A Catechism on the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England/Part II

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What is the subject of the second division of the thirty-nine Articles?

The rule of faith.

What Articles does it comprise?

From the sixth to the eighth inclusive.

Article VI.

What is the subject of the sixth Article?

"The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation."

What is the declaration of the article on this subject?

"Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation."

What presumption is there from reason in favour of this assertion?

As God knew the uncertainty and variableness of traditionary knowledge, it is reasonable to suppose that He provided that whatever was necessary to salvation should be committed to writing.

Support it from Scripture.

2 Tim. iii. 15—17. This being true of the Old Testament under the old dispensation, it follows by analogy that it is true of that and the New Testament united under the new dispensation.

What other ground is there for believing it?

It was held in the primitive Church without contradiction and for many hundreds of years.

In what sense does the Article assert that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation?

"That whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required to be believed as an Article of the Faith, or to be thought requisite or necessary for salvation."

For what class of persons in the Church is this direction principally intended?

For those who teach and govern.

In what sense is the term "of any man" to be taken?

By any man.

In what manner may those who teach and govern in the Church require persons to believe and think in any particular manner?

By censuring them, or depriving them of Church privileges, if they do not so believe or think.

How can they know what they believe or think?

When they either deny the truth or necessity of what they are taught, or act so as to show that they do not receive it as true or necessary.

How far does the Article affect the members of the Church generally?

It shows that they cannot, according to the principles of the Church, be censured or debarred from Christian privileges for disbelieving or refusing to acknowledge as necessary to salvation, things which are not directly contained in the Scriptures, or are not proved from them.

What does the Church here mean by "Holy Scripture?"

"Those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority there was never any doubt in the Church."

What is meant by canonical books?

Those books which contain the rule of Christian faith and duty, and by which consequently controversies may and ought to be decided.

Why are they called canonical?

The word canon signifies a rule.

Mention the canonical books of the Old Testament.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the First Book of Samuel, the Second Book of Samuel, the First Book of Kings, the Second Book of Kings, the First Book of Chronicles, the Second Book of Chronicles, the First Book of Esdras, the Second Book of Esdras, the Book of Esther, the Book of Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or Preacher, Cantica, or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the greater, Twelve Prophets the less.

What is meant by the first and second books of Esdras?

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Why is the book of Nehemiah called the second book of Esdras?

Because it contains the continuation of the history of Ezra.

Who are the four greater prophets?

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

Why are not the Lamentations of Jeremiah mentioned here?

Because they are considered part of the book of Jeremiah.

Who are the twelve lesser prophets?

Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

What other books does the Article mention as pertaining to the Old Testament?

The Third Book of Esdras, the Fourth Book of Esdras, the Book of Tobias, the Book of Judith, the rest of the Book of Esther, the Book of Wisdom, Jesus the Son of Sirach, Baruch the Prophet, the Song of the Three Children, the Story of Susanna, of Bel and the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasses, the First Book of Maccabees, the Second Book of Maccabees.

What are the third and fourth books of Esdras called in our common Bibles?

The first and second books of Esdras.

What is the book of Tobias called?

The book of Tobit.

What is the book of Jesus the Son of Sirach called?

Ecclesiasticus. Who are "the Three Children" here mentioned?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

What Manasses is the one mentioned?

Manasseh the son of Hezekiah.

What difference is there between the use of these books and that of the canonical books?

The canonical books are used both to give us practical examples and instruction, and to establish doctrines; the other books are not applied to establish doctrine, but only read "for example of life and instruction of manners" or conduct.

Why does the Church make this difference between these books?

Because the whole Church of Christ for four hundred years made such a difference.

But do these books then differ in nothing from common religious or historical books?

They differ in this respect, that their writers are considered to be trustworthy and credible in matters of example and precept.

Where does the Church show that this is her opinion?

Partly by many expressions in the Homilies, and partly by appointing some portions of them to be read in divine service on the saints' days.

What is the meaning of the word Apocrypha?

It means doubtful. That is, the Church does not determine respecting the authenticity or genuineness of these books. Which of these books are never read in Church, according to the calendar of the Church of England?

The books of Esdras, the prayer of Manasses, and the books of the Maccabees.[1]

From which of the Apocryphal books are lessons appointed in the calendar of the Church in the United States?

From the book of Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus or the book of Jesus the Son of Sirach.

Which of these books is quoted by St. Paul in Heb. xi.?

The second book of Maccabees.

For what purpose?

For example of life; to show that faith leads men to suffer courageously in the cause of God.

Mention the canonical books of the New Testament.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Gospel according to St. Mark, the Gospel according to St. Luke, and the Gospel according to St. John; the Acts of the Apostles, the fourteen Epistles of St. Paul, the Epistle of St. James, the two Epistles of St. Peter, the three Epistles of St. John, the Epistle of St. Jude, the Apocalypse, or Revelation of St. John.

Was there not some doubt at an early period whether the Apocalypse and some of the Epistles should be regarded as canonical?

Not in the Church at large, but only by some particular persons or churches.

Article VII.

What is the subject of the seventh Article?

"The Old Testament."

What are the two questions concerning the Old Testament, chiefly treated of in this Article?

1. Whether the promises of the Old Testament were merely transitory and temporal.

2. In what degree the Old Testament is binding upon Christians.

How does the Article decide the first question?

"They are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises."

Who are meant by "the old Fathers?"

The good men whose history is recorded in the Old Testament.

How does the Article prove that they looked for something more than transitory promises?

By asserting that "the Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man."

Prove that everlasting life was offered to mankind under the Old Testament. David, in Psalm xvi. 11, contemplated a "life in God's presence, where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore:" and St. Paul, in Heb. xi. 13-16, says, respecting the ancient Israelites, that "they looked for a better country, that is, a heavenly;" and our Lord testifies that the Jews thought that in the Scriptures they had eternal life.

Prove that it was offered through Christ.

Gen. xxii. 18; Gal. iii. 16; St. John viii. 56; 1 Cor. x. 4. Abraham was told that in his seed, which is Christ, all nations should be blessed; and our Lord testifies that Abraham saw the day of Christ and was glad; and St. Paul, that the Israelites "drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ."

Why could not eternal life be offered to mankind by any other than Christ?

Because He is the only Mediator between God and man. 1 Tim. ii. 5.

What is meant by His being the only Mediator between God and man?

That He alone has opened a way of reconciliation between God and all mankind, by offering Himself a sacrifice for all men. See Isa. liii. 5, 6; 1 Tim. ii. 6.

Why is it especially stated that He is "both God and man?"

Because that fully qualified Him to be a Mediator between God and man.

What is the second subject treated of in the Article? The degree in which the Old Testament is binding upon Christians.

How does the Article decide the question?

That "the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, does not bind Christian men," and that "the Civil precepts thereof ought not of necessity to be received in any commonwealth;" but that "no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral."

Prove that the law of Moses does not bind Christians in regard to ceremonies and rites.

St. Paul blames Christians for thinking it necessary to observe the "holy days, new moons, and sabbaths" of the law of Moses, and the law of circumcision. See Gal. iii. 24, 25, compared with iv. 9, 10; v. 1, 2; Col. ii. 16, 17. But, on the other hand, many of the Levitical ordinances were typical of sacraments and rites in the Christian Church.

What do you mean by the "Civil precepts" of the Law of Moses?

The precepts which concern men as members of society under earthly rulers.

Prove that they are not binding upon Christians.

Rom. xiii. 1. Because under the New Testament we are required to be "subject to the higher powers" of the country in which we live, which is inconsistent with observing the law of Moses.

What is meant by "the moral commandments?" Those commandments which regulate our general conduct towards God and each other.

Where are they briefly summed up?

In the Ten Commandments.

Prove that they are binding upon Christians.

St. Matt. v. 17-20; Rom. viii. 4. Our Lord in His sermon on the Mount says that "whosoever shall do and teach them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven;" and St. Paul says that the object of the Gospel is "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us."

Article VIII.

What is the subject of the eighth Article?

"The Three Creeds."

What is a Creed?

A form of words in which we profess our belief in certain divine things or truths.

What is the Creed which is here named "Nicene Creed?"

That which is said in the Communion Office, in the Church of England, and allowed to be said in the Morning and Evening Service in the Church in the United States.

Why is it called Nicene?

Because it contains the Creed drawn up at the great council of bishops, held at Nicæa, in Bithynia, a. d. 325, as afterwards enlarged at the second General Council, of Constantinople, a. d. 381. What were the chief objects of it?

To declare the true faith in the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, in opposition to those who taught that He was not God, equally with the Father; and to declare the Godhead of the Holy Ghost.

[What is the Creed here named "Athanasius' Creed?"[2]

That which is used in Morning Prayer on certain days instead of the Apostles' Creed.

Why is it called "Athanasius' Creed?"

Because it was drawn up in support of the doctrines for which Athanasius contended and suffered.

Who was St. Athanasius?

An archbishop of Alexandria, who flourished at the time of the council of Nicæa, and for many years after.

What were the doctrines supported by him?

The true doctrines in regard to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and in regard to the Godhead and Manhood of Christ.]

Why is the other Creed called "the Apostles'?"

Because it contains the doctrine taught by the Apostles to new converts.

What does the Article say with respect to these Creeds? That "they ought thoroughly to be received and believed."

Why was it necessary to say this?

Because there were persons and sects who objected to them, either in whole or in part.

What reason does the Article give why we should receive and believe them thus thoroughly?

"Because they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture."

Who determines that?

The Church, as "having authority in controversies of faith."

How does the Church carry out this declaration concerning the Creeds?

By requiring the profession of the Apostles' Creed from every person, first before Baptism, and secondly before Confirmation; and by appointing them to be rehearsed by the congregation in divine worship.

  1. During the latter months of the year, according to the English calendar, (from Sept. 27th to Nov. 23d,) lessons are appointed in the daily service from Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, History of Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.
  2. The part in brackets applies to the Articles of the Church of England only; mention of the Athanasian Creed having been omitted in the Article in the American Prayer-book.