foundation of a new Theological Seminary designed to resuscitate the extinguished faith of Calvin, and restore the sway of his iron sceptre over Geneva. These two divines, as editors of a new edition of the Helvetic Confession, published a preface, in which they undertook to defend the imposition of articles of faith ; and it is principally the points of their defence which are scrutinized and answered in the first part of the present work.

The first plea is, that “a confession of faith is only the expression, not the rule, of faith ; an exposition of the sense in which Scripture is understood by a certain community, but not designed as a substitute for it.” To this the reply is obvious, that the question properly regards not the design, but the fact; and whatever may be said of the design, the fact unquestionably is and must be, that where subscription to articles is required, they come to be substituted in the place of the Scriptures ; that is, they, and not the Bible, are the authority to which appeal is made. And accordingly it is familiarly said, that assent to the Bible is nugatory, because it is necessary to know in what sense the Bible is understood. Is it in the sense of our creed? If not, it is nought. Now what is this, in the view of plain common sense,

but a substitution of the creed for the Scriptures ? Is it not making the creed the standard ? Indeed, do we not hear them constantly styled “THE STANDARDS of our church” ?

Again it is pleaded, that “confessions are necessary to secure unity of faith.” This sounds so like mockery, that we can hardly conceive how it should be uttered except as a bitter jest. That in the face of the divisions and contentions which have always existed and do exist in those communities which have had most to do with articles and subscriptions ; that amidst the clamorous controversies, which tore the unity of the Romish church, even within sight of the wholesome arguments of the Inquisition ; which at this very day rend the blessed concord which forty articles save one have guarantied to the Episcopal church; which divide the Presbyterians, though their confessions are backed by catechisms; which even disturb the repose of our Orthodox theological seminaries, arraying professor against professor, and journal against journal, and epistle against epistle ; ---that in the face of all this, a man can stand up and keep his coun

VOL. XV.-N. S. VOL. X. NO. II. 19

tenance when advocating the efficiency of creeds to ensure uniformity of faith, is a thing at once so enormous and so ridiculous, that we should be disposed to pass it by without remark as containing its own refutation. Our author, however, not satisfied with this, examines the pretension at some length, alleging, that, from the very nature of the case, uniformity is impossible, while history shows that every attempt to enforce it has been vain.

The next plea is, that “confessions tend to prevent and put an end to disputes.” To which, besides other considerations like those above adverted to, our author makes the conclusive reply, that history every where testifies, that the pretence to decide on questions of faith by majorities, and the confessions of faith which have been the consequence of that extravagant pretence, have been the very cause of the greater part of the disputes, the wars, and the misfortunes, which have desolated the Christian church. The church of Geneva, he adds, enjoyed peace for a hundred years, that is to say, from the moment that it abolished its confessions of faith ; and this peace was broken from the moment that men chose to go back and raise up again the standards which had been thrown down, and which, amongst Protestants, can never be any thing else than signals of contention.

Again it is said, that " confessions of faith are necessary as guides in religious instruction.” Undoubtedly such a digest as may be contained in a catechism, or some other elementary form, is extremely convenient as a guide in teaching, and may be used to great advantage ; but it certainly is not necessary; and it does not at all follow, that its imposition as a condition of church privilege is advisable. In the former case, it simply directs the order and succession of topics, while the teacher and his pupils are at liberty to examine the opinions advanced, and receive or reject them, as they shall find reason. In the latter, they are compelled to receive them, whether they find reason If certain writers would allow themselves to perceive this distinction, they would be less eager to throw the charge of inconsistency on the liberal Christians at Geneva and elsewhere for framing and using compends of faith and duty. There is all the difference in the world between employing them as guides in the arrangement and expression of religious truths, and requiring them to be received as conditions of Christian standing.

or not.

One further plea is, that“confessions of faith are necessary to enable the church to give account of its belief, as St. Peter directs, and to remove the calumnies which may be uttered against it.” But what has this to do with the requiring subscription to articles ? Certainly the doctors of a church can tell what they teach, without having been bound by a public formulary. The Unitarians, for example, have never found any difficulty in “giving an account of their belief,” though they subscribe no creed; and if it be objected, that the leaders are found to differ amongst themselves, - we reply, so much the better; they thus express the honest convictions of their minds, not fettered, as others are, by the necessity of continuing to seem to conform in all points to a public symbol when in some points they differ from it. And as for avoiding calumny by means of an acknowledged standard of faith, what calumny is avoided ? Do the creeds of the Protestants shelter them against the Catholics ? or the articles of the English Church from the assault of the Presbyterian ? or the quinquennial creed of Andover from the suspicions of the true Calvinists? The truth is, that every creed thus set up is a flag of defiance, and the church or institution which hangs it out, like an armed ship in time of war, provokes attack, and, instead of avoiding, invites the

When one thus brings together the arguments by which 'its friends support this system of doctrinal formularies by which Christianity has in all ages been fettered and disgraced, he is amazed to perceive how little plausible they are ; and is inclined to wonder at that strength of prejudice and love of domination which can keep men blind to obvious inconsistencies and palpable mischiefs, for the sake of a visionary good. He is still more amazed, when he goes one step further, and observes the overwhelming power of the considerations by which the opposite position is sustained.

These are stated in the second part of the present Essay under six particulars. 1. The Apostles neither required, nor have they left on record, any such formularies. amination of the New Testament proves, that nothing more was demanded of disciples, than an assent to the Messiahship of Jesus, which is a thing wholly distinct from a requisition to profess belief in abstract doctrines. The “ Apostle's


An ex

Creed,” as it is called, was not even made by the Apostles, as is well known, much less imposed by them on the Churches. — 2. Confessions of faith were not known to the primitive church. The earliest ecclesiastical writers, — Ignatius, Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, and Justin Martyr,, have transmitted no symbol as used in their time; it is only incidentally that they speak of certain articles of faith. It was not until some time in the third century that confessions began to come into use, at a time, that is, when the church had departed from the purity of the Apostolic days, was falling more and more deeply into error, and had ceased to be such that we may regard it as a model for imitation in after ages. — 3. When we come down to the Reformets, we find that in principle they were opposed to confessions, though they were led by circumstances to adopt them. In the preface to the Vaudese confession it was written, “ There is no man, no body of men, no assembly, no authority whatever, which has the right to meddle with the belief of any man whatever, to prescribe to him articles of faith, or to call him to account for those which he has adopted." The circumstances which led the Reformers, notwithstanding, to imitate the Catholics in the imposition of creeds, are explained at length by Chenevière, and afford only another instance of the evils which arise from an implication of the affairs of religion with those of politics.

4. Confessions of faith are opposed to the spirit of Christianity, and to the principles and spirit of the Protestant Reformation. To prove this, if there were no further evidence, it were enough to cite the oath taken by the Deputies at the Synod of Dort, and afterward imposed on the ministers in France. It embodies in brief the whole spirit of the doctrine of imposition. “I swear and protest before God and this holy assembly, that I believe, approve, and embrace all the doctrine taught and determined by the Synod of Dort, as entirely conformable to the word of God and the confession of our churches. I swear and promise to persevere during my life in the profession of this doctrine, to defend it to the utmost of my ability, and never to depart from it, either in my preaching, my instructions, or my writings.' If this be Protestantism, we say, give us Catholicism. That at least has the praise of consistency; and we are very much of our author's opinion, that Catholicism with the Pope, is,

66 It

in one point of view at least, preferable to Protestantism with confessions of faith imposed by authority. Where there is a living Pope, there may be improvement; but these unchangeable symbols are dead popes, admitting of neither life nor progress. Consequently within three hundred years the Catholic church has made great advancement; but Calvinism is stationary. If you say that Calvinists have improved, -we allow it; but it is only by departing from and modifying their creed. The creed is the same; and the few who cling to it, in its entire letter and full spirit, are just where their fathers of the sixteenth century were. might seem that they had gone to sleep in 1535, and had suddenly waked up in perfect preservation in 1831."

5. Examine these creeds and confessions, observe what they contain, remark under what circumstances and in what manner they were composed, and a strong argument arises against them. They have been the offspring of an excited, sometimes an exasperated, and frequently a very small majority, triumphing over an opposite party after a warm and perhaps malignant controversy ; not likely therefore to state in sober terms the exact truth. They are greatly wanting in simplicity and in clearness, and they are not without instances of notable and palpable contradictions ; — little suited, therefore, to be expressions of a perpetual faith. These points are illustrated and verified by many curious facts relative to the celebrated symbols of various ages and churches. — 6. The ill consequences which have resulted from them is a further argument against them. They are deceptive in their very nature, it being impossible that they should express precisely the faith in all points even of the persons who frame, much less of all who sign them. They injure charity, they promote the growth of infidelity, they encourage hypocrisy. These and other similar evils are illustrated by citations from the history of the church.

In the concluding section, M. Chenevière is led to make an explanation respecting those occurrences in the Genevan church, which have been represented by its enemies as inconsistent with the principles here adopted. As this passage sets in a clear and satisfactory view a very important chapter in the modern history of religion, we present it to our readers entire.

It has been recently maintained, that a national church

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