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The Holy Catholic Church.

THIS article was, I conceive, adjoined or inserted here, upon occasion of these many heresies and schisms, which from the beginning continually sprang up, to the danger of Christian doctrine, and disturbance of the Church; the introducers thereof meaning thereby to secure the truth of religion, the authority of ecclesiastical discipline, the peace and unity of the Church, by engaging men to disclaim any consent or conspiracy with any of those erroneous or contentious people, (who had devised new conceits, destructive or dangerous to the faith, against the general consent of Christians, or drave on troublesome factions, contrary to the common order, and prejudicial to the peace of the Church.) Their meaning of this article

therefore was, I take it, this: I believe, that is, I do ad· here unto, (for belief, as we at first observed, is to be taken as the nature of the matter requireth,) or I am persuaded that I ought to adhere unto, that body of Christians which, diffused over the world, retains the faith which was taught, and the discipline which was settled, and the peace which was enjoined by our Lord and his disciples; I acknowledge the doctrines generally embraced by the churches founded and instructed by the Apostles; I am ready to observe the received customs and practices by them derived from apostolical institution; I submit to the laws and disciplines by lawful authority established in them; I do persist in charity, concord, and communion with them.

And that men anciently should be obliged to profess thus, there is ground both in reason and Scripture. In reason, there being no more proper or effectual argument to assure us that any doctrine is true, or practice warrantable; no means more proper to convince sectaries, deviating from truth or duty, than the consent of all churches, of whom (being so distant in place, language, customs, humour; so independent, or coordinate in power) it is not imaginable, that they should soon or eafily conspire in forsaking the doctrines inculcated by the Apostles, or the practices instituted by them : it is the argument which Irenæus, Tertullian, and other defenders of Christian truth and peace do press; and it may in matters of this kind pass for a demonstration,

It hath also ground in Scripture; which as it foretels that pernicious heresies should be introduced; that many false prophets should arise, and seduce many; that grievous wolves should come in, not sparing the flock; that men should arise, speaking perverse things, to draw disciples after them z as they warn us to take heed of such men, to reject and refufe heretics, to mark those which make divisons and scandals vende the doctrine which Christians had learnt, and to decline from them; to stand off from such men as do śrepodibao xadeiv, that is, teach things different from apostolical 1 Tim. vi. 3. doctrine, the doctrine according to godliness; as it enjoins 14. iii. 14.'

2 Tim.i.13, us to hold fast the form of found words heard from the Apofiles; to continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of, knowing of whom we learnt them; to Rom. vi, ovey from the heart that form of doctrine into which weco were delivered ; to keep the traditions as the Apostles de-2 Theff. ii. livered them to us; to stand fast, and hold the traditions 15. m which we were taught, whether by word or writing; to Arive earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; as it enjoins us to walk orderly, to obey our guides, or Jude 3. rulers; to pursue peace, to maintain concord; to abide in charity with all good Christians; as it declareth heresies; fa&tions, contentions, and separations to be the works of the flesh, proceeding from corrupt difpofitions of foul, (pride, covetousness, vanity, rashness, instability, perverseness, craft, hypocrisy, want of conscience;) so it also de{cribes the universality of them, who stick to the truth,

YOL. V,

i Cor. xi. 2.

15. iji. 6.

Tertull.

Eph. iv. a. and observe the law of Christ, keeping the unity of the

Spirit in the bond of peace; to be one body, knit together,
and compacted of parts, affording mutual aid and supply
to its nourishment and welfare; joined to, and deriving
life, motion, sense, from one Head; informed by one Spirit;
as one house, built upon the foundation of Prophets and Apo-
fles, Christ himself being the corner stone, in whom all the
building is fitly framed and connected; as one family un-
der one master; one city under one governor; one flock
under one Mepherd; one nation or people, subject to the
same law and government, used to the same speech, cus- --

tom, and conversation; lastly, as one Church or congreUbi tres gation; for, as sometimes every particular assembly of sunt etiam Laici, ibi

' Christians, and sometimes a larger collection of particular

un Ecclefia eft. societies, combined together in one order, and under one Exh. Caft. government, are termed churches; so the whole aggre

gation of all particular churches, or of all Christian people, is frequently called the Church; even as the whole body of those who lived in the profession of obedience to the Jewish Law, which was a type of the Christian Church, is called 5777xxanoia, the congregation.

In relation to which society, these are the duties which we here profess ourselves obliged to, and in effect promise to observe:

1. That we do and will persist in the truth of Christian doctrine, delivered by our Saviour and his Apostles, attested unto by the general consent of all Christians ; avoiding all novelties of opinion deviating from apoftolical doc. trine.

2. That we are obliged to maintain a hearty charity and good affection to all good Christians.

3. That we are bound to communicate with all good Christians, and all societies sincerely professing faith, charity, and obedience to our Lord; so as to join with them, as occasion shall be, in all offices of piety; to maintain good correspondence and concord with them.

4. That we should submit to the discipline and order, should preserve the peace, and endeavour the welfare of that part thereof, wherein we live: for what of good or

harm is done to a member thereof, is also done to the whole.

5. That we should disavow and shun all factious combinations whatever, of persons corrupting the truth of Christian do&rine, or disturbing the peace of the Church, or of any part thereof.

6. In fine, that we fincerely should wish in our hearts, earnestly pray for, and by our best endeavours promote the peace and prosperity of the whole Catholic Church; whereof we profess ourselves members and children ; fol- 2 Tim.ii.99. lowing, as St. Paul directs, righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with those that call upon our Lord with a pure heart,

The Communion of Saints.

THESE words were not extant in any of the ancient Creeds, but were afterward inserted : nor, as I conceive, doth the meaning of them much differ from what was intended in the precedent article; and perhaps it was adjoined for interpretation thereof: for the meaning of them is, as I take it, that all the saints (that is, all Christians, either in legal presumption, or according to real difpofition of heart, such) do, in effect, or should, according to obligation, communicate, partake, join together, consent, and agree in what concerneth saints, or members of the holy Catholic Church; in believing and acknowledging the same heavenly truth; in performance of devotions or offices of piety with and for one another; in charitable good-will and affection toward one another; in affording mutual advices, assistances, and supplies toward the good (either spiritual or temporal) of each other; in condolency and compassion of each other's evils, in congratulation and complacency in each other's good; in minding the same thing for one another, and bearing one another's burdens; so that if one member suffers, all the meinbers suffer with it; or if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. This briefly seems to be the meaning of this point; and I need not to infift on clearing the truth, or shewing the uses thereof; the doctrine so manifestly carrying its obligation and its use in the face thereof.

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