Youth Work

Sunday School materials

Please find below free to download Sunday School lesson plans and materials for children and young people.

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The resources have been split into three categories - infant, junior and Bible class.

There are 40 separate lessons to make up the year (allowing for holidays and special themed Sundays), and these are all available to download in Word and PDF format.

A summary of the year’s studies for each category is available to download in Word format by clicking here. This is year three of a four-year rolling cycle, designed to cover an entire syllabus for 4-to-15-year-olds.

You can also download the 2013 Bible Class Exploration on Nehemiah by clicking here.

Free Church Sunday School lesson plans (session 2013/14)

Infant:

Lessons 1-20:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Lessons 21-40:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Junior:

Lessons 1-20:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Lessons 21-40:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Bible class:

Lessons 1-20:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Lessons 21-40:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

General use lesson plans

The lesson plans are almost identical to the Free Church syllabus, however the special Free Church prayer sections have been blanked out, and can be used for alternative purposes as required by the Sunday School teacher.

Infant:

Lessons 1-20:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Lessons 21-40:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Junior:

Lessons 1-20:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Lessons 21-40:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Bible class:

Lessons 1-20:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

Lessons 21-40:
Materials: Click here to download in PDF format
Teacher notes: Click here to download in Word format

About the author

Mrs Irene Howat is a prominent Christian author, and has sold well over 100,000 children’s books.

Many of her children’s works have been translated into many languages and are widely available overseas.

Even in the USA one of Mrs Howat’s publications reached number eight in the best selling list for children’s Christian books.

She is also the editor of the Free Church’s children’s magazine The Instructor.

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Mrs Howat (pictured above) is married to the 2013/14 Free Church Moderator Rev Angus Howat, and they are both members of the Ayr congregation.

Free Church Yearbook

Free Church of Scotland Yearbook 2012/13

You can find contact information for each Free Church of Scotland congregation by downloading our current Year Book here. Hard copies of the Year Book are available from the Free Church Bookshop for £4.50 (plus postage). To order a copy, please contact Charles Douglas on 0131 718 4141 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Guidance & Policies

Safeguarding guidance

Click here to go to the Safeguarding resources section.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines for the Protection of Children and Adults

Click here to download the Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines for the Protection of Children and Adults in Word format.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines - short version for Workers with Children and Adults

Click here to download the Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines - short version for Workers with Children and Adults in Word format.

Safeguarding

Form for Registering Congregational Safeguarding Coordinator

Click here to download the Form for Registering Congregational Safeguarding Coordinator in Word format.

Safeguarding

Form for Registering Congregational Depute Safeguarding Coordinator

Click here to download the Form for Registering Congregational Depute Safeguarding Coordinator in Word format.

Safeguarding

Job Description and Declaration Form – Regulated Work

Click here to download the Job Description and Declaration Form – Regulated Work in Word format.

Safeguarding

Job Application Form (New Worker) – Regulated Work

Click here to download the Job Application Form (New Worker) – Regulated Work in Word format.

Safeguarding

Job Application Form (Existing Free Church Worker) – Regulated Work

Click here to download the Job Application Form (Existing Free Church Worker) – Regulated Work in Word format.

Safeguarding

Pro-forma Request for a Reference

Click here to download the Pro-forma Request for a Reference in Word format.

Safeguarding

Self-Declaration Form

Click here to download the Self-Declaration Form in Word format.

Safeguarding

Identification Verification Statement

Click here to download the Identification Verification Statement in Word format.

Safeguarding

Guidance for Applicants for completion of “Application to Join PVG Scheme” Form

Click here to download the Guidance for Applicants for completion of “Application to Join PVG Scheme” Form in Word format.

Safeguarding

Guidance for Coordinators for completion of “Application to Join PVG Scheme” Form

Click here to download the Guidance for Coordinators for completion of “Application to Join PVG Scheme” Form in Word format.

Safeguarding

Guidance for Applicants for completion of “Existing PVG Scheme Member Application” Form

Click here to download the Guidance for Applicants for completion of “Existing PVG Scheme Member Application” Form in Word format.

Safeguarding

Guidance for Coordinators for completion of “Existing PVG Scheme Member Application” Form

Click here to download the Guidance for Coordinators for completion of “Existing PVG Scheme Member Application” Form in Word format.

Safeguarding

Worker Check Sheet

Click here to download the Worker Check Sheet in Word format.

Safeguarding

Pro-forma Congregational Register of Workers

Click here to download the Pro-forma Congregational Register of Workers in Word format.

Safeguarding

Pro-forma for Workers recording allegations or suspicions of abuse or harm

Click here to download the Pro-forma for Workers recording allegations or suspicions of abuse or harm in Word format.

Safeguarding

Pro-forma for Safeguarding Coordinators or Deputes recording allegations or suspicions of abuse

Click here to download the Pro-forma for Safeguarding Coordinators or Deputes recording allegations or suspicions of abuse or harm in Word format.

Safeguarding

Form for reporting an allegation or suspicion of abuse or harm to Offices

Click here to download the Form for reporting an allegation or suspicion of abuse or harm to Offices in Word format.

Safeguarding

Registration/Permission Form

Click here to download the Registration/Permission Form in Word format.

Safeguarding

Permission Form for taking and using images of children

Click here to download the Permission Form for taking and using images of children in Word format.

Ministry Matters

Ministry Matters Website

To access the Ministry Matters website, please use the link below:

http://moodle.freescotcoll.ac.uk/ministers

Safeguarding

PVG Scheme Guidance (updated Feb 2012)

PVG_Scheme_Guidance_February_2012.doc

General Assembly Reports

2011 Reports

The following reports will be presented to the General Assembly in May 2011:

Assembly Programme 2011 (Revised 16th May 2011)
Board of Trustees Report
IMB_Report_to_General_Assembly_2011_(2).pdf
Ecumenical Relations Report
Board of Ministry Report
Home Missions Board Report
College Board
Communications Report
Personnel Committee Report
Praise Committee Report
Psalmody Committee Report
Study Panel - Divorce and Remarriage
Nominations Committee Report
Assembly Arrangements Report

Guidance & Policies

Charity Trustees - Guidance

Guidance_for_Free_Church_Charity_Trustees.pdf

Youth Work

CY Course & Soul DVD

Please click on the link below to access resources on the new CY course and Soul DVD:

CY Course

Guidance & Policies

Health & Safety - Fire Safety Regulations

Fire Safety Regulations

Guidance & Policies

Health & Safety - Managing Asbestos in Premises

Managing Asbestos in Premises

Guidance & Policies

Health & Safety Policy

Health & Safety Policy

Guidance & Policies

Health & Safety - A Guidance Note for Congregations

Health & Safety - A Guidance Note for Congregations

Youth Work

Holiday Club Resources

Some useful resources for Holiday Club leaders can be downloaded below:

Holiday Club

Worship Papers - 2009

Uniformity of Worship - Rev. K. Stewart

Uniformity of Worship - Rev. Kenneth Stewart

Worship Papers - 2009

Worship and the Unity of the Church - Prof J A Macleod

Worship and the Unity of the Church - John A. MacLeod

Worship Papers - 2009

Uniformity of Worship - Rev. D. C. Meredith

Uniformity of Worship - Rev. David C. Meredith

Worship Papers - 2009

The Regulative Principle - Rev. D. Robertson

The Regulative Principle - Rev. David Robertson

Worship Papers - 2009

The Unity of the Church - Rev Alex Macdonald

The Unity of the Church - Alex J. MacDonald

Worship Papers - 2009

Biblical Interpretation: Music and Song in Worship - Rev AI Macleod

Biblical_Interpretation_-_Music_and_Song_in_Worship_-_A_I_Macleod.pdf

Worship Papers - 2009

The Regulative Principle - Rev. M. Maclean

The Regulative Principle - Rev. Malcolm Maclean

Worship Papers - 2009

Purity of Worship -  Rev H. Cameron (deceased)

Purity of Worship - Hector Cameron M.A.

General Assembly Moderator's Address

The Exciting Church

Rev David Meredith’s Opening Address - 2010 Assembly

ICRC

EuCRC 2010 Conference

Please click on the link below to download the EuCRC 2010 Conference Minutes:

EuCRC Minutes 2010

General Assembly Reports

2010 Reports

The following reports will be presented to the General Assembly in May 2010.

Ecumenical Relations Committee Report
Personnel Committee Report
Communications Committee Report
International Missions Report
College Board
Psalmody Report
Board of Ministry
Study Panel - Marriage and Divorce
Report on Role of Deacons
Panel on Pastoral Advice
Assembly Arrangements Report
Home Missions Board Report
Board of Trustees Report
Supplementary Report on Worship

Youth Work

Resources for Parents

Some helpful resources for parents can be downloaded below:

Resources for Parents

Youth Work

Websites

Here are some useful links:

New Christian UK

Children Matter!

Articles

Swine Flu and Communion Cup

Please click on the link below to view this article:

Swine_Flu_and_Communion_Cup.pdf

Guidance & Policies

Data Protection Policy

Data Protection Guidance

Data_Protection_Guidance.pdf

Youth Work

Christmas and Other Important Dates

Resources for Christmas and other occasions can be downloaded below:

Christmas_Resources.pdf

Public Questions Reports

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage_and_Divorce.pdf

Public Questions Reports

Fairtrade

Fairtrade.pdf

Public Questions Reports

Climate Change

Climate_Change.pdf

Public Questions Reports

Care of Creation

Care_of_Creation.pdf

Articles

Public Questions Reports

Confessions & Catechisms

Confessions & Catechisms

The documents that are found at this site have been kindly supplied in Waldenses Confession of 1120

1. We believe and firmly maintain all that is contained in the twelve articles of the symbol, commonly called the apostles’ creed, and we regard as heretical whatever is inconsistent with the said twelve articles.

2. We believe that there is one God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. We acknowledge for sacred canonical scriptures the books of the Holy Bible. (Here follows the title of each, exactly conformable to our received canon, but which it is deemed, on that account, quite unnecessary to particularize.)

4. The books above-mentioned teach us: That there is one GOD, almighty, unbounded in wisdom, and infinite in goodness, and who, in His goodness, has made all things. For He created Adam after His own image and likeness. But through the enmity of the Devil, and his own disobedience, Adam fell, sin entered into the world, and we became transgressors in and by Adam.

5. That Christ had been promised to the fathers who received the law, to the end that, knowing their sin by the law, and their unrighteousness and insufficiency, they might desire the coming of Christ to make satisfaction for their sins, and to accomplish the law by Himself.

6. That at the time appointed of the Father, Christ was born - a time when iniquity everywhere abounded, to make it manifest that it was not for the sake of any good in ourselves, for all were sinners, but that He, who is true, might display His grace and mercy towards us.

7. That Christ is our life, and truth, and peace, and righteousness - our shepherd and advocate, our sacrifice and priest, who died for the salvation of all who should believe, and rose again for their justification.

8. And we also firmly believe, that there is no other mediator, or advocate with God the Father, but Jesus Christ. And as to the Virgin Mary, she was holy, humble, and full of grace; and this we also believe concerning all other saints, namely, that they are waiting in heaven for the resurrection of their bodies at the day of judgment.

9. We also believe, that, after this life, there are but two places - one for those that are saved, the other for the damned, which [two] we call paradise and hell, wholly denying that imaginary purgatory of Antichrist, invented in opposition to the truth.

10. Moreover, we have ever regarded all the inventions of men [in the affairs of religion] as an unspeakable abomination before God; such as the festival days and vigils of saints, and what is called holy-water, the abstaining from flesh on certain days, and such like things, but above all, the masses.

11. We hold in abhorrence all human inventions, as proceeding from Antichrist, which produce distress (Alluding probably to the voluntary penances and mortification imposed by the Catholics on themselves), and are prejudicial to the liberty of the mind.

12 We consider the Sacraments as signs of holy things, or as the visible emblems of invisible blessings. We regard it as proper and even necessary that believers use these symbols or visible forms when it can be done. Notwithstanding which, we maintain that believers may be saved without these signs, when they have neither place nor opportunity of observing them.

13. We acknowledge no sacraments [as of divine appointment] but baptism and the Lord’s supper.

14. We honour the secular powers, with subjection, obedience, promptitude, and payment.

Confessions & Catechisms

The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D)

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

Confessions & Catechisms

The Canons of the Council of Orange 529 AD

CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was “changed for the worse” through the offense of Adam’s sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20); and, “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?” (Rom. 6:126); and, “For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19).

CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me” (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).

CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism—if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble,
he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the
transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44),
as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

CANON 9. Concerning the succor of God. It is a mark of divine favor when we are of a right purpose and keep our feet from hypocrisy and unrighteousness; for as often as we do good, God is at work in us and with us, in order that we may do so.

CANON 10. Concerning the succor of God. The succor of God is to be ever sought by the regenerate and converted also, so that they may be able to come to a successful end or persevere in good works.

CANON 11. Concerning the duty to pray. None would make any true prayer to the Lord had he not received from him the object of his prayer, as it is written, “Of thy own have we given thee” (1 Chron. 29:14).

CANON 12. Of what sort we are whom God loves. God loves us for what we shall be by his gift, and not by our own deserving.

CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

CANON 14. No mean wretch is freed from his sorrowful state, however great it may be, save the one who is anticipated by the mercy of God, as the Psalmist says, “Let thy compassion come speedily to meet us” (Ps. 79:8), and again, “My God in his steadfast love will meet me” (Ps. 59:10).

CANON 15. Adam was changed, but for the worse, through his own iniquity from what God made him. Through the grace of God the believer is changed, but for the better, from what his iniquity has done for him. The one, therefore, was the change brought about by the first sinner; the other, according to the Psalmist, is the change of the right hand of the Most High (Ps. 77:10).

CANON 16. No man shall be honored by his seeming attainment, as though it were not a gift, or suppose that he has received it because a missive from without stated it in writing or in speech. For the Apostle speaks thus, “For if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal. 2:21); and “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:8, quoting Ps. 68:18). It is from this source that any man has what he does; but whoever denies that he has it from this source either does not truly have it, or else “even what he has will be taken away” (Matt. 25:29).

CANON 17. Concerning Christian courage. The courage of the Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of Christians by the love of God which “has been poured into our hearts” not by freedom of will from our own side but “through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.

CANON 19. That a man can be saved only when God shows mercy. Human nature, even though it remained in that sound state in which it was created, could be no means save itself, without the assistance of the Creator; hence since man cannot safe- guard his salvation without the grace of God, which is a gift, how will he be able to restore what he has lost without the grace of God?

CANON 20. That a man can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.

CANON 21. Concerning nature and grace. As the Apostle most truly says to those who would be justified by the law and have fallen from grace, “If justification were through the law, then Christ died to no
purpose” (Gal. 2:21), so it is most truly declared to those who imagine that grace, which faith in Christ advocates and lays hold of, is nature: “If justification were through nature, then Christ died to no purpose.” Now there was indeed the law, but it did not justify, and there was indeed nature, but it did not justify. Not in vain did Christ therefore die, so that the law might be fulfilled by him who said, “I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matt. 5:17), and that the nature which had been
destroyed by Adam might be restored by him who said that he had come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

CANON 22. Concerning those things that belong to man. No man has anything of his own but untruth and sin. But if a man has any truth or righteousness, it from that fountain for which we must thirst in this desert, so that we may be refreshed from it as by drops of water and not faint on the way.

CANON 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.

CANON 24. Concerning the branches of the vine. The branches on the vine do not give life to the vine, but receive life from it; thus the vine is related to its branches in such a way that it supplies them with what they need to live, and does not take this from them. Thus it is to the advantage of the disciples, not Christ, both to have Christ abiding in them and to abide in Christ. For if the vine is cut down another can shoot up from the live root; but one who is cut off from the vine cannot live without the root (John15:5ff).

CANON 25. Concerning the love with which we love God. It is wholly a gift of God to love God. He who loves, even though he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved. We are loved, even when we displease him, so that we might have means to please him. For the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father and the Son (Rom. 5:5).

CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29). And again, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, “I have obtained mercy to be faithful” (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, “because I was faithful,” but “to be faithful.” And again, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). And again, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are, deemed sufficient.
According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him. We must therefore most evidently believe that the praiseworthy faith of the thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise, and of Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was sent, and of Zacchaeus, who was worthy to receive the Lord himself, was not a natural endowment but a gift of God’s kindness.

Confessions & Catechisms

The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople (553 AD)

The Second Council of Constantinople was called to resolve certain questions that were raised by the Definition of Chalcedon, the most important of which had to do with the unity of the two natures, God and man, is Jesus Christ. The Second Council of Constantinople confirmed the Definition of Chalcedon, while emphasizing that Jesus Christ does not just embody God the Son, He is God the Son.

I.
If anyone does not confess that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one nature or essence, one power or authority, worshipped as a trinity of the same essence, one deity in three hypostases or persons, let him be anathema. For there is one God and Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit, in whom are all things.

II.
If anyone does not confess that God the Word was twice begotten, the first before all time from the Father, non-temporal and bodiless, the other in the last days when he came down from the heavens and was incarnate by the holy, glorious, God-bearer, ever-virgin Mary, and born of her, let him be anathema.

III.
If anyone says that God the Word who performed miracles is one and Christ who suffered is another, or says that God the Word was together with Christ who came from woman, or that the Word was in him as one person is in another, but is not one and the same, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, incarnate and become human, and that the wonders and the suffering which he voluntarily endured in flesh were not of the same person, let him be anathema.

IV.
If anyone says that the union of the Word of God with man was only according to grace or function ordignity or equality of honor or authority or relation or effect or power or according to his good pleasure, as though God the Word was pleased with man, or approved of him, as the raving Theodosius says; or that the union exists according to similarity of name, by which the Nestorians call God the Word Jesus and Christ, designating the man separately as Christ and as Son, speaking thus clearly of two persons, but when it comes to his honor, dignity, and worship, pretend to say that there is one person, one Son and one Christ, by a single designation; and if he does not acknowledge, as the holy Fathers have taught, that the union of God is made with the flesh animated by a reasonable and intelligent soul, and that such union is according to synthesis or hypostasis, and that therefore there is only one person, the Lord Jesus Christ one of the holy Trinity—let him be anathema. As the word “union” has many meanings, the followers of the impiety of Apollinaris and Eutyches, assuming the disappearance of the natures, affirm a union by confusion. On the other hand the followers of Theodore and of Nestorius rejoicing in the division of the natures, introduce only a union of relation. But the holy Church of God, rejecting equally the impiety of both heresies, recognizes the union of God the Word with the flesh according to synthesis, that is according to hypostasis. For in the mystery of Christ the union according to synthesis preserves the two natures which have combined without confusion and without separation.

V.
If anyone understands the expression—one hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ—so that it means the union of many hypostases, and if he attempts thus to introduce into the mystery of Christ two hypostases, or two persons, and, after having introduced two persons, speaks of one person according to dignity, honor or worship, as Theodore and Nestorius insanely have written; and if anyone slanders the holy synod of Chalcedon, as though it had used this expression in this impious sense, and does not confess that the Word of God is united with the flesh hypostatically, and that therefore there is but one hypostasis or one person, and that the holy synod of Chalcedon has professed in this sense the one hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ; let him be anathema. For the Holy Trinity, when God the Word was incarnate, was not increased by the addition of a person or hypostasis.

VI.
If anyone says that the holy, glorious, and ever-virgin Mary [Note: The claim that Mary is “ever-virgin” is Roman Catholic folklore. (Jonathan Barlow)] is called God-bearer by misuse of language and not truly, or by analogy, believing that only a mere man was born of her and that God the Word was not incarnate of her, but that the incarnation of God the Word resulted only from the ,fact that he united himself to that man who was born of her; if anyone slanders the Holy Synod of Chalcedon as though it had asserted the Virgin to be God-bearer according to the impious sense of Theodore; or if anyone shall call her manbearer or Christbearer, as if Christ were not God, and shall not confess that she is truly God-bearer, because God the Word who before all time was begotten of the Father was in these last days incarnate of her, and if anyone shall not confess that in this pious sense the holy Synod of Chalcedon confessed her to be God-bearer: let him be anathema.

VII.
If anyone using the expression, “in two natures,” does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ is made known in the deity and in the manhood, in order to indicate by that expression a difference of the natures of which the ineffable union took place without confusion, a union in which neither the nature of the Word has changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word (for each remained what it was by nature, even when the union by hypostasis had taken place); but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, let him be anathema. Or if anyone recognizing the number of natures in the same our one Lord Jesus Christ, God the Word incarnate, does not take in contemplation only the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them—for one is composed of the two and the two are in one—but shall make use of the number two to divide the natures or to make of them persons properly so called, let him be anathema.

VIII.
If anyone confesses that the union took place out of two natures or speaks of the one incarnate nature of God the Word and does not understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, that out of the divine and human natures, when union by hypostasis took place, one Christ was formed; but from these expressions tries to introduce one nature or essence of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in saying that the only-begotten Word was united by hypostasis personally we do not mean that there was a mutual confusion of natures, but rather we understand that the Word was united to the flesh, each nature remaining what it was. Therefore there is one Christ, God and man, of the same essence with the Father as touching his Godhead, and of the same essence with us as touching his manhood. Therefore the Church of God equally rejects and anathematizes those who divide or cut apart or who introduce confusion into the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ.

IX.
If anyone says that Christ ought to be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he introduces two adorations, the one peculiar to God the Word and the other peculiar to the man; or if anyone by destroying the flesh, or by confusing the Godhead and the humanity, or by contriving one nature or essence of those which were united and so worships Christ, and does not with one adoration worship God the Word incarnate with his own flesh, as the Church of God has received from the beginning; let him be anathema.

X.
If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity; let him be anathema.

XI.
If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, together with their impious, godless writings, and all the other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the holy catholic and apostolic Church, and by the aforementioned four Holy Synods and all those who have held and hold or who in their godlessness persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned; let him be anathema.

Confessions & Catechisms

Athanasian Creed (thought to be early sixth century AD)

Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith. Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.
Now this is the catholic faith: That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence.
For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal. What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.

The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.

And yet there are not three eternal beings; there is but one eternal being. So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings; there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being. Similarly, the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty. Yet there are not three almighty beings; there is but one almighty being. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three gods; there is but one God. Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord. Yet there are not three lords; there is but one Lord.

Just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually as both God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords. The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone. The Son was neither made nor created; he was begotten from the Father alone. The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten; he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers; there is one Son, not three sons; there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. Nothing in this trinity is before or after, nothing is greater or smaller; in their entirety the three persons are coeternal and coequal with each other. So in everything, as was said earlier, we must worship their trinity in their unity and their unity in their trinity. Anyone then who desires to be saved should think thus about the trinity. But it is necessary for eternal salvation that one also believe in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Now this is the true faith: That we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and human, equally. He is God from the essence of the Father, begotten before time; and he is human from the essence of his mother, born in time; completely God, completely human, with a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as regards divinity, less than the Father as regards humanity. Although he is God and human, yet Christ is not two, but one. He is one, however, not by his divinity being turned into flesh, but by God’s taking humanity to himself.

He is one, certainly not by the blending of his essence, but by the unity of his person. For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh, so too the one Christ is both God and human. He suffered for our salvation; he descended to hell; he arose from the dead; he ascended to heaven; he is seated at the Father’s right hand; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all people will arise bodily and give an accounting of their own deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith: one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.

Confessions & Catechisms

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses - 1517

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.

11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).

12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.

14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.

17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.

18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.

19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.

20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.

21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.

22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.

23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.

24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.

25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.

26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.

28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.

30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.

31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.

34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.

35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.

36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.

38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.

40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them—at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.

41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.

44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.

46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.

47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.

49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.

52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.

53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.

55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred
ceremonies.

56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.

57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.

61. For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.

62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.

67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.

68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.

70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.

71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.

72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.

73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.

74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.

75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.

76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.

77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.

78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written, 1 Co 12[:28].

79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.

82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.

83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the
redeemed?”

84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do
not rather, because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love’s sake?”

85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”

86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”

88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”

89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Chapter 1 - The Kirk Session

kirksession.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Geneva Book Of Order 1556

Preface

TO OUR BRETHREN IN ENGLAND, AND ELSEWHERE, WHICH LOVE JESUS CHRIST UNFEIGNEDLY, MERCY AND PEACE.
T’IS MORE EVIDENT and known to all men, than well considered and thankfully received of many, with what great mercies, and especial
graces God endued our country of England in these latter days; when from idolatry He called us to the knowledge of His gospel, and of no people made us His people, a holy people,(Hosea 2:23, Rom. 9:25-26, 1 Pet. 2:9-10)the people of God; sending us a King most godly, learned, zealous, wise, and such one as never sat in that royal chair before. God’s word universally spread over all the land, repentance preached, Christ’s kingdom offered, sin rebuked; so that none could excuse himself, either that he had not heard, or else was not taught God’s holy gospel.

Yet it came to pass, and this day that is verified on us, which the Lord reproved Israel for, saying, I have stretched forth my hands all the day long unto a people that believeth not, but rebelleth against me, and walk after their own imaginations. (Isa. 65:2, Rom. 10:21) For whose ways were not corrupt? Even from the highest to the lowest,from top to toe there was no part sound. (Isa. 1:6, Jer. 2:4-13)

Such contempt of God’s word, as well on their behalf to whom charge of preaching was committed, as on the other side, negligence to hear, and learn to frame their lives according thereunto; that if the Lord had not hastened His plague and prevented, it would certainly have come to pass, which those wicked men of Anathoth said to the prophet Jeremiah: Speak no more to us in this name of the Lord. (Jer.11:21) The which unkindness and contempt, would God we could as earnestly repent as we now feel the lack of these accustomed mercies. For now the day of our visitation is come, (Luke 19:44) and the Lord has brought the plagues upon us, (Lev. 26:21, Deut. 27-30) whereof before we were admonished, and most justly menaced. For the false prophets are sent forth with lies in their mouths (1 Kings 22:22, 2 Chron. 18:21, Ex. 14:11-12) to deceive England; and the scarcity of God’s word is so great, that although they seek it from one sea coast to another, yet they cannot find it, (Amos 8:12) but as men famished devour the pestiferous dung of Papistry, to the poisoning of their own souls. Let us therefore, brethren, turn wholly to the Lord by repentance, fasting and prayer, (Joel 2:12-13, Ps. 69:10-11, Jonah 3:5-10; Jonah 4) earnestly beseeching Him to receive us once again to favour, who wills not the death of a sinner (but his amendment), offering Himself to all them that in their necessity seek unto Him, and like a most merciful Father proves all remedies for our bettering; (2 Chron. 36, Isa. 5, Prov. 3:11-12, Heb. 12:5-11, Rev. 3:19) not cruelly punishing to destroy us, but gently chastising to save us.

Beware then you harden not your hearts against this merciful Lord, (Heb. 3:8-9; 4:7, Ps. 95:8-11) and tempt Him as the stubborn Jews did, whom He therefore delivered up into their enemies’ hands, to perish with the sword, hunger, and pestilence. For God will not be mocked, (Gal. 6:7) but like a consuming fire will destroy as well the wicked contemners of His word as the crafty dissemblers, (Heb. 12:29, Deut. 4:24) which go about to measure God by their fantasies; not considering that they heap damnation against themselves in the day of his anger (Rom. 2:5, Jam. 5:3) which now already is kindled, and begins to flame, to the condemnation of their souls and bodies - who knowing Jesus Christ to have once fully satisfied for our sins, (Heb. 9:11-12, Rom. 5:8-9, 1 Pet. 3:18) cease not daily, either in heart, mouth, or outward consent to blaspheme His precious death, and (as much as in them lies) crucify him anew. (Heb. 6:6; 10:26-29, 1 Cor. 6:9-10) Do you not remember that idolaters have no portion in the kingdom of God, (Gal. 5:19-21, Rev. 21:8; 22:15, Isa. 66:24, Mark 9:43-48) but are thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where their worm shall never die? Cannot the examples of God’s fearful judgments move you, (2 Pet. 2 Jude Job 4:17-21) who spared not His very angels when they trespassed, but hitherto reserves them in hell chains, to be tormented in the day of the Lord? And will He then favour idolaters, dissemblers, blasphemers, mockers, contemners? and not rather in this life verify that which the Holy Ghost pronounces against the children of God’s wrath, who because they do not receive the truth for their salvation, are led by lies to their endless condemnation? (2 Thess. 2:10-12, John 3:19) At the least, let God’s forewarning somewhat move you to pity your own state, who for your instruction suffers your own brethren amongst you to die so terribly, some in despair, others to kill themselves, and many uttering most horrible blasphemies, even to their last breath. The which things are so fearful for us to hear, that we tremble in thinking thereupon. If you will therefore be counted in the number of God’s people, and be so in deed; look not backward from the plow, return not to your vomit, bow not your knee to Baal, pollute not the temple of the Holy Ghost, in presenting yourselves to that most wicked and blasphemous Mass, with such like idols; (Luke 9:62, 2 Pet. 2:22, Prov. 26:11, Rom. 11:4, 1 Kings 19:18, 1 Cor. 6:19) but either stand in the truth, and so rather obey God than men; (Luke 12:4-5, Acts 5:29) else follow God’s calling, who has so mercifully provided for you, moving the hearts of all godly rulers and magistrates to pity your state, and do you good, so that at Emden, Wesel, Frankfurt, and in this city [Geneva], He has appointed godly churches, wherein you may learn to fear him, repent [of] your sins, amend your lives, and recover again his favour and mercy. And because there is no way more ready or sure to come to Him, than by framing ourselves altogether to his blessed will, revealed unto us in His word; (1 Sam. 15:22, Matt. 17:5 [?], John 9:31 we, to whom though God has given more liberty, yet no less lamenting your bondage than rejoicing in our own deliverance from that Babylonian slavery and Antichristian yoke, have earnestly endeavoured, amongst other things which might bring us to the worthy consideration of God’s word, (John 5:39, Luke 1:68-79, 2 Pet. 1:16-21) to frame our lives, and reform our state of religion in such sort, that neither doubt of the certainty thereof should make us fear, nor yet man’s judgement discourage us, and cause us [to] shrink from this enterprise most acceptable to God, comfortable to his church, and necessarily appertaining to every Christian man’s duty.

We, therefore, not as the greatest clerks of all, but as the least able of many, do present unto you which desire the increase of God’s glory, and the pure simplicity of His word, a form and order of a reformed church, limited within the compass of God’s word, (Gal. 1:8-9, 1:11-12; 3:15-17, 2 Tim. 3:15-17, Rom. 10:17) which our Saviour has left unto us as only [alone] sufficient to govern all our actions by; so that whatsoever is added to this word by man’s device, seem it never so good, holy, or beautiful, yet before our God, who is jealous and cannot admit any companion or counsellor, it is evil, wicked, and abominable. (Luke 16:13) For He that is the wisdom of the Father, the brightness of his glory, the true light, the word of life, yea truth and life itself, (1 Cor. 1:24, John 1:4, 9; 14:6, Heb. 1:3) can He give unto his church (for the which He paid the ransom of His blood) that which should not be a sufficient assurance for the same? Can the word of truth deceive us? the way of life misguide us? the word of salvation damn us? God keep us from such blasphemies, and so direct our hearts with his Holy Spirit, that we may not only content ourselves with His wisdom, but so rejoice in the same, that we may abhor all things which are contrary. The which considerations, dear brethren, when we weighed with reverent fear and humility; and also knowing, that negligence in reforming that religion which was begun in England, was not the least cause of God’s rods laid upon us; having now obtained by the merciful providence of our heavenly Father a free church for all our nation in this most worthy city of Geneva, we presented to the judgment of the famous man John Calvin, and others learned in these parts, the Order which we minded to use in our church: who approving it, as sufficient for a Christian congregation, we put the same into execution, nothing doubting but all godly men shall be much edified thereby.

And as for the Papists, or malicious men and ungodly, we have not laboured to satisfy them, because we knew no sovereign medicine for their cankered sore, except it may please God, by our prayers, to be merciful to them, and call them home, if they be not already forsaken. But yet, forasmuch as there are some, which through continuance in their evil, rather delighting in custom than knowledge, cannot suffer that men should once open their mouths against certain old and received ceremonies, we thought good in this place somewhat to touch that scrupulosity. For as ceremonies grounded upon God’s word, and approved in the New Testament, are commendable (as the circumstance thereof does support), so those that man has invented (though he had never so good occasion thereunto), if they are once abused, import a necessity, hinder God’s word, or be drawn into a superstition, without respect ought to be abolished. For if Hezekiah was commended by the Holy Ghost for breaking in pieces the brazen serpent, (2 Kings 18:2-4) which Moses had erected by God’s commandment, and now had continued above 800 years (which thing of itself was not evil, but rather put men in remembrance of God’s benefit); yet because it began to minister occasion to the people to commit idolatry, was not to be borne withal: how much more ought we to take heed, that through our occasion men commit not idolatry with their own imaginations and fantasies? It was not without great cause, commanded by Almighty God, that the places, and other appurtenances, which had served to idolatry should be utterly consumed, (Deut. 12:2-3, 30; 13:6-18, 2 Kings 18:4) lest babes and children, through occasion remembering the same, should fall into like inconvenience.

And think you that we ought to be wiser? and not rather take heed, that those things which the Papists and other idolaters have invented, or else observe as invented by man, may not enter into Christ’s church - as well to the end that the weak may not be confirmed in their error, (1 Cor. 8:9 ff.; 10:32, Rom. 14:13) as that we may altogether separate ourselves from that idolatrous Babylon and temple of Belial, (2 Cor. 6:15-17, Isa. 52:11) wherewith Christ has no concord nor agreement? There was no one ceremony more ancient, nor yet of better authority, than the washing of the disciples’ feet, which was observed a long time in the church, and instituted by Christ himself. (John 13:4-17) Yet when some were persuaded that it was a portion of the Lord’s Supper, and others thought it served instead of baptism, the godly churches in St. Augustine’s time (Epist. 119, ad Jan.) thought it better to leave that which was ordained for a good use, than by retaining the same, confirm an error or superstition. The Corinthians, for the relief of the poor, and to increase brotherly amity together, did institute a feast, (1 Cor. 11:23) immediately after the Lord’s Supper. (Chrysostom, 1 Cor. 11, Te tul lib., ad uxorem) But how sharply St. Paul did reprehend the same, condemning in comparison, that men should add anything to the Lord’s institution, it appears by that he says, I have received of the Lord that which I gave you. We read also, that Hezekiah and his nephew Josiah restored the use of the Passover, (2 Chron. 30:1 ff., 2 Kings 23:21-23) which had been a very long time discontinued; but in the ministration thereof, they observed no other ceremony than God had left to Moses from the beginning. (Ex. 12:14, Lev. 23:5, Deut. 16:1-8)

Circumcision, likewise a sacrament, was evermore after one sort ministered, even as the Lord commanded it. (Gen. 17:9-14, Josh. 5:2-8) But such is the nature of the flesh, it will be wise, and have a stroke in God’s doings; yea, and how willfully it causes man to maintain his own fantasies, it is manifest to them which have perused the ancient records of the church. For beginning at Jerusalem, and so coming to the rest of the churches, as Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome, he shall see plainly, that their greatest disturbances and overthrow, chanced through ceremonies. What conflict was at all times betwixt the Latin and Greek churches for the same, no Christian can consider without tears. And was there anything more objected against St. Paul, both of the Galatians and also of others, (Gal. 1-2, Acts 21:21) than that he would not observe the ceremonies as the chief apostles did? And yet he kept them while any hope was to gain the weak brethren, and therefore circumcised Timothy; (Acts 16:3) but when he perceived that men would retain them as necessary things in the church, he called that which before he made indifferent, wicked and impious, saying that whosoever was circumcised, Christ could nothing profit them (Gal. 5:2, Acts 15:1-2) - fearing also, lest he had taken pains amongst them in vain, which joined Christ with beggarly ceremonies. (Gal. 4:9-11)
Therefore, dear brethren, being hereby persuaded, and with many more reasons confirmed (which opportunity permits not here to write), we have contented ourselves with that wisdom which we have learned in God’s book, where we are taught to preach the word of God purely, (Acts 2:42, Matt. 26:26-30; 28:19-20) minister the sacraments sincerely, and use prayers and other orders thereby approved, to the increase of God’s glory, and edification of His holy people. As touching preaching, forasmuch as it is allowed of all godly men, we may at this time leave the probation [proof] thereof. And also for the ministration of the two sacraments, our book gives sufficient proof.

But because prayers are after two manner ofsorts - that is, either in words only, or else with song joined thereunto - and this latter part, as
well for lack of the true use thereof, as due consideration of the same, is called by many into doubt, whether it may be used in a reformed church; it is expedient that we note briefly a few things pertaining thereunto.

St. Paul giving a rule how men should sing, first says, I will sing in voice, and I will sing with understanding. (1 Cor. 14:15) And in another place, showing what songs should be sung, exhorts the Ephesians to edify one another with psalms, songs of praise, and such as are spiritual, singing in their hearts to the Lord with thanksgiving. (Eph. 5:19, Jam. 5:13) As if the Holy Ghost would say, that the song did inflame the heart to call upon God, and praise him with a more fervent and lively zeal. And as music or singing is natural unto us, and therefore every man delights therein; so our merciful God sets before our eyes, how we may rejoice and sing to the glory of his name, recreation of our spirits, and profit of ourselves. But as there is no gift of God so precious or excellent, that Satan has not after a sort drawn to himself and corrupted, so has he most impudently abused this notable gift of singing, chiefly by the Papists his ministers, in disfiguring it, partly by strange language, that cannot edify, and partly by a curious wanton sort, hiring men to tickle the ears and flatter the fantasies, not esteeming it as a gift approved by the word of God, profitable for the church, and confirmed by all antiquity.

As, besides other places, is most manifest by the words of Pliny, (Epist., lib. 10) called the younger, who, when he was deputy in Asia unto the Emperor Trajan, and had received charge to inquire out the Christians to put them to death, wrote among other things, touching the Christians, “That their manners were to sing verses or psalms early in the morning to Christ their God.”

If any, peradventure, would doubt, when, or by whom these churches or assemblies were instituted, it is likewise evident, that St. John the apostle, (Eccl. Hist. book 3, ch. 22) who, although in Domitian’s time he was banished in the Isle Patmos; yet when Nerva his successor, and next before Trajan reigned, returned to Ephesus, and so planted the churches, as the histories report. Seeing therefore God’s word does approve it, antiquity bears witness thereof, and best reformed churches have received the same, no man can reprove it, except he will contemn God’s word, despise antiquity, and utterly condemn the godly reformed churches.

And there are no songs more meet than the Psalms of the prophet David, which the Holy Ghost has framed to the same use, and commended to the church, as containing the effect of the whole scripture, that hereby our hearts might be more lively touched, as appears by Moses, Hezekiah, Judith, Deborah, Mary, Zacharias, and others, (Ex. 15:1-19, Isa. 38:10-20, Judith 16:1-22, Judges 5, Lk. 1:46-55; 1:68-79) who by songs and metre, rather than in their common speech and prose, gave thanks to God for such comfort as he sent them. Here it were too long to treat of the metre; but forasmuch as the learned doubt not thereof, and it is plainly proven that the Psalms are not only metrical, and contain just cesures [metrical pauses; divisions], but also have grace and majesty in the verse more than any other places of the scriptures, we need not to enter into any probation [proof].

For they that are skillful in the Hebrew tongue, (Read Moses’ Chabib, in his books called ˆwçl aprm m[wn ykrd Psalms in Metre in the Hebrew Tongue) by comparing the Psalms with the rest of the scriptures, easily may perceive the metre. And to whom is it not known, how the Holy Ghost by all means sought to help our memory, when he fashioned many Psalms according to letters of the alphabet; so that every verse begins with the letters thereof in order. Sometimes “A” begins the half verse, and “B” the other half; and in another place, three verses, yea and eight verses with one letter, even the Psalm throughout; as if all men should be inflamed with the love thereof, both for variety of matter, and also briefness, easiness, and delectation.

Now, to make you privy also why we altered the rhyme in certain places of him [Thomas Sternhold], whom for the gifts that God had given him, we esteemed and reverenced, this may suffice: that in this enterprise, we did only set God before our eyes, and therefore weighed the words and sense of the prophets, rather considering the meaning thereof than what any man had written. And chiefly being in this place [Geneva], whereas most perfect and godly judgment did assure us, and exhortations to the same encourage us, we thought it better to frame the rhyme to the Hebrew sense, than to bind that sense to the English metre; and so either altered for the better, in such places as he had not attained unto, or else where he had escaped part of the verse, or sometimes the whole, we added the same, not as men desirous to find faults, but only as such which covet to hide them, as the learned can judge.

It remains last of all that you understand the reasons which moved us to choose out and follow this catechism of Geneva rather than any other; (1. A reference to Calvin’s Catechism, which was ordinarily published with the Book of Order. In the 1556 edition of the Genevan Book, the psalter and Calvin’s Catechism were inserted after the Order of Ecclesiastical Discipline, prior to the household prayers.) for considering that the true use of a catechism is to instruct a Christian fully in all points of belief and Christian religion; and wherein this is most easily, orderly, and perfectly taught, that to be the best; we could find none in so great a number which either for facility is equal, or else for the perfection to be compared. Moreover, the dangers which hang over Christ’s church in these days moved us very much; for as men may see present signs of certain barbarousness, and puddles of errors which are likely to chance in the church of God, so there is no better preservation against the same, than if all godly churches would agree in one kind of doctrine and confession of faith, which in all points were agreeable to God’s holy word, that our posterity might be confirmed (Ps. 89:1) by the universal example of Christ’s church against all heresies, persecutions, and other dangers; perceiving that it is not only the doctrine of one man, but the consent of the whole Christian church, and that wherein all youth have been brought up and trained in. The which thing, seeing none has so far performed, nor yet is in such towardness [readiness] to the same as this catechism is, being for the worthiness thereof already translated into Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and English, we could do no less but willingly and gladly embrace the same.

Wherefore we being now under the same cross of affliction that you our dear brethren are, and yet altogether the children of God our merciful Father through Jesus Christ, desire you, in His name, with judgment to read our doings, trying them only by the touchstone of His word, that either if they be found faulty, they may be rejected, or else if they be profitable, God may be glorified, His church edified, and the malicious confounded. Farewell, dear brethren, and let us all pray to our loving God, that He would be merciful unto us, restore His holy word, comfort and strengthen His children, and finally confound Satan, Antichrist, and all His enemies. At Geneva, the 10th of February, Anno 1556.

I believe and confess (Rom. 10:9-10) my Lord God eternal, infinite, immeasurable, incomprehensible, and invisible, (Gen. 17:1, Ps. 63:1 ff., Ps. 139:1-16) one in substance, (Gen. 1:1, Eph. 4:4-6) and three in person, (Gen. 1:26, 1 John 5:7, Matt. 3:16-17, Matt. 28:19) Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who, by His almighty power and wisdom, (Heb. 1:2, Prov. 8:22-30) has not only of nothing created heaven, earth, and all things therein contained, (Gen. 1:1, Jer. 32:16, Ps. 33:6-7) and man after his own image, (Gen. 1:26, Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10) that He might in him be glorified; (1 Cor. 6:20, John 17:1, Prov. 16:4) but also by His fatherly providence, (Matt. 6:26-32, Luke 12:24-30, 1 Pet. 5:7, Phil. 4:6) governs, maintains, and preserves the same, according to the purpose of His will. (Eph. 1:11)

I believe also and confess Jesus Christ the only Saviour and Messiah, (Matt. 1:21, Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 1:15) who being equal with God, (John 1:1, Phil. 2:6-7, 1 Tim. 3:16, 1 John 5:20, Rom. 9:5) made Himself of no reputation, but took on Him the shape of a servant, and became man in all things like unto us (except sin), (Heb. 2:16-17, Phil. 2:7-8, 1 Pet. 2:22, 1 John 3:5)to assure us of mercy and forgiveness. (Rom. 8:32 ff., 1 John 2:1) For when through our father Adam’s transgression we were become children of perdition, (Gen. 3:1-7, Rom. 5:16-18, Eph. 2:3, Gal. 3:10, 13) there was no means to bring us from that yoke of sin and damnation,

The Confession of Our Faith, Which Are Assembled in the English Congregation at Geneva

I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH; AND IN JESUS CHRIST HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD; but only Jesus Christ our Lord: (Acts 4:12, 1 Pet. 2:6, Isa. 28:16, Rom. 9:33) who giving us that by grace, which was His by nature, (John 1:14, Heb. 1:5, Rom. 1:4, Ps. 2:7) made us (through faith) the children of God: (Gal. 3:26, Rom. 8:14, John 1:12, Eph. 1:5) who when the fullness of time was come, (Gal. 4:4, Acts 2:22) was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary (according to the flesh), (Isa. 7:14, Luke 1:31, 35, Rom. 1:3) and preached on earth the gospel of salvation, (Acts 10:36, Rom. 1:5) till at length, by tyranny of the priests, He was guiltless condemned under Pontius Pilate, (John 7:32; 11:47-48,53; 12:10-11, 42, Matt. 12:14, Matt. 27, Luke 23) then president of Jewry, and most slanderously hanged on the cross betwixt two thieves as a notorious trespasser, where taking upon Him the punishment of our sins, (Gal. 3:13, Isa. 53:6-10) He delivered us from the curse of the Law.

And forasmuch as He, being only God, could not feel death; neither, being only man, could overcome death, He joined both together, and suffered His humanity to be punished with most cruel death: feeling in Hhimself the anger and severe judgment of God, even as if He had been in the extreme torments of hell, (Acts 2:27, 1 Pet. 2:24, Isa. 53:4-5, 7, 10) and therefore cried with a loud voice, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1, Matt. 27:46)

Thus of His free mercy, (Isa. 53:1 ff., Heb. 9:12, 14, 25-26, 28; 10:12, 14, 10:5-18, Gal. 1:4, Rom. 4:25; 5:8-10, 1 John 1:7) without compulsion, He offered up Himself as the only sacrifice to purge the sins of all the world, so that all other sacrifices for sin are blasphemous and derogate from the sufficiency hereof. The which death, albeit it did sufficiently reconcile us to God; (Col. 1:20) yet the scriptures commonly do attribute our regeneration to his resurrection; (Rom. 10:9, 1 Pet. 1:3) for as by rising again from the grave the third day, (Matt. 28:5-8, Acts 10:40, 1 Cor. 15:4) He conquered death, (Hosea 13:14, 1 Cor. 15:26, 55-57) even so the victory of our faith stands in His resurrection, and therefore without the one, we cannot feel the benefit of the other: For as by death, sin was taken away, (Rom. 4:25) so our righteousness was restored by His resurrection. And because He would accomplish all things, (Eph. 4:10, John 14:2-3, Eph. 2:4-7) and take possession for us in His kingdom, He ascended into heaven, (Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9, 11, 1 Cor. 15[?]) to enlarge that same kingdom by the abundant power of his Spirit, (Luke 24:49, John 14:16-17, 26, Acts 2:1 ff.) by whom we are most assured of his continual intercession toward God the Father for us. (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 7:25; 9:24, 1 John 2:1) And altogether He is in heaven, (Acts 1:9-11; 3:21) as touching his corporeal presence, where the Father has now set Him on His right hand, (Col. 3:1, Rom. 8:34, Heb. 1:3; 10:12; 12:2) committing unto Him the administration of all things, (Eph. 1:20-22, Phil. 2:9, Col. 2:10) as well in heaven above as in the earth beneath; yet is He present with us His members, (Matt. 28:20) even to end of the world, in preserving and governing us with his effectual power and grace, who (when all things are fulfilled which God has spoken by the mouth of all His prophets since the world began)(Eph. 4:15-16) will come in the same visible form in the which He ascended, (Eph. 4:1-6, Phil. 3:16, Col. 2:2) with an unspeakable majesty, power, and company, to separate the lambs from the goats, the elect from the reprobate, (Matt. 25:46, Phil. 3:20) so that none, whether He be alive then or dead before, shall escape His judgment. (Matt. 24:30-31, Acts 10:42, 1 Cor. 15:22-23, 1 Thess. 4:16-17, 2 Thess. 1:7-10, 2 Tim. 4:1, 8)
Moreover, I believe and confess the Holy Ghost, God equal with Father and the Son, (Matt. 3:16-17, 1 John 5:7, 1 Pet. 1:2, 22, 1 Cor. 6:11,19 ,John 16:7-13, Acts 17[?]) who regenerates and sanctifies us, rules and guides us
into all truth, persuading most assuredly in our consciences that we are the children of God, (Rom. 8:13-17, Gal. 4:6-7) brethren to Jesus Christ, and fellow heirs with Him of life everlasting. Yet notwithstanding it is not sufficient to believe that God is omnipotent and merciful; that Christ has made satisfaction; or, that the Holy Ghost has this power and effect, except we do apply the same benefits to ourselves (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17; 10:9 ff., 1 John 3:23) which are God’s elect. (Matt. 16:18, John 10:3-5, Eph. 5:25-27, Rom. 8:28 ff., Song 2) I believe therefore and confess one holy church, e which (as members of Jesus Christ, (Eph. 1:10, 22-23, Col. 1:18, 1 Cor. 12:12-13) the only head thereof) (Acts 3:21) consents in faith, hope, and charity, (Acts 1:11) using the gifts of God, whether they are temporal or spiritual, (Acts 2:41 ff.; 4:32ff;, Rom. 12:4 ff., 1 Cor. 12:1 ff., Eph. 4:7, 11-12) to the profit and furtherance of the same. Which church is not seen to man’s eye, but only known to God: (Rom. 2:28-29[?]) who of the lost sons of Adam, has ordained some, as vessels of wrath, to damnation, and has chosen others, as vessels of his mercy, to be saved; (Rom. 9:23, Eph. 1:4-6, 11-12) the which also, in due time, He calls to integrity of life and godly conversation, to make them a glorious church to Himself. (Rom. 8:30, Eph. 5:26-27) But that church which is visible, and seen to the eye, (Matt. 16:17, 1 Cor. 15:9) has three tokens, or marks, whereby it may be discerned.

First, the word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments, (Matt. 28:19-20, Rom. 10:14, 17, 2 Cor. 3-4, Eph. 2:20, John 10:3-6, 2 Tim. 3:15-16, 2 Pet. 1:20-21) which as it is above the authority of the same church, (Eph. 2:19-21, Matt. 17:5[?], John 10:3-8) and only [alone] sufficient to instruct us in all things concerning salvation, (John 20:31, 2 Tim. 3:15-17) so is it left for all degrees of men to read and understand. (Josh. 1:7-9, John 5:39) For without this word, neither church, council nor decree can establish any point touching salvation. (Eph. 5:17, Matt. 15:1-20)

The second [mark] is the holy sacraments: (Matt. 26:26-30; 28:19, Rom. 4:11, Eph. 5:26[?]) to wit, of baptism and Lord’s Supper; which sacraments Christ has left unto us as holy signs and seals of God’s promises. For as by baptism once received, is signified that we (as well infants as others of age and discretion) being strangers from God by original sin, (Rom. 5:6-10, Eph. 2:1-7, Titus 3:5, Gal. 3[?], Rom. 7:18 ff.) are received into His family and congregation, with full assurance, that although this root of sin lies hidden in us, yet to the elect it shall not be imputed; (Rom. 4:5-8[?], Ps. 32:1-2) so the Supper declares, that God, as a most provident Father, (1 Cor. 11:23-29) does not only feed our bodies, but also spiritually nourishes our souls with the graces and benefits of Jesus Christ (which the scripture calls eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood). (John 6:48-58) Neither must we, in the administration of these sacraments, follow man’s fantasy, but as Christ Himself has ordained, so must they be ministered; and by such as by ordinary vocation are thereunto called. (Heb. 5:4, John 3:27) Therefore, whosoever reserves and worships these sacraments, or contrariwise contemns them in time and place, procures to himself damnation.

The third mark of this church is ecclesiastical discipline, (Matt. 18:15-22, Luke 17:3-4, Lev. 19:17, Ecclesiasticus, 19:13-17) which stands in admonition and correction of faults. The final end whereof is excommunication, by the consent of the church determined, (1 Cor. 5:1ff.) if the offender is obstinate. And besides this ecclesiastical censure, I acknowledge to belong to this church a political magistrate, (Rom. 13:1-7, Wisdom 6:4, Titus 3:1, 1 Pet. 2:13-14) who ministers to every man to every man justice, defending the good and punishing the evil; to whom we must render honour and obedience in all things, which are not contrary to the word of God. (Acts 5:29) And as Moses, Hezekiah, Josiah, and godly rulers purged the church of God from superstition and idolatry, (Ex. 32:26-28, 2 Kings 18:4; 23:1 ff., 2 Chron. 29; 35:1 ff.) so the defence of Christ’s church appertains to the Christian magistrates, against all idolaters and heretics, as Papists, Anabaptists, with suchlike limbs of Antichrist, to root out all doctrine of devils and men, (2 Tim. 4:2-4, Col. 2:8, 16-23, Matt. 15:1-9, Isa. 29:13, Heb. 9:12, 14, 25-26, 28; 10:10, 12, 14, Acts 10:15, 1 John 2:22, Rom. 7:6, Gal. 5:1, Col. 2:8, Rom. 14:1 ff., 1 Tim. 4:1-8, Matt. 19:10-12, 1 Cor. 7:2, 9, 1 Cor. 8[?], 1 Cor. 10:25, 2 Cor. 6:16, Luke 17:23, Rom. 3:19-20, 1 Cor. 3:11, Gal. 4:9-10) as the Mass, Purgatory, Limbus Patrum, (2. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, the souls of some persons pass from this life into a place of limbo - neither heaven nor hell, but some other abode to await their final disposition. Papists hold that Limbus Patrum is the place bordering hell and purgatory where the Old Testament patriarchs waited until their redemption was completed by Christ, specifically by his descent into hell. The Romish notion of Christ’s descent into hell is openly repudiated in this confession; see the exposition of the phrase, “He descended into hell,” as found on page 38 above. See Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), “limbus,” p. 178.) prayer to saints, and for the dead; freewill, distinction of meats, apparel, and days; vows of single life, presence at idol service, man’s merits, with suchlike, which draw us from the society of Christ’s church - wherein stands only [alone] remission of sins, purchased by Christ’s blood to all them that believe, (Isa. 33:24, Matt. 18:18, John 20:23, 2 Cor. 5:9-13, Rom. 1:16; 10:11-12, Eph. 2:11 ff.) whether they are Jews or Gentiles - and lead us to vain confidence in creatures, and trust in our own imaginations. The punishment whereof, although God oftentimes differs in this life, (2 Pet. 2, Jude 4-16, Rom. 9[?]) yet after the general resurrection, (Acts 24:15, 1 Cor. 15:12ff., Phil. 3:19-21, 1 Thess. 4:13 ff.) when our souls and bodies shall rise again to immortality, they shall be damned to unquenchable fire; (2 Thess. 1:7-9, Isa. 30:27, John 5:29) and then we which have forsaken all man’s wisdom to cleave unto Christ, shall hear that joyful voice, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit ye the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world, (Matt. 25:21, 23, 34, 36) and so shall go triumphing with him in body and soul, (1 Thess. 4:16- 17; 5:9-10, John 5:29, Isa. 26:19) to remain in glory everlasting, where we shall see God face to face, (1 Cor. 13:12, 1 John 3:2, Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:11) and shall no more need one to instruct another; for we shall all know him, from the highest to the lowest: To whom, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all praise, honour, and glory, now and ever. So be it.

Of Ministers and Their Election

What Things are Chiefly Required in the Pastors and Ministers

First, let the church diligently consider that the minister which is to be chosen (Acts 1:21-23, 13:2-3; 14:23) be not found culpable of any such faults which St. Paul reprehends in a man of that vocation, (1 Tim. 3:2-7, 2 Tim. 2:5-6; 4:5, Ezek. 33:7, Jer. 3:15, John 21:17, Isa. 62:6, 1 Cor. 9:16, 19-23) but contrariwise endowed with such virtues, that he may be able to undertake his charge, and diligently execute the same.
Secondly, that he distribute faithfully the word of God, and minister the sacraments sincerely, (2 Tim. 2:2, 14- 16, 23-25, 2 Cor. 4:1-2, 17, Matt. 26:26; 28:19-20, 1 Cor. 1:17-18, 21-24) ever careful not only to teach his flock publicly, but also privately to admonish them; (Acts 20:28, 31, 2 Tim. 4:2) remembering always, that if any thing perish through his default, the Lord will require it at his hands. (Ezek. 3:18-21, Ezek. 2, 1 Cor. 9:16)

Of Their Office and Duty

Because the charge of the word of God is of greater importance than that any man is able to dispense therewith; (1 Cor. 9:16, Acts 6:2, 4, Luke 12:14) and St. Paul exhorts to es-teem them as ministers of Christ, and disposers of God’s mysteries; (1 Cor. 4:1, 2 Cor. 4:1-2, 5, 7, 10) not lords or rulers, as St. Peter says, over the flock; (1 Pet. 5:2-8, 2 Cor. 1:24, Matt. 20:25-26) therefore the pastor’s or minister’s chief office stands in preaching the word of God, and ministering the sacraments. (Matt. 26:26ff.; 28:19-20, Mal. 2:6-7, 1 Pet. 4:10-11, Acts 3:2-3, 5; 16:10, 17, 1 Cor. 1:17ff.) So that in consultations, judgments, elections, and other political affairs, his counsel, (Acts 20:28, 2 Cor. 4:2, 5) rather than authority, takes place. And if so be the congregation, upon just cause, agrees to excommunicate, then it belongs to the minister, according to their general determination, to pronounce the sentence, (1 Cor. 5:1 ff.) to the end that all things may be done orderly, and without confusion. (1 Cor. 14:33, 40)

The Manner of Electing the Pastors and Ministers

The ministers and elders at such time as there wants a minister, assemble the whole congregation, (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, Acts 1:15-26) exhorting them to advise and consider who may best serve in that room and office. And if there be choice, the church appoints two or three, upon some certain day, to be examined by the ministers and elders. First, as touching their doctrine, (1 Tim. 3:2, 6, Titus 1:9) whether he that should be minister have good and sound knowledge in the holy scriptures, and fit and apt gifts to communicate the same to the edification of the people. For the trial whereof, they propose [to] him a theme or text to be treated privately, whereby his ability may the more manifestly appear unto them. Secondly, they inquire of his life and conversation, if he has in times past lived without slander [scandal], and governed himself in such sort, as the word of God has not heard evil, or been slandered through his occasion. (Rom. 2:19-24, Jam. 1:26-27, 1 Sam. 2:17, 24, 1 Tim. 5:17) Which being severally done, they signify unto the congregation, whose gifts they find most excellent and profitable for that ministry: appointing by a general consent, eight days at the least, that every man may diligently inquire of his life and manners. At the which time also, the minister exhorts them to humble themselves to God by fasting and prayer, (Acts 13:3; 14:23, Luke 2:37) that both their election may be agreeable to his will, and also profitable to the church. And if in the mean season anything be brought against him whereby he may be found unworthy by lawful probations, then is he dismissed and some other presented. If nothing be alleged upon some certain day, one of the ministers, at the morning sermon, presents him again to the church, framing his sermon, or some part thereof, to the setting forth of his duty.

Then at afternoon, the sermon ended, the minister exhorts them to the election, with the invocation of God’s name, (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17, Matt. 9:37-38) directing his prayer as God shall move his heart. In like manner, after the election, the minister gives thanks to God, (1 Thess. 5:18, Col. 4:2, Eph. 5:20, Phil 1:3) with request of such things as shall be necessary for his office. After that he is appointed minister, the people sing a psalm and depart.

Of the Elders, and as Touching Their Office and Election

The elders must be men of good life and godly conversation, (Num. 11:16 ff. Acts 14:23; 16:4; 20:17ff. Rom. 12:8 Eph. 4:11-16 1 Cor. 12:28 Jam. 5:14 1 Pet. 5:1-3) without blame and all suspicion; careful for the flock, wise, and, above all things, fearing God: whose office stands in governing with the rest of the ministers, in consulting, admonishing, correcting, and ordering all things appertaining to the state of the congregation. And they differ from the ministers, in that they preach not the word, nor minister the sacraments. In assembling the people, neither they without the ministers, nor the ministers without them, may attempt anything. And if any of the just number want, the minister, by the consent of the rest, warns the people thereof, and finally admonishes them to observe the same order which was used in choosing the ministers.

Of the Deacons, and Their Office and Election

The deacons must be men of good estimation and report,(Acts 6:1-6, 1 Tim. 3:8-13) discreet, of good conscience; charitable, wise, and finally adorned with such virtues as St. Paul requires in them. Their office is to gather the alms diligently, and faithfully to distribute them,(Rom. 12:7-8) with the consent of the ministersand elders; also to provide for the sick and impotent persons; having ever a diligent care, that the charity of godly men be not wasted upon loiterersand idle vagabonds. (2 Thess. 3:10-12) Their election is, as has been before rehearsed in the ministers and elders.

Of Teachers or Doctors

We are not ignorant that the scriptures make mention of a forth kind of ministers left to the church of Christ, which also are very profitable,
where time and place do permit. But for lack of opportunity, in this our dispersion and exile, we cannot well have the use thereof; and would to
God it were not neglected where better occasion serves. These ministers are called teachers or doctors, (Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 12:28) whose office is to instruct and teach the faithful in sound doctrine, providing with all diligence that the purity of the gospel be not corrupted, either through ignorance, or evil opinions. Notwithstanding, considering the present state of things, we comprehend under this title such means as God has in his church, that it should not be left desolate, nor yet His doctrine decay for default of ministers thereof. Therefore to term it by a word more usual in these our days, we may call it the order of schools, wherein the highest degree, and most annexed to the ministry and government of the church, is the exposition of God’s word, which is contained in the Old and New Testaments. But because men cannot so well profit in that knowledge, except they be first instructed in tongues and human sciences (for now God works not commonly by miracles), it is necessary that seed be sown for the time to come, to the intent that the church be not left barren and wasted to our posterity; and that schools also be erected, and colleges maintained, with just and sufficient stipends, wherein youth may be trained in the knowledge and fear of God, that in their ripe age they may prove worthy members of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether it be to rule in civil policy, or to serve in the spiritual ministry, or else to live in godly reverence and subjection.

The Weekly Assembly of the Ministers, Elders, and Deacons

To the intent that the ministry of God’s word may be had in reverence, and not brought to contempt through the evil conversation of such as
are called thereunto, (Rom. 2:19-24, Ezek. 36:22-23, Isa. 52:5) and also that faults and vices may not by long sufferance grow at length to extreme inconveniences; (2 Tim. 2) it is ordained that every Thursday the ministers and elders, in their assembly or consistory, diligently examine all such faults and suspicions as may be espied, (1 Cor. 5) not only amongst others, but chiefly amongst themselves, lest they seem to be culpable of that which our Saviour Christ reproved in the Pharisees, (Matt. 7:3, Luke 6:41, Rom. 2:17-24) who could espy a mote in another man’s eye, and could not see a beam in their own. And because the eye ought to be more clear than the rest of the body, (Matt. 6:22-23, Luke 11:34) the minister may not be spotted with any vice, but to the great slander of God’s word, whose message he bears: therefore it is to be understood that there are certain faults, which if they be deprehended in a minister, he ought to be deposed: as heresy, Papistry, schism, blasphemy, perjury, fornication, theft, drunkenness, usury, fighting, unlawful games, with suchlike. Others are more tolerable, if so be that after brotherly admonition he amends his fault: as strange and unprofitable fashion in preaching the scriptures; curiosity in seeking vain questions; negligence, as well in his sermons, and in studying the scriptures, as in all other things concerning his vocation; scurrility, flattering, lying, backbiting, wanton words, deceit, covetousness, taunting, dissolution in apparel, gesture, and his other doings; which vices, as they are odious in all men, so in him that ought to be as an example to others of perfection, (Matt. 5:13, Mark 9:50?) in no wise are to be suffered; especially, if [it] so be that, according to God’s rule, being brotherly advertised, (Matt. 18:15-17, Luke 17:3, Jam. 5:16, 19-20) he acknowledge not his fault and amend.

Interpretation of the Scriptures

Once every week, the congregation assembles to hear some place of the scriptures orderly expounded.(1 Cor. 14:1 ff., 1 Thess. 5:20, Eph. 4:29, 1 Cor. 12:28-31) At which time, it is lawful for every man to speak or enquire, as God shall move his heart, and the text minister occasion; so it be without pertinacity or disdain, as one that rather seeks to profit than to contend. And if [it] so be any contention arise, then such as are appointed moderators, either satisfy the party, or else if he seems to evil, exhort him to keep silence, referring the judgement thereof to the ministers and elders, to be determined in their assembly or consistory before mentioned. qeQ
When the congregation is assembled at the hour appointed, the minister uses one of these two confessions, or like in effect, exhorting the people diligently to examine themselves, following in their hearts the tenor of his words.

A Confession of Our Sins, Framed to Our Time, out of the 9th Chapter of Daniel

O Lord God, which art mighty and dreadful, thou that keepest covenant, and shewest mercy to them that love Thee and do Thy commandments: (Neh. 1:5, Job 9, 38-40, Ps. 24, 76, 77:10 ff., 139) We have sinned; we have offended; (Ex. 20:6, Luke 7:47) we have wickedly and stubbornly gone back from Thy laws and precepts. (Gen. 3:6-19, Rom. 5:12ff., 1 John 1:8-10, Ps. 32:5; 106:6 ff.) We would never obey Thy servants the prophets that spake in Thy name, (Lev. 26, Deut. 28, Jer. 26:4-6, 29:19, Neh. 1:6-11) to our kings and princes, to our forefathers, and to all the people of our land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee; (Ps. 11:7, Jam. 1:13, Job 4:17-19; 9:1 ff.; 25:4-6) unto us pertaineth nothing but open shame, as it is come to pass this day unto our miserable country of England; yea unto all our nations, whether they be far or near, through all lands, wherein they are scattered for the offences that they and we have committed against Thee, (Ps. 89:10 [?], Jer. 26-27) so that the curses and punishments which are written in Thy law (Lev. 26:14 ff., Deut. 27-30) are now poured upon us; and Thou hast performed those words wherewith Thou didst menace us and our rulers that governed us, in bringing the same plagues upon us which before were threatened. And yet notwithstanding, both they and we proceed in our iniquity, and cease not to heap sin upon sin. For they which once were well instructed in the doctrine of Thy gospel, are now gone back from the obedience of thy truth, and are turned again to that most abominable idolatry, (2 Pet. 2:20-22, Prov. 26:11, Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31) from the which they were once called by the lively preaching of Thy word. And we, alas! to this day, do not earnestly repent us of our former wickedness, neither do we rightly consider the heaviness of thy displeasure. (Ps. 19:12-13, Deut. 31:16ff.; 29:20, Ezek. 5:5-11) Such is thy just judgment, O Lord, that thou punisheth sin by sin, and man by his own inventions, (Rom. 1:18 ff.) so that there can be no end of iniquity, except Thou prevent us (Isa. 65:1) with Thy undeserved grace. (Eph. 2:5)

Therefore convert us, O Lord, and we shall converted; (Ps. 85:4, Jer. 31:18) for we do not offer up our prayers trusting in our own righteousness, (Titus 3:5, 2 Tim. 1:9) but in Thy manifold mercies. And although Thou hast once of Thy especial grace delivered us from the miserable thraldom of error and blindness, and called us many times to the sweet liberty of Thy gospel, (Gal. 4 & 5:1 ff.) which we notwithstanding have most shamefully abused, in obeying rather our own lusts and affections, (Gal. 5:13-21) than the admonitions of Thy prophets; (Zech. 7:8-14) yet we beseech Thee once again, for Thy name’s sake, (Ps. 23:3; 25:11) to pour some comfortable drop of Thy accustomed mercies upon us; incline Thine ears, and open Thine eyes, (Ps. 71:1 ff.) to behold the grievous plagues of our country, the continual sorrows of our afflicted brethren, and our woeful banishment. And let our afflictions and just punishments be an admonition and warning to other nations among whom we are scattered, that with all reverence they may obey thy holy gospel; lest for like contempt, in the end, like or worse plagues fall upon them. (Matt. 11:20-24; 12:41, Luke 10:13-16)

Wherefore, O Lord, hear us! O Lord, forgive us! O Lord, consider and tarry not over long! but for Thy dear Son Jesus Christ’s sake, be merciful unto us, and deliver us. (John 16:23-24) So shall it be known to all the world, that Thou only art the selfsame God, that ever showeth mercy to all such as call upon Thy holy name. (Ps. 103; 108:4, 136)

Another Confession for All States and Times

O eternal God and most merciful Father, we confess and acknowledge here, before Thy divine majesty, that we are miserable sinners,(Rom. 3:9 ff., Ps. 14:1-3) conceived and born in sin and iniquity, (Ps. 51:5) so that in us there is no goodness.(Rom. 7:15-25) For the flesh evermore rebels against the spirit, (Gal. 5:17) whereby we continually transgress Thy holy precepts and commandments, and so purchase to ourselves, through Thy just judgment, death and damnation.(Rom. 2:1 ff., Jer. 3:23-25, Isa. 40:7 [?])

Notwithstanding, O heavenly Father, forasmuch as we are displeased with ourselves for the sins that we have committed against Thee, and do unfeignedly repent us of the same, we most humbly beseech Thee, for Jesus Christ’s sake, to show thy mercy upon us, to forgive us all our sins, and to increase thy Holy Spirit in us: that we, acknowledging from the bottom of our hearts our own unrighteousness, may from henceforth not only mortify our sinful lusts and affections, (Col. 3:5 ff., Rom. 6:1-7, Eph. 4:20-24; 5:3-5, 1 Pet. 2:11) but also bring forth such fruits as may be agreeable to Thy most blessed will; not for the worthiness thereof, but for the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, (Rom. 5:1 ff., Heb. 9:14, Eph. 2:16ff.) our only Saviour, whom Thou hast already given [as] an oblation and offering for our sins, and for whose sake we are certainly persuaded that Thou wilt deny us nothing that we shall ask in His name, according to Thy will. (John 14:13-14; 16:23, Matt. 7:7-12, Jam. 1:5-7)

For Thy Spirit does assure our consciences that Thou art our merciful Father, (1 John 3:24, Rom. 8:9-17, 37-39) and so lovest us Thy children through Him, that nothing is able to remove Thy heavenly grace and favour from us. To Thee, therefore, O Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. So be it. QeQ

This done, the people sing a Psalm all together, in a plain tune; which ended, the minister prays for the assistance of God’s Holy Spirit, as the same shall move his heart, and so proceeds to the sermon; using after
the sermon this prayer following, or such-like.

A Prayer for the Whole Estate of Christ’s Church

Almighty God and most merciful Father, we humbly submit ourselves, (1 Pet. 5:6) and fall down before Thy Majesty, (Num. 16:22, Deut. 9:18, Josh. 7:6) beseeching Thee from the bottom of our hearts, that this seed of Thy word, (Matt. 13:3-8) now sown amongst us, may take such deep root, that neither the burning heat of persecution cause it to wither, neither the thorny cares of this life do choke it, but that as seed sown in good ground, it may bring forth thirty, sixty, and an hundred fold, as thy heavenly wisdom hath appointed. And because we have need continually to crave many things at thy hands, we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, to grant us thy Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13, Rom. 8:12-17, Jam. 5:16, 1 John 5:14, Rom. 12:11-12, Wisdom 9:17-18) to direct our petitions, that they may proceed from such a fervent mind as may be agreeable to Thy most blessed will. (2 Cor. 3:5, John 15:5, Phil. 2:13) And seeing that our infirmity is able to do nothing without thy help, and that thou art not ignorant with how many and great temptations (Ps. 40:12-13, 17, 1 Pet. 1:6) we poor wretches are on every side enclosed and compassed, let Thy strength, O Lord, sustain our weakness, that we being defended with the force of Thy grace, may be safely preserved against all assaults of Satan, who goeth about continually like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. (1 Pet. 5:8)
Increase our faith, (Luke 17:5) O merciful Father, that we do not swerve at any time from Thy heavenly word, but augment in us hope and love, with a careful keeping of all Thy commandments, that no hardness of heart, (Ps. 95:7-8, Heb. 3:7ff.; 4:7) no hypocrisy, no concupiscence of the eyes, (1 John 2:15-17) nor enticements of the world, do draw us away from thy obedience. And seeing we live now in these most perilous times, (1 Tim. 4:1 ff., 2 Pet. 3:3 ff., 2 Tim. 3:1ff., Jude) let Thy Fatherly providence defend us against the violence of all our enemies, which do everywhere pursue us; but chiefly against the wicked rage and furious uproars of that Romish idol, enemy to Thy Christ. (2 Thess. 2:1 ff., 1 John 2:18, Rev. 13, 17)

Furthermore, forasmuch as by Thy holy apostle we are taught to make our prayers and supplications for all men, (1 Tim. 2:1 ff.) we pray not only for ourselves here present, but beseech thee also, to reduce all such as be yet ignorant, from the miserable captivity of blindness and error, to the pure understanding and knowledge of Thy heavenly truth, that we all, with one consent and unity of minds, (Rom. 15:6, 1 Cor. 1:10, Eph. 4:3) may worship thee our only God and Saviour; and that all pastors, shepherds, and ministers, to whom Thou hast committed the dispensation of Thy holy word, (John 21:15-17, Matt. 28:19-20, 1 Cor. 9:16 ff., Mark 16:15) and charge of thy chosen people, (1 Pet. 5:1-3) may both in their life and doctrine be found faithful, setting only before their eyes Thy glory; and that by them, all poor sheep which wander and go astray, may be gathered and brought home to thy fold.
Moreover, because the hearts of rulers are in thy hands (Prov. 21:1) we beseech Thee to direct and govern the hearts of all kings, princes, and magistrates to whom Thou hast committed the sword; (Rom. 13:4, John 19:11) especially, O Lord, according to our bounden duty, we beseech Thee to maintain and increase the honourable estate of this city, into whose defence we are received, the magistrates, the council, and all the whole body of this commonwealth: Let Thy Fatherly favour so preserve them, and Thy Holy Spirit so govern their hearts, that they may in such sort execute their office, that thy religion may be purely maintained, manners reformed, and sin punished according to the precise rule of Thy holy word. (1 Tim. 1:3 ff., Jam. 1:18 ff.)

And for that we are all members of the mystical body of Christ Jesus, (1 Cor. 12:12-13, Rom. 12:4-5) we make our requests unto thee, O heavenly Father, for all such as are afflicted with any kind of cross or tribulation, (Jam. 5:13-15) as war, plague, famine, sickness, poverty, imprisonment, persecution, banishment, or any other kind of Thy rods, whether it be calamity of body, or vexation of mind, (2 Cor. 1:6 ff., Heb. 13:3) that it would please Thee to give them patience and constancy, till Thou send them full deliverance of all their troubles. And as we are bound to love and honour our parents, kinfolks, friends, and country, (Ex. 20:12) so we most humbly beseech Thee to show Thy pity upon our miserable country of England, which once, through Thy mercy, was called to liberty, and now for their and our sins, is brought unto most vile slavery and Babylonian bondage.

Root out from thence, O Lord, all ravening wolves, (Matt. 7:15, Acts 20:29) which to fill their bellies destroy thy flock. (Ezek. 34:1 ff., Rom. 16:17-18, Phil. 3:2, 18-19) And show thy great mercies upon those our brethren which are persecuted, cast in prison, and daily condemned to death for the testimony of Thy truth. (Heb. 13:3, Rom. 8:36, Ps. 44:22) And though they be utterly destitute of all men’s aid, (John 16:33) yet let Thy sweet comfort never depart from them, but so inflame their hearts with Thy Holy Spirit, that they may boldly and cheerfully abide such trial (1 Pet. 1:7) as thy godly wisdom shall appoint. (Acts 2:23, Matt. 10:35 ff., Luke 21:12ff.) So that at length, as well by their death as by their life, (Rom. 14:7-8) the kingdom of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ may increase and shine through all the world. In whose name we make our humble petitions unto thee, as he hath taught us.

Our Father which art in heaven, etc.

Almighty and ever living God, vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, to grant us perfect continuance in Thy lively faith, augmenting the same in us daily, (Luke 17:5) till we grow to the full measure of our perfection in Christ, (Eph. 4:12-16) whereof we make our confession, saying, “I believe in God,” etc. qeQ
Then the people sing a Psalm, which ended, the minister pronounces one of these blessings, and so the congregation departs.

The Lord bless you and save you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be merciful unto you; the Lord turn His countenance towards
you, and grant you His peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. So be it. (2 Cor. 13:14) qeQ

It shall not be necessary for the minister daily to repeat all these things before mentioned, but beginning with some manner of confession, to proceed to the sermon; which ended, he either uses the prayer for all estates before mentioned, or else prays, as the Spirit of God shall move his heart, framing the same according to the time and matter which he hath entreated of. And if there shall be at any time any present plague, famine, pestilence, war, or suchlike, (Lev. 26:14ff., Deut. 28:15ff., 1 Kings 8:33-40, 2 Sam. 21[?]) which are evident tokens of God’s wrath; as it is our part to acknowledge our sins to be the occasion thereof, so are we appointed by the scriptures to give ourselves to mourning, fasting, and prayer, as the means to turn away God’s heavy displeasure. Therefore, it shall be convenient that the minister, at such time, not only admonish the people thereof, but also use some form of prayer, according as the present necessity requires, to the which he may appoint, by a common consent, some several day after the sermon, weekly to be observed.

The Order of Baptism

First note, that forasmuch as it is not permitted by God’s word, that women should preach or minister the sacraments; and it is evident that the sacraments are not ordained of God to be used in private corners as charms or sorceries, but left to the congregation, and necessarily annexed to God’s word as seals of the same; therefore the infant which is to be baptized shall be brought to the church, on the day appointed to common prayer and preaching, accompanied with the father and godfather. So that after the sermon, the child being presented to the minister, he demands this question: Do you present this child to be baptized, earnestly desiring that he may be engrafted in the mystical body of Jesus Christ?

`The answer: Yes, we require the same.

The minister proceeds: Then let us consider, dearly beloved, how Almighty God has not only made us his children by adoption, Rom. 8:14-17, Gal. 4:4-7, Eph. 1:5; 2:18-19) and received us into the fellowship of his church; but also has promised that he will be our God, and the God of our children, unto the thousandth generation. (Gen. 17:7, Ex. 20:6, Deut. 7:9, Isa. 59:21) Which thing, as He confirmed to His people of the Old Testament by the sacrament of circumcision, (Gen. 17:7ff., Rom. 4:11) so has He also renewed the same to us in his New Testament by the sacrament of baptism; (Col. 2:11-12, Gal. 3:27, Acts 2:38-39) doing us thereby to wit, that our infants appertain to Him by covenant, and therefore ought not to be defrauded of those holy signs and badges whereby His children are known from infidels and pagans. (Acts 10:47-48)

Neither is it requisite, that all those that receive this sacrament have the use of understanding and faith; but chiefly that they be contained under the name of God’s people: (Acts 2:38-39, 1 Cor. 7:4) so that remission of sins in the blood of Christ Jesus does appertain to them by God’s promise. Which thing is most evident by St. Paul, (1 Cor. 7:14) who pronounces the children begotten and born, either of the parents being faithful, to be clean and holy. Also our Saviour Christ admits children to His presence, embracing and blessing them. (Mark 10:13-16, Matt. 19:13-15, Luke 18:15-16, Ps. 22:9-10) Which testimonies of the Holy Ghost assure us, that infants are of the number of God’s people; and that remission of sins does also appertain to them in Christ. Therefore, without injury, they cannot be debarred from the common sign of God’s children. Neither yet is this outward action of such necessity, that the lack thereof should be prejudicial to their salvation, (Rom. 4:10, Gal. 3:1 Fff., Gen. 15:6; 17:12) if that prevented by death, they may not conveniently be presented to the church.
But we (having respect to that obedience which Christians owe to the voice and ordinance of Christ Jesus, who commanded to preach and baptize all without exception), (Mark 16:15-16, Matt. 28:19) do judge them only unworthy of any fellowship with Him, who contemptuously refuse such ordinary means as His wisdom has appointed to the instruction of our dull senses.

Furthermore, it is evident that baptism was ordained to be ministered in the element of water, (Matt. 3:11, 1 Pet. 3:21, 1 John 5:6, 8, 1 Cor. 10:1-4) to teach us, that like as water outwardly does wash away the filth of the body, so inwardly does the virtue of Christ’s blood purge our souls from that corruption and deadly poison wherewith by nature we were infected: (Eph. 2:1 ff.) whose venomous dregs, (Rom. 7:5 ff.) although they continue in this our flesh, yet by the merits of his death are not imputed unto us, (Rom. 4:1 ff., Gal. 3:1 ff., Ps. 32:1-2) because the justice of Jesus Christ is made ours by baptism. (Rom. 6:3-6, Gal. 3:27) Not that we think any such virtue or power to be included in the visible water or outward action (for many have been baptized, and yet never inwardly purged), but that our Saviour Christ, who commanded baptism to be ministered, will, by the power of his Holy Spirit, effectually work in the hearts of His elect (Acts 2:41-42; 13:48) (in time convenient) all that is meant and signified by the same. And this the scripture calls our regeneration, (Eph. 2:1 ff., 1 Cor. 12:9-11, Rom. 6:3-6, Col. 2:12-13[?]) which stands chiefly in these two points: in mortification (that is to say, a resisting of the rebellious lusts of the flesh), and newness of life, whereby we continually strive to walk in that pureness and perfection wherewith we are clad in baptism. And although we in the journey of this life are encumbered with many enemies, (1 Pet. 5:8, Luke 22:31, Job 7[?]) which in the way assail us, yet we fight not without fruit. For this continual battle which we fight against sin, death, and hell, (Rom. 5:3-5, 1 Pet. 1:5-7, Jam. 1:2-4, Eph. 6:10-18) is a most infallible argument that God the Father, mindful of His promise made unto us in Christ Jesus, does not only give us motions and courage to resist them, but also assurance to overcome and obtain victory. (1 Cor. 15:57-58, Hos. 13:14, Heb. 2:14-15, Job 19:25 ff. [?]) Wherefore, dearly beloved, it is not only of necessity that we be once baptized, but also it much profits oft to be present at the ministration thereof; that we being put in mind of the league and covenant made betwixt God and us, (Deut 6:1 ff., Josh. 1:8) that He will be our God, and we His people, He our Father, and we His children, (Jer. 31:33, Heb. 8:8-12) may have occasion as well to try our lives past as our present conversation, and to prove ourselves, whether we stand fast in the faith of God’s elect, or contrariwise have strayed from Him through incredulity and ungodly living; (Eph. 4:22 ff[?], Col. 3:8 ff., Heb. 13:9 [?]) whereof if our consciences do accuse us, yet byhearing the loving promises of our heavenly Father (who calls all men to mercy by repentance), (Ezek. 18:21-22, Acts 11:18, 2 Pet. 3:9, Deut. 4:29-31; 6:1ff.) we may from henceforth walk more warily in ourvocation.

Moreover, you that are fathers and mothers may take hereby most singular comfort, to see your children thus received into the bosom of Christ’s congregation, whereby you are daily admonished that you nourish and bring up the children of God’s favour and mercy, over whom His fatherly providence watches continually. (Matt. 18:12-14) Which thing, as it ought greatly to rejoice you (knowing that nothing can chance unto them without His good pleasure), (Matt. 6:25-34, Luke 12:6-7) so ought it to make you diligent and careful to nurture and instruct them in the true knowledge and fear of God. (Deut. 4:9; 6:7; 11:19, Eph. 6:4) Wherein if you are negligent, you do not only injury to your own children, (1 Sam. 2:22-25, 2 Kings 2:23-24) hiding from them the good will and pleasure of Almighty God their Father, but also heap damnation upon yourselves, in suffering His children bought with the blood of His dear Son, so traitorously (for lack of knowledge) to turn back from Him.

Therefore it is your duty, with all diligence, to provide that your children, in time convenient, be instructed in all doctrine necessary

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Supplement to Chapter 1 - The Deacons’ Court

deaconscourt.pdf

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Chapter 2 - The Presbytery

presbytery.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Scottish Confession of Faith 1560

And these glad tidings of the kingdom shall be preached through the whole world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14

The Preface

THE ESTATES of Scotland, with the inhabitants of the same, professing Christ Jesus’ holy evangel: to their natural countrymen, and unto all other realms and nations, professing the same Lord Jesus with them, wish grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the spirit of righteous judgment, for salutation, etc.

Long have we thirsted, dear brethren, to have notified unto the world the sum of that doctrine which we profess, and for the which we have sustained infamy and danger. But such has been the rage of Satan against us, and against Christ Jesus’ eternal verity lately born amongst us, that to this day no time has been granted unto us to clear our consciences, as most gladly we would have done. For how we have been tossed a whole year past, the most part of Europe (as we suppose) does understand. But seeing that of the infinite goodness of our God (who never suffers his afflicted utterly to be confounded), above expectation, we have obtained some rest and liberty, we could not but set forth this brief and plain confession of such doctrine as is proponed unto us, and as we believe and profess; partly for satisfaction of our brethren, whose hearts, we doubt not,have been and yet are wounded by the despiteful railing of such as yet have not learned to speak well; and partly for stopping of the mouths of impudent blasphemers, who boldly damn that which they have neither heard, nor yet understand.
Not that we judge that the cankered malice of such is able to be cured by this our simple confession. No, we know that the sweet savour of the evangel is, and shall be, death unto the sons of perdition. But we have chief respect to our weak and infirm brethren, to whom we would communicate the bottom of our hearts, lest that they be troubled or carried away by diversity of rumors, which Satan spreads contrary [against] us, to the defeating of this our most godly enterprise; protesting that, if any man will note in this our confession any article or sentence repugning to God’s holy word, that it would please him of his gentleness, and for Christian charity’s sake, to admonish us of the same in writing; and we, of our honour and fidelity, do promise unto him satisfaction from the mouth of God (that is, from his holy scriptures), or else reformation of that which he shall prove to be amiss. For God we take to record in our consciences, that from our hearts we abhor all sects of heresy, and all teachers of erroneous doctrine; and that, with all humility, we embrace the purity of Christ’s evangel, which is the only food of our souls; and therefore so precious unto us, that we are determined to suffer the extremity of worldly danger, rather than that we will suffer ourselves to be defrauded of the same. For hereof we are most certainly persuaded, that whosoever denies Christ Jesus, or is ashamed of him in presence of men, shall be denied before the Father, and before his holy angels. And therefore, by the assistance of the mighty Spirit of the same our Lord Jesus, we firmly purpose to abide to the end, in the confession of this our faith, as by articles follows.

The Scottish Confession of Faith

Chapter 1 - Of God
WE CONFESS and acknowledge one only God, to whom only we must cleave, whom only we must serve, whom only we must worship, and in whom only we must put our trust: (Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:6; Deut. 4:35; Isa. 44:5-6.) who is eternal, infinite, immeasurable, incomprehensible, om-nipotent, invisible; (1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chron. 6:18; Ps. 139:7-8; Gen. 17:1; 1 Tim. 6:15-16; Ex. 3:14-15.) one in substance, and yet distinct in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; (Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7.) by whom we confess and believe all things in heaven and in earth, as well visible as invisible, to have been created, to be retained in their being, and to be ruled and guided by his inscrutable Providence, to such end as his eternal wisdom, goodness, and justice has appointed them, to the manifestation of his own glory. (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3; Acts 17:28; Prov. 16:4.)

Chapter 2 - Of the Creation of Man
We confess and acknowledge this our God to have created man (to wit, our first father Adam) to his own image and similitude, to whom he gave wisdom, lordship, justice, free will, and clear knowledge of himself; so that in the whole nature of man there could be noted no imperfection: (Gen. 1:26-28; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24.) from which honour and perfection man and woman did both fall; the woman being deceived by the serpent, and man obeying the voice of the woman: both conspiring against the Sovereign Majesty of God, who in expressed words had before threatened death, if they presumed to eat of the forbidden tree. (Gen. 3:6; 2:17.)

Chapter 3 - Of Original Sin
By which transgression, commonly called Original Sin, was the image of God utterly defaced in man; and he and his posterity of nature became enemies to God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin; (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:10; 7:5; 2 Tim. 2:26; Eph. 2:1-3) insomuch that death everlasting has had, and shall have, power and dominion over all that have not been, are not, or shall not be regenerated from above: which regeneration is wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost, working in the hearts of the elect of God an assured faith in the promise of God, revealed to us in his word; by which faith we apprehend Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefits promised in him. (Rom. 5:14,21 6:23; John 3:5; Rom. 5:1; Phil. 1:29.)

Chapter 4 - Of the Revelation of the Promise
For this we constantly believe: that God, after the fearful and horrible defection of man from his obedience, did seek Adam again, call upon him, (Gen. 3:9.) rebuke his sin, convict him of the same, and in the end made unto him a most joyful promise: to wit, that the seed of the woman should break down the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15) - that is, he should destroy the works of the Devil. Which promise, as it was repeated and made more clear from time to time, so was it embraced with joy, and most constantly received of all the faithful, from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to David, and so forth to the incarnation of Christ Jesus: all (we mean the faithful fathers) under the law did see the joyful days of Christ Jesus, and did rejoice. (Gen. 12:3; 15:5-6; 2 Sam. 7:14; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Hag. 2:6; John 8:56)

Chapter 5 - The Continuance, Increase, and Preservation of the Kirk
We most constantly believe that God preserved, instructed, multiplied, honoured, decored, and from death called to life his kirk in all ages, from Adam, till the coming of Christ Jesus in the flesh. (Ezek. 6:6-14.) For Abraham he called from his father’s country; him he instructed; his seed he multiplied; (Gen. 12:1; 13:1.) the same he marvelously preserved, and more marvelously delivered from the bondage and tyranny of Pharaoh; (Ex. 1, etc.) to them he gave his laws, constitutions, and ceremonies; (Josh. 1:3; 23:4.) them he possessed in the land of Canaan; (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13.) to them, after Judges and after Saul, he gave David to be king, to whom he made promise, that of the fruit of his loins should one sit for ever upon his regal seat. (2 Sam. 7:12.) To this same people, from time to time, he sent prophets to reduce them to the right way of their God, (2 Kings 17:13-19.) from the which often times they declined by idolatry. And albeit for their stubborn contempt of justice, he was compelled to give them in the hands of their en-emies, (2 Kings 24:3-4.) as before was threatened by the mouth of Moses, (Deut. 28:36, 48.) insomuch that the holy city was destroyed, the temple burnt with fire, (2 Kings 25.) and the whole land left desolate the space of seventy years;(Dan. 9:2) yet of mercy did he reduce them again to Jerusalem, where the city and temple were reedified, and they, against all temptations and assaults of Satan, did abide till the Messiah came, according to the promise. ( Jer. 30; Ezra 1, etc.; Hag. 1:14; 2:7-9; Zech. 3:8. )

Chapter 6 - Of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus
When the fulness of time came, God sent his Son (Gal. 4:4.) - his Eternal Wisdom, the substance of his own glory, in this world - who took the nature of manhood of the substance of woman: to wit, of a virgin, and that by operation of the Holy Ghost. (Luke 1:31; Matt. 1:18; 2:1; Rom.1:3; John 1:45; Matt. 1:23.) And so was born the just seed of David, the angel of the great counsel of God; the very Messiah prom-ised, whom we confess and acknowledge Immanuel; very God and very man, two perfect natures united and joined in one person. (1 Tim. 2:5.) By which our confession we damn the damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, Nestorius, and such others as either deny the eternity of his Godhead, or the verity of his human nature, either confound them, either yet divide them.

Chapter 7 - Why It Behoved the Mediator to be Very God and Very Man
We acknowledge and confess that this most wondrous conjunction betwixt the Godhead and the manhood in Christ Jesus did proceed from the eternal and immutable decree of God, whence also our salvation springs and depends.(Eph. 1:3-6.)

Chapter 8 - Election
For that same Eternal God and Father, who of mere grace elected us in Christ Jesus his Son, before the foundation of the world was laid, (Eph. 1:11; Matt. 25:34.) appointed him to be our Head, (Eph. 1:22-23.) our Brother, (Heb. 2:7-8, 11-12; Ps. 22:22.) our Pastor, and great Bishop of our souls.(Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:24; 5:4.) But because that the enmity betwixt the justice of God and our sins was such that no flesh by itself could or might have attained unto God, (Ps. 130:3; 143:2.) it behoved that the Son of God should descend unto us, and take himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones, and so become the perfect Mediator betwixt God and man;(1 Tim. 2:5.) giving power to so many as believe in him to be the sons of God, (John 1:12.) as himself does witness: I pass up to my Father and unto your Father, to my God, and unto your God. (John 20:17.) By which most holy fraternity, whatsoever we have lost in Adam is restored to us again.(Rom. 5:17-19.) And for this cause are we not afraid to call God our Father,(Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-6.) not so much that [because] he has created us (which we have common with the reprobate), (Acts 17:26.) as for that he has given to us his only Son to be our brother, (Heb. 2:11-12.) and given unto us grace to acknowledge and embrace him for our only Mediator, as before is said.
It behoved further the Messiah and Redeemer to be very God and very Man, because he was to underlie the punishment due for our transgressions, and to present himself in the presence of his Father’s judgments, as in our person, to suffer for our transgression and disobedience,(1 Pet. 3:18; Isa. 53:8.) by death, to overcome him that was author of death. But because the only Godhead could not suffer death,(Acts 2:24.) neither yet could the only manhead overcome the same, he joined both together in one person, that the imbecility [weakness] of the one should suffer, and be subject to death (which we had deserved), and the infinite and invincible power of the other (to wit, of the Godhead) should triumph and pur-chase to us life, liberty, and perpetual victory.(John 1:2.; Acts 20:20; 1 Tim. 3:16; John 3:16) And so we confess, and most undoubtedly believe.

Chapter 9 - Christ’s Death, Passion, Burial, etc.
We confess] That our Lord Jesus Christ offered himself a
voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us;(Heb. 10:1-12.) that he suffered
contradiction of sinners; that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions;(Isa. 53:5; Heb. 12:3.) that he, being the clean and inno-cent Lamb of God, (John 1:29.) was damned in the presence of an earthly judge,(Matt. 27:11, 26; Mark 15; Luke 23.) that we should be absolved before the tribunal seat of our God; (Gal. 3:13.) that he suffered not only the cruel death of the cross (which was accursed by the sentence of God), (Deut. 21:23.) but also that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father, (Matt. 26:38-39.) which sinners had deserved. But yet we avow, that he remained the only and well-beloved and blessed Son of his Father, even in the midst of his anguish and torment, which he suffered in body and soul, to make the full satisfaction for the sins of the people.(2 Cor. 5:21.) After the which, we confess and avow, that there remains no other sacrifice for sin: (Heb. 9:12; 10:14.) which if any affirm, we nothing doubt to avow that they are blasphemers against Christ’s death, and the ever-lasting purgation and satisfaction purchased to us by the same.

Chapter 10 - Resurrection
We undoubtedly believe that, insomuch as it was impossible that the dolours of death should retain in bondage the Author of life; (Acts 2:24.) that our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, dead, and buried, who descended into hell, did rise again for our justification, (Acts 3:26; Rom. 6:5, 9; 4:25.) and destroying him who was the author of death, brought life again to us that were subject to death and to the bondage of the same.(Heb. 2:14-15.) We know that his resurrection was confirmed by the testimony of his very en-emies; (Matt. 28:4.) by the resurrection of the dead, whose sepulchres did open, and they did arise and appear to many within the city of Jerusalem.(Matt. 27:52-53.) It was also confirmed by the testimony of angels, (Matt. 28:5-6.) and by the senses and judgments of his apostles, and of others, who had conversation, and did eat and drink with him after his resurrection.(John 20:27; 21:7, 12-13; Luke 24:41-43.)

Chapter 11 - Ascension
We nothing doubt but that the selfsame body, which was born of the virgin, was crucified, dead, and buried, and which did rise again, did ascend into the heavens, for the accomplishment of all things; (Mark 16:9; Matt. 28:6; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9.) where, in our names, and for our comfort he has received all power in heaven and in earth, (Matt. 28:18.) where he sits at the right hand of the Father inaugurated in his kingdom, Advocate and only Mediator for us: (1 Jn. 2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5) which glory, honour, and prerogative he alone amongst the brethren shall possess, till that all his enemies be made his footstool, (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43.) as that we undoubtedly believe they shall be in the final judgment; to the execution whereof we certainly believe that the same our Lord Jesus shall visibly return, as that he was seen to ascend. (Acts 1:8.) And then we firmly believe, that the time of refreshing and restitution of all things shall come, ( Acts 3:19.) insomuch that those that from the beginning have suffered violence, injury, and wrong for righteousness’ sake, shall inherit that blessed immortality promised from the beginning. (Matt. 25:34; 2 Thess. 1:4-8.)
But contrariwise, the stubborn, disobedient, cruel op-pressors, filthy persons, idolaters, and all sorts of unfaithful shall be cast in the dungeon of utter darkness, where their worm shall not die, neither yet their fire shall be extin-guished. (Rev. 21:27; Isa. 66:24; Matt. 25:41; Mark 9:44, 46, 48; Matt. 22:13.) The remembrance of which day, and of the judg-ment to be executed in the same, is not only to us a bridle, whereby our carnal lusts are refrained; but also such inestimable comfort, that neither may the threatening of worldly princes, neither yet the fear of temporal death and present danger, move us to renounce and forsake that blessed society, which we, the members, have with our Head and only Mediator Christ Jesus: (2 Pet. 3:11; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; Luke 21:27-28; John 14:1, etc.) whom we confess and avow to be the Messiah promised, the only Head of his kirk, our just Lawgiver, our only High Priest, Advocate, and Mediator.(Isa. 7:14; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18; Heb. 9:11, 15; 10:21; 1 John 2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5.) In which honours and offices, if man or angel presume to intrude themselves, we utterly detest and abhor them, as blasphemous to our Sovereign and Supreme Governor, Christ Jesus.

Chapter 12 - Faith in the Holy Ghost
This our faith, and the assurance of the same, proceeds not from flesh and blood, that is to say, from no natural powers within us, but is the inspiration of the Holy Ghost: (Matt. 16:17; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13.) whom we confess God, equal with the Father and with the Son; (Acts 5:3-4.) who sanctifies us, and brings us in all verity by his own operation; without whom we should remain for ever enemies to God, and ignorant of his Son, Christ Jesus. For of nature we are so dead, so blind and so perverse, that neither can we feel when we are pricked, see the light when it shines, nor assent to the will of God when it is revealed, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus quicken that which is dead, remove the darkness from our minds, and bow our stubborn hearts to the obedience of his blessed will.(Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:1; John 9:39; Rev. 3:17; Matt. 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41; John 6:63; Micah 7:8; 1 Kings 8:57-58.) And so, as we confess that God the Father created us when we were not; (Ps. 100:3.) as his Son, our Lord Jesus redeemed us when we were enemies to him; (Rom. 5:10) so also do we confess that the Holy Ghost does sanctify and regenerate us, without all respect of any merit proceeding from us, be it before or be it after our regeneration. (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Rom. 5:8.) To speak this one thing yet in more plain words: as we willingly spoil ourselves of all honour and glory of our own creation and redemption, (Phil. 3:7.) so do we also of our regeneration and sanctification; for of ourselves we are not sufficient to think one good thought; but he who has begun the good work in us, is only he that continues us in the same, (Phil 1:6; 2 Cor. 3:5.) to the praise and glory of his undeserved grace.(Eph. 1:6)

Chapter 13 - The Cause of Good Works
So that the cause of good works we confess to be, not our free will, but the Spirit of the Lord Jesus who, dwelling in our hearts by true faith, brings forth such good works as God has prepared for us to walk into. For this we most boldly affirm, that blasphemy it is to say that Christ Jesus
abides in the hearts of such as in whom there is no spirit of sanctification. (Eph. 2:10; Phil 2:13; John 15:5; Rom. 8:9.) And therefore we fear not to affirm that murderers, oppressors, cruel persecutors, adulterers, whoremongers, filthy persons, idolaters, drunkards, thieves, and all workers of iniquity, have neither true faith, neither any portion of the spirit of sanctification, which proceeds from the Lord Jesus, so long as obstinately they continue in their wickedness.
For how soon that ever the Spirit of the Lord Jesus (which God’s elect children receive by true faith) takes possession in the heart of any man, so soon does he regenerate and renew the same man; so that he begins to hate that which before he loved, and begins to love that which before he hated. And from thence comes that continual battle which is betwixt the flesh and the spirit in God’s children; while the flesh and natural man (according to their own corruption) lust for things pleasing and delectable unto the self, grudge in adversity, are lifted up in prosperity, and at every moment are prone and ready to offend the Majesty of God. (Rom. 7:15-25; Gal. 5:17.) But the Spirit of God, which gives witnessing to our spirit, that we are the sons of God, (Rom. 8:16.) makes us to resist filthy pleasures, and to groan in God’s presence for deliverance from this bondage of corruption; (Rom. 7:24; 8:22.) and finally, to triumph over sin that it reign not in our mortal bodies. (Rom. 6:12.)
This battle have not the carnal men, being destitute of God’s Spirit; but [they] do follow and obey sin with greediness, and without repentance, even as the devil and their corrupt lusts do prick them. But the sons of God (as before is said) do fight against sin, do sob and mourn, when they perceive themselves tempted to iniquity; and if they fall, they rise again with earnest and unfeigned repentance. (2 Tim. 2:26.) And these things they do not by their own power, but the power of the Lord Jesus, without whom they were able to do nothing.(John 15:5.)

Chapter 14 - What Works are Reputed Good before God
We confess and acknowledge that God has given to man his holy law, in which not only are forbidden all such works as displease and offend his godly Majesty, but also are com-manded all such as please him, and as he has promised to reward. (Ex. 20:3, etc.; Deut. 5:6, etc.; 4:8.) And these works are of two sorts: the one are done to the honour of God, the other to the profit of our neighbours; and both have the revealed will of God for their assurance.
To have one God; to worship and honour him; to call upon him in all our troubles; to reverence his holy name; to hear his word; to believe the same; to communicate with his holy sacraments, are the works of the first table. (Luke 10:27-28; Micah 6:8.) To honour father, mother, princes, rulers, and superior pow-ers; to love them, to support them, yea, to obey their charges (not repugning to the commandment of God); to save the lives of innocents; to repress tyranny; to defend the oppressed; to keep our bodies clean and holy; to live in sobriety and temperance; to deal justly with all men, both in word and in deed; and, finally, to repress all appetite of our neighbour’s hurt, (Eph. 6:1, 7; Ezek. 22:1, etc.; 1 Cor 6:19-20; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; Jer. 22:3, etc.; Isa. 50:1, etc.; 1 Thess. 4:6.) are the good works of the second table, which are most pleasing and acceptable unto God, as those works that are commanded by himself.
The contrary whereof is sin most odious, which always displeases him, and provokes him to anger: as, not to call upon him alone, when we have need; not to hear his word with reverence; to contemn and despise it; to have or to worship idols; to maintain and defend idolatry; lightly to esteem the reverent name of God; to profane, abuse, or contemn the sacraments of Christ Jesus; to disobey or resist any that God has placed in authority (while they pass not over the bounds of their office); (Rom. 13:2.) to murder, or to consent thereto; to bear hatred, or to suffer innocent blood to be shed if we may gainstand it; (Ezek. 22:13, etc.) and, finally, the trans-gressing of any other commandment in the first or second table, we confess and affirm to be sin, (1 John 3:4.) by the which God’s anger and displeasure are kindled against the proud and unthankful world. So that good works we affirm to be these only that are done in faith, (Rom. 14:23; Heb. 11:6.) at God’s commandment, (1 Sam. 15:22; 1 Cor. 10:31.) who in his law has expressed what be the things that please him. And evil works, we affirm not only those that expressedly are done against God’s commandment, (1 John 3:4.) but those also that, in matters of religion and worshipping of God, have no other assurance but the invention and opinion of man: which God from the beginning has ever rejected, as by the prophet Isaiah, (Isa. 29:13.) and by our master Christ Jesus, we are taught in these words: In vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and precepts of men.(Matt. 15:9.; Mark 7:7.)

Chapter 15 - The Perfection of the Law and Imperfection of Man
The law of God we confess and acknowledge most just, most equal, most holy, and most perfect: commanding those things which, being wrought in perfection, were able to give life, and able to bring man to eternal felicity. (Lev. 18:5; Gal. 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:8; Rom. 7:12; Ps. 19:7-9; 19:11.) But our nature is so corrupt, so weak, and so imperfect, that we are never able to fulfill the works of the law in perfection. (Deut. 5:29; Rom. 10:3.) Yea, If we say we have no sin (even after we are regenerate), we deceive ourselves, and the verity of God is not into us. (1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chron. 6:36; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:22; 1 John 1:8.) And therefore it behoved us to apprehend Christ Jesus, with his justice and satisfaction, who is the end and accomplishment of the law, by whom we are set at this liberty, that the curse and malediction of the law fall not upon us, albeit we fulfill not the same in all points. (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:13; Deut. 27:26.) For God the Father, beholding us in the body of his Son Christ Jesus, accepts our imperfect obedience, as it were perfect, (Phil 2:15.) and covers our works, which are defiled with many spots, (Isa. 64:6.) with the justice of his Son.
We do not mean that we are set so at liberty, that we owe no obedience to the law (for that before we have plainly confessed). But this we affirm, that no man in earth (Christ Jesus only excepted) has given, gives, or shall give in work, that obedience to the law which the law requires. But when we have done all things, we must fall down and unfeignedly confess, that we are unprofitable servants. (Luke 17:10) And therefore whosoever boast themselves of the merits of their own works, or put their trust in the works of supererogation, boast themselves of that which is not, and put their trust in damnable idolatry.

Chapter 16 - Of the Kirk
As we believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; so do we most constantly believe that from the beginning there has been, now is, and to the end of the world shall be, a kirk: that is to say, a company and multitude of men chosen of God, who rightly worship and embrace him, by
true faith in Christ Jesus, (Matt. 28:20; Eph. 1:4.) who is the only Head of the same kirk, which also is the body and spouse of Christ Jesus; which kirk is Catholic - that is, universal - because it contains the elect of all ages, all realms, nations, and tongues, be they of the Jews, or be they of the Gentiles; who have communion and society with God the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus, through the sanctification of his Holy Spirit; (Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23-24, etc.; Rev. 7:9.) and therefore it is called the communion, not of profane persons, but of saints, who, as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, (Eph. 2:19.) have the fruition of the most inesti-mable benefits: to wit, of one God, one Lord Jesus, one faith, and of one baptism; (Eph. 4:5.) out of the which kirk there is neither life, nor eternal felicity. And therefore we utterly abhor the blasphemy of them that affirm that men which live according to equity and justice shall be saved, what religion that ever they have professed. For as without Christ Jesus there is neither life nor salvation, (John 3:36.) so shall there none be participant thereof, but such as the Father has given unto his Son Christ Jesus, and those [that] in time come unto him, (John 5:24; 6:37; 6:39; 6:65; 17:6.) avow his doctrine, and believe into him (we comprehend the children with the faithful parents). (Acts 2:39.) This kirk is invisible, known only to God, who alone knows whom he has chosen, (2 Tim. 2:19; John 13:18.) and comprehends as well (as said is) the elect that are departed (commonly called the kirk triumphant), as those that yet live and fight against sin and Satan as shall live hereafter.(Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; Heb. 12:4.)

Chapter 17 - The Immortality of the Souls
The elect departed are in peace and rest from their labours: (Rev. 14:13.) not that they sleep and come to a certain oblivion (as some fantastics do affirm), but that they are delivered from all fear, all torment, and all temptation, to which we and all God’s elect are subject in this life, (Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:14-17; 21:4.) and therefore do bear the name of the kirk militant: as contrariwise, the reprobate and unfaithful departed, have anguish, torment, and pain, that cannot be expressed. (Rev. 16:10-11; Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:44, 46, 48.) So that neither are the one nor the other in such sleep that they feel not joy or torment, as the parable of Christ Jesus in the sixteenth [chapter] of Luke, (Luke 16:23-26.) his words to the thief, (Luke 23:43.) and these words of the souls crying under the altar, (Rev. 6:9-10.) O Lord, thou that art righteous and just, how long shalt thou not revenge our blood upon them that dwell upon the earth! doth plainly testify.

Chapter 18 - Of the Notes by Which the True Kirk is Discerned from the False and Who Shall be Judge of the Doctrine
Because that Satan from the beginning has laboured to deck his pestilent synagogue with the title of the kirk of God, and has inflamed the hearts of cruel murderers to persecute, trouble, and molest the true kirk and members thereof - as Cain did Abel; (Gen. 4:8.) Ishmael, Isaac; (Gen. 21:9.) Esau, Jacob; (Gen. 27:41.) and the whole priesthood of the Jews, Christ Jesus himself, and his apostles after him; (Matt. 23:34; John 15:18-20, 24; 11:47, 53; Acts 4:1-3; 5:17, etc.) it is a thing most requisite that the true kirk be discerned from the filthy synagogue, by clear and perfect notes, lest we, being deceived, receive and embrace to our own condemnation the one for the other. The notes, signs, and assured tokens whereby the immaculate spouse of Christ Jesus is known from that horrible harlot, the kirk malignant; we affirm are neither antiquity, title usurped, lineal descent, place appointed, nor multitude of men approving an error - for Cain in age and title was preferred to Abel and Seth; (Gen. 4:1.) Jerusalem had prerogative above all places of the earth, (Ps. 48:2-3; Matt. 5:35) where also were the priests lineally descended from Aaron; and greater multitude followed the scribes, Pharisees, and priests, than unfeignedly believed and approved Christ Jesus and his doctrine; (John 12:42.) and yet, as we suppose, no man (of whole judgment) will grant that any of the forenamed were the kirk of God.
The notes, therefore, of the true kirk of God we believe, confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the word of God, into the which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles do declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, which must be annexed unto the word and promise of God, to seal and confirm the same in our hearts; (Eph. 2:20; Acts 2:42; John 10:27; 18:37; 1 Cor. 1:13; Matt. 18:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Rom. 4:11.) last, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God’s word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed, and virtue nourished. (Matt. 18:15-18; 1 Cor. 5:4-5.) Wheresoever then these former notes are seen, and of any time continue (be the number [of persons] never so few, about two or three) there, without all doubt, is the true kirk of Christ: who, according to his promise is in the midst of them: (Matt. 18:19-20.) not that universal [kirk] (of which we have before spoken) but particular; such as were in Corinth, (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:2.) Galatia, (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:2.) Ephesus, (Eph. 1:1; Acts 16:9-10; 18:1, etc.; 20:17, etc.) and other places in which the ministry was planted by Paul, and were of himself named the kirks of God.
And such kirks we, the inhabitants of the realm of Scotland, professors of Christ Jesus, confess ourselves to have in our cities, towns, and places reformed; for the doctrine taught in our kirks is contained in the written word of God: to wit, in the books of the New and Old Testaments: in those books, we mean, which of the ancient have been reputed canonical, in the which we affirm that all things necessary to be believed for the salvation of mankind are sufficiently expressed. (John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16-17.) The interpretation whereof, we confess, neither appertains to private nor public person, neither yet to any kirk for any preeminence or prerogative, personal or local, which one has above another; but appertains to the Spirit of God, by the which also the scripture was written. (2 Pet. 1:20-21.)
When controversy then happens, for the right under-standing of any place or sentence of scripture, or for the reformation of any abuse within the kirk of God, we ought not so much to look what men before us have said or done, as unto that which the Holy Ghost uniformly speaks within the body of the scriptures, and unto that which Christ Jesus himself did, and commanded to be done. (John 5:39.) For this is a thing universally granted, that the Spirit of God (which is the Spirit of unity) is in nothing contrary unto himself. (Eph. 4:3-4.) If then the interpretation, determination, or sentence of any doctor, kirk, or council, repugn to the plain word of God written in any other place of scripture, it is a thing most certain, that there is not the true understanding and meaning of the Holy Ghost, supposing that councils, realms, and nations have approved and received the same. For we dare not receive and admit any interpretation which directly repugns to any principal point of our faith, or to any other plain text of scripture, or yet unto the rule of charity.

Chapter 19 - The Authority of the Scriptures
As we believe and confess the scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make the man of God perfect, so do we affirm and avow the authority of the same to be of God, and neither to depend on men nor angels. (1 Tim. 3:16-17.) We affirm, therefore, that such as allege the scripture to have no authority, but that which is received from the kirk, to be blasphemous against God, and injurious to the true kirk, which always hears and obeys the voice of her own Spouse and Pastor, but takes not upon her to be mistress over the same.(John 10:27.)

Chapter 20 - Of General Councils, of Their Power, Authority, and Causes of Their Convention
As we do not rashly damn that which godly men, assembled together in general councils, lawfully gathered, have proponed unto us; so without just examination dare we not receive whatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of general councils. For plain it is, as they were men, so have some of them manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. (Gal. 2:11-14.) So far then as the council proves the determination and commandment that it gives by the plain word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace the same. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge unto us new articles of our faith, or to make constitutions repugning to the word of God, then utterly we must refuse the same as the doctrine of devils, which draws our souls from the voice of our only God to follow the doctrines and constitutions of men. (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Col. 2:18-23.)
The cause, then, why general councils convened, was neither to make any perpetual law (which God before had not made), nor yet to forge new articles of our belief, neither to give the word of God authority - much less to make that to be his word, or yet the true interpretation of the same, which was not before by his holy will expressed in his word. (Acts 15:1, etc.) But the cause of councils (we mean of such as merit the name of councils), was partly for confutation of heresies, and for giving public confession of their faith to the posterity following: which both they did by the authority of God’s written word, and not by any opinion or prerogative that they could not err, by reason of their general assembly. And this we judge to have been the chief cause of general councils. The other was for good policy and order to be constituted and observed in the kirk, in which (as in the house of God) (1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:2.) it becomes all things to be done decently and into order. (1 Cor. 14:40.) Not that we think that any policy, and one order in ceremonies can be appointed for all ages, times, and places: for as ceremonies (such as men have devised) are but temporal, so may and ought they to be changed, when they rather foster superstition than that they edify the kirk using the same.

Chapter 21 - Of the Sacraments
As the fathers under the law (besides the verity of the sacrifices) had two chief sacraments - to wit, circumcision and the Passover, the despisers and contemners whereof were not reputed for God’s people (Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 23:3,etc.; Gen. 17:14; Num. 9:13.) - so do we acknowledge and confess that we now, in the time of the evangel, have two sacraments only, instituted by the Lord Jesus, and commanded to be used of all those that will be reputed members of his body: to wit, baptism and the supper, or table of the Lord Jesus, called the communion of his body and blood. (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.) And these sacraments (as well of the Old as of the New Testament) were instituted of God, not only to make a visible difference betwixt his people, and those that were without his league; but also to exercise the faith of his children and, by participation of the same sacraments, to seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjunction, union, and society, which the elect have with their head, Christ Jesus.
And thus we utterly damn the vanity of those that affirm sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by baptism we are engrafted in Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his justice, by the which our sins are covered and remitted; and also, that in the supper, rightly used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us, that he becomes the very nourishment and food of our souls. (1 Cor. 10:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27.) Not that we imagine any transubstantiation of bread into Christ’s natural body, and of wine in his natural blood (as the Papists have perniciously taught and damnably believed); but this union and conjunction which we have with the body and blood of Christ Jesus, in the right use of the sacraments, is wrought by operation of the Holy Ghost, who by true faith carries us above all things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and makes us to feed upon the body and blood of Christ Jesus, which was once broken and shed for us, which now is in heaven, and appears in the presence of his Father for us. (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; 3:21.) And yet, notwithstanding the far distance of place which is betwixt his body now glorified in the heaven, and us now mortal in this earth, yet we most assuredly believe that the bread that we break is the communion of Christ’s body, and the cup which we bless is the communion of his blood. (1 Cor. 10:16.) So that we confess, and undoubtedly believe, that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s table, do so eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus, that he remains in them and they in him: yea, that they are so made flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones, (Eph. 5:30.) that as the Eternal Godhead has given to the flesh of Christ Jesus (which of its own condition and nature was mortal and corruptible) (Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30.) life and immortality, so does Christ Jesus’ flesh and blood eaten and drunken by us, give to us the same prerogatives. Which, albeit we confess are neither given unto us at that only time, neither yet by the proper power and virtue of the sacrament only; yet we affirm that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s table, have such conjunction with Christ Jesus, (John 6:51; 6:53-58.) as the natural man cannot apprehend.
Yea, and further we affirm, that albeit the faithful, oppressed by negligence, and manly infirmity, do not profit so much as they would in the very instant action of the supper, yet shall it after bring fruit forth, as lively seed sown in good ground. For the Holy Spirit (which can never be divided from the right institution of the Lord Jesus) will not frustrate the faithful of the fruit of that mystical action; but all this, we say, comes by true faith, which apprehends Christ Jesus, who only makes this sacrament effectual unto us. And, therefore, whosoever slanders us, as that we affirm or believe sacraments to be only naked and bare signs, do injury unto us, and speak against the manifest truth.
But this liberally and frankly we must confess, that we make a distinction betwixt Christ Jesus, in his natural substance, and betwixt the elements in the sacramental signs; so that we will neither worship the signs in place of that which is signified by them; neither yet do we despise and interpret them as unprofitable and vain; but do use them with all reverence, examining ourselves diligently before that so we do, because we are assured by the mouth of the apostle, That such as eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, unworthily, are guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord Jesus.(1 Cor. 11:27-29.)

Chapter 22 - Of the Right Administration of the Sacraments
That sacraments be rightly ministered, we judge two things requisite: the one, that they be ministered by lawful ministers, whom we affirm to be only they that are appointed to the preaching of the word, or into whose mouths God has put some sermon of exhortation, they being men lawfully chosen thereto by some kirk. The other, that they be min-istered in such elements, and in such sort, as God has appointed; else, we affirm that they cease to be right sacraments of Christ Jesus.
And therefore it is that we flee the society of the Papistical kirk, in participation of their sacraments: first, because their ministers are no ministers of Christ Jesus; yea (which is more horrible) they suffer women, whom the Holy Ghost will not suffer to teach in the congregation, to baptize. And, secondly, because they have so adulterated both the one sacrament and the other with their own inventions, that no part of Christ’s action abides in the original purity: for oil, salt, spittle, and suchlike in baptism, are but men’s inventions. Adoration, veneration, bearing through streets and towns, and keeping of bread in boxes or buists [chests], are profanation of Christ’s sacraments, and no use of the same. For Christ Jesus said, Take, eat, etc. Do ye this in remembrance of me. (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24.) By which words and charge he sanctified bread and wine, to be the sacrament of his body and blood, to the end that the one should be eaten, and that all should drink of the other; and not that they should be kept to be worshipped, and honoured as God, as the blind Papists have done heretofore, who also committed sacrilege, stealing from the people the one part of the sacrament: to wit, the blessed cup.
Moreover, that the sacraments be rightly used, it is required that the end and cause why the sacraments were instituted be understood and observed, as well of the minister, as the receivers. For if the opinion be changed in the receiver, the right use ceases: which is most evident by the rejection of the sacrifices; as also if the teacher plainly teaches false doctrine, which were odious and abominable before God (albeit they were his own ordinances), because that wicked men use them to another end than God has ordained. The same affirm we of the sacraments in the Papistical kirk, in which we affirm the whole action of the Lord Jesus to be adulterated, as well in the external form, as in the end and opinion. What Christ Jesus did, and commanded to be done, is evident by the evangelists, and by Saint Paul. What the priest does at his altar we need not rehearse. The end and cause of Christ’s institution, and why the selfsame should be used, is expressed in these words: Do this in remembrance of me. As oft as ye shall eat of this bread and drink of this cup, ye shall show forth, that is, extol, preach, magnify, and praise, the Lord’s death till he come. (1 Cor. 11:24-26.) But to what end, and in what opinion, the priests say their Mass, let the words of the same, their own doctors and writings witness: to wit, that they, as mediators betwixt Christ and his kirk, do offer unto God the Father a sacrifice propitiatory for the sins of the quick and the dead. Which doctrine, as blasphemous to Christ Jesus, and making derogation to the sufficiency of his only sacrifice, once offered for purgation of all those that shall be sanctified, (Heb. 9:27-28; 10:14.) we utterly abhor, detest, and renounce.

Chapter 23 - To Whom the Sacraments Appertain
We confess and acknowledge that baptism appertains as well to the infants of the faithful, as unto those that be of age and discretion. And so we damn the error of the Anabaptists, who deny baptism to appertain to children before that they have faith and understanding. (Col. 2:11-12; Rom. 4:11; Gen. 17:10; Matt. 28:19.) But the supper of the Lord we confess to appertain to such only as be of the household of faith, and can try and examine themselves, as well in their faith, as in their duty towards their neighbors. Such as eat and drink at that holy table without faith, or being at dissension and division with their brethren, do eat unworthily: (1 Cor. 11:28-29.) and therefore it is, that in our kirks our ministers take public and particular examination of the knowledge and conversation of such as are to be admitted to the table of the Lord Jesus.

Chapter 24 - Of the Civil Magistrate
We confess and acknowledge empires, kingdoms, dominions,
and cities to be distinguished and ordained by God: the powers and authorities in the same (be it of emperors in their empires, of kings in their realms, dukes and princes in their dominions, or of other in free cities) to be God’s holy ordinance, ordained for manifestation of his own glory, and for the singular profit and commodity of mankind. (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-14.) So that whosoever goes about to take away or to confound the whole state of civil policies, now long established; we affirm the same men not only to be enemies to mankind, but also wickedly to fight against God’s expressed will. (Rom. 13:2.)
We further confess and acknowledge, that such persons as are placed in authority are to be loved, honoured, feared, and held in most reverent estimation (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17.) because they are the lieutenants of God, in whose sessions God himself does sit and judge (Ps. 82:1.) (yea even the judges and princes themselves), to whom by God is given the sword, to the praise and defense of good men, and to revenge and punish all open malefactors. (1 Pet. 2:14.) Moreover, to kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates, we affirm that chiefly and most principally the conservation and purgation of the religion appertains; so that not only they are appointed for civil policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion, and for suppressing of idolatry and superstition whatsoever: as in David, (1 Chron. 22-26.) Jehoshaphat, (2 Chron. 17:6, etc.; 19:8, etc.wink Hezekiah, (2 Chron. 29-31.) Josiah, (2 Chron. 34-35.) and others, highly commended for their zeal in that case, may be espied.
And therefore we confess and avow, that such as resist the supreme power (doing that thing which appertains to his charge), do resist God’s ordinance, and therefore cannot be guiltless. And further, we affirm that whosoever denies unto them their aid, counsel and comfort, while the princes and rulers vigilantly travail in the execution of their office, that the same men deny their help, support and counsel to God, who, by the presence of his lieutenant, craves it of them.

Chapter 25 - The Gifts Freely Given to the Kirk
Albeit that the word of God truly preached, and the sacraments rightly ministered, and discipline executed according to the word of God, be the certain and infallible signs of the true kirk; yet do we not so mean that every particular person joined with such a company be an elect member of Christ Jesus. (Matt. 13:24, etc.) For we acknowledge and confess, that darnel, cockle, and chaff may be sown, grow, and in great abun-dance lie in the midst of the wheat: that is, the reprobate may be joined in the society of the elect, and may externally use with them the benefits of the word and sacraments; but such being but temporal professors in mouth, but not in heart, do fall back and continue not to the end; (Matt. 13:20-21.) and therefore have they no fruit of Christ’s death, resurrection, nor ascension. But such as with heart unfeignedly believe, and with mouth boldly confess the Lord Jesus (as before we have said) shall most assuredly receive these gifts: (Rom. 10:9, 13.) first, in this life, remission of sins, and that by only faith in Christ’s blood, insomuch that, albeit sin remains and continually abides in these our mortal bodies, yet is it not imputed unto us, but is remitted and covered with Christ’s justice. (Rom. 7; 2 Cor. 5:21.) Secondly, in the general judgment there shall be given to every man and woman resurrection of the flesh; (John 5:28-29.) for the sea shall give her dead, the earth those that therein be enclosed; yea, the Eternal, our God, shall stretch out his hand upon the dust, and the dead shall arise incorruptible, (Rev. 20:13.) and that in the substance of the selfsame flesh that every man now bears, (Job 19:25-27.) to receive according to their works, glory or punishment. (Matt. 25:31-46.) For such as now delight in vanity, cruelty, filthiness, superstition, or idolatry, shall be adjudged to the fire unquenchable, in which they shall be tormented for ever, as well in their own bodies, as in their souls, which now they give to serve the devil in all abomination. But such as continue in well doing to the end, boldly professing the Lord Jesus, we constantly believe that they shall receive glory, honour, and immortality, to reign for ever in life everlasting with Christ Jesus, (Rev. 14:10; Rom. 2:6-10.) to whose glorified body all his elect shall be made like, (Phil. 3:21.) when he shall appear again to judgment, and shall render up the kingdom to God his Father, who then shall be, and ever shall remain all in all things, God blessed for ever: (1 Cor. 15:24, 28.) to whom, with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and ever. Amen.

Arise, O Lord, and let thy enemies be confounded:
Let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly
name: Give thy servants strength to speak thy
word in boldness; and let all nations cleave to thy
rue knowledge. (Num. 10:35; Ps. 68:1; Acts 4:29.)

So be it.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Chapter 3 - The Synod

synod.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

Heidelberg Catechism 1563

Lord’s Day 1

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
Answer. Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

THE FIRST PART—OF THE MISERY OF MAN

Lord’s Day 2

Question 3. Whence knowest thou thy misery?
Answer. Out of the law of God.

Question 4. What doth the law of God require of us?
Answer. Christ teaches us that briefly, Matthew 22:37-40, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Question 5. Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?
Answer. In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.

Lord’s Day 3

Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?
Answer. By no means; but God created man good, and after his own image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him.

Question 7. Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?
Answer. From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.

Question 8. Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Answer. Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Lord’s Day 4

Question 9. Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?
Answer. Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

Question 10. Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
Answer. By no means; but is terribly displeased with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just judgment temporally and eternally, as he hath declared, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

Question 11. Is not God then also merciful?
Answer. God is indeed merciful, but also just; therefore his justice requires, that sin which is committed against the most high majesty of God, be also punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment of body and soul.

THE SECOND PART—OF MAN’S DELIVERANCE

Lord’s Day 5

Question 12. Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favor?
Answer. God will have his justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.

Question 13. Can we ourselves then make this satisfaction?
Answer. By no means; but on the contrary we daily increase our debt.

Question 14. Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?
Answer. None; for, first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man hath committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it.

Question 15. What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?
Answer. For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.

Lord’s Day 6

Question 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
Answer. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.

Question 17. Why must he in one person be also very God?
Answer. That he might, by the power of his Godhead sustain in his human nature, the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.

Question 18. Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?
Answer. Our Lord Jesus Christ: “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

Question 19. Whence knowest thou this?
Answer. From the holy gospel, which God himself first revealed in Paradise; and afterwards published by the patriarchs and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly, has fulfilled it by his only begotten Son.

Lord’s Day 7

Question 20. Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?
Answer. No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and receive all his benefits, by a true faith.

Question 21. What is true faith?
Answer. True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel, in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

Question 22. What is then necessary for a christian to believe?
Answer. All things promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic undoubted christian faith briefly teach us.

Question 23. What are these articles?
Answer. I. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
II. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
III. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
IV. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell:
V. The third day he rose again from the dead:
VI. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
VII. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
VIII.I believe in the Holy Ghost:
IX. I believe an holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
X. The forgiveness of sins:
XI. The resurrection of the body:
XII. And the life everlasting. AMEN.

Lord’s Day 8

Question 24. How are these articles divided?
Answer. Into three parts: the first is of God the Father, and our creation; the second of God the Son, and our redemption; the third of God the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification.

Question 25. Since there is but one only divine essence, why speakest thou of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
Answer. Because God hath so revealed himself in his word, that these three distinct persons are the one only true and eternal God.

OF GOD THE FATHER

Lord’s Day 9

Question 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
Answer. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body: and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.

Lord’s Day 10

Question 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
Answer. The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.

Question 28. What advantage is it to know that God has created, and by his providence doth still uphold all things?
Answer. That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move.

OF GOD THE SON

Lord’s Day 11

Question 29. Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is a Savior?
Answer. Because he saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins; and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.

Question 30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?
Answer. They do not; for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior; for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Savior, must find all things in him necessary to their salvation.

Lord’s Day 12

Question 31. Why is he called Christ, that is, anointed?
Answer. Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in (the enjoyment of) that salvation, he has purchased for us.

Question 32. But why art thou called a christian?
Answer. Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing; that so I may confess his name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life: and afterwards reign with him eternally, over all creatures.

Lord’s Day 13

Question 33. Why is Christ called the only begotten Son of God, since we are also the children of God?
Answer. Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for his sake.

Question 34. Wherefore callest thou him our Lord?
Answer. Because he hath redeemed us, both soul and body, from all our sins, not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood, and hath delivered us from all the power of the devil; and thus hath made us his own property.

Lord’s Day 14

Question 35. What is the meaning of these words - “He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary”?
Answer. That God’s eternal Son , who is, and continueth true and eternal God, took upon him the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; that he might also be the true seed of David, like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted.

Question 36. What profit dost thou receive by Christ’s holy conception and nativity?
Answer. That he is our Mediator; and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God, my sins, wherein I was conceived and brought forth.

Lord’s Day 15

Question 37. What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
Answer. That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life.

Question 38. Why did he suffer under Pontius Pilate, as judge?
Answer. That he, being innocent, and yet condemned by a temporal judge, might thereby free us from the severe judgment of God to which we were exposed.

Question 39. Is there anything more in his being crucified, than if he had died some other death?
Answer. Yes [there is]; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; for the death of the cross was accursed of God.

Lord’s Day 16

Question 40. Why was it necessary for Christ to humble himself even unto death?
Answer. Because with respect to the justice and truth of God, satisfaction for sins could be made no otherwise, than by the death of the Son of God.

Question 41. Why was he also “buried”?
Answer. Thereby to prove that he was really dead.

Question 42. Since then Christ died for us, why must we also die?
Answer. Our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, but only an abolishing of sin, and a passage into eternal life.

Question 43. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
Answer. That by virtue thereof, our old man is crucified, dead and buried with him; that so the corrupt inclinations of the flesh may no more reign in us; but that we may offer ourselves unto him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Question 44. Why is there added, “he descended into hell”?
Answer. That in my greatest temptations, I may be assured, and wholly comfort myself in this, that my Lord Jesus Christ, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which he was plunged during all his sufferings, but especially on the cross, hath delivered me from the anguish and torments of hell.

Lord’s Day 17

Question 45. What doth the resurrection of Christ profit us?
Answer. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of that righteousness which he had purchased for us by his death; secondly, we are also by his power raised up to a new life; and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

Lord’s Day 18

Question 46. How dost thou understand these words, “he ascended into heaven”?
Answer. That Christ, in sight of his disciples, was taken up from earth into heaven; and that he continues there for our interest, until he comes again to judge the quick and the dead.

Question 47. Is not Christ then with us even to the end of the world, as he hath promised?
Answer. Christ is very man and very God; with respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; but with respect to his Godhead, majesty, grace and spirit, he is at no time absent from us.

Question 48. But if his human nature is not present, wherever his Godhead is, are not then these two natures in Christ separated from one another?
Answer. Not at all, for since the Godhead is illimitable and omnipresent, it must necessarily follow that the same is beyond the limits of the human nature he assumed, and yet is nevertheless in this human nature, and remains personally united to it.

Question 49. Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension into heaven?
Answer. First, that he is our advocate in the presence of his Father in heaven; secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that he, as the head, will also take up to himself, us, his members; thirdly, that he sends us his Spirit as an earnest, by whose power we “seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth.”

Lord’s Day 19

Question 50. Why is it added, “and sitteth at the right hand of God”?
Answer. Because Christ is ascended into heaven for this end, that he might appear as head of his church, by whom the Father governs all things.

Question 51. What profit is this glory of Christ, our head, unto us?
Answer. First, that by his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly graces upon us his members; and then that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies.

Question 52. What comfort is it to thee that “Christ shall come again to judge the quick and the dead”?
Answer. That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven: who shall cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall translate me with all his chosen ones to himself, into heavenly joys and glory.

OF GOD THE HOLY GHOST

Lord’s Day 20

Question 53. What dost thou believe concerning the Holy Ghost?
Answer. First, that he is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the Son; secondly, that he is also given me, to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all his benefits, that he may comfort me and abide with me for ever.

Lord’s Day 21

Question 54. What believest thou concerning the “holy catholic church” of Christ?
Answer. That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself by his Spirit and word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am and for ever shall remain, a living member thereof.

Question 55. What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
Answer. First, that all and every one, who believes, being members of Christ, are in common, partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts; secondly, that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.

Question 56. What believest thou concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
Answer. That God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long; but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God.

Lord’s Day 22

Question 57. What comfort doth the “resurrection of the body” afford thee?
Answer. That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its head; but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.

Question 58. What comfort takest thou from the article of “life everlasting”?
Answer. That since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, after this life, I shall inherit perfect salvation, which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man” to conceive, and that, to praise God therein for ever.

Lord’s Day 23

Question 59. But what doth it profit thee now that thou believest all this?
Answer. That I am righteous in Christ, before God, and an heir of eternal life.

Question 60. How art thou righteous before God?
Answer. Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

Question 61. Why sayest thou, that thou art righteous by faith only?
Answer. Not that I am acceptable to God, on account of the worthiness of my faith; but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before God; and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only.

Lord’s Day 24

Question 62. But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?
Answer. Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

Question 63. What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?
Answer. This reward is not of merit, but of grace.

Question 64. But doth not this doctrine make men careless and profane?
Answer. By no means; for it is impossible that those, who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.

OF THE SACRAMENTS

Lord’s Day 25

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence doth this faith proceed?
Answer. From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments.

Question 66. What are the sacraments?
Answer. The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, namely, that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross.

Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation?
Answer. Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.

Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?
Answer. Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.

OF HOLY BAPTISM

Lord’s Day 26

Question 69. How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptism, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?
Answer. Thus: that Christ appointed this external washing with water, adding thereto this promise, that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.

Question 70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?
Answer. It is to receive of God the remission of sins, freely, for the sake of Christ’s blood, which he shed for us by his sacrifice upon the cross; and also to be renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin, and lead holy and unblamable lives.

Question 71. Where has Christ promised us, that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism?
Answer. In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed: “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” “he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.” This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism the washing of regeneration, and the washing away of sins.

Lord’s Day 27

Question 72. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
Answer. Not at all: for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin.

Question 73. Why then doth the Holy Ghost call baptism “the washing of regeneration” and “the washing away of sins”?
Answer. God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water.

Question 74. Are infants also to be baptized?
Answer. Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.

OF THE HOLY SUPPER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

Lord’s Day 28

Question 75. How art thou admonished and assured in the Lord’s Supper, that thou art a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?
Answer. Thus: that Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, adding these promises: first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.

Question 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?
Answer. It is not only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding “Flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone”; and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul.

Question 77. Where has Christ promised that he will as certainly feed and nourish believers with his body and blood, as they eat of this broken bread, and drink of this cup?
Answer. In the institution of the supper, which is thus expressed: “The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said: eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying: this cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For, as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”
This promise is repeated by the holy apostle Paul, where he says: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; because we are all partakers of that one bread.”

Lord’s Day 29

Question 78. Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?
Answer. Not at all: but as the water in baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; so the bread in the Lord’s supper is not changed into the very body of Christ; though agreeably to the nature and properties of sacraments, it is called the body of Christ Jesus.

Question 79. Why then doth Christ call the bread his body, and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood; and Paul the “communion of the body and blood of Christ”?
Answer. Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of his true body and blood (by the operation of the Holy Ghost) as we receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; and that all his sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.

Lord’s Day 30

Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the popish mass?
Answer. The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us:—but the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

Question 81. For whom is the Lord’s supper instituted?
Answer. For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by his passion and death; and who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Question 82. Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?
Answer. No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole congregation; therefore it is the duty of the christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and his apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.

Lord’s Day 31

Question 83. What are the keys of the kingdom of heaven?
Answer. The preaching of the holy gospel, and christian discipline, or excommunication out of the christian church; by these two, the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers.

Question 84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?
Answer. Thus: when according to the command of Christ, it is declared and publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they receive the promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them of God, for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation, so long as they are unconverted: according to which testimony of the gospel, God will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.

Question 85. How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by christian discipline?
Answer. Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those, who under the name of christians, maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life, are complained of to the church, or to those, who are thereunto appointed by the church; and if they

THE THIRD PART—OF THANKFULNESS

Lord’s Day 32

Question 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?
Answer. Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, and that he may be praised by us; also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith, by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation, others may be gained to Christ.

Question 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?
Answer. By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Lord’s Day 33

Question 88. Of how many parts doth the true conversion of man consist?
Answer. Of two parts; of the mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man.

Question 89. What is the mortification of the old man?
Answer. It is a sincere sorrow of heart, that we have provoked God by our sins; and more and more to hate and flee from them.

Question 90. What is the quickening of the new man?
Answer. It is a sincere joy of heart in God, through Christ, and with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.

Question 91. But what are good works?
Answer. Only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to his glory; and not such as are founded on our imaginations, or the institutions of men.

Lord’s Day 34

Question 92. What is the law of God?
Answer. God spake all these words, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, saying: I am the Lord thy God, which hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his name in vain.
IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
V. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

Question 93. How are these commandments divided?
Answer. Into two tables; the first of which teaches us how we must behave towards God; the second, what duties we owe to our neighbor.

Question 94. What doth God enjoin in the first commandment?
Answer. That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, invocation of saints, or any other creatures; and learn rightly to know the only true God; trust in him alone, with humility and patience submit to him; expect all good things from him only; love, fear, and glorify him with my whole heart; so that I renounce and forsake all creatures, rather than commit even the least thing contrary to his will.

Question 95. What is idolatry?
Answer. Idolatry is, instead of, or besides that one true God, who has manifested himself in his word, to contrive, or have any other object, in which men place their trust.

Lord’s Day 35

Question 96. What doth God require in the second commandment?
Answer. That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.

Question 97. Are images then not at all to be made?
Answer. God neither can, nor may be represented by any means: but as to creatures; though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.

Question 98. But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?
Answer. No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of the word.

Lord’s Day 36

Question 99. What is required in the third commandment?
Answer. That we, not only by cursing or perjury, but also by rash swearing, must not profane or abuse the name of God; nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and, briefly, that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; so that he may be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

Question 100. Is then the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavor, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?
Answer. It undoubtedly is, for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death.

Lord’s Day 37

Question 101. May we then swear religiously by the name of God?
Answer. Yes, either when the magistrates demand it of the subjects; or when necessity requires us thereby to confirm fidelity and truth to the glory of God, and the safety of our neighbor: for such an oath is founded on God’s word, and therefore was justly used by the saints, both in the Old and New Testament.

Question 102. May we also swear by saints or any other creatures?
Answer. No; for a lawful oath is calling upon God, as the only one who knows the heart, that he will bear witness to the truth, and punish me if I swear falsely; which honor is due to no creature.

Lord’s Day 38

Question 103. What doth God require in the fourth commandment?
Answer. First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear his word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor, as becomes a christian. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.

Lord’s Day 39

Question 104. What doth God require in the fifth commandment?
Answer. That I show all honor, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.

Lord’s Day 40

Question 105. What doth God require in the sixth commandment?
Answer. That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another; but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?
Answer. In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder.

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?
Answer. No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good, even to our enemies.

Lord’s Day 41

Question 108. What doth the seventh commandment teach us?
Answer. That all uncleanness is accursed of God: and that therefore we must with all our hearts detest the same, and live chastely and temperately, whether in holy wedlock, or in single life.

Question 109.Doth God forbid in this commandment, only adultery, and such like gross sins?
Answer.Since both our body and soul are temples of the Holy Ghost, he commands us to preserve them pure and holy: therefore he forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever can entice men thereto.

Lord’s Day 42

Question 110. What doth God forbid in the eighth commandment?
Answer. God forbids not only those thefts, and robberies, which are punishable by the magistrate; but he comprehends under the name of theft all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbor: whether it be by force, or under the appearance of right, as by unjust weights, ells, measures, fraudulent merchandise, false coins, usury, or by any other way forbidden by God; as also all covetousness, all abuse and waste of his gifts.

Question 111. But what doth God require in this commandment?
Answer. That I promote the advantage of my neighbor in every instance I can or may; and deal with him as I desire to be dealt with by others: further also that I faithfully labor, so that I may be able to relieve the needy.

Lord’s Day 43

Question 112. What is required in the ninth commandment?
Answer. That I bear false witness against no man, nor falsify any man’s words; that I be no backbiter, nor slanderer; that I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard; but that I avoid all sorts of lies and deceit, as the proper works of the devil, unless I would bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God; likewise, that in judgment and all other dealings I love the truth, speak it uprightly and confess it; also that I defend and promote, as much as I am able, the honor and good character of my neighbor.

Lord’s Day 44

Question 113. What doth the tenth commandment require of us?
Answer. That even the smallest inclination or thought, contrary to any of God’s commandments, never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart, and delight in all righteousness.

Question 114. But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?
Answer. No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God.

Question 115. Why will God then have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them?
Answer. First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ; likewise, that we constantly endeavor and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come.

OF PRAYER.

Lord’s Day 45

Question 116. Why is prayer necessary for christians?
Answer. Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us: and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them.

Question 117. What are the requisites of that prayer, which is acceptable to God, and which he will hear?
Answer. First, that we from the heart pray to the one true God only, who hath manifested himself in his word, for all things, he hath commanded us to ask of him; secondly, that we rightly and thoroughly know our need and misery, that so we may deeply humble ourselves in the presence of his divine majesty; thirdly, that we be fully persuaded that he, notwithstanding that we are unworthy of it, will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, as he has promised us in his word.

Question 118. What hath God commanded us to ask of him?
Answer. All things necessary for soul and body; which Christ our Lord has comprised in that prayer he himself has taught us.

Question 119. What are the words of that prayer?
Answer. Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Lord’s Day 46

Question 120. Why hath Christ commanded us to address God thus: “Our Father”?
Answer. That immediately, in the very beginning of our prayer, he might excite in us a childlike reverence for, and confidence in God, which are the foundation of our prayer: namely, that God is become our Father in Christ, and will much less deny us what we ask of him in true faith, than our parents will refuse us earthly things.

Question 121. Why is it here added, “Which art in heaven”?
Answer. Lest we should form any earthly conceptions of God’s heavenly majesty, and that we may expect from his almighty power all things necessary for soul and body.

Lord’s Day 47

Question 122. Which is the first petition?
Answer. “Hallowed be thy name”; that is, grant us, first, rightly to know thee, and to sanctify, glorify and praise thee, in all thy works, in which thy power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy and truth, are clearly displayed; and further also, that we may so order and direct our whole lives, our thoughts, words and actions, that thy name may never be blasphemed, but rather honored and praised on our account.

Lord’s Day 48

Question 123. Which is the second petition?
Answer. “Thy kingdom come”; that is, rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee; preserve and increase thy church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also, all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shalt be all in all.

Lord’s Day 49

Question 124. Which is the third petition?
Answer. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”; that is, grant that we and all men may renounce our own will, and without murmuring obey thy will, which is only good; that so every one may attend to, and perform the duties of his station and calling, as willingly and faithfully as the angels do in heaven.

Lord’s Day 50

Question 125. Which is the fourth petition?
Answer. “Give us this day our daily bread”; that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body, that we may thereby acknowledge thee to be the only fountain of all good, and that neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us without thy blessing; and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in thee.

Lord’s Day 51

Question 126. Which is the fifth petition?
Answer. “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbor.


Lord’s Day 52

Question 127. Which is the sixth petition?
Answer. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory.

Question 128. How dost thou conclude thy prayer?
Answer. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever”; that is, all these we ask of thee, because thou being our King and almighty, art willing and able to give us all good; and all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but thy holy name, may be glorified for ever.

Question 129. What doth the word “Amen” signify?
Answer. “Amen” signifies, it shall truly and certainly be: for my prayer is more assuredly heard of God, than I feel in my heart that I desire these things of him.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Chapter 4 - The General Assembly

assembly.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Book Of Discipline - 1587

The Sacred Discipline of the Church, Described in the Word Of God.

The discipline of Christ’s church that is necessary for all times is delivered by Christ, and set down in the holy Scriptures. Therefore the true and lawful discipline is to be fetched from thence, and from thence alone. And that which rests upon any other foundation ought to be esteemed unlawful and counterfeit.

Of all particular churches there is one and the same right order and form: therefore also no one may challenge to itself any power over others; nor any right which does not agree to others.

The ministers of public charges in every particular church ought to be called and appointed to their charges by a lawful ecclesiastical calling, such as hereafter is set down.

All these for the divers regard of their several kinds are of equal power amongst themselves.

No man can be lawfully called to public charge in any church, but he that is fit to discharge the same. And none is to be accounted fit, but he that is endued with the common gifts of all the godly; that is, with faith, and a blameless life: and further also, with those that are proper to that ministry wherein he is to be used, and necessary for the executing of the same; whereupon for the trial of those gifts some convenient way and examination is to be used.

The party to be called must first be elected, then he is to be ordained to that charge whereunto he is chosen, by the prayers of that church whereunto he is to be admitted; the mutual duties of him and of the church, being before laid open.

The ministers of the church are, first they are ministers of the word. In their examination it is specially to be taken heed unto, that they be apt to teach, and tried men, not utterly unlearned, nor newly planted converted to the faith.

Now these ministers to the word are, first pastors, which do administer the word and sacraments, then teachers, which are occupied in wholesome doctrine.

Besides there are also elders, which watch over the life and behaviour of every man, and deacons, which have care over the poor.

Further, in every particular church there ought to be a presbytery, which is a consistory, and as it were a senate of elders. Under the name of elders here are contained they who in the church minister doctrine, and they who are properly called elders.

By the common counsel of the eldership all things are directed that belong to the state of their church. First, such as belong to the guidance of the whole body of it in the holy and common assembly gathered together in the name of the Lord, that all things may be done in them duly, orderly, and to edification. Then also such as pertain to particular persons. First, to all the members of that church, that the good may enjoy all the privileges that belong unto them, that the wicked may be corrected with ecclesiastical censures according to the quality of the fault, private and public, by admonishing or by removing either from the Lord’s supper by suspension (as it is commonly called) or out of the church by excommunication. The which belong specially to the ministers of public charge in the church to their calling either to begun or ended, and ended either by relieving or punishing them, and that for a time by suspension or altogether by deposition.

For the directing of the eldership let the pastors be set over it, or if there be more pastors than one in the same church, let the pastors do it in their turns.

But yet in all the greater affairs of the church, as in excommunicating of any, and in choosing and deposing of church ministers, nothing may be concluded without the knowledge and consent of the church.

Particular churches ought to yield mutual help to one another, for which cause they are to communicate amongst themselves.

The end of this communicating together is, that all things in them may be so directed both in regard of doctrine and also of discipline, as by the word of God they ought to be.

Therefore the things that belong hereunto are determined by the common opinion of those who meet so to communicate together, and whatsoever is to be amended, furthered or procured in any of those several churches that belong to the assembly. Wherein, albeit no particular church has power over another, yet every particular church of the same resort, meeting and counsel, ought to obey the opinion of more churches with whom they communicate.

For holding of these meetings and assemblies there are to be chosen by every church belonging to that assembly, principal men from among the elders, who are to have their instruction from them, and so to be sent to the assembly. There must be also a care had, that the things they shall return to have been godly agreed on by the meetings, be diligently observed by the churches.

Further in such assemblies there is also to be chosen one that may be set over the assemblies, who may moderate and direct them. His duty is to see, that the assemblies be held godly, quiet and comely. Therefore it belongeth unto him to begin and end the conference with prayer, to know every man’s instructions, to propound what is the opinion of the greater part. It is also the part of the rest of the assembly to speak their opinions of the things propounded godly and quietly.

The synodical discipline gathered out of the synods and use of the churches which have restored it according to the word of God, and out of the sundry books that are written of the same, and referred unto certain heads

Of the necessity of a calling

Let no man thrust himself into the executing of any part of public charge in the administration of the word, sacraments, discipline or care over the poor. Neither let any such sue or seek for any public charge of the church, but let every one tarry until he be lawfully called.

The manner of entering and determining of a calling and against a ministry of no certain place; and the desertion of a church

Let none be called but unto some certain charge ordained of God, and to the exercising of the same in some particular congregation. And he that is so called let him be bound to that church that he may not after be of any other, or depart from it without the consent thereof. Let none be called, but they that have first subscribed the confession of doctrine and discipline. Whereof let them be admonished to have copies with themselves.

In the examination of ministers the testimony of the place from whence they come is to be demanded, whereby it may be understood what life and conversation he hath been of, and whether he hath been addicted to any heresy, or to the reading of any heretical books, or to curious and strange questions and idle speculations; or rather whether he be accounted sound and consenting in all things to the doctrine received in the church. Whereunto if he agree, he is also to expound some part of the holy scriptures twice or oftener, as it shall meet to the examiners, and that before the conference, and that church which is interested. Let him also be demanded of the principle heads of divinity. And whether he will diligently execute and discharge his ministry, and in the execution thereof propound unto himself not his own desires and commodities, but the glory of God and edification of the church. Lastly, whether he will be studious and careful to maintain and preserve wholesome doctrine, and ecclesiastical discipline. Thus let the minister be examined not only by one eldership, but also by some greater meeting and assembly.

Of Election

Before the election of a minister and the deliberation of the conference concerning the same, let there be a day of fast kept in the church interested.

Of the place of Exercising this Calling

Albeit it be lawful for a minister upon just occasion to preach in another church than that whereof he is minister, yet none may exercise any ordinary ministry elsewhere, but for a certain time upon great occasion, and by the consent of his church and conference.

Of the Office of the Ministers of the Word, and First of the Order of Liturgy, or Common Prayer

Let the minister that is to preach name a psalm or a part of a psalm (beginning with the first, and so proceeding) that may be sung by the church, noting to them the end of their singing (to wit) the glory of God and their own edification. After the psalm let a short admonition to the people follow of preparing themselves to pray duly unto God. Then let there be made a prayer containing a general confession. First of the guilt of sin both original and actual, and of the punishment which is due by the law for them both. Then also of the promise of the Gospel, and in respect of it supplication of pardon for the said guilt and punishment, and petition of grace promised, as for the duties of the whole life, so especially for the godly expounding and receiving of the word. Let this petition be concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. After the sermon, let the prayer be made again, first for grace to profit by the doctrine delivered, the principal heads thereof being remembered; then for all men, but chiefly for the universal church and for all estates and degrees of the people; which is likewise to be ended with the Lord’s Prayer and the singing of a Psalm as before. Last of all let the congregation be dismissed, with some convenient form of blessing taken out of the scripture, such as is Numb. 6:24; 2 Cor. 13:13.

Of Preaching

Let him that shall preach choose some part of the Canonical Scripture to expound, and not of the Apocrypha. Further in his ordinary ministry, let him not make postils (as they are called) but some whole book of the holy scripture, especially of the New Testament, to expound in order. In choice whereof regard is to be had both of the minister’s ability, and of the edification of the church.

He that preacheth must preform two things, the first that his speech be uncorrupt, which is to be considered both in regard of the doctrine, that it be holy, sound, wholesome and profitable to edification, not devilish, heretical, leavened, corrupt, fabulous, curious, or contentious; and also in respect of the manner of it, that it be proper to the place which is handled, that is, which either is contained plainly in the very words; or if it be gathered by consequent, that the same be fit and clear and such as may rise upon the property of the word, grace of speech and suit of the matter, and not be allegorical, strange, wrested or far-fetched. Now let that which is such, and chiefly which is fittest for the times and occasions of the church, be delivered. Further let the explication, confirmation, enlargement and application, and the whole treatise and handling of it be in the vulgar tongue, and let the whole confirmation and proof be made by arguments, testimonies and examples taken only out of the holy scriptures, applied fitly and according to the natural meaning of the places that are alleged.

The second thing to be preformed by him that preacheth is a reverend gravity; this is considered first in the style, phrase and manner of speech, that it be spiritual, pure, proper, simple and applied to the capacity of the people, not such as human wisdom teacheth, nor favoring of new fangledness, nor either so affected as it may serve for pomp and ostentation, or so careless, and base, as becometh not ministers of the word of God. Secondly, it is also to be regarded as well in ordering the voice, in which a care must be had that (avoiding the keeping always of one tune) it may be equal, and both rise and fall by degrees; as also in ordering the gesture, wherein (the body being upright) the guiding and ordering the whole body is to follow the voice, there being avoided in it all unseemly gestures of the head or other parts and often turning of the body to divers side. Finally let the gesture be grave, modest and seemly, not utterly none, nor too much neither like the gesters of players or fencers.

These things are to be preformed by him that preacheth, whereby when need requireth they may be examined who are trained and exercised to be made fit to preach: Let there be, if it may be, every Sabbath day two sermons, and let them that preach always endeavor to keep themselves within one hour, especially on the weekdays. The use of preaching at burials is to be left as it may be done conveniently, because there is danger that they may nourish the superstition of some, or be abused to pomp and vanity.

Of the Catechism

Let the catechism be taught in every church. Let there be two sorts. One more large applied to the delivering of the sum of religion by a suit and order of certain places of the scriptures, according to which some point of the holy doctrine may be expounded every week. Another of the same but shorter, fit for the examination of the rude and ignorant before they be admitted to the Lord’s Supper.

Of the Other Parts of Liturgy or Divine Service

All the rest of the liturgy or divine service consisteth in the administration of the sacraments and by the custom of the church in the blessing of marriage. The most commodious form thereof is that which is used by the churches that have reformed their discipline according to the word of God.

Of Sacraments

Let only a minister of the word that is a preacher minister the sacraments, and that after the preaching of the word, and not in any other place than in the public assemblies of the church.

Of Baptism

Women only may not offer unto baptism those that are to be baptised, but the father if it may be, or in his name some other. They which present unto baptism ought to be persuaded not to give those that are baptised the names of God or of Christ, or of angels or of holy offices, as of Baptist, Evangelist, ect., nor such a savour of paganism or popery; but chiefly such whereof they are examples in the holy scriptures in the names of those who are reported in them to have been godly and virtuous.

Of the Communion

Let the time of celebrating the communion be made known eight days before, that the congregation may prepare themselves, and that the elders may do their duty in going to and visiting whom they ought.

Of Signifying their Names that are to Communicate

Let them which before have not been received to the Lord’s Table, when they first desire to come to it, give their names to the minister seven days before the Communion that care of inquiring of them may be committed to the elders, that if there be any cause of hindrance there may be stay made betime; but if there be no such thing let them proceed (where need may be) to the examining of the faith before some of the elders and ministers every month before the communion. Let this whole treatise of discipline be read in the consistory, and let the ministers, elders and deacons be censured one after another; yet so that the minister concerning doctrine be censured of ministers only.

Let them only be admitted to Communion that have made confession of their faith, and submitted themselves to the discipline, unless they shall bring letters testimonial of good credit from some other place, or shall approve themselves by some other sufficient testimony.

Children are to admitted to the Communion before they be of the age of 14 years except the consistory shall otherwise determine.

On the Sabbath-day next before the Communion, let mention be made in the Sermon of the examination, whereunto the Apostle exhorteth, and of the peace that is by faith. On the day of the Communion, let there be speech of the doctrine of sacraments, and especially of the Lord’s Supper.

Of Fasting

Let the day of fasting be published by the pastor according to the advice of the Consistory, either for supplication, for turning away of calamities present or threatened; or for petition of some special grace. Let the sermons upon the same day before and after noon (as on the Lord’s day) be such as may be fit for the present occasion.

Of Holidays

Holidays are conveniently to be abolished.

Of Marriage

Let espousing go before marriage. Let the words of espousing be of the present time, and without condition, and before sufficient witnesses on both sides. It is also to be wished that the minister or an elder be present at the espousals, who having called upon God may admonish both parties of their duties. First, may have care of avoiding the degrees forbidden both by the law of God and man: and then they may demand of them, whether they be free from any bond of marriage, which if they profess and be strangers, he may also require sufficient testimony. Further also they are to be demanded, whether they have been married before, and of the death of the party with whom they were married, which if they acknowledge and be strangers he may demand convenient testimony of the death of the other party. Finally, let them be asked if they be under the government of any; whether they whom it concerneth have consented.

The espousals being done in due order, let them not be dissolved, though both parties should consent. Let the marriage be solemnized within two months after. Before the marriage let the promise be published three several Sabbath days; but first, let the parties espoused, with their parents or governors desire the publishing thereof of the minister and two elders at the least, that they may be demanded of those things that are needful, and let them require to see the instruments of the covenant of the marriage, or at least sufficient testimony of the espousals. Marriage may be solemnized and blessed upon any ordinary day of public prayer, saving upon a day of fast.

Of Schools

Let children be instructed in schools, both in other learning, and especially in the catechism, that they may repeat it by heart, and understand it; when they are so instructed, let them be brought to the Lord’s Supper, after they have been examined by the minister, and allowed by him.

Of Students of Divinity, and Their Exercises

In every church where it may be conveniently be done, care is to be had that some poor scholars studious of divinity being fit for theological exercises, and especially for expounding of holy scriptures, may be the liberality of the godly rich be taught and trained up to preach.

Let that exposition as often as it shall be convenient to be had be in the presence of at least one minister, by whose presence they may be kept in order, and in the same sort, (as touching the manner of preaching) that public sermons are made. Which being ended, let the other students (he being put apart that was speaker) note wherein he has failed in any of those things that are to be preformed by him that preacheth publicly, as is set down before. Of whose opinion let the minister that is present and is moderator of their exercise, judge and admonish the speaker, as he shall think meet.

Of Elders

Let the elder know every particular house and person of the church,that they may inform the minister of the condition of every one, and the deacons of the sick, and poor, that they may take care to provide for them: they are not to be perpetual, neither yet easily to be changed.

Of Consistories

In the consistory the most voices are to be yielded unto. In it only ecclesatical things are to be handled. Of them; first they are to be dealt with such as belong to the common direction of the public assembly, in the order of liturgy or divine service, sermon, prayers, sacraments, marriages, and burials. Then with such also as pertain to the oversight of every one, and their particular deeds. Further, they are to cause such things as shall be thought meet to be registered and written in a book. They are also to cause to be written in another book the names of them that are baptised, with the names of their parents and sureties. Likewise of the communicants. Further also are to be noted their names that are married, that die, and to whom letters testimonial are given.

Of the Censures

None is to be complained of unto the Consistory unless first, the matter being uttered with silencing the party’s name, if it seem meet so to be done by the judgement of the Consistory.

In private and less faults the precept of Christ, Matt. 18:15, is to be kept. Greater and public offences are to be handled by the Consistory. Further public offenses are to be esteemed, first, such as are done openly before all, or whomsoever, the whole church knowing of it. Secondly, such as be done in a public place, albeit few know it. Thirdly, that are made such by pertinacity and contempt. Fourthly, that for the heinousness of the offence are to be punished with some grievous civil punishment.

They that are to be excommunicated being in public charge in the church, are to be deposed also from their charges. They are also to be discharged that are unfit for the ministry by reason of their ignorance, or of some incurable disease, or by any other such cause, are disabled by means of sickness or age, let another be placed without the reproach of him that is discharged; and further, so as the reverence of the ministry may remain unto him, and he may be provided for liberally and in good order.

When there is question concerning an heretic, complained of to the Consistitory, straight let two or three neighbour ministers be called, men godly and learned, and free from that suspicion, by whose opinion he may be suspended till such time as the conference may take knowledge of his cause.

The obstinate after admonition by the Consistory, though the fault have not been so great, are to be suspended from the Communion; and if they continue in their obstinacy, this shall be the order to proceed to their excommunication. Three several Sabbath days after the sermon publicly let be declared the offense committed by the offender. The first Sabbath let not the offender’s name be published. The second let it be declared, and with a certain day of the week be named, to be kept for that cause in fasting and prayer. The third let warning be given of hie excommunicating to follow the next Sabbath after, except there be shewed some sufficient cause to the contrary: so upon the fourth Sabbath day let the sentence of excommunication be pronounced against him, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

He that has committed great offenses, opprobrious to the church, and to be grievously punished by the magistrates authority, albeit he profess his repentance in words, yet for the trial thereof, and to take away the offence, let him for a time be kept away from the Communion. Which how often, and how long is to be done, let the Consistory according to their discretion determine. After which, if the party repent, he is brotherly to be received again; by consent whereof he should have been excommunicated.

If the ministers of any public charge of the church commit any such thing, they are are to be deposed from their charge.

Of the Assemblies of the Church

Particular churches are to communicate one with another by common meetings and resorts. In them only ecclesiastical matters are to be handled, and of those, only such as pertain to the churches of that resort; concerning other churches, unless they be desired, they are to determine nothing further than to refer such matters to their next common and great meeting.

Let the order of proceeding in them be this: First, let the survey be taken of those that are present, and the names of those that are absent, and should be there, be noted that they may give a reason at their next meeting of their absence, or be censured by the judgement of the assembly next. Let the acts of the last assembly of that kind be read, that if any of the same remain unfinished they may be dispatched. Then let those things be dealt in that are properly belonging to the present assembly. Where first the instructions sent from the churches are to be delivered by everyone in order, as they fit together, with their letters of credence.

Secondly, let the state of the churches of that resort be considered, to wit, how they are instructed and guided, whether the holy doctrine and discipline be taught and exercised in them, and whether the ministers of public charges do their duty, and such like. Furthermore they shall determine of those things that do appertain to the common state of all the churches of that resort, or unto any of the same, which way may be sufficient for the oversight of the churches. Lastly, if it seem meet, the delegates present may be censured.

They that are to meet in such assemblies are to be chosen by the consent of the churches of that assembly and conference to whom it may appertain. Let such only be chosen that exercise public function in the church of ministry or eldership, and which have subscribed to the doctrine and discipline, and have promised to behave themselves according to the Word of God. Notwithstanding it may be lawful also to be present for other elders and other ministers, and likewise (if the assembly think it meet) for deacons and for students in divinity, especially those that exercise themselves in expounding the holy Scriptures in the conference, and be asked their opinion. Which to students is to this end, that their judgements in handling matters ecclesiastical may be both tried and sharpened. But they only are to give voice which are chosen by the churches, and have brought their instruction signed from them.

If there fall out any very weighty matter to be consulted of, let notice of it be given to the Moderator of the assembly next going before, or to the minister of that church where the next meeting is to be. The same is to send word of it in due time to the minister of every church of that assembly, that they may communicate it afore-hand with those to whom it appertaineth, that the delegates resorting to the next meeting may understand and report their judgements.

In appointing of the place for the assembly regard must be had of the convenient distance, and other commodities, that no part may justly complain that they are burthened above others.

In every such ecclesiastical assembly it is meet there be a Moderator. He is to have charge of the assembly, to see it kept in good order. He is always, if it may be conveniently, to be charged. The choice is to be in this manner.

The Moderator of the former assembly of that kind, or in his absence the minister of that church where they meet, having first prayed fitly to that purpose, is to move the assembly to choose a Moderator. He being chosen is to provide that the things being done in the assembly be written, that the delegates of every church may write them out and communicate them with the conferences from whence they came.

The Moderator is also by the order and judgement of the assembly, to give answer either by speech or by letters, to such as desire any answer, and to execute censures if any be to be executed. Further, he is to procure, all things to be done in it godly and quietly, exhorting to meekness, moderation of the spirit, and forbearing one of another where need shall be,and referring it to the assembly to take order for such as are obstinate and contentious. Lastly, he is to remember them of the next meeting following, with thanks for their pains, and exhortation to proceed cheerfully in their callings, and so courteously to dismiss the assembly. Before such time none may depart without leave of the assembly.

Those assemblies, according to their kinds have great authority, if they be greater; and less, if they be less. Therefore (unless it be a plain act, and manifest unto all) if any think himself injured by the less meeting, he may appeal still unto a greater, till he come to a general council, so that he ascend orderly from the less to the next greater. But it is to be understood, that the sentence of the assemblies be holden firm until it be otherwise judged by an assembly of greater authority.

Assemblies or Meetings are either Conferences or Synods

Conferences are the meeting of the elders of a few churches, as for example, of twelve. There are to meet in a conference chosen by the eldership of every particular church, one minister, and one elder. The conferences are to be kept once in six weeks.

They are specially to look into the state of the churches of that resort and conference: examining particularly these several points. Whether all things be done in them according to the holy doctrine and discipline of the Gospel,(to wit) whether any questions be moved concerning any point of doctrine. Whether the ecclesiastical discipline be duly observed. Whether any minister be wanting in any of those churches, that a sufficient one in due time may be procured. Whether the other ministers of public charge in the church be appointed in every congregation. Whether care be had of schools, and for the poor. Finally, they are to be demanded wherein any of them needeth the advice of the conference, for the advancement of the Gospel amongst them.

Before the end of the meeting, if it shall be so thought good by them, let one of the ministers assembled in the conference either chosen by voice, or taking it by turn, preach publicly. Of his speech let the rest judge among themselves (the elders being put apart) and admonish him brotherly, if there be any cause, examining all things according to those rules that are before declared in the chapter concerning the things that are to be preformed by those that preach.

Of Synods

A Synod is the meeting of chosen men of many conferences, in them let the whole treatise of discipline be read. In them also (other things first being finished as was said before) let all those that are present be censured (if it may be done conveniently) and let them also have a communion in, and which the church where they were called.

There are two sorts of Synods; the first is particular, which comprehendeth both the provincial and national Synod. A provincial synod is the meeting of the chosen men of every conference, within the province. A province containeth four and twenty conferences.

A fit way to call a provincial council may be this. The care thereof (except themselves will determine of it) may be committed to the particular eldership of some conference within the province, which by advice of the same conference may appoint the place and time for the meeting of the provincial synod.

To that church or eldership are to be sent the matters that seemed to the particular conferences more difficult for them to take order in, and such as belong to the whole churches of the province, which is to be done diligently, and in good time, that the same may in due season give notice of the place and time of the synod, and of the matters to be debated therein, that they which shall be sent may come the better prepared and judge of them according to the advice of the conferences.

Two ministers and as many elders are to be sent from every conference unto the provincial synod. The same is to be held every half year or oftener till the discipline be settled. It is to be held three months before every national synod, that they may prepare and make ready those things that pertain to the national. The acts of the provincial synod are to be sent unto the national, by the eldership of that church in which it was holden, and of the same. A national synod or convocation is a meeting of the chosen men of every province, within the dominion of the same nation and civil government. The way to call it (unless it shall determine otherwise) may be the same with the provincial, that is, by the eldership of some particular church, which shall appoint the time and place of the next national convocation; but not otherwise than by the advice of their provincial synod.

Out of every provincial synod there are to be chosen three ministers, and as many elders are to be sent to the national. They are to handle the things pertaining to the churches of the whole nation or kingdom, as the doctrine, discipline, ceremonies, things not decided by inferior meetings, appeals and such like. By order of the same, one is to be appointed which may gather into one book the notes of every particular church.

Thus much for particular meetings, the universal followeth, which is called a general, oecumenical council, which is a meeting of the chosen men of every national synod. The acts of all such councils are to be registered ad reported in a book.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Chapter 5 - Discipline

discipline.pdf

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Appendix 1 - Historical Documents

appendix1.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Belgic Confession of Faith 1619

Article 1: That there is One Only God.

We all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that he is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.

Article 2: By what means God is made known unto us.

We know him by two means: first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, his power and divinity, as the apostle Paul saith, Romans 1:20. All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse. Secondly, he makes himself more clearly and fully known to us by his holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to his glory and our salvation.

Article 3: Of the written Word of God.

We confess that this Word of God was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed word to writing; and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.

Article 4: Canonical Books of the Holy Scripture.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God. The books of the Old Testament are, the five books of Moses, namely: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Ruth, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two of the Kings, two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Those of the New Testament are the four evangelists, namely: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, namely: one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.

Article 5:

From whence the Holy Scriptures derive their dignity and authority.

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

Article 6:

The difference between the canonical and apocryphal books.

We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, namely: the third book of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Syrach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the three Children in the Furnace, the history of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith, or of the christian religion; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books.

Article 7:

The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures,to be the only rule of faith.

We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For, since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For, since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away anything from the word of God, it doth thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.

Article 8:

That God is one in Essence, yet nevertheless distinguished in three Persons.

According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is the one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct, according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is the cause, origin and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Ghost is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have each his personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident, that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed: for the Father hath not assumed the flesh, nor hath the Holy Ghost, but the Son only. The Father hath never been without his Son, or without his Holy Ghost. For they are all three co-eternal and co-essential. There is neither first nor last: for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.

Article 9:

The proof of the foregoing article of the Trinity of persons in one God.

All this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate, as to choose them out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis, chapter 1:26, 27, God saith: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc. So God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. And Genesis 3:22. Behold the man is become as one of us. From this saying, let us make man in our image, it appears that there are more persons than one in the Godhead; and when he saith, God created, he signifies the unity. It is true that he doth not say how many persons there are, but that, which appears to us somewhat obscure in the Old Testament, is very plain in the New. For when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, This is my beloved Son: the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God: likewise, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. In all which places we are fully taught, that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless, we now believe it by means of the Word of God, but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in Heaven. Moreover, we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons toward us. The Father is called our Creator, by his power; the Son is our Savior and Redeemer, by his blood; the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier, by his dwelling in our hearts. This doctrine of the Holy Trinity, hath always been defended and maintained by the true Church, since the time of the apostles, to this very day, against the Jews, Mohammedans, and some false christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nice, and of Athanasius: likewise that, which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.

Article 10:

That Jesus Christ is true and eternal God.

We believe that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made nor created (for then he should be a creature), but co-essential and co-eternal with the Father, the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory, equal unto him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that he assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses saith, that God created the world; and John saith, that all things were made by that Word, which he calleth God. And the apostle saith, that God make the worlds by his Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore it must needs follow, that he, who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time, when all things were created by him. Therefore the prophet Micah saith, His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle: He hath neither beginning of days, nor end of life. He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship and serve.

Article 11:

That the Holy Ghost is true and eternal God.

We believe and confess also, that the Holy Ghost, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceedeth from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son; and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.

Article 12: Of the Creation.

We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, hath created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That he doth also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence, and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God. He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve his elect; some of which are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are, therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments. Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels: and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.

Article 13: Of Divine Providence.

We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment: nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And, as to what he doth surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which he has revealed to us in his Word, without transgressing these limits. This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being persuaded, that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us. And therefore we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.

Article 14:

Of the Creation and Fall of man, and his Incapacity to perform what is truly good.

We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he hath lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calleth men darkness. Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin; and has nothing of himself, unless it is given from heaven. For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ saith, No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God? In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God? And therefore what the apostle saith ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but what Christ hath wrought in man; which he teaches us, when he saith, Without me ye can do nothing.

Article 15: Of Original Sin.

We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and an hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother’s womb, and which produceth in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death. Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.

Article 16: Of Eternal Election.

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.

Article 17: Of the Recovery of Fallen Man.

We believe that our most gracious God, in his admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown himself into temporal and eternal death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to seek and comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence, promising him that he would give his Son, who should be made of a woman, to bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy.

Article 18: Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of his mother) that Christ is become a partaker of the flesh and blood of the children; that he is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; made of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary, made of a woman, a branch of David; a shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham, since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and became like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us.

Article 19:

Of the union and distinction of the two Natures in the person of Christ.

We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties. As then the divine nature hath always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also hath the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body. And though he hath by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he hath not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while. Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.

Article 20:

That God hath manifested his justice and mercy in Christ Jesus.

We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent his Son to assume that nature, in which the disobedience was committed, to make satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death. God therefore manifested his justice against his Son, when he laid our iniquities upon him; and poured forth his mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving his Son unto death for us, and raising him for our justification, that through him we might obtain immortality and life eternal.

Article 21:

Of the satisfaction of Christ, our only High Priest, for us.

We believe that Jesus Christ is ordained with an oath to be an everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec; and that he hath presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins; as the prophets had foretold. For it is written: He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and numbered with the transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though he had first declared him innocent. Therefore: he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well in his body as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops of blood falling on the ground. He called out, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? and hath suffered all this for the remission of our sins. Wherefore we justly say with the apostle Paul: that we know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; we count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation. Neither is it necessary to seek or invent any other means of being reconciled to God, than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the angel of God, Jesus, that is to say, Savior, because he should save his people from their sins.

Article 22: Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him. For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him. Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy: for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior. Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works. However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

Article 23: Of Justification.

We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle saith, that we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in any thing in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approaching to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves. And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And therefore every one must pray with David: O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

Article 24: Of man’s Sanctification and Good Works.

We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, doth regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin. Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commanded in his Word. Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good. Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can they merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do. In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.

Article 25: Of the abolishing of the Ceremonial Law.

We believe, that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at the coming of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so that the use of them must be abolished amongst christians; yet the truth and substance of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their completion. In the meantime, we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of God, according to his will.

Article 26: Of Christ’s Intercession.

We believe that we have no access unto God, but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, who therefore became man, having united in one person the divine and human natures, that we men might have access to the divine Majesty, which access would otherwise be barred against us. But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by his majesty, or cause us to seek another according to our fancy. For there is no creature either in heaven or on earth who loveth us more than Jesus Christ; who, though he was in the form of God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a man, and of a servant for us, and was made like unto his brethren in all things. If then we should seek for another Mediator, who would be well affected towards us, whom could we find, who loved us more than he, who laid down his life for us, even when we were his enemies? And if we seek for one who hath power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and who hath all power in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well beloved Son of God? Therefore it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonoring, instead of honoring the saints, was introduced, doing that, which they never have done, nor required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings. Neither must we plead here our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that we should offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness but only on the ground of the excellency and worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is become ours by faith. Therefore the apostle, to remove this foolish fear, or rather mistrust from us, justly saith, that Jesus Christ was made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted; and further to encourage us, he adds, seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The same apostle saith, having boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, etc. Likewise, Christ hath an unchangeable priesthood, wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. What more can be required? since Christ himself saith, I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. To what purpose would we then seek another advocate, since it has pleased God, to give us his own Son as an advocate? Let us not forsake him to take another, or rather to seek after another, without ever being able to find him; for God well knew, when he gave him to us, that we were sinners. Therefore according to the command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our own Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord’s prayer; being assured that whatever we ask of the Father in his name, will be granted us.

Article 27: Of the Catholic Christian Church.

We believe and profess, one catholic or universal Church, which is an holy congregation, of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Ghost. This Church hath been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this, that Christ is an eternal King, which, without subjects, cannot be. And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God, against the rage of the whole world; though she sometimes (for a while) appears very small, and in the eyes of men, to be reduced to nothing: as during the perilous reign of Ahab, the Lord reserved unto him seven thousand men, who had not bowed their knees to Baal. Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same spirit.

Article 28:

That every one is bound to join himself to the true Church.

We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw himself, to live in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it; maintaining the unity of the Church; submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof; bowing their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ; and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them. And that this may be the more effectually observed, it is the duty of all believers, according to the word of God, to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church, and to join themselves to this congregation, wheresoever God hath established it, even though the magistrates and edicts of princes were against it, yea, though they should suffer death or any other corporal punishment. Therefore all those, who separate themselves from the same, or do not join themselves to it, act contrary to the ordinance of God.

Article 29:

Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs from the false Church.

We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from all sects, who call themselves the Church. The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself. With respect to those, who are members of the Church, they may be known by the marks of Christians: namely, by faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbor, neither turn aside to the right or left, and crucify the flesh with the works thereof. But this is not to be understood, as if there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against them through the Spirit, all the days of their life, continually taking their refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, “in whom they have remission of sins, through faith in him.” As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other.

Article 30:

Concerning the Government of, and Offices in the Church.

We believe, that this true Church must be governed by that spiritual policy which our Lord hath taught us in his Word; namely, that there must be ministers or pastors to preach the Word of God, and to administer the sacraments; also elders and deacons, who, together with the pastors, form the council of the Church: that by these means true religion may be preserved, and the true doctrine everywhere propagated, likewise transgressors punished and restrained by spiritual means: also that the poor and distressed may be relieved and comforted, according to their necessities. By these means everything will be carried on in the Church with good order and decency, when faithful men are chosen, according to the rule prescribed by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy.

Article 31: Of the Ministers, Elders, and Deacons.

We believe, that the ministers of God’s Word, and the elders and deacons, ought to be chosen to their respective offices by a lawful election by the Church, with calling upon the name of the Lord, and in that order which the Word of God teacheth. Therefore every one must take heed, not to intrude himself by indecent means, but is bound to wait till it shall please God to call him; that he may have testimony of his calling, and be certain and assured that it is of the Lord. As for the ministers of God’s Word, they have equally the same power and authority wheresoever they are, as they are all ministers of Christ, the only universal Bishop, and the only Head of the Church. Moreover, that this holy ordinance of God may not be violated or slighted, we say that every one ought to esteem the ministers of God’s Word, and the elders of the Church, very highly for their work’s sake, and be at peace with them without murmuring, strife or contention, as much as possible.

Article 32: Of the Order and Discipline of the Church.

In the meantime we believe, though it is useful and beneficial, that those, who are rulers of the Church, institute and establish certain ordinances among themselves for maintaining the body of the Church; yet they ought studiously to take care, that they do not depart from those things which Christ, our only Master, hath instituted. And therefore, we reject all human inventions, and all laws, which man would introduce into the worship of God, thereby to bind and compel the conscience in any manner whatever. Therefore we admit only of that which tends to nourish and preserve concord, and unity, and to keep all men in obedience to God. For this purpose, ex-communication or church discipline is requisite, with the several circumstances belonging to it, according to the Word of God.

Article 33: Of the Sacraments.

We believe, that our gracious God, on account of our weakness and infirmities hath ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us his promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God toward us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which he hath joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses, both that which he signifies to us by his Word, and that which he works inwardly in our hearts, thereby assuring and confirming in us the salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God worketh in us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore the signs are not in vain or insignificant, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Lord hath instituted, which are two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism, and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Article 34: Of Holy Baptism.

We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law, hath made an end, by the shedding of his blood, of all other sheddings of blood which men could or would make as a propitiation or satisfaction for sin: and that he, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, hath instituted the sacrament of baptism, instead thereof; by which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to him, whose ensign and banner we bear: and which serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious God and Father. Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to be baptized with pure water, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”: thereby signifying to us, that as water washeth away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so doth the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath, unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass, to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan. Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord giveth that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts, and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of his fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds. Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born twice. Neither doth this baptism only avail us, at the time when the water is poured upon us, and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful, than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that, which Christ hath done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law, that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ’s suffering and death, shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism is for our children. And for this reason Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ.

Article 35:

Of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe and confess, that our Savior Jesus Christ did ordain and institute the sacrament of the holy supper, to nourish and support those whom he hath already regenerated, and incorporated into his family, which is his Church. Now those, who are regenerated, have in them a two-fold life, the one corporal and temporal, which they have from the first birth, and is common to all men: the other spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth, which is effected by the word of the gospel, in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God’s elect. In like manner God hath given us, for the support of the bodily and earthly life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto, and is common to all men, even as life itself. But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life, which believers have, he hath sent a living bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life of believers, when they eat him, that is to say, when they apply and receive him by faith in the spirit. Christ, that he might represent unto us this spiritual and heavenly bread, hath instituted an earthly and visible bread, as a sacrament of his body, and wine as a sacrament of his blood, to testify by them unto us, that, as certainly as we receive and hold this sacrament in our hands, and eat and drink the same with our mouths, by which our life is afterwards nourished, we also do as certainly receive by faith (which is the hand and mouth of our soul) the true body and blood of Christ our only Savior in our souls, for the support of our spiritual life. Now, as it is certain and beyond all doubt, that Jesus Christ hath not enjoined to us the use of his sacraments in vain, so he works in us all that he represents to us by these holy signs, though the manner surpasses our understanding, and cannot be comprehended by us, as the operations of the Holy Ghost are hidden and incomprehensible. In the meantime we err not, when we say, that what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body, and the proper blood of Christ. But the manner of our partaking of the same, is not by the mouth, but by the spirit through faith. Thus then, though Christ always sits at the right hand of his Father in the heavens, yet doth he not therefore cease to make us partakers of himself by faith. This feast is a spiritual table, at which Christ communicates himself with all his benefits to us, and gives us there to enjoy both himself, and the merits of his suffering and death, nourishing, strengthening and comforting our poor comfortless souls by the eating of his flesh, quickening and refreshing them by the drinking of his blood. Further, though the sacraments are connected with the thing signified, nevertheless both are not received by all men: the ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation, but he doth not receive the truth of the sacrament. As Judas, and Simon the sorcerer, both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it, of whom believers only are made partakers. Lastly, we receive this holy sacrament in the assembly of the people of God, with humility and reverence, keeping up amongst us a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, with thanksgiving: making there confession of our faith, and of the Christian religion. Therefore no one ought to come to this table without having previously rightly examined himself; lest by eating of this bread and drinking of this cup, he eat and drink judgment to himself. In a word, we are excited by the use of this holy sacrament, to a fervent love towards God and our neighbor. Therefore we reject all mixtures and damnable inventions, which men have added unto, and blended with the sacraments, as profanations of them: and affirm that we ought to rest satisfied with the ordinance which Christ and his apostles have taught us, and that we must speak of them in the same manner as they have spoken.

Article 36: Of Magistrates.

We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, hath appointed kings, princes and magistrates, willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose he hath invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the protection of them that do well. And their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship (see note below); that the kingdom of anti-christ may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, of what state, quality, or condition so ever he may be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honor and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers, that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates, and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order, which God hath established among men.

NOTE: This phrase, touching the office of the magistracy in its relation to the Church, proceeds on the principle of the Established Church, which was first applied by Constantine and afterwards also in many Protestant countries. History, however, does not support the principle of State domination over the Church, but rather the separation of Church and State. Moreover, it is contrary to the New Dispensation that authority be vested in the State to arbitrarily reform the Church, and to deny the Church the right of independently conducting its own affairs as a distinct territory alongside the State. The New Testament does not subject the Christian Church to the authority of the State that it should be governed and extended by political measures, but to our Lord and King only as an independent territory alongside and altogether independent of the State, that it may be governed and edified by its office-bearers and with spiritual weapons only. Practically all Reformed churches have repudiated the idea of the Established Church, and are advocating the autonomy of the churches and personal liberty of conscience in matters pertaining to the service of God.

“The Christian Reformed Church in America, being in full accord with this view, feels constrained to declare that it does not conceive of the office of the magistracy in this sense, that it be in duty bound to also exercise political authority in the sphere of religion, by establishing and maintaining a State Church, advancing and supporting the same as the only true Church, and to oppose, to persecute and to destroy by means of the sword all the other churches as being false religions; and to also declare that it does positively hold that, within its own secular sphere, the magistracy has a divine duty towards the first table of the Law as well as towards the second; and furthermore that both State and Church as institutions of God and Christ have mutual rights and duties appointed them from on high, and therefore have a very sacred reciprocal obligation to meet through the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and Son. They may not, however, encroach upon each other’s territory. The Church has rights of sovereignty in its own sphere as well as the State.” Acta. Synod, 1910.

Article 37: Of the Last Judgment.

Finally we believe, according to the Word of God, when the time appointed by the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come, and the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare himself judge of the quick and the dead; burning this old world with fire and flame, to cleanse it. And then all men will personally appear before this great judge, both men and women and children, that have been from the beginning of the world to the end thereof, being summoned by the voice of the archangel, and by the sound of the trumpet of God. For all the dead shall be raised out of the earth, and their souls joined and united with their proper bodies, in which they formerly lived. As for those who shall then be living, they shall not die as the others, but be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and from corruptible, become incorruptible. Then the books (that is to say the consciences) shall be opened, and the dead judged according to what they shall have done in this world, whether it be good or evil. Nay, all men shall give an account of every idle word they have spoken, which the world only counts amusement and jest: and then the secrets and hypocrisy of men shall be disclosed and laid open before all. And therefore the consideration of this judgment, is justly terrible and dreadful to the wicked and ungodly, but most desirable and comfortable to the righteous and elect: because then their full deliverance shall be perfected, and there they shall receive the fruits of their labor and trouble which they have borne. Their innocence shall be known to all, and they shall see the terrible vengeance which God shall execute on the wicked, who most cruelly persecuted, oppressed and tormented them in this world; and who shall be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences, and being immortal, shall be tormented in that everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels. But on the contrary, the faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honor; and the Son of God will confess their names before God his Father, and his elect angels; all tears shall be wiped from their eyes; and their cause which is now condemned by many judges and magistrates, as heretical and impious, will then be known to be the cause of the Son of God. And for a gracious reward, the Lord will cause them to possess such a glory, as never entered into the heart of man to conceive. Therefore we expect that great day with a most ardent desire to the end that we may fully enjoy the promises of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” - Revelation. 22:20.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Appendix 2 - Election of Office Bearers

appendix2.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

Canons Of Dordt 1619

FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE
Of Divine Predestination

Article 1. As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle, Romans 3:19, “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” And verse 23: “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23: “for the wages of sin is death.”

Article 2. But in this the love of God was manifested, that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. I John 4:9. John 3:16.

Article 3. And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom he will and at what time he pleaseth; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. Romans 10:14, 15: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?”

Article 4. The wrath of God abideth upon those who believe not this gospel. But such as receive it, and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith, are by him delivered from the wrath of God, and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them.

Article 5. The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ, and salvation through him is the free gift of God, as it is written: “By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. “And unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him,” etc. Philippians 1:29.

Article 6. That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it proceeds from God’s eternal decree, “For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18. “Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will,” Ephesians 1:11. According to which decree, he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while he leaves the non-elect in his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, and merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.

Article 7. Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: “According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,” Ephesians 1:4,5,6. And elsewhere: “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified,” Romans 8:30.

Article 8. There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those, who shall be saved, both under the Old and New Testament: since the scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which he hath chosen us from eternity, both to grace and glory, to salvation and the way of salvation, which he hath ordained that we should walk therein.

Article 9. This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle: “He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love,” Ephesians 1:4.

Article 10. The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which doth not consist herein, that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation; but that he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, “For the children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil,” etc., it was said (namely to Rebecca): “the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” Romans 9:11,12,13. “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” Acts 13:48.

Article 11. And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient and omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

Article 12. The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God - such as a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.

Article 13. The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God additional matter for daily humiliation before him, for adoring the depth of his mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful returns of ardent love to him, who first manifested so great love towards them. The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging remissness in the observance of the divine commands, or from sinking men in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual effects of rash presumption, or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.

Article 14. As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise counsel of God, was declared by the prophets, by Christ himself, and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God’s most holy name, and for enlivening and comforting his people, without vainly attempting to investigate the secret ways of the Most High. Acts 20:27; Romans 11:33,34; 12:3; Hebrews 6:17,18.

Article 15. What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred Scripture, that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal election of God; whom God, out of his sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but leaving them in his just judgment to follow their own ways, at last for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger thereof.

Article 16. Those who do not yet experience a lively faith in Christ, an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor after filial obedience, and glorying in God through Christ, efficaciously wrought in them, and do nevertheless persist in the use of the means which God hath appointed for working these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires, devoutly and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace. Much less cause have they to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation, who, though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please him only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire; since a merciful God has promised that he will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly terrible to those, who, regardless of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the cares of the world, and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are not seriously converted to God.

Article 17. Since we are to judge of the will of God from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they, together with the parents, are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy.

Article 18. To those who murmur at the free grace of election, and just severity of reprobation, we answer with the apostle: “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” Romans 9:20, and quote the language of our Savior: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own?” Matthew 20:15. And therefore with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words of the apostle: “O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. - Amen.”

The true doctrine concerning Election and Reprobation having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

I.

Who teach: That the will of God to save those who would believe and would persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith, is the whole and entire decree of election unto salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God’s Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that he has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom above others he in time will grant both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it written: “I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world,” John 17:6. “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” Acts 13:48. And: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love,” Ephesians 1:4.

II.

Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive and absolute. Likewise: that there is one election unto faith, and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation. For this is a fancy of men’s minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: “And whom he foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified,” Romans 8:30.

III.

Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this that he chose out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order of things, the act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving, as well as its incomplete obedience, as a condition of salvation, and that he would graciously consider this in itself as a complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life. For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless questions from the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture, and this declaration of the Apostle is charged as untrue: “Who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal.” 2 Timothy 1:9.

IV.

Who teach: that in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand demanded, namely, that man should use the light of nature aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election were in any way dependent. For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle, when he writes: “Among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus; for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory,” Ephesians 2:3-9.

V.

Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen, is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions, which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not occur.
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates this and similar declarations: Election is not out of works, but of him that calleth. Romans 9:11. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” Acts 13:48. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” Ephesians 1:4. “Ye did not choose me, but I chose you,” John 15:16. “But if it be of grace, it is no more of works,” Romans 11:6. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son,” I John 4:10.

VI.

Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish. By which gross error they make God to be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches, that the elect can not be lead astray, Matthew 24:24; that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him, John 6:39; and that God hath also glorified those whom he foreordained, called and justified. Romans 8:30.

VII.

Who teach: That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of the unchangeable election to glory, nor any certainty, except that which depends on a changeable and uncertain condition. For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness of their election rejoice with the Apostle and praise this favor of God, Ephesians 1; who according to Christ’s admonition rejoice with his disciples that their names are written in heaven, Luke 10:20; who also place the consciousness of their election over against the fiery darts of the devil, asking: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Romans 8:33.

VIII.

Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of his righteous will, did not decide either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in the communication of grace which is necessary for faith and conversion. For this is firmly decreed: “He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth,” Romans 9:18. And also this: “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given,” Matthew 13:11. Likewise: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes; yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight,” Matthew 11:25,26.

IX.

Who teach: That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure of God, but rather the fact that one people is better and worthier than another to whom the gospel is not communicated. For this Moses denies, addressing the people of Israel as follows: “Behold unto Jehovah thy God belongeth heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein. Only Jehovah had a delight in thy fathers to love him, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples, as at this day,” Deuteronomy 10:14,15. And Christ said: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the might works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes,” Matthew 11:21.

SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE
Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby

Article 1. God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. And his justice requires (as he hath revealed himself in his Word), that our sins committed against his infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal, but with eternal punishment, both in body and soul; which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.

Article 2. Since therefore we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, he hath been pleased in his infinite mercy to give his only begotten Son, for our surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that he might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.

Article 3. The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.

Article 4. This death derives its infinite value and dignity from these considerations, because the person who submitted to it was not only really man, and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute him a Savior for us; and because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin.

Article 5. Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 6. And, whereas many who are called by the gospel, do not repent, nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief; this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.

Article 7. But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God, given them in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.

Article 8. For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

Article 9. This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell, so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting a church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love, and faithfully serve him as their Savior, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his praises here and through all eternity.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

I.

Who teach: That God the Father has ordained his Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity, profitableness and worth of what Christ merited by his death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person. For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to Scripture. For thus saith our Savior: “I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them,” John 10:15,27. And the prophet Isaiah saith concerning the Savior: “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand,” Isaiah 53:10. Finally, this contradicts the article of faith according to which we believe the catholic Christian church.

II.

Who teach: That it was not the purpose of the death of Christ that he should confirm the new covenant of grace through his blood, but only that he should acquire for the Father the mere right to establish with man such a covenant as he might please, whether of grace or of works. For this is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that Christ has become the Surety and Mediator of a better, that is, the new covenant, and that a testament is of force where death has occurred. Hebrews 7:22; 9:15,17.

III.

Who teach: That Christ by his satisfaction merited neither salvation itself for anyone, nor faith, whereby this satisfaction of Christ unto salvation is effectually appropriated; but that he merited for the Father only the authority or the perfect will to deal again with man, and to prescribe new conditions as he might desire, obedience to which, however, depended on the free will of man, so that it therefore might have come to pass that either none or all should fulfill these conditions. For these adjudge too contemptuously of the death of Christ, do in no wise acknowledge the most important fruit or benefit thereby gained, and bring again out of hell the Pelagian error.

IV.

Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father through the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist that we by faith, in as much as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but in the fact that God having revoked the demand of perfect obedience of the law, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace. For these contradict the Scriptures: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” Romans 3:24,25. And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new and strange justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.

V.

Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin. For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature children of wrath. Ephesians 2:3.

VI.

Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to the end that they may instill into the minds of the imprudent and inexperienced this teaching that God, as far as he is concerned, has been minded of applying to all equally the benefits gained by the death of Christ; but that, while some obtain the pardon of sin and eternal life, and others do not, this difference depends on their own free will, which joins itself to the grace that is offered without exception, and that it is not dependent on the special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they rather than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace. For these, while they feign that they present this distinction, in a sound sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive poison of the Pelagian errors.

VII.

Who teach: That Christ neither could die, needed to die, nor did die for those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected to eternal life, and did not die for these, since these do not need the death of Christ. For they contradict the Apostle, who declares: “Christ loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20. Likewise: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died,” Romans 8:33,34, namely, for them; and the Savior who says: “I lay down my life for the sheep,” John 10:15. And: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:12,13.

THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE
Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

Article 1. Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

Article 2. Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness. A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent, not by imitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature.

Article 3. Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.

Article 4. There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the differences between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly external deportment. But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.

Article 5. In the same light are we to consider the law of the decalogue, delivered by God to his peculiar people the Jews, by the hands of Moses. For though it discovers the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet as it neither points out a remedy, nor imparts strength to extricate him from misery, and thus being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.

Article 6. What therefore neither the light of nature, nor the law could do, that God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word or ministry of reconciliation: which is the glad tidings concerning the Messiah, by means whereof, it hath pleased God to save such as believe, as well under the Old, as under the New Testament.

Article 7. This mystery of his will God discovered to but a small number under the Old Testament; under the New, (the distinction between various peoples having been removed), he reveals himself to many, without any distinction of people. The cause of this dispensation is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one nation above another, nor to their making a better use of the light of nature, but results wholly from the sovereign good pleasure and unmerited love of God. Hence they, to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated, above their desert, or rather notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to acknowledge it with humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to adore, not curiously to pry into the severity and justice of God’s judgments displayed to others, to whom this grace is not given.

Article 8. As many as are called by the gospel, are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in his Word, what is pleasing to him, namely, that those who are called should come to him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life, and rest, to as many as shall come to him, and believe on him.

Article 9. It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted: the fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life; others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. - This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower. Matthew 13.

Article 10. But that others who are called by the gospel, obey the call, and are converted, is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversions, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who as he has chosen his own from eternity in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his own Son, that they may show forth the praises of him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.

Article 11. But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man; he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens; from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

Article 12. And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. - Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.

Article 13. The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers in this life. Notwithstanding which, they rest satisfied with knowing and experiencing, that by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart, and love their Savior.

Article 14. Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure; but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of that salvation, and actually believe in Christ; but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.

Article 15. God is under no obligation to confer this grace upon any; for how can he be indebted to man, who had no precious gifts to bestow, as a foundation for such recompense? Nay, who has nothing of his own but sin and falsehood? He therefore who becomes the subject of this grace, owes eternal gratitude to God, and gives him thanks forever. Whoever is not made partaker thereof, is either altogether regardless of these spiritual gifts, and satisfied with his own condition; or is in no apprehension of danger, and vainly boasts the possession of that which he has not. With respect to those who make an external profession of faith, and live regular lives, we are bound, after the example of the apostle, to judge and speak of them in the most favorable manner. For the secret recesses of the heart are unknown to us. And as to others, who have not yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not, as if they were. But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ.

Article 16. But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature, endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin which pervaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death; so also this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor take away their will and its properties, neither does violence thereto; but spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it; that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore unless the admirable author of every good work wrought in us, man could have no hope of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse of which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin.

Article 17. As the almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but requires the use of means, by which God of his infinite mercy and goodness hath chosen to exert his influence, so also the before mentioned supernatural operation of God, by which we are regenerated, in no wise excludes, or subverts the use of the gospel, which the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration, and food of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles, and teachers who succeeded them, piously instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to his glory, and the abasement of all pride, and in the meantime, however, neglected not to keep them by the sacred precepts of the gospel in the exercise of the Word, sacraments and discipline; so even to this day, be it far from either instructors or instructed to presume to tempt God in the church by separating what he of his good pleasure hath most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is his work advanced; to whom alone all the glory both of means, and of their saving fruit and efficacy is forever due. Amen.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

I.

Who teach: That it cannot properly be said, that original sin in itself suffices to condemn the whole human race, or to deserve temporal and eternal punishment. For these contradict the Apostle, who declares: “Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned,” Romans 5:12. And: “The judgment came of one unto condemnation,” Romans 5:16. And: “The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23.

II.

Who teach: That the spiritual gifts, or the good qualities and virtues, such as: goodness, holiness, righteousness, could not belong to the will of man when he was first created, and that these, therefore, could not have been separated therefrom in the fall. For such is contrary to the description of the image of God, which the Apostle gives in Ephesians 4:24, where he declares that it consists in righteousness and holiness, which undoubtedly belong to the will.

III.

Who teach: That in spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not separate from the will of man, since the will in itself has never been corrupted, but only hindered through the darkness of the understanding and the irregularity of the affections; and that, these hindrances having been removed, the will can then bring into operation its native powers, that is, that the will of itself is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose, all manner of good which may be presented to it. This is an innovation and an error, and tends to elevate the powers of the free will, contrary to the declaration of the Prophet: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt,” Jeremiah 17:9; and of the Apostle: “Among whom (sons of disobedience) we also all once lived in the lusts of the flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” Ephesians 2:3.

IV.

Who teach: That the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and broken spirit, which is pleasing to God. For these are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture. “Ye were dead through trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1,5; and: “Every imagination of the thought of his heart are only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5; 8:21.
Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery, and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed. Psalm 51:10, 19; Matthew 5:6.

V.

Who teach: That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a greater, namely, the evangelical or saving grace and salvation itself. And that in this way God on his part shows himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since he applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion. For the experience of all ages and the Scriptures do both testify that this is untrue. “He showeth his Word unto Jacob, his statues and his ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his ordinances they have not known them,” Psalm 147:19, 20. “Who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own way,” Acts 14:16. And: “And they (Paul and his companions) having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia, and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit suffered them not,” Acts 16:6, 7.

VI.

Who teach: That in the true conversion of man no new qualities, powers or gifts can be infused by God into the will, and that therefore faith through which we are first converted, and because of which we are called believers, is not a quality or gift infused by God, but only an act of man, and that it can not be said to be a gift, except in respect of the power to attain to this faith. For thereby they contradict the Holy Scriptures, which declare that God infuses new qualities of faith, of obedience, and of the consciousness of his love into our hearts: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their hearts will I write it,” Jeremiah 31:33. And: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed,” Isaiah 44:3. And: “The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which hath been given us,” Romans 5:5. This is also repugnant to the continuous practice of the Church, which prays by the mouth of the Prophet thus: “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned,” Jeremiah 31:18.

VII.

Who teach: that the grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle advising, or (as others explain it), that this is the noblest manner of working in the conversion of man, and that this manner of working, which consists in advising, is most in harmony with man’s nature; and that there is no reason why this advising grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man spiritual, indeed, that God does not produce the consent of the will except through this manner of advising; and that the power of the divine working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists in this, that God promises eternal, while Satan promises only temporal goods. But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture which, besides this, teaches another and far more powerful and divine manner of the Holy Spirit’s working in the conversion of man, as in Ezekiel: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 36:26.

VIII.

Who teach: That God in the regeneration of man does not use such powers of his omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend man’s will to faith and conversion; but that all the works of grace having been accomplished, which God employs to convert man, man may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit, when God intends man’s regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed that man often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration, and that it therefore remains in man’s power to be regenerated or not. For this is nothing less than the denial of all the efficiency of God’s grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty God to the will of man, which is contrary to the Apostles, who teach: “That we believe according to the working of the strength of his power,” Ephesians 1:19. And: “That God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power,” 2 Thessalonians 1:11. And: “That his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” 2 Peter 1:3.

IX.

Who teach: That grace and free will are partial causes, which together work the beginning of conversion, and that grace, in order of working, does not precede the working of the will; that is, that God does not efficiently help the will of man unto conversion until the will of man moves and determines to do this. For the ancient Church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the Pelagians according to the words of the Apostle: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy,” Romans 9:16. Likewise: “For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” I Corinthians 4:7. And: “For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13.

FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE
Of the Perseverance of the Saints

Article 1. Whom God calls, according to his purpose, to the communion of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, he delivers also from the dominion and slavery of sin in this life; though not altogether from the body of sin, and from the infirmities of the flesh, so long as they continue in this world.

Article 2. Hence spring daily sins of infirmity, and hence spots adhere to the best works of the saints; which furnish them with constant matter for humiliation before God, and flying for refuge to Christ crucified; for mortifying the flesh more and more by the spirit of prayer, and by holy exercises of piety; and for pressing forward to the goal of perfection, till being at length delivered from this body of death, they are brought to reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

Article 3. By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength. But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.

Article 4. Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of God, who confirms and preserves true believers in a state of grace, yet converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God, as not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to be seduced by, and to comply with the lusts of the flesh; they must, therefore, be constant in watching and in prayer, that they be not led into temptation. When these are neglected, they are not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins, by Satan, the world and the flesh, but sometimes by the righteous permission of God actually fall into these evils. This, the lamentable fall of David, Peter, and other saints described in Holy Scripture, demonstrates.

Article 5. By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor, for a time, until on their returning into the right way of serious repentance, the light of God’s fatherly countenance again shines upon them.

Article 6. But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from his own people, even in their melancholy falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption, and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit sins unto death; nor does he permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.

Article 7. For in the first place, in these falls he preserves them in the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing, or being totally lost; and again, by his Word and Spirit, certainly and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor of a reconciled God, through faith adore his mercies, and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Article 8. Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.

Article 9. Of this preservation of the elect to salvation, and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers for themselves may and ought to obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith, whereby they arrive at the certain persuasion, that they ever will continue true and living members of the church; and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last inherit eternal life.

Article 10. This assurance, however, is not produced by any peculiar revelation contrary to, or independent of the Word of God; but springs from faith in God’s promises, which he has most abundantly revealed in his Word for our comfort; from the testimony of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with our spirit, that we are children and heirs of God, Romans 8:16; and lastly, from a serious and holy desire to preserve a good conscience, and to perform good works. And if the elect of God were deprived of this solid comfort, that they shall finally obtain the victory, and of this infallible pledge or earnest of eternal glory, they would be of all men the most miserable.

Article 11. The Scripture moreover testifies, that believers in this life have to struggle with various carnal doubts, and that under grievous temptations they are not always sensible of this full assurance of faith and certainty of persevering. But God, who is the Father of all consolation, does not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it, I Corinthians 10:13, and by the Holy Spirit again inspires them with the comfortable assurance of persevering.

Article 12. This certainty of perseverance, however, is so far from exciting in believers a spirit of pride, or of rendering them carnally secure, that on the contrary, it is the real source of humility, filial reverence, true piety, patience in every tribulation, fervent prayers, constancy in suffering, and in confessing the truth, and of solid rejoicing in God: so that the consideration of this benefit should serve as an incentive to the serious and constant practice of gratitude and good works, as appears from the testimonies of Scripture, and the examples of the saints.

Article 13. Neither does renewed confidence or persevering produce licentiousness, or a disregard to piety in those who are recovering from backsliding; but it renders them much more careful and solicitous to continue in the ways of the Lord, which he hath ordained, that they who walk therein may maintain an assurance of persevering, lest by abusing his fatherly kindness, God should turn away his gracious countenance from them, to behold which is to the godly dearer than life: the withdrawing thereof is more bitter than death, and they in consequence hereof should fall into more grievous torments of conscience.

Article 14. And as it hath pleased God, by the preaching of the gospel, to begin this work of grace in us, so he preserves, continues, and perfects it by the hearing and reading of his Word, by meditation thereon, and by the exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof, as well as by the use of the sacraments.

Article 15. The carnal mind is unable to comprehend this doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and the certainty thereof; which God hath most abundantly revealed in his Word, for the glory of his name, and the consolation of pious souls, and which he impresses upon the hearts of the faithful. Satan abhors it; the world ridicules it; the ignorant and hypocrite abuse, and heretics oppose it; but the spouse of Christ hath always most tenderly loved and constantly defended it, as an inestimable treasure; and God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail, will dispose her to continue this conduct to the end. Now, to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, forever. AMEN.

The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

I.

Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of election, or a gift of God, gained by the death of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant, which (as they declare) man before his decisive election and justification must fulfill through his free will. For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election, and is given the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection and intercession of Christ: “But the elect obtained it and the rest were hardened,” Romans 11:7. Likewise: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:32-35.

II.

Who teach: That God does indeed provide the believer with sufficient powers to persevere, and is ever ready to preserve these in him, if he will do his duty; but that though all things, which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God will use to preserve faith, are made use of, it even then ever depends on the pleasure of the will whether it will persevere or not. For this idea contains an outspoken Pelagianism, and while it would make men free, it makes them robbers of God’s honor, contrary to the prevailing agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which takes from man all cause of boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this favor to the grace of God alone; and contrary to the Apostle, who declares: “That it is God, who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ,” I Corinthians 1:18.

III.

Who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this and are lost forever. For this conception makes powerless the grace, justification, regeneration, and continued keeping by Christ, contrary to the expressed words of the Apostle Paul: “That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him,” Romans 5:8,9. And contrary to the Apostle John: “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him; and he can not sin, because he is begotten of God,” I John 3:9. And also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father who hath given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” John 10:28,29.

IV.

Who teach: That true believers and regenerate can sin the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit. Since the same Apostle John, after having spoken in the fifth chapter of his first epistle, vss. 16 and 17, of those who sin unto death and having forbidden to pray for them, immediately adds to this in vs. 18: “We know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not (meaning a sin of that character), but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the evil one toucheth him not,” I John 5:18.

V.

Who teach: That without a special revelation we can have no certainty of future perseverance in this life. For by this doctrine the sure comfort of all believers is taken away in this life, and the doubts of the papist are again introduced into the church, while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance, not from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks proper to the children of God and from the constant promises of God. So especially the Apostle Paul: “No creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:39. And John declares: “And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us,” I John 3:24.

VI.

Who teach: That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and of salvation from its own character and nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals, prayers and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is praiseworthy to doubt. For these show that they do not know the power of divine grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they contradict the Apostle John, who teaches the opposite with express words in his first epistle: “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him, for we shall see him even as he is. And every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure,” I John 3:2, 3. Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of the Old and New Testament, who though they were assured of their perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and other exercises of godliness.

VII.

Who teach: That the faith of those, who believe for a time, does not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration. For Christ himself, in Matthew 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other places, evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers, when he declares that the former receive the seed in stony ground, but the latter in the good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but that the latter have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.

VIII.

Who teach: That it is not absurd that one having lost his first regeneration, is again and even often born anew. For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God, whereby we are born again. Contrary to the testimony of the Apostle Peter: “Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,” I Peter 1:23.

IX.

Who teach: That Christ has in no place prayed that believers should infallibly continue in faith. For they contradict Christ himself, who says: “I have prayed for thee (Simon), that thy faith fail not,” Luke 22:32; and the Evangelist John, who declares, that Christ has not prayed for the Apostles only, but also for those who through their word would believer: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name,” and: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one,” John 17:11, 15, 20.

CONCLUSION

And this is the perspicuous, simple, and ingenious declaration of the orthodox doctrine respecting the five articles which have been controverted in the Belgic churches; and the rejection of the errors, with which they have for some time been troubled. This doctrine, the Synod judges to be drawn from the Word of God, and to be agreeable to the confessions of the Reformed churches. Whence it clearly appears, that some whom such conduct by no means became, have violated all truth, equity, and charity, in wishing to persuade the public.
“That the doctrine of the Reformed churches concerning predestination, and the points annexed to it, by its own genius and necessary tendency, leads off the minds of men from all piety and religion; that it is an opiate administered by the flesh and by the devil, and the stronghold of Satan, where he lies in wait for all; and from which he wounds multitudes, and mortally strikes through many with the darts both of despair and security; that it makes God the author of sin, unjust, tyrannical, hypocritical; that it is nothing more than interpolated Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism, Turcism; that it renders men carnally secure, since they are persuaded by it that nothing can hinder the salvation of the elect, let them live as they please; and therefore, that they may safely perpetrate every species of the most atrocious crimes; and that, if the reprobate should even perform truly all the works of the saints, their obedience would not in the least contribute to their salvation; that the same doctrine teaches, that God, by a mere arbitrary act of his will, without the least respect or view to sin, has predestinated the greatest part of the world to eternal damnation; and, has created them for this very purpose; that in the same manner in which the election is the fountain and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and impiety; that many children of the faithful are torn, guiltless, from their mothers’ breasts, and tyrannically plunged into hell; so that, neither baptism, nor the prayers of the Church at their baptism, can at all profit by them;” and many other things of the same kind, which the Reformed Churches not only do not acknowledge, but even detest with their whole soul. Wherefore, this Synod of Dort, in the name of the Lord, conjures as many as piously call upon the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, to judge of the faith of the Reformed Churches, not from the calumnies, which, on every side, are heaped upon it; nor from the private expressions of a few among ancient and modern teachers, often dishonestly quoted, or corrupted, and wrested to a meaning quite foreign to their intention; but from the public confessions of the Churches themselves, and from the declaration of the orthodox doctrine, confirmed by the unanimous consent of all and each of the members of the whole Synod. Moreover, the Synod warns calumniators themselves, to consider the terrible judgment of God which awaits them, for bearing false witness against the confessions of so many Churches,

Confessions & Catechisms

The Solemn League and Covenant 1643

For Reformation and Defence of Religion, the Honour and Happiness of the King, and the Peace and Safty of the Three Kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland; Agreed upon by Commissioners from the Parliament and Assembly of Divines in England, with Commissioners of the Convention of Estates, and General Assembly in Scotland; approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and by both Houses of Parliament and assembly of Divines in England, and taken and subscribed by them, Anno 1643; and thereafter, by the said authority, taken and suscribed by all Ranks in Scotland and England the same year; and ratified by Act of the Parliament of Scotland, Anno 1644: And again renewed in Scotland with an Acknowledgement of Sins, and Engagement to Duties, by all Ranks, Anno 1648, and by Parliament 1649; and taken and suscibed by King Charles II. at Spey, June 23, 1650; and at Scoon, January 1, 1651.

We Noblemen, Barrons, Knights, Gentelmen, Citizens, Burgesses, Ministers of the Gospel, and Commons of all sorts, in the Kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, by the providence of GOD, living under one king, and being one reformed religion, Having before our eyes the glory of GOD, and the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST, the honour and Happiness of the King’s Majesty and his posterity, and true publick liberty, safety, and peace of the kingdoms, wherein every one’s private condition is included: And calling in mind the treacherous and bloody plots, conspiracies, attempts, and practices of the enemies of GOD, against the true religion and professors thereof in all places, especially in these three kingdoms, ever since the reformation of religion; and how much their rage, power, and presumption are of late,and at this time, increased and exercised, whereof the deplorable state of the church and kingdom of Ireland, the distressed estate of the church and kingdom of England, and the dangerous estate of the church and kingdom of Scotland, are present and public testimonies; we have now at last,(after other means of supplication, remonsterance, protestation, and sufferings,) for the preservation of ourselves and our religion from utter ruin and distruction, according to the commenadable practice of these kingdoms in former times, and the example of GOD’S people in other nations, after mature deliberation, resolved and determined to enter into a mutual and solemn League and Covenant, wherein we all subscribe, and each one of us for himself, with our hands lifted up to the most High GOD, do swear,

1. That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of GOD, endevour, in our several places and callings, the preservation of reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the word of GOD, and example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endevour to bring the Churches of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjuction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of church-government, directory for worship and catechising: that we and our posterity after us, may, as brethern, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.

2. That we shall in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpatation of Popery, Prelacy, ( that is, Church-government by Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors, and Commissaries, Deans, Deans and Chapters, Archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical Officers depending on that hierarchy,) superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness, lest we partake in other men’s sins, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues; and that the Lord may be one, and his name one, in three kingdoms.

3. We shall, with the same sincerity, reality, and constancy, in our several avocations, endeavour, with our estates and lives, mutually to preserve the rights and privileges of the Parliaments, and the liberties of the kingdoms; and to preserve and defend the King’s Majesty’s person and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true religion, and lberties of the kingdoms; that the world may bear witness with our consciences of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts or intentions to deminish hi Majesty’s just power and greatness.

4. We shall also, with al faithfulness, endeavour the discovery of all such as have been or shall be incendiaries, malignants, or evil instruments, by hindering the reformation of religion, dividing the king and his people, or one of the kingdoms from another, or making any faction or parties amongst the people, contrary to this League and Covenant; that they may be brought to publick trial, and receive condign punishment. as the degree of their offences shall require or deserve, or the supreme judicatories of both kingdoms respectively, or others haveing power from them for that effect, shall judge convenient.

5. And whereas the happiness of a blessed peace between these kingdoms, denied in former times to our progenitors, is, by the good providence of GOD, granted unto us, hath been lately concluded and settled by both parliaments; we shall each one of us, according to our place and intrest, endevour that they may remain conjoined in a firm peace and union to all posterity; and that justice may be done upon the willful opposers thereof, in manner expressed in the precedent article.

6. We shall also, according to our places and callings, in this common cause of religion, liberty, and peace of the kingdoms, assist and defend all those who enter into this League and Covenant, in the maintaining and pursuing thereof; and shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination,persuasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union and conjuction, whether to make defection to the contrary part, or to give ourselves to a detestable indiference or neutrality in this cause which so much concerneth the glory of GOD, the good of the kingdom, and honor of the King; but shall, all the days of our lives, zealously and constantly continue therein against all opposition, and promote the same, according to our power, against all opposition, and promote the same, according to our power, against all lets and impediments whatsoever; and, what we are not able ourselves to suppress or overcome, we shall reveal and make known, that it may be timely prevented or removed: And all which we shall do in the sight of GOD.
And, because these kingdoms are guilty of many sins and provocations against GOD, and his Son JESUS CHRIST, as is to manifest by our present distresses and dangers, the fruits thereof; we profess and declare, before GOD and the world, our unfeigned desire to be humbled for our own sins, and for the sins of these kingdoms: especially, that we have not as we ought valued the inestimable benefit of the gospel; that we have not labored for the purity and power thereof; and that we have not endeavoured to receive CHRIST in our hearts, nor to walk worthy of him in our lives; which are the causes of other sins and transgressions so much abounding amongst us: and our ture and unfeigned purpose, desire, and endeavour for ourselves, and all others under our power and charge, both in publick and in private, in all duties we owe to GOD and man, to amend our lives, and each one to go before another in the example of a real reformation; that the Lord may turn away his wrath and heavy indignation, and establish these churches and kingdoms in truth and peace. And this Covenant we make in the presance of ALMIGHTY GOD, the Searcher of all hearts, with a true intention to perform the same, as we shall answer at that great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed; most humbly beseeching the Lord to strenghten us by his HOLY SPIRIT for this end, and to bless our desire and proceedings with such success, as may be deliverance and safty to his people, and encouragement to other Christian churches, groaning under, or in danger of, the yoke of antichristian tyranny, to join in same or like association and covenant, to the glory of GOD, the enlargment of the Kingdom of JESUS CHRIST, and the peace and tranquility of Christian kingdoms and commonwealths.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Appendix 3 - Property and Trustees

appendix3.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Westminster Confession Of Faith 1647

Download a full copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith by clicking here.

Confessions & Catechisms

The Shorter Catechism 1647

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same substance, equal in power and glory.

Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation.?
A. The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence.?
A. God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression.?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

Q. 21. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.

Q. 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.

Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.

Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Q. 27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.

Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united in Christ, do rest in their graves, till the resurrection.

Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.

Q. 41. Wherein is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Q. 43. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord
thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house
of bondage.

Q. 44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.

Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying, the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Q. 50. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word.

Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshiping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his Word.

Q. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty
over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.

Q. 53. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Q. 54. What is required in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment requireth the holy and reverend use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, Word, and works.

Q. 55. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh himself known.

Q. 56. What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.

Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.

Q. 63. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Q. 64. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.

Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to everyone in their several places and relations.

Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.

Q. 67. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor, unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.

Q. 70. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment.?
A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior.


Q. 72. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions.

Q. 73. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.

Q. 74. What is required in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.

Q. 75. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth, or may, unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbor’s, wealth or outward estate.

Q. 76. Which is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness bearing.

Q. 78. What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own, or our neighbor’s, good name.

Q. 79. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

Q. 80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.

Q. 81. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere men, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

Q. 83. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

Q. 85. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.

Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments,and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Q. 89. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

Q. 90. How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
A. That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.

Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.


Q. 92. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.

Q. 94. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Q. 95. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Q. 96. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

Q. 97. What is required for the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Q. 98. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to
his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

Q. 99. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?
A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer.

Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. ln the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Appendix 4 - Discipline

appendix4.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Larger Catechism 1647

You can download the Larger Catechism in PDF format by clicking here.

Audio Resources

Sermons

Sermons

The congregational websites listed below have a large selection of audio sermons available online.

Back Free Church
Bon Accord Free Church
Buccleuch Free Church
Cobham Presbyterian Church
Dowanvale Free Church
Falkirk Free Church
Free North Church
Glasgow City Free Church
Greyfriars & Stratherrick Free Church
Lochbroom Free Church
London City Presbyterian Church
Smithton Culloden Free Church
Stornoway Free Church

Confessions & Catechisms

The Directory for Family-Worship 1647

ASSEMBLY AT EDINBURGH, August 24, 1647, Sess. 10.
ACT for observing the Directions of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY for secret and private Worship, and mutual Edification; and censuring such as neglect Family-worship.


THE General Assembly, after mature deliberation, doth approve the following Rules and Directions for cherishing piety, and preventing division and schism; and doth appoint ministers and ruling elders in each congregation to take special care that these Directions be observed and followed; as likewise, that presbyteries and provincial synods enquire and make trial whether the said Directions be duly observed in their bounds; and to reprove or censure (according to the quality of the offence), such as shall be found to be reprovable or censurable therein. And, to the end that these directions may not be rendered ineffectual and unprofitable among some, through the usual neglect of the very substance of the duty of Family-worship, the Assembly doth further require and appoint ministers and ruling elders to make diligent search and enquiry, in the congregations committed to their charge respectively, whether there be among them any family or families which use to neglect this necessary duty; and if any such family be found, the head of the family is to be first adminished privately to amend his fault; and, in case of his continuing therein, he is to be gravely and sadly reproved by the session; after which reproof, if he be found still to neglect Family-worship, let him be, for his obstinacy in such an offence, suspended and debarred from the Lord’s supper, as being justly esteemed unworthy to communicate therein, till he amend.

DIRECTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
CONCERNING SECRET AND PRIVATE WORSHIP, AND MUTUAL EDIFICATION; FOR CHERISHING PIETY, FOR
MAINTAINING UNITY, AND AVOIDING SCHISM AND DIVISION.

BESIDES the publick worship in congregations, mercifully established in this land in great purity, it is expedient and necessary that secret worship of each person alone, and private worship of families, be pressed and set up; that, with national reformation, the profession and power of godliness, both personal and domestick, be advanced.

I. And first, for secret worship, it is most necessary, that every one apart, and by themselves, be given to prayer and meditation, the unspeakable benefit whereof is best known to them who are most exercised therein; this being the mean whereby, in a special way, communion with God is entertained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained: and therefore it becometh not only pastors, within their several charges, to press persons of all sorts to perform this duty morning and evening, and at other occasions; but also it is incumbent to the head of every family to have a care, that both themselves, and all within their charge, be daily diligent herein.

II. The ordinary duties comprehended under the exercise of piety which should be in families, when they are convened to that effect, are these: First, Prayer and praises performed with a special reference, as well to the publick condition of the kirk of God and this kingdom, as to the present case of the family, and every member thereof. Next, Reading of the scriptures, with catechising in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be the better enabled to profit under the publick ordinances, and they made more capable to understand the scriptures when they are read; together with godly conferences tending to the edification of all the members in the most holy faith: as also, admonition and rebuke, upon just reasons, from those who have authority in the family.

III. As the charge and office of interpreting the holy scriptures is a part of the ministerial calling, which none (however otherwise qualified) should take upon him in any place, but he that is duly called thereunto by God and his kirk; so in every family where there is any that can read, the holy scriptures should be read ordinarily to the family; and it is commendable, that thereafter they confer, and by way of conference make some good use of what hath been read and heard. As, for example, if any sin be reproved in the word read, use may be made thereof to make all the family circumspect and watchful against the same; or if any judgment be threatened, or mentioned to have been inflicted, in that portion of scripture which is read, use may be made to make all the family fear lest the same or a worse judgment befall them, unless they beware of the sin that procured it: and, finally, if any duty be required, or comfort held forth in a promise, use may be made to stir up themselves to employ Christ for strength to enable them for doing the commanded duty, and to apply the offered comfort. In all which the master of the family is to have the chief hand; and any member of the family may propone a question or doubt for resolution.

IV. The head of the family is to take care that none of the family withdraw himself from any part of family-worship: and, seeing the ordinary performance of all the parts of family-worship belongeth properly to the head of the family, the minister is to stir up such as are lazy, and train up such as are weak, to a fitness to these exercises; it being always free to persons of quality to entertain one approved by the presbytery for performing family-exercise. And in other families, where the head of the family is unfit, that another, constantly residing in the family, approved by the minister and session, may be employed in that service, wherein the minister and session are to be countable to the presbytery. And if a minister, by divine Providence, be brought to any family, it is requisite that at no time he convene a part of the family for worship, secluding the rest, except in singular cases especially concerning these parties, which (in Christian prudence) need not, or ought not, to be imparted to others.

V. Let no idler, who hath no particular calling, or vagrant person under pretence of a calling, be suffered to perform worship in families, to or for the same; seeing persons tainted with errors, or aiming at division, may be ready (after that manner) to creep into houses, and lead captive silly and unstable souls.

VI. At family-worship, a special care is to be had that each family keep by themselves; neither requiring, inviting, nor admitting persons from divers families, unless it be those who are lodged with them, or at meals, or otherwise with them upon some lawful occasion.

VII. Whatsoever have been the effects and fruits of meetings of persons of divers families in the times of corruption or trouble, (in which cases many things are commendable, which otherwise are not tolerable,) yet, when God hath blessed us with peace and purity of the gospel, such meetings of persons of divers families (except in cases mentioned in these Directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the hinderance of the religious exercise of each family by itself, to the prejudice of the publick ministry, to the rending of the families of particular congregations, and (in progress of time) of the whole kirk. Besides many offences which may come thereby, to the hardening of the hearts of carnal men, and grief of the godly.

VIII. On the Lord’s day, after every one of the family apart, and the whole family together, have sought the Lord (in whose hands the preparation of men’s hearts are) to fit them for the publick worship, and to bless to them the publick ordinances, the master of the family ought to take care that all within his charge repair to the publick worship, that he and they may join with the rest of the congregation: and the publick worship being finished, after prayer, he should take an account what they have heard; and thereafter, to spend the rest of the time which they may spare in catechising, and in spiritual conferences upon the word of God: or else (going apart) they ought to apply themselves to reading, meditation, and secret prayer, that they may confirm and increase their communion with God: that so the profit which they found in the publick ordinances may be cherished and promoved, and they more edified unto eternal life.

IX. So many as can conceive prayer, ought to make use of that gift of God; albeit those who are rude and weaker may begin at a set form of prayer, but so as they be not sluggish in stirring up in themselves (according to their daily necessities) the spirit of prayer, which is given to all the children of God in some measure: to which effect, they ought to be more fervent and frequent in secret prayer to God, for enabling of their hearts to conceive, and their tongues to express, convenient desires to God for their family. And, in the meantime, for their greater encouragement, let these materials of prayer be meditated upon, and made use of, as followeth.

“Let them confess to God how unworthy they are to come in his presence, and how unfit to worship his Majesty; and therefore earnestly ask of God the spirit of prayer.

“They are to confess their sins, and the sins of the family; accusing, judging, and condemning themselves for them, till they bring their souls to some measure of true humiliation.

“They are to pour out their souls to God, in the name of Christ, by the Spirit, for forgiveness of sins; for grace to repent, to believe, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; and that they may serve God with joy and delight, walking before him.

“They are to give thanks to God for his many mercies to his people, and to themselves, and especially for his love in Christ, and for the light of the gospel.

“They are to pray for such particular benefits, spiritual and temporal, as they stand in need of for the time, (whether it be morning or evening,) as anent health or sickness, prosperity or adversity.

“They ought to pray for the kirk of Christ in general, for all the reformed kirks, and for this kirk in particular, and for all that suffer for the name of Christ; for all our superiors, the king’s majesty, the queen, and their children; for the magistrates, ministers, and whole body of the congregation whereof they are members, as well for their neighbours absent in their lawful affairs, as for those that are at home.

“The prayer may be closed with an earnest desire that God may be glorified in the coming of the kingdom of his Son, and in doing of his will, and with assurance that themselves are accepted, and what they have asked according to his will shall be done.”

X. These exercises ought to be performed in great sincerity, without delay, laying aside all exercises of worldly business or hinderances, not withstanding the mockings of atheists and profane men; in respect of the great mercies of God to this land, and of his severe corrections wherewith lately he hath exercised us. And, to this effect, persons of eminency (and all elders of the kirk) not only ought to stir up themselves and families to diligence herein, but also to concur effectually, that in all other families, where they have power and charge, the said exercises be conscionably performed.

XI. Besides the ordinary duties in families, which are above mentioned, extraordinary duties, both of humiliation and thanksgiving, are to be carefully performed in families, when the Lord, by extraordinary occasions, (private or publick,) calleth for them.

XII. Seeing the word of God requireth that we should consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works; therefore, at al times, and specially in this time, wherein profanity abounds, and mockers, walking after their own lusts, think it strange that others run not with them to the same excess of riot; every member of this kirk ought to stir up themselves, and one another, to the duties of mutual edification, by instruction, admonition, rebuke; exhorting one another to manifest the grace of God in denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and in living godly, soberly and righteously in this present world; by comforting the feeble-minded, and praying with or for one another. Which duties respectively are to be performed upon special occasions offered by Divine Providence; as, namely, when under any calamity, cross, or great difficulty, counsel or comfort is sought; or when an offender is to be reclaimed by private admonition, and if that be not effectual, by joining one or two more in the admonition, according to the rule of Christ, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

XIII. And, because it is not given to every one to speak a word in season to a wearied or distressed conscience, it is expedient, that a person (in that case,) finding no ease, after the use of all ordinary means, private and publick, have their address to their own pastor, or some experienced Christian: but if the person troubled in conscience be of that condition, or of that sex, that discretion, modesty, or fear of scandal, requireth a godly, grave, and secret friend to be present with them in their said address, it is expedient that such a friend be present.

XIV. When persons of divers families are brought together by Divine Providence, being abroad upon their particular vocations, or any necessary occasions; as they would have the Lord their God with them whithersoever they go, they ought to walk with God, and not neglect the duties of prayer and thanksgiving, but take care that the same be performed by such as the company shall judge fittest. And that they likewise take heed that no corrupt communication proceed out of their mouths, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.

The drift and scope of all these Directions is no other, but that, upon the one part, the power and practice of godliness, amongst all the ministers and members of this kirk, according to their several places and vocations, may be cherished and advanced, and all impiety and mocking of religious exercises suppressed: and, upon the other part, that, under the name and pretext of religious exercises, no such meetings or practices be allowed, as are apt to breed error, scandal, schism, contempt, or misregard of the publick ordinances and ministers, or neglect of the duties of particular callings, or such other evils as are the works, not of the Spirit, but of the flesh, and are contrary to truth and peace.

A. Ker.

Free Church Practice

Book of Church Procedure

Appendix 5 - Sample Minutes and Extracts

appendix5.pdf

Confessions & Catechisms

The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government 1647

ASSEMBLY AT EDINBURGH, February 10, 1645, Sess. 16.
ACT of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the KIRK of SCOTLAND, approving the Propositions concerning Kirk-government, and Ordination of Ministers.

THE General Assembly being most desirous and solicitous, not only of the establishment and preservation of the Form of Kirk-government in this kingdom, according to the word of God, books of Discipline, acts of General Assemblies, and National Covenant, but also of an uniformity in Kirk-government betwixt these kingdoms, now more straitly and strongly unite by the late Solemn League and Covenant; and considering, that as in former time there did, so hereafter there may arise, through the nearness of contagion, manifold, mischief to this kirk from a corrupt form of government in the kirk of England: likeas the precious opportunity of bringing the kirks of Christ in all the three kingdoms to an uniformity in Kirk-government being the happiness of the present times above the former; which may also, by the blessing of God, prove an effectual mean, and a good foundation to prepare for a safe and well-grounded pacification, by removing the cause from which the present pressures and bloody wars did originally proceed: and now the Assembly having thrice read, and diligently examined, the propositions (hereunto annexed) concerning the officers, assemblies, and government of the kirk, and concerning the ordination of ministers, brought unto us, as the results of the long and learned debates of the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster, and of the treaty of uniformity with the Commissioners of this kirk there residing; after mature deliberation,, and after timeous calling upon and warning of all, who have any exceptions against same, to make them known, that they might receive satisfaction; doth agree to and approve the propositions afore-mentioned, touching, touching Kirk-government and Ordination; and doth hereby authorized the Commissioners of this Assembly, who are to meet at Edinburgh, to agree and to conclude in the name of this Assembly, an uniformity betwixt the kirks in both kingdoms, in the afore-mentioned particulars, so soon as the same shall be ratified, without any substantial alteration, by an ordinance of the honourable Houses of the Parliament of England; which ratification shall be timely intimate and made known by the Commissioners of this kirk residing at London. Provided always, That this act be no ways prejudicial to the further discussion and examination of that article which hold forth, That the doctor or teacher hath power of the administration of the sacraments, as well as the pastor; as also of the distinct rights and interests of presbyteries and people in the calling of ministers; but that it shall be free to debate and discuss these points, as God shall be pleased to give further light.

THE FORM OF PRESBYTERIAL CHURCH-GOVERNMENT.

THE PREFACE.

JESUS CHRIST, upon whose shoulders the government is, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace;[1] of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice, from henceforth, even for ever; having all power given unto him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, far above all principalities and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all: he being ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, received gifts for his church, and gave officers necessary for the edification of his church, and perfecting of his saints.[2]

Of the Church.

THERE is one general church visible, held forth in the New Testament.[3]

The ministry, oracles, and ordinances of the New Testament, are given by Jesus Christ to the general church visible, for the gatheringand perfecting of it in this life, until his second coming.[4]

Particular visible churches, members of the general church, are also held forth in the New Testament.[5] Particular churches in the primitive times were made up of visible saints, viz. of such as, being of age, professed faith in Christ, and obedience unto Christ, according to the rules of faith and life taught by Christ and his apostles; and of their children.[6]

Of the Officers of the Church.

THE officers which Christ hath appointed for the edification of his church, and the perfecting of the saints, are, some extraordinary, as apostles, evangelists, and prophets, which are ceased. Others ordinary and perpetual, as pastors, teachers, and other church-governors, and deacons.

Pastors.

THE pastor is an ordinary and perpetual officer in the church,[7] prophesying of the time of the gospel.[8]

First, it belongs to his office,

To pray for and with his flock, as the mouth of the people unto God,[9] Acts vi. 2, 3, 4, and xx. 36, where preaching and prayer are joined as several parts of the same office.[10] The office of the elder (that is, the pastor) is to pray for the sick, even in private, to which a blessing is especially promised; much more therefore ought he to perform this in the publick execution of his office, as a part thereof.[11]

To read the Scriptures publickly; for the proof of which,
1. That the priests and Levites in the Jewish church were trusted with the publick reading of the word is proved.[12]

2. That the ministers of the gospel have as ample a charge and commission to dispense the word, as well as other ordinances, as the priests and Levites had under the law, proved, Isa. lxvi. 21. Matt. xxiii. 34. where our Saviour entitleth the officers of the New Testament, whom he will send forth, by the same names of the teachers of the Old. [13]

Which propositions prove, that therefore (the duty being of a moral nature) it followeth by just consequence, that the publick reading of the scriptures belongeth to the pastor’s office.

To feed the flock, by preaching of the word, according to which he is to teach, convince, reprove, exhort, and comfort. [14]

To catechise, which is a plain laying down the first principles of the oracles of God,[15] or of the doctrine of Christ, and is a part ofpreaching.

To dispense other divine mysteries.[16]

To administer the sacraments.[17]

To bless the people from God, Numb. vi. 23, 24, 25, 26. Compared with Rev. i.4, 5, ( where the same blessings, and persons from whom they come, are expressly mentioned,[18]) Isa. lxvi. 21, where, under the names of Priests and Levites to be continued under the gospel, are meant evangelical pastors, who therefore are by office to bless the people. [19]

To take care of the poor. [20]

And he hath also a ruling power over the flock as a pastor. [21]

Teacher or Doctor.

THE scripture doth hold out the name and title of teacher, as well as of the pastor.[22]

Who is also a minister of the word, as well as the pastor, and hath power of administration of the sacraments.

The Lord having given different gifts, and divers exercises according to these gifts, in the ministry of the word;[23] though these different gifts may meet in, and accordingly be exercised by, one and the same minister;[24] yet, where be several ministers in the same
congregation, they may be designed to several employments, according to the different gifts in which each of them doth most excel.[25] And he that doth more excel in exposition of scripture, in teaching sound doctrine, and in convincing gainsayers, than he doth in application, and is accordingly employed therein, may be called a teacher, or doctor, (the places alleged by the notation of the word do prove the proposition.) Nevertheless, where is but one minister in a particular congregation, he is to perform, as far as he is able, the whole work of the ministry.[26]

A teacher, or doctor, is of most excellent use in schools and universities; as of old in the schools of the prophets, and at Jerusalem, where Gamaliel and others taught as doctors.

Other Church-Governors.

AS there were in the Jewish church elders of the people joined with the priests and Levites in the government of the church;[27] so Christ, who hath instituted government, and governors ecclesiastical in the church, hath furnished some in his church, beside the ministers of the word, with gifts for government, and with commission to execute the same when called thereunto, who are to join with the minister in the government of the church.[28] Which officers reformed churches commonly call Elders.

Deacons.

THE scripture doth hold out deacons as distinct officers in the church.[29]

Whose office is perpetual.[30] To whose office it belongs not to preach the word, or administer the sacraments, but to take special care in distributing to the necessities of the poor.[31]

Of Particular Congregations.

IT is lawful and expedient that there be fixed congregations, that is, a certain company of Christians to meet in one assembly ordinarily for publick worship. When believers multiply to such a number, that they cannot conveniently meet in one place, it is lawful and
expedient that they should be divided into distinct and fixed congregations, for the better administration of such ordinances as belong unto them, and the discharge of mutual duties.[32]

The ordinary way of dividing Christians into distinct congregations, and most expedient for edification, is by the respective bounds of their dwellings.

First, Because they who dwell together, being bound to all kind of moral duties one to another, have the better opportunity thereby to discharge them; which moral tie is perpetual; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. [33]

Secondly, The communion of saints must be so ordered, as may stand with the most convenient use of the ordinances, and discharge of moral duties, without respect of persons. [34]

Thirdly, The pastor and people must so nearly cohabit together, as that they may mutually perform their duties each to other with most conveniency.

In this company some must be set apart to bear office.

Of the Officers of a particular Congregation.

FOR officers in a single congregation, there ought to be one at the least, both to labour in the word and doctrine, and to rule.[35]

It is also requisite that there should be others to join in government.[36]

And likewise it is requisite that there be others to take special care for the relief of the poor. [37]

The number of each of which is to be proportioned according to the condition of the congregation.

These officers are to meet together at convenient and set times, for the well ordering of the affairs of that congregation, each accordingto his office.

It is most expedient that, in these meetings, one whose office is to labour in the word and doctrine, do moderate in their proceedings. [38]

Of the Ordinances in a particular Congregation.

THE ordinances in a single congregation are, prayer, thanksgiving, and singing of psalms,[39] the word read, (although there follow no immediate explication of what is read,) the word expounded and applied, catechising, the sacraments administered, collection made for the poor, dismissing the people with a blessing.

Of Church-Government, and the several sorts of Assemblies for the same.

CHRIST hath instituted a government, and governors ecclesiastical in the church: to that purpose, the apostles did immediately receive the keys from the hand of Jesus Christ, and did use and exercise them in all the churches of the world upon all occasions.

And Christ hath since continually furnished some in his church with gifts of government, and with commission to execute the same, when called thereunto.

It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that the church be governed by several sorts of assemblies, which are congregational,
classical, and synodical.

Of the power in common of all these Assemblies.

IT is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that the several assemblies before mentioned have power to convent, and call before them, any person within their several bounds, whom the ecclesiastical business which is before them doth concern. [40]

They have power to hear and determine such causes and differences as do orderly come before them.

It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that all the said assemblies have some power to dispense church-censures.

Of Congregational Assemblies, that is, the Meeting of the ruling Officers of a particular Congregation, for the Government thereof.

THE ruling officers of a particular congregation have power, authoritatively, to call before them any member of the congregation, as they shall see just occasion.

To enquire into the knowledge and spiritual estate of the several members of the congregation.

To admonish and rebuke.

Which three branches are proved by Heb. xiii. 17; 1 Thess. v. 12, 13; Ezek. xxxiv. 4. [41]

Authoritative suspension from the Lord’s table, of a person not yet cast out of the church, is agreeable to the scripture:

First, Because the ordinance itself must not be profaned.

Secondly, Because we are charged to withdraw from those that walk disorderly.

Thirdly, Because of the great sin and danger, both to him that comes unworthily, and also to the whole church.[42] And there was power and authority, under the Old Testament, to keep unclean persons from holy things. [43]

The like power and authority, by way of analogy, continues under the New Testament.

The ruling officers of a particular congregation have power authoritatively to suspend from the Lord’s table a person not yet cast out of the church:

First, Because those who have authority to judge of, and admit, such as are fit to receive the sacrament, have authority to keep back such as shall be found unworthy.

Secondly, Because it is an ecclesiastical business of ordinary practice belonging to that congregation.

When congregations are divided and fixed, they need all mutual help one from another, both in regard of their intrinsical weaknesses and mutual dependence, as also in regard of enemies from without.

Of Classical Assemblies.

THE scripture doth hold out a presbytery in a church.[44]

A presbytery consisteth of ministers of the word, and such other publick officers as are agreeable to and warranted by the word of God to be church-governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church.[45]

The scripture doth hold forth, that many particular congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

This proposition is proved by instances:

I. First, Of the church of Jerusalem, which consisted of more congregations than one, and all these congregations were under one
presbyterial government.

This appeareth thus:

First, The church of Jerusalem consisted of more congregations than one, as is manifest:

1st, By the multitude of believers mentioned, in divers [places], both before the dispersion of the believers there, by means of the persecution,[46] and also after the dispersion. [47]

2dly, By the many apostles and other preachers in the church of Jerusalem. And if there were but one congregation there, then each apostle preached but seldom;[48] which will not consist with Acts vi. 2.

3dly, The diversity of languages among the believers, mentioned both in the second and sixth chapters of the Acts, doth argue more congregations than one in that church.

Secondly, All those congregations were under one presbyterial government; because,

1st, They were one church.[49]

2dly, The elders of the church are mentioned. [50]

3dly, The apostles did the ordinary acts of presbyters, as presbyters in that kirk; which proveth a presbyterial church before the dispersion, Acts vi.

4thly, The several congregations in Jerusalem being one church, the elders of that church are mentioned as meeting together for acts of government;[51] which proves that those several congregations were under one presbyterial government.

And whether these congregations were fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is all one as to the truth of the proposition.

Nor doth there appear any material difference betwixt the several congregations in Jerusalem, and the many congregations now in the ordinary condition of the church, as to the point of fixedness required of officers or members.

Thirdly, Therefore the scripture doth hold forth, that many congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

II. Secondly, By the instance of the church of Ephesus; for,

First, That there were more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus, appears by Acts xx. 31,[52] where is mention of Paul’s continuance at Ephesus in preaching for the space of three years; and Acts xix. 18,19,20, where the special effect of the word is mentioned;[53] and ver. 10. and 17. of the same chapter, where is a distinction of Jews and Greeks;[54] and 1 Cor. xvi. 8,9, where is a reason of Paul’s stay at Ephesus until Pentecost;[55] and ver. 19, where is mention of a particular church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, then at Ephesus,[56] as appears, Acts xviii. 19,24,26.[57] All which laid together, doth prove that the multitude of believers did make more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus.

Secondly, That there were many elders over these many congregations, as one flock, appeareth.[58]

Thirdly, That these many congregations were one church, and that they were under one presbyterial government, appeareth.[59]

Of Synodical Assemblies.

THE scripture doth hold out another sort of assemblies for the government of the church, beside classical and congregational, all which we call Synodical.[60]

Pastors and teachers, and other church-governors, (as also other fit persons, when it shall be deemed expedient,) are members of those assemblies which we call Synodical, where they have a lawful calling thereunto.

Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as provincial, national, and oecumenical.

It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that there be a subordination of congregational, classical, provincial, and national assemblies, for the government of the church.

Of Ordination of Ministers.

UNDER the head of Ordination of Ministers is to be considered, either the doctrine of ordination, or the power of it.

Touching the Doctrine of Ordination.

NO man ought to take upon him the office of a minister of the word without a lawful calling. [61]

Ordination is always to be continued in the church.[62]

Ordination is the solemn setting apart of a person to some publick church office.[63]

Every minister of the word is to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with fasting, by those preaching presbyters to whom it doth belong. [64]

It is agreeable to the word of God, and very expedient, that such as are to be ordained ministers, be designed to some particular church, or other ministerial charge. [65]

He that is to be ordained minister, must be duly qualified, both for life and ministerial abilities, according to the rules of the apostle.[66]

He is to be examined and approved by those by whom he is to be ordained.[67]

No man is to be ordained a minister for a particular congregation, if they of that congregation can shew just cause of exception against him.[68]

Touching the Power of Ordination.

ORDINATION is the act of a presbytery.[69]

The power of ordering the whole work of ordination is in the whole presbytery, which, when it is over more congregations than one, whether these congregations be fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is indifferent as to the point of ordination.[70]

It is very requisite, that no single congregation, that can conveniently associate, do assume to itself all and sole power in ordination:

1. Because there is no example in scripture that any single congregation, which might conveniently associate, did assume to itself all and sole power in ordination; neither is there any rule which may warrant such a practice.

2. Because there is in scripture example of an ordination in a presbytery over divers congregations; as in the church of Jerusalem, where were many congregations: these many congregations were under one presbytery, and this presbytery did ordain.

The preaching presbyters orderly associated, either in cities or neighbouring villages, are those to whom the imposition of hands doth appertain, for those congregations within their bounds respectively.

Concerning the Doctrinal Part of Ordination of Ministers.

1. No man ought to take upon him the office of a minister of the word without a lawful calling. [71]

2. Ordination is always to be continued in the church.[72]

3. Ordination is the solemn setting apart of a person to some publick church office.[73]

4. Every minister of the word is to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with fasting, by these preaching presbyters to whom it doth belong. [74]

5. The power of ordering the whole work of ordination is in the whole presbytery, which, when it is over more congregations than one, whether those congregations be fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is indifferent as to the point of ordination.[75]

6. It is agreeable to the word, and very expedient, that such as are to be ordained ministers be designed to some particular church, or other ministerial charge. [76]

7. He that is to be ordained minister, must be duly qualified, both for life and ministerial abilities, according to the rules of the apostle.[77]

8. He is to be examined and approved by those by whom he is to be ordained.[78]

9. No man is to be ordained a minister for a particular congregation, if they of that congregation can shew just cause of exception against him. [79]

10. Preaching presbyters orderly associated, either in cities or neighbouring villages, are those to whom the imposition of hands doth appertain, for those congregations within their bounds respectively.[80]

11. In extraordinary cases, something extraordinary may be done, until a settled order may be had, yet keeping as near as possibly may be to the rule.[81]

12. There is at this time (as we humbly conceive) an extraordinary occasion for a way of ordination for the present supply of ministers.

The Directory for the Ordination of Ministers.

IT being manifest by the word of God, that no man ought to take upon him the office of a minister of the gospel, until he be lawfully called and ordained thereunto; and that the work of ordination is to be performed with all due care, wisdom, gravity, and solemnity, we humbly tender these directions, as requisite to be observed.

1. He that is to be ordained, being either nominated by the people, or otherwise commended to the presbytery, for any place, must address himself to the presbytery, and bring with him a testimonial of his taking the covenant of the three kingdoms; of his diligence and proficiency in his studies; what degrees he hath taken in the university, and what hath been the time of his abode there; and withal of his age, which is to be twenty four years; but especially of his life and conversation.

2. Which being considered by the presbytery, they are to proceed to enquire touching the grace of God in him, and whether he be of such holiness of life as is requisite in a minister of the gospel; and to examine him touching his learning and sufficiency, and touching the evidences of his calling to the holy ministry; and, in particular, his fair and direct calling to that place.

The Rules for Examination are these:

(1.) That the party examined be dealt withal in a brotherly way, with mildness of spirit, and with special respect to the gravity, modesty, and quality of every one.

(2.) He shall be examined touching his skill in the original tongues, and his trial to be made by reading the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, and rendering some portion of some into Latin; and if he be defective in them, enquiry shall be made more strictly after his other learning, and whether he hath skill in logick and philosophy.

(3.) What authors in divinity he hath read, and is best acquainted with; and trial shall be made in his knowledge of the grounds of religion, and of his ability to defend the orthodox doctrine contained in them against all unsound and erroneous opinions, especially these of the present age; of his skill in the sense and meaning of such places of scripture as shall be proposed unto him, in cases of conscience, and in the chronology of the scripture, and the ecclesiastical history.

(4.) If he hath not before preached in publick with approbation of such as are able to judge, he shall, at a competent time assigned him, expound before the presbytery such a place of scripture as shall be given him.

(5.) He shall also, within a competent time, frame a discourse in Latin upon such a common-place or controversy in divinity as shall be assigned to him, and exhibit to the presbytery such theses as express the sum thereof, and maintain a dispute upon them.

(6.) He shall preach before the people,÷the presbytery, or some of the ministers of the word appointed by them, being present.

(7.) The proportion of his gifts in relation to the place unto which he is called shall be considered.

(8.) Beside the trial of his gifts in preaching, he shall undergo an examination in the premises two several days, and more, if the presbytery shall judge it necessary.

(9.) And as for him that hath formerly been ordained a minister, and is to be removed to another charge, he shall bring a testimonial of his ordination, and of his abilities and conversation, whereupon his fitness for that place shall be tried by his preaching there, and (if it shall be judged necessary) by a further examination of him.”

3. In all which he being approved, he is to be sent to the church where he is to serve, there to preach three several days and to converse with the people, that they may have trial of his gifts for their edification, and may have time and occasion to enquire into, and the better to know, his life and conversation.

4. In the last of these three days appointed for the trial of his gifts in preaching, there shall be sent from the presbytery to the congregation a publick intimation in writing, which shall be publickly read before the people, and after affixed to the church-door, to signify that such a day a competent number of the members of that congregation, nominated by themselves, shall appear before the presbytery, to give their consent and approbation to such a man to be their minister; or otherwise, to put in, with all Christian discretion and meekness, what exceptions they have against him. And if, upon the day appointed, there be no just exception against him, but the people give their consent, then the presbytery shall proceed to ordination.

5. Upon the day appointed for ordination, which is to be performed in that church where he that is to be ordained is to serve, a solemn fast shall be kept by the congregation, that they may the more earnestly join in prayer for a blessing upon the ordinances of Christ, and the labours of his servant for their good. The presbytery shall come to the place, or at least three or four ministers of the word shall be sent thither from the presbytery; of which one appointed by the presbytery shall preach to the people concerning the office and duty of ministers of Christ, and how the people ought to receive them for their work’s sake.

6. After the sermon, the minister who hath preached shall, in the face of the congregation, demand of him who is now to be ordained, concerning how faith in Christ Jesus, and his persuasion of the truth of the reformed religion, according to the scriptures; his sincere intentions and ends in desiring to enter into this calling; his diligence in praying, reading, meditation, preaching, ministering the sacraments, discipline, and doing all ministerial duties towards his charge; his zeal and faithfulness in maintaining the truth of the gospel, and unity of the church, against error and schism; his care that himself and his family may be unblameable, and examples to the flock; his willingness and humility, in meekness of spirit, to submit unto the admonitions of his brethren, and discipline of the church; and his resolution to continue in his duty against all trouble and persecution.

7. In all which having declared himself, professed his willingness, and promised his endeavours, by the help of God; the minister likewise shall demand of the people concerning their willingness to receive and acknowledge him as the minister of Christ; and to obey and submit unto him, as having rule over them in the Lord; and to maintain, encourage, and assist him in all the parts of his office.

8. Which being mutually promised by the people, the presbytery, or the ministers sent from them for ordination, shall solemnly set him apart to the office and work of the ministry, by laying their hands on him, which is to be accompanied with a short prayer or blessing, to this effect:

“Thankfully acknowledging the great mercy of God in sending Jesus Christ for the redemption of his people; and for his ascension to the right hand of God the Father, and thence pouring out his Spirit, and giving gifts to men, apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors, and teachers; for the gathering and building up of his church; and for fitting and inclining this man to this great work:[note] to entreat him to fit him with his Holy Spirit, to give him (who in his name we thus set apart to this holy service) to fulfil the work of his ministry in all things, that he may both save himself, and his people committed to his charge.”

9. This or the like form of prayer and blessing being ended, let the minister who preached briefly exhort him to consider of the greatness of his office and work, the danger of negligence both to himself and his people, the blessing which will accompany his
faithfulness in this life, and that to come; and withal exhort the people to carry themselves to him, as to their minister in the Lord, according to their solemn promise made before. And so by prayer commending both him and his flock to the grace of God, after singing of a psalm, let the assembly be dismissed with a blessing.

10. If a minister be designed to a congregation, who hath been formerly ordained presbyter according to the form of ordination which hath been in the church of England, which we hold for substance to be valid, and not to be disclaimed by any who have received it; then, there being a cautious proceeding in matters of examination, let him be admitted without any new ordination.

11. And in case any person already ordained minister in Scotland, or in any other reformed church, be designed to another congregation in England, he is to bring from that church to the presbytery here, within which that congregation is, a sufficient testimonial of his ordination, of his life and conversation while he lived with them, and of the causes of his removal; and to undergo such a trial of his fitness and sufficiency, and to have the same course held with him in other particulars, as is set down in the rule immediately going before, touching examination and admission.

12. That records be carefully kept in the several presbyteries, of the names of the persons ordained, with their testimonials, the time and place of their ordination, of the presbyters who did impose hands upon them, and of the charge to which they are appointed.

13. That no money or gift, of what kind soever, shall be received from the person to be ordained, or from any on his behalf, for ordination, or ought else belonging to it, by any of the presbytery, or any appertaining to any of them, upon what pretence soever.

Thus far of ordinary Rules, and course of Ordination, in the ordinary way; that which concerns the extraordinary way, requisite to be now practised, followeth.

1. In these present exigencies, while we cannot have any presbyteries formed up to their whole power and work, and that many ministers are to be ordained for the service of the armies and white, and to many congregations where there is no minister at all; and where (by reason of the publick troubles) the people cannot either themselves enquire and find out one who may be a faithful minister for them, or have any with safety sent unto them, for such a solemn trial as was before mentioned in the ordinary rules; especially, when there can be no presbytery near unto them, to whom they may address themselves, or which may come or send to them a fit man to be ordained in that congregation, and for that people; and yet notwithstanding, it is requisite that ministers be ordained for them by some, who, being set apart themselves for the work of the ministry, have power to join in the setting apart others, who are found fit and worthy. In those cases, until, by God’s blessing, the aforesaid difficulties may be in some good measure removed, let some godly ministers, in or about the city of London, be designed by publick authority, who, being associated, may ordain ministers for the city and the vicinity, keeping as near to the ordinary rules fore-mentioned as possibly they may; and let this association be for no other intent or purpose, but only for the work of ordination.

2. Let the like association be made by the same authority in great towns, and the neighbouring parishes in the several counties, which are at the present quiet and undisturbed, to do the like for the parts adjacent.

3. Let such as are chosen, or appointed for the service of the armies or white, be ordained, as aforesaid, by the associated ministers of London, or some others in the country.

4. Let them do the like, when any man shall duly and lawfully be recommended to them for the ministry of any congregation, who cannot enjoy liberty to have a trial of his parts and abilities, and desire the help of such ministers so associated, for the better furnishing of them with such a person as by them shall be judged fit for the service of that church and people.

Footnotes:

[1] Isa. 9:6,7.
[2] Matt. 28:18,19,20. Eph. 1:20,21,22,23. Compared with Eph. 4:8,11 and Ps. 68:18.
[3] 1 Cor. 12:12,13,28 [Together with the rest of the Chapter].
[4] 1 Cor. 12:28. Eph. 4:4,5 compared with verses 10,11,12,13,15,16.
[5] Gal. 1:21,22. Rev. 1:4,20. Rev. 2:1.
[6] Acts 2:38,41,47. Compared with Acts 5:14. 1 Cor. 1:2. Compared with 2 Cor. 9:13. Acts 2:39. 1 Cor. 7:14. Rom. 11:16. Mark 10:14. Compared with Matt. 19:13,14. Luke 18:15,16.
[7] Jer. 3:15,16,17.
[8] 1 Pet. 5:2,3,4. Eph. 4:11,12,13.
[9] Acts 6:2,3,4. Acts 20:36.
[10] James 5:14,15.
[11] 1 Cor. 14:15,16.
[12] Deut. 31:9,10,11. Neh. 8:1,2,3,13.
[13] Isa. 66:21. Matt. 23:34.
[14] 1 Tim. 3:2. 2 Tim. 3:16,17. Tit. 1:9.
[15] Heb. 5:12.
[16] 1 Cor. 4:1,2.
[17] Matt. 28:19,20. Mark 16:15,16. 1 Cor. 11:23,24,25. Compared with 1 Cor. 10:16.
[18] Num. 6:23,24,25,26. Compared with Rev. 1:4,5. Isa. 66:21.
[19] Deut. 10:8. 2 Cor. 13:14. Eph. 1:2.
[20] Acts 11:30. Acts 4:34,35,36,37. Acts 6:2,3,4. 1 Cor. 16:1,2,3,4. Gal. 2:9,10.

[21] 1 Tim. 5:17. Acts 20:17,28. 1 Thess. 5:12. Heb. 13:7,17.
[22] 1 Cor. 12:28. Eph. 4:11.
[23] Rom. 12:6,7,8. 1 Cor. 1,4,5,6,7.
[24] 1 Cor. 14:3. 2 Tim. 4:2. Tit. 1:9.
[25] [see note 23] 1 Pet. 10,11.
[26] 2 Tim. 4:2. Tit. 1:9. 1 Tim. 6:2.
[27] 2 Chron. 19:8,9,10.
[28] Rom. 12:7,8. 1 Cor. 12:28.
[29] Phil. 1:1. 1 Tim. 3:8.
[30] 1 Tim. 3:8-15. Acts 6:1,2,3,4.
[31] Acts 6:1-4.
[32] 1 Cor. 14:26,33,40.
[33] Deut. 15:7,11. Matt. 22:39. Matt. 5:17.
[34] 1 Cor. 14:26. Heb. 10:24,25. James 2:1,2.
[35] Prov. 29:18. 1 Tim. 5:17. Heb. 13:7.
[36] 1 Cor. 12:28.
[37] Acts 6:2,3.
[38] 1 Tim. 5:17.
[39] 1 Tim. 2:1. 1 Cor. 14:15,16.
[40] Matt. 18:15,16,17,18,19,20.
[41] Heb. 13:17. 1 Thess. 5:12,13. Ezek. 34:4.
[42] Matt. 7:6. 2 Thess. 3:6,14,15. 1 Cor. 11:27 to end of chapter. Compared with Jude 23. 1 Tim. 5:22.
[43] Lev. 13:5. Numb. 9:7. 2 Chron. 23:19.
[44] 1 Tim. 4:14. Acts 15:2,4,6.
[45] Rom. 12:7,8. 1 Cor. 12:28.
[46] Acts 8:1. Acts 1:15. Acts 2:41,46,47. Acts 4:4. Acts 5:14. Acts 6:1,7.
[47] Acts 9:31. Acts 12:24. Acts 21:20.
[48] Acts 6:2.
[49] Acts 8:1. Acts 2:47. Compared with Acts 5:11. Acts 12:5. Acts 15:4.
[50] Acts 11:30. Acts 15:4,6,22. Acts 21:17,18.
[51] Acts 11:30. Acts 15:4,6,22. Acts 21:17,18.
[52] Acts 20:31.
[53] Acts 19:18,19,20.
[54] Acts 19:10,17.
[55] 1 Cor. 16:8,9.
[56] 1 Cor. 16:19.
[57] Acts 18:19,24,26.
[58] Acts 20:17,25,28,30,36,37.
[59] Rev. 2:1,2,3,4,5,6. Joined with Acts 20:17,28.
[60] Acts 15:2,6,22,23.
[61] John 3:27. Rom. 10:14,15. Jer. 14:14. Heb. 5:4.
[62] Tit. 1:5. 1 Tim. 5:21,22.
[63] Numb. 8:10,11,14,19,22. Acts 6:3,5,6. [
[64] 1 Tim. 5:22. Acts 14:23. Acts 13:3.
[65] Acts 14:23. Tit. 1:5. Acts 20:17,28.
[66] 1 Tim. 3:2,3,4,5,6. Tit. 1:5,6,7,8,9.
[67] 1 Tim. 3:7,10. 1 Tim. 5:22.
[68] 1 Tim. 3:2. Tit. 1:7.
[69] 1 Tim. 4:14.
[70] 1 Tim. 4:14.
[71] John 3:27. Rom. 10:14,15. Jer. 14:14. Heb. 5:4.
[72] Tit. 1:5. 1 Tim. 5:21,22.
[73] Numb. 8:10,11,14,19,22. Acts 6:3,5,6.
[74] 1 Tim. 5:22. Acts 14:23. Acts 13:3.
[75] 1 Tim. 4:14.
[76] Acts 14:23. Tit. 1:5. Acts 20:17,28.
[77] 1 Tim. 3:2,3,4,5,6. Tit. 1:5,6,7,8,9.
[78] 1 Tim. 3:7,10. 1 Tim. 5:22.
[79] 1 Tim. 3:2. Tit. 1:7.
[80] 1 Tim. 4:14.
[81] 2 Chron. 29:34,35,36. 2 Chron. 30:2,3,4,5.

[note] Here let them impose hands on his head.

Confessions & Catechisms

The Cambridge Platform 1648

The setting forth of the public confession of the faith of churches hath a double end, and both tending to public edification. First the maintenance of the faith entire within itself: secondly the holding forth of any harmony, both amongst, and with other churches. Our churches here, as (by the grace of Christ) we believe and profess the same doctrine of the truth of the Gospel, which generally is received in all the reformed churches of Christ in Europe: so especially, we desire not to vary from the doctrine of faith and truth held forth by the churches of our native country. For though it be not one native country, that can breed us all of one mind; nor ought we for to have the glorious faith of our Lord Jesus with respect of persons: yet as Paul who was himself a Jew, professed to hold forth the doctrine of justification by faith, and of the resurrection of the dead, according as he knew his godly countrymen did, who were Jews by nature(Gal. 2:15; Acts 26:6,7), so we, who are by nature Englishmen, do desire to hold forth the same doctrine of religion (especially in fundamentals) which we see and know to be held by the churches of England, according to the truth of the gospel.
The more we discern (that which we do, and have cause to do with incessant mourning and trembling) the unkind, and unbrotherly, and unchristian contentions of our godly brethren and countrymen, in matters of church government: the more earnestly we desire to see them joined together in one common faith, and ourselves with them. For this end, having pursued the public confession of faith, agreed upon by the reverend assembly of divines at Westminster, and finding the sum and substance thereof ( in matters of doctrine) to express not their own judgments only, but ours also: and being likewise called upon by our godly magistrates, to draw up a public confession of that faith, which is constantly taught, and generally professed amongst us, we thought good to present unto them, and with them to our churches, and with them to all churches of Christ abroad, our professed and hearty assent and attestation to the whole confession of faith (for substance of doctrine) which the reverend assembly presented to the religious and honorable Parliaments of England: Excepting only some sections in the 25, 30 and 31st chapters of their confession, which concern points of controversy in church-discipline; Touching which we refer ourselves to the draft of church-discipline in the ensuing treatise.
The truth of what we here declare, mat appear by the unanimous vote of the Synod of the Elders and messengers of our churches assembled at Cambridge, the last of the sixth month, 1648: Which jointly passed in these words:

This Synod having perused, and considered (with much gladness of heart, and thankfulness to God) the confession of faith published of late by the reverend Assembly in England, do judge it to the very holy, orthodox, and judicious in all matters of faith: and do therefore freely and fully consent thereunto, for the substance thereof. Only in those things which have respect to the church government and discipline, agreed upon by this present assembly: and do therefore think it meet, that this confession of faith, should be commended to the churches of Christ among us, and to the Honored Court, as worthy of their due consideration and acceptance.

Howbeit, we may not conceal that the doctrine of vocation expressed in Chap.10. S I. and summarily repeated Chapt. 13 and I. passed not without some debate. Yet considering, that the term of vocation, and others by which it is described, are capable of a large, or more strict sense, and use, and that is not intended to bind apprehensions precisely in point of order or method, there hath been a general condescendancy thereunto.
Now by this our professed consent and free concurrence with them in all the doctrinal of religion, we hope it may appear to the world, that as we are a remnant of the people of the same nation with them: so we are professors of the same common faith, and fellowship heirs of the same common salvation. Yea moreover, as this our profession of the same faith with them will exempt us (even in their judgments) from suspicion of heresy: so (we trust) it may exempt us in the like sort from suspicion of schism: that though we are forced to dissent from them in matters of church discipline: yet our dissent is not taken up out of arrogance of spirit in ourselves (whom they see willingly condescend to learn of them): neither is it carried with uncharitable censoriousness towards them (both which are the proper and essential characters of schism), but in meekness of wisdom, as we walk along with them, and follow them, as they follow Christ: so where we conceive a different apprehension of the mind of Christ (as it falleth out in some few points touching church order) we still reserve due reverence to them (whom we judge to be, through Christ, the glorious lights of both nations ): and only crave leave (as in spirit we are bound) to follow the Lamb whither soever he goeth, and (after the Apostle’s example) as we believe, so we speak.
And if the examples of such poor outcasts as ourselves, might prevail if not with all (for that were to great a blessing to hope for) yet with some or other of our brethren in England, so far as they are come to mind and speak the same thing with such a dissent from them, we hope in Christ, it would not only moderate the harsh judging and condemning of one another in such differences of judgment, as may be found in the choicest saints: but also prevent (by the mercy of Christ) the peril of the distraction and destruction of all the churches in both kingdoms. Otherwise, if brethren shall go on to bite and devour one another, the Apostle feared
As we also, with sadness of heart do) it will tend to the consuming of them, and us all: which the Lord prevent.
We are not ignorant, that (besides these aspersions of heresy and schism) other exceptions are taken at our way of church government: but (as we conceive) upon as little ground.


As 1. That by admitting none into the fellowship of our church, but saints by calling, we rob many parish-churches of their best members, to make up one of our congregations: which is not only, to gather churches out of churches (a thing unheard of in Scripture): but also to weaken the hearts and hands of the best ministers in the parishes, by despoiling them of their best hearers.
2. That we provide no course for the gaining, and calling in, of ignorant, and erroneous, and scandalous persons, whom we refuse to receive into our churches, and so exclude from the wholesome remedy of church discipline.
3. That in our way, we sow seeds of division and hindrance of edification in every family: whilst admitting in to our churches any voluntaries, the husband will be of one church, the wife of another: the parents of one church, the children of another: the master of one church, the servants of another. And so the parents and masters being of different churches from their children and servants, they cannot take a just account of their profiting by what they hear, yea by this means the husbands, parents, and masters, shall be chargeable to the maintenance of many other churches, and church officers, besides their own: which will prove a charge and burden unsupportable.


But for answer, as to the first. For gathering churches out of churches, we cannot say, that is a thing unheard of in Scripture. The first Christian church was gathered out of the Jewish church, and out of many synagogues in that church, and consisted partly of inhabitants of Jerusalem, partly of the Galileans: who thought they kept some parts of public worship with the temple: yet neither did they frequent the sacrifices, nor repair to the Sanhedrim for the determining of their church-causes: but kept entire and constant communion with the Apostles’ church in all the ordinances of the gospel. And for the first Christian church of the Gentiles at Antioch, it appears to have been gathered and constituted partly of the dispersed brethren of the church at Jerusalem (whereof some were men of Cyprus, and Cyrene) and partly of the believing Gentiles. Acts 11:20,21.


If it be said the first Christian church at Jerusalem, and that at Antioch were gathered not out of any Christian church, but out of the Jewish temple and synagogues, which were shortly after to be abolished: and their gathering to Antioch, was upon occasion of dispersion in time of persecution.


We desire, it may be considered, 1. That the members of the Jewish church were more strongly and straitly tied by express holy covenant, to keep fellowship with the Jewish church, till it was abolished, than any members of christian parish-churches are wont to be tied to keep fellowship with their parish-churches. The episcopal canons, which bind them to attend their parish church, it is likely satisfied (as we conceive) if they attend upon the worship of God in any other church though not within their own parish. But no such like covenant of God, nor any other religious tie lieth upon the Jews to attend upon the worship of God in their temple and synagogues.
2. Though the Jewish temple church at Jerusalem was to be abolished, yet that doth not make the desertion of it by the members, to be lawful, till it was abolished. Further abolition is no warrant for present desertion: unless it be lawful in some case whilst the church is yet in present standing to desert it; to wit, either for avoiding of present pollutions, or for hope of greater edification, and so for better satisfaction to conscience in either. Further events (or foresight of them) do not resolve present relations. Else wives, children, servants, might desert their husbands, parents, masters, when they be mortally sick.
3. What the members of the Jewish church did, in joining to the church at Antioch in time of persecution, it may well be conceived the members of any Christian church may do the like, for satisfaction of conscience. Peace of conscience is more desirable than the peace of the outward man: and freedom from scruples of conscience is more comfortable to a sincere heart than freedom from persecution.


If it be said, these members of the Christian church at Jerusalem, that joined to the church at Antioch, removed their habitations together with their relations: which if the brethren of the congregational way would do, it would much abate the grievance of their departure from their presbyterial churches.


We verily could wish them so to do, as well approving the like removal of habitations, in case of changing church-relations (provided, that it may be done without too much detriment to their outward estates) and we for our parts, have done the same. But to put a necessity of removal of habitation in such a case, it is to foment and cherish a corrupt principle of making civil cohabitation, if not a formal cause, yet at least a proper adjunct of church-relation; which the truth of the Gospel doth not acknowledge. Now to foment an error to the prejudice of the truth of the Gospel, is not to walk with a right foot according to the truth of the Gospel, as Paul judgeth. Gal. 2:14.
4. We do not think it meet, or safe, for a member of a presbyterial church, forthwith to desert his relation to his church, betake himself to the fellowship of a congregational church, though he may discern some defect in the estate, or government of his own.


For 1. Faithfulness of brotherly love in church-relation requireth, that the members of the church should first convince their brethren of their sinful defects, and duly wait for their reformation, before they depart from them. For if we must take such a course for the healing of a private brother, in a way of brotherly love, with much meekness, and patience: how much more ought we so to walk with like tenderness towards a whole church.
Again 2. By the hasty departure of sound members from a defective church, reformation is not promoted, but many times retarded, and corruption increased. Whereas on the contrary, while sincere members breathing after purity of reformation abide together, they may (by the blessing of God upon their faithful endeavors) prevail much with their elders and neighbors towards a reformation; it may be, so much, as that their elders in their own church shall receive none to the seals but visible saints: and in the classis shall put forth no authoritative act (but consultative only) touching the members of other churches: nor touching their own, but with the consent (silent consent at least) of their own church: which two things, if they can obtain with any humble, meek, holy, faithful endeavors, we conceive to continue their relation with their own presbyterial church without scruple.


5. But to add a word farther, touching the gathering of churches, what if there were no express example of such a thing extant in the Scriptures? that which we are wont to answer the Anti-paedobaptists, may suffice here: it is enough, if any evidence thereof may be gathered from just consequence of Scripture light. Dr. Ames’ judgment concerning this case, passeth (for aught we know) without exception, which he gave in his 4th book of conscience in answer to question 3.


If any (he says) wronged with unjust vexation, or providing for his own edification or in testimony against sin depart from a church where some evils are tolerated, and join himself to another more pure, yet without condemning of the church he leaveth, he is not therefore to be held as a schismatic, or as guilty of any other sin.

Where the Tripartite disjunction, which the judicious Doctor putteth, declareth the lawfulness of the departure of a church-member from his church, when either through weariness of unjust vexation, or in way of provision for his own edification, or in testimony against sin, he joineth himself to another congregation more reformed. Any one of these, he judgeth a just and lawful cause of departure, though all of them do not concur together. Neither will such a practice despoil the best ministers of the parishes of their best hearers.


For 1. Sometimes the ministers themselves are willing to join with their better sort of hearers, in this way of reformation: and then they and their hearers continue still their church relation together, yea and confirm it more straightly and strongly, by an express renewed covenant, though the ministers may still continue their wonted preaching to the whole parish.
2. If the ministers do dislike the way of those, whom they otherwise count their best members, and so refuse to join with them therein; yet if those members can produce some other ministers to join with them in their own way, and still continue their dwelling together in the same town, they may easily order the times of public assembly, as to attend constantly upon the ministry of their former Church: and either after or before the public assembly of the parish take an opportunity to gather together for the administration of sacraments, and censures, and other church ordinances amongst themselves. The first apostolic church assembled to hear the word with the Jewish church in the open courts of the temple: but afterwards gathered together for breaking of bread, and other of church-order, from house to house.
3. Suppose presbyterial churches should communicate some of their best gifted members towards the erecting and gathering of another church: it would not forthwith be their detriment, but may be their enlargement. It is the most noble and perfect work of a living creature (both in nature and grace) to propagate, and multiply his kind: and it is the honour of the faithful spouse of Christ, to set forward the work of Christ as well abroad as at home. The church in Cant. 8: 8-9, to help forward her little sister-church, was willing to part with her choice-materials, even beams of cedar, and such precious living stones, as were fit to build a silver palace. In the same book, the church is compared sometime to a garden, sometime to an orchard, Cant. 4:12,13. No man planteth a garden, or orchard, but seeketh to get the choicest herbs and plants of his neighbors, and they freely impart them: nor do they count it a spoil to their gardens, and orchards, but rather a glory. Nevertheless, we go not so far: we neither seek nor ask the choice-members of the parishes but accept them being offered.


If it be said, they are not offered by the ministers, nor by the parish churches (who have most right in them) but only by themselves.


It may justly be demanded, what right, or what power have either the ministers, or parish church over them? Not by solemn church covenant: for that, for that, though it be the firmest engagement, is not owned, but rejected. If it be, by their joining with the parish, in the calling and election of a minister to such a congregation at his first coming, there is indeed just weight in such an engagement: nor do we judge it safe for such to remove from such a minister, unless it be on such grounds as may justly give him due satisfaction. But if the union of such members to a parish church, and to the ministry thereof, be only by cohabitation within the precincts of the parish, that union, as it was founded upon human law: so by human law it may easily be released. Or otherwise, if a man remove his habitation, he removeth also the bond of his relation, and the ground of offense.
4. It need not to be feared, that all the best hearers of the best ministers, no, nor the most of them, will depart from them upon point of church government. Those who have found the presence and power of the spirit of Christ breathing in their ministers, either to their conversion, or edification, will be slow to change such a ministry of faith, and holiness, for the liberty of church order. Upon which ground, and sundry other such like, there be doubtless sundry godly and judicious hearers in many parishes in England that do and will prefer their relation to their ministers (though in a presbyterial way) above the congregational confederation.
5. But if all, or the most part of the best hearers of the best ministers of parishes, should depart from them, as preferring in their judgements, the congregational way: yet, in case the congregational way should should prove to be of Christ, it will never grieve the holy hearers of godly ministers, that their hearers should follow after Christ: yea many of themselves (upon due deliberation) will be ready to go along with them. It never grieved nor troubled John Baptist, that his disciples departed from him to follow after Christ, John 3. But in case the congregational way should prove to be, not the institution of Christ (as we take it) but the invention of men: then doubtless, the presbyterial form ( if it be of God) will swallow up the other, as Moses’ rod devoured the rods of the Egyptians. Nor will this put a necessity upon both the opposite parties, to shift for themselves, and to seek to supplant one another: but only, it will call upon them alhyeueiu eu agaph to seek and follow the truth in love, to attend in faithfulness each unto his own flock, and to administer to them all the holy things of God, and their portion of food in due season: and as for others, quietly to forbear them, and yet to instruct them with meekness that are contrary minded: leaving it to Christ (in the use of all good means) to reveal his own truth in his own time: and meanwhile endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Phil. 3: 15,16; Eph. 4: 3. To the second exception, that we take no course for the gaining and healing and calling in of ignorant, and erroneous, and scandalous persons, whom we refuse to receive into our churches and so exclude them from the remedy of church-discipline.


We conceive the receiving of them into our churches would rather lose and corrupt our churches, than gain and heal them. A little leaven laid in a lump of dough, will sooner leave the whole lump, than the whole-lump will sweeten it. We therefore find it safer, to square rough and unhewn stones, before they be laid into the building, rather than to hammer and hew them, when they lie unevenly in the building.
And accordingly, to means to us we gain and call in such as are ignorant or scandalous. 1. The public ministry of the word, upon which they are invited by counsel, and required by wholesome laws to attend. And the word it is, which is the power of God to salvation, to the calling and winning of souls. 2. Private conference, and conviction by the elders, and other able brethren of the church: whom they do the more respectively hearken unto, when they see no hope of enjoying church-fellowship, or participation in the sacraments for themselves, or their children, till they approve their judgements to be sound and orthodox, and their lives subdued to some hope of godly conversation. What can classical discipline, or excommunication itself do more in this case?


The 3rd exception wraps up in it a threefold domestical inconvenience: and each of them meet to be eschewed. 1. Disunion in families between each relation: 2. Disappointment of edification, for want of opportunity of opportunities in the governors of families to take account of things heard by their children and servants. 3. Disbursements of chargeable maintenance to the several churches, whereto the several persons of their families are joined.


All which inconveniences either do not fall out in congregational-churches; or are easily redressed. For none are orderly admitted into congregational-churches, but such as are well approved by good testimony, to be duly observant of family-relations. Or if any otherwise disposed should creep in, they are either orderly healed, or duly removed in a way of Christ. Nor are they admitted, unless they can give some good account of their profiting by ordinances, before the elders and brethren of the church: and much more to their parents, and masters. Godly tutors in the university can take an account of their pupils: and godly householders in the city can take account of their children and servants, how they profit by the word they have heard in several churches: and that to the greater edification of the whole family, by the variety of such administrations. Bees may bring honey and wax into the hive, when they are not limited to one garden of flowers, but may fly abroad to many.
Nor is any change expected from wives, children, or servants to the maintenance of congregational churches, further than they be furnished with personal estates, or earnings, which may enable them to contribute of such things as they have, and not of such things as they have not. God accepteth not robbery for a sacrifice. And though a Godly householder may justly take himself bound in conscience, to contribute to any such church, whereto his wife, or children, or servants do stand in relation: yet that will not aggravate the burden of his charge, no more than if they were received members of the same church whereto himself is related.
But why do we stand thus long to plead exemptions from exceptions? The Lord help all his faithful servants (whether presbyterial, or congregational) to judge and shame ourselves before the Lord for all our former compliances to greater enormities in church government, than are to be found either in the congregational or presbyterial way. And then surly, either the Lord will clear up his own will to us, and so frame and subdue us all to one mind, and one way (Ezek. 43: 10,11) or else we shall learn to bear one another’s burdens in a spirit of meekness. It will then doubtless be far from us, so to attest the discipline of Christ, as to detest the disciples of Christ, for to contend for the seamless coat of Christ, as to crucify the living members of Christ, so to divide ourselves about church communion, as through breaches to open a wide gap for a deluge of Antichristian and profane malignity to swallow up both church and civil state.
What shall we say more ? Is difference about church order become the inlet of all the disorders in the kingdom ? Has the Lord indeed left us to such hardness of heart, that Church government shall become a snare to Zion (as sometimes Moses was to Egypt, Ex. 10:7) that we cannot leave contesting and contending about it, till the kingdom be destroyed ? Did not the Lord Jesus, when he dedicated his sufferings for his church, and his also unto his father, make it his earnest and only prayer for us in this world, that he (whom the Father heard always, John 11:42) should not have this last most solemn prayer heard, and granted ? or, shall it be granted for all the saints elsewhere, and not for the saints in England; so that amongst them disunion shall grow even about church-union, and communion ? If it is possible, for a little faith (so much as a grain of mustard seed) to remove a mountain: is it not possible, for so much strength of faith, as is to be found in all the godly in the kingdom, to remove those images of jealousy, and to cast those stumbling-blocks out of the way, which may hinder the free passage of brotherly love amongst brethren ? It is true indeed, the National covenant doth justly engage both parties, faithfully to endeavor the utter extirpation of the Antichristian hierarchy, and much more of all blasphemies, heresies, and damnable errors.
Certainly, if the congregational discipline be independent from the inventions of men, is it not much more independent from the delusions of Satan ? What fellowship hath Christ with Belial ? light with darkness ? truth with error ? The faithful Jews needed not the help of the Samaritians, to re-edify the temple of God: yea they rejected their help when it was offered, Ezra 4. 1-3. And if the congregational way be a way of truth (as we believe) and if the brethren that walk in it be zealous of the truth, and hate every false way (as by the rule of their holy discipline they are instructed, 2 John 10:11) then verily, their is no branch in the national covenant that engageth the covenanters to abhor either congregational churches, or their way: which being duly administered, do not less effectively extirpate the Antichristian hierarchy, and all blasphemies, hiersies, and pernicious errors, than the other way of discipline doth, which is more generally and publicly received and ratified.
But the Lord Jesus commune with all our hearts in secret: and he who is the King of his Church, let him be pleased to exercise his kingly power in our spirits, that so his kingdom may come into our churches in purity and peace. Amen. Amen.

Chapter 1

Of the form of Church Government; and that is one, immutable, and
prescribed in the Word of God

1. Ecclesiastical polity or church government, or discipline is nothing else, but that form and order that is to be observed in the church of Christ upon earth, both for the constitution of it, and all the administration that therein are to be preformed.
2. Church government is considered in a double respect either in regard of the parts of government themselves, or necessary circumstances thereof. The parts of government are prescribed in the word, because the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and Law-giver of his church, is no less faithful in the house of God than was Moses, who from the Lord delivered a form and pattern of government to the children of Israel in the Old Testament: And the Holy Scriptures are now also so perfect, as they are able to make the man of God perfect and thoroughly furnished unto every good work; and therefore doubtless to the well ordering of the house of God.
3. The parts of church government are all of them exactly described in the word of God being parts or means of instituted worship according to the second Commandment: and therefore to continue one in the same, unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ as a kingdom that cannot be shaken, until he hall deliver it up unto God, even the Father. So that it is not left in the power of men, officers, churches, or any state in the world to add, or diminish, or alter anything in the least measure therein.
4. The necessary circumstances, as time and place, ect. belonging unto order and decency, are not so left unto men as that under pretense of them, they may thrust their own inventions upon the churches: Being circumscribed in the Word with many general limitations; where they are determined in respect of the matter to be neither worship itself, nor circumstances separable from worship: in respect of their end, they must be done unto edification: in respect of the manner, decently, and in order, according to the nature of things themselves, and civil, and church custom, doth not even nature itself teach you? Yea, they are in some sort determined particularly, namely that they be done in such a manner, as all circumstances considered, is most expedient for edification: so, as if there be no error of man concerning their determination, the determining of them is to be accounted as if it were divine.

Chapter II

Of the Nature of the Catholic Church in general, and in special, of a
Particular Visible Church

The Catholic Church is the whole company of those that are elected, redeemed, and in time effectually called from the state of sin and death unto a state of grace, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
2. This church is either triumphant, or militant. Triumphant, the number of them who are glorified in heaven: militant, the number of them who are conflicting with their enemies upon earth.
3. This militant church is to be considered as invisible, and visible. Invisible, in respect of their relation wherein they stand to Christ, as a body unto the head, being united unto him, by the spirit of God, and faith in their hearts: Visible, in respect of the profession of their faith, in their persons, and in particular churches: and so there may be acknowledged a universal church.
4. The members of the militant visible church considered either as not yet in church order, or as walking according to the church order of the gospel. In order, and so besides the spiritual union, and communion, common to all believers, they enjoy moreover an union and communion ecclesiastical-political: so we deny an universal visible church.
5. The state the members of the militant visible church walking in order, was either before the law, economical, that is in families; or under the law, national: or, since the coming of Christ, only congregational. (The term independent, we approve not). Therefore neither national, provincial, nor classical.
6. A congregational church, is by the institution of Christ a part of the militant visible church, consisting of a company of saints by calling, united into one body, by a holy covenant, for the public worship of God, and the mutual edification one of another, in the fellowship of the Lord Jesus.

Chapter III

Of the matter of the visible church both in respect of quality and quantity

The matter of a visible church are saints by calling. By saints, we understand,
1. Such, as not only have attained the knowledge of the principles of religion, and are free from gross and open scandals, but also do together with the profession of their faith and repentance, walk in blameless obedience to the word, so as that in charitable discretion they may be accounted saints by calling (though perhaps some or more of them be unsound, and hypocrites inwardly): because the members of such particular churches are commonly by the Holy Ghost called saints and faithful brethren in Christ, and sundry churches have been reproved for receiving, and suffering such persons to continue in fellowship amongst them, as have been offensive and scandalous: the name of God also by this means is blasphemed: and the holy things of God defiled and profaned, the hearts of the godly grieved: and the wicked themselves hardened: and helped forward to damnation; the example of such doth endanger the sanctity of others. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
2. The children of such, who are also holy.
3. The members of churches though orderly constituted, may in time degenerate, and grow corrupt and scandalous, which though they ought not to be tolerated in the church, yet their continuance therein, through the defect of the execution of discipline and just censures, doth not immediately dissolve the being of the church, as appears in the church of Israel, and the churches of Galatia and Corinth, Pergamus, and Thyatira.
4. The matter of the church in respect of its quantity ought not to be of greater number than may ordinarily meet together conveniently in one place: nor ordinarily fewer than may conveniently carry on church-work. Hence when the Holy Scriptures maketh mention of the saints combined into a church-estate, in a town or city, where was but one congregation, it usually calleth those saints the church in the singular number, as the church of the Thessalonians, the church of Smyrna, Philadelphia, and the like: But when it speaketh of the saints in a nation, or province, wherein there were sundry congregations, it frequently and usually calleth them by the name of the churches, in the plural number, as the churches of Asia, Galatia, Macedonia, and the like: which is further confirmed by what is written of sundry of those churches in particular, how they were assembled and met together the whole church in one place, as the church at Jerusalem, the church at Antioch, the church at Corinth, it being the port thereof, and answerable to a village, yet being a distinct congregation from Corinth, it had a church of its own as well as Corinth had.
5. Nor can it with reason be thought but that every church appointed and ordained by Christ, had a ministry ordained and appointed for the same: and yet plain it is, that there were no ordinary officers appointed by Christ for any other than congregational churches: elders being appointed to feed, not all flocks, but the particular flock of God over which the Holy Ghost had made them the overseers, and that flock they must attend, even the whole flock: and one congregation being as much as any ordinary elders can attend, therefore there is no greater church than a congregation, which may ordinarily meet in one place.

Chapter IV

Of the form of a visible Church and of Church Covenant

Saints by calling, must have a visible political union amongst themselves, or else they are not a particular church: as those similitudes hold forth, which Scripture makes use of, to show the nature of particular Churches: as a body, a building, or house, hands, eyes, feet, and other members must be united, or else, remaining separate are not a body. Stones, timber, though squared, hewn and polished, are not an house, until they are compacted and united: so saints or believers in judgement of charity, are not a church, unless orderly knit together.
2. Particular churches cannot be distinguished one from another but by their forms. Ephesus is not Smyrna, and Pergamus Thyatira, but each one a distinct society of itself, having officers of their own, which had not the charge of others: virtues of their own, for which others are not praised: corruptions of their own for which others are not blamed.
3. This form is the visible covenant, agreement, or consent whereby they give up themselves unto the Lord, to the observing of the ordinances of Christ together in the same society, which is usually called the Church-Covenant; for we see not otherwise how members can have church-power one over another mutually.
The comparing of each particular church unto a city, and unto a spouse, seemeth to conclude not only a form, but that that form, is by way of a covenant.
The covenant, as it was that which made the family of Abraham and children of Israel to be a church and people unto God, so it is that which now makes the several societies of Gentile believers to be churches in these days.
4. This voluntary agreement, consent or covenant (for all these are here taken for the same): although the more express and plain it is, the more it puts us in mind of our mutual duty, and stirreth us up to it, and leaveth less room for the questioning of the truth of the church-estate of a company of professors, and the truth of membership of particular persons: yet we conceive the substance of it is kept, where there is a real agreement and consent of a company of faithful persons to meet constantly together in one congregation, for the public worship of God and their mutual edification: which real agreement and consent they do express by their constant practice in coming together for the public worship of God, and by their religious subjection unto the ordinances of God there: the rather, if we do consider how scripture covenants have been entered into, not only expressly by word of mouth, but by sacrifice; by hand writing, and seal; and also sometimes by silent consent, without any writing, or expression of words at all.
5. This form then being mutual covenant, it followeth, it is not faith in the heart, nor the profession of that faith, nor cohabitation, nor baptism; 1. Not faith in the heart; because that is invisible: 2. Not a bare profession; because that declareth them no more to be members of one church than of another: 3. Not cohabitation; atheists or infidels may dwell together with believers: 4. Not baptism; because it presupposeth a church estate, as circumcision in the Old Testament, which gave no being unto the church, the church being before it, and in the wilderness without it. Seals presuppose a covenant already in being, one person is a complete subject of baptism: but one person is incapable of being a church.
6. All believers ought, as God giveth them opportunity thereunto, to endeavor to join themselves unto a particular church and that in respect of the honour of Jesus Christ, in his example and institution, by the professed acknowledgement of, and subjection unto the order and ordinances of the Gospel: as also in respect of their good of communion, founded upon their visible union, and contained in the promises of Christ’s special presence in the church: whence they have fellowship with him, and in him one with another: also, for the keeping of them in the way of God’s commandments, and recovering of them in case of wandering (which all Christ’s sheep are subject to in this life), being unable to return of themselves; together with the benefit of their mutual edification, and of their posterity, that they may not be cut off from the privileges of the covenant. Otherwise, if a believer offends, he remains destitute of the remedy provided in that behalf, and should all believers neglect this duty of joining to all particular congregations: it might follow thereupon, that Christ should have no visible political churches upon earth.

Chapter V

Of the first of Church Power or, to whom Church Power doth first belong

The first subject of church power, is either supreme, or subordinate and ministerial. The supreme (by way of gift from the Father) is the Lord Jesus Christ. The ministerial, is either extraordinary; as the Apostles, prophets, and evangelists, or ordinary; as every particular congregational church.
2. Ordinary church power, is either the power of office, that is such as is proper to the eldership: or, power of privilege, such as belongs unto the brotherhood. The latter is in the brethren formally, and immediately from Christ, that is, so as it may according to order be acted or exercised immediately by themselves: the former, is not in them formally or immediately, and therefore cannot be acted or exercised immediately by them, but is said to be in them, in that they design the persons unto office, who only are to act, or to exercise this power.

Chapter VI

Of the Officers of the Church, and especially of Pastors and Teachers

A church being a company of people combined together by covenant for the worship of God, it appearth thereby, that there may be the essence and being of a church without any officers, seeing there is both the form and matter of a church, which is implied when it is said, the Apostles ordained elders in every church.
2. Nevertheless, though officers not be absolutely necessary to the simple being of churches, when they be called: yet ordinarily to their calling they are, and to their well being: and therefore the Lord Jesus out of his tender compassion hath appointed and ordained officers which he would not have done, if they had not been useful and needful for the church; yea, being ascended into heaven, he received gifts from men, and gave gifts to men, whereof officers for the church are justly accounted no small parts; they being to continue to the end of the world, and for the perfecting of all the saints.
3. The officers were either extraordinary, or ordinary: extraordinary, as apostles, prophets, evangelists; ordinary, as elders and deacons.
The apostles, prophets, and evangelists, as they were called extraordinarily, by Christ, so there office ended with themselves whence it is that Paul directing Timothy how to carry along church administrations, giveth no direction about the choice or course of apostles, prophets, or evangelists, but only of elders and deacons, and when Paul was to take his last leave of the church of Ephesus, he committed the care of feeding the church to no other, but unto the elders of that church. The like charge doth Peter commit to the elders.
4. Of elders (who are also in scripture called bishops) some attended chiefly to the ministry of the word, as the pastors and teachers; others attend especially unto rule, who are therefore called ruling elders.
5. The office of pastor and teacher appears to be distinct. The pastor’s special work is, to attend to exhortation: and therein to administer a word of wisdom: the teacher is to attend to doctrine, and therein to administer a word of knowledge and either of them to administer the seals of that covenant, unto the dispensation whereof they are alike called; as also to execute the censures, being but a kind of application of the word, the preaching of which, together with the application thereof, they are alike charged withal.
6. And forasmuch as both pastors and teachers are given by Christ for the perfecting of the saints, and edifying of his body, which saints, and body of Christ in his church. Therefore we account pastors and teachers to be both of them church officers; and not the pastor for the church, and the teacher only for the schools, though this we gladly acknowledge, that schools are both lawful, profitable, and necessary for the training up of such in good literature, or learning, as may afterwards be called forth unto office of pastor or teacher in the church.

Chapter VII

Of Ruling Elders and Deacons

The ruling elder’s office is distinct from the office of pastor and teacher. The ruling elders are not so called to exclude the pastors and teachers from ruling, but because ruling and governing is common to these with the other; whereas attending to teach and preach the word is peculiar unto the former.
2. The ruling elder’s work is to join with the pastor and teacher in those acts of spiritual rule which are distinct from the ministry of the word and sacraments committed to them. Of which sort, these be, as followeth:
I. To open and shut the doors of God’s house, by the admission of members approved by the church: and by restoring of penitents, forgiven by the church: and by excommunication of notorious and obstinate offenders renounced by the church.
II. To call the church together when there is occasion, and seasonably to dismiss them again. III. To prepare matters in private, that in public they may be carried to an end with less trouble, and more speedy dispatch.
IV. To moderate the carriage of all matters in the church assembled, as, to propound matters to the church, to order the season of speech and silence: and to pronounce sentence according to the mind of Christ, with the consent of the church. V. To be guides and leaders to the church, in all matters whatsoever, pertaining to church administrations and actions.
VI. To see that none in the church live inordinately out of rank and place; without a calling, or idly in their calling. VII. To prevent and heal such offences in life, or in doctrine; as might corrupt the church. VIII. To feed the flock of God with a word of admonition. IX. And as they shall be sent for, to visit, and pray over their sick brethren. X. And at other times as opportunity shall serve thereunto.
3. The office of a deacon is instituted in the church by the Lord Jesus; sometimes they are called helps.
The scripture telleth us, how they should be qualified: grave, not double tongued, not given too much to wine, not given to filthy lucre. They must first be proved and then use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
The office and work of the deacon is to receive the offerings of the church, gifts given to the church, and to keep the treasury of the church: and therewithin to serve the tables which the church is to provide for: as the Lord’s table, the table of the ministers, and of such as are in necessity, to whom they are to distribute in simplicity.
4. The office thereof being limited unto the care of the temporal good things of the church, it extends not unto attendance upon, and administration of the spiritual things thereof, as the word, and sacraments, or the like.
5. The ordinance of the apostle, and practice of the church, commends the Lord’s day as a fit time for the contribution of the saints.
6. The instituting of all these officers in the church, is the work of God himself; of the Lord Jesus Christ; of the Holy Ghost, and therefore such officers as he hath not appointed, are altogether unlawful either to be placed in the church, or to be retained therein, and are to be looked at as human creatures, mere inventions and appointments of man, to the great dishonor of Jesus Christ, the Lord of his house, the king of his church, whether popes, patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, lordbishops, archdeacons, officials, commissaries, and the like. These and the rest of that hierarchy and retinue, not being plants of the Lord’s planting, shall all certainly be rooted out, and cast forth.
7. The Lord hath appointed ancient widows (where they may be had) to minister in the church, in giving attendance to the sick, and to give succor unto them, and others in the like necessities.

Chapter VIII

Of the Election of Church Officers

No man may take the honour of a church-officer unto himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron.
2. Calling unto office is either immediate, by Christ himself: such was the call of the apostles, and prophets: this manner of calling ended with them, as hath been said: or mediate, by the church.
3. It is meet, that before any be ordained or chosen officers, they should be tried and proved; because hands are not suddenly to be laid upon any, and both elders and deacons must be of honest and good report.
4. The things in respect which they are to be tried, are those gifts and virtues which the Scripture requireth in men, that are to be elected into such places, viz. that elders must be blameless, sober, apt to teach, and endued with such other qualifications as are laid down, I Tim. 3:2; Tim. I: 6-9. Deacons to be fitted, as is directed, Acts 6:3; I Tim. 3: 8-II.
5. Officers are to be called by such churches, whereunto they are to minister; of such moment is the preservation of this power, that the churches exercised it in the presence of the apostles.
6. A church being free cannot become subject to any, but by a free election; yet when such a people do choose any to be over them in the Lord, then do they become subject, and most willingly submit to their ministry in the Lord, whom they have so chosen.
7. And if the church have power to choose their officers and ministers, then in case of manifest unworthiness and delinquency they have power also to depose them. For to open, and shut: to choose and refuse; to constitute in office, and remove from office: are acts belonging unto the same power.
8. We judge it much conducting to the well-being, and communion of churches, that where it may conveniently be done, neighbor churches be advised withal, and their help made use of in the trial of church officers, in order to their choice.
9. The choice of such church officers belongeth not to the civil magistrates, as such, or diocesan bishops, or patrons: for of these or any such like, the Scripture is wholly silent, as having any power therein.

Chapter IX

Of Ordination, and Imposition of hands

Church officers are not only to be chosen by the church, but also to be ordained by imposition of hands, and prayer, with which at ordination of elders, fasting also is to be joined.
2. This ordination we account nothing else, but the solemn putting of a man into his place and office in the church whereunto he had right before by election, being like the installing of a magistrate in the common wealth.
Ordination therefore is not to go before, but to follow election. The essence and substance of the outward calling of an ordinary officer in the church, doth not consist in his ordination, but in his voluntary and free election by the church, and in his accepting of that election, whereupon is founded the relation between such a minister and such a people.
Ordination doth not constitute an officer, nor give him the essentials of his office. The apostles were elders, without imposition of hands by men: Paul and Barnabas were officers, before that imposition of hands, Acts 13:3. The posterity of Levi were priests, and Levites, before hands were laid on them by the children of Israel.
3. In such churches where there are elders, imposition of hands in ordination is to be preformed by those elders.
4. In such churches where there are no elders, imposition of hands may be preformed by some of the brethren orderly chosen by the church thereunto. For if the people may elect officers, which is the greater, and wherein the substance of the office consists, they may much more (occasion and need so requiring) impose hands in ordination, which is the less, and but the accomplishment of the other.
5. Nevertheless in such churches where there are no leaders, and the church so desire, we see not why imposition of hands may not be preformed by the elders of other churches. Ordinary officers laid hands upon the officers of many churches: the presbytery of Ephesus laid hands upon Timothy an evangelist. The presbytery at Antioch laid hands upon Paul and Barnabas.
6. Church officers are officers to one church, even that particular, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. Insomuch as elders are commanded to feed, not all flocks, but that flock which is committed to their faith and trust, and dependeth upon them. Nor can constant residence at one congregation, be necessary for a minister, no, nor yet lawful, if he be not a minister to one congregation only, but to the church universal: because he amy not attend one part only of the church, whereunto he is a minister, but he is called to attend unto all the flock.
7. He that is clearly loosed from his office-relation unto that church whereof he was a minister, cannot be looked at as an officer, nor preform any act of office in any other church, unless he be again orderly called unto office: which when it shall be, we know nothing to hinder, but imposition of hands also in his ordination ought to be used towards him again. For so Paul the apostle received imposition of hands twice at least, from Ananias, Acts 9:17 and Acts 13:3.

Chapter X

Of the Power of the Church, and its Presbytery

Supreme and lordly power over all the churches upon earth, doth only belong unto Jesus Christ, who is King of the church, and Head thereof. He hath the government upon his shoulders, and hath all the power given to him, both in heaven and earth.
2. A company of professed believers ecclesiastically confederate, as they are a church before they have officers, and without them; so even in that estate, subordinate church power under Christ delegated to them by him, doth belong to them, in such a manner as is before expressed, and as flowing from the very nature and essence of a church: it being natural to all bodies, and so unto a church body, to be furnished with sufficient power, for its own preservation and subsistence.
3. This government of the church, is a mixed government (and so hath been acknowledged long before the term of independency was heard of:) in respect of Christ, the head and king of the church, and the sovereign power residing in him, and exercised by him, it is a monarchy. In respect of the body, or brotherhood of the church, and power from Christ granted unto them, it resembles a democracy, in respect of the presbytery and power committed to them, it is an aristocracy.
4. The sovereign power which is peculiar unto Christ, is exercised,
1. In calling the church out of the world into holy fellowship with himself
2. In instituting the ordinances of his worship, and appointing his ministers and officers for the dispensing of them. 3. In giving laws for the ordering of all our ways, and the ways of his house: 4. In giving power and life to all his institutions, and to his people by them. 5. In protecting and delivering his church against and from all the enemies of their peace.
5. The power granted by Christ unto the body of the church and brotherhood, is a prerogative or privilege which the church doth exercise: 1. In choosing their own officers, whether elders, or deacons.
2. In admission of their own members and therefore, there is great reason they should have power to remove any from their fellowship again. Hence in case of offense any one brother hath power to convince and admonish an offending brother: and in case of not hearing him, to take one or two more to set on the admonition, and in case of not hearing them, to proceed to tell the church: and as his offense may require the whole church hath power to proceed to the public censure of him, whether by admonition, or excommunication: and upon his repentance to restore him again unto his former communion.
6. In case an elder offend incorrigibly, the matter so requiring, as the church had power to call him to office, so they have power according to order, the council of other churches where it may be had, directing thereto, to remove him from office: and being now but a member, in case he add contumacy to his sin, the church that had power to receive him into their fellowship, hath also the same power to cast him out, that they have concerning any other member.
7. Church government, or rule, is placed by Christ in the officers of the church, who are therefore called rulers, while they rule with God: yet in case of maladministration, they are subject to the power of the church, according as hath been said before. The Holy Ghost frequently, yea always, where it mentioneth church rule, and church government, ascribeth it to elders: whereas the work and duty of the people is expressed in the phrase of obeying their elders; and submitting themselves unto them in the Lord: so as it is manifest, that an organic or complete church is a body politic, consisting of some that are governors, and some that are governed, in the Lord.
8. The power which Christ has committed to the elders, is to feed and rule the church of God, and accordingly to call the church together upon any weighty occasion, when the members so called, without just cause, may not refuse to come: nor when they are come, depart before they are dismissed: nor speak in the church, before they have leave from the elders: nor continue so doing, when they require silence, nor may they oppose nor contradict the judgement or sentence of the elders, without sufficient and weighty cause, because such practices are manifestly contrary unto order, and government, and inlets of disturbance, and tend to confusion.
9. It belongs also unto the elders to examine any officers, or members, before they be received of the church: to receive the accusations brought to the church, and to prepare them for the church’s hearing. In handling of offences and other matters before the church they have power to declare and publish the counsel and will of God touching the same, and to pronounce sentence with the consent of the church. Lastly they have power, when they dismiss the people, to bless them in the name of the Lord.
10. This power of government in the elders, doth not any wise prejudice the power of privilege in the brotherhood; as neither the power of privilege in the brethren, doth prejudice the power of government in the elders; but they may sweetly agree together, as we may see in the example of the apostles furnished with the greatest church power, who took in the concurrence and consent of the brethren in church administrations. Also that Scripture, 2 Cor. 2:9 and chap. 10:6 do declare, that what the churches were to act and do in these matters, they were to do in way of obedience, and that not only to the direction of the apostles, but also of their ordinary elders.
11. From the premises, namely, that the ordinary power of government belonging only to the elders, power of privilege remaineth with the brotherhood (as power of judgement in matters of censure, and power of liberty, in matters of liberty): it followeth, that in an organic church, and right administration, so as no church act can be consummated, or perfected without the consent of both.

Chapter XI

Of the Maintenance of Church Officers

The apostle concludes, that necessary and sufficient maintenance is due unto the ministers of the word: from the law of nature and nations, from the law of Moses, the equity thereof, as also the rule of common reason. Moreover the Scripture doth not only call elders laborers, and workmen but also speaking of them doth say, that the labourer is worthy of his hire: and requires that he which is taught in the Word, should communicate to him, in all good things; and mentions it as an ordinance of the Lord, that they which preach the gospel, should live of the gospel; and forbiddeth the muzzling of the mouth of the ox, that treadeth out of the corn.
2. The Scriptures alleged requiring this maintenance as a bounden duty, and due debt, and not as a matter of alms, and free gift, therefore people are not at liberty to do or not to do, what and when they please in this matter, no more than any other commanded duty, and ordinance of the Lord: but ought of duty, to minister of their carnal things to them that labour amongst them in the Word and doctrine, as well as they ought to pay any other workman their wages, or to discharge and satisfy their other debts, or to submit themselves to observe any other ordinance of the Lord.
3. The apostle, Gal. 6:6, enjoying that he which is taught communicate to him that teacheth in all good things: doth not leave it arbitrary, what or how much a man shall give, or in what proportion, but even the latter, as well as the former, is prescribed and appointed by the Lord.
4. Not only members of churches, but all that are taught in the Word, are to contribute unto him that teacheth, in all good things. In case that congregations are defective in their contributions, the deacons are to call upon them to do their duty: if their call sufficeth not, the church by her power is to require it of their members, and where church power through the corruption of men, doth not, or cannot attain the end, the magistrate is to see ministry duly provided for, as appears from the commended example of Nehemiah. The magistrates are nursing fathers, and nursing mothers, and stand charged with the custody of both tables; because it is better to prevent a scandal, that it may not come and easier also, than to remove it when it is given. It is most suitable to rule, that by the church’s care, each man should know his proportion according to rule, what he should do, before he do it, that so his judgement and heart may be satisfied in what he doth, and just offense prevented in what is done.

Chapter XII

Of Admission of Members into the Church

The doors of the churches of Christ upon earth, do not by God’s appointment stand so wide open that all sorts of people good or bad, may freely enter therein at their pleasure; but such as are admitted thereto, as members ought to be examined and tried first; whether they be fit and meet to be received into church society, or not. The eunuch of Ethiopia, before his admission was examined by Philip, whether he did believe on Jesus Christ with all his heart. The angel of the church at Ephesus is commended, for trying such as said they were apostles and were not. There is like reason for trying of them that profess themselves to be believers.
The officers are charged with the keeping of the doors of the church, and therefore are in a special manner to make trial of the fitness of such who enter. Twelve angels are set at the gates of the temple, lest such as were ceremonially unclean should enter thereinto.
2. The things which are requisite to be found in all church members, are, repentance from sin, and faith in Jesus Christ. And therefore these are the things whereof men are to be examined, at their admission into the church and which then they must profess and hold forth in such sort, as may satisfy rational charity that the things are there indeed. John the Baptist admitted men to baptism, confessing and bewailing their sins: and of others it is said, that they came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.
3. The weakest measure of faith is to be accepted in those that desire to be admitted into the church: because weak Christians if sincere, have the substance of that faith, repentance and holiness which is required in church members: and such have most need of the ordinances for their confirmation and growth in grace. The Lord Jesus would not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed, but gather the tender lambs in his arms, and carry them gently in his bosom. Such charity and tenderness is to be used, as the weakest Christian if sincere, may not be excluded, nor discouraged. Severity of examination is to be avoided.
4. In case any through excessive fear, or other infirmity, be unable to make their personal relation of their spiritual estate in public, it is sufficient that the elders having received private satisfaction, make relation thereof in public before the church, they testifying their assents thereunto; this being the way that tendeth most to edification. But whereas persons are of better abilities, there it is most expedient, that they make their relations, and confessions personally with their own mouth, as David professeth of himself.
5. A personal and public confession, and declaring of God’s manner of working upon the soul, is both lawful, expedient, and useful, in sundry respects, and upon sundry grounds. Those three thousand (Acts 2:37,41) before they were admitted by the apostles, did manifest that they were pricked in their hearts at Peter’s sermon, together with earnest desire to be delivered from their sins, which now wounded their consciences, and their ready receiving of the word of promise and exhortation. We are to be ready to render a reason of the hope that is in us, to every one that asketh us: therefore we must be able and ready upon any occasion to declare and show our repentance for sin, faith unfeigned; and effectual calling, because these are the reason of a well-grounded hope. I have not hidden thy righteousness from the great congregation, Ps. 40:10.
6. This profession of faith and repentance, as it must be made by such at their admission, that were never in church-society before: so nothing hindereth but the same may also be preformed by such as have formerly been members of some other church, and the church to which they now join themselves as members, may lawfully require the same. Those three thousand (Acts 2 ) which made their confession, were members of the church of the Jews before, so were they that were baptised by John. Churches mat err in their admission: and persons regularly admitted, may fall into offence. Otherwise, if churches might obtrude their members, or if church members might obtrude themselves upon other churches, without due trial, the matter so requiring, both the liberty of churches would hereby be infringed, in that they might not examine those concerning whose fitness for communion they were unsatisfied: and besides the infringing of their liberty, the churches themselves would unavoidably be corrupted, and the ordinances defiled, whilst they might not refuse, but must receive the unworthy: which is contrary unto the Scripture teaching that all churches are sisters, and therefore equal.
7. The like trial is to be required from such members of the church, as were born in the same, or received their membership, and were baptised in their infancy, or minority, by virtue of the covenant of the parents, when being grown up unto years of discretion, they shall desire to be made partakers of the Lord’s Supper: unto which, because holy things must not be given to the unworthy, therefore it is requisite, that these as well as others, should come to their trial

Confessions & Catechisms

Sum of Saving Knowledge 1650

A Brief Sum of Christian Doctrine, Contained in the Holy Scriptures, and Holden Forth in the Foresaid Confession of Faith and Catechisms; Together with

The Practical Use Thereof.

John 6:37. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that
cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.


THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE, &c.

HEAD I.

Our woeful condition by nature, through breaking the covenant of works. Hos. 13:9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.

I. THE almighty and eternal God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons in the one and the same undivided Godhead, equally infinite in all perfections, did, before time, most wisely decree, for his own glory, whatsoever cometh to pass in time: and doth most holily and infallibly execute all his decrees, without being partaker of the sin of any creature.

II. This God, in six days, made all things of nothing, very good in their own kind: in special, he made all the angels holy; and he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their heart. Which law they were naturally bound to obey under pain of death; but God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them, to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience; withall threatening death in case they should fail. This is the covenant of works.

III. Both angels and men were subject to the change of their own free will, as experience proved, (God having reserved to himself the incommunicable property of being naturally unchangeable:) for many angels of their own accord fell by sin from their first estate, and became devils. Our first parents, being enticed by Satan, one of these devils speaking in a serpent, did break the covenant of works, in eating the forbidden fruit; whereby they, and their posterity, being in their loins, as branches in the root, and comprehended in the same covenant with them, became not only liable to eternal death, but also lost all ability to please God; yea, did become by nature enemies to God, and to all spiritual good, and inclined only to evil continually. This is our original sin, the bitter root of all our actual transgressions, in thought, word, and deed.

HEAD II.

The remedy provided in Jesus Christ for the elect by the covenant of grace. Hos. 13:9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

I. ALBEIT man, having brought himself into this woeful condition, be neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God, for the glory of his rich grace, hath revealed in his word a way to save sinners, viz. by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by virtue of, and according to the tenor of the covenant of redemption, made and agreed upon between God the Father and God the Son, in the council of the Trinity, before the world began.

II. The sum of the covenant of redemption is this: God having freely chosen unto life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, unto God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature, of a soul and a body, unto personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase unto them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits unto the elect; and that he doth by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings.

III. For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits thereof in the covenant of grace, Christ Jesus was clad with the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King: made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and to persuade them to believe and obey the same; made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him; and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies. ]

HEAD III.

The outward means appointed to make the elect partakers of this covenant, and all the rest that are called, to be inexcusable. Matt. 22:14. Many are called.

I. THE outward means and ordinances, for making men partakers of the covenant of grace, are so wisely dispensed, as that the elect shall be infallibly converted and saved by them; and the reprobate, among whom they are, not to be justly stumbled: The means are especially these four. 1. The word of God. 2. The sacraments. 3. Kirk-government. 4. Prayer. In the word of God preached by sent messengers, the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ; and whosoever do confess their sin, accept of Christ offered, and submit themselves to his ordinances, he will have both them and their children received into the honour and privileges of the covenant of grace. By the sacraments, God will have the covenant sealed for confirming the bargain on the foresaid condition. By kirk-government, he will have them hedged in, and helped forward unto the keeping of the covenant. And by prayer, he will have his own glorious grace, promised in the covenant, to be daily drawn forth, acknowledged, and employed. All which means are followed either really, or in profession only, according to the quality of the covenanters, as they are true or counterfeit believers.

II. The covenant of grace, set down in the Old Testament before Christ came, and in the New since he came, is one and the same in substance, albeit different in outward administration: For the covenant in the Old Testament, being sealed with the sacraments of circumcision and the paschal lamb, did set forth Christ’s death to come, and the benefits purchased thereby, under the shadow of bloody sacrifices, and sundry ceremonies: but since Christ came, the covenant being sealed by the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, doth clearly hold forth Christ already crucified before our eyes, victorious over death and the grave, and gloriously ruling heaven and earth, for the good of his own people.

HEAD IV.

The blessings which are effectually conveyed by these means to the Lord’s elect, or chosen ones. Matt. 22:14. Many are called, but few are chosen.

I. BY these outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate inexcusable, so, by the power of his Spirit, he applies unto the elect, effectually, all saving graces purchased to them in the covenant of redemption, and maketh a change in their persons. In particular, 1. He doth convert or regenerate them, by giving spiritual life to them, in opening their understandings, renewing their wills, affections, and faculties, for giving spiritual obedience to his commands. 2. He gives them saving faith, by making them, in the sense of deserved condemnation, to give their consent heartily to the covenant of grace, and to embrace Jesus Christ unfeignedly. 3. He gives them repentance, by making them, with godly sorrow, in the hatred of sin, and love of righteousness, turn from all iniquity to the service of God. And, 4. He sanctifies them, by making them go on and persevere in faith and spiritual obedience to the law of God, manifested by fruitfulness in all duties, and doing good works, as God offereth occasion.

II. Together with this inward change of their persons, God changes also their state: for, so soon as they are brought by faith into the covenant of grace, 1. He justifies them, by imputing unto them that perfect obedience which Christ gave to the law, and the satisfaction also which upon the cross Christ gave unto justice in their name. 2. He reconciles them, and makes them friends to God, who were before enemies to God. 3. He adopts them, that they shall be no more children of Satan, but children of God, enriched with all spiritual privileges of his sons. And, last of all, after their warfare in this life is ended, he perfects the holiness and blessedness, first of their souls at their death, and then both of their souls and their bodies, being joyfully joined together again in the resurrection, at the day of his glorious coming to judgment, when all the wicked shall be sent away to hell, with .i.Satan; whom they have served: but Christ’s own chosen and redeemed ones, true believers, students of holiness, shall remain with himself for ever, in the state of glorification.

THE PRACTICAL USE OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE,

Contained in SCRIPTURE, and holden forth briefly in the foresaid CONFESSION OF FAITH and CATECHISMS.

THE chief general use of Christian doctrine is, to convince a man of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John 16:8. partly by the law or covenant of works, that he may be humbled and become penitent; and partly by the gospel or covenant of grace, that he may become an unfeigned believer in Jesus Christ, and be strengthened in his faith upon solid grounds and warrants, and give evidence of the truth of his faith by good fruits, and so be saved.

The sum of the covenant of works, or of the law, is this: ” If thou do all that is commanded, and not fail in any point, thou shalt be saved: but if thou fail, thou shalt die.” Rom. 10:5. Gal. 3:10,12.

The sum of the gospel, or covenant of grace and reconciliation, is this: ” If thou flee from deserved wrath to the true Redeemer Jesus Christ, ” (who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God through him,) thou shalt not perish, but have eternal life.” Rom. 10:8,9,11.

For convincing a man of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment by the law, or covenant of works, let these scriptures, among many more, be made use of.

I. For convincing a man of sin by the law, consider Jer.17:9,10.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it ? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give everyman according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Here the Lord teacheth these two things:

1. That the fountain of all our miscarriage, and actual sinning against God, is in the heart, which comprehendeth the mind, will, affections, and all the powers of the soul, as they are corrupted and defiled with original sin; the mind being not only ignorant and incapable of saving truth , but also full of error and enmity against God; and the will and affections being obstinately disobedient unto all God’s directions, and bent toward that only which is evil: ” The heart (saith he) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; ” yea, and unsearchably wicked, so that no man can know it; and Gen. 6:5. ” Every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually,” saith the Lord, whose testimony we must trust in this and all other matters; and experience also may teach us, that, till God make us deny ourselves, we never look to God in anything, but fleshly self-interest alone doth rule us, and move all the wheels of our actions.

2. That the Lord bringeth our original sin, or wicked inclination, with all the actual fruits thereof, unto reckoning before his judgment-seat; ” For he searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

Hence let every man reason thus:

“What God and my guilty conscience beareth witness of, I am convinced that it is true: But God and my guilty conscience beareth witness, that my heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and that all the imaginations of my heart, by nature, are only evil continually: Therefore I am convinced that this is true.” Thus a man may be convinced of sin by the law.

II. For convincing a man of righteousness by the law, consider Gal. 3:10.

As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Here the apostle teacheth us three things:

1. That, by reason of our natural sinfulness, the impossibility of any man’s being justified by the works of the law is so certain, that whosoever do seek justification by the works of the law, are liable to the curse of God for breaking of the law; ” For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse,” saith he.

2. That, unto the perfect fulfilling of the law, the keeping of one or two of the precepts, or doing of some, or of all duties (if it were possible) for a time, is not sufficient; for the law requireth, that “a man continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

3. That, because no man can come up to this perfection, every man by nature is under the curse; for the law saith, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Now, to be under the curse, comprehendeth all the displeasure of God, with the danger of the breaking forth more and more of his wrath upon soul and body, both in this life, and after death perpetually, if grace do not prevent the full execution thereof.

Hence let every man reason thus: “Whosoever, according to the covenant of works, is liable to the curse of God for breaking the law, times and ways out of number, cannot be justified, or find righteousness by the works of the law: But I, (may every man say,) according to the covenant of works, am liable to the curse of God, for breaking the law times and ways without number: “Therefore I cannot be justified, or have righteousness by the works of the law.” Thus may a man be convinced of righteousness, that it is not to be had by his own works, or by the law.

III. For convincing a man of judgment by the law, consider 2 Thess. 1:7.

The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, Ver. 8. In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Ver. 9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; Ver. 10. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.

Wherein we are taught, that our Lord Jesus, who now offers to be Mediator for them who believe in him, shall, at the last day, come armed with flaming fire, to judge, condemn, and destroy all them who have not believed God, have not received the offer of grace made in the gospel, nor obeyed the doctrine thereof; but remain in their natural state, under the law or covenant of works.

Hence let every man reason thus: “What the righteous Judge hath forewarned me shall be done at the last day, I am sure is just judgment: But the righteous Judge hath forewarned me, that if I do not believe God in time, and obey not the doctrine of the gospel, I shall be secluded from his presence and his glory at the last day, and be tormented in soul and body for ever: Therefore I am convinced that this is a just judgment: And I have reason to thank God heartily, who hath forewarned me to flee from the wrath which is to come.”

Thus every man may be, by the law or covenant of works, convinced of judgment, if he shall continue under the covenant of works, or shall not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

IV. For convincing a man of sin, righteousness, and judgment, by the gospel.

As for convincing a man of sin, and righteousness, and judgment, by the gospel, or covenant of grace, he must understand three things:

1. That not believing in Jesus Christ, or refusing of the covenant of grace offered in him, is a greater and more dangerous sin than all other sins against the law; because the hearers of the gospel, not believing in Christ, do reject God’s mercy in Christ, the only way of freedom from sin and wrath, and will not yield to be reconciled to God. 2. Next, he must understand, that perfect remission of sin, and true righteousness, is to be had only by faith in Jesus; because God requireth no other conditions but faith; and testifies from heaven, that he is well pleased to justify sinners upon this condition. 3. He must understand, that upon righteousness received by faith, judgment shall follow, on the one hand, to the destroying of the works of the devil in the believer, and to the perfecting of the work of sanctification in him, with power: and that, upon refusing to take righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ, judgment shall follow, on the other hand, to the condemnation of the misbeliever, and destroying of him with Satan and his servants for ever.

For this end, let these passages of scripture, among many others, serve to make the greatness of the sin of not believing in Christ appear; or, to make the greatness of the sin of refusing of the covenant of grace offered to us, in the offering of Christ unto us appear, let the fair offer of grace be looked upon as it is made, Isa. 55:3. Incline your ear, and come unto me, (saith the Lord:) hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. That is, If ye will believe me, and be reconciled to me, I will, by covenant, give unto you Christ, and all saving graces in him: repeated Acts 13:34.

Again, consider, that this general offer in substance is equivalent to a special offer made to every one in particular; as appeareth by the apostle’s making use of it, Acts 16:31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. The reason of which offer is given, John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Seeing then this great salvation is offered in the Lord Jesus, whosoever believeth not in him, but looks for happiness some other way, what doth he else but observe lying vanities, and forsake his own mercy, which he might have had in Christ ? Jonah 2:8,9. What doth he else but blaspheme God in his heart ? as it is said, 1 John 5:10,11. He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. And that no sin against the law is like unto this sin, Christ testifies, John 15:22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin. This may convince a man of the greatness of this sin of not believing in Christ. [return to CONTENTS]

For convincing a man of righteousness to be had only by faith in Jesus Christ, consider how, Rom. 10:3,4.

IT is said, that the Jews, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God, (and so they perished.) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. And Acts 13:39. By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. And 1 John 1:7. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

For convincing a man of judgment, if a man embrace this righteousness, consider 1 John 3:8. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. And Heb. 9:14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

But if a man embrace not this righteousness, his doom is pronounced, John 3:18,19. He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.

Hence let the penitent, desiring to believe, reason thus: “What doth suffice to convince all the elect in the world of the greatness of the sin of not believing in Christ, or refusing to flee to him for relief from sins done against the law, and from wrath due thereto; and what sufficeth to convince them that righteousness and eternal life is to be had by faith in Jesus Christ, or by consenting to the covenant of grace in him; and what sufficeth to convince them of judgment to be exercised by Christ, for destroying the works of the devil in a man, and sanctifying and saving all that believe in him, may suffice to convince me also: But what the Spirit hath said, in these or other like scriptures, sufficeth to convince the elect world of the foresaid sin, and righteousness, and judgment: Therefore what the Spirit hath said, in these and other like scriptures, serveth to convince me thereof also.”

Whereupon let the penitent desiring to believe take with him words, and say heartily to the Lord, Seeing thou sayest, Seek ye my face; my soul answereth unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. I have hearkened unto the offer of an everlasting covenant of all saving mercies to be had in Christ, and I do heartily embrace thy offer. Lord, let it be a bargain; Lord, I believe; help my unbelief: Behold, I give myself to thee, to serve thee in all things for ever; and I hope thy right hand shall save me: the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Thus may a man be made an unfeigned believer in Christ.

For strengthening the man’s faith who hath agreed unto the covenant of grace.

Because many true believers are weak, and do much doubt if ever they shall be sure of the soundness of their own faith and effectual calling, or made certain of their justification and salvation, when they see that many, who profess faith, are found to deceive themselves; let us see how every believer may be made strong in the faith, and sure of his own election and salvation upon solid grounds, by sure warrants, and true evidences of faith. To this end, among many other scriptures, take these following.

1. For laying solid grounds of Faith, consider 2 Peter 1:10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall.

In which words, the apostle teacheth us these four things, for help and direction how to be made strong in the faith.

1. That such as believe in Christ Jesus, and are fled to him for relief from sin and wrath, albeit they be weak in the faith, yet they are indeed children of the same Father with the apostles; for so he accounteth of them, while he calleth them brethren.

2. That albeit we be not sure, for the time, of our effectual calling and election, yet we may be made sure of both, if we use diligence; for this he presupposeth, saying, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”

3. That we must not be discouraged, when we see many seeming believers prove rotten branches, and make defection; but we must the rather take the better heed to ourselves: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, (saith he,) give all diligence.”

4. That the way to be sure both of our effectual calling and election, is to make sure work of our faith, by laying the grounds of it solidly, and bringing forth the fruits of our faith in new obedience constantly: “For if ye do these things, (saith he,) ye shall never fall;” understanding by these things, what he had said of sound faith, Ver. 1,2,3,4, and what he had said of the bringing out of the fruits of faith, Ver. 5,6,7,8,9.

2. To this same purpose, consider Rom. 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Ver. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Ver. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; Ver. 4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Wherein the apostle teacheth us these four things, for laying of the ground of faith solidly:

1. That every one is a true believer, who, in the sense of his sin, and fear of God’s wrath, doth flee for full relief from both unto Jesus Christ alone, as the only Mediator and all-sufficient Redeemer of men; and, being fled to Christ, doth strive against his own flesh, or corrupt inclination of nature, and studieth to follow the rule of God’s Spirit, set down in his word: for the man, whom the apostle doth here bless as a true believer, is a man in Christ Jesus, “who doth not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

2. That all such persons as are fled to Christ, and do strive against sin, howsoever they may be possibly exercised under the sense of wrath, and fear of condemnation, yet they are in no danger; for “there is no condemnation (saith he) to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

3. That albeit the apostle himself, (brought in here for example’s cause,) and all other true believers in Christ, be by nature under the law of sin and death, or under the covenant of works, (called the law of sin and death, because it bindeth sin and death upon us, till Christ set us free;) yet the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, or the covenant of grace, (so called, because it doth enable and quicken a man to a spiritual life through Christ,) doth set the apostle, and all true believers, free from the covenant of works, or the law of sin and death: so that every man may say with him, “The law of the Spirit of life,” or the covenant of grace, hath made me free from the law of sin and death,” or covenant of works.

4. That the fountain and first ground, from whence our freedom from the curse of the law doth flow, is the covenant of redemption, passed betwixt God and God the Son as incarnate, wherein Christ takes the curse of the law upon him for sin, that the believer, who could not otherwise be delivered from the covenant of works, may be delivered from it. And this doctrine the apostle holdeth forth in these four branches: (1.) That it was utterly impossible for the law, or the covenant of works, to bring righteousness and life to a sinner, because it was weak. (2.) That this weakness and inability of the law, or covenant of works, is not the fault of the law, but the fault of sinful flesh, which is neither able to pay the penalty of sin, nor to give perfect obedience to the law, (presuppose bygone sins were forgiven:) “The law was weak (saith he) through the flesh.” (3.) That the righteousness and salvation of sinners, which was impossible to be brought about by the law, is brought to pass by sending God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, in the flesh, in whose flesh sin is condemned and punished, for making satisfaction in the behalf of the elect, that they might be set free. (4.) That by his means the law loseth nothing, because the righteousness of the law is best fulfilled this way; first, by Christ’s giving perfect active obedience in our name unto it in all things; next, by his paying in our name the penalty due to our sins in his death: and, lastly, by his working of sanctification in us, who are true believers, who strive to give new obedience unto the law, and “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

WARRANTS TO BELIEVE

For building our confidence upon this solid ground, these four Warrants and special Motives to believe in Christ may serve.

The first whereof is God’s hearty invitation, holden forth, Isa. 55:1-5.

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Ver. 2. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Ver. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Ver. 4. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people, etc.

Here (after setting down the precious ransom of our redemption by the sufferings of Christ, and the rich blessings purchased to us thereby, in the two former chapters) the Lord, in this chapter,

1. Maketh open offer of Christ and his grace, by proclamation of a free and gracious market of righteousness and salvation, to be had through Christ to every soul, without exception, that truly desires to be saved from sin and wrath: “Ho, every one that thirsteth,”

2. He inviteth all sinners, that for any reason stand at a distance from God, to come and take from him riches of grace, running in Christ as a river, to wash away sin, and to slocken wrath: ” Come ye to the waters,” saith he.

3. Lest any should stand aback in the sense of his own sinfulness or unworthiness, and inability to do any good, the Lord calleth upon such persons in special, saying, ” He that hath no money, come.”

4. He craveth no more of his merchant, but that he be pleased with the wares offered, which are grace, and more grace; and that he heartily consent unto, and embrace this offer of grace, that so he may close a bargain, and a formal covenant with God; “Come, buy without money, (saith he,) come, eat: that is, consent to have, and take unto you all saving graces; make the wares your own, possess them, and make use of all blessings in Christ; whatsoever maketh for your spiritual life and comfort, use and enjoy it freely, without paying any thing for it: “Come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price,” saith he.

5. Because the Lord knoweth how much we are inclined to see righteousness and life by our own performances and satisfaction, to have righteousness and life as it were by the way of works, and how loath we are to embrace Christ Jesus, and to take life by way of free grace through Jesus Christ, upon the terms whereupon it is offered to us; therefore the Lord lovingly calls us off this our crooked and unhappy way with a gentle and timeous admonition, giving us to understand, that we shall but lose our labour in this our way: “Wherefore do ye spend your money (saith he) for that which is not bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not ?”

6. The Lord promiseth to us solid satisfaction in the way of betaking ourselves unto the grace of Christ, even true contentment, and fulness of spiritual pleasure, saying, ” Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”

7. Because faith cometh by hearing, he calleth for audience unto the explication of the offer, and calleth for believing of, and hastening unto the truth , which is able to beget the application of saving faith, and to draw the soul to trust in God: “Incline your ear, and come unto me,” saith he. To which end, the Lord promises, that this offer being received, shall quicken the dead sinner; and that, upon the welcoming of this offer, he will close the covenant of grace with the man that shall consent unto it, even an indissolvable covenant of perpetual reconciliation and peace: “Hearken, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” Which covenant, he declareth, shall be in substance the assignation, and the making over, of all the saving graces which David (who is Jesus Christ, Acts 13:34.) hath bought for us in the covenant of redemption: “I will make a covenant with you, (saith he,) even the “sure mercies of David.” By sure mercies, he means saving graces, such as are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, adoption, sanctification, and glorification, and whatsoever belongs to godliness and life eternal.

8. To confirm and assure us of the real grant of these saving mercies, and to persuade us of the reality of the covenant betwixt God and the believer of this word, the Father hath made a fourfold gift of his eternal and only begotten Son:

First, To be incarnate and born for our sake, of the seed of David his type; for which cause he is called here, and Acts 13:34. DAVID, the true and everlasting King of Israel. This is the great gift of God to man, John 4:10. And here, I have given him to be David, or born of David, to the people.

Secondly, He hath made a gift of Christ to be a witness to the people, both of the sure and saving mercies granted to the redeemed in the covenant of redemption; and also of the Father’s willingness and purpose to apply them, and to make them fast in the covenant of reconciliation made with such as embrace the offer: “I have given him (saith the Lord here) to be a witness to the people.” And truly he is a sufficient witness in this matter in many respects: 1st, Because he is one of the blessed Trinity, and party-contractor for us, in the covenant of redemption, before the world was. 2dly, He is by office, as Mediator, the Messenger of the covenant, and hath gotten commission to reveal it. 3dly, He began actually to reveal it in paradise, where he promised, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. 4thly, He set forth his own death and sufferings, and the great benefits that should come thereby to us, in the types and figures of sacrifices and ceremonies before his coming. 5thly, He gave more and more light about this covenant, speaking by his Spirit, from age to age, in the holy prophets. 6thly, He came himself, in the fulness of time, and did bear witness of all things belonging to this covenant, and of God’s willing mind to take believers into it; partly, by uniting our nature in one person with the divine nature; partly, by preaching the good tidings of the covenant with his own mouth; partly, by paying the price of redemption on the cross; and partly, by dealing still with the people, from the beginning to this day, to draw in, and to hold in the redeemed in this covenant.

Thirdly, God hath made a gift of Christ, as a leader to the people, to bring us through all difficulties, all afflictions and temptations, unto life, by this covenant: and he it is, and no other, who doth indeed lead his own unto the covenant; and, in the covenant, all the way on unto salvation: 1. By the direction of his word and Spirit. 2. By the example of his own life, in faith and obedience, even to the death of the cross. 3. By his powerful working, bearing his redeemed ones in his arms, and causing them to lean on him, while they go up through the wilderness.

Fourthly, God hath made a gift of Christ unto his people, as a commander: which office he faithfully exerciseth, by giving to his kirk and people laws and ordinances, pastors and governors, and all necessary officers; by keeping courts and assemblies among them, to see that his laws be obeyed; subduing, by his word, Spirit, and discipline, his people’s corruptions; and; by his wisdom and power, guarding them against all their enemies whatsoever.

Hence he who hath closed bargain with God may strengthen his faith, by reasoning after this manner:

“Whosoever doth heartily receive the offer of free grace, made here to sinners, thirsting for righteousness and salvation: unto him, by an everlasting covenant, belongeth Christ, the true David, with all his sure and saving mercies:

But I (may the weak believer say) do heartily receive the offer of free grace made here to sinners, thirsting for righteousness and salvation:

Therefore unto me, by an everlasting covenant, belongeth Christ Jesus, with all his sure and saving mercies.”

The second Warrant and special Motive to embrace Christ, and believe in him, is the earnest request that God maketh to us to be reconciled to him in Christ; holden forth, 2 Cor. 5:19-21.

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Ver. 20. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. Ver. 21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Wherein the apostle teacheth us these nine doctrines:

1. That the elect world, or world of redeemed souls, are by nature in the estate of enmity against God: this is presupposed in the word reconciliation; for reconciliation, or renewing of friendship, cannot be, except betwixt those that have been at enmity.

2. That in all the time bypast, since the fall of Adam, Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God, as Mediator, and the Father in him, hath been about the making friendship (by his word and Spirit) betwixt himself and the elect world: “God (saith he) was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”

3. That the way of reconciliation was in all ages one and the same in substance, viz. by forgiving the sins of them who do acknowledge their sins and their enmity against God, and do seek reconciliation and remission of sins in Christ: “For God (saith he) was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself,” by way of “not imputing their trespasses unto them.”

4. That the end and scope of the gospel, and whole word of God, is threefold: (1.) It serveth to make people sensible of their sins, and of their enmity against God, and of their danger, if they should stand out, and not fear God’s displeasure. (2.) The word of God serveth to make men acquainted with the course which God hath prepared for making friendship with them through Christ, viz. That if men shall acknowledge the enmity, and shall be content to enter into a covenant of friendship with God through Christ, then God will be content to be reconciled with them freely. (3.) The word of God serveth to teach men how to carry themselves towards God, as friends, after they are reconciled to him, viz. to be loath to sin against him, and to strive heartily to obey his commandments: and therefore the word of God here is called the word of reconciliation, because it teacheth us what need we have of reconciliation, and how to make it, and how to keep the reconciliation of friendship, being made with God through Christ.

5. That albeit the hearing, believing, and obeying of this word, doth belong to all those to whom this gospel doth come; yet the office of preaching of it with authority belongeth to none, but to such only as God doth call to his ministry, and sendeth out with commission for this work. This the apostle holdeth forth, Ver. 19. in these words, “He hath committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

6. That the ministers of the gospel should behave themselves as Christ’s messengers, and should closely follow their commission set down in the word, Matt. 28:19,20; and when they do so, they should be received by the people as ambassadors from God; for here the apostle, in all their names, saith, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.”

7. That ministers, in all earnestness of affections, should deal with people to acknowledge their sins, and their natural enmity against God, more and more seriously; and to consent to the covenant of grace and embassage of Christ more and more heartily; and to evidence more and more clearly their reconciliation, by a holy carriage before God. This he holdeth forth, when he saith, “We pray you, be ye reconciled to God.”

8. That in the ministers’ affectionate dealing with the people, the people should consider that they have to do with God and Christ, requesting them, by the ministers, to be reconciled. Now, there cannot be a greater inducement to break a sinner’s hard heart, than God’s making a request to him for friendship; for when it became us, who have done so many wrongs to God, to seek friendship of God, he preventeth us: and (O wonder of wonders !) he requesteth us to be content to be reconciled to him; and therefore most fearful wrath must abide them who do set light by this request, and do not yield when they hear ministers with commission, saying, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did “beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

9. To make it appear how it cometh to pass that the covenant of reconciliation should be so easily made up betwixt God and a humble sinner fleeing to Christ, the apostle leads us unto the cause of it, holden forth in the covenant of redemption, the sum whereof is this: ” It is agreed betwixt God and the Mediator Jesus Christ the Son of God, surety for the redeemed, as parties contractors, that the sins of the redeemed should be imputed to innocent Christ, and he both condemned and put to death for them, upon this very condition, that whosoever heartily consents unto the covenant of reconciliation offered through Christ, shall, by the imputation of his obedience unto them, be justified and holden righteous before God; for God hath made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, saith the apostle, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Hence may a weak believer strengthen his faith, by reasoning from this ground after this manner:

“He that, upon the loving request of God and Christ, made to him by the mouth of ministers, (having commission to that effect,) hath embraced the offer of perpetual reconciliation through Christ, and doth purpose, by God’s grace, as a reconciled person, to strive against sin, and to serve God to his power constantly, may be as sure to have righteousness and eternal life given to him, for the obedience of Christ imputed to him, as it is sure that Christ was condemned and put to death for the sins of the redeemed imputed to him:

But I (may the weak believer say) upon the loving request of God and Christ, made to me by the mouth of his ministers, have embraced the offer of perpetual reconciliation through Christ, and do purpose, by God’s grace, as a reconciled person, to strive against sin, and to serve God to my power constantly:

Therefore I may be as sure to have righteousness and eternal life given to me, for the obedience of Christ imputed to me, as it is sure that Christ was condemned and put to death for the sins of the re deemed imputed to him.”

The third Warrant and special Motive to believe in Christ, is the strait and awful command of God, charging all the hearers of the gospel to approach to Christ in the order set down by him, and to believe in him; holden forth, 1 John 3:23. This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and .love one another, as he gave us commandment.

Wherein the apostle giveth us to understand these five doctrines:

1. That if any man shall not be taken with the sweet invitation of God, nor with the humble and loving request of God, made to him to be reconciled, he shall find he hath to do with the sovereign authority of the highest Majesty; for “this is his commandment, that we believe in him,” saith he.

2. That if any man look upon this commandment as he hath looked heretofore upon the neglected commandments of the law, he must consider that this is a command of the gospel, posterior to the law, given for making use of the remedy of all sins; which, if it be disobeyed, there is no other command to follow but this, “Go, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire of hell;” for “this is his commandment;” the obedience of which is most pleasant in his sight, Ver. 22. and without which it is impossible to please him, Heb. 11:6.

3. That every one who heareth the gospel, must make conscience of the duty of lively faith in Christ; the weak believer must not think it presumption to do what is commanded; the person inclined to desperation must take up himself, and think upon obedience unto this sweet and saving command; the strong believer must dip yet more in the sense of his need he hath of Jesus Christ, and more and more grow in the obedience of this command; yea, the most impenitent, profane, and wicked person must not thrust out himself, or be thrust out by others, from orderly aiming at this duty, how desperate soever his condition seems to be; for he that commands all men to believe in Christ, doth thereby command all men to believe that they are damned and lost without Christ: he thereby commands all men to acknowledge their sins, and their need of Christ, and in effect commands all men to repent, that they may believe in him. And whosoever do refuse to repent of their bygone sins, are guilty of disobedience to this command given to all hearers, but especially to those that are within the visible church: for “this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,” saith he.

4. That he who obeyeth this commandment hath built his salvation on a solid ground: for, 1st, He hath found the promised Messiah, completely furnished with all perfections unto the perfect execution of the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; for he is that Christ in whom the man doth believe. 2d, He hath embraced a Saviour, who is able to save to the uttermost, yea, and who doth effectually save every one that cometh to God through him; for he is Jesus, the true Saviour of his people from their sins. 3d, He that obeyeth this command hath built his salvation on the Rock, that is, on the Son of God, to whom it is no robbery to be called equal to the Father, and who is worthy to be the object of saving faith, and of spiritual worship: for “this is his command, (saith he) that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ.”

5. That he who hath believed on Jesus Christ, though he be freed from the curse of the law, is not freed from the command and obedience of the law, but tied thereunto by a new obligation, and a new command from Christ; which new command from Christ importeth help to obey the command: unto which command from Christ, the Father addeth his authority and command also; for “this is his commandment, (saith John,) “that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he hath commanded us.” The first part of which command, enjoining belief in him, necessarily implieth love to God, and so obedience to the first table; for believing in God, and loving God, are inseparable; and the second part of the command enjoineth .love to our neighbour, (especially to the household of faith,) and so obedience to the second table of the law.

Hence may a weak believer strengthen himself, by reasoning from this ground after this manner:

“Whosoever, in the sense of his own sinfulness, and fear of God’s wrath, at the command of God, is fled to Jesus Christ, the only remedy of sin and misery, and hath engaged his heart to the obedience of the law of love, his faith is not presumptuous or dead, but true and saving faith: But I, (may the weak believer say) in the sense of my own sinfulness, and fear of God’s wrath, am fled to Jesus Christ, the only remedy of sin and misery, and have engaged my heart to the obedience of the law of love: Therefore my faith is not a presumptuous and dead faith, but true and saving faith.

The fourth Warrant and special Motive to believe in Christ, is much assurance of life given, in case men shall obey the command of believing; and a fearful certification of destruction, in case they obey not; holden forth, John 3:35.

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. Ver. 36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Wherein are holden forth to us these five following doctrines:

1. That the Father is well satisfied with the undertakings of the Son, entered Redeemer and Surety, to pay the ransom of believers and to perfect them in holiness and salvation: “The Father loveth the Son,” saith he; viz. as he standeth Mediator in our name, undertaking to perfect our redemption in all points: The Father loveth him, that is, doth heartily accept his offer to do the work, and is well pleased with him: his soul delighteth in him, and resteth upon him, and maketh him, in this his office, the “receptacle of love, and grace, and good will,” to be conveyed by him to believers in him.

2. That, for fulfilling of the covenant of redemption, the Father hath given to the Son (as he standeth in the capacity of the Mediator, or as he is God incarnate, the Word made flesh) all authority in heaven and earth, all furniture of the riches of grace, and of spirit and life, with all power and ability, which the union of the divine nature with the human, or which the fulness of the Godhead dwelling substantially in his human nature, or which the indivisible all-sufficiency and omnipotency of the inseparable, every where present Trinity doth import, or the work of redemption can require: “The Father (saith he) hath given all things into the Son’s hand,” to wit, for accomplishing his work.

3. Great assurance of life is holden forth to all who shall heartily receive Christ, and the offer of the covenant of grace and reconciliation through him: “He that believeth on the Son (saith he) hath everlasting life;” for it is made fast unto him, 1st, In God’s purpose and irrevocable decree, as the believer is a man elected to life. 2d, By effectual calling of him unto life by God, who, as he is faithful, so will he do it. 3d, By promise and everlasting covenant, sworn by God, to give the believer strong consolation in life and death, upon immutable grounds. 4th, By a pawn and investment under the great seal of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, so oft as the believer shall come to receive the symbols and pledges of life. 5th, In Christ the fountain and head of life, who is entered in possession, as attorney for believers; in whom our life is so laid up, that it cannot be taken away. 6th, By begun possession of spiritual life and regeneration, and a kingdom consisting in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, erected within the believer, as earnest of the full possession of everlasting life.

4. A fearful certification is given, if a man receive not the doctrine concerning righteousness and eternal life to be had by Jesus Christ: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life,” that is, not so much as understand what it meaneth.

5. He further certifieth, that if a man receive not the doctrine of the Son of God, he shall be burdened twice with the wrath of God; once, as a born rebel by nature, he shall bear the curse of the law, or the covenant of works; and next, he shall endure a greater condemnation, in respect that light being come into the world, and offered to him, he hath rejected it, and loveth darkness rather than light: and this double wrath shall be fastened and fixed immovably upon him, so long as he remaineth in the condition of misbelief: “The wrath of God abideth on him,” saith he.

Hence may the weak believer strengthen his faith, by reasoning from this ground after this manner:

“Whosoever believeth the doctrine delivered by the Son of God, and findeth himself partly drawn powerfully to believe in him, by the sight of life in him, and partly driven, by the fear of God’s wrath, to adhere unto him, may be sure of right and interest to life eternal through him:

But sinful and unworthy I (may the weak believer say) do believe the doctrine delivered by the Son of God, and do feel myself partly drawn powerfully to believe in him, by the sight of life in him, and partly driven, by the fear of God’s wrath, to adhere unto him:

Therefore I may be sure of my right and interest unto eternal life through him.

THE EVIDENCES OF TRUE FAITH.

So much for the laying the grounds of faith, and warrants to believe. Now, for evidencing of true faith by fruits, these four things are requisite: 1. That the believer be soundly convinced, in his judgment, of his obligation to keep the whole moral law, all the days of his life; and that not the less, but so much the more, as he is delivered by Christ from the covenant of works, and curse of the law. 2. That he endeavour to grow in the exercise and daily practice of godliness and righteousness. 3. That the course of his new obedience run in the right channel, that is through faith in Christ, and through a good conscience, to all the duties of love towards God and man. 4. That he keep strait communion with the fountain Christ Jesus, from whom grace must run along, for furnishing of good fruits.

For the first, viz. To convince the believer, in his judgment, of his obligation to keep the moral law, among many passages, take Matt. 5:16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Ver. 17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Ver. 18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Ver. 19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Ver. 20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Wherein our Lord,

1. Giveth commandment to believers, justified by faith, to give evidence of the grace of God in them before men, by doing good works: “Let your light so shine before men, (saith he,) that they may see your good works.”

2. He induceth them so to do, by shewing, that albeit they be not justified by works, yet spectators of their good works may be converted or edified; and so glory may redound to God by their good works, when the witnesses thereof “shall glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

3. He gives them no other rule for their new obedience than the moral law, set down and explicated by Moses and the prophets: “Think not” (saith he) that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.”

4. He gives them to understand, that the doctrine of grace, and freedom from the curse of the law by faith in him, is readily mistaken by men’s corrupt judgments, as if it did loose or slacken the obligation of believers to obey the commands, and to be subject to the authority of the law; and that this error is indeed a destroying of the law and of the prophets, which he will in no case ever endure in any of his disciples, it is so contrary to the end of his coming, which is first to sanctify, and then to save believers: “Think not (saith he) that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.”

5. He teacheth, that the end of the gospel and covenant of grace is to procure men’s obedience unto the moral law: “I am come (saith he) to fulfil the law and the prophets.”

6. That the obligation of the moral law, in all points, unto all holy duties, is perpetual, and shall stand to the world’s end, that is, “till heaven and earth pass away.”

7. That as God hath had a care of the Scriptures from the beginning, so shall he have a care of them still to the world’s end, that there shall not one jot or one tittle of the substance thereof be taken away; so saith the text, Ver. 18.

8. That as the breaking of the moral law, and defending the transgressions thereof to be no sin, doth exclude men both from heaven, and justly also from the fellowship of the true kirk; so the obedience of the law, and teaching others to do the same, by example, counsel, and doctrine, according to every man’s calling, proveth a man to be a true believer, and in great estimation with God, and worthy to be much esteemed of by the true church, Ver. 19.

9. That the righteousness of every true Christian must be more than the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees; for the scribes and Pharisees, albeit they took great pains to discharge sundry duties of the law, yet they cutted short the exposition thereof, that it might the less condemn their practice; they studied the outward part of the duty, but neglected the inward and spiritual part; they discharged some meaner duties carefully, but neglected judgment, mercy, and the love of God: in a word, they went about to establish their own righteousness, and rejected the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus. But a true Christian must have more than all this; he must acknowledge the full extent of the spiritual meaning of the law, and have a respect to all the commandments, and labour to cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and “not lay weight upon what service he hath done, or shall do,” but clothe himself with the imputed righteousness of Christ, which only can hide his nakedness, or else he cannot be saved; so saith the text, “Except your righteousness,” etc.

The second thing requisite to evidence true faith is, that the believer endeavour to put the rules of godliness and righteousness in practice, and to grow in the daily exercise thereof; holden forth, 2 Pet. 1:5. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; Ver. 6. And to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; Ver. 7. And to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity. Ver. 8. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wherein, 1. The apostle teacheth believers, for evidencing of precious faith in themselves, to endeavour to add to their faith seven other sister graces. The first is Virtue, or the active exercise and practice of all moral duties, that so faith may not be idle, but put forth itself in work. The second is Knowledge, which serves to furnish faith with information of the truth to be believed, and to furnish virtue with direction what duties are to be done, and how to go about them prudently. The third is Temperance, which serveth to moderate the use of all pleasant things, that a man be not clogged therewith, nor made unfit for any duty whereto he is called. The fourth is Patience, which serveth to moderate a man’s affections, when he meeteth with any difficulty or unpleasant thing; that he neither weary for pains required in well-doing, nor faint when the Lord chastiseth him, nor murmur when he crosseth him. The fifth is Godliness, which may keep him up in all the exercises of religion, inward and outward; whereby he may be furnished from God for all other duties which he hath to do. The sixth is Brotherly-kindness, which keepeth estimation of, and affection to, all the household of faith, and to the image of God in every one wheresoever it is seen. The seventh is Love, which keepeth the heart in readiness to do good to all men, whatsoever they be, upon all occasions which God shall offer.

2. Albeit it be true, that there is much corruption and infirmity in the godly; yet the apostle will have men uprightly endeavouring, and doing their best, as they are able, to join all these graces one to another, and to grow in the measure of exercising them: “Giving all diligence, (saith he,) “add to your faith,” etc.

3. He assureth all professed believers, that as they shall profit in the obedience of this direction, so they shall profitably prove the soundness of their own faith; and, if they want these graces, that they shall be found blind deceivers of themselves, Ver. 9.

The third thing requisite to evidence true faith is, that obedience to the law run in the right channel, that is, through faith in Christ, etc. holden forth, 1 Tim. 1:5. Now, the end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.

Wherein the apostle teacheth these seven doctrines:

1. That the obedience of the law must flow from love, and love from a pure heart, and a pure heart from a good conscience, and a good conscience from faith unfeigned: this he makes the only right channel of good works: “The end of the law is love,” etc.

2. That the end of the law is not, that men may be justified by their obedience of it, as the Jewish doctors did falsely teach; for it is impossible that sinners can be justified by the law, who, for every transgression, are condemned by the law: “For the end of the law is (not such as the Jewish doctors taught, but) love, out of a pure heart,” etc.

3. That the true end of the law, preached unto the people, is, that they, by the law, being made to see their deserved condemnation, should flee to Christ unfeignedly, to be justified by faith in him; so saith the text, while it maketh .love to flow through faith in Christ.

4. That no man can set himself in love to obey the law, excepting as far as his conscience is quieted by faith, or is seeking to be quieted in Christ; for “the end of the law is love, out of a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.”

5. That feigned faith goeth to Christ without reckoning with the law, and so wants an errand; but unfeigned faith reckoneth with the law, and is forced to flee for refuge unto Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness, so often as it finds itself guilty for breaking of the law: “For the end of the law is faith unfeigned.”

6. That the fruits of love may come forth in act particularly, it is necessary that the heart be brought to the hatred of all sin and uncleanness, and to a stedfast purpose to follow all holiness universally: “For the end of the law is love, out of a pure heart.”

7. That unfeigned faith is able to make the conscience good, and the heart pure, and the man lovingly obedient to the law; for when Christ’s blood is seen by faith to quiet justice, then the conscience becometh quiet also, and will not suffer the heart to entertain the love of sin, but sets the man on work to fear God for his mercy, and to obey all his commandments, out of love to God, for his free gift of justification, by grace bestowed on him: “For this is the end of the law indeed,” whereby it obtaineth of a man more obedience than any other way.

The fourth thing requisite to evidence true faith is, the keeping strait communion with Christ, the fountain of all graces, and of all good works; holden forth, John 15:5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.

Wherein Christ, in a similitude from a vine-tree, teacheth us,

1. That by nature we are wild barren briers, till we be changed by coming unto Christ; and that Christ is that noble vine-tree, having all life and sap of grace in himself, and able to change the nature of every one that cometh to him, and to communicate spirit and life to as many as shall believe in him: “I am the vine, (saith he,) and ye are the branches.”

2. That Christ loveth to have believers so united unto him, as that they be not separated at any time by unbelief: and that there may be a mutual inhabitation of them in him, by faith and love and of him in them, by his word and Spirit; for he joineth these together, “If ye abide in me, and I in you,” as things inseparable.

3. That except a man be ingrafted into Christ, and united to him by faith, he cannot do any the least good works of his own strength; yea, except in as far as a man doth draw spirit and life from Christ by faith, the work which he doth is naughty and null in point of goodness in God’s estimation: “For without me (saith he) ye can do nothing.”

4. That this mutual inhabitation is the fountain and infallible cause of constant continuing and abounding in well-doing: For “he that abideth in me, and I in him, (saith he,) the same beareth much fruit.” Now, as our abiding in Christ presupposeth three things; 1st, That we have heard the joyful sound of the gospel, making offer of Christ to us, who are lost sinners by the law; 2d, That we have heartily embraced the gracious offer of Christ; 3d, That by receiving of him we are become the sons of God, John 1:12. and are incorporated into his mystical body, that he may dwell in us, as his temple, and we dwell in him, as in the residence of righteousness and life: so our abiding in Christ importeth other three things, (1.) An employing of Christ in all our addresses to God, and in all our undertakings of whatsoever piece of service to him. (2.) A contentedness with his sufficiency, without going out from him to seek righteousness, or life, or furniture in any case, in our own or any of the creature’s worthiness. (3.) A fixedne

Confessions & Catechisms

The Savoy Platform 1658

Of the Institution of Churches,
and the Order Appointed in them by Jesus Christ

1. By the appointment of the Father all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner in the Lord Jesus Christ, as King and Head thereof.
2. In the execution of this power wherewith He is so entrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto communion with Himself, those that are given unto him by His Father, that they may walk before Him in all the ways of obedience, which He prescribeth to them in His Word.
3. Those thus called (through the ministry of the Word by His Spirit) He commandeth to walk together in particular societies or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which He requireth of them in this world.
4. To each of these churches thus gathered, according unto His mind declared in his Word, He hath given all that power and authority, which is any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which He hath instituted for them to observe with commands and rules, for the due and right exerting and exerting of that power.
5. These particular churches thus appointed by the authority of Christ, and entrusted with power from Him for the ends before expressed, are each of them as unto those ends, the seat of that power which He is pleased to communicate to His saints or subjects in this world, so that as such they receive it immediately from Himself.
6. Besides these particular churches, there is not instituted by Christ any church more extensive or catholic entrusted with power for the administration of his ordinances, or the execution of any authority in His name.
7. A particular church gathered and completed according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members: The Lord Christ having given to His called ones (united according to His appointment in church order) liberty and power to choose persons fitted by the Holy Ghost for that purpose, to be over them in the Lord.
8. The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ, who being further known to each other by their confession of the faith wrought in them by the power of God, declared by themselves or otherwise manifested, do willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving up themselves to the Lord, and to one another by the will of God in professed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.
9. The officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church, so called, and gathered for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty which He entrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons.
10. Churches thus gathered and assembling for the worship of God, are thereby visible and public, and their assemblies (in what place soever they are, according as they have liberty or opportunity) are therefore church or public assemblies.
11. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Ghost, unto the office of pastor, teacher or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen there unto by the common suffrage of the church itself, and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of that church, if there be any before constituted therein: And of a deacon, that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands.
12. The essence of this call of a pastor, teacher or elder unto office, consists in the election of the church, together with his acception of it, and separation by fasting and prayer: And those who are so chosen, though not set apart by imposition of hands, are rightly constituted ministers of Jesus Christ, in whose name and authority they exercise the ministry to them so committed. The calling of deacons consisteth in the like election and acceptation, with separation by prayer.
13. Although it be incumbent on the pastors and teachers of the churches to be instant in preaching the Word, by way of office; yet the work of preaching the Word is not so peculiarly confined to them, but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Ghost for it, and approved (being by lawful ways and means in the providence of God called there unto) may publicly, ordinarily and constantly perform it; so that they give themselves up there unto.
14. However, they who are engaged in the work of public preaching, and enjoy the public maintenance upon that account, are not thereby obliged to dispense the seals to any other than such as (being saints by calling, and gathered according to the order of the Gospel) they stand related to, as pastors or teachers; yet ought they not to neglect others living within their parochial bounds, but besides their constant public preaching to them, they ought to enquire after their profiting by the Word, instructing them in, and pressing upon them (whether young or old) the great doctrines of the Gospel, even personally and particularly, so far as their strength and time will admit.
15. Ordination alone without election or precedent consent of the church, by those who have formerly been ordained by virtue of that power they have received by their ordination, doth not constitute any person a church officer, or communicate office power unto him.
16. A church furnished with officers (according to the mind of Christ) hath full power to administer all His ordinances; and where there is want of any one or more officers required, that officer, or those which are in the church, may administer all the ordinances proper to their particular duty and offices; but where there are no teaching officers, none may administer the seals, nor can the church authorize any so to do.
17. In the carrying on of church administrations, no person ought to be added to the church, but by the consent of the church itself; that so love (without dissimulation) may be preserved between all the members thereof.
18. Whereas the Lord Jesus Christ hath appointed and instituted as a means of edification, that those who walk not according to the rules and laws appointed by him (in respect of faith and life, so that just offense doth arise to the church thereby) be censured in his name and authority: Every church hath power in itself to exercise and execute all those censures appointed by Him in the way and order prescribed in the Gospel.
19. The censures so appointed by Christ, are admonition and excommunication: and whereas some offenses are or may be known only to some, it is appointed by Christ, that those to whom they are so known, do first admonish the offender in private: in public offenses where any sin, before all; or in case of non-amendment upon private admonition, the offense being related to the church, and the offender not manifesting his repentance, he is to be duly admonished in the name of Christ by the whole church, by the ministry of the elders of the church; and if the censure prevail not for his repentance, then he is to be cast out by excommunication with the consent of the church.
20. As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do, so none are to be admitted unto the privileges of the churches, who do not submit themselves to the rule of Christ in the censures for the government of them.
21. This being the way prescribed by Christ in case of offense, no church members upon any offenses taken by them, having preformed their duty required of them in this matter, ought to disturb any church order, or absent themselves from the public assemblies, or the administration of any ordinances upon that pretense, but to wait upon Christ in the further proceeding of the church.
22. The power of censures being seated by Christ in a particular church, is to be exercised only towards particular members of each church respectively as such; and there is no power given by Him unto any synods or ecclesiastical assemblies to excommunication, or other church censures against churches, magistrates, or their people upon any account, no man being obnoxious to that censure, but upon his personal miscarriage, as a member of a particular church.
23. Although the church is a society of men, assembling for the celebration of the ordinances according to the appointment of Christ, yet every society assembling for that end or purpose, upon the account of cohabitation within any civil precincts and bounds, is not thereby constituted a church, seeing there may be wanting among them, what is essentially there unto; and therefore a believer living with others in such a precinct, may join himself with any church for his edification.
24. For the avoiding of differences that may otherwise arise, for the greater solemnity in the celebration of the ordinances of Christ, and the opening a way for the larger usefulness of the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost; saints living in one city or town, or within such distances as that they may conveniently assemble for divine worship, ought rather to join in one church for their mutual strengthening and edification, than to set up many distinct societies.
25. As all churches and all the members of them are bound to pray continually for the good or prosperity of all the churches of Christ in all places, and upon all occasions to further it (every one within the bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and graces), so the churches themselves (when planted by the providence of God, so as they may have opportunity and advantage for it) ought to hold communion amongst themselves for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.
26. In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or in administrations, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church in their peace, union, and edification, or any member or members of any church are injured in, or by any proceeding in censures, not agreeable to truth and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, do by their messengers meet in a synod or council, to consider and give their advice in, or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all churches concerned; howbeit these synods so assembled are not entrusted with any church power, properly so called, or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any censures, either over any churches or persons, or to impose their determinations on the churches or officers.
27. Besides these occasional synods or councils, there are not instituted by Christ any stated synods in a fixed combination of churches, or their officers in lesser or greater assemblies; nor are there any synods appointed by Christ in a way of subordination to one another.
28. Persons that are joined in church fellowship, ought not lightly or without just cause to withdraw themselves from the communion of the church whereunto they are so joined: nevertheless, where any person cannot continue in any church without his sin, either for want of the administration of any ordinances instituted by Christ, or by his being deprived of his due privileges, or compelled to any thing in practice not warranted by the Word, or in case of persecution, or upon the account of conveniency of habitation; he consulting with the church, or the officer or officers thereof, may peaceably depart from the communion of the church, wherewith he hath so walked, to join himself with some other church, where he may enjoy the ordinances in the purity of the same, for his edification and consolation.
29. Such reforming churches as consist of persons sound in the faith and of conversation becoming the Gospel, ought not to refuse the communion of each other, so far as may consist with their own principles respectively, though they walk not in all things according to the same rules of church order.
30. Churches gathered and walking according to the mind of Christ, judging other churches (though less pure) to be true churches, may receive unto occasional communion with them, such members of those churches as are credibly testified to be godly, and to live without offense.

Confessions & Catechisms

Queensferry Paper- 1680

We undersuscribers, for ourselves and all that shall adhere to us, or join with us, being put to it by God, our own consciences, and men, and following the examples of God’s people, registrate in his word in such cases; we are resolved (having acknowledged and obtained mercy, we trust, for our former breaches of covenants with God) to bind ourselves with a solemn and sacred bond, lest upon the one hand, we should be carried away with the stream of the defection of this time, that neither mind bypast vows, nor intends performance, but are going a quite contrary way of seeking their own things: and on the other hand, lest we should wander, evanish into vanity, and come to nothing, not having any fixed limits and end proposed to ourselves; and as we resolve to covenant with and before God, so to declare before the world, what are the designs we propose to pursue, if God shall give us power and success, that men (knowing) if they will know, our inward thoughts and utmost end, and our way from the one to the other, may not be at a trouble or uncertainty to find us out, and may have no occasion to misjudge, nor misrepute us that are friends, and those that have the glory of God before their eyes (as we may have no cause to be jealous of our intentions) and that our enemies with their associate backsliders (sometime professed friends) may not have ground to load us with foul and odious aspersions, the kingdom of God with us, may do it without excuse, and those who join with us, may do it on solid grounds, and in hazarding their perishing lives, may know they do not die as fools: it is true the unmindfulness, failing, counteracting, and mocking that has been in our former vows and covenants with God, together with great spiritual judgments that have followed both upon professors and ministers, and the great temporal judgments that are like to follow, puts us to some stop; so that we cannot but with much trembling of heart renew our covenant, or engage anew, especially considering our own weakness and hazard; yet the clear conviction of duty, zeal to God’s glory, and love to Christ’s reigning, which is the highest and greatest duty that a man can perform to God, trusting in his mercy, who knows the integrity and rightness of our intentions, will both instruct, enable, accept, preserve, and prosper us: we go on declaring those, and nothing but those to be our present purposes.

First. We covenant and swear, that we acknowledge and avouch the only true and living God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be our God and that we close with his way of redemption by his Son Jesus Christ, and rely upon his righteousness, as that righteousness only whereby a man can be justified before God; and that we acknowledge the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be by divine revelation, and to contain the will of God to man, and anent men; and that we take those scriptures to be the only object matter of our faith, and rule of our conversation in all things, and that we do give up ourselves to God, to be renewed, instructed by his grace, and ruled in all things by his Spirit according to his word, and shall earnestly endeavour to render him that love, worship, and obedience that his word requires, and his goodness obliges us to.

Secondly. That we shall, to the utmost of our power, advance the kingdom of God (if at any time God shall give us power) by establishing throughout the lands, righteousness, and the true reformed religion, in the truth of its doctrine, in the purity and power its worship and ordinances, its right government and discipline, and that we shall free the church of God from the tyranny and corruption of prelacy on the one hand, and the thraldom and encroachments of Erastianism upon the other hand; and that we shall, to the utmost of our power, relieve the church and our brethren, the subjects of this kingdom (God authorizing and calling us to this, by his raising up, and giving us power and success in removing those who by their transgression have forfeited their authority) of that oppression that hath been exercised upon their consciences, civil rights, and liberties, that men may serve God holily without fear, and possess their civil rights peaceably without disturbance.

Thirdly. That we confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts, the doctrine of the reformed churches, especially that of Scotland, contained in the Scriptures, summed up in our confessions of faith, and engaged to by us in our covenants, is the only true doctrine of God, and that we purpose to persevere in it to the end: and that the pure worship required and prescribed in the scriptures without the inventions, additions, adornings, or corruptions of men, is the only true worship of God, and the presbyterian government exercised by lawful ministers and elders in kirk-sessions, presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies, is the only right government of the church, and that this government is a distinct government from the civil, and ought distinctly to be exercised, not after a carnal manner by the plurality of votes, or authority of a single person, but according to the word of God; so that the word makes and carries the sentence, and not plurality of votes.

Fourthly. That we shall endeavour, to our utmost, the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness, and whatever is contrary to the kingdom of Christ, especially idolatry and popery in all articles of it, as we are bound in our national covenants, superstition, will-worship, and prelacy, with its hierarchy, as we are bound in our Solemn League and Covenant, and that we shall with the same sincerity endeavour the overthrow of that power (it being no more authority) that hath established, and upholds that kingdom of darkness, that prelacy, to wit, and Erastianism over the church, and hath exercised such a lustful and arbitrary tyranny over the subjects, taken all power in their hand, that they may at their pleasure introduce popery in the church, as they have done arbitrary government in the state. And in a word, that we shall endeavour the extirpation of all the works of darkness, and the relics of idolatry and superstition (which are much enlarged and revived in those times) and execute righteous judgment impartially (according to the word of God, and degree of offences) upon committers of those things, especially, to wit, the blasphemy, idolatry, atheism, sorcery, perjury, uncleanness, profanation of the Lord’s day, oppression, and malignancy, that thus being zealous of God’s glory, he may delight to dwell in the midst of us.

Fifthly. Seriously considering, that the hand of our kings, and rulers with them, hath been of a long time against the throne of the Lord, and that the Lord, upon this account, has declared that he will have war with them for ever, and has commanded his people utterly to root them out; and considering that the line and succession of our king and rulers hath been against the power and purity of Religion, and godliness, and Christ’s reigning over his church, and its freedom, and so against God, and hath degenerate from that virtue, moderation, sobriety, and good government, which was the tenor and right by which their ancestors kept their crowns (for when they left that, they themselves were laid aside, as our chronicles and registers do record) into an idle and sinful magnificence, where the all and only government is to keep up their own absoluteness and tyranny, and to keep on a yoke of thraldom upon the subjects, and to squeeze from them their substance to uphold their lustful and pompous superfluities: we having no better nor greater way at this time of manifesting our public siding with, and loving of God, nor seeing a more speedy way of relaxation from the wrath of God (that hath ever lain heavy on us, since we engaged with him) but of rejecting of them, who have so manifestly rejected God (especially of late) and his service and reformation, as a slavery, as they themselves call it in their public papers, especially in their late letters to the king and duke of Lauderdale, disclaiming the covenants with God, and blasphemously enacted it to be burned by the hand of the hangman, governed contrary to all right laws divine and human, exercised such tyranny and arbitrary government, so oppressed men in their consciences and civil rights, used free subjects, Christian and reasonable men, with less discretion than their beasts, and so not only frustrate the end of government, which is, that men may live peaceably and godly under them (this being the end of government, to maintain every one in their rights and liberties against wrongs and injuries) but have done directly opposite to it, by enacting and commanding impieties, injuries, and robberies, to the denying of God his due, and the subjects their godliness and peace; so that instead of government, godliness, and peace, there is nothing but rapine, tumult, and blood; so that now it cannot be called a government, but a lustful rage, exercised with as little right reason, and more cruelty than in beasts; and they themselves can no more be called governors, but public grassators, and public judgments, which all ought to set themselves against, as they would do against pestilence, sword, and famine raging among them; for they are like those, and bring those; and as they have exercised no good government, nor administered justice, so on the other hand, they have stopped the course of law and justice against blasphemers, idolaters, atheists, sorcerers, murderers, incestuous and adulterous persons, and other malefactors; and instead of rewarding the good, have made butcheries and murders upon the Lord’s people, sold them as slaves, imprisoned, forfeited, fined, banished, &c., and that upon no other account, but for maintaining Christ’s right of ruling over their consciences against the usurpations of men, for fulfilling their vows, repelling unjust violence (which innocent nature allows every creature) of all which particulars we can give (we speak before God) innumerable and sure instances.

But that we may see if there be anything that stands in our way, there are but three things that seem to have weight that we know. First. Whether the deed and obligation of our ancestors can bind us. Secondly. Whether the covenant doth bind us either to this man or his posterity. And Thirdly. Whether there yet be any hope of them and their posterity.

1. As to the first. Our ancestors their transactions and obligations neither did, nor could bind us, they did not buy their liberty and conquest with our thraldom and slavery; nor could they, liberty and freedom being a benefit next to life, if not in some regard above it, that they could not give it away more than our lives, neither is it in the power of parents to bind their posterity to anything that is so much to their prejudice, and against their natural liberty. It is otherwise indeed in things moral. Neither did they bind us to anything but to a government, which they then esteemed the best for the commonwealth and subjects; and when this ceaseth, we are free to choose another, if we see it more conducible for that end, and more free of these inconveniences. 2dly. The covenant doth not, for it only binds us to maintain our king in the maintenance of the true established and covenanted religion; and this we have not: neither can they require homage upon the account of the covenant, having renounced and disclaimed that covenant: and we being no otherwise bound, the covenant being the coronation compact without the swearing and sealing of which our fathers, or rather we ourselves refused to receive him for king, and them for rulers; and if they were free to refuse him for king upon the account of not subscribing of that covenant, we are much more free to reject him upon his renouncing of it, this being the only way of receiving the crown of Scotland; and reigning also, not being an inheritance that passes from father to son without the consent of tenants, but an (and the more men plead for this, the more we are concerned to look to it) office, which, all say, is given ad culpam, non ad vitam. And for the 3d, Neither is there any hope of their return from these courses, having so often showed their natures and enmities against God and all righteousness, and having so oft declared and renewed their purposes and promises of persevering in those courses: and suppose they should dissemble a repentance of those things, and profess to return to better courses, being put to straits, and for their own ends (for upon no other account can we reasonably expect it:) supposing also, that there might be pardon for that which is done, which we cannot see can be without the violation of God’s law, and the laying on of a great guiltiness upon the land, for the omitting of the execution of so deserved and so necessarily requisite a justice, from which guiltiness the land cannot be cleansed or made free, but by executing of God’s righteous judgment upon them: but supposing that it might, they cannot now be believed, after they have violated all ties that human wisdom can devise to bind men. And besides, who sees not somewhat of folly to be in this, to think to bind a king that pretends to absoluteness? the way being thus cleared, and we being sure of God’s approbation and men’s whose hearts are not utterly biassed, and conscience altogether corrupted; and knowing assuredly, the upholding of such, is to uphold men to bear down Christ’s kingdom and to uphold Satan’s, and to deprive men of right government and good governors, to the ruining of religion, and undoing of human society. And seeing also the innumerable sins and snares that are in giving obedience to their acts upon the one hand; and upon the other hand, seeing the endless miseries that will follow if we shall acknowledge their authority, and refuse obedience to their sinful commands: we then upon those, and the following grounds, do reject that king, and those associate with him in the government (stated and declared enemies to Jesus Christ) from being our king and rulers, because standing in the way of our right, free, and peaceable serving of God, propagating his kingdom and reformation, and overthrowing Satan’s kingdom according to our covenants, declare them to be henceforth no lawful rulers, as they have declared us to be no lawful subjects, upon a ground far less warrantable, as men unbiassed will see: and that after this, we neither own, nor shall yield any willing obedience to them, but shall rather suffer the utmost of their cruelties and injuries (until God shall plead our cause) being no more bound to them, they having altered and destroyed the Lord’s established religion, overturned the fundamental and established laws of the kingdom, taken away altogether Christ’s church-government, and changed the civil government of this land, which was by a king and free parliament, into tyranny, where none are associate to be partakers of the government but only those who will be found by justice to be guilty of criminals, and where all others are excluded, even those who by the laws of the land, and by birth, have a right to, and a share in that government, and that only because they are not of the same guiltiness and mischievous purposes with themselves, and where also all free elections of commissioners for parliaments, and officers for government, are made void, they making those the qualifications for admission to those places, which by the word of God, and the laws of the land, was the cause of their exclusion before. So that none can say that we are now bound in allegiance unto them, unless they will say, we are bound in allegiance to devils whose vicegerents they are, having neither authority from God (because it is by their sinfulness forfeited) nor yet judging nor ruling for God.

We then being made free by God and their own doings, (he giving the law, and they giving the transgression of that law, which is the cause) and being now loosed from all obligations both divine and civil to them, knowing also, that no society of men, having corruption in them (which is always ready to beget disorder and to do injuries, unless restrained and punished by laws and government) can be without laws and government, and withal desiring to be governed in the best way that is least liable to inconveniences, and least apt to degenerate into tyranny: We do declare, that we shall set up over ourselves, and over what God shall give us power of, government and governors according to the word of God, and especially that word, Exodus 18.21. “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people, able men such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them; to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” That we shall no more commit the government of ourselves, and the making of laws for us, to any one single person, or lineal successor, we not being by God, as the Jews were, bound to one single family; and this kind of government by a single person being most liable to inconveniences, and aptest to degenerate into tyranny, as sad and long experience hath taught us.

Moreover we declare, that those men whom we shall set over us, shall be engaged to govern us principally by that civil and judicial law (we think none will be so ignorant as to think, by the judicial law we mean that which is ceremonial or typical) given by God to his people of Israel, no man, we think, doubting, but it must be the best so far as it goes, being given by God; and we having no body of law of our own, but some few imperfect acts of parliament, and sometimes following the canon, and sometimes the feudal, and sometimes the civil, which occasions great contentions among the people, especially those who are naturally litigious, to the exhausting and enhancing of the substance of the kingdom to some few men, and squeezing of its inhabitants, but especially that we shall be governed by that law in matters of life and death, and all other things also, so far as they reach, and are consistent with our Christian liberty established in all Christendom (only violated by our tyrants, and some others of late) excepting only that of divorce and polygamy, the one being not a law, but a permission granted upon the account of the hardness of their hearts, the other being a sinful custom, contrary to the first institution of marriage, crept into the church. We know that men of malignant and perverse spirits, who have not a higher God than a wicked king, which suits only with their lustful licentiousness, and it may be others with them, that seemed to be of better principles, will raise an ignorant clamour upon this, that it is a fifth monarchy, and we fifth-monarchy-men, and will labour to amuse the people with strange terms, and put odious names on good things to make them hateful as their way is; but if this be their fifth monarchy, we both are, and ought to be such, and that according to God’s word.

Sixthly. It being the work of the ministers of the gospel to preach, propagate, and defend the kingdom of God, and to preserve the doctrine, worship, discipline, government, liberties and privileges of the same from all corruptions and encroachments of rulers and all others; and seeing that the ministers of the church of Scotland, at least the greater part of them by far, not only were defective in preaching and testifying against the acts of rulers, for overthrowing religion and reformation, abjuring our covenant with God, establishing a government in the church, which their king calls his own government (and so is not God’s) contrary to our covenant, against enacting of that blasphemous (so Calvin calls that supremacy of Henry VIII. upon which this prerogative is formed, and from which it is derived, and is no less, if not more injurious to Christ, and enslaving to his church) and sacrilegious prerogative, given to a king over the church of God, and against their other acts and encroachments upon his church, and hindered others also who were willing, and would have testified against them, and censured some that did it (for which, together with other faults in their trust and administration, we may say God hath left them to do worse things) but also have voted in that meeting (which they are pleased to call ‘an assembly of ministers,’ but how unjustly let men judge) an acceptation of that liberty founded upon, and given by virtue of that blasphemous, arrogated and usurped power, and has appeared before their courts to accept of that liberty, and to be enacted and authorized their ministers, and so have willingly (for this is an elicite act of the will, and not an act of force and constraint) translated the power of sending out, ordering and censuring (for as they accepted the liberty from them, so they are answerable and submit to their censures and restraints, at least all of them who were yet tried with it, and others of them appeared, and acknowledged before their courts, that they would not have done these things that they were charged with, if they had thought it would have offended them) ministers from the court of Christ, and subjection to the ministry to the courts of men, and subjection unto the magistrate (which had been impious and injurious to Christ, though they had been righteous and lawful rulers), and by their changing of courts (according to common law) have changed their masters, and of the ministers of Christ are become the ministers of men, and bound to answer to them, as they will; and as by the acceptance of this liberty in such a manner, they have translated the power, so they had given up and quit utterly the government, and a succession of a presbyterian ministry, for as those were not granted them of their masters, so they received their ministry without them, and by this (as the ecclesiastic government is swallowed up in the civil) if the rest had followed them, the ministry should have been extinct with themselves, and the whole work of reformation had been buried in oblivion, and not so much as the remembrance thereof kept up. Those, together with the other of their commissions, in preaching the lawfulness of paying that tribute, declared to be imposed for the bearing down of the true worship of God (which they falsely termed seditious conventicles, rendezvouses of rebellion) and their advising those poor prisoners to subscribe that bond, and consequently could not but so advise others, if put to it (for the hazard men were in will not make a real change of the morality of the action) and besides, the rest may be put to it on the same hazard; and if the one should advise (which consequently they must do) and the other should subscribe, this would altogether close that door, which the Lord hath made use of in all the churches of Europe, for casting off the yoke of the whore, and restoring the truth and purity of religion and reformation, and freedom of the churches, and should also have stopped all regress of men, when once brought under tyranny, to recover their liberty again. Those ministers then not being followers of Christ, who, before Pontius Pilate, gave a good confession, which was that he was a king (and no king, if he have no power to order his house and subjects) and they not following him nor his ministers, they not asserting and maintaining this his kingly power, against all encroachments and usurpers of it; and besides, we being commanded, if any brother walk disorderly, from such to withdraw. And although, in the capacity that we are now in, we neither have, nor assume to ourselves authority to give our definitive and authoritative sentence of deposition against those ministers, yet we declare (which is proper for us to do) that we neither can nor will hear preaching, nor receive sacraments from any of those ministers that have accepted, and voted for that liberty, nor from any who have encouraged and strengthened their hands by hearing and pleading for them, all those who have trafficked for an union with them, without their renouncing and repenting of those things, all that do not faithfully testify against them, and after do not deport themselves suitably to their testimonies, all who join not in public with their brethren, who are testifying against them. We declare, that we shall not own, &c., at least till they stand in judgment before those ministers, and be judged by them who have followed the Lord, kept themselves free of those defections, or at least have repented; and as our hearts have cleaved to those ministers, while they were on the Lord’s side, and subjected to them, so we shall still cleave to those that abide following him, and shall be subject to them in the Lord.

Seventhly. Then, we do declare and acknowledge, that a gospel ministry is a standing ordinance of God, appointed by Christ to continue in the church until the end of the world; and that none of us shall take upon him the preaching of the word, or administering of the sacraments, unless called and ordained thereto by the ministers of the gospel. And, as we declare, that we are for a standing gospel ministry, rightly chosen and rightly ordained, so we declare that we shall go about this work in time to come with more fasting and prayer, and more careful inspection into the conversation and holiness of those men that shall be chosen and ordained, the want of which formerly has been a great sin, both in ministers and people, which hath not been the least cause of this defection. This will meet with the same measure as the former. The former was a fifth monarchy, so this will be a separation. There is both malice and ignorance in this calumny. Malice in striving to make us odious; for there is nothing that will make us more odious to the world, than to tell them we think ourselves more holy than all, and will have no communion with others. But we abhor such thoughts, and whatever we know of our sincerity, yet we know nothing of our perfection, and so see nothing whereupon we may compare, much less exceed others, but the contrary; and if any were to be shut out upon that account, we judge ourselves would be the first. There is ignorance in it, if not a deep deceit; for separation, as the scriptures and divines take it in an evil sense, cannot be attributed to us; for if there be a separation, it must be where the change is, and that is not in us; we are not separating from the communion of the church, and setting up new ordinances, and a new ministry, but cleaving to the same ministers, and following the same ordinances, when others have slidden back to new ways, and have a new authority superadded, which is like the new piece in the old garment.

Eighthly. We bind and oblige ourselves to defend ourselves and one another in our worshipping of God, and in our natural, civil, and divine rights and liberties, till we shall overcome, or send them down under debate to the posterity, that they may begin where we end; and if we shall be pursued or troubled any farther in our worshipping rights and liberties, that we shall look on it as a declaring war, and take all the advantages that one enemy doth of another, and seek to cause to perish, all that shall, in an hostile manner, assault us, and to maintain, relieve, and right ourselves of those that have wronged us, but not to trouble or injure any, but those that have injured us, those being most lawful for us, being many that are wronged upon such an account, and by such persons who have nothing now over us, but power and usurped authority, which we shall neither answer nor acknowledge, if we can do otherwise, hoping that God shall break off that part of the yoke, and free us of that power and tyranny, that we have cast off upon his account, and will give us judges as we had at the beginning, and counsellors as we had at the first.

Confessions & Catechisms

Lanark Declaration - 1681

The Act and Apologetic Declaration of the True Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland

Although we ought to take in good part, whatever God in His infinite wisdom hath, for the punishment of our sin, Carved out unto us, and Eye and acknowledge him alone In it; - and though we always ought to acknowledge government and governors as ordained by him, in so far as they rule and govern according to the rules set down by him in his word, and constitutive laws of the nation, and ought to cast the mantle of love on the lesser errors of governors, and give the best countenance to their administration that the nature of their actions will bear; - yet when all these laws, both of God and the kingdom, conditional and constitutive of the government, are cassed and annulled, by pretended laws, and the highest of usurpation, and an inexplicable prerogative in matters ecclesiastic, and arbitrary government in matters civil, is arrogate; - when a banner of impiety, profaneness, and atheism is avowedly displayed against the heavens; a door open of all sorts and sizes, and the remedy thereof still denied by him who should be as a sun and shield to the people, when the parliaments, who ought to be the grand trustees of the kingdom, to whom it belongs in such a case to secure the civil and spiritual interests, are so prelimited by law, as that no true son of the state or church hath liberty to sit and vote there, so that the parliaments, and all places of public trust, and offices of the kingdom from the highest to the lowest, are made up of none but those who are corrupted, overawed, overruled, and bribed: What shall the people do in such an extremity? Should they give their reason as men, their consciences as christians, and resign their liberties, fortunes, religion, and their all to the inexorable obstinacy, incurable wilfulness, and malice of these, who in spite of God and man (and notwithstanding of their many oaths and vows both to God and his people) are resolved to make their own will the absolute and sovereign rule of their actions, and their strained indulgences, and the measure of the subjects hope and happiness? Shall the end of government be lost, through weakness, wickedness, and tyranny of governors? Must the people by an implicit submission and deplorable stupidity, destroy themselves, and betray their posterity, and become objects of reproach to the present generation, and pity and contempt to the future? Have they not in such an extremity, good ground to make use of that natural and radical power they have, to shake off that yoke, which neither we nor our forefathers were able to bear; which accordingly the Lord honoured us (in a general and unprelimited meeting of the estates and shires of Scotland) to do; a convention of unprelimited members, a convention of men who had only the glory of God and the good of the commonwealth before their eyes, - the like whereof the present reigning tyrant could never since his home-coming pretend to? At which convention, he was most legally, and by general consent cast off, by the Declaration afterwards published at Sanquhar by especial warrant from the said convention. But that we may not seem to have done that, or yet to do the like, upon no grounds, or yet upon few and small grounds, we shall hint at some of the many thousands of the misdemeanours of the now cast off tyrant in his overturning of our church and state.

And First, at his very entry, as if he had attained to Nero’s desire, at one blow, in his first parliament, he cut off the neck of that noble constitution of church and state, which our noble and worthy ancestors had made; and not thinking it enough treacherously and falsely to perjure himself, he made such constitutions and laws (if it be not an abuse of language to call them so) as that none but fools of his own feather, and such as would run with himself to the same excess of riot, should have access to the very nearest place or office in the kingdom. And though that in itself is enough, yet not the thousand part of what he hath done.

2. Did he not take to himself a licentious privilege, the exalting of himself unto a sphere exceeding all measures divine and human, tyrannically obtruding his will for a law, both in matters civil and ecclesiastic, making us a laughingstock to the neighbouring nations, who imagined that what he was doing (however tyrannous in itself) to be consonant to our law, blaming the badness of the law instead of the badness of the governors, whereas nothing could be less consonant to the tenor and end of our, and all other laws, divine and human. For we have reason to praise the Lord, who eminently assisted our ancestors in framing of our laws, so that we may (upon good ground) say, that there is no nation in civilibus hath better, and in ecclesiasticis so good laws as we; having (by God’s providence) attained unto a more excellent and strict reformation than any nation. The observing of which laws, was the very constitutive and absolute condition whereupon he was admitted to the Royal office, and without which he was not to have the exercise of his power, and to which he was most solemnly and deeply sworn oftener than once, with his hands lifted up to the most High God; He himself declaring the subjects tye no longer to remain or continue, than the ends and constitutions of these convenants were pursued and preserved by him. All which are (contrary to his engagement foresaid) by his pretended (and as aforesaid constitute) parliaments cassed and annulled, and the laws no more made the rule, but his own will in his letters: So that we are made the reproach of the nations, who say we have only the law of letters, instead of the letter of the law.

3. Hath it not been his constant method to adjourn and dissolve parliaments at his pleasure, when they (though his own creatures) were so sensible of his misdemeanours, that they began to question, and when questioned by them, ye may easily conjecture what they were.

4. Hath he not seated himself as supreme head over all persons, in all causes civil and ecclesiastic? and by virtue of that arrogantly arrogated power, fabricate a chimeric government, or rather pageantry in the church, with such ludibrious eminences, pompous power and pride, through the vanity of men’s depraved imaginations, the grievous and mysterious abuse, from whence have issued all the calamities, all the languishing sorrows, and confounding shames and reproaches, which in this day of blackness and darkness, have invaded, involved, polluted and pestered the church and kingdom. And thus hath he approven himself to be the Defender of the Faith! under which the godly party, true sons of the church and nation, have been groaning these twenty years bygone, and in great numbers murthered and slain in the fields, led as lambs to the slaughter upon scaffolds, imprisoned and kept in irons, and with exquisite tortures tormented, exiled, banished, and sold as slaves amongst savages: all which they endured most patiently a long time, or ever they offered to appear in public in arms against him. And all this they have met with as a reward (just upon the Lord’s part, though unjust and ungrate as to his part) for their too great and inordinate love wherewith they prevented him in the day of his distress; being the first and only beginning of his unhappy restorations.

5. Time will fail us to narrate, what taxings, cessings, and every way impoverishing of the subjects, and grinding of the faces of the poor, dilapidating the pendicles, rights, and revenues of the crown, for no other end, but to employ them for keeping up a brothel, rather than a court, since there is no court in the world hath attained unto such a height of debauchery and depravedness, as that court by his example hath done. For Regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis.

6. And lastly, as if it had not been enough to exercise such a tyrannical and arbitrary power himself, he, by a late parliament such as the former, intends that his cruelty and tyranny should not die with himself, but that he shall in his time install such an one (if not worse) as himself, contrary to all law, reason and religion, and in that parliament to unhinge very protestantism itself, by framing a test, such as no protestant (how corrupt soever) can take, and so ridiculous that it is made the laughingstock even of enemies themselves.

Is it then any wonder, considering such dealings and many thousands more, that true Scotsmen (though we have been always and even to extremity sometimes loyal to our kings) should after twenty years tyranny break out at last, as we have done, and put in practice that power, which God and nature hath given us, and we have reserved to ourselves, as our engagements with our princes having been always conditional, as other kingdoms are implicitly, but ours explicitly?

Let none therefore object against the legality of what we have done, or are doing: for we offer as (how inconsiderable we are said to be) to prove ourselves to have done nothing against our ancient laws civil or ecclesiastic, against any lawyers or divines whatsoever, our ancient laws being judges; and we having safety to pass and repass (if the public faith after so many breaches can be trusted) for that effect. So then let no foreign kingdoms or churches through misinformation or false copies (as they are many) of what we act or do, because we have no access to the press as they; we say let them not take up a wrong opinion of us or our proceedings: for we are only endeavouring to extricate ourselves from under a tyrannous yoke, and to reduce our church and state to what they were in the years 1648 and 1649.

We therefore, have conveened, in our name and authority, ratify and approve what hath been done by the Rutherglen and Sanquhar declarations. And do by these present rescind, annul, and make void, whatsoever hath been done by Charles Stuart or his accomplices in prejudice to our ancient laws and liberties, in all the several pretended and prelimited parliaments and conventions, since the year 1660. And particularly, the late parliament holden at Edinburgh the 28th July 1681, by a commissioner professedly popish, and for villany exiled his native land, with all the acts and laws there statue and enacted: as that abominable, ridiculous, unparalleled, and soul perjuring test and the rest.

We therefore command and charge you, to pass to the Mercat cross of Lanerk, and in our name and authority, publish this our act and declaration, as ye will be answerable.

Given on 15th December, 1681.

Confessions & Catechisms

The Heads of Agreement 1691

Of Churches and Church-Members

1) We acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ to have one Catholic Church, or Kingdom, comprehending all that are united to him, whether in heaven or earth. And do conceive the whole multitude of visible believers, and their infant seed (commonly called the Catholic visible Church) to belong to Christ’s spiritual kingdom in this world: but for the notion of a Catholic visible Church here, as it signifies its having been collected into any formed society, under any visible human head on earth, whether one person singly, or many collectively, we, with the rest of Protestants, unanimously disclaim it.

2) We agree that particular societies of visible saints, who under Christ their Head are statedly joined together, for ordinary communion, with one another in all the ordinances of Christ, are particular churches, and are to be owned by each other as instituted Churches of Christ, though differing in apprehensions and practice in some lesser things.

3) That none shall be admitted as members, in order to communion in all the special ordinances of the Gospel, but such persons as are knowing and sound in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion, without scandal in their lives; and, to a judgment regulated by the Word of God, are persons of visible godliness and honesty; credibly professing cordial subjection to Jesus Christ.

4) A competent number of such visible saints (as before described) do become subjects of stated communion in all the special ordinances of Christ, upon their mutual declared consent and agreement to walk together therein according to Gospel rule. In which declaration, different degrees of explicitness, shall no way hinder such churches from owning each other, as instituted churches.

(The above is an extract from The Reformation of the Church by Iain Murray).

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ISBN: 978-1-85078-730-3

Price: £9.00

       
This is an easy read for youth leaders to help us focus on what we are doing and why we are doing it.  Teenagers can be a difficult group to work with as they search for their own identity and also along with their increased independence, they have a lot of personal choices to make.  This books deals with these issues while keeping prayer, the Bible and Christ at the centre of our youth work.  This is a helpful resource that encourages us to be positive about our teens and helps us consider our motives, our expectations and helps us to deal with these.


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Written Work

Sometimes we need something to reinforce our story and something for the children to take home, and good old-fashioned worksheets are good for this.

Bumper Instant Art – Bible Worksheets

Kevin Mayhew

ISBN: 9781840037432

Price: £ £10.99

These worksheets use a variety of methods to explain a theme or story – on one worksheet you can get a picture to colour, a word search and 2 other activities.  In this book there are 51 Old Testament worksheets and 40 New Testament worksheets.  There is also a Book 2 so that is even more worksheets. 


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Youth Work

Teens

Unfinished Sentences
Les Christie
ISBN: 0310230934
Price: £5.99

         
This a great book for either discussion starters or to fill in a 10-minute slot with your teen group.  There are 450 unfinished sentences, where it gives the first part of a sentence and the teens have to complete the sentence in any way they want.  There is a wide range of topics including choices, parents, addictions, difficulties, success, television and also a wide range of spiritual topics.


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Creative Christian Ideas for Youth Groups
Ken Moser
ISBN: 0 9581393 1 8
Price: £9.00
       
This is a great resource to help you keep your Youth Fellowship or teen group on track.  It stops us getting into merely entertaining our youths, and helps us to deliver the Bible and the truths of Scripture in a real and relevant way.  Activities such as ‘spotlight’ are loved and missed when we don’t do them.  This book also contains suggestions for an 8-week programme and gives lots of ideas for Bible games, Bible quiz questions and memory verses.  A must for any teen youth group!


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Youth Work

Singing

Righteous Pop Music
One Way Street
ISBN: 1-58302-202-3
Price: £10 - £15 each

Trying to find songs that the children will sing can be hard, but here is a wonderful selection of CDs with songs for just about anything you are teaching from the Bible.  They are written for use with puppets, but the children love singing them because they are all well-known tunes with extra special words, eg. He Loves You, I’m Getting Something Good (I’m Into Something Good), Washin’ My Sins Away (Twistin’ the Night Away).


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Youth Work

School Resources

It’s Your Move!
Scripture Union
ISBN: 978 184427 212 9
Price: £2.99 for one copy or 10 copies for £12.00
     
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This is a guide for moving to secondary school.  It contains an A – Z survival guide and lots of articles on the experiences of young people in their transition from primary to secondary.

I think this is a great resource for Primary 7s to help them in the “big move”, with spiritual advice in there for them too.

This can either be used by going into primary schools and speaking to the Primary 7s, or can be given as a church moving-up gift.
   
   

Pick Up and Run Assemblies
Nick Harding
ISBN: 1-84417-537-5
Price: £10.99
   
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Here is a wee treasure from Nick Harding.  This book is for primary assemblies and contains material for 15 assemblies.  These are all interactive and use simple objects to help with your theme, eg. a tin of beans, chocolates and a football scarf.  They all have Bible teaching, but I have added more in to put more emphasis on what the Bible says.  A good resource with lots of good ideas for you to build on.

Youth Work

Memory Work

Remember Remember
Andrea Marshall
ISBN: 9781905564750
Price: £8.00

It seems to be getting harder to get our children to learn Bible verses, so it is great to get a book that is full of good ideas.  The various activities are divided into sections including black or white board activities, memory verse card activities, and lots of different games and ways to learn the Bible.  Learning memory verses becomes fun and effective.


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Youth Work

Crafts

Crafts are not really my thing, but the children love crafts, so I need all the help I can get.  Here are a couple of books that I have found to be good.
 
Bumper Instant Art – Make and Do
Kevin Mayhew
ISBN: 9781840037692
Price: £10.99

All you need with this book is some card, colouring pens, scissors, glue and paper fasteners, and you can do just about every craft in the book!  There are 22 Old Testament crafts and 43 New Testament crafts, so there is a wide range to choose from. Low-cost crafts with some amazing results!

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100 Simple Craft Ideas for Children
Sue Price, Children’s Ministries
ISBN: 9781842912928
Price: £8.99

These 100 crafts are divided into 5 sections – Story Crafts (on specific Bible stories), Lesson Reminder Crafts (which can be adapted to different stories/themes), Worship Crafts, Crafts to Give and Seasonal Crafts.  The crafts in this book use a wide range of materials and so, will give you a lot of variety in your crafts.


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Click on the link below to download more resources for Bible Crafts:

Resources 16

Youth Work

Children’s Talks

144 Talks for Totally Awesome Kids
Chris Chesterton & David T. Ward
ISBN: 978-1-85424-789-6
Price: £14.99

There are lots of books with ideas for talks for children and when we get them home, there is only one or two that you will use.  This book has 144 talks for children from 8 to 12 years of age.  It does have an American slant, but the ideas are easily adapted to your own situation.  Each talk is an object talk with some exciting objects including maggots, jewellery and Coca Cola.  You may want to shorten them or lengthen them, but the ideas are good to start with.

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Further resources for Children’s Talks can be downloaded below:

Youth Resources 8

Youth Resources 10

Youth Resources 14

Youth Resources 15

Youth Resources 17

Youth Work

Camp

Resources for Camp

Great Talk Outlines for Youth Ministry
Mark Oestreicher
ISBN: 13: 978-0-310-23822-5
Price: £14.99
This book contains 40 talk outlines that have been tried and tested by experienced youth workers.  As usual, I use these as they are intended – as an outline.  The CD that comes with it contains all the outline talks for you to take away bits that you will not use and then add in your own bit.  Themes covered include conversion, faith, God’s love, sin, discipleship and much more.
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Talks done by Camp Leaders

People Jesus met (A diffrent person each night)
Eg. Zaccheus, the women at the well, the disciples etc.
The idea was to:
  * Explain a bit about each person
  * Show how they met with Jesus
  * The difference on knowing Jesus

Young People in the Bible
God uses people and age is no barrier!
Samuel
David
The boy with the packed lunch (feeding 5,000) etc.

Life of someone in the Bible
Eg. Peter
Eg. Paul – sin, repentance, telling others, persecuted, protected etc.

“I am” sayings of Jesus
The Bread of Life
The True Vine
The Light of the World
The Way, the Truth and the Life
The Good Shepherd

CY Course
This is covered in another section on these Resource pages.

Using a Bible story and speaking in the 1st person
Eg. a Centurion during the ministry of Jesus
- whose servant was ill, was at the trial, at the cross, converted…

The Passion of the Christ (not the film!)
  * Betrayed – Gethsemane & Judas
  * Denied – The Disciples & Peter
  * Condemned – Pilate & Herod
  * Crucified – A Tale of 3 Deaths
  * Buried – Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus
  * Risen – Mary, The 10 & Thomas
  * Ascended – Jesus and his Apostles

Click on the link below for tried and tested Camp Programmes:

Camp Programmes

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