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IN the foregoing Dissertations I have been 1 able to authenticate the facts I have narrated by inspired history. In the following, I must content myself with such evidence as can be produced from the monuments of uninspired antiquity, taken in connection withi Scripture prophecy, relating to the times to which there memoirs do refer. The period under consideration has fewer monuments of the historical kind than others which might be mentioned, * Cece
indeed; but those which exist are genuine, and less enveloped in fable, than those of the following centuries, which were forged in the dark reign of nonkish superstition and falseHoods; having apostolic men, for some time, as living members; so they had a more sacred regard for apostolic institutions, and kept nigher the pattern shewed in the mount. We have not related any of their deeds, as of equal authority with the example of inspired persons ; or as of any authority at all, farther than they exemplify divine institutions. But in so far as they acted up, in any measure, unto the sacred standard, their example is worthy of our imitation. It becomes us to tread in the footsteps of the flock. The plan we design to purfue is,-). To survey the Creeds, Confessions, and Covenants which took place during the time we have specified.-II. The Circumstances of the Church, which rendered these fit and seasonable.- III. The Natural and Actual tendency of such Transactions.
FIRST, I must survey the CREEDS, ConFESSIONS, and COVENANTS which obtained in the three first centuries of the Christian Church, immediately after the apostolic age. This province has been cultivated by many; but few have attended to it with that diligence and industry which the importance of the subject demands. Their labours, however, have been serviceable in this inatter. I noticed al
ready, that the pastors of particular churches formed creeds unto such as submitted unto their ministry: Hence, we need not greatly wonder, if we find some verbal difference among them, while they were materially and substantially the same. It is our purpose to insert as literal a translation as possible of such creeds as have come to hand, subjoining the original in the notes; so that the intelligent reader may judge for himself as to the justice and propriety of it *.
IREN Æ US gives us the first composition, which bears the name of a creed, to the following purpose : “ For, although the Church be diffufed over all the world, yet she received from the Apostles, and their disciples, the Faith in one God the Father, Almighty, the maker
* Prior to Irenæus, we have a suinmary of faith which some Ityle a Creed, others not, given by Ignatius. Tho' it does not bear the form of one, yet I have thought proper here to insert Bishop Wake's translation of it; as it is the same in substance with some others acknowleged to be creeds : “ Stop your ears therefore, as often as any one shall speak contrary to Jesus Christ; who was of the race of David, of the Virgin Mary. Who was truly born, and did eat and drink ; was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; was truly crucified and dead; both those in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, being fpectators of it : Who was also truly raised from the dead by his father, after the same manner as he will also raise up us who believe in him, by Christ Jesus; without whom we have no true life.” IGNATIUS's Epistle to the Trallians, chap. ix. Edit. 4. by Bishop Wake, London, 1737. .
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of of heaven and earth, and sea, and all things in them: And in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate for our salvation : And in one Holy Spirit, who announced by the Prophets the dispensations of Jesus Christ, the Beloved, our Lord, and his coming, and his being born of a virgin, and his passion and resurrection from the dead, and his ascension in the flesh into heaven; and his coming from heaven in the glory of the Father, to gather all things together into one, and to raise up the bodies of all men ; that, according to the will of the invisible Father, every knee should bow of things in heaven and things on earth, to Christ Jesus our Lord and God and Saviour and King; and that every tongue should confess to him: and that he may exercise just judgment upon all, and send spriritual wickednesses, and tranfa gressing and apostate angels, and all ungodly, unrighteous, and lawlefs and blafpheming inen into eternal fire; but conferring life on the righteous and holy, who keep his commandments, and continue in his love, whether from the beginning, or from the time of their confession; and that he may give unto them inmortality, and put them into possession of eternal glory*,". The same author exhibits an
* « Η μεν γαρ εκκλησία και περ καθ' όλης της δικημένης έως πρώτων της γης έδιεσσαριεενη, παρά δε των αποςόλων και των εκείνων μαθητων παραλαβεσα την, εις ένα Θεόν σαλέρα σαλοκράτορα, τον σεποιηκότα τον ερανον και την γήν και τας θαλάσσας, και πάνlα τα εν αυhois, wisoy Xcoi sis čvce Xposóv 'inos y viloy tó Oir Toy Caspxwdivide + 8 : 13; Mtd; T7 1 1%;,” $c. Lik, I cap. ii. P 35, 36.
other form, greatly shorter, to the following purpose : " I believe in one God, the maker of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them, by Jesus Christ the Son of God, who, for his most eminent love to his own works, condescended to be born of a virgin, himself uniting man to God, and suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising (from the dead) he was received up into glory, and shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are condemned, sending into eternal fire the perverters of his truth,
the despisers of his Father, and his coming*.” The next authentic monument, which presents us with any creeds, is the works of Tertullian. There are three forms of this kind in those works of his, which are acknowleged genuine, The first may be rendered into English in the following terms : " The rule of faith which is profefled, is that by which we believe one God only, and no other besides the Creator of the world, who produced the universe of nothing, by his word, fent forth before all things: This
* “ Credo in unum Deum fabricatorem coli, ac terræ, et omnium quæ in eis funt, per Chriftum Jesum Dei Filium, qui propter eminentitimam erga Figmentum suum dilectionem, eam quæ eflet ex Virgine generationem fufti. nuit, ipse per se hominem adunans Deo, et paflus fub Pontio Pilato, et refurgens, et in claritate receptus, in gloria venturus Salvator eorunı qui judicantur, et mita tens in ignem æternum transfiguratores veritatis, et conteinptores patris fui et adventus ejus.” Lib. lll. cap. iv. P 172