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avowed form) allege any such; but rather from their own observation of the common sense agreed upon, and in their own expression, fet down those main doctrines, wherein
the chief churches did consent; as may be seen by divers De vel. of them, especially by Tertullian, (the oldest of the LaVirg. Præ- .:. fcript. adv. tins,) if we compare several places, wherein he delivers hæret. con- the rule of faith, (as he constantly calls it, that is, such a
summary of Christian principles, by which the truth of doctrines concerning matters therein touched might be examined;) wherein, I say, he delivers such rules of faith, to the same purpose in sense, but in language somewhat different, yet never referring us to any standing and more authentic form. Among these forms, that which now passes under the title of the Apostles' Creed (about which we discourse) seems to have been peculiar to the Roman Church, and that very anciently, (as to the chief articles thereof; for it appears that in process of time it hath been somewhat altered, especially by addition ;) and because it had been used from such antiquity, that its original composition and use were not known, was presumed to have derived from the Apostles, the first planters of that Church, (as it was then usual to repute all immemorial customs to be deduced from apostolical tradition;) or possibly because the Roman Church (as in common belief founded by the two great Apostles Peter and Paul,) was by way of excellency called the apostolical Church; and the fucceffion of Roman bishops, sedes apoftolica: so whatever belonged to that Church, obtained the same denomination; and among the rest, the Roman symbol might for that reason be called Symbolum apoftolicum; that is, Symbolum Ecclefiæ apoftolicæ. For that it was compiled by joint advice, or by particular contributions of all the Apostles, is a conceit sustained by very weak grounds, and affailed by very strong objections : as, that a matter of so illustrious remarkableness, and of so great concernment, should be nowhere mentioned in the apostolic acts, nor by any authentic record attested; (and indeed had it been so testified, it must have attained canonical authority;) that it was not received by all churches; and that those which used the substance thereof, were so bold therewith as to alter and enlarge it, are considerations ordinarily objected thereto: but that which most effe&tually, to my seeming, doth render such original thereof altogether uncertain, (and doth amount almost to a demonstration against it; I mean against the truth, or, which is all one in matters of this nature, its certainty of being composed by the Apostles,) is that which I before intimated; viz. that the most ancient (and those the most inquisitive and best seen in such matters) were either wholly ignorant that such a form, pretending the Apostles for its authors, was extant, or did not accord to its pretence, or did not at all rely upon the authenticalness thereof; otherwise (as I before urged) it is hardly possible that they should not have in most direct and express manner alleged it, and used its authority against those wild heretics who impugned some points thereof. Nothing can be more evident, than such an argument (as it was more obvious than not to be taken notice of, so it) must needs carry a great strength and efficacy with it; and would have much more served their purpose, for convincing their adversaries, than a rule (of the same fense and import) collected from their own observation, and composed in their own expression; and that argument, which they so much insist upon, drawn from the common consent of the apostolic churches, could not have been more strongly enforced, (nor the ground thereof more clearly evidenced,) than by propounding the attestation of this form, if such an one there had been commonly received and acknowledged : and if they were ignorant or uncertain thereof, after-times could not be more skilful or sure in the point. . I speak not this with intent to derogate from the reputation of this Creed, or to invalidate that authority, whereof it hath so long time stood poffefsed : for, as for the parts thereof, which were undoubtedly most ancient, the matter of them is so manifestly contained in the Scripture, and, supposing the truth of Christianity itself, they are so certain, that they need · no other authority to support them, than what Christianity itself subsists upon; and for other points afterwards added, they cannot, by virtue of being inserted there, pretend to apostolic authority, but for their establishment must insist upon some other base. It is, in general, suficient (that which we acknowledge) to beget a competent reverence thereto, that it was of so ancient use in the principal, and for long time (till ambition and avarice, and the consequences of general confufion, ignorance, corruption, overspreading the earth, did foil it) the faireft perhaps and most sober church in the world; that it was, I say, in so illustrious a place, so near the Apostles' time, made and used, (and might thence seem probably to derive from some of them,) may conciliate much respect thereto: but yet since it is not thoroughly certain that it was composed by any of them, nor hath obtained the fame authority with their undoubted writings, whatever is therein contained must be explained according to and be proved by them; and cannot otherwise constrain our faith: and indeed divers authors of great credit acknowledge it to be collected out of the Scriptures ; Illa verba, faith Augustin, quæ audivistis (speaking of this Creed)
per Scripturas Sparsa sunt, et inde collecta, et ad unum rePaschafius dacta. And another ancient writer; De facris omnino vode Sp. s. luminibus quæ funt credenda fumamus ; de quorum fonte cap. 1.
Symboli iphus series derivata confiftit. Its authority there. fore will at the second hand prove apostolical, its matter being drawn from the fountains of apoftolical Scripture. But so much shall fuffice, for preface, concerning the title and other extrinfecal adjuncts of the Creed. As for the subject itself, it is a short system of Christian doctrine; comprising the chief principles of Christianity, as distinct from all other religions, in a form (or manner of speech) suited for every fingular person, thereby to declare his consent to that religion; which to do, as it is especially befitting at baptism, (when the person is folemnly admitted to the participation of the benefits and privileges of that religion ; and should therefore reasonably be required to profess that he believes the truth thereof, and willingly undertakes to perform the conditions and duties belonging thereto,) so it cannot but be very convenient and ule
ful at other times, and deserves to be a constant part of God's service; as both much tending to the honour of God, and conducing to private and public edification : we thereby glorify God, frequently confefling his truth, (the chief and highest points of his heavenly truth, by his goodness revealed unto us ;) we remind ourselves of our duties and engagements to God; we satisfy the Church of our perseverance, and encourage our brethren to persist in the faith of Christ.
As for the interpretation thereof, I shall not otherwise determine or limit its sense, than by endeavouring to declare what is true in itself, and agreeable to the meaning of the words, wherein each article is expressed; proving such truth by any kind of suitable arguments that offer themselves; such as either the reason of the thing, or plain testimony of holy Scripture, or general consent and tradition of the ancient churches, founded by the Apostles, do afford. Proving, I say; for the Creed itself, (as we before discoursed,) not being endued with highest authority to enforce its doctrine, it must be confirmed by such other grounds as may be proved more immediately valid, and efficacious to convince or produce faith in men's minds. For faith itself is not an arbitrary act, nor an effect of blind necessity; (we cannot believe what we please, nor can be compelled to believe any thing;) it is a result of judgment and choice, grounded upon reason of some kind, after deliberation and debate concerning the matter. But more distinctly what the faith we profess to have, is, I will immediately inquire; addressing myself to the exposition of the first word, I believe, or I believe in. Before we proceed, we must remove a rub, which criticising upon the phrase hath put in our way. They give us a distinction between, to believe a thing, to believe a It comes perfon, and to believe upon a thing or person: for example, tror
" gustin, the taking God for the object, there is, they say, a difference father of between credere Deum, credere Deo, and credere in Deum. Credere Deum doth import fimply to believe God to be ; tions. credere Deo, is to believe God's word or promise, (to esteem him veracious ;) credere in Deum, is to have a
confidence in God, as able and willing to do us good, (to rely upon his mercy and favour; to hope for help, comfort, or reward from him: the which, after St. Augustin, the schoolmen account an act of charity or love toward God, as may be seen in that late excellent exposition of the Creed;) and in this last sense would some understand the faith here professed, because of the phrase, I believe in: but I briefly answer, that this phrase being derived immediately from the Greek of the New Testament, and the Greek therein. imitating the Old Testament Hebrew, we must interpret the meaning thereof according to its use, there, as that, may best agree with the reason of the thing, and the design of the Creed here. Now in the said Greek and He-, brew, πιστεύειν είς, (or σιστεύειν έν, or σιστεύειν έπί, which import the same,) and N7, (heemin bey) are used to fignify all kinds of faith, and are promiscuously applied to
all kind of objects: it is required, to believe not only in «Exod. xiv. God and Christ, but in men also a ; in Moses b, in the Pro81. xix. 9. 62 Chron. phets; as likewise in the works of God; in God's com**: 20... mandments; in the Gospel. Whence in general it apPT. lxxviii. 32. pears, that to believe in, bath not necessarily or constantly
1. cxix. such a determinate sense, as the forementioned distinMark i. 15. guilhers pretend, but is capable of various meanings, as
the different matters to which it is applied do require : to believe in Mofes, (for example,) was not to confide in his power, or goodnefs, but to believe him God's prophet, and that his words were true; to believe in God's works, was to believe they came from God's power, and fignified his providence over them; to believe in the commands of God, and the Gospel of Christ, was to take them for rules of life, and to expect due reward according to the promises or threatenings in them respectively pronounced to obedience or disobedience: in a word, we may observe, (and there be instances innumerable to confirm the observation,) that, in the New Testament, W10TEÚEV Eis Xproto, sis Kúpsov, eis õvoua Kupiou, and alotetav töm Xpotý, tū Kupia, Tú óvóuct. Kupiou, do indifferently bear the same sense, both signifying no more, than being persuaded that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God, such as he declared him
Psal. c 66.