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A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer
by Anthony Sparrow, D.D.

London, 1672.


The Creed follows. At ordinary Morning and Evening prayer, and most Sundaies and Holy-daies, the Apostles Creed is appointed; which Creed was made by the Apostles upon this occasion, sayes Russinus in Symb. n. 2. The Apostles, having received a Commandment from our Lord to Teach all Nations, and withal being commanded to tarry at Hierusalem till they should be furnish'd with gifts and graces of the holy Spirit, sufficient for such a charge, tarried patiently, as they were enjoyned, expecting the fulfilling of that promise. In the time of the stay at Hierusalem, they agreed upon this Creed as a Rule of Faith, according to the analogy of which, they and all others should teach, and as a word of distinction, by which they should know friends from foes. For as the Gileadites distinguished their own men from the Benjamites, by the word Shibboleth, Iudges 12. 6. And as Souldiers know their own side from the Enemy by their Word, so the Apostles and the Church should know who were the Churches friends, and who were enemies; who were right believers, who false, by this word of Faith: for all that walkt according to this Rule, and profest this faith, she acknowledged for hers, and gave them her peace: but all others that went contrary to this rule and word, she accounted Enemies, Tertul. de praescrip. led by false spirits. For he that hears not us, is not of God; hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error, 1 Iohn 4. 6.

This Creed is said Daily twice, Morning and Evening. So it was of old. Aug. l. 1. de Symb. ad Catech. cap. 1. Take the Rule of Faith, which is call'd the Symbol or Creed, say it daily, in the Morning before you go forth; at Night before you sleep. And l. 50. Hom. 42. Say your Creed daily Morning and Evening.

Rehearse your Creed to God; say not, I said it yesterday, I have said it to day already, say it again, say it every day: guard your selves with your Faith: And if the Adversary assault you, let the redeemed know, that he ought to meet him, with the Banner of the Cross and the shield of Faith, above all taking the shield of Faith, Ephes. 6. Faith is rightly called a Shield, S. Chrys. in loc. For as a Shield is carried before the body, as a wall to defend it, so is faith to the soul; for all things yield to that: This is our victory whereby we overcome the world, even our Faith. Therefore we had need look well to our faith, and be careful to keep that entire; and for that purpose it is not amiss to rehearse it often, and guard our soul with it.

Cum horromus aliquid recurrendum est ad Symbolum: When we are affrighted, run we to the Creed, and say, I believe in God the Father Almighty, this will guard your soul from fear: If you be tempted to despair, guard your soul with the Creed, say, I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was crucified, &c. for us men and our salvation; that may secure your soul from despair: If you be tempted to Pride, run to the Creed, and a sight of Christs hanging upon the Cross, will humble you: If to Lust or uncleanness, to the Creed, and see the wounds of Christ, and the remembrance of them, if any thing will quench that fiery dart: If we be tempted to presume and grow careless, take up again this shield of Faith, see Christ in the Creed coming to judgment, and this terrour of the Lords, will perswade men. In a word, the Creed is a guard (gap: 1 letter) and defence against all temptations of the world, all the fiery darts of the Devil, all the filthy lusts of the flesh: Therefore, above all, take the shield of Faith, saith S. Paul, and be sure to guard your soul Morning and Evening with the Creed, thy symbol of the most holy Faith. Besides, This solemn rehearsing of our Creed, is a plighting of our faith and fidelity to God, before Devils, Angels, and Men; an engaging and devoting of our souls in the principal faculties and powers of it, our reason and understanding and will, wholly to God the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, to believe in the ever blessed Trinity, whatsoever flesh and blood shall tempt to the contrary; which is an high piece of loyalty to God; and cannot be too often perform'd. It is that kind of Confession, that S. Paul says is necessary to salvation, as well as believing, Rom. 10. 10. For it is there said Verse 9. If we confess with our mouth, as well as, if we believe with the heart, we shall be saved; it is that kind of Confession that our Lord Christ speaks of, S. Matt. 10. 32. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven. And therefore since it is a service so acceptable, it cannot be thought unreasonable for the Church to require it Morning and Evening. The Creed follows soon after the Lessons and very seasonably; for in the Creed we confess that Faith, that the Holy Lessons teach.

The Creed is to be said not by the Priest alone, but by the Priest and people together. Rubr. before the Creed. For since Confession of Faith in publick before God, Angels and men is so acceptable a service to God, as is shewn; Fit it is that every man as well as the Priest, should bear his part in it, since every man may do it for himself as well, nay, better than the Priest can do it for him, for as every man knows best what himself believes, so it is fittest to confess it for himself, and evidence to the Church his sound Belief, by expresly repeating of that Creed and every particular thereof, which is and alwayes hath been accounted the Mark and Character, whereby to distinguish a True Believer from an Heretick or Infidel.

We are required to say the Creed standing, by this Gesture signifying our Readiness to Profess, and our Resolution to adhere and stand to this holy Faith.

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