The Confession of Faith, revised in the National Synod, held at Dordrecht, in the years 1618 and 1619. (Council of Dort)

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Confession of Faith
The Confession of Faith,
revised in the National Synod,
held at Dordrecht, in the years 1618 and 1619.

ARTICLE 1. That there is One Only God
We  all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there
is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that he
is eternal, incomprehensible invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty,
perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.

2. By what means God is made known unto us
We  know  him  by  to means; first, by the creation, preservation  and
government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant
book,  wherein  all  creatures,  great  and  small,  are  as  so  many
characters  leading  us to contemplate the invisible  things  of  God,
namely  His  power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says, Rom.  1:20.
All  which  things  are sufficient to convince  men,  and  leave  them
without excuse. Secondly, he makes himself more clearly fully known to
us by his holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary
for us to know in this life, to his glory and our salvation.

3. Of the written Word of God
We  confess that this Word of God was not sent, nor delivered  by  the
will of man, but that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by  the
Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter says. And that afterwards God, from a
special  care,  which he has for us and our salvation,  commanded  his
servants,  the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed  word  to
writing;  and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables  of
the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.

4. Canonical Books of the Holy Scripture
We  believe  that  the  Holy Scriptures are contained  in  two  books,
namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against  which
nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God. The
books  of  the  Old  Testament are, the five  books  of  Moses,  viz.:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua,
Ruth, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two of the Kings, two books
of  the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of  Ezra,
Nehemiah,  Esther,  Job,  the Psalms of  David,  the  three  books  of
Solomon,  namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song  of  Songs;
the  four great prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; and the
twelve  lesser  prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos,  Obadiah,  Jonah,
Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
  Those  of the New Testament are the four evangelists, viz.: Matthew,
Mark,  Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles
of  the apostle Paul, viz.: one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians,
one  to  the  Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians,
one  to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy,  one
to  Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; the seven epistles
of  the  other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three  of
John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.

5. From whence the Holy Scriptures derive their dignity and authority.
We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for
the  regulation, foundation, and conformation of our faith;  believing
without  any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much  because
the  Church  receives and approves them as such, but  more  especially
because  the  Holy Ghost witnesses in our hearts, that they  are  from
God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind
are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.

6. The difference between the canonical and apocryphal books
We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, viz.: the third
book  of  Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom,  Jesus  Syrach,
Baruch,  the  appendix to the book of Esther, the Song  of  the  three
Children  in  the Furnace, the history of Susannah, of  Bell  and  the
Dragon,  the  prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the  Maccabees.
All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far  as
they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such
power  and  efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm  any
point  of faith, or of the christian religion; much less detract  from
the authority of the other sacred books.

7.  The  sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, to be the  only  rule  of
faith.
We  believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of  God,
and  that  whatsoever  man  ought  to  believe,  unto  salvation,   is
sufficiently taught therein. For, since the whole manner  of  worship,
which  God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful
for  any  one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we  are  now
taught  in  the  Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were  an  angel  from
heaven, as the apostle Paul says. For, since it is forbidden,  to  add
unto  or  take  away anything from the word of God,  it  does  thereby
evidently  appear,  that  the doctrine thereof  is  most  perfect  and
complete  in all respects. Neither do we consider of equal  value  any
writing  of  men,  however holy these men may have  been,  with  those
divine  Scriptures,  nor ought we to consider  custom,  or  the  great
multitude,  or  antiquity,  or succession of  times  and  persons,  or
councils,  decrees or statutes, as of equal value with  the  truth  of
God,  for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars,
and  more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with  all  our
hearts, whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, which the
apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they  are  of
God.  Likewise,  if  there  come any unto  you;  and  bring  not  this
doctrine, receive him not into your house.

8. That God is one in Essence, yet nevertheless distinguished in three
Persons
According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in  one  only
God,  who  is  the  one single essence, in which  are  three  persons,
really,   truly,   and   eternally  distinct,   according   to   their
incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the  Son,  and  the
Holy  Ghost.  The  Father is the cause, origin and  beginning  of  all
things  visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and  image
of  the  Father;  the  Holy  Ghost is the  eternal  power  and  might,
proceeding  from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless God  is  not  by
this  distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures  teach
us,  that  the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have each  his
personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise  that
these  three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is  evident,
that  the  Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise
the  Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless  these
persons  thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed:  for  the
Father has not assumed the flesh, nor has the Holy Ghost, but the  Son
only.  The Father has never been without his Son, or without his  Holy
Ghost.  For  they are all three coeternal and co-essential.  There  is
neither  first  nor  last: for they are all three one,  in  truth,  in
power, in goodness, and in mercy.

9. The proof of the foregoing article of the Trinity of persons in one
God.
All  this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as  from
their  operations,  and  chiefly by those we feel  in  ourselves.  The
testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy
Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not
so  necessary to enumerate, as to choose them out with discretion  and
judgment. In Genesis, chap. 1:26, 27, God says: Let us make man in our
image,  after our likeness, etc. So God created man in his own  image,
male  and  female created he them. And Gen. 3:22. Behold  the  man  is
become  as one of us. From this saying, let us make man in our  image,
it  appears  that there are more persons than one in the Godhead;  and
when  he says, God created, he signifies the unity. It is true he does
not  say  how  many persons there are, but that, which appears  to  us
somewhat  obscure in the Old Testament, is very plain in the New.  For
when  our  Lord  was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the  Father  was
heard,  saying, This is my beloved Son: the Son was seen in the water,
and  the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also
instituted  by  Christ  in the baptism of all believers.  Baptize  all
nations,  in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of  the  Holy
Ghost.  In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed  Mary,
the  mother of our Lord, 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:
likewise, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and
the  communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And there are three that
bear  record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost,  and
these  three  are one. In all which places we are fully  taught,  that
there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although  this
doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless,  we  now
believe it by means of the Word of God, but expect hereafter to  enjoy
the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in Heaven. Moreover, we must
observe  the particular offices and operations of these three  persons
towards us. The Father is called our Creator, by his power; the Son is
our  Saviour  and  Redeemer,  by his blood;  the  Holy  Ghost  is  our
Sanctifier, by his dwelling in our hearts. This doctrine of  the  Holy
Trinity,  has always been defended and maintained by the true  Church,
since  the  time of the apostles, to this very day, against the  Jews,
Mohammedans,  and  some  false christians and  heretics,  as  Marcion,
Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have
been  justly  condemned by the orthodox fathers.  Therefore,  in  this
point,  we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of  the
Apostles,   of   Nice,  and  of  Athanasius:  likewise  that,   which,
conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.

10. That Jesus Christ is true and eternal God
We  believe that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, is  the
only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made nor created
(for  then  he  should be a creature), but co-essential and  coeternal
with  the  Father, the express image of his person, and the brightness
of  his glory, equal unto him in all things. He is the Son of God, not
only  from the time that he assumed our nature, but from all eternity,
as  these  testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses  says,
that  God created the world; and John says, that all things were  made
by  that Word, which he calls God. And the apostle says, that God made
the  worlds by his Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus
Christ.  Therefore it must needs follow, that he, who is  called  God,
the  Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time, when all
things  were  created by him. Therefore the prophet  Micah  says,  His
goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle:
He  has  neither beginning of days, nor end of life. He  therefore  is
that  true,  eternal,  and almighty God, whom we invoke,  worship  and
serve.

11. That the Holy Ghost is true and eternal God
We  believe  and  confess also, that the Holy  Ghost,  from  eternity,
proceeds  from  the  Father and Son; and therefore  neither  is  made,
created,  nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in  order  is
the  third  person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the  same  essence,
majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son: and therefore, is  the
true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.

12. Of the Creation
We  believe  that the Father, by the Word, that is, by  his  Son,  has
created  of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures,  as  it
seemed  good  unto him, giving unto every creature its  being,  shape,
form,  and  several offices to serve its Creator. That  he  does  also
still  uphold and govern them by his eternal providence, and  infinite
power,  for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve  his
God.  He  also  created the angels good, to be his messengers  and  to
serve  his  elect;  some of whom are fallen from that  excellency,  in
which  God  created them, into everlasting perdition; and  the  others
have,  by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in  their
primitive  state.  The devils and evil spirits are so  depraved,  that
they  are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of  their
power,  as  murderers, watching to ruin the Church  and  every  member
thereof,  and  by  their wicked stratagems to destroy  all;  and  are,
therefore,  by  their own wickedness, adjudged to  eternal  damnation,
daily expecting their horrible torments. Therefore we reject and abhor
the  error  of  the Sadducees, who deny the existence cf  spirits  and
angels:  and  also that of the Manichees, who assert that  the  devils
have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own
nature, without having been corrupted.

13. Of Divine Providence
We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not
forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he  rules
and  governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing  happens
in  this  world without his appointment: nevertheless, God neither  is
the  author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed.
For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that  he
orders  and  executes his work in the most excellent and just  manner,
even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And, as to what he
does  surpassing  human understanding, we will not  curiously  inquire
into,  farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the  greatest
humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are
hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ,  to
learn  only  those things which he has revealed to  us  in  his  Word,
without   transgressing  these  limits.  This  doctrine   affords   us
unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing  can
befall  us  by  chance, but by the direction of our most gracious  and
heavenly Father; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all
creatures  so under his power, that not a hair of our head  (for  they
are  all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the
will  of  our  Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being  persuaded,
that  he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without  his
will and permission, they cannot hurt us. And therefore we reject that
damnable  error  of the Epicureans, who say that God regards  nothing,
but leaves all things to chance.

14.  Of  the  Creation and Fall of man, and his Incapacity to  perform
what is truly good
We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made
and  formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and
holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But
being  in  honour, he understood it not, neither knew his  excellency,
but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and
the  curse,  giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment
of  life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated
himself  from God, who was his true life, having corrupted  his  whole
nature;  whereby  he  made himself liable to  corporal  and  spiritual
death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all  his
ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received  from
God,  and  only  retained a few remains thereof, which,  however,  are
sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is  in
us  is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying:  The
light  shineth  in  darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth  it  not:
where  St.  John calls men darkness. Therefore we reject all  that  is
taught  repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since  man
is  but a slave to sin, and has nothing of himself, unless it is given
from  heaven. For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can  do
any good, since Christ says, No man can come to me, except the Father,
which  hath  sent me, draw him? Who will glory in his  own  will,  who
understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can
speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things
of the spirit of God? In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he
knows that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as  of
ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God? And therefore what  the
apostle  says ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God  worketh
in  us  both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there  is  no
will   nor   understanding,  conformable  to  the  divine   will   and
understanding,  but that Christ has wrought in man; which  he  teaches
us, when he says, Without me ye can do nothing.

15. Of Original Sin
We  believe  that, through the disobedience of Adam, original  sin  is
extended  to  all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole  nature,
and  a  hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are  infected
even  in  their mother's womb, and which produces in man all sorts  of
sin,  being  in him as a root thereof; and therefore is  so  vile  and
abominable  in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn  all
mankind.  Nor  is it by any means abolished or done away  by  baptism;
since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a
fountain;  notwithstanding it is not imputed to the  children  of  God
unto  condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven  them.  Not
that  they  should  rest securely in sin, but that  a  sense  of  this
corruption  should  make  believers often  to  sigh,  desiring  to  be
delivered  from this body of death. Wherefore we reject the  error  of
the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.

16. Of Eternal Election
We  believe  that  all the posterity of Adam being  thus  fallen  into
perdition  and  ruin, by the sin of our first parents,  God  then  did
manifest  himself  such as he is; that is to say, merciful  and  just:
Merciful,  since  he delivers and preserves from this  perdition  all,
whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has
elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their  works:
Just,  in  leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they  have
involved themselves.

17. Of the Recovery of Fallen Man
We  believe  that our most gracious God, in his admirable  wisdom  and
goodness,  seeing that man had thus thrown himself into  temporal  and
eternal death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to  seek
and  comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence,  promising
him  that  he  would give his Son, who should be made of a  woman,  to
bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy.

18. Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made
to  the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent  into
the  world,  at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten  and
eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became  like
unto  man,  really  assuming  the true  human  nature,  with  all  its
infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the  blessed
Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the means of man,
and  did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a  true
human  soul, that he might be a real man. For since the soul was  lost
as  well  as the body, it was necessary that he should take both  upon
him,  to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the  heresy
of  the  Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of  his
mother) that Christ is become a partaker of the flesh and blood of the
children;  that he is a fruit of the loins of David after  the  flesh;
made  of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb
of the Virgin Mary, made of a woman, a branch of David; a shoot of the
root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews
according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham, since he took  on  him
the  seed of Abraham, and became like unto his brethren in all things,
sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that is to say, God
with us.

19.  Of the union and distinction of the two Natures in the person  of
Christ.
We  believe  that  by  this  conception, the  person  of  the  Son  is
inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that  there
are  not  two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united  in
one  single  person: yet, that each nature retains  its  own  distinct
properties.  As then the divine nature has always remained  untreated,
without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so
also  has  the  human nature not lost its properties, but  remained  a
creature,  having  beginning  of days,  being  a  finite  nature,  and
retaining all the properties of a real body. And though he has by  his
resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless  he  has  not
changed  the  reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our  salvation
and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two
natures  are  so  closely united in one person,  that  they  were  not
separated  even  by his death. Therefore that which  he,  when  dying,
commended  into  the  hands of his Father, was a  real  human  spirit,
departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature  always
remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the
Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when  he  was
an  infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a  while.
Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very  God  by
his  power  to conquer death; and very man that he might  die  for  us
according to the infirmity of his flesh.

20. That God has manifested his justice and mercy in Christ
We  believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent his Son
to  assume  that nature, in which the disobedience was  committed,  to
make  satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of  sin  by
his  most  bitter  passion  and death. God  therefore  manifested  his
justice  against his Son, when he laid our iniquities  upon  him;  and
poured  forth his mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy
of  damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving his Son unto death
for  us,  and raising him for our justification, that through  him  we
might obtain immortality and life eternal.

21 Of the satisfaction of Christ, our only High Priest, for us.
We  believe  that  Jesus Christ is ordained with  an  oath  to  be  an
everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec; and  that  he
has  presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his
wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the
cross,  and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins;  as
the  prophets had foretold. For it is written: He was wounded for  our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of
our  peace  was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.  He  was
brought   as  a  lamb  to  the  slaughter,  and  numbered   with   the
transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though
he  had first declared him innocent. Therefore: he restored that which
he  took  not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well  in
his  body  as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment  which  our
sins  had  merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops  of
blood  falling on the ground. He called out, my God, my God, why  hast
thou  forsaken me? and has suffered all this for the remission of  our
sins.  Wherefore  we justly say with the apostle Paul:  that  we  know
nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; we count all things  but
loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus  our
Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation. Neither is it
necessary  to  seek or invent any other means of being  reconciled  to
God,  than  this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers  are
made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the
angel  of God, Jesus, that is to say, Saviour, because he should  save
his people from their sins.

32. Of Faith in Jesus Christ
We  believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great  mystery,
the  Holy Ghost kindles in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces
Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing
more  besides him. For it must needs follow, either that  all  things,
which  are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ. or  if
all  things  are  in  him, that then those who  possess  Jesus  Christ
through faith, have complete salvation in him. Therefore, for  any  to
assert,  that  Christ is not sufficient, but that  something  more  is
required  besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy:  for  hence  it
would  follow, that Christ was but half a Saviour. Therefore we justly
say  with  Paul,  that we are justified by faith alone,  or  by  faith
without  works. However, to speak more clearly, we do not  mean,  that
faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which  we
embrace Christ our Righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all
his  merits, and so many holy works which he has done for us,  and  in
our stead, is our Righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps
us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours,
are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

33. Of Justification
We  believe that our salvation consists in the remission of  our  sins
for Jesus Christ's sake, sad that therein our righteousness before God
is  implied:  as  David and Paul teach us, declaring this  to  be  the
happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works.
And  the same apostle says, that we are justified freely by his grace,
through  the  redemption which is in Jesus Christ.  And  therefore  we
always  hold  fast this foundation, ascribing all the  glory  to  God,
humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be  such
as  we  really  are,  without presuming  to  trust  in  any  thing  in
ourselves,  or  in  any merit of ours, relying and  resting  upon  the
obedience  of  Christ  crucified alone, which becomes  ours,  when  we
believe in him. This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities, and to
give  us  confidence in approving to God; freeing  the  conscience  of
fear,  terror  and dread, without following the example of  our  first
father,  Adam,  who,  trembling,  attempted  to  cover  himself   with
fig-leaves.  And  verily if we should appear before  God,  relying  on
ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should,
alas!  be  consumed. And therefore every one must pray with  David:  O
Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall
no man living be justified.

24. Of man's Sanctification and God Works
We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of
the  Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, does regenerate
and  make  him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and  freeing
him  from the bondage of sin. Therefore it is so far from being  true,
that  this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life,
that  on the contrary without it they would never do anything  out  of
love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore
it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we
do  not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in
Scripture,  a  faith that worketh by love, which excites  man  to  the
practice  of  those works, which God has commended in his Word.  Which
works,  as  they  proceed from the good root of faith,  are  good  and
acceptable  in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all  sanctified
by   his   grace:  howbeit  they  are  of  no  account   towards   our
justification.  For it is by faith in Christ that  we  are  justified,
even  before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works,
any  more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself
is  good.  Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them,  (for
what can we merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works  we
do, and not he to us, since it is he that works in us both to will and
to  do  of  his  good  pleasure. Let us therefore attend  to  what  is
written:  when ye shall have done all those things which are commended
you,  say,  we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which  was
our duty to do. In the meantime, we not deny that God rewards our good
works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover,
though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them;  for
we  do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable;
and  at  though we could perform such works, still the remembrance  of
one  sin  is  sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then  we  would
always  be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and  our
poor  consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the  merits
of the suffering and death of our Saviour.

25. Of the abolishing of the Ceremonial Law
We  believe, that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at  the
coming  of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so  that
the use of them must be abolished amongst Christian; yet the truth and
substance  of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom  they  have
their  completion. In the meantime, we still use the testimonies taken
out  of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the
gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of  God,
according to his will.

26. Of Christ's Intercession
We believe that we have no access unto God, but alone through the only
Mediator  and  Advocate,  Jesus Christ the  righteous,  who  therefore
became  man, having united in one person the divine and human natures,
that  we  men  might have access to the divine majesty,  which  access
would  otherwise  be  barred against us. But this Mediator,  whom  the
Father  has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright
us  by  his  majesty,  or cause us to seek another  according  to  our
infancy.  For  there is no creature either in heaven or on  earth  who
loveth  us more than Jesus Christ; who, though he was in the  form  of
God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form  of
a man, and of a servant for us, and was made like unto his brethren in
all things. If then we should seek for another Mediator, who would  be
well  affected towards us, whom could we find, who loved us more  than
he,  who laid down his life for us, even when we were his enemies? And
if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so
much  of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and  who
has  all  power in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner  be  heard
than  the  own well beloved Son of God? Therefore it was only  through
distrust that this practice of dishonouring, instead of honouring  the
saints,  was introduced, doing that, which they never have  done,  nor
required,  but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according  to
their  bounden  duty, as appears by their writings.  Neither  must  we
plead  here  our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that  we  should
offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness but  only
on  the  ground  of the excellency and worthiness of  the  Lord  Jesus
Christ,  whose  righteousness is become ours by faith.  Therefore  the
apostle,  to  remove this foolish fear, or rather  mistrust  from  us,
justly says, that Jesus Christ was made like unto his brethren in  all
things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, to  make
reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself  has
suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are  tempted;
and further to encourage us, he adds, seeing then that we have a great
High  Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son  of  God,
let  us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest  which
cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in  all
points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore  come
boldly  unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,  and  find
grace  to help in time of need. The same apostle says, having boldness
to  enter  into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus; let us  draw  near
with  a  true heart in full assurance of faith, etc. Likewise,  Christ
has an unchangeable priesthood, wherefore he is able also to same them
to the utter most, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to
make  intercession for them. What more can be required?  since  Christ
himself says, I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man  cometh
unto the Father but by me. To what purpose should we then seek another
advocate,  since  it has pleased God, to give us his  own  Son  as  an
advocate? Let us not for sake him to take another, or rather  to  seek
after another, without ever being able to find him; for God well knew,
when  he gave him to us, that we were sinners. Therefore according  to
the  command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Jesus
Christ our own Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord's prayer;  being
assured  that  whatever we ask of the Father  in  his  name,  will  be
granted us.

27. Of the Catholic Christian Church
We  believe and profess, one catholic or universal Church, which is  a
holy  congregation, of true Christian believers, all  expecting  their
salvation  in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, sanctified  and
sealed  by the Holy Ghost. This Church has been from the beginning  of
the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this,
that  Christ is an eternal King, which, without subjects,  cannot  be.
And  this  holy Church is preserved or supported by God,  against  the
rage  of  the whole world; though she sometimes (for a while)  appears
very small, and in the eyes of men, to be reduced to nothing; s during
the  perilous reign of Ahab, the Lord reserved unto him seven thousand
men,  who  had not bowed their knees to Baal. Furthermore,  this  holy
Church  is  not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place  or  to
certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and
yet  is  joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith,
in one and the same spirit.

28. That every one is bound to join himself to the true Church
We  believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those  who
are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person of
whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw himself, to
live  in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty  bound
to  join  and unite themselves with it; maintaining the unity  of  the
Church;  submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof;
bowing  their  necks  under the yoke of Jesus Christ;  and  as  mutual
members  of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren,
according to the talents God has given them. And that this may be  the
more  effectually observed, it is the duty of all believers, according
to  the word of God, to separate themselves from all those who do  not
belong  to  the  Church, and to join themselves to this  congregation,
wheresoever  God  has established it, even though the magistrates  and
edicts  of  princes  were against it, yea, though they  should  suffer
death  or  any  other corporal punishment. Therefore  all  those,  who
separate  themselves from the same, or do not join themselves  to  it,
act contrary to the ordinance of God.

29. Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs
from the false Church
We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from
the Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in
the  world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But  we  speak
not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet
are  not  of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that  the
body  and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from  all
sects,  who call themselves the Church. The marks, by which  the  true
Church  is  known, are these: if the pure doctrine of  the  gospel  is
preached  therein;  if  she maintains the pure administration  of  the
sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is  exercised
in  punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to
the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto corrected, and Jesus
Christ  acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby  the  true
Church  may  certainly  be known from which no  man  has  a  right  to
separate  himself.  With  respect to those, who  are  members  of  the
Church,  they  may  be  known by the marks of Christians:  namely,  by
faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Saviour, they
avoid  sin,  follow after righteousness, love the true God  and  their
neighbour,  neither turn aside to the right or left, and  crucify  the
flesh with the works thereof. But this is not to be understood, as  if
there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against
them  through  the  Spirit, all the days of  their  life,  continually
taking their refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of  our
Lord Jesus Christ, "in whom they have remission of sins, through faith
in  him."  As  for  the  false Church, she  ascribes  more  power  and
authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of  God,  and
will  not  submit  herself  to the yoke of Christ.  Neither  does  she
administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds
to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relies more upon men
than  upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according  to
the  Word  of  God,  and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness,  and
idolatry.  These two Churches are easily known and distinguished  from
each other.

30. Concerning the Government of, and Offices in the Church
We  believe, that this true Church must be governed by that  spiritual
policy  which our Lord has taught us in his Word; namely,  that  there
must  be  ministers  or pastors to preach the  Word  of  God,  and  to
administer the sacraments; also elders and deacons, who, together with
the  pastors, form the council of the Church: that by these means  the
true  religion  may  be  preserved, and the true  doctrine  everywhere
propagated,   likewise  transgressors  punished  and   restrained   by
spiritual means: also that the poor and distressed may be relieved and
comforted,  according to their necessities. By these means  everything
will  be  carried on in the Church with good order and  decency,  when
faithful men are chosen, according to the rule prescribed by St.  Paul
in his Epistle to Timothy.

31. Of the Ministers, Elders, and  Deacons
We  believe,  that  the ministers of God's Word, and  the  elders and
deacons, ought to be chosen to their respective offices by a lawful
election by the Church, with calling upon the name of the Lord, and in
that  order  which the Word of God teaches. Therefore every  one  must
take  heed, not to intrude himself by indecent means, but is bound to
wait  till it shall please God to call him; that he may have testimony
of  his calling, and be certain and assured that it is of the Lord. As
for  the ministers of God's Word, they have equally the same power and
authority  wheresoever they are, as they are all ministers of Christ,
the  only universal Bishop, and the only Head of the Church. Moreover,
that  this  holy ordinance of God may not be violated or slighted,  we
say  that  every one ought to esteem the ministers of God's Word,  and
the elders of the Church, very highly for their work's sake, and be at
peace  with them without murmuring, strife or contention, as  much  as
possible.

32. Of the Order and Discipline of the Church
In  the meantime we believe, though it is useful and beneficial,  that
those,  who are rulers of the Church, institute and establish  certain
ordinances  among themselves for maintaining the body of  the  Church;
yet  they ought studiously to take care, that they do not depart  from
those  things  which  Christ,  our only Master,  has  instituted.  And
therefore,  we  reject all human inventions, and all laws,  which  man
would  introduce into the worship of God, thereby to bind  and  compel
the conscience in any manner whatever. Therefore we admit only of that
which  tends to nourish and preserve concord, and unity, and  to  keep
all  men  in  obedience to God. For this purpose,  excommunication  or
church   discipline  is  requisite,  with  the  several  circumstances
belonging to it, according to the Word of God.

33. Of the Sacraments
We  believe,  that  our gracious God, on account of our  weakness  and
infirmities has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to  seal  unto
us  his promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of  God
toward us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which he  has
joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses,
both  that  which he signifies to us by his Word, and  that  which  he
works  inwardly in our hearts, thereby assuring and confirming  in  us
the  salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs  and
seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works  in
us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore the signs are not in vain
or  insignificant, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is  the  true
object  presented by them, without whom they would be  of  no  moment.
Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which  Christ
our Lord has instituted, which are two only, namely, the sacrament  of
baptism, and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

34. Of Holy Baptism
We  believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the  law,
has  made an end, by the shedding of his blood, of all other sheddings
of  blood  which  men  could  or  would  make  as  a  propitiation  or
satisfaction for sin and that he, having abolished circumcision, which
was  done  with blood has instituted the sacrament of baptism  instead
thereof;  by  which  we  are received into  the  Church  of  God,  and
separated  from all other people and strange religions,  that  we  may
wholly  belong  to  him, whose ensign and banner we  bear:  and  which
serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious  God
and  Father. Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to  be
baptized with pure water, "in the name of the Father, and of the  Son,
and of the Holy Ghost": thereby signifying to us, that as water washes
away  the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen  on  the
body  of  the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so does the blood  of
Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the  soul,
cleanse  it from its sins, and regenerate us from children  of  wrath,
unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water,
but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who  is
our  Red  Sea,  through which we must pass, to escape the  tyranny  of
Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual  land  of
Canaan.  Therefore  the  ministers,  on  their  part,  administer  the
sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord gives that which is
signified  by  the  sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible  grace;
washing,   cleansing  and  purging  our  souls  of   all   filth   and
unrighteousness;  renewing  our hearts,  and  filling  them  with  all
comfort;  giving  unto us a true assurance of his  fatherly  goodness;
putting  on us the new man, and putting off the old man with  all  his
deeds. Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious
of  obtaining  life eternal, ought to be but once baptized  with  this
only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born
twice.  Neither does this baptism only avail us, at the time when  the
water is poured upon us, and received by us but also through the whole
course  of our life; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists,
who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received,
and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom  we
believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant,
as  the  children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon  the  same
promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed  his
blood  no  less for the washing of the children of the faithful,  than
for  adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the  sign  and
sacrament  of  that,  which Christ has done  for  them;  as  the  Lord
commanded  in  the  law,  that they should be made  partakers  of  the
sacrament  of  Christ's suffering and death, shortly after  they  were
born,  by  offering  for them a lamb, which was a sacrament  of  Jesus
Christ.  Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism  is
to   our  children.  And  for  this  reason  Paul  calls  baptism  the
circumcision of Christ.

35. Of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ
We  believe and confess, that our Saviour Jesus Christ did ordain  and
institute  the  sacrament of the holy supper, to nourish  and  support
those  whom  he  has  already regenerated, and incorporated  into  his
family,  which is his Church. Now those, who are regenerated, have  in
them  a  twofold life, the one corporal and temporal, which they  have
from  the  first birth, and is common to all men: the other  spiritual
and  heavenly,  which is given them in their second  birth,  which  is
effected  by the word of the gospel, in the communion of the  body  of
Christ;  and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God's  elect.
In  like  manner God has given us, for the support of the  bodily  and
earthly  life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto,
and is common to all men, even to life itself. But for the support  of
the spiritual and heavenly life, which believers have, he has sent  us
living  bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ,  who
nourishes  and strengthens the spiritual life of believers, when  they
eat  him, that is to say, when they apply and receive him by faith  in
the spirit. Christ, that he might represent unto us this spiritual and
heavenly  bread,  has instituted an earthly and visible  bread,  as  a
sacrament  of  his  body, and wine as a sacrament  of  his  blood,  to
testify  by  them unto us, that, as certainly as we receive  and  hold
this  sacrament  in  our hands, and eat and drink the  same  with  our
mouths,  by  which our life is afterwards nourished,  we  also  do  as
certainly  receive by faith (which is the hand and mouth of our  soul)
the  true body and blood of Christ our only Saviour in our souls,  for
the  support of our spiritual life. Now, as it is certain  and  beyond
all  doubt, that, that Jesus Christ has not enjoined to us the use  of
his sacraments in vain, so he works in us all that he represents to us
by  these  holy  signs, though the manner surpasses our understanding,
and  cannot be comprehended by us, as the operations of the Holy Ghost
are  hidden and incomprehensible. In the meantime we err not, when  we
say,  that  what  is eaten and drunk by us is the proper  and  natural
body,  and the proper blood of Christ. But the manner of our partaking
of  the  same,  is not by the mouth, but by the spirit through  faith.
Thus  then, though Christ always sits at the right hand of his  Father
in  the  heavens, yet does he not therefore cease to make us partakers
of  himself by faith. This feast is a spiritual table, at which Christ
communicates himself with all his benefits to us, and gives  us  there
to  enjoy  both himself, and the merits of his sufferings  and  death,
nourishing, strengthening and comforting our poor comfortless souls by
the  eating  of  his  flesh, quickening and  refreshing  them  by  the
drinking  of  his blood. Further, though the sacraments are  connected
with  the  thing signified nevertheless both are not received  by  all
men: the ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation but
he  does  not receive the truth of the sacrament. As Judas, and  Simon
the  sorcerer, both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who
was  signified  by  it,  of whom believers only  are  made  partakers.
Lastly,  we receive this holy sacrament in the assembly of the  people
of God with humility and reverence, keeping up amongst us the death of
Christ our Saviour, with thanksgiving: making there confession of  our
faith,  and of the Christian religion. Therefore no one ought to  come
to this table without having previously rightly examined himself; lest
by  eating  of this bread and drinking of this cup, he eat  and  drink
judgment to himself. In a word, we are excited by the use of this holy
sacrament, to a fervent love towards God and our neighbour.  Therefore
we  reject all mixtures and damnable inventions, which men have  added
unto,  and  blended with the sacraments, as profanations of them:  and
affirm that we ought to rest satisfied with the ordinance which Christ
and his apostles have taught us, and that we must speak of them in the
same manner as they have spoken.

36. Of Magistrates
We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind,
has  appointed kings, princes and magistrates, willing that the  world
should  be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that  the
dissoluteness  of  men might be restrained and all things  carried  on
among  them  with  good order and decency. For  this  purpose  he  has
invested  the  magistracy  with  the  sword,  for  the  punishment  of
evildoers,  and  for the protection of them that do  well.  And  their
office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare  of
the  civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry;  and
thus  may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that  the
kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of  Christ
promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of
the  gospel  everywhere, that God may be honoured  and  worshipped  by
every  one,  as he commands in his Word. Moreover, it is  the  bounden
duty of every one, of what state, quality, or condition soever he  may
be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due
honour  and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which  are
not  repugnant  to the Word of God; to supplicate for  them  in  their
prayers, that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and  that
we  may  lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in
general  all  those who reject the higher powers and magistrates,  and
would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that
decency and good order, which God has established among men.

37. Of the Last Judgment
Finally  we  believe,  according to the Word of  God,  when  the  time
appointed by the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come, and
the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come
from  heaven, corporally and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory
and  majesty  to  declare himself judge of the  quick  and  the  dead;
burning  this old world with fire and flame, to cleanse it.  And  then
all  men will personally appear before this great judge, both men  and
women and children, that have been from the beginning of the world  to
the end thereof, being summoned by the voice of the archangel, and  by
the  sound of the trumpet of God. For all the dead shall be raised out
of  the  earth,  and their souls joined and united with  their  proper
bodies,  in which they formerly lived. As for those who shall then  be
living,  they  shall  not die as the others, but  be  changed  in  the
twinkling of an eye, and from corruptible, become incorruptible.  Then
the  books (that is to say the consciences) shall be opened,  and  the
dead  judged  according to what they shall have done  in  this  world,
whether  it  be  good or evil. Nay, all men shall give an  account  of
every  idle  word  they  have  spoken, which  the  world  only  counts
amusement and jest; and then the secrets and hypocrisy of men shall be
disclosed and laid open before all. And therefore the consideration of
this  judgment,  is  justly terrible and dreadful to  the  wicked  and
ungodly,  but  most  desirable and comfortable to  the  righteous  and
elect:  because  then their full deliverance shall be  perfected,  and
there  they shall receive the fruits of their labour and trouble which
they have borne. Their innocence shall be known to all, and they shall
see  the terrible vengeance which God shall execute on the wicked, who
most  cruelly persecuted, oppressed and tormented them in this  world;
and  who shall be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences,
and being immortal, shall be tormented in that everlasting fire, which
is  prepared  for the devil and his angels. But on the  contrary,  the
faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honour; and the Son
of  God will confess their names before God his Father, and his  elect
angels;  all  tears shall be wiped from their eyes;  and  their  cause
which  is  now condemned by many judges and magistrates, as  heretical
and impious, will then be known to be the cause of the Son of God. And
for  a  gracious  reward, the Lord will cause them to possess  such  a
glory,  as  never entered into the heart of man to conceive. Therefore
we  expect that great day with a most ardent desire to the end that we
may fully enjoy the promises of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN.
 "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." - Rev.22:20.