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It is also the more important by reason of its great antiquity, having been handed down to us under the sanction and with the approbation of the Christian Church, during at least fourteen centuries.
Q. How does the learned author of the work on Infant Baptism account for this Creed being called the Apostles' Creed?
A. His words are. It was a custom to call those Churches in which any Apostle had personally taught, especially if he had resided there any long time, or had died there, Apostolic Churches. Of these there were a great many in the eastern parts, Jerusalem, Corinth, Ephesus, Antioch, &c. but in the western parts none but Rome in which St. Paul and St. Peter had lived a considerable time, and were there martyred. So that any one, who, in the western parts of the world, spoke of the Apostolic Church, was supposed to mean Rome; that being the only one in those parts, and being
4 Quicquid præfiguratum est in Patriarchis, quicquid nunciatum est in Scripturis, quicquid prædictum est in Prophetis, vel de Deo ingenito, vel de Deo Dei Unigenito, vel de Spiritu Sancto, quamvis latentèr ostensum sit, vel de suscipiendi hominis Sacramento, vel de morte Domini, resurrectionisq. mysterio, totum hoc brevitèr juxta oraculum propheticum, Symbolum in se continet confitendo. Augustin. tom. x. De Temp. Serm.
called emphatically by all the western Christians, the Apostolic Church. And so their Bishop came to be called the Apostolic Bishop; their See, the Apostolic See; their Faith, the Apostolic Faith; and among the rest, the Creed that they used, the Apostolic Creed. This name gave handle enough to some people, first to imagine, and then by degrees to report a tradition, that this Creed was drawn up into this form by the Apostles themselves; and so, by a slight alteration of the word, to call it, the Apostles' Creed'."
Q. As we must, for these reasons, conclude, that the Apostles' Creed was in part at least, the composition of a period subsequent to the third century, are we to infer that no Creeds, no set forms of belief were previously in use?
A. By no means. We are persuaded that many Creeds were composed, and were in general circulation, long before that period. So numerous were they indeed in the second and third centuries, that it has been said of them, "there are as many Creeds as authors'
We must not omit however to remark, that at first a beautiful simplicity and harmony were their distinguishing features. And further we
Wall's History of Infant Baptism, part ii. ch. ix. p. 349.
Du Pin, Ecc. Hist. vol. i. p. 10.
must observe, that, although some articles of the Apostles' Creed were added after the third century, the greater part of that summary of faith probably was of apostolic usage*.
Q. When you say that the greater part of what is called the Apostles' Creed, was probably of apostolic usage, do you mean that the disciples of our Lord used any particular formulary to which they required assent; as for instance on the admission of the early converts into the bosom of the Church?
A. No: we mean only that the Apostles in substance delivered the same truths, as those contained in the Creed, to the assembled multitudes whom the fame of their preaching and their miracles drew in thousands around them. Repentance and faith, and a general acknowledgment of Christ's divine mission were alone required from those whom they received into the Christian covenant".
The state of the visible Church, however, was then very different from what it afterwards became, and now is. "All they that believed were then together, and had all things com
* Lord Chancellor King on the Apostles' Creed, chap. i. p. 30. ""In the beginnings of Christianity, the declaration that was required even of a bishop's faith, was conceived in very general terms." Burnet on the XXXIX Articles, p. 2. See also Mosheim's Ecc. History, cent 1. part ii. chap. iii. § 5.
mon *." They continued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship”,” and in singleness of heart they heard the word of truth as it came pure from the lips of the first inspired teachers of Christianity. Consequently the same Church discipline, the same prescribed forms, which afterwards became necessary, were in their case uncalled for.
Q. Have you any knowledge of particulars, as to what actually took place on the admission of the early Christians into the number of the faithful?
A. There is an account in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which affords us very satisfactory information on that head. We there read, that on the day of Pentecost, when a great multitude had come together to witness the effects of the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost, St. Peter standing up with the eleven, preached boldly, proving out of the Scriptures, "that Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among them by miracles, whom they had taken, and by wicked hands had crucified and slain, was Lord and Christ. This Jesus, he says, hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father
* Acts ii. 44.
y Ibid. 42.
the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this (the miraculous gift of tongues) which ye now see and hear." Upon this, the multitude, struck to the heart by St. Peter's preaching, eagerly exclaimed, "What shall we do?" Repent and be baptized" was the answer, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"Then they that gladly received the word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
Q. Do you draw your conclusion from this history of what occurred when the first Christians were admitted to a participation of the benefits of the death of Christ, that the Apostles had not adopted any particular Creed to which they required assent?
A. Certainly for by a Creed we understand an exposition of the fundamental doctrines taught by our Saviour, expressed in a set form of words. But from the passages just extracted, we have no evidence of such a formulary being used by the Apostles. Therefore we conclude, that a declaration of assent to a Creed, in the strict acceptation of that term, was not required by them.
Still it is important to remark, that St. Peter's Sermon, in consequence of which so many con