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were understood to be implied, which it was very foon after found most convenient to express by additional Articles. And the firft of thefe, is that now to be explained wherein we declare our Belief in the Holy Catholic Church, and the Communion of Saints.

The Scripture Word, tranflated, Church, originally fignifies any regular and orderly Affembly of Perfons, called to meet on any Occafion. But in the Bible it fignifies, almost always, a religious Affembly. And when ufed in its largest Senfe there, it comprehends the whole Number of good Perfons, in every Age: all those, who from the Beginning of the World, under whatever Difpenfation of true Religion, have believed in God, and ferved him, according to the Degree of their Light; and fhall in the End of it be gathered together, and rewarded by him, according to the Degree of their Improvement. This is the general Affembly and Church of the firft-born, which are written in Heaven, as the Epiftle to the Hebrews calls it ". And fince the Salvation of all these is owing to Jefus Chrift; the only Name by which Men can be faved; they are all, in that Refpect, Members of the Church of Chrift, how obfcure and imperfect foever their Knowledge of a Saviour may have been. But the Word is ufually taken in a narrower Senfe. And thus it is fometimes applied to the Jewish Nation: which in the Old Teftament is called, by a Phrase of juft the fame Meaning, the Congregation of the Lord, and by St. Stephen, the Church, which was in the Wilderness a. But the Church, more especially meant here in the Creed, is the Chriftian: which, though in fome Refpe&s the fame with the Jewish, in others differed from it; which therefore our Saviour, in the Gofpel, fpeaks of himself as about to build; and accordingly, immediately after his Afcenfion, in the Acts of the Apostles, we find it built: that is, we find an Affembly of Believers in Chrift, met together at Jerusalem, under their

"Numb, xvi, 3, &c.


Heb. xii. 23. Acts vii. 38.

b Acts iv. 12. Matth. xvi, 18,

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proper Teachers and Governors, to worship God, and edify one another, in the Manner, which he appointed.

This was the original Chriftian Church; fmall indeed at firft: but the Lord, we read, added to the Church daily fuch as frould be faved; till, the Gofpel fpreading every Way, the Number of Chriftians, which in the Beginning required no more than one Congregation, was of Neceffity divided into feveral. And henceforward we find many Churches fpoken of, at fome Times: yet all these many fpoken of as one, at others. For fince they all proceeded from the fame Source; are all, as the Apoftle argues, one Body; and are directed by one Spirit; even as they are called in one Hope of their Calling as they have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptifm, one God and Father of all: fo are they, in great Propriety of Speech, though many, yet one in Christ. His Church therefore is the whole Number of those, who believe on him. How much foever they may differ in fome Opinions or Practices, yet they are one in all Things effential. How wide foever they may be difperfed throughout the World, they shall at last be gathered together unto him. We can judge only according to Appearances: and therefore to us all thofe muft be Members of Chrift's Church, who make a vifible Profeffion of being Chriftians. But God fees every fecret Thought: and in his Eye, they alone belong truly to his Church, who truly ferve him in the hidden Man of the Heart that inward Sincerity, which to human Eyes is invifible. And this invifible true Church of Chrift, here in Earth is militant; carrying on a continual War, against the outward Temptations of the World and the Devil, and the inward Struggles, of every wrong Inclination: till having faithfully fought the good Fight; and really, though not perfectly, gotten the Victory in this Life; it fhall, in the next, become triumphant, and receive the Crown of Righteousness.

Such then being the Church of Chrift in its different States: let us proceed to confider the two Qualities, B Eph. iv. 4, 5. h Rom. xii. 5.

12 Theff.

f Acts ii. 47.
* Peter iii. 4.

2 Tim. iv. 7. Rev. xv. 2.


ascribed to it in the Creed: that it is Holy, and that it is Catholic.

To be holy, is to be feparate from all Defilement and Impurity, particularly of the moral Kind. Thus God is perfectly holy: Angels and good Men are fo in their different Degrees. And becaufe Nothing unclean or impure, in any Senfe, ought to enter into the Service of God, therefore whatever is fet apart from common Use, and dedicated to his Worship, is called holy alfo. Hence the Places, Times, and Things, that are so employed, have that Name given them. And the Perfons, who attend on his Miniftry, are stiled holy on Account of their outward Relation to him, whether they are really and inwardly fuch as they ought, or not. Now in outward Profeffion, the whole vifible Church of Chrift is holy: feparated and diftinguished from the reft of the World, by acknowledging his holy Laws, and ufing the Means of Holiness, which he hath appointed. But in the inward Senfe, and the only one which will avail hereafter, they alone are indeed Members of his holy Church, who, by the Help of thefe Means, do really improve themfelves in Piety and Virtue, becoming holy in all Manner of Conversation, as be which hath called them, is holym: and fuch as are truly fo here, fhall be made completely fo hereafter. For Chrift loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might fanctify and cleanfe it with the washing of Water; and prefent it to himself a glorious Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle; but that it should be holy, and without Blemish".. Afk your Hearts then Are you giving your best Diligence to cleanfe yourselves from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God? For without it no Man fhall fee the Lord".

The Word Catholic, applied to the Church in our Creed, is no where used in Scripture; but frequently in the early Christian Writers: and it means univerfal, extending

m 1 Peter i. 15. P Heb. xii. 14.

·Eph. v. 25, 26, 27.


2.Cor. vii. 1'


to all Mankind. The Jewish Church was not univerfal, but particular: for it confifted only of one Nation; and their Law permitted Sacrifices only in one Temple; nor could several other Precepts of it be observed in Countries at any confiderable Distance from thence: but the Chriftian confifts of every Kindred, Tongue and People equally; and offers unto the Name of God in every Place, from the rifing of the Sun unto the going down of the fame, Incenfe and a pure Offering'. The Catholic Church then is the univerfal Church, fpread through the World; and the Catholic Faith is the univerfal Faith; that Form of Doctrine, which the Apoftles delivered to the whole Church, and it received. What this Faith was, we may learn from their Writings, contained in the New Teftament: and, at fo great a Distance of Time, we can learn it with Certainty no where else. Every Church or Society of Chriftians, that preferves this Catholic or univerfal Faith, accompanied with true Charity, is a Part of the Catholic or universal Church: and because the Parts are of the fame Nature with the Whole, it hath been usual to call every Church fingly, which is fo qualified, a Catholic Church. And in this Senfe, Churches, that differ widely in feveral Notions and Cuftoms, may, notwithstanding, each of them, be truly Catholic Churches. But the Church of Rome, which is one of the moft corrupted Parts of the Catholic Church, both in Faith and Love, hath prefumed to call itself the whole Catholic Church, the univerfal Church: which it no more is, than one difeafed Limb, though perhaps the larger for being difeafed, is the whole Body of a Man. And by attempting to exclude us, they take the direct Way to exclude themselves, unless God impute their uncharitable Way of thinking and acting, as we hope he will, to excufable Ignorance and Miftake. The Church of England pretends not indeed, abfurdly, to be the whole Catholic Church; but is undoubtedly a found and excellent Member of it.

Rev. v. 9.

* Mal. i. 11.

• Rom. vi. 17.


So that we have much better Ground to call ourselves Catholics, than they; were fuch Names worth difputing about, which they are not only one would not flatter and harden them, by giving them a Title, which they both claim unjustly, and turn into an Argument against us.

In this Holy Catholic Church our Creed profeffes Belief. But the Meaning is not, that we engage to believe all Things, without Exception, of which the Majority of the Church, at any Time, fhall be perfuaded: and much lefs, what the Rulers of it, or, it may be, a small Part of them, who may please to call themselves the Church, fhall at any Time require: for then we must believe many plain Falfehoods, Uncertainties without Number, and contrary Doctrines, as contrary Parties prevail. Our Church doth indeed believe whatever the first and beft Ages of Chriftianity thought neceffary : whatever all the other Churches of the prefent Age agree in, But this is more, than we declare in the Creed. For there, as believing in God, means only believing that there is a God: and believing in the Refurrection, means only believing that there fhall be a Refurrection: fo believing in the Holy Catholic Church, means only believing that by our Saviour's Appointment there was founded, and through his Mercy fhall ever continue, a Society of Perfons, of what Nation or Nations is indifferent, who have Faith in his Name, and obey his Laws: not indeed without being deformed and disfigured, by Mixtures both of Sin and Error; but ftill, without being deftroyed by either. For as he hath promised, that the Gates of Hell, or of the invisible World, that is, Perfecution and Death, fhall not prevail against his Church, so neither fhall any other Power. Nothing shall abolish it: though feveral Things may obfcure and corrupt it. That Sin doth, we fee: why then may not Error too? It is certainly not a worfe Thing: nor is our Saviour's Promise a greater Security against the one, than the other. He requires us indeed

Matth. xvi. 18.


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