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PREFACE TO NEW EDITION.
THE APOSTLES' CREED is the ancient confession of faith of the Western Church. It is so called, because the doctrine which it contains is Apostolic, that is, in conformity with that which has been held in the Church from primitive times. The name CREED is derived from Credo, which forms the first word in this confession in Latin. The Greek writers expressed the form of words in which Christian belief is enunciated by the word ή πίστις, and afterwards, by the word oúußorov, which was found in its Latin form Symbolum, and which first occurs in the works of St. Cyprian, who was Bishop of Carthage, A.D. 248. The Apostles' Creed is generally believed to have its root in the baptismal form of belief which was taught to, and required to be recited by, converts before they were admitted to the Church by baptism; and as it was not in early ages committed to writing, as was the Nicene (or Constantinopolitan) Creed, which was adopted by a General Council, it differed in its form of expression in different Churches. The earliest trace which we find of this Creed is in the writings of Iræneus and Tertullian, in which a form of belief is laid down from wbich the Apostles' Creed has been expanded. In St. Cyprian's time the Baptismal Creed seems to have been something of this form :-“I believe in God the Father, in Christ the Son, in the Holy Spirit, in the forgiveness of sins by the Holy Church, in life eternal.” Novatian, A.D. 260, appears to have added the words “the Lord Almighty,” to the first Article, “ the Son of God our Lord God," to the second Article, as above. In the year 342, Marcellus, Bishop of Ancyra, in Galatia, being an exile at Rome, wrote to Pope Julius in Greek, a form of belief which he states that he learned and was taught from the Holy Scriptures, and which approaches much more closely to the present Apostles' Creed ; he adds to the Creeds of Cyprian and Novatian, the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh of the Articles of our present Creed.
This Creed of Marcellus is almost identical with that put forth in the writings of Rufinus, who was Presbyter of the Church at Aquileia, and who died about the year 410. The Creed which he puts forward as the Creed of the Church of Aquileia, and which he asserts to he identical with that of the Church at Rome, contuins, for the first time, the words, Descendit in inferna—“he descended into Hell.” It adds, after the words“ God the Father Almighty,” the words “invisibilem et impassibilem,” which appear to have been introduced against some prevailing heresy, but which very soon disappeared from the Creed.
Rufinus informs us, that neither in his Church, nor in that of Rome, had the Creed been committed to writing; but that, in the Roman Church the ancient practice was preserved of the Catechumen reciting the Creed in the hearing of the faithful before baptism. Rufinus' Creed differs from our Creed in the following omissions :—"Maker of Heaven and Earth ; " "conceived by," before “the Holy Ghost; “suffered," before “Pontius Pilate;" " dead," before "buried;" “ Catholic," before " Church ;” “the communion of saints," and “life everlasting." It has “at the right hand of the Father," instead of " at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” The next additions made to the Creed are found in two Sermons, ascribed to Eusebius of Gaul, about A.D. 550, in which form it approaches more closely to our own; but it does not appear exactly in the words which we use, until the year A.D. 750, when it is given us by Pirminius, a Bishop, who taught in France and Germany, as that used in the Baptismal Service.
As a belief, the Apostles' Creed is peculiarly obligatory upon every member of the Churches in communion with the English Church, for it is required of those who are baptized, and it is on the ground of their assertion of their belief in the doctrines which it contains, that they are admitted to be members of the Church. It is explained to them in the Catechism. They reassert their belief in it at Confirmation. They are bound to repeat it with the Minister at Morning and Evening Prayer; and in the Visitation of the Sick, they are
examined by the Minister as to their belief in the Articles of the Apostles' Creed. It is consequently necessary that it should be fully explained to the laity, and that its Articles should be clearly shown to be in conformity with Holy Scripture. Archbishop Secker has attempted to do this in the Lectures which follow.