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great felicity, that as faith triumpheth in good works, so my Exposition of the Creed should be contemporary with the re-edifying of your Church. For though I can have little temptation to believe that my Book should last so long as that fabrick; yet I am exceedingly pleased that they should begin together ; that the publishing of the one should so agree with the opening the other. This, I hope, may persuade you to forget my slackness, confidering ye were not ready to your own expectation; your experience tells you the excuse of Church-work will be accepted in building, I beseech you let it not be denied in printing.
That blessed Saint, by whose name your Parish is known, was a fellow-labourer with S. Paul, and a successor of S. Peter ; he had the honour to be numbred in the Scripture with them whose names are written in the book of life; and when he had sealed the Gospel with his blood, he was one of the first whose memory was perpetuated by the building a Church to bear his name. Thus was S. Clement's Church famous in Rome when Rome was famous for the faith Spoken of throughout the whole world. He wrote an Epistle to the Corinthians infested with a schism, in imitation of S. Paul, which obtained so great authority in the primitive times, that it was frequently read in their publick congregations; and yet had for many hundred years been lost, till it was at last set forth out of the Library of the late King. Now as by the providence of God, the me
mory of that primitive Saint hath been reftored in our age, so my design aimeth at nothing else but that the primitive Faith may be revived. And therefore in this Edition to the Creed I shall speak to you but what S fude hath already spoken too the whole Church.í: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you, of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you that ye should earnestly contènd for the faith which was once delivered to the Saints. ; If it were so needful for him then to write, and for them to whom he wrote to contend for the first Faith, it will appear as needful for me now to follow his writing, and for you to imitate their earnestness, because the reason which he renders, as the cause of that necessity, is now more prevalent than it was at that time, or ever since. For, faith he, there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. The principles of Chriftianity are now as freely questioned as the most doubtful and controverted points; the grounds of Faith are as safely denied as the most unnecessary superstructions; that Religion hath the greatest advantage which appeareth in the newest dress, as if we looked for another faith to be delivered to the Saints: Whereas in Christianity there can be no concerning truth which is not ancient ; and whatsoever is truly new, is certainly false. Look then for purity in the fountain, and strive to embrace the first faith, to which you cannot
have . have a more probable guide than the Creed. received in all ages of the Church; and to this I refer you, as it leads you to the Scriptures, from whence it was at first deduced, that while those which are unskilful and unstable, wrest the words of God himself unto their own damnation : ve may receive so much instruction as may set you beyond the imputation of unskilful. ness, and so much of confirmation as may place you out of the danger of instability : which as it hath been the constant endeavour, so fhall it ever be the prayer of him, who af. ter so many encouragements of his labours amongst you, doth still defire to be known as ;
R E A D E R.
Have in this Book undertaken an Exposition of the
Creed, and think it necessary in this Preface to give E a brief account of the Work, left any should either ex
22112 pečt to find that here which was never intended, or conceive that which they meet with such as they expected not.. .
The Creed, without controverfie, is a brief comprehension of the objects of our Christian Faith, and is generally taken to contain all things necessary to be believed. Now whether all things necessary be cimtained ibere, concerneth not an Expositor to dispute, who is obliged to take notice of what is in it, but not to enquire into what is nint: Whether all truths comprehended in the same be of equal and abfolute necessity, we are no way forced to declare; it being suffi- ' cient, as to the design of an Exposition, to interpret the words, and fin deliver the fenje, to demonstrate the truth of the fenfe delivered, and to manifest the proper necessity of each truth, how far, and in ushat degree, and to what purposes, it is necessary.
This therefore is the Method which I proposed to my self, and have prosecuted in every Article. First, to settle the words of each
Article according to their Antiquity and Generality of reception in the Creed. Secondly, to explicate and unfold the Terms, and to 'endeavour a right notion and conception of them as they are to be understood in the fame. Thirdly, to them what are those truths which are naturally contained in those terms fo explicated, and to make it appear that they are truths indeed, by such arguments and veasons as are respectively proper to evidence the verity of them.
Fourthly, to declare what is the necessity of believing those truths, what efficacy and influence they have in the Soul, and upon the Life of a Believer. Lastly, by a recolle&tion of all, briefly to deliver the fum of every particular truth, fo that every one when he pronounceth the Creed may know what he ought to intend, and what he is understood to profefs, when he fo pronounceth it.
In the prosecution of the whole, according to this Method, I have considered, that a Work of so general a concernment must be exa posed to two kinds of Readers, which though they may agree in judgment, yet muft differ much in their capacities. Some there are who unders and the Original Languages of the holy Scripture, the Discourses and Tračtates of the ancient Fathers, the determinations of the Councils, and History of the Church of God, the constant profeffion of settled Truths, the rise and increafe of Schisms and Herefies. Others there are unacquainted with such conceptions, and
uncapable of such instructions ; who understand the Scriptures as they are translated; who are capable of the knowledge of the Truths themselves, and of the proofs drawn from thence; who can apprehend the nature of the Christian Faith, with the power and efficacy of the same, when it is delivered unto them out of the word of God, and in á Language which they know. When I make this différence, and distinction of Readers, I do not intend thereby, that because one of these is learned, the other is ignorant ; for be which hath no skill of the learned Languages, may notwithstanding beves gry knowing in the Principles of Christian Religion, and the reason and efficacy of them...
According to this distinction I have contrived my Exposition, so that the Body of it containeth fully what can be delivered and made intelligible in the English Tongue, without inserting the least fentence or phrase of any learned Language ; by which he who is not acquainted with it might be disturbed in his reading, or interrupted in his understanding. Not that I have selected only such notions as are common, easie, and familiar of themselves, but have endeavoured to deliver the most material conceptions in the most plain and perspicuous manner ; as dèsirous to comprize the whole strength. of the Work, as far as it is posible, in the Body of it. The other part I have placed in the Margin, (but so as oftentimes it taketh up more room, and yet is never mingled or confounded with the rest.) in which is contained whatsoever is necessary for the illustration of any part of the Creed, as to them which have any knowledge of the Latin, Greek, and Original Languages, of the Writings of the ancient Fathers, the Doctrines of the Jews, and the History of the Church, those great advantages toward a right perception of the Christian Religion.
Now being the Creed comprehendeth the Principles of our Religion, it must contain those Truths which belong unto it as it is a Religion, and those which concern it as it is ours. As it is a Religion, it delivereth such Principles as are to be acknowledged in natural Theology, such as no man which worssippeth a God can deny ; . and therefore in the proof of these, I have made use of such arguments and reasons as are most proper to oppose the Atheists, who deny there is a God to be worshipped, a Religion to be professed. As it is our Religion, it is Christian and Catholick.. As Christian, it containeth such Truths as were delivered by Christ and his Apostles, and those especially concerning Christ himself, which I have profecuted constantly with an eye to the Jews, who obstinately deny them, expecting still another, Messias to come ; wherefore I shew out of the Law and the Prophets which they acknowledge, what was foretold in every particular concerning the Messias, and prove all those to be com