Jeremy Taylor.

The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) online

. (page 17 of 61)
Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) → online text (page 17 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and that, in the end of the world, he shall rise again to
judge the quick and the dead, and to give to every one ac-
cording to their works. When he hath recited this, he adds,
" Haec qui plane cognorit et crediderit, beatus est ; He that
plainly knows these things, and believes them, is blessed."
And in another epistle, g after the recitation of such another
creed, he adds, " He that believes these things, is blessed
that ever he was born." Justin Martyr 11 affirms expressly,
that if any man should even then live according to the law
of Moses (I suppose he means the law of the ten command-
ments), so that he believe in Jesus Christ crucified, and ac-
knowledge him for the Christ of God, to whom is given the
judgment of all the world, he also shall possess the eternal

68. The same creed, in more words, but no more articles,
is recited by St. Irenseus' in his second and third chapters of
his first book, saying that " the Church, throughout all the
world, being planted by the apostles to the ends of the earth,
and by their disciples, have received this faith. He, of all
the prelates, that is most powerful in speech, cannot say
any thing else ; for no man is above his master : and he
that is weak in speaking, cannot say less. For since the
faith is one and the same, he that speaks much cannot say
more, and he that speaks little must not say less." And
afterward speaking of some barbarous nations that had not
the Scriptures, yet having this faith, which he there shortly
recites, beginning with belief in God the Father, the Maker
of the world, and in Jesus Christ, repeating the usual articles
of his being born of the Virgin Mary, his being the Son of
God, his reconciling God and man, his suffering under
Pontius Pilate, his rising again, and being received into
glory, and his last judgment ; he adds, " Hanc fidem qui
sine literis crediderunt, quantum ad sermonem nostrum bar-
bari sunt ; quantum autem ad sententiam et consuetudinem et
conversationem propter fidem, sapientissimi sunt et placent

t Ad Philip. h Coll. cum Tryph. ' Lib. iii. c. 4.


Deo, conversantes in omni justitia, castitate, et sapientia ;
They who believe this faith, are most wise in their sentence
and custom and conversation through faith ; and they please
God, living in all justice, chastity, and wisdom."

69. Here were almost two ages spent by this time, in
which the most pestilent heresies, that ever did trouble the
Church, did arise ; in which some of the questions were talked
of and disputed, and which afterward, by the zeal of some
that overvalued their own forms of speaking, passed into a
faction ; and yet in all this time, and during all that neces-
sity, there was no more added to the Christian creed, no
more articles for the condemnation of any new heresy :
whatsoever was against this, was against the faith ; but any
thing else they reproved, if it were false, but did not put
any more into their creed. And indeed they ought not.
" Regula quidem fidei una omnino est, sola immobilis et
irreformabilis, Credendi scilicet in unum Deum," &c. saith
Tertullian ; k " The rule of faith is altogether one, and im-
movable, and unalterable. This law of faith remaining,
other things may be enlarged according as the grace of God
multiplies upon us." But for the faith itself here consigned
and summed up, the epistle of Celestine to Nestorius is very
affirmative and clear; 'H <xi<sric, Kagadc&iTffa <7raga 7uv aifOGroktav,
ours Kgoff^qxyv, ovn [Miuaiv affairs?, " The faith or creed
delivered by the apostles requires neither addition nor de-
falcation." " Neque eniin ulla extitit hseresis, quse non hoc
symbolo damnari potuit ; There was never any heresy but
this creed was sufficient for its condemnation," said the cate-
chism of the archbishop of Triers.

70. This faith, passing into all the world, was preserved
with great sacredness and great simplicity, no church vary-
ing from it at all : some indeed put some great things into
it, which were appendages to the former ; but the fullest
and the most perfect were the creeds of Jerusalem and Rome,
that is, the same which the Greek and Latin Church use at
this day. The first and the most simple forms were sufficient ;
but these fuller forms, being compiled by the apostles them-
selves, or apostolical men, and that from the words of
Scripture, made no great alteration, the first were not too
little, and these were not too much. The first was the thing

k De Veland. Virgin, c. i.


itself, which was of a declared sufficiency ; but when the
apostles were to frame an instrument of confession, <rov
diSayj!:, " a form of doctrine," by way of art and method,
they put in all that they, directed by the Holy Spirit of God,
knew to contain the whole faith of a Christian. Now of this
form, so described, so delivered, so received, the fathers of
the Church affirm that it is entire and sufficient, and nothing
is to be added to it. " Ergo et cunctis credentibus, quae con-
tinentur in praefato symbolo, salus animarum et vita perpetua
bonis actibus praeparatur," said the author of the epistle to
St. James attributed to St. Clement : " To all that believe
those things contained in the foresaid symbol or creed, and
do good deeds, salvation of their souls and eternal life is

71. And therefore this summary of faith was called,
r-j-rro; dioa^r,;, 6 xavi^v, i/croruTwtf/j i/y/a/xovrwv Xoywv, avaXoy/a

TUV Xoyiuv ro-j sou, <raooidodc?ea x/ffn; " regula fidei, deposi-
tum, breve evangelium, the form or exemplar of doc-
trine, the canon, a description of sound words, the pro-
portion or measure of faith, the milky way, or the intro-
duction of novices, the elements of the beginning of the
oracles of God, the repository of faith, the faith that was
delivered to the saints, the rule of faith, that which was
intrusted to the Church, a short Gospel." These and divers
other appellatives of the creed were used by the ancient
doctors, most of them taken out of Scripture. For what the
Scriptures did affirm of the whole faith, that the fathers did
apply to this creed, as believing it to contain all that was
necessary. And as a grain of mustard-seed in little contains
in it many branches, so also this faith, in a few words, in-
volves all the knowledge the necessary knowledge of the
Old and New Testament, saith St. Cyril ; ' and therefore he
calls this creed, " traditionem sanctae et apostolicae fidei,"
"the tradition of the holy and apostolic faith." " Cordis
signaculum, et nostrae militiae sacramentum," so St. Am-
brose 01 calls it, " the seal of our heart, and the sacrament of
our warfare." St. Jerome n yet more fully : " The symbol of
our faith and of our hope ; which being delivered by the
apostles, it is not written with paper and ink, but in the

1 Catech. 5. Lib. iii. de Veland. Virgin. Epist. ad Pammach.



fleshly tables of our hearts, after the confession of the trinity
and unity of the Church :" " Omne Christian! dogmatis sa-
cramentum carnis resurrectione concluditur; The whole
sacrament of the Christian doctrine is concluded with the
resurrection of the flesh" to eternal life. " Norma futures
prsedicationis ;" so Ruflinus calls it: "the rule of future
preachings" appointed by the apostles; "et hanc credenti-
bus esse regulam dandam statuunt; they appoint this to be
given as a rule to all believers :" and again, This creed was
" the token by which he should be known, who did preach
Christ truly according to the rules of the apostles ;" the in-
dication of their faith and unanimity. " Comprehensio fidei
nostra atque perfectio," so St. Austin P calls it. " Virtus est
sacramenti, illuminatio anitnee, plenitudo credentium ; The
illumination of the soul, the fulness of believers, the compre-
hension and the perfection of our faith. By this the knot of
infidelity is untied, by this the gate of life is opened, by this
the glory of our confession is manifested." It is " tessera,
signaculum, quo inter fideles perfidosque secernitur," said
Maximus Taurinensis. q "Basis qusedam et fundamentum
immotum et inconcussum per universum orbem jactum ;" so
St. Cyril of Alexandria : "It is a badge and cognizance to
distinguish the faithful from the perfidious ; an immovable
foundation laid for all the world :" a Divine or " celestial
armour, that all the opinions of heretics may be cut off with
this sword alone ;" so St. Leo, bishop of Rome. I could
add very many more to this purpose ; who please to require
more, may see enough in Lucifer Calaritanus, 1 " Paulinus,
bishop of Nold, s St. Austin's * book ' de Symbolo ad Cate-
chumenos,' in Ruffinus's excellent exposition of the creed,
Eucherius, bishop of Lyons, in his first homily upon the creed,
Petrus Chrysologus," Isidor of Seville," and in his Offices Ec-
clesiastical/ Rabanus Maurus, 2 the oration of Bernard Zane
in the first session of the Council of Lateran, in the discourse of
the Greeks at the Council of Florence, 8 Cassianus ' de Incar-
natione Domini;' Eusebius Gallicanus in his Homilies on the

Expos. Symb. c. ii. P Senn. cxv. de Temp. ; et Serm. cxxxi.

1 De Tradit. Symb. r Lib. ii. ad Constantium.
Ep. i. ad Afrura. ' Lib. i. c. 1.

u In his sixty-second homily. * Lib. vi. Originum, c. 9.

1 Lib. i. c. 26. de Dominica Palmarum.

1 Lib. ii. de Instil. Clericorum, c. 56. Sess. 10.


Creed, published by Gaigneus, chancellor of Paris, in Venan-
tius Fortunatus's explication of it; and he may, if he please,
add the two homilies which St. Chrysostom made upon the
creed, and the great catechetical oration of St. Gregory

72. Now to what purpose is all this ? The apostles com-
piled this form of words, all churches received them, all
catechumens were baptized into this faith, in the Roman
Church they recited it publicly before their immersion, to
this salvation was promised ; this was the sacrament of the
Christian faith, the fulness of believers, the characteristic
of Christians, the sign of the orthodox, the sword of all
heresies and their sufficient reproof, the unity of belief, suffi-
cient, full, immovable, unalterable; and it is that alone in
which all the churches of the world do, at this day, agree.

73. It is true, that the Church of God did explicate two
of the articles of this creed, that of the second and that of
the third person of the Holy Trinity; the one at Nice, the
other at Constantinople ; one against Arius, the other against
Macedonius ; they did explicate, I say, but they added no
new matter, but what they supposed contained in the apo-
stolical creed. And, indeed, the thing was very well done, if
it had not been made an ill example; they had reason for
what they did, and were so near the ages apostolical that
the explication was more likely to be agreeable to the ser-
mons apostolical : but afterward the case was altered, and
that example was made use of to explicate the same creed,
till, by explicating the old, they have inserted new articles.

74. But all the while it is consented to on all hands, that
this only faith is sufficient. What can certainly follow from
these infallible articles, is as certainly true as the articles
themselves, but yet not so to be imposed, because it is not
certain that this or that explication is right, that this conse-
quent is well deduced ; or if it be certain to you, it is not so
to me ; and besides it is more an instrument of schism than
of peace ; it can divide more than it can instruct, and it is
plainly a recession from the simplicity of the Christian faith,
by which simplicity both the learned and the ignorant are
the more safe. " Turbam non intelligendi vivacitas, sed cre-
dendi simplicitas tutissiinarn facit:" b and when once we

b August, cont. Ep. Fundam. c. iv.


come to have the pure streams pass through the limbecs of
human wit, where interest, and fancy, and error, and igno-
rance, and passion, are intermingled, nothing can be so cer-
tain, though some things may be as true ; and therefore here
the Church does rest, here she finds peace; her faith is sim-
ple, easy, and intelligible, free from temptation, and free
from intrigues ; it is warranted by Scripture, composed and
delivered by the apostles, entertained by all the world : in
these they do agree, but in nothing else but this, and in
their fountain, the plain words of Scripture.

75. For all the rest, it is abundant to all excellent pur-
poses. It can instruct the wise, and furnish the guides of
souls with treasures of knowledge, and employ the tongues and
pens of the learned : it can cause us to wonder at the immen-
sity of the Divine wisdom, and the abyss of the revelation : it is
an excellent opportunity for the exercise of mutual charity in
instructing and in forbearing one another, and of humility and
patience and prayer to God to help our infirmities, and to en-
lighten us more and more in the knowledge of God. It is the
greater field of faith, where she can enlarge herself; but this
is the house of faith, where she dwells for ever in this world.

76. So that, for any other thing of the religion, it is to
be believed so far as it dbes appear to be the word of God ;
and, by accidents and circumstances, becomes of the family
or retinue of faith: but- it is not necessary to be believed for
itself; unless it be for something else, it is not necessary at
all. A man may be saved without knowing any thing else,
without hearing of any thing, without inquiring after any
thing, without believing any thing else, provided that, in this
faith, he live a good life. But because sometimes a man is,
by the interests of a good life, required to know more, to in-
quire after more, and to learn more, therefore, upon the
stock of obedience, more may be necessary ; but not upon
the account of faith. So that if some men do not read the
Scriptures, and study them, and search into the hidden things
of God, they sin against justice or charity, but not against
faith, if they retain all the articles of the apostles' creed :
and a man may be extremely to blame, if he disbelieve many
other things ; but it is because upon some evil account he
disbelieves it, and so is guilty of that sin, which is his evil
principle, as of pride, ambition, lust, covetousness, idleness,


fear, or flattery; but a man is not, in any such case,
guilty of heresy. For heresy being directly opposed to faith,
and faith being completed in the articles of the Christian
creed, it cannot be heresy, unless it be a contradicting of
one of those articles in the words or in the sense, in the let-
ter, or in the plain, visible, certain, and notorious explica-
tion of it. In the apostolical creed, all the Christian world
is competently instructed; in these things there is no dis-
pute ; and if they be simply believed, as they are plainly de-
livered, it is the better. But in every thing else, every man,
according to his calling and abilities, is to grow as much as
he can in knowledge ; that is, in edifying and practical know-
ledge : but in all things of speculation, he that believes what
he sees cause for, as well and as wisely, as heartily and as
honestly, as he can, may be deceived, but cannot be a here-
tic, nor hazard his salvation. " Salus ecclesiae non vertitur
in istis. In simplicitate fides est, in fide justitia : nee Deus
nos ad beatam vitam per difficiles quaestiones vocat : in ex-
pedite et facili nobisest aeternitas ;" said St. Hilary : c " Faith
is in simplicity, and righteousness in faith ; neither does God
call us to eternal life by hard questions : eternity stands
ready and easily prepared."

77. For I consider, if any thing else were necessary to be
believed unto salvation, this symbol could absolutely be of
no use : but if any thing be added to it and pretended also
to be necessary, it cannot be entertained, unless they that
add it and impose it be infallible in their judgment, and
competent in their authority : they must have authority
equal to that of Christ, and wisdom equal to that of the apo-
stles. For the apostles, in the summary of faith, declared all
that was, at that time, necessary ; and if any man else makes
a new necessity, he must claim Christ's power, for he only
is our lawgiver : and if any declares a new necessity, that
is not sufficient, unless he can also make it so, for declaring
it supposes it to be so already ; and if it was so at first, the
apostles were to blame not to tell us of it ; and if it was not
so at first, who made it so afterward ?

78. But it is infinitely necessary, that, for the matter of
faith, necessary and sufficient faith, we rest here and go no
further. For if there can be any new necessities, then they

e Lib. ii. de Trin. in Princ.


may for ever increase, and the faith of a Christian shall be
like the moon, and no man be sure that his faith shall not
be reproved ; and there shall be innumerable questions about
the authority of him that is to add, of his skill, of his pro-
ceeding, of the particular article, of our own duty in inquir-
ing, of our diligence, of our capacity, of the degrees of our
care, of the competency of instruments, of choosing our side,
of judging of questions : and he that cannot inquire dili-
gently, and he that cannot judge wisely, and he that cannot
discern spirits, and he that fears, and he that fears not, shall
all be in danger, and doubt, and scruple : and there shall be
neither peace of minds nor churches, as we see at this day in
the sad divisions of Christendom: and every man almost damns
all but his own sect, and no man can tell who is in the right ;
men dispute well on both sides ; and just, and good, and wise
men are opposed to one another; and every man seems con-
fident, but few men have reason : and there is no rest ; and
there can be none, but in this simplicity of belief which the
apostles recommended to all the world, and which all the
world does still keep in despite of all their superinduced opi-
nions and factions : for they all retain this creed, and they
all believe it to be the summary of faith.

79. But the Church of Rome pretends to a power of ap-
pointing new articles of faith ; d and for denying this, Pope
Leo X. condemned Luther in his bull added to the last Coun-
cil in Lateran. For " ad solam auctoritatem summi ponti-
ficis pertinet nova editio symboli, a new edition of the
creed belongs to the sole authority of the pope of Rome ;"
so Aquinas: and Almain most expressly, "The popes of
Rome, by defining many things which before lay hid," " sym-
bolum fidei augere consuevisse, are wont to enlarge the
creed." For " doctrina fidei admittit additionem in essenti-
alibus," saith Salmeron ; " the doctrine of faith admits
addition even in essential things." And, in consequence, to
those expressions they did add the article of the procession
of the Holy Ghost from the Son, in a synod at Chantilly in
France : and twelve articles to the creed in the Council of

d 2. 2a3. q. 1, a. 10. August. Tri. de Ancona, q. 59, art. 1. Novum symbolum
condere solum ad papam spectat, quia est caput fidei Christianas, cujus auctori-
tate omnia, quae ad fidem spectaut, firmantur et roborantur. Idem art. 2. Sicut
potest novum symbolum condere, itapotest novos articulos supra alios rnultipli-
care. Tom. xiii. part 3, disp. 6, sect. Est ergo.


Trent, with the preface and postscript of the Athanasian creed,
damning all that do not equally believe the creed of Trent as
the creed of the apostles.

80. What effect and impress the declaration of any arti-
cle by the Church hath, or is to have, upon the conscience,
shall be discoursed under the title of ecclesiastical laws;
but that which is of present inquiry, is, ' Whether any
thing can be of Divine faith in one age that was not so in the
age of the apostles ;' and concerning this it is that I say,
that it is, from the premises, evident, that nothing can make
any thing to be of Divine faith but our blessed Lord himself,
who is therefore called " the author and finisher of our faith ;"
he began it, and he made an end. The apostles themselves
could not do it ; they were only stewards and dispensers of
the mysteries of God ; they did rightly divide the word of
life, separating the necessary from that which was not so : so
that their office in this particular was only to declare what
was necessary and what was not ; no man, and no society of
men, could do this but themselves, for none but they could
tell what value was to be set upon any proposition ; they
were to lay the foundation, and they did so ; and they built
wisely upon it ; but when they commanded that we should
keep the foundation, they only could tell us which was it,
and they did so by their sermons, preaching the same doc-
trine to the simple and the crafty, and by immuring the ne-
cessary doctrine in a form of words, and consigning it to all
the churches where they preached the Gospel.

81. For we see that all the world is not able to tell us
how much is necessary, and how much is not, if they once
go beside the apostles' creed : and yet it was infinitely neces-
sary, that, at first, this should be told, because there were so
many false apostles, and every one pretended authority or
illumination, and every one brought a new word and a new
doctrine ; and the apostles did not only foresee that there
would be, but did livetosee and feel, the heresies and thefalse
doctrines obtruded upon the Church, and did profess it was
necessary that such false doctrines should arise : and against
all this that they should not provide a universal remedy, is
at no hand credible, and yet there was none but the creed ;
this all the Church did make use of, and professed it to be


that summary of faith which was a sufficient declaration of
all necessary faith, and a competent reproof of all heresies
that should arise.

82. But then that, after all this, any one should obtrude
new propositions, not deducible from the articles of the creed,
not in the bowels of any article, neither actually expressed
nor potentially included, and to impose these under pain of
damnation, if this be not xveievuv r^c, itigrtug, which St.
Paul 6 said he had no power to do, "to have dominion or
lordship over the faith," and xcircixvgitviiv ruv x.\qguv, " to
lord it over God's heritage," which St. Peter f forbade any
man to do, I confess I do not understand the words', nor yet
saw or ever read any man that did. I conclude this with
those excellent words of Justinian which are in the code,
part of the imperial law by which almost all the world was
long governed : 'OgQq xal u^^rog vriffrig, %v<xtg xqeurrti q
ayia rov Qeou xaOoXixr) ncti ccToffroX/x^ IxxXfjrf/a, xar oudsva rgotfov
xa/v/fytiv bt^afiivri, " This right and irreprehensible faith
(speaking of the apostolical creed, part of which he there
recites) which the holy catholic and apostolic Church of
God does preach, can by no means receive any innovation
or change." 8

83. I conclude, therefore, this question ; in our inquiries
of faith, no man's conscience can be pressed with an autho-
rity but of Christ enjoining, and the apostles declaring, what
is necessary. I add, also, that the apostles have declared it
in this form of words, which they have often set down in
their writings, and which they more largely described in
their Symbol of Faith. For since, as Sixtus Senensis h says,
" omnes orthodoxi patres affirmant symbolum ab ipsis
apostolis conditum," that " all the orthodox fathers affirm
the creed to be made by the apostles," and they all say this
is a sufficient rule of faith for all Christians ; here we ought
to rest our heads and our hearts, and not to intricate our
faith by more questions. For as Tertullian' said well, " Haec
regula a Christo, ut probabitur, instituta nullas habet apud
nos qusestiones nisi quas haereses inferunt, et quse haereticos

2 Cor. i. 84. ' 1 Peter, v. 3.

* Cod. lib. i. de Sum. Trinit. sect. Cum recta.

b Lib. ii. Biblioth. 5. Lib. i. advers. Haeret. c. 13.


faciunt ; Heretics make disputes, and disputes make he-
retics, but faith makes none." For if upon the faith of this
creed all the Church of God went to heaven, all I mean that
lived good lives, I am sure Christ only hath the keys of
hell and heaven ; and no man can open or shut either, but
according to his word and his law : so that to him that will

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 13) → online text (page 17 of 61)