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II. Of The Creed
Thus far we have heard the first part of Christian doctrine, in which we have seen
all that God wishes us to do or to leave undone. Now, there properly follows the
Creed, which sets forth to us everything that we must expect and receive from
God, and, to state it quite briefly, teaches us to know Him fully. And this is
intended to help us do that which according to the Ten Commandments we ought
to do. For (as said above) they are set so high that all human ability is far too
feeble and weak to [attain to or] keep them. Therefore it is as necessary to learn
this part as the former in order that we may know how to attain thereto, whence
and whereby to obtain such power. For if we could by our own powers keep the
Ten Commandments as they are to be kept, we would need nothing further,
neither the Creed nor the Lord's Prayer. But before we explain this advantage
and necessity of the Creed, it is sufficient at first for the simple-minded that they
learn to comprehend and understand the Creed itself.
In the first place, the Creed has hitherto been divided into twelve articles,
although, if all points which are written in the Scriptures and which belong to the
Creed were to be distinctly set forth, there would be far more articles, nor could
they all be clearly expressed in so few words. But that it may be most easily and
clearly understood as it is to be taught to children, we shall briefly sum up the
entire Creed in three chief articles, according to the three persons in the
Godhead, to whom everything that we believe is related, So that the First Article,
of God the Father, explains Creation, the Second Article, of the Son,
Redemption, and the Third, of the Holy Ghost, Sanctification. Just as though the
Creed were briefly comprehended in so many words: I believe in God the Father,
who has created me; I believe in God the Son, who has redeemed me; I believe
in the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies me. One God and one faith, but three persons,
therefore also three articles or confessions. Let us briefly run over the words.
Article I.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
This portrays and sets forth most briefly what is the essence, will, activity, and
work of God the Father. For since the Ten Commandments have taught that we
are to have not more than one God, the question might be asked, What kind of a
person is God? What does He do? How can we praise or portray and describe
Him, that He may be known? Now, that is taught in this and in the following
article, so that the Creed is nothing else than the answer and confession of
Christians arranged with respect to the First Commandment. As if you were to
ask a little child: My dear, what sort of a God have you? What do you know of
Him? he could say: This is my God: first, the Father, who has created heaven
and earth; besides this only One I regard nothing else as God; for there is no one
else who could create heaven and earth.