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Form of Sound Words, together with the End and Reasons of its Compofure, I proceed to the

II Thing to be confider'd in the Text; and that is, the Manner of its Delivery, contain'd in thofe Words, Which thou hast heard of me: whereby is fignify'd, that this Creed was not deliver'd in Writing, but by word of Mouth; for Timothy is here faid to learn it, not by feeing or reading, but hearing of it and the Fathers generally tell us, that it was not committed to Writing, in the firft Ages, but deliver'd by Oral Tradition, for which they have left us fundry Reafons. As,


First, It was not put into Writing, left it should fall into the hands of Heathens and Infidels, who would be apt to pervert and abufe it. Our Saviour would not have Pearls to be caft before Swine, left they trample upon and pollute them; nor would he have Childrens Bread, or holy Things given unto Dogs, who know not the Worth of them: meaning, that the Myfteries of Chrift's Religion fhould not be communicated to the Heathens, who were more apt to profane and deride, than to receive them; but like Mysteries fhould be kept fecret from fuch Perfons, and not made known to any, but to those who by Baptifm were initiated into them. And therefore 'twas call'd the Chriftian's Watch-word, which we know is given by word of Mouth, and not in Writing, left the Enemy fhould come to the knowledge of it. We find St. Cyril giving a ftrict Charge to his Catechumens, not to divulge their Creed to any unbaptiz'd Perfon: and the antient Martyrs could not by any Torments be brought to reveal it to any fuch, left it fhould be profan❜d or misconftrued; for which Reafon it was not thought fit to commit it to Writing, till the World became Christian. But ever fince that happy Period, the Creed, which was before in a great measure kept fecret, and communicated only to a few, became publick to all; written Copies were taken of it for the better preferving and propagating the Chriftian Faith, and were difpers'd every where for the Benefit and Edification of the Catholick Church: by which means it is come down fafe and pure to our hands, with an Order to teach and learn it in all Churches, that the Members of them may all agree in the fame found Doctrine, and speak the fame things in all their publick Confeffions. To which end our Church hath order'd all Children to be train'd up in the Knowledge of it, and to be taught it in their Youth,

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that they may not depart from it in their old Age. This
is the Form of Sound Words, or the Profeffion of Faith
which we are bid to hold faft without wavering, (Heb. 10.
23.) that is, to be fo far from deferting, that we entertain not
the leaft Doubt, nor enter into any Difpute about it; but take
it for granted, and ftand to it as the Bafis of the Christian
Faith, laying it as the Foundation of all our Hopes, and that
upon which the whole Fabrick of our Religion and Salvation
ftands. But,

Lastly, What is it to hold fast this Form of Sound Words in Faith and Love, which is in Chrift Fefus? In answer to which, To hold it faft in Faith, is firmly and heartily to believe it, to yield our unfeign'd Affent and Confent to the Truth of every part of it, to ftand firm and fteddy to it, without fhrinking or departing from it.

To hold it fast in Love, is to receive it into the Heart, to retain it in the Memory, and to make it the Object of our Delight and Meditation. We read of fome, who for cafting off the Love of the Truth, were given up to believe a Lye; and therefore to be preferv'd from Delufions, we muft receive not only the Light of the Truth into our Underftanding, but the Love of it into our Heart, that it may have a due Influence upon our Lives and Conversation.

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Lord, I believe, help my Unbelief.

AVING in the foregoing Difcourfe premis'd fomething touching the Authority and Antiquity of the Apoftles Creed, and fhew'd the Form of Sound Words mention'd in the New Teftament to be fumm'd up and contain'd in it;

I proceed now to a particular Explication of it: where the first word, I believe, gives the Denomination to the whole; and refers not only to that Article to which it is immediately adjoin'd, but must be fuppos'd to run thro' the

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whole Body of the Creed, and is to be apply'd to every Article, and to every particular Verity contain'd in it. Wherefore this Word being as it were the Form of the Creed, that diffufes and extends itself to every part of it, 'twill be requifite in the beginning to fettle us in the true Notion and Importance of it; which I fhall endeavour to do from these words, I believe, help my Unbelief. Where I must enquire,

First, Into the Nature and Notion of Believing.

Secondly, What kind of believing is here understood. Thirdly, What is meant by this particular and perfonal Application of it, in faying, I believe. And,

Laftly, The great Reafon we have to pray for the Supply of the Defects and Imperfections of our Faith, in thofe words, Lord, help my Unbelief. For the

First, The Nature and Notion of Belief in general, it may be thus defin'd: 'Tis an Act or Habit of the Underftanding, whereby it affents to, acknowledges or embraces a thing as true, upon the Teftimony or Report of another. By the former Claufe of the Definition, it agrees with Experience, Science and Opinion, which are all Acts of the Understanding, and imply fome Affent to things as true: But by the latter Claufe, viz. upon the Teftimony and Report of another, 'tis diftinguifh'd and differs from them all. For an Affent to a thing which we fee, or is evident to any of our Senfes, is call'd Experience; as that Snow is white, that Ice is cold, and Fire is hot, and the like; which being feen and felt to be fo, are not properly faid to be believ'd, but experienc'd. Again,

An Affent to a thing as true, which we receive not from any of our Senfes, but gather from the Deduction of Reafon, or Connexion of Caufes, is not ftil'd Experience, but Knowledge: And here if a thing appear evident to the Understanding, by certain and demonftrative Arguments, as that the Whole is greater than a Part, and the like, the Affent to it is not properly Faith, but Science; but if the Arguments brought to prove a thing be only probable, and not neceffarily conclufive, the Affent is term'd not Science, but Opinion.

But an Affent to a thing, that is neither evident to our Senfes, nor to be gather'd from any natural or neceffary Connexion of Caufes and Effects, and yet is receiv'd as true


Part II. upon the Testimony and Report of another, is properly call'd Faith or Believing.

Now Faith being an Affent upon Teftimony, according to the difference of the Teftimony, there may refult different kinds of Faith. That which relies upon the Testimony and Authority of Men, is term'd a Human Faith, and is that upon which we proceed in all the Affairs and Tranfactions of this Life; all which depend upon the Credit we give to the Words and Actions of one another: But a Faith grounded upon the Testimony of God, is call'd a Divine Faith, and is that by which we govern ourselves in Matters of Religion, and the great Concerns of another World. The former depending upon the Teftimony of Men, liable to Error, and many Infirmities, is fallible, and may and does deceive us for fome for want of Knowledge relate things otherwife than they are; others, for want of Integrity and Fidelity, report things otherwife than they know them to be: both which ways many are deceiv'd in Human Teftimonies. The latter depending on the Veracity of God, who is Truth itself, must be infallible, and a fafe Bottom to rely upon; for God is not a Man, faith Balaam, that he Should lye; Numb. 23. 19. And if we receive the Witness of Man (faith the Apoftle) the Witness of God is greater; 1 John 5. 9. For God hath all Knowledge, and fo cannot be deceiv'd himself; he hath all Juftice and Goodness, and fo cannot deceive others.

Now the Word or Witnefs of God, upon which this Divine Faith is founded, hath been deliver'd to Mankind two ways, either immediately by himself, or mediately by others. By the former he fpake to Abraham, Mofes, and the Prophets, in old Time: by the latter he fpeaks to us in these laft Days. The Prophets under the Old Testament, and the Apostles under the New, receiv'd the Word of God immediately from his own Mouth, or, which is all one, from his Holy Spirit; for they both perceiv'd and knew by the Revelation made to them, that 'twas God that spake to them, and accordingly affented to and believ'd it as fuch; and this was the Foundation of their Faith. They to whom the Prophets and Apoftles fpake, receiv'd the fame Truths, and believ'd them too upon the fame Divine Testimony, tho they were not deliver'd immediately to them, as they were to the other; but mediately by thofe Prophets and t Apoftles, being well affur'd that what they fpake was immediately reveal'd to them by God; and this was the Foun

dation of their Faith. Hence we read of the Jews, that they believed the Lord, and his Servant Mofes; Exod. 14. 31. And the Disciples in the New Teftament are commended for receiving the Words of the Apoftles, not as the Word of Man but (as in truth it was) the Word of God; 1 Theff. 2. 13. For which reafon, their Faith is faid to be built not only on the Teftimony of God, but upon the Foundation of the Prophets and Apostles: the Truth of what they deliver'd being confirm'd by thofe undoubted Miracles and mighty Works, that could be done by none but God that fent them.

Moreover, the Prophets and Apoftles being both mortal, and fo unable to speak to all fucceeding Ages by word of Mouth thofe Truths which they were all concern'd to know and believe; therefore they were commanded and affifted by God's Holy Spirit, to commit thofe things to writing which they had receiv'd immediately from God, and deliver'd to others from him: and thefe are the Scriptures of the Old and New Teftament, wherein the Word of God, the Object of our Faith, is contain'd and convey'd down to us, tho not by the Mouths, yet by the Writings of those that receiv'd it from him, in which they were affifted by that fame divine Spirit by which they spake. Hence the believing Mofes's Writings, is ftyl'd Believing in the Lord and his Servant Mofes: And believing the holy Scripture, is call'd Believing the Word which Jesus had said, John 2. 22.

Thus we fee the Nature of Believing in general, which is the affenting to the Truth of a thing upon the Report of another; as likewife the Nature of that divine Faith, with which we believe the Articles of our Creed; which is the affenting to the Truth of each Article, from the Teftimony of God deliver'd to us in the Writings of the Apostles and Prophets.

But is the bare affenting to divine Truths upon the Teftimony of God, fufficient to create a divine Faith? The Answer to this, will lead me to the

Second Thing propounded, namely, What kind of Af fent is neceffary to the right believing of our Creed. To refolve which, we must obferve a double Affent or Belief of a thing; the one Speculative, and the other Practical.

A Speculative Belief or Affent is the bare owning or acknowledging the Truth of any thing affirm'd in God's


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