Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

mous in Rome, when Rome was famous for the “faith spoken of throughout the whole world.” He wrote an epistle to the Corinthians infested with a schism, in imitation of St. Paul, which obtained so great authority in the primitive times, that it was frequently read in their public congregations; and yet had for many hundred years been lost, till it was at last set forth out of the library of the late King.

Now as, by the providence of God, the memory of that primitive Saint hath been restored in our age, so my design aimeth at nothing else but that the primitive faith may be revived. And therefore in this edition of the Creed I shall speak to you but what St. Jude hath already spoken to the whole Church : “ Beloved, when I give all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." If it were so needful for him then to write, and for them to whom he wrote to contend for the first faith, it will appear as needful for me now to follow his writing, and for you to imitate their earnestness, because the reason which he renders, as the cause of that necessity, is now more prevalent than it was at that time, or ever since. “ For (saith he) there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The principles of Christianity are now as freely questioned as the most doubtful and controverted points; the grounds of faith are as safely denied as the most unnecessary superstructions; that religion hath the greatest advantage which appeareth in the newest dress, as if we looked for another faith to be delivered to the saints: whereas in Christianity there can be no concerning truth which is not ancient; and whatsoever is truly new, is certainly false. Look then for purity in the fountain, and strive to embrace the first faith, to which you cannot have a more probable guide than the CREED, received in all ages of the Church; and to this I refer you, as it leads you to the Scriptures, from whence it was at first deduced, that while “ those which are unskilful and unstable, wrest” the words of God himself “unto their own damnation ; ye may receive so much instruction as may set you beyond the imputation of unskilfulness, and so much of confirmation as may place you out of the danger of instability; which as it hath been' the constant endeavour, so shall it ever be the prayer of him, who after so inany encouragements of his labours amongst you, doth still desire to be known as

Your most faithful Servant in the Lord,

JOHN PEARSON.

THE CREED.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth: And in Jesus Christ his only on our Lord: Which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into Hell, the third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty : From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Catholick Church; The Communion of Saints; The For: giveness of sins; The Resurrection of the Body; And the Life everlasting.

AN

EXPOSITION OF THE CREED.

ARTICLE I.

I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY,

MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.

[ocr errors]

As the first word CREDO, I believe, giveth a denomination to the whole confession of faith, from thence commonly called the CRRED; so is the same word to be imagined not to stand only where it is expressed, but to be carried through the whole body of the confession. For although it be but twice actually rehearsed, yet must we conceive it virtually prefixed to the head of every article: that as we say, I believe in God the Father Almighty, so we are also understood to say, I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord ; as I believe in the Holy Ghost, so also I believe the Catholic Church. Neither is it to be joined with every complete article only; but where any article is not a single verity, but comprehensive, there it is to be looked upon as affixed to every part, or single truth, contained in that article: as, for example, in the first, I believe in God, I believe that God to be the Father, I believe that Father to be Almighty, I believe that Father Almighty to be the Maker of heaven and earth. So that this Credo, I believe, rightly considered, multiplieth itself to no less than a double number of the articles, and will be found at least twenty-four times contained in the CREED. Wherefore, being a word so pregnant and diffusive, so necessary and essential to every part of our confession of faith, that without it we can neither have CREED nor Confession, it will require a more exact consideration, and more ample explication, and that in such a notion as is properly applicable to so many and so various truths.

Now by this previous expression, I believe, thus considered, every particular Christian is first taught, and then imagined, to make confession of his faith; and, consequently, this word, so used, admits a threefold consideration : First, As it supposeth belief, or faith, which is confessed. Secondly, As it is a confession, or external expression of that faith so supposed. Thirdly, As both the faith and confession are of necessary and particular obligation. When, therefore, we shall have clearly delivered, First, What is the true nature and notion of belief; Secondly, What the duty of confessing of our faith ; Thirdly, What obligation lies upon every particular

B

person to believe and confess; then may we be conceived to have sufficiently explicated the first word of the CREED, then may every one understand what it is he

says,
and
upon

what ground he proceeds, when he professeth, I believe.

For the right understanding of the true nature of Christian faith, it will be no less than necessary to begin with the general notion of belief; which being first truly stated and defined, then by degrees deduced into its several kinds, will at last make the nature of Christian faith intelligible: a design, if I mistake not, not so ordinary and usual, as useful and necessary.

Belief in general I define to be an assent to that which is credible, as credible. By the word assent* is expressed that act or habit of the understanding, by which it receiveth, acknowledgeth, and embraceth any thing as a truth; it being the naturet of the soul so to embrace whatsoever appeareth true unto it, and so far as it so appeareth. Now this assent, or judgment of any thing to be true, being a general act of the understanding, and so applicable to other † habits thereof as well as to faith, must be specified by its proper object, and so limited and determined to its proper act, which is the other part left to complete the definition.

This object of faith is expressed by that which is credible;

* Πίστις δε πρόληψις εκούσιός έστιν, κατάθεσις are opposed by the Greeks. θεοσεβείας συγκατάθεσις. Clem. Αlex. As Sextus Empiricus, speaking of AdStrom. I. ii. p. 156. lin. 17. ed. Com- metus seeing Alcestis brought back melin. 1592. Πίστις μεν ούν εστί συγκα- by Hercules from Hades: Επεί μέντάθεσις αδιάκριτος τών άκουσθέντων εν τοι ήδει ότι τέθνηκε, περιεσπάτο αυτού ή πληροφορία της αληθείας των κηρυχθέν- διάνοια από της συγκαταθέσεως, και προς των θεού χάριτι. S. Basil. Ascet. de απιστίαν έκλινε. Pyrrh. Hypot. 1. i. 33. Fide, c. 1. The Basilidians, “Ορίζονται * Φιλαλήθης η ψυχή ουδέποτε κατά γούν οι από Βασιλείδου την πίστιν ψυχής το ψεύδος ανεχoμένη διατίθεσθαι, αλλά συγκατάθεσιν πρός τι των μη κινούντων κατά φανεν αληθες πάντως και ευθύς. αίσθησιν διά το μή παρείναι. Clem. Aler. Simplic. in 3. Arist. de Animα. Κάν τις Strom. 1. ii. p. 160. 11. Κατά δε τον ταληθές σκοπή, εύρήσει τον άνθρωπον ημέτερον λόγον, πίστις εστίν εκούσιος της φύσει διαβεβλημένον μεν προς την του ψυχής συγκατάθεσις. Theodoret. The- ψεύδους συγκατάθεσιν, έχοντα δε αφορrap. Serm. 1. And yet he also after- μάς πρός πίστιν ταληθούς. Clem. Aler. ward acknowledgeth they had that de- Strom. 1. ii. p. 165. 48. finition from the Greeks: Thv pièv yàp 1 As συγκατάθεσις the Greek word πίστιν και οι υμέτεροι φιλόσοφοι ωρίσαν- used for this assent is applied to other το είναι εθελούσιον της ψυχής συγκατά- acts of the understanding as well as θεσιν. . “ Credere est cum assensione that of belief, so Clemens Alexandricogitare,' S. August. de Prædestin. nus speaking of the definition of faith : Sanct. 5. 5. And de Spir. et Litter. ad "Αλλοι δ' αφανούς πράγματος ενωτικήν Marcellin. lib. 5. 54. Quid est cre- συγκατάθεσιν απέδωκαν είναι την πίστιν, dere, nisi consentire verum esse quod ώσπερ αμέλει την απόδειξιν αγνοουμένου dicitur?? So I take the συγκατάθεσις πράγματος φανεράν συγκατάθεσιν. Strom. used by the Greek fathers to signify 1. ii. p. 156. 21. And again: Nãoa oův αεsensum or assensionem, as A. Gellius δόξα, και κρίσις, και υπόληψις, και μάθηtranslateth the Stoic, συγκατατίθεται, σις, οίς ζώμεν και σύνεσμεν αιεί, το γένει suα αssensione approbat, I. xix. 1. and των ανθρώπων συγκατάθεσις έστιν ή δ' before him Cicero, Nunc de assensi- ουδέν άλλο η πίστις είη άν ή τε απιστία, one atque approbatione, quam Graeci' αποσύστασις ούσα της πίστεως, δυνατήν συγκατάθεσιν νοcant, pauca dicamus.” δείκνυσι την συγκατάθεσίν τε και πίστιν. In Lucullo, S. 37. So απιστία and συγ- p. 165. 45. : :

[ocr errors]

for every one who believeth any thing, doth thereby without question assent unto it as to that which is credible: and therefore all belief whatsoever is such a kind of assent. But though all belief be an assent to that which is credible, yet every such assent may not be properly faith; and therefore those words make not the definition complete. For he that sees an action done, knows it to be done, and therefore assents unto the truth of the performance of it because he sees it: but another person to whom he relates it, may assent unto the performance of the same action, not because himself sees it, but because the other relates it; in which case that which is credible is the object of faith in one, of evident knowledge in the other. To make the definition therefore full, besides the material object or thing believed, we have added the formal object, or that whereby it is properly believed, expressed in the last term, as credible, which being taken in, it then appears, that, First, Whosoever believeth any thing, assenteth to something which is to him credible, and that as it is credible; and again, Whosoever assenteth to any thing which is credible, as it is credible, believeth something by so assenting: which is sufficient to shew the definition complete.

But for the explication of the same, farther observations will be necessary. For if that which we believe be something which is credible, and the notion under which we believe be the credibility of it, then must we first declare what it is to be credible, and in what credibility doth consist, before we can understand what is the nature of belief.

Now that is properly credible which is not apparent of it, self, nor certainly to be collected, either antecedently by its cause, or reversely by its effect; and yet, though by none of these ways, hath the attestation of a truth. For those things which are apparent of themselves, are either so in respect of our sense, as, that snow is white, and fire is hot; or in respect of our understanding, as, that the whole of any thing is greater than any one part of the whole, that every thing imaginable either is or is not. The first kind of which being propounded to our sense, one to the sight, the other to the touch, appear of themselves immediately true, and therefore are not termed credible, but evident to sense; as the latter kind, propounded to the understanding, are immediately embraced and acknowledged as truths apparent in themselves, and therefore are not called credible, but evident to the understanding. And so those things which are * apparent, are not said properly to be believed, but to be known.

Again, other things, though not immediately apparent in themselves, may yet appear most certain and evidently true,

* Apparentia non habent fidem, nondum videt, et quibus certissime sed agnitionem.' Greg. 4. Dial. cap. videt, nondum se videre quod credit.' 5. Habet Fides oculos suos, quibus S. August. Ep. 222. quodammodo videt, verum esse quod ·

« ZurückWeiter »