Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

1

Ariminum, mentioned in Socrates 15. Others have made the same observation upon the article concerning the communion of saints, which is not to be found either in the Creed of Aquileia, or any ancient Greek or Latin Creed for above the space of four hundred years. Nor is the article of the life everlasting expressly mentioned in many Creeds, but only inclusively contained in the resurrection of the body;' which is the concluding article in many ancient Creeds. These are plain demonstrations, without any other argument, that the Creed, as it stands in the present form, could not be composed, in the manner as is pretended, by the Apostles. The silence of the Acts of the Apostles about any such composition, is a collateral evidence against it. The silence of ecclesiastical writers for above three whole centuries, is a further confirmation. The variety of Creeds in so many different forms, used by the Ancients, yet exstant in their writings, some with omissions, others with additions, and all in a different phrase, are no less evident proofs that one universal form had not been pitched upon and prescribed to the whole Church by the Apostles. For then it is scarce to be imagined, that any Church should have received any other form in the least tittle varying from it. These reasons do now generally satisfy learned men, that no such precise form was composed, according to that pretended tradition, by all the Apostles. The reader may find dissertations in Vossius 16, Bp. Usher 17, Hamon L'Estrange 18, Basnagius 19, Suicerus 20, and the learned author of the late Critical History of the Creed 21, to this purpose. And it is much to be wondered at, that any knowing person, against such convincing evidence, should labour to maintain the contrary, upon no better grounds than

[ocr errors]

15 L. 2. c. 37. (v. 2. p. 136. 34.) 19 Exercit. in Baron. an. 44. (pp. Toûtov louer tov povoyevñ aŭToù Yiòr 471, seqq.) Insita penitus est opinio,

... σταυρωθέντα, και αποθανόντα, &c.
και εις τα καταχθόνια κατελθόντα, και 20 Thes. Eccles. voce, Súußodov
τα εκείσε οικονομήσαντα.

(t. 2. p. 1092.) Verum ne cui teme-
16 De Trib. Symbol. (t. 6. pp.503, raria hæc videatur assertio, &c.
seqg.)

21 Ch. 1. (pp. 27, seqq.) Now as to 17 De Symbol. Rom. (Works, the truth of this tradition, &c.—See v. 7. pp. 303, seqq.) Licet apud om- also Bishop Bull's Judicium Eccle

siæ Catholicæ, &c. c. 5. n. 3. (p. 35.) 18 Alliance of Divine Offices, ch. 3. where he refers to Vossius as having p. 80. (Reprint, p. 117.) The Creed abundantly proved this thesis. here inserted, &c.

nes, &c.

That pro

stance.

only this, that the Ancients agree in calling the Creed apostolical. For they do not always intend this particular form, but call all other forms apostolical, the Nicene Creed, the Constantinopolitan Creed, the Eastern Crceds, the Western Creeds, and all others, which agree with this in substance, though not in method or expression, and are all equally apostolical, as being all derived from the Apostles' preaching, and for substance composed by them, and some of them perhaps left in the Churches, where they preached, as the first rudiments of this Creed seem to have been in the Roman Church. So far all the ancient catholic Creeds may be said to be apostolical, as being in substance the same with the Creeds used in baptism by the Apostles.

6. By all then that has hitherto been said, I intend not to bably the Apostles

insinuate, that the Apostles used no Creeds at all, but rather used several that they used many differing in form, but not in substance Creeds differing in from one another. All that I contend for is only this, that form, not in sub.

none of the present forms are exactly the same in expression with those of the Apostles, which is demonstrated from the variety of Creeds used in several Churches, and from the addition of some words to that Creed, which pretends most to be apostolical. But though the Apostles composed no one Creed to be of perpetual and universal uso for the whole Church, yet it is not to be doubted, but that they used some forms in admitting catechumens to baptism. There are many expressions in Scripture that favour this, particularly Philip's questions to the Eunuch before he baptized him, and St. Peter's interrogatories or the answer of a good conscience towards God, which was used in baptism : and the constant practice of the Church, in imitation of the Apostles, admitting none to baptism but by answer to such interrogatories, is a sufficient demonstration of the apostolical practice. But then as the Church used a liberty of expression in her several Creeds, so it is not improbable the Apostles did the same, without tying themselves to any one form, who had less need to do it, being all guided by inspiration. And hence it came to pass, that there being no one certain form of a Creed prescribed universally to all Churches, every Church had liberty to frame their own Creeds, as they did their own Liturgies, without being tied precisely to any one form of words, so long as they kept to the

cles were

stolical

analogy of faith and doctrine at first delivered by the Apostles; which seems to be the true reason of so many ancient forms, differing in words, not in substance.

7. But now the grand question still remains, concerning the What artinature, substance, and extent of the apostolical Creeds; that

contained is, What articles were contained in them ?—Some there are, in the apowho would confine these to very narrow bounds, making them Creeds. at first to be no more than what is contained expressly in the form of baptism, 'I believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' So Episcopius 29 and his followers, who would persuade the world, that, for the three first ages, the doctrine of our Saviour's divinity was no necessary article of the Christian faith. But the learned Bp. Bull 23 and Dr. Grabe 24 have judiciously refuted these pretences, the one by showing from all the ancient Creeds, that this doctrine was a necessary article before the Nicene Council ; and the other by evincing from Scripture, that the lineaments of the Apostles' Creed, used in the administration of baptism, were at the first much larger than what Episcopius pretended; and that in the Apostles' age, either by their authority or permission, the Creed consisted of all the present articles, except only those two, of the descent into hell, and the communion of saints,' which are owned to be of later admission.

Mr. Basnage 25 indeed has a peculiar opinion, that the Creed

22 Instit. I. 4. 8. 2. C. 34. (p. 339. Virginibus, &c., reperiuntur, earum im.) In primitivis ecclesiis, quæ, ab nullæ hujus modi professionem conipsis usque Apostolorum temporibus, tinent, nedum ut ejus profitendæ saltem per tria integra sæcula fu- necessitatem declarent, &c. erunt, fides ac professio specialis 23 Judic. Eccles. Cathol. &c. c. 6. hujus modi filiationis [divinæ] ad (pp. 47, seqq.) salutem scitu ac creditu necessaria 24 'Annotat. ad cc. 5, 6, et 7, judicata non fuit, &c. .. .. Antiquis- ejusd. (ap. Oper. Bull. pp. 61, seqq.) simum (p. 340.) (symbolum] quod- 25 Exercit. in Baron. an. 44. que in prima baptismi administra- (p. 475.) Non me levis incessit tione, jam inde ab ipsis Apostolorum opinio, ex Scripturæ articulis symtemporibus usitabatur, hoc erat, bolum a Patribus fuisse conditum, Credo in Deum Patrem, Filium, et erroribus Gnosticorum, SimonianoSpiritum Sanctum; nempe ad præ- rum, Ebionitarum, ejusmodique furscriptam ab ipso Jesu formulam, Ite furis hominum coarguendis atque et docete omnes gentes : baptizantes confutandis. Gnostici bonum Deum eos in nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus et malum suis in dogmatibus haSancti. Symboli hujus Enyngels, bere dicebantur: pestilentissima hæquæ variæ apud scriptores veteres, resis his evertitur, Credo in Deum. puta apud Irenæum, lib. 1. cc. 2, 3., Menander Simonis discipulus munapud 'Tertullianum, lib. de Præscript. dum asserebat, non a Deo sed ab adversus Hæreticos et de Velandis angelis factum : huic oppositum,

6

[ocr errors]

was composed and the chief articles inserted only in the second century, in opposition to several heresies, which then began to infest the Church. The Gnostics brought in the doctrine of a two-fold Deity, the one good, the other evil : against this pestilent heresy, the Church put that article into her Creed, 'I believe in God,' or ' in one God.' Menander, the disciple of Simon Magus, asserted that the world was not created by God, but by angels ;' this occasioned the Church to insert those words, “Maker of heaven and earth.' Carpocrates taught, that Jesus was a mere man, and begotten of both sexes, as other men ;' in opposition to whom it was inserted, that Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost.' The Basilidians did not believe Jesus was crucified by the Jews, but only Simon of Cyrene ; to confute whom they put in those words, 'He was dead and buried. Carpocrates rejected the resurrection of the flesh; and upon that, 'I believe the resurrection of the flesh,' was added to the Creed. Thus, if we will hearken to this learned person, there was no Creed at all made by the Apostles, but it was composed entirely by the Church, and gradually augmented, only as the rise of sects and heresies required some opposition to be made to them. The learned author of the late Critical History of the Creed 26 goes the same way, only with this difference, that he supposes, what Mr. Basnage does not, that some articles were inserted by the Apostles themselves, and others superadded by the Church, as the occasion of heresies required. But when he speaks of the particular articles, he falls in with Mr. Basnage’s notion about the chiefest : for he supposes the first article, I believe in one God,' not to be made against the polytheism of the Gentiles by the Apostles, but only by the Church, upon the rise of the heresies of the Valentinians, Cerdonians, Marcionites, and others in after-ages. Which in effect is to say,

Creatorem cæli et terræ. Carpo- surrectionem abjiciebat Carpocrates crates Jesum hominem yidov et de cum Marcella sectæ socia: dictum, utroque sexu natum esse docebat: Credo resurrectionem carnis. Omnes hoc impugnatum ex verbis, Christum symboli articulos sigillatim percurconceptum de Spiritu Sancto. Basi- renti planum fiet, ad errores tum lidiani non credebant, Jesum a Ju- grassantes referri. dæis fuisse crucifixum, sed Simonem 26 [Sir Peter King, afterwards Cyreniensem: paucis quidem, sed Lord High Chancellor. See where solidissimis verbis confutantur, cited before, s. 1. p.497. n. 93, preMortuus est et sepultus. Carnis re- ceding.]

the Creed was made, and not made by the Apostles; for if the principal articles were not composed by them, I see not what else can entitle them to have been the authors of it. And therefore I much more readily subscribe to the opinion of the learned Dr. Grabe, which he maintains against this learned person, that the article of, One God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth,' was originally inserted into the Creed by the Apostles against the capital error of the Gentiles, who made one God to have power over heaven, another over the earth, another over the sea, &c., and divided the divine honour among them. For so the vulgar among the Heathen practised their idolatry, however the philosophers among them might be a little more refined in their theology, and have more agreeable notions of the unity of the Supreme God. Therefore it is reasonable to believe this first article was inserted to make men renounce in their baptism this erroneous opinion of the Gentiles.

The opinion of Episcopius, that nothing more was originally in the Creed about our Saviour, but only the bare title of the Son, is solidly refuted by Dr. Grabe, who proves from Scripture that he had always this title with the addition of his being 'the Son of God;' and that those other articles, 'He was crucified, dead, and buried; that he rose again, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God, and from thence should come to judge the quick and dead,' were all original articles of the Creed ; being such doctrines as the Apostles chiefly taught their catechumens, and such as the Jews and Gentiles either denied or ridiculed ; and therefore it was proper to make all new converts, at their entrance on Christianity, make a particular profession of such articles, in opposition to their former errors, whether they came over from the Jews or Gentiles. Upon this account he also rejects the opinion of the author of the Critical History, who supposes the article of the ascension of Christ into heaven,' to have been added to the Creed only in the second century, and that in opposition to Apelles, one of Marcion's disciples, who denied the ascension of Christ's flesh into heaven. But if it had been designed against him, it would no doubt have been more particularly expressed, “that his flesh ascended into heaven;' as Dr. Grabe observes it is in Irenæus 25; and not barely, that Christ

25 L. 1. c. I. See afterwards, n. 32, following.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

« ForrigeFortsett »