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TRIUNE, ETERNAL, AND TRUE GOD, FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST.
WE believe and confess with the Holy Scriptures, that there is an only, eternal and true God, who is a Spirit. One God, who created heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is therein. Such a God, whom heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot comprehend. Whose throne is heaven and earth his footstool; who measures "the waters in the hollow of his hand;" who spanneth the heavens; who comprehendeth the dust of the earth in a measure, and weigheth the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance; who is as high as heaven, deeper than hell, lower than earth and broader than the sea; "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see;" who is an Almighty, powerful and an over‑ruling King, in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; whose strength, hand and power none can withstand. A "God of Gods, and a Lord of Lords;" there is none like unto him, but he is a mighty, holy, terrible, praiseworthy, wonderful, and consuming fire; whose kingdom, power, dominion, majesty and glory is eternal, and shall endure forever, and besides this only, eternal, living, Almighty over‑ruling God and Lord we know no other; and since he is a Spirit so great, terrible, and invisible, he is also inexpressible, incomprehensible and indescribable, as may be deduced and understood from the following Scriptures, Deut. 4:35; 6:4; 7:6; 10:17; 32:39; Jn. 4:24; 1:18; Gen. 1:1; Ps. 33:6; Col. 1:18; Isa. 43:11; 44:6; 48:13; 40:12; Job 11:8; 1 Tim. 6:16; Eccl. 1:7; Matt. 11:27; Rev. 17:14; 19:16; Heb. 12:29; 1:8, 10.
This only, eternal, Omnipotent, ineffable, invisible, inexpressible and indescribable God, we believe and confess with the Scriptures, to be the eternal, incomprehensible Father, with his eternal, incomprehensible Son, and with his eternal, incomprehensible Holy Spirit. The Father, we believe and confess to be a true Father, the Son, a true Son, and the Holy Spirit, a true Holy Spirit; not carnal and comprehensible, but spiritual and incomprehensible, for Christ says, "God is a Spirit." Inasmuch as God is such a Spirit, as it is written, therefore we also believe and confess of the divine generation of the heavenly Father, and of his begotten Son, Christ Jesus (brethren, understand my writing well), that they are spiritual and incomprehensible, as is also the Father who begat them; for like begets like: This is incontrovertible, Matt. 3:17; 28:18, 19; Mark 1:7, 11; Luke 3:16; Jn. 14:9; 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:11. And this same incomprehensible, inexpressible, spiritual, eternal, divine Being, which is begotten of the Father, before every creature, divine and incomprehensible, we believe and confess to be Christ Jesus, the first and only begotten Son of God. "the first‑born of‑every creature," the eternal Wisdom, the power of God, the everlasting Light, the eternal Truth, the everlasting Life, Jn. 14:6, the eternal Word, Jn. 1:1. Do not understand this as a literal word; for it is divine and spiritual, and not carnal and literal; for a literal word is but a passing breeze, comprehended in the letter, beginning and ceasing; and then, Christ Jesus, before his incarnation, must have been a literal word. O, no! But he is the eternal, wise, Almighty, holy, true, living and incomprehensible Word, which in the beginning was 183with God, and was God (mark), by whom all things were made, and without whom not any thing was made that was made, and which will endure forever. And therefore he says, "Before Abraham was I am." Again John the baptist says, "After me cometh one who was before me," John 1:1, 15; 3:36; 8:12; Luke 7:29, 35; 1 Cor. 1:9; Heb. 1:2. Yea he had this glory of the divine being with the Father, before the foundation of the world was laid. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, his Father; therefore, we confess with John the Baptist, Nathaniel, Martha, and Peter that he is the Son of the living God, Jn. 1; 17; Phil. 2; Matt. 16:16, Jn. 11:27; 9:37; 6:69.
Dearly beloved brethren understand me rightly. He is the eternal Wisdom, the eternal Power. For, as we believe and confess that the Father was from eternity and will eternally remain; yea, that he is the First and the Last, so we may also freely believe and confess that his wisdom, his power, his light, his truth, his life, his Word, Christ Jesus, has been eternally with him, in him and by him; yea, that he is the Alpha and Omega; or else, we must admit that this begotten, incomprehensible, true, divine being, Christ Jesus (whom the fathers have called a person), through whom the eternal Father has made all things, has had a beginning like a creature; which all true christians admit and look upon as a terrible blasphemy, curse and abomination. The gracious, beloved Father will ever protect and uphold all his beloved children in the right and true confession of his beloved Son Jesus Christ.
Beloved brethren in the Lord, we believe and confess that this same eternal, wise, Almighty, holy, true, living and incomprehensible Word, Christ Jesus, which in the beginning was with God, and which was God, incomprehensible‑born of the incomprehensible Father, before every creature, is in the fullness of time, become, according to the unchangeable purpose and true promise of the Father, a true, visible, passive, hungry, thirsty and mortal man, in Mary, the pure virgin, through the operation and overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and is thus born of her. Yea, that he was like unto us in all things except sin; that he grew up as other men; and at the appointed time was baptized and entered upon his ministerial office, the office of grace and love, which was enjoined upon him from the Father, and which he obediently fulfilled; that he effaced the hand writing, that is, the law, against us; and has at last, through the eternal Spirit of his heavenly Father, offered himself in this his human flesh, nature and weakness, in which, also, he has sighed, wept, and prayed unto the Father, has sweated water and blood, and thus purified our hearts of the deadly works, that we should serve the true and living God; and all who believe on him, have received, through him grace, mercy, remission of sins, and eternal life; and that, by means of his precious blood which he has, in his great love, offered and shed for us poor sinners on the cross, according to the good pleasure of the Father, he is thus become our only and eternal High Priest, Reconciler, Mercy‑seat, Mediator, and Advocate, with God his Father. For, as God, the Almighty Father, through his Almighty Word, Christ Jesus, had created Adam and Eve, so he, also, would again thereby restore them and make them pious, when seducted by the serpent, together with all their descendants‑that we should give no one the praise of our salvation, neither in heaven nor on earth, but to the only and eternal Father, through Christ Jesus, and that through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. This is sufficient of the incarnation, Matt. 1:16, 25; 5:4; Mark 15:37; Luke 2:7, 40; 22:67; 23:46; Jn. 15:9, 10; 12:13; 11:26; Phil. 2:5, 7; Col. 2:14, 12; 1:13, 16; Heb. 3:2; Eph. 2:12; 1:7; Rom. 8:32; 3:24, 25; 5:11, 12; Isa. 53:12; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:14.
Further, beloved brethren, we believe and confess Christ Jesus to be the true God with the Father; and this because of the divine glory, operation and attributes, which are found in such abundance with him, as may be clearly deduced and understood from the following Scriptures. Say, beloved! Is it not the only and true God who has made heaven and earth, and whose kingdom shall endure forever? Doubtlessly, yes. Paul says, "Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, 184O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, above thy fellows. And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands," Heb. 1:8, 9, 10.
Is it not the only God, who alone is "King of kings, and Lord of lords?" and who reigns in heaven and on earth? Most assuredly. And the Spirit speaks in Rev., that Christ is "King of kings and Lord of lords." Christ himself says, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Paul says, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord," Phil. 2:10.
Is it not the only God who saith, "I the Lord, the first and with the last; I am he?" Isa. 41:4. And Christ says, "I am Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come; the Almighty." And "Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore," Rev. 1:8, 17, 18.
Is not this the only God who "trieth the hearts and reins?" Without doubt it is. Christ saith, "All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works," Rev. 2:23.
Is it not the only God, whom alone we should serve and worship? Yes. Christ says, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." Of divine service Paul says, "He that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God," and "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ," Rom. 14:18; 1 Cor. 4:1.
Paul was a servant of Christ, as may be generally seen at the commencement of all his epistles. Of his worship Luke says, that when Christ had ascended to heaven they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem. Also Stephen, in his last prayer, says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Paul also saith, "Let all the angels of God worship him," also the murderer on the cross, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom," Acts 7:68; Heb. 1:6; Luke 23:42; 24:52. Is it not the only God which is true; and every man a liar? Oh, yes. The prophet says, "There was not any deceit in his mouth." Christ himself says, "I am the truth," "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth," Ps. 116:11; Rom. 3:4; Isa. 63:9; Jn. 14:6; 18:37.
Can any one forgive sins and bestow everlasting life except the only and eternal God? O, no! Christ says, "Know that the son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins;" and, to the sinful woman, "Thy sins are forgiven." "I give unto them eternal life," Ps. 103:3; Matt. 9:6; Luke 7:48; Jn. 10:28.
Is it not the only God who is the judge of all the world? who will raise the dead and at the last day sit in judgment? Assuredly, yes. And Christ says, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." "He was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead;" and at his coming he will judge and sentence, Jn. 5:21; Acts 10:42; Matt. 26:31-46.
Behold, beloved brethren, as the throne of Christ is an eternal throne, and as the Scriptures are not ashamed to confess him to be God, and also testify that he founded heaven and earth, that he has all power in heaven and on earth; that he is the first and last; that he searcheth the hearts and reins; whom we should serve and worship; who is truth; who forgives sin, and bestows eternal life; in whom we must believe, and who at the last day will raise us from the dead and judge us, as has been said; so it is incontrovertible that Christ Jesus also with his Father, must be the true God; for God gives his glory to none other; and these are all glories, powers and attributes which belong to no one in heaven nor upon earth, except alone, the only, eternal, and 185true God; this all taught of God, must fully admit and confess.
Besides, beloved brethren, we believe and confess Christ Jesus, with his heavenly Father, to be truly God; and that because of the plain testimony of the holy prophets; evangelists and apostles, as we may learn from the following Scriptures, and also from some other texts. Isaiah says, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace," Isa. 9:6. Again, " Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him! Behold, his reward is with him and his work before him; he shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young," Isa. 40:9‑11. Read also Ezek. 34:11.
Jeremiah says, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGIHTEOUSNESS ," Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:15.
Micah says, "But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting," Micah 5:2. Read also Heb. 7:3, 4; Isa. 44:6; Rev. 1:8; 22:13. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," Jn. 1:1. The Lord said unto Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord, and my God! Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed," Jn. 20:27‑29.
Paul says, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood;" "Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came; who is over all, God blessed for ever." Again, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 2 Cor. 5:19. Read also John 14; Col. 22; 1 Tim. 3. Again, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant," Phil. 2:6.
John says, "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life," 1 Jn. 5:20. Besides, read the whole gospel of John and 1 Cor. 10:15; Eph. 4; Heb. 1:3; 7; 11; 12; 13; and you will, by the grace of God, find a sure and firm foundation.
Behold, faithful brethren, here you have the incomprehensible birth of Christ, his divine glory, operation and power; and a number of precious and plain testimonies of the holy prophets, evangelists and apostles, all of whom with an invincible power, testify and point out, with such clearness, the true, ineffable divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am convinced and doubt not the least, that a pious, humble, God‑fearing conscience will herewith be satisfied, and not search into this incomprehensible depth any further; and if any one desires to search and dispute further, to him I prophesy that he will surely search and dispute all his lifetime, and yet never have a settled mind nor a firm foundation. Therefore, beloved brethren, be warned. Watch and beware.
As we have now pointed out and made known our faith and confession of the true divinity of Jesus Christ; so we will also, now, by the grace of God, set forth in few words, our faith and confession of the Holy Ghost. Let the God fearing judge. We believe and confess the Holy Ghost to be a true, real, or personal Holy Ghost; and that in a divine way‑even as the Father is 186a true Father, and the Son a true Son; which Holy Ghost is a mystery to all mankind, incomprehensible, inexpressible and indescribable (as we have shown above of the Father and the Son); divine with his divine attributes, going forth from the Father through the Son, although he ever remains with God and in God, and is never separated from the being of the Father and the Son. And the reason that we confess him to be such a true and real Holy Spirit, is because we are impelled to this by the Scriptures, for he descended upon Christ at his baptism in the bodily shape of a dove, and appeared unto the apostles as cloven tongues like as of fire; because we are baptized in his name as well as in the name of the Father and of the Son; because the prophets through him, prophesied, performed miracles and works, had dreams and saw visions; for he is a distributer of the gifts of God, and that according to his will. Mark well. He moved Zachariah, the Son of Barachiah, he moved John the Baptist while yet in his mother's womb, and he said to Simeon, "That he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." "The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul." And to Peter, "Behold, three men seek thee." He guides us into all truth; he justifies us; he cleanses, sanctifies, pacifies, consoles, reproves, cheers and assures us; he testifies to our spirit that we are the children of God. This Spirit all receive who believe on Christ; Paul admonishes us, not to grieve him. Whosoever sins against this Spirit (says Christ), unto him it shall not be forgiven. David desired that God might not take from him this Spirit, for all that have not this spirit are not of Christ, Acts 2:26; Luke 3:22; John 1:33; Acts 2:3; Zech. 7:12; Jude 14; Joel 2:29; 2 Cor. 12:4; Luke 2:25; Acts 13:2; 10:19; Jn. 14:26; 15:26; Eph. 4:30; Rom. 8:16; Matt. 8:13; Ps. 51:11; Rom. 8:9. Yea, my brethren, from these plain Scriptures, testimonies and references, and a great many other texts which are too lengthy to mention, and which may be found in abundance in the Scriptures and read, we believe [the [Holy Spirit to be the true, essential Holy Spirit of God, who adorns us with his heavenly and divine gifts, and through his inspirations, according to the good pleasure of the Father, frees us from sin, makes us cheerful, peaceful, pious, satisfies our hearts and minds, and makes them holy in Christ Jesus. And thus we believe and confess before God, before his angels, before all our brethren, and before all the world, that these three names, operations and powers, namely, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (which the fathers called three persons, by which they meant the three, true, divine beings) are one incomprehensible, indescribable, Almighty, holy, only, eternal and sovereign God, as John says, "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." Read also Matt. 28:18; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:8; John 14:16; 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:11. And although they are three, yet in Godliness, will, power and operation they are one, and can no more be separated from each other than the sun, brightness and warmth; for the one cannot exist without the other; yet incomprehensible from the incomprehensible Father, even as the brightness and heat of the sun. The one must exist with the other, or else the whole divinity is denied; for all the Father does and has wrought from the beginning, he works through his Son, in the power of his holy and eternal Spirit. This Son does not work without the Father and the Holy Spirit. Neither doeth the Holy Spirit any thing without the Father, and the Son. Therefore the one must remain with the other, or else there must be an imperfect God; for if we deny the divinity of Christ, or the true existence of the Holy Ghost, then we counterfeit and depict unto ourselves a God who is without wisdom, power, light, life, truth, word, and without the Holy Spirit.
Brethren, understand all this in a divine and spiritual sense, and not in a human or carnal manner! Then you will be satisfied with the plain, clear and simple testimony of the prophets, evangelists and apostles, concerning this deep mystery. Let every one see to it with fear and trembling, lest he put his hand in the consuming fire.
Cordially beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus I mark well the following: Since the eternal God is such a great and 187terrible God, as you have read; since Christ was thus born of the Father as said, and as the attributes of God so richly abound in Christ; and, also, as the prophets, evangelists and apostles so strongly declare, preach and teach him as God; and as the Scriptures so abundantly teach and testify of the Holy Spirit and confess that the eternal Father, with his eternal Son and Holy Spirit, in their divine state, power, glory and sovereignty are ineffable, inexpressible and incomprehensible, as may be plainly understood from the cited Scriptures (for it is all Spirit and God, and therefore beyond human understanding); therefore it is that I pray, admonish and desire all my beloved brethren and fellows in Christ Jesus, with all that men can pray, not to allow and consent to flatterings, innovations nor human explanations, be it by whom it may, concerning this incomprehensible majesty; ever fearing, ye who seek God, with all your powers, that ye do not, by such high soaring thoughts and human conjecture, mistake the ineffable God who makes all human wisdom, which is contrary to him, foolishness; lest ye, through your vain searching and musing of such unfathomable matters, fall into his hands, and be consumed by the fire of his wrath.
Brethren, I, for myself confess that I would rather die than to believe, and teach unto my brethren, a single word or letter concerning the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (behold, before God I lie not), differing from the express, testifying word of God which so clearly points out and teaches through the prophets, evangelists and apostles.
O, my pious, God fearing, faithful brethren! Let us all, one with another, be thus minded; then the desolated cities may be again rebuilt; the strong may remain firm; the wavering be again strengthened; and thus peace, love, and unity be again restored. I know certainly and truly that if any one wants to go further than we here testify and admonish from the word of God, he will fall into error; or mount too high, or deviate from side to side; he will miss the right course and will act no more intelligently than he who would try to pour or confine the river Rhine or Meuse in a quart bottle. But those who abide simply and humbly by the word of God, the testified, prophetical, evangelical and apostolical word, and firmly believe it, although they, neither do nor can fully comprehend it, and take heed to all human investigation, disputations, flatterings, explanations, turning and conjecture in these incomprehensible abysses, will, in all temptations, stand firmly, by the grace of God, and walk all their lives before their God with penitent and cheerful minds. I sincerely wish that all the brethren were of like mind with me in this respect; for I have been at enmity with human sophistry and flattery for fifteen years, and I am still; I expect to remain so, and, by the help of God, to take heed not to offer the blood of the Lord with leaven; but I desire, solely, to enter into the sanctuary of God, that is, into his holy church, with the unleavened bread of the unalloyed word of God, overspread with the oil of the Holy Spirit.
O, brethren! Were they all, who are called brethren, thus minded with me, how soon then would the sad, afflicted hearts find consolation and cheerfulness, and the divided, restless minds unity and peace. O, Lord Jesus! Have mercy upon thy poor, afflicted sheep, and let every hungry and thirsty soul find thy verdant pastures and limpid waters, Amen.
Beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus! Receive this with the same mind with which I have written it to you; read it plainly to all the brethren, and understand it in a christian manner; and beware, beware, yea, BEWARE of all disputation, discord and division. This I desire from my inmost soul, for the Lord's sake. The sincere, evangelical peace be with all my beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, Amen.
Sept. 9th, A. D. 1550. 188
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