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From the 1st to the 8th Article treats of the first principles of Christianity, and show what is to be the rule of faith to all who profess the Christian religion ; from the 8th to the 19th, the special doctrines of Christianity are treated, as regards each individual Christian, pointing out man's natural state before God, and the only way of salvation, and guarding him at the same time against many false and erroneous views on the subject; and from the 19th to the end the doctrines and duties which relate to the Church as a society are chiefly dwelt upon.
The Prayer-book itself tells us, in a note before the Articles, why they were at first drawn up : “They were established for the avoiding the diversities of opinions, and for the establishing of consent touching true religion.” May God grant that they may tend to produce this happy effect.
An intimate knowledge of these Articles is most important, nay, almost essential to every Christian as well as to every Churchman, because they mark out from Holy Scripture, briefly and plainly, the principal truths of revelation, showing us what doctrines we are essentially bound to hold and to maintain in order to salvation, at the same time that they distinctly point out the erroneous and anti-scriptural opinions which, unhappily, many professing Christians are at all times found to hold ; and not only are they thus profitable in preserving us from being carried about by every wind of doctrine (Ephes. iv. 14), but also with regard to forms and ceremonies, I would say, to use the words of the Bishop of Ossory, in his Visitation Charge for 1845, “That I know nothing better fitted to give sober and reasonable views upon the true value of forms and ceremonies, than the Articles of our Church which refer to them, combined with the preface to the book of Common Prayer. . And I would recommend them earnestly to your renewed study as an admirable preservative against the prevailing errors of our times.”
Looking at them, therefore, in this important point of view, and deeming it of the utmost importance that our young people (and, indeed, all) should be diligently trained and exercised in the scriptural doctrines which they contain, I have endeavoured to simplify them by breaking them into short questions, as being, perhaps, the easiest way to make them intelligible to every capacity; and to show their scripturalness, I have also added references proving the truth of every particular sentence, and besides, in many cases, added notes, either explanatory of the text or to afford additional argument for the truth of the statement made in the Article. When I first began the work, I did not intend doing any thing more than simply to break the Article into short questions and add references; but, as I went on, I thought this would, in some cases at least, leave the subject not sufficiently plain to a youthful mind, and in others not sufficiently fortified with argument to meet the cavils of objectors; and thus I was led to make it longer than I had at first intended.
I still hope, however, it may not even yet be too long for the use of children at Sunday-schools and other schools; and I pray God that it may please Him, of His great mercy, for Jesus' sake, to make it profitable, that it may be a means in our hands of strengthening the Lord's cause upon earth, and of preserving our people committed to our charge “from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism," that "we may hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life;" and in order to this, oh! may we all, teacher and pupil, young and old, receive “increase of grace to hear meekly God's word, to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.”
A. B. C.
*** It is most important that those who learn this Catechism should get off by heart one at least of the references used for the proof of each question.
ARTICLES OF RELIGION.
Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. “There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
1. What does the first Article treat of ?-Of faith in the Holy Trinity.
2. What is the meaning of the word faith ?—A belief, trust, or confidence in any one.
3. What is the meaning of the word Trinity ?*-Three in one, meaning three persons in one Godhead.
4. How many Gods are there?—There is but one living and true God.--Mark, xii. 32.
1 Cor. viii. 4; 1 Thess. i. 9.
5. What is the nature of God ?-He is everlasting, without body, parts, or passions.
6. What do you mean by saying that God is everlasting ?-I mean that He never had a beginning, and never will have an end. Jer. x. 10; Rev. i. 8.
7. Has God any body?-No; “God is a spirit.” John, iv. 24.
8. What mean you by saying, He is without parts?tI mean that He has neither members nor limbs, as we have. John, iv. 24.
* Compounded of tri-unity.
† When eyes, or hands, or any other member is attributed to God in Holy Scripture, it is merely to make it more intelligible to us ; for God, being a spirit, has no form, but fills all space.
as we are.
9. What mean you by saying, He is without passions ? -That He is not subject to any excitements or changes,
Mul, iii. 6; James, i. 17. 10. What more are we here told about God ?-That He is of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.* Matt. xix. 26; Ps. cxlvii. 5; Ex. xxxiv. 6.
11. What is the meaning of infinite ?---Without end or limit.
12. Does this Article say anything more of God ?Yes; that He is the maker and preserver of all things visible and invisible. Is. xliv. 24; Neh. ix. 6 ; Col. i. 16, 17.
13. What is the meaning of the words visible and invisible ?-Visible means that can be seen; invisible, that cannot be seen.
14. In the unity of this Godhead, how many persons are there?—Three persons.
Matt. xxviii. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
15. Are these three persons three Gods ?-No; they are but one God. 1 John, v. 7 ; Deut. vi. 4.
16. Are these three persons all equal ?— Yes; they are of one substance, power, and eternity. Matt. xxviii. 19.
17. By what names are they called ?—The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Mutt. xxviii. 19.
ARTICLE II. Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very Man.
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, 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, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men."
1. What does the second Article treat of ?-Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man.
* These--power, wisdom, and goodness-are the attributes of God.