have their writings matched with the Canonical Scriptures, but bid us allow of them so far forth as they either agree with them or disagree. And in the same order we also place the decrees and canons, of councils.

Wherefore we suffer not ourselves, in controversies about religion or matters of faith, to be pressed with the bare testimonies of fathers or decrees of councils; much less with received customs, or with the multitude of men being of one judgment, or with prescription of long time. Therefore, in controversies of religion or matters of faith, we can not admit any other judge than God himself, pronouncing by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what to be avoided. So we do not rest but in the judgment of spiritual men, drawn from the Word of God. Certainly Jeremiah and other prophets did vehemently condemn the assemblies of priests gathered against the law of God; and diligently forewarned us that we should not hear the fathers, or tread in their path who, walking in their own inventions, swerved from the law of God (Ezek. xx. 18).

We do likewise reject human traditions, which, although they be set out with goodly titles, as though they were divine and apostolical, delivered to the Church by the lively voice of the apostles, and, as it were, by the hands of apostolical men, by means of bishops succeeding in their room, yet, being compared with the Scriptures, disagree with them; and that by their disagreement bewray themselves in no wise to be apostolical. For as the apostles did not disagree among themselves in doctrine, so the apostles' scholars did not set forth things contrary to the apostles. Nay, it were blasphemous to avouch that the apostles, by lively voice, delivered things contrary to their writings. Paul affirms expressly that he taught the same things in all churches (1 Cor. iv. 17). And, again, ‘We,' says he, 'write none other things unto you than what ye read or acknowledge' (2 Cor. i. 13). Also, in another place, he witnesses that he and his disciples-to wit, apostolic men-walked in the same way, and jointly by the same Spirit did all things (2 Cor. xii. 18). The Jews also, in time past, had their traditions of elders; but these traditions were severely confuted by the Lord, showing that the keeping of them hinders God's law, and that God is in vain worshiped of such (Matt. xv. 8, 9; Mark vii. 6, 7).


We believe and teach that God is one in essence or nature, subsisting by himself, all-sufficient in himself, invisible, without a body, infinite, eternal, the Creator of all things both visible and invisible, the chief good, living, quickening and preserving all things, almighty and supremely wise, gentle or merciful, just and true.

And we detest the multitude of gods, because it is expressly written, 'The Lord thy God is one God' (Deut. vi. 4). 'I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no strange gods before my face' (Exod. xx. 2, 3). 'I am the Lord, and there is none other; beside me there is no God. Am not I the Lord, and there is none other beside me alone? a just God, and a Saviour; there is none beside me' (Isa. xlv. 5, 21). ‘I the Lord, Jehovah, the merciful God, gracious and long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,' etc. (Exod. xxxiv. 6).

We nevertheless believe and teach that the same infinite, one, and indivisible God is in person inseparably and without confusion distinguished into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: so, as the Father has begotten the Son from eternity, the Son is begotten in an 'nspeakable manner; and the Holy Spirit proceeds from them both, and that from eternity, and is to be worshiped with them both. So that there are not three Gods, but three persons, consubstantial, coeternal, and coequal; distinct, as touching their persons; and, in order, one going before another, yet without any inequality. For, as touching their nature or essence, they are so joined together that they are but one God; and the divine essence is common to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.'

For the Scripture has delivered unto us a manifest distinction of persons; the angel, among other things, saying thus to the Blessed Virgin, 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; and that holy thing which shall be born shall be called the Son of God' (Luke i. 35). Also, in the baptism of Christ, a voice was heard from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved

'Lest any man should slander us, as though we did make the persons all existing together, but not all of the same essence, or else did make a God of divers natures joined together in one, you must understand this joining together so as that all the persons (though distinct one from the other in properties) be yet but one and the same whole Godhead, or so that all and every of the persons have the whole and absolute Godhead.

Son' (Matt. iii. 17).

The Holy Spirit also appeared in the likeness of a dove (John i. 32). And when the Lord himself commanded to baptize, he commanded to baptize 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit' (Matt. xxviii. 19). In like manner, elsewhere in the Gospel he said, 'The Father will send the Holy Spirit in my name' (John xiv. 26). Again he says, 'When the Comforter shall come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me,' etc. (John xv. 26). In short, we receive the Apostles' Creed, because it delivers unto us the true faith.

We therefore condemn the Jews and the Mohammedans, and all those who blaspheme that sacred and adorable Trinity. We also condemn all heresies and heretics who teach that the Son and the Holy Spirit are God only in name; also, that there is in the Trinity something created, and that serves and ministers unto another; finally, that there is in it something unequal, greater or less, corporeal or corporeally fashioned, in manners or in will diverse, either confounded or sole by itself as if the Son and Holy Spirit were the affections and proprieties of one God the Father-as the Monarchists, the Novatians, Praxeas, the Patripassians, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Aëtius, Macedonius, the Anthropomorphites, Arius, and such like, have thought.



And because God is an invisible Spirit, and an incomprehensible Essence, he can not, therefore, by any art or image be expressed. For which cause we fear not, with the Scripture, to term the images of God mere lies.

We do therefore reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians. For although Christ took upon him man's nature, yet he did not therefore take it that he might set forth a pattern for carvers and painters. He denied that he came 'to destroy the law and the prophets' (Matt. v. 17), but images are forbidden in the law and the prophets (Deut. iv. 15; Isa. xliv. 9). He denied that his bodily presence would profit the Church, but promised that he would by his Spirit be present with us forever (John xvi. 7; 2 Cor. v. 5).

Who would, then, believe that the shadow or picture of his body doth

any whit benefit the godly? And seeing that he abideth in us by the Spirit, we are therefore the temples of God' (1 Cor. iii. 16); but 'what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?' (2 Cor. vi. 16). And seeing that the blessed spirits and saints in heaven, while they lived here, abhorred all worship done unto themselves (Acts iii. 12, and xiv. 15; Rev. xix. 10, and xxii. 9), and spake against images, who can think it likely that the saints in heaven, and the angels, are delighted with their own images, whereunto men do bow their knees, uncover their heads, and give such other like honor?

But that men might be instructed in religion, and put in mind of heavenly things and of their own salvation, the Lord commanded to preach the Gospel (Mark xvi. 15)—not to paint and instruct the laity by pictures; he also instituted sacraments, but he nowhere appointed images.

Furthermore, in every place which way soever we turn our eyes, we may see the lively and true creatures of God, which if they be marked, as is meet, they do much more effectually move the beholder than all the images or vain, unmovable, rotten, and dead pictures of all men whatsoever; of which the prophet spake truly, 'They have eyes, and see not,' etc. (Psa. cxv. 5).

Therefore we approve the judgment of Lactantius, an ancient writer, who says, Undoubtedly there is no religion where there is a picture.' And we affirm that the blessed bishop Epiphanius did well, who, finding on the church-doors a veil, that had painted on it the picture, as it might be, of Christ or some saint or other, he cut and took it away; for that, contrary to the authority of the Scriptures, he had seen the picture of a man to hang in the Church of Christ: and therefore he charged that from henceforth no such veils, which were contrary to religion, should be hung up in the Church of Christ, but that rather such scruple should be taken away which was unworthy of the Church of Christ and all faithful people. Moreover, we approve this sentence of St. Augustine, 'Let not the worship of men's works be a religion unto us; for the workmen themselves that make such things are better, whom yet we ought not to worship' (De Vera Religione, cap. 55).

« VorigeDoorgaan »