Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

' and the Condemning Clauses are to be understood as relating only to those who obstinately deny the substance of the Christian Faith.' This explanation, however, set aside rather than explained the clauses, and failed to give satisfaction. The theologians of the next century sought a different mode of escape from the difficulty. Thus Charles Wheatly suggests that the 'warnings' of verses 1, 2 are limited in their reference, that they apply, indeed, only to verses 3, 4. ‘All that is required of us (so says Wheatly) as necessary to salvation is, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity : neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.' This suggestion is ingenious, but it does not give help to the attentive reader who finds Damnatory or Minatory Clauses stationed at three separate points in the Quicunque, as though to prevent any such escape. Equally unsatisfying is the contention of Thomas Bennet, M.A.,? who in order to save members of the Greek Church, urges that the Damnatory Clauses do not cover verse 23, which contains the Filioque clause which the Greeks reject. It is, indeed, hardly to be wondered at that the American Church, in the face of unworthy shifts like these, cut the knot at her own revision of the Prayer Book in 1789 by cutting out the Quicunque vult as well from her Service Book as from her services.

In England the question of the Damnatory Clauses came to the front again when the Ritual Commission of 1867 began its work. Many of the members of the Commission, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the two Regius Professors of Divinity at Oxford and Cambridge, were in favour of discontinuing the recitation of the Quicunque in public worship. Nothing, however, came of the labours of the Commission in England except the passing of a wordy resolution by the Southern Convocation. The Synod of Canterbury in 1873 * solemnly declared that the warnings of the Damnatory Clauses of the Quicunque are to be explained after the analogy of the 'like warnings in Holy Scripture.' 3 Thus the Church, instead of acting as an interpreter of Holy Writ and a guide of her children, is to hand over her interpretative office to individuals, that they may expound for themselves her ambiguous warnings. The Synod, when asked for bread, gave the children of the Church a stone. Not daring to accept the clauses in their plain meaning, the Southern Convocation sent Churchmen off to find glosses for themselves.

While an English Synod was thus shelving the question, Irish Churchmen were settling it. The disestablished Church of Ireland, in revising the Prayer Book for

her own use, was of course confronted Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, 4th ed., 1724. Paraphrase with Annotations upon the Book of Common Prayer, page 273

* The Solemn Declaration does not tell as where in Scripture is to be found a lengthy and intricate doctrinal statement accompanied by warnings that we must accept it on pain of damnation for refusal or neglect.

[ocr errors]

(London, 1708).

with the difficulty of the Damnatory Clauses of the Quicunque. She solved the difficulty by two rubrical changes. In Morning Prayer the revised rubric before the Apostles' Creed directs only that the Apostles' Creed is to be said. The rubric before · The Creed (commonly called) of St. Athanasius' has been dropped. Thus the Irish Church has ceased to enjoin the recitation of the Quicunque. On the other hand, the Quicunque stands in its familiar place in the Prayer Book as a standard of doctrine. The Irish Churchmen of the early seventies were more conservative than the American Churchmen of 1789.

In England the difficulty of the Damnatory Clauses has continued to make itself felt. The Solemn Declaration of 1873 gives no permanent satisfaction. Every book written on the Prayer Book has its own way of dealing with the difficulty, but the usual resource is to set limits to the reference of the words “Whosoever' in verse 1, and ‘ every one ' in verse 2. These verses are addressed (we are told) only to those who have been soundly instructed in the Christian Faith, and only they are damned for stumbling over the Quicunque. (We, however, on Christmas morning hear the clauses said to babes and to beginners.) 'Before all things' (we are informed) implies no preference of orthodox thinking to right living. “Without doubt he shall perish everlastingly'is of course to be understood with the limitations of which God alone is judge.' Why are limitations' of course,' when the document itself says, 'without doubt'?

The defenders of the Damnatory Clauses are continually protesting that these clauses must be properly understood, but they protest too much. The language of the Quicunque is too painfully clear. It is a delusion that this lawyer-drawn document merely gives us a general warning against the frivolity which declares that it does not matter what a man believes, provided that he lives a decent life. The language of the Quicunque is precise not only in its definitions but also in its warnings; it offers the choice between its own perfect orthodoxy and damnation without doubt.'

Twice within our generation the ‘Athanasian Creed' has been retranslated from the original Latin mainly in the hope that it would be found possible to remove (or lessen) the offence caused by the Damnatory Clauses. The work was done in 1872 by a Committee of Bishops, and in 1906 by a Committee of the Northern Convocation. It must, however, be confessed that more accurate translation has, if anything, made harder the task of those who seek to explain' the Clauses. The last verse as translated in 1906 runs : This is the Catholic Faith : which except each man shall have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be saved.' The (correct) addition of and firmly shuts out still more the weaker brethren.

* See Canon Fausset, Guide to the Study of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 104, (ed. iii.); Dean Stephens (the late), Helps to the Stady of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 56 (ed. ii.) ; Herbert Pole, M.A., The Book of Common Prayer, p. 81 (London, 1902); C. C. Atkinson, D.D., A Handbook for Worshippers at Mattins and Evensong, pp. 79, 80 (London, 1902). Dr. Atkinson says truly that the test of membership of the Church is the Apostles' Creed, and that laymen do not forfeit their membership from thinking that this or that article of the Athanasian Creed is unscriptural or unsound.' But in that case why announce that whosoever willeth to be saved must hold the Catholic Faith as set forth in the Quicunque, or else perish everlastingly?

Experience from 1689 till now shows that explanations' and re-translations do not permanently satisfy men who face the terrible words of the Five Clauses as they stand, and ask if they can be true. Some more worthy way of dealing with the difficulty must be found, if the Church of England is to fulfil her mission as a witness to Divine truth. The essential step is to remove the present legal compulsion which stamps as disobedient the men whose sense of truth forbids them both to recite the Damnatory Clauses, and to receive the glosses which have been put upon them.

It is for the Lambeth Conference to decide what particular remedy is to be adopted, but it is interesting to note the last important step taken with regard to the Quicunque. The example of the Church of Ireland has borne fruit. In October 1905 an important decision was made by the General Synod of Australia and Tasmania. The Bishops by 11 to 4, the Clergy by 41 to 23, the Laity by 28 to 13 passed after two days' debate the following resolution - That this Synod affirms its ex animo acceptance of the credenda of the Quicunque vult, but in view of the minatory clauses, and of the general character of the document, it is of opinion that constitutional means should be adopted for the omission of the rubric requiring its public recitation.'

If the matter is to be settled by the English method of a compromise, it is hard to think of a juster compromise than this. At present those who as truthful men cannot bring themselves to recite the Damnatory Clauses are guilty of disobedience to the law of the Church and of the State. If the rubric were removed, this state of things would cease, but those who can accept the five clauses as true would be able to recite the Quicunque as an anthem-its form is metrical—just as often as it suited their sense of fitness. Their only disability would be that they could not turn out the Apostles' Creed from Morning Prayer to make room for what is only a commentary on the Creed. It is earnestly to be hoped that the Lambeth Conference, which has twice dealt with the Quicunque, in 1888 and 1897, by suggesting a retranslation, will in 1908 lead the great Church which it represents forward towards a lasting solution of a difficulty which

has been felt for 250 years."

W. EMERY BARNES.

Three important recent additions to the literature of this subject are: The History and Use of Creeds and Anathemas, by C. H. Turner (S.P.C.K. 1906); an article

, The Athanasian Creed,' in the Church Quarterly Review for April 1908; and Studies in the Prayer-Book (1908] by the Bishop of Edinburgh.

UN NOUVEAU MOLIÈRE

A FRENCH VIEW OF BERNARD SHAW

The Frenchman who reads Bernard Shaw or sees him played is first of all surprised. He perceives indeed how greatly this drama differs from that to which he is accustomed, that is to say, from the contemporary French drama. On reflection he perceives that the differentiation is none the less great, if the dramatic work of Bernard Shaw be compared with that of other contemporary dramatists, whether English, Scandinavian, Russian, German, Italian, or Spanish.

In Bernard Shaw's drama there is indeed something indefinably original and personal, which is not found in any other dramatist.

This originality is due to the fact that Bernard Shaw's drama is no offspring of the romantic drama of Scribe, Hugo, the two Dumas, Augier, or the vaudevillists of the same period—in a word, of the French school of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, all contemporary dramatists, both Scandinavian or French, Italian or English, German or Spanish, are the faithful disciples of this school. Ibsen himself, whom many superficial critics have regarded as quite outside the French orbit, has written plays which may be regarded as models of well-constructed plays according to the formula of the Scribe school. This identity of structure or technique and even of matter causes strong resemblance between French works whether they are the product of Hervieu, Donnay, Brieux, Fabre, or Bernstein. The spectator who has seen one has really seen all the others. When, according to the happy phrase of G. Polti,

l'adultère dans le mariage indissoluble,' so dear to Dumas, was worn threadbare, the French dramatists threw themselves upon ‘l'adultère dans le mariage dissoluble,' and they will use this until it is worse than threadbare. Still it is always the same thing; a few happy hits here and there, sometimes more, sometimes less, a few slight variations in the plot, and the thing is done. In truth, the flavouring alone differs : in one there is a little more pepper, and in the other a little more salt, but it is always the same dish which French dramatists serve us up. Nevertheless, they arrange it so skilfully and so astutely,

like past masters in cookery, that digestion alone discloses the fact that we have once more eaten of yesterday's dish.

Foreign dramatists have the same technique and the same manner, only the matter with which they deal is slightly different. This produces an illusion, and gives a certain foreign flavour which causes their work to pass as a real novelty. According to the nationality of the authors, the environment and the characters are Scandinavian, Russian, English, and so on. This difference of environment and nationality of the characters causes the French playgoer, somewhat out of his bearings, not to recognise at first the dish served up to him. But during digestion he perceives that it is still the same dish with Norwegian sauce, or Swedish, Danish, Italian, English, or Spanish sauce.

Nevertheless, among all these dramatic works there are many differences in the details of technique and material. The eternal duel of the sexes remains the corner-stone of the drama, but numerous are the variations which in the shape of diverse arabesques are woven with more or less lightness or heaviness by the authors on this apparently immovable basis. Some adopt the tragic, others the comic style. Others combine the two styles in various doses. In our days and for more than half a century, authors of serious plays are fond of the problem play, in whatever country they were born and live.

The problem play is the logical demonstration of a principle. It is the staging of a plea for or against a phenomenon which is rather social than individual. Our dramatist chooses a subject, and fits in characters to put forward their pleas and views on the subject chosen. Often all or almost all the plays of one and the same author relate to the same subject. Thus the drama of Dumas the younger is, so to speak, the drama of adultery. In the same way Ibsen, for the majority of the plays of his mature period (1868–1886), chose criticism of marriage and the family. But he rises much higher than Dumas, because he reaches a philosophic generalisation which the latter had not attained. Ibsen, a genius, sees in the intestinal struggles of families an antagonism between ideals and the actions of life, between our morals, our social institutions generally, and our individual development. He is haunted by the problem of the will. He goes more to the bottom of things, and their very essence appears to him bad. Thus the principle of authority seems to him criminal. Society appears to him as restrictive of the individual. The State is the curse of the individual. The latter tends continuously towards his own development. This is the essential theme of all Ibsen's plays, and also of those of Björnstjerne Björnson. With these geniuses the problem play had acquired a social scope which it had previously not possessed and did not possess either with the other dramatists, whether French or other of our time, who are nearer the masters

Augier and Dumas.

Vol. LXIV-No. 377

E

« AnteriorContinua »