Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

But as all the Doctrines of Scripture, though equally true, are not of equal Importance ; the more necessary Articles have been, from the Beginning of Christianity, collected into one Body, called in Scripture, the Form of found Words , the Words of Faith', the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ': but in our common Way of speaking at present, the Creed, from the Latin Word, Credo, which signifies, I believe. Now the ancient Churches had many fuch Creeds: fome longer, fome shorter ; differing on several Heads in Phrase, but agreeing in Method and Sense : of which, that, called the Apostles Creed, is one. And it deserves this Name, not so much from any Certainty, or great Likelihood, that the Apostles drew it up in these very Expressions ; (though some, pretty early, and many fince, have imagined they did) as because it contains the chief Apostolic Doctrines ; and was used by a Church, which, before it grew corrupt, was jusly respected as the chief Apostolic Settlement; I mean, the Roman.

As with the Heart Man believeth unto Righteoufness, fo with the Mouth Confession is made

d 2. Tim. i. 13.

ci Tim. iv. 6.

f Heb. vi. 1.

unto

[merged small][ocr errors]

unto Salvation 8 : of which Confeffion, repeating our Creed, though not a necessary, is a rational and commendable Act. We do not indeed find it to have made Part of the oldest public Offices : but surely it is full as proper for these, as for private Devotions; in which the primitive Christians all said it daily h. And as every one's Profession of Belief is his own separate Act, so the Creed is worded for every one separately in the fingular Number : and therefore unless we say it along with the Minifter, he alone testifies His Faith ; not We, Ours. Nor should it by any Means be with Negligence and Indifference, that we profess our Faith. For what we believe is the only just Foundation of what we do, or hope, or fear. On this Account we stand at the repeating of the Creed: to express our Steadfastness in it; and our Readiness to contend earnestly, in every proper Method, for the Faith, once de livered to the Saints". Turning, at the same Time towards the East, as many do, is an ancient Custom; as indeed, in most Religions,

/

8 Rom. X. 10.

Symbolum quoque fpecialiter debemusantelucanis Horis quotidie recensere. Ambrof. de Virg. 1. 3. p. 115. ap. Bingh. 1. 10. c. 4. 9. 17. Quis 'non quotidie recitat ore, Credo, &c. Lib. de duplici Martyrio, Cypriano falso ascript. in fine. Jude ver. 3

Men

[ocr errors]

Men havc directed their Worship some particular Way. And this Practice being intended only to honour Chrift, the Sun of Righteousness, who hath risen upon us, to enlighten us with that Doctrine of Salvation, to which we then declare our Adherence; it ought not to be condemned, as Superstition: and yet, being neither obligatory in itself, nor commanded by Authority, the Omiffion of it ought not to be censured as Irreverence or Disobedience.

Another Thing, yet more usual in saying the Creed, is to bow, when the Name of Jesus is mentioned. And some have thought that to be their Duty, whenever it is mentioned, at least in Divine Service : because they find in their Bibles the Words, that at the Name of Jesus every Knee should bow *. But this is no ancient Notion : and the Generality of judicious Commentators allow it not to be the Meaning of the Place; à more exact Translation of which would be, that in the Name of Jesus every Knee should bow, that is, every one should pray: according to that other Passage of St. Paul, I bomu my Knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant you, &c'.

&c!. However, it is a Practice of some Antiquity; and, Phil. ii. 10.

Eph. iii. 14. 5

whatever

.

[ocr errors]

whatever a few over-scrupulous People have imagined, surely a harmless one : For no Body means to worship the Sound; but the Person, whom it denotes. And though we confess, there is no more Reason to worship the Son of God, by bowing to him, than the Father ; nor to worship him, on hearing the Name, Jesus, than the Name, Cbrift: yet it is not good to be contentious about an innocent Custom; which also may help Attention, and increase Devotion. Besides, it is authorized by the 18th Canon of our Church, which directs, that when, in Time of Divine Service the Lord Jesus fall be mentioned, due and lowly Reverence shall be done by all Persons present, as it hath been accustomed. Possibly these last Words may be designed to intimate, that Fear of giving Offence by leaving off the Custom was a principal Motive to the Injunction. And if so, in Proportion as that Danger abates, the Injunction grows less important. Accordingly they, who are intrusted with the Execution of the Canons, have not lately, if ever, inforced it, or laid Stress

And indeed, as the greater Part of most Congregations disregard it, except in the Creed, they ought not to judge hardly of those,

1

1

upon it.

I Cor. xi. 6.

who

who omit it then also : however proper they may think it, for themselves, to distinguish that Part of their Belief, which peculiarly belongs to them as Christians, from the preceding, by this Gesture.

Having explained the Apostles Creed at large, in several Lectures on the Catechism, I shall add nothing more concerning it here. But there will be need to take some Notice of another, appointed to be rehearsed in its Stead, on the principal Festivals, and several other Holydays, and called the Creed of St. Athanafus : not that he was the Author of it, though it was probably made pretty near, if not in his Time, who lived 1400 Years ago; but because it expresses that Faith in the Trinity, of which he was a principal Defender. And as the Romanifs threw on the Reformers of our Church all Manner of Calumnies, that they could, so it would have given them a great Handle against us, had this Creed, which they repeat every Sunday, been rejected or altered by us.

Many indeed have argued against the Use of it; and some, with strange Vehemence : partly from the Doctrines, which it teaches; but chiefly from the Condemnation, which it pro

nounces

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »