Saturday, September 19, 2020

"the Scriptural necessity of such meetings in times of [plague]"

"But here we are obliged to add with great concern, that we find ourselves brought in guilty in a thing which we had looked upon as having produced many blessed effects; we are charged of having done considerable damage by our public worship:  in evidence of this charge they allege the great number of deaths, in our congregation, above all others in the city; and what is of the greatest consequence, they attempt to prove our guilt from Scripture.

[Answer to the charge respecting the holding of Public Worship.]

     "This charge having repeatedly been made against us, it is our duty to give a short answer to it in these sheets.  Take it as follows:

     "We know that the Most High doth not dwell in temples made with men's hands; but that he dwells in a contrite and humble mind; but we know likewise, that few people have a contrite and humble heart at the time of the judgments of God, and that the Lord makes use of his word, to produce in them this blessed disposition:  we know that the public preaching of the Gospel, and common means of edification, promote the same very much; we know that the Lord dwells with such really contrite souls particularly then, when they unite in a church or in any other house for his worship; for has he not said, 'The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling-places of Jacob.'  Has our Blessed Saviour given this promise?  Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.  Has he not called to us through his Apostle, Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  Has there been any exception made in any part of Scripture with respect to sickness, or the time of plague?  Do we blame the first Christians, when they assembled together for the common adoration of Jesus Christ at the utmost hazard of their of [sic] lives?  was it not in these meetings where the blessed martyrs gathered courage and strength, joyfully to shed their blood for Christ's sake?  Do we believe that the law of self-preservation would have excused them if they had for that reason neglected the opportunities, which prepared the way for them to a glorious death?  The narrow compass of this small pamphlet will not allow us to say any more of the blessings of God upon such associations of his people; and even of the Scriptural necessity of such meetings in times of calamity; we will only add a few remarks concerning our meetings themselves, from whence it will appear that we were extremely cautious, and endeavored to render them not only harmless, but even useful."

     Justus Henry Christian Helmuth, A short account of the yellow fever in Philadelphia, for the reflecting Christian, trans. Charles Erdmann (Philadelphia:  Jones, Hoff & Derrick, 1794), 43-44 =Kurze Nachricht von dem sogenannten gelben Fieber in Philadelphia für den nachdenkenden Christen (Philadelphia:  Steiner und Kämmerer, 1793), 81-83.  Among the precautions taken (45 =85),

Those who had sick people at home, or did not feel well themselves, were particularly requested not to come to our meetings; all who attended were advised to sit as far apart as the numbers of hearers would permit.  The service itself lasted seldom longer than half or three quarters of an hour.

I was put onto this by Ephraim Radner, A profound ignorance:  modern pneumatology and its anti-modern redemption (Waco, TX:  Baylor University Press, 2019), 387n50. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pseudo Thomas Aquinas

"Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, lofty origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your brilliance penetrate into the darkness of our understanding and take from us the double darkness in which we have been born, an obscurity of both sin and ignorance. Give us a sharp sense of understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant us the talent of being exact in our explanations, and the ability to express ourselves with thoroughness and charm. Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in completion; through Christ our Lord. Amen."

     That, just one of a number of very closely related versions, derives from the "Creator ineffabilis," which Corpus Thomisticum (which tends to follow the better editions, including the Leonine whenever possible) places under "Some works falsely ascribed to Thomas" ("OPERA ALIQUA FALSE ADSCRIPTA THOMAE") and "by an unknown author" ("Ignoti Auctoris")I have not gone looking for any of the actual scholarship in confirmation of this, however.  For some rather different versions, search Google for "Creator ineffable", "Ineffable Creator", etc. (see M. A. van den Oudenrijn in Angelicum 6, nos. 1-2 (1929):  77-82 for an Armenian version beginning "Creator omnium, incomprehensibilis et ineffabilis" (79-81)).  This version, taken from Wikipedia most immediately, and just one of several translations undoubtedly, follows the Latin (taken from Corpus Thomisticum) a bit more closely:

"Ineffable Creator, Who, of the treasures of Thy wisdom hast formed the nine choirs of Angels, and set them on high above the heavens in a wonderful order, and hast exquisitely fashioned and knit together all parts of the universe; do Thou, Who art the true fountain and one principle of light and wisdom, deign to shed the brightness of Thy light upon the darkness of my understanding, and thus to disperse the twofold darkness of sin and ignorance wherein I was born. O Thou, Who makest eloquent the tongues of babies, instruct my tongue, and pour forth on my lips the grace of thy blessing. Grant me acuteness in understanding what I read, power to retain it, subtlety to discern its true meaning, and clearness and ease in expressing it. Do Thou order my beginnings, direct and further my progress, complete and bless my ending; Thou Who art true God and true Man, Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen."

"Creator ineffabilis, qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti, et eas super caelum empyreum miro ordine collocasti, atque universi partes elegantissime disposuisti, tu, inquam, qui verus fons luminis et sapientiae diceris, atque supereminens principium: infundere digneris super intellectus mei tenebras tuae radium claritatis, duplices, in quibus natus sum, a me removens tenebras, peccatum, scilicet, et ignorantiam. Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas, linguam meam erudias, atque in labiis meis gratiam tuae benedictionis infundas. Da mihi intelligendi acumen, retinendi capacitatem, addiscendi modum et facilitatem, interpretandi subtilitatem, loquendi gratiam copiosam; ingressum instruas, progressum dirigas, egressum compleas. Tu qui es verus Deus et homo. Qui vivis et cetera."

     According to Enrique Alarcón, of Corpus Thomisticum, "
the general criterion [of authenticity] that currently prevails is that explained by the Leonine Commission" in its "Introductio generalis" to Les opuscules de Saint Thomas on pp. I-X of Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII P. M. edita 40 (Ad Sanctae Sabinae, Rome, 1969).  (This, by the way, is in French, not Latin.)  Offhand, though, I don't see a mention of the prayers (preces).

Bibliography (in progress):

  • Esser, Th.  D. Thomae Aquinatis monita et preces.  3rd ed.  Paderborn:  1890.  Pp. 60-73.
  • Grabmann, Martin.  Die Werke des hl. Thomas von Aquin:  eine literarhistorische Untersuchung und Einführung.  Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, Texte und Untersuchungen 22.1/2.  3. stark erweiterten Auflage.  Münster Westfalen:  Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1949.  Pp. 370-372, on the Gebete, including the Creator ineffabilis.  "Uccelli [(below)] hat das Alter seiner Handschriften nicht angegeben."  Whereas Grabmann, coming along behind him, came to the conclusion that, with the exception of the Concedi mihi, these prayers all appear for the first time in manuscripts of the 15th century, and thus well within the period in which the clear dubia et spuria, too, arise.  For as long as we have no earlier testimony, then, "a strongly scientific proof for the authenticity of these prayers" is not to be expected.  And that because no proof from internal evidence alone can be ultimately compelling.
  • Quétif, Jacques, and Echard, Jacques.  Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum recensiti. . . . .  Vol. I, . . . ab initio ad an. M.D. (Paris:  1719), 344 (see no. 4 at the bottom of col. 1 and the top of col. 2).  "Eae quidem quoad stylum non elegantes, sed quoad sensus piissimae.  Ex quibus discimus has orationes traditione acceptas sub nominee S. Thomae in sacrario S. Jacobi publice omnibus sacerdotibus in exemplum prostasse, unde Valleoletanus exscripserit":  "These [prayers] are, with respect to style, inelegant to be sure, but with respect to sense, most pious.  From [all of] which [considerations] we learn that these prayers, accepted by the tradition under the name of St. Thomas, have, for example, been offered up [(prostasse, on the model of prostrasse (from prosterno), the perfect active infinitive of prosto)] in the sanctuary/at the shrine of St. James publicly by all priests; hence [Ludovicus] Valleoletanus copied/reproduced them]."  Ludovicus Valleoletanus (Ludovicus de Valleoleti (Valladolid), etc.) seems to have been an early 15th-century Dominican who composed a bibliographical Tabula of some sort, though I have been unable so far to find out anything else about him.
  • Sertillanges, A.-D.  Prières de saint Thomas d'Aquin.  Paris:  1920.
  • Uccelli, P. A.  "Orazioni e detti di San Tommaso d'Aquino."  La scienza e la fede 68 (1868):  353-372, 441-450.