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THE CONFESSION OF THE CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. A.D. 1829 (1813).
[The Confession of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States (which was organized in 1810, and embraces a large and active membership in the Western and Southern States), is a semi-Arminian revision of the Westminster Confession of Faith. It was adopted in 1813, and finally revised in 1829. It retains the thirty-three chapters in the same order, with the American alterations of Chaps. XXIII. and XXXI., and a few immaterial omissions and additions. The only serious change is in the chapter on Predestination, while even the chapter on Perseverance is essentially retained. We present both texts in parallel columns.
See The Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, revised and adopted by the General Assembly, at Princeton, Ky., May, 1829, published by its Board of Publication in Nashville, Tenn. Comp. Vol. I. pp. 813 sqq.]
|CUMBERLAND CONFESSION.||WESTMINSTER CONFESSION.|
|Chapter III.—The Decrees of God.||Chapter III.—Of God's Eternal Decree [Am. ed. Decrees].|
|I. God did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, determine to act or bring to pass what should be for his own glory.21672167Eph. i. 11||I. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;'21682168Eph. i. 11; Rom. xi. 33; Heb. vi. 17; Rom. ix. 15, 18. yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin,21692169James i. 13, 17; 1 John i. 5; [Am. ed. Eccl. vii. 29]. nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.21702170Acts ii. 23; Matt. xvii. 12; Acts iv. 27, 28; John xix. 11; Prov. xvi. 33.|
|II. God has not decreed any thing respecting his creature man, contrary to his revealed will or written word,21712171Rev. xx. 12; Rom. ii. 15; Acts xx. 27; Psa. ii. 7. which declares his sovereignty over all his creatures,21722172Dan. iv. 34, 35; Psa. cxxxv. 6; Matt. x. 29–31. the ample provision he has made for their salvation,21732173Heb. ii. 9; Matt. xxii. 4; Isa. xlv. 22; 1 Tim. ii. 4, 5, 6; Rev. xxii. 17; Isa. lv. 1; John iii. 16; Rom. viii. 25; 1 John ii. 24, 10. his determination to punish the finally impenitent||II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions;21742174Acts xv. 18; 1 Sam. xxiii 11, 12; Matt. xi. 21, 23. yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.21752175Rom. ix. 11, 13, 16, 18.|
|with everlasting destruction,217621761 Thess. v. 9; v. 3; Mark xvi. 16. and to save the true believer with an everlasting salvation.|
Note.—The remaining six sections of the Westminster Confession, which contain the knotty points of Calvinism, are entirely omitted. Instead of them an official explanation is attached, as follows:
'We think it better, under the head of Decrees, to write what we know to be incontrovertible from the plain Word of God, than to darken counsel by words without knowledge. We have elsewhere acknowledged the doctrine of predestination to be a high mystery. We are free to acknowledge that in our judgment it is easier to fix the limits which man should not transcend, on either hand, than to give an intelligent elucidation of the subject. We believe that both Calvinists and Arminians have egregiously erred on this point: the former by driving rational, accountable man into the asylum of fate; the latter by putting too much stress on man's works, and leaving too much out of view the grace that bringeth salvation, and thereby cherish[ing] those legal principles that are in every human heart. We think the intermediate plan on this subject is nearest the whole truth; for surely, on the one hand, it must be acknowledged, the love of God, the merits of Christ, and the operation of the Holy Spirit are the moving, meritorious, and active causes of man's salvation; that God is a sovereign, having a right to work when, where, how, and on whom he pleases; that salvation, in its device, in its plan, and in its application, is of the Lord; and that without the unmerited agency and operation of the Spirit of God not one of Adam's race would or could ever come to the knowledge of the truth—for God is the author as well as the finisher of our faith. Therefore God, as a sovereign, may, if he pleases, elect a nation, as the Jews, to preserve his worship free from idolatry; many nations for a time, as Christendom, in which to spread his gospel; individuals, as Cyrus and others, to answer a particular purpose; Paul and others for apostles; Luther and Calvin to promote the Reformation. But as it respects the salvation of the soul, God as a sovereign can only elect or choose fallen man in Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. But it appears to us incontestible, from God's Word, that God has reprobated none from eternity. That all mankind become legally reprobated by transgression is undeniable, and continue so until they embrace Christ. "Examine yourselves," etc. "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. xiii. 5). Now this can not mean eternal reprobates, or all who have not Christ in them would be such, the absurdity of which will at once appear to every common capacity. Reprobation is not what some have supposed it to be, viz., a sovereign determination of God to create millions of rational beings, and for his own glory damn them eternally in hell, without regard to moral rectitude or sin in the creature. This would tarnish the divine glory, and render the greatest, best, and most lovely of all Beings most odious in the view of all intelligences. When man sinned he was legally reprobated, but not damned: God offered, and does offer, the law-condemned sinner mercy in the gospel, he having from the foundation of the world so far chosen mankind in Christ as to justify that saying in 1 Tim. iv. 10, "Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe." This is a gracious act of God's sovereign electing love, as extensive as the legal condemnation, or reprobation, in which all mankind are by nature. But, in a particular and saving sense, none can be properly called God's elect till they be justified and united to Christ, the end of the law for righteousness (none are justified from eternity), as appears evident from the following passages of God's Word: "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. viii. 33, 34). Now it is certain [that] the unbeliever is chargeable and condemned. Again, "If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. xxiv. 24). It is evident that a man must be enlightened in the knowledge 773 of God and his Son Jesus, which is eternal life, before he can have spiritual wisdom to discern and detect the deceiver. If, then, by perverting the gracious provision of the gospel in refusing to submit to the righteousness of God, the sinner finally grieves the Spirit of God, to depart from him, he becomes doubly and eternally reprobated; or like the chemist's mineral, which will not coin into pure metal, or the potter's clay, which marred upon the wheel. But if the creature fall into this deplorable situation, he was not bound by any revealed or secret decree of God to do so: it is his own fault. For God declares in his Word that Christ died for the whole world; that he offers pardon to all; that the Spirit operates on all; confirming by an oath that he has no pleasure in the death of sinners. Every invitation of the gospel either promises or implies aid by the Divine Spirit. The plan of the Bible is grace and duty. God calls (grace); sinners hearken diligently (duty); God reproves (grace); sinners turn (duty); God pours out his Spirit (grace); sinners resist not the light, but improve it (duty); God makes known his Word, or reveals the plan of salvation (grace); God invites (grace); wicked men, forsake your ways (duty), your thoughts (duty), and turn to the Lord (duty), and God will have mercy on you (grace), and God will abundantly pardon (grace).'
In Chap. IX., Of Free Will, the first three and the fifth sections are retained with an addition at the close of Sect. 3, 'without Divine aid.' In the fourth section the last words, 'but [the sinner] doth also will that which is evil,' are omitted.
In Chap. X., Of Effectual Calling, the fourth section is omitted, and the third section concerning infant salvation is liberalized and made to embrace all infants as follows:
|CUMBERLAND CONFESSION, CHAP. X.||WESTMINSTER CONFESSION, CHAP. X.|
|III. All infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,21772177Luke xviii. 15, 16; Acts ii. 38, 39. who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth;21782178John iii. 8. so also are others who have never had the exercise of reason, and who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.||III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,21792179Luke xviii. 15, 16; Acts ii. 38, 39; John iii. 3, 5; 1 John v. 12; Rom. viii. 9. who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.21802180John iii. 8. So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.218121811 John v. 12; Acts iv. 12.|
In Chap. XI., Of Justification, Sect. 1, 'Those whom God effectually calleth,' is changed into 'Those whom God calleth (and who obey the call)' In Sect. 4, 'God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,' is changed into 'God, before the foundation of the world, determined to justify all true believers.'774
|CUMBERLAND CONFESSION.||WESTMINSTEB CONFESSION.|
|Chapter XVII.—The Perseverance of the Saints.||Chapter XVII.—Of the Perseverance of the Saints.|
|I. They whom God hath justified and sanctified he will also glorify;21822182Rom. viii. 38, 39. consequently, the truly regenerated soul will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.21832183John iii. 16; x. 28, 29; Phil. i. 6.||I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.21842184Phil. i. 6; 2 Pet. i. 10; John x. 28, 29; 1 John iii. 9; 1 Pet. i. 5, 9; [Am. ed. Job xvii. 9].|
|II. This perseverance depends on the unchangeable love and power of God;218521852 Tim. ii. 19; Jer. xxxi. 3; 1 Pet. i. 5. the merits, advocacy,218621861 John ii. 1. and intercession of Jesus Christ;21872187Heb. vii. 25; x. 10, 14. the abiding of the Spirit and seed of God within them;21882188John xiv. 16, 17; 1 John iii. 9. and the nature of the covenant of grace;21892189Jer. xxxii. 40; Heb. viii. 10; x. 16, 17. from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.21902190Job xvii. 9; John xvii. 21, 22; 1 John ii. 19; 2 Thess. iii. 3; Zeph. iii. 17; Mal. iii. 6; Numb. xxii. 19;Rom. v. 9; 2 Cor. i. 21, 22; John iv. 14; Psa. xii. 5; John xvii. 12; 1 Cor. i. 8, 9.||II. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free-will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father;219121912 Tim. ii. 18, 19: Jer. xxxi. 3. upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ;21922192Heb. x. 10, 14; xiii. 20, 21; ix. 12–15; Rom. viii. 33–39; John xvii. 11, 24; Luke xxii. 32; Heb. vii. 25. the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them;21932193John xiv. 16, 17; 1 John ii. 27; iii. 9. and the nature of the covenant of grace:21942194Jer. xxxii. 40; [Am. ed. Heb. viii. 10-12]. from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.21952195John x. 28; 2 Thess. iii. 3; 1 John ii. 19; [Am. ed. 1 Thess. v. 23, 24].|
|III. Although there are examples in the Old Testament of good men having egregiously sinned, and some of them continuing for a||III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them,|
|time therein;219621962 Sam. xii. 9, 13, 14. yet now, since life and immortality are brought clearer to light by the gospel,219721972 Tim. i. 10. and especially since the effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost,21982198Luke xxiv. 49; Acts ii. 4. we may not expect the true Christian to fall into such gross sins.21992199Acts xvii. 30, 31; Matt. xi. 11. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan, the world, and the flesh, the neglect of the means of grace, fall
into sin, and incur God's displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit;22002200Eph. iv. 30; Rev. ii. 4. come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, and have their consciences wounded; but the real Christian
can never rest satisfied therein.22012201 Note.—To this section the following note is attached in the official edition:
'This doctrine, although it is certainly supported by incontestable proof from the Word of God, as well as by the reason and nature of the union between Christ and his people, yet, like all other truths, has been and may be perverted. The idea of eternal justification and consequent perseverance is unscriptural: the way perseverance is insisted on by some preachers in connection with the preceding parts of their sermons is certainly dangerous. Example: First preach a superficial experience, then make a great many more allowances for weakness and wickedness, stumbling, straying, etc., than God's Word admits, then press perseverance, and you have the formalist or hypocrite confirmed.
'On the other hand, press the doctrines of final apostasy, if the creature does not so and so, making the perseverance of the creature depend chiefly upon his doings: you raise in the mind of the unregenerate professor the fear of hell, as a high excitement to duty; confirm him in his legality; prepare his mind, indirectly at least, to give glory to himself for his perseverance; settle him down in a self-confident and deplorable situation. What God's Word hath joined together, let not his ministers put asunder; but first let them give a clear, definite description of the new birth, and then let them press the doctrine of heart and practical holiness as the sure consequence ("For by their fruit ye shall know them"), and daily evidences (not the cause) of that gracious state which will insure their final perseverance.
'Then this true and comfortable doctrine will not be perverted, neither will it have a tendency to licentiousness in him "whom the love of Christ constraineth," or the real Christian: no, he serves and desires to serve God with more zeal, and from pure evangelical principles, still laying the foundation in his own mind, and cherishing the principle of ascribing all the glory to God for his conversion, his perseverance, and his final and complete redemption.'
|and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins;22022202Matt. xxvi. 70, 72, 74. and for a time continue therein:22032203Psa. li. title and verse 14; [Am. ed. 2 Sam. xii. 9, 13]. whereby they incur God's displeasure,22042204Isa. lxiv. 5, 7, 9; 2 Sam. xi. 27. and grieve his Holy Spirit;22052205Eph. iv. 30. come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts;22062206Psa. li. 8, 10, 12; Rev. ii. 4; Cant. v. 2, 3, 4, 6. have their hearts hardened,22072207Isa. xxxvi. 17; Mark vi. 52; xvi. 14; [Am. ed. Psa. xcv. 8]. and their consciences wounded;22082208Psa. xxxii. 3, 4; li. 8. hurt and scandalize others,220922092 Sam. xii. 14. and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.22102210Psa. lxxxix. 31, 32; 1 Cor. xi. 32.|
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