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Which afterwards crept in by sim:" From all #hich, it appears, that by the constant repetition of the forgiveness of siris, the compilers of the creed intended to declare thereby, in opposition to the Novatians, and others, that scandalous sins committed after baptism, were upon an unfeigned and sincere repentancë, rensissible both by God and the church.
So that from all that hath been said, we may conclude, that by this article of the creed, it was intended to be professed; that all sins committed before baptism, are at that time, for the sake of Christ, completely forgiven to all penitent believers; and that all sins coinmitted after baptism, though never so scandalous and offensive, are upon the renewal of faith and repentance pardonable both by God and the church. Both which explications whereof were given by the bishops to Con. stantine the great, as it is reported by Zozo. men, who relating the history of the fainous cross, which our Saviour impressed on his fancy, commanding him to make one in the form and likeness thereof; farther adds, that the next morning the Christian bishops expounded unto him tlie nieaning thereof, and from thence took an occasion to recominend unto him several of the articles of the creed ; the last whereof was, the forgiveness of sins, der livered by them in this brief periphrasis," that
there is hope of salvation and remişssion of sins, to persons in this life ; to those who have not yet been initiated in the mysteries of the church, by receiving that said initialion, but to those who have been initiated, not to sin again: but, (as the said historian contin. ues to write,) because there are but few men, and those most holy and divine ; who can so do, therefore the bishops farther instructed the emperor, that there was a second expiation appointed by repentance ; for God being merciful and kind, will pardon those who have sinned, provided they repent, and confirm their repentance by good works." • Having thus dispatched the article of the forgiveness of sins, the next that must be enquired into, is the resurrection of the body; which in the creeds of Jerom, and several others, is the last article thereof; life everlasting being not expressed, but supposed in the resurrection. But, seeing they are in the a. postles creed, and in several other ancient
'ones distinctly mentioned, I shall consider .'them apart, and begin with the first in order, ::: the resurrection of the body : in the explica. 1. tion whereof, it must be remembered, that .. whatsoever is related concerning our resur
rection, may for the most part be also applied to that of our Lord's seeing his resurrection was the cause and exeniplar of ours; and both his and our resurrection were denied by the
same persons, and in the same way and manner.
Now, as for the time of its being inserted in the creed, it is most evident, that the resur'rection from the dead, hath been always part of the creed fron the very beginning of Christianity; which appears not only from the ancient creeds, but also from the weight and moment of the doctrine itselt, it being a point on which the whole Christian religion seems to depend. · For, if there should be no resurrection of
the dead, the Christian religion would be a mere chimera and fable; and the grand are tractive by which it was recommended to the world, would be no other than a mere lye and downright delusion: for, when the apostles went forth to convert the heathen world, the method which they took for that end, as we see by the example of St. Paul at Athens, was, [Acts xvii. 18.] “ to preach Jesus and the resurrection;" that is, to reveal a saviour to them, who might redeem them from their sinful and lost condition; and, then, that they might engage them to a willing and persevering obedience in that Saviour's service, notwithstanding all oppositions and persecutions to assure them of a resurrection, . when the eternal majesty should by his son Christ Jesus, whom he had as a specimen and pledge raised from the dead, judge the wosld
in righteousness and render unto every man a suitable reward according unto his works.
Now, I say, if there should be no resurrec tion of the dead, this grand motive to the be. lieving of the gospel, would be enervated and entirely destroyed; and those who have been engaged thereby to the embracing of Christianity, would be most miserably cheated and deluded; which would be such an odious and blasphemous reflection on the Christian religior, and the divine author thereof, as no Christian can be imagined to entertain : from whence it conies to pass, that the apostle Paul, disputing against some Christians in the church of Corinth, who denied the resurrection of the dead, makes use of this argument against them for the proof thereof; [1 Cor. xv. 29.] * " else what shall they do,” saith he," which
are baptized for the dead? If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized ?" which place of scripture by reason of its obscurity, is capable of many interpretations; but yet, I think, without any force of the words, this explication niay be naturally given thereof, viz. if there shall be no resurrection of the dead, what will they do? Or what profit and advantage will they have, who embrace Christiani. ty, and are baptized from the persuasion of the resurrection? How fuolish and ridiculous is it for thein to be baptized from the consid
eration of the resurrection, that they, inay a. Crise amongst the number of the just, if the dead shall not rise at all? Which is not much different from the Ethiopic version, wherein thé verse is thus rendered ; “ else, why do . they baptize? Is it not, that they niay arise from the dead? If therefore they shall not be raised from the dead, why then do they baptize?”
But this is not the alone inconvenience tlmit would follow upon the denial of the resurrection, as is to be seen in the forementioned place, wherein the apostle farther argues the truth and certainty thereof, from the prodi. gious muudness and folly, which otherwise all Christians, especially in persecuting times, as those then were, would be guilty of;'“ if the dead,” saith he," rise not at all, [1 Cor. xv. 30, &c.] why stand we, in jeopardy every hour?” That is, if there be no resurrection of the dead, why then do we for the sake of Christ run risks and hazards, and expose ourselves to all manner of torments, cruelties and severi* sies? why do we daily encounter with men, who are more furious and savage than wild beasts? What doth this unnecessary hazard,ing of ourselves advantage us ? Nay rather, doth it not harm and injure us ? For if the dead rise not at all, it would be the wisest and most.prudent course" to eat and drink, be