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endless duration :that, whether it be a state of happiness, or of misery, to which they are then to be consigned; such as it may set out, it must continue for ever! The eternity of the life to come, or (which amounts to the same thing) the immortality of the soul, was taught and believed by the wiser heathens, who had only a faint tradition, or what has been called “ the light of nature," for their guidance: but our assurance of it is of far higher authority. Even under the Old Dispensation, the prophet Daniel foretold, that “ they, who turned many to righteousness,” should “shine as the stars for ever.” But, in the Gospel, our Lord himself has declared, that, at the last judgment, “ the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”2
Such is the solemn close of those Articles of faith, which as followers of Christ, and true sons of the holy catholic Church, we profess to maintain. We have seen, that they are established upon the firm basis of revealed truth: worthy to be at once the standard of our opinions, and the rule of our lives. Frequently, then, as, by the appointment of our Church, we pronounce them with our lips, let us not less frequently revive and fix them in our minds; remembering above all things the encouragement which they afford to a virtuous and holy life: even as St. Paul has written to the Corinthians; "therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1
1 Dan. xii. 3.
2 Matth. xxv. 46.
THE CR E EDS.
HEB. XI. 6.
He, that cometh to God, must believe that He is.
The doctrine of this text (as I lately took occasion to remark) has been otherwise expressed in these terms that a right faith is the indispensable foundation of all practical piety or virtue : and it has been their conviction of the truth of this doctrine, that has led all Christian Churches to adopt those forms or confessions of faith, which we call Creeds. In my last lecture
the Service of our Church, after some general discussion of the design and authority of Creeds, I directed your attention to the particular sense and bearing of the
chief articles of faith, contained in the Apostles' Creed. It is my present purpose, to offer some further, and (as I apprehend) very necessary observations on the other two Creeds adopted by our Church; more particularly on that, which is commonly — though erroneously – termed “the Creed of St. Athanasius." The NICENE CREED, in length, does not greatly exceed that which bears the name of the Apostles ; nor does it vary from the latter in substance, except that, on certain articles, it is more full and explicit. The title Nicene—is derived from its having been, in great part, composed and sanctioned in the first general Council, held at Nicē, a city in Asia Minor, early in the fourth century ; but it was not completed before the fifty-eighth year from that time, when it was revised in another general Council held at Constantinople.
It was the chief object of this Creed, to guard against certain heresies; some of which derogated from the divine character of the Son of God, by denying that he existed before his appearance upon earth ; while others rejected the personality of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we find it here added, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was begotten by his Father before all worlds ; God of God; light of light; very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father:" and that “ the Holy Ghost” is “ the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified ; who spake by the prophets.”
These Articles, though more particular than those which respect the same points in the Apostles' Creed, contain nothing contrary to them: for both Creeds assert three distinct Persons in the Unity of the Divine Essence: both maintain the miracle of the Incarnation; the sacrifice of the Cross for the remission of sin; the resurrection of Christ from the dead; his ascension into heaven, and his coming hereafter to judge the world ; and both declare, that all men shall rise with their bodies to give an account of their works. Nor can the assertions in the Nicene Creed concerning the Holy Ghost, either as respecting his divinity, or his personality, be deemed inconsistent with the Apostles' Creed ; though the latter simply says