Page images
PDF
EPUB

of a taber, I have drunk of a cymbal, I have danced with a cup in mine hand, I have en. tered into the orarriage bed. Which said father sufficiently intiinates to us, that this symbol was used in the famous services of the Phry-' gians to Cybele the mother of the gods; the words and expressions whereof have a rela. tion to the taber and cymbal which she invented, to the mad and brutish way of her worshippers adoring of her, and to those abomi. nable and horrid deeds, which in those diabol. ical rites they celebrated and admired.

The symbol used by the more devout and secret votaries of Mithras, the great and renowned god of the Persians, was Theos et Petras god of a rock, which was taken froin the manner of the generation, or production of the said god, which as Jastin Martyr, and Jerom do both assure us, the Pagan Mythologists fancied to have been by the alone heat of lust from a stone or rock.

· The symbol employed in the Orgia, or revels of Bacchus, was ELILIKERES, DIMORPHEI, or rather HELIXOKERES, DIMORPHE, having crooked horns, double faced ; because, under such representations, that drunken god was worshipped and adored.

Lastly, That I niay not mention any more, the said Julius Firmicus Maternus acquaints us with this following symbol of some idola. tors, “ that on a certain night they placed an image upright in a bed, and then wept round about it ; which when tliey had sufficiently done, a light was brought in: and then the priest anointed the cheeks of all those who had lamented, pronouncing with a soft murs mur these words; “ Be confident, ye initiated ones of the saved God, for there shall be salvation unto us from our labours,"

I might yet produce several other examples of the sanie kind; but those already alledged, do sufficiently declare the nature of the Pagan symbols, that they were secret marks, words, or tokens, cominunicated at the time of ini, tiation, or a little before, unto those who were consecrated, or entered in their reserved or hidden rites, and to none else ; by the declaration, manifestation, or pronunciation whereof, those more devout idolaters knew each other, and were with all freedom and liberty of access admitted to their nocturnal and more intimate mysteries and villanies, from whence all others as profane and unworthy, were kept out, and excluded; which said symbols, those who had received them, were obliged carefully to conceal, and not on any account whatsoever to divulge or reveal.

Now, for all these reasons, the apostles treed was by our ancestors very fitly termed a symbol, because it was studiously concealed from the Pagan world, and not revealed to the Catechumens themselves, till just before their baptism, or initiation into the christian miysteries, when it was delivered unto them, as that secret note, mark, or token, by which the faithful in all parts of the world should interchangably know and be known.

That the creed was carefully preserved from the knowledge of the profane, is a thing abundantly asserted by the primitive writers; St. Cyprian assures us hereof, that “the sacrament of faith, that is the creed, was not to be profaned, or divulged: for which he cites two texts of scripture; the one, Proverbs xxiii. 9. Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of thy words; and the other, Matthew vii. 6. give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rent you, St. Ambrose most pathetically exhorts to the utmost vigilancy to conceal the christian mys

. teries, and in particular, to be very “ careful

not by incautelousness to reveal the secrets of the creed or the Lord's prayer;" and in sev, eral of the sermons of Petrus Chrysologus, there are frequent and earnest exhortations to preserve and hide the creed from public knowledge and observation, that the unworthy and profane might not have this secret of God with them; nay, so exact and punctual were they in this regard, that the creed was

not declared to the Catechumens themselves, . till they were advanced to the higher form of

that order; and being ripe and fit for baptism, were speedily by that ordinance lo commence perfect inembers of the visible church: of which custom St. Ambrose speaks, where he writes, that "' on a Lord's day, the lessons and sermons being ended, and the Catechumens of the lower ranş dişmissed, that then in the baptistery of the church, he delivered the sym, bol to some of the competentes,” who were the superior rank of the Catechumens : Consonant unto which, it is related by Ferrandus Diaconus concerning a converted negro,” that first of all, according to custom, he was a Cat. echumen ; and then after some tinie, as the feast of Easter drew nigh, (which was their solemn time of baptism) he was advanced 19 the rank of the competentes;" where, anongst

[ocr errors]

the other actions peculiar thereunto, this was. one “ that he heard, and assented to the symbol;" so that the Catechumens knew not the creed till just before their baptism, when it was delivered unto them as that private mark or sign by which the christians mutually knew each other: Unto which, it is not improbable, Cæcilius, the heathen disputant, in Minucius Felix, did blindly refer, when he, said, " that the christians knew each other by hidden notes or marks, and loved almost before they were acquainted with one another;" seeing Max. įmus Taurinensis affirms, “ that the apostle appointed the niystery of the creed, to be a mark of distinction between believers and unbelievers, to discover both the strangers and enemies to the faith of the church, who either knew it not, or had corrupted it.” So that from the whole, it seems to me most evident, that the title of symbol attributed to the creed, is to be derived from the symbols used in the sacra, or religious rites of the heathens; in allusion whereunto, the creed is so termed, because it was delivered unto persons at their initiation and admission by baptism into the visible church, as that secret mark and sign, by which they should be known from all others, and mutually know each other,

« PreviousContinue »