Imatges de pÓgina
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prises the essence of God, is of course far beyond our intellectual powers. Unable, adequately, to conceive the works of God, such as the creation of the universe, how can we comprehend the nature of their infinite and Almighty Author. To whoever curiously inquires into this adorable mystery, the words of the wise man therefore may be well applied; he that is a searcher of Majesty shall be overwhelmed with glory.

We indeed confess one Divine essence and substance in God, in a distinet Trinity of persons ; but in saying that the Father is the first person, it is not to be supposed that there is any thing in the Trinity, first and last, or greater and less : since the Christian religion preaches but one and the same eternity, glory and majesty in each of the three persons.-The Father, however, is called the first person, because the Son is generated of him; and the Holy Ghost is distinguished as the third person, because he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

IV. Of the Incarnation of the Word.

GOD the Son, and second person of the Trinity (in scripture called the woRD), from all eternity devoted himself to the salvation of man. For which purpose he in time assumed to himself that human nature of the Holy Virgin Mary, which he presented to the divinity, a willing victim to redeem fallen man. Thus Jesus Christ, in his wisdom made use of his divinity to merit and atone; -and of his humanity to suffer and die for our salvation. (Heb. x. 10.)

V. Of his Descent into Hell.

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By the word HELL is not meant the grave, which the body of Jesus was buried, nor that place where the devils and the reprobate are confined, and shall be eternally tormented-but by

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adding after dead and buried, he went down into hell (Psal. xv. 10.), the scripture means that his soul descended into the mansions of the blessed dead, and preached to them, (1 Pet. iii. 19.)

VI. Of the Resurrection of all Flesh.

JESUS Christ rose from the dead and appeared again to his disciples, with bones, flesh, and all the other appurtenances of human nature. In the same manner, at the last day of the world, all mankind will rise, and clothed in human flesh, will again, in those same bodies, in which they had lived, be publickly judged by Jesus Christ. After which the just will be eternally separated from the wicked.

VII. Of the Supreme Authority of the Church.

THE supreme authority of the church is, for teaching and governing the faithful, lodged by Jesus Christ in the supreme bishop of Rome, his Vicar on earth, and the Bishops of the church, It speaks definitively in council: and decrees in matters appertaining to revealed doctrine, to morals, and to ecclesiastical discipline; and in decisions on faith and morals is specially assisted by the holy spirit, who has promised to remain with his church, and to bring all things to her remembrance whatsoever Jesus had taught her. (John xiv. 16.)

Thus, tho' infallible in her solemn decrees, her infallibility results not from any supernatural interference or immediate inspiration of God, but from a special assistance, by which the church is so guided, as never to deviate from the doctrines delivered by our Redeemer as ascertained by the

* He is called supreme Bishop, because he is primate of the whole church.

ordinary means of written and oral evidence, or original mass of traditions carefully preserved.

VIII. Of Apostolical and Ecclesiastical Traditions.

JESUS Christ laid the foundation of his church by preaching, the Apostles followed his example. Hence the unwritten word was the first rule of christianity; and when the writings of the New Testament were added, it was to confirm or explain what had previously been preached; nor did the unwritten word on that account lose its authority. This makes us receive with equal veneration, all that was ever taught by the Apostles, whether by writing, or by word of mouth, as St. Paul himself has expressly commanded (2 Thess. ii. 24.); and it is a most certain sign that a doctrine comes from the Apostles, when it is universally embraced by all christian churches, without any possibility of shewing its beginning. So that whatever is established after this manner, must be received with the submission due to Divine authority. Hence we are careful to gather together all our fathers have left us, and to preserve the depositum of tradition as well as the scriptures.

Every sect of Christians appeals more or less to the rule of tradition; and by that principle have set aside many of the ordinances of the written word, particularly those of John 13, 14, and Acts 15, 29. Even the Quakers, on the pure authority of tradition, keep the Lord's day on the first, instead of the seventh day of the week,

IX. Of Ecclesiastical observances and Canons.

THE Constitutions of the church, otherwise styled canons, are those laws and regulations which she has, at different times, enacted for the discipline and conduct of her community. These canons have been formed either by general, national,

or provincial councils, and their authority is in proportion. Most of the present observances of the church are grounded upon ancient canons, or have been handed down to us from immemorial tradition.

X. Of the Holy Scriptures.

The holy scriptures, composed by men, specially assisted by the Holy Ghost, are, undoubtedly, to be read as the word of God. Designed to be testimonies or testaments of what the Almighty has, at different times, revealed to, his servants, they are histories of his dispensations, yet do not contain all that we are bound to know and practice, as is evident from themselves, (John xxi. 25.) Neither are they a perfect rule of faith for mankind. The learned misinterpret, and the greatest part of Christians cannot possibly get access to their contents from inability to read and understand them. The names of those books which the Catholic church has pronounced to be canonical, are

Genesis,
Exodus,

Ist Book of Esdras

or Nehemias,

2d Book of Esdras

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or Nehemias,

Deuteronomy,

Tobias,

Joshua,

Judith,

Judges,

Hester,

Ruth,

Job,

1st Book of Kings,

2d Book of Kings,

3d Book of Kings, 4th Book of Kings, 1st Book of Paralipomenon or Chronicles.

2d Book of Paralipomenon or Chronicles.

Psalms,
Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes,
Canticles,
Wisdom,
Ecclesiasticus,
Isaias,
Jeremias,

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XI. Of the Old and the New Law.

THE old and the new law are so far from being in contradiction with each other, that the new law is but the old in an advanced stage of perfection. They are to each other as shadow and substance ; or as the state of infancy compared with manhood. The old law may be called, in the words of the apostle, the first elements of the word of God, (Heb. v. 12.)

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