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by appealing to the Pauline teaching in I Cor. 15.
THE LIFE EVERLASTING
Is a statement about which there would be little difference of opinion were it not that it involves the question of everlasting punishment, and the issue at once is made whether this latter doctrine is part of the teaching of the Creed.
In his "Exposition of the Creed" it is noteworthy that Pearson comments at length on the resurrection to endless condemnation as no less implied in the phrase "everlasting life," than the resurrection to endless happiness.
On the other hand, according to the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (1864):
"The hope that the punishment of the wicked may not endure to all eternity is certainly not at variance with anything that is found in the Apostles' Creed." 1
1 Cf. "Six Judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council," p. 101, London, 1872. No opinion is here expressed as to the authority of the Privy Council; but as bearing witness to the variety of interpretations of the Creed its judgment has quite as much significance as the opinion of Bishop Pearson, in the seventeenth century. Among those who acted as judges in this case were the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Longley), the Archbishop of York (Dr. Thomson), the Bishop of London (Dr. Tait).
It is well known that in the original Fortytwo Articles from which our "Thirty-nine Articles" were derived, there was one article, the Forty-second, which implied the endless punishment of the wicked. The rejection of this article is not without significance for the interpretation of this phrase in the Creed.
THE VOWS OF THE CLERGY AND CLERICAL
IN considering the vows of the clergy at their ordination, the question arises whether the Reformers took any steps to prevent a reversion to that traditional interpretation of the faith which they discarded; or whether they provided for the growth of the Church into ever higher and fuller knowledge of Christian truth. The study of the Ordinal shows that they had no solicitude for the creeds, that they were chiefly concerned with maintaining the supremacy of Scripture, in the study of which lay the safeguards against the erroneous and strange doctrines they sought to banish.
It must be borne in mind that the Anglican Church has provided no authoritative commentary on the Creed specifying what interpretation shall be given of its separate clauses, with the exception of the important authoritative state
ment in the Church Catechism, as to what is to be "chiefly learned" from the Creed; or, in other words, that its supreme object is to set forth the name of God, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
"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 sanctifieth me and all the people of God."
The inference seems just and inevitable that if any one learns this much from the Creed, he has gained what the Church holds to be essential; the other details of the Creed are left to his individual judgment, guided by Scripture, to determine. As a matter of fact, this has been the usage since the Reformation and so continues to this day. Everywhere a variety of belief has existed on these subordinate details.
This absence of any authoritative commentary on the Creed, explaining in elaborate fashion and demonstrating the meaning of every and all its separate statements, gains the greater significance, when we compare the attitude of the Anglican Church, in its one brief statement, as to what we are chiefly to learn from the Creed, with
the expansive, voluminous, and definite expositions of other churches the "Catechism of the Council of Trent," the "Longer Catechism of the Eastern Church" - or the elaborate Westminster Confession and Catechisms.
It was from these very things that the Anglican Church in an impressive hour of the world's history was seeking to escape. The moment was a brief one, but it sufficed for the work to be done, to reduce Christianity to its simplest terms, as it was known in the apostolic age or in the generation that followed. It was no haphazard work they were doing. To this result the longing aspirations of men for centuries had been turning. The best, most spiritual men for more than two centuries had seen this as their goal. In the Providence of God, it was accomplished in the Church of England.
But already the ecclesiastical reaction had begun, and what was to be done must be done quickly. Already the reactionary influence had invaded England, and under the fear that religion and the Church were in danger, expositions of the Apostles' Creed had been set forth in the latter years of Henry VIII, which imposed on it definite and binding interpretation, involving at every point the medieval or traditional sense of the faith. Let any one read the two treatises,