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THE ANCIENT CREEDS

IN MODERN LIFE

A LECTURE GIVEN TO THE CAMBRIDGE LOCAL

LECTURES SUMMER MEETING, 1914

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eis owonplav.Rom. X. 10.

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE
LONDON : NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.C.
BRIGHTON : 129, NORTH

1914

EET

THE ANCIENT CREEDS IN

MODERN LIFE

THE Christian Church will soon enter on the twentieth century of her existence. No other institution of equal importance can claim so long a history. The society which was founded by Jesus Christ and His Apostles in the first century is with us to-day, not as a moribund or decadent body which has spent its strength and is a mere survival of a past age, but in the full vigour of a life mellowed by the experience of age but free from its infirmities. At the present moment the Church is everywhere lengthening her cords and strengthening her stakes. As fast as new regions are opened up to Western enterprise, the Church of the West presses in to capture them for Christ; when old countries are stirred by a craving for Western knowledge, the Church is at hand to offer them the Gospel. At home she

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is busy with the study of new social and intellectual problems, which she brings into the light of the Christian revelation ; new discoveries are pressed into the service of Christian thought, new movements supply fresh fields for Christian work. The oldest of living organizations is among the most enterprising; the Church seems to be ever starting anew upon her original mission of converting and saving the world. In modern life she meets us everywhere. Many modern men, it is true, neglect her ministrations, and ignore or refuse her teaching ; but her most resolute adversary cannot shut his eyes to her existence, or to the abundant vitality by which she challenges attention in every land.

The Church, then, is a factor in modern life which cannot be overlooked ; as she has, of all great modern institutions, the longest history, so, there is reason to think, she is the most permanent spiritual force which is amongst us to-day. She is rapidly adapting herself to the changed and changing conditions in which she now has to work. But in adapting herself to modern ways of thinking and acting, she is far from abandoning the old. She possesses doctrines, sacraments, orders, creeds, which have come down from those

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far-off days when the faith of Christ had scarcely made its way beyond the shores of the Mediterranean; and she holds tenaciously by these heirlooms, and carries them with her to-day to the far East, and wherever she goes. The question is often asked whether there can be any place in our modern world for these relics of ancient Christianity; what functions they can fulfil in our own age, or in times to come? Would it not be expedient for modern Christians to shake themselves free from these survivals of the early centuries ?

In this lecture I shall try, so far as time permits, to answer these questions in regard to the ancient Creeds, or rather in regard to the two Creeds which are familiar to us all, the Apostles' and the Nicene.

I. We must, first of all, endeavour to realize the circumstances in which these two Creeds had their origin, and the purpose they were meant to fulfil.

The Apostles' Creed (so called) is, in fact, a very venerable form of baptismal confession. Even in the Apostolic age some brief confession of faith was required from new converts before they were admitted to the Church by Baptism.

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