THE

BLOODY THEATRE,

OR

MARTYRS MIRROR

OF THE

DEFENSELESS CHRISTIANS,

 

who baptized only upon Confession of Faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Savior, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660.

 

COMPILED FROM VARIOUS AUTHENTIC CHRONICLES, MEMORIALS, AND TESTIMONIES,

BY

THIELEM J. van BRAGHT.

 

Translated from the original Dutch or Holland language from the Edition of 1660,

BY JOSEPH F. SOHM.

ILLUSTRATED.

 

FIRST PART

Covering from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1500

ELKHART, INDIANA.

MENNONITE PUBLISHING COMPANY.

1886.

 

 
 

 

 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1886,

by Mennonite Publishing Company,

In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

 

 

 

Publisher’s Preface

As the English language, year by year, becomes more prevalent among our Mennonite people, the necessity of presenting to them in that language the doctrines, teachings and practices, as well as the story of the sufferings, the faithful endurance and the final triumphant deaths, of those of like faith with us who lived in the earlier ages of Christianity, becomes apparent to every reflecting mind.

These doctrines, teachings and practices together with the examples of faithful devotion to Christ and his word, and the unfaltering endurance under the severest persecution, are powerful incentives to Christians to-day, to inspire many sincere souls to live a more consecrated life, to practice greater self-denial, to live more separated from the world, and show a greater zeal in the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls; and they are especially precious to us, as Mennonites, because through these people it pleased God to hand down to us the living exemplification of the peculiar tenets and doctrines which we hold and practice at the present day.

The reading of books of this kind will also help us to appreciate more highly the privileges with which God has blessed us above our forefathers.  While they oftentimes were not permitted to have permanent places of abode, and were driven about and hunted down like wild beasts, compelled to dwell in caves and mountains, and other secluded places, hold their meetings in secret, and suffer every imaginable form of injustice and persecution, because to be a true follower of Christ in those days was considered the very worst of crimes, we enjoy all the privileges of citizenship and are protected in the fullest enjoyment of our religion and forms of worship.

It is the duty of the Church to maintain and teach the pure gospel of Jesus Christ and to transmit the same to coming generations, and as we contemplate these facts, what a glorious treasure of pure Christian devotion shines forth in these pages of the Story of the Martyrs, and how much this grand record of their sufferings has done, and may yet do to perpetuate the pure doctrines of the gospel, eternity alone will reveal.

For these reasons and many others that might be referred to, the publishers of this edition, have, in the fear of God, for the promotion of his glory, undertaken the publication of “The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs Mirror” and with this give it to the public, in the hope that it may be the means of promoting the glory of God and of doing much good among the children of men.

Note.—The translation of this work was made from the Dutch Edition of 1660, and where questions of doubt occurred, the edition of 1685 as well as the German editions were consulted.

The Publishers.

 

Digital Versions

Restored, Corrected and Reset

by

Central Highlands Congregation of God

Released 4th November, 2023

Revised 30 March, 2024

 

Published by

Central Highlands Christian Publications

PO Box 236 Creswick Vic 3363  Australia

info@chcpublications.net

chcpublications.net

 

Digital Edition Foreword

Though it is 363 years since the first edition of this work was printed, it is essential for God’s children to remember the price that was paid to preserve God’s Word for them, and the price that many who clung to Jesus and the Bible as their true source of understanding paid for their faith.  It is a unique record of Christian history, as it focuses on Christians who tried to maintain true Bible-based apostolic practices.

Today the enemies of Christ are often far more subtle, and therefore perhaps even more dangerous.  And Christians are suffering and being martyred in many countries even today.  We too need to hold fast to Christ, and follow His Instructions to the end of our days.  May the heroic examples given in this work strengthen your faith, especially if you find yourself similarly persecuted in the coming Great Tribulation.

The digital text began with the largely restored Gutenberg version, but has been further restored, reformatted and new images, many from the 1685 edition, were used to make it into a standalone document.  This edition also has mostly modernised text, including the King James Bible quotes used in the 1886 English translation, to make it more accessible to modern readers.  The updated Bible quotes have also been made more accurate where required, including the restoration of God’s Name, Jehovah, especially where it exists in the Hebrew manuscripts.

Due to its large size, it has been published in two volumes, the first covering from the time of Christ until 1500, and the second covering from 1501 to 1660.

 

May this book be a blessing to you.

 

Bruce Armstrong

Central Highlands Congregation of God

 

Contents

Publisher’s Preface

Translator’s Preface.

Invocation.

PREFACE.

To My Beloved Friends And Companions In Christ Jesus Our Savior.

Of The Greater Danger There Is At This Time, Than In The Bloody And Distressing Times Of The Martyrs.

TO THE READERS IN GENERAL.

The Sequel Compared With The Beginning Of This History.

Address To The Worldly-Minded.

To The Young, The Middle-Aged, And The Old.

INTRODUCTION.

Summary Of The Following Work.

Of The Title Of This Work: The Bloody Theatre Of The Anabaptists, Etc.

Of The Name: Anabaptists.

Of Holy Baptism, And Why We Have Preferred It To All Other Articles In Our History.

The Reason Why We Have Pointed Out The Article Of Holy Baptism, And The Adherents Of Anabaptism, From The Days Of Christ To The Present Time.

Reason Why We Have Called This Whole Work After The Anabaptists.

Answer To The Question, Whether All The People Mentioned In This Work, None Excepted, Have Confessed The Same That The Anabaptists Of This Day Confess.

Statement In Regard To The Old Work.

Valedictory.

OF THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD, ITS ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND IMMOVABLE STABILITY, THROUGH ALL TIMES.

Of The Divine Service Of The Church.

In What Points The Church Of God Has Always Continued The Same.

Of The Stability, Durability, And Visible Characteristics Of The Church Of God.

The Church Of God Obscured And Rendered Almost Invisible In Some Places; And What Has Been The Cause Of It From Ancient Times.

The Succession Of The Church Of God, Personal Succession, And Succession Of Doctrine.

Personal Succession.

Succession Of Doctrine.

The Apostles’ Creed.

First Confession.

Of Holy Baptism.

Of The Holy Supper.

Of The Office Of Teacher And Deacon In The Church; Also How The Election To, And The Confirmation In, These Offices, Must Proceed, According To The Ordinance Of God.

Of Feet-Washing.

Of Marriage.

Of The Office Of The Magistracy.

Of The Swearing Of Oaths.

Of Separation.

Of Shunning.

Of The Second Coming Of Christ, The Resurrection Of The Dead, And The Last Judgment.

Second Confession,

Third Confession.

Of The Ungodly And False Church, Which Is The Opposite Of The Church Of God, And The Origin, Progress And Succession Of The Same Through All Times.

Of The Evil Succession Of The Roman Church, Consisting Only In The Succession Of The Persons, And Not Of The Doctrine.

POEMS IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE.

FIRST PART.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM OF THE MARTYRS IN THE FIRST CENTURY,

AN ACCOUNT OF THE PIOUS MARTYRS AND WITNESSES OF JESUS CHRIST WHO SUFFERED DURING THE FIRST CENTURY:

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM OF THE MARTYRS IN THE SECOND CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE SECOND CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM OF THE MARTYRS IN THE THIRD CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE THIRD CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM OF THE MARTYRS IN THE FOURTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE FOURTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM OF THE MARTYRS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE FIFTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM OF THE MARTYRS IN THE SIXTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE SIXTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE EIGHTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE EIGHTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE NINTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE NINTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE TENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE TENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.

 

 

 

 

Translator’s Preface.

The principal object in writing this preface is to point out the chief difficulties I had to contend with while engaged in this truly laborious and exhaustive task.  I do this not for the purpose of exciting sympathy on my behalf, but to convey to the reader an appropriate idea of the perplexing nature of the work that has engrossed my closest attention, and absorbed so much of my energy and care for nearly three years.  The reader will by it be prepared to view with greater leniency the unavoidable inconsistencies and other imperfections his critical eye may discover.

First of all, I will state that the original is written in a language that has now been obsolete for many years; which proved a very great obstacle, since no dictionary obtainable could at all times give the desired information; therefore the meaning of many words and phrases had to be ascertained by long and laborious research and comparison, which necessarily did not always preclude the possibility of an error, though I have taken great pains to give as correct a rendition as possible.

Another feature of the original that frequently proved very trying is that it consists in great part of letters written by comparatively illiterate persons, in consequence of which the language used is very often ambiguous or obscure, necessitating an incalculable amount of weighing and comparing, without affording certainty of having apprehended the writer’s true meaning.

Still another perplexing obstacle was the fact that, many proper names occurring in the work, and foreign to the language of the original, having apparently been incorrectly transcribed, it was not always possible to determine the exact spelling of such names; which, though desirable, is, however, not of any material consequence.

But the greatest and most harassing difficulty of all was the circumstance that the version of the Bible used by the various authors of the work differed in many, and, sometimes, in very essential points from our English translation, making it an utter impossibility, to adopt an inflexible rule, without involving one’s self in countless errors and misconstructions.  The course I generally pursued was that when the rendering of the passage, or passages, given or used in the original, almost coincided with, or at least did not materially differ from that of our English Bible, I would take the quotation in question verbatim from the latter; while, when the discrepancy was too considerable, or an argument depended on the exact rendition, I translated the phrase or passage to be quoted literally from the original.  Therefore the reader will perceive that this made it an absolute impossibility to adhere to one, invariable rule; and if he but knew the amount of careful thought, and anxiety, expended in drawing the line, when to quote from the English version, and when to translate literally, he could not but heartily sympathize with the translator, and kindly overlook any shortcomings he may discover.

With regard to the marginal notes or remarks, I would state that I have invariably translated them when they contained anything necessary for the complete understanding of the subject under consideration; but frequently they are simply a resume of a paragraph, or side remarks of the compiler, without any information or value for the reader; in this case I have omitted them.

These are the chief points I would have the reader consider, for by bearing them in mind he will be enabled to judge understandingly, and also, charitably, of the manner in which the translator has performed his task.  To claim that this translation contains no errors would be simply preposterous, when all circumstances are taken into consideration; but I can truthfully say that I have conscientiously striven to furnish the reader with as correct a translation as it was in my power to give.  How I have succeeded I leave to the reader to judge.  Trusting that the contemplation of the faith, the self-sacrificing zeal, and the religious fervor of these martyrs of former ages will leave its imprint for good upon the hearts of those who shall read this book, I now consign it to the hands of the printer.

Joseph F. Sohm.

 

 
 

 

 

Invocation.

To God, my Lord, the Creator, Preserver and Redeemer of my soul, be praise, honor and majesty, forever and ever.

Pardon me, O my Lord and my God!  that I, who am but dust and ashes, approach You.  Gen. 18:27.  I fear to come to You, because You are a consuming fire, while I am wood, hay and stubble, subject to be burned; yet I must not remain away from You, because I have that which is your, yes, which is Your most precious treasure, even the blood and offering of the saints; I must needs come and offer it to You.

May it be well-pleasing to You, my dear Savior, that I offer that which long since has been offered up to You.  But I have full confidence that You will not reject me.  I believe I have the assurance that this will be acceptable to You, for Your servant David, a man after your own heart, sang, “Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints.”  Psm. 116:15.*

Moreover You know, O my Savior and Redeemer, the steadfast faith, the unquenchable love, and the faithfulness unto death, of those of whom I have written, and who gave their precious lives and bodies as a sacrifice to You.

Besides, You have spared my life, that I, unworthy and weak as I am for such a task, might yet perform it; for snares of death had compassed me, keeping me bound nearly six months during last fall, winter and spring, so that I often thought I could not survive; nevertheless Your power strengthened me, Your hand rescued me, and by Your grace was I led safely through, so that in the midst of my difficulties and contrary to the advice and opinion of the physicians (for the zeal and love of Your saints had taken complete possession of me), I wrote and finished the greater part of this work.

The sacrifices which are acceptable unto You are a broken spirit, etc.  Psm. 51:17.  But this offering, O God, was accompanied with many tears, caused partly by my distress, as I, on account of the weakness of my nature, called upon You for help, partly through joy, as I found and experienced Your comfort and help.

Yet that which more than all else caused my tears to flow was the remembrance of the sufferings and the death of Your martyrs, who altogether innocent, as defenseless lambs, were led to the water, the fire, the sword, or to the wild beasts in the arena, there to suffer and to die for Your name’s sake.  However, I experienced no small degree of joy as I contemplated the living confidence they had in Your grace, and how valiantly they fought their way through the strait gate.

Ah!  How often did I wish to have been a partaker with them; my soul went with them, so to speak, into prison;* I encouraged them in the tribunal, to bear patiently, without gainsaying or flinching, their sentence of death.  It seemed to me as though I accompanied them to the place of execution, scaffold or stake, saying to them in their extremity, Fight valiantly dear brothers and sisters; the crown of life awaits you.  I almost fancied that I had died with them; so inseparably was my love bound up with them, for Your holy name’s sake.

I therefore entreat You once more, O my God, to let this sacrifice be well-pleasing in Your sight, and to accept it from me, Your most humble servant, as a token of love towards You as well as toward Your blessed martyrs.

But before I leave this, strengthen me with Your good Spirit, and arm me with the consolation of Your grace, that I may not only confess You here with my mouth, but also honor You by a virtuous and pious conversation (Psm. 119:5), in the most holy faith, not refusing, if necessity require it and Your honor be promoted by it, to give my life and body into suffering and death, so that I may become like unto Your dearest friends, my slain fellow brothers and sisters, and receive with them the same reward in the great day of Your recompense.  Song of Sol. 1:4.

This is the desire and petition of him, whose name is known to You, and who entreats You for grace now and in the hour of his death, and in the ages of eternity.  O Lord, so let it be!  For your, O God, is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

T.J. VAN BRAGHT.

Dort, July the 23d, 1659.

───────────

Note.—The Advertisement by the Dutch Publishers is omitted, as we deem it irrelevant to the present Edition.  It contains a few plain statements of some amendments introduced in regard to obsolete words and phrases; that many noteworthy additions compiled from authentic records have been made, etc.—Translator.

───────────

 

 

PREFACE.

To My Beloved Friends And Companions In Christ Jesus Our Savior.

Next to God we are joined to our fellow-believers who have received the same faith with us; and we shall therefore address ourselves to them.

But most beloved, do not expect that we shall bring you into Grecian theatres, to gaze on merry comedies or gay performances.  Here shall not be opened unto you the pleasant arbors and pleasure gardens of Atlas, Adonis or Semiramis, which are said to have been built in the air, and of which the ancients used to sing their merry lays; yet far be it from us to conduct you to places of sadness, surely not to such as can, in verity, be called places of sadness.

True enough, we shall lead you into dark valleys, even into the valleys of death (Psm. 23:4), where nothing will be seen but dry bones, skulls, and frightful skeletons of those who have been slain; these beheaded, those drowned, others strangled at the stake, some burnt, others broken on the wheel, many torn by wild beasts, half devoured, and put to death in manifold cruel ways; besides, a great multitude who having escaped death, bear the marks of Jesus, their Savior, on their bodies, wandering about over mountains and valleys, through forests and wildernesses, forsaken of friends and kindred, robbed and stripped of all their temporal possessions, and living in extreme poverty.

Yet to look upon all this will not cause real sadness, for though the aspect is dismal according to the body, the soul will nevertheless rejoice in it, seeing that not one of all those who were slain preferred life to death, since life often was proffered them on condition that they depart from the constancy of their faith.  But this they did not desire; on the contrary, many of them went boldly onward to meet death; some even hastened to outstrip others, that they might be the first, who did not shrink from suffering anything the tyrants could devise, no more than could be thought possible for a mortal man to endure.

Among a great number we perceived a god-fearing hero and knight of Christ,* who, advancing before others, went cheerfully unto suffering and death, in which he acquitted himself so well that he fought or pressed his way with such force through the strait gate that he left his flesh on the posts.

When we had beheld this with the eyes of faith, and had meditated upon the matter, our spirit was kindled, and we almost seemed to welcome him, and to wish him everything good, in these words:

 

Klimt op uw’ gulden Hoogtt’, Voor-vechter van de bende

Der heyl’ge Zielen, die God’s roode Bloed-banier

Navolgde, in’t gedrang, in’t midden der ellenden,

Daer niet dan rook en damp van menschen offer-vyer

Tot door de wolken vloog; noch gingt gy Held haer voor,

Ja streed, door d’enge poort, ten ruymen Hemel door.

 

[Climb up your golden height, champion of the band of holy souls, who followed God’s red banner of blood, in oppression and in the midst of misery; where nothing but the smoke and vapor of human burnt sacrifices ascended to the clouds; yet you, hero, did go before them, yes, did fight your way through the strait gate to the wide Heaven.]

 

Then followed a great multitude of very pious and virtuous people—men, women, youths and maidens, all clothed with the same armor of faith and walking in the same path.  Some of these were, like their leader, deprived of life; the rest were led to different places of execution, where they beheld many of their fellow brothers and sisters whose lives had been taken by the most dreadful means—burned and roasted at the stake.  They nevertheless were not terrified, though they had to expect to be put to death in the same manner; but were of good cheer, calling upon God for help, that they might not falter in their sufferings, but prove steadfast to the end; this done, they also were burned.

This seemed almost to break our heart; our soul was horrified, and filled with pity on account of their misery; but when we remembered their constancy, and that now, for the heat endured, they found refreshing with God, no, could expect the blessed crown of immortal glory, our grief subsided and sweet consolation filled our soul, so that we, to their memory, wrote the following words for ourselves and our fellow brethren:

 

Het schriklyk offer-vyer, de glinsterende staken,

Den smaed, die Zion leed, kon God’s verkoren volk

Belet noch hinder doen, noch geensins angstig maken

Te dragen Christi naem, als in sen witte wolk:

Tot dat een heete vlam haer lyven heeft verslonden;

Waer door haer zielen toen by God verkoeling vonden.

 

[The dreadful sacrificial fire, the shining stakes, the shame which Zion suffers, could neither disturb nor hinder God’s chosen people, nor make them afraid to bear the name of Christ, as in a white cloud: Until a burning flame has consumed their bodies; by which their souls found refreshing with God.]

 

Some were not only bold, but went forth unto death rejoicing, which was evident from their conduct.  Others showed this by their words, as they spoke of the consolation in their heart and the glad hope dwelling in their soul, when they were placed at the stake.  Many, when the fire was kindled, and even when they were enveloped by the flames, sang with a loud voice to the honor of their God and Savior, because they had been counted worthy to be offered up as sacrifices for his holy name’s sake.  Acts 5:41.

Were we to relate the joy and consolation of those, who, having escaped death, wandered about in foreign countries and solitary places, without friends or kindred, help or assistance, time would fail us and words be inadequate to sufficiently describe it.  Here the testimony of Paul is found true, “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”  Rom. 8:28.  For those who were forsaken by friends and human assistance, found help with the angels of God, and protection under the wings of the Almighty.  Those who had no eternal rest or dwelling-place found rest and a mansion of content in their souls and hearts.  Those who went almost naked, having no clothes to put on, were most preciously clothed and adorned according to the soul, with the robe of righteousness and the garment of salvation and godly virtues.  Those who had to abandon their secular business, and submit to despoilment of their money, goods and everything they had, so that outwardly they were very poor, possessed great riches within themselves through the grace of God which they received through the consolation of the Holy Spirit, and the word of the Lord, which was more precious to them than many thousand pieces of gold and silver.

The inconvenient seasons of the year, the heat of summer, the cold of winter, the wetness of spring and fall, together with the contingencies of thunder, lightning, hail, snow, rain, wind, hunger, thirst, sickness, fatigue, and other innumerable troubles with which they met while wandering about and suffering persecutions, were to them sweet pleasures and recreations in the Lord, for they knew that this would afterwards be turned into joy to them, since it is written: “Blessed are you that weep now: for you shall laugh.”  Luke 6:21.  Again: “That we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”  Acts 14:22.  And, in another place: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”  2 Tim. 2:12.

This caused them to say with the apostle: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  2 Cor. 4:17.  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Rom. 8:18.  “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord’s.”  Rom. 14:8, etc.

Many of them would not have exchanged the darkest and severest dungeons, or the caves of the earth, in which they had to hide themselves, for royal palaces.  The wilderness was to them a delightful pleasure-garden, the howling of the wild beasts which surrounded them, as sweet music or the song of birds; and water and roots or dry bread delighted them more than the daintiest viands and drink from the tables of the great.

All this was granted them by the munificent hand of God, on account of the constancy of their faith, from which they could by no means be made to swerve, nor brought to waver in it; on account of their living hope, which begat in their souls a longing for the future riches, so that they were enabled to esteem the present ones as of little worth and to forget them; and on account of their unquenchable love for God, his holy truth, and their beloved fellow-believers, by which their souls were kindled into a flame far more intense than were their bodies through physical fire though these were reduced to ashes.

But can carnal men comprehend this?  Will any of them believe these things?  We think not; for how can a carnal man partake of the Spirit of God?  How could one who is earthly-minded ascend to heaven in his thoughts?  1 Cor. 2:14.  How can one comprehend that which pertains to salvation, who himself is altogether unsaved and possesses no desire to obtain salvation through the grace of God?  What fire of divine love can he feel, whose heart is totally cold, and who loves nothing but sin and sinful creatures.

We maintain, therefore, that these are things which belong not to the blind worldly-minded, since they in their ignorance would not esteem them; but to the heavenly-minded, who, as spiritual eagles, contemplate with the eyes of the soul the mysteries of God; who seek their food with God, and find their delight in his saints and well-beloved who sacrificed their lives for his holy truth.

For this cause we have addressed ourselves to you, most beloved brothers and sisters, who, with us, and with our slain friends, the blessed martyrs of God, have received the same faith.  This book, the humble work of our hands, but which is nevertheless a precious jewel, in view of the persons and matters contained in this, we have dedicated to you.  Receive it, then, with the same love with which it has been dedicated to you.  Read it again and again, and with the same attention and emotion with which we have written and re-written it.  We are fully confident that, if you do this, it will not be unfruitful to you.  But, before all things, fix your eyes upon the martyrs themselves, note the steadfastness of their faith, and follow their example.

Ruth, the Moabitess, said to Naomi, the mother of her husband: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodgest, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God: where you diest, I will die, and there I will be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part you and me.”  Ruth 1:16,17.

With such inseparable love ought we, most beloved in the Lord, to be joined to our blessed fellow brethren who have been slain for the testimony of the Lord, that we might follow their footsteps unto the end; for surely, the God whom they confessed and served, is also our God; the Savior on whom they placed their hope is our Savior; the faith which they all confessed is our faith (we speak of Anabaptists in general); the laws and commandments of God which they received as their rule of life are also our laws and commandments; they bowed their knees before God; they obligated themselves by the words of their lips to render obedience to God, and thereupon received holy baptism; we have done the same; they promised to continue steadfastly all the days of their life in the faith and due obedience, without departing from it yes, if necessary, to suffer death for it; we have promised the same.  What difference, then, is there between us and them?  Certainly only this: that they all persevered unto the end, no, unto a cruel death, without departing to the right or to the left; which we have not yet done.  They have taken by force the blessed Fatherland, the Canaan rich with milk, the true promised land which flows with honey; which we have not yet done.  They have therefore entered into rest, yes, have come to the Lord; while we are yet in unrest, proceeding in our pilgrimage in the absence of the Lord.

Therefore, my most beloved friends in Christ Jesus, let us also in this last respect seek to be conformed to our beloved slain fellow brethren, that we may continue steadfastly unto the end in the most holy faith which we have confessed with them.  Oh!  Be careful in this matter; watch over your dear-bought souls; for it is highly necessary, yes, more necessary than at any former time.

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Of The Greater Danger There Is At This Time, Than In The Bloody And Distressing Times Of The Martyrs.*

These are sad times in which we live; no, truly, there is more danger now than in the time of our fathers, who suffered death for the testimony of the Lord.  Few will believe this, because the great majority look to that which is external and corporeal, and in this respect it is now better, quieter and more comfortable; few only look to that which is internal and pertains to the soul, and on which everything depends, “for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mat. 16:26.

These times are certainly more dangerous; for then Satan came openly, through his servants, even at noon-day, as a roaring lion, so that he could be known, and it now and then was possible to hide from him; besides, his chief design then was to destroy the body: but now he comes as in the night, or in the twilight, in a strange but yet pleasing form, and, in a two-fold way, lies in wait to destroy the soul; partly, to trample under foot, and annihilate entirely, if this were possible, the only saving Christian faith; partly to destroy the true separated Christian life which is the outgrowth of faith.  Psm. 91:5,6.

He reveals himself on the one hand as an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:14,15, as a kind, pleasant, yes, even divine messenger, with humble countenance, downcast eyes, plain garb, and living in seclusion from the throng of the worldly-minded, even as the holiest people, yes, the martyrs of God, formerly did.  His words are modest, trembling and full of contrition—seemingly coming from deep meditation, inward fear and apprehension, lest he might speak amiss or untruthfully.  Meanwhile, and before one is aware of it, he seizes hold and tears like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, robbing the innocent lambs of Christ of their precious faith, which he pretends to be of small importance, but without which faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6, no, without which we, according to the words of Christ, shall be condemned, Mark 16:16; for (says Paul), whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14:23.

It grieves us to the heart that we must live to see these times, and therefore speak in this way.  O Lord, strengthen our faith!  Help your weak, trusting lambs, that they may not be led into error, nor moved from the foundations of the most holy faith.

On the other hand, through his instigation, the world now reveals itself very beautiful and glorious, more than at any preceding time, in a threefold pleasing form—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.*  Almost all men run after her, to worship her as a queen supreme; but all are deceived by it; yes, many who have drunk of the poisoned wine of her lusts from the golden cup of her iniquities and deceptions, die a spiritual death.

As the first design is aimed at the faith, so this is directed against the true Christian life.  Here lies great danger.  Who shall escape these snares?  He that would at no time be taken unawares by it, must indeed be cautious and watchful.  But our very flesh seems prone to it.  Here must be fasting, watching, praying, and calling upon God for help, otherwise there is no escape.

Many of the ancients who supposed that they had been circumspect and observed their duty, were deceived hereby; some were lulled into a careless sleep, so that they paid no heed to themselves or to their vocation; others were brought to despair of the divine truth; others were drawn away totally from God; some died a spiritual death; others died both spiritually and bodily; and some have plunged themselves helter-skelter into the abyss of the disfavor of God, to be punished by him soul and body and forever.

These things which we tell you are no riddles or blind speeches, for we speak the truth, or the word of God must be false; but as the word of God cannot lie, what we have said is certain and infallible, since God in his word bears witness of it, yes, declares it emphatically and abundantly.  Other histories which make mention of this, we pass by in silence and dismiss them altogether, because we do not hold them in equal estimation with the holy Scriptures.  It was the world and its lusts that of old caused all the great calamities of which we have spoken; and not only this, but it has also caused thousands who live in the various cities, countries, kingdoms, empires, yes, on the face of the whole earth, to mourn, weep and wail, on account of their natural misery as well as on account of their experiencing the wrath of God in their souls because of the magnitude and enormity of the sins perpetrated by them.

It certainly was through worldly lusts that the old world perished; that Sodom, Gomorrah, Zeboim, and Admah were consumed, overthrown and totally destroyed by fire from Heaven; that in forty years, through serpents, fire, and other plagues, the wanton and lustful people of Israel perished to the number of over six hundred thousand in the wilderness; and that the mighty maritime cities, Sidon and Tyrus, whose ships were trimmed with embroidered, silken sails from Egypt; whose rowers sat upon benches of ivory; where incalculable riches were bought and sold, and, from carnal incentives, almost inconceivable arts practiced, were reduced to a heap of stones and so leveled to the ground that the fishermen stretch out their nets to dry on the rocks upon which these cities stood.  Gen. 7; Mat. 24:37,38; Luke 17:26,27; 2 Peter 2:5.—Gen.  19:24,25; Isa. 13:19; Jer. 50:40; Hos. 11:8; Amos 4:11; Luke 17:28,29; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7.—compare Num. 1:2,3,46 with Num. 14:22,23.  Also Num. 11:1 and 16:31–35; 21:6; Jude 5.—Isa. 23:4,5; Ezek. 27:26–28; 28, the whole chapter.

I will not now speak of Jerusalem, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and other mighty licentious and luxurious cities, which, with all their inhabitants who had in this respect sinned against God, have borne his wrath, and felt, to their destruction, the plagues of his afflicting hand; for this would consume too much time.*  O awful judgments of God!  O pernicious worldly-mindedness!  O corroding and cankering luxury, that drag after you such a train of unspeakable miseries!  Help, Lord, that our soul be delivered from all these dangers.

But what danger would there be, if none but the open enemies of God and his holy truth were guilty in this matter?  What harm could be done, if they alone, and no others, would arouse and call down upon themselves the wrath of God?  For then every pious and serious soul would beware of their example as of a savage beast, venomous serpent, or deadly basilisk.  But now such is the state of things that many commoners and such as are not total strangers to religion or the worship of God; who, as they say, would willingly be saved; and who, therefore, though they are not truly enlightened, glorify and praise God and his word with their mouth, show nevertheless (to the seduction of the simple) that the world is their dear friend, yes lies nearest to their heart, since most of their works are directed to its service, that they may by it partake of its glittering but deceptive reward.

Therefore arises that shameful and vast commerce which extends far beyond the sea into other parts of the world, Ezek. 27, but which notwithstanding cannot satisfy those who love it, but, on the contrary, brings great danger, that that which has already been gotten, may be lost, others defrauded, and they themselves, both in soul and body, stripped and robbed of their possessions.

Numerous large, expensive and ornamented houses, country-seats of splendid architecture and provided with towers, parks magnificent as a paradise, and other embellished pleasure-grounds, which are seen on every hand indicate this in no small degree.  Dan. 4:29,30.

The wearing of clothes from foreign countries, whether of foreign materials, uncommon colors or of strange fashions as obtain in the course of time according to the custom of the openly worldly-minded (which are as changeable as the moon), and which custom is followed by many humble and seemingly plain people, confirms greatly what we have before said.  Gen. 35:2; Zeph. 1:8; Isa. 3:16–24.

The giving and attending great dinners, lavish banquets and wedding-feasts (though one may never be found in taverns or tippling-houses), where everything is in profusion, and where the beneficent gifts of the Lord which should not be used otherwise than with great thankfulness, and of which a portion naturally belongs to the poor, are squandered and consumed without the least necessity, even by those who are considered sober and temperate, is an incontrovertible evidence of a sensual and wanton heart; and proves also that those who have much to do with these things cannot be exculpated from living after the flesh; for which carnal life certainly has no promise of salvation, but, on the contrary, many severe threatenings of the wrath and displeasure of God, no, of eternal damnation, are recorded in the blessed leaves of the word of God, which contains nothing but the truth.  Esth. 1:3–8; Dan. 5:1–3; Luke 12:19,20; 16:19.

O how different is this from the life of a true Christian, who has forsaken himself and his lusts!  How great the step that is between their walk and that of the holy martyrs, who delivered up, not only their carnal desires, but also their bodies and lives, unto death for the Lord’s sake!  But how great a difference will also be between the two classes afterwards!  when the former, having had their good things in this life, shall be shut out from the true, heavenly riches, but the latter, because they from love to God, renounced and abandoned their possessions, which might have led them into sin, be admitted to the true enjoyment of the heavenly riches and pleasures, and that for ever and ever!  Mal. 3:18.

Here shall obtain what is recorded concerning the end of the luxurious rich man and that of poor Lazarus: that the rich man, when he saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, while he himself was in hell, received this answer to his doleful lamentation: “Son, remember, that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.”  Luke 16:25.  Appropriate is here also Wis. 5:1,2.

Nevertheless, these and similar evil examples are constantly presented to our eyes, and they are the more pernicious and dangerous for the reason that some worldly-minded people pronounce them to be non-essential, unimportant for either good or evil, and therefore, allowable; while it is the same with them as with the fruit from the tree of knowledge, which stood in the midst of Paradise, and was pleasant to the eyes, but deadly in the use, for whoever ate of it had to die, Gen. 2:17; or with the apples which grow in the land of Sodom, on the border of the dead sea; which possess a beautiful red appearance, but contain, as some have written, only dust and ashes, and are inedible, no, even deleterious to health.  Bijb. Naemb. edition 1632, fol. 881, col. 2, concerning the name Sodom, ex Philippo Melanchthone.  Also Bernh. Bredenb. in Tract, super Siddim.  Also H. Buntung, Itinerarium sacræ scripturæ, edition 1642, lib. 1, pag. 62, col. 2, etc.

O that Satan would show himself as he really is, and that the world, too, might come forth without disguise or mask; then certainly no one possessing reason would allow himself to be deceived by them.  For in Satan nothing would be seen but deadly snares, traps and murdering daggers for the soul, poisoned arrows with which to destroy everything good in man, through unbelief, apostasy from God, impenitent obduracy, and despair; which are followed by a train made up of the fears of hell and horrors of damnation.  In the world men would perceive nothing but vanity, mingled with much vexation, sorrow, grief and misery, and this in such abundance, that if as many tears could be wept over it as there is water in all the sea and all the rivers, yet the weight of the true sorrow that springs from them it could not be adequately expressed, for they draw after them not only temporal but also everlasting miseries.

But, O how lamentable!  All this is hidden under a beautiful appearance.  Satan appears to be a prince or king, and the world a noble princess or queen.  The servants and servant-maids who follow them as pages and maids of honor, appear as cavaliers and ladies, reveling in joy and delight; though, as regards the soul, they are poor and deformed, yes, meaner than beggars, and without the true joy which delights the upright soul in God.*
There is, therefore, great danger of being deceived.  O, you upright children of God, be on your guard.  Let your simplicity be coupled with prudence.  Your faith as well as your life are the objects aimed at.  If Satan gains mastery over you, your precious faith, which has been commended to your keeping as dearly as your soul, is ruined.  If you are overcome by the world, it will soon put an end to your Christian and virtuous life, without which latter the best of faith is of no avail.  Care, therefore, my dear friends, equally well for both, for the one is as important as the other.  Faith without the corresponding life, or the life without the faith, can, will, and may not avail before God.  They are like two witnesses, who must agree, and of whom the one cannot stand or be received without the other.
Knowing, then, that we must care for both, there remains nothing for us but to do it; however, this work must certainly not only be begun, but also finished, according to the example of the steadfast martyrs of God; with which finishing, whether it be brought about in a natural or a violent manner, according as liberty or persecution brings about we must comfort ourselves, since it is certain that the crown is not to be found in the beginning or in the middle, but at the end.*

But as necessary as it is to finish well, so necessary it is also to begin well, and, having begun, to go on well; for without a good beginning and a good progress it is impossible to attain to a good end.

We speak to you, then, most beloved in the Lord, who have begun with us; received the same faith with us; and with us as a token of this have been baptized.

Surely, we have made a vow to the Lord, which we cannot revoke, as David sings: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay your vows unto the most High.”  Psm. 50:14.

We have, through faith, received Christ, the Son of God, as our Prophet, Priest, King, Shepherd, Friend, and Bridegroom; and in this we must go on and grow stronger.  This, Paul teaches us, saying: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him: rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught,” etc.  Col. 2:6,7.  Hereby we have come from the darkness of ignorance to the true light of knowledge; which we are commanded to keep in perpetual remembrance.  In this direction tend the words: “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions;” etc.  Heb. 10:32.  In short: “Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”  Phil. 3:16.  “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”  Jude 5:20.  “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.”  Verses 24 and 25.  Isa. 40:30,31; Phil. 4:13.

We would now commend you, beloved brothers and sisters, to the Lord and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.  Our work which has been done for your benefit, is now finished in this respect; that you may make good use of it, is our friendly desire.  Remember us always in your prayers, until we depart this life; Phil. 1:23, that God may be gracious unto us now and in eternity.  We hope, on our part, to do the same for you.  O that God would grant that we all, without one missing, might behold one another, face to face, in the kingdom of God!  1 Cor. 13:12.

Meantime we rejoice in the salvation of the Lord; for it sometimes seems to us, as if Heaven had come down upon earth; or that we were ascending from earth to heaven, 2 Cor. 12:1–12, etc.; or that we, who are still among men, held communion with God and his holy angels; or that eternal heavenly joy and glory were offered to us; no, that we had a foretaste of those things which mortal eye has never seen, nor ear heard, nor heart experienced, in this life.*

We walk no longer upon earth with our thoughts; nevertheless, we are still encompassed by a cloud of earth, a body of clay, a heavy load of the soul.  O, that we were free from it, and that our soul, liberated from this load, might return to God in heaven, her true origin!  like a freed dove which has been confined in a strange place, returns to her nest and abode.  But we must wait for this until the time which God has appointed, comes.

Let us be patient together, then, most beloved in the Lord, till the day come, which, if we remain faithful unto the end, will assuredly bring us that which we here wait for in hope.  Then the tears, which we, sighing and longing for the highest salvation of God, have wept here, shall surely be wiped away from our eyes; then shall we no longer see through a glass, darkly, but face to face; then shall the heavenly be shown us no longer in thought or in spirit, but it shall be given to us, and we be made participants of it, by experience alone, in truth and in deed.  O great and precious subject!  We can go no further: our reason cannot comprehend it; our earthly tongue cannot express it!

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

Th. J. van Braght.

Dort, July the 25th, 1659.

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TO THE READERS IN GENERAL.

Good friends and fellow citizens:

Of old, among the heathen, the greatest and highest honors were accorded to the brave and triumphant warriors, who, risking their lives in the land of the enemy, conquered, and carried off the victory.*  Thus Homer, the foremost of the writers of heroic poetry in Greece, has, in twenty-four books, extolled and embellished with many eulogies the warlike deeds of Ulysses.  Quintus Curtius described, in ten books, the deeds of Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedonia: how triumphantly he conquered and subjugated Europe, Asia, India, and the countries bordering on the eastern Ocean, till he ultimately lost his life in Babylonia.  Plutarch composed a voluminous work devoted to the praise of illustrious and valiant men.  Titus Livius has written of the Roman heroes, how praiseworthily they acquitted themselves in behalf of the country of Romulus.  Virgilius Maro and others eulogized the emperor Augustus.  And this usage has obtained from ancient times, and obtains yet, in every land, yes, throughout the whole world.

We say nothing of the honor and praise, which, many years after their death, was bestowed in public theatres, upon those who had been sacrificed to idols, for the narration of it would consume too much time.

But God, in his word, goes higher and farther yet, in this respect.  He has caused the conflict, the sufferings, and the triumphs of his spiritual courageous heroes, children and favorites to be written, in language the most touching, glorious and triumphant, as an everlasting memorial for their descendants, and not only this, but as a full assurance of their happiness; so that they should always be remembered, and never forgotten.  Yes, the whole volume of holy Scriptures seems to be nothing else than a book of martyrs, replete with numerous, according to the flesh, sorrowful, but according to the spirit, happy, examples of the holy and steadfast martyrs, whose sufferings, conflicts and triumphs have been recorded in as holy and worthy a manner as it is possible to imagine.

However, they are variously spoken of, according to the importance of their merits.  Some of them suffered and fought much, but not unto blood, nor unto death; their victory and their honor are, therefore, not represented as of the highest degree.  Others, however, suffered and fought not only unto blood and death, for the Lord’s name, but even to the greatest pain and most bitter death.  We shall first speak of the former class, and then of the latter; yet the last shall surpass the first.  Abraham, the father of the faithful, and Isaac and Jacob, to whom God had promised the possession of the land of Canaan, lived, nevertheless, as strangers in the land of promise, and, sometimes, had to endure hunger, thirst and oppression.  Compare Gen. 12:10; 26:20; 31:22,23 with Heb. 11:9.

Moses, the friend of God, had to flee from Pharaoh into the land of Midian, where he sat down by a well.  Exo. 2:15.  Afterwards he came very near being stoned by the disobedient in Israel.  Exo. 17:4.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was several times in peril of being transfixed to the wall by a javelin, 1 Sam. 18:11; 19:10; yes, his life was in such danger that he complained to Jonathan: “There is but a step between me and death.”  1 Sam. 20:3.  For this reason he often called upon God for help, that he might not meet with an untimely death.  Among other things he says: “Consider and hear me, O Jehovah my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.”  Psm. 13:2.

In the days of Ahab and Jezebel a hundred prophets of the Lord had to flee on account of persecution, and were hidden in a cave, and fed with bread and water, by one Obadiah.  1 Kings 18:13.

Elijah, for the same reason, was compelled to turn eastward and hide himself by the brook Cherith that is before Jordan.  1 Kings 17:3.  His life was afterwards made so bitter to him that he fled into the wilderness by Beer-sheba, sat down under a juniper tree, and prayed, “O Jehovah, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”  1 Kings 19:4.

When Elisha, the servant of Elijah, proclaimed the word of the Lord in the city of Samaria, the king of Samaria swore that the head of Elisha should not stand on him that day.  2 Kings 6:31.

The prophet Micaiah, who had foretold in the name of Jehovah the truth to the king of Israel, had to eat the bread of sorrow, and drink the water of sadness, in the prison in which he was confined, until the king was slain in a battle.  1 Kings 22:27–37.

Jeremiah was cast into a mire-pit, in which he sunk down so deeply that he was in danger of death, until he was saved through Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian.  Jer. 38:6–13.

Amos was called a conspirator, and forbidden not only the city in which he prophesied, but also the land of the ten tribes of Israel.  Amos 7:10–13.

All these, and many more, endured much suffering and many conflicts, yet not unto blood or death.  But those of whom we shall speak now, suffered the bitterness of death, and are therefore, in this respect, of higher rank than they who have preceded, just as the loss of life is a severer test than to suffer in the body or to lose temporal possessions; which is the only difference between the two classes named.

This bloody army of the spiritual champions, who fought unto blood and death for the Lord, commenced with the beginning of the world, as though God’s saints were born to suffer and fight; and as though God had designed that his church should be tried from the beginning and all through, even as gold in the furnace that her purity might become the more manifest.

In the beginning we see Abel, who having in faith offered unto God a lamb as a sacrifice, was slain in the field by Cain, his brother.  Gen. 4:8; 1 John 3:12.

In the days of Ahab and Jezebel many prophets of God were slain by the sword of the rebellious and disobedient in Israel, so that Elijah thought he alone was left.  1 Kings 19:14.

When the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, so that he said to the disobedient people: “Why do you transgress the commandments of Jehovah,* that you cannot prosper?  Because you have forsaken Jehovah, he has also forsaken you,” they took stones and killed him at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of Jehovah.  2 Chron. 24:20-21.

When Urijah, the son of Shemaiah, of Kirjath-jearim prophesied in the name of Jehovah against the city of Jerusalem, his life was sought, so that he fled into Egypt.  But Jehoiakim the king sent men who fetched him back, and he slew him with the sword, and buried his dead body among the common people.  Jer. 26:20–23.

The god-fearing young men, named Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who refused to worship the image of King Nebuchadnezzar, were cast, bound, in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments just as they were, into a fiery furnace, in which they would have been immediately consumed, if God had not preserved them.  Dan. 3:21–23.

The prophet Daniel, because he would not worship king Darius, but only the true God of Israel, was cast into a den of lions, to be torn by them; but God protected him as he did those mentioned before.  Dan. 6:16.

Onias, the high priest, who, in a very praiseworthy and peaceful manner, led and kept the people at Jerusalem, so that foreign kings were moved to honor the city and the temple of God with gifts, was falsely accused by Simon the Benjamite, removed from his office by Jason, his own brother, and stabbed to death without regard of justice and equity by perjured Andronicus; for which cause not only the Jews, but also many gentiles took great indignation.  Compare 2 Macc. 3:1,2 with 4:1,34.

Two women, who had their children circumcised according to the law of God, were led round about the city, with their babes tied to their breasts, and then cast down headlong from the wall.  2 Maccabees 6:10.

Some who had hidden themselves in caves, to keep the Sabbath or day of rest of the Lord, and who would not defend themselves against the enemies, when it was discovered to Philip the tyrant, were burned.  2 Macc. 6:11.

Eleazar, an old man of ninety years, because he would not sin against the law of God by eating forbidden meat, nor set an evil example to young persons, nor dissimulate, had to carry his hoary hairs with blood to the grave, and die a cruel death through many stripes.  2 Macc. 6:27–31.

Seven brethren, for the same cause, were scourged with rods and thongs, had their tongues cut out, their hands and feet cut off, and were roasted in pans, and killed in this terrible manner to the last one, together with their mother, who had witnessed it all, and likewise refused to depart from the law of God.  2 Macc. 7.

This last mentioned class, from Abel to the Maccabees, are the true army of God and the heroes of the old covenant who, for the honor of God and the law of their fathers, did not spare their lives.

These the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews has in view when he speaks of the great cloud of witnesses, who, looking through faith for the fulfillment of the promises of God and the coming of the Son of God, in the flesh endured all sufferings, conflicts, and, at last, death, bravely and with an undismayed heart.  But the others, says he, meaning the steadfast saints of God of whom we have spoken, had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy.  Heb. 11:36–38.

Therefore the whole volume of holy Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, seems to be almost exclusively a book of martyrs, as we have stated in the beginning; appearing from the examples which we have adduced, and of which we could point out many more, if it were necessary.

As regards the heroes of the new covenant, that is, those who since the advent of Christ, and for the testimony of the holy gospel, have fought the good fight, even unto blood, yes, death; have finished their course; and steadfastly kept the faith, notwithstanding the various horrible torments; it would be impossible to speak briefly of it here, and do the subject full justice; for which reason we have done this in the following two books, to which we would refer the reader.

All this was written for a perpetual remembrance of the steadfast and blessed martyrs; concerning whom it is the will of God that they should not only always be remembered here among men, but whom he himself purposes never to forget but to remember them with everlasting mercy.

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The Sequel Compared With The Beginning Of This History.

We have already spoken of the great honor which custom conferred upon the brave and triumphant warriors; yet not one of all these, however great, mighty, valiant and victorious he may have been, or how great the honor and glory with which he may have been hailed, could in any way be compared with the least martyr who suffered for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Even aged and feeble persons, youths and maidens, and such as were not noticed, yes whom the world did not esteem at all, did infinitely more through the power of their faith, their ardent love to God, and, especially, their steadfastness unto death, by which they were enabled to forsake, yes, despise, all visible things, and to put entirely out of their thoughts, forget, and bid, as it were, eternal adieu to, until the consummation of all things, money, property, houses, farms, brothers, sisters, parents, children, dear friends and relatives, yes their own bodies and lives, and everything pleasing and delightful according to the flesh; whereas others, if possible, gladly enjoyed and retained all this, and would willingly have retained it always, or still retain it.

The honor, therefore, which is due to the holy martyrs, is infinitely greater and better than that of earthly heroes; just as the fight they fought was infinitely more profitable, and their victory, as coming from the hand of God, infinitely more praiseworthy and glorious.*

Through earthly wars, countries and their inhabitants are destroyed, the innocent killed, the fugitive robbed of their property, and much weeping and mourning caused among those who remain.  But through the warfare of the martyrs, at least through the martyrs themselves, the prosperity of countries and their inhabitants was promoted because of the fervent prayers offered up by the martyrs to God for those who did them harm and for the common welfare of all the inhabitants.

The life of the innocent, who otherwise would have had to die, yes, their spiritual and eternal life, was obtained and preserved through the medicine of their good teachings, admonitions, examples, and unwavering continuance to the end of life.

The estates of men generally, both according to the soul and the body, they improved and multiplied, causing them to increase thirty, sixty, and even a hundred fold, by their uprightness, fidelity, benevolence, compassion, and incomparable mercifulness toward their fellow men.

They caused no one to lament or weep, by doing him the least damage or injury, but they greeted everybody, even their enemies, with kindness, embraced them with the arms of love, and gave them cause to rejoice and be glad, outwardly as well as inwardly, bodily and spiritually, here and (God granting them mercy) also hereafter.

O most delightful warfare, which did injury to none, but good to all.  O you blessed heroes, who fought this fight!  No princes or kings can be compared to you; for all the honors won by earthly heroes on earth shall vanish with the earth; but your honor is an everlasting honor; your glory shall never cease, yes, shall endure as long as God endures, whom you served.

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Address To The Worldly-Minded.

Come now, you earthly-minded and ungodly, and learn here to become heavenly and godly-minded; you impenitent, learn here to repent, and believe in Jesus Christ.  Hither must come also all the self-willed, who, from a prejudiced opinion of their own do not consider the external commandments and ordinances of Christ as necessary, saying that there is not more required than repentance and faith, or a so-called irreproachable civil life.  These shall learn here that the external commandments of Christ must be united with the internal, that is, the signs with the things signified; or, to express it clearly: one must be baptized on his faith and repentance; must keep the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of him, etc.; for herein the holy martyrs were to them an example.*

Here the passionate must learn patience and meekness from the most patient and meek, who endured without murmuring the greatest reproach and ignominy, yes, even death.  Here the unmannered are taught modesty; the proud, humility; the discontented, contentment; the avaricious, benevolence; the insatiably rich, voluntary poverty; those who live after their lusts, the forsaking of all carnal desires; the irreligious, piety; and the wavering and inconstant, steadfastness unto the end in all these things.

All this can be learned here, not so much by words as by deeds, from those who not only commenced the above virtues, but continued in them unto the end, yes, confirmed them through their death, and sealed them with their blood.

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To The Young, The Middle-Aged, And The Old.

Besides, persons of every age may enter this school of practice in virtue; the young, the middle-aged and the old, all shall be led to true godliness by the living examples of those who went before them.

The young people who live after their lusts, and have not come to the light, will see here, that many of their equals, yes, who were only fourteen, fifteen, eighteen, twenty years old, or even younger, had at that age already forsaken the vanities of the world and the lusts of youth; no, some so early that they had not yet come to know them, much less to practice, them; but that, on the contrary, as soon as they reached their understanding, they remembered their Creator and Savior, bowed their youthful members under his yoke, accepted his commandments, obeyed him with all their heart, and surrendered themselves willingly to him, so that they, for his sake, did not spare their lives unto death.  Ecc. 12:1; Prov. 23:26.

The middle-aged, who, like the firmly-rooted oaks of Bashan, are so deeply engrossed in, and joined to, earthly affairs and household cares, that it is next to an impossibility to detach them from it because of their inseparable desire for the goods of this world; will see here people in the flower and prime of life, who might have gained much, but sought it not, because they would not miss the heavenly gain.  These had a contented heart; they were clothed with coats of skins, only against cold and nakedness; they lived in huts or plain cottages, to be sheltered from rain, wind, hail and snow; they ate bread to satisfy their hunger, and drank water to quench their thirst; more they had not.*

There they shall see that these contented people surrendered to God the strength of their bodies, their station in life, and whatever they had; so that they, having become members of his church, esteemed it greater riches to suffer with the same reproach of Christ, no death itself, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

The aged, who have neglected their youth and middle life, and are now come to the eleventh hour, and yet are still not working in the Lord’s vineyard, may here behold persons whose hoary head is a crown of glory, since they are found in the way of righteousness; who devoted their feeble powers, the short span of their life, yes their last breath, to the service and praise of their God and Savior, watching and waiting for the hour of their departure and the day of their redemption, that they might become an acceptable offering to the Lord.  They longed for the clock to strike twelve, so as to be admitted by the Lord and be seated at his glad feast.

When two of our last martyrs, Jan Claess of Alckmaer, and Lucas Lamberts of Beveren, an old man of eighty-seven years, received their sentence of death, at Amsterdam, Holland, in the forenoon of a certain day in the year 1544, Jan Claess said to the old man, Lucas Lamberts: “My dear brother, fear now neither fire nor sword.  O what a glad feast shall be prepared for us, before the clock strikes twelve.”  See II Book, year 1544.

All this and infinitely more the worldly-minded, ignorant and unbelieving are taught here.  O that each of them would consider this well!

Men are more easily converted by good examples than by good teachings, because examples are more impressive; yet here you have both.

Let every one come here, therefore; and no one remain behind; all have need to be taught in the way of salvation; no one would choose to be unsaved.  Here you shall see the patience, the faith, and the constancy of the saints.  Have compassion upon your own poor souls, whom the Lord loves so dearly, seeking to lead them to heaven; yes for whom the Son of God has shed his precious blood, thus purchasing them with so great a price.  We would commend this matter most urgently to you as well as to ourselves.  O Lord, help!  O Lord, let it prosper!

But it is now time that we turn our attention to giving instructions concerning the proper understanding and use of this work.

Th. J. van Braght.

Dort, July the 27th, 1659.

 

 

INTRODUCTION.

Summary Of The Following Work.

This work comprises two books, each of them containing a different and independent topic.  The first is a treatise of the holy baptism and of that which pertains to it.  The second is a historical account of the holy martyrs who suffered on account of baptism, or, generally, for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

These two topics have been briefly, yet not less clearly, treated throughout, in every century, from the days of Christ up to our present time; and this order has been followed: through every century first an account is given, through faithful and authentic authors, of the subject of holy baptism, and the proper administration of the same during that time; to which we have each time added our own comments, explanations, refutations of objections, etc., then every century is again taken up, and an account given of the holy martyrs who suffered during that time.  So that each century treating of holy baptism is followed by a century treating of the holy martyrs; and thus from beginning to end.

This, then, is a summary and the order of the following work; which we shall directly explain more fully, and give our reason for doing so.

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Of The Title Of This Work: The Bloody Theatre Of The Anabaptists, Etc.

The first part of the title, consisting of the words, The Bloody Theatre, will, we think, not be subjected to any serious criticism, since no one can dispute that all that is treated here, so far as the martyrs are concerned, is a representation or exhibition of the blood, suffering, and death of those who, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, and for their conscience’ sake, shed their blood, exchanging their life for a cruel death.

But the second part, consisting of the words, “Of the Anabaptists,” may easily meet with some opposition, because some will not admit that the Anabaptists, or those who maintain such a confession as they do, have existed through every century, from the days of Christ up to the present time; and, what is still more, that they have had their martyrs.  But in order to treat the matter systematically and in the best manner, we shall first speak of the name, and then of the thing itself.

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Of The Name: Anabaptists.*

The name “Anabaptists” was really not accepted by them by choice or desire, but of necessity; for their proper name, if we consider well the thing in connection, should be, Christ-minded, Apostle-minded, or Gospel-minded, Gal. 3:26,27,29, as they were called of old, yes, many centuries ago, because their religion agreed with the doctrine of Christ, the Apostles, and the holy Gospel; which appears from the confessions of faith which they from time to time have published, and which we, as far as we know them, are ready to defend, if necessity requires it; of which also others boast; but how they prove it, they may answer for themselves, and the impartial and intelligent may judge.

The name Anabaptists which is now applied to them, has but lately come into use, deriving its origin from the matter of holy baptism, concerning which their views differ from those of all, so-called, Christendom.  In what this difference consists, we will now briefly, and in the sequel more fully state.

We could have wished that they had been called by another name, that is, not only after the holy baptism, but after their whole religion; but since it is not so, we can content ourselves with the thought that it is not the name, but the thing itself, which justifies the man.  For this reason we have applied this name to them throughout the work, that they may be known and distinguished from others.*

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Of Holy Baptism, And Why We Have Preferred It To All Other Articles In Our History.

We have chosen holy baptism in preference to any other article of the Christian and evangelical religion:

1.  Because it is the only sign and proof of incorporation into the visible Christian church, without which no one, whoever he be, or whatever he may profess, or how separated and pious a life he may lead, can be recognized as a true member of the Christian church.  This is fully, yet without controversy, shown and confirmed in the following history.
2.  Because it is, beyond contradiction, the only article on account of which others call us Anabaptists.  For, since all other so-called Christians have, yet without true foundation, this in common, that they baptize infants; while with us only the baptism which is accompanied by faith and a penitent life, according to the word of God, is administered, to adults; it follows that with us such persons are baptized who have received baptism in their childhood, without faith and repentance; who, when they believe and repent, are again, or at least truly baptized with us; because with us their previous baptism, being without true foundation, and without the word of God, is not considered baptism at all.

3.  Because the imperial decrees (when some so-called Christians began to tyrannize) in the days of Theodosius and Honorius, A.D. 413, were issued and proclaimed everywhere, expressly against the Anabaptists and those who were rebaptized; namely against such who maintained the aforementioned article, as the Anabaptists of to-day do; which was also the case in the last persecution, during the reign of Emperor Charles V., more than eleven centuries afterwards, A.D. 1535; when all who, having been baptized in infancy, had been rebaptized upon their faith and repentance; or who maintained these views, were punished with a severe death, as may be seen in our account of baptism, and of the martyrs, for the years 413 and 1535.

4.  Because it would not have been possible to write in detail of all the other articles of the Christian faith and worship of God, as they, through all the centuries from the days of Christ up to the present time, have been believed and practiced according to the manner of the Anabaptists of this day; without going beyond the bounds of the largest book; since no book could possibly be printed or planned on so large a scale, as to contain all this; therefore we have been obliged to observe moderation in writing, throughout, so as not to become diffuse, or overstep the bounds of a reasonable book.

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The Reason Why We Have Pointed Out The Article Of Holy Baptism, And The Adherents Of Anabaptism, From The Days Of Christ To The Present Time.

For more than a century up to the present day, people have been made to believe that the Anabaptists contemptuously so-called, have but recently sprung from some erring spirits,—some say, from the Munsterites,* etc.; whose unbelievable faith, life and conduct, the true Anabaptists have never recognized; for no one will ever be able to show with truth, so far as we have been able to ascertain, that the articles of religion of those Munsterites, by which they have drawn the attention of the world upon themselves, and which consist in commotion, rebellion and such like, have ever been adopted or acknowledged as good, much less professed and lived, by any formal church of the Anabaptists, or by any well known member of the same.  But, on the contrary, they have from that time on and ever since declared that they would have neither lot nor part with them or their transactions; and admonished one another not to follow such ways, because these could not stand the test before God and his word, nor before the mind of a true and meek Christian, as being contrary to the Gospel of Christ, and the most holy faith.

Were we disposed to pay them in their own coin, we might say: The Munsterites were fellow-members of those who sanction war and claim that one must propagate and defend his religion with the sword.  For this is what they did; but we speak against it with heart, soul, and mind.

Nevertheless, the people were made to believe these things; and therefore, many simple people without experience or knowledge have adopted the above opinion, simply because their pastor, preacher, or teacher told them so; therefore, many slanders have sometimes been, and are still, spewed out like bitter gall, against the so-called Anabaptists, who are despised and rejected by everybody.

In order to show that the doctrines of the Anabaptists, especially that article on account of which they are called Anabaptists, did not originate with the Munsterites, or any other erring spirits who have arisen in these last times, but have proceeded from the source of truth—Christ and his apostles, we have placed their origin in the time of Christ, and shown that at that time already, this article, with other articles of the Christian religion, was taught and practiced; and also after the death of the apostles, through every age, even to the present time.

Now the point will be to give the reasons why we have called this whole work, with all the persons contained in this, after the Anabaptists; from which, as the second question, might be asked: whether all the persons mentioned, confessors as well as martyrs, none excepted, confessed the same as what the Anabaptists of this day confess?  or whether any believed, practiced, or maintained higher or lower, more or less, in this or that article?

We shall treat these matters separately, and one after the other, giving the reasons as well as the answers.

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Reason Why We Have Called This Whole Work After The Anabaptists.

The reason which has induced us is two-fold:

1.  Because, as we have shown clearly, there have been persons in every century, from the beginning of the Gospel all along, who have believed and taught the article of holy baptism, with other articles noted in the margin—on account of which the Anabaptists have received this name—in the very same manner as the Anabaptists, and have, each in his time, instructed, engrafted, and confirmed their contemporaries in this, as may be seen in the whole history, especially in the first fifteen centuries.

2.  Because we have not found mentioned in the writings of authentic authors anything concerning those persons whom we have noted as true witnesses, which conflicts with the above mentioned doctrines of the Anabaptists.  And whenever something has been laid to their charge, which is not in harmony with the uprightness of the faith professed by them, we have shown that the witnesses to such charge were not authentic or acceptable; or that the things brought against them, were committed by them not after, but before their conversion; or that, if they at any time have fallen into them, they truly forsook them before their death, and from which all this appears.

But whenever we have found that any, as regards the faith professed, were actually guilty of serious errors, offensive misconceptions, or bad actions, for which the above excuses could not be brought forward; we have dropped such entirely, and not mentioned them; that the pious and most holy witnesses of Jesus Christ might not be defiled with their unclean and unholy leaven.

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Answer To The Question, Whether All The People Mentioned In This Work, None Excepted, Have Confessed The Same That The Anabaptists Of This Day Confess.

Concerning this we say that a distinction must be made between the first and last martyrs;—not that they have differed in the faith, for this we have not found; but because they were not all examined in regard to the same articles of faith; and consequently did not reply in one and the same manner; and this from the fact, that some suffered among the pagans, some among the Jews and the Mohammedans, and some among the false Christians, that is, the Romanists.

Those who suffered among the pagans were, for the most part, examined concerning the first article of the Christian faith, in which we confess: “I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth,” etc.; and if the apprehended Christians confessed only this, viz., that they believed in one God, they were condemned to death: for the pagans recognized many gods.

Those who suffered among the Jews or the Mohammedans were examined concerning the second article, in which we confess: I believe “in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,” etc.  When they had confessed this, they had also forfeited their lives; for the Jews and the Mohammedans do not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, much less as his only-begotten (or own) Son, and that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

On account of this article many believers were killed among the Arian Christians.*

Those who suffered among the false Christians, especially among the Romanists, were examined concerning nearly all the articles of faith, in regard to which difference of opinion existed between us and them, viz: the incarnation of Christ, the office of the secular authorities, the swearing of oaths, etc., but above all others, the article of holy baptism, namely: whether they were denied infant baptism or whether they were re-baptized?  Which latter principally caused their death, as sentence of death was immediately passed upon them, and their life taken.

Besides these articles (on account of which they also had to suffer among the followers of Zwingli and Calvin) the Papists laid before them also, either for denial or for confession, the manifold papal institutions, which at different times and above and contrary to the most holy faith and life, had originated, and been forced, as necessary articles for salvation, upon the innocent plain and orthodox people, that they should believe, and live according to them, such as the invocation of deceased saints; sacrifices for the dead; pilgrimages to the sepulchres of the saints; the worshiping and salutation of images made with hands; masses; vigils; ceremonial night watches; choral prayers, whether paternosters, Ave Marias, or rosaries, or others; making the sign of the cross; sprinkling with holy water; the tonsure; the wearing of white, gray, black, or other clothes; the chasuble; and innumerable other things which it is almost impossible to mention.

When the orthodox martyrs were examined by the Papists concerning these and similar matters, they must necessarily express their opinion in regard to them, and, therefore, unfold the articles of their own faith, which were opposed to them; so that on such occasions frequently the whole foundation and all the particulars of the saving faith which they held in common with us were discussed.

This is the reason, therefore, that only those martyrs who suffered among the false Christians, especially among the Papists, made confession of nearly all the articles of faith; while all the others, though faithful and sincere confessors of the evangelical truth, who sacrificed their lives among the pagans, Jews, or Mohammedans, confessed but very little of it: because they were not examined concerning them.

Moreover, at first there were not so many articles of faith concerning which different opinions prevailed, than there were in later times; for which there was a reason; for in the beginning there were not so many apostates and different sects as in later times; the points which had to be asserted against those who disputed them originally, were fewer than afterwards, when many churches began to spring up, and each defended his own; from which the true believers had to distinguish themselves by their confession of the controverted articles of faith.

No true Christian of the Anabaptists of this day will stumble at the fact that the first martyrs have not confessed so many articles of faith as the last ones, or as are confessed now; which, as has been said, is founded on a satisfactory reason.

However, we have found, and are fully satisfied with this, that although, for the reason already mentioned, some have confessed more, and others less, of the articles of faith, they notwithstanding did not differ from each other in regard to their purpose and meaning; we speak with reference to those things which are of considerable importance, and may be considered as necessary for salvation.

But should it nevertheless be true, that one or the other (of which one has not heard), on account of the earliness, degeneracy, or darkness of preceding times, was not truly enlightened; either in the faith or in the knowledge of it, or possessed some serious weakness or deficiency; but nevertheless, keeping the true foundation of salvation, that is, Christ,* though weak and frail, died, sacrificing his life through a violent death, with a good purpose, to the honor of God, the edification of his fellow brethren, above all, to the preservation of his own soul; such a one should, according to the nature of love, be excused, and counted a true martyr,* because of his entirely good intention, and his total renunciation, even unto death, of his possessions as well as his own self; for which the Lord has promised everlasting life, yes, the crown of life, Mat. 19:29, compared with Rev. 2:10: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of Life.”

This is what we have thought proper to call attention to in regard to the title and contents of these two books; but before we dismiss the subject, it is required for us to make a brief statement in regard to the preceding or old work.

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Statement In Regard To The Old Work.

It was our intention to leave the second book, that is, the history of the martyrs from the year 1524 to 1614, unaltered, just as it was published before to the service of our fellow-brethren in the faith; except that we proposed to add a few more martyrs of the same faith, inserting them where it might be suitable.  But our original design in this matter has been far transcended, since we, besides the writing of the whole first book, have added not only a few, but many martyrs to the second book; and as many of the death sentences of the martyred persons, which we have recently obtained, did not agree in date and other circumstances with the respective accounts contained in the old book, some of them differing very greatly from each other; which came from the fact that, when the martyrs were put to death, the rest of the believers of the place were frequently scattered on account of the existing danger, in consequence of which neither the time nor the manner of their death could be recorded.  Therefore we have, whenever we discovered such discrepancies, rewritten the original accounts and ordered them according to the time and manner indicated in the death sentences recorded by the papal and other clerks of the criminal court; in order that even the adversaries, if possible, might become convinced by their own testimony of the shedding of the blood of the saints.

This was no small task and burden for us; yet we have labored through and finished it (thanks be to the Lord for his grace).  But how [well] this was accomplished, we let the impartial and intelligent judge.

However, we consider it certain that we shall not escape criticism; the world, being evil, is wont to criticise everything good.  Besides, we have not aimed to please everybody, but to write the truth; and this, we think, we have done without passion, prejudice, or partiality.*

If anybody is displeased with this book, he may know that we have written it only for ourselves and for the well-disposed.  With the evil-minded we have nothing to do.  Therefore we shall console ourselves in regard to whatever we may meet with on this account.  God and a good conscience shall be our support.

 

The captious I cannot escape,

Who fault will always find;

But yet, my heart shall never fear,

Since God my purpose knows.

Yes, Lord!  you know all my thoughts;

To you my cause I trust.

I care not what my haters say,

So free my conscience is.

 

Far be it from us, however, to acquit ourselves of all liability to err.  No man in this world is so infallible that he may not at some time err.*  We consider it to be certain, therefore, that we, here and there (though not intentionally, but innocently), have erred; and this the more, as we have compiled and written this to a great extent while we were in distress, severe illness, yes, on the bed of sickness, when death threatened us; for which reason we ought to be the more excused, though we, for truth’s sake, do not seek it.
If any one, therefore, no matter who, provided he does it in sincerity and good faith, can point out to us any errors, we will consider the matter, forsake the evil, and follow the good.  But if it is apparent to us that not sincerity and faithfulness (that is, love of truth), but envy and ill-will caused by prejudiced partiality against our faith, are the prime motors in the case, we shall not very easily be induced to give it closer consideration; but it shall only the more confirm and assure us of the truth of what we have written and do believe.

No one must expect that if he, for the purpose of refuting or assailing with the pen, attacks this book (that is, as far as the work which we have written is concerned) in one or the other point, and not in its entire extent; we shall readily answer or oppose him; for we do not consider such a procedure worth the trouble of replying to it.  But should the whole work be attacked or contested, yet so that no alteration is made in the language, nor anything essential left out, we would state that, if God will spare our health and grant us strength, we will attend to the matter; since, for the sake of our brethren and companions, we shall, like Paul, not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, either to reply to, or refute the things advanced, or to do anything else we may deem necessary to the service of the defenseless and oppressed little flock of Christ.

But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.  Psalm 94:15.

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Valedictory.

Hitherto has the Lord helped us.*  We have longed much for the hour that would bring us to the conclusion of our work.  This hour has come; and therefore we will now rest.
Receive this according to the nature of love.  We have had nothing in view, but that it should promote the honor of God, and your, our, and the salvation of all men.  Your and our days are drawing to a close.  O, may God grant that the end of your and our life may be the beginning of the true and blissful life; that the setting of your and our days which are but misery and vanity, may be the rising of the eternal and glorious day of immortal glory.

O Lord, bless us and all who may read this work; that they and we, in the true faith and with a godly conduct, may spread abroad your honor, and afterwards, being honored by you, receive a like reward.

We look forward with joy to the day which can bring us consolation.  It will deliver us from this evil and perverse world.  It will bring us to the true rest, where unrest will be no more, It will give us what our heart desires.  O that this time had come already!

 

The Lord Almighty calls me:

My earthly work is done; and now

I long to get away from you,

O world so vain!  O house of pain!

For though my flesh in you yet moves,

The soul immortal heavenward tends.*

 

This was spoken by one of the ancients, when he thought that he had finished a good work, and that the hour of his departure was near at hand.  Certainly a great confidence springing from a well-meaning heart.  We say in the same manner: Our earthly work is now finished.  We do not know that we shall be able to do much more good upon earth.  But as long as we are here, we hold ourselves bound to our Creator, being confident that we have not lived in vain.  We have, in our weakness, done what we could for the promotion of our own and the welfare of our fellow-men.

Be then, O God, gracious unto the least of your servants, and grant that none of his natural or spiritual kindred, or of those who have been instructed by him, may be lost, but that they all may come to the rest of your saints and be eternally saved.

With this, beloved reader, whoever you may be, we commend you to the Lord; and to you we commend the consideration of the things which you will find here; feeling assured that if you will do so, you will certainly receive that for which we have prayed to the Lord in your behalf.

Yours very affectionately, as seeking your soul,

Thielem J. van Braght.

Dort, July the 31st, 1659.

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OF THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD, ITS ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND IMMOVABLE STABILITY, THROUGH ALL TIMES.

[As in the following work a survey is given, to some degree, of the succession and establishment of the church, we find it expedient in order that the same may not be misinterpreted, and because some of our good friends have requested and besought us (though we had intended to leave it as it was), to precede, by way of introduction, that which follows, by our exposition of the true and the false church, and of their respective good and evil succession and progress; also, to state the views we hold in regard to the right of succession.  We will, therefore, begin here, and, so as not to be tedious, endeavor to be as brief as possible.]

As there are two different peoples, two different congregations and churches, the one of God and from heaven, the other of Satan and from the earth; so there is also a different succession and progress belonging to each of them.*

We shall first speak of the divine and heavenly church, and then of the last mentioned one.

The divine and heavenly church, which is the separated holy flock and people of God, originated upon earth at the beginning of the world; has existed through all the ages up to the present time; and will continue to the end of the world.

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Of The Divine Service Of The Church.

The state and divine service of this church have varied from the beginning according to the different periods in which it existed and flourished.

From Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the end of the world, God ordained, for each of these periods, different customs, as regards the external divine service of this church; also different signs, seals, and appurtenances; though it is, was and shall be, the same church, the same people, and also the same God whom they served, still serve, and shall serve unto the end.

Before Adam fell, divine service had no respect to Christ; he had not yet been presented to men as a means of salvation, much less as their only Prophet, Priest, and King, or as the only true way, entrance and door to heaven, through whom alone men can be saved; but their happiness depended on their obedience to the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Gen. 2:16,17.*

After the fall, divine service had respect altogether to Christ, Acts 4:12.  Truly God promised his Son to men, represented him by types, and finally gave him to them.  In the meantime, the fathers who were before the advent of Christ, hoped in him, longed for his coming, and ordered and founded all their divine services, whatever these, according to the time and the command of God, might be, on his only and eternal reconciliation.  Compare Gen. 3:15; 22:18; 49:10,18 with John 5:46; 8:56; 1 Peter 1:10,11.

Touching the external mode of divine service, this was not uniform at all periods, but varied very much; for it seems that in the time from Adam to Noah, men followed the implanted light of nature, or, to speak properly, the engraven law of the conscience or the mind; observing no essential and express ceremonial commandments, excepting Abel’s offering, and the commandment that the sons of God that is, the members of his church, should not marry the daughters of men, that is, those who were not members of the church of God; which was enjoined under a severe penalty.  Compare Gen. 4:4 with Gen. 6:3.*

In the time from Noah to Abraham, there was added God’s command, not to eat blood, nor to shed human blood.  At that time God made a covenant with Noah and every living creature; that he would destroy them no more by a flood; and he set the bow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant.  Compare Gen, 9:4,5 with verses 11,12,13.

In the time from Abraham to Moses God instituted the circumcision among his people; which served for the purpose of distinguishing the descendants of Abraham, of whom the church of God consisted, from all other nations, and as a seal of the covenant which God had made with Abraham and his seed, in particular.  See Gen. 17:10,11,12, compare with Rom. 4:11.

From the time of Moses to Christ God gave, in addition to circumcision, many laws and commandments, too numerous to mention, which were to be observed by his people.  These consisted in manifold sacrifices, oblations, purifications, etc., for the performance of which holy times were set apart, as the Passover, Pentecost, feast of tabernacles, new moons, and fast days; together with sacred places, as the tabernacle of Moses, the temple of Solomon; Shiloh, Mizpah, Moriah, etc.; also holy persons, as prophets, priests, Levites, singers, and door-keepers.  See Exo., Lev., Num., and Deut.  [CHCoG: See the next footnote in regard to this.]

From the time of Christ to the end of the world, God, through Christ, has taken away the ceremonies of the Mosaic law as well as the signs by which it was sealed; and, to the acknowledgment of the grace of Christ, commended the observance of other ceremonies and signs, as baptism, supper, etc.  These external commandments, together with faith, and true penitence of life, which is the spiritual and moral virtue, the Lord has very strictly enjoined upon all members of the church of Christ.  See Mat. 28:18–20; Mark 16:15,16, compared with 1 Cor. 11:1–28; also the entire epistles of the apostles, which treat of the fulfillment of the Mosaic ceremonial law, as Rom. 10:4; Gal, 4:10,11 and 5:1–4; Col. 2:16.

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CHCoG: We need to think about this carefully.  The division of the Mosaic Law into moral, ceremonial and judicial portions was first proposed by Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic Dominican friar and priest, in the thirteenth century.  Aquinas was also one of the first Catholics to teach that heretics should be put to death.  The ‘ceremonial’ division is flexible, and used to dispose of God’s Sabbaths, and anything else that the divider does not like.  Are we to get our doctrines from Rome?  Read 1 Cor. 11:1 again: We are to imitate Christ!  And what holy days did he keep?  His Father’s, as listed in Leviticus 23.  Therefore he died on the Passover day.  Then He rose from the dead at the end of the Sabbath day.  He went to His Father at the time of the Wave Sheaf Offering.  Then He sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  Note that these last two were kept AFTER Jesus rose from the dead.  Romans 10:4 tells us that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.  This means that our righteousness is through Christ, not the Law, but that does not mean we can now trample on God’s Law, as even Paul makes clear. (Rom. 6:11-23).  We are free from the Laws of Sin and Death, and released from Satan.  Christ now expects us to live sin-free lives.  We cannot do that if we are still transgressing God’s Laws.  Read Gal. 4:8-12 carefully, and you will discover that Paul was telling the Galatians to not return to their old pagan holy days.  He himself still kept God’s Holy Days, as shown in Acts 20:6, 1 Cor. 16:8, Heb 4:9, etc.  In Gal. 5:1-4, we are indeed told that we are free from many of the restrictions given under the Mosaic law, such as circumcision, the offering of animal sacrifices for sin and the Levitical priesthood, also shown in the book of Hebrews.  The Colossians reading needs to be expanded, and an accurate translation used, to understand what is truly being said: Col 2:16  Therefore let no one bother you about food or drink, or in regard to the feasts and the beginnings of months and sabbaths; Col 2:17  because these are shadows of things to come, and the body is the Anointed.  These holy days (feasts) are important shadows of what is coming.  Paul is telling us to keep them and to let only our true brothers and sisters in the Anointed (the Body of Christ) guide us in how to observe them.  These ‘shadows’ give us a full understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.  Remember, Paul himself also observed Jehovah’s Holy Days, as shown above.

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Having now briefly shown the diversity of the external divine service of the church of God, through all the times; it is required for us to state, on the other hand, in what points this church has always continued the same.

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In What Points The Church Of God Has Always Continued The Same.

God has always ordained teachers in his church, and, therefore, always caused his will to be proclaimed to the people; which commenced principally in the days of Enos, the grandson of Adam; for then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.  Gen. 4:26.

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, preached of the judgment and the great day of vengeance of the Lord.  Jude vs. 14,15.

Abraham, the father of the faithful, called on the name of Jehovah, the everlasting God.  Gen. 21:33.

Moses preached of the faithfulness, goodness, and righteousness of God; so that his doctrine dropped as the rain, and his speech distilled as the dew.  Deut. 32:2–5.

David preached of the righteousness of Jehovah God in the great (God’s) congregation, and would not let his mouth be stopped, that is, he would not be overcome by his adversaries.  Psm. 40:10.

Afterwards, all the holy prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, preached of the laws, punishments and promises of God, and prophesied of the blessed and felicitous coming of the Messiah whom God had promised.  Read the books containing their prophecies, throughout.

After the time of the Prophets, Christ himself preached of the fulfillment of the time, the coming of the kingdom of heaven, repentance, and faith in the Gospel.  Mark 1:15.

The apostles followed the example and the command of their Lord, in proclaiming the will of God; and not that alone, but when their departure was close at hand, they appointed others in their stead, as Timothy, Titus, the seven teachers in the seven churches in Asia, who also, especially Timothy, were charged to appoint faithful men, who would be able to teach others also.  2 Tim. 2:2.

In order, moreover, that the church of Jesus Christ might always know, according to what rule persons were to be chosen for the ministry, the Holy Spirit, through the hand of Paul, has written concerning this matter, and transmitted it to posterity.  1 Tim. 3:1–7; Tit. 1:5–9.

Besides the office of preaching, which has always belonged to the church, various other articles, in faith* and life as well as in outward worship, which have always obtained, and must still obtain, could be mentioned; however, since we think we have pointed out the chief article, by virtue of which, principally, a church is a church, and through what the same is sustained, we will, so as not to bring too much of the same thing, dismiss the subject here, and proceed to the stability, durability, and visible discernibility of this church, as we have promised in the beginning.

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Of The Stability, Durability, And Visible Characteristics Of The Church Of God.

That this church, from the beginning to the time of David, was always visible, discernible, and distinguished from other nations, is clear and manifest, and, as far as we know, not doubted by anybody.  There remains, then, only to be proven that the same after the time of David, has always been discernible, according to the preceding manner, and will continue to be so to the end.*
To show this, the song of David of the city or church of God, Psm. 46:3,4, serves an excellent purpose.  “Though the sea rage and roll, so that through its tempest the mountains fall in, Selah!  The city of God shall nevertheless remain glad with her fountains, where the holy tabernacles of the Almighty are.”  This passage, beginning with the preceding verse reads as follows according to the original text: “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters of it roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling of it, Selah.  There is a river, the streams of which shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
Who is there so ill versed in the word of God, as to suppose that he is to understand by the words city of God and the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High, etc., the city of Jerusalem in the land of Palestine, and the temple which was built in that city?  For this city and the temple which was in it, were laid waste and totally demolished and destroyed, first by the Chaldeans, in the time of Jeremiah, and subsequently by the Romans, who conquered the land of Canaan and Jerusalem; so that, according to the prophecy of Christ, not one stone was left upon another.  We must, therefore, understand this as relating to the church of God, which is called, in holy Scripture, the city of God.  Heb. 12:22; for of the same it is said that God is in the midst of her, and that, therefore, she shall not be moved, etc., as shall appear more fully from the following testimonies, Isaiah 2:2: “Now it will come to pass in the latter days that the mountain* of Jehovah’s House will be established on the top of the mountains, and will be exalted above the hills; and all nations will flow to it.”  It is beyond dispute that here, by the words Jehovah’s house, we are to understand the church of the Lord, unless there be one who holds, with the Jews, that it must be understood as having reference to the house of stone, which, in former time, Solomon built, to the honor of God, on Mount Moriah; which house is now in ruins, but was to be rebuilt.  But this cannot be expected, for the prophet Daniel, with respect to this desolation, says clearly that it shall be poured upon the desolate, even until the consummation (that is, the end of the world).  Dan. 9:27 compared with Mat. 24:15.*

No small proof of this is furnished by the fact that about forty years after the ascension of Christ, this very house was destroyed, demolished and burned by Titus Vespasian, and has not yet been rebuilt, though about sixteen hundred years have elapsed since; and, on account of the continual quarrels of the Palestinian and other eastern rulers, it is, viewing it from a human standpoint, not likely that it will ever be done.

Since it is true, then, that by the words “the house of Jehovah,” we must understand the church of the Lord, there follows also what is said in connection with it namely: that the same shall be firmly, i.e. invincibly, established on the mountain, that is, Christ, the immovable foundation.

Besides the adduced prophecy, Isaiah 2:2, showing the firmness and immovability of the house (or the church) of God, which is founded upon the mountain of the Lord—Christ Jesus—the same prophet treating of the durability, glory and divine dignity of this church, under the type of the New Jerusalem, produces various commendatory testimonies for this purpose, saying among other things, chap. 60, verse 11: “Your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night.”

This is a simile drawn from a peaceful city which has neither fear nor care that enemies will attack her, and, therefore, leaves her gates open by night as well as by day, for the accommodation of the citizens, and the messengers and strangers who are traveling in the night.  Thus, he would say, will it also be with the future church of Jesus Christ.

Then, in verse 14, speaking of the enemies of the church of God, and of those who had slandered her, he says: They “shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you the city of Jehovah, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

When a city has become so great that even her deadly enemies who had purposed to lay waste and destroy her, come bending their knees, and, as begging for favor, bow down before her, as is shown here of the enemies of the city and church of God; there is no probability that such city will easily be conquered, laid waste, or subjugated.  So it is, in a spiritual sense, with the city and church of Jesus Christ; for it is this to which this prophecy has reference.

Immediately after, in the 15th verse, the prophet declares that God will make this city or church an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.

And, as though by this the durability and excellency of this city, well-beloved of God, were not yet sufficiently expressed, he adds these words, verse 19: “But Jehovah shall be unto you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.”

And, lastly, verse 21: “Your people, O God, also shall be all righteousness: they shall inherit the land forever.”  Here no further explanation is required, since the text plainly and clearly expresses our meaning; and we will, therefore let it suffice.

We then proceed to what Christ, the Son of God, himself testifies concerning this matter.  Mat. 16:18: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Christ, in another place, speaking by parable of a man who built his house upon the sand, adds the explanation: that the same was a foolish man; because such a foundation, and, therefore, also the building which is founded upon it cannot stand before the floods, rains, and storms, which beat against it.

On the other hand, he commends him as wise and prudent, who built his house upon a rock; since the same, being well-founded, is able to withstand all dangers.

But the foundation of which the Lord speaks here, that he will build his church upon it, is much firmer than any material rock, for these must all pass away with time; but the foundation which is Christ himself, remains, shall remain, and shall never decay: for “the foundation of God stands sure,” 2 Tim. 2:19.

Yet not only the foundation, but also the building of the church shall not decay, though in nature it is otherwise; for a house, church, or tower, resting on an immovable foundation, but being not sufficiently firm or strong in itself, finally decays, yes falls to the ground; but here it stands so that no opposing agencies, not even the devil himself, can prevail against it, which is evident from these words: “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

In or under the gates councils were wont to be held; and the gates were the strength and power of the cities.  Compare Zech. 8:16 with Psm. 147:13.  Therefore, by the words, “The gates of hell,” etc., we are to understand the council and power of the hellish fiend.  Yet, according to the last mentioned place of Scripture, these shall not prevail against the church of Christ;* and, consequently, no other opposing agencies; for these are the most powerful and worst enemies.

We pass on to other Scripture testimony written for the same purpose.  Mat. 28:20: “And, lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the ages.”  Nearly all translators, in order to follow in this the Dutch way of speaking, render the last words of this sentence: “unto the end of the world.”  But we have, for good reasons, preserved the Greek mode of expression, inasmuch as it serves better and more clearly to the end we have in view.  For we have found that, after the common translation, the words, “unto the end of the world,” have been misinterpreted, and stretched beyond their meaning, by some inexperienced persons, so that these expound that which has been spoken of the consummation of time, as referring to the end of locality; even as though Christ had not here promised his apostles, to remain with them till all time should have come to an end; but only until, for the promulgation of the Gospel, they should have traveled unto the uttermost parts of the earth, which, because it is not possible to travel farther by land, are called the end of the world.

This is a great error, for, according to his explanation, this promise would have belonged to the apostles alone, and been limited by their life time, since they traveled everywhere to preach, so that their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.*  Compare Mark 16:20 with Rom. 10:18.

But, in order that all true followers of Christ and his apostles, to the end of time, might comfort themselves with this promise, the Lord has expressly spoken of the consummation of the ages, and declared that so long (understand: spiritually) he will be with them.

We arrive now at the point we had in view from the beginning, and which we shall now present more plainly and fully.  It is certain that the Lord has spoken here of the preaching of the holy Gospel, of faith, of baptism, and of the manner of establishing and building up his church, as it was his will that the same should be built up and maintained through all ages.  After saying this, he gave the before mentioned promise.

It is settled, therefore, that the visible church of Jesus Christ (for this is the one in whom the preaching of the holy Gospel, faith, baptism, and whatever there is more besides, have place) shall exist through all time, even unto the consummation of the ages; for, otherwise, the promise, “Lo, I am with you all the days,” etc., can not be fulfilled in her.

Even as, besides preaching and faith, baptism shall continue in the church to the end of time, so also the holy supper.  This appears from the words of Paul, 1 Cor. 11:26: “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show forth the Lord’s death till he come.”

Thus, if mention is made here of the eating of the bread, the drinking of the cup, and the showing forth of the Lord’s death, with the additional clause that this shall be observed, and continue, till the Lord come (that is, in the end of time, to judge the world), it follows: that there will be, throughout all ages to the end of the world, a church which will observe the external ordinances of Christ not only in respect to holy baptism, but also to the holy supper, and the showing forth of the Lord’s death; unless it can be shown that the words, “till he come,” have another signification, such as we have never yet met with in any commentator, since the text is not only too clear, but also too conclusive.*  Compare this with Mat. 25:31; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thes. 4:16; Jude 14; Rev. 1:7; 22:12,20.

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The Church Of God Obscured And Rendered Almost Invisible In Some Places; And What Has Been The Cause Of It From Ancient Times.

As the moon, notwithstanding her substance and body never perish, is not always seen in her full light by the human eye, either because she sinks beneath the horizon, or, being too close to the sun, is obscured by him, or, being far from the sun, is darkened by the shadow of the earth, which is called an eclipse; even so it is with the substance and appearance of the church of God on earth.  The latter, though never perishing entirely, does not always show herself in her full form, yes, at times she seems to have vanished altogether, yet not in all, but only in some places, either through the slothfulness of some people, who, from want of regard, or for some other reason, neglect the external, manifest commandments of God, or on account of some misconceptions or errors that have arisen, and by which sometimes many of the true believers have been perverted, and seduced from the true worship of God; or in consequence of persecution, violence and tyranny, exercised against the faith and the practice of it, on account of which the pious are compelled to hide and, as outcasts from mankind, seclude themselves in forests, wildernesses, and solitary places; so that its characteristics, light and virtue could not be seen, much less known, by the common world.

When the Church of God of the Old Testament was in Egypt, it could not observe its divine worship, but had to request permission “to go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God.”  Exo. 8:26,27, compared with Exo. 10:26.

During the forty years that this same people was in the wilderness, such remarkable events happened that all their children remained uncircumcised, not receiving circumcision until they had become old, and arrived in the land of Canaan, at Mount Aralot.  Josh. 5:2–8.*

In the time of Elijah this church was so greatly obscured on account of persecution, that he thought that he alone was left, though God had reserved to himself seven thousand persons who served him, and had not bowed their knees to Baal.  1 Kings 19:14,18; Rom. 11:3,4.

When this people had been carried away into Babylon, the house of God, at Jerusalem, where divine worship was wont to be made, lay waste, and the stones of the sanctuary were scattered in all the streets; yes, among the people in Babylon, matters were in so bad a condition, in regard to religion and the songs of praise with which they were wont to worship God, that they had hung their harps on the willows that were planted there by the rivers, Psm. 137:1–4; for which reason they were numbered among the dead and among those that go down to the grave.  Bar. 3:10–14.

After the Babylonian captivity, in the time of the Maccabees, many of the church of Israel, because of the existing danger, hid themselves in caves, in order that they might keep the Sabbath.  2 Macc. 6:11.

All these obscurations, like sad eclipses in the divine worship, have happened in the church of God of the Old Testament, before the birth and advent of Christ into this world; and much more might be said in regard to this, if it were necessary, but we consider it sufficient to have made simple mention of it from time to time.

The same took place also after the advent of Christ in the church under the gospel, which was composed of Jews and Gentiles; she, too, could not always raise her head with safety, but was ofttimes, like the sun behind clouds, concealed from the common sight of men.

Even in the time when Christ dwelt bodily among men, and had risen from the dead, his disciples, the chief members of his church, sat concealed, with closed doors, for fear of the Jews.  John 20:19.

After the ascension of Christ, the very numerous church which was at Jerusalem, dispersed, on account of persecution, through the lands of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles; so that this distinguished church, which, it appears, was the chief one on the face of the earth, had to sojourn secretly in a strange land.  Acts 8:1.

Afterwards, when the emperor Domitian had banished John, the holy apostle and evangelist, for the Gospel’s sake, to the island of Patmos, the Holy Spirit revealed unto him the future state of the church of Christ, namely, that she would have to flee into the wilderness, on account of the persecution of Antichrist, and there be fed by God, a thousand two hundred and threescore days, which, reckoned according to prophetic language, means as many years.  Rev. 12:6–11.

Whether we begin to reckon these years from the death of the apostles; or with the year 300, when the so-called patriarchs had their origin; or with the year 600; or a little later, when Mohammed rose in the east among the Greeks, and the pope in the west among the Latins, and raised no small persecution against the defenseless and innocent little flock of the church of Christ, so that all who did not wish to be devoured, either in soul or in body, had to hide themselves in deserts and wildernesses; let it be reckoned as it may, say we, a very long period is to be understood by it, which has extended to this, or about this time.

Here the rose has blossomed very gloriously among the thorns.  Song of Sol. 2:2.  Here the dove that was in the clefts of the rock and in the secret places of the stairs, let her sweet voice be heard.*  Verse 14.  Here the Lord said: “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”  Song of Sol. 4:12.  Here the Son of God has fed, sustained and preserved his church against the sentence of worldly and carnal-minded men, who, because they are carnal, cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit of God.

But, lest any should misconstrue our preceding proposition, let it be understood, that when we speak of the obscuration, concealment, or the becoming invisible, of the church of God, we do not mean the church in general, or in all places, for the church in general has never been obscured and hidden in all places at the same time; but we mean by it some parts of the church in general, namely, some particular societies, belonging to the body of the general church which is spread over the whole earth.

It must be stated, also, that by the term, general church, we do not understand all the churches which bear the Christian name; but only those who express the Christian name by their upright faith and pure observance of the Christian and Evangelical commandments.

Now the question arises, whether our church of the present day, called the Anabaptists, has truly descended, and derived her succession, from the aforementioned church of God which has existed from the beginning, and kept the commandments of God in purity.

But, in order to do this briefly and in the best manner, we shall leave untouched the time and condition of the church from Adam to Christ, as being an undisputed point; and only examine the time and condition of the church after the advent of Christ; for the point of difference relates solely to those who and which, by virtue of true succession, have a right to the same.

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The Succession Of The Church Of God, Personal Succession, And Succession Of Doctrine.

From the Latin word succedo, that is, to go under, or to take the place of one, is derived the word, succession, which we, though improperly, have mixed into our Dutch language.  The various branches proceeding from this root, that is, the numerous words taking their origin from it, together with their significations, we leave untouched; in general we understand by it, to follow any one in his place, right, or reign.

There is a twofold succession, natural and spiritual, political and ecclesiastical, or civil and ecclesiastical; but we have to speak here only of the spiritual and ecclesiastical, and not of the natural, political, or civil, succession; for only the former, and, by no means, the latter, belongs here.*

Now, as succession is of a twofold nature and kind, so also is each kind of the same twofold and distinct in itself.  This will be shown plainly in the spiritual and ecclesiastical succession.

In order to present this in a clear light, we say that the ecclesiastical succession may be considered in two ways: firstly, with respect to the succession of persons; secondly, with respect to the succession of doctrine.

The latter is a sign and evidence of the former, so that the former cannot subsist without the latter.  Where the latter is, the former need not be looked for so carefully.  But where both are found in truth and verity, it is not to be doubted that there is also the true and genuine church of God, in which God will dwell and walk; which has the promise of an eternal and blissful life; and about which the holy Scriptures glory and teach so much.

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Personal Succession.

As a great building, house, or castle, can be considered, firstly, with regard to it as a whole, and, secondly, with respect to its different parts, so also the whole church of Christ can properly be considered: firstly, in the whole or in general, as comprising all the congregations in the whole world, which have in common the most holy faith, and the practice, which, according to God’s holy Word, must follow from it; secondly, in any particular part of the same, as, this or that church which is in accord with it, as for instance, the church at Amsterdam, Harlem, Dort, etc.

Likewise there is also (or, certainly can be) a twofold personal succession; 1. a general, 2. a particular one.  By the general is understood that succession, which has been, in general, throughout the whole world, through a succession of true teachers, whether few or many, according to the opportunity of the times; who have rightly taught the truth, and propagated it according to their ability; concerning which (touching their doctrine, especially in regard to holy baptism, etc.) we have shown, which the true succession is, which, together with the observance of all the other commandments of Jesus Christ, is recognized by us, according to the promise of the Lord given to the true teachers, Mat. 28:20.

By the particular succession is understood the succession of teachers, from person to person, in a particular church, at a separate place, and sitting on a throne prepared for this purpose, as for instance, at Constantinople, of which the Greeks boast; but principally at Rome, about which the Latins, that is, the papists, make a great ado.  But concerning this there is no promise, law, or commandment to be found in the whole Gospel, and we, therefore, pass on.*

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Succession Of Doctrine.

Here the words of Tertullian are applicable.  He says: “The Christian church is called apostolic not just because of the succession of persons, but on account of the kinship of doctrine, since she holds the doctrine of the apostles.”  Lib. de praescript, etc.

This doctrine every one who boasts* of the true succession, must prove from the true apostolic writings, as the means by which the church was originally instituted, subsequently established, and maintained through all times (we speak of the Christian and evangelical church).  Therefore, this doctrine must necessarily, also in these last times be the mark of the true succession.

Now, if this is united with the common succession of teachers, we have everything that is necessary for the demonstration of the true church.  This stands so fast that it cannot reasonably be disputed, much less refuted.

The question now will be, in what church the true apostolic doctrine has been held from the beginning, and is still held; which is a privilege boasted of by many.  We leave it to them, and content ourselves with the testimony of our conscience, compared with the holy Gospel of Christ and the faith of the holy church, of which mention is made, throughout, in the ancient church histories.

To give evidence, then, of the faith professed by us, we declare that we believe in our heart, and confess with our mouth:

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The Apostles’ Creed.

1.  I believe in one God, the Father, the almighty Creator of heaven and earth.

2.  And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.

3.  Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary.

4.  Who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

5.  Rose from the dead on the third day.

6.  Ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the almighty Father.

7.  From where he will come to judge the living and the dead.

8.  I believe in the Holy Spirit.

9.  I believe in a holy general Christian church, the communion of saints.

10.  Forgiveness of sins.

11.  Resurrection of the flesh.

12.  And an eternal life.*

 

This is the most ancient and simple creed, which, it appears, was confessed already in or about the time of the apostles; and for which many, yes the greater part of the first Christian believers, have sacrificed their lives.  But as, in the course of time, the true and simple meaning of the confession set forth was assailed and disputed by the opposition and perverse interpretation of contentious and, not less, erring persons going under the name of good Christians; the true believers of the church of God were compelled, as often as this happened, and necessity required, to declare how they understood and interpreted this or that article.

Therefore it has come that at this day there are found among those who are called Anabaptists, various confessions, which differ in style, but not in faith (we speak of the foundation of the same), in which confessions the creed set forth above is more fully interpreted and explained.

Of these we shall present here principally three, which were acknowledged and adopted without opposition as a unanimous confession, by a great number of teachers, assembled from various districts, in the year 1649, in the city of Harlem.  Two of these had been drawn up at Amsterdam, in 1627 and 1630, and the third at Dort, the 21st of April 1632; all on account of certain church unions which took place subsequently in these years.

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First Confession.

Drawn up at Amsterdam, the 27th of September, 1627, called “Scriptural Instruction,” concerning who the people are, on whom the peace of God rests, and how they are bound to peace and unity; given in answer to the following several questions, of which the first is:

What are the fundamental and unmistakable marks by which the children of God and members of Jesus Christ (being the church of God) can and must be known, according to the testimony of the word of the Lord?

In order to answer this question correctly, we must consider what the means are, by which men become children of God, members of Jesus Christ, and the church of God.  For although the blessed Lord Jesus Christ is the only meritorious cause of the justification of man, their adoption by God as his children, and the foundation of their eternal salvation (Rom. 3:24,25; 1 Cor. 1:30; Tit. 3:7; Heb. 5:12; Eph. 1:5; Col. 3:11; Acts 4:12); God, the heavenly Father, of whom all things are, 1 Cor. 8:6; and who is the true Father of the whole family in heaven and earth, Eph. 3:14,15, has nevertheless been pleased to impute the merits of his Son Jesus Christ to man, and make him partaker of the same, through the means of faith in his beloved, only, and only begotten Son (Rom. 3:25; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8; John 3:15,36; 6:40); by which he owns them as children, and adopts them as heirs of everlasting life, according to the testimony of John, who says: “He” (that is, Christ) “came unto his own, and his own did not receive him.  But as many as received him, to them he gave 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 1:11–13.  Paul confirms this with these words: “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”  Gal. 3:26.  Through this means—faith—apprehended from the word of God, and confirmed by the Holy Spirit, men are born of God; therefore, the appellation, children of God, truly belongs to them, since they have God for their father, and Christ for their brother.  God the Father acknowledges them as his sons and daughters; and Christ, for this reason, is not ashamed to call them his brethren.  (Rom. 10:17; 2 Cor. 4:13; Rom. 8:16; John 1:12; 1 John 5:1; James 2:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Mat. 5:45; John 1:12,13; 3:2; 20:17; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Mat. 12:50; 2 Cor. 6:18; Heb. 2:11,12).  These children of God and brethren of Jesus Christ, are heirs of God, yes, joint heirs in the inheritance of their brother Jesus Christ, as has been promised to them by God the Father, through the means of faith, all the acquired benefits of our Savior Jesus Christ, which are, chiefly: forgiveness of sins, justification, and peace with God; and, because they are children of the resurrection, they shall not come into condemnation, but are passed from death unto life; they shall enjoy salvation, eternal life, and unspeakable happiness, yes, possess all things that the Lord Christ possesses.  Rom. 8:17; Eph. 1:11; John 7:3; Acts 10:43; Rom. 3:26; 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; Luke 20:26; John 5:24; Mat. 16:16,17; Mark 16:16; Rom. 10:9; 1 Peter 1:9; John 3:16; 6:47; 17:3; 20:31; 1 John 5:11; 1 Peter 1:8; Luke 22; Rev. 21:7.

Therefore, we reply, in conclusion to the question presented: That the fundamental, certain mark of the children of God and members of Jesus Christ, is that by virtue of which this appellation belongs to them in truth according to the promise of God, namely, the only saving faith which works by love; upon which God himself looks with gracious eyes, and which alone avails before him (Gal. 5:6; Jer. 5:3; Hos. 2:2; Jer. 5:1; Acts 8:37; 15:11; Isa. 26:2) therefore we, being one or unanimous with God, must have respect to it alone, seeing that the Lord Christ himself, promising Peter salvation upon his faith and confession, adds: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Mat. 16:18.

We shall now briefly show what faith in Christ is, what is to be believed, what its design is, and what are the internal and external operations of faith.

This faith in Christ, by which men become partakers of all the acquired benefits of Jesus Christ, is neither an uncertain opinion nor merely a bare confession of the mouth, but a firm and sure confidence of the heart, which does not doubt the things promised by God in Christ; but has a firm assurance that he who has promised them is able also to perform them.  Heb. 11:13; 3:6; Rom. 10:10; 4:20,21.  By this firm and sure confidence the believer in the promises of God is established in Jesus Christ his Savior, because he knows that all the promises of God are yes and amen in him; on which he lays firm hold, as on an anchor of his soul, both sure and steadfast.  Acts 10:43; 1 Peter 1:10,11; John 8:56; Heb. 11:26; 2 Cor. 1:20; Heb. 6:18,19.  He believes with his heart that God,—for the fulfilling of his gracious promises, willing to show his great love toward mankind who, through sin, had fallen into death and manifold corruptions, by redeeming them,—sent into this world for this purpose, when the time of all prophecies was fulfilled, his only, dear and beloved Son, who from eternity was with his Father in great glory and beloved by him before the foundation of the world, possessing great riches and being equal with God his Father, by whom all things were made, and without whom not anything was made of all that was made in heaven or upon earth, and in whom they all stand, since he upholds all things by the word of his power.  Gen. 22:18; Deut. 8:15; Isa. 7:15; 9:6; 11:1; 40:9; Micah 5:2; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 9:31; 1 John 4:9,10; Gen. 3:19; Wis. 2:24; 4 Esdr. 7:48; Rom. 4:5,12; 1 Cor. 15:21; Rom. 5:16; 4 Esdr. 3:7; Gen. 3:17; Rom. 1:2; 8:3; Col. 1:13; Eph. 1:7; Gal. 4:4; Mark 12:6; 1:11; Mat. 17:5; 3:17; Heb. 1:8; 7:3; 13:8; 1:3; John 16:28; 17:5,24; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6; Rev. 1:18.

He left his divine glory, form, and riches, went out from God, his Father, and came down from heaven into this world, so that he was conceived by a virgin, and she brought forth this Son at Bethlehem, where God brings his first-born Son into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh.  John 13:3; 3:13,31; 6:38,51,62; Eph. 4:9,10; Isa. 7:14; Mat. 1:23; Luke 2:21; Isa. 9:6; Luke 3:6; Gal. 4:4; Micah 5:2; Mat. 2:6; Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:3.  For the Word became flesh; that which was from the beginning, which the apostles saw, which they heard with their ears, and which their hands handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, so that there was seen that eternal life, which was with the Father.  John 1:14; 1 John 1:1,2; John 1:9; 20:25,27; Isa. 40:5,9.  Therefore, all true believers must show and ascribe to their Savior, not as to a creature, but as to the Creator, all divine honor, even as they do unto the Father.  John 5:23; 3:30,31; 20:28.  For, although, for a little while, he was made lower than the angels, yet all the angels of God must worship him.  Phil. 2:10; Mat. 14:33; Heb. 1:6; For he is worthy of this who has so loved us that he purchased us with his death, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; who died for our sins and rose for our justification; who destroyed the power of the devil, hell, and death; who abolished the hand-writing of our sins against the law,* and has forgiven all sins, reconciling to God the Father all things that are in heaven and earth, in that he made peace through the blood of his cross; who brought life and immortality to light, and unto whom we are appointed by God, to inherit eternal salvation.  Rev. 5:9; 1:5; Rom. 5:10; Acts 20:28; Col. 1:14; 1 Peter 1:19; Rom. 4:25; 5:6,8; Col. 2:13,14,19,20; Heb. 2:14; 1 Cor. 15:54,55; Rev. 20:14; Isa. 25:8; 2 Tim. 1:10; Eph. 1:10; 2:13; 1 Thes. 5:9.

Thus the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is the true corner-stone, the way and door to eternal life, and there is no other name given unto man, either in heaven or on earth, by which he can be saved, and become a child or heir of God, than the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Isa. 28:16; Rom. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6; John 14:6; 10:9; Acts 4:12.

The believer, seeing, by faith, that God in his weightiest and unspeakably great promises is not mutable, but does, in truth, fulfill them through the giving of his only, dear, and beloved Son, feels assured by this, that there is nothing with God, which he shall not also give us with his Son.  He, therefore, has firm confidence that the benefits which God has promised in and through the suffering, death, shed blood, resurrection and ascension of his Son, belong to the believer, and that he shall in truth receive them.  Heb. 6:17,18; Psm. 33:4; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9; Eph. 1:6; Col. 1:12–14; 2 Tim. 4:8; Eph. 1:11–13; Rom. 8:32,34,38; 2 Peter 1:3; Gal. 2:21; Eph. 2:17; 2 Cor. 4:6,7.

This faith begets in the heart of the believer an inward taste of the kindness of God, and of the powers of the world to come; which is followed by gladness, joy, and a firm security of the Father’s favor in the soul, by which, in every time of need, he is enabled to say, confident that he will be heard, “Abba, Father;” and does not doubt, though the thing promised is not apparent to human eyes, no, seem contrary to nature, and transcends the comprehension, understanding and capability of man (Psm. 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3; Eph. 2:7; Heb. 6:5,19; 2 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 12:12; 14:17; 2 Cor. 6:10; John 8:56; Rev. 19:7; Rom. 8:31,38; Psm. 32:1; 1 Peter 5:7; Psm. 55:22; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Rom. 4:20; James 1:6; Heb. 11:1; Rom. 4:18,19; Heb. 11:11; Heb. 11:29), for the believer, by faith, looks not only at the things which, through the creation and government of God, exist in nature (which man may comprehend and understand), but to the goodness and omnipotence of the Promiser, unto whom nature and all creatural power in heaven, earth and sea, no, death itself, must bow.  Upon this ground the believer stands fast, even when, with Abraham, the father of the faithful, and with many of the pious, he is tried by God with things seemingly contradictory; for he is assured that God cannot lie.  Psm. 52:9; Rom. 4:21; Heb. 11:19; Psm. 135:5; Isa. 40:26; 4 Esdr. 3:21,23; Josh. 10:13; Heb. 3:10,11; Mat. 27:44; Isa. 40:12; Rev. 20:11; Prov. 8:29; Jer. 5:22; Exo. 14:22; Heb. 11:10,35; 2 Cor. 1:10; Gen. 22:1; 1 Peter 1:7.

But this faith of the heart is known the very best unto God, who also, being the only discerner of the intents and thoughts of the heart, will judge the internal signs of the faith of the heart, according as he finds it to be upright or dissembling.  Jer. 17:10; Acts 1:24; Rev. 2:23; Heb. 4:12.  But to man, who has no other way of judging this faith of the heart, than by the fruits of the same, which he hears and sees, there are given as signs by which to distinguish it, the confession of it with the mouth, and the obedience of faith as manifested in outward works.  Therefore the believer, according to the command of Christ, must confess openly before men, to the honor of his Creator and Redeemer, what he believes and experiences in his heart, no matter what sufferings may result to him on that account.  He can not do otherwise, for he must hearken unto God more than unto men (Mark 16:16; John 3:36; 1 Cor. 2:11; John 3:11; Rom. 10:10; 1:5,16,25; Acts 4:19,20); for the Lord Christ has said: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him I will confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”  Mat. 10:32; Luke 9:26.  John says: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.”  1 John 4:2, and Paul explains: “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken;* we also believe, and therefore speak.”  2 Cor. 4:13.

That, therefore, oral confession proceeding from sincere faith conduces to salvation, Paul testifies with these words: “If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  Rom. 10:9,10.

This faith exhibits also its outward fruits of love worthy of the faith; therefore the believer, according to the teaching of the apostle Peter, must give all diligence to show forth from his faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly love, and charity; and walk in the Spirit, whose fruits, as love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, are seen on them outwardly.  2 Peter 1:5–7; Gal. 5:16,22,23; 6:1; Eph. 5:9.  By these good fruits, and by brotherly love, as external signs of the true faith, they are known as good trees, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a light which is put on a lampstand, to give light unto all that are in the house, a city set on a hill which cannot be hidden.  And thus they let their good works so shine before men, that they, seeing them, may glorify God, the heavenly Father.  Mat. 7:17,20; 12:35; 5:13–16.

For, as children who in their appearance and deportment show forth their father’s form and qualities, are by it judged and known to be the children of such a parent, even so the believers, having, through the new birth, become partakers of the divine nature (inasmuch as they pattern after God in virtues), are by it judged or known to be his children; and, in order that they might well express this image, they are abundantly admonished by Christ and his apostles in regard to it.  So, for instance, with these words: “Therefore be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  “But as he which has called you is holy, so be holy in all manner of conduct;”  “And every man . . . purifies himself, even as he is pure.”  “Therefore be merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”  “Forgive one another, as God has forgiven you.”  2 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 1:23; John 3:6; 1 John 4:7; 5:1; James 1:18; John 1:13; Rom. 8:16; Mat. 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 3:3; Luke 6:36; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13.

Again: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”  Mat. 5:9.  The Lord says further: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you (show that you) are the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Wherever, then, such similarity with God appears, through the putting on of the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, these show forth the image of Christ in their mortal flesh.  Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17.  They are an epistle of Christ, in which Christ can be seen and read by all men; and they are justly called Christians; and, consequently, are true children of God, and members of Jesus Christ: therefore they must be recognized and accepted by all those who truly fear God, as belonging to one body, which is the church of the living God; and as having through this fruitful faith, fellowship with God the righteous Judge, with Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, with the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, with an innumerable company of angels, and with all the spirits of just men made perfect.  2 Cor. 3:2; Acts 11:26; Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:4,16; 1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:15.  Of this church Christ is the foundation, Head, King, Shepherd, Leader, Master and Lord.  1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 4:15; Jer. 33:15; Luke 1:33; John 10:11,14; 13:14.  She alone is his body, adorned bride, dove, flock, and people, spiritual flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones.  Rom. 12:5; Rev. 21:2; Sol. Song 2:14; 4:1.

Now, although this fruitful faith is the only certain fundamental mark by which the children of God and members of Jesus Christ shall be known, and through which alone they are also, by grace, made partakers of the (by us unmerited) benefits of Christ, God has notwithstanding been pleased to set forth and confirm to believers, by external, visible signs, the benefits and merits of his Son Jesus Christ, which, as has been said, are received only by faith, and retained by obedience, in order that the things signified (of the promises of the grace of God), might shine forth the more clearly by the external signs, partly to assure the consciences of the believers, in the new covenant of the grace of God, and partly to bind the members of Jesus Christ together in unity, as members belonging to one body.  For this purpose he has instituted in the church of the New Testament especially two such ordinances or signs suited to the things signified, in which all true believers find great benefit and comfort.  These are the Holy Baptism, and the Holy Supper.  Eph. 2:7; John 1:16; Mark 16:16; Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 11:24; Jer. 31:31; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Cor. 12:13; 10:17; Rom. 6:5; Mat. 28:19,26.

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Of Holy Baptism.

Holy baptism is an external, visible ordinance, the rite of which consists in this: that all those who hear believe, and receive gladly with a penitent heart, the doctrine of the holy Gospel, are baptized, for a holy purpose, with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according to the institution of Christ, and the usage of his apostles.  Acts 2:41; Mat. 3:11; Acts 1:35–38; 10:48.

The benefit which the Lord God, on his part, declares through the sign of baptism, is: The washing away of the sinful corruptions of the soul, through the shedding of the blood of Christ; which signifies the forgiveness of sins, obtained through this blood, to the assurance of a good conscience with God, by which believers comfort themselves with the promise of eternal salvation.  Acts 22:16; Col. 1:14; 1 John 1:7; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:5.

The obligations which baptism lays upon those baptized, are: That they, burying their sins by it into the death of Christ, bind themselves to the newness of the life of Jesus, in order to employ, as members of the body of Christ (having put on Christ), each his several gift, for the maintenance and improvement of this body in spiritual and temporal things; and further, that they as the true household of God, and citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, must obey the civil laws of their King by observing all his commandments.  Rom. 6:3,4; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:25; Eph. 2:19; Mat. 28:20.

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Of The Holy Supper.

The holy Lord’s Supper is an ordinance instituted by Christ Jesus in remembrance of himself, to be observed until his coming, by all who are baptized on true faith in Christ to one body, in the church of the New Testament.  Mat. 26:26; 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24,26.

This rite consists in this, that a minister of the Gospel, according to the institution of Christ, and the usage of his apostles, takes bread and wine for a holy purpose, breaks the bread, and pours in the wine, and, after preparation and giving of thanks, dispenses both to the believing members.  The broken bread is eaten, and the wine drank; Christ’s passion or bitter suffering and death, and the shedding of his precious blood; also the motives for this, together with the benefits of his death, through which man receives the remission of his sins, which is signified by this visible sign—all this is proclaimed by it, in order that the believing church may give thanks to God for this benefit, and, as behoves members of one body, live and walk together here, as one heart and soul, in peace and love and unity.  Luke 22:19,20; Acts 2:42; 20:11; 1 Cor. 10:16,17; 11:23–25; Acts 4:32.

The sum of all that has been said is; 1. that the Lord Christ is the foundation and only meritorious cause of eternal salvation; 2. that true faith in him is the means by which we become children of God and partakers of his merits; 3. that the children of God are to be known outwardly by the confession and fruits of their faith; 4. that God, through the external signs of Holy Baptism and the Supper, sets before the eyes of his children his gracious benefits, and binds them, as members of Jesus Christ, to one body, that is, to a church of God and Christ, by which they are also admonished to the obedience they owe.

Here the answer to the first question might be concluded, but, since the Lord God, for the welfare of his church, and the propagation of the truth, as being promotive of the honor of his name and the salvation of mankind, has instituted other ceremonies and laws, besides certain offices, which, according to the circumstances of the case, the true members of the church of God are bound to observe; we shall, as briefly as is possible and proper, subjoin these to what has preceded; and this the more, as our peace presentation to people of the same faith points partly to them; that it may appear the more clearly, whether they agree with us, and we with them, in the order of the Christian household, to live according to it, through Christian obedience, together in love, peace and unity, without thinking for any reason, ever again to separate one from another.

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Of The Office Of Teacher And Deacon In The Church; Also How The Election To, And The Confirmation In, These Offices, Must Proceed, According To The Ordinance Of God.

As a body consists of different members, each of them having its own and special function, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself, even so it is with the church of God; for although each believer is a member of the body of Christ, yet not all are therefore pastors, teachers, elders, or deacons, for these are those who have been properly appointed to such offices.  For this reason, the administration of these offices, as: the public preaching of the word of God, the administering of the holy ordinances of baptism and supper, according to the institution of Christ, and the usage of his apostles, appertains to persons thus ordained, and elected for this—the pastors and teachers; just as it is the province of the deacons to provide for the necessities of the poor.  Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:7; Acts 20:28; Tit. 1:1; Rom. 12:7; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Peter 5:2; Mat. 28; Mark 16; Acts 6; 1 Tim. 3:8; 5:9.

Concerning their calling and election to these offices, regard must be paid to the conditions required in those persons who will worthily fill said offices, according to the requirements of the apostle, 1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1. In order to obtain these, the church must prepare herself by a devout fear, by fasting and prayer, with constant invocation of the name of God, that as the discerner of all hearts he will show through the unanimous vote of the church, whom he counts worthy of such office; trusting that the Lord, who hears the prayers of those who are assembled in his name, and grants the petition of the godly, will, by his Holy Spirit, manifest his co-operation, and bring forth those whom he knows to be fit for this office; whereupon, after having been examined, they are confirmed to this office, before the church, by the teachers, with the laying on of the hands.  Acts 1:24; 6; Luke 6:8; Mat. 8; 1 Tim. 3:10; 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6.

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Of Feet-Washing.

Feet-washing we confess to be an ordinance of Christ, which he himself performed on his disciples, and, after his example, commended to true believers, that they should imitate it, saying: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”  Again: “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”  John 13:14,15,17.

The purpose for which the Lord has instituted this ordinance is principally this: That we may remember in true humiliation, that by grace, we are washed from sin through the blood of Christ, and that he, our Lord and Master, by his lowly example, binds us to true humility towards one another.  John 13:8,10,14.  The apostle classes feet-washing among the good works.  1 Tim. 5:10.

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Of Marriage.

Marriage we hold to be an ordinance of God, which was first instituted by God in paradise, and confirmed in our first parents, Adam and Eve, who were created after the image of God, male and female, while they both were yet in favor with God.  Gen. 2:22; 1:27.

In accordance with this first institution, and agreeably to Christ’s ordinance, Mat. 19:5, the marriage of children of God (who are not too nearly related by consanguinity) must be entered into, after prayer, and kept inviolable, so that each man shall have his own, only wife, and each wife her own husband; and nothing shall separate them, save adultery.  Lev. 18; 20; 1 Cor. 5:1; Mat. 19; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:2; Mat. 5:32; 1 Cor. 9:5.

Thus, it is lawful for a brother, to take a sister [in Christ] to wife; a sister, also, may be married to whom she will, only in the Lord, that is, according to the ordinance and pleasure of the Lord, as mentioned before.  But we do not find that God has anywhere, through his word, ordained or instituted, that a believing member of the church should enter into matrimony with an unbelieving, worldly person; on the contrary, we find that Jehovah God was very angry with those who did so, and declared that they were flesh, who would not be led by his Spirit; therefore, we reprove all those who follow herein the lust of their flesh, in the same manner as we do other carnal sinners.  1 Cor. 7:39; Deut. 7:3; Neh. 10:30; 13:25–27; Gen. 6:6.

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Of The Office Of The Magistracy.

The secular power or magistracy is ordained by God in all countries, and bears the sword not in vain, for it is the minister of God, and a revenger, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of the good.  Rom. 13:2,4; Sir. 17:18; 1 Peter 2:14.

Every one is commanded to be subject unto the higher powers.  Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  Rom. 13:1,2.

All true believers are therefore in duty bound by the word of God, to fear the magistracy, to render honor and obedience to the same, in all things not contrary to the commandments of the Lord, and to pay tribute, custom, and taxes to them, without gainsaying or murmuring, seeing that, according to the words of Peter, we must submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, and pray to Almighty God for them; also to give our greatest thanks to the Lord for good and reasonable authorities.  Rom. 13:7; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 1 Peter 2:13; Jer. 29:7; Bar. 1:11; 1 Tim. 2:2.

Yet, we do not find that the Lord Jesus Christ has ordained this office of secular authority in his spiritual kingdom—the Church of the New Testament—or added it to the offices of his church; nor has he given them laws adapted for such office and government; but he said to his disciples: The kings and lords of the Gentiles, and they that exercise authority among them, are called gracious lords.  But it shall not be so among you.  Mat. 20:25,26; Luke 22:25,26.  Here we leave the matter, as we do not consider it necessary to enter into farther details.

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Of The Swearing Of Oaths.

For the confirmation of a cause which was just and true in itself, the Old Testament fathers were permitted to swear by the name of God.  Deut. 6:13; Mat. 5:33.

But the Son of the living God, the King and Lawgiver of the New Testament, whose command we are bound, through a voice from God out of heaven, to obey, has forbidden Christians all swearing, as does, likewise, the apostle James; therefore, the swearing of oaths is forbidden to the believers of the New Testament.  Mat. 3:17; 17:5; 5:34; James 5:12.

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Of Separation.

Separation, or the putting away from the church, is a decree or sentence of the same, by virtue and authority of the word of God, against a member, or members, of the church, who, through open sins, a scandalous life, heresy, or stubbornness, have separated themselves from God and the fellowship of Jesus Christ, and no longer belong into Christ’s kingdom, or to his church; therefore, their brotherhood, or sisterhood, is renounced, by virtue of the word of God, in the name of the whole church.  1 Cor. 5:3; Mat. 18:18; 1 Cor. 5:1; Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3; Mat. 18:17; Isa. 59; Tit. 1:16; 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 5:12; 2 Cor. 2:8.

The reasons for which this is done, and to which the church must have respect in the separation, are principally these: 1. To show that her doctrine does by no means permit such sins, but is wholly opposed to them: that, by so doing, the doctrine may be preserved pure, and the name of God glorified.  1 Tim. 1:20; Tit. 1:13; 2 Tim. 4:15,23; 2. Through separation to prove in fact that she is the enemy of sin, and will in no way tolerate it, in order that all causes for reproach to the church may be averted.  1 Cor. 5:1,2; Tit. 2:8; 3. That not, by constant intercourse and fellowship with the evil, the good become leavened or corrupted.  1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Tim. 2:17; 4. That the sinner, through excommunication and withdrawal may be convicted in his conscience, and moved to shame and reformation, that he may be saved.  2 Thes. 3; 1 Cor. 5:1-7.  That others, by hearing and seeing this, may be admonished, so that they will fear to follow such evil.

But when the separated sinner shows genuine fruits of repentance, we must at all times be ready to receive him again in peace to the Christian communion of the church, if he earnestly requests it.  2 Cor. 2.

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Of Shunning.

Since daily intercourse and mingling with ungodly apostates, in common eating, drinking, buying, selling, and similar unnecessary temporal or worldly transactions, is not only dangerous for the pious, who, by it, may become contaminated, or be counted as companions of the apostate, but is also hurtful to the apostate himself, since he, through such mingling, may probably harden in sin, and esteem his offense of less consequence.  Therefore, we understand from the word of God, that—in order to avoid, according to the unction of the Spirit, the dangers of sin, and offenses, and to bring the apostate sinner to shame and repentance—the true members of Christ must withdraw from the daily intercourse and communion with impenitent apostates; must shun them, and have nothing to do with them; and this without respect to persons, as far as they are not bound to the apostate by any command of God; for as one may do anything in the matter of shunning, which is contrary to love, benevolence, Christian propriety and justice, which supreme virtues a Christian is in duty bound to show unto all men, even to his enemies, for which purpose God has given all laws, which may, for no reason, be diminished, much less broken or transgressed.  1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Thes. 3; Tit. 3; 2 Thes. 3:14; 2 Peter 1:6; Tit. 2:12; Rom. 13:8; Mat. 5:44; Rom. 13:9,10; 1 Tim. 1:5; Rev. 22:19; Mat. 5:19; James 2:1.

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Of The Second Coming Of Christ, The Resurrection Of The Dead, And The Last Judgment.

Finally, we believe that the Son of the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Prophet, Priest and King, will visibly, as he ascended, descend from heaven, in the clouds, and all the holy angels of God with him, with power and great glory, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, which shall be heard everywhere.  Then all men who have lived upon earth, and have died, good and evil, just and unjust, shall rise from the dead, in incorruption, with their own body, in which they have lived; but those who still live on that day, and have not tasted death, shall be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, to incorruption, at the last sound of the last trumpet.  Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; 2 Thes. 1:7; 1 Thes. 4:16; Mat. 24:50; Zeph. 1:16; Mat. 25:7; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:11; Jer. 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:42; Jer. 26:19; 1 Cor. 15:38,52.

Thus, the whole human family shall be placed before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.  For the Lord Jesus Christ shall then, as a shepherd, separate the sheep from the goats.  Those who have done good, he shall set on his right hand, but those that have done evil, on the left; and he shall there pronounce the eternal, irrevocable sentence.  2 Cor. 5:10; Mat. 25:32,33,46; Jude 14.

To the true believers, who, through faith, have done works of love and mercy, he shall say: “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  These shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord, who shall take them away with him into life eternal, in the heavenly glory and splendor, where they shall forever be with the Lord, in the innumerable company of the holy angels, in the society of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the pious, with great, unspeakable joy and gladness.  2 Peter 1:5; Mat. 25:35; Luke 16:9; 2 Peter 1:11; 1 Thes. 4:17,14; John 14:3; 17:24; Dan. 12:12; 1 Peter 1:8,9.

But the unrighteous who have not known God, nor obeyed the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and have done no works of love or mercy, shall then be sentenced to everlasting fire, in these grievous and intolerable words: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;”  “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  1 Cor. 6:9; 2 Thes. 1:8; Rom. 2:9; Mat. 25:41; 22:13.

These shall go, where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched.  There will come upon them tribulation and anguish, displeasure, wrath, and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.  Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:46; Mal. 4:1; Rom. 2:9; 2 Thes. 1:9; 4 Esdr. 9:10; Luke 16:24.

May the God of grace and mercy preserve us, through Jesus Christ, his dear and beloved Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, from this dreadful punishment of the ungodly, and grant us his grace, that we may live holy here on earth, and die happy, to a glad resurrection and joyful appearance in the presence of his glory, Amen.

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CHCoG: The Bible speaks of eternal damnation, but it does not teach eternal punishing, which is vastly different.  Endless suffering in fire is an ancient pagan myth adopted by the papacy to control their laity and their most gullible clergy.  In contrast, the Bible teaches that everlasting life is God’s Gift to the faithful, while unrepentant sinners will be utterly destroyed, never to exist again (John 10:28, Mal 3:18 to 4:3).  Only Satan and his corrupt angels will suffer ongoing punishment in the Lake of Fire, and only those who love and obey Jesus will be given everlasting life (Rev 19:20 & 20:10-15, 1 John 2:25 & 3:15).  For the rest, the Lake of Fire is the second death, where even their souls are destroyed (Mat 10:28) and from which there can be no resurrection (Rev 20:6).  Their wailing and gnashing of teeth lasts from the moment they realise they will be cast into the Lake of Fire until they actually die in it.  The worms will not die and the Fire will not be extinguished until their work is fully finished.  The horror of endless torture as the consequence for a few decades of sin is an obscene invention of pagans which was quickly embraced and utilised by the corrupted Roman church.  Our God, Jehovah, is a loving and merciful God, not the sadistic monster of the papists.  Never forget that Jehovah only promises eternal life to those who turn to Him and keep His Instructions.  For more detail on this, see Everlasting Life is God’s Gift and The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment.

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Here follow two other questions and the answers to the same, which we could adduce, but we deem it unnecessary, since the treatise given embraces the substance or whole sum of the confession of saving faith, if it is only well apprehended.

Added was also a letter, as a preparative for peace, and signed by various persons (elders and teachers).

Given at Amsterdam, the 26th of September, 1627.

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Second Confession,

Also drawn up at Amsterdam, on the 7th of October, 1630, called: Confession of Faith, and the principal articles of the Christian doctrine.

[Not divided into separate articles, except the articles of belief in God, and the manner of life in the church.]

We believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only, eternal, unsearchable,* spiritual Being, which, in Scripture, is called God; to whom alone is ascribed omnipotence, mercy, righteousness, perfection, wisdom, all goodness, and omniscience, and who is called a fountain of life, and the source of all good, the Creator of all things, and the Preserver of the same; who in the Old Testament bears various appellations—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God Schadai, the God Jehovah, the God of Israel, I am that I am, the Alpha and Omega, etc.; but who in the New Testament is called by three distinct names—God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whom we confess to differ thus far, namely: that the Father, as far as he is Father, is an other than the Son; and the Son, as far as he is Son, is an other than the Father, and the Holy Spirit, as far as he is a true Holy Spirit, is an other than the Father and the Son, and that they, although differing in name, are nevertheless in their divine nature and attributes, one only, undivided God, according to the testimony of the Apostle: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.”  Rom. 10:9; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5,21; Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4; Eph. 4:6; Gen. 21:33; Psm. 90:2; Isa. 49:28; Psm. 145:3; 4 Esdr. 8:21; Gen. 17:1; 2 Cor. 6:18; Exo. 34:6,7; Luke 6:36; Psm. 11:7; Col. 3; Lev. 19:2; Mat. 5:48; 1 Tim. 1:2; Psm. 103:8; Mat. 19:17; Psm. 139; James 1:17; Gen. 1:1; Job 38 and 39; Exo. 3:6; 6:6; 5:1; Rev. 1:8; 22:13; Mat. 28:19; John 14:16; 1 John 5:7.

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[CHCoG: The last half of the last sentence is based on a Roman Catholic forgery that was first inserted in their Old Latin Bibles in the fifth century, then in their Vulgate in the seventh century, and finally made its way into some copies of the Greek manuscripts made in the fifteenth century.  The original text reads: 1Jo 5:7 And the Spirit bears witness because the Spirit is Truth.  1Jo 5:8 And the three of them bear witness: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three of them are as one.  This was altered to read: “For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”  This insertion was clearly a desperate attempt to force Athanasius’s Babylonian trinity into the Bible.  Nowhere does the Bible tell us that our God is a three-persons-in-one trinity.  Instead, we are taught about a much more comprehensible God.  We are made in God’s image, and like Him, we are each triune: we are one being composed of three parts: our body, soul and spirit (Compare 1 Thes 5:23 & Heb 4:12 with Gen 6:3, Lev 26:11 & Dan 7:9).  The Bible teaching of the triune One True God, and His only begotten son Jeshua (Jesus), was turned inside-out and replaced with their confusing and non-biblical trinity of three beings as one being.  Contrary to the papacy’s co-equal, co-eternal trinity, the Bible teaches that Jesus’s Father is greater than His Son, because only He has always existed, and Jeshua (Jesus) only exists because his Father begot him (John 14:28, 1 Cor 11:3 & 1 Cor 15:20-28, Hab 1:12, Col 1:13 to 19, Rev 3:14, &c.).  These topics are explored in Jeshua: Son of God or Part of a Trinity, Spirit, Soul and Body and The Two Babylons, at chcpublications.net.]

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That this Holy God, by his great power and unsearchable wisdom, created, in six days, out of nothing, heaven and earth, together with all things visible and invisible; and on the sixth day prepared man a body of the dust of the earth, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and thus made him a living soul, or man; that he exalted this man above all creatures, endowed him with wisdom, understanding and reason, and made him Lord over all creatures; no, above all this, created him in his divine image, in holiness and righteousness, for immortality, and placed him in the garden of Eden, where he might have been happy forever, yet requiring of him true obedience, saying: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  From this we see the free will of man.  Gen. 1:6,9,14,24; Jer. 32:17; Acts 17:24; Gen. 1:26,28; 2:7; Sir. 17:5; Wis. 2:23; Gen. 2:8,9.

That man, through the subtlety of the serpent and the envy of the devil, was brought to disobey his Creator; by which he, with all his posterity, fell into death and condemnation, and thus, from the most glorious, became the most miserable creature.  Gen. 3:1; Wis. 2:24; 4 Esdr. 7:48; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21.

That Jehovah God, seeing the fall of his most glorious creature, and that he could neither through himself nor through any other creature be redeemed from it, showed that he was a gracious and merciful God, yes, the supreme or only goodness, in that he sought to reconcile unto himself, out of pure grace and without any merit, man and all who had fallen in him.  Psm. 49:8; Rev. 5:3; Psm. 33:5; Mat. 19:17; Rom. 5:12; 3:24; 2 Cor. 5:19.

But, as the justice of God required that the sin committed should not go unpunished, and as no creature could satisfy the former, he not only frequently promised man to send his only beloved Son as a Savior, but prefigured it by various types.  Gen. 3:15; 12:3,7; 16:18; 24:19; 7:14; 9:6; 11:10; 53; Jer. 23:5,6; 33:15; Dan. 7:13; 9:24; Micah 5:2; Hagg. 2:23; Mat. 3:1; Exo. 12:3; 25:17; Num. 21:9; Deut. 30:15; Sir. 15:14.

That the Lord, after as well as before the fall, left man his free will to accept, through faith in the promised Savior, the proffered grace of God, or to reject it, is evident not only from the sending out of his prophets, apostles, and disciples, but also from the kind invitation of his beloved Son; and this justly, in order that he, as a righteous judge, might have just cause, on the last day, to punish the despisers with the pains of hell, and reward the obedient lambs with the joys of heaven.  Mat. 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 17:31; Mat. 11:28; 22:9; 1 Tim. 1:15; Tit. 2:11; 2 Thes. 1:8; Acts 3:46; Rom. 2:5; Bar. 3:29; John 3:16,36; 1 Thes. 1:6; Heb. 6:10.

That the Lord, being a true God, who does not repent of that which he has promised, when the time which he, in the secret counsels of his divine will, had determined was fulfilled, sent his only, own and true Son as a redeemer unto the world.  1 John 5:20; Deut. 7:8; Gal. 4:4.

And since there has been for many years, and still is daily, much disputation concerning this conception* of our Savior according to the flesh; therefore, we believe and confess that it is a supernatural conception, which cannot be fathomed by human reason.  Yet, we believe and confess, by virtue of the Scriptures, that the eternal, not spoken, but itself speaking, real Word, which was before the foundation of the world in great glory with the Father, was before Abraham, was in the beginning with God, and was itself God; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, and through which all things are created and have their being; that this same, real Word, in the fullness of the time, came forth from the Father, and descended from heaven into the lowest parts of the earth, and, according to the prophecy (Isa. 7), was (at Nazareth, that he might be called a Nazarene) conceived in the virgin body of Mary (who, although betrothed to Joseph of the house of David, was not yet known by him) by the power of the most high God, and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and became flesh, remaining what he had been, namely God and the Son of God, and becoming what he had not been, namely man and the son of man; in this manner, that we confess that the child which Mary bore, and which was born at Bethlehem, grew up, and suffered on the cross, was outwardly and inwardly, visibly and invisibly, as he sojourned here, the only, own, and true Son of God, and the Redeemer of us all.  John 1:1; 17:5; 8:58; Micah 5:1; John 1:3; 16:28; Eph. 4:9; Mat. 1:20; Luke 1:31; Mat. 2:23; John 1:14; Rom. 9:5; Psm. 2:7; Mat. 3:17; Luke 2:6,40; Mat. 27; 17:5.
We believe and confess also, that he came to redeem us from the curse, and, therefore, became obedient unto the law, was circumcised on the eighth day, and named after the name announced by the angel before he was born, namely, Jesus,* that he might make his holy name to agree with his holy work, namely, to save his people from their sins.  Gal. 3:13; 4:5; Gen. 17:12; Gal. 4:4; Luke 2:21; Mat. 1:21; 18:11; Luke 19:10.

We also confess that he is our only true high Prophet, High Priest, and spiritual King, who, in his office as a prophet has proclaimed unto us God’s great, secret counsel of the eternal peace with God, through the holy Gospel, and, moreover, all that is necessary for us to the new life.  Deut. 18:15; Psm. 110:4; Heb. 3:1; Jer. 33:15; Mat. 21:5; 13:35; Luke 10:5; John 3:3; Mat. 18:9.

Who, in his office as priest, has not only offered up on the cross a sacrifice for his believing lambs that will avail forever; but, after his glorious resurrection, has entered into the holy of holies, yes, the most holy, namely heaven, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood; by which he has obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe in him, yes, sits on the right hand of God his heavenly Father, where, as a high priest, he pours out his holy prayers for the ignorance of his people, and obtains forgiveness for them.  Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:12; 9:12; Col. 3:1; Heb. 5:2,5.

Who, in his office as king, as a victorious prince has vanquished death, the devil, hell, and all our enemies, and has prepared a place for the members of his kingdom; ruling with the scepter of his word, and protecting those who put their trust in him, helping them to triumph till they receive the everlasting kingdom at his hand.  2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14,15; John 14:2; Psm. 45:6; Eccl. 29:25; 2 Cor. 2:14.

But since his kingdom was not of this world, he did not take possession of it by carnal weapons of iron or steel, but through suffering and fighting in the flesh; to which end he prepared himself for temptation, tribulation and suffering, and took upon him the cursed death of the cross, under Pontius Pilate; we confess, moreover, that this same Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified at Jerusalem, and tasted death on mount Calvary, with exclamation of his groaning Spirit, and amidst the convulsions of heaven and earth, was the only and own Son of God, and that we are reconciled unto God by the blood and death of his Son, who by himself purged our sins.  John 18:36; Mat. 4:1; Luke 4:1; Mat. 16:21; Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:23; 1 Tim. 6:13; Mat. 27; Luke 23; 1 John 3:16; Rom. 8:22; 5:10; Heb. 1:3.

Who, also, as a sign that he was really dead, was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea; who wrapped him in [spices and] a clean white cloth, and laid him in a new hewn tomb, before which a great stone was rolled, and a guard placed.  Mat. 27:57, Joh. 19:39-40.

But, since it was impossible that he should be held by the bands of death, or that the Holy One should see corruption, therefore we believe and confess also, that by the glory of the Father, according to the predictions of the prophets, he was raised from the dead on the third day, amidst the convulsions of heaven and earth, and arose bodily; and that he certainly also confirmed his resurrection for forty days by words, signs, and miracles, that he taught, comforted, and admonished his disciples, and finally, on Mount Olivet, was received by a cloud, and in their sight ascended visibly unto heaven, and entered into the holy of holies, seating himself, as a true high priest, mediator, and advocate between God and man, on the right hand of the Majesty on high, where he appears continually before his Father’s face to make intercession for his believers.  Acts 2:24; Psm. 16:10; Rom. 6:4; Acts 13:34; Mat. 28:2; John 20:4; Luke 24:36; Acts 1:12; Heb. 9:12; 1 John 2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5; Rom. 8:34.

And since before his precious suffering he taught and comforted them, not to let their hearts be afraid; that when he should have ascended to heaven, he would send them another comforter, the Holy Spirit; therefore, we believe that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, blessed forever, was, as true God,* also found true in this particular, and did send, ten days after his ascension [on the Day of Pentecost], the Holy Spirit in visible form to, upon [and within] his disciples in Jerusalem; which Holy Spirit is a wisdom, strength, and power of God, that proceeds from the Father through the Son, and, no less than the Father and the Son, is with them an eternal, undivided God; also a teacher, leader and guide to all god-fearing and consolation-seeking souls, showing them the way to and into the spiritual Canaan.  John 14:1; 15:26; 16:7; Mat. 21:3; Rom. 9:5; John 5:20; Acts 2:2; Luke 1:35; Acts 5:3; John 14:26.

We believe, also, that the Lord God chose, first, the holy angels in heaven, then, two sanctified persons in paradise, and finally, of all the various nations of the earth, a penitent and believing people for his people; which is not only called a general Christian church or congregation of god-fearing men; but which the Lord Christ has purchased with his precious blood, and washed and cleansed with the waters of the Holy Spirit, that he might present to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.  And since the same is so dear to him, he would, for the prosperity and growth of his kingdom, not leave this holy church unprovided for; but provided her, not only before, but also after his ascension, with faith, love, hope, and other ordinances, and also with two special ministries, namely, the ministry of the holy Word, and the care for the poor, or the office of deacon; and appointed in it, some prophets, pastors, teachers, helpers and rulers, to provide by common counsel wisely for the church of God; and sent them out.  Gen. 2:22; 4 Esdr. 5:27; Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:26; 1 Cor. 6:20; Luke 10:1; Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28; Mark 16:15.

In like manner, the apostles also commanded their followers to choose such men with fasting and prayer.  First, they shall be examined, then let them minister; and the believers shall honor, love and obey these men.  Acts 6:3; 16:2; 1 Tim. 3:10; 1 Thes. 5:13; Heb. 13:17; 1 Tim. 5:17,18.

And, inasmuch as this church bears the figure of the true church in heaven, they practice here on earth, externally in the preaching of the Word, of baptism, the supper, and other Christian ordinances, and internally in the spirit, a true communion, here and also in heaven with God and all the sanctified of the Lord, after which, in the last day, the true reality will follow.  Acts 4:32; Heb. 12:22.

Matters, by which those who unite in this church, submit willingly and obediently to the customs, laws and ordinances, which the Lord Christ, as the chief Head of his church, Eph. 5:23, and only Lawgiver of the New Testament, Mat. 28:20, has ordained in his church, and which are also taught and, in our weakness, practiced by us, viz,:

1.  The Baptism of penitent and believing adults, which is an external evangelical act, in which the man who truly repents of his sins, who clothes his heart with faith in Christ, and by it mortifies and buries his earthly members, and arises to a new, penitent life, is baptized by an unblamable minister ordained for this, with common water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, for the remission of all his sins; and such a man, once baptized upon true repentance and scriptural faith, we do not baptize again.  Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 8:14,34,36,37; 10:43; 1 Cor. 3:5; Rom. 6:4; Mat. 3:11; Acts 10; Mat. 28:19; Eph. 4:5; Heb. 6:2.

2.  The holy Supper of the Lord, also called the Christian communion, which is to be held among believers only, not with consecrated, but with common bread and wine; not only in remembrance of the precious, holy, and bitter suffering and death, and the glorious resurrection of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, but also of the consolatory fruits by it prepared for all believers; that they, by virtue of this, may not only be moved to sincerely deplore the bitter suffering and death of Jesus Christ, which he endured for the remission of their sins; but also to praise and bless the Lord, with an internal, spiritual thanksgiving, for the benefits which have sprung from it; and, also, to confirm their Christian, brotherly, and spiritual communion by a holy and godly life, to the praise of the Lord.  Mat. 26:26; Luke 22:19; Acts 2:46; 20:7; Mark 14:22,23; John 6:51; 1 Cor. 10:16,17; 1 Cor. 11:23,24.

3.  Then follows the Washing of the saints’ feet; that is, when our fellow-believers from distant places come to visit us, we wash their feet, according as opportunity offers, after the custom of the Old Testament, and the example of Christ; by it declaring our humility toward God and our neighbor, with a humble prayer, that the Lord would strengthen us more and more in humility, and that, like as we have washed one another’s feet, he would be pleased to wash and cleanse our souls with his blood and the waters of the Holy Spirit, from every stain and impurity of sin, that we may appear pure and blameless before his Father.  Gen. 18:4; John 13:5; 1 Tim. 5:10; Luke 22:26; Phil. 2:3.

4.  Likewise, The Works of love, which we divide into three parts: 1. That a believer is bound to bring his alms, according as the Lord has blessed him, to the deacons, that they may have what is needed to properly support the poor believers.  2. To visit, comfort, attend, and nurse, according to the nature of the case, the sick, imprisoned and sorrowing hearts.  3. When we see our fellow-believers in oppressive household cares, bad circumstances, or with an insufficient income, to assist them with advice and in deed, and by giving them our custom in preference to a stranger.  Mat. 6:1; Luke 12:33; 16:9; Acts 6:13; Mat. 25:35; Heb. 13:1–3.

5.  As Marriage which was good and rightly instituted in paradise, was afterwards abused through lust by the children of the first world and also through hardness of heart by the Jews, the great Lawgiver of the New Testament restored it according to its original ordinance, Mat. 19:4; and the Apostle says, 1 Cor. 7:39: “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”  By this we understand that a believer is not at liberty to unite in marriage with an unbeliever; but only with one, who, with him, of one heavenly Father, of incorruptible seed, and thus of a spiritual generation, is born anew, heavenly and spiritual; for since they in baptism have offered up their members unto God, and have given them to the obedience of their Head, Christ, they cannot take away these, their members from Christ, their Head, and be yoked together with one who is unregenerated.  Gen. 2:24; 6:1,2; Deut. 24:1; Mat. 19:8; 1 Peter 1:23; John 3:15; Rom. 12:1; 1 Peter 1:22; Eph. 5:23.

6.  The Office of the secular Authority we recognize as an ordinance of God, for the protection of the good, and the punishment of the wicked; we also recognize that we owe unto it honor, obedience, custom, taxes, and tribute, and that we should also pray for it; but we do not find that Paul mentions it among the offices of the church, nor that Christ taught his disciples such a thing, or called them to it; but, on the contrary, that he enjoined them to follow him in his defenseless life and cross-bearing footsteps, prohibiting all revenge, not only that with arms, but also to return railing for railing; and, on the contrary, commanding to pray for one’s enemies, to do good unto them who do us evil; and much of a similar nature which is connected with the office of the magistracy; therefore we are afraid to fill such offices in our Christian calling.  Rom. 13:2,3; 1 Peter 2:13; Acts 4:19; Mat. 22:17; Rom. 13:7; Tit. 3:1; Jer. 29:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Mat. 20:25; Luke 22:25; John 8:12; 10:27; Heb. 12:2; 1 Peter 2:21; Rom. 12:19; Mat. 5:44.

7.  The Swearing of oaths permitted in the Old Testament, and in which many abuses have crept, is prohibited by Christ and James, without any distinction; therefore it is not lawful for a Christian to swear the oath of blasphemy.  Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Mat. 5:37; James 5:12.

8.  But as in a good government ordinances without penalties lose their force the Lord also has not failed to place penalties to his ordinances; for Paul says: “Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”  1 Tim. 5:20.  Christ also, in Mat. 18, has taught us to rebuke sinners.  Paul teaches to purge out the old leaven, and to put away from among us those that are wicked; by which we understand the Christian Ban which is instituted for the shaming and conversion of the sinner, and for the purpose of keeping the church pure, lest a little leaven leaven the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6,13; Deut. 13:5; 2 Thes. 3:14; Gal. 5:9), according to Mat. 16:19: “I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” and Mat. 18:18: “Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  This discipline is used against those who have once been enlightened, and have received for truth the sound doctrine of Christ, but who afterwards fall into false doctrine and heresy.  These, after they have been admonished once or twice, but still persist in their evil principles, shall, by Christian Separation, be avoided and shunned, Tit. 3:10.  Further, it is also used against persons who are going astray in the gross works of the flesh, upon sufficient confession of such persons themselves, or upon the testimony of other commendable witnesses; for such the church must have, before she may proceed with the separation.  Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; 1 Cor. 5:3; 6:9.

9.  We understand that Marrying out of the Church is sinful, since it is contrary to the command of the Lord, and has at various times been reproved by the Lord and his prophets, through deeds as well as through words; and since it is a sin, arising either from a carnal, sensual life, or from a want of confidence in God, as though he would not provide him with a virtuous spouse; and is, moreover, committed with premeditation, for which reason it cannot be included in Gal. 6:1: “If a man be overtaken in a fault, . . . restore such a one in the spirit of meekness,” but much rather in Num. 15:30: “The soul that does aught presumptuously, . . . shall be cut off from among his people,” therefore many god-fearing men, who were assembled at different times, have understood, as also we understand, that marriage out of the church, with impenitents and unbelievers, is also to be punished with separation from the church, that they may the more earnestly seek repentance.

But as all sins are not equally great, and do not actually deserve separation without previous admonition, there is observed in the reproving of sin between brother and brother the rule in Mat. 18:15–18.  And if any man is overtaken in a fault, then the rule Gal. 6:1 is followed.

Now, since we also understand that there can be no separation where no withdrawing is found, we confess also that we are in duty bound to admonish (1 Thes. 3:15) the one separated, to reconcile himself to the church by true repentance; and if there is in him a willingness to reconcile himself, to make haste with the anointing or reinstating, and not to wait with those who have married out of the church, until he or she bring with him, or her, the spouse married out of the church.  2 Cor. 2:8.  But if the good admonition should be heedlessly rejected, since the daily intercourse of the ungodly apostates is unedifying, polluting, offensive, and frequently hardens the sinner in his wicked life; we confess that the person separated, or punished with the ban, is to be avoided and shunned, even without the aforesaid admonition, immediately after the separation, in common, free, worldly transactions, as: In eating and drinking, buying and selling, and such like unnecessary matters; yet with this distinction, that it be done with such moderation and discretion that the word of God may everywhere retain its place, and the higher laws and commandments of the Lord, by which the believer is bound to the separated one, be not broken, but that everywhere necessity, word, promise, love, benevolence, mercy, justice, and Christian discretion be observed.  1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Tim. 2:16–18; 2 Thes. 3:14; Tit. 3:10; Luke 6:36; 2 Peter 1:6.

Likewise, if one man understand the passage respecting shunning, in 1 Cor. 5, in a higher, and another man, in a lower sense, both men being god-fearing in their life, they should, until further enlightenment, be borne with in love, without contention or disputing.

Whosoever seeks, in human weakness, to live according to these, the chief, as well as to other commandments, doctrines, and ordinances of the Lord (more explicitly defined in his holy Word), and thus to accomplish his pilgrimage on this earth, of him we believe that he will not only feel at his departure from earth a sure witness of his conscience, and have a glad hope; but at the resurrection of the dead will indeed find it to be so, that all his sins will be forgiven him through the holy merits and comforting intercession of Christ.  Luke 24:47; Col. 1:14; Acts 13:38; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1; Rom. 8:34.

Finally, we believe also, that our Savior Jesus Christ, forever blessed, shall visibly come again in the clouds, like as he ascended before; not so humble, lowly, and serving, as he appeared to the world in his holy incarnation; but glorious and magnificent, with the power and glory of all his angels; not to call the sinner to repentance, but to hold the last judgment; to which end he will not only sit upon the throne of his glory, but, as the natural sun in Spring-time draws forth from the earth, not only flowers, herbs and good fruits, but also nettles, thistles, and thorns, so also, the true Sun of righteousness, Jesus Christ, blessed forever, will then, with the sound of the trumpet call forth and cause to arise from the earth, all the great number of the dead who from the beginning of the world up to the present day have lived, died, and sown their bodies in the earth to corruption, and as the womb her fruit so shall the sea, hell, and death give up their dead; then shall the dead be covered with their own skin, and with their own eyes behold God, yes, be clothed with their own bodies, in or with which they have here served or despised the Lord.  And after those who then will be still living, will have been changed to immortality in the twinkling of an eye, the general multitude of all mankind will be placed before the holy throne of God, where the books of conscience shall be opened, and also another book, which is the book of life; and the dead shall be judged according to that which is written in these books, that every one may receive in his own body, either good or evil, according to what they have done, or how they have lived here.  Then will the Lord, as a righteous Judge, separate the believers from the ungodly, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats; and will set the believers, as obedient lambs, on his right hand; but the unbelievers, as wicked, rebellious, stinking goats, on his left hand.  He will look upon the lambs with his loving eyes, and say to them in a voice sweet as the honey comb: “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  But upon the goats his angry face shall be like the lightning, and his voice sound like the thunder, and he shall say to them: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.  Mat. 1:21; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 1:15; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Mat. 24:30; 2 Thes. 1:7; Mat. 25:31; 16:27; Acts 17:31; Jude 14; Dan. 7:9,13; Mal. 4:2; 1 Thes. 4:16; Mat. 24:31; John 5:29; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:42; 4 Esdr. 7:32; Rev. 20:13; Job 19:26; Rev. 1:7; 2 Cor. 5:10; Mat. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:51; Mat. 25:32; Ezek. 34:17; Mat. 25:33,34,41; 4 Esdr. 16:10; 2 Thes. 1:8; Luke 17:24.

And we also further confess that then the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be changed into blood, the stars shall fall from heaven, and the earth and all that is in this shall be burned with fire; and then shall the irrevocable sentence of the Greatest King be executed.  2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 6:12,13.

Then shall the ungodly, like sheep for the slaughter, be driven to hell, and be cast into the great bottomless pit, where there will be no lack of fuel.  There they shall not be laid on beds of down, but on biting moths, and be covered with gnawing worms, and tormented with flaming fire, so that their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, but the torment of their pain shall ascend as the smoke of a fiery furnace, and it shall last forever and ever.  But on the contrary, we confess that the blessed of God shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and shall then be led by the Lord Christ, their spiritual bridegroom, into heaven, before the throne of God, where he shall deliver up again to the Father the kingdom and all power, that God may be all in all.  Psm. 49:14; Isa. 30:33; 14:11; 2 Thes. 1:9; Mark 9:48; Isa. 66:24; Rev. 9:2; 14:11; 1 Thes. 4:17; Mat. 25:6; 1 Cor. 15:28.

Then shall the blessed of God be changed through the glory of God from glory to glory, their tears shall be wiped away; the crown of life, of glory, and of gladness, shall be placed on their heads; palms of victory shall be put in their hands, and they shall be adorned with the white robe of the righteousness of the saints.  Thus shall they be joined to all the saints of God, and be led to the fountain of living waters, there to be refreshed for everlasting consolation; they shall be fed on the spiritual mount Zion, yes, shall follow the sweet lamb Jesus Christ, who has bought them with his blood and death, in the heavenly pleasure grounds, through contemplation of the holy God in his inestimable throne, the heavens in their beauty, and the angels in their joy.  2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21; Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:17; James 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:8; 4 Esdr. 2:43,46; Rev. 7:9; 19:8; Mat. 8:11; Rev. 7:17; 14:1,4; 4 Esdr. 8:21; Bar. 3:24.

Then shall the blessed of God abound in heavenly joy, so that with angelic tongues and heavenly voices they will begin to sing with all the saints of God the new song, giving unto him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, praise, honor, glory, and blessing, for ever and ever.  Amen.  Rev. 14:3; 7:10,12.

Thus done by us, the undersigned ministers, teachers, and elders of the United Friesic and High German Churches, for ourselves, as well as in the name of our fellow-brethren and ministers, and strangers assembled at these proceedings with us, here at Amsterdam.  October the 7th, 1730, new style, and was subscribed to by fourteen persons, heads of the Churches, for themselves as well as in the name of the churches by whom they were sent.

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Third Confession.

Drawn up at Dort, at a certain peace convention on the 21st of April, 1632, being a statement of the chief articles of our general Christian faith, as the same are taught and practiced throughout in our church.

I.  Of God And The Creation Of All Things.

Since we find it testified that without faith it is impossible to please God, and that he that would come to God must believe that there is a God, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him: therefore, we confess with the mouth, and believe with the heart, with all the pious, according to the holy Scriptures, in one eternal, almighty, and unsearchable God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in none more, nor in any other; before whom no God was made or existed, nor shall there be any after him: for of him, and through him, and in him, are all things; to him be praise and honor forever and ever, Amen.  Heb. 11:6; Deut. 6:4; Gen. 17:1; Isa. 46:8; 1 John 5:7; Rom. 11:36.

Of this same one God, who works all in all, we believe and confess that he is the Creator of all things visible and invisible; that he, in six days, created, made, and prepared, heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; and that he still governs and upholds the same and all his works through his wisdom, might, and the word of his power.  1 Cor. 12:6; Gen. 1; Acts 14:15.

And when he had finished his works, and had ordained and prepared them, each in its nature and properties, good and upright, according to his pleasure, he created the first man, the father of us all, Adam; whom he formed of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living soul, created by God in his own image and likeness, in righteousness and holiness, unto eternal life.  He regarded him above all other creatures, endowed him with many high and glorious gifts, placed him in the pleasure garden or paradise, and gave him a command and prohibition; afterwards he took a rib from Adam, made a woman from it, and brought her to him, joining and giving her to him for a helpmate, companion and wife; and in consequence of this he also caused, that from this first* man Adam, all men that dwell upon the whole earth have descended.  Gen. 1:27; 2:7,17,18,22.

II.  OF THE FALL OF MAN.

We believe and confess, according to the holy Scriptures, that these our first parents, Adam and Eve, did not continue long in this glorious state in which they were created, but that they, seduced by the subtlety and deceit of the serpent, and the envy of the devil, transgressed the high commandment of God and became disobedient to their Creator; through which disobedience sin has come into the world, and death by sin, which has thus passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, and, therefore, brought upon themselves the wrath of God, and condemnation; for which reason they were of God driven out of paradise, or the pleasure garden, to till the earth, in sorrow to eat of it, and to eat their bread in the sweat of their face, till they should return to the earth, from which they were taken; and that they, therefore, through this one sin, became so ruined, separated, and estranged from God, that they, neither through themselves, nor through any of their descendants, nor through angels, nor men, nor any other creature in heaven or on earth, could be raised up, redeemed, or reconciled to God, but would have had to be eternally lost, had not God, in compassion for his creatures, made provision for it, and interposed with his love and mercy.  Gen. 3:6; 4 Esdr. 3:7; Rom. 5:12,18; Gen. 3:23; Psm. 49:8; Rev. 5:9; John 3:16.

III.  OF THE RESTORATION OF MAN THROUGH THE PROMISE OF THE COMING CHRIST.

Concerning the restoration of the first man and his posterity we confess and believe that God, notwithstanding their fall, transgression, and sin, and their utter inability, was nevertheless not willing to cast them off entirely, or to let them be forever lost; but that he called them again to him, comforted them, and showed them that with him there was yet a means for their reconciliation, namely, the immaculate Lamb, the Son of God, who had been foreordained for this before the foundation of the world, and was promised them while they were yet in paradise, for consolation, redemption and salvation, for themselves as well as for their posterity; yes, who through faith, had, from that time on, been given them as their own; for whom all the pious patriarchs, unto whom this promise was frequently renewed, longed and inquired, and to whom, through faith, they looked forward from afar, waiting for the fulfillment, that he by his coming, would redeem, liberate, and raise the fallen race of man from their sin, guilt and unrighteousness.  John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19; Gen. 3:15; 1 John 3:8; 2:1; Heb. 11:13,39; Gal. 4:4.

IV.  OF THE COMING OF CHRIST INTO THIS WORLD, AND THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE CAME.

We believe and confess further, that when the time of the promise, for which all the pious forefathers had so much longed and waited, had come and was fulfilled, this previously promised Messiah, Redeemer, and Savior, proceeded from God, was sent, and, according to the prediction of the prophets, and the testimony of the evangelists, came into the world, yes into the flesh, was made manifest, and the Word himself became flesh and man; that he was conceived in the virgin Mary, who was espoused to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and that she brought him forth as her firstborn son, at Bethlehem, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.  John 4:25; 16:28; 1 Tim. 3:16; John 1:14; Mat. 1:23; Luke 2:7.

We confess and believe also, that this is the same whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, without beginning of days, or end of life; of whom it is testified that he himself is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last; that he is the same, and no other, who was foreordained, promised, sent, and came into the world; who is God’s only, first and own Son; who was before John the Baptist, before Abraham, before the world; yes, who was David’s Lord, and the God of the whole world, the firstborn of every creature; who was brought into the world, and to whom a body was prepared, which he yielded up as a sacrifice and offering, for a sweet savor unto God, yes, for the consolation, redemption, and salvation of all mankind.  John 3:16; Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:32; John 1:30; Mat. 22:43; Col. 1:15; Heb. 10:5.

But as to how and in what manner this precious body was prepared, and how the Word became flesh, and he himself man, in regard to this we content ourselves with the statement pertaining to this matter which the worthy evangelists have left us in their accounts, according to which we confess with all the saints, that he is the Son of the living God, in whom alone consist all our hope, consolation, redemption, and salvation, which we neither may nor must seek in any other.  Luke 1:31,32; John 20:31; Mat. 16:16.

We furthermore believe and confess with the Scriptures that, when he had finished his course, and accomplished the work for which he was sent and came into the world, he was, according to the providence of God, delivered into the hands of the unrighteous; suffered under the judge, Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, was buried, and, on the third day, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven; and that he sits on the right hand of God the Majesty on high, from where he will come again to judge the living and the dead.  Luke 22:53; 23:1; 24:6,7,51.

And that thus the Son of God died, and tasted death and shed his precious blood for all men; and that he by it bruised the serpent’s head, destroyed the works of the devil, annulled the handwriting and obtained forgiveness of sins for all mankind; thus becoming the cause of eternal salvation for all those who, from Adam unto the end of the world, each in his time, believe in, and obey him.  Gen. 3:15; 1 John 3:8; Col. 2:14; Rom. 5:18.

V.  THE LAW OF CHRIST, i. e. THE HOLY GOSPEL OR THE NEW TESTAMENT.

We also believe and confess that before his ascension he instituted his New Testament, and, since it was to be and remain an eternal Testament, that he confirmed and sealed the same with his precious blood, and gave and left it to his disciples, yes, charged them so highly with it, that neither angel nor man may alter it, nor add to it nor take away from it; and that he has caused the same, as containing the whole counsel and will of his heavenly Father, as far as is necessary for salvation to be proclaimed in his name by his beloved apostles, messengers, and ministers—whom he called, chose, and sent into all the world for that purpose—among all peoples, nations, and tongues; and repentance and remission of sins to be preached and testified of; and that he accordingly has in this declared all men without distinction, who through faith, as obedient children, heed, follow, and practice what the same contains, to be his children and lawful heirs; thus excluding no one from the precious inheritance of eternal salvation, except the unbelieving and disobedient, the stiffnecked and obdurate, who despise it, and incur this through their own sins, thus making themselves unworthy of eternal life.  Jer. 31:31; Heb. 9:15–17; Mat. 26:28; Gal. 1:8; 1 Tim. 6:3; John 15:15; Mat. 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Rom. 8:17; Acts 13:46.

VI.  OF REPENTANCE AND REFORMATION OF LIFE.

We believe and confess that, since the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, and, therefore, prone to all unrighteousness, sin, and wickedness, the first lesson of the precious New Testament of the Son of God is repentance and reformation of life, and that, therefore, those who have ears to hear, and hearts to understand, must bring forth genuine fruits of repentance, reform their lives, believe the Gospel, eschew evil and do good, desist from unrighteousness, forsake sin, put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness: for, neither baptism, supper, church, nor any other outward ceremony, can without faith, regeneration, change or renewing of life, avail anything to please God or to obtain of him any consolation or promise of salvation; but we must go to God with an upright heart, and in perfect faith, and believe in Jesus Christ, as the Scripture says, and testifies of him; through which faith we obtain forgiveness of sins, are sanctified, justified, and made children of God, yes partake of his mind, nature and image, as being born again of God from above, through incorruptible seed.  Gen. 8:21; Mark 1:15; Ezek. 12:2; Col. 3:9,10; Eph. 4:22,24; Heb. 10:22,23; John 7:38.

VII.  OF HOLY BAPTISM.

Concerning baptism we confess that all penitent believers, who, through faith, regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, are made one with God, and are written in heaven, must, upon such scriptural confession of faith, and renewing of life, be baptized with water, in the most worthy name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according to the command of Christ, and the teaching, example, and practice of the apostles, to the burying of their sins, and thus be incorporated into the communion of the saints; henceforth to learn to observe all things which the Son of God has taught, left, and commanded his disciples.  Acts 2:38; Mat. 28:19,20; Rom. 6:4; Mark 16:16; Mat. 3:15; Acts 8:16; 9:18; 10:47; 16:33; Col. 2:11,12.

VIII.  OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.

We believe in, and confess a visible church of God, namely, those who, as has been said before, truly repent and believe, and are rightly baptized; who are one with God in heaven, and rightly incorporated into the communion of the saints here on earth.  These we confess to be the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, who are declared to be the bride and wife of Christ, yes, children and heirs of everlasting life, a tent, tabernacle and habitation of God in the Spirit, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ himself is declared to be the corner stone (upon which his church is built).  This church of the living God, which he has acquired, purchased, and redeemed with his own precious blood; with which, according to his promise, he will be and remain always, even unto the end of the world, for consolation and protection, yes, will dwell and walk among them, and preserve them, so that no floods or tempests, no, not even the gates of hell, shall move or prevail against them—this church we say, may be known by her scriptural faith, doctrine, love, and godly conduct, as, also, by the fruitful observance, practice, and maintenance of the true ordinances of Christ, which he so highly enjoined upon his disciples.  1 Cor. 12; 1 Peter 2:9; John 3:29; Rev. 19:7; Tit. 3:6,7; Eph. 2:19–21; Mat. 16:18; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Mat. 28:20; 2 Cor. 6:16; Mat. 7:25.

IX.  OF THE ELECTION, AND OFFICES OF TEACHERS, DEACONS, AND DEACONESSES, IN THE CHURCH.

Concerning the offices and elections in the church, we believe and confess that, since without offices and ordinances the church cannot subsist in her growth, nor continue in building, therefore the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as a husbandman in his house, has instituted, ordained, enjoined and commanded his offices and ordinances, how every one is to walk in this, and give heed to and perform his work and calling, as is fit, even as he himself, as the faithful, great, chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, was sent, and came into the world, not to bruise, break, or destroy the souls of men, but to heal and restore them, to seek the lost, to break down the middle wall of partition, to make of twain one, and thus to gather of Jews, gentiles, and all nations, one flock, for a church in his name, for which—that no one should err or be lost—he himself laid down his life, thus ministering to their salvation, and liberating and redeeming them, (mark) in which no one else could help or assist them.  Eph. 4:10–12; 1 Peter 2:25; Mat. 12:19; 18:11; Eph. 2:14; Gal. 3:28; John 10:9,11,15; Psm. 49:8.

And that he, moreover, before his departure, left his church supplied with faithful ministers, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers, whom he before, through the Holy Spirit, had chosen with prayer and supplication; that they might govern the church, feed his flock, and watch over, protect, and provide for it, yes, do in all things, as he had gone before them, had taught, by example shown, and charged them, to teach to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded them.  Luke 10:1; 6:12,13; John 2:15.

That the apostles, likewise, as faithful followers of Christ, and leaders of the church, were diligent in this respect, with prayer and supplication to God, through the election of brethren, to provide every city, place, or church, with bishops, pastors and leaders, and to ordain such persons for this, who would take heed unto themselves, and unto the doctrine and flock, who were sound in faith, pious in life and conduct, and of good report without as well as in the church; that they might be an example, light, and pattern in all godliness and good works, worthily administering the Lord’s ordinances—baptism and supper;—and that they might everywhere (where such could be found) appoint faithful men who would be able to teach others also, as elders, ordaining them by the laying on of hands in the name of the Lord, and provide for all the wants of the church according to their ability; so that, as faithful servants, they might husband well their Lord’s talent, get gain with it, and, consequently, save themselves and those who hear them.  1 Tim. 3:1; Acts 23:24; Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 4:16; Tit. 2:1,2; 1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:2; Luke 19:13.

That they should also see diligently to it, particularly each among his own over whom he has the oversight, that all places be well provided with deacons (to look after and care for the poor), who may receive the contributions and alms, in order to dispense them faithfully and with all propriety to the poor and needy saints.  Acts 6:3–6.

And that also honorable aged widows should be chosen and ordained deaconesses, that they with the deacons may visit, comfort, and care for, the poor, feeble, sick, sorrowing and needy, as also the widows and orphans, and assist in attending to other wants and necessities of the church to the best of their ability.  1 Tim. 5:9; Rom. 16:1; James 1:27.

Furthermore, concerning deacons, that they, especially when they are fit, and chosen and ordained for this by the church, for the assistance and relief of the elders, may exhort the church (since they, as has been said, are chosen for this), and labor also in the word and in teaching; that each may minister unto the other with the gift he has received from the Lord, so that through mutual service and the assistance of every member, each in his measure, the body of Christ may be improved, and the vine and church of the Lord continue to grow, increase, and be built up, according as it is proper.

X.  OF THE HOLY SUPPER.

We also confess and observe the breaking of bread, or Supper, as the Lord Christ Jesus before his suffering instituted it with bread and wine, and observed and ate it with his apostles, commanding them to observe it in remembrance of him; which they accordingly taught and practiced in the church, and commanded that it should be kept in remembrance of the suffering and death of the Lord; and that his precious body was broken, and his blood shed, for us and all mankind, as also the fruits hereof, namely, redemption and eternal salvation, which he purchased by it, showing such great love towards us sinful men; by which we are admonished to the utmost, to love and forgive one another and our neighbor, as he has done unto us, and to be mindful to maintain and live up to the unity and fellowship which we have with God and one another, which is signified to us by this breaking of bread.  Mat. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:23.

XI.  OF THE WASHING OF THE SAINTS’ FEET.*

We also confess a washing of the saints’ feet, as the Lord Christ not only instituted, enjoined and commanded it, but himself, although he was their Lord and Master, washed his apostles’ feet, by it giving an example that they should likewise wash one another’s feet, and do as he had done unto them; which they accordingly, from this time on, taught believers to observe, as a sign of true humility, and, especially, to remember by this feet-washing the true washing, by which we are washed through his precious blood, and made pure after the soul.  John 13:4–17; 1 Tim. 5:10.

XII.  OF THE STATE OF MATRIMONY.

We confess that there is in the church of God an honorable state of matrimony, of two free, believing persons, in accordance with the manner after which God originally ordained the same in paradise, and instituted it himself with Adam and Eve, and that the Lord Christ did away and set aside all the abuses of marriage which had meanwhile crept in, and referred all to the original order, and thus left it.  Gen. 1:27; Mark 10:4.

In this manner the apostle Paul also taught and permitted matrimony in the church, and left it free for every one to be married, according to the original order, in the Lord, to whomsoever one may get to consent.  By these words, in the Lord, there is to be understood, we think that even as the patriarchs had to marry among their kindred or generation, so the believers of the New Testament have likewise no other liberty than to marry among the chosen generation and spiritual kindred of Christ, namely such, and no others, who have previously become united with the church as one heart and soul, have received one baptism, and stand in one communion, faith, doctrine and practice, before they may unite with one another by marriage.  Such are then joined by God in his church according to the original order; and this is called, marrying in the Lord.  2 Cor. 7:2; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gen. 24:4; 28:2; 1 Cor. 7:39.

XIII.  OF THE OFFICE OF THE SECULAR AUTHORITY.

We believe and confess that God has ordained power and authority, and set them to punish the evil, and protect the good, to govern the world, and maintain countries and cities, with their subjects, in good order and regulation; and that we, therefore, may not despise, revile or resist the same, but must acknowledge and honor them as the ministers of God, and be subject and obedient unto them, yes, ready for all good works, especially in that which is not contrary to the law, will, and commandment of God; also faithfully pay custom, tribute and taxes, and to render unto them their dues, even also as the Son of God taught and practiced, and commanded his disciples to do; that we, moreover, must constantly and earnestly pray to the Lord for them and their welfare, and for the prosperity of the country, that we may dwell under its protection, earn our livelihood, and lead a quiet, peaceable life, with all godliness and honesty; and, furthermore, that the Lord would recompense unto them, here, and afterwards in eternity, all benefits, liberty and favor which we enjoy here under their praiseworthy administration.  Rom. 13:1–7; Tit. 3:1; 1 Peter 2:17; Mat. 22:21; 17:27; 1 Tim. 2:1.

XIV.  OF REVENGE.

As regards revenge, that is, to oppose an enemy with the sword, we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has forbidden and set aside to his disciples and followers all revenge and retaliation, and commanded them to render to no one evil for evil, or cursing for cursing, but to put the sword into the sheath, or, as the prophets have predicted, to beat the swords into ploughshares.  Mat. 5:39,44; Rom. 12:14; 1 Peter 3:9; Isa. 2:14; Micah 4:3; Zech. 9:8,9.

From this we understand that therefore, and according to his example, we must not inflict pain, harm or sorrow upon any one, but seek the highest welfare and salvation of all men, and even, if necessity require it, flee for the Lord’s sake from one city or country into another, and suffer the spoiling of our goods; that we must not harm any one, and, when we are smitten, rather turn the other cheek also, than take revenge or retaliate.  Mat. 5:39.

And, moreover, that we must pray for our enemies, feed and refresh them whenever they are hungry or thirsty, and thus convince them by well-doing, and overcome all ignorance.  Rom. 12:19,20.

Finally, that we must do good and commend ourselves to every man’s conscience; and, according to the law of Christ, do unto no one that which we would not have done to us.  2 Cor. 4:2; Mat. 7:12.

XV.  OF THE SWEARING OF OATHS.

Concerning the Swearing of Oaths we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has set aside and forbidden, the same to his disciples, that they should not swear at all, but that yes should be yes, and no, no; from which we understand that all oaths, high and low, are forbidden, and that instead of them we are to confirm all our promises and obligations, yes, all our declarations and testimonies of any matter, only with our word yes, in that which is yes, and with no, in that which is no; yet, that we must always, in all matters, and with every one, adhere to, keep, follow, and fulfill the same, as though we had confirmed it with a solemn oath.  And if we do this, we trust that no one, not even the Magistracy itself, will have just reason, to lay a greater burden on our mind and conscience.  Mat. 5:34,35; James 5:12; 2 Cor. 1:17.

XVI.  OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL BAN, OR SEPARATION FROM THE CHURCH.

We also believe in, and confess, a ban, Separation, and Christian correction in the church, for amendment, and not for destruction, in order to distinguish that which is pure from the impure: namely, when any one, after he is enlightened, has accepted the knowledge of the truth, and been incorporated into the communion of the saints, sins again unto death, either through willfulness, or through presumption against God, or through some other cause, and falls into the unfruitful works of darkness, by it becoming separated from God, and forfeiting the kingdom of God, that such a one, after the deed is manifest and sufficiently known to the church, may not remain in the congregation of the righteous, but, as an offensive member and open sinner, shall and must be separated, put away, reproved before all, and purged out as leaven; and this for his amendment, as an example, that others may fear, and to keep the church pure, by cleansing her from such spots, lest, in default of this, the name of the Lord be blasphemed, the church dishonored, and offense given to them that are without; and finally, that the sinner may not be condemned with the world, but become convinced in his mind, and be moved to sorrow, repentance and reformation.  Jer. 59:2; 1 Cor. 5:5,13; 1 Tim. 5:20; 1 Cor. 5:6; 2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10.

Further, concerning brotherly reproof or admonition, as also the instruction of the erring, it is necessary to exercise all diligence and care, to watch over them and to admonish them with all meekness, that they may be bettered, and to reprove, according as is proper, the stubborn who remain obdurate; in short, the church must put away from her the wicked (either in doctrine or life), and no other.  James 5:19; Tit. 3:10; 1 Cor. 5:13.

XVII.  OF SHUNNING THE SEPARATED.

Concerning the withdrawing from, or shunning the separated, we believe and confess that if any one, either through his wicked life or perverted doctrine, has so far fallen that he is separated from God, and, consequently, also separated and punished by the church, the same must, according to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, be shunned, without distinction, by all the fellow members of the church, especially those to whom it is known, in eating, drinking, and other similar intercourse, and no company be had with him; that they may not become contaminated by intercourse with him, nor made partakers of his sins; but that the sinner may be made ashamed, pricked in his heart, and convicted in his conscience, unto his reformation.  1 Cor. 5:9–11; 2 Thes. 3:14.

Yet, in shunning as well as in reproving, such moderation and Christian discretion must be used, that it may conduce, not to the destruction, but to the reformation of the sinner.  For, if he is needy, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or in any other distress, we are in duty bound, necessity requiring it, according to love and the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, to render him aid and assistance; otherwise, shunning would in this case tend more to destruction than to reformation.

Therefore, we must not count them as enemies, but admonish them as brethren, that by it they may be brought to a knowledge of and to repentance and sorrow for their sins, so that they may become reconciled to God, and, consequently be received again into the church; and that love may continue with them, according as is proper.  2 Thes. 3:15.

XVIII.  OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, AND THE LAST JUDGMENT.

Finally, concerning the resurrection of the dead, we confess with the mouth, and believe with the heart, according to Scripture, that in the last day all men who shall then have died, and fallen asleep, shall be awaked and quickened, and shall rise again, through the unsearchable power of God; and that they, together with those who then will still be alive, and who shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trump, shall be placed before the judgment seat of Christ, and the good be separated from the wicked; that then every one shall receive in his own body according to that he has done, whether it be good or evil; and that the good or pious, as the blessed, shall be taken up with Christ, and shall enter into life eternal, and obtain that joy, which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, to reign and triumph with Christ forever and ever.  Mat. 22:30,31; Dan. 12:12; Job 19:26,27; Mat. 25:31; John 5:28; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 15; Rev. 20:12; 1 Thes. 4:15; 1 Cor. 2:9.

And that, on the other hand, the wicked or impious, as accursed, shall be cast into outer darkness, yes, into the everlasting pains of hell, where their worm shall not die, nor their fire be quenched, and where they, according to holy Scripture, can nevermore expect any hope, comfort or redemption.  Mark 9:44; Rev. 14:11.*

May the Lord, through his grace, make us all worthy and fit, that this may befall none of us; but that we may thus take heed unto ourselves, and use all diligence, that on that day we may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace.  Amen.

These, then, as has been briefly stated before, are the principal articles of our general Christian faith, as we teach and practice the same throughout in our churches and among our people; which, in our judgment, is the only true Christian faith, which the apostles in their time believed and taught, yes, testified with their life, confirmed with their death, and, some of them, also sealed with their blood; in which we in our weakness with them and all the pious, would willingly abide, live, and die, that we may afterwards obtain salvation with them through the grace of the Lord.

Thus done and finished in our united churches, in the city of Dortrecht, the 21st of April, 1632, new style.

And was signed by the mutually united:

 

Dortrecht.

Isaac de Koning, and in the name of our minister.

Jan Jacobs.

(On the other side.)

By me Hans Cobrijsz.

By me Jacuis Terwen.

Claes Dircksg.

Mels Gijsbertsz.

Adriaen Cornelissz.

Middelburg.

Bastiaen Willemsen.

Jan Winkelmans.

Vlissingen.

Oillaert Willeborts,

by Jacob Pennen.

Lieven Marijnesz.

Amsterdam.

Tobias Govertsz.

(On the other side.)

Pieter Jansz Moyer.

David ter Haer.

Abraham Dircksz.

Pieter Jansz van Singel.

Haerlem.

Jan Doom.

(On the other side.)

Piter Grijspert.

Dirck Wonteresz Kolenkamp.

 

Pieter Joosten.

Bommel.

Willem Jansz van Exselt.

Gijsbert Spiering.

Rotterdam.

 

(On the other side.)

Balten Centen Schoenmaker.

Israel van Halmael.

M. Michielsz.

Hendrick Dircksz Apeldoren.

 

Andries Lucken Jr.

From the Upper Part of the Country.

Peter van Borsel.

Antony Hansz.

Krevelt Do.

Harmen op den Graff.

Weylm Kreynen.

Zeeland.

Cornelis de Moir.

Isaac Claessz.

Schiedam.

Cornelis Bom.

Lambrecht Paeldink.

Leyden.

Mr. C. de Korink.

Jan Weyns.

Blockziel.

Claes Claessen.

Pieter Peters.

Ziericzee.

Anthonis Cornelissz.

Pieter Jansz Timmerman.

Utrecht.

Herman Segers.

(On the other side.)

Jan Hendricksen Hooghvelt.

Abraham Spronk.

David Horens.

Williem van Brœkhuysen.

Gorcum.

Jacob van der Heyde Sebrechts.

Jan Jansz V. K.

Aernhem.

Cornelis Jansz.

Dirck Reuderson.

Besides that the last mentioned confession was received by so many churches, and signed by their leaders, as has been shown, also all the churches in Alsace and in the Palatinate, in Germany, afterwards unanimously adopted and signed it; therefore it was undertaken to translate the same for their benefit and that of others, into French and into German.  This is given as a remembrance.  Here is the patience and faith of the saints.  Rev. 13:10.

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Of The Ungodly And False Church, Which Is The Opposite Of The Church Of God, And The Origin, Progress And Succession Of The Same Through All Times.

Where God builds a temple, says the old proverb, there the devil builds another in opposition.  This has been apparent ever since the beginning of the world.  For at the same time that Abel became a martyr of God, and, therefore, a good leader of the children of God, Cain made himself a murderer, and became a leader of the children of Satan, who belong to the ungodly and false church, as members of one body.  Gen. 4:8.

He was followed by Lamech, one of Cain’s descendants, who slew a young man, and afterwards spoke of it to his wives Addah and Zillah, in a boasting and presumptuous manner.  Gen. 4:23.

The people of the first world universally, with the exception of eight, followed in the footsteps of Lamech in wickedness; they exercised tyranny, violence, and oppression, and would not be governed by the Spirit of God.  Gen. 6:3,4.

The Sodomites followed in the same course, vexing with their unbecoming walk the righteous soul of Lot from day to day.  Gen. 19; 2 Peter 2:8.

These were succeeded by the Egyptians, who imposed grievous and insupportable burdens upon the people of God, and finally sought their lives, yes pursued them even into the sea.  Compare Exo. 1:11 with Exo. 14:9,10,23.

After these were the seven nations, or inhabitants, of the land of Palestine, who were greater and mightier than the children of Israel, but were banished by God on account of their wickedness; namely the Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, etc.  Deut. 7:1,2.

After these manifested themselves the Amorites, Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, and many others, who disturbed, oppressed, and harassed in manifold ways the people of God, which was dwelling in quiet.  See throughout in the book of the Judges, the books of Samuel, the Kings, and Chronicles.

The Chaldeans, Assyrians, and the inhabitants of the land of Babylon, followed those already mentioned; they carried the church of God away into foreign lands, burned the house of God, and laid waste the city of Jerusalem, which God had chosen above all the cities of the whole earth.  2 Kings 1–17; Jer. 52:1–20; Lam. 1:1–5.

The mighty cities, Tyre and Sidon, in Phoenicia, and afterwards, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, which defied the world itself with their greatness, and cast the threatenings of God to the wind, lifted up their heads after the last mentioned, but to their own destruction.  Compare Isa. 23:4,5; Ezek. 27 and 28 throughout, with Mat. 11:20–23.

All these who have been mentioned, from Cain on, succeeded one another in regular order, and may be considered as members of the church of Satan; since they have neither in generation, nor in faith, nor in worship, nor in manner of life, agreed with the church of God, but opposed it in every respect.

After the coming of Christ, many who had adopted the Christian religion and worship, apostatized, denying the faith, and thus becoming fellow-members in the last mentioned, ungodly, and wicked congregation; as, for instance: Simon Magnus, who by confession of faith, and baptism had joined himself to the visible church of God, but fell from it, desiring to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit with money, which, according to the apostle Peter, tended to his destruction, although he afterwards, as it appears, was again converted.  Acts 8:13,18–22.

Hymeneus and Alexander, who concerning faith made shipwreck, and were full of blasphemies, therefore they were put away from the church by Paul, and delivered unto Satan.  1 Tim. 1:19,20.

Phygellus and Hermogenes, who with the greater number of those in Asia, were turned away from Paul, and, consequently, also from the doctrine of the Gospel which they had received.  2 Tim. 1:15.

Hymeneus (the second) and Philetus, who, having erred concerning the truth, pretended that the resurrection of the dead was past already; by which they overthrew the faith of some.  2 Tim. 2:17,18.

Demas, who forsook Paul, having loved the world.  2 Tim. 4:10.

Alexander, the coppersmith, who did the apostle much evil, on account of which the church of Christ is admonished to beware of him.  2 Tim. 4:14,15.

Many others, who, though they bore the name of members of the Christian church, did not stand by but forsook the oft mentioned servant of God, when he was to answer before the Emperor Nero in regard to the Evangelical doctrine; for which reason their names did no longer belong among the pious.  See last mentioned chapter verse 16.

After these followed many who in the days of John went out from the Church of Jesus Christ, and did the works of antichrist; therefore they were called antichrists, being forerunners of the great antichrist who was to follow afterwards.  See 1 John 2:18,19.  Besides these who arose already in the time of the apostles, and went out from the holy congregation of God, many others, who can not all be mentioned, followed in all ages and will follow to the last days.

Of this the apostles prophesied when their departure was near at hand, and warned the believers of their coming.

When Paul knew and was fully assured through the revelation of the Holy Spirit that all those among whom he had traveled preaching the Gospel would see his face no more, he thus addressed, on the island of Miletus, the elders of the church of Ephesus, who had come to him: I know, beloved brethren, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.  Acts 20:29–31.

Afterwards when he was in the city of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana, he wrote in a certain letter to his beloved friend Timothy, concerning the apostasy which should be through some in the latter times, thus: “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats.”  1 Tim. 4:1–3.

Who these apostates were that, in many instances, have forbidden marriage and meats it is unnecessary to point out, since the truth of the matter is clear and manifest to almost every one.

But at the close of his life, when he was imprisoned at Rome the second time, and had already received his sentence of death, namely, to be executed with the sword, for the name of the Lord, he once more renewed the foregoing to his friend and spiritual son Timothy, in order that he might never forget it, but also put the church, where he was a teacher, in remembrance of it with these words: “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it.”  2 Tim. 3:1–5.

Continually, he adds this declaration for further instruction: “The time will come when they” (namely, certain members of the Christian church) “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  2 Tim. 4:3,4.

In like manner, Peter also, as his departure drew close, expressly prophesied to the chosen strangers scattered abroad: That, as there were, in times past, false prophets among the people (Israel), there should also be false teachers among (or out of) them, who should privily bring in pernicious heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them.  2 Peter 2:1.

It would require too much time to recount what also John says on this subject, not only in his epistles, but especially in his revelation; since he gives a description of the condition of both the church of Christ and of antichrist, from his time to the end of the world.

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Of The Evil Succession Of The Roman Church, Consisting Only In The Succession Of The Persons, And Not Of The Doctrine.

Here is to be considered the great error of the Romanists, when they without regarding the true succession of the doctrine build on, and parade the succession of the persons, who either from the beginning of the world, or from the time of the apostles have existed throughout, as they pretend up to the present time; surely a very insignificant matter!*
For, if they reckon from the beginning of the world, we have shown that Cain, who was a murderer, has had his successors as well as Abel, who was slain for the sake of his faith and godliness.

And also, if they reckon from the time of the apostles, we have demonstrated that at that time already there were many apostates, yes, adversaries of the Christian religion and the true worship of God; and that more have followed, according to the prophecies and predictions which the holy apostles uttered and left to posterity.

Therefore it follows, that neither the antiquity, nor the long or great succession of persons, can assure the truth of any religion or church, since the evil is as ancient as the good, and the erring spirits and evil doers have had, and still have, as great a succession as the true believers and good; unless the antiquity, and the succession of persons be accompanied with the divine truth and piety possessed by the upright ancients in the beginning.

OBJECTION OF THE PAPISTS, BY MEANS OF THREE PASSAGES.

But, in order to maintain the aforementioned succession, the Papists are accustomed to say that they do not reckon the same from the antiquity of some erring spirits who were before, in, or after the time of the apostles; but from the church of Christ itself, and from Peter, whom they styled the prince of the apostles, upon whom Christ himself, as they asserted, wished to build his church.  Bell. lib. 1. de pont Rom. cap. 10.  Quansuys ex.

To this they add as a second argument, that to him, and no other, were given, by Christ, the keys of heaven, to open or to close the same according to his pleasure.

And, thirdly, that the Lord thrice commanded him—more than the other apostles—to feed his flock, that is, his church.

Moreover, that he occupied the Roman throne, and that the popes succeeded him in this.

To prove this supremacy of Peter, and, consequently, the succession of the popes in his place, they have, for a long time already, misused three passages of holy Scripture, namely Mat. 16:18,19; and John 21:15–17; to which we will reply in the following.

REPLY TO THE FIRST PASSAGE.

Matt. 16:18, the Lord says: “Upon this rock I will build my church.”

The error of the Romanists consists in this, that they misinterpret the word petra, as though by it was meant the apostle Peter; but this is a great and palpable error.  For the Lord there plainly distinguishes between the name Petros (Peter) and the word petra (rock); saying immediately before: “You are Peter,” but afterwards: “and upon this rock;” upon which follows: “I will build my church;” so that the Lord does not promise there, to build his church upon Peter, but upon the rock; which he plainly mentions.

Now it will depend upon the true meaning—who and what is to be understood by this rock.  Some maintain the first mentioned meaning, which we have refuted just now, namely, that Peter himself is meant by it; for which purpose they misapply the passage John 1:42, where this apostle is called Cephas,* which, in their opinion, signifies a foundation stone; but this is also an error.
It is true that, according to the explanation of orientalists, those versed in oriental languages, by this word there is to be understood a stone; but what kind of a stone?  Not a foundation stone, but a piece, corner, or chip of a stone, upon which no building could ever be founded.  The word Cephas, they say, is derived from the Hebrew word Keph, which with them means a corner or edge of a stone; while, on the other hand, the rocks or foundation stones are designated by the name Sela or Zur, according to Deut. 32:13.  Thus Peter is indeed called a stone in holy Scripture, yet not a foundation stone, but only such a one as is generally built upon a foundation.  Christ is properly the foundation stone, as Peter himself declares, when he calls Christ the living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious (1 Peter 2:4); whereupon he adduces the words of the Prophet Isaiah, saying: “Therefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him” (that is builds upon him through faith) “shall not be confounded.”  1 Peter 2:6 from Isa. 28:16.

Therefore he admonishes the believers, to build themselves, as living stones, to a spiritual house, upon the foundation which is laid—Christ.  Verse 5.

Paul confirms this, when he says: “No other foundation can any man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. 3:11.  In another place he calls him the foundation of the apostles and prophets, etc.  (namely, upon whom the apostles and prophets themselves were built up, and upon whom they, through their doctrine, built up others also); for he adds: “In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Eph. 2:20–22.

It is not inconsistent with this, that the twelve apostles, of whom Peter was one, are called twelve foundation stones,* upon which, as John says, the city of God, that descended from heaven, was built.  Rev. 21:14.  For, even if it were admitted that by the words, city of God, in this place, there is to be understood the church of God here on earth, this would only prove that Peter, as well as the other apostles, was one of the twelve foundation stones of the church of Christ; which by no means confirms the proposed objection, that Peter alone is the foundation stone, or foundation, of the church.
Again, the word “foundation stones” here does not signify the foundation itself, since, properly speaking, in nature, the foundation, as the ground or bottom of a building, is something different from the stones built upon it, which are called foundation stones; for, upon the ground or bottom the foundation-stones are laid, and upon the foundation-stones the building; so that the ground of foundation must support both, the foundation-stones and the building.  Thus, Christ is the ground, bottom, or foundation of his church; the apostles, through their doctrine, are the foundation-stones; and the church is the building erected upon these foundation-stones and the foundation.  It stands fast, therefore, that they err, who make Peter the only foundation of the church of Christ, and that, consequently the building which they erect thereon, is erroneous and false.*

REPLY TO THE SECOND PASSAGE.

The second passage is taken from Mat. 16:19: “And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

But this does not in the least tend to prove that church discipline or the power of expelling from, and re-admitting unto the church, was given, among the apostles, to Peter alone, and to no other of the twelve; for in verse 13 it is written: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” Whereupon it is related, that Peter (in the name of all) answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Then follows, verse 19: “I will give unto you the keys,” etc., which promise, though addressed specially to Peter, extended to all the apostles in general, since the Lord did not ask Peter alone, but the whole of them collectively; upon which, when he (Peter) had answered in the name of all, followed the above mentioned promise.

This is explained still further by the holy evangelist John, who says, chap. 20:19,22,23, that Christ, after his resurrection, standing in the midst of his disciples, breathed on them all, and said: “Receive you the Holy Spirit,” adding: “Whosesoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins you retain, they are retained;” which words are of equal importance with those just quoted from Matthew, concerning the giving of the keys.

Moreover, that the church also has received this power, is expressed in words not obscure at all in Mat. 18:17,18: If he (the sinner) neglect to hear the church, let him be unto you as a heathen man and a tax collector.  Truly I say unto you, whatsoever you (understand, according to the sentence of the church, which is here spoken of) shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Who doubts that these are the express words which were previously addressed to Peter, but, of course, are intended for all the apostles, and here for the whole church?

We see that the Corinthian church, at the time of Paul, possessed the right of expelling and readmitting, called binding and loosing; for, touching the expulsion of the sinner, it was said to them: “Purge out therefore the old leaven” (namely, the obstinate sinner), etc.  1 Cor. 5:7.  Again: “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”  Verse 13.

Concerning the readmittance of the one who manifested penitence, they are commanded: “Sufficient to such a man (namely, who repents of his sins) is this punishment (that is, the expulsion from the church) which was inflicted of many.  So that contrariwise you ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”  2 Cor. 2:6,7.

Besides, that this power of binding and loosing was not given to Peter alone, but to all the apostles, and also to the church, it is entirely different in its nature from that of which the pope of Rome as the imaginary successor of Peter boasts.  For the power of which Christ spoke, must be limited by the rule of his word, Mat. 7:24,26; Gal. 1:6–8; while on the contrary the power of which the pope boasts is unlimited, has no rule, and extends as far as his pleasure.  Bald. in cap. Eccles.  Also, dist. 40. cap. S. Papae, etc.

It follows then, that to the pope is attributed wrongfully a power which was not given to Peter himself; moreover, that the power which was given him, was common to all the apostles, and also to the church.

REPLY TO THE THIRD PASSAGE.

The third passage (or argument) is taken from John 21:15–17, where the Lord asked Peter three times, whether he loved him, and Peter answered each time: “Yes, Lord, I love you;” to which the Lord replied, three times: “Feed my lambs;”  “Watch my sheep,” etc.

Some among the Papists, in order to maintain the supremacy of Peter and, consequently, that of the popes of Rome, have so strained these words, that a certain celebrated author among them did not hesitate to write, that Peter is here appointed a ruler, watchman, and pastor, not only over the church, but over the apostles themselves.  Bell. lib. I. de Pont. Rom. cap. 14. & 15. 16.  Second. S. Velt. etc.

But herein they do violence to the text, since various arguments from the holy Scriptures overthrow this view.  For, in the first place, it is certain that at that time Peter had greatly and grievously gone astray, more than any of the other apostles; since he, contrary to warning and his own solemn promise, had so faithlessly denied, yes, entirely forsaken, the Lord; therefore, there is no probability that the Lord exalted him above all the others, and appointed him ruler over them; which would be altogether incompatible with the justice of Christ, and the nature of the case.

In the second place it would not accord with what the Lord had taught his apostles in general, on a previous occasion, when a strife had arisen among them, as to which of them, after his departure, should be the greatest; saying: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that does serve.  Luke 22:25,26.  Again: “Neither be called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”  Mat. 23:8,10.

In the third place, if we examine the proposed argument, we shall find that neither the threefold question of the Lord: Do you love me?  Nor his threefold injunction: “Feed, or watch, my lambs, and sheep,” was directed to Peter any more than to the other apostles.

For, as regards the question, Do you love me?  What does it signify more than that Peter should examine himself, whether he did love Christ?  Very well.  What, then, had Peter more than any of the other apostles or than Paul afterwards had?  Who said: “For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Rom. 8:38,39.  Again: “The love of Christ constrains us;” etc.  2 Cor. 5:14.  Yes, every Christian in particular, and all in general, are bound to this love, which is so necessary, that it is written: “If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha.”  1 Cor. 16:22.

Concerning the injunction, Watch, or feed, my lambs and sheep, this is also enjoined upon all true teachers.  “Take heed therefore,” says Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.”  Acts 20:28.

Peter, moreover, has, in this respect, not placed himself above, but beside his fellow ministers, when he, exhorting them, says: “The elders which are among you I exhort, which am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ.  . . . Feed the flock of God which is among you,” etc.  1 Peter 5:1,2.

This is further confirmed by the fact, that the Lord did not command Peter only, but all the apostles in general, to go into all the world, to preach and baptize the believers.  Mat. 28:18–20; Mark 16:15,16.

Again, he said to them all: “You shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”  Acts 1:8.

It follows therefore, that in the matter of watching over, and feeding, the sheep of Christ, that is, in preaching the holy Gospel, and taking care of the church of Christ, Peter possessed no more authority, power, and distinction than the other apostles and apostolic teachers.

It now remains to give a solution, why the Lord thrice asked Peter alone, and none of the others, whether he loved him, and thrice commanded him to feed his sheep.

To this we reply: since Peter only a short time before had thrice forsaken the Lord, it was not more than right, that he should also confess thrice that he loved him whom he had forsaken; and that, therefore, this question should be put to him three times.

Besides, since Peter, by his denial had entirely abandoned, or, at least, had become totally unworthy of his office of teaching and feeding the church of Christ, none of the other apostles would, under any consideration, have recognized or received him in this; therefore it was necessary, that the Lord himself should earnestly, yes thrice, charge him with it, so that no one might come to doubt the worthiness of his person (since he was now converted), or the validity of his office.

Thence follows again the absurdity of those who make the matter in question say more than the Lord himself has done: namely, that Peter hereby was not reinstated into his office, which he had abandoned; but that he was appointed head of the whole church, yes, even over all the other apostles; as can be seen in lib. I. de pont. Rom. cap. 11. Bellorm.

THE GROUNDLESSNESS [OF THE ALLEGATIONS] OF THOSE WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO DEDUCE THE ROMAN SUCCESSION FROM PETER, THE HOLY APOSTLE, AND WHEREIN THIS CONSISTS.

Besides that the three proposed passages are of no use to the papists in proving the supremacy of Peter over the other apostles and the whole Christian church, there follow various reasons and circumstances which show clearly, that the succession of the popes, which they would deduce from Peter, cannot stand, but is unfounded and untrue.

For, to come to the point, it cannot be shown that Peter was ever at Rome, (where the seat of the pope is placed), except at the close of his life, and then he was not received as pope, but was put to death as a martyr, with Paul, his fellow apostle, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, as we have circumstantially shown in the History of the Holy Martyrs, of the year 69 A.D.  Also, Egesipp. Hist. van de verstoring Jerusalem, 3. Bock, 2 cap.  Also, W. Band. Apopth. Christian, lib. 1. ex Hieron. de vitis illustribus.  Johan. Strac. in festo Johan. Evang. etc.

Eusebius quotes from Dionysius, a teacher of the church at Corinth, concerning the coming of Paul and Peter to Rome, as also concerning their preaching, which was the cause of their death, these words: They (namely Paul and Peter) were both together in our congregation at Corinth, teaching (from) there (on) throughout all Italy; they taught also in this city (namely, Rome, of which he had first spoken); where they both were crowned martyrs at the same time.  Euseb. Pamph. Chron. Eccl. Edition of 1588 lib. 2. cap. 25.

He speaks of Peter’s coming to, and preaching at, Rome, even as if having taken place at the close of his life; and although he puts Paul’s coming and preaching in the same time, Paul’s coming to this city, nevertheless, happened much earlier than the coming of Peter, which took place shortly before their death; in which time both together preached the holy Gospel in that city.

That Paul was there much earlier and longer, appears from all the circumstances of the Acts of the apostles; for while Peter was preaching at Cesarea, Antioch, Jerusalem, and in other places, Paul was brought to Rome, and, having arrived there, “dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”  Here the account of the Acts of the Apostles ends, without mentioning anything further of Peter.  See Acts 28:30,31.

VARIOUS ARGUMENTS FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, SHOWING THAT PETER WAS NOT AT ROME DURING THE TIME PAUL WAS THERE, EXCEPT (AS HAS BEEN EXPLAINED ABOVE) AT THE CLOSE OF HIS LIFE.

In this demonstration we shall forego the method employed by Sebastian Frank, Gysius, and others, who have written syllogistically upon this subject, and shall confine ourselves solely to the express testimony of (or, at least, plain inferences from) Holy Scripture, upon which we propose to found our arguments.

Reason.First Argument.—When Paul drew near the city of Rome, where he was to be arraigned before Caesar, the brethren* came out of the city to meet him, as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns, whom, when Paul saw, he took courage.  Acts 28:15.  But among these Peter is not once mentioned, which would undoubtedly have been the case, had he been with them and occupied the episcopal throne at that place, as is pretended.

Second Argument.—When it came to pass, that Paul was to give an account before the emperor for the first time, he was forsaken by all, and no man stood with him, so that he complained of it to Timothy.  2 Tim. 4:16.  Now, if Peter had been at Rome, he certainly would not have forsaken Paul, whom he was wont to call his beloved brother, 2 Peter 3:15; but would have stood by him with counsel and actual assistance, according to his ability.  This, however did not happen; which clearly shows that he was not there at that time; unless some one might conclude, that he, who before had forsaken his Lord and Savior (which was a matter of much consequence), now probably also forsook Paul, who was inferior.

To this may serve as reply: That Peter, at the time he forsook Christ, was not filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was not poured upon the apostles until after Christ’s ascension, Acts 2:1–3; therefore he could easily come to this fall; but now, being filled with the Holy Spirit,* it was quite otherwise, so much so, that he and his fellow apostles feared no suffering, not even death itself.  Compare Acts 4:19–21 with 5:40–42 and 12:3,4.  Also 1 Peter 3:14 and 4:16.

Moreover, in Paul’s complaint to Timothy not a word is mentioned as to Peter having forsaken him; which, had it happened, would certainly, as a notable matter, not have been passed over in silence; more especially, as he mentions some of those who forsook him, by name, as, Demas, Alexander the coppersmith, etc.

Third Argument.—When Paul was confined in prison at Rome, and bound in chains, he commended Onesiphorus, because he had visited him, and was not ashamed of his chain; without mentioning anything about others, saying: “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.  2 Tim. 1:16.

But why does he not commend Peter as having visited him in his bonds?  or, if Peter was there and did not do so, but was ashamed of his chain, why does he not complain, that so great a man, who ought to have had been a leader unto others, was so negligent in this?

Doubtless, if Peter had been in the city at that time, and visited, or not visited, him in prison, Paul would not have passed it over in utter silence, without commending or complaining of it.

Fourth Argument.—When many had departed from Paul, while he was in prison, he made mention of one who had remained by, or with, him, namely, in the city of Rome.  He calls him Luke, and says: Only Luke is with (or by) me.  2 Tim. 4:11.  It follows, therefore, that at the time when Paul wrote this, Peter was not at Rome, or it could not have been that only Luke was with him.

Fifth Argument.—A little further on from the above mentioned words, Paul requests of Timothy, that when he came to him, he should bring Mark with him, since the same would be very profitable to him for his ministry, saying: Take Mark, and bring him with you (when you come): for he is profitable to me for the ministry.  2 Tim. 4:11.

Now, if Peter was in Rome at that time, why was Paul under the necessity of sending for Mark for the ministry?  or, if he was not there, why did he not send for Peter?  Certainly, if he had sent for him, he would, unless prevented by some important cause, not have refused to come: and then it could be concluded, that Peter was there a considerable time, since, as we find, they both died considerable time afterwards.

But it does not appear that Paul sent for him; therefore, it cannot be concluded, that he came in answer to his summons; and even if he had come at that time, his stay there could not have lasted several years, much less twenty-five years, as the papists say, since death overtook him as well as Paul, as has been shown in its proper place.  The preparation, however, of this whole argument is unnecessary and superfluous.

Sixth Argument.—Paul wrote various epistles from his prison at Rome to the believers; as to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, to Timothy, Philemon, etc., in which he puts various salutations from believers of the church at Rome, as also, in the beginning of the same makes mention sometimes of his fellow laborers; but he never mentions Peter.  We will show here the manner in which this is done.

In the beginning of the epistle to the Philippians he writes these words: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ.  Now, why does he not add here: and Simon Peter?

Nearly in the same manner he commences the epistle to the Colossians, saying: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus, our brother.”  Why does he not add: and Peter, the chief apostle?

In concluding these epistles he adds the salutations of the saints who were with him.  To the Philippians he writes: “All the saints salute you . . . chiefly they that are of Cæsar’s household.”  Phil. 4:21,22.  To the Colossians he addresses these words: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you.”  Col. 4:12.  Also: Luke, the physician, greets you.  Verse 14.

Peter is not mentioned here at all, which, certainly, had he been there, would have been highly necessary.

This same manner he followed in all the other epistles which he wrote from Rome.  To Timothy he says: “Eubulus greets you, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia.”  2 Tim. 4:21.

To Philemon: “There salute you Epaphras . . . Marcus, Aristarchus.”  Phil. 23,24.

There might be much said upon this subject, but it would all amount to this: that it would be a strange thing, if Peter was at Rome, when Paul wrote his epistles from the Roman prison, that the latter did never mention in these epistles a salutation from Peter (which, as has been shown, he did not); seeing he mentions salutations from different leaders and members of the Roman church, whom he calls by name: therefore it is quite reasonable to conclude, that Peter was not there during that time.

Besides the six arguments mentioned, proving that during the time Paul was imprisoned under Nero, Peter was not at Rome, as far as the testimony of Holy Scriptures go in regard to this, there follow various circumstances showing (by like virtue of Holy Scripture), that also during the time Paul was out of prison, Peter was not to be found in this city.

First Circumstance.—Here is to be considered, why Paul wrote an epistle to the Roman church, as well for the confirmation of the Christian faith, as for stirring up in the moral virtues (which epistle is still in existence), if Peter was there at that time, and had the charge of said church?  or, if it was necessary for important reasons, that he should write to them, why he did not send this epistle to Peter as their leader, like he did to Timothy, the teacher of the Ephesian church; and to Titus, the teacher of the church in the Island of Crete?

Or, at least, if we look at the contents of this epistle, we may well consider, why he did not address a salutation to him, or once mention him by name?  Seeing he filled nearly a whole chapter with the names of those whom he salutes at Rome: as, Aquila with his wife Priscilla, Epenetus and Mary, together with Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Apelles, Herodion, those of the household of Narcissus (the women), Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Philologus, Nereus, etc., Rom. 16 throughout; without mentioning in any way whatever the person or name of Peter; from which there may be concluded again with good reason, that which has been concluded before from the account of the salutations which Paul wrote while in prison at Rome, namely, that Peter was not in this city at that time?

Second Circumstance.—When it afterwards happened that Paul, having traveled through Arabia and the country of Damascus, returned after three years, with a particular desire to see Peter; he did not seek him at Rome, but at Jerusalem; where, when he had found him, he abode with him fifteen days; and then departed again into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  Gal. 1:17–21.

Third Circumstance.—When fourteen more years had elapsed, namely, those spent by Paul in his Syrian and Cilician journey, where was Peter to be found?  Certainly not at Rome, but at Antioch; for there Paul came to him, and rebuked him, because he had eaten with the Gentiles in the presence of the Jews.  Compare Gal. 2:1 with verses 11,12.

Fourth Circumstance.—When some came down from Judea, and troubled the brethren, saying that, unless they were circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved; and Paul, Barnabas, and other pious men were sent to the apostles and elders, to consult about the matter; Peter as well as the others to whom they were sent, was found at Jerusalem.  Acts 15:1–7.

Fifth Circumstance.—Gal. 2:7, we read that the uncircumcision (that is, the Gentiles) was committed to Paul, but the circumcision (that is, the Jews or the Jewish nation) to Peter; also, verse 9, that Peter (there called Cephas) together with James and John gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hand and agreed, that these should go unto the heathen, but they unto the circumcision (the Jews); namely, to preach the Gospel unto them.

It is, therefore, a settled fact, that Peter was properly a teacher of the Jews (after this agreement was made), and not of the Gentiles.  But if he had taught among the Romans, who were Gentiles by nature, he would have gone altogether beyond his engagement and promise; which certainly is not to be supposed of so great and eminent a man as Peter was at that time.

Sixth Circumstance.—From the two epistles of Peter, especially from the words, 1 Peter 1:1, it evidently appears, that he preached to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (namely those who were scattered there from the twelve tribes of Israel, according to the statement of James, chap. 1:1); for which preaching, since these countries are very far, some even a hundred and more leagues apart, several years were required, in order to travel through them; during which time Peter apparently could not be there and at Rome at once; this is incontrovertible.

Seventh Circumstance.—At the end of the first epistle of Peter, namely 1 Peter 5:13, are these words: “The church that is at Babylon, elected . . . salutes you.”

How could Peter send a salutation from the church at Babylon, unless he was with it in Babylon at that time?  But if he was in Babylon, he was not at Rome, unless he had two bodies; of which we do not read anything, nor have we any reason to believe it.

Eighth Circumstance.—Those who hold that Peter was bishop at Rome, make no distinction between the words apostle, or messenger, and bishop, or overseer; yet there always has been a marked difference between the office of an apostle and that of a bishop.

The office of an apostle was to travel from one country to another, yes, through the whole world, and preach the Gospel to those who had not yet heard it; without being bound to any particular place or church, as appears from Mat. 28:19; Mark 16:15.

On the other hand, the office of an overseer was to watch over, care for, feed and govern, as a shepherd his flock, a particular church, unto which the Gospel had been already preached, and which had accepted faith and the sign of holy baptism.  Compare Acts 20:28 with 1 Tim. 3:1–5; Tit. 1:5–7.

Now, it is a fact, that properly not the latter, but the former office was enjoined upon Peter, for he gives himself the first mentioned name—apostle (see 1 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 1:1); for which purpose Christ himself had chosen him, Luke 6:13,14, and sent him out, as can plainly be seen in the last chapter of Matthew and of Mark.

How could it be then, that Peter sat as bishop of the church in the city of Rome?  And, what is still more—for a considerable number of years!  unless it be said that Peter abandoned his charge, and accepted another office and ministry than the one to which he was called; which it would be difficult to prove, since nothing is mentioned of it in Holy Writ.

Further Remarks on the foregoing circumstances—If one should confine himself solely to the testimony of the holy Scriptures, not accepting anything else as worthy of belief, it could in no way be shown that Peter was ever at Rome; but, since the holy Scriptures do not relate all that has happened, the testimony of some accepted authors of that time may be recognized as credible, as far as their testimony is not contrary to what is expressed in holy Scripture.

We have shown from the apostolic writings, that during the time Paul wrote his epistles in the prison at Rome, and also during the whole period that he (Peter) was preaching in foreign countries, Peter was not in Rome, but in Jerusalem, Antioch, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and in other places where the Jews were scattered.  This we have plainly shown, first by six arguments, and then by eight circumstances, derived from the holy Scriptures.  But as to where Peter was, or how he died, after Paul wrote his last epistle from Rome, the Scriptures are silent.

Therefore the testimony of those writers whom we have just mentioned cannot well be contradicted; who maintain that Peter shortly before his death came to Rome, and there laid down his life for the doctrine of the Evangelical truth; without mentioning anything there about his bishopric, much less, popedom.

DISCORDANCE OF PAPISTIC WRITERS.  1. WHETHER PETER WAS AT ROME.  2. HOW LONG HE WAS BISHOP THERE.  3. WHO FOLLOWED HIM.

The common tenet of the papists is that Peter sat as the chief bishop upon the Roman throne; yet the authors whom they adduce for this purpose greatly differ.  For, as respects his arrival in that city, some fix it in the year 41 after Christ; others in the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Claudius; others in the second year of this same Claudius; others in the fourth year; others in the beginning of the reign of Nero; others in the fourteenth year after Paul’s conversion, etc., as is noted in Ireneus, Orosius, Damasus, Hornantius, Th. Aquinus, The Lives of the Saints, etc.

Concerning the length of time he was bishop, there is not less disagreement; as also in regard to how long he was absent from his bishopric sojourning in other places.  Cortesius writes of eighteen years, Onuphrius of seven years; but the general opinion among them is, that he sat twenty-five years upon the chair governing their church; although some flatly oppose it.  See the last mentioned three authors.

Touching the person who succeeded him in his bishopric, there is much confusion and uncertainty in what is said concerning this subject.  Some write that Clemens succeeded Peter; as Septimus Florens Tert.; others, that Linus followed him; as Ireneus, Eusebius, Epiphan., etc., De Praes 32.  1. Contr. Jov.; others, that Linus discharged Peter’s office two years before the death of the latter; as Damasus, etc.; others, that Peter ordered that Clemens should succeed after the death of Linus; In Pontific. Petr. etc., Clem. in Epist. ad Jacobum, etc.; others, that the chair of Peter was vacant while Linus and Cletus lived, Clemens, who was ordained by Peter as his successor, not being willing, as they say, to occupy the chair in their lifetime; which is testified to by Bellarminus; others that Linus occupied the chair eleven years after Peter’s death; see Eusebius; others, that Linus died before Peter, and, consequently was not his successor in the bishopric; see Turrianus, Sophronius, etc.; others, that Anacletus succeeded Peter, and Clemens, Anacletus.  See Homil. de Agon.  Peter and Paul.  In Chron. in Anno Clem.; others, finally, that Peter and Linus were bishops simultaneously in the city of Rome; yet so, that Peter was the superior, and Linus, the inferior bishop.  See Ruffinus, Sabellicus, Turrianus, In vita Petri.

OF THE RISE OF THE POPES AFTER THE YEAR 606, AS ALSO OF THE INTERRUPTION OF THE SUCCESSION OF THE SAME.

Besides, that in the first three centuries after the death of the apostles, nothing was known in the Roman church, as regards rulers of the same, but common bishops or overseers, until the time of Constantine the Great, and from that time on to the year 600, only archbishops and patriarchs, but no popes, till after the year 606, when, by the power of the Emperor Phocas, the Roman Bishop Boniface III. was declared and established the general head and supreme ruler of the whole church;—the succession also of the following popes was interrupted by many important occurrences, with respect to the manner of the papal election as well as to the doctrine and the life of the popes themselves, as also with regard to various circumstances pertaining to these matters.  Of this an account shall presently be given.

Note.—Besides what we have mentioned in our account of holy baptism, for the year 606, of the rise and establishment of the Roman pope, there is also found, concerning the cause of the same (in the Chronijk van den Ondergang der Tyrannen, edition of 1617, book VII., page 211, col. 2), this annotation: When the patriarch at Constantinople reproved the Emperor Phocas for the shameful murder he had committed, or would not consent to, or remit it, while the bishop of Rome winked at, or excused this wicked deed, the Emperor Phocas, in his displeasure, deprived the church of Constantinople of the title, Head of Christendom, and, at the request of Boniface III., conferred it upon the Roman church; which was done amidst great contentions, for the eastern churches could not well consent to it, that the see of Rome should be considered by everybody, and everywhere, as the head and the supreme (of the) church.  Compare this with Platinae Reg.  Pap. fol. 123; Fasc. Temp. fol. 122; Pol. Virgil, lib. 4. cap. 10; Hist. Georg. lib. 4; Conrad. Oclutar. fol. 15; Tract, called, Ouden en Nieuwen Godt. lib. 1; M. Zanchij Tract. Pap. fol. 41; Zeg. Chron. Rom. Pap. fol 132.

OF THE ELECTION OF THE POPE; AND OF SUCH AS HAVE USURPED THE CHAIR.

In the introduction to the Martyrs Mirror (edition of 1631, fol. 25, 26, 27) mention is made from Cardinal Baronius (we have looked into his history, and found it to be so at the place referred to), of various popes who ran of themselves, without lawful election or mission; and also of some who usurped the chair, without the consent of the church, merely by the power of princes and potentates.

Among the popes who, without lawful election or mission, ran of themselves, are numbered Stephen VII., Christopher, and Sergius III., with whom it was as follows:

Stephen VII. expelled Boniface VI. by force from the Roman see, after the death of Formosus; and afterwards committed an abominable deed on the dead body of said Formosus, who was counted a lawful and good pope; which deed the Cardinal C.  Baronius describes from Luytprandus and others as follows:

“In this same year was perpetrated the great wickedness which Luytprandus and others relate, but incorrectly by Sergius; since the acts of the aforementioned Synod under Pope John IX., to which doubtless more credence is to be given, impute it to the then existing pope, Stephen IX.

He caused the dead body of Formosus to be exhumed, and placed it on the pope’s throne, dressed in all his papal robes; whereupon he upbraided Formosus, as though he were alive, that he, through great ambition, had come from the chair of Porto into that of Rome; anathematized him on this account, had the dead body stripped of all the robes, as also the three fingers with which Formosus according to custom used to ordain, cut off from the same, and thus thrown into the Tiber.  Besides this he deposed all those who had been ordained by Formosus, and re-ordained them; all of which he did from pure madness.”  See C. Baron. Histor. Eccl. Anno 897. num. 1. 2.

After this the same Baronius relates of Christophorus, who also thrust himself into the papal chair, the following:

“Further, in the following year of Christ . . . in the tenth indiction,* Pope Benedict died, and was buried in St. Peter’s church.  In his place succeeded Leo, the fifth of this name, a native of Ardea, who held the chair only forty days, being expelled and imprisoned after that by Christophorus, who himself occupied the chair after him.”  Baron. Ann. 906, 907. num. 2.

The aforementioned Christophorus, who had expelled his predecessor, Leo V., from the chair, and taken possession of it himself, was, in his turn, robbed of the occupancy of the chair by another, called Sergius III., who was ambitious of the same dominion; which Sergius, although he attained to the papal dignity, without being elected or called, yes, more than that, was, according to the testimony of the papists themselves, fearfully tyrannical and unchaste, is nevertheless recorded with the aforementioned upon the Register of the legitimate popes of Rome.  See Baron. Ann. 907. num. 2., Ann.  908. num. 3.

In the midst of this account this papistic writer declares, that these were the dreadful times when every self-constituted pope immediately nullified that which his predecessor had made.  Ann.  908. num. 2.

Confirmatory of this matter is also that which is adduced in the “Chronijk van den Ondergang,” edition 1617, for the year 891, page 315. col. 1. 2. from the tract of “Den Onpartijdigen Rechter.”

If one will but consider, says this writer, the spiritual or ecclesiastical perfidiousness and rebelliousness of the popes, he will find in ancient history, that the Roman popes have at all times quarreled and contended with one another for the papal chair.

Thus John XXIV., having come to Bononia with many soldiers, threatened all the cardinals severely, if they would elect a pope who would not please him.  When many had been nominated to him, and he would assent to none of them, he was finally requested to state whom he would elect for this.  He replied: “Give me Peter’s robe, and I shall deliver it to the future pope.”  But, when that was done, he put the robe upon his own shoulders, saying: “I am the pope.”  And though this greatly displeased the other cardinals, they were nevertheless compelled to acquiesce in it.

In the same manner John XXII. elected himself pope when the election was committed to him.  See 9th book of the above mentioned chronicle, for the year 891, at the place there referred to.

Note.—In addition to what has been stated in the body [of this work] concerning the popes who exalted themselves to the papal reign, it is also proper to give what may be read in the “Chronijk van den Ondergang der Tyrannen,” for the year 537, where the popedom of Vigilius is thus spoken of: “This Pope Vigilius was certainly impelled by the spirit of ambition; he greatly aspired to the popedom, and wrongfully ascended the papal chair, for he counseled the empress, how to expel Pope Silverius.  He engaged false witnesses, who said that Silverius intended to betray the city of Rome secretly, and surrender it to the Goths (of which we shall afterwards speak more fully); therefore he was deposed from the popedom by force, and relegated into misery; and thus Vigilius six days afterwards became pope.  The Empress Theodora desired him to reinstate Anthenius at Constantinople, as he had promised to do; but Vigilius refused, saying that one was not bound to keep a bad promise against one’s conscience.”  Compared with the account of Platina, in his “Panselijk Register,” fol. 110.  Also, Chron. Fasci.  Temp. fol. 117.

OF SOME WHO ATTAINED POSSESSION OF THE ROMAN CHAIR THROUGH SECULAR POWER AND OTHER UNGODLY MEANS.

There is, moreover, mention made of another kind of popes, who attained possession of the Roman chair, not properly through themselves, inasmuch as they were too weak, but through the power of princes and potentates, yes, even through the Arians.  Among these are particularly numbered the two popes named Felix, both of whom were exalted to papal dignity, and put in their office by Arian Kings, who ruled Italy, and, consequently, also the city of Rome; the one by Constantius,* the other by Theodoric, both of whom belonged to the Arian sect.  Caes.  Bar. Ann.  526. num. 2.

But quite the contrary happened when pope Silverius was reputed to favor the Goths, who sided with the Arians.  Prince Belizarius deposed him, and sent him away into Greece, putting Vigilius in his stead as pope.  According to the testimony of Procopius.  Ann.  538. num. 2.

After Vigilius, Pelagius was declared pope by two bishops only, and one from Ostien,* through the favor and assistance of the emperor Justinian; notwithstanding, as Anastasius says, the bad suspicion of having caused the death of the previous Pope Vigilius, rested on him; for which reason none of the other ecclesiastics, no, not even the laity, would have communion or anything to do with him.  Ann.  555. num. 2.

OF THE DREADFUL TIME, CALLED BY THE PAPISTS THE IRON AND LEADEN CENTURY, WHICH WAS WITH RESPECT TO THE ELECTION OF THE POPES.

The oftmentioned cardinal Cæsar Baronius, proceeding in his account of the Register of the Popes, arrives at the year 901, the beginning of the tenth century, where he bursts out, as if with sorrow, calling this time hard, unfruitful, and productive of much evil; and comparing it to an iron and leaden century, full of wickedness and darkness, particularly in respect to the great irregularity practiced in the installing and deposing of the Roman popes; which was done partly by the Roman princes, partly by the princes of Tuscany, who, now this one, then that one, usurped the authority to elect the popes, and to dethrone them; which happened in such a manner that all the preceding abuses committed with reference to the Roman chair were mere child’s play in comparison with it.

For now, as Baronius writes, many monsters were thrust into this chair as popes; which continued throughout this whole century, yes, for a hundred and fifty years, namely from the year 900 to about the year 1049, when the German Ottoes, who occupied the imperial throne, interposed between both, although they, not less than their predecessors, retained as their prerogative the right of electing and rejecting the popes.  Baron. Ann. 901. num. 1.

The same cardinal relates that in these awful and terrible times some popes attained to the popedom not only by the power of princes and potentates, but through the foolish love of certain dishonorable and loose women, by whom Rome was ruled; which we could in no way believe, had not so eminent a man and rigid papist, as Baronius was, described it so plainly and circumstantially.  See in Baronius’ Church History, printed at Antwerp 1623, for the year 912. num. 1; also 928. num. 1; also 931. num. 1.

Our soul is amazed, and we are ashamed to relate all that is adduced there from various papistic writers, concerning the election of some of the popes.

O God!  open the eyes of these blind lovers of papacy, that they may see, what succession it is, of which they have so long boasted in vain; so that they may truly turn to you and your church, and be saved!

Note.—With respect to this matter, the writer of the Introduction to the Martyrs Mirror, of the year 1831, says: “After that arose a time far more horrible, etc., for the margraves of Tuscany, and after them the emperors, exercised so much violence with reference to the papal chair, that they thrust into it many monsters; among whom was John X., who was thrust into the chair by Theodora, mistress of Rome, while Lando was de