Justification, the Sacraments in general, and Baptism and Confirmation in particular, were decided. An epidemical disorder breaking out at Trent, the Council, at its eighth session, translated itself to Bologna. The ninth and tenth sessions were held in that city; but nothing was decided in either of them, and the Pope, being then very aged and infirm, suspended its proceedings. He died in 1549.
3. With infinite difficulty, Julius the third, the immediate successor of Paul, effected the second opening of the Council, on the first of May, 1551. The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth sessions were hield during his Pontificate. The two first of these sessions were employed in prepa- . ratory proceedings. In the fourteenth and fifteenth, the Council propounded the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist, Penance, and Extreme Unction. At the fifteenth, the Protestants were invited to the assembly with an offer of safe conduct. At the sixteenth, the Council again broke up in consequence of the war in Germany.
4. Julius the third died in 1555. He was succeeded by Marcellus the second. The Pontificate of Marcellus lasted only one month, and he was succeeded by Paul the fourth, of the illustrious house of Caraffa, the Dean of the Sacred College.Much was expected from him ; but, in 1559, he died without having re-assembled the Council. The Cardinal de Medicis, by whom he was succeeded, under the name of Pius the fourth, exerted himself, with success, in effecting a third re-assembly of the Council, and bringing it to a conclusion. By an uncommon union of prudence, zeal and moderation, he effected his object, and the third opening of the Council took place on the 18th of January, 1562. On that day, the seventeenth sessions of the Council met: and it was attended by several Cardinals and by 102 bishops. On the 18th, the Censure of Heretics was discussed,
and a safe conduct granted to Protestants. Nothing was decided at the eighteenth and nineteenth sessions. At the twentyfirst, the Council decided upon Communion under both kinds; at the twenty-second, on the Sacrifice of the Mass; at the twenty-third and twenty-fourth, on the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matriinony; and, on the twenty-fifth, on Purgatory, Devotion to Holy Images, the Invocation of Saints, and Indulgences.
5. Here, the Council closed. Its decrees (were signed by 255 fathers : four of these were Legates of the Holy See; two, Cardinals ; three, Patriarchs ; twenty-five, Archbishops ; one hundred and sixty-eight, Bishops; thirty-nine, deputies of absent Prelates ; seven, Abbots ; and seven were Generals of Religious Orders. It was subscribed on separate Schedules, by the Embassadors of the Catholic Sovereigns.
It was earnestly wished by the Pope and the Roman Catholic states, that the Protestant Princes and their Divines should attend the council; but they insisted on a deliberative voice : this the council uniformly refused. On this point the negociation between them unfortunately failed; and, in a Consistory, held on the 26th of January, 1564, the Pope, having taken, in the usual form, the advice of the Cardinals, contirmed the proceedings of the council. He died in the following year, and was succeeded by Pius the Fifth..
That a considerable proportion of the Prelates, by whom the council was attended, were distinguished by learning, virtue, and enlightened zeal for religion, has never been denied. Perhaps no civil or religious meeting ever possessed a greater assemblage of moral, religious, and intellectual endowment.
6. In the different atmospheres of Venice and Rome, the History of the Council of Trent has been written by the celebrated Fra Paolo, a concealed Calvinist, (the translation of whose work, with notes, by Dr. Courayer, is more valued than the original) and by Cardinal Pallavicini, a Jesuit. The Cardinal does not dissemble, that some of the deliberations of the council were attended with intrigues and passion; and that their effects were visible in various incidents of the council: but he