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A FUNDAMENTAL AND CLEAR
CONFESSION OF THE POOR, AFFLICTED CHRISTIANS.
HONOURED reader, it is plain and manifest that Adam and Eve, the father and mother of us all, were, in the beginning, created after the image of God by Christ, pure, good, without sin, righteous and incorrupt, as the Scripture teaches, Gen. 1:27; 5:1; 2:7; Acts 17:24; Eccl. 17:9. And that they remained pure and righteous until they sinned against their Creator's word and commandment. For God had said unto them, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;" as also it happened. For as soon as Adam and Eve, deceived by the serpent, ate of the forbidden fruit they became impure, unrighteous, corrupt, of sinful nature, children of death and of the devil; and thus, by their disobedience they lost their being children of God, and the purity in which they were created; and must have forever remained, with all their descendants, in sin, under the curse and servitude of death and devil, if God, the merciful Father whose love endures forever, had not again comforted and raised them up by the promise of Christ whom he promised to send in the future to bruise the Serpent's head; for whose sake he would be gracious unto them, would forgive their transgression, would show them mercy and favor, so far as they should believe.
When Adam and Eve heard these glad tidings of grace, the gospel of peace, from the mouth of the Lord, they joyfully accepted and believed it as the immutable truth of God, anxiously cleaved to it, and consoled themselves therewith as a sure foundation of salvation. And thus Adam and Eve were again accepted of God through Christ Jesus, justified and delivered from the eternal death and curse; for they, according to the promise of God, believed and trusted in him and looked for him in latter days as the Conquerer, Savior and means of grace to eternal reconciliation.
But had they despised this means and not accepted it by faith, they would have suffered eternal death; this is incontrovertible, as Christ himself says, "He that believeth not, is condemned already;" again, John the Baptist says, "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," Jn. 3:18, 36.
As Adam and Eve, then, were bitten and poisoned by the infernal serpent, and became of sinful nature, and would have been subject to eternal death if God had not again accepted them in grace through Christ Jesus, so we, their descendants, are also born of sinful nature of them, poisoned by the serpent, inclined to evil, and by inherent sin, children of hell, of the devil and everlasting death; and cannot be delivered therefrom (we speak of those who have come to years of understanding, and hence to sinful works) unless we accept Christ Jesus the only and eternal means of grace, by true and unfeigned faith, and thus conscientiously look upon the brazen serpent which is erected by God, our heavenly Father, as a sign of salvation; for without him there is no help for our souls, no reconciliation nor peace; but disgrace, wrath and eternal death can only be expected, as was said before. But those who accept this Christ by a true faith which, according to the doctrine of Paul, was given us of the Father for the purpose of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and deliverance, are 261in grace for Christ's sake, and God is their Father; for by faith they are born of him; he forgives them all their sins; has compassion on all their human failings and weaknesses; turns them from the curse, wrath and eternal death; accepts them as his beloved children, and gives them Christ Jesus, together with all his merits, fastings, prayers, tears, sufferings, tribulation, cross, blood and death; besides, also, his Spirit, inheritance, kingdom, glory, joy and life; not, we say, by our own merits and works, but by grace through Christ Jesus, as Paul says, "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loves us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them," Eph. 2:4‑10.
Behold, kind reader, thus we do not seek our salvation in works, words or sacraments, as do the learned, although they blame us therefore, but we seek them alone in Christ Jesus and in no other means in heaven or earth. In this only means we rejoice and in no other. We trust, by the grace of God, to abide therein unto death.
But that we abhor the carnal works and desire to suit ourselves to his word and commandment, according to our weakness, we do because he has so taught and commanded us. For, whosoever does not walk according to his doctrine, proves in fact, that he does not believe on him nor knows him, and that he is not in the communion of the saints, 1 Jn. 3:10; 5:10; 2 Jn. 1:6.
All those, now, who accept this means of divine grace, Jesus Christ, with believing hearts, and enclose him in their consciences, believe and confess that their sins are forgiven through his sacrifice, death, and blood; that his wrath and damnation will not be upon them forever; that he accepts them as his beloved sons and daughters, and gives them life eternal. All such become of peaceable and joyous spirit, and give thanks to God, with renewed hearts; for the power of faith quickens and changes them into newness of life, and they walk thus, by the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit in the power of their new birth, according to the measure of their faith, in obedience to their God who has shown them such great love; they diligently watch lest they fall from the grace and favor of God by licentiousness and ungodliness. They acknowledge by the Scriptures that Adam and Eve, the antediluvian world, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the patriarchs in the wilderness were severely punished of God on account of their sins; that the wages of sin is death; and that, also, Christ Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God who knew no sin, was so deeply humiliated and tortured on account of our sinfulness, Gen. 3:7; 19:9, 10; Lev. 10:1‑4; Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 1:19.
Inasmuch as they believe the word of the Lord which says, that to be carnally minded is death‑if thou livest according to the flesh thou shalt die‑adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, the avaricious, proud, liars, &c., shall not inherit the kingdom of God‑and besides, believe that God is truth; that none can be saved contrary to his word; that he will judge in accordance with his word, because he is truth and cannot lie, as the Scriptures testify, Rom. 8:6, 13; 1 Cor. 5:10; 6:10; Gal. 6:21; Eph. 6:5; Rev. 22:15; therefore it is that they sincerely fear the Lord, and by fear die unto their flesh, crucify their lusts and desires, and shun and abhor the unclean, ungodly works which are contrary to the word of the Lord.
Besides this they acknowledge the abundant grace, favor and love of God towards us, as shown in Christ Jesus, and therefore, in return they love their God, for he first loved us, and stand prepared by this love to obey, in their weakness, his holy word, will, commandments, advice, doctrine and ordinances, according to the talent received; and thus they show, in fact, that they believe, they are born of God, and are spiritually minded; they lead a pious, unblamable life before all men; suffer themselves to 262be baptized according to the commandment of the Lord, as proof that they bury their sins in the death of Christ, and are prepared to walk with him in newness of life; they break the bread of peace with their beloved brethren as proof and testimony that they are one in Christ and his holy church and that they have, or know no other means of grace and remission of their sins, neither in heaven nor in earth, than the innocent flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ alone, which he once, by his eternal Spirit in obedience to the Father, sacrificed and shed upon the cross for us poor sinners; they walk in all love and mercy, and serve their neighbors. In short, they suit themselves, in their weakness, to all words, commandments, ordinances, Spirit, rule, example and measure of Christ, as the Scripture teaches; for they are in Christ and Christ is in them; and therefore they live no longer in the old life of sin after the first earthly Adam (weakness excepted), but in the new life of righteousness which comes by faith, after the second and heavenly Adam, Christ; Paul says, I do not now live, "But Chris, liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," Gal. 2:20. Christ says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," Jn. 14:15.
Think not beloved reader, that we boast of being perfect and without sins. Not at all. I for myself confess that often my prayer is mixed with sin and my righteousness with unrighteousness; for by the grace of God I feel, by the unction which is in me, when I compare my weak nature to Christ and his commandments, what kind of a flesh I inherited from Adam. Yea, if God should judge us according to our worthiness, righteousness, works and merits, and not according to his great goodness and mercy, then I confess with holy David that no man could stand before his judgment, Ps. 143:2; 130:3. Therefore it should be far from us that we should console ourselves with any thing but the grace of God through Christ Jesus; for it is he, alone, and none other, who has perfectly fulfilled the righteousness required by God. We are also aware, by the grace of God, that all saints, from the beginning, have lamented the corruption of their flesh, as may be seen by the writings of Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, Paul, James and John.
But for Christ's sake we are in grace; for his sake we are heard; and for his sake our failings and transgressions, which are committed involuntarily, are remitted. For it is he who stands between his Father and his imperfect children, with his perfect righteousness, and with his innocent blood and death; and intercedes for all those who believe on him and who strive by faith in the divine word, to turn from evil, follow that which is good and who sincerely desire, with Paul, that they may attain the perfection which is in Christ, Phil. 3:12.
Mark, beloved reader, that we do not believe nor teach that we are to be saved by our merits and works, as the envious accuse us of without truth; but that we are to be saved solely by grace, through Christ Jesus, as has been said before. By grace man was created, through Christ Jesus, Gen. 1:27.
By grace he was again accepted through Christ when he was lost. By grace Christ was sent to us of the Father, Jn. 3:34. By grace he has sought the lost sheep, Luke 15:4, taught them repentance and remission of sins. Died for us when we were yet ungodly, and enemies, Rom. 5:6; by grace we receive faith. By grace the Holy Ghost was given us, in the name of Jesus, Jn. 14:16. In short, by grace we receive eternal life through Christ Jesus, Rom. 6:8.
Behold, kind reader, this is, concerning this article of our faith and confession, namely: That we can not obtain salvation, grace, reconciliation nor peace of the Father, otherwise than through Christ Jesus, as he himself says, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me," Jn. 14:6. Peter also says, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" than the name of Jesus; and that all those who accept this grace in Christ, preached by the gospel and accepted by a firm faith, and cordially adhered to by the power of the Holy Ghost through faith, and become new men, born of God; changed in their hearts, renewed and of a different mind; yea, transferred from Adam unto Christ; and thus walk in newness of life, as obedient 263children, in the grace which is manifested unto them; for they are renewed; have become humble minded, meek, merciful, compassionate, peaceable, patient, hungry and thirsty after righteousness; they strive firmly by good works after eternal life, for they are believing, born of God, are in Christ and Christ in them; they are partakers of his Spirit and nature, and thus live according to the word of the Lord by the power of Christ which is in them. And this is, according to Scripture, to be believing; to be a christian; and to be in Christ and Christ in us.
Again, that all those who disregard this preached grace and do not accept Christ Jesus by faith; who reject his holy word, will, commandments and ordinances, and hate and persecute them; who live according to their lusts and licentiously, are lost, and that it will avail them nothing before the Lord to boast of their faith, new creature, Christ's grace, death and blood; for they do not believe; they remain in their first birth, namely, unchanged in their earthly, corrupted nature, impenitent, carnally minded, nay, utterly without Spirit, Word and Christ; and therefore are children of death, as Scripture teaches; for they know not Christ in whom is life, as John says, "This is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and that this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life," 1 Jn. 5:11, 12.
Behold, worthy reader, this now is our foundation and confession of justification, as you have here read. Judge for yourself whether the preachers act rightly in so slanderously belying us, saying that we expect to be saved by our merits and works; and that we boast to be without sin.
May the Lord forgive them that they so fiendishly belie us with such shameful lies. O, that these miserable men would once take to heart that the backbiters, slanderers and liars are of the devil and worthy of death; that God abhors all liars; that they shall have no part in his kingdom; and that a lying mouth killeth the soul, Jn. 8:44; Rom. 1:32; Ps. 6:7; Rev. 21:27; 22:16.
This, I say, is our foundation, and, by the grace of God, it will ever remain our foundation, for we truly know and confess that it is the invincible word and truth of the Lord; therefore we testify before you and before all the world that we do not agree with those who teach and institute a dead faith, which they gather from profane history: First, that without change, there can be Spirit, power and fruits. Secondly, that we can be saved by our own merits and works, for reasons above stated.
May the merciful, gracious Father, through his beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, grant us all the gift of his Holy Spirit, that we may sincerely believe and confess this beforementioned grace in and through Christ; and that we may walk and abide therein firmly and faithfully unto the end, to the eternal praise and glory of God, Amen.
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