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Martin Luther

TO THE GODLY READER.

ALTHOUGH I have taught, and written informer works, very many things concerning the CHRISTIAN FAITH,what it is, and what are its power and efficacy; and although I have published to the world my Confession of Faith, in which I have openly testified, what, in what, and how, I believe, and in what articles of Faith I rest; yet, as the devil continually goes on to seek out and plan new and wonderful devices and sophistical inventions against me, I thought I would also collect together in one little bundle, as it were, these three Creeds (as they are generally called,) or Confessions of Faith, and send them forth into the world: as they are those which the whole Church has ever hitherto taught, read, and sung, with universal consent.

Wherefore, I would here again openly testify, that I exactly agree in faith with the true Christian Church, which has all along with universal consent taught and held these Three Creeds. And, on the other hand, that I with my whole soul dissent from, and abhor, that false hypocritical church, which is the most bitter enemy' to the true Church of Christ, and which, neglecting and obscuring these all beautiful Creeds or Confessions, has introduced a multifarious idolatry into the Church. In the same way it was also, that the Israelites of old, neglecting the true worship delivered and instituted from above, and leaving the temple of God, invented a multiplex idolatry in the vallies, on the mountains, and under the trees; and yet, still arrogated to themselves the title of the true people of God; and under that pretext, bitterly persecuted and cruelly murdered the holy prophets who openly convicted them of their errors, and, at last, the Lord Christ Jesus himself.

The First CREED is that of the APOSTLES; which excels all the others in beauty and conciseness: because, it embraces in the most brief and compendious manner all the articles of the Christian Faith, and can therefore be the more easily learnt and understood by children and the more simple ones.

The SECOND CREED is that of ATHANASIUS; which is somewhat longer, and designed to confute the Arian heretics. It more fully asserts and illustrates the article concerning the divinity of Christ Jesus: whom it proves to be, the only and true Son of God, and our Lord: whom we worship and call upon with the same faith as that whereby we worship and call upon the Father himself: as we confess in the first Creed, I believe in God the Father Almighty, and, in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,' &c. For if he were not the true God equally with the Father, it would not become us to ascribe unto him the same honour of faith, worship, and prayer, as that which we ascribe unto the Father. This is the article, therefore, which Athanasius contends for, and enforces, in his Creed; and it is, as it were, a pillar of the first Creed, that of the Apostles !

The THIRD CREED is ascribed to Ambrose and Augustine; and is said to be that which was sung after the Baptism of Augustine. But, whether that be so or not, I consider it of no consequence at all. It is a very beautiful Creed or Confession, (whoever was its author,) composed in the manner of a hymn: in which, there is not only a beautiful Confession of the Faith, but God is therein, wonderfully proclaimed and celebrated.

THE

FIRST CREED OR CONFESSION

Is that generally and well-known confession of the Apostles: in which is laid down the foundation of the Christian Faith. It is thus,

I believe in God the Father Almighty Maker of heaven and earth

And, in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived of the Holy Ghost; born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell ; the third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic church; the communion of Saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

THE

SECOND CREED OR CONFESSION

Is called the Creed of Athanasius; because it was drawn up by him against the Arian heretics. It is thus,

Whosoever will be saved; before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.

Which Faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic Faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.

Neither confounding the persons; nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated; but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty.

And yet, they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.

And yet, they are not three Gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord.

And yet, not three Lords, but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity, to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord;

So are we forbidden by the Catholic religion, to say, there be three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.

The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.

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