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Here, it must be confessed, the experiment has been of a more doubtful result, than in the preceding instance. demand for them as a political convenience, has proportionably diminished their religious character, and profaned in some measure that which was holy, and used by the holy.
Whilst some religious institutions are thus adopted into civil societies, on the other hand, a custom of mere human origin may be lawfully converted into an act of communion with God, and incorporated by the Church into the great body of those common rites, to which, generally, a promise of grace is annexed. To which class Burial belong the burial service, the religious part of the ceremony
of crowning kings, and the like. Hence, in different ages and countries, the number of sacred rites will be made to differ, or, remaining the same, to change their character. How far their multiplication may be allowed, and to what extent human institutions may borrow spiritual influence, must, of course, be determined by the principles given by Christ and the Holy Spirit, for the formation and regulation of every Church. Only, in the inquiry concerning such rites, it must be borne in mind, that their character is always twofold; and that they are accidentally made the means of grace.
Such being the character of these rites, it is unnecessary to pursue any further inquiry respecting them. I shall accordingly proceed at once to notice what properly follow the Sacraments, the Love Feasts, and the Public Prayers,—those ceremonies, namely, which are the Church's appointed means of grace for individuals, or for creating particular offices.
ORDINATION, CONFIRMATION, &c. Of these, the ordination of ministers is the most prominent. In Ordination. the narrative of the Acts we find no specific direction given for the celebration of such a form; and yet the use of some form is left binding, because it is recorded. Again, although no complete ceremony is recorded, because, doubtless, it was not intended that the Church, in all ages, should be tied down, under all circumstances, even to the apostolical form; still, besides the general appointment of prayers, the laying on of hands was enjoined. This part of the ceremony then must have been recorded, because intended to be perpetual; and, accordingly, in looking back on the view we have left us of the first uninspired Church, we should not expect even to find all Churches necessarily agreeing in their forms of ordination prayers, but we should expect all to use the imposition of hands. If we perceived that any neglected to do so, we should have possession of a fact which would enable us to say, that their proceedings were irregular. But there is no evidence of such a deviation from apostolical practice and scriptural views; and we are therefore bound to suppose, that ordination was still continued by imposition of hands and by prayers.
Confirmation is another of this class of rites which deserves a short notice. It evidently arose out of the formal act of giving to the new Christian the confirming sign of the real descent of the Holy Ghost on him. After these miraculous manifestations were withdrawn from the Church, this venerable rite was employed as a useful addition to those outward means of grace, through which the Church was appointed to communicate and cherish the ordinary gifts of the Spirit. Although always now blended with forms of common prayer, yet in itself it is an act relating to an individual, and as such has been considered here. Like ordination, its essential ingredient is the laying on of hands, which, accordingly, has been the invariable part of the ceremony from the earliest times. It was long practised in the Church in strict conformity with the apostolic usage, immediately after baptism, whether of infants or adults; and it was, probably, only when the return of sensible manifestations had generally ceased to be expected, that its more rational use was established.
WHAT MEASURES THE FIRST UNINSPIRED CHURCH PURSUED FOR
BESIDES those measures, the object of which is to preserve or to dispense the recorded revelation, the Church is obliged to provide some especially for its own preservation. Stationed as guard over this Divine treasure, it is required to use all diligence, not only to fulfil its office, but to keep itself strong and healthy, and well equipped for so trying a service. What course the primitive uninspired Christians pursued with this view, is the point of inquiry at which we are arrived.
And, in order to estimate the wisdom of their plans and precau- Dangers of tions, it will be necessary to connect them with a view of the dangers Primitive to which the Church was exposed, and which these provisions may be supposed designed to meet and counteract. These were various and unconnected: some internal, and arising from its own members ; some external, and arising from strangers and enemies. In providing against both these, the Church enjoyed the same sort of assistance which guided it in all its other proceedings,-the recorded principles on which the Church was formed, illustrated by the application of those principles in the ministry of the apostles. The uninspired Church was assailed by perils precisely similar to those which it had witnessed successfully opposed, by means still in its power. Within itself it was liable to heresies and schisms, and so had it ever been. From without, it saw danger in the wisdom of the unbelieving portion of mankind, as well as in their power; but the effect of both had been proved. Let us see, therefore, how far it profited by the examples which had gone before.
The first measures of self-preservation adopted by any society Erroneous would naturally be addressed to its own members; and these, in the Christian society, would have in view one of two things; either the profession of orthodox faith, or conformity to instituted practices. Whenever, then, in the first place, any doctrines of Scripture were likely to be misrepresented, or any unscriptural doctrine likely to be introduced, it would be the Church's care to enforce the true doctrine, and to guard against the false, by some specific appointment: and if any such abuse had actually occurred, its vigilance would be proportionably increased by the warning. It would not necessarily happen that the doctrines thus made prominent, and particularly
Guarded against by Creeds, &c.
guarded, because most exposed, would be in themselves the most important; but any so circumstanced would still have a claim during the season of peril to this accidental preference; as the parent watches more tenderly over the weak child, although intending thereby no mark of preference or distinction to it above its brothers and sisters. The principal method devised by the Church from the earliest times, for thus securing its members against the particular errors of belief, which foresight or experience had taught to be the most dangerous, has been to draw up formularies of faith, Creeds, Canons, Articles, and the like. A Creed, taught to the catechumens before baptism, put them on their guard on those points, whereon they were most likely to be assailed. Read constantly in the public assemblies, it reminded the whole Church, that the doctrines specified were among those, belief in which was implied by their becoming members of that community. Hence the early and original term for creed was σύμβολον, or watch-word;" which, whether borrowed, as some of the Fathers assert, from military language, or, as others assert, from the sig of recognition in use among the heathen in their mysteries, denotes a test and a shibboleth, whereby each Church may know its own, and is circulated throughout its members as a warning against the snares of enemies or false brethren.
That the Church is authorized to set forth Christian doctrines, moulded into systems or into any convenient form, has been already shown; and it has been also asserted, that in the present instance they were probably further sanctioned by apostolic example. Whether any portion of what is called “The Apostles' Creed,” was actually so framed and used by the apostles, or not, allusions to the use of similar forms may be, perhaps, discovered in several parts of the New Testament. Even so early as the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Philip, we know that the profession of one article of faith, specifically, was required; and this, just the one which at that season was most likely to be made prominent: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ;"119 nor is it unreasonable to interpret St. Paul's directions to Timothy, in reference to the use of such specific articles, when he bids him “keep that which is committed to thy trust; 130 avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called; which some professing have erred from the faith:” and again, “ Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee121 keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
The articles which would originally compose this formulary, would, of course, be few; and this would in some measure render
119 Acts viii. 37. The same profession 120 1 Τim. vi. 20. Τήν παρακαταθήκης was made by Peter to our Lord, in the φύλαξου. name of all the apostles, “ We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, 121 2 Tim. i. 13, 14. Την καλήν παρα the Son of the living God.”—John vi. 69. καταθήκην. .
it unnecessary that they should be placed on record. But a more powerful reason suggests itself, why, supposing the inspired Church to have made use of such a form, it should not be registered by it. It was systematic divinity, and framed into that systematic form to serve a special purpose, and would therefore have been an anomaly in the sacred record. To have recorded it with the apostolic sanction, would have given it the character and authority of Scripture; whereas it was only an illustration of that use which was to be made of Scripture in all ages.
122 It is, indeed, extremely probable, that a How far portion of the Apostles' Creed was formed and sanctioned by the probably apostles, and preserved for a time in the Church solely by tradition, by the
Apostles. on this very account. The current tradition, that its origin was apostolical, is certainly entitled to some credit ; although we may reject with certainty the story of each apostle contributing his quota, and thereby occasioning it to be called a symbolum. Indeed, the internal evidence of a certain portion of it corroborates this view so strongly, that it may be worth while to pause and examine the several clauses, with a view to determine which may, and which may not, be of so early a date.
Bearing in mind, then, the object which such a formula of faith The First must have, let us take the first article, I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. “ He that cometh unto Heb. xi 6. God,” writes St. Paul, “must believe that he is;' and the same cause which rendered it necessary for the apostle to make prominent this article of belief, no doubt might have occasioned it to be first in an apostolic formula. The whole clause considered together forcibly The Units reminds us, too, of the opening of the book of Genesis, where this of God. supreme and distinct Being is set forth, in opposition to the false notions of the world, as the Creator of Heaven and Earth; of those very things which had furnished the chief objects of idolatry. Perhaps, then, the importance of specifying this great truth may have arisen from the temptations which old prejudice would foster in heathen converts, once more to corrupt religion as did their forefathers. The most ancient Creeds, too, confirm this view, by distinctly marking the unity of God, and thus more strongly cautioning the Christian against polytheism. In those of Irenæus,194 and of Origen,125 it is “one God;” and in Tertullian's “ one or the only God.'
122 Ουχ, ώς έδοξεν ανθρώπους, συνετέθη τα της τίστεως, αλλ' εκ τάσης γραφής τα ΚΑΙΡΙΩΤΑΤΑ συλλεχθέντα μίαν αναπληρoϊ
τήν της πίστεως διδασκαλίαν. . S. Cyril, Catech. cited by Bishop Pearson in his Exp. of the Creed, Art. I. notes.
123 Jerome alludes to the fact, (Ep. ad Psammachium adversus Err. Johan. Hieros. C. 9.) “In symbolo fidei et spei nostræ, quod ab Apostolis traditum, non scribitur in chartâ et atramento, sed in tabulis cordis carnalibus." Othér allusions of the same kind may easily, per
haps, be met with in the earlier writings
Hæc fides, hoc sacramentum, non est
124 Lib. I. C. 2 and 19.
126 “ Unum ” and “unicum.” De