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SERMON II.

OF ORIGINAL OR BIRTH SIN.

ROMANS, iii. 10.
“ There is none Righteous, no not one.”

to.

Our Church having in her Sixth Article, laid the foundation of her faith in Holy Scripture, proceeds, in those that follow, to an explicit declaration of her Doctrines. I need say nothing of the Seventh. On the Eighth I shall make a few observations; because the matter it contains has been objected

It relates to the Creeds, those forms of faith called the Nicene, the Athanasian, and the Apostles' Creed, which are appointed to be read by the Minister, followed by the Congregation, in all our Churches. The Article declares concerning them, that they “ ought thoroughly to be received and believed; inasmuch as they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.The origin of Creeds may be traced back to a very early period. It is by no means improbable that

their progress.

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St. Paul referred to some such concise epitome of Christian doctrine, when he spoke in two of his Epistles of the “form of sound words.But be that as it may, it is clear from well authenticated ecclesiastical records, that short formal confessions were used in the Churches almost contemporaneously with the time of the Apostles. Heresies arising, induced those who loved the truth and wished for its preservation, to draw up fuller statements of Christian doctrine, in the hope of arresting

The Creed commonly called the Apostles'” (as the Article expresses it,) because we have no proof that it was written by them, but is only a Creed containing a summary of their doctrines, is the most ancient. The Nicene Creed, which has that name because it was agreed to by the body of the faithful assembled at Nice, was drawn up in the 4th Century to express the faith of the Church against the awful heresy of Arius: and that called Athanasian, was introduced at a later period, the continuance and spread of heretical opinions, rendering it necessary to define still more clearly the scriptural doctrine of the two natures of our blessed Lord. It takes its name from Athanasius, in honour of that noble champion of the orthodox faith, and as embodying the views advanced by him in defence of pure Christianity. Now, the Article properly says that these three Creeds

ought thoroughly to be received and believed, for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.” This is putting the thing on its right

ground, and what reasonable man can object to it? So far from opposing tradition, if so understood, we are prepared to pay to it the greatest respect and reverence.

We receive it, not only as shewing what was held by the Church Catholic at certain periods of her history, but as shewing that her opinions, at those particular periods, agreed with the Scriptures. We receive it, not because the Church has said it, but because what the Church has said is Scriptural. In this view, and in no other, do we receive or bow to tradition. We respect the Church's decision when she gives it from Scripture, but we reject her decision when she goes contrary to Scripture. If the appeal to tradition were kept within these limits, no harm would come of it. For there is a legitimate use, and a good use, of the ancient documents of Christianity. Who, for instance, (by way of illustration) could refuse to the descendant of a pious ancestry, an appeal to their opinions? He might say,

with great propriety, “My father, and my grandfather, and his father before him, who were men loving their Bibles, and carefully proving every thing out of them, expressed themselves in such and such a way, on certain points. Their writings, their letters, are in my hands, and I am glad to find, by looking at their recorded sentiments, that my views agree with theirs." There is here no undue veneration for the opinions of persons naturally respected and loved. The worth of their testimony is made to rest, not upon their character, but upon the deference they

I paid to the Word of God: and they are referred to, not as the judges of correct opinions, but as giving an important concurring testimony to Scripture Truth. In this way would the individual's appeal to antiquity be fair and well grounded, because confirmatory of his faith. And in this way, do we (i.e. the Church of England) use tradition. We appeal to the voice of those who, in olden times, appealed to the Scriptures, and we receive the records of their faith as confirmatory of the views which we have formed by going to the Scriptures. The Creeds, then, we look upon as landmarks, tracing thereby the true Church of God, in the several stages of her progress. We receive and believe them, because they tell us what Scripture tells us: and as true standards of what ought to be received and believed in all ages, we retain them in our churches, that they may still testify against error, and be witnesses for the truth of God whenever assailed.

But I must leave this point and come to our Ninth Article, that which is to be the subject of our present discourse. The preceding one referred to

. the first principles of the Christian religion, required to be believed of all men “as necessary to salvation.” This brings before us the first of the special doctrines of that religion, which our Reformers have expressed so clearly, and with such an accuracy of statement, that he who compares what they say in these declarations of the reformed faith, with what is said in the Scriptures, will be able to discover no

variance: and, hence, he who seeks only for truth has no difficulty in acting up to the Declaration of King James, in our Book of Common Prayer, “that no man hereafter shall either print or preach to draw the Article aside any way, but shall submit to it in the plain and full meaning thereof; and shall not put his own sense or comment to be the meaning of the Article, but shall take it in the literal and grammatical sense." I would just observe that the doctrines commencing in this and extending to the Eighteenth Article concern Christians individually; the rest relate to them considered collectively, as the Church. Let us now hear the plain statement of the Article before us. It treats “ Of Original or Birth Sin;" and is as follows :-“ Original Sin, standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is the fault or corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far

gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into the world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek opórmpece o après, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God. And though there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle

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