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were understood to be implied, which it was very soon after found most convenient to express by additional Articles. And the first of these, is that now to be explained; wherein we declare our Belief in the Holy Ca. tholic Church, and the Communion of Saints.
The Scripture Word, translated, Church, originally signifies any regular and orderly Assembly of Persons, called to meet on any Occafion. But in the Bible it fignifies, almost always, a religious Assembly. And wher: ufed in its largeit Senfe there, it comprehends the whole Number of good Persons, in every Age : all those, who from the Beginning of the World, under whatever Dispensation of true Religion, have believed in God, and served him, according to the Degree of their Light; and shall in the End of it be gathered together, and rewarded by him, according to the Degree of their Improvement. This is the general Affembly and Church of the forft-born, which are written in Heaven, as the Epistle to the Hebrews calls it a. And since the Salvation of all these is owing to Jesus Christ; the only Name by which Men can be saved b; they are all, in that Refped, Mem. bers of the Church of Christ, how obscure and imperfect soever their knowledge of a Saviour may have been. But the Word is ufually taken in a narrower Senfe. And thus it is sometimes applied to the Jewish Nation : which in the Old Testament is called, by a Phrase of just the same Meaning, the Congregation of the Lord, and by St. Stephen, the Church, which was in the Wilderness a. But the Church, more especially meant here in the Creed, is the Christian: which, though in some Respects the fame with the Jewish, in others differed from it; which therefore our Saviour, in the Gospel, speaks of himself as about to build"; and accordingly, immediately after his Afcenfion, in the Acts of the Apostles, we find it built: that is, we find an Affembly of Believers in Chrift, met together at Jerusalem, under their
: Heb. xii. 23, d Acts vii. 38.
b Acts iv. 12. e Matth. xvi, 18.
& Numb. xvi. 3, &c.
proper Teachers and Governors, to worship God, and edify one another, in the Manner, which he appointed.
This was the original Christian Church; small indeed at first : but the Lord, we read, added to the Church daily fuch as should be saved'; till, the Gospel spreading every-Way, the Number of Christians, which in the Beginning required no more than one Congregation, was of Neceflity divided into several. And henceforward we find many Churches fpoken of, at fome Times: yet all these many spoken df as one, at others. For since they all proceeded from the fame Source ; are all, as the Apostle argues, one Body; and are directed by one Spirit ; even as they are called in one Hope of their Calling : as they have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptifm, one God and Father of all 8 : so are they, in great Propriety of Speech, though many, yet one in Chrift". His Church therefore is the whole Number of those, who believe on him. How much foever they may differ in fome Opinions or Practices, yet they are one in all Things effential. How wide soever they may be difperfed throughout the World, they shall at last be
gathered together unto him'. We can judge only according to Appearances : and therefore to us all those muft be Members of Christ's Church, who make a vifible Profefion of being Christians. But God sees every secret Thought: and in his Eye, they alone belong truly to his Church, who truly serve him in the hidden Man of the Hearts: that inward Sincerity, which to human Eyes is invisible. And this invifible true Church of Christ, here in Earth is militant; carrying on a continual War, against the outward Temptations of the World and the Devil, and the inward Struggles, of every wrong Inclination : till having faithfully fought the good Fight'; and really, though not perfectly, gotten the Victory in this Life; it shall, in the next, become triumphant, and receive the Crown of Righteousness
Such then being the Church of Christ in its different States : fet us proceed to consider the two Qualities, & Eph. iv. 4,5.
5 Rom. xii. 5.
1 2 Ther. * Peter iii. 4. * 2 Tim. iv. 7. Rev. XV, 2.
ascribed to it in the Creed: that it is Holy, and that it is Catholii.
To be holy, is to be separate from all Defilement and Impurity, particularly of the moral Kind. Thus God is perfectly holy: Angels and good Men are so in their different Degrees. And becaufe Nothing unclean or impure, in any Sense, ought to enter into the Service of God, therefore whatever is set apart from common Usey and dedicated to his Worship, is called holy also. Hence the Places, Times, and Things, that are fo employed, have that Name given them. And the Perfons, who attend on his Ministry, are stiled holy on Account of their outward Relation to him, whether they are really and inwardly such as they ought, or not. Now -in outward Profession, the whole visible Church of Christ is holy: separated and distinguished from the rest of the World, by acknowledging his holy Laws, and using the Means of Holiness, which he hath appointed. But in the inward Sense, and the only one which will avail hereafter, they alone are indeed Members of his holy Church, who, by the Help of these Means, do really improve themselves in Piety and Virtue, becoming holy in all Manner of Conversation, as be which hath called them, is holy m: and such as are truly lo here, shall be made completely so hereafter. For Chrift laved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of Water; and present it to himself a glorious Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle ; but that it should be holy, and without Blemish".. Alk your
Hearts then: Are you giving your best Diligence to cleanse yourselves from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, perfetting Holiness in the Fear of God • ? For without it no Man hall see the Lord P.
The Word Catholic, applied to the Church in our Creed, is no where used in Scripture; but frequently in the early Christian Writers: and it means universal, extending
Peter i. 15. P Heb, xii, 14.
* Eph. V. 25, 26, 27.
2.Cor. vii. 1
to all Mankind. The Jewish Church was not univerfal, but particular: for it' confifted only of one Nation; and their Law permitted Sacrifices only in one Temple, nor could several other Precepts of it be observed in Countries at any considerable Distance from thence : but the Christian consists of every Kindred, Tongue and People equally; and offers unto the Name of God in every Place, from the rising of the Sun unto the going down of the fame, Incenfe and a pure Offering! The Catholic Church then is the universal Church, spread through the World ; and the Catholic Faith is the universal Faith ; that Form of Doctrine, which the Apostles delivered to the whole Church, and it received. What this Faith was, we may learn from their Writings, contained in the New Testament: and, at fo great a Distance of Time, we can learn it with Certainty no where else. Every Church or Society of Christians, that preserves this Catholic or universal Faith, accompanied with true Charity, is a Part of the Catholic or universal Church : and because the Parts are of the same Nature with the Whole, iç hath been usual to call every Church singly, which is so qualified, a Catholic Church. And in this Sense, Churches, that differ widely in several Notions and Customs, may, notwithftanding, each of them, be truly Catholic Churches. But the Church of Rome, which is one of the most corrupted Parts of the Catholic Church, both in Faith and Love, hath presumed to call itself the whole Catholic Church, the universal Church: which it no more is, than one. diseased Limb, though perhaps the larger for being diseased, is the whole Body of a Man. And by attempting to exclude us, they take the direct way to exclude themselves, unless God impute their uncharitable Way of thinking and acting, as we hope he will, to excusable Ignorance and Mistake. The Church of England pretends not indeed, absurdly, to be the whole Catholic Church; but is undoubtedly a found and excellent Member of x.
a Rev, v.g.
*Mal. i. 11.
* Rom. vi. 17.
So that we bave much better Ground to call ourselves Catholics, than they; were such Names worth disputing about, which they are not : only one would not datter and harden them, by giving them a Title, which they both claim unjustly, and turn into an Argument against us.
In this Holy Catholic Church our Creed profesles Belief. But the Meaning is not, that we engage to believe all Things, without Exception, of which the Majority of the Church, at any Time, thall be persuaded : and much less, what the Rulers of it, or, it may be, a small Part of them, who may please to call themselves the Church, shall at any Time require : for then we must believe many plain Falsehoods, Uncertainties without Number, and contrary Doctrines, as contrary Parties prevail. Our Church doth indeed believe whatever the first and beft Ages of Christianity thought necessary : whatever all the other Churches of the present Age agree in, But this is more, than we declare in the Creed. For there, as believing in God, means only believing that there is a God: and believing in the Resurrection, means only believing that there thall be a Refurrection : fo believing in the Holy Catholic Church, means only believing that by our Saviour's Appointment there was founded, and through his Mercy thall ever continue, a Society of Persons, of what Nation or Nations is indifferent, who have Faith in his Name, and obey his Laws: not indeed without being deformed and disfigured, by Mixtures both of Sin and Error; but ftill, without being destroyed by either. For as he hath promised, that the Gates of Hell, or of the invisible World, that is, Perfecution and Death, shall not prevail Nothing shall abolish it: though several Things may obscure and corrupt it. That Sin doth, we fee : why then may not Error too? It is certainly not a worse Thing: nor is our Saviour's Promise a greater Security against the one, than the other. He requires us indeed Matth. xvi. 18.