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ready done with great judgment and copiousness by others, to whose endeavours the author doth not pretend to add any thing: But the author's only intent, in the following treatise, is to make an essay, towards an historical and critical account of the creed, to find out, if possible, the authors and framers of the creed, the time when the several articles were introduced, the occasion and intent of their first introducing, and what the sense, meaning and design of the first introducers were; inter. mixing here and there some critical observations, which may be both useful and delight ful to the reader.
To this end the author hath not contented himself with reading of modern books or collections made by later writers, but hath himself had immediate recourse to the remaining monuments of the primitive ages of the church, from whence only all learning of this kind can be fetched and derived,
Whether the author hath succeeded in this attempt, must be left to others to judge; he can only say in his own excuse, that he hath done his best; and that it will be very acceptable to him to see it better done by others of more leisure, and greater abilities and learning,
especially if any thing hit upon by him, may be of use to advance and improve this design.
If the author hath not explained every thing alledged by him to that degree of clearness and certainty, as may be expected by an inquisitive reader, or hath in any point been mistaken, it is excusable in him, not only on account of the general uncertainty of ancient and distant matters, but also on account of the affected and studied obscurity of the pri mitive writers in relation to this particular; so that it is not the author's fault, if at any time his proofs are not so copious or direct, as might be wished for and desired: If he had found any thing in the primitive writers to have made any such point clearer and stronger, he would not have omitted it.
If the explication given by the author, of asy article or part of the creed, should happen to be disliked or not approved by any one, the reader must remember, that the author only acts the part of an historian; his design being only to collect and discover the sense and meaning of the first makers and compos ers of the creed, what it was that the introducers of the several articles purposed and in
tended thereby; and, if in any place he seems to speak his own sense, that is only for the better carrying on the thread of his discourse, and in the quality and person of an historian, as having collected the sense or explication in such place mentioned, to be the intended meaning of the framers of that part or clause of the creed; the only intent of the author being to shew the sense and intended meaning of the composers of the creed, and not at all to enter into an examination of the justness. or truth of such sense and meaning; the author leaving that to every man's private judgment, to be tried and determined by the holy scriptures, the only perfect and infallible rule of faith; by which even this creed itself, and every explication thereof, must be tried and judged, and is no farther to be received or believed, than as it is consonant and agreeable thereunto; which is according to the sixth article of the church of England, "that whatsoever is not read in the holy scripture, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation."
O F THE
APOSTLES CREED, &c.
The introduction; containing several things relating to the creed in general; the encomiums given thereto by the primitive writers; the several names by which it hath been called; principally termed a symbol; two reasons commonly alledged for that appellation; the one taken from the manner of common suppers amongst the ancients, which is shewn to be weak and uncertain; the other taken from military affairs, where it denotes the watch-words and signs by which soldiers knew each other; which is affirmed not to be the full and proper signification of the word, but that it is rather to be derived from the marks and tokens used by the idolatrous Pagans in their sacred rites, called by
them symbola, which were twofold, either mute or vocal: instances of both: proved to· have been secret marks or words, revealed only to those who were initiated in their mysteries, by means of which they were known to each other, and had free admission wheresoever they came, to the services of those deities whose symbols they had received; and that from the same reasons, and in allusion thereunto, the creed was called a symbol by the primitive authors. A transition from the titles to the authors of the creed: some ascribe it to the apostles; which by several reasons is demonstrated to be impossible: that nevertheless it is apostolical and ancient : exceeding difficult to find out the precise framers of it: the authors thereof were many, and the composure itself a work of time: one part of the creed was used by the apostles, and left by them to their successors: the creed was always demanded at baptism both by the apostles and by those who came after them: the other part of the creed was afterwards added by the rulers of the church, in opposition to heresies, as they appeared and sprang up in what sense the apostles are said to be the authors of one part, and the succeeding governors of the church authors of the other: the meaning of the creed to be fetched from the writing of the fathers the