636. IV. THE FAITH IMPUTATIVE OF CHRIST'S MERIT WAS UNKNOWN IN THE PRECEDING APOSTOLIC CHURCH, AND IS NOWHERE TAUGHT IN THE WORD.
The church that preceded the Nicene Council is called the Apostolic church. It was evidently a widespread church, extending over the three parts of the globe, Asia, Africa and Europe, for the Emperor Constantine the Great was a Christian, and also a zealot in religion, and his dominion extended not only over many kingdoms of Europe that were afterward separated, but also over the neighboring countries outside of Europe. So as just said, he assembled the bishops from Asia, Africa and Europe, in his palace at Nice, a city of Bithynia, in order that he might banish from his empire the scandalous dogmas of Arius. This was done by the Lord's Divine Providence, because when the Divinity of the Lord is denied the Christian church dies, and becomes like a sepulchre adorned with the epitaph, Hic jacet. The church that existed before this time was called Apostolic; its distinguished writers were called the Fathers, and all true Christians held the relation of brethren. This church did not acknowledge three Divine persons, nor therefore a Son of God born from eternity, but only a Son of God born in time, as is evident from the creed, which by their church was called the Apostles' Creed, where the following words occur:
"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 Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of the saints."
From this it is clear that they acknowledged no other Son of God than the one conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, and by no means a Son of God born from eternity. This creed, like the two others, has been acknowledged as truly Catholic by the entire Christian church up to the present day.