Christian Faith and Practice
What Every Christian Must Believe
  1. Every Christian must believe that there is one God, and no more than one God: that God is a pure Spirit, the Lord and Maker of heaven and earth, who has neither beginning nor end, but is always the same; who is everywhere present; knows and sees all things; can do all things whatsoever He pleases; and is infinite in all perfections.

  2. Every Christian is bound to believe that in one God there are three distinct Persons, perfectly equal, of the same substance, and having the same nature: the Father, who proceeds from no one; the Son, who is born of the Father before all ages; and the Holy Ghost, who proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son as from one principle; and that the three Persons are all equally eternal, equal in wisdom and power, and are all three one and the same Lord, one and the same God.

  3. We must believe that God created the angels to be with Him for ever, and that one part of them fell from God by sin, and became devils; that God also created Adam and Eve, the first parents of all mankind, and placed them in the earthly Paradise, from whenve they were justly banished for the sin they committed in eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree; and that by this transgression of Adam we are all conceived and born in sin, and must have been lost for ever, if God had not sent us a Saviour.

  4. We are bound to believe in the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man; perfect God from all eternity, equal to His Father in all things; and perfect man, from the time of His coming down from heaven for us, having a body and soul like ours.

  5. We must believe that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who had been long fortold by the prophets, was, at God's appointed time, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without having any man for His father, conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary; whom God had prepared for this wonderful Maternity in a wonderful manner: in that by a singular grace and privilege, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, she was in the first instant of her conception preserved free from every taint of original sin. Of her, who is blessed among women for everymore, was born our Lord - she still remaining a pure virgin. During the time of His mortal life Jesus Christ founded the Christian religion; and then offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, by dying upon a cross, to obtain mercy grace, and salvation for us; and that neither mercy, nor grace, nor salvation can, or ever could, since Adam's fall, be obtained except through the mediation of the Son of God.

  6. We must believe that Jesus Christ, after He died and was buried, arose on the third day from death to life, never to die again; and that, for the space of forty days, He was pleased, at different times, to manifest Himself to His disciples, and then ascended into heaven in their sight; where, as God-man, He continually intercedes for us. Thence He sent down the Holy Ghost upon his disciples, to abide with them for ever, as He had promised, and to guide them and their successors into all truth.

  7. We must believe the Catholic or Universal Church of Christ, of which He is the perpetual Head and His Spirit the perpetual Guide; which is founded upon a rock, and is ever victorious over all the powers of earth and hell. The Church is always One, in all its members prfessing one faith, in one communion, under one chief pastor, called the Pope, succeeding Saint Peter, to whom Christ committed His whole flock. The Church is always Holy, in teaching a holy doctrine, in inviting all to a holy life, and in the eminent holiness of many of its children. It is Catholic, or Universal, for it subsists in all ages, and teaches all nations, and maintains all truth. It is Apostolic, for it derives its doctrine, its communion, its orders, and its mission, by an uninterrupted succession, from the Apostles of Christ.

  8. With the Catholic Church the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, were deposited by the Apostles. It is the guardian and interpreter of them, and the judge of all controversies relating to them. The Scriptures, thus interpreted, together with the traditions of the Apostles, are to be received and admitted by all Christians for the rule of their faith and practice.

  9. We must believe that, when the Pope speaks "ex cathedra" - i.e., when, in discharge of his office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, he defines, in virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, a doctine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, - he is endowed, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, with that Infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be furnished, in defining doctrines of faith or morals. And therefore such definitions of the Pope are irreformable of themselves, and not in virtue of the consent of the Church.

  10. We must believe that Jesus Christ has instituted in His Church seven Sacraments, or mysterious signs and instrumental causes of Divine Grace in our souls:

    • BAPTISM, by way of a new birth, by which we are made children of God, and cleansed from sin;

    • CONFIRMATION, by which we receive the Holy Ghost, by the imposition of the hands of the successors of the Apostles;

    • the blessed EUCHARIST, which feeds and nourishes our souls with the Body and Blood of Christ, really present under the forms of breat and wine, or under either of them;

    • PENANCE, by which penitent sinners are absolved from their sins, by virtue of the commission given by Christ to His ministers;

    • EXTREME UNCTION, which wipes away the remains of sin, and arms the soul with the grace of God in the time of sickness;

    • HOLY ORDERS, by which the ministers of God are consecrated; and

    • MATRIMONY, which, as a sacred sign of the indissoluble union of Christ and His Church, unites the married couple in a holy bond, and imparts to them a grace suitable to that state.

  11. We must believe that Jesus Christ has also instituted the great Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood in remembrance of His Passion and Death. In this Sacrifice, called the MASS, He is mystically immolated every day upon our altars, being Himself both Priest and Victim. This Sacrifice is the principal worship of the New Law, in which, and by which, we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ; and with Him and through Him we adore God in spirit and truth; give Him thanks for all His blessings; obtain His grace for ourselves and the whole world, and pardon for all our sins; and pray for the living and the dead.

  12. We must believe that there is, in the Catholic or Universal Church of God, a Communion of Saints, by means of which we communicate with all holy persons and in all holy things. We communicate with the Saints in heaven, as our fellow-members under the same head, Christ Jesus; we give thanks to God for His gifts to them, and we beg a share in their prayers. We communicate with all the saints upon earth in the same Sacraments and Sacrifice, and in a holy union of faith and charity. And we also communicate with the faithful who have departed this life in a more imperfect state, - and who by the law of God's justice are for a while in a state of suffering, - by offering prayers and alms and sacrifice to God for them.

  13. We must believe that, by the full concession of Christ, there ever resides in the Church the active power of forgiving sin, and of granting Indulgences for the remission of the temporal punishments of sin; which may be applied to the souls both of the living and of the dead who have died friends of God and in the peace of Christ.

  14. We must believe also the necessity fo Divine Grace, without which we cannot make so much as one step towards heaven; and that all our good and all our merits are the gift of God; that Christ died for all men, and that His grace does not take away nor oppress our free will.

  15. We must believe that Jesus Christ will come from heaven at the last day to judge all men; that all the dead, both good and bad, shall arise from their graves, and shall be judged by Him according to their works; that ghte good shall go to heaven with Him, body and soul, to be happy for all eternity in the enjoyment of the Sovereign Good; and that the wicked shall be condemned both body and soul, to the torments of hell.

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