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NATURE OF THE SUPREME BEING.
The Presbyterian Church thus avows her faith on this fun, damental topic.
There is but one only living and true God who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts or passions, immutable," &c. &c.-Confession of Faith, chap. ii. §1.
"In unity of the Godhead there be three persons of one substance power and eternity; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Fath. er and the Son."-Ib. ch. ii. 3.
"Q. How many persons are there in the Godhead ?
"A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true Eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glo. ry; although distinguished by their personal properties."-Larger Catechism, Quest. 9, p. 144, ed. 1834.
"There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory."-Shorter Catechism, Ans. 6.
The Episcopal Creed, Articles 1st, 2d & 5th, reads thus:
"Art. 1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions; of infinite power, wisdom and goodness; the Ma ker and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead, there be three Persons, of one substance, power and eternity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Art. 2. Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made. very man. The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried. to reconcile his Father to us and to be a sacrifice, not only for ori. ginal guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
Art. 5. The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one Substance, Majesty and Glory, with the Father and Son, very and eternal God."
The Methodist Church have adopted the foregoing from the Episcopal Creed, omitting the phrase or passions," in the first article, and "begotten from everlasting of the Father," in the second; and the Baptist Church, in the 2d chapter and 3d section of their Creed, thus speaks of the " Holy Trinity."
"In this divine and infinite Being, there are three subsis. tences, the Father, the Word (or Son) and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided; the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, all Infinite without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguisned by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations, which doctrine of the Trinity is the foun. dation of all our communion with God, and our comfortable dependence on him "--Confession of Faith adopted by the Baptist Association, Philadelphia, Sept. 1742, Pittsburg ed. 1831.
And according to the faith of these several protestant Churches so has the Catholic Church always believed, with this difference only, that the Mother Church avows her prin ciples with more boldness than do her daughters. Consider. ing Christ to have been begotten by the Father and the wo man Mary as the mother of Jesus, the "second person in the adorable Trinity," they extend their worship to the Mother as well as the Father. The ascription of divine honors to the Virgin Mary, as the "Mother of God," is therefore con sistent, and no Trinitarian should find fault with the Catholic for so doing, as the latter only carries out the doctrine to its legitimate results.
In Doyle's edition of the "Manual of Piety," (a Catholic work,) page 249, section 2d, of the "Summary of Christian faith and morality," the following item is put on record:
"2d. Every Christian is bound to believe that in this one God [acknowledged in the preceding section] there are three
several persons, perfectly equal and of the same substance; the Father who proceeds from no one; the Son who is born of the Father before all ages; and the Holy Ghost who proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, and that these three really distinct persons have all the same power and the same wisdom, and are all three one and the same Lord, one and the same God."
Thus it will be seen that there is a perfect unity of faith between Catholics and Protestants, on the subject of a Trin. ity in the Godhead. Let us therefore pass to notice other topics, such as
ORIGINAL SIN AND TOTAL DEPRAVITY. These two being "Siamese Twins" in their connexion, will be considered together. And they are thus set forth in the Presbyterian Confession:
Of the Fall of Man, &c.-Our first parents, being se duced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned in eat. ing the forbidden fruit.
2. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness, and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
3. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.
4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and whol. by inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions."
The Articles of the Episcopal Church hold forth similar sentiments, as follows:
"Art. 9. Of original and birth sin.-Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk ;) but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of ev ery man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.
Art. 10. Of Free Will.-The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare him. self, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith,
and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will."
So also of the Methodist Creed, which on examination I find to be almost a fac simile of the Episcopal Articles of Faith, and nced not therefore be quoted at length. The Bap tist Confession before mentioned in speaking of Adam's sin in eating the forbidden fruit, thus states the sentiment:
"2. Our first parents by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them. whereby death came upon all; all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled, in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
"3. They being the root, and, by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind; the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus sct them free.
"4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utter. ly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgres. sions."-p. 26.
If now we call on the Catholic to inform us what his faith is on these topics, he will give you an answer in the words of the third item of "What every Christian must believe :"Manual of Piety, p. 249.
"3. We must all believe that this God created the angels to be with him forever, and that one part fell from God by sin, and became Devils; that God also created Adam and Eve, our first parents, and placed them in the earthly para. dise, whence they were justly banished for the sin they com. mitted in eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree; and that by this transgression of Adam we are all born in sin, and must have been lost forever, if God had not sent us a Saviour."
The same uniformity is likewise discoverable in the Cathy' olic and Protestant Creeds touching the doctrine of
MIRACULOUS REGENERATION, A doctrine which seems inseparably connected with and de ducible from the foregoing. For if the nature of mankind is totally defiled and wholly inclined to all evil, it would seem to be a necessary inference that it must experience a radical change before it can be inclined in an opposite direction; and as nothing short of Almighty power created in the first instarce, so nothing less than the same Almightiness can be . supposed to effect the needed renovation in the creature from corruption to holiness. On this point the Presbyterian holds
"I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and sal vation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely being made willing by his grace.
2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man; who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it."—pp. 49-51.
3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of them, selves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have al ready received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure"-p. 70.
The Baptist Confession (page 34) presents the substanca and nearly the language of the above extract, and the Arti. cles of the Episcopal Church declare that "we have no pow, or to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ," and also that some are “called according to God's purpose, by his Spirit working in-due season." And although the same doctrine is not expressly