The Apostles', the Nicene, the Chalcedonian. and the Athanasian may be said to form the great Catholic creeds of the Church. After the time of the last-mentioned formula, there is no general symbol of faith that claims our attention till the period of the Reformation. Theology continued to be cultivated during the :diddle Ages, and especially during the twelfth and thirteenth cen turies, with great assiduity. Scholasticism is nothing else than the vast expression of the in tellectual labor bestowed upon this subject during these ages, when scarcely any other subject can be said to have engaged men's minds. It was characteristic of scholasticism, however, to work mainly upon the doctrinal data already adopted and authorized by the Church, developing these data in endless sentences and commentaries. There was, withal, no real freedom of inquiry, nor life of speculation. But as soon as the eye of free criticism and argument was turned upon Scripture with the Reformation, new creeds and confessions be;:an to spring up. On the one hand, Protestantism had to defend its position and its scriptural authority by appeal to its system of belief ; and, on the other hand. the Church of Rome, after many delays, gave forth at the Council of Trent (1545-63) a more ex tended and detailed statement of its doctrine than was to be found in any previous creed. The decrees of Trent, with the additions made in 1854 and 1870, are the fixed authoritative bol or confession of faith of the Church of Rome.
Of the Protestant churches, the most notable confessions of faith are the Lutheran; the Con tinental Calvinistic or Reformed; the Anglican, or Thirtv-nine Articles of the Church of England; and Puritan, or Westminster Confession of Faith.
The Lutherans call their standard books of faith and discipline Libri Symbolici Eccie•im Erangcli•rc, and reckon among them, besides the three Catholic creeds, the Augsburg Confes sion. 1530 (q.v.), the Apology for that confes sion by Melanchthon, the Articles of Smalkald drawn up by Luther, 1537, Luther's catechisms, 1529; and in some churches, the Formula of Concord, 1576, or the Book of Torgau.
Of the Continental Calvinistic or Reformed churches, there are numerous confessions, the principal of which arc: (1) The Helvetic Con fessions. that of Basel, 1530, and Bullinger's Ex positio Simplex, 1566; (2) The Tetrapolitan Confession, 1531: (3) The Gallic Confession, 1559; (4) The Palatine or Heidelberg Confession, 1575: (5) The Belgic Confession. 1559.
The Thirty-nine .1 rticics of the Church of Eng land have been already described. (See ARTICLES, TILE THIRTY-NINE.) They were originally forty two, and are supposed to have been chiefly com posed by Crammer. In 1571 they were revised and approved by Convocation and Parliament. The Lambeth Articles, 1595, amine Irish Articles. 1615, became of great importance as affecting essentially the contents of the next great creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was the ,I,roduct of the great Puritan agitation of the seventeenth century. As soon as the Long Parlia ment assembled in 1040, it set itself to consider the question of the reformation of religion. It carried resolution after resolution directed against the existing government of the Church of England; and at length, on the 23d of November, 1641, it passed the famous remonstrance, in which it proposed that, "in order the better to effect the reformation in the Church, there should be a general synoll of grave, pious, learned, and judi cious divines, who should consider all things necessary for the peace and good government of the Church." Out of this proposal sprang the Westminster Assembly, although the Parliamen tary ordinance actually summoning the Assem bly was not issued until a year and a half later, viz., June 12, 1643. According to this ordinance, the Assembly was to consist of 121 clergymen, assisted by ten lords and twenty commoners as lay assessors. Many of these
appointed members, however, never took their seat in the Assembly. The bishops were prevented from doing so by a counter ordinance of the King.
Among the most notable divines who did assemble were Burgess, Calamy, Gatake•, and Reynolds, and Gillespie, Henderson, Baillie, and Samuel Rutherford, the commissioners from Scot land, of the Presbyterian party; Goodwin, Nye, and Burroughs, of the Independent party; and Lightfoot and Coleman, with Selden, of the Eras tians. The Presbyterians greatly predominated, and the acts of the Assembly bear throughout the stamp of Calvinistic Presbyterianism. It began its sittings in the autumn of 1643, and sat till February 22, 1049, having lasted upward of five years and a half. During this period it had met 1163 times.
The most important labors which it achieved were the directory of public worship and the Con fession of Faith. This later document was com pleted in the third year of its existence (1646), and laid before Parliament in the same year. It was approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1647, and again in 1690, on the renewed establishment of Presbyterianism after the revolution.
The Confession of Faith is the latest of the great Protestant creeds, and the creed of the Presbyterian churches throughout the world. It is also one of the most elaborate of all creeds. It extends to thirty-three chapters, beginning with Holy Scripture, and ending with The Lust Judgment. Of its thirty-three chapters, twenty one may be said to be distinctly doctrinal—the first nineteen and the last two. The others con cern such subjects as Christian Liberty, Religious Worship, Oaths and Vows, the (Weil Magistrate, the Church, the Sacraments, Synods and Councils. Toe tone of the doctrinal chapters is that of the later and formal Calvinism which spread from Holland among the English Puritans. The ecclesi astical spirit is Puritan-Presbyterian. "God alone" is declared to be "Lord of the conscience"; yet the "publishing of opinions contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity," is at the same time declared to be matter of censure by the Church, and of punish ment by the civil magistrate. In composition, the Confession is an able and comprehensive sum mary of theological truth, showing great logical skill in the deduction of particular doctrines from certain main principles. The third chapter, Of God's Eternal Decree, may be said to be the key-note from which its most characteristic doctrines follow in immediate sequence and har mony. It is not only a remarkable monument of Christian learning, but the most representative expression of a great spiritual movement which has deeply tinged the national thought of Great Britain, and modified the course of its history. See COYENANTS.
The work of forming creeds did not, however, cease with Westminster, but many creeds of less importance have been produced since, and will continue to be produced in consequence of the changing conditions in which the Church labors. Thus, the great Methodist revival in the eigh teenth century led to a revision of the Articles of the Church of England for the use of the newly arisen body; the Unitarian controversy in New England at the beginning of the nineteenth, to the formation of many more or less elaborate Church and Seminary creeds. The Congrega tionalists of America put forth a new creed in 1883, the Presbyterians of England one in 1900, and the Northern Presbyterian Church of the United States in the General Assembly of 1902 adopted the revision of certain articles of the Confession of Faith and a declarative statement of sixteen articles, which was substantially a new creed. The best work on the subject is: Schaff, Creeds of Christen-dom (New' York, 1877-7S), his tory and texts.