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AN ACCOUNT OF TIDE. HOLY BAPTISM
IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
SUMMARY OF BAPTISM IN THE SIXTEENTH
[The controversy of the so called clergy the cause, in this century, that the Anabaptists increased the more, which forms the beginning of this account.
In the meantime, the difference is shown, between the old Waldenses and the apostate Hussites, respecting the article of holy baptism.
The Waldenses in Hungary were now, in the year 1507, greatly persecuted; concerning whom it is stated, that they led an innocent life; and it is also declared that in their confession, which they delivered this year, as well as in their defense, in the year 1508, nothing at all is said about infant baptism.
Ludovicus Vives is introduced, for the year 1521, who, commenting on Augustine, says: That formerly the adults alone were admitted to baptism, and that even in his time said practice was still maintained in some cities of Italy.
Two articles of the old Waldenses are related, one of which is against the pope, the other on holy baptism.
For the year 1540, mention is made of the churches in Thessalonica, who were said to have remained unchanged in faith from the time of the apostles, and agree with the Anabaptists. From two different authors particulars corroborating the matter of said Thessalonian churches are givenfrom the testimony of other writers and credible memoirs.
In a note it is shown, that in Thessalonica alone the Christians have more than thirty churches, or meetinghouses, while the Turks have only three.
D. Vicecomes mentions the time when the Thessalonian Christians administered baptism.
We then proceed to some confessors who lived and were put to death in the time of our fathers; some good and wholesome testimonies regarding this article, left by them as Thomas van Imbrmck, A. D. 1558; Jacob de Roore, A. D. 1569; John Wouters van Kuyck, A. D. 1572, Christian Gastayger, A. D. 1586; Bartholomew Panten, A. D. 1592. Finally, about A. D. 1600, an entire confession of faith follows, such as has been believed and practiced for many years, by those called Mennists.
With this we conclude the whole account of holy baptism and Christian worship in those times.]
It is now our purpose to fulfill the promise we made in the preceding part, and to this end have come here, namely, to show also in this century, that the distinguishing mark of the believers, that is, baptism according to the institution of Christ, was at this time also correctly taught, practiced and maintained, by those who may be called orthodox believers; notwithstanding said article had to suffer much opposition, violence and molestation, and this not only from the papists (who, however, have nearly always opposed it), but also from other persuasions who had abhorred the doctrine of the papists in many other points, and with fear and terror had fled from the Roman church, as from a confused Babel.
However, all this, instead of obscuring the truth, tended only to illuminate and glorify it the more, just as gold when contrasted with copper, the mountain's height with the deep valley, and the light of day with the darkness of night, can be distinguished the more plainly; also the praiseworthy commended, and the contemptible contemned. This was the case at that time, not only with the assailed truth, but also with those who defended it, as shall be related and proven in the sequel.
Jacob Mehrning's History of Baptism, making mention of the sixteenth century, that is the time from A. D. 1500 until A. D. 1600, begins with these words: Page 772 "At this time there arose, principally in Germany, a most severe persecution against the old Waldenses and .their followers, through the violent controversy of the, so called clergy, and the disputations waged against them by the pens of the learned." [The Waldenses] in consequence of this, however, gained far more Anabaptists (namely Baptists); than there had ever before, in any country, been seen.
This indicates that the old orthodox Waldenses, notwithstanding the severe persecutions, existed also at this time, yea, insomuch that now they increased more than ever before.
But this was also the century in .whichLuther in Germany, Zwingli in Switzerland, and afterwards Calvin in France, began to reform the Roman chLr, h; and to deny, oppose and contend with the authority of God's holy Word against the supposed power of the Roman Pope, and many papal superstitions, however, in order to avoid too great dissatisfaction, as it seems, they remained in the matter of infant baptism, in agreement with the Roman church, though they abandoned many incidents which the papists observe at the baptism of infants, such as the salt, spittle, exorcism, and the like.
They also have retained with the papists, the swearing of oaths, the office of secular authority, war against enemies, and sometimes also against each other, etc., of which things the old Waldenses had purified themselves, and would have no communion with any who would practice these things. Hence, we will leave them, and turn to our fellow believers.
It is true, that already before the beginning of this century, some of the Waldenses had united with the Hussites, apparently in the confidence, that with the doctrine, these would also follow the meekness of their former teacher, John Huss. But when said Hussites would retain infant baptism, and avenge the death of their teacher, yea, began to wage a bloody war against those who had put him to death, those who had united with them found themselves greatly deceived, and left them, not daring to trust their salvation with such people; some, however, though few, remained with them. Thus the Waldenses returned for the most part to their old brethren, but the Hussites were received by the Lutherans, Zwinglians and Calvinists, who, with them approved of infant baptism and war.
But since, some Waldenses had united with the Hussites before the apostasy of the latter, and some though few, .had still remained with them, it came that said Hussites received, though erroneously, the name of Waldenses. Hence it originated, that they had a mixed confession of faith, which was partly conformable to the old confession of the Waldenses, and party adulterated with innovations or human institutions. For example, the article of the holy baptism of these Hussites reads as follows: "The faith which God has given us, constrains us to believe and confess such things respecting baptism, which is the first sacrament
Whoever, now, in adult age, has become believing through the hearing of the Word of God, by which he; being regenerated and enlightened in his soul, has received power, such an one is bound to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, into the unity of the holy church, by an external washing of water, in token of his inward purification obtained through faith."
(So far this article accords with the confession of,the old Waldenses; ,but what follows it, is held to have been added by said Hussites. )
"This our confession extends also to infants, who, according to the command of the apostles, as Dionysius writes, must be baptized, and afterwards, through the wise direction of their sponsors, who are taught in the law of Christ, be guided, or urged and trained to the life of faith, that is, to worthily practice the faith."
We see here, a great departure of these Hussites, who have added to the old rule of the Waldenses, which is confirmed by the authority of holy Scripture (namely, to baptize upon faith), a new rule, namely, to baptize also infants, and for proof of this, adduce not the testimony of Christ or His holy apostles, but of one Dionysius, who never was an apostle or teacher of Christ, but a fallible man.
And still, the preacher Mellinus would make the readers of his book believe, 2d book, page 614, Col: 3, that this last part was also the confession of the Waldenses; but the contrary is evident, as previously stated; yea, according to his own account, fol: 446, col. 1, the Waldenses, A. D. 1544, forty years after the Hussites, whom he calls Bohemian brethren, made the above article, issued a confession and delivered it in the parliament of the King of France, in. which, where speaking of baptism, they make no mention at all of any baptizing of infants; but the work of the Hussites, according to the account of said preacher, is said to have originated A. D. 1504. Compare fol. 611, col. 1, with f al. 614, Col. 3.
A. D. 1507 "In this year," writes P. J. Twisck, "the Vaudois, Waldenses, or believers were cruelly persecuted in Hungary, and delivered the confession of their faith, together with an apology, to
Uladislaus, King of Bohemia, refuting the calumnies of their enemies, and proving that they had not separated from the Roman church without good reasons. Of these people, papistic writers themselves confess, that they led an innocent and pious life, though they nevertheless cruelly sought to kill and exterminate them." Chron., page 930, col. 2, from Henr. Boxh., fol. 27.
NOTE. Touching the confession which the afore mentioned Waldenses, A. D. 1507, delivered to King Uladislaus, as well as their defense which they delivered A. D. 1508, nothing at all is therein said of infant baptism, though that would have been the proper time to explain themselves in this respect. See A. Mell., fol. 616, col. 1-4, and fol. 617, col. 1-3. As to their confession of the year 1504, which was corrupted or adulterated with human institutions, by the Hussites, we have already spoken.
A. D. 1521. One Ludovicus Vives, of Valencia, commenting on the words of Augustine, in the 27th chapter of the 1st book of the City of God: With what admonition we address the baptized, says "That no one be misled by this passage, [I would state, that] no one was formerly admitted to holy baptism, save he who had attained his years, and understood himself what the holy water signified, and desired to be washed with it; yea, when he desired it a second time or oftener."
Said Vives, in the same place, further declares: "I understand that in some cities of Italy the ancient custom is, to a great extent, still observed."
By this he indicates, that at, as well as before his time, many there did not practice infant baptism; which is the purpose for which we have adduced this passage.
"These apparently were," says H. Montanus, who has noted this, "a remnant from the Waldenses, who were also scattered into different parts of Italy." Nietigh., page 89.
He then states, that in the year 1544 they delivered their confession of faith to Francis I, King of France, but that the following year, said king, through Minerius, miserably fell upon and exterminated them, in accordance with the sentence pronounced against them five years previously, at Aix, in the court of Provence, not far from Italy.
Their faith is further thus described: "That they, according to their ancient custom, did not ,recognize the Pope of Rome, and had always had a pure religion."
Concerning baptism, they professed: "That it is an external visible sign, which signifies to us the renewing of the Spirit, and the mortifying of the members." This confession, in substance, fully agrees with the one which we previously related from jean Paul Perrin, as also, with what Reinerius admonishes, among the articles of their confession, as these were in his time, saying: "That they deemed infant baptism useless." Mont., Nietigh., page 90.
We could expatiate and give more particulars, touching the Waldenses, in confirmation of the faith which they had in common with us, as also, that they confessed said faith until the times of the last martyrs, yea, also, that some of those martyrs proceeded from them; but as it is not our purpose fro fill this book with words, but only to give the pith of the matter, which we think we have done, we will leave it as it is referring it to the judgment of the intelligent and impartial reader.
Before we leave this, we would state that mention is made, in this century, not only of the Waldenses, but also of certain churches in Thessalonica, in Greece, which are declared to have remained unchanged in faith from the time of Christ, and to agree in faith and practice with the Anabaptistic churches, in Switzerland. I will quote the account verbatim, which I have found in regard to this; in a certain tract entitled: The Spectacles, by which the Anabaptists of one faith may see, etc., by a lover of the truth, J. S., printed at Harlem, by Hans Passchiers, van Wesbusch, A. D. 1630.
In the preface, page 10, we read: "Since, my beloved, all the truly pious have a sincere joy and the greatest delight [to know], that many pious people are found upon earth, it has seemed good to me, to acquaint you with a brief testimony that has fallen into my hands:How, in the year 1540, or a little before, certain persons were brought captive by the Turks, from Moravia, to Thessalonica, in Turkey, and sold as slaves; which slaves there became acquainted with the (Thessalonian) Christians. Observing their life and conversation, they said to these Thessalonians, that in Moravia there lived a people who were like them in life and conversation, and were called Anabaptists; which kindled in the Thessalonians a zeal to examine the truth of the matter; and it further happened, as the testimony states," etc.
NOTE. Besides what we have noted concerning the churches at Thessalonica, Balthasar Lydius gives this account: "We will first speak of the Greek churches, who, in great numbers, are under the dominion of the Grand Turk; for in the city of Thessalonica, by the Turks now called Salonick, the Christians or Greeks have more than thirty churches, while the Turks, on the other hand, have only three; and so it is in other places in the vicinity. These churches do not recognize the pope as the general head of the church. This appears from the book of Nilus. Balth 4ydii, 3. Tract. of the Waldenses, Â¢. 33, eol. 1. Nilus de Primatu Papa, p. 48, 51 edit., Wechel, A. D., 1608.
On page 42 of the book referred to above, we read: Brief account how through some Moravians who had been captured by the Turks, and had come to Thessalonica, in Turkey, the Christians at Thessaloniea obtained information that in Moravia there lived fellow believers of theirs, who were there called Anabaptists; and how, in order to as
certain the truth of the matter, they sent three of their brethren to Moravia, in Germany.
"I, the undersigned, testify that in Moravia there lived with me, for the space of three years, a man of our brethren, about a hundred years old named Leonard Knar, who related to me that in his time, when he was a servant in the common house of the common church at Popitz, under the stewart, Hans Fuhrman, three brethren of the church of Thessalonica were sent to Germany to inquire after their fellow believers, who, as they had learned from the prisoners, as stated above, were living in Moravia.
"They first came to Nickelsburg, on the frontier of Hungary, where they went to a priest and inquired after this people. He entered a carriage and rode with these three men to Pausrom, to those who are there called Hutterites, and in the Netherlands, Moravians.
"Having well examined their life and conversation, they discussed with them, in the Latin language, in which they were well versed all the articles of the faith, but found that in three principal articles they did not accord; namely, first in shunning, as this article was maintained by the Hutterites; secondly, in the community of goods, which virtually consists with them more in dominion and servitude, than in equality; thirdly, that they withhold from those who fall away from their communion and leave them the property which they brought in, on account of which these three men parted from them with tears in their eyes, because they had performed such a difficult and laborious journey in vain.
"The same priest then brought them in same place (Pausrom), to the Schwitzer church, who derive their name from Hans Schwitzer, who, through one of their brethren, named John Peck (who, with Hans Fuhrman and twelve other persons, had lain in prison for nine years, in the castle Passau on the Danube, in Bavaria, for the testimony of the faith), discussed in Latin all the articles of their faith. They agreed well in all points, on account of which they being mutually filled with great joy, acknowledged each other as dear brethren, and in token thereof, commemorated together the Lord's Supper, with great gladness, confessing themselves the true church of God. They stated further that the church of God at Thessalonica had remained unchanged in faith from the time of the apostles, and that they still preserved in good condition the letters which the apostle Paul wrote to them with his own hands.
"All this having taken place, they parted in peace, and having commended each other with tears and the kiss of love, into the keeping of the Lord, the brethren journeyed back to Thessalonica.
"One of them who was a tailor by trade, left his shears as a memento in the church at Pausrom.
"This history is not only known to me, but is generally known, not only in Moravia, but also in the upper Palatinate."
The father of this Leonard Knar, who saw and related all this; was elder among the Anabaptists there who now consist of two principal divisions, namely the Hutterites, here in the Netherlands called Moravians, and the Schwitzers here in the Netherlands called Germans, but who were then yet one people. This Elder Leonard Knar ministered to these people in baptism, the Supper and intercessions according to the doctrine of the apostles.
As Leonard was well acquainted with John Peck, the latter orally related to Leonard all that he had discussed with the brethren from Thessalonica.
We mentioned before, that Hans Fuhrman and John Peck, together with twelve other persons, lay imprisoned for nine years in the castle of Passau. From this long confinement they were released through bail furnished by a certain lord of Jamits, who traveled thirty six leagues to release the prisoners by becoming bondsman for them. He had in his town Jamits, a large society of these people living under his protection.
To the above account the following testimony is given, subscribed to .in these words:
"By me, Jacob Meyster, resident at Amsterdam, fled from Moravia, to Poland, A. D. 1620; thence A. D. 1626, to Stettin, in Pomerania, and in the year 1627, to Amsterdam. I acknowledge that this account of Leonard Knar is as related."
Of these things, Jacob Mehrning, of Holstein, gives this account: "Thus we have information, that even at the present day there are brethren and Christians at Thessalonica, who agree with the Mennists in all articles of religion, also in baptism, two of whom were yet in the time of our fathers, with the brethren in Moravia, and then also in the Netherlands, and communed with the brethren, who expressly declared that they still preserved in good condition, at Thessalonica, the originals of St. Paul's two epistles to the Thessalonians. Likewise, that many of their brethren were still living, scattered here and there in Ethiopia, Greece and other oriental countries, as well as other Christians, who, like them, were preserved by God, and remained in the same doctrine, and the. true practice of baptism, constantly from the beginning of the apostles to this time. Bapt. Hist., p. 739.
D. Vicecomes, lib. 1, cap. 23, quotes from Nicephorus Callistus, that in Thessalia baptism was administered only at Easter; on which account many died without baptism.
This harmonizes quite well with the foregoing; namely, that the Thessalonian churches were not accustomed, or at least did not deem it necessary to baptize infants, seeing they waited with baptism a whole year; on the other hand, those who consider infant baptism necessary, frequently dare not postpone it one month, one week, yea, sometimes not one day, on account of the uncertainty of the infant's life; so that they appoint no definite time for infant baptism, as also, if necessity require it, no definite persons; so much that the papists as also the Lutherans allow not only priests or teachers, but also laymen, yea, women to baptize, so that no child may die unbaptized. Anthon. Jac. Babel der Kinderdoopers, printed A. D. 1626, p. 107, 8th chapter, quest. 5, from Bellarm de Baptism, col. 307.
But that the Thessalonian churches had the custom of baptizing only on Easter, that is, once a year came as may be inferred, because they deemed it necessary first to instruct the persons for a long time, almost a year, and to teach them the faith, before they might be baptized; as has been shown from Rupert Tuiciensis, for the year 1124.
NOTE. Notwithstanding we might herewith close our account of Holy Baptism, since not only this article, but all that further belongs to it, has been sufficiently shown, and the known martyrs of our faith and their confessions have been plainly presented in our old book of the martyrs long before this time; yea, already in the year 1524, we nevertheless, in order to satisfy, if this be possible, the critical, will proceed to bring this article to the end of this century, in which the confessions of the martyrs will render us no small service, as will appear.
CONFESSION OF THOMAS VAN IMBR03CK, CON;
A. D. 1558. At this time a God fearing and pious hero of Jesus Christ, named Thomas van Imbroeck, made a most excellent and explicit confession of Holy Baptism, as also a refutation of the opponents, which he delivered to the lords of Cologne, where he was imprisoned for the faith. It reads as follows:.
I believe and confess that there is a Christian baptism, which must take place externally and internally; internally with the Holy Ghost and with fire, externally with water; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Internal baptism is imparted by Christ to the penitent, as John the Baptist said: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I; whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8.
Christ confirms these words when He says to His disciples, "That they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." And this promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Acts 1:4, 5; 2, etc.
But the external baptism of water, which is a witness of the spiritual baptism, and indication of true repentance, and a sign of faith in Jesus Christ, is administered, by the command of the Almighty Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and in the name of the only God, by a true servant of the Lord, to those who have repented and reformed, believe the Gospel,* confess their faith and desire baptism;, willingly offer themselves up to God, and yield themselves servants unto righteousness, yea, to the service of God, and the communion of Jesus Christ and all the saints.
This is fully comprehended and contained in the words which Christ speaks to His disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. 28:19, 20. In Mark we read thus: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:15, 16.
These words of Christ fully comprise the ordination and institution of the Christian baptism, and all that pertains to it; for Christ, who is the eternal wisdom of the Father, has expressly and completely thus commanded it. Now, as He is the Light and the Saviour of the world, we find in this command, that teaching and believing must precede baptism. John 8:12; 3:17.
The Scriptures cannot be broken, neither are we to take away from, or add to, the Word of God; nay, not even the smallest tittle or letter of the Gospel may be changed. Hence, the ordinance of the Lord, respecting baptism must remain unaltered; for it is the Word of God, which abideth for ever. Deut. 4:2; Matt. 5:18; John 10:35.
Hence, the words of Christ declare, that teaching must take place before and after baptism, in order that the person baptized may use diligence to observe, after baptism, the Gospel (which was presented to him before baptism), and all things commanded him; for he is no more lord over himself; but, as a bride surrenders herself to her bridegroom, so he, after receiving baptism, surrenders himself to Christ, and loses his will, is resigned in all things, without name, without will, but leaving the name to Christ, and letting Him reign in him. For this is the signification of baptism, that the Christian's life is nothing but pure dying and suffering; because we are like unto the image of Christ, and baptized with Him, must die and suffer, if we would reign and live with Him. Rom. 6:4.
With this ordinance of Christ, accord also the apostles, as faithful stewards and dispensers of the manifold grace of God; for thus did Peter and the other disciples preach the Gospel at Jerusalem, and they that heard it, were pricked in their heart by the Word, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles; "Men and brethren, what shall we do?
* And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. Acts 8:37.
Then Peter said unto them: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:37, 38). Thus did also Philip, when he expounded the Scripture to the eunuch. And the latter, when he had accepted it, said: "What doth hinder me to be baptized? Philip answered: If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Acts 8:35-37. Thus also those of Samaria were baptized, when they believed the words of Philip. Verse 12.
Again, when Peter preached Christ to the house of Cornelius, and spake the word of life, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word. "Then said Peter: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Acts 10:44, 47, 48.
Thus, Paul also found certain disciples at Ephesus, to whom he said: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost, since ye believed? They answered: We have not so much as heard whether.there be any Holy Ghost. Then said Paul: Unto what then were ye baptized? They said: Unto John's baptism. Paul said: John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus:" So we read in the 19th chapter of Acts.
Thus also Paul himself, when he had been prostrated on the way, by the Lord, and had heard at Damascus, by the command of the Lord, from Ananias, what he should do; had again received his sight, and was filled with the Holy Ghost, in short, had become a chosen vessel and fit instrument, was baptized, and called upon the name of the Lord; as Luke writes, Acts 9:18.
From these and other passages it is evident, that the apostles first taught, and that from teaching follow repentance and faith. For, how shall they believe, says Paul, without hearing. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Rom. 10:17. Hence, penitent faith is confessed and, so to speak, sealed by Christian baptism. For, after baptism, a constantly good and godly life should follow;* this is the true ordinance of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His apostles, as you may read everywhere throughout the Acts of the Apostles.
Lastly, as the apostles established the church of God through the Gospel, so they all unanimously declare in their epistles the aforesaid foundation of Christ. For, thus says Paul to the Romans
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been
* For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal. 3:27.
planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin" (Rom. 6:3-7).
With these words, Paul tells us what the baptism of believers signifies, namely, the dying of the flesh, or mortifying of the old Adam, the burying of sin, the putting off of the sinful flesh, and the resurrection of the new man and life; and this for this reason: since Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for our justification, and we, through the spirit of faith, have been incorporated or grafted into Him, and hence, have become entitled to the merits of His death, yea, are made partakers of all that is His, and thus, in and through hope, are confirmed in His fellowship (unto which we are called through grace); therefore we must also, for His name's sake, die unto sin,* bury it, and live unto righteousness, that we may be a true branch on the vine.
In this manner the apostle Paul speaks also to the Colossians: "Ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body, of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him." Chap. 2, verses 10-13, compared with Eph. 2:4-6.
These words, in the first place, declare, that circumcision is not a figure of baptism, but of the circumcision of Christ, Which is not done on the foreskin of the flesh, but on that of the heart, not with hands, nor with a knife of stone, but without hands, through the Word of God, in the Spirit.
These words of Paul sufficiently indicate, that in baptism the past life must be buried with Christ, and, through faith, rise to a new life; for the outward sign alone is of no value in the sight of God but faith, the new birth, a true Christian life by these, man is united with God, incorporated into Christ Jesus, and becomes a partaker of the Holy Ghost.
Hence, external baptism does not conduce tc salvation, if the internal baptism is wanting, name ly, the transformation and renewing of the mind Once more Paul says to the Galatians: "For ye arf all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26, 27).
I hope that my lords will reflect a little on then excellent and explicit words; for when viewer aright, they are easily comprehended. Even as man that is naked, hides himself and would not b~ seen because he is ashamed of his nakedness; bu
* For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God Col. 3:3.
when he has covered his shame, he comes forth without hesitation. So it was also with Adam; when God called him, he hid himself, and said
"Lord, I am naked." Nevertheless, he had covered himself with a fig leaf; but it availed him nothing; for the Lord could well see his shame, that is, his sin. Gen. 3.
But when he knew himself, God clothed him with skins, which signified the sign of .grace of Christ. Now when he had on the skin, his nakedness was no longer seen. So it is also with Christians; when they have put on the coat of skins (Christ), our sin is seen no longer, and the garment which we have on is manifest to all. Compare Gen. 3:21 with Gal. 3:27. Therefore, he that is baptized aright, has put on Christ, and nothing is seen on him, but Christ and the life of Christ. Thus Paul says to the Ephesians: "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:25, 26).
Here we plainly perceive, that the washing of water is joined to the word; for no one is cleansed by the washing of water, but by the word; as the Lord says: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3) .
In another place, Paul calls baptism a washing of regeneration, Tit. 3:5, because baptism represents regeneration; even as circumcision is called a covenant, because it represented a covenant. Thus also, the paschal lamb is called pascha, that is, a passing over, though it was simply a memorial of the passover. Thus, is baptism called a washing of regeneration, because it belongs to the regenerated children of God, who are born of incorruptible seed, namely, the living Word of God, or, as James says: "Who are regenerated by the will of God, by the word of truth." I Pet. 1:23; James 1:18.
Still another point is also to be considered here that the apostles say, We must be regenerated by the Word, that is, through the preaching of the Gospel. But by what will those who say that children are regenerated, prove this? since neither preaching nor word obtains with them.
Finall~1, Peter says also in his epistle: "When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 3:20, 21) .
From the words of Peter we perceive, that baptism is represented by the flood, through which God punished the whole world; but Noah, with his house, whom God deemed righteous, was preserved in the ark from the water; even as Israel passed dry shod through the Red Sea, and were thus delivered from their enemies; but Pharaoh with his entire host, was drowned in it, so that not a single one escaped. I Cor. 10:1, 2.
Thus it is with all the works of God; that which is life for the pious, is death for the ungodly, as Paul testifies with these words: "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life" (II Cor. 2:15, 16).
But in order rightly to understand the figure of the flood, we must consider Noah as the antitype of Christ; his house the antitype of believers; the ark, of the church; and the flood, of baptism. For, even as Noah, in his time, was a preacher of righteousness, so also Christ was a true preacher of righteousness, who proceeded from God, and came into the world. And as Noah prepared the ark, to preserve his household, so Christ prepared the spiritual ark, namely His church, built by the apostles, as wise master builders, to preserve His children and His household, of whom He Himself says
"Behold, I and the children which God hath given me." And as through the flood all flesh was destroyed and perished, so must also, through baptism, all carnal lusts and desires be destroyed and perish. And as only few, that is, eight souls, were preserved in the time of Noah, so it is also with men at this present time. Though it is proclaimed unto them, and the light shines forth clearly, still they love darkness rather than light; hence there are so few who truly believe, and are translated from the past life into a spiritual life, that they may enter into the church of Christ, and thus be baptized unto the dying of the flesh, and the resurrection to a new life.
"Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).
For, noble sir, and servant of God, I appeal to you, whether it is not now as it was in the time of Noah? They build; they plant; they buy one field after another; they feast; they drink; they marry, and are given in marriage; and all this without the fear of God; and they who do this are well known, yea, all corners of the world are full of abominations and idolatry. May the Lord convert them ail, Amen. Luke 17:26, 27; Matt. 24:37, 38.
The reason why they live without the fear of God, and without care, is, that they have no example. They console themselves only with this, namely: I am a Christian; for 1 am baptized. Thus they speak, thinking that it is sufficient if one is only baptized; but they know little what baptism signifies; for they have not yet drank of the living fountain, of which Jeremiah speaks; but they drink of the wells which they have digged themselves; "For they have forsaken the true fountain, says the Lord" (Jer. 2:13) .
So it is now also with baptism, as I have sufficiently shown above, that believers only are to be baptized. But now the command of Christ is ignored, and those who dig or devise a well, or baptism, of their own, are received; and thus is fulfilled what Christ says: "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none erect by your tradition" (Matt. 15:6).
Still more might be shown from the Scriptures; for Paul writes very clearly to the Hebrews, concerning the preparation of Christians, declaring that those who would receive this Christian ordinance, must first learn the principles of the Christian doctrine, namely, repentance f rom dead works, then faith in God, and then baptism. Heb. 6:1.
I fear it might become tedious to my noble lord and servant of God; hence I will make it as brief as possible.
Now, since there are many who believe that children that die without baptism are damned, as also the priests maintain, we will, by the grace of God, give a brief answer to our opponents, so that my lords may be relieved on this point
DEFENSE AGAINST THE OPPONENTS BY THOMAS
In the first place, our opponents say, it is writ ten: "Suffer little children to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.. 19:14). Now, if they have the promise, why should they not also receive baptism, which is less than the promise?
Answer. We believe and, confess that infants are saved on account of the promise; but that salvation depends on baptism, we do not confess; for when Christ promised the children the kingdom of God, they were not baptized, nor did He baptize them, but He embraced them, and spoke kindly to, or blessed, them. Mark 9:36, 37. Christ also states the reason why the children are acceptable to God, since He sets them as examples for adults, and admonishes us, that we should be like them, for thus He says to His disciples: "Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little, children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the , kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3, 4) .
Hence, since we are admonished to become as children, it is incontrovertible, that as long as they remain in a state of innocence, God holds them guiltless, and no sin is imputed to them; and although they are of a sinful nature, partaking of the nature of Adam, there still remains something in them which is pleasing to God, namely, innocence and humility; however, they are saved only through the grace of Christ.
But if some condemn infants, if they die without baptism, it is a despising of the blood of Christ; for the sin of Adam and of the whole world, is reconciled through the sacrifice of Christ, and no sin from Adam is imputed to children; how then can children be damned?
Who will accuse the children, for whom Christ shed His blood? Who will condemn them, to whom Christ has promised the kingdom of God? Who will deny the holy Scriptures, which declare so emphatically, that the sin of Adam and of the whole world has been taken away; the handwriting of the law, which was against us, blotted out, and nailed to the cross, and that grace has abounded over sin, and.the life of Christ conquered death?
Hence, he who says that children are condemned, or accuses them on account of original sin, denies the death and blood of Christ. For, if the children are condemned because of Adam's death, then Christ died in vain, Adam's guilt is still upon us, and not reconciled through Christ, and grace has not abounded over sin through Christ. God forbid.
For the grace of God has richly appeared to all men. Tit. 2:11; Rom. 5:18. All malediction, curse, and the sin of the whole world have been taken away through Christ,.. and as adults are saved through faith, so children.are saved through their innocence; 'but all through grace.
An answer, then, remains yet to be given, why, if they are saved, they should not be baptized.
In the first place, because we have no command from Christ for it. Abraham had received a command from the Lord, to circumcize all males on the eighth day. Now, he had received no command respecting females, nor did he follow his own opinion, but, according to the, command of God, caused only the male children to be circumcised; and circumcision was the sign of the covenant which God had established with Abraham; and still, the women were included in the covenant as well as the men.
And afterwards, when Israel was in the wilderness, and had grossly signed against the Lord, so that God said, they should not enter into the promised land, and this on account of their unbelief, He (the Lord) said: But your children which now know neither good nor evil, they shall possess it.
Now, if the children, whom the Lord had commanded to be circumcised on the eighth day,* obtained mercy from Him, and He promised to give them the land, and that they should possess it, how much more should now His grace be upon the children for whom Christ died?
In the second place, our, opponents say, that the Lord said to Nicodemus; "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5) . From this, they say, it follows, that no one can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be baptized with water.
Answer. These words of Christ must not be understood with reference to children; for the passage which the Lord spake to Nicodemus, namely: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be
* From this our opponents, nevertheless, form an argument, which they, though without foundation, bring against us.
born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God, declares differently; for here we hear that Christ presented to Nicodemus regeneration, which takes place only through the Word of God, as has above, in my confession, been sufficiently explained; and then Nicodemus said: How can a man, when he is old, enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?
Mark, he says, when he is old;* from which we well perceive, that the Lord did not speak of children. And thereupon Christ says: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
That this is not spoken of children, the following words prove, namely: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."**
By these words Christ indicates that the regenerated man becomes spiritual, and is born of the Spirit, and of a spiritual nature; as Peter says: "We are become partakers of the divine nature, if we flee the corruptible lusts of this world." By this everyone may know whether he is born of the Spirit, namely, if he has the nature of the Spirit, even as one that is born of the flesh, has the nature of the flesh, each in his order. Birds have their peculiar nature; so also wild animals; likewise man; each is minded like him of whom he is born.***
Thus, he that is born of the Spirit, is also spiritually minded; hence Paul says: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Finally Christ says to Nicodemus: "If I have told you earthly things, and ye cannot comprehend or believe, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?"
Here the Lord deems it greater to comprehend heavenly things, than earthly things; but children comprehend nothing of earthly things, how much less of heavenly.
Hence Paul says: Be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. For, faith cannot be comprehended without understanding, even as Paul says to the .Hebrews: "Faith is a sure confidence of things hoped for, and conforms itself to things not seen; so that faith has such power in itself, that it always conforms to heavenly things, and seeks those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
* Nicodemus, though ignorant in the matter itself, understood well enough, that this did not have reference to children; hence he asked: How can a man be born, when he is old?
** From the words: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," Thomas concludes that this relates only to the adult; since no newborn infants, but only the adult can live after the flesh, and, consequently, must be born again.
*** The descent of every one is known by his peculiar nature for like produces like. Hence, if infants are truly regenerated of the Holy Sprit, the fruits of the latter must be evident in them from the workings of their nature. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. Gal. 5:22.
That children do not have such faith, experience and the holy Scriptures teach, though some say
God can easily give children this faith. So say I; and not only faith, but also understanding, by which faith is comprehended; yea, even language to confess it; but what sort of faith children have, they show by their life and fruits. But though God is almighty, and does according to His will, which none can resist, He nevertheless observes order in all His works, according to His pleasure. Hence, let everyone see well to it, that he do not prescribe to God according to his own opinion; for He has made all things well. To Him be eternal praise and honor. Amen.
Since these are the most important passages* with which it is sought to prove infant baptism, I have, in my weakness and simplicity, answered them. But that you, my noble sirs, may not become weary of my long writing, I will conclude; nevertheless, if my noble sirs desire a fuller answer, I am willing and ready to answer, as much as lies in my power. May God give His grace to us all. Amen. Your humble servant,
THOMAS VAN IMBRMCK.
A. D. 1569. Now when the papists sat in such darkness, that they immediately put to death those who, having been baptized in infancy, were, when arriving at riper years and' understanding, baptized upon faith, a God fearing teacher of the church of Jesus Christ, named Jacob de Roore, did nevertheless not hesitate to make, with regard to this matter, a salutary and good confession, writing in his bonds and imprisonment at Bruges, in Flanders, the following words: "Furthermore, I confess a Christian baptism, according to the tenor of the Word of God, as Christ commanded His apostles, saying: "Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them," etc.
Afterwards he relates how the apostles executed this command of Christ, saying: "Thus did the apostles, according to their Lord's command," etc.
Continuing, he explains the words of Peter, Acts 2:39; "For the promise is unto you, and to your children," etc.; from which the opponents were frequently wont to prove (in their manner) infant baptism, or at least, to give it some plausibility. Thereupon he says as follows: "By this the apostle shows that the gift of the Holy Ghost was to be given, not only to the Jews and their children, but also to the Gentiles, who were far from the kingdom of God, and whom God should also call, as the prophet Joel had foretold.**
Thus, he says finally, baptism must be received upon faith, for a burial of sin, a washing of regeneration, a covenant of the Christian life, a putting on of the body of Christ, an ingrafting into the true olive tree and vine of Christ, an entrance into the
* Understand, those which were the most important in his time; for afterwards many others were, to the detriment of truth, imagined in addition. to them.
** He adduces the prophecy of Joel for the purpose of showing, that the latter speaks of the prophesying of sons and daughters, and not of infants. Chap. 2, verse 28.
spiritual ark of Noah, of which Christ is the true householder, as is written of Him (this He says of His church): "Behold, here am I, and the children (the true believers) which thou hast given me." See in Martyrs Mirror, page 537, col. 2, 3, and afterwards, in the Account of the Martyrs, for the year 1569.
It is not necessary here to say anything more; since the views of this man, regarding this matter, are well known and in the memory of almost everyone. Hence we will conclude this, and proceed to others of like confession.
A. D. 1572. At this time there was imprisoned at Dort, in Holland, a man of great virtue and piety, named John Wouterss van Kuyck, who, in a letter written to his wife, relates what happened to him in prison on account of the faith. Among other things he speaks of what the bailiff, in his presence, demanded of the judges, namely: That pursuant to the decree of the king, he should be burnt alive at the stake; because he had departed from the Roman Catholic faith, and had (as he said), been rebaptized by the Anabaptists.
Thereupon this pious witness of Jesus answered as he further writes, saying: "Then I replied: I have never departed from the Christian faith; and I know no Anabaptists. I have been baptized only once upon my faith; infant baptism I do not consider a baptism; and when I was a child, I did as a child, as my parents led me. See in the last mentioned Martyrs' Mirror, page 692, col. 2, also in the following account of the martyrs, for the year 1572.
In another letter delivered by him to the bailiff and the council of said city, he makes this confession of his own baptism: "Faith and inward baptism constrained me to obedience toward His word, to fulfill His righteousness. Hence I confess, that I was baptized upon my faith, and this on my request, according to the command of Christ, renouncing the devil, the world, etc." Sane book, page 701.
Thus, this witness of Jesus openly, boldly, and unfeignedly declared the truth of God in this matter, according to the testimony of the Word of God, and his conscience; to show which has here been our sole aim.
A. D. 1586. At Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, one Christian Gasteiger, after suffering . much onset and opposition from the Jesuits, was, among other things, also assailed in regard to his belief respecting baptism; since he held that it should be administered to none but the believing and penitent. On a certain day, therefore, there came to him, where he was imprisoned, two of that order, saying: That a child had to be baptized or it would be damned. But he contradicted them with arguments and the authority of the holy Scriptures. This belief he held fast to the end, since he died thereupon, as shall appear more fully in the account of the martyrs, regarding his death, for the year 1586. Also, in Mart. Mir., page 886, col. 2.
A. D. 1592 We find, that besides a disputation held against some papists who maintained infant baptism, Bartholomew Panten, a pious brother, also left, before his departure from this world, a testament, as a last farewell, to his little daughter; in which he, among other things, admonishes her, how she, when arriving at maturity, should act with regard to this matter, saying: "My dear child, take this to heart, and when you attain your understanding, my paternal request to you is, to join those who fear God, who are by far the least among all people, but who are nevertheless the true congregation and church of God; who practice their rule according to the ordinance of the Lord, and the practice of the apostles, namely, a baptism which is founded upon faith, and must be received as Christ has commanded, and as is written in Matthew."
Then; treating of the words of the holy evangelists, respecting the unprepared condition in which the Pharisees came to the baptism of John, and that the latter rebuked them, saying: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance," he says by way of explanation: "Here it is to be well understood, that confession is not sufficient, but that also sorrow of heart, and good works, must be evinced. For; all outward actions, without renewing the spirit, cannot please God." See the before mentioned Mart. Mirr., p. 924, col. 1. This matter will be shown more circumstantially in the account of his martyrdom, for the year 1592.
NOTE. We could have filled this century with a very great number of salutary confessors respecting this article, had we not deemed this unnecessary and to no purpose; for no one who has but a little experience in history, will doubt it; since this was not one of the least points, on account of which an almost countless number of persons lost their lives in the last persecution, early in this century, and throughout to the close.
Now, in order to bring this account to an appropriate conclusion, we deem it not inadvisable, to add here a certain Confession of Faith, which very probably, was once contained in the History of the pious Anabaptist Martyrs, and is declared to have been the summary of their faith; though it may be (which we would not contradict), that they did not confess all said articles in precisely this form, but maintain more or less in regard to this or that point; which, however, if the true foundation of the same is retained, ought to, according to the nature of love, be borne with; especially in such persons who did not spare their dear lives, but gave them unto death; for their God and Saviour. Nevertheless, we do not find that any of them entertained contrary views, much less, that they opposed said confession; which incited us the more to insert it here; hoping that it will be productive of at least some profit or good in these latter sorrowful and perverted times; the more to confirm the steadfast in the faith, as well as to give an occasion to the weak, to prove themselves wherein they have become weak, and how said weakness can be removed.
About A. D. 1600. The time when this confession, which we have just mentioned, was originated, we have not been able definitely to ascertain; but as it is stated concerning it, that, as far as the sense is concerned, it was believed, taught, and practiced, by those called Mennonites, already many years ago, even as at the time, when it was committed to the printer, namely, when the last persecution was almost over. We have therefore given it a place about the year 1600; that is about the close of this century. The title of it is
Confession of Faith according to the holy Word of God.
CONFESSION OF FAITH, ACCORDING TO THE HOLY
WORD of GOD
Of the only God of heaven and earth. By the grace of God, according to the import of the holy Scriptures, we believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only, eternal, almighty, and true God; who is the Creator of heaven and earth, with all things visible and invisible; so that all things derive their origin and being from Him alone, and are all sustained, governed and upheld by His almighty word. He is a just, perfect, holy, incomprehensible and indescribable, spiritual Being; consisting of or through Himself, Ex. 3:14, and not needing the help or assistance of anything; but is Himself the origin and fountain of every good thing. From His overflowing goodness every good and perfect gift proceeds and descends. And He is the living One, eternal, without beginning or end, an almighty, true God and Lord of Hosts, a commanding King over all, and above us all in heaven and earth, a terrible judge and an avenging, consuming fire; the true Light, just, righteous and holy, full of grace and peace, and a God of love and of all comfort, longsuffering and of great mercy.
And this only good, and only wise, exalted God, who is all in all, dwells with His worshipful, glorious existence above in heaven, in a light which no man has seen, nor can see, and is present everywhere with His Spirit and power, filling heaven and earth, so that heaven is His throne, and the earth His footstool. From His all seeing eye nothing is hid, but He is an omniscient hearer and beholder of the hearts and secret intents and thoughts of all men; all things being naked and open unto His eyes. I Cor. 4:5; Heb. 4:13.
And since He is such an omniscient God, full of all grace and mercy, and a God of all comfort, with whom alone the fountain of wisdom and all good gifts are to be found; and since He will not give this His divine honor to another, therefore all men are in duty bound, to seek, by ardent prayer and with a desiring heart, all grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, in God alone and in none other.*
And to this only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, before whose worshipful majesty the angels stand with trembling; whose word is true, and whose command is powerful; who is a righteous judge over all; finally every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that He alone is Lord, to the praise of His glory.
And this only, eternal, true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, consists in one true Father, and one true Son, and one true Holy Ghost. And besides this only God there never has been another, nor ever will be.
And in this only God we must necessarily believe to salvation, as the beginning and foundation of the Christian faith. Read: For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Heb. 11:6.
Of the eternal birth and Godhead of the only and eternal Son of God, we confess: That the Son of God was born and proceeded from all eternity, in an ineffable manner, from the true God, His Father; of the essence and substance of the almighty God, as a Light from the true Light, true God from the true God; being in the form of God, the likeness of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person; so that He was born and proceeded from God His Father as the brightness of the everlasting light, the immaculate reflection of the power of God, and the image of His goodness; being equal with His Father in essence, form, and attributes; as eternal, almighty, holy, and the like. For it is an inevitable consequence that like produces like.
Thus, as the stone spoken of by the prophet Daniel, which was cut out of the mountain without hands, and itself became a great mountain, is of the same essence and substance with the mountain; so also the precious, elect cornerstone, Jesus Christ, was born or proceeded from God the almighty Father (who is called a mountain and rock forever), and is of the same essence and substance with him.
" Since God knows everything, believers can call a on Him with a firm confidence; for He hears their cry and knows heir wants.
Hence, Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is to be believed in, confessed, served, honored, and worshiped by all believers, as the true God with His Father. But as this is also a matter of faith, and not of reason or comprehension, all this must be viewed, believed, judged, and spoken of, not humanly, nor carnally, but divinely and spiritually.
Concerning this high, eternal birth, issue, and Godhead of the Son of God, read: "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Ps. 2:7. "For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father; and he shall be to me a Son. And again, When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world." Heb. 1:5, 6.
"So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee." Heb. 5:5.
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Acts 13:32, 33. Observe, that this passage of Paul has reference not only to the raising up of Christ from the dead, but chiefly to His eternal birth from God His Father.
Also John: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (mark, the only begotten Son) which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." John 1:18 and 14.
D f the Holy Ghost we believe and confess: That there is a true, real Holy Ghost, also comprehended in the only, eternal, divine essence; who proceeds from the Father and the Son and is the power of the Most High, by whom the Father and the Son operate, and through whom heaven and earth, and all the heavenly host were made. Hence, the divine attributes are ascribed to Him; as eternal, almighty, holy, omniscient; who searches the deep things of the Godhead, knows what is in God, and goes through and searches all spirits, however subtle they may be. He is therefore confessed as the true God with the Father and the Son. And He is the subtle breath of the power of God, who with His divine inspiration illuminates and enkindles the heart of man, and confirms and leads him into all truth. He is given by God unto all who obey Him. All that are led by this Spirit, are the sons of God. He that has not this Spirit, does not belong to God. He is called the real and earnest of the inheritance of all true children of God. He who blasphemes this Spirit, must never expect forgiveness. Christ also commands to baptize believers in the name of the Holy Ghost.
Concerning this only Spirit of God, read: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Gen. 1:1, 2.
Through Paul we are taught: "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." I Cor. 12:4. "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." I Cor. 12:11, 13..Read also: II Sam. 23:2; Eph. 4:4; Matt. 10:20; Luke 12:12; Matt. 3:16; John 1:32; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16.
How Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are to be distinguished in certain attributes. Of this we confess
That in the only eternal Divine Being there are not three mere names; but that each name has its true signification and attributes; so that there is a true real Father, of whom all things are; and a true, real Son, by whom are all things; and a true, real Holy Ghost, through whom the Father and the Son operate. The Father is the true Father, who begat the Son before all time, and from whom the Son proceeded and came, and by whom He [the Father] created and made all things; and through whom the Son was sent to be the Saviour of the world. The Son was born of, proceeded and came from the Father; by whom the Father created all things, and who was sent by the Father, and came into the world, and, through the effectual power of the Most High was conceived by Mary, and born as man. He suffered, was crucified, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of His Almighty Father in heaven. The Holy Ghost is He that proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is sent by them; through whom the Father and the Son operate and work. He speaks not of Himself, but whatsoever He has heard from the Father; He takes of the things of Christ, to show them to His own.
Hence there are, in the same divine Essence, in heaven, three true witnesses: the Father, the Word; and the Holy Ghost; of whom the glory of the only begotten Son of God appeared really and distinctively, in the form of a servant, on earth, and was also seen by John the Baptist, at the Jordan. And the Holy Spirit was also distinctively seen by the same John to descend, in the form of a dove, from God out of heaven, upon Christ and abide upon
Him. And the Father who is. an invisible Spirit, and cannot be seen by mortal eye, let His voice be heard from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
"I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness,of myself, and the Father that sent me, beareth witness of me." John 8:16-18, 29, 54; I John 5:20; John 16:32 and 15:24. .
Again, Paul says: "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." I Tim. 2:5.
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in:he doctrine of Christ, hath not God: He that abid'=!th in the doctrine of Cbrist, he hath both the'Fa;:her and the Son." II John 1. 9.
Of the Holy Ghost, Christ says: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter;:hat he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit )f truth; whom the world cannot receive." John 14:11, 17; Matt. 12:32.
"But if I depart I will send him unto you. , . . For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever ie shall hear, that shall he speak. . . He shalllorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shallhew it unto you" John 16:7, 13, 14;
How John, the man of God, saw the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. Read, "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like, a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee. I am well pleased" Luke 3:22.
"And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him and I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" John 1:32-34: Read also Mark 1:10.
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" Matt. 3:16.
Mark, bow, awfully they sin against the Most High, who, cntrary to all these express words of the Holy Ghost, still dare say and maintain, that John did not see the Holy Ghost, but only a natural or created dove.
Hear also how the voice of the Father was heard from heaven:."And to a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matt. 3:17.
"For he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory." II Pet. 1:17. Read also Ps. 110:1; II Esd. 13:32; John 1:1; I Cor. 12:5; I John 6:7.
That these three true witnesses are but one only true God. Hereupon we confessed: That this must certainly follow, from the fact, that the Son proceeded or came forth from the eternal essence and substance of the Father; and that the Holy Ghost truly proceeds from the Father and Son, and is comprehended together with the Father and the Son in the only; eternal Divine Being.*
Moreover, this is abundantly testified and confirmed by the divine works and attributes, which are ascribed in the holy Scriptures jointly to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of which no angels in heaven, much less, any other creatures are capable, but which belong and are peculiar to the only God alone; as the creating, governing, and upholding of heaven and earth with all things visible and invisible; the gracious Gospel sent from heaven; the sending out of the apostles to preach the same among all nations; the raising of man from the dead, and the giving of eternal life; and all divine worship, honor and reverence. Hence they are perfectly one, not only in will, words, and works, but also in essence, and in the eternal and indescribable Godhead. Thus also in the divine works, so that whatsoever the Father does, the Son does likewise; and as the Father raises up the dead, even so the Son quickens whom He will; and all this they do in the power and with the co operation of the Holy Ghost; and hence they can with reason and truth be called the one God of heaven and earth. Besides Him, there has been no other God, neither shall another be found in all eternity. Hence in the term one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are comprehended.
On this subject read the prophet Jeremiah: "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom." Jer. 10:11, 12; Isa. 44:24; Ps. 96:5.
"All things were made by him (Christ); and without him was not anything made that was made:" John 1:3 and 5:19.
Concerning this perfect unity read: "My Father, which gave them me (says Christ) is greater than all; and no man i's able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." John 10:29, 30.
* These things are very difficult to understand, and above hu. man reason; hence they are not to be comprehended by reason, but must reverently be embraced in faith.
How the Holy Ghost is also called God. Read what Peter said to Ananias: "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" And a little further on: "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5:3, 4.
"Them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." I Pet. 1:12.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." II Cor. 13:14.
Of the creation of all things visible and invisible, and of the creation of man we confess: That the only, almighty, and wonderworking God, who is the origin of all good, and for whose sake all things are created, and have their being, created, among other invisible things, also a multitude of many thousand angels, whom He has put as ministering and immortal spirits in His worshipful glory, to minister unto their Creator, and to offer Him praise, honor, and thanks; and who are sent forth by God, as messengers, to minister in manifold ways for men who shall be heirs of salvation; and with which angels of God, Christ Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven, to hold judgment over all men. And He shall glorify all that believe and please God, and make them like the glorious, immortal angels, and crown them with all holy angels in everlasting glory.
But as some of these angels became unfaithful and apostate to God, their Creator, they were, through their own voluntary sin or pride, rejected by the holy and righteous God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and were cast down from the glorious estate of heaven to hell, bound with chains of darkness and reserved until the great day of judgment, to be sentenced with all unbelievers to eternal damnation.
These impure spirits or devils are called: the prince of darkness and spirit of wickedness, who rules in the air and works in the children of disobedience; with whom all unbelievers, who are governed and seduced by Satan, are in fellowship. And as all believers are in the society or brotherhood of the holy angels, and shall enjoy eternal salvation with them; so, on the other band, shall all unbelievers have to endure everlasting damnation with all impure or apostate angels, with whom unbelievers are in fellowship.
Likewise, God Almighty, in the beginning, from nothing, in a most wonderful manner, and above all human reason and comprehension, created heaven, the earth, and the sea, with all their glorious adornment, He, the Blessed, only saying: "Let heaven and earth be made; and his word was a perfect work." He also adorned the heavens with many glorious lights; two great lights, one to rule and illume the day, and the other to rule the night; together with many glorious stars, which He ordained to the honor of their Creator, and the service of men.
Thus also, the Lord Almighty endowed the earth with many glorious fountains and running rivers, and adorned it with manifold trees and animals, and with all that lives and moves thereon. And He created the sea with great whales and various kinds of fish, for the wants of man, together with all that lives and moves therein. And He established the earth out of the water and in the water, by His almighty and everlasting word. They shall be preserved until the last great day of judgment.
After God, the Lord, in five days had most wisely and excellently created heaven, and earth, and the sea, together with all visible things, He, on the sixth day, formed man from the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life; and from his rib made Eve, a woman, and gave her to him as a helpmeet. Moreover, He loved them above all other creatures, and clothed them like Himself with divine virtues, which are righteousness and true holiness; endowing them with wisdom, speech, and reason, that they might know, fear, and love their Creator, and serve Him in voluntary obedience. He placed them as lords over all creatures, endowing them with immortality, that they might be and live before Him, and rule and reign over all creatures which God the Lord created.
Concerning this wonderful creation, read: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11.
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and in him." Col. 1:16; Ps. 33:6.
Regarding the angels, read: "He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Heb. 1:7, 14; Ps. 104:4.
Concerning the apostasy of the angels, read: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them unto chains and darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 10:18; Isa.14:8; Rev. 12:4.
God said: "Let heaven and earth be made; and thy word was a perfect work." II Esd. 6:38.
"For thine almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form." Wisd. 11:17.
"I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven, and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise." II Macc. 7:28.
Concerning the creation of man, read: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Gen. 1:26.
"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Eph.4:24.
Of the fall and punishment of man we confess: The first man, Adam, and Eve, having been thus gloriously created after the likeness of their Creator, unto eternal life, did not continue long in this estate; but as they were created with a free will, to choose what they would, so that they could fear, serve and obey their Creator, or, disobey and forsake Him; and as their Creator had given them a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that they should eat thereof, they should surely die; they, notwithstanding this, in their vain desire to be equal to their Creator in wisdom and knowledge, were led and drawn away from God, and deceived by Satan; and thus they disobediently and voluntarily transgressed the command of their Creator. The woman, last created, was first deceived, and turned her ears away from God to Satan, and, also seducing her husband, they through this sin, fell under the wrath and disfavor of God, and, with all their posterity, became subject that very day, to temporal and eternal death, and were thus divested of the divine virtue, which is righteousness, and true holiness, and became sinful and mortal.
On this account, God the holy and righteous judge, in whose sight wickedness can not endure, but who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, or to look on iniquity; and who threatens from heaven with His wrath and disfavor all disobedience and ingratitude of men; was so incensed by the sin thus committed by Adam and Eve, that thereby they not only fell into eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, but God the Lord moreover imposed upon Adam and Eve divers temporal, bodily punishments, which also continually extend themselves into all their generations. Who are so corrupted in Adam, that they are all from their youth, by nature, inclined to sin and evil, and are therefore deprived of the beautiful pleasuregarden, or paradise, but must eat their bread, all their. life, in sorrow and in the sweat of their face, from the uncultivated earth, which because of this first sin was so cursed and marred, that it brings forth of itself weeds, thorns, and thistles; and cover the shame of their bodies made naked by sin. The woman, as the chief transgressor, has to subject her will and power to the man, and was constrained to bring forth her children in pain and anguish. This punishment continues upon all men, until they finally return to the dust and ashes whence they came.
Concerning how Adam, together with the whole human race, through sin, fell into temporal and eternal death, and, in consequence of this, became sinful, read: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men." "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned." etc. "And not as it was by one that sinned . . . for the judgment was by one to condemnation," etc. "For if by one man's offense death reigned," etc. "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation," etc. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners," etc. Rom. 5:12, 14-19.
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Ps. 51:5.
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" Job 14:4.
The prophet Esdra says: "The first Adam bearing a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him." "And he transgressed, and thou immediately, thou appointedst death in him and in his generations." II Esd. 3:21, 7.
"O thou Adam, what hast thou done! for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee." II Esd. 7:48. Read also: John 3:6; Rom. 8:5; Eph. 2:3; Sir. 17:16; Gen. 6:5.
Read further, how God announced unto Adam his punishment on account of sin, which punishment God extends unto all his posterity: "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it:. cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also. and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field: in the sweat of thy:face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.; for out of it wast thou taken: for, dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Gen. 3:17-19,, 23, 24. Concerning the punishment of the woman, read: Gen. 3:16; I Cor. 14:34; I Tim. 2:12.
Of the restoration or justification. of man. We confess that Adam and Eve having thus fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, and into death and eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, so that no remedy or deliverance 'vas to be found in heaven or earth, among any created beings, who could help, and redeem them, and reconcile them to God, the Creator of all things, who is the Almighty God (against whose majesty they had sinned, and who. alone could heal them), who is rich and abounding in all grace and mercy, had compassion upon Adam and his posterity, and, hence, promised them His only begotten Son as a comforting Redeemer and Saviour, , whom He would put as enmity between Satan and thp woman and their seed, to the comfort and help of fallen mankind, in order thus to bruise the head of Satan, and to deprive him of his power; and, in this manner, to deliver Adam and his posterity from the prison of sin, the power of the devil and eternal perdition, and to reconcile them to. God.
And even as God the Lord, through this promise, clothed Adam and his seed internally, according to the soul, with His grace and mercy, He, in token of this, also covered the outward shame and nakedness of the body, making coats of skirls, `and clothing them therewith.
And even as Adam, through this.his first, one sin, brought, not only himself, but with him also his whole posterity, without exception of persons, and without their own actual evil work's, into: eternal death and condemnation; so also, God Al= mighty, through this promise of the only Saviour Christ Jesus, redeemed, delivered, and Justified from condemnation, and placed into the state of grace and reconciliation, all mien, without exception of persons, without arty of their good works, only from pure grace and:mercy. Seeing that Adam's race was not born of him When lie stood under disfavor and condemnation before God; but as all men proceed from .Adam as being in a state of grace, peace, and reconciliation With God, he could bring forth none but such as stand with him in the same reconciliation.
Thus none of Adam's race are created or born to condemnation, but all are.born and brought forth into the world in the same state of grace and reconciliation with God. Hence, we hold it to militate not only against the holy Scriptures, but also utterly against the nature of God, which is just, righteous, holy, and merciful, that God should punish with eternal death and damnation, simply on account of Adam's sin; so great a number of Adam's race, who die in their infancy in a state of innocence, before they have followed Adam in sin; seeing the good God, through Christ and for Christ's sake, so graciously forgave Adam, (who had himself committed the sin) and placed him in a state of grace.
But men having attained the knowledge of good and evil, and, through the lust of the flesh, and their own desire, having been drawn away from the path of virtue and innocence, so that they follow Adam in sin, hence it comes that they separate themselves from their Creator, and, consequently, do not perish, nor are condemned on account of Adam's transgression, but because of their own unbelief and evil works.
But .the righteous God, who does indeed forgive sin, yet ofttimes does not suffer it to go entirely unpunished, permitted the temporal, bodily punishment to remain upon Adam and Eve, and their posterity, by which they ought to learn to know, fear, and serve their Creator, and to shun sin; such as this, that from their infancy they are by nature inclined to sin and evil, against which they have a 'continual warfare, are barred out from the beautiful paradise, must cover their nakedness; the women must subject their power and will to their husbands, and must bring forth their children in pain and anguish; and all must eat all the days of their life, with sorrow, of the corrupted earth, until they return to dust of the earth, whence they have come.
But all believers receive in this life the restoration or justification of Christ only through faith, in hope, and afterwards in the resurrection of the dead they shall receive it truly and actually, and shall enjoy it forever.
Concerning these glorious and comforting promises of salvation, read: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed, and her seed; it shall bruise thy head." Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:14, 15.
As to how this promise was renewed in the seed and race of Adam, read: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37. To Abraham: Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Acts 10:43.
Concerning the fact that this promise of justification does not extend only to a particular class of persons, but to all men without distinction, read
"Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:18, lg.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." I John 2:2.
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Col. 1:19, 20.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Tit. 2:11. Read also
As to how the kingdom of heaven is promised by Christ to infants, without respect of persons, read: "Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 19:13, 14; 18:3; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15.
Concerning how God the righteous judge will not punish infants for the sin of their parents, or of Adam; but to requite each with righteousness, according to his own works, read: "For so much then as thou art righteous thyself, thou orderest all things righteously: thinking it not agreeable with thy power to condemn him that hath not deserved to be punished." Wisd. 12:15.
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him." Ezek. 18:20, 4. "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29.
Of the free will or power of man before and after the fall; and of the saving grace of God. Of this we confess: That God Almighty in the beginning created the man Adam and his wife in His image and likeness, endowing them, above all creatures, with virtues, knowledge, speech, reason, and a free will or power; so that they could know, love, fear, and obediently serve their Creator; or could voluntarily and disobediently forsake their God; as appeared in the first transgression, when Adam and his wife, through the subtlety of the devil, who appeared in the form of a deceitful serpent, departed from the commandment of God; hence they did not sin through the foreordination or the will of God; but as they had been created with a free will, and to do as they would, they sinned through their own voluntary desire, and transgressed the command of God contrary to His will.
The man Adam and his wife having thus through their own sin fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, whereby they became sinful and mortal, were again received into favor by God their Creator; so that they were not utterly divested of their former wisdom, speech, and knowledge, above all other creatures, nor of their previous free will or power, as may be seen from their voluntarily accepting God's gracious promises unto life, and obeying the voice of the Lord; and as also clearly appears from the fact that God the Lord very strictly appointed an angel with a flaming sword to keep the tree of life from Adam lest through his free will or power he should eat of the tree of life and live forever; which would have been in Adam's power. And this free will or power has been transmitted to all their descendants, who proceed from them as branches from.their stem; so that even as men are endowed of God with knowledge, reason and voluntary power, by which they can perform manifold works, and seek and desire from God the health of their diseased and infirmed bodies, and are not without action, as the irrational creatures, blocks and stones, so likewise, man, through the grace of God, and the moving of the Spirit, by which men live, and are moved, may open the door of the heart to the salutary grace of God which through the Gospel is offered to all men, and through which death and life is set before manand seek the health of his wounded soul; or he may voluntarily resist, reject and neglect this offered grace and moving of the Spirit. Thus also, as men have eyes and ears, to see and to hear, yet not of themselves, but only from God the Giver, so they also, through the grace of God, have a free will or power to do the good and to leave the evil.
But men, considered in themselves, seeing they are without the grace of God, are of themselves incapable of thinking anything that is good, much less are they able to do it. But it is Almighty God, who through His Spirit of grace works in man both to will and to do, moves, draws, and chooses them, and accepts them as His children , so that men are only recipients of God's saving grace. Hence all Christians are in duty bound, to ascribe the beginning, middle and end of their faith, with all the good fruits thereof, not to themselves, but only to the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus.
We confess moreover: That this saving grace of God is not limited to a few particular men, but even as the Almighty God lets His sun rise and shine on the evil and on the good, so He has extended His grace to all of Adam's race; as it is also evident, that God, in His goodness, did not leave Himself without witness among the heathen, doing them good, and so moving their hearts, that their thoughts and consciences accused and excused them, so that they could do by nature, without the hearing of the law of Moses, the things contained in the law. This appears in still greater. clearness in the coming of Christ, that Almighty God has proclaimed the saving grace through the Gospel to the whole world, for a witness unto all nations, by which all excuse is taken from men, and as an evidence, that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent and be saved. According to the import of the holy and everlasting Gospel, a righteous, eternal, and irrevocable judgment shall be pronounced, in the last day, through Christ Jesus, the blessed, over all nations. Hence all men who now in this time of grace believe and accept the Gospel, attain unto life; but all who do not believe the Gospel, but voluntarily reject it, will receive death as their portion.
On the other hand, we reject the belief of those who say that Almighty God has indeed caused the word of reconciliation to be preached to all, or many, but does nevertheless withhold His grace from many of them, so that the greater part of mankind cannot accept the word of reconciliation and be saved, but will, through the purpose or eternal counsel and will of God, inevitably have to perish forever, and be damned.
On this subject, read various Scripture passages ascribing a will to man. And the holy Spirit does not speak in vain in the Scriptures: "He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; if thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable faithfulness. He hath set fire and water before thee; stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whether him liketh shall be given him." Sir. 15:14-17; Deut. 11:26; 30:15; 11 Esd. 7:59.
God the Lord said to Cain: "If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." Gen. 4:7.
Concerning man's free will, read: "Let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will." I Cor. 7:36-38.
"Who might offend, and hath not offended? or done evil, and hath not done it?" Sir. 31:10.
And Paul also says: "For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also." II Cor. 8:3, 11; Philem. 14; Mark 14:7; I Cor. 7:36.
Man can do nothing good of himself, by his own power; but through the grace of God, he, in his imperfectness, is able to keep God's commandments. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philip. 2:13.
"Thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not." Ezek. 12:2.
"For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Rom. 7:18-21.
And that God has extended His saving grace not only to the elect, but to all of Adam's race; and that He also died for those that perish. Concerning this, read: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Tit. 2:11.
"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Isa. 45:22.
"Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Rom. 5:18.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." II Pet. 2:1.
"And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." II Cor. 5:1.5. "For God so' loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. John 3:16.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" John 1:29.
"He is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." II Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4; Jas. 4:6; Acts 13:46. Read also: Matt. 23:36, 37; Luke 13:34; II Esd. 1:30.
As to how God the righteous judge will pronounce the final judgment upon those who disobey* the Gospel, read: "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." II Thess. 1:7, 8; Mark 16:16. "This is the book of the commandments of God, and the law that endureth forever: all they that keep it shall come to life; but such as leave it shall die." Bar. 4:1.
Of the providence of God, the election of believers, and the rejection of unbelievers. Of this we confess: As we believe and confess that God is
* The original says "obey," which evidently is an error. Trans.
omnipotent; and that with Him nothing is impossible; so likewise is He also prescient and omniscient, so that nothing is hid from Him in heaven and in earth, neither that which is to take place until the end of all things, nor that which has taken place from all eternity. And through this exceeding high prescience (foreknowledge), knowledge and wisdom of God, which are unfathomable, He very well saw and knew from the beginning in eternity until the consummation of the world, who would be the truly believing recipients of His grace and mercy; and, again, who should be found unbelieving despisers and rejecters of said grace. And, consequently, He from the beginning and from eternity knew, foresaw, elected and ordained all true believers to inherit eternal salvation through Christ Jesus; and, on the other hand rejected all unbelieving despisers of said grace to eternal damnation. Hence the perdition of men is of themselves, and their salvation only through the Lord their God, without whom they can do nothing that is good.
But in no wise is it true that the gracious, merciful, and righteous God (who conforms to His holy nature) has from eternity foreseen, ordained or predestinated, and created, at a convenient time, by far the greater number of the human race unto eternal damnation; or that, they having fallen through the sin of the first man Adam, He let them remain without help in eternal death and condemnation, into which they had come without their knowledge and own actual evil works, without having in this case seen and known the just cause of their rejection. Far be it from us, to believe this from the only good and righteous God I
But, on the other hand, all true followers of Christ believe and confess: That the righteous God, in the beginning, created man good and upright, and gave him an existence, and He hates none of those things which He has created. And when through the subtlety of the devil they had fallen into eternal death, the blessed God, whose mercy is over all flesh, and who is not willing that any should perish, out of pure love and mercy, redeemed, bought, and delivered, through the atonement of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the whole human race, without exception of persons, from eternal condemnation; so that, in consideration of the death of Christ, none shall perish on account of Adam's sin; but God the righteous judge will judge the world in righteousness, giving assurance unto all men, and rendering to every man according to his own works and deeds. The believers, who by patient continuance in well doing seek for eternal life, attain glory and honor and immortality, but the unbelieving and disobedient, tribulation and anguish, and the everlasting wrath of God.
"My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." Ps. 139:15, 16.
Here it is to be observed with attention, how God, through His prescience, from the beginning elected the believers in Christ, and rejected the unbelievers. Read: "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" etc. Jas. 2:5.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen," etc. I Cor. 1:27, 28.
"I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I. shewed it thee: for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb." Isa. 48:5, 8; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 9:13; Eph. 3:11; II Tim. 1:9.
"Before they were sealed that have gathered faith for a treasure; then did I consider these things," etc. II Esd. 6:5.
"And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people?" Isa. 44:7.
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified." Rom. 8:28-30.
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee," etc. Jer. 1:5.
Of the written Word of God, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ. We confess: That the old law which was given by Moses and received by the disposition of angels, was a perfect doctrine and rule for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, with whom God had made and established this His covenant. According to the doctrine and tenor of this law, this people had to conduct and regulate themselves, without transgressing any part of it, or taking away from, or adding to it, or following their own opinion in regard to it, on pain of being exterminated, and falling under a great curse. On the other hand, those who hear, believe and fulfill this law, are promised life, and many glorious blessings. This blessing and curse extended mostly to temporal and bodily things.
This law of God the five books of Moses embracing also all kings, priests and prophets, who prophesied and spoke, through the Spirit of God, among this people, Israel (agreeing with the law of Moses), which is the entire Old Testament, has through the grace of God been made known to us in the Bible. This law is also spiritual, the bringing in of a better hope, and the schoolmaster to Christ. By its various figures and shadows, as the Levitical priesthood, ceremonies and sacrifices, the land of Canaan, kings, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple, it pointed and led to Christ Jesus, because the old law was an intolerable yoke of bondage, which brought condemnation upon all who did not continue in, and perform all that is written in the book of the law. And since men, through the weakness of the flesh, could not perfectly keep all this, they could not obtain the eternal blissful life through the law, but would have had to remain under the wrath and anger of God. But Christ Jesus came, who is the end and the fulfilling of the old law, and the beginner and author of the new law, of perfect liberty, and the real, true light, to which all the dark shadows pointed; He came sent from God, with full power in heaven and on earth and is the one who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
He has made a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, and has invited thereto all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, who in time past were strangers and enemies, but who now, through grace, are all invited, and for whcfm the way unto life has been opened and well beaten; so that by obedience through grace, they may now become fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And this is the word of reconciliation, by which Almighty God, through ,His Spirit, works faith, regeneration, and all the good fruits resulting therefrom in men; in which word of the New Testament are proclaimed to us full grace and peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, together with all things, that pertain unto life and godliness, yea, all the counsel of God. According to this proclamation all believing children of the New Testament must necessarily regulate and conduct themselves in all matters relating to the faith; in accordance with which, finally, an eternal judgment will be held. And it is so much worthier, and better established than the Old Testament, as it was given through a higher and worthier ambassador, and was sealed with a more precious blood; and it shall not cease, but continue till the end of the world. And as a man's covenant, if it be confirmed, may not be changed, or anything taken from or added to it, so this New and everlasting Covenant, which is confirmed with the precious death and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, may still much less be diminished, or anything added thereto, nor may it be bent and distorted according to one's own individual opinions; but all Christians are in duty bound to bow their whole heart, mind and soul under the obedience of Christ and the mind of the Holy Spirit expressed in the holy Scriptures, and to regulate and measure their whole faith and conversation according to the import thereof.
The Old Testament is to be expounded by and reconciled with the New Testament and must be distinctively taught among the people of God
Moses with his stern, threatening, punishing law over all impenitent sinners as still under the law; but Christ with His new, glad tidings of the holy Gospel over all believing, penitent sinners as not under the law, but under grace.
To this new law of Jesus Christ all decrees, councils and ordinances made contrary to it by men in the world, must give place; but all Christians must necessarily, as far as the faith is concerned, regulate and conduct themselves only in accordance with this blessed Gospel of Christ. And as the outward man lives outwardly by the nourishment of bread; so the inward man of the soul lives by every word proceeding from the mouth of the Lord. Therefore the Word of God must be purely and sincerely preached, heard, received and kept, by all believers.
Of the law of Moses: how it was written with the finger of God on tables of stone, and given by the disposition of angels, concerning this read
Of the severity of the law, and how we must neither take away from, nor add to, it; in regard to this, read: "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen." Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10.
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." Heb. 7:12, 18, 19; Gal. 2:16; Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:3.
How Christ is the end and fulfilling of the law; with regard to this, read: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Rom. 10:4; Matt. 5:17; Rom. 7:4; Gal. 1:19.
Of the power and dignity of the holy Gospel, read: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," etc. Rom. 1:16; John 1:17; Luke 16:16; Mark 1:15; I Pet. 1:12.
Of the usefulness and power of the holy Gospel, read: "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." II Tim. 3:15-17; II Peter 3:15.
"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life." "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said," etc. John 5:39; 7:38; James 1:21; Matt. 4:4; Dent. 8'3; Wisd. 16:26; Rev. 22:18; Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Rom. 15:4.
How Christ Jesus will pronounce the last judgment upon the obedience of the Gospel, read. "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge, him in the last day." John 12:48.
"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord," etc. II Thess. 1:7-9; Matt. 24:14; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 20:12.
Of saving faith. We confess: That saving faith is not a vain or hidden thing unborn in man; nor does it consist in us having a historical knowledge derived from the holy Scriptures, and that we have much to say about it, without having the real substance or signification thereof. But the real and true faith, which avails before God, is. a sure knowledge of the heart in a sure confidence, which we receive from God, not through our own power, will, or ability, but through the hearing of the Word of God; and which, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit is imprinted on, and written in, the heart, and works so effectually in us, that we are drawn away by it from all visible and perishable things, to the invisible and living God; acquiring thereby a new spiritual taste for that which is heavenly, and not for that which is earthly. For saving faith, accompanied with hope and love, is of such a nature that it conforms to things not seen. Hence, all true believers gladly and obediently submit themselves to all the commandments of God, con tained in the holy Scriptures, and, when necessary testify to and confess them with the mouth before kings, princes, lords, and all men, not allowing themselves to be drawn away therefrom by any means whatever, though, on account thereof, mon ey, property, body and life be sacrificed unto spoil ing, water, and fire. For the power of God, which preserves them in the faith, strengthens them, so that they esteem all the sufferings of this time brief and light, not avenging themselves, but praying for their persecutors, gladly suffering for the name of the Lord what is imposed upon them, because of .the faith, hope, and love which they have to their Creator and His heavenly riches.
Where this true faith is received in the heart, there the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as witnesses of the same, must follow and flow out. On the contrary, unbelief, with its unfruitful works of darkness must flee, as darkness before the clear, sunlight. By this faith, which is the beginning of the Christian doctrine, we become children of God, overcome the world, are armed against all the subtle wiles of the devil, become sanctified, justified, saved, and partakers of all the benefits of God shown in Christ Jesus; and without this faith it is impossible to please God.
In this true faith we cannot stand still, but, with humble fasting, praying, and supplicating in the Spirit, we must plead for help, assistance, and new strength in all divine virtues, unto the end, in order that God may strengthen and preserve us in the same. Where this is neglected men may fall from the faith; the good Spirit may be taken away, and their names blotted out of the Book of Life, and written again in the earth. To this true faith, which is a noble gift of God, all men, who have attained to understanding and knowledge, so that they can hear and understand the Word of God, without distinction of persons, are called through the divine word, and invited to come; but all infants, and those whom God permits to remain in their infancy are herefrom excepted and excluded. They are under the grace and pleasure of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, by which He, through His blood, cleansed and redeemed the whole human race from the fall of Adam, without requiring of them any other means than faith, hope, love and the observance of certain commandments of God. It is therefore a great error that some ascribe faith to new born infants; or [that they say] that without this they cannot be saved. It is a sure sign that said persons do not know the true faith, and do not believe the words of Jesus Christ, who has promised the kingdom of heaven to infants without this.
For, as true faith consists in hearing, believing and accepting the good things which God offers us through His Word; and, again, as unbelief consists in despising and rejecting those things; and since infants have neither knowledge, ability, inclination. nor emotion concerning any of these things, as all intelligent persons see and know; therefore it must truly follow that neither faith nor unbelief may be attributed to infants; but they are simple and ignorant, and in this state perfectly pleasing to God, He having set them as examples for us, that we should imitate them in their simplicity.
How the true faith is a gift of God, and is wrought in the hearts of men through the hearing of God's Word, read: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Eph. 2:8; Rom. 12:3; Col. 2:12; Phil. 1:29; Jude 3.
With regard to how we must believe in God through His Word, read: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." John 17:20; Eph. 1:9; John 7:38; 14:1; Heb. 11:6; I Pet. 1:21; II Tim. 3:15.
Concerning how true faith is not vain, but manifests its effectual power and nature, read: "By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations," etc. Rom. 1:5; 16:25; Acts 6:7.
"When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." I Thess. 2:13.
"In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." Gal. 5:6.
He that does not evince from his faith the seven virtues required, "is blind, and cannot see afar off," etc. II Pet. 1:9; Jas. 2:26.
When the grace of God is neglected through unbelief and evil works, one may fall away from the faith, and be blotted out of the Book of .Life. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith. I Tim. 4:1; II Peter 2:1; I Tim. 6:10.
"Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." Luke 8:13.
How infants are simple and ignorant, and that therefore neither faith nor unbelief may be imputed to them; but that they are well pleasing to God through His grace, without any other means, read: "Moreover, your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it." Deut. 1:39; Matt. 19:14.
Of regeneration and the new creature, we confess: Inasmuch as our first parents, Adam and Eve, through their transgression, separated themselves from God, and fell into temporal and eternal death, with all their posterity, and, consequently, lost the image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness; became depraved in their nature, and inclined to sin and wickedness from their youth; so that of all men none can attain unto faith and a godly conversation through the power of their first birth, which has sprung and proceeded from sinful seed; because that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and hence, carnally minded, and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; therefore, all men, having come of the earth, shall return to dust and earth, and, in part, are also like to the corrupted earth, which of itself does not bring forth good grain, but must thereto be prepared anew, and sown with good seed. Thus also, all men, when they have passed their youth, and have come to understand and discern good and evil, we perceive, that their carnal hearts and earthly life, being conceived in sin, are inclined to sin, which conceives by its own lust, which awakens sin in them, and allures and moves them to actual sin; and thus they fall from grace, to which they had been redeemed through the atonement of Christwhich plunges them into the death of sin.
Hence, God the Lord requires and demands through His Word, of all men of understanding, a true reformation and a renewing from these their own actual sins; that is, that through the hearing of the Word of God they receive the faith, become regenerated from above, of God; be created anew in the inner mind of the heart, according to the image of God, and circumcised, being translated from the carnal into the spiritual, from unbelief into faith, from that which is earthly minded and like Adam into that which is heavenly minded and like Jesus Christ; that they crucify and mortify their earthly members, and feel, prove, and taste that which is heavenly, and not that which is earthly. To this, God promises life, peace, and all heavenly riches; and it is the sanctification in the spirit of the Mind, and the appropriation of all the benefits of Christ (which have been lost through our own actual sin), and has the promise of eternal salvation.
And wherever this renewing and conversion of the mind and the heart is not found (among all those who know sin have served it), there Christ and the life do not exist; and without this renewing neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, baptism nor Supper, nor any ceremonies, however glorious they may appear, avail anything.
And as man in the beginning is brought forth with pain and anguish from the flesh, so the second, spiritual generation is also called a birth; and it takes place with godly sorrow over sin, and with the crucifying and mortifying of the earthly members.
And as men by the fall of Adam were not altogether deprived and divested of all godly virtues and qualities, so as to become like Satan in evil, but through the grace of God have retained many good principles, so the innate sinful nature, affection for, and proneness to sin are not utterly removed by regeneration, but remain until death in the regenerated; so that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the lust or indwelling sin wars against the law of the new mind, so that the regenerated enter upon a continuous warfare, and must constantly crucify and mortify the lusts of the flesh, tame and bring into subjection their bodies, and abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; and thus fighting, they must keep the victory unto death.
On the other hand, the assertion of those who ascribe regeneration to new born infants, and say that without this they cannot be saved, is rejected as a grave error. Some of these found regeneration upon infant baptism, maintaining that as soon as they have their children baptized, they are also, through this ceremony of baptism, regenerated. Others build the regeneration of infants in the justification or general redemption of Christ, by which the human race has been reconciled from the fall of Adam and put in a state of grace; saying that children are regenerated as soon as they are conceived by the mother; thus putting regeneration, against all right and probability, before the first birth which is of the flesh. Soiree cannot tell whether infants become partakers of regeneration before, in, or after baptism; from which it is judged that the aforesaid persons treat of regeneration without the holy Scriptures and all true reason, as the blind man of colors; since Almighty God, nowhere in His holy Word speaks of the regeneration of infants. And though children are conceived in sin, or born from sinful seed, yet they have never known, served, or practiced sin, from which they might be regenerated, converted, and renewed in their mind and heart; but they have without this been born, and placed by God in so holy and God pleasing a state, through the atonement of Christ, that no adult person can, through regeneration and the putting off of the sinful body of the flesh, and the renewing of the mind, become more sinless, holy and God pleasing; seeing the innate sinfulness, lust or inclination to sin remains in the most pious, regenerated, adult persons until death (not less than in children, in their infancy), against which they carry on a constant warfare; and besides this, Almighty God, by His Word, requires of all men that have served sin, no higher or greater reparation than that they be converted by regeneration, and become like unto children in sin and malice. With what reason, then, can regeneration be applied to children, who have never committed sin, from which they could be regenerated; seeing infancy has already the innocence which is acceptable to God, and has been set as an example before men, after which all the regenerated must labor and strive until death.
Of this heavenly birth from God, and how it is effected through the Spirit and the Word of God, read: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." I Pet. 1:22, 23; 2:2; James 1:18; I Cor. 4:15; Gal. 4:19; Philem. 10.
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost," etc. Tit. 3:5.
That regeneration is not a vain or hidden thing, but demands a new life and the following of Christ, and that eternal salvation is promised thereupon, read: "Verily, 1 say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matt. 19:28.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Gal. 6:15, 16.
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12, 13.
To all who have served sin, and have not been regenerated, the kingdom of God is denied. Concerning this, read: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:3, 5-8.
That the regenerated do not become perfect in this life, but must fight unto death against the flesh, the world, and sin, read: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after," etc. Phil. 3:12; 1:30; Col. 1:29; Rev. 2:10.
" I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." I Cor. 9:27.
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary, the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit," etc. Gal. 5:17,18; I Pet. 2:11; Rom. 7:18, 23; Jas. 3:2.
Of the incarnation of the eternal and only begotten Son of God. We confess: That the exalted and true God faithfully kept and fulfilled His exceeding great and precious promises, which He had made in the beginning concerning His Son, who had been foreordained to this end before the foundation of the world, but in these last times was manifest for our sakes.
This glorious and cheering promise was originally given to fallen Adam and Eve, and was afterwards renewed in their seed, as in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and David. Of Him did all the prophets prophesy, and on Him did all the pious fathers hope with a firm confidence (as though they had seen Him), that Shiloh would come from Judah, and that this beautiful star would arise out of Jacob. This truly and really took place as follows: When everything was in tranquillity, when the royal sceptre had departed from Judah, and the seed of Jacob was under tribute to the heathen; then the gracious God remembered His holy covenant, and sent His true, real Word or Son out of heaven, from His royal throne; having to this end foreordained and elected the righteous Joseph, of the house and generation of David, whose espoused wife was Mary, whom God had blessed and chosen for this purpose above all other women.
To this Joseph and Mary the Holy Ghost points from generation to generation, as well as to the town of Bethlehem, out of which this Light long before promised was to arise and come forth; in order that all the pious who waited and hoped for this salvation, might have a certain consolation and knowledge from which tribe, city and place they were to expect this Saviour of the world.
Thus Mary received the message through the angel of God, and believed it, being overshadowed by the power of the Highest, and conceived of the Holy Ghost the true, real Word, which was in the beginning with God, and by which all things were created. The same, through the effectual power of the Almighty God, became flesh or man in her, and was born of her, the Son of the Most High God, whom she had before conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Thus the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God became a visible man subject to suffering. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, and brought up at Nazareth under the care of His [imputed] father and His mother. He hungered, thirsted, was wearied with walking, sighed and wept, and increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man; so that the eternal, only begotten Son of the living God, in the time of His incarnation, did not continue like His heavenly Father in an invisible, impassive, immortal, and spiritual form, but for our sakes, humbled Himself into a visible, passive, mortal, and servile form, became like unto us men in all things, except sin; in order thereby to heal us from the poisonous bite of the serpent, and from everlasting torment.
Hence, all true witnesses of Jesus Christ are bound, by virtue of the holy Scriptures, to believe and confess: That this same Word, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, by which all things were made, proceeded from God His Father, came into the world, and, through the power of God, became Himself man or flesh, so that the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth was touched and seen.
Thus He who before was like unto His Father in brightness and glory not given or usurped Godlikeness, but one peculiar to Him by nature left His brightness and glory, and humbled Himself, and became in form like unto us men; He who before was greater than the angels, and in an invisible, immortal form, like unto God His Father, was now made lower than the angels, and became like unto His brethren in a visible and mortal form. He who could have had joy with His Father, and was surrounded by eternal riches, became poor for our sakes, and suffered on the cross, despising the shame. He who in the presence of the apostles ascended heavenward, was the same who before had descended from God out of heaven into the lower parts of the earth; and the same ascended above all heavens. This is the mystery of godliness, which is great, but on account of their carnal and flickering reason, is believed by but few: that God the Son was thus manifest in the flesh; and that He appeared, as a true Redeemer and Saviour, and eternal Light, to them who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.
And, as the food which the Israelites ate in the wilderness, is called, bread from heaven or heavenly bread, because the substance of the bread was no fruit of this earth, but had come from heaven, though the same, was in this world, prepared in the form of bread; so also Christ Himself calls His flesh the true bread which came down f rom heaven; and says that the Son of man should ascend up where He was before, because His flesh or body became flesh, not of Mary or of any created substance, but only of the Word of life which had come down from heaven.
He it was who spake with Moses on the mount and in the wilderness; and Him the fathers tempted in the wilderness, and resisted His Spirit. This is the same who was from the beginning. Him the apostles touched with their hands, and beheld with their eyes; herein the life was manifested, that they saw and proclaimed to men, that which was with the Father, and was manifested unto them, and was even the same Word which spake with them.
And though it is true that the eternal Son of the living God forsook His divine glory, and, for a brief time, was made lower than the angels, and appeared in the visible form of a servant; yet He did not thereby lose His eternal Sonship and Godhead with His Father; but when God the Father brought this His first and only begotten Son into the world, He prepared Him a body, not of any created substance, but only of the Word of life, which became flesh, and which by all the angels of God is honored and worshiped as the true God.
Likewise, Christ glorified Himself before His apostles, on Mount Tabor, that His face shone as the bright sun, and He was confessed by His Father from heaven as His beloved Son. Thus have also the highly enlightened apostles of Christ, and all true believers, confessed, pronounced, honored and worshiped this visible and palpable Christ Jesus as the true God, and Son of God. Hence all true believers, according to these testimonies of holy Scripture, and the examples of all the saints of God, must necessarily, unto salvation, follow, believe, and confess, that the whole crucified Christ Jesus, visible and invisible, mortal and immortal, is the true God, and the Son of God, God and man in one undivided person. To Him. be praise forever and ever. Amen.
Of these promises concerning the Saviour, read, how God the Lord, in the beginning promised fallen Adam and Eve, to put Him as enmity between Satan and the woman, and between their seed. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. 3:15; Col. 1:19; 3:15; Eph. 2:15.
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37; Read also: Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8; Genesis 49:10; Num. 24:17; Matt. 2:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Isa. 9:6; 11:1; Acts 10:43.
And that this Saviour of the world originally did not spring from the fathers, Mary, or any creature, but was sent and came only from God, and was conceived and brought forth by Mary, read: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son." Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14; Luke 2:21; Gal. 4:4. "When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." And further: "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Matt. 1:18, 20.
The angel of God said unto Mary: "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, 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." Luke 1:30-35.
Read in this connection St. John, who also gives thorough information regarding this matter: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." John 1:1, 2, 14; Bar. 3:37; Zech. 2:10.
And further: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us,)" I John 1:1, 2; John 8:25; Micah 5:2; II Peter 1:16; John 20:28; Wisd. 18:15.
Of the humbling of the eternal and only Son of God, (Mark especially the word made; for nowhere do we find anything about assuming man) read: "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, and was made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man," etc. Phil. 2:6-8.
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame," etc. Hebrews 12:2.
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:51. Read also verses 58 and 63.
How the saints of God confessed and worshiped this humiliated Jesus also in the days of His flesh, as the true God, and the Son of God, read: "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" And after a few more words: "Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 13:16. Understand, the true Son who was born and came forth from the essence of the
Jesus said to the blind man: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that 1 might believe on him? and Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him." John 9:35-38.
Of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, and the necessity of believing it. Of this we confess: That it is necessary for all Christians to believe that the knowledge of the only Son of the Father, is, as one of the principal articles of. our faith, in the highest degree essential unto salvation. It is therefore not sufficient to know Christ only after the flesh, or His humanity; as, that He was born of Mary, and become like unto us in all things, except sin; but we must also (which is the most important) know Him after the Spirit, and His eternal Godhead; that is, that He before all time, in eternity, in an unspeakable manner, was born of or proceeded from the true God His Father, and that He is the true real Word and Wisdom, which proceeded from the mouth of the Most High, and which for this reason, was equal with His Father in brightness, glory, power, might and eternal Godhead, before the foundation of the world. And that this only Son of God, for our justification, became a visible man, that by His present, visible humanity which is not of this tabernacle or sinful substance, but in essence far different from sinners He might give us a holy, unblamable example in doctrine and conversation, in order thus to incite all men to follow Him.
And that according to His divine power and might He was able to deliver us from the captivity of sin, hell, the devil, and death, and save us forever; seeing no other means or name in heaven or on earth is given unto men for salvation. To this end, Christ was made unto us, of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Hence neither Moses with his threatening and punishing law of commandments, nor Aaron with the entire Levitical priesthood, and all their sacrifices and offerings, which were made only for remembrance of sins, and consequently, passed by polluted mankind without affording them any help (for no corruptible man could redeem his brother, and reconcile him with God; as all human, sinful substance was not able to redeem the soul from eternal death); but this was fulfilled and accomplished by the slain Lamb, which was foreordained and was manifest in these last times. He restored that which He had not taken away. He, the innocent one, took the guilt of us all upon Him, and only He was found worthy in heaven and earth, to open the book with its seven seals. And by His coming into this world (which can never be sufficiently praised), He opened the entrance to the kingdom of God, which was closed by sin, not by the blood of bulls and goats, or of any corruptible man, nor by corruptible silver or gold; but Christ paid and accomplished this by His own dear and precious blood, thereby obtaining an eternal redemption.
And as the sun in the heavens is endowed by God with a glorious splendor, so that it is the eye of the world, which illuminates the darkness, and spreads its beautiful light over all visible things, and receives nothing from any of them; so also Christ Jesus, the true Sun of righteousness, and what is still more, the Creator and Ruler of the sun, and of all things, did not take to His assistance any created substance, by which to accomplish the work of our salvation; but came with His most praiseworthy light from God out of heaven, and shone into this dark world, where He was received, and arose, as the beautiful day=star, in the hearts of many men; and was thus a Giver, but not a recipient. Hence, the praise and honor for this redemption must be ascribed to the only God of heaven and earth, and not to any created man; otherwise we would rob the Creator of His proper honor, and ascribe the same to sinful, created flesh like unto ourselves; thereby making flesh our arm, Redeemer, God and Saviour; and thus departing with our hearts from God our salvation, we should fall into damnable ,idolatry, seeking life from the dead, where it cannot be found.
Herein we are to know the love and goodness, and also the severity of God, and how greatly the Almighty God hates sin; His severity and justice, from the fact, that through the one sin of the first man, the whole human race became corrupted; and that this could be paid and atoned for by no other means than through the death and blood of God's own, only begotten Son. God's goodness and everlasting love are known from this, that He, the Blessed, so graciously looked upon and recognized, the weakness and nothingness of man; and, hence, as He often sent angels, as His faithful messengers, in human form to men, upon the earth, knowing that this sinful, mortal, earthly flesh and blood is not able to behold the immortal, heavenly glory of the angels; much less can man with his sinful and mortal eyes behold the immortal, eternal, holy splendor and glory of the eternal Creator of all things; therefore the eternal, invisible and immortal Son of God, through His unfathomable love, had Himself to become a visible, mortal man, for a little while lower than the angels, and to appear in the form of a servant, like unto His brethren; so that the glory of the eternal and only begotten Son of God was felt and seen in human form, that He might be a true example for us to follow His footsteps. Herein we may especially know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge that the holy heavenly, only begotten, blessed Son of God, Jesus Christ, became man, died and rose for us, when we were yet ungodly and His enemies.
And though Christ suffered for us in the flesh, and was crucified, and died; yet it was not possible that He should be held by death, or that His holy flesh should see corruption. But He had Himself the keys of death and hell, and the power to open and to shut, to lay down His life, and to take it again; and He it is that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, He is alive forevermore.
Hence all true believers must believe that the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, both of His true divinity, and pure, immaculate humanity, is necessary to salvation. And to this, life and eternal salvation are promised by the Holy Ghost; and that Christ would build His church upon this foundation, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against her. On the other hand: that all unbelievers, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (that is, that the Son of God became man, and thus coming, appeared in the flesh), are not of God, but of the spirit of antichrist, who began already in the days of the Apostles, and is to exalt himself still more in the last times.
"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also," etc. John 14:7.
"Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." II Cor. 5:16.
"And Jesus said to Peter, after the latter had confessed and pronounced the man Jesus, to be Christ, the Son of the living God; Blessed art thou, Simon Bar jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and .upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matt. 16:17, 18.
And after the apostle Thomas had confessed the visible and palpable man Jesus as his Lord and God, Christ did not reprehend him for it, but accepted it as the belief of the truth, saying: "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John 20:29; 17:20; I Pet. 1:8.
Read in this connection the various Scripture passages, how the apostles through the Holy Ghost, labored with all their might, to impress on men, not that the eternal Son of God dwelt concealed in the man Jesus; but, on the contrary, that the visible man Jesus was the Christ; that is the Anointed and the Saviour of the world, sent down from heav en; and to this, the promise of life is given. Read "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the pres ence of His disciples, which are not written in thi; book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.' John 20:30, 31.
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? he is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." I John 2:22.
"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [that is; that the eternal Word became flesh, and being thus flesh, came into his own] is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." I John 4:2, 3; II John 1:7.
Read further, how we have been redeemed and bought by no other means, than only by the death of the Son of God.
"Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." I Pet. 1:18, 19.
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." I John 4:9.
Of the life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and of His again receiving His glory with His Father. Of this we confess: That the Lord Jesus, in the time of His humiliation in the flesh, being about:thirtythree years, did not only with words, but also by works and deeds, set us a holy, godly example, to be looked to as the Captain of the faith, by. all believers, and followed in the regeneration; for in His youth He was subject to His father and mother. And when His time was fulfilled, He entered in full obedience toward His heavenly Father, on the office and ministry imposed upon Him, proclaimed unto them His Father's good pleasure, made the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the blind to see, cleansed the lepers, cast out devils, raised the dead from their graves, forgave men their sins, and promised eternal life to those who believe in Him.
These things Christ did not do in the same manner and form as His apostles and others, who performed miracles through a power and gift only received, which had been conferred upon and given them by Christ. But such was not the case with Christ; for He Himself had all power in heaven and earth; so that He said to the two blind men: "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" And further: "That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." And still further: "I will raise them up at the last day; and I give unto them eternal life."
Thus the Lord Jesus completely fulfilled and accomplished the works of His Father, and shone as a clear heavenly light into this dark world, convincing the same of her evil works, and pointing them out to her; by which He incurred the hatred of the blinded scribes and Pharisees, who did not know the light of truth, and who, from hatred and envy, censured Him for all these divine deeds, attributing them to the devil; and thus they delivered this innocent one into the hands of the unbelieving heathen, Pontius Pilate. They also examined this dumb Lamb with many severe threats, mocked Him, spat in His face, smote Him with their fists, scourged Him, wounded His head with a crown of thorns, and finally stripped Him and stretched Him naked on the cross, nailed His hands and feet thereon, and thus suspended Him, as the Prince and Captain of all malefactors, between two murderers. In His bitter thirst they gave Him vinegar to drink, mixed with gall; they pierced His side with a spear, so that blood and water flowed out therefrom.. Thus He gave up the ghost with a loud voice, commending it into the hands of His Father. And when He had died, heaven and earth were convulsed by this precious death and resurrection; so that the sun lost his brightness, and darkness came over all the earth; the earth quaked; the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and many bodies of the saints arose from their graves, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
And as in the time of His flesh, suffering and death, He showed that He had become man, so He also showed herein that this very man was also true God with His Father; and that He had the keys of the power of death and hell, that He could again raise up the broken temple of His body in three days, and had the power to lay down His life, and to take it up again; so that it was impossible, that He should be held by death, or that His holy flesh should see corruption, but rose triumphantly from the dead, on the third day, by the glory of the Father, revealed Himself to His apostles and others, and miraculously appeared unto them, as they were assembled with doors closed, ate and drank with them, and for forty days spake with them of many things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Then, in the presence of the apostles, He was taken up to heaven by a cloud, and sat down on the right hand of His Almighty Father in heaven.
Thus the only begotten Son of God suffered, was crucified and put to death according to the flesh; but thereby was again glorified and made alive according to the spirit, and again fully received His previous divine glory, and His equality with the Father. He will now die no more neither will death have any more dominion over Him; but He shall live and rule as a reigning King of kings, and Lord of lords over Mount Zion and the house of Jacob, forever and ever.
And after His time was fulfilled, how He entered on the ministry imposed upon Him, and performed many glorious deeds in His Father's name, read
And how He, as a light in the world, testified of their dark and evil works, and thus fell into the hands of sinners, read: "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." John 7:7; 1:5; 3:19; Matt. 27:18.
How Christ in the time of His humiliation in the flesh was obedient to His heavenly Father, read
"He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:8.
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Heb. 5:8.
How Christ again received the divine glory and likeness which He had forsaken; and how He ascended unto heaven, read: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matt. 28:18; Ps. 8:6.
"Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" Luke 24:26.
"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet." Heb. 2:7-9; John 17:5.
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up," etc. Acts 1:9,10; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51.
Of the office of Christ, and the specific reason of His coming into the world. We confess: That Christ is the true promised Prophet, High Priest, and King, whom Moses and all the prophets foretold and proclaimed, and to whom the former priests and kings pointed as figures and shadows. And the specific reason of His coming into the world was: to destroy the works of the devil, to seek that which was lost, to deliver the whole human race from the captivity of sin, and the power of the devil, and to reconcile them with God His Father, and thus to save sinners.
According to His prophetical office he went out from God, and came into the world to proclaim unto men, through the Gospel, the full counsel and will of God, which had been hid from the beginning of the world, and thus to preach deliverance to the captives, the Gospel to the poor, and the acceptable year of the Lord, according to which, as the last declaration and will of God, all the children of the New Covenant are required to live and walk, according to a perfect rule of faith, which shall obtain until the end of the world.
According to His office as High Priest He fulfilled and changed the Levitical priesthood; and by His one offering made on the cross, He opened the closed entrance to the Holy of holies; and through this His one offering, which is of eternal value, He fulfilled and finished the sacrifice of the law, and obtained an eternal redemption. And thus reconciling mankind with the Father, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, and is become the believers' only Advocate, Mediator, High Priest, and Intercessor with God His Father, and ever lives to make intercession for them.
And according to His office as King He came with full power from His almighty Father from heaven, to re establish, as a mighty King of kings, and commander of the people, judgment and righteousness on earth; and He was the end and fulfillment of all kings of Israel: But as His kingdom was not of this world, and He was a spiritual, heavenly King, He avoided all earthly kingdoms of this world, and desired and had only a spiritual, heavenly kingdom. Among His subjects He reformed, improved and fulfilled the commandments, laws, and customs, given by Moses. As a commanding King He dissuaded and prohibited His followers from all revenge, whether with words or by deed; [and taught them] that they should beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into scythes and sickles, and should learn war no more; but that, on the contrary, they, according to the example of Christ, their Captain, should love their enemies, and pray for those who injure and persecute them very far indeed from allowing them to wage war against their enemies with carnal weapons. But Christ armed His people only with the armor of God, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, with which to fight against flesh and blood, the world, sin, and the manifold wiles of the devil, and thus finally to receive, through grace, from this eternal King, the crown of everlasting life, as their recompense and exceeding great reward.
How Christ is the prophet promised by God, whom we must hear and follow as the perfect teacher of the will of God, read: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37; 3:22; Matt. 17:5.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place." II Pet. 1:19.
"But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come," etc. Heb. 9:11.
Of His spiritual kingdom and dominion, read: "And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:32, 33.
"For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." Rev. 17:14.
Of His government, read: "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people." Isa. 55:4.
Of the church of God and the communion of believers. Concerning this we believe and confess: Whereas men by reason of the natural birth of the flesh, follow sin and wickedness when they attain to their understanding, and thereby depart from God their Creator; therefore the high and holy God, before whom the sinners and ungodly cannot stand, from the beginning of the world, called and chose, from all the unbelieving nations of the world, an own special people, and separated them from all other nations. These are they who turn their ears to the calling voice of God, and thereby have separated themselves from the world with all its sinful lusts, and all false worship, and have again united themselves to Christ, bowing, as obedient members and sheep of Jesus Christ, under His head and commanding voice, and shunning everything strange which militates against this. These are they who are renewed in the inward man, and are circumcised, changed, and converted, and live after the Spirit.
This church of God was first commenced on earth, with Adam and Eve in paradise, and afterwards, with Enoch, Noah, and all those who with them honored and called upon the high name of God; which was the first period of time, that is, before the law.
After this God the Lord established His covenant or church with Abraham and his seed, giving them circumcision as a sign of the covenant, together with many laws, ceremonies, statutes, and customs; which continued till the coming of Christ, and was the second period, or the time of the law of Moses.
Finally'God sent His Son, who, as a potentate in heaven and earth, established a new and perfect covenant with the house of Israel, calling to the same all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, all those who amend their sinful life, and obediently yield their bodies under this covenant. With all these Christ has established His church and congregation; this is the third and last period, which shall thus continue, without change in faith, walk, and laws, until the reappearing of Christ from heaven.
And though the people of God in these three periods, had different and special laws and ceremonies, according to which they had to live and walk; yet this was the will of God, and they were nevertheless only one people of God, and were moved and led by one Spirit.
This church and congregation of believers has not always been visible .to the eyes of all men, but has frequently vanished from the sight of the sinful and bloodthirsty world, the latter not being worthy of them. This can be seen in the case of Noah with his families in the ark, who concealed themselves from the whole world; in the people of Israel in the Red Sea, and here and there during the forty years in the wilderness; in the pious in Judah, from the bloody sword of Manasseh; and in all the God fearing in Israel from the awful threats of Jezebel. Thus also the bride of the Lamb, the church of Jesus Christ, had to hide herself in the wilderness, forty two months, or three times and a half a time,* from the abominable beast of antichrist, which with his tyrannical sword and burning, exalted itself above everything which is called and worshiped as God. Afterwards, through the grace of God, she again came to the light, and was built upon the first, ancient apostolical foundation.
And as Solomon's temple was destroyed, and the second building continued until the first coming of Christ in the flesh, so we hold that the church of Jesus Christ, rebuilt upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, shall also continue openly in the light until the second coming of Christ from heaven.
This church of God, that is, all believers, are, as members of one body, joined together by faith and the bond of love; they are like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; they live according to the same rule of the divine word, and are bound together by the same love, thus having fellowship with one another. Those whom God has blessed with spiritual gifts, minister with them to the souls of their neighbors, out of love. And those whom God has provided with temporal possessions, minister with them to the temporal needs of their neighbors; thus showing that they have their temporal and spiritual goods in common, and suffer no want in spiritual and temporal gifts. This church of God has existed on the earth from the beginning of the world, either in greater or in smaller numbers, secretly or openly, and shall thus continue unto the end of the world, and Christ will be with her, with His Spirit, always.
Of the Christian church, that is, of all believing regenerated persons, gathered and purified by the holy Spirit, read: "The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; I Pet. 2:9.
"And among all the multitude of peoples thou host gotten thee one people: and unto this people, whom thou lovedst, thou gayest a law that is approved of all." II Esd. 5:27.
How the church of God, which is built upon Christ, must be subject, as members to their head, read: "And upon this rock (Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matt. 16:18; 28:20.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of
"That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." I Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:20; 4:16; Hebrews 12:23.
Of the fellowship of believers, read: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." I John 1:7.
f the signs of the church of God, by which it may be distinguished from all other peoples, we confess the following: In the first place, all true Christians are known by the only saving faith, which works by love. It is wrought, through the grace of God, in the heart of man by the hearing of the Word of God, and hence, is not founded and built upon human decrees, but upon the Word of God alone; and it works so effectually that by it we are drawn and impelled from all visible things and sinful lusts of this world to the invisible God and His heavenly riches.
Secondly. All true children of God are known by the second or new birth, from above, of God; which is wrought by the Spirit of God internally in the heart, through the putting off of the sinful lusts of the flesh; so that, as man, through his first birth of the flesh, brings forth his human nature and mind; so, through regeneration, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature, by which he is also to bring forth godly and spiritual fruits, and the mind of Christ Jesus.
Thirdly. The church, or the believers, are known by the good works which they evince as fruits of gratitude from their faith; which may not be done according to human instructions, in a self selected holiness, but in which we follow Christ and His apostles, as they prescribed and walked. And with these divine virtues all true believers must be clothed, that, as a light on the candlestick, and a city on a hill, they may excel and shine among all men, and may be known thereby, as a good tree is known and distinguished by its good fruits.
Fourthly. The church of God is known by the glorious appellations by which she is described and honored by the Holy Spirit, as a city and temple of the living God, in which God will dwell and walk; the bride of the Lamb, the daughter of Zion; a chaste virgin, joined to Christ by faith; so that, even as with all cities which are subject to the command of their Lord and king, and it may thereby properly be known, under whose power and dominion they belong, so also the church of God is known by this that she recognizes and obeys Christ Jesus as her only Head and King, in all matters of faith, and observes His commandments. And as a pure virgin and bride forsakes father, mother, and all strange company and subjects herself to the will and obedience of her only bridegroom; so all true children of God must separate themselves from all false worship, flee from the stranger's voice, and unite themselves to Christ, to hear and obediently follow His voice, which is proclaimed by the ministers sent by Him.
Fifthly. The people of God are known by their faithful ministers, who, according to the doctrine of Paul, are unblamable in doctrine and life, and feed the sheep of Christ, not for the milk and wool, but with a willing mind, with knowledge and understanding;.speaking not their own words, but only the words of their Lord, and executing His work; rightly dividing and dispensing the Word of God, and bringing forth fruits with it; in order that through this good message of the ways of the Lord men might, according to the counsel and will of God, be converted from their evil ways, and won to God.
Sixthly, and lastly. All true disciples of Jesus Christ are known by the unfeigned godly love, which our Saviour Himself has put as a sign, by which His disciples should be specially known; which is comprehended in these things: That we love the Lord God our Creator with all our heart and strength, above all other things, which consists principally in the keeping of His commandments. And besides: That we love our brethren or neighbors as ourselves, not only in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth; so that those to whom God has given spiritual gifts, minister therewith, from love, to the souls of their neighbors; and those whom God has blessed with temporal possessions, minister therewith unto the temporal needs of their neighbors, in order that thus among this true Israel of God, there may be found no poor, nor any lack in spiritual or temporal things. Finally, we must show charity to all men, though they be our open enemies, who persecute and kill us, whom we may by no means resist with carnal weapons; but, as Christ did not open His mouth in revenge upon His enemies, but, as an humble and dumb lamb, prayed for them, so we must also follow this infallible example. And as all soldiers forsake their former avocation, and wear the livery of their lord and king, as a sign to distinguish them from all strange servants, and that they are bound to their captain even unto death; so also, must all true servants of Jesus Christ be armed with the aforesaid marks, that thereby they may be known and distinguished from all other people.
Where, therefore, men believe with the heart, in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and in the incarnation, justification or redemption, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment; and where, besides, the ordinances of the Lord, as baptism, Supper, separation, and the like, are rightly observed, according to Scripture, and Christ is followed therein, in the clean fear of the Lord, and in the regenerationthere is the city and church of the living God, the pillar and firm ground of the truth, the tabernacle of God with men, in which God will dwell and walk with His Spirit. Such a body [church] has Christ for its Head, Preserver, and Saviour. But where said marks do not exist, and where the ordinances of men are the rule of action, there is no church of God, but a vain boasting of the same.
How the true faith is to be known, read: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Rom. 10:17.
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture bath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." John 7:28.
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." I Cor. 2:5.
How the children of God are to be known by regeneration or the new birth, read: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." I Pet. 1:23.
"Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matt. 19:28.
How the true members of Christ are. to be known from their godly conversation, read: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that with unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is i heaven." Matt. 7:19-21; 5:16; 12:50; john 15:1; Sir. 19:24.
"Do all things without murmuring and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life." Phil. 2:14-16.
How the people of God are to be known from this that they have separated themselves from all other people, and put themselves under Christ their Head, hearing only His voice, and observing His commandments, read: "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." I Cor. 10:14, 21.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." II Cor. 6:14, 17; Rev. 18:4; Isa. 52:11; Jer. 15:19; 51:6.
"As I said unto you, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." John 10:26, 27, 5.
How the false prophets are to be known and distinguished from the true servants of Jesus Christ, read: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matt. 7:15, 16; Dent. 13:1.
"He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." John 7:18.
"But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings." Jer. 23:22, 31; Isa. 55:11; Matt. 23 throughout; Col. 1:6; read also Tit. 1:6; I Tim. 3 throughout.
How Christians are to be known by their love, read: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34, 35; I John 3:23.
"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." I John 3:10; 15:12; Matt. 22:39; Eph. 5:2; I Pet. 1:22; II Pet. 1:7.
Of the ordinances of the church of God, and the sending and electing of ministers. Of this we confessed: That, as a house, city, or country cannot subsist unless it have laws and ordinances by which to be governed and upheld, and as no human body can subsist without the members performing the service appointed by God for the needs of the body; so also, God the Lord has appointed in His church divers ordinances, laws and commandments, by which it is to be built up, edified, and improved.
And, as the necessities of the body require, as its chief and most indispensable members, eyes, mouth, hands, and feet, to see, speak, and labor for the body, that it may thereby be fed and sustained; so Christ the Lord ordained as necessary in His church, first, by His own, present, commanding voice, His apostles, whom He sent out to preach the Gospel among all nations, and to teach them to observe His commandments, which He caused to be confirmed by signs and miracles.
This the apostles, through the Holy Spirit again enjoined upon their followers; namely, that they should elect, in the church, pastors, teachers, helpers and rulers, who as fit shining stars, by their good walk and sound doctrine, should shine to edification in the spiritual firmament, and, as messengers of peace, proclaim the good new tidings everywhere, that thereby men may be turned from their evil ways, added to the church, and thus the body of Christ be perfected and edified.
And since it is a known fact that a lack of faithful ministers, and the erring of the sheep because of the lack of good doctrine, arise principally from the unworthiness of the people; therefore the people of God, needing this, should not turn to such as have been educated in universities, according to the wisdom of man, that they may talk and dispute, and seek to sell their purchased gift for temporal gain; and who according to the custom of the world do not truly follow Christ in the humility of regeneration. But the true members of Christ, must, according to the counsel of God, with humble fasting and praying, turn to the Father of the harvest, who is the true Sender, that by His divine wisdom He will raise up men, whom He may set as faithful and wise stewards over His household, that they may give them proper meat in due season, and may enkindle them in their hearts with His Spirit, and urge them into His harvest, that they may feed the flock of Christ, not for the milk and wool, but of a ready mind, with knowledge and understanding, and lead them on the right way to the kingdom of God; and thus execute the ministry imposed upon them by God, with the strength which God gives.
Hence, believers who are in need, in this respect, shall, after having sought the face of God with ardent prayer, turn their eyes to a pious brother, who keeps under his own body, and brings it into subjection, and in whom the fruits of the Holy Spirit are perceived and seen. Having been chosen thereto by the voice of the Church, he shall be examined in the faith by the elder and pastors of the church, whether he, according to the Word of God, agrees with the church in every article, that he may teach others the way of truth, which he himself knows. And having been found to be sound, he may stand forth in the name of the Lord, to proclaim the will of God unto the people. And when it has thus been found that God has committed the preaching, of the Gospel to him so that he rightly divides the Word of God, and brings forth fruits with it, the church, if she require it, and he, after examination, has been found, according to the Word of God, to be of the same faith with the church, may, by the voice of the church, choose him as an elder and teacher in the full ministry, and cause him to be confirmed by the imposition of the hands of the elders, and ordain him to labor and work in the vineyard of the Lord, and to administer and execute Christian baptism, and the Lord's Supper, with all that pertains thereto.
In like manner, the church shall, by the voice of the church, elect deacons over the poor, and, after they have been examined in the faith, and found to be sound, cause them to be confirmed by the imposition of the hands of the elders, as helpers and governors, that willing givers may give their contributions to them, that they may thereby supply the wants of the poor members of Christ who according to their ability diligently labor and work with their hands, and still are not able to support themselves; that there may be found no poor among the people of God, nor any want in temporal things, and that the good gifts of the donor may be hidden from men, but become manifest before God, according to the doctrine of Christ.
And if any of said ministers depart in faith or conversation from the adopted way of truth, the church which elected him when he was pious and sound, shall punish or remove him, according as his deeds deserve. Matt. 18:8; I Tim. 1:20.
How men are to pray to God, who is the true Sender, for faithful laborers, read: "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." Matt. 9:37, 38; Luke 10:2; Matt. 23:34; Luke 11:49; John 13:20; Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16; Matt. 25:14; Luke 19:12; John 20:21.
How necessary these ministers are, and how they shall teach the Word of God, and be qualified, read
"Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd." Num. 27:16, 17.
"I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jer. 3:15.
"If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveththat God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ," etc. I Pet. 4:11.
"Far the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." II Peter 1:21.
Concerning the mode in which they are to be chosen, read: "We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us, with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind." I I Cor. 8:18, 19; Acts 1:23.
"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." Acts 13:2, 3; 20:28.
"The things that thou bast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." II Tim. 2:2.
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." I Pet. 5:2, 3.
Of the election and confirmation of deacons, read: "It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." "Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." Acts 6:2, 3, 6; I Tim. 3:8-10.
Of Christian baptism we confess: That the same is a divine, evangelical transaction, practice and ordinance, which was first commenced by the man of God, John the Baptist, by the counsel and will of God, and was received by the worthy Son of God, Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself as a true example, and to whom the aforesaid John led and pointed with His doctrine and baptism, as being the true Baptizer with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He proceeded and came from God with full power in heaven and earth, and sent out His apostles, commanding them to preach the Gospel to all nations, and to baptize all true hearers and believers of it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and to teach them, before and after baptism, to observe all things which He had commanded them.
This the apostles of Christ, as obedient ministers of God, practiced according to this manner, beginning at Jerusalem, and preaching the Gospel in every country. And all who heard, believed and gladly received this heavenly doctrine were made disciples and followers, and were baptized with water, in the name of the triune God, and thus entered into covenant with Christ, to observe whatsoever He had commanded them.
And inasmuch as the doctrines and commandments of Christ are not instituted for a certain time, but are commanded to be kept until the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven; and as He will continue with His Spirit to the end of the world with His followers; therefore all believers and followers of Christ are bound in no wise, to alter or reject according to human opinions, these doctrines and commandments which God has commanded; but to practice and observe them constantly according to the form and institution of Christ, and the practice of His highly enlightened apostles; to preach the Gospel to the people; and all who believe the same, manifest repentance from sin and amendment of life, and submit to the will of God, shall, by an unblamable minister ordained to this purpose, be baptized once with water, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
This outward baptism with water does not properly constitute the entrance to the kingdom of God, nor does the visible element of the water contain any power or holiness; neither is it able to give any grace and salvation; but, as the waters of Jordan and Siloam did not, properly speaking, heal leprosy and blindness, but only the power of God, to which they were herein subject and obedient, so also the water in baptism has no power to forgive our sins, and to cleanse the filthiness of our flesh, but is simply a token and proof of the grace and blood of Christ in the washing away of sin, which man, through faith and regeneration, by grace, has received, in the heart, before baptism, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, which is proclaimed in baptism;. and without this internal baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire, the external, visible, water baptism is as useless and vain, as the seal on an empty letter.
Since, then, Christian baptism is of such a nature that it was ordained and commanded by Christ only upon faith, repentance, and reformation, and was practiced and taught by His high apostles in this, and in no other wise; therefore we herewith reject, with good reason, the baptism of unintelligent, speechless infants, which we regard as a human institution, etc.,* which ought justly to be rooted out and rejected. The principal originators of the same found this their infant baptism upon the fall of Adam, sayingt that thereby all men are born and placed into the world in an unsaved and condemned state, and that by the power of water baptism they are translated and changed from this unsaved and condemned state into a saved and Godpleasing condition; thus binding not only the sal
* "Invented in the kingdom of antichrist;" says the writer.
** This is an expression of the belief of the papists, who attach forgiveness of sins and salvation to the external water of baptism.
vation and condemnation of infants, but also the saving grace, death and atonement, of Christ to the willingness or unwillingness of man, and the weak element of water; so that when an infant is baptized it is instantly saved, and when this is neglected, it dies condemned.
Who that fears God can in any wise accept with a good conscience this human infant baptism, instead of the ordinance of God, since in the whole New Testament not the least is commanded or written concerning it, either by Christ or by His apostles.
The pedobaptists themselves plainly confess, that in the sending forth of the apostles into the whole world by Christ, to teach and baptize, infant baptism is not commanded, nor comprehended in these passages; neither is there any advocate of the same able to point out in the Word of God the author and first foundation of infant baptism (though every divine ordinance has its beginning where it was first commanded by God) how then shall this fabric of infant baptism, of which no foundation can be found, stand in the sight of God?
Infant baptism is in fact nothing less than a contemning and trampling under foot of the true baptism of Christ, militating in many respects against it; since Christ has attached to baptism the doctrine of the Gospel, faith and repentance, as a seal and token of the same.
And, as infant baptism does not accord with, but militates against the baptism of Christ, even so does it not agree with the circumcision of the Jews, which was not commanded to children but to adults, namely, that on the eighth day, every male child among them should be circumcised, on pain of being cut off. But it is not so with the baptism of Christ, concerning which no command is given to the parents, much less to any one else, to baptize their children, or to have them baptized. But baptism is an ordinance of Christ, similar in part to the Supper, which no one is commanded to cause to be administered to another, but which Christian ordinance each must desire and receive by His own faith, for which reason it does in no wise apply to new born infants.
And as unqualified as infants are to observe the Supper (in which every reasonable person will agree with us), even so unfit are they also to receive Christian baptism. And, as infant baptism, for want of testimony from the divine Scriptures, is demonstrated only by arguments and uncertain conclusions, so also, by such and similar conclusions, the Supper may be appropriated to infants, as was formerly done in the Roman church. And as we may by no means, on such human conclusion, admit infants to the Supper, just as little may we on these conclusions admit them to baptism; but in all this all of us who do not wish to be seduced and deceived must necessarily adhere to the doctrine of Christ and His apostles. But, as the Jews adhered unchangingly to the circumcision on the eighth day, without following in any wise their own opinion, even so should all Christians still much more adhere unalterably to the doctrine of Christ, and administer baptism only upon faith and repentance, as Christ has ordained.
But all Christians are commanded and in duty bound to walk before their children with a good example, and to bring them up in the fear of the Lord, by good teachings and instructions, without using on them baptism, the Supper, or any other ceremonies; since it is known that it is impossible for any one to unite another to the Lord, without His will and knowledge.
But as soon as men grow up and arrive at the years of discretion, it is found, that through their ornate sinful nature they live after the flesh, and thereby fall from grace, to which they had been bought by the blood of Christ. Their souls then need the hearing of the Word of God, whence proceed faith and regeneration, and, as a consequence thereof, Christian baptism; which by Christ has been appended to faith and regeneration, and may never be separated therefrom; and which is represented as a grave in which men are to bury their own actual sins which they have put off, and are thus to rise with Christ to newness of life, and walk after the Spirit.
And as no bath to wash off the filth of the body can be used on an unborn child, but the child must first be born; so Christian baptism, which is compared to the washing of new born infants, can, according to the will of God, be given to none but those who are regenerated by faith, dead to sin, desire the same, rise from the death of sin, and walk in newness of life, observing whatsoever Christ has commanded them.
Hence no one can be recognized as a brother or sister in the church of Christ, with whom any Christian ordinance may be practiced, unless they have previously, according to the Word of God, received upon faith the. Christian baptism here spoken of, which is the first ordinance and the reception into the Christian communion, by which we submit and obligate ourselves to actually observe all the commandments and ordinances of God. And as there is but one faith and one God, so there is only one Christian baptism, which, having been once received upon true faith, according to the institution of Christ, may not be repeated or renewed.
Of the baptism of John, and how he as a messenger and forerunner sent before Christ, preached the baptism of repentance, and pointed to Christ, read: "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mark 1:4; Matt. 3:6, 11.
How Christ Jesus commands His disciples to preach the Gospel, and to baptize only hearers and believers of it, and not unintelligent, ignorant children, read: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 28:18-20.
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 14:16.
How the apostles, pursuant to this high injunction, preached the Gospel, and baptized only the hearers, believers, and self desiring recipients, read: "When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for tfie remission of sins." "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." Acts 2:37, 38, 41.
"And the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all throe heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." Acts 8:36-38.
How the apostles, according to this foundation, taught and baptized several households, after they had heard the Word of God, had believed, had been filled with the Holy Ghost, ordained to the ministry of the saints, and regarded as believers, read: Acts 10:37; 16:15, 32; I Cor. 16:15; Acts 18:8.
How the apostles in their epistles described Christian baptism as a burying of sins into the death of Christ, a rising and walking in newness of life, a putting on of Christ, a washing of regeneration, a being baptized by one Spirit into one body, and the answer of a good conscience toward God, read: Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27; Tit. 3:5; I Cor. 12:13; I Pet. 3:21.
Of the Lord's Supper or the breaking of bread, we believe and confess: As baptism is an ordinance and institution of the Lord, by which believers are united with each other by one Spirit in fellowship with Christ; so the Supper is a worthy ordinance and institution of Christ, by which believers who have been baptized according to the ordinance of Christ, are taught and admonished, to live and walk in Christ even as they have received Him by faith in baptism, and to be bound by brotherly love to their neighbors, with whom they are to live and walk in the unity of the Spirit, according to the same rule of the divine Word; and that they are to remember hereby, with heartfelt contemplation, the bitter suffering and death of the Lord.
And in order to put men in remembrance of this, it pleased the Lord Jesus for this purpose to use bread and wine, things well known among men, and thereby to implant into the hearts of believers heavenly and hidden things; thereby teaching men to remember, that, as bread from many broken grains is made into one bread, and the wine being pressed from many grapes and made one beverage thereby being necessary, useful and adapted as food and drink for the body of man; even so Christ, from ardent love, suffered Himself to be broken on the cross, His blood to be shed, and trod the winepress of suffering alone, to minister by His flesh and blood, as necessary meat and drink, to the souls of men; by which we are taught, that like as bread is of many grains broken and prepared as bread, and wine is of many grapes pressed and made a beverage; so also, many believers, from various places, are by one faith become one bread or church, and bound together in fellowship; in order that thereby all those who worthily receive, and eat and drink with the mouth this bread and wine, may hereby through faith in the Spirit, receive, and become partakers of, Christ and all His heavenly riches, and thus be strengthened in the faith, fed in the soul, and be bound together by fervent love, with God and their neighbors, as members of one body.
But believers must in no wise place any confidence in these visible memorials, as though they in themselves were more sacred and worthy than other like, common meat and drink, or had power to give unto men grace and forgiveness of sins. By so doing one should depart with the heart from his Creator, and seek grace from the creature, where it is not to be found. But believers must receive these signs as nothing more than bread and wine, confide with a firm heart only in that which is thereby taught and signified, and look upon and regard these signs as figures, as the Holy Ghost is wont, in the Holy Scriptures, to call the signs, that which is signified by them. And as in this institution of the Supper by Christ the cup is called the New Testament in His blood, which cup is really not the New Testament itself, but is figuratively so called, because the blood of Christ which He shed for the sin of the world, is proclaimed and recommended to us through the New Testament; which signifies, that as a testator by a testament bequeaths to his heirs his property, which they are to receive and enjoy after his death; so has Christ in His last Supper since He could not remain with them bequeathed His last will in the New Testament, together with all its heavenly riches, to His friends and followers; in order that all those who in this testament are specified and recorded as children of God and heirs of Christ, shall enjoy His glorious riches; whereupon they receive in the Supper, with the mouth, only natural bread and wine; but through faith there is received, according to the spirit, Christ's flesh and blood, which He gave as an atonement for the human race, of which the natural bread and wine, and the supper are figures, signs, and representations.
Hence, believers are to use this worthy institution of Christ among each other, and thereby, through an ordained blameless minister, proclaim with great reverence the bitter suffering and death of the Lord.
And after God has been thanked with an humble heart, for His boundless grace and mercy, and been called upon by fervent prayers, the bread shall be broken by the minister, the wine poured out, and be received by all believers baptized according to the ordinance of Christ, and each shall, examining himself, use, and avail himself of the same, with heartfelt contemplation of the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus. This shall constantly be observed by believers in this manner, when time and place permit, until the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven.
Of this institution and ordinance of Christ, read: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19.
How the apostles in accordance with this also practiced and observed it in the same form and manner, with bread and wine, read: "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, 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 oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoevO shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." I Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 2:42; 20:7, 11.
How the bread and wine in the Supper are not the real body and blood of Christ, but signs of His communion with the believer, read: "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': for' we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" I Cor. 10:16-18.
Mark, the Israelites did not eat the altar, but only the sacrifice, and thereby were partakers of the altar. Thus also, Christians do not eat and drink with the mouth the real body and blood of Christ, but only bread and wine, as figures; but according to the soul, they, by faith, receive Christ Jesus, with all His benefits, and are thus partakers of the true altar Christ Jesus.
Read in regard to this: "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:35, 63.
Of the feet washing of believers we confess: After our Leader Christ Jesus had celebrated the Supper with His apostles, He, before His suffering, used another ordinance with them, and commanded that they should observe it with each other. He rose from supper, girded Himself with a linen towel, poured water into a basin, washed the disciples' feet, and wiped them with the towel; saying to them: "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." And He also added: "If ye know these things, happy axe ye if ye do them:"
And we find that the apostles observed this ordinance of Christ in this manner, and that they counted it, in the ministry of the saints, among the good works, and required it of believers. Hence, the believers, as successors and followers of Christ and His apostles, ought also, when time and place permit, practice and observe this ordinance of Christ. When their fellow believers, out of love, visit them, they shall with heartfelt humility, receive them with the kiss of love and peace into their houses, and as a ministration to their neighbors, according to the humiliation of Christ, wash their feet; sincerely considering how the most worshipful Son of God humbled Himself, not only washing the feet of His apostles, but much more, washing and purifying with His precious death and blood, all our souls and consciences from the stain of eternal condemnation. On this the pious ought herein to meditate with an humble heart.
How Christ practiced this ordinance with His apostles, and commanded it to be observed, read, John 13:4-17.
And also, how the apostles required it of believers as one of the good works read: "Let not a widow be taken into the number under three score years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet," etc. I Tim. 5:9, 10.
Of good works. Of good works we believe and confess: That for every true Christian it is not enough, in every respect according to the Scriptures, to confess the faith aright with the mouth, and to regard Christ Jesus as our only Head, Redeemer, and Saviour, but that above this we must necessarily manifest from our faith, as a fruit of gratitude, virtuous works. Thus also, it is not enough, that we put off all the accursed works of the flesh, and seek to bury them by baptism into the death of Christ; but we must also rise from this death of sin, and live and walk after the Spirit in a new life adorned with good works; and thus we are not only to put off the old man with his evil deeds, but it is also our duty to put on the new man with his good deeds, in righteousness and true holiness, and to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven; in order that thus all believers, as a tree by its good fruits, may be known and distinguished by their good works from all unfruitful and unbelieving men.
These good works must not be performed through an outward appearance of holiness to please mortal men; nor must we follow herein the hypocrites and self righteous Pharisees, and others, whose works mainly consist in [things of] their own choice, and self invented commandments, which, according to the Scriptures, is only a vain and unavailing worship; but we must work out from our faith such divine virtues as are taught, and required of us in the holy Scriptures, and in which we have the example of Christ and His apostles, whose footsteps we are so highly commanded to follow; and all this we must do from the heart, to the honor of Him who created us; thus learning from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart, and thereby to put off all pride, which latter is the beginning of all destruction, and proceeds from man's sinful heart, and manifests itself outwardly in the adorning of and display in dress [in the style of], living, and in words and works; and on the contrary, to adorn ourselves inwardly with an humbled spirit, which does not think much of itself, but in lowliness esteems his neighbor better than himself; and outwardly in our conversation after our lowly Head and Example, Christ Jesus.
Thus we must also put off avarice, which is called the root of all evil, whence, proceed many sinful desires and unrighteous works, and, on the other hand, put on the love and mercy of our heavenly Father, and manifest it towards our neighbors and all men by works of mercy; seeing the practice of love and mercy is the chief sacrifice with which we can please our Creator in this present time.
Likewise we must put off all unclean lusts and desires, fornication, and all uncleanness, each preserving, on the contrary, his body chaste, holy, and pure, and abstaining also from all drunkenness, revelings, and banquetings; in excessive eating and drinking, and on the contrary, live soberly, temperately, righteously, and godly in this world, with humble fasting and constant praying to God Almighty, and not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
We also must not walk in the way of sinners, nor hold fellowship with light minded persons, where foolish talking and lies are bandied about; but we must associate with the pious, whose conversation treats of godliness, and who speak with tongues truly circumcised; and gladly attend the assembly of the believers, where we hear the praise of the Lord proclaimed; and furthermore, observe according to all our ability the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and thus by patient continuance in well doing seek for eternal life, remembering that Almighty God has promised eternal life to that faith which in this manner works by love; just as He has pronounced the sentence of eternal death upon unbelief with its evil works; and that all boasted faith without good works (as the body without the spirit), in itself is dead. But all the pious who thus evince divine virtue from their faith, and seek to excel in good works, must not suppose that they are able to merit salvation by their good works, or that God does owe them anything for them; but all true Christians are to consider themselves unprofitable servants, who of themselves can do nothing good; but that Almighty God, by His grace works in them both to will and to do that which is good, and that they are encompassed with a body of sin, which lusts against the Spirit, against which they have a continual warfare until the last enemy, which is death, shall be vanquished. For this reason all the pious fall far too short in good works, are very imperfect and frail, and hence, are in duty bound to pray daily, with an humble heart, to Almighty God, for forgiveness and remission of sins, and to give heartfelt praise, honor and thanks to Him for His saving grace which He has manifested towards us. And thus we hope to be saved only through the unmerited grace and mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and not through our good works. Tit. 3:8; Luke 18:10.
Of the deadly works of darkness, which separate men from God, and which we must put off and lay aside by faith, read: "Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man," etc. Col. 3:9, 10.
Read further concerning the twenty three sins which are worthy of eternal death. Rom. 1:29-31.
Of the good and virtuous works which the believers are to manifest from their faith as fruits of gratitude, read: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works," etc. Matt. 5:16; I Pet. 2:12; Phil. 2:15.
"But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." I Tim. 2:10.
"That they do good, that they be rich in good works," etc. I Tim. 6:18.
Of the nine beatitudes, read: Matt. 5:1-11.
Of the seven cardinal virtues which we are to evince from our faith, and that where this does not follow, we are blind, read: II Pet. 1:5-7. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26. "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Rev. 20:13; II Cor. 5:10.
How we are saved not through any works which we have done, but only through the grace of God, read: "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved." Acts 15:11.
Of marriage. Of marriage we confess: That the same is honorable and an ordinance of God, who in the beginning instituted this state with the two human beings first created in the image of God, blessed it, and joined them together. And since this divine ordinance, through the hardness of the heart and the evil wantonness of man had fallen into great disorder, so that men, through the lusts of the flesh, married whomsoever they would, and took unto them many wives, and then, for divers reasons, dismissed them by a bill of divorcement and married others; therefore Christ as a perfect Lawgiver, rejected and abolished the writing of divorcement and permission of Moses, together with all abuses thereof, referring all that heard and believed him to the original ordinance of his heavenly Father, instituted with Adam and Eve in Paradise; and thus re establishing marriage between one man and one woman, and so inseparably and firmly binding the bond of matrimony, that they might not, on any account, separate and marry another, except in case of adultery or death.
Hence, every believer who desires to enter into matrimony, must follow this doctrine of Christ and the above example, and unite himself in marriage only with one person, who has been, by a like faith with him, born from above, of God, and renewed, and created after the image of God. And such persons, after their parents and the church have given their consent, shall, in the presence of the church, with fervent prayer to God, be joined together by a minister. This we believe to be marrying in the Lord, of which God is Himself the Author and Joiner. II Pet. 1:1; Jno. 3:3; I Jno. 5:4.
And, as Christ accepts none as His bride and a member of His body, but those alone who are united with Him by faith; so also, believers cannot sever their bodies which are sanctified and surrendered to God, as members of Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost from Christ, and unite them in marriage with the unregenerate, and thus be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, who are not known to the church, by faith and Christian baptism, as brethren or sisters in fellowship, seeing that baptism is the first Christian ordinance in the church, after which all other ordinances of God follow. Eph. 5:30; Gal. 3:26.
Thus marriage is advised by the holy Ghost, to avoid fornication and all uncleanness; but if any one does not need this, and can without it, keep himself pure and undefiled, in a virginal state, in order to serve the Lord the better and without hindrance, it is commended still more highly. Hence, marriage is free for all, but no commandment:
How God the Lord in the beginning instituted marriage, read: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet for him." "And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man." "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Gen. 2:18, 22, 24.
How Christ rejected all abuses of marriage, and renewed the ordinance of His Father, read: "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and the twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matt. 19:4-6, 8; I Cor. 7:10.
"The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." I Cor. 7:39; Gen. 1:27; 24:4; Exodus 34:16; Num. 36:6; Deut. 7:3; Tob. 7:13.
Of the swearing of oaths, we confess: That the people of the Old Testament were permitted to swear in various ways by the name of the Lord; either by lifting up their hand toward heaven, or by putting it on the thigh of some one, which was done in various ways, and into which practice, through the artifice of man, many abuses were introduced, so that they would swear by heaven and earth, by Jerusalem, by their head, the temple, the gold of the temple, the altar, and the sacrifice; on account of which the Lord Christ, who had come from God, and been sent, to execute judgment and righteousness, being the only lawgiver, utterly abolished and prohibited all the aforesaid swearing, whether permitted or feigned and, in place thereof, referred all His hearers and followers, only to yea and nay, which is so in truth.
And we also find that the high apostles of Christ, as obedient sheep of their only Shepherd, followed the doctrine of Christ in this respect. Hence all believers are in duty bound obediently to follow this doctrine of Christ and the course of His apostles, putting away all lying, and dealing only in truth, and thus testifying in all true matters, whether before authority, or however the case may be, only with yea that which is yea, and with nay that which is nay, without adding anything more; and to keep these few words, little in sound, but great and strong in signification, as inviolable as an oath, thus showing themselves to be obedient followers of Christ and His apostles.
Of the rejection and abolishment of the ancient custom of swearing, and how Christ commanded yea and nay in place of it, read: "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." Matt. 5:33-37; 23:21.
"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." James 5:12.
"When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay? For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen." II Cor. 1:17, 20.
Of the ofice of magistracy, and secular power, we confess: That the office of magistracy is an ordinance and institution of God who Himself willed and ordained that such a power should be over every country in order that thereby countries and cities might, through good policy and laws, for the punishment of the evil and the protection of the pious, be governed and maintained in quiet and peace, in a good civil life; without which power of authority the world, lying as it is in wickedness, could not subsist. Hence, all believers are in duty bound, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake, to submit themselves to this power, and as good subjects, to obey it with fear and reverence; willingly and without murmuring to render unto their human ordinances and laws everything that is due to them, whether it be tribute, custom or excise; and to pray with an humble heart for their life and welfare, and thus to seek with faithful heart the prosperity of the country and city in which they reside; and though they, for the Word of God, may have to suffer persecution, the spoiling of their property, and death, from the authorities, they may not speak evil of them, nor resist them in any wise with weapons and defense, but commit vengeance to God alone, and expect consolation with God after this life. Rom. 12:2; Wisd. 6:4; Ecclus. 17:14.
But if the authorities, through Christian equity, grant liberty to practice the faith in every respect, we are under so much the greater obligation of submissive obedience to them; but so far as the authorities abuse the office imposed on them, which extends only to the temporal, bodily government of men in temporal things, and encroach on the office of Christ, who alone has power over the spirits and souls of men, seeking, through their human laws, to press and compel men to act contrary to the Word of God, we may not follow them, but must obey God rather than men, seeing Christ has been set by God His Father above all authority and power, the head in His church; and to this Father of Spirits we are directed, that in all things pertaining to the faith we should obey Him.
And as the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but spiritual, He has dissuaded and prohibited all His servants and followers from all secular government and highness, and has instituted in His church various ordinances, as pastors, teachers, helps and governments, by which the saints may be joined together, to edify the body of Christ; but the secular office* He left to the secular government, under which the followers of Christ as strangers and pilgrims, who have here no kingdom, power or continuing city, must sojourn, and fight only with spiritual weapons, which is the Word of God; seeing neither Christ nor His apostles pre
.* "But not the office of authority," then says the writer.
scribed to believers any laws or rules according to which they should govern the world; neither did they refer them to the laws of the Jews, much less to those of the Roman emperors, or heathen laws, according to which they might regulate themselves herein; but they prescribed to believers only good doctrines, how they should conduct themselves in all Christian propriety as obedient subjects, under the government of the authorities; referring them to His own example, who shunned all the greatness of this world, and showed Himself only as a poor servant. Thus must also all His followers avoid the office of magistracy in all its departments, and not administer it, following also in this the example of Christ and His apostles, in whose church said offices were not administered, as is well known to every intelligent person.
But as all Christians are not permitted, but very strictly prohibited by God, to speak evil of, judge or condemn any one that is without their communion, we would with this still much less speak evil or injuriously of the magistracy, but trust in the only good God, who keeps all the alms of man as a signet, and his good deeds as the apple of the eye, and has promised a true reward to him who will give only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple; that he, the Blessed, will also be gracious to, and not leave unrewarded the good deeds of all authorities, particularly those who administer their office aright according to the.ordinances of God, which consists chiefly in protecting good, innocent, defenseless people, and in punishing the evil. Hence, all Christians are in duty bound to regard the authorities as God's ministers, and to pray for them, with a fervent heart, that it may please God to be gracious to them and give them eternal salvation.
How government is of God, and for what purpose it is instituted, read: "For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." Rom. 13:1-4; Sir. 17:17.
How Christ taught His followers not to accept magisterial office, read: "But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45; Matt. 20:25; Luke 22:5.
Mark the words: But so shall it not be among you. This can not be applied to the apostles only, who were equal servants, the one being no greater than the other, and they soon separating f rom each other to preach the Gospel to all nations, could not, on this account, show to each other alone the duty of servants here required; hence the words, among you, must necessarily be understood of the whole church, seeing Christ spoke to His twelve apostles many others of His principal doctrines and commandments, which relate to all believers, as His blessed lips say in the Gospel: "And what I say unto you I say unto all." Mark 13:37.
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 1$:36; 6:15; Matt. 5:39; II Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:13; Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3; Zech. 9:10; Ps. 76:3.
Read further, not according to what law the believers are to govern the unbelievers, but only how the church of Christ shall be obedient to government. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." "Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also'for conscience' sake." "Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear." Rom. 13:1, 5, 7.
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well." I Pet. 2:13, 14.
"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men." Tit. 3:1, 2; I Tim. 2:2; Jer. 29:7; Bar. 1:11.
Of the discipline of the Christian Church and separation of ofending members. Of this we confess: That, as a house or city cannot be maintained without doors, gates and walls by which evil men may be expelled, excluded and debarred, and the good and pious be taken in and protected; so Christ, for the preservation of His church, gave her the key of heaven, which is His Word, that by and according to the same she should judge and reprove according to truth, for their reformation, all those in her communion that are found to offend in doctrine and conversation, that is, to act contrary to any commandment or ordinance which God has given to His church; and thus to separate the disobedient from her communion, that the church may not be leavened and stained by their false doctrine and impure walk, and become a partaker of other men's sins; and that the pious thereby may be brought to fear, and restrain themselves from the commission of similar offenses.
And, as God through Moses commanded this punishment of transgressors to be inflicted according to the magnitude of the offense, so that those who through ignorance, weakness, and otherwise, offended by minor sins against any of the commandments of the Lord, were reconciled to God by various offerings and the intercessions of the priests, but the open, great transgressors of the law could not be reconciled by such offerings, but had to die without mercy under two or three witnesses; so Christ in the New Testament also taught to inflict Christian punishment according to the magnitude of the offense; not to man's destruction, as in the punishment of Israel, which was death, by which the transgressor was cut off from repentance and reformation; but Christ having come to save men's souls, instituted this punishment for the reformation of sinners and ordained that if any one see his brother commit a transgression which is obviously a sin, but not so great as to have brought forth death in him, he shall out of Christian love for his soul, speak to him privately, with the Word of God, and reprove him of his sin and admonish him. If he receive this Christian admonition, he has gained his brother, and shall, out of fervent charity, conceal and cover his sin. I Pet. 4:8. But if he heareth him not, he shall take one or two more with him, so that in the mouth of these witnesses every word may be established. But if he shall neglect to hear them, then the matter must be brought before the church; and if he neglect to hear the church, all the members of which, are judges, he shall be excluded from the brotherhood.
But if any one fall into open works of the flesh, from which the church perceives that, through these sins he has separated himself from his God, and incurred the divine wrath, such an one the church shall, without any of the aforesaid admonitions and words as in the case of the offending sinner, on account of "tis sins, exclude from the brotherhood, and point him to repentance and reformation, by which he may again find grace with God, even as he has become separated from God through the evil works of the flesh. Thus the church shall knowingly keep none in her communion who are separated from God through their sins; nor separate any from her communion save those who have previously through their sins become separated from God; nor again receive any, and promise life and peace to them, except those who through faith and true repentance have first been received into grace with God.
This true repentance possesses the following properties: 1. That we have a sincere sorrow before Almighty God for all the sins we have committed; 2. that we confess our sins from the heart, before God and men; 3. that we desist from and do not continue any longer in sin, and, according to our ability, seek to make amends for the evil we have done, by doing good. This repentance and reformation again opens the entrance to the kingdom of God, which before was closed to us on account of our sins. So that the church of God, by this her separation and reception, may according to His Word, follow the previous separation and reception by God in heaven, of which the action of the church is only a proof and proclamation.
And since with God there is no respect of persons, therefore the church of God shall use this key of the Word of God aright, and, in punishing, spare no one, whether he be minister or brother, man or woman, but shall judge the small as well as the great after one rule and measure of the divine word, according to the truth. And, as all disobedient sinners by consent of the church, with sorrow and sadness of heart, are excluded from the brotherhood, and referred to repentance and reformation; so also shall all obedient, penitent sinners with the consent and concurrence of the church, be received, by the bishop of the church. And, as men are wont to rejoice over the finding of a lost sheep, piece of silver, or son, so shall believers rejoice with all the angels of God over the repentance and return of their erring brother or sister.
In connection with this read also the words of the high priest Eli: "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" I Sam. 2:25.
How Christ commanded that small offenses between brother and brother should be punished, read: "IÂ£ thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but i f he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matt. 18:15-18; Luke 17:3; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19.
"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." I John 5:16.
Thus did also the apostles, according to the doctrine of Christ, deny eternal life to all the known works of the flesh, condemning them to death, and in their assembly; delivered the Corinthian fornicator unto Satan, with the word and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, without using the aforesaid admonition with regard to him. I Cor. 5:3. Read also: I Tim. 1:20; 5:20; II Cor. 13:2.
Of the withdrawing from and avoiding of apostate and separated members, is confessed: As separation is commanded by God for the reformation of sinners, and the maintenance of the purity of the church; so God has also commanded and willed, that in order to shame him to reformation, the separated individual shall be shunned and avoided. This withdrawing proceeds from the separation, and is a fruit and proof of the same, and without it separation is vain and unavailing. Hence, this ordinance of God shall be practiced and maintained, by all believers, with the separated persons. This withdrawing extends to all spiritual communion, as the supper, evangelical salutation, the kiss of peace, and all that pertains to it. This withdrawing extends likewise to all temporal and bodily things, as eating, drinking, buying and selling, daily intercourse and conversation, with all that pertains to it.
Thus, believers shall, according to the Word of God, withdraw themselves, from the separated in all spiritual, evangelical matters, as well as in all bodily and temporal things. And as in separation no persons may be regarded or spared, but must, by consent, be separated from the true members of the body; so also in withdrawing, extending to all spiritual and temporal matters, none may be spared or excepted, whether man or woman, parent or child, or whatever relation it may be; seeing we nowhere read, where God gave His church a general commandment or ordinance, that any member of said church was entirely exempted and excluded from such commandment; but on the contrary, it appears in many places, that the whole number, without exception, had to regulate themselves according to one rule set before them by God; hence this ordinance of God must be practiced and maintained by all the members of the body of Christ, without respect of persons, in the fear of God, to shame sinners to reformation, until the person punished is again received into the church.
But as all divine ordinances must be tempered with Christian kindliness and discretion, these also must have their place in this matter of shunning. Hence, the believers must conduct themselves with more discernment and equity with regards to separated persons, than did the scribes and Pharisees with regard to the Sabbath; who, as it appears would rather let men perish, than that they should receive help on the Sabbath, thinking that the Sabbath should be broken thereby, though they themselves, in such a case, broke the Sabbath for various minor matters. But even as the pious followers of the law did not sin, nor break the Sabbath, when they, on this day, performed not their own, but only the works which God had commanded them, so the believers neither sin nor act contrary to the commandment of shunning, when they perform not their own works, but only the works which God has commanded them concerning separated persons; as, in case of necessity, to minister to their bodies with food and other needful things, and to their souls with the Word of God, as well as to assist them by virtue of the commandment of God, in case of danger from water, fire and the like; these all believers are in duty bound to do; and they must thus, with great carefulness, seek that which is lost, and lead that which has erred, back to the right way, reprove and instruct them with the word of God, where such Christian admonition may take place, according to the example of Christ; but in all human works believers must with all diligence withdraw themselves from the separated persons, until they have reformed and been united again with the church.
In order rightly to understand this matter, it must be considered that the people of Israel at the time of Christ were under the power and dominion of the Romans, and could not punish transgressors according to the law of Moses, hence they separated from their communion and avoided those who departed from the law of the fathers, and went over to the Gentiles, Samaritans, or open sinners. Concerning this read: They regarded them as unclean, abhorred them, compared them to heathens and enemies, avoided all dealings and intercourse with them, and hindered them in their business. III Macc. 2:34. Read also: John 18:31; 4:9; Acts 10:28; 11; Gal. 2:12.
This custom Christ also observed, and commanded that the disobedient in the church should be so regarded, saying: "If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." Matt. 18:17.
This the apostles also practiced in like manner, according to the doctrine of Christ. Read: "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this wo.7ld, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat." I Cor. 5:9-11.
Here the holy apostle forbids us to company and eat with apostate brethren or sisters, which he did not mean or command with reference to the unrighteous of this world, but permitted it with them; else we would needs have to go out of the world, seeing the whole world lies in wickedness; hence it must necessarily be understood with reference to daily intercourse and eating, buying and selling, and the like. "A man that is an heretick, after the first and second admonition, reject." Titus. 3:10; II Tim. 4:15; II John 10.
"And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." II Thess. 3:14.
How this withdrawing is to be observed by all believers, with regard to all apostates, walking disorderly, without respect of person, read: "Now, we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourself from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." II Thess. 3:6.
Of the last day and the second coning of Christ from heaven, we confess: That the great God of heaven, who in the beginning created heaven and earth with all visible things out of nothing, also appointed a day and time, which cannot be known by the angels of God in heaven; much less by mortal men, but which shall unexpectedly overtake men, as the snare of the bird, and a thief in the night; at which time the Almighty God will destroy this whole visible, earthly, realm, and burn it with everlasting fire, except those of the human race who shall have done the will of God; these shall abide forever.
In the last great day of the Lord the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who in the presence of the apostles ascended from the earth in a cloud, shall come again from heaven, in the clouds of the sky, but not in the humiliated form of a servant, as in His first coming into the world at Bethlehem. For at this His second coming He shall reveal Himself in the clouds as a King of mighty kings, and Lord of lords, with the power and glory of His Almighty Father, and all the angels of God with Him, and shall thus, with the trump of God, and the voice of the archangel, peal forth an unutterable sound and shout; so that heaven and earth, all the mountains and islands, shall be moved; the sun and moon shall lose their brightness, the stars shall fall from heaven, and all kindreds of the earth shall weep and wail over themselves, for fear and expectation of the things which are to come; and all shall see the Son of man coming, with power and great glory.
Of this last day of the Lord, read: "And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Matt. 24:3.
"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." II Peter 3:16; Sir. 16:18; Mal. 4:1.
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child." I Thess. 5:2, 3.
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matt. 24:35, 36; Mark 13:31; Ps. 102:27; Isa. 51:6.
Of Christ's coming from heaven, read: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." I Thess. 4:16.
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:30; Luke 21:27. Read also: I Thess. 1:10; II Thess. 1:7; Dan. 7:13; Jude 14.
Of the Death of the body and the Resurrection of the dead, we confess: That, in the beginning, man was created immortal, but that through the envy of the devil and the sin of our first parents, death came into the world. And, as through the sin of Adam all men became sinful in him, so also through him, all men became subject to bodily death; so that in consequence thereof it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; seeing this sinful, corruptible flesh and blood cannot inherit the eternal, incorruptible kingdom, but must be renewed and glorified through death and the resurrection, by the power of God.
And, even as, when a man falls into a deep sleep, his heart, soul or spirit does not entirely sleep, as the body; so also the spirit or soul of man does not die or fall asleep with the body, but is and remains an immortal spirit. Hence temporal death, in the Scriptures, is called a sleep, and the resurrection of the dead an awakening from this sleep of death.
And as a sleeping man cannot receive and enjoy any good gifts, either according to the soul or the body, much less any punishment, pain and torment, unless he be previously awakened from his sleep; so also, believers cannot receive the perfect heavenly existence, nor unbelievers the eternal death or the pain of hell, either in the soulor in the body, except they have first been awakened from the sleep of death, and have arisen, through the coming of Christ.
Until this last day of judgment the souls of believers are waiting in the hands of God, under the altar of Christ, to receive then in their souls and bodies, the rewards promised them. So also the souls of unbelievers are reserved to be punished, after the day of judgment, in their souls and bodies.
And as through the sin and transgression of Adam death came upon all men; so also the resurrection of the dead came upon all men through the Saviour Jesus Christ; so that, as in the springtime the sun, through his glorious radiance and brightness, draws forth all sweet scented herbs from the earth, as well as thistles and thorns, which are rejected and reserved for the fire; so also, shall Christ Jesus, the true Son of righteousness, in this great last day and hour, through His glorious coming and appearing in the clouds of heaven, draw forth from the earth, and cause to arise all men, the wicked and the pious; so that this great God, through His power and commanding voice, by which He spake in the beginning: Let heaven and earth be made; and His word was immediately a perfect work; and who created all visible things from that which was invisible, and made man of the dust of the ground; this same God shall, through His unchangeable power and almighty word, in the last day, call all men who have been changed into dust and earth, and have been consumed by fire, birds, and fishes, from the dust, and cause each to rise with his own body, flesh, and bones, with which they have served either their Creator or sin.
And, as a woman in travail, when her hour is come, cannot retain, but makes haste to deliver, the fruit of her womb, so also shall in this last hour, death, earth, or hell and sea make haste to deliver up the great number of the dead which in them have become dust and ashes, and passed away. These shall all arise, with their own bodies, incorruptible, which shall again be united with the soul and spirit, which through death had been separated from the body, and had remained immortal. At that time the pious shall be glorified and changed from the mortal and corruptible into the immortal and incorruptible, from the weak and frail, into the strong and glorious, being made like unto the angels of God, and the glorious body of Christ. Thus shall also those who shall live and remain at this sudden second coming of Christ from the heaven, be changed and glorified after the image of Christ.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Heb. 9:27.
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." I Cor. 15:21.
"For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living." Wisd. 1:13.
How at the second coming of Christ the dead shall rise through Christ, read: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." I Thess. 4:16.
"Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." John 5:28, 29.
"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold." Job 19:25-27.
How in the resurrection of the dead, men's vile bodies shall be glorified, read: "In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." Matt. 22:30.
"For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Phil. 3:20, 21; I Cor. 15:42, 53.
Of the last judgment; of hell, and the damnation of unbelievers, we confess: That in the last day, when Christ Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, all nations shall be gathered before His judgment seat, and He shall separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, placing the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left. Over these Christ Jesus is ordained by His Father judge of quick and dead, who will regard no person, nor need the testimony of any; for the heart, mind and thoughts of every one are manifest before Him as an open book. This righteous judge will judge the whole world in righteousness, and as the great Shepherd of the sheep, pronounce an eternal, irrevocable judgment upon them, rewarding each in his own body according to that he hath done. To all the believing, generated children of God who in this life, as obedient sheep, heard and followed the voice of Christ, He shall say: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." And to all unbelievers, who would not have Christ and His word in this life, but, as disobedient, obstinate goats, rejected them, He will say: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
In that last day of the Lord the righteous God will deprive this world of all good gifts; so that the sun, moon and stars shall lose their brightness, and all the light and glory of the world shall be changed into everlasting darkness. In that time the earth, waters and streams shall be turned into burning pitch and brimstone, which shall burn forever and ever. And, seeing this earth is called hell in many places in Scripture, and no other hell being anywhere mentioned, the same is regarded as hell and the place of damnation; in which fiery pool and outer darkness all unbelievers will finally have to suffer the burning of hell and eternal damnation; and thus they shall at last be punished and tormented with the visible things, which in preference to the eternal and invisible, they chose and served in this life.
Into that place of darkness and fiery pool all unbelievers shall, after the resurrection, their souls having been united with their bodies, be sentenced by Christ. Then shall be fulfilled that which is written concerning this last, sad day of separation; namely, that one of two shall be taken in the field, in the bed, and at the mill, and be caught up in the air to meet the Lord; but the others shall be left, and be sentenced into said pool of darkness, where they shall be tormented with the devil and his angels, burning, and suffering in all eternity, forever deprived of all grace and mercy from God, which is the second death.
Of the last judgment, and how the whole human race shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive each in his own body an eternal sentence, read: "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead." Acts 10:42.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." II Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Rev. 20:12; Dan. 7:10.
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." Matt. 25:31, 32; 16:27; 26:64; II Thess. 1:7.
Of hell and the place of damnation, read: "For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever." Is. 34:8-10; II Peter 3:10; Sir. 16:18.
"And it came to pass as he (Moses) had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods." Num. 16:31, 32.
"That they might know, that wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished." Wisd. 11:16.
"Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire." James 5:3.
How the souls of unbelievers are reserved by God until the last day of vengeance, to be tormented with their bodies after the resurrection, read: "For after death shall the judgment come, when we shall live again: and then shall the names of the righteous be manifest, and the works of the ungodly shall be declared." II Esd. 14:35.
"For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud; yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that cometh, shall burn them up, saith the Lord." Mal. 4:1.
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." II Peter 3:9.
Of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, we confess: That as there is a visible, perishable kingdom of this, which, through the sins and wickedness of men, lies in darkness; of which darkness, Satan, the spirit of wickedness, who works in the children of unbelief, is the supreme prince, who at last, with all his servants, shall be brought to everlasting lamentation and remorse, and shall perish; so also there is an eternal, immovable and invisible kingdom of heaven, of which Christ Jesus is King, Prince and Lord; in which all believers shall live with God forever in everlasting joy. To this glorious kingdom of heaven, God, through His grace and goodness, from the beginning of the world, caused the fallen human race to be called; first through His servants, the prophets, and then through the Son Himself, who, leaving this His kingdom for a time, came to preach, and to invite all men, to flee the shadow of this world, and to make haste to enter into this eternal rest. For this end the fatlings are killed, and this glorious feast is prepared; so that men are prevented from making any excuse concerning the piece of land, the oxen, and the wife, but the way, door and gate, is open and well prepared.
This glorious kingdom of heaven is typified and represented to us by a city full of all good things, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, which is beautifully prepared by God, as a bride adorned for her husband; the streets of it are pure gold, and the gates and walls built of and beautifully adorned with manifold pearls and precious stones. In this city is the glory of the Almighty God, which neither Moses on Mount Sinai, nor the eyes of any mortal man were able to behold. This brightness and everlasting light shall shine in this city forever and ever. Here all sorrow and mourning, cold, nakedness, hunger and thirst shall be changed into everlasting, satisfying joy and consolation. This glory and joy is so exceedingly great and unspeakable, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; and into this heavenly state, which is beyond all praise, all believers and God pleasing persons shall, at the resurrection of the dead, when their souls, which through death had become separated from the body, and until this last time were preserved in the hand of God, shall be re united with their bodies, be caught up from this earthly darkness, to meet the Lord in the air.
And, as a bride is received by her bridegroom; so also shall all true children of God then be received with body and soul through grace, by Christ Jesus, and be admitted to this glorious joy, where they shall see God as He is, in His unspeakable glory, together with all the heavenly hosts. Then shall their robe of mourning, or the mortal clothing of the flesh be put off, and the immortal be put on; and they shall be clothed in white, shining raiment, and together with all God's chosen ones, be fed by the son of God, whom they confessed in the world, with the hidden heavenly bread. and shall eat of the tree of life, and drink out of the living fountain of water, and, being as the angels, shall, with joyful tongues and mouths, in gladsome voices, to the honor of the lamb, their bridegroom, sing the new song, with unspeakable, glorious joy, which no one can take away from them; but they shall be kings and priests of God, and shall live and reign with Christ for ever and ever.
May the God of grace and mercy, and of all comfort, who has from the beginning called us to this His heavenly kingdom and glory, endow us unworthy children of men with His good Spirit, make us worthy of Him and draw us Himward, that we may follow and run after this high prize, and by grace receive the same, through Jesus Christ, and enjoy it for ever. Amen.
Of the everlasting kingdom of heaven, and its King, read: "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace." Heb. 12:28.
"My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 18:36.
Read further how this eternal King, Christ Jesus, at His second coming from heaven, after the dead shall have arisen, and the eternal judgment been held, shall receive all the members of His kingdom in this His everlasting glorious kingdom of heaven, where they shall behold God in unspeakable glory. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matt. 25:34.
"But the righteous live for ever more; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand." Wisd. 5:15, 16; I Peter 5:4; II Tim. 4:8; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:12.
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." I Thess. 4:17, 18; I Cor. 2:9; I Peter 1:8; John 16:22.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." I John 3:2; Phil. 3:20, 21.
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Col. 3:4.
Of all who from a true faith shall show forth the required spiritual virtues, and shall continue to the end in this divine calling, read: "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." II Peter 1:10,11.
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Rev. 13:10.
We feel now that we have fulfilled the promise which we made in the beginning concerning the matter of holy baptism, and other articles of Christian worship; with which, we trust, those who fear God and love the truth will content themselves; hence we conclude this, and proceed to the steadfast martyrs who in the sixteenth century suffered for the name of Jesus Christ, and His holy truth.
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