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Hand-Book of Theology,
BEING A SYNOPSIS OF
PEARSON ON THE CREED,
HOOKER'S ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY,
WITH BRIEF PAPERS ON
HERESIES AND SCHISMS,
THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES,
FOR THE USE OF THEOLOGICAL STUDENTS,
AND UPPER CLASSES IN SCHOOLS.
BY THE REV. EDGAR SANDERSON, B. A.
Late Scholar of Clare College, Cambridge.
CAMBRIDGE :-J. HALL AND SON;
110. k. 37.
PEARSON ON THE CREED.
I believe in God the father Almighty, Maker of Heaven
and Earth. SECTION 1. I believe.
THESE words are to be supposed prefixed to every Article, and every single truth in the Creed : e. g. I believe in God, I believe that God to be the Father, I believe that Father to be Almighty, &c. The expression, I believe, is to be considered, (a) As it supposes Belief or Faith.
As a Confession of that Faith.
of obligation. (a) I. Faith concerns what is credible, not because known, as by sense, nor scientific, as by reason, nor probable, in opinion, but what is credible by attestation, not manifestation : we properly believe by virtue of testimony given : an assent on this credibility is properly Faith or Belief.
II. Human Faith is dependence on man's testimony, and is therefore never infallible.'
Divine faith assents to what is credible on the testimony of God: this is infallible, because God is all-wise, and cannot be deceived, and all-good, and cannot deceive.
III. The testimony of God is given by Revelation, either (a) immediate, as to Moses, (Exodus iii. 2.), and the prophets, Luke i: 70 ; 2 Pet. i. 21.) or (b) mediate, as through them to other men.
So the faith of the Apostles, as of Moses and the prophets, was grounded on the immediate Revelation of God, because Christ revealed truth to them : the faith of the Apostles' converts rested on the testimony, ultimately, of God, immediately, of the Apostles. (1 Thess. ii. 13.)
The faith of Christians now, as of the Israelites who believed the writings of Moses and the Prophets, and of the early Christians who believed the writings of the Apostles, rests on the testimony of God as delivered to us in the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the Apostles.
(B) To say “I believe also makes a confession of the faith.
This profession of faith is necessary to an entrance into the Church, and admittance to Baptism. (Acts viii. 36. sqq.)
() This confession of Faith is obligatory ; (Matt. x. 32. "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, &c." and Luke ix. 26. “For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, &c.”): it glorifies God and edifies our fellow-Christians : and every individual Christian by the words 'I believe' confesses, as he ought, his own particular faith.
I believe in GOD.
Divine faith is by the attestation of God, and hence we must first acknowledge the existence of the testifier. Heb. xi. 6. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is.”
I. The notion of God is that of an infinite Being, of independent existence, and causative of all other beings, on whom all other things depend, and by whom they are governed. (Gal. iv. 8. of true and false gods, and 1 Tim. vi. 16.)
II. This existence of God is proved (a) by consideration of the fact that (as we see things have a beginning) there must be some beginning cause, and that can only be God : (1) the general consent of mankind : (c) the revelation of God by Himself in fulfilled prophecy : (d) miracles : (e) man's conscience, accusing or excusing him.
III. The Unity of God.
This is to be believed against Polytheism and Idolatry : as His existence against Atheism. The unity of God is as necessary as the existence : (a) from the nature of God, as the prime cause of all things, thus excluding another independent being, (Isaiah xliv. 6. “I am the first and I am the last, and beside Me there is no God.”) (6) from His supreme dominion (Dan. iv. 35.) which is inconsistent with the notion of another God, who might oppose Him.
I believe in God THE FATHER.
I. God is our Father (a) by our Creation and preservation : (6) Temporal Redemption (Deut. xxxii. 6. and Isaiah xliv. 24.) (c) Spiritual Regeneration (James i. 17. and 1 John v. 1.) (d) Regeneration to glory (1 Pet. i. 3.) (e) Adoption (Rom. viii. 15.)
II. “As the Father of Jesus Christ.
This is in a peculiar, and the highest, sense. Christ never said to His disciples, 'Our Father,' though He tells us to say "Our Father': but He says 'The Father,' "Your Father,' and 'My Father,' thus distinguishing us from Himself in the filial relation to God the Father.
(a) The proper explanation of this Article in the Creed is, in fact, 'I believe in God the Father of Jesus Christ, as is shown by the universal agreement of the early Fathers in this sense, and the occasion and rise of the Creed itself, which was the profession of faith before Baptism ; and this was ‘in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,' where the Father' has no other relation than to that Son whose name is joined with His.
(6) God is the Father of Jesus Christ : I. as Christ was begotten by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary : II. as Christ was sent by God as King of Israel : III. as Christ was raised from the dead, and made heir of all things : IV. and, especially, as Christ is, and ever was, God and with God : (see Article II. below.)
(c) The priority of God the Father consists in the fact that the Father has the Divine Essence of Himself, the Son by communication from the Father : John v. 26. For as the Father hath: life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself” In both Father and Son is the same life, both in themselves, both in the same degree, only that the Father gives it, the Son receives it.