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RIGHT WORSHIPFUL AND WELL-BELOVED
THE PARISHIONERS OF ST. CLEMENTS,
Mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied.
IF I should be at
your commands, you might well esteem me unworthy of your continued favours; and there is fome 'reason to suspect I have incurred the interpretation of forgetfulness, having been fo backward in the performance of my promises. Some years have passed since I preached unto you upon such Texts of Scripture' as were on purpose selected in relation to the Creed, and was moved by you to make those meditations publick. But you were pleased then to grant what
inclinations rather led me to, that they might be turned into an Exposition of the Creed itself; which, partly by the difficulty of
the work undertaken, partly by the intervention of some other employments, hath taken me up thus long, for which I desire your pardon. And yet an happy excuse may be pleaded for delay, meeting with a very great felicity, that as faith triumpheth in good works, so my Exposition of the Creed should be contemporary with the re-edifying of your
Church. For though I can have little temptation to believe that my Book should last fo. long as that fabrick'; yet I am exceedingly pleased that they should begin together; that the publishing of the one should so agree with the opening the other. This, I hope, may persuade you to forget my slackness, considering ye were not ready to your own expectation ; your experience tells you the excuse of church-work will be accepted in building, I beseech you let it not be denied in printing.
That blessed Saint, by whose name your Parish is known, was a fellow-labourer with St. Paul, and a fucceffor of St. Peter; he had the honour to be numbered in the Scripture with them whose names are written in tbe book of life ; and when he had sealed the Gospel with his blood, he was one of the first whose memory was perpetuated by the building a Church to bear his name. Thus was St. Clement's Church famous in Rome when Rome was famous for the faith spoken of throughout the whole world. He wrote an Epistle to the Co
rinthians infested with a schism, in imitation of St. Paul, which obtained so great authority in the primitive times, that it was frequently read in their publick congregations; and yet had for many hundred
been loft, till it was at last set forth out of the library of the late King.
Now as, by the providence of God, the me, mory of that primitive Saint hath been restored in our age, so my design aimeth at nothing else but that the primitive Faith may be revived. And therefore in this Edition of the Creed I shall speak to you but what St. Jude hath already spoken to the whole Church. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you that ye pould earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered to the Saints. If it were fo needful for him then to write, and for them to whom he wrote to contend for the first Faith, it will appear as needful for me now to follow his writing, and for
you to imitate their earnestness, because the reason which he renders, as the cause of that necessity, is now more prevalent than it was at that time, or ever since. For, faith he, there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation ; ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasiiviousness, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Cbrift. The principles of Christianity are now as freely questioned as the most doubtful and
controverted points; the grounds of Faith are as safely denied as the most unneceffary superstructions ; that Religion hath the greatest advantage which appeareth in the newest drefs, as if we looked for another faith to be delivered to the Saints : whereas in Christianity there can be no concerning truth which is not ancient; and whatsoever is truly new, is certainly false. Look then for purity in the fountain, and strive to embrace the first Faith, to which you cannot have a more probable guide than the Creed, received in all ages of the Church; and to this I refer you, as it leads you to the Scriptures, from whence it was at first deduced, that while those which are unskilful and unstable, wrest the words of God himself unto their own damnation ; ye may receive so much instruction as may set you beyond the imputation of unskilfulness, and so much of confirmation as may place you out of the danger of instability; which as it hath been the constant endeavour, so shall it ever be the prayer of him, who after so
many encouragements of his labours amongst you, doth still desire to be known as
Your most faithful
Servant in the Lord,