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we are to understand in this article by Athanasius's Creed, it going under that name, as in others, so in our Liturgy in particular. And it containing nothing but what is, somewhere or other in these Articles proved by Scripture, reason, and the Fathers; the doctrine of it must needs be received as true and consonant to the word of God."*
Mr. Wheatly, in his Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, observes, "Whether this Creed was composed by Athanasius or not, is matter of dispute. In the Rubrick before it, as enlarged at the Review, it is only said to be commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius: but we are certain, that it has been received as a treasure of inestimable price, both by the Greek and Latin Churches for almost a thousand years.
"As to the matter of it, it condemns all ancient and modern heresies, and is the sum of all Orthodox Divinity. And, therefore, if any scruple at the denying salvation to such as do not believe these articles, let them remember, that such as hold any of those fundamental heresies are condemned in Scripture: from whence it was a primitive custom, after a confession of the orthodox faith, to pass an anathema against all that denied it. But, however, for the ease and satisfaction of some people who have a notion that this Creed requires every person to assent to, or believe, every verse in it on pain of Damnation; and who therefore (because there are several things in it which they cannot comprehend) scruple to repeat it for fear they should anathematize, or condemn themselves; I desire to offer what follows to their cousideration, viz. That however plain and agreeable to
• Exposition of the Thirty Nine Articles. Article vIII.
reason every verse in this Creed may be; yet we are not required, by the words of the Creed, to believe the whole on pain of damnation. For all that is required of us as necessary to salvation, is, that before all things we hold the Catholic Faith; and the Catholic Faith is, by the third and fourth verses explained to be this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. This therefore is declared necessary to be be lieved: But all that follows from hence to the twenty sixth verse, is only brought as a proof and illustration of it; and therefore requires our assent no more than a sermon does which is made to prove or illustrate a text. The text we know is the word of God, and therefore necessary to be believed; but no person is, for that reason bound to believe every particular of the sermon deduced from it, upon pain of damnation, though every tittle of it may be true. The same I take to be in this Creed: The belief of the Catholic Faith before mentioned, the Scripture makes necessary to salvation, and therefore we must believe it: but there is no such necessity laid upon us to believe the illustration that is there given of it; nor does the Creed itself require it: for it goes on in the twenty sixth and twenty seventh verses, in these words, So that in all things as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped: He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity. Where it plainly passes off from that illustration, and returns back to the fourth and fifth verses, requiring only our belief of the Catholic Faith, as there expressed, as necessary to salvation, viz. That One God, or Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. All the rest of the Creed, from the
twenty seventh verse to the end, relates to our Saviour's Incarnation which indeed is another essential part of our faith, and as necessary to be believed as the former; but that being expressed in such plain terms, as none, I suppose, scruple, I need not enlarge any further."*
Mr. Simeon, a late commentator on the Liturgy, in his four Discourses preached before the University of Cambridge, in November, 1811, applies the damnatory clauses only to the general doctrine of a Trinity in Unity, in much the same manner as Mr. Wheatly, and not to all the explanations given in the Athanasian Creed. "After all," says Mr. Simeon, "I confess that if the same candour and moderation that are observable in all other parts of the Liturgy had been preserved here, it would have been better. For though I do verily believe
that those who deny the doctrine of the Trinity are in a fatal error, and will find themselves so at the Day of Judgment, I would rather deplore the curse that awaits them, than denounce it, and rather weep over them in my secret chamber, than utter anathemas against them in the house of God."-p. 77. The man who believes the denying of the Trinity to be a fatal error may consistently both subscribe and use the Athanasian Creed, though he may think it would have been better not to have added the damnatory clauses; but he who considers the rejection of the Trinity as perfectly consistent with a man's being a Christian, can neither subscribe the Athanasian Creed, nor read it as a part of the worship of God, without being guilty of the most awful prevarication.
We shall only further, on this subject, give the senti
⚫ Section 15th.
ments of Dr. Haweis, “Athanasius was firm in the truth and could not yield a tittle in point of doctrine; but he was no such bigot as he is represented, nor was he uncharitable. The truths of God will not bear accommodation to a fancied candour, or charitableness of judg ment. I may possess the kindest spirit, and practise the fullest exercise of toleration and forbearance, and yet decisively declare that except a man believe the Catholic Faith he cannot be saved. In my view the damnatory clauses of the Creed which bears his name breathe the noblest exercise of true Christian charity."*
Besides the observation of the Lord's day, the Church of England requires of her members the celebration of several holy-days, commemorative either of special blessings, connected with the Redemption, or of the Apostles and Martyrs, who, either by their doctrine and lives, were the lights of the world, or sealed the truths of Christianity with their blood. To the observation of holy-days the Presbyterians particularly object, as a superstitious custom, and as the interposition of human authority to make that a part of religion, which no commandment: of God has made any part of it. They observe that all legislation in the Church of God belongs to Christ as the King of his Church, and that the very claim is the Usurpation of an authority, that belongs only to Him. To this objection the Church of England-man: replies that "The Church hath set apart some days yearly, for the more particular remembrance of some special acts and passages of our Lord, in the Redemption of mankind; such as are his Incarnation and Nativity, Circumcision,
* Impartial History of the Church of Christ, Vol. 1, p. 307.
Manifestation to the Gentiles, Presentation in the Temple; his Fasting, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension; the sending of the Holy Ghost, and the Manifestation of the Sacred Trinity. That the observation of such days is requisite, is evident from the practice both of Jews and Gentiles. Nature taught the one and God the other, that the celebration of solemn Festivals was a part of the public exercise of religion. Besides the feasts of the Passover, of Weeks, and of Tabernacles, which were all of Divine appointment, the Jews celebrated some of their own institutions, viz. the feast of Purim, and the Dedication of the Temple, the latter of which even our blessed Saviour himself honoured with his presence..
"As to the celebration of Christian Festivals, they (the first Christians) thought themselves as much obliged to observe them as the Jews were to observe theirs. They had received greater benefits, and therefore it would have been the highest degree of ingratitude to have been less zealous in commemorating them. And accordingly we find that in the very infancy of Christianity some certain days were yearly set apart, to commemorate the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the coming of the Holy Ghost, &c. and to glorify God by an humble and grateful acknowledgment of these mercies granted to them at those times. Which laudable and religious custom so soon prevailed over the universal Church, that in five hundred years after our Saviour, we meet with them distinguished by the same names we now call them by; such as Epiphany, Ascension-day, Whitsunday, &c.