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Later Treatises of Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria

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The times, for which God raised up Saint Athanasius, have, in many respects, a counterpart in our own. There is, now too, earnest, ever-enlarging, adherence to the faith, in those who hold it. But there is also a wide-spread dislike of definite doctrine, such as found a vent in the different shades of Arianism. They framed eleven Creeds, to satisfy themselves or others, over-against the one faith, put forth at Nicaea and accepted by the whole Church. They swung to and fro, at times approximating nearer to the truth; but their secret maxim, unknown to themselves, was, "anything but the Truth".

But Saint Athanasius speaks more nearly to us, who would defend that faith. Wide as differences now are, the adherence to the maxims and principles of Saint Athanasius may prevent their being wider, or may win many to the whole truth. It is a great step to understand one another. "Saint Athanasius looked through words into meanings." "One of the characteristic points in Saint Athanasius," said Card. Newman 40 years ago, "is his constant attention to the sense of doctrine, or the meaning of writers, in preference to the words used."

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