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THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF 1688.
(The Philadelphia Confession.)
[This is the most generally accepted Confession of the Regular or Calvinistic Baptists in England and in the Southern States of America. It appeared first in London, 1677, then again in 1688 and 1689, under the title 'A Confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians, Baptized upon Profession of their Faith in London and the Country. With an Appendix concerning Baptism. It was adopted early in the eighteenth century by the Philadelphia Association of Baptist churches, and is hence called also the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.
It is a slight modification of the Confession of the Westminster Assembly (1647) and the Savoy Declaration (1658), with changes to suit the Baptist views on Church polity and on the subjects and mode of baptism. Having given the Westminster Confession in full, I present here only the distinctive features of the Baptist Confession, which my friend, the Rev. Dr. Howard Osgood, Professor in the Baptist Theological Seminary at Rochester, N. Y., has kindly selected for this work.]
In Chapter XX., 'Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience,' Art. 4 of the Westminster Conf. (Ch. XXI. B. C.) is omitted. In Chapter XXIII., 'Of the Civil Magistrate,' Arts. 3 and 4 of the Westminster Conf. are omitted and the following inserted (Ch. XXIV. B. C.):
Civil Magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake; and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
In the Chapter 'Of the Church' (Ch. XXV. W. C.; Ch. XXVI. of the Bapt. Conf. and Savoy Declaration), the changes are so great that we give the whole:
1. The Catholic or Universal Church which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof: and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
2. All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors, everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
3. The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; .and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless, Christ always hath had and ever shall have a kingdom in this world to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make professions of his name.
4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, in whom, by the 739appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is no other than Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God: whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
5. In the execution of this power wherewith he is so intrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto himself, through the ministry of his Word, by his Spirit, 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. Those thus called 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 the world.
6. 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; and do willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving up themselves to the Lord and one to another, by the will of God, in the professed subjection to the ordinances of the gospel.
7. To each of these churches thus gathered, according to 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 executing of that power.
8. A particular church gathered and completely organized, according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and 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 and duty, which he intrusts them with or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or elders and deacons.
9. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in the church is that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself, and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition 740of hands of the eldership of the 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.
10. The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ in his churches, in the ministry of the Word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to him, it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things, according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled with secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
11. Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors 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 Spirit for it, and approved and called by the Church, may and ought to perform it.
12. As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do, so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.
13. No church members, upon any offense taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church or administration of any ordinances upon the account of such offense at any of their fellow-members, but to wait upon Christ in the further proceeding of the church.
14. As each church, and all the members of it, are bound to pray continually for the good and 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 (when planted by the providence of God so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it) ought to hold communion among themselves for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.
15. In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine 741or administration, 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 proceedings 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 to consider and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled are not intrusted 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, to impose their determination on the churches or officers.
Instead of Chapter XXVII., 'Of the Sacraments,' of the Westminster Confession, the following is given (Ch. XXVIII. B. C.):
OF BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER.
1. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only Lawgiver, to be continued in his Church to the end of the world.
2. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified, and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.
Similarly (Ch. XXVIII. W. C.; Ch. XXIX. B. C.):
1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament ordained by Jesus Christ to be unto the party baptized a sign of his fellowship with him in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
2. Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
3. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
4. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.
Chapters XXX., 'Of Church Censures,' and XXXI., 'Of Synods and Councils,' of the Westminster Confession are omitted. On the other hand, a chapter 'Of the Gospel and the Extent of the Grace thereof' is added from the Savoy Declaration, making Chapter XXX. of the Baptist Confession and the Savoy Declaration.
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