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is the highest conception of a created mind; be ing incapable of ever arriving at absolute infinitude or self-existent perfection, either in the full adequate conception or possession of it, i
The three creeds ; in their inward structure, and in the usage of our church regarding their place in the liturgy, are plainly intended for three different ranks of chriftians, diftinguish'd in the aposcolic writings by the names of Babes, the Faithful, the Perfect-sainis. The like distinction of ranks may be observed in almost every profession." Tradelmen must be apprentices, and work as journeymen, before they are fit to be masters. Lawyers are students, and counsellors, before they are fic to be judges. And in academical education ; the degrees of batchelors, and masters of arts, precede' that of doctors. “But to return ::
I. The ift. and lowest rank in the christian church, is that of the Babes in Christ, that feed 012 milk, i, e. the first elements of christian instruction in the Apostles-creed digelled for their use by their mother the church, durirag their continuance in the babe-like catechumen-state wherein this milk-like instruction is, by frequent circulation thro' the whole system or habit of life, to become the habitual law of life or living foul of the system, as God him. self cerms the circling-blood, in respect of the ani. mal-body, in his precepts to Noah (Gen. ix. 4.)
II. The 2d rank, is that of the Faithful (Eph. i. i. Colof. i, 2.) i. e. the Agonistic christian warriors, who, by reason of use or habitual practice in the elemental food of the catechumen-state just now mention'd, have their spiritual senses [by some late writers termi'd, the moral sense 7 exercised to dilo cern both good and evil' (Heb. v. 11-14)
III. The 3d. rank, is that of the Perfect [Heb. v. 14. vi. 1-3] or the saints (eminently so called): who have obtained a compleat victory over their spiritual cnemies, have the criumphant crown of
 christian liberty for their reward, and are fit to teach others [Heb. v. 12. ? Cor. iii. 3--12-15-17., John viü. 31–367.
To the Faithfui warriors of the ad. rank, belongs the Niçene [i, e. victorous] creed (or creed of the congueiors] [Rev. vi. 2]. To the Saints, the Perfect saints ; the Athapasian, To both; the participation of the facramental body and blood of Christ, nourishing and preserving the inward divine life by feed-, ing spiritually on the exemplary practice or works of Christ's life [the solid food they are to digest for themselves : Heb. v. 12-14), as well as drinking-in his doctrines, To the Catechumens or the ilt, rank, belongs baptismal purification of the outward habit of life, preparatory for the inward purification by the Holy-spirit in the rank of the faithful...,,.
The Athanasian creed is express’d in obscure terms : that the high or utmost moral-perfection required in a perfect ftate, may not ftagger the resolution of the young beginner in the regeneration-process or state of the faithful, who is to be led on, step by step, from lower to higher attainments in knowledge and a holy life [i, e, in faith and practice); from glory to glory, until he shall appear before the God of Gods in Sion [2 Cor. iii. 6-8-18. Heb. xii. 22. Deut. x. '17. Pfal. cxxxvi. 2]. For the like reason Christ preached in parables : St. Paul allotted strong meat to the Perfect, and milk to Babes : and the providence of God suits the degrees of Knowledge communicated to mankind in the several ages of the world, to the various states of mankind in those ages. ,
Tuis is done by means of awaking or conferring new degrees or powers of the understanding, as ihe heart grows better [i, e. more inclin'd to, o-, bey the will of God, and keep his commandments, John vii. 17]; and taking them away, as it grows worse by abusing the powers already given : for
whosoever hath (Mat. (xiif.10512-17), to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance (faith our blessed Lord): but whosoever hath nor, from him Thall be taken away even that he hath. Thus tho' the holy scriptures contain the whole system of Creation and Providence, and are in the hands of the church; yet they are spiritually intelligible, only to such as have the key of David from the Holy-spirit, and that in proportion to their ca. pacities and necessities (Rev. iii. 7. John xvi, 1214-16-25). .
To'proceed then with the Athanasian creed, i.e. the creed of an holy immortal or perfect christian
1. WHO'S O É VER will be saved: before all things it is necessary, that he hold the catholick faith [as an instruction for practice ; which must be blind and servile, and therefore inconsistent with the glorious liberty of the sons of God; if wanting the light of faith held forth mysteriously in this crecd, to distinguish between the perfect manumitted chrif: tians and the ranks preceding them, until they approach to the purity of heart belonging to the perfect-state which has the promise of seeing God (Mat. V. 8.) i. e. of clearly understanding the nature of the divine-life declared in this creed. And in proportion to the purity of heart, is the understanding enlarged in the perception of divine truths) [John xiv. 1-6---13-16-21---24--26-31.7
2. WHICH faith (or moral system of life except every one do keep whole and undefiled [in exactly conforming his practice thercto ; so as to form suitable habics of virtue and a Godlike life] : without doubt he shall perish everlastingly [Rev. » xxi. 27. xxii: 11-15).
3. AND the catholick faith (or form of life published as an universal law; that whosoever hopes to become a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, mult acquire a habit of exactly conforming his manners thereto] is this [that follows to the end of this
B 2 :
officeser, Son foundinand luba Perfect Founy
creed] : that we worship by acknowledging his fua preme dominion, in conforming our lives and practice to his will and example] one God Lall-perfect and self-existent sole fount of perfection and bliss to others in Trinity (as being paternally, in the ift. person, living-goodness wise and powerful : filially, in the 2d. perfon, living.wisdom good and pow. erful : spiritually, in the 3d. perlon, living-power good and wife or chariform-lile] ; and Trinity (as aforesaid, morally characterized] in unity [harmoniously concurring in one uniform divine-lite perfectly-happy, self-sufficient, self-existent and substantially one];
4. NeITHER confounding the (three) persons [together ; Facher, Son and Holy-spirit; or their respective offices in the divine-life, as just now explain’d or distinguish'd]: nor dividing the substance Tand separating the distinct offices belonging to these personal characters ; so as to render them discordant or regardless of union in one substantially uniform life].
5. For there is one person of the Father Cas to his regiminal moral-character, being living goodness wise and powerful ; begetting of knowledge, living-wisdom or good and powerful knowledge], another of the Son [as to his moral-character, being living-wisdom or good and powerful knowledge filially expansive of the knowledge of living-goodness wile and powerful]: and another of the Holy-ghost (as to his moral character, being the chariform-life, i, e. living.charity or living-power good and wise, proceeding from both Father and Son, as now morally characterized, i. e. from fontal living-goodness and living-wisdom, duratively, i. e. filling the whole of duration with living-goodness and living-wisdom powerfully, as the Son filleth the whole of Coundlessspace with living-goodness and living power wisely,and as the Father filleth the unity of necessary self-existent vigour with living-wisdom and living-power goodly.
6. But the Godhead [i. e. morally ; the free supreme dominion] of the Father, of the Son, and of
ing-charityoth Father anntal living:80
good and wife?
Fally characterim both Father and
the Holy-ghoft is all one [in this fubftantially united life]: the glory, equal [as being, cach, of infinite worch, and absolutely necessary to supreme perfection); the majesty [supremacy of rightful-power over the whole divine life], co-eternal [i. e. of boundless duration in each of them)..
7. Such fin respect of all the following divine Attributes] as the Father is, such is the Son : and such is the Holy-ghoft. *
8. The Father, uncreate ; the Son, uncreate : and the Holy-ghost, uncreate [for all three sublift in the one only felf-existent all-perfect unchangeable Being).
9. Tue Facher, incomprehensible [i. e. boundless in perfection, and omnipresent to boundless space constituted by God's omnipresençe); the Son, in comprehensible ; and the Holy-ghost incomprehensible.
10. The Father, eternal [i, e, of boundlels-durațion); the Son, eternal : and the Holy-ghost eternal.
11. AND yet they are not three eternals [in respect of substantial Being]: but one eternal (there being but one absolute boundless duration, constituted by the necessary, self-existence of the one ailperfect Being).'
12. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated : but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible (subftantial Being).
13. So likewise the Father is almighty ; the Son, almighty : and the Holy ghost, almighty. :
14. And yet they are not three alnighties; but one almighty [Being pofTeffed of three personal-lives in most intimate union, as before explain'd).
is. So the Father is God [supreme lawgiver and ruler over a willing people freely consenting to his dominion]; the Son is God: and the Holy-ghost is God.
16. AND yet they are not three Gods for separare rulers] : but one God [ruling, as a Father, bis freely imitarive observant sons).
17. So likewise the Father is Lord [absolute rulcrover such as do not willingly submit to his domi