James Clifford (c. 1622-1698) on the second article of the Creed

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James Clifford (c. 1622-1698) was a Reformed conforming churchman and musician, chorister of Magdalen College, Oxford, canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, curate of St. Gregory by St. Paul’s, and chaplain to the Society of Serjeant’s Inn, Fleet Street. While known primarily for his The Divine Services and Anthems usually sung in the Cathedrals and Collegiate Choires in the Church of England (first edition 1663), Clifford three decades later also wrote A Catechism containing the Principles of Christian Religion (1694), which contains the following golden Q&A on the second article of the Apostles’ Creed. Notice also the emphasis on comfort in relation to each doctrine, taking its cue from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q. Declare unto me the second part of the Creed, concerning faith in God the Son. Which is the second article?

A. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

Q. What is signified by that word JESUS?

A. This word signifieth a Saviour. (Matt. 1:21)

Q. Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, a Saviour?

A. Because he saveth us from all our sins (Heb. 7:25). Neither ought any safety to be sought for from any other, nor can elsewhere be found (Acts 4:12; Is. 43:11).

Q. Whom doth he save?

A. He saveth all and only the elect and believers, which have been, are, or shall be, even from the beginning to the end of the world (Jn. 3:16).

Q. What evils doth he deliver his elect from?

A. From all sin. So the angel testifieth (Matt. 1:21; 1 Jn. 1:7). And also from the punishment of sin: for the cause being taken away, which is sin; the effect is taken away, which is punishment (Rom. 8:1).

Q. How doth Christ save his elect?

A. 1st, He saveth us by his merit or satisfaction: because, by his obedience, passion, death, and intercession, he hath merited for us remission of sins, reconciliation with God, and everlasting life (1 Jn. 1:7; Rom. 5:19; Is. 53:5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). 2ndly, He saveth us by his efficacy, power, and operation: because he not only obtaineth, by his meriting for us, remission of sins, and that life which we had lost; but also applieth effectually unto us, by virtue of his Spirit, through faith, the whole benefit of our redemption. For what benefits he merited by his death, he doth not retain them unto himself, but bestoweth them on us.

Q. What is it therefore to believe in Jesus?

A. It is not only to believe, that he is able to save, and that he is the only means to obtain salvation by; but also, that he is my Saviour (Lk. 1:47; Ps. 27:1). And that I rely wholly upon him, and none but him, for the salvation of my soul (Jn. 6:68).

Q. What comfort hast thou by this?

A. That though I am guilty of innumerable sins, both original and actual, even the breach of the whole law, and so am worthy to be damned; and have all the plagues of God, due to my sin, cast upon me; yea though I were a bond-slave to sin and Satan: yet I believe that Jesus is my Saviour, and that he hath delivered me from all my sins, both the guilt, and the satisfactory punishment of them; and also from the power of sin and Satan (Lk. 4:18).

Q. What is signified by the word CHRIST?

A. Christ signifieth anointed.

Q. Why is he called Christ, that is, anointed?

A. Because he was ordained of the Father, and anointed of the Holy Ghost, the chief Prophet and Doctor (Deut. 18:15), who hath opened unto us the secret counsel, and all the will of his Father, concerning our redemption (Jn. 15:15). And the High Priest, who, with that one only sacrifice of his body, hath redeemed us (Heb. 9:28), and doth continually make intercession to his Father for us (Rom. 8:34). And a King, who ruleth us by his Word and Spirit; and defendeth and maintaineth that salvation which he hath purchased for us (Lk. 1:33; Jn. 10:28).

Q. What benefit hast thou by this?

A. That both I, and all the elect of God, are made spiritual kings, priests, and prophets (Rev. 1:5-6). Kings, in bearing rule over our hearts, and mastering our rebellious thoughts, wills, and affections (Rom. 6:12). Priests, in offering up to God our spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5) of prayer (Ps. 141:2), of thanksgiving (Heb. 13:15), of alms (Heb. 13:16), of a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17), of our whole souls and bodies for the service of God (Rom. 12:1). And prophets, in applying that knowledge we have, to the benefit and good of others (Lk. 23:32).

Q. Now shew me why this Jesus Christ is called the only Son of God, seeing we also are said to be the sons of God?

A. Christ is called God’s only Son, because he alone is the co-eternal and natural Son of the eternal Father (Jn. 1:14; Heb. 1:5). The angels also, and Adam before his fall, are his sons, by creation. But we are sons adopted of the Father, by grace, for his sake (Eph. 1:5; Jn. 1:12).

Q. What comfort cometh by this?

A. It sheweth the wonderful love, and great mercy of God to me, that when I was, by nature, the child of wrath and perdition, he spared not to give his only Son for me, to make me his child, and heir, by the grace of adoption (Jn. 3:16).

Q. Wherefore is he called our Lord?

A. Because he redeeming and ransoming both our body and soul from sin, not with gold and silver, but with his precious blood, and delivering us from all the power of the devil, hath set us free to serve him (1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:9).

Q. What is the comfort of this?

A. That Christ being my Lord, and I living under his dominion, I need not fear what enemies, whether devil, or wicked men, can do unto me: If God be on our side, who can be against us? And though I was under the prince of darkness, having Satan my Lord, until I believed in Christ; yet since I am Christ’s, and he is my only Lord, and that by purchase with his blood, by gift from his Father; and by marriage contracted, to be consummate at his appearing.

– James Clifford (c. 1622-1698), A Catechism containing the Principles of Christian Religion, p. 50-59.

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