« PreviousContinue »
as do either openly or closely refuse to perform those duties which they owe.
The Conclusion.—We beseech God, our most merciful Father in heaven, that he will bless the rulers of the people, and us, and his whole people, through Jesus Christ, our only Lord and Saviour; to whom be praise and glory and thanksgiving, both now and forever. Amen.
THE AMERICAN CONGREGATIONAL CREED OF 1883.
[The following Statement of Doctrine and Confession of Faith was agreed npon In the year 1683 by leading divines of the Congregational churches in the United States, as a modem substitute for older Congregational Confessions, printed in this volume, pp. T07-T3T. The text, together with the historical introduction, was kiudly furnished to me by the Rev. Dr. Henbt Habtym Dexter, of Boston, who U one of the framere and signers of this important document, and well known as an authority in all that pertains to the history aud literature of Congregationalism—Ei..)
To the fourth session of the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States, convened at St. Louis, Mo., 11-15 November, 1880, were presented memorials from the Congregational Association of Ohio, the General Congregational Conference of Minnesota, and the Central South Conference of Tennessee, asking that body to take measures for the restatement of the doctrines held by the Congregational Churches which in it are associated and represented. An able argument, to the same effect, was presented to the Council by the Rev. Prof. H. Mead, D.D., of Oberlin, O., in an elaborate paper. The Council, after discussion [Minutes, p. 24], passed the following resolutions, viz.:
Resolved, That the paper on Creeds be printed, and receive the thoughtful consideration of the churches.
Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed, who shall, as soon as practicable after the adjournment of the Council, select from among the members of our churches, in different parts of our land, twenty-live men of piety and ability, well versed in the truths of the Bible, and representing different shades of thought among us, who may be willing to confer and act together as a Commission to prepare in the form of a Creed or Catechism, or both, a simple, clear, and comprehensive exposition of the truths of the Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God, for the instruction and edification of our churches.
Resolved, That this committee of seven take pains to secure the willing co-operation of the men selected; that the Commission be left, without specilic instructions from this body, to adopt their own methods of proceeding, and to take time as they may find necessary to perfect their work; and that the result of their labors, when complete, be reported—not to this Council, but to the churches and to the world through the public press—to carry such weight of authority as the character of the Commission and the intrinsic merit of their exposition of truth may command.
The committee of seven were accordingly appointed as follows, viz.:
Rev. A. L. Chapin, D.D., Wis.; Rev. C. D. Barrows, Mass.;
Rev. S. R. Dennen, D.D., Conn.; Rev. N. A. Hyde, D.D., Ind.;
Rev. F. P. Woodbury, III.; Deacon D. C. Bell, Minn.;
Hon. J. E. Sargent, LL.D., N. H.
The Commission, as finally constituted through the labors of this committee, comprised the following members (with power to fill vacancies), viz.:
Rev. Julius H. Seelye, D.D., Mass.; Rev. William S. Karr, D.D., Conn.;
Rev. Charles M. Mead, D.D., Mass.; Rev. George T. Ladd, D.D., Me.;
Rev. Henry M. Dexter, D.D., Mass.; Rev. Samuel P. Leeds, D.D., N. H.;
Rev. Edmund K. Alden, D.D., Mass.; Rev. Dawid B. Coe, D.D., N. Y.;
Rev. Samuel Harris, D.D., Conn.; Rev. Lyman Abbott, D.D., N. Y.;
Rev. George P. Fisher, D.D., Conn.; Rev. Augustus F. Beard, D.D., N. Y. j
Rev. George L. Walker, D.D., Conn.; Rev. William W. Pntton, D.D., D. C.;
Rev. James H. Fairchild, D.D., 0.; Rev. Edward P. Goodwin, D.D., 111.;
Rev. Israel W. Andrews, D.D., O.; Rev. Alden B. Robbins, D.D., la.;
Rev. Zaehary Eddy, D.D., Mich.; Rev. Constans L. Goodell, D.D., Mo.;
Rev. James T. Hyde, D.D., 111. j Rev. Richard Cordley, D.D., Kan.;
Rev. George Mooar, D.D., Cal.
This Commission assembled, 27-28 September, 1881, at Syracuse, N. Y.; nineteen of the twenty-five being present. Prof. Samuel Harris, D.D., sent in his resignation, and Rev. Joseph G. Johnson, D.D., of Rutland, Vermont, was chosen in his stead. After extended and prayerful deliberation on the general subject committed to them, the Commission appointed a committee of nine to prepare a creed-formula for consideration by the body. This was done, and submitted in print to each member of the Commission some weeks previous to its second session. This was held in New York City 1-2 November, 1882, at which time the form presented received most careful revision. It was then put into type again, and again sent out for critical examination. At the third and last session of the Commission, in New York City, 19-20 December, 1883, at which more than twenty were present, either in person or by written vote and suggestion, a final revision was unanimously adopted and ordered to be printed and forwarded to each member to receive—should he be prepared to sign it—his signature. It was thus signed by two-and-twenty members; Rev. E. P. Goodwin, D.D., who had attended but the first session, and Mrs. Alden and Karr, who were absent from the last, withholding their names.
As thus published "to the churches and to the world through the public press," the result of their labors is as follows, viz.:
Statement Of Doctrine.
I. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who is of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who is sent from the Father and Son,* and who together with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified.
II. We believe that the Providence of God, by which He executes His eternal purposes in the government of the world, is in and over all events; yet so that the freedom and responsibility of man are not impaired, and sin is the act of the creature alone.
III. We believe that man was made in the image of God, that he might know,love, and obey God,and enjoy Him forever; that our first parents by disobedience fell under the righteous condemnation of God; and that all men are so alienated from God that there is no salvation
* [In this abridgment of the Nicene Creed, the framers skillfully avoid the Filioque controversy by substituting sent for proceeds. The Greek Church teaches the single (eternal) procession of the Spirit "from the Father," the Latin Church, the double procession "from the Father and the Son;" but both agree in the double (temporal) mission of the Spirit from the Father and the Son. See Vol. II. pp. 57-61.—Ed.]
from the guilt and power of sin except through God's redeeming grace.
IV. We believe that God would have all men return to Him; that to this end He has made Himself known, not only through the works of nature, the course of His providence, and the consciences of men, but also through supernatural revelations made especially to a chosen people, and above all, when the fulness of time was come, through Jesus Christ His Son.
V. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the record of God's revelation of Himself in the work of redemption; that they were written by men under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit; that they are able to make wise unto salvation; and that they constitute the authoritative standard by which religious teaching and human conduct are to be regulated and judged.
VI. We believe that the love of God to sinful men has found its highest expression in the redemptive work of His Son; who became man, uniting His divine nature with our human nature in one person; who was tempted like other men, yet without sin; who, by His humiliation, nis holy obedience, His sufferings, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, became a perfect Redeemer; whose sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the world declares the righteousness of God, and is the sole and sufficient ground of forgiveness and of reconciliation with Him.
VII. We believe that Jesus Christ, after He had risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, as the one Mediator between God and man, He carries forward His work of saving men; that He sends the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin, and to lead them to repentance and faith; and that thbse who through renewing grace turn to righteousness, and trust in Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, receive for His 6ake the forgiveness of their sins, and are made the children of God.
VIH. We believe that those who are thus regenerated and justified grow in sanctified character through fellowship with Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to the truth; that a holy life is the fruit and evidence of saving faith; and that the believer's hope of continuance in such a life is in the preserving grace of God.
IX. We believe that Jesus Christ came to establish among men the kingdom of God, the reign of truth and love, righteousness and peace; that to Jesus Christ, the Head of this kingdom, Christians are directly responsible in faith and conduct; and that to Him all have immediate access without mediatorial or priestly intervention.
X. We believe that the Church of Christ, invisible and spiritual, comprises all true believers, whose duty it is to associate themselves in churches, for the maintenance of worship, for the promotion of spiritual growth and fellowship, and for the conversion of men; that these churches, under the guidance of the Holy Scriptures and in fellowship with one another, may determine—each for itself—their organization, statements of belief, and forms of worship; may appoint and set apart their own ministers; and should co-operate in the work which Christ has committed to them for the furtherance of the gospel throughout the world.
XI. We believe in the observance of the Lord's day as a day of holy rest and worship; in the ministry of the Word; and in the two sacraments, which Christ has appointed for His church: Baptism, to be administered to believers and their children, as the sign of cleansing from sin, of union to Christ, and of the impartation of the Holy Spirit; and the Lord's Supper as a symbol of His atoning death, a seal of its efficacy, and a means whereby He confirms and strengthens the spiritual union and communion of believers with Himself.
XII. We believe in the ultimate prevalence of the kingdom of Christ over all the earth; in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; in the resurrection of the dead; and in a final judgment, the issues of which are everlasting punishment and everlasting life.
The Commission also submit for the use of the churches in the admission of members, the following
CONFESSION OF FAITH:
What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people. [Psa. cxvi. 12-14.]
Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father, which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny