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heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. The third day he rose 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 living and the dead.” To these perhaps may be added the article which, in a still more explicit manner, expresses the resurrection of the dead, or, as it was more anciently expressed, of the flesh.
These are certainly all the articles to which those in the two glosses of Irenæus can be supposed to correspond; and nothing can be more evident than that every one of them was intended to exclude the Gnostics, except, perhaps, that which speaks of Christ as born of a virgin. But even this might not be intended to describe the birth of Christ in such a manner as to exclude those who thought it natural, so much as to assert that he was really and properly born, in opposition to those Gnostics who said that he was not properly born, as he took nothing from his mother. learn from Origen that there were even in the Gentile church some persons who did not believe the miraculous conception, and as this is only a gloss upon the creed given by Irenæus, who did believe it, and thought it to be of considerable importance, we cannot be sure that this article, in its present form, was in the creed as it was made use of in his time. At most, this article could only be intended to exclude from christian communion those Unitarians who disbelieved the miraculous conception, and by no means those who did believe it, which is the case of almost all the Unitarians of the present age.
Indeed the fact, which is universally acknowledged, viz. that great numbers of Unitarians were in communion with the catholic church, before and after the time of Irenæus, sufficiently proves that the proper creed, to which all Christians gave their consent, did not contain any articles that must (if they had any operation or effect) have excluded them. The learned Dr. Grabe supposes that the article concerning the miraculous conception was not in the early baptismal creeds, but was reserved for a head of instruction after baptism.
All the other articles above-mentioned are acknowledged, by the learned writer of the History of the Apostles' Creed, to be directed against the Gnostics, who did not believe that the maker of heaven and earth was the Father of Jesus Christ, that Jesus was the Christ, that he was ever properly born, or suffered, and who did not believe in a resurrection or future judgment.* If it be thought that any of these articles, or any clause in them, was not originally intended to exclude the Gnostics, at least it cannot be said that they were intended to exclude any other set of men, but to express such facts, or principles, as were believed by all Christians.
* “ Annotata in Bulli Judicium," C. vi. Bulli Opera, p. 339. (P.)
Dr. Sykes observes, that since these two creeds of Irenæus “ do not agree in words, nor consist of the same articles, but differ in many instances, they cannot be looked upon as creeds of any church, but as summaries of the doctrines of Christianity drawn up in this author's own form.”+ However, though they certainly, for these reasons, are not creeds in words and form, they are evidently the writer's gloss or comment on some actual creed, and allude to the particular articles of one.
The next copies of the creed, or at least something like it, we find in the writings of Tertullian ; who gives us three of them, all very different from each other, and from those of Irenæus ; two of them evidently diffuse glosses, and more likely to be so, as they are introduced into treatises against particular heresies; the other more simple, and, being inserted in a treatise relating to practice, is more likely to approach nearer to the real creed proposed to the catechumens in his time. It is as follows: “ The rule of faith is only one, admitting of no change or emendation, requiring us to believe in one God Almighty, the maker of the world; and in his Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, raised from the dead on the third day, received up into heaven, now sitting at the right hand of the Father, and who will come again to judge both the living and the dead, even by the resurrection of the flesh. This law of faith remaining, other things, being matters of discipline and conduct, admit of new corrections, the grace of God co-operating. I
* See Lord King's Crit. Hist. Ch. ii. iii.
† “ An Inquiry when the Resurrection of the Body, or Flesh, was first inserted into the public Creeds," 1757. (P.) See Disney's Mem. of Sykes, p. 345.
Regula quidem fidei una omninò est, sola, immobilis et irreformabilis, credendi scilicet in unicum Deum, omnipotentem, mundi conditorem, et Filium ejus Jesum Christum, natum ex Virgine Maria, crucifixum sub Pontio Pilato, tertiâ die resusci. tatum à mortuis, receptum in cælis, sedentem nunc ad dextram Patris, venturum judicare vivos et mortuos, per camis etiam resurrectionem. Hac lege fidei manente, cætera jam disciplinæ et conversationis, admittunt novitatem correctionis, operante scilicet et proficiente usque ad finem gratia Dei." De Virginibus velandis, Sect. i. p. 173. (P.)
This creed contains no articles that are not contained in the creed of Irenæus, except the more distinct mention of the resurrection of the flesh, which it is well known all the Gnostics denied ; so that there can be no doubt of its having been directed against them.
The second creed of Tertullian occurs in his treatise De Præscriptione, in which he combats the Gnostic doctrine; and therefore he enlarges upon the several articles, with a view to make it more evidently levelled against them. “ The rule of faith is that by which we are taught to believe that there is but one God, and this no other than the maker of the world, who produced every thing out of nothing by his own word, then first sent down; that that word was called his Son, that he appeared variously in the name (i. e. in the character) of God, to the patriarchs, that he was afterwards conveyed by the Spirit and power of God the Father, into the Virgin Mary; that he was made flesh in her womb, and from her appeared in the person of Jesus Christ; that he thence preached a new law, and a new promise of the kingdom of heaven; that he performed miracles, was fixed to the cross, rose again on the third day, was taken up into heaven, sat at the right hand of the Father, sent the power of the Holy Spirit, in his place, to inspire believers ; that he will come with glory to take the saints to inherit eternal life, and the celestial promises, and to judge the wicked to everlasting fire, being raised again in their flesh.”* Admitting this to have been the genuine creed, every article in it is still more evidently pointed at the Gnostics.
The third copy of the creed, or rather another gloss upon it, is found in Tertullian's Treatise against Praxeas; and being a gloss, the object of it is evidently to make it express more clearly his own doctrine of the personification of the logos, which Praxeas denied. It is as follows: “ We believe
* “Regula est autem fidei, ut jam hinc quid defendamus profiteamur, illa scilicet quâ creditur unum omninò Deum esse; nec alium præter mundi conditorem; qui universa de nibilo produxerit, per verbum suum primo omuium demissum: id verbum Filium ejus appellatum, in nomine Dei variè visum à patriarchis, in prophetis semper auditum, postremo delatum ex spiritu Patris, Dei et virtute, in Virginem Mariam, carnem factum in utero ejus, et ex ea natum egisse (exisse) Jesum Christum ; exinde prædicasse novam Jegem, et novam promissiouem regni cælorum; virtutes fecisse; fixum cruce; tertia die resurrexisse; in cælos ereptum sedisse ad dextram Patris; misisse vicariam vim Spiritús Sancti, qui credentes agat; venturum : cum claritate, ad sumendos sanctos in vitæ æternæ et promissorum cælestium frue tum, et ad profanos adjudicandos igni perpetuo, facta utriusque partis resuscitatione cum carnis restitutione." Sect. xiii. p. 206. (P.)
in one God, but under that dispensation which we call the economy; so that there is also a Son of this one God, his word, who proceeded from him, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made that was made; that he was sent by the Father into a virgin, and of her born man and God, the Son of man and the Son of God, and called Jesus Christ; that he suffered, died, and was buried, according to the Scriptures; that he was raised by the Father, and taken up into heaven; that he sits at the right hand of the Father, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead; who thence, according to his promise, sent from the Father the Holy Spirit, the comforter, and the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Of the other articles which were added to the creed afterwards, an account may be seen in the learned History of the Creed mentioned above, and it is very apparent that they were all levelled at particular heresies; but all the original articles of the creed were calculated to exclude the Gnostics, and not one of them can be said to affect the Unitarians, especially if they believed the miraculous conception, as I may have occasion to observe more particularly hereafter. At present I produce these creeds with a view to shew how soon the Christian church took the alarm at the principles of the Gnostics, and how careful they were to take all the methods in their power to keep them out of the church.
It appears, from Cyril of Jerusalem, that the use that was made of the creed was to interrogate each of the candidates for baptism, whether they believed the several articles of it.t
I shall conclude this account of the creed, with observing that, in the Apostolical Constitutions, which were probably written in the fourth century, we have a very short and simple creed proposed. For it is there said, that “the faith of Christians is, to believe that there is one Almighty God,
• “Unicum quidem Deum credimus, sub hâc tamen dispensatione quam æconomiam dicimus, ut unici Dei sit et Filius sermo ipsius, qui ex ipso processerit, per quem omnia facta sunt, et sine quo factum est nihil; hunc missum à Patre in virginem, et ex ea natum hominem et Deum, Filium hominis et Filium Dei, et cogno. minatum Jesum Christum. Hunc passum, hunc mortuum, et sepultum, secundum Scripturas; et resuscitatum à Patre, et in cælos resumptum, sedere ad dextram Patris, venturum judicare vivos et mortuos, qui exinde miserit, secundum promissionem suam, à Patre Spiritum Sanctum, paracletum, sauctificatorem fidei eorum qui credunt in Patrem et Filium, et Spiritum Sanctum. Hanc regulam ab initio evangelii decucurrisse," &c. Ad Praxeam, Sect. ii. p. 501. (P.)
+ Μεία ταυλα επι την άγιαν τα θεια βαπτισματος εχειραγωγεισθε κολυμβηθραν, ως ο Χριςος απο τα σαυρα επι το προκειμενον μνημα και ηρωίαίο έκαςος ει τις ευει εις το ονομα το Παίρος, και τα Υιο, και το άγιο Πνεύματος. Cat. Myst. ii. p. 285. (Ρ.)
and no other, and that he alone is to be worshipped, by Jesus Christ, in the holy spirit.
In the times in which the doctrine of the Trinity was much agitated, the articles of the Apostles' Creed were not thought to be sufficient; and some of the more zealous bishops proposed the Nicene Creed, and other tests, to those who were in communion with them. Theodoret made his catechumens recite the Nicene Creed at baptism.t Epiphanius also proposed a large creed to be used at baptism, in opposition to heretics. But this practice does not appear to have been general. A copy of the Apostles' Creed, much enlarged, with a kind of comment, may be seen in the works of Cyril of Alexandria. S
OF THE DOCTRINE OF PLATO CONCERNING GOD, AND
THE GENERAL SYSTEM OF NATURE.
It will be seen, that what was called orthodox Christianity, after the Council of Nice, had received a considerable tinge from the tenets of Gnosticism, of which a view has been given in the last Section. But the proper source of it was the philosophy of Plato.
|| The doctrine of the personification of the logos, or the divine intellect, consisting of the attributes of wisdom, power, &c. was certainly introduced by the Platonists, and from them it was adopted by the Christian fathers; but it appears to me, from a pretty careful examination of the writings of Plato, that this was not done by himself, though the confusion of his ideas gave occasion to it in his followers. According to Plato, the universe was made by the supreme
Θεων παντοκρατορα ένα μονον υπαρχειν, παρ' όν αλλG Bκ εςι, και αυτον σεβειν και προσκυνειν, δια Ιησε Χρις8 τε Κυριε ήμων, εν τω παναγια πνευμαίι. Constitut. Apost. L. vi. p. 343. (P.)
1 Τες γαρ καθ' έκαςον ελος τω παναγιω προσιονίας βαπτισμαλι, την εκτεθεισαν εν Νικαια παρα των αγιων και μακαριων σαλερων πιςιν εκμαρθανειν παρασκευαζομεν" και μυςαγωγενλες αυλος ως προσελαχθημεν, βαπτιζομεν εις το ονομα τα Παιρος, και τα “Υιο, και το άγιο Πνεύματος, ενικως έκαςην προσηγοριαν προσφερονίες. Epist. cxlv. Opera, III. p. 1023. (P.)
Ancoratus, Sect. cxxi. Opera, II. p. 123. (P.) Opera, II. p. 699. (P.) li The remainder of this Chapter, except the four last paragraphs, is copied, with some enlargements and corrections, from the author's Essay “ Of the Doctrine of Plato concerning God, and the general System of Nature," in the Theol. Repos. IV. pp. 77–97. See supra, p. 12.