A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man
Set forth by the Kings Majesty of England, &c.
Introduction by the Reverend T.A. Lacey
London: R. Browning, 1895.
TWELVE ARTICLES OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
1. I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
2. And in Jesu Christ his only Son, our Lord.
3. Which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.
4. Suffered under Ponce Pilate, was crucified, dead, buried, and descended into hell.
5. And the third day he rose again from death.
6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost.
9. The holy catholic church.
10. The communion of Saints: The forgiveness of sins.
11. The resurrection of the body.
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.
Here follow certain Notes for the better understanding of this Creed.
FIRST, it is to be noted, that all and singular the twelve articles contained in this Creed be so necessary to be believed for man's salvation, that whosoever will not constantly believe them, or will obstinately affirm the contrary of them, cannot be the very members of Christ and his espouse the church, but are very infidels or heretics, and members of the Devil, with whom they shall be perpetually damned.
Secondly, it is to be noted, that all true Christian men ought and must most constantly believe, maintain, and defend all those things to be true which be comprehended in this Creed, and in the other two Creeds, whereof the one is used to be said at mass, and is approved by the ancient general councils; and the other was made by the holy man Athanasius: and also all other things which be comprehended in the whole body and canon of the Bible.
Thirdly, that all true Christian men ought and must not only repute, take, and hold all the said things for the most holy, most sure, and most certain and infallible truths of God's word, and such as neither ought ne can be altered or convelled by any contrary opinion or authority; but also must take and interpretate all the same things according to the selfsame sentence and interpretation which the words of scripture do signify, and the holy approved doctors of the church do agreeably entreat and defend.
Fourthly, that all true Christian men ought and must utterly refuse and condemn all those opinions contrary to the said twelve articles of our Creed, which were of long time past condemned in the four holy councils, that is to say, in the council of Nice, Constantinople, Ephese, and Calcidonense.
THE FIRST ARTICLE.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
FOR the plain understanding hereof, every material word of this article shall be declared hereafter. And first we must know, that God is a spiritual and an invisible substance or nature, of infinite power, and eternal, without beginning or ending, and of incomprehensible knowledge, wisdom, goodness, justice and mercy; and that there is but one very God, three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that these three Persons be not three Gods, but all one God, one nature, one substance, all one everlasting essence or being, and all like and equal in might, power, wisdom, knowledge, righteousness, and all other things belonging unto the Deity. And that beside or without this God there is none other God.
Moreover we must know that God the Father is the first Person in Trinity, and Father of his only begotten Son, the second Person in Trinity; and that he did beget him of his own substance by eternal generation, that is to say, by generation that never had beginning.
And where this article containeth that God the Father Almighty, is as much to say as that he may do all things that he will in heaven and in earth, and nothing is to him impossible; and that his godly power and might excelleth infinitely and incomparably all other powers in heaven, earth, and hell: so that all other powers which be in heaven, earth, or hell, be nothing as of themselves, but have all their might, force, and strength of him, and be all subject unto his power, and cannot resist or let the same. And although God be omnipotent, and of infinite power, yet he is not author or worker of any sin; for whensoever any sin is done by any creature, the same is wrought by the malice of the Devil, or free will of man, only by the sufferance and permission of God, and net by the working and power of God, in stirring up, furthering, or assisting the malice of the evil thought or deed.
This article containeth further, that God, the Father Almighty; did at the beginning create, form, and make of nought heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible; and that he did give unto them all their power and might, and so he doth from time to time continually preserve, govern, sustain, and maintain the whole world and all creatures therein by his only goodness and high privilege, insomuch that without his continual working no thing should be able any while to continue.
And for the more evident and plain understanding of the first part of this article, which is, I believe in God, it is to be noted, that we must not only believe steadfastly that God is, and that he is true in all his words and promises, and that he is omnipotent, and Creator of heaven and earth, and so forth; but we must also with this our belief love God, and cleave only unto him, arid that with all our heart and power, and so continue arid dwell still in him by love. It signifieth also, that we must obey unto his will, as well in all our inward thoughts and affections as also in all our outward acts and deeds; and that we must abhor all vice, and not wish or desire of God any evil or ungodly thing. It signifieth also, that we must constantly betake and commit ourselves and all ours wholly unto God, and fix all our whole hope, trust, and confidence in him, and quiet ourselves in him, believing perfectly and assuredly that he will indeed shew no less goodness, love, mercy, grace, and favour unto us, than he promiseth by his word to do with us, using ourselves as afore is said.
This manner of belief we ought to have in no creature of God, be it never so excellent, but in God only; and therefore in this Creed the said manner of speaking, I believe in, is used only in the three articles which concern the three Persons in Trinity, that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
THE SECOND ARTICLE.
And in Jesu Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
FOR the understanding of this second article, it is to be known, that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of Almighty God the Father, and that he was begotten of his godly nature and substance eternally, and that he is very God, the same substance with God the Father and the Holy Ghost, unto whom he is equal in all things of the godhead. And although we Christian men may be called the children of God by adoption and grace, yet only our Saviour Jesus Christ is God the Father's Son by nature.
We must know also and believe, that Jesus Christ was eternally preordained and appointed by the decree of the whole Trinity to be our Lord, and to redeem and bring us from under the dominion of the Devil and sin unto his kingdom, lordship, and governance; and therefore is worthily called Jesus, that is to say, Saviour; and Christ, that is to say anointed King and Priest; and Lord, that is to say Redeemer and Governor; for he hath done and fulfilled for all mankind the very office both of a Priest, and of a King and Lord. Of a Priest, forasmuch as he hath made sacrifice and oblation on the cross, in that he there willingly suffered his natural body to be slain and his blood to be shed for remission of sin, and so was both the priest and the sacrifice itself: and of a King and Lord, in that he hath, like a most mighty conqueror, overcome and utterly oppressed his enemies, and hath spoiled them of the possession of mankind, which they won before by fraud and deceit, by lying and blaspheming, and hath brought us; now into his possession and dominion, to reign over us in mercy, like a most loving Lord and Governor. And therefore in this article we call him our Lord.
And although this word Dominus divers times is translated into our English tongue the Lord, and the place and circumstance of scripture oftentimes requireth the same, yet among us Christian men, in our common speech, when we speak of Christ, and call him Lord, it is most meet and convenient that we call him our Lord, to signify and admonish us that we be his peculiar people, redeemed by him, and delivered from the dominion and the captivity of the Devil, and be made his own proper and obedient servants; after which sort the heathen people (because of their infidelity) be neither his servants ne partakers of his benefits, and therefore cannot say and call him (as Christian men do) our Lord.
Which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary.
FOR declaration of this article, ye shall understand, that when the time was come, in the which it was before ordained and appointed by the decree of the whole Trinity that mankind should be saved and redeemed, then the Son of God, the second Person in Trinity, and very God, descended From heaven into the world, to take upon him the very habit, form, and nature, of man, and in the same nature to suffer his glorious passion for the redemption and salvation of all mankind.
And for further declaration hereof, it is to be considered, that before the coming of Christ mankind was so blinded and drowned in sin, that the true knowledge of God was every where in the world forgotten, and his laws broken, not only by the Gentiles in all other nations, but also by the Jews, the chosen people of God, to whom God had by his servant Moses given his laws, whereby they might know how to avoid sin, and please him; and where those laws given by God were often by them transgressed; yet Almighty God did from time to time send to them his prophets, inspired with his holy spirit, both to admonish them of their sins, and to teach them how they should truly understand and observe the said laws given by his servant Moses. After the which admonitions, many times so given by the prophets, and nothing regarded, Almighty God of his infinite goodness and inestimable mercy, for the love that he bare to mankind, did send at the last into the world his only begotten Son, being his eternal wisdom, by whom in the beginning he did create heaven, and earth, and all creatures in them, to take upon him man's nature, for to redeem mankind, and to teach the world the truth of his laws, and by what means the world might, by faith, to be given to his words and doctrine, amend their lives, and attain to come to the life in heaven, following him in his doctrine, who was the way, to come to the Father, the truth, to attain the knowledge of the Father, and the life itself, wherein he should finally lead them, to come unto the Father, unto whom God the Father commanding the world to give full credence, said to all men, Ipsum audite, Hear him.
Wherefore the said Son of God, in the womb of the blessed virgin called Mary, did take upon him of her very flesh, nature, and substance, man's nature, and being conceived by the Holy Ghost, was born of her body, and did unite and conjoin together the same nature of man, taken of the substance of the said most blessed virgin, with his godhead, in one person, with such an indissoluble and inseparable knot and bond, that he being one person Jesus Christ was, is, and ever shall be in the same person very perfect God and very perfect man; which holy work of the incarnation was not wrought by the seed of man, but by the Holy Ghost in the said most blessed virgin, without any motion of concupiscence or spot of sin, and was accomplished without any violation or detriment unto the virginity of that blessed virgin St. Mary, who, both in the conception and also in the birth and nativity of our Saviour Jesu Christ, her child, and ever after, retained still her virginity pure and immaculate, and as clear without blot as she was at the time that she was first born.
THE FOURTH ARTICLE.
Suffered under Ponce Pilate, was crucified, dead, buried, and descended into hell.
FOR declaration of this article, it shall be expedient briefly to repeat the process of a great part of our Saviour Christ's life, from the beginning unto the time of his most glorious passion, with the same passion also, and the descense of his soul into hell: wherefore we must understand, that Christ, very God and man, after he was conceived and born of his blessed mother, waxed and lived forth here in the world until, he came unto the thirty-third year of his age; and that in all this time of his life he suffered and endured for our sakes and our wealth, and also for our example, much bodily affliction, much labour, much travail, much hunger, thirst, and poverty, much injury and ignominy, and many other such miseries and infirmities, as all mortal men be subject unto, (sin and ignorance only except,) and so passed over all the whole course of his life, even from his nativity until his death, in such perfect obedience unto the laws of God and man, according to the will of his Father, and in such perfect innocency of living, that no fault or blame of living, ne any offence or transgression could justly and truly be laid against him: and yet the blind, ignorant, and obstinate Jews, replete with envy and malice, as the very members of the Devil, by whom they were provoked and induced thereunto, laboured continually by all craft and means they could, to destroy him; and at length conspiring together, they took him, searching and procuring false witness to accuse him; and after they had beat him, and spit in his face, and used all the villainy they could unto him, they bound him and brought him before Pontius Pilatus, being then the chief judge in Jerusalem, under the emperor of Rome, and there they most falsely accused him as a subverter of the laws of God, and as a person that seduced the people and moved sedition among them, and as a traitor against the emperor of Rome. After which accusations our said Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ was grievously scourged by the commandment of Pilate, and had a crown of thorn put upon his head by the soldiers of the garrison, and was by them not only most spitefully mocked and scorned, but also most cruelly tormented and afflicted; and after this he was at the last in public and open judgment condemned by the sentence of the said judge to be crucified, to the intent he should suffer that kind of death which among the Jews was ever most abhorred and detested, and accounted to be the most shameful and cursed of all other: and so, according to the said sentence, the soldiers of the garrison crucified him, that is to say, they nailed him through hands and feet to a cross, and hanged him upon the same between two thieves, upon a certain hill called Calvary, until he was dead: and after, he was thus dead, one Joseph of Arimathea, being one of Christ's disciples, obtained licence of the said judge to take down the blessed body of our Saviour Jesu Christ from the said cross; and that done, he and another of Christ's disciples, called Nicodemus, wrapped and folded the same body in a clean syndon, and so laid it and buried it in a new grave or sepulchre, which the said Joseph had made of stone, wherein there was never man buried before. And after he was thus crucified, and dead upon the cross, he descended in soul into hell, and loosed the pains or sorrows thereof, wherewith it. was not possible that he should be holden, and conquered and oppressed both the Devil and hell, and also death itself, whereunto all mankind was condemned by the fall of our forefather Adam into sin.
The process of our Saviour Jesu Christ's life, death, burial, and descense to hell, thus declared, it is specially to be noted, and to be believed for a certain truth that our said Saviour, in all the time of his most bitter and grievous passion, and in suffering his most painful and cruel death, not only endured and sustained for our repemption all the gains and injuries, and all the opprobries and ignominies which were done to him, most patiently, without resistance, and like an innocent lamb, but also that he did willingly and gladly suffer the cross and this kind of death for our example, that we should follow the steps of him in patience and humility, and that we should bear our own cross, as he did bear his, and that we should also hate and abhor all sin, knowing for surety that whosoever doth not in his heart hate and abhor sin, but rather accounteth the breach and violation of God's commandment but as a light matter, and of small weight and importance, he esteemeth not the price and value of the passion and death of Christ according to the dignity and worthiness thereof.
THE FIFTH ARTICLE.
And the third day he rose again from death.
BY this article it appeareth, how our Saviour Jesus Christ, after he had conquered and spoiled the Devil and hell, he returned again from thence, like a most mighty king and conqueror in triumph and glory, and so resumed and took again his blessed natural body, the third day after his said death. And so doing, rose out of that sepulchre in his natural and perfect manhood, that is to say, in his soul and in the selfsame body which was born of the virgin Mary, and did hang upon the cross. After which resurrection he was conversant in the world by the space of forty days, and did eat and drink with his apostles; and his disciples, and preached unto them, and authorized them to go forth into the world to manifest and declare that he was the very Christ, the very Messias, and the very God and man which was promised in Scripture to come to save and to redeem all those that believing in him ordered themselves in obeying and following his precepts and commandments accordingly.
In this article of resurrection it is to be noted, that there is nothing that can in all adversity and trouble be more joyful and comfortable unto us than the belief of this article, that Christ rose again from corporal death to life, and that we shall also do the same. The faith and. Belief of this (if we do continue in living well) is our victory and triumph over the Devil, hell and death, and a special remedy to put away the horror and fear of them; forasmuch as hereby we be assured, that as death could not hold Christ, even so it cannot hold us, which are by a Christian faith the very members and body of Christ, but that We shall rise from death, and live again in glory with him everlastingly, if we order and conform our will in this world to his precepts. And the only hope hereof should make us not to fear the adversities in this world, because we, living as afore, be assured to have a better and more glorious life after this, as St. Paul writeth to the Corinthians, saying, If we Christian men had no hope of other life than this that is present, then were we the most miserable of all men. But now Christ is risen again from death, and hath declared thereby that there is a life after this life, which all Christian men hope to come to. According hereunto, saith St. Augustine, All the hope of our faith standeth in this point, that we shall rise again. This made the faithful and good men (of whom St. Paul speaketh to the Hebrews) to refuse to be preserved from bodily death, because they looked assuredly for a better resurrection.
Of this article the Epistles of St. Paul and the New Testament be full. To the Romans he writeth, Christ rose again, for our justification: to Timothy he saith, Remember that Jesus Christ is risen again from death. The apostles, besides other names pertaining to their office, be specially called the witnesses of Christ's resurrection; the which resurrection, as it was by many and sundry apparitions, and other infallible arguments, declared and proved unto them, so they did in all places and at .all times open and inculcate the same, as a special and a chief article of Christ's doctrine, wherein should depend and rest the great comfort and solace of all true and faithful believers in Christ.
Moreover by this article it is not only confirmed unto us how the natural body of man shall, after the corporal death and departing out of this present life, arise again, as is before expressed, but also by this resurrection of our Saviour Christ we be admonished, that as Christ after his death rose again, so we, dying from sin, should rise again, and walk in a new life of spirit and grace.
THE SIXTH ARTICLE.
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
THIS article containeth how our Saviour Jesus Christ, after that he had perfectly accomplished and performed the whole mystery of the redemption of mankind by his incarnation, his birth, his passion, his death, his burial, his descending into hell, and rising again from death to life, and after he had been here in earth conversant with his apostles and disciples by the space of forty days after his resurrection, when he was among the apostles, he in their sight ascended up into heaven in the very same his natural body which was born of the blessed virgin his mother, and was crucified upon the cross, and so did withdraw his accustomed visible conversation from the presence of his apostles, and from the bodily sight of all other creatures. By remembrance whereof both they and we should here in earth elevate and lift up our whole hearts, minds, desires, and all affections from earthly things, and from all carnal and worldly cares, towards heaven and heavenly things, and so should by his grace prepare our hearts, and make ourselves met and apt to receive his spirital gifts, which he sendeth into the world.
In this article also is expressed how our Saviour Christ, being ascended into heaven, sitteth on the right hand of God the Father, that is to say, hath and shall ever have communicate unto him of God the Father glory, honour, felicity, power, and everlasting monarchy, governance, rule, arid dominion over all the principates, potestates, powers, dominions, and overall creatures that can be named either in this world or in the world to come, to be ordained King of all kings, and Lord of all lords, and all things in heaven and earth to be cast under his feet, and made subject unto him, and he is appointed the only Head of the universal catholic church, which is his mystical body. And likewise as the head always excelleth all the other members, so Christ doth excel incomparably in honour and dignity of the members of his said body the church, whereof he is the only perfection and consummation, and is also the only eternal Priest and Bishop of his said church, that is to say, the only Mediator between God and mankind, the Redeemer, Intercessor and Advocate for the remission of sins, as hereafter in this book it shall more at large appear.
And it is to be noted, that although the intercession and mediation by prayer of saints departed, and of such the members of the catholic church as be yet living on earth, Be good, acceptable, and profitable unto us, yet that is only by the mediation and intercession of Christ our Head, in whom God the Father is pleased and contented, and through whom saints departed this life, and reigning in heaven with Christ, and such, as truly confess Christ in the church catholic, yet living, may and do effectually pray for us; and therefore be of us also availably prayed unto, that is to say, desired to pray for us: according whereunto all common prayers of the church ought to be always finished and ended with a remembrance of our Saviour Jesu Christ; in whom, by whom, and for whom all is accepted of God, and without whom nothing can be effectually done or granted.
And therefore it is much to our comfort to remember the exaltation of man's nature in our Head, our Saviour, and Redeemer Jesu Christ, which, inseparably and indissolubly conjoined and united to the Deity in the person of him, sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, by communion of preeminence and power, as before is expressed, whereby we be certified how our Saviour Jesus Christ is God, equal to God the Father in godhead, and therein not inferior unto him, and therefore to be honoured, worshipped, loved, and dread, feared and trusted on, believed and hoped on, as on very God Almighty, to whom nothing is impossible; and yet he is man also, which hath experience of our Infirmities, and can and will mercifully have compassion on the same; who ascended unto heaven to send gifts unto men, whereby, we might be able and strong to pass over this transitory life, to the pleasure of God, and the attaining of everlasting life.
THE SEVENTH ARTICLE.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
IN this article it is declared how our Saviour and Redeemer Jesu Christ shall come from thence, that is to say, from heaven, to the which He ascended, and coming in his majesty and glory, shall then in the very visible form of his natural body, appear unto the bodily eyes of all the people of the world in his perfect manhood, and in the selfsame body wherein he ascended, to the inestimable comfort and rejoice of the good, and to the extreme terror and confusion of the wicked: where being accompanied with his only angels, his ministers, waiting upon him, he shall sit openly in the clouds of the air, and shall judge all quick and dead, according to truth and justice, and according to his holy word expressed in Scripture, that is to say, according to every man's own works and deeds done by him in his lifetime, which works and deeds shall be then examined, discussed, and tried, not after men's own phantasy and invention, without authority and ground of scripture, but according to the commandment of God, and the teaching of Christ and his apostles: for at that day of judgment all the people of the world, quick and dead, that is to say, as well all those which shall be found on life in the world at that day, as also all those which ever sith the creation of Adam lived here in this world, and died before that day, shall come and appear afore the presence of Christ, their very bodies and souls. And when they shall be so gathered and assembled together, our Saviour Jesus Christ shall pronounce the final sentence and judgment of everlasting salvation upon all those persons which in their lifetime obeyed and conformed themselves unto the will of God, and exercised the works of right belief and charity, and so persevering in well-doing, sought in their hearts, and deeds, honour, glory, and life immortal: and contrary, upon all those which in their lifetime were contentious, and did repugn against the will of God, and followed injustice and iniquity rather than truth and virtue, our Saviour Christ shall then and there pronounce the sentence of everlasting punishment and damnation. In which sentence there shall be made a perfect separation or division between these two sorts of people, that is to say, between the sheep and the goats, the corn and the chaff, the good and the bad, the blessed and the cursed, the members of his body and the members of the Devil, and so the good and the blessed being upon his right hand, he shall clearly and perfectly deliver them for ever from the power and malice of the wicked, and from all the pains and evil, and so take them all up with him into heaven, there to be crowned and rewarded in body and soul with honour and glory, and everlasting joy and peace, which was prepared for them from the beginning of the world. And all the other, which shall be judged to everlasting pain and death, being upon his left hand, he shall send them down into hell, there to be punished in body and soul eternally with fire that never shall have end, which was prepared from the beginning of the world unto the Devil and his angels.
And here it is especially to be remembered how this article was for great considerations added immediately and conjoined unto the former articles, and chiefly to the intent that no man should in this life time presume upon the said benefits of Christ, or take occasion of carnal liberty or security, and so live without fear to transgress, or without regard to observe the commandments of God; but rather that every good Christian man should, in every part of his life, have a continual remembrance and respect unto the last day of judgment, and so Be in continual fear to commit any thing contrary to the will of God, for the which he might deserve to have the sentence of everlasting damnation pronounced upon him. For this, is certainly true that at that day every man shall be called to an account of his life, and shall be then finally judged according to his works, good or bad, done in his lifetime, that is, as St. Paul saith, to them that persevere in well-doing, and labour to attain glory, honour and immortality, shall be given life everlasting; and to them that be contentious, and obey not the truth, but follow and do injustice, shall come indignation, ire, affliction, trouble, and pains everlasting.
In this article it is further to be noted, that like as there is nothing more certain unto us, than that we be all mortal, and shall once die, and yet no man living knoweth the time when he shall die; even so there is nothing more certain than that this day of Judgment shall once come, and yet the hour and time when it shall be is hidden. and kept secret from the knowledge of all men and angels, and is reserved to the only knowledge of God. Which thing proceedeth of his only goodness towards us, and is done to the intent we should always here in our lifetime flee from sin, and employ all our whole study and endeavour to walk in the ways of God, that is to say, in such faith, hope, and charity as God requireth of us, and so prepare ourselves, and order our living towards God, that we may be in a readiness at all times, whensoever it shall please God to call and summon us, to appear before him in the said general judgment, there, by his mercy and goodness, to receive the crown, which he promised unto all men that do fear him, and love him, and walk in his ways.
THE EIGHTH ARTICLE.
I believe in the Holy Ghost.
THE Holy Ghost is the third person in the Trinity, very God and Lord, Author and Former of all things created, and proceedeth both from God the Father and from God the Son, one with them in nature and substance, and of the same everlasting essence or being which the Father and the Son be of, and equal also unto them both in almightiness of power, and in the work of creation, and all other things pertaining unto the Deity or Godhead; wherefore he is also to be honoured and glorified equally with them both.
This Holy Ghost, which is the Spirit of God, is of his nature all holy, yea, holiness itself, that is to say, he is the only Ghost or Spirit, which, with the Father and the Son, is, was, and ever shall be the author, causer, and worker of all holiness, purity and sanctimony, and of all the grace, comfort, and spiritual life, which is wrought and cometh into the heart of any man, insomuch that no man can think well, or do any thing that good is, but by the motion, aid, and assistance of this Holy Spirit; neither it is possible that the Devil, or any of those evil spirits which do possess and reign in such persons as be subject unto sin, can be expelled or put out of them but by the power of this Holy Spirit; neither it is possible that the heart of any man being once corrupted and made as profane by sin, can be purged, purified, sanctified, or justified, without the work and operation of this Holy Spirit; neither it is possible for any man to be reconciled unto the favour of God, or to be made and adopted into the number of his children, or to obtain that incomparable treasure which our Saviour Jesus Christ hath purchased and laid up for mankind, unless this Holy Spirit shall first illume and lighten his heart with the right knowledge and faith of Christ, and stir him by grace to have due contrition and penance for his sins, and shall also instruct him, govern him, aid him, direct him, and endue him with such spiritual gifts and graces, as shall be requisite and necessary to that end and purpose.
Moreover this Holy Spirit of God is of his own nature full of all goodness and benignity, yea goodness itself, from whom proceedeth all and singular graces and gifts of fear, wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, faith, charity, hope, and all other, which be given, conferred, and distributed unto us mortal men here in the earth, at his own will and dispensation; and that no man can purchase or obtain, ne yet retain or use any one of them, without the special operation of this Holy Spirit; which gifts nevertheless he giveth not, nor dispenseth the same equally and unto every man in like, but he divideth them particularly and specially to every member of the church, as is most necessary for the whole body, and in such plenty and measure as unto his godly will and knowledge is thought to be most beneficial and expedient for the same. All which things he doth of his mere mercy and goodness freely and above our deserving.
Furthermore, this Holy Spirit is of his own nature full of charity and holy love, yea charity Itself, from whom proceedeth all charity; and so, by his godly operation, is this bond and knot wherewith, our Saviour Jesus Christ and his most dear espouse the church (which is also his mystical body) be united, knit, and conjoined together in such perfect and everlasting love and charity, that the same cannot be dissolved or separated: and over this is also the very bond and knot, whereby, all and every one of the very members of Christ's church and body be united, coupled, and conjoined the one of them with the other in mutual love and charity.
Also this Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, and the author of all holy scripture contained in the whole canon of the Bible; and did not only inspire and instruct all the holy patriarchs and prophets, with all the other members of the catholic church that ever was from the beginning of the world, in all the godly truths and verities that ever they did know, speak, or write, but, also descended and appeared in the similitude and likeness of fiery tongues, and did light upon the apostles and disciples of Christ, and inspired them with the knowledge of all truth, and replenished them with heavenly gifts and graces; and shall be continually present in the catholic church, and shall teach and reveal unto the same church the secrets and mysteries of all truths which are necessary to be known ; and shall also continually from time to time rule, direct, govern, and sanctify the same church, and give remission of sins, and all spiritual comfort, as well inwardly by secret operations, as also outwardly by the open ministration and efficacy of the word of God, and of the holy .sacraments in the said church, and shall endue it with all such spiritual graces and gifts as shall be necessary for the same.
Finally, it is to be noted, that albeit holy scripture doth worthily attribute unto the Holy Ghost our sanctification, our justification, and all other benefits which Christ by his passion hath merited and deserved for us, yet nevertheless the same be also the works of the whole Trinity, and be not to be separated in any wise, although scripture commonly doth attribute them unto the Holy Ghost: for in like manner doth scripture attribute power unto the Father, and wisdom unto the Son? which nevertheless be common unto all three.
THE NINTH ARTICLE.
The holy catholic church.
AFTER the eight articles of our belief, in which we knowledge God's might and power in the creation of the world, his mercy and goodness in our redemption, and his spiritual benefits, exhibited and given, to us by the Holy Ghost, followeth the ninth article, in which we declare, that we do believe and confess the manner of God's working, in calling us to have fruition of him, and to be made partakers of his said benefits.
Wherefore we must understand, that besides the inward and secret calling which God hath always used, arid yet still doth use, he hath also ordained an outward calling of the people unto him, by preaching of his most holy word; upon which outward calling, the people yielding, assenting, and obeying to the same word of God, and receiving it also with true faith, and the sacrament of baptism, (as Christ's law requireth), be named in scripture ecclesia, that is to say, an assembly of people called out from other, as from infidels and heathens, to one faith and confession of the name of Christ, which word ecclesia is in English called church.
And it is to be noted specially, that, in our English tongue, by the word church we understand, not only the whole multitude of people which be called of God to one faith, be they of the clergy or of the laymen, but also by the same word we signify the place wherein the word of God is commonly preached and the sacraments ministered and used, and call that the church: to entreat whereof at this time, in this article, is no part of our intent, but only of the assembly and company called to profess Christ in one faith, which in this article is named the holy church.
For albeit in this assembly of men called by the word of God, and received by faith arid baptism, be many evil men, many sinners, many that turn by true penance to grace, and sometime yet fall again, some after their turn by true penance still persevere and increase in goodness, many that fall and never rise again; so that spots, blots, and imperfections appear evidently in this church, and many times in the more part thereof; yet nevertheless because the calling is of itself holy, the caller also holy, and the end of the calling holiness, with this also, that the people so called profess holiness, and make a body, whereof the only Head our Saviour Christ is most holy and holiness itself, by the merits of whose passion they be relieved and nourished with divers holy sacraments, and be in their calling endued with most special holy gifts and graces of Almighty God, author thereof, and by his holy Spirit directed and governed in the same, so long as they, by following their concupiscence, the Devil, or the world, fall not from that state. For these causes (although some member thereof be evil) the church is called holy church, taking the name of holy of that, that Christ the only Head is holy, the caller holy, the profession and calling holy, and the end holiness, which of very duty ought to be in all them that be called, and is indeed in such members as continue and persevere in that holy calling.
And forsomuch as God of his goodness calleth people, as afore, without exception of persons or privilege of place, therefore this holy church is also catholic, that is to say, not limited to any one place or region of the world, but is in every place universally through the world, where it pleaseth God to call people to him in the profession of Christ's name and faith, be it in Europe, Afric, or Asia, And all these churches, in divers countries severally called, although for knowledge of the one from the other among them they have divers additions of names, and for their most necessary government, as they be distinct in places, so they have distinct ministers and divers heads in earth, governors and rulers, yet be all these holy churches but one holy church catholic, invited and called by one God the Father to enjoy the benefit of redemption wrought by our only Lord and Saviour Jesu Christ, and governed by one Holy Spirit, which teacheth to this foresaid holy church one truth of God's holy word in one faith and baptism. And this church is relieved, nourished and fortified by his holy and invincible word and his sacraments, which in all places have each of them their own proper force and strength, with gifts of graces also, distributed by the goodness of Almighty God in all places, as to his wisdom is seen convenient.
Whereby it appeareth, that the unity of these holy churches, in sundry places assembled, standeth not by knowledging of one governor in earth over all churches. For neither the whole church catholic together, nor any particular church apart, is bound to acknowledge any one universal governor over the whole church other than Christ, although by sufferance of some princes and potentates not being truly instructed in the word of God by such as of duty both to God and them ought to have declared the truth of scripture to them, and by hypocrisy and usurpation of the see and court of Rome, the bishop of the same, giving himself more to worldly policy than to the execution of his duty, hath long time gone about to obtain and establish unto himself such an universal authority, and hath by abuses always compassed to cause other to uphold and maintain the same, contrary to God's law, as more largely shall be declared in the sacrament of orders.
The unity therefore of the church is not con served by the bishop of Rome's authority or doctrine: but, the unity of the catholic church, which all Christian men in this article do profess, is conserved and kept by the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit of God, in retaining and maintaining of such doctrine and profession of Christian faith, and true observance of the same, as is taught by the scripture and the doctrine apostolic. And particular churches ought not in the said doctrine so accepted and allowed, to vary one from another for any lucre, arrogance, or any other worldly affection, but inviolably to observe the same, so that by reason of that doctrine each church that teacheth the same may be worthily called (as it is indeed) an apostolic church, that is.to say» following such teaching as the apostles preached, with ministration of such sacraments as be approved by the same.
And this unity of the holy church of Christ is not divided by distance of place nor by diversity of traditions and ceremonies, diversely observed in divers churches, for good order of the same. For the church of Corinth and of Ephese were one church in God, though the one were far distant in place from the other: and though also in traditions, opinions, and policies there was some diversity among them, likewise as the church of England, Spain, Italy, and Poole be not separate from the unity, but be one church in God, notwithstanding that among them there is great distance of place, diversity of traditions, not in all things unity of opinions, alteration in rites, ceremonies, and ordinances, or estimation of the same, as one church peradventure doth esteem their rites, traditions, laws, ordinances, and ceremonies to be of more virtue and efficacy than another church doth esteem the same. As the church of Rome doth affirm certain of their laws and ordinances to be of such estimation that they be of equal force with the word of God, and that whosoever disobeyeth or transgresseth the same committeth deadly sin; yet we perceiving the same to be discrepant from the truth of scripture must needs therein dissent from them. But such diversity in opinions, and other outward manners and customs of policy, doth not dissolve and break the unity which is in one God, one faith, one doctrine of Christ and his sacraments, preserved and kept in these several churches without any superiority or preeminence, that one church by God's jaw may or ought to challenge over another.
And therefore the church of Rome, being but a several church, challenging that name of catholic above all other, doeth great wrong to all other churches, and doeth only by force and maintenance support an unjust usurpation: for that church hath no more right to that name than the church of France, Spain, England, or Portugal, which be justly called catholic churches, in that they do profess, consent, and agree in one unity of true faith with other catholic churches. This usurpation, before rehearsed, well considered, it may appear, that the bishop of Rome doeth contrary to God's law in challenging superiority and preeminence by a cloke of God's law over all. And yet to make an appearance that it should be so, he hath and doth wrest scriptures for that purpose, contrary both to the true meaning of the same, and the interpretation of ancient doctors of the church; so that by that challenge he would not do wrong only to this church of England, but also to all other churches, in claiming this superiority without any authority by God so to him given; for God by his goodness hath called indifferently and equally all such churches in sundry places as his high wisdom hath thought good to assemble and call unto him.
Moreover the perfect belief of this article worketh in all true Christian people a love to continue in this unity, and a fear to be cast out of the same; and it worketh in them that be sinners and repentant great comfort and consolation to obtain remission of sin, by virtue of Christ's passion and administration of his sacraments at the minister's hands ordained for that purpose, forasmuch as God doth not ordinarily give such things, but only within this church.
It is to be noted, that this church of England, and other known particular churches, in which Christ's name is truly honoured, called on, and professed in faith and baptism, be members of the whole catholic church, and each of them by himself is also worthily called a catholic church, when they merely profess and teach the faith and religion of Christ, according to the scripture and the apostolic doctrine. And so every Christian man ought to honour, give credence, and to follow, the particular church, of that region so ordered (as afore) wherein he is born or inhabiteth. And as all Christian people, as well spiritual as temporal, be bound to believe, honour, and obey our Saviour Jesus Christ the only Head, of the universal church, so likewise they be by his commandment, bound to honour and obey, next unto himself, Christian kings and princes, which be the head governors under him in the particular churches, to whose office it appertaineth not only to provide for the tranquility and wealth of their subjects in temporal and worldly things, to the conservation of their bodies, but also to foresee that within their dominions such ministers be ordained and appointed in their churches as can and will truly and purely set out the true doctrine of Christ, and teach the same, and to see the commandments of God well observed and kept, to the wealth and salvation of their souls.
THE TENTH ARTICLE.
The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins.
IN this article be taught two special fruits and benefits, which all men called of God,. and obeying to the same calling in their will and works, do obtain by God's grace in the said catholic church; which benefits be, the communion of saints and forgiveness of sins.
And here is to be noted, that although this word saints, in our English tongue, signifieth properly them that be departed this life, and be established in glory with Christ; yet the. same word saints, whereby in this article we express the Latin word sanctorum, is here extended to signify not only these before mentioned, but also all such as be called into this holy assembly and church, and be sanctified in our Saviour Jesu Christ.
And as touching the communion, that is to say, the mutual participation of these saints, ye must understand, that like as all the parts and members which be living in the natural body of a man do naturally communicate arid minister each to other the use, commodity, and benefit of all their forces, nutriments, and perfections; insomuch that it lieth not in the power of any man to say that the meat which he putteth into his own mouth shall nourish one particular member of his body and not another, but that all and every one particularly shall receive of the said nutriment, and of the virtue and benefit thereof, more or less, according to the natural disposition, portion, and place which it hath within the same body : even so, whatsoever spiritual gifts or treasure is given by God unto any one member of the holy church, although the same be given particular unto one member, and not unto another, yet the fruits and merits thereof shall, by reason of their abiding together in the unity of the catholic church, redound unto the common profit, edifying, and increase of all the other members of the same catholic church. Insomuch that there shall need no man's authority to dispense and distribute the same, or to apply it unto this member or that, but each member shall be made participant of the said treasure, and shall have and enjoy the fruit and benefit of the same in such quantity and measure, as for the rate and proportion of the faith and charity which he hath in the same body, shall be expedient and necessary for him to have.
And hereby is notified and declared unto us the utility and profit which all the members of the church do receive by the merits, suffrages, and prayers of the church.
And forasmuch as the most blessed sacrament of the altar, wherein, by the mighty operation of God's word, is really present, in form of bread, the natural living body and blood of our Saviour and Redeemer, Jesu Christ, increaseth and worketh in them that worthily receive it the communion and conjunction in body and soul of them to Christ and Christ to them, with a mutual conjunction also in love and charity of each good man in Christ to other; therefore the said sacrament may worthily be called the communion of saints. And so the first part of this article hath been by good, devout, and learned men expounded, to signify the said blessed sacrament of the altar, which we must believe to be a real and effectual communion of all saints, that is to say, of all men which be called by the holy calling of God, and therewith willingly and obediently do knowledge and follow the same.
In the second part of this article we be taught to believe remission of sins, which is one of the effects and chief benefits of the most blessed passion of Christ, Head of the holy church, which is galled and assembled in his name, in which church is applied the benefits of remission of sins by the working of God in his sacraments, ministered in the same, as shall be hereafter declared in their place.
THE ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH ARTICLE.
The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
AT the day of the general doom or judgment, when Christ shall come, (as in the seventh article of this Creed is contained), and sit to judge both quick and dead, Almighty God shall stir and raise up again the very flesh and bodies of all men, women, and children, both good and bad, christened, and heathen, that ever lived here in this world, from the beginning of the same, and died before that day. And although the said flesh and bodies were dead and buried, yea and consumed, or by any means destroyed, yet God shall of his infinite power made them all at that day whole and perfect again. And so every man generally shall resume and take again the very selfsame body and flesh which he had whiles he lived here on earth, and so shall rise from death, and live again in the very self-same body and soul which he had before.
At which time man, being thus made perfect in conjunction of body and soul, shall at that day appear before the high Judge, our Saviour Jesu Christ, and there shall make an account of his works and his deeds, such as he did, good or evil, while he lived here in this world. And such as have led their lives in obedience and observation of God's commandments, and die in true faith and charity, shall then be perfectly sanctified, purified, and delivered from, all contagion of sin, and from all corruption and mortality of the flesh, and shall be perpetually glorified, and receive both in body and soul together everlasting life.
Which life everlasting, though it passeth all mens wits to depress how pleasant and joyful it is nor yet man's capacity can comprise and understand the same, as St. Paul witnesseth, saying, that which the eye hath not seen, nor the ear hath not heard, nor hath not entered into man's heart, God hath ordained for them that love him: yet holy scripture speaketh of it after our capacity and intelligence, but far under the worthiness and excellency thereof. The prophet Esay saith, Everlasting gladness shall be over their heads: they shall have joy and gladness, sorrow and wailing shall forsake them. And St. John saith, God that sitteth on his throne shall dwell over them. They shall not hunger or thirst any more, neither sun nor heat shall hurt them; for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and bring them to the fountains of the water of life: and God shall wipe away all weeping and tears from their eyes: death shall endure no longer. There shall be no wailing, nor crying, nor sorrow any more: yea, there is no joy or comfort that can be wished for, hut it is there most plentifully. There is true glory, where praise. shall be without error or flattery. There is true honour, which shall be given to none, unless he be worthy. There is true peace, where no man shall be molested or grieved, neither by himself nor by others. There is true and pleasant fellowship, where is the company of blessed angels, and the elect and chosen saints of God. There is true and perfect love, that never shall fail. For all the heavenly company is linked and fastened together by the bond of perfect charity; whereby also they be united and knit to Almighty God everlastingly.
Finally, there is the true reward of all godliness, God himself: the sight and fruition of whom is the end and reward of all our belief, and all our good works, and of all these things which were purchased for us by Christ. He shall be our satiety, our fulness, and desire; he shall be our life, our health, our glory, our honour, our peace, our everlasting rest and joy. He is the end of all our desires, whom we shall see continually, whom we shall love most fervently, whom we shall praise and magnify world without end.