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thee. Convince us, O heavenly Father, of the depravity of our nature, our gross darkness with respect to spiritual things, our enmity against thee, and our own utter helplessness; and then, in thine infinite mercy, open to our understandings the only means prepared for man's recovery.
"O Holy Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,draw us, and we will run after thee. Pardon us through thy blessed Son, justify us through Christ's righteousness; make us thy children by adoption; sanctify and uphold us unto the end. We will trust in thee to do that for us which we cannot do for ourselves: we will repose in thee as an infant reposes on the breast of a tender mother. We renounce all our own merits, and cast them from us as filthy rags: we come unto thee wounded, sick, and loathsome: we fall at thy feet, and look humbly forward to a participation of thy mercy, because from thee we received the will to come; and because we are assured that thou wilt finish the work which thou hast begun.
"And now to God the Father, by whom those who shall finally be saved were chosen before the foundation of the world; to God the Son, through whom the elect are justified; and to God the Holy Ghost, by whom the sinner is regenerated, sanctified, and upheld to the end; be all glory and honour, for ever and ever. Amen."
Q. Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief. A. / believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into Hell; the third
day he rose again from the Dead: he ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right Hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the Quick and the Dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints; the Forgiveness of Sins; the Resurrection of the Body; and the Life everlasting. Amen.
Q. What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief?
A. First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me, and all the world.
Secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me, and all Mankind.
Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifiethme, and all the elect People of God.
On the young ladies assembling again at the manorhouse, they amused themselves for awhile in making their comments on the story of Lydia Howard; when they all agreed in expressing their admiration of her character, and in reprobating the conduct of her husband.
"My dear young people," said the lady of the manor, "I rejoice that you are able to see the excellence of such Christian examples as I am enabled to set before you. What is particularly worthy of admiration in Lydia Howard, is her humility; and this excellent quality was the more estimable, as there appeared to be no weakness nor want of firmness in her mind. Where she saw her duty, she always pursued it, though perhaps on one occasion she might have done better, had she persisted in refusing the alliance proposed to her. But when a parent pleads in a case of this kind, it is hard for a daughter, and one so young especially, to resist."
In this manner the time passed, till the lady of the manor introduced the business of the day by requesting one of the youngest of the company to repeat the Apostles' Creed: which being done, she addressed the party to the following purpose.—" I have observed, my dear young friends, that you are always pleased when I propose to read a story to you. I do not blame the attachment you discover to agreeable and interesting narrative: but I should not wish you so far to indulge it as to lose your relish for drier discussions. The imagination is a noble quality of the mind, but it must not be indulged to the neglect of the reasoning powers. The Apostles' Creed must to-day form the subject of our consideration, as well as some other parts of the Church Catechism, which I fear it will be quite out of my power to elucidate by any narrative: nevertheless, I trust that what I have to say will obtain as much of your interest as the histories of Theodosia and Lydia Howard."
The young ladies smiled, and promised their attention. On which the lady of the manor proceeded to the explanation of the Creed, taking each article separately as she went on.
"A valuable old writer," said she, "thus speaks of the Apostles' Creed: 'This Creed, without controversy, is a brief comprehension of the objects of our Christian faith, and is generally taken to contain all things necessary to be believed.' And we may further add, that the articles of this Creed may be classed under three heads; viz. those which have respect to God the Father, those which relate to God the Son, and those which refer to God the Holy Ghost.
"There is one sentence only of this'Creed," proceeded the lady, "and that is the first in order, which speaks of God the Father. This glorious Person of the Godhead is described in Scripture as the Father of all things; who created all things, and preserveth all things; the first Person of the Blessed Trinity; the Almighty or Omnipotent God; the Maker of heaven and earth, with all their varied furniture of things visible or invisible.
"On the nature and attributes of the Father, many volumes have been written, and an eternity might be well employed in the contemplation of them. But I am withheld from saying more on this subject at present, because I shall have, I trust, frequent occasions to speak upon it in our future conversations: when I shall hope to unfold to you certain points in the conduct of God the Father towards his children on earth, which are calculated, if rightly understood, to fill every heart with sentiments of love and gratitude; and to shew that no love was ever like His love, who gave up his only Son for the redemption of the world.
"Leaving therefore this important subject to a future occasion, I will proceed to explain to you those parts of the Apostles' Creed which have reference to the second Person of the Trinity, thus described in the second Article of our Church—' The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father,' called by us Jesus or the Saviour, and Christ or the Anointed: this blessed Saviour was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and his coming to redeem mankind was shewn forth by a continued succession of types and emblems, which formed, as it were, a track of light through the long ages of heathen darkness, and which, being visible only to the faithful, became more and more clear, and more and more resplendent, until the hour arrived in which the shepherds of Bethlehem received the good tidings of great joy, which were to be communicated to all people, even the tidings of that Saviour's birth, who is Christ the Lord—the Lord of angels, and the Lord of men—the Lord of glory from heaven—the King of kings and Lord of lords.
"This blessed Saviour, as our Creed informs us in conformity with the Scriptures of truth, was made of a Virgin, 'having no earthly father,' as a valuable old writer on these subjects expresses it; being formed by the Holy Spirit, and in his formation sanctified, and in his sanctification united to the world in such manner, that though perfect man as well as God, he was without sin.
"This sinless perfection is thus described in our fifteenth Article: 'Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who by the sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin (as Saint John saith) was not in him-'
"In this manner, God—the immortal, invisible, and eternal Lord God—' took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man.' (2nd Article of the Church of England.) And in this nature which he took upon himself, even our nature, he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
"Much," continued the lady of the manor, "has been said on each of these last Articles; but I will not detain your attention upon them at present, particularly as they appear to me to want little explanation. But the passages which follow next, are by no means equally plain, viz. 'He descended into hell; the third day he rose again.'
"That portion of this article which relates to the descent into hell, did not form so ancient a part of the Creed as the latter clause. It was first used in the Church of Aquileia, about four hundred years after the Christian era; after which, it came gradually to be acknowledged as a part of the Apostles' Creed: and the Church of England, at the Reformation, made this one of the Articles of Religion, which all who are admitted to holy orders must subscribe. 'As Christ died for us, and was buried; so also it is to be believed, that he went down into hell.' (3d Article.)
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