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ON THE APOSTLES' CREED.
THAT part of our liturgy, which is commonly called the Apostles creed, is a summary of the Christian faith, an epitome of those things, which sa Christian ought to know and believe to his • soul's health. It is confessedly a composition of very great antiquity, but whether the twelve inspired persons, whose names it bears, or any of them, were really the authors of it, or of any part of it, will not here be discussed; each side of the questions has had its advocates.* Whether this famous formulary be sufficiently comprehensive to include all the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion, will be here left undetermined ; nor will it be the object of the present essay to comment at large on the several articles of the creed, and confirm them by apposite quotations from Scripture. This has been done repeatedly and copiously by various writers.* It will however, be proper to lay the creed itself before the reader, and cursorily to point out the particulars, of which it consists.
* Dr. Comber, in his Companion to the Temple, (p. 132.) strongly asserts, and labors hard to establish the affirmative side of the question, referring the reader to the primitive Fathers from Clemens Romanus downwards to the time of Augustine, as having positively ascribed Apostolic authority to this creed. He cites also Luther, Calvin, Beza, P. Martyr, and Bullenger as uniting in opinion with himself. Bat it seems very questionable whether by “Fides Apostolica;' and such like Phrases these antient Fathers of the church meant this or any other compendium of Divinity; or, whether they did not thereby intend a general description of the Christian faith, as built on the foundation of the A postolic writings. Bishops Burnet and Pearson consider this high claim, which some have made in favor of this creed, be altogether indefensible. See Bp. Burnet's Exposition of the 39 Articles, on Art.
• I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker 6 of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His
only Son our Lord : who was conceived by the • Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered • under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and • buried : He descended into Hell,t the third day he rose again from the dead, He ascended into • heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the • Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to * judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the • Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic church, the i communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the • resurrection of the body, and the life everlast. ing. Amen.
* Those, who are desirous of farther information on this sube ject, will find great satisfaction by reading Bishop Pearson's Exposition on the creed ; and Mr. Walker's (of Truro) lectures on the Church Catechism.
+ As the article of the descent into Hell has offended the minds of many serious persons, it seems proper to remark that ‘our * English, or rather Saxon word Hell in its ori pal signification
(though it is now understood in a more limited sense) exactly answers to the Greek word Hades, and denotes a concealed or
This compendious body of Divinity commences with the fundamental article of all true religion, the Unity of the Godhead. I believe in God.' The importance of this part of our belief, our Lord points out in a conversation He held with a certain scribe, who came and asked Him, which o is the first commandment of all ? Jesus answerred him, the first of all the commandments is, * Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.'* The doctrine of the Trinity is not omitted, though it be not asserted and illustrated in those strong terms, which are used in the other creeds, which were drawn up af er the rise of the various heresies, which soon began, and still continue to infest the church of Christ. We profess our faith in the first Person of the Godhead, as the Father of us all by creation, and of his church by adoption and grace, and as the Maker of • heaven and earth, and of all things therein contained. The second Person in Jehovah is also introduced as the object of faith: and though the assertion of His Divine nature be not so full and explicit, as what is given in the creed of St. Athanasius, and the other in our communion service, for the reason before assigned ; yet enough is here said, if properly understood, to characterize our adorable Redeemer, as being 6 equal with the Father touching his Godhead, 6 though inferior to the Father touching his • Manhood."* The several important and interesting particulars of our Lord's incarnation, birth, sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension, and session at the right-hand of God are then mentioned ; in all which the worshipper of our church is directed to express his belief: for though the words, I believe,' are used but twice ; they maintain a connection with every separate article of the creed. By the declaration, I believe, every individual avows, not only his own assent to the truth of the proposition; but also his own reliance on it, as necessarily affecting his own personal salvation. How awful is it to consider, that many, who orally repeat our confession of faith, are found liars before God! · The Holy • Ghost, who sanctifieth all the elect people of
unseen place; and this sense of the word is still retained in the eastern, and especially in the western counties of England ; to • hele over a thing is to cover it. See Lord King's history of the • creed. Ch. iv." Doddridge on Rev. i. 18. It seems however a pity, that Hades and Gehenna, the former signifying in general the place of separate spirits, and the latter the place of torment, should both have been rendered, in the translation of our Bible, by the same word. Hell, considered as the place to which the disembodied Spirit of our Saviour went, must be synonymous with Paradise, since our Lord promised there to meet the penitent thief. Luke xxiii. 43.
* Mark xii. 49. Our Lord's answer is a quotation from Deut. vi. 4. where the words of the original Hebrew are very remark. able : “ Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Aleim (a plural noun regularly formed from its singular, and frequently used with verbs, adjectives, and participles plural) is one Jehovah.' In the compass of these few words the Doctrine of the unity of the Di. vine essence, and the plurality of the persoas therein, is so clearly laid down, that the gates of Hell, with all its sophistry and power, can never prevail against this most valuable and console
* The name Jesus in Hebrew is a compound of 7 Jah or Jehovah, a yur Saviour or salvation : So that He, to whom that name properly belongs, must be God. The name Jesus answers to · Emanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us.' It was foretold by the Spirit of Prophesy, that our Lord's name should be Emmanuel. Matt. i. 22, 23. Several ways.' says Bishop Pearson, have been invented to shew the fulfilling of
that prophesy, potwithstanding our Saviour was not called Em• mapuel; but none can certainly appear more proper, than that • the sense of Emmanuel should be comprehended in the name of * Jesus, and what else is God with us than God our Saviour ? Well therefore hath the Evangelist conjoined the prophet and the Angel, (see Matt. i. 22, 23.) asserting Christ was therefore named Jesus, because it was foretold he should be called Emmanuel,
lical God the Saviour being in the highest propriety the prophetical God with us.' See Pearson, 2d. Edit. Fol. p. 79.