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ROMANS X. 10.
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness,
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
HE Holy Scriptures contain within themselves every article of faith; ; whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed, or be thought necessary to the attainment of eternal life.” This is a maxim of the Holy Universal Church; and is particularly avowed by the Church of England, as you may read in the Sixth Article of Religion. But, nevertheless, experience has proved, that if the Church is to shew itself visibly to mankind, if it is to exist as a society founded, by Almighty God, on the basis “ of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone;" if it is to be without “ spot or wrinkle, or any such thing,” then it is necessary that the Church should declare how it receives the Holy Scriptures; how it interprets them; what doctrines it finds therein; what truths it affirms and propagates; what errors it stigmatizes, and endeavours to suppress. There is no sect so absurd, there is no heresy so abominable, but their adherents have endeavoured to prove their tenets well founded and correct, by appealing to Scripture. Each enthusiastic bigot in the cause of error quotes his proofs from the Bible, and imagines that his favourite fancies are supported by Revelation. The " strong delusion” which he cherishes
in his bosom, " the lie which he believes in,” he presumes are sanctioned by Holy Writ; and he gives “ line upon line,” misinterpreted, and text upon text, misunderstood, in evidence of his audacious assertions. In early times, therefore, it became necessary for the Church to manifest to the world those doctrines which it gathers from Scripture ;—to say, we believe,—these we take to be necessary articles of the Christian faith ;-on these points we deem it proper that the believers in the gospel should agree—he who receives the Scriptures in the same sense as we do, we acknowledge him a brother, and a member of the Church of Christ ;-but if any man receives them in another sense, he belongs not to us; he teaches otherwise, and consents not to wholesome words, and to the doctrine which is according unto godliness; from such (as counsel
leth the Apostle,) we withdraw ourselves.” It it not enough to say generally, and grossly, that the Scriptures contain all things necessary to be believed: this were to make no difference between truth and heresy, between Catholic doctrine and schismatical error: the Church is obliged to go further ;—to distinguish, to specify, and to declare the sense in which it accepts the Scriptures; and this is the reason, and a reason it is not to be resisted, why those formularies of faith, called CREEDS, have been composed, and set forth, by virtue of
authority which the Church professes in controversies of faith.” And this will explain to us also why these Creed have from time to time become more minute in their articles, and have themselves increased in number. At the
At the very first, the greatest simplicity prevailed. Truth is in itself simple in the highest degree; but
when it is necessary to defend it against the ingenious suppositions, and multiplied artifices of error, the very act of defence must give it a more complex form. The simplicity of the earliest Creed, the Apostles', as it is called, must strike any one; the more difficult and complicated nature of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, is owing to the distinctions and specifications, which the attacks of the enemies of
apostolic truth made necessary. The Apostles' Creed itself was once expressed in fewer words than it contains at present. Three of its articles the descent into hell, the communion of saints, and the life everlastingwere added, as the opposition of unbelievers required, after the apostolic age : so soon, however, that the whole form, as it stands in our Liturgy, is found in the works of Ambrose and Ruffinus, fathers of the Church, who expressly wrote expositions of it, and