Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Opinion which ascribes the framing of

this Creed to the Apostles in Person, thoas

antient as the firit Account we have of the

Creed it self from Rujinus *, is yet render'd

highly improbable, as by many collateral Rea-

fons, so especially by this Argument, That it

is not appeal'd to in elder 'Times as the Sacred

and unalterable Standard. And therefore our

Excellent Church with due Caution stiles it,

that which is commonly called the Apostles Creedt.

But tho' it seems not to have been compil'd, or
formally drawn up by the Apostles themselves,
yet is its Authority of sufficient Strength, since
it may still be demonstrated to be the Apostles,
or rather the Apostolic Creed, in three several
respects : First, As it is drawn from the Foun-
tains of Apostolical Scripture. Secondly, As
it agrees in Substance with the Confeffions of
all Orthodox Churches, which make up the
Apostolic Church, in the extended meaning of
the Word. Thirdly, As it was the Creed of
an Apostolic Church, in the restrain’d Sense of
that Term, denoting a Church founded by the
Apostles, as was that of Rome alone in our
Western World. Of these three Particulars,
the first will appear from the Body of the Ex-
position ; the fecond will be evinc'd (so far as

is neceffary,) in our Consideration of the

third ; which, being on all hands acknow-

ledg'd, need only be illustrated by the follow-

ing Account.

1 The Form antiently requir'd of those that

* Clar. Anno CCCXC. † Article VIII.
++ See Bishop Bull, Judicium Excl. Cath. C. VI. S.XVIII.

See likewise the learned History of the Creed, in vo, pag. 35,

&c. and, The History of Infant Baptism, by the Revere id

And learned Mr. Wall, P.II. C.IX.

offer'd

offer'd themselves to be baptiz’d, was, 1 believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Heresies springing up did not long suffer the Church to enjoy this plain Confession: But, as in the Apostles time, the Followers of Simon Magus, Menander, Cerinthus, &c. had broach'd their impious Opinions, so after the Decease of the Apostles, they more boldly vented and publish'd them.

On which occasion, the Bishops and Governours of the Church were obligʻd to require the Candidates for Baptifm to explain more fully their Belief in the Holy Trinity, according to the Doctrine of the Scriptures; with the Addition of other Articles oppugn'd or corrupted by the same Heretics. The first Heretical Seducers arose in the East, and chiefly, or only, disturb'd the Eastern Church. And therefore in those Parts the Creed was first enlarg'd, and the Antidote prepar'd where the Poyson had been shed. The antient Eastern Creed, before the Councils of Nice t and Constantinople *, is prefum'd to be that on which St. Cyril of Jerufalem ** compos'd his Catechetical Lectures ; the Enlargements in the Second Article being design'd against the Cerinthians, Ebionites, and other Gnostics, who denied our Lord's. Divinity, so long before the time of Arius. From this, probably, the Romans, or Western Creed was form’d; tho’ some Particulars were omitted, for the sake of Brevity, and others because the Heresies to which they referr'd were

**

Anno CCCXXV. Anno CCCLXXXI.

Scripfit Anno CCCLI.
A 4

then

then unknown at Rome, and in the West. As for the Particulars added, of the Descent into Hell, and the Communion of Saints, as they were not in the Eastern Creed, fo neither were they originally in the Western. The former was certainly put into the Roman after the time of Ruffinus ; and the latter, as it was wanting, in his time, in that of his own Church of Aquileia, so he does not mention it to have occurr'd in the Roman, or in the Oriental. When the more General Confession was begun in the Nicene, and finish'd in the Constantinopolitan Councils, it appears not to have been the Design of the Fathers in those Councils that the Creed, as augmented and setled by them, should be always us'd in the Form of Baptism, provided it was embrac'd and acknowledg'd by all Churches, and imply'd, at least, in their particular Forms. Wherefore the Roman, and other Western Prelates, who made so eminent a Part of those Venerable Assemblies, tho' they most heartily entertain'd the Confession there establish'd, and renounced all that did not embrace it, yet kept to their Old Form in Baptism, as we learn from the express Words of Ruffinus in his Preface.

From this Account it not only appears on the one hand, that the Apostles Creed is juftly defended in its Name and Authority, but likewise on the other hand, that it is guarded against the late Pretensions of the Socinians, and their Abettors, who, first advancing it extravagantly above all other Forms, are then wont to take refuge in it, as not condemning their Heretical Innovations. For if it was compild

out

out of the Eastern Form, we have seen the Reason why it omitted some Enlargements of that Form; if not, it was yet compil'd by those who embraced the said Eastern Form in its full Perfection, and thought it a larger Exflication of their own.

Were there no exfrefs Terms in the Apostles Creed, which directly and formally preclude the abovesaid Herefies, (the contrary to which has been evinc'd, as by Bishop Pearson, so since him by another most learned Prelate *,) yet in as much as this and all other Forms are to be expounded by the Word of God, the Exposition of it must refute all those Opinions which, in any Great and Fundamental Point, are repugnant to the fame Divine Word.

Thus the Church of England with the higheft Reason declares t, That the three Creeds, Nice Creed, Athanafius's Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles Creed, ought throughly to be receiv'd and believ'd: The first, as the refult of two famous General Councils in the East, in opposition to the two leading Heresies of Arius and Macedonius ; the second, tho’ not of equal Antiquity, nor so illustrious in its Original, yet as containing a more diftinct Explication of the Orthodox Belief, and oppos’d not only to the two great Heresies before nam'd, but to those likewise of Nesto

* Bishop Bull, Judic. Eccl. Cath. C. VI. S. IV. OC. t Article VIII.

rius *

rius * and Eutyches t, concerning the Nature and Person of our Lord ; the third as the sound and antient Confession of this Western Church ; and all three, for that they may be prov'd by most certain Warrant of Holy Scripture.

* Condemn'd in the third General Council ar Ephesus, Anno CCCCXXXI.

+ Condemn'd in the fourth General Council at Chalcedon, Anno CCCCLI.

THE

« PreviousContinue »