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.

 

SECOND PART

Covering from A.D. 1500 to 1660.

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 1 April, 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, via the Mennonite Library and Archives, 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 1500 to 1660.

 

May this book be a blessing to you.

 

Bruce Armstrong

Central Highlands Congregation of God

 

 

Contents

Publisher’s Preface

SECOND PART.

To my beloved Friends and Fellow-Believers in Christ Jesus our Savior.

Preface to Second Part.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

Confession of Faith, According to the Holy Word of God.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

ENLARGED AND IMPROVED FROM VARIOUS CREDIBLE CHRONICLES, MEMOIRS, TESTIMONIES, ETC.

AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, FROM 1600 TO 1660.

Gutenburg Transcriber’s Notes

 

 

 

SECOND PART.

 

To my beloved Friends and Fellow-Believers in Christ Jesus our Savior.

Most Beloved:

When, in former times, C. Vermander, one of our fellow-believers, desirous of describing the Trojan war, followed the Greek poet Homer, called the Blind, relating in Dutch rhyme, the latter’s Greek verses treating of this matter, he stopped when he had completed half, that is, the first twelve books of the Iliad,* writing these words:

“When following the blind in Ilium’s siege,

I wearied when but half the way I’d reached.”

He became weary when he had traveled half the way, and certainly, he had good reasons for it; for, who does not know that by following a blind man, especially on unknown and dangerous roads, one may easily be brought into error, yes, severe misfortunes?  And what peaceful and loving person will delight in contemplating severe wars, and terrible storms and assaults, made upon a straitened and much distressed city, like Troy (called Ilium) was in Homer’s time?  Therefore it was proper, and not less profitable for his soul, that he returned, for, as the proverb says, “It is better to turn back in the middle of the way, than to err still further.”

But we, much beloved, having come half the way, yes, through fifteen bloody centuries, became only the more desirous to proceed, so insatiable was our desire, from what we had already seen and heard.  Yes, what is still more, though we ourselves suffered much heat and cold, hardship and illness; yes, deadly sicknesses, on the way, our desire was not quenched, but much rather spurred on and stirred up, to reach the end.  For, truly, those whom we met here were no Greek warriors, who had enlisted under the hero Agamemnon, or his general Hector.  Nor were the storms and assaults which we beheld, made upon a city built with hands, much less upon the city of Ilium in Phrygia.  Nor did the conquerors burn pitch-barrels, in token of victory.  Neither did the heroes who had acquitted themselves well, and faithfully risked their lives, obtain fading oak leaves, or laurel wreaths, as marks of honor.  Or, if they had died, their graves were not ornamented with tombs, pyramids, or obelisks, which must eventually perish with the world.
Here things were quite different, beloved friends; yes, quite different.  For heroes met us who served the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, who, though as a slain lamb, is truly the Prince of the kings of the earth.*

The place which they fought for was the city filled with all good things, the new and heavenly Jerusalem, whose foundations are all manner of precious stones, the gates are pearls, the streets of gold, like transparent glass.  Her they took by force [of will], to possess forever; but the God-displeasing idolatrous city of Babel they destroyed, with spiritual weapons, as much as lay in their power.

The honor which they obtained for their victory, is an everlasting honor; their joy a perpetual joy; the triumphal crowns which were given them, are eternal and heavenly crowns.  Here no earthly tombs, pyramids, or obelisks, need be mentioned, to honor their dead bodies; since their souls were honored with God, and obtained rest under the altar of God, the place of all the blessed martyrs.

In our thoughts we have wandered through the places where all this has happened, and with the eyes of faith have beheld these things.

It is true, the sorrow which we, according to the flesh have met with, was almost insurmountable, seeing so many miserable, and not less god-fearing, persons laid down their lives for the truth confessed; these in the burning fire, those in the drowning water, others under the keen sword, some in the strangling rope, yes, in the most destructive teeth of wild beasts; not to mention countless other means by which they miserably perished.

But, on the other hand, the joy which we have seen with our spiritual eyes, and heard with the ears of the heart cannot be told, yes, can be described by no language.  For, some embraced death, singing and praising God, and what is still more, who can comprehend this?  He who was himself subjected to the death by fire, laid his hand upon the heads of his half-burnt fellow-brethren, encouraging them, and strengthening them in the faith.  Another, who had tasted the pain of the fire, and had been drawn out of it, threw herself upon one of the dreadfully charred bodies, in order to finish the conflict once begun, and also to obtain the crown of martyrdom.*

This we relate over and above what we have noticed in the first book, although the persons are also there spoken of.  We could adduce many such and similar examples, were they not sufficiently known, yes, as clear as the sun.

We therefore proceed to the Second Book, and will commence with the beginning of the sixteenth century, where we, as previously, will treat first of Holy Baptism, etc., and then of the Holy Martyrs who suffered in those times.

However, our labor will be greatly lessened here (like one who, panting and perspiring, has climbed a steep mountain, and then leisurely descends, taking his ease), since, as far as the martyrs are concerned, the previous accounts and printed copies will serve our purpose; in which we do not propose to make any essential change, for we do not wish to diminish the good work of our dear fellow-brethren who, in this matter, have acted in a holy manner before the Lord, except where it may be necessary because of some account which we have added to this.

At the same time we hope to enrich these accounts with various pious witnesses of Jesus, from faithful memoirs and written records, which were never before made public; as also their examinations, death-sentences, letters, and other things connected with this matter; which we have obtained for this purpose from the hands of magistrates, criminal authorities, criminal clerks and other sources, at no small trouble and expense.

This, then, shall be the order of the following work, which we wish may be acceptable to God, edifying to our neighbor and conducive to the profit and salvation of our own soul, through Jesus Christ, our only and eternal Savior, praised and blessed forever.  Amen.

Yours, most affectionately in the Lord,

Thielem J. van Braght.

Dort, A.D. 1659.

 

 
 

 

Preface to Second Part.

Christian Reader:

In this our address we shall present to you nothing new or uncommon, but that which in former times a certain lover of the holy and blessed martyrs communicated to his contemporaries, for general edification, concerning the faith and steadfast death of many of them; except a few passages in the beginning, and also a little further on (which do not properly belong here, and to which we have affixed certain marks to prevent mistakes.) These we have omitted here, and added, in brackets [], something of our own, concerning which we stand ready to give an answer if required.

Having concluded a certain censure concerning those of Horn, the above writer speaks thus of the immovable confidence of the pious confessors of Jesus Christ:

“We are fully confident that all these witnesses were unanimous in regard to the essential articles of faith; they all believed in the one eternal, true God, the Father, and in his only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  They all had respect to the sacrifice of the unspotted Lamb, in whom the Father had placed the reconciliation of our sins.  They committed, yes, by the covenant of baptism, obligated themselves to serve this Lord, whom the Father had ordained as their teacher and law-giver.  They waited for the blessed resurrection and glorious recompense promised to all those who, through the grace of the Spirit, in the race of the Christian vocation, earnestly and steadfastly run for the prize set before them.  They certainly, which is the most important, showed by their deeds, that they had not only a lip faith, and literal knowledge, which is found only in the brains of men, but an effectual and true faith, which, dwelling also in the heart and mind, is inspired by love, and through which they, according to the example of the saints, conquered all things.”

Proceeding to the sufferings of the martyrs, he says:

“Contemplate the suffering which these pious martyrs endured, and how wonderfully God wrought with them; how manfully, constantly and patiently they fought, through the effective and ardent love of God, confirming the truth of what is said in Cant. 8:6, namely, that ‘Love is strong as death, and jealousy cruel as the grave.’ For, here you see as in a mirror, that neither conjugal longing and love, nor parental affection and solicitude, nor the desirable company of near and confiding friends, nor anything which God has put into his creatures, for the delight of man, could move or restrain these heroes; but that they, contemning all this, and separating from wife, children, relatives and friends, house and property, they gave themselves up to severe bonds and imprisonment, to every adversity and hardship, to cruel tortures and martyrdom, undaunted by the threats of the most awful death on the one hand, and unmoved by the many fair promises, to forsake the wholesome truth, the love of God, and the blessed hope on the other; so that they could freely say with the holy apostle Paul: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?’ Romans 8:35.  But they found and showed it to be true that according to the testimony of the apostle, neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.  Verses 38 and 39.  Through this love they overcame all things, and performed glorious deeds beyond the power of man.  Weak women exhibited more than manly strength.  Maidens and young men in the bloom of youth were enabled, by the help of God, to despise the alluring world, with all her fair and great promises; and these young and tender branches, by faith and patience, conquered the mighty of this world; the simple and unlearned confounded the sage doctors; so that these, silenced frequently through the truth, disputed with threats of fire and sword, and, though in vain, defended themselves by it; manifesting in this manner their impotence and malice.  Christ strikingly fulfilled in them the promise made to his disciples, Mat. 10:19, namely, that he would give unto them what they should speak in that hour when they should be brought before kings and governors.  In sight of scaffolds and wheels, of fire and sword, they fearlessly confessed the truth, so that the judges and inquisitors were sometimes astonished, sometimes confounded, and sometimes enraged and startled.  Of this boldness, the martyrs themselves boasted in their letters, thanking God, for, knowing their own weakness, they experienced the strength of God in the cross, so that they could take upon themselves with a composed, yes, with a joyful mind, that from which human nature beyond measure seemed to recoil and flee.  Yes, they were filled with such an exuberant and great joy, begotten in them through the unhindered contemplation of the heavenly glory in faith and hope, that they would have preferred no royal banquet to this parting feast.

They were endowed with such strength that even cruel and inhuman torture could not extort from them the names of their fellow brethren, so that, filled with divine and brotherly love, they sacrificed their bodies for their fellow believers.  The brotherhood in general was by it so enkindled with zeal and love, that each, despising the earthly and regarding the heavenly, prepared his heart for the sufferings to which his brethren were subjected, and by which he himself was daily threatened.  They shunned no danger, in the way of sheltering their fellow believers, visiting them in prison, calling boldly to them in the place of execution, and comforting and strengthening them with words of Scripture.  The tyrants found themselves deceived in their design; they thought they could cause these Christians to apostatize; they put them into assurance of their salvation; they supposed they could destroy and extirpate those who opposed them, but, on the contrary, they raised up more opponents; for many of the spectators, at the said spectacle of killing people, who were harmless and of good name and report, yes, who would rather die than do ought by which they supposed to offend God, were by it brought to reflection, and thus to investigation, and ultimately to conversion.

Besides these noble examples of love, patience and constancy, we find in their writings many devout lessons, edifying teachings and comforting admonitions, written in dark prisons, hurried and negligently indeed, and on account of inconvenience and with poor materials, but sealed with the most glorious mark, their own blood.  Then the words have power and weight, when their truth is confirmed and attested by the deed.  Seneca, in his epistles, censures philosophising with words, and not with life, as something shameful.  Here you find words which devotion has penned, which the pressure of suffering has extorted from the inmost of the heart; words which have not been warped or bent by worldly considerations or carnal passions; but which were sincerely and unfeignedly spoken to their friends, at the end of life, as a last will, and confirmed with death.  Husbands in tribulation consoled their wives, admonished them to godliness, and incited them to steadfastness.  Parents gave useful instructions to their children, presented to them the changeableness, vanity and perishableness of visible things; they taught, counseled and commanded them to forsake the world and the lusts of it, and to cleave to and alone serve God, the supreme and only good.  You perceive here how they were sometimes assaulted with many temptations and enticements, not only of wicked men, but of the devil; how the enemy of souls, bringing them upon the pinnacle of the temple, as it were, showed them the splendor and glory of this world, in order to entice them to worship this; Mat. 4:5,8.  How he sometimes, with the terror of impending suffering, assailed the soul with fearfulness, and how, by false imaginations, he endeavored to bring the minds to apostasy, despondency and despair; which these pious heroes, arming themselves with watching and constant prayer to God, valiantly overcame, fighting manfully through all temptations, promises and threats, even unto death, and gaining the victory.

Now, even as the reading of, and meditating upon, the pious fathers, is very profitable in every case, so these persons stand as instructive and consoling examples, for all who are visited with crosses and temptations.  Here manifest themselves shining beacons of living faith, of sure hope, and ardent love.  Here is seen the positiveness of God’s promises, in fearless and joyful hearts, in the midst of suffering.  Mat. 10:19.  Here is the steadfastness of the saints, whom Christ crowns with salvation.  Mat. 24:13.  It is true, by the worldly-minded they are accounted as filth and offscouring (1 Cor. 4:13), and their actions stigmatized as sheer folly and madness; but they comfort themselves in God, and rely on his promises.  They have learned that the cross must thus be taken up, if one would be worthy of Christ.  Mat. 10:38.  They know that they are strangers and pilgrims in this world, 1 Pet. 2:11, and remember the words of their Master, who says: “If you were of the world, the world would love his own; but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  John 15:19.  They are confident that if they lose their life here, they shall find it again hereafter.  Mat. 10:39.  They believe that we must confess the name of Christ, if we would have him confess us before his heavenly Father.  Mat. 10:32.  They know that their Lord and Master suffered himself, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps; who was thus minded, that when he was reviled, he did not revile again, and when he suffered, did not threaten, but prayed for his enemies.  1 Peter 2:21,23.  They hold that if they would reign with Christ, they must here suffer with him.  2 Tim. 2:12.  They are mindful of the words of Christ, that the servant is not greater than his master, Mat. 10:24, and that therefore, as Christ suffered, they must arm themselves with the same mind.  1 Peter 4:1.  They know themselves to be defenseless sheep, a prey to the devouring wolves.  But they do not fear them, who can kill only the body, but him who holds body and soul in his hand.  Mat. 10:28.  They learned long ago that all that will live godly shall suffer persecution.  2 Tim. 3:12.  Christ foretold them that they should be hated by all men for his name’s sake, yes, should be delivered into tribulation, and be killed; and what is still more, that those killing them should think that they do God service.  Therefore, they do not think it strange when they are tried by suffering; but rejoice that they are partakers of the sufferings of Christ, knowing that, when his glory shall be revealed, they shall also rejoice with him.  1 Peter 4:12,13.  They glory in tribulation (Rom. 5:3), believing that by it their faith is tried and refined.  1 Pet. 1:7.  They experience that patient suffering begets a glad and constant hope, and that the cross, which to those who perish, is foolishness, is to them the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:18), and esteem it as the grace of God, when for conscience they suffer wrongfully.  1 Pet. 2:19.  And though they be troubled, persecuted and cast down here, yet they are not in despair, forsaken, or destroyed; but with holy Paul, they always bear about in their bodies, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of the Lord Jesus might be made manifest in their bodies.  2 Cor. 4:8–11.  They feel in the abounding of the sufferings of Christ, an abounding consolation through Christ.  2 Cor. 1:5.  They believe that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the future glory.  Rom. 8:18.  Therefore they arm themselves for tribulation and suffering, as true heroes of their captain, Jesus Christ.  They have before them a great brotherhood, who finished their course in this way.  Cain could not bear his brother’s piety and favor with God, and slew him.  Gen. 4:8.  Violence and oppression ruled the first world.  Gen. 6:13.  Pious Lot had to be the sport and lust of the Sodomites.  Gen. 19.  David had to flee before Saul.  The prophet Isaiah lamented already in his time that he who departed from evil had to be everyone’s prey and derision.  Many holy prophets and men of God had to endure persecution and martyrdom from the wicked, as holy Zacharias, Amos, Micah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and the three young men, Eleazar, the mother with her seven sons, and others, who need not be mentioned, since the time and age of the New Testament, furnish abundant material in this respect.  John, the forerunner of Jesus, had to offer his neck to the sword, in prison.  Mat. 14:10.  Our captain of the faith, Jesus Christ, had to enter into his glory through much derision, ignominy and suffering, and ultimately through the most shameful death of the cross.  His apostles and disciples, as the chronicles state, followed their Master.  Peter and Paul were put to death by Emperor Nero.  James, the brother of John, was killed with the sword by Herod.  Acts 12:2.  Matthew was nailed to the earth, in India.  Bartholomew was flayed.  Andrew was crucified.  Thomas was thrust through with darts.  Philip was nailed to a cross, and then stoned to death.  Simon Zelotes was scourged and crucified.  James, the son of Alpheus, was cast down from the temple, at Jerusalem, and then beaten to death with sticks.  Judas Thaddeus was killed, in Persia, by wicked heathen priests.  Matthias also obtained the martyr’s crown.  Mark, the evangelist, was dragged about by a cord around his neck, at Alexandria, till he died.  John, the apostle, banished in the island of Patmos, adorned the Gospel with suffering [as is circumstantially recorded in the first book, first century, in the account of the martyrs].  This was the way of the holy prophets.  This is the path which our Savior and his messengers, and afterwards many disciples, trod.  Polycarp, the disciple of John, was burnt alive at Smyrna.  Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, was torn by wild beasts [as is stated in the second century].  Even the Roman bishops, in the first three hundred years, were mostly all martyred, and subjected, with the common Christians, to persecution by the heathen Emperors [these, however, we commit to God].  Under the Emperor Diocletian, there was such an awful persecution that it seemed as though the Christian name would be utterly extirpated; so that the first churches at the time of Emperor Constantine were so accustomed to persecution, that they deliberately prepared themselves for suffering.

Since, then, the god-fearing who are visited with the cross, have so many holy martyrs as predecessors; and since the cross is foretold them; yes, since such glorious promises are given to those who suffer, it is a little thing for them that they, who gladly acknowledge themselves soldiers under the bloody banner of Christ, are therefore aspersed and ridiculed as fools.  The Christian reader may here perceive and firmly conclude that the cross is also the ensign of those who serve and follow Jesus Christ, the captain of the faith; and that, on the contrary, those who afflict others with crosses and sufferings, do not belong to this captain, but are under another leader.  For the true Christians have never persecuted the innocent, but were always persecuted themselves; and in the primitive church, even in the time of Constantine, when the bishops began to rise a little higher in the world, and were protected by the Emperor, it was considered an abomination to persecute any one; they, however, suffered persecution themselves.  It was then deemed such a detestable thing, to put to death or persecute any one for heresy, that Bishop Ithacius was excommunicated and separated from the church, because he, through the tyrant Maximus, had brought about the death of Priscilian, the heretic; as the Roman cardinal, Caesar Baronius, very plainly describes in his church history, for the year 385.

He also states further, that it is utterly incompatible with the meekness of a pastor.  Again, that none of the holy fathers even commended it, that an ecclesiastic should seek to bring a heretic to his death.  So that, according to him, St. Martin would have no fellowship with the aforesaid Ithacius or his adherents, because their hands were stained with the blood of Priscilian.  And though, induced by the threats of the tyrant Maximus, St. Martin feigned to have fellowship for an hour with Ithacius, he nevertheless subsequently manifested great regret for it, since he felt that in consequence of his dissimulation, the gift of healing was partly taken from him.

From this it is clearly manifest, how falsely they boast of being the successors of Christ and his apostles, and of the primitive church, who have so abominably stained their hands with the blood of innocent people, people who only confessed and practiced the Gospel according to the full dictates of their conscience; yes, concerning whom the tyrants themselves frequently testified, that their life was pious; that they would not willingly lie, or speak against their conscience; and that they were not apprehended on account of any misdeeds, but only because they did not obey the mother, the holy church, and the decree of the Emperor.  It is so far from such being the true and apostolical church, that there is no surer mark of the false and antichristian church, than the killing of heretics, or rather, so-called heretics; for however abominable heresy may be, this is the most abominable of all.  For what indeed is more opposed to the peaceable, meek, merciful, forgiving, and revengeless character of Christ, than to persecute any one for his faith?  What can we conceive of that militates more against the holy laws and commandments of Christ, which chiefly consist in love, peace, humility, meekness, lowliness, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, etc.  If Christians are called (as they do) to requite hatred with love, evil with good, cursing with blessing; yes, must they, according to the doctrine of Christ, pray for them who oppress and persecute them; how, then, is it possible that they can remain Christians and themselves oppress and persecute others who have never laid a straw in their way?  Can we believe that any trace, yes, any true knowledge of the spirit and word of Christ remains where there is such a direct antichristian disposition and action?  If, according to Christ, false prophets are to be known and judged from their fruits (Matt. 7:16), there can be nothing by which they may, more readily, be distinguished, than from their persecuting others; for they are witnesses unto themselves, as Christ said to the Pharisees, that they are the children of them who killed the true prophets, and who fill up the measure of their fathers.  Our Savior compares them to serpents and a generation of vipers, who cannot escape the damnation of hell.  Mat. 23:31–33.  The disciples of Christ, who still entertained the hope of the establishing of an external and carnal Israel, asked their Lord, whether they should, according to the example of Elias, command fire to come down from heaven, upon those who did not receive him.  Whereupon Christ earnestly rebuked them, saying: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”  Luke 9:54–56.  But these heretic-killers, who boast of being the vice-regents and followers of Christ, yes, doctors of divinity, dare, not only without asking Christ, but even against his express prohibition and example, whet the sword, and stir up the fire, not to murder those who refuse to receive Christ, but those who are ready to adhere to and follow him even unto death.  By this they clearly indicate, first, that they are governed and impelled by the spirit not of Christ, but of the devil (who was a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44); and, secondly, that they do not come like Christ and his followers, to save men’s souls, but to destroy them; since they kill not only the bodies of the innocent, thus dishonoring the image which is created after God (Gen.  5:1), and making themselves guilty of the mortal sin of blood-shedding (Gen.  9:6) but, O awful deed!  they purposely and as much as lies in their power, also endeavor to kill their souls, whom, being considered by them in a state of damnation, they suddenly cut off from the time of repentance.  Mat. 26:52.  They would presumptuously teach Christ, the perfect wisdom; for he deemed it well, and commanded his disciples, to let the tares grow until the harvest, lest they should root up the wheat with the tares, but these teach and do the opposite.  Weeding contrary to the command of Christ, they root up not only the tares, but, passing by bad, unchaste, extravagant, pompous, avaricious, mendacious, deceitful, envious, hateful, and vindictive men, they also, from the field of the world, root out the purest grain.

They usurp the office of the Most High, and would command and compel the souls who are not under them, but under the sceptre of Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:28); yes, they set themselves not only beside, but above the Divine Majesty, demanding that men should obey them rather than God.  Jehovah God has commanded that we should serve him with all our hearts (Deut. 6:5), but these prohibit men from serving God in this manner, and constrain them contrary to the convictions of their consciences to follow their laws and institutions.  Mat. 21:37.  Christ constrained the people to conversion, by words of admonition, persuasion and reproof, and of those who were offended at his doctrine, he only said: “Let them alone: they are blind leaders.”  Mat. 15:14.  But these compel with fire and sword, so that they deliver to the executioner those who embrace the doctrine of Christ according to all their ability, and do not feel themselves at liberty to follow these blind leaders; bringing them into a strait, where they cannot without danger, escape either to the right or to the left; for if they obey these, they fall into the wrath of God; and if they adhere to God, they cannot escape the cruelty of these men.

Now, in order to give a semblance and gloss to their unchristian and ungodly punishments of heretics, they befoul these pious people with the stain of disobedience, and, washing their hands, as it were, from innocent blood, lay the guilt upon the edicts, which, however, were devised, and are daily executed, through their bloody advice and instigation.  But, pray, who has given them power to make edicts against souls and consciences, to reign by it in the kingdom of Christ, in which they themselves can be but subjects and servants?  Will this excuse them?  By no means.  The Jews who sought to bring the innocent Jesus to death, also said like these: “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die.”  John 19:7.  They know, or ought to know that at the tribunal of Christ judgment will be rendered, not according to human edicts, but according to the divine word.  “The word that I have spoken,” said the Lord, “the same shall judge him in the last day,” (John 12:48), and, therefore, every one is necessarily bound more to the law of Christ, than to their laws and edicts; yes, an account will have to be given of these edicts, at that tribunal, and that by which they sentenced the innocent wrongfully to death, will then justly aggravate their own sentence.  What will they offer as an excuse, when an account will be demanded of them, why they exercised such blood-thirsty tyranny over souls?  Why they wrested the sceptre out of the hand of Christ, and usurped his seat?  Why they made themselves masters in that kingdom in which they, as servants, must themselves give an account of their actions?  Why they, as evil servants, treated and beat their fellow servants so cruelly; though he (Christ) had warned and threatened to cut such asunder, and to appoint them their portion with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:45,51)?  Why they did not consider that those shall have judgment without mercy, who have showed no mercy (Jas. 2:13)?  What terror, what anxious remorse and fleeing will it cause when, to convict them of their wickedness, there shall come forth those whom they fettered, chained, beat, killed and martyred, whom they then accounted fools and madmen, and whom they now behold in such great glory and esteem with God.

In that day, when all hidden things must come to light, such empty and artificial excuses will not avail.  Therefore, now is the time to consider how unchristian it is, to persecute Christians; how much deserving of death it is, to shed innocent blood; how culpable it is, to dishonor the image of God; how perverse and vain it is, to fight against spiritual truth with carnal weapons; how unnatural and unreasonable it is, to do unto another that which we would not have done to ourselves, and who of all would like to be forced in the convictions of his conscience.  How presumptuous it is, to usurp the seat of God, and to wish to rule over the conscience, whereas Christ commanded, to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.  Mat. 22:21.  They should bear in mind, that Christ prayed for his persecutors, and learn from it, how unbecoming it is, that those who would be Christians, persecute others, who pray for them.  Luke 23:34; 1 Pet. 2:19.  They should contemplate, how great an evil it is, to compel any one’s conscience by the terrors of fire, rope and sword, when Paul so strictly forbids to wound the weak conscience of the brethren.  Rom. 14:15.  They should remember that, since the holy apostle commands no greater punishment for heretics, than to shun them, they also need, yes may, use no greater.  Tit. 3:10.  Surely, if they would well examine themselves, they would not so readily proceed to condemn, but would suffer themselves to be restrained, since Christ declares that with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again.  Mat. 7:2.  They would fear, if they knew themselves aright, that in condemning another they might condemn themselves; since it might easily be the case, that before God the judge was as culpable as the one judged.

They further produce, in defense of, or, rather as an excuse for, the punishments of heretics, these reasons: 1. Thereby to bring and compel them to conversion.  2. That their heresy might not propagate itself, and pollute others.  3. To prevent rebellion.  As regards the first, it is the duty of every Christian, to promote the salvation of his neighbor as much as is possible.  But how is this to be done?  By external compulsion with fire and sword?  Impossible; this touches and affects the body, but not the conscience, which must not be compelled, but led and instructed.  The word of God is the sword with which all error and heresy must be cut down.  If the supposed error cannot be conquered with the power of truth, swords will be dull before it.  And though a man, through dread of suffering, renounce his belief with the mouth, yet will he not do it with the heart; and thus, instead of converted Christians, dissembling hypocrites are made.  But if a man remain steadfast, and is put to death, how can this tend to his conversion, since every means of conversion is taken away?  For, one of two things is certain: if he is a damnable heretic, he is cast down into hell; but if he is not, a saved Christian is put to death; choose whichever you please and an abominable crime is committed.  What is it then, that urges them thus to promote any one’s conversion?  What binds them to this?  Who enjoins it upon them?  Who advises them to it?  yes, who gives them permission to do it?  And which of the apostles has set such an example?  Truly, such reasons are but fig leaves and covers with which they seek to hide their shame and wickedness.  They pretend that they aim at the conversion of men, but in fact seek to secure their own pleasure, honor and lust, in order thus to exercise undisputed despotism in the kingdom of God.  So far is this from being the case, that any one’s conversion is promoted by it, that on the contrary, all impartial persons conceive an aversion against them; so that even the good, (if any good remains, or can be found, in the persecutors), is rendered suspicious; yes, entirely destroyed, inasmuch as their words, however entreating and flattering they may be, can obtain no entrance or credit, neither do they deserve it.  For, who would expect to learn anything godly or Christian from those who are pregnant with murder, and whose hands are stained with innocent blood?  “Do men gather grapes from thorns?” Mat. 7:16.

As to the second, it is so far from the fact that supposed heresy should be checked by tyranny, that it is almost always spread by it; for, when hands are laid on people whose life is blameless and pious, and they are imprisoned, tortured and subjected to a painful death, only for the name of Christ, and because they, as they openly confess, dare consent to nothing contrary to their conscience,—this produces reflection and attention in all impartial minds, who, on investigating the matter, discover the innocence of the persons accused and persecuted, and thus conceive an aversion to such degenerate Christians, who persecute others, and associate themselves with those who so valiantly bear the cross of Christ, as examples abundantly testify; which verifies what an ancient father has said: The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.  When the tyranny of popery was at its height, apostasy from it was greatest, for martyrdoms are effectual sermons, which touch the heart, and awaken the slumbering eyes; nor is this strange, for he that has a little knowledge of the Christian religion, and is not utterly blinded by malignant partiality comes easily to believe that the persecutors must be heretics themselves, since Christ and his disciples never persecuted any one, but always suffered persecution themselves.  They easily perceive that these cruel men are not innocent, meek and defenseless sheep, to which Christ compares his followers, but much rather ravening wolves, which have crept into the fold of Christ, and devour the sheep.  John 10:1.  The plain and pure truth, confirmed by an innocent life, is the means to overcome error and falsehood; they who depart from this to carnal weapons, betray themselves, and disclose their injustice and impotence; for, since they cannot prevail against the truth, they endeavor, by exterminating and crushing the persons, also to exterminate and crush the truth.  From all this it appears, how empty an excuse they seize to defend their tyranny, and what frail weapons they employ, to uphold the delusion.  But it is a purely fictitious excuse, with which to disguise their purpose, and to attire in a strange dress the ugliness which cruelty presents to every eye, and, through deception, to make it pleasing to one another.  They pretend to be zealous for the salvation of the people, but, in fact, endeavor to propagate their own kingdom of lies; and if aught rises in opposition to it, they seek to subdue it with the arm of flesh.  The Pharisees, in the time of Christ, objected to Christ for the same reason, namely, that he was perverting the people.  Luke 23:2.  Their self-love and thirst for political power begat in them a bitter hatred and envy against our Savior, on account of which they sought to bring him to death.  This they cover; of this they are silent.  They cry, as though they were filled with a godly zeal: “This fellow perverts the nation;” though they, as well as these, sought to seduce the people from Christ, the truth, to their own lies.

As regards the accusation of rebellion, this also is not an invention of yesterday or to-day.  He (Christ), said the Pharisees, stirs up the people with his doctrine; whereas they stirred up the people against Christ, who preached nothing but peace, love, humility, meekness, and the like, and whose life and actions were nothing but an overflowing fountain of kindness, benevolence and mercy.  Thus did they stain, without a shadow of evidence, with the slander of rebellion, people who lived in all simplicity and integrity, and made open confession, that they were bound by the law and example of Christ, to live without revenge, and exercise a forgiving spirit towards every one, yes, to love those that hate them, and to do good to their enemies.  He that examines the history of the Netherlands and Germany, for the last sixty years, will find that rebellion, contention, and dissension, yes, alienations and destruction of countries and cities, have been caused by persecution on account of religious differences; for religious zeal cannot be cut off with the sword, nor consumed by fire.  On the contrary, it is evident, and confirmed by present practice, that many and various religious persuasions can live together peaceably and quietly, and that the cities and countries where liberty of conscience is maintained, have prospered, and experienced the special blessing of God.  Therefore, also, the H. M. Lords States of these countries, seeing the great mistakes of the King of Spain, have never been willing to follow in his steps, but expressly declare, as appears from the records of the Treaty of Peace at Cologne, page 38, “That religion does not concern men, but God, and that the King owed obedience to it as well as the subject.”  They declare to have found by experience, that force and weapons are of little value for the spreading and preservation of religion; and that, even as they would not have that violence should be done to their consciences, so it does not well accord with the law of God, for them to do violence to the consciences of others.  Again on page 54, it is declared: “That the Christian religion is a great mystery, and that for the promotion of the same, God does not use wicked soldiers, nor bows or swords.”  Again on page 57: “We have learned that the government of souls and consciences concerns God alone; and that he is the true avenger of violated or dishonored religion.”  And though some, forgetful of their own cross, or that of their ancestors, incited to a revival of the abolished slavery, yet their E. E. never lent a willing ear to it, nor suffered themselves to be blind executors of such partial and pernicious counselors, who by it sought to build and establish more their own kingdom, than the kingdom of Christ.  But, through the goodness of God, we still have at the present day, authorities under whose protection we can lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty, 1 Tim. 2:2; can meet and assemble without molestation; preach and hear the word of God; use the sacraments as instituted by God, and openly practice our divine worship; for which kind privilege all subjects and Christian believers are under great obligations, to reverently show all gratitude to their authorities, high as well as low, to faithfully obey them, to honestly pay customs and taxes, and to pray earnestly and constantly to God, for the welfare of their persons and government, in order that this favor may descend from us to our children and posterity.  We must also greatly thank the Lord for it, and magnify his name by a holy life, constantly seeking, more and more, to evince virtue from our faith, and to shine by good works in this benighted world.  We must see well to it, that we do not neglect or abuse this time of grace, 2 Cor. 6:1; for if we employ it badly, and use liberty as an occasion to commit sin, it will undoubtedly happen to us as it did to Israel, who, having waxed fat and strong, departed from God, and was therefore again cast into distress and misery, until necessity compelled them to seek Jehovah God.  Deut. 32:15.  O how many there are, it is to be feared, who with Demas have loved the world again!  2 Tim. 4:10.  How many there are, who, having forsaken their first zeal and love, have become cold and slothful in their devotions!

In former times, in the times of the cross, when men could assemble only under peril of their lives, our zeal drove us in the night and at unseasonable times, into nooks and corners, and into fields and woods.  How precious was then one hour which could be employed in stirring up and establishing one another in godliness.  How the souls then thirsted and hungered after divine food.  How pleasantly then tasted the words of godliness.  Men did not ask for ingenious or flowery sermons; but hunger devoured all that was presented.  Then soul treasure was diligently sought, since bodily possessions could give but little comfort.  Then heavenly riches were sought for above all things; for earthly possessions were altogether insecure.  But how is it now?  Temporal avocations have the preference throughout; the oxen must first be proven, and the field be inspected, before one can come to the heavenly marriage, Luke 14:18,19.  Simplicity is changed into pomp and ostentation.  Possessions have increased, but in the soul there is leanness.  Clothes have become costly, but the inward ornament has perished.  Love has waxed cold, and has diminished, but contentions have increased.  Do you suppose that God will always behold this with the same long-suffering?  Do you think that he will never once use his uplifted rod?  He that did not spare Israel, when they departed from him; he that did not pass David by, when he sinned through fleshly lust; he who did not spare Solomon, when he turned his eyes to strange women, and fell into idolatry with them, shall he spare those who, through love of the world and the practice of sin, have so greatly departed from him?  He often delivered Israel from one tyrant to another, that they might learn to know him, and reform.  He chastised them as a father, that they might not serve him with a divided heart, as in the time of Elijah, but that they might serve Jehovah alone, 1 Kings 18:21.  He delivered Amaziah, the King of Judah, into the hands of his enemies, because he did not serve Jehovah with a perfect heart.  2 Chron. 25:2.  Now, examine your heart; whether it is not divided; whether you do not seek to serve Christ and the world at the same time; how feebly you hear and consider the word of God, since your thoughts are entangled in earthly vanities; how seldom and how slothfully the works of godliness are practiced; and how busy and zealous you are throughout in amassing money and property, and in feasting yourself on pleasure.  It is true, you have cast away the dumb, wooden idols, but examine now, whether the idol of riches and avarice is not set up in your heart.  Eph. 5:5; 1 Tim. 6:10.  Plow through the inmost depths of your heart, and see where most of your inclinations and desires tend; whether, easily satisfied here, they penetrate the clouds, and have their conduct in heaven, or, whether digging with insatiable desire into the earth, you seek to increase your riches and to add house to house, and farm to farm; whether Christ in heaven is your supreme treasure, or whether your treasure is here, against which Christ so earnestly warns his disciples.  Mat. 6:19.  If you would make a test of this, study attentively your intentions and thoughts in every occurrence; consider once, how great a love you have for riches; how much confidence you place in them; how greatly troubled you are with a heathenish solicitude for the future; how anxious and despondent you are when bad times and misfortunes threaten, and how securely you live when sailing before the wind; how reluctant and miserable your love for your possessions renders you in the giving of alms; how great contention and how many law suits you would rather engage in, than give up your right, and suffer damage; how soon joy and sleep forsake you when losses and misfortunes befall you; how much time earthly contemplations detract from your proper devotions; how feeble and spiritless they render your prayers; how deep the abundance of your treasures sinks you into sensuality; how much you are pleased with yourself on this account, and exalt yourself above others; finally, how painfully you part from them, and how sadly you will bid them adieu on your death-bed.  Let this serve as a test, I say, and examine yourself, and you will discover at the same time, what you love and serve most, and how much or little you have “crucified the flesh with the lusts of it.”  Gal. 5:24.  For, though outward persecutions now and then cease, yet every Christian is called to sufferings and conflicts; each must take up his cross and follow Christ; each must live, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; each must suffer in the flesh, that he may cease from sin.  Mat. 10:38; Rom. 8:1; 1 Pet. 4:1.  If you then find that the time of freedom [from persecution] has given liberty and room to your lusts, persecute yourself, crucify and put your self [ishness] to death, and offer up soul and body to God.

In times of persecution, words and colloquies consisted in edifying instructions, and awakenings to godliness, magnifying of the name of God, mutual consolations in suffering, exhortations and incitations to constancy, and recommendations of eternal salvation.  Examine once, whether at this time you have not lent your tongue to please frivolous, worldly men with vain and useless talk; whether by it you did not only not promote godliness, but were also a hindrance and injury to it; whether you did not defame your neighbor’s good name and reputation; and whether your tongue has not by lying and deceit ministered to avarice.  In times of the cross, the time was spent in godly exercises, in consoling and edifying one another, in visiting those in prison, and in preparing for suffering by devout meditations.  Consider once, on what you have bestowed the precious time; how much of it has been squandered in voluptuousness and vanity; how much has been wasted in disputes and quarrels; how much has been lost by needless anxiety and labor; and how little has remained for devotion.  No doubt, you will find that the absence of the chastening rod has rendered men impious and without reverence, and that “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” have usurped the place of piety and humility.  But the most dangerous of all is that but few examine themselves; but few sigh over themselves.  Without knowing it, many are poor, naked and blind, who with those of Laodicea think that they are rich and have everything in abundance, Rev. 3:17; but it is a wealth with which God is not pleased, and by which the spiritual riches, which consist in faith and love, in a living hope and a good conscience, are diminished.  See in the writings of the martyrs, how their life was, how their suffering, how their constancy.  It was the will of [Jehovah] God, that the children of Israel should remember the ways of their fathers, and the instruction of wisdom concealed in this; for they are all, ancestry and posterity, taken as one body.  Deut. 8:2.  Frequently it is said through the prophets: I have brought you out of the land of Egypt; though this had been done to their forefathers.  Micah 6:4; Psm. 81:10; Hos. 11:1.  Examine your ways, and compare them with theirs, and see whether the love of the world has not blinded your eyes, and led them away from God.  Many, when they could not use the world, turned of necessity to God, as their nearest refuge; but as soon as a little breathing time set in, they again began to lean towards the world; the parents became rich, the children luxurious and wanton; the world caressed them, and in course of time they became respected and lifted up; the reproach of the cross was relinquished, and the honor of this world stepped into its place.  And this, in the first church was the reason why God permitted a most awful persecution to come in the time of Emperor Diocletian, that his children might be chastised by it, who already began to join in with the common world.  Eus., lib. 8, cap. 1.  Therefore, we must see well to it, that we do not incur like guilt, lest there come upon us what came upon them; for no one fares worse in such times, than he who has not made good use of his time; such a one will then be visited with woe, distress and misery; but to them that love God, all things work together for good; they are purified and tried by the refining fire; therefore it is necessary that God at times purge his threshing-floor with his fan, that the tares may not get the upperhand, to its own destruction.  But we only have to ask his divine goodness, to chastise us as a father, and draw us by his love, moving our hearts and minds to himward, in order that we may lead a godly and holy life, in all love, peaceableness, kindness, and long-suffering; not easily complaining of or grudging against one another, but bearing in patience one another’s infirmities, and bettering each other by good instructions; fleeing and avoiding all offenses, contention and dissension, separations and schisms, which cause insufferable and damnable discord; striving for peace; and seeking to heal, and restore to unity, quiet and peace, that which is broken and ruined, rent and torn asunder by the subtlety of the devil, and blind ignorance, and scattered into various factions, to the great offense and stumbling-block of many.  If we do this, we shall cause the blessing and presence of God to be with us.  Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:8; James 5:9.

In the meantime, let us constantly adhere to God, always pray for an increase of wisdom and divine knowledge, and run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, Heb. 12:1,2; for we have the same conflict which David had in his time, and Job, and all the prophets, and Christ and his apostles, together with all the pious followers in the first church, as also before and in our time.  They all had to overcome the world; so do we; they all had to deny themselves; so do we; one crown is to be gained, and the same kingdom is to be inherited.  Heb. 12:28.  The times also, are just the same; but the different life makes them different; however, all inequality must ultimately merge in the equality of God.  In order to make his followers partakers of this equality and unity, Christ prayed that they might be one with him and the Father.  John 17:20.  This was also the sole aim of the apostles; to this, as the eternal, supreme treasure, they exhorted every one; “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and upon the Israel of God.  Amen.”  Gal. 6:15,16.

Written out of love, to edification and amendment.

 

 
 

 

THE BLOODY THEATRE

—OR—

MARTYRS MIRROR

—OF THE—

ANABAPTISTS OR DEFENSELESS CHRISTIANS,

 who baptized only upon Confession of Faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Savior, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, that is, from A.D. 1500 to A.D. 1660.—Being an Enlargement of the preceding Martyrs Mirror, augmented from many authentic Chronicles, Memoirs and Testimonies; together with an Account of The Holy Baptism, and other Articles of Divine Worship practiced in those times.

 

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HOLY BAPTISM IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

SUMMARY OF BAPTISM IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

[The controversy of the so-called clergy the cause, in this century, that the Anabaptists increased the more, which forms the beginning of this account.

In the meantime, the difference is shown, between the old Waldenses and the apostate Hussites, respecting the article of holy baptism.

The Waldenses in Hungary were now, in the year 1507, greatly persecuted; concerning whom it is stated that they led an innocent life; and it is also declared that in their confession, which they delivered this year, as well as in their defense, in the year 1508, nothing at all is said about infant baptism.

Ludovicus Vives is introduced, for the year 1521, who, commenting on Augustine, says: That formerly the adults alone were admitted to baptism, and that even in his time said practice was still maintained in some cities of Italy.

Two articles of the old Waldenses are related, one of which is against the Pope, the other on holy baptism.

For the year 1540, mention is made of the churches in Thessalonica, who were said to have remained unchanged in faith from the time of the apostles, and agree with the Anabaptists.  From two different authors particulars corroborating the matter of said Thessalonian churches are given; from the testimony of other writers and credible memoirs.

In a note it is shown that in Thessalonica alone the Christians have more than thirty churches, or meeting houses, while the Turks have only three.

D. Vicecomes mentions the time when the Thessalonian Christians administered baptism.

We then proceed to some confessors who lived and were put to death in the time of our fathers; some good and wholesome testimonies regarding this article, left by them as Thomas van Imbroeck, A.D. 1558; Jacob de Roore, A.D. 1569; John Wouters van Kuyck, A.D. 1572, Christian Gastayger, A.D. 1586; Bartholomew Panten, A.D. 1592.  Finally, about A.D. 1600, an entire confession of faith follows, such as has been believed and practiced for many years, by those called Mennists.

With this we conclude the whole account of holy baptism and Christian worship in those times.]

 

It is now our purpose to fulfill the promise we made in the preceding part, and to this end have come here, namely, to show also in this century, that the distinguishing mark of the believers, that is, baptism according to the institution of Christ, was at this time also correctly taught, practiced and maintained, by those who may be called orthodox believers; notwithstanding said article had to suffer much opposition, violence and molestation, and this not only from the papists (who, however, have nearly always opposed it), but also from other persuasions who had abhorred the doctrine of the papists in many other points, and with fear and terror had fled from the Roman church, as from a confused Babel.

However, all this, instead of obscuring the truth, tended only to illuminate and glorify it the more, just as gold when contrasted with copper, the mountain’s height with the deep valley, and the light of day with the darkness of night, can be distinguished the more plainly; also the praiseworthy commended, and the contemptible contemned.  This was the case at that time, not only with the assailed truth, but also with those who defended it, as shall be related and proven in the sequel.

Jacob Mehrning’s History of Baptism, making mention of the sixteenth century, that is the time from A.D. 1500 until A.D. 1600, begins with these words: Page 772 “At this time there arose, principally in Germany, a most severe persecution against the old Waldenses and their followers, through the violent controversy of the so-called clergy, and the disputations waged against them by the pens of the learned.”  [The Waldenses] in consequence of this, however, gained far more Anabaptists (namely Baptists), than there had ever before, in any country, been seen.

This indicates that the old orthodox Waldenses, notwithstanding the severe persecutions, existed also at this time, yes, insomuch that now they increased more than ever before.

But this was also the century in which Luther in Germany, Zwingli in Switzerland, and afterwards Calvin in France, began to reform the Roman church; and to deny, oppose and contend with the authority of God’s holy word against the supposed power of the Roman Pope, and many papal superstitions, however, in order to avoid too great dissatisfaction, as it seems, they remained in the matter of infant baptism, in agreement with the Roman church, though they abandoned many incidents which the papists observe at the baptism of infants, such as the salt, spittle, exorcism, and the like.

They also have retained with the papists, the swearing of oaths, the office of secular authority, war against enemies, and sometimes also against each other, etc., of which things the old Waldenses had purified themselves, and would have no communion with any who would practice these things.  Therefore, we will leave them, and turn to our fellow believers.

It is true, that already before the beginning of this century, some of the Waldenses had united with the Hussites, apparently in the confidence that with the doctrine, these would also follow the meekness of their former teacher, John Huss.  But when said Hussites would retain infant baptism, and avenge the death of their teacher, yes, began to wage a bloody war against those who had put him to death, those who had united with them found themselves greatly deceived, and left them, not daring to trust their salvation with such people; some, however, though few, remained with them.  Thus the Waldenses returned for the most part to their old brethren, but the Hussites were received by the Lutherans, Zwinglians and Calvinists, who, with them approved of infant baptism and war.

But since some Waldenses had united with the Hussites before the apostasy of the latter, and some, though few, had still remained with them, it came that said Hussites received, though erroneously, the name of Waldenses.  Therefore it originated, that they had a mixed confession of faith, which was partly conformable to the old confession of the Waldenses, and partly adulterated with innovations or human institutions.  For example, the article of the holy baptism of these Hussites reads as follows: “The faith which God has given to us, constrains us to believe and confess such things respecting baptism, which is the first sacrament: whoever, now, in adult age, has become believing through the hearing of the word of God, by which he, being regenerated and enlightened in his soul, has received power, such a one is bound to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, into the unity of the holy church, by an external washing of water, in token of his inward purification obtained through faith.”

(So far this article accords with the confession of the old Waldenses; but what follows it, is held to have been added by said Hussites.)

“This our confession extends also to infants, who, according to the command of the apostles, as Dionysius writes, must be baptized, and afterwards, through the wise direction of their sponsors, who are taught in the law of Christ, be guided, or urged and trained to the life of faith, that is, to worthily practice the faith.”

We see here, a great departure of these Hussites, who have added to the old rule of the Waldenses, which is confirmed by the authority of holy Scripture (namely, to baptize upon faith), a new rule, namely, to baptize also infants, and for proof of this, adduce not the testimony of Christ or his holy apostles, but of one Dionysius, who never was an apostle or teacher of Christ, but a fallible man.

And still, the preacher Mellinus would make the readers of his book believe, 2d book, page 614, col. 3, that this last part was also the confession of the Waldenses; but the contrary is evident, as previously stated; yes, according to his own account, fol. 446, col. 1, the Waldenses, A.D. 1544, forty years after the Hussites, whom he calls Bohemian brethren, made the above article, issued a confession and delivered it in the parliament of the King of France, in which, where speaking of baptism, they make no mention at all of any baptizing of infants; but the work of the Hussites, according to the account of said preacher, is said to have originated A.D. 1504.  Compare fol. 611, col. 1, with fol. 614, col. 3.

A.D. 1507.—“In this year,” writes P.J. Twisck, “the Vaudois, Waldenses, or believers were cruelly persecuted in Hungary, and delivered the confession of their faith, together with an apology, to Uladislaus, King of Bohemia, refuting the calumnies of their enemies, and proving that they had not separated from the Roman church without good reasons.  Of these people, papistic writers themselves confess that they led an innocent and pious life, though they nevertheless cruelly sought to kill and exterminate them.”  Chron., page 930, col. 2, from Henr. Boxh., fol. 27.

Note.—Touching the confession which the aforementioned Waldenses, A.D. 1507, delivered to King Uladislaus, as well as their defense which they delivered A.D. 1508, nothing at all is in this said of infant baptism, though that would have been the proper time to explain themselves in this respect.  See A. Mell., fol. 616, col. 1–4, and fol. 617, col. 1–3.  As to their confession of the year 1504, which was corrupted or adulterated with human institutions, by the Hussites, we have already spoken.

A.D. 1521.—One Ludovicus Vives, of Valencia, commenting on the words of Augustine, in the 27th chapter of the 1st book of the City of God: With what admonition we address the baptized, says: “That no one be mislead by this passage, [I would state that] no one was formerly admitted to holy baptism, save he who had attained his years, and understood himself what the holy water signified, and desired to be washed with it; yes, when he desired it a second time or oftener.”

Said Vives, in the same place, further declares: “I understand that in some cities of Italy the ancient custom is, to a great extent, still observed.”

By this he indicates, that at, as well as before his time, many there did not practice infant baptism; which is the purpose for which we have adduced this passage.

“These apparently were,” says H. Montanus, who has noted this, “a remnant from the Waldenses, who were also scattered into different parts of Italy.”  Nietigh., page 89.

He then states that in the year 1544 they delivered their confession of faith to Francis I., King of France, but that the following year, said King, through Minerius, miserably fell upon and exterminated them, in accordance with the sentence pronounced against them five years previously, at Aix, in the court of Provence, not far from Italy.

Their faith is further thus described: “That they, according to their ancient custom, did not recognize the Pope of Rome, and had always had a pure religion.”

Concerning baptism, they professed: “That it is an external visible sign, which signifies to us the renewing of the Spirit, and the mortifying of the members.”  This confession, in substance, fully agrees with the one which we previously related from Jean Paul Perrin, as also, with what Reinerius admonishes, among the articles of their confession, as these were in his time, saying: “That they deemed infant baptism useless.”  Mont., Nietigh., page 90.

We could expatiate and give more particulars, touching the Waldenses, in confirmation of the faith which they had in common with us, as also, that they confessed said faith until the times of the last martyrs, yes, also, that some of those martyrs proceeded from them; but as it is not our purpose to fill this book with words, but only to give the pith of the matter, which we think we have done, we will leave it as it is referring it to the judgment of the intelligent and impartial reader.

Before we leave this, we would state that mention is made, in this century, not only of the Waldenses, but also of certain churches in Thessalonica, in Greece, which are declared to have remained unchanged in faith from the time of Christ, and to agree in faith and practice with the Anabaptistic churches, in Switzerland.  I will quote the account verbatim, which I have found in regard to this, in a certain tract entitled: The Spectacles, by which the Anabaptists of one faith may see, etc., by a lover of the truth, J. S., printed at Harlem, by Hans Passchiers, van Wesbusch, A.D. 1630.

In the preface, page 10, we read: “Since, my beloved, all the truly pious have a sincere joy and the greatest delight [to know], that many pious people are found upon earth, it has seemed good to me, to acquaint you with a brief testimony that has fallen into my hands: How, in the year 1540, or a little before, certain persons were brought captive by the Turks, from Moravia, to Thessalonica, in Turkey, and sold as slaves; which slaves there became acquainted with the (Thessalonian) Christians.  Observing their life and conduct, they said to these Thessalonians, that in Moravia there lived a people who were like them in life and conduct, and were called Anabaptists; which kindled in the Thessalonians a zeal to examine the truth of the matter; and it further happened, as the testimony states,” etc.

Note.—Besides what we have noted concerning the churches at Thessalonica, Balthasar Lydius gives this account: “We will first speak of the Greek churches, who, in great numbers, are under the dominion of the Grand Turk; for in the city of Thessalonica, by the Turks now called Salonick, the Christians or Greeks have more than thirty churches, while the Turks, on the other hand, have only three; and so it is in other places in the vicinity.  These churches do not recognize the Pope as the general head of the church.”  This appears from the book of Nilus. Balth Lydii, 3.  Tract. of the Waldenses, p. 33, col. 1.  Nilus de Primatu Papa, p. 48, 51 edit., Wechel, A. D., 1608.

On page 42 of the book referred to above, we read: Brief account how through some Moravians who had been captured by the Turks, and had come to Thessalonica, in Turkey, the Christians at Thessalonica obtained information that in Moravia there lived fellow believers of theirs, who were there called Anabaptists; and how, in order to ascertain the truth of the matter, they sent three of their brethren to Moravia, in Germany.

“I, the undersigned, testify that in Moravia there lived with me, for the space of three years, a man of our brethren, about a hundred years old, named Leonard Knar, who related to me that in his time, when he was a servant in the common house of the common church at Popitz, under the stewart, Hans Fuhrman, three brethren of the church of Thessalonica were sent to Germany to inquire after their fellow believers, who, as they had learned from the prisoners, as stated above, were living in Moravia.

“They first came to Nickelsburg, on the frontier of Hungary, where they went to a priest and inquired after this people.  He entered a carriage and rode with these three men to Pausrom, to those who are there called Hutterites, and in the Netherlands, Moravians.

“Having well examined their life and conduct, they discussed with them, in the Latin language, in which they were well versed, all the articles of the faith, but found that in three principal articles they did not accord; namely, first in shunning, as this article was maintained by the Hutterites; secondly, in the community of goods, which virtually consists with them more in dominion and servitude, than in equality; thirdly, that they withhold from those who fall away from their communion and leave them, the property which they brought in, on account of which these three men parted from them with tears in their eyes, because they had performed such a difficult and laborious journey in vain.

“The same priest then brought them in same place (Pausrom), to the Schwitzer church, who derive their name from Hans Schwitzer, who, through one of their brethren, named John Peck (who, with Hans Fuhrman and twelve other persons, had lain in prison for nine years, in the castle Passau on the Danube, in Bavaria, for the testimony of the faith), discussed in Latin all the articles of their faith.  They agreed well in all points, on account of which they being mutually filled with great joy, acknowledged each other as dear brethren, and in token of it, commemorated together the Lord’s Supper, with great gladness, confessing themselves the true church of God.  They stated further that the church of God at Thessalonica had remained unchanged in faith from the time of the apostles, and that they still preserved in good condition the letters which the apostle Paul wrote to them with his own hands.

“All this having taken place, they parted in peace, and having commended each other with tears and the kiss of love, into the keeping of the Lord, the brethren journeyed back to Thessalonica.

“One of them who was a tailor by trade, left his shears as a memento in the church at Pausrom.

“This history is not only known to me, but is generally known, not only in Moravia, but also in the upper Palatinate.”

The father of this Leonard Knar, who saw and related all this, was elder among the Anabaptists there who now consist of two principal divisions, namely the Hutterites, here in the Netherlands called Moravians, and the Schwitzers here in the Netherlands called Germans, but who were then yet one people.  This Elder Leonard Knar ministered to these people in baptism, the Supper and intercessions according to the doctrine of the apostles.

As Leonard was well acquainted with John Peck, the latter orally related to Leonard all that he had discussed with the brethren from Thessalonica.

We mentioned before, that Hans Fuhrman and John Peck, together with twelve other persons, lay imprisoned for nine years in the castle of Passau.  From this long confinement they were released through bail furnished by a certain lord of Jamits, who traveled thirty-six leagues to release the prisoners by becoming bondsmen for them.  He had in his town Jamits, a large society of these people living under his protection.

To the above account the following testimony is given, subscribed to in these words:

“By me, Jacob Meyster, resident at Amsterdam, fled from Moravia, to Poland, A.D. 1620; thence A.D. 1626, to Stettin, in Pomerania, and in the year 1627, to Amsterdam.  I acknowledge that this account of Leonard Knar is as related.”

Of these things, Jacob Mehrning, of Holstein, gives this account: “Thus we have information, that even at the present day there are brethren and Christians at Thessalonica, who agree with the Mennists in all articles of religion, also in baptism, two of whom were yet in the time of our fathers, with the brethren in Moravia, and then also in the Netherlands, and communed with the brethren, who expressly declared that they still preserved in good condition, at Thessalonica, the originals of St. Paul’s two epistles to the Thessalonians.  Likewise, that many of their brethren were still living, scattered here and there in Ethiopia, Greece and other oriental countries, as well as other Christians, who, like them, were preserved by God, and remained in the same doctrine, and the true practice of baptism, constantly from the beginning of the apostles to this time.”  Bapt. Hist., p. 739.

D. Vicecomes, lib. 1, cap. 23, quotes from Nicephorus Callistus, that in Thessalia baptism was administered only at Easter; on which account many died without baptism.

This harmonizes quite well with the foregoing; namely, that the Thessalonian churches were not accustomed, or at least did not deem it necessary to baptize infants, seeing they waited with baptism a whole year; on the other hand, those who consider infant baptism necessary, frequently dare not postpone it one month, one week, yes, sometimes not one day, on account of the uncertainty of the infant’s life; so that they appoint no definite time for infant baptism, as also, if necessity requires it, no definite persons; so much that the papists as also the Lutherans allow not only priests or teachers, but also laymen, yes, women to baptize, so that no child may die unbaptized.  Anthon. Jac.  Babel der Kinderdoopers, printed A.D. 1626, p. 107, 8th chapter, quest. 5, from Bellarm de Baptism, col. 307.

But that the Thessalonian churches had the custom of baptizing only on Easter, that is, once a year came as may be inferred, because they deemed it necessary first to instruct the persons for a long time, almost a year, and to teach them the faith, before they might be baptized; as has been shown from Rupert Tuiciensis, for the year 1124.

Note.—Notwithstanding we might with this close our account of Holy Baptism, since not only this article, but all that further belongs to it, has been sufficiently shown, and the known martyrs of our faith and their confessions have been plainly presented in our old book of the martyrs long before this time; yes, already in the year 1524, we nevertheless, in order to satisfy, if this be possible, the critical will proceed to bring this article to the end of this century, in which the confessions of the martyrs will render us no small service, as will appear.

CONFESSION OF THOMAS VAN IMBRŒCK, CONCERNING BAPTISM.

A.D. 1558.—At this time a god-fearing and pious hero of Jesus Christ, named Thomas van Imbrœck, made a most excellent and explicit confession of holy baptism, as also a refutation of the opponents, which he delivered to the lords of Cologne, where he was imprisoned for the faith.  It reads as follows:

I believe and confess that there is a Christian baptism, which must take place externally and internally; internally with the Holy Spirit and with fire, externally with water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Internal baptism is imparted by Christ to the penitent, as John the Baptist said: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I; whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.”  Mat. 3:11; Mark 1:8.

Christ confirms these words when he says to his disciples, “That they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, says he, you have heard from me.  For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  And this promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.  Acts 1:4,5; 2, etc.*

Thus was also the house of Cornelius baptized when they believed what Peter spoke: they received the Holy Spirit, and all spoke with tongues, and magnified God.  Acts 10:44,46.

But the external baptism of water, which is a witness of the spiritual baptism, and indication of true repentance, and a sign of faith in Jesus Christ, is administered, by the command of the Almighty Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and in the name of the only God, by a true servant of the Lord, to those who have repented and reformed, believe the Gospel, confess their faith, and desire baptism; willingly offer themselves up to God, and yield themselves servants unto righteousness, yes, to the service of God, and the communion of Jesus Christ and all the saints.

This is fully comprehended and contained in the words which Christ speaks to his disciples: “Therefore go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”  Mat. 28:19,20.  In Mark we read thus: “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.  He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does not believe shall be damned.”  Mark 16:15,16.

These words of Christ fully comprise the ordination and institution of the Christian baptism, and all that pertains to it; for Christ, who is the eternal wisdom of the Father, has expressly and completely thus commanded it.  Now, as he is the Light and the Savior of the world, we find in this command, that teaching and believing must precede baptism.  John 8:12; 3:17.

The Scriptures cannot be broken, neither are we to take away from, or add to, the word of God; no, not even the smallest tittle or letter of the Gospel may be changed.  Therefore, the ordinance of the Lord, respecting baptism must remain unaltered; for it is the word of God, which abides for ever.  Deut. 4:2; Mat. 5:18; John 10:35.

Therefore, the words of Christ declare that teaching must take place before and after baptism, in order that the person baptized may use diligence to observe, after baptism, the Gospel (which was presented to him before baptism), and all things commanded him; for he is no more lord over himself; but, as a bride surrenders herself to her bridegroom, so he, after receiving baptism, surrenders himself to Christ, and loses his will, is resigned in all things, without name, without will,* but leaving the name to Christ, and letting him reign in him.  For this is the signification of baptism, that the Christian’s life is nothing but pure dying and suffering; because we are like unto the image of Christ, and baptized with him, must die and suffer, if we would reign and live with him.  Rom. 6:4.

With this ordinance of Christ, accord also the apostles, as faithful stewards and dispensers of the manifold grace of God; for thus did Peter and the other disciples preach the Gospel at Jerusalem, and they that heard it were pricked in their heart by the word, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles; “Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said unto them: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:37,38.  Thus did also Philip, when he expounded the Scripture to the eunuch.  And the latter, when he had accepted it, said: “What hinders me from being baptized?  Philip answered: If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  Acts 8:35–37.  Thus also those of Samaria were baptized, when they believed the words of Philip. Verse 12.

Again, when Peter preached Christ to the house of Cornelius, and spoke the word of life, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word.  “Then said Peter: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”  Acts 10:44,47,48.

Thus, Paul also found certain disciples at Ephesus, to whom he said: “Have you received the Holy Spirit, since you believed?  They answered: We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit.  Then said Paul: Unto what then were you baptized?  They said: Unto John’s baptism.  Paul said: John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  So we read in the 19th chapter of Acts.

Thus also Paul himself, when he had been prostrated on the way, by the Lord, and had heard at Damascus, by the command of the Lord, from Ananias, what he should do; had again received his sight, and was filled with the Holy Spirit, in short, had become a chosen vessel and fit instrument, was baptized, and called upon the name of the Lord; as Luke writes, Acts 9:18.

From these and other passages it is evident that the apostles first taught, and that from teaching follow repentance and faith.  For, how shall they believe, says Paul, without hearing.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  Rom. 10:17.  Therefore, penitent faith is confessed and, so to speak, sealed by Christian baptism.  For, after baptism, a constantly good and godly life should follow;* this is the true ordinance of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his apostles, as you may read everywhere throughout the Acts of the Apostles.

Lastly, as the apostles established the church of God through the Gospel, so they all unanimously declare in their epistles the aforesaid foundation of Christ.  For, thus says Paul to the Romans: “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.”  Rom. 6:3–7.

With these words, Paul tells us what the baptism of believers signifies, namely, the dying of the flesh, or mortifying of the old Adam, the burying of sin, the putting off of the sinful flesh, and the resurrection of the new man and life; and this for this reason: since Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for our justification, and we, through the spirit of faith, have been incorporated or grafted into him, and therefore, have become entitled to the merits of his death, yes, are made partakers of all that is his, and thus, in and through hope, are confirmed in his fellowship (unto which we are called through grace); therefore we must also, for his name’s sake, die unto sin, bury it, and live unto righteousness, that we may be a true branch on the vine.

In this manner the apostle Paul speaks also to the Colossians: “You are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, in which also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him.”  Chap. 2, verses 10–13, compared with Eph. 2:4–6.

These words, in the first place, declare that circumcision is not a figure of baptism, but of the circumcision of Christ, which is not done on the foreskin of the flesh, but on that of the heart, not with hands, nor with a knife of stone, but without hands, through the word of God, in the Spirit.

These words of Paul sufficiently indicate that in baptism the past life must be buried with Christ, and, through faith, rise to a new life; for the outward sign alone is of no value in the sight of God; but faith, the new birth, a true Christian life—by these, man is united with God, incorporated into Christ Jesus, and becomes a partaker of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, external baptism does not conduce to salvation, if the internal baptism is wanting, namely, the transformation and renewing of the mind.  Once more Paul says to the Galatians: “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  Gal. 3:26,27.

I hope that my lords will reflect a little on these excellent and explicit words; for when viewed aright, they are easily comprehended.  Even as a man that is naked, hides himself and would not be seen because he is ashamed of his nakedness; but when he has covered his shame, he comes forth without hesitation.  So it was also with Adam; when God called him, he hid himself, and said: “Lord, I am naked.”  Nevertheless, he had covered himself with a fig-leaf; but it availed him nothing; for the Lord could well see his shame, that is, his sin.  Gen. 3.

But when he knew himself, God clothed him with skins, which signified the sign of grace of Christ.  Now when he had on the skin, his nakedness was no longer seen.  So it is also with Christians; when they have put on the coat of skins (Christ), our sin is seen no longer, and the garment which we have on is manifest to all.  Compare Gen. 3:21 with Gal. 3:27.  Therefore, he that is baptized aright, has put on Christ, and nothing is seen on him, but Christ and the life of Christ.  Thus Paul says to the Ephesians: “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.”  Eph. 5:25,26.

Here we plainly perceive that the washing of water is joined to the word; for no one is cleansed by the washing of water, but by the word; as the Lord says: “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”  John 15:3.

In another place, Paul calls baptism a washing of regeneration, Tit. 3:5, because baptism represents regeneration; even as circumcision is called a covenant, because it represented a covenant.  Thus also, the paschal lamb is called pascha, that is, a passing over, though it was simply a memorial of the passover.  Thus, is baptism called a washing of regeneration, because it belongs to the regenerated children of God, who are born of incorruptible seed, namely, the living word of God, or, as James says: “Who are regenerated by the will of God, by the word of truth.”  1 Pet. 1:23; James 1:18.

Still another point is also to be considered here—that the apostles say, We must be regenerated by the word, that is, through the preaching of the Gospel.  But by what will those who say that children are regenerated, prove this?  Since neither preaching nor word obtains with them.

Finally, Peter says also in his epistle: “When once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.  The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  1 Pet. 3:20,21.

From the words of Peter we perceive that baptism is represented by the flood, through which God punished the whole world; but Noah, with his house, whom God deemed righteous, was preserved in the ark from the water; even as Israel passed dry-shod through the Red Sea, and were thus delivered from their enemies; but Pharaoh, with his entire host, was drowned in it, so that not a single one escaped.  1 Cor. 10:1,2.

Thus it is with all the works of God; that which is life for the pious, is death for the ungodly, as Paul testifies with these words: “We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life.  2 Cor. 2:15,16.

But in order rightly to understand the figure of the flood, we must consider Noah as the antitype of Christ; his house the antitype of believers; the ark, of the church; and the flood, of baptism.  For, even as Noah, in his time, was a preacher of righteousness, so also Christ was a true preacher of righteousness, who proceeded from God, and came into the world.  And as Noah prepared the ark, to preserve his household, so Christ prepared the spiritual ark, namely his church, built by the apostles, as wise master builders, to preserve his children and his household, of whom he himself says: “Behold, I and the children which God has given me.”  And as through the flood all flesh was destroyed and perished, so must also, through baptism, all carnal lusts and desires be destroyed and perish.  And as only few, that is, eight souls, were preserved in the time of Noah, so it is also with men at this present time.  Though it is proclaimed unto them, and the light shines forth clearly, still they love darkness rather than light; therefore there are so few who truly believe, and are translated from the past life into a spiritual life, that they may enter into the church of Christ, and thus be baptized unto the dying of the flesh, and the resurrection to a new life.

For Christ himself says that there are but few who find the true way; “for many are called, but few chosen;” few believe, and few shall be saved.  Luke 13:24; Mat. 20:16.  As also Luke says: “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8.

For, noble sir, and servant of God, I appeal to you, whether it is not now as it was in the time of Noah?  They build; they plant; they buy one field after another; they feast; they drink; they marry, and are given in marriage; and all this without the fear of God; and they who do this are well known, yes, all corners of the world are full of abominations and idolatry.  May the Lord convert them all, Amen.  Luke 17:26,27; Mat. 24:37,38.

The reason why they live without the fear of God, and without care, is that they have no example.  They console themselves only with this, namely: I am a Christian; for I am baptized.  Thus they speak, thinking that it is sufficient if one is only baptized; but they know little what baptism signifies; for they have not yet drunk of the living fountain, of which Jeremiah speaks; but they drink of the wells which they have dug themselves; “For they have forsaken the true fountain, says Jehovah.”  Jer. 2:13.

So it is now also with baptism, as I have sufficiently shown above, that believers only are to be baptized.  But now the command of Christ is ignored, and those who dig or devise a well, or baptism, of their own, are received; and thus is fulfilled what Christ says: “Thus have you made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”  Mat. 15:6.

Still more might be shown from the Scriptures; for Paul writes very clearly to the Hebrews, concerning the preparation of Christians, declaring that those who would receive this Christian ordinance must first learn the principles of the Christian doctrine, namely, repentance from dead works, then faith in God, and then baptism.  Heb. 6:1.

I fear it might become tedious to my noble lord and servant of God; therefore I will make it as brief as possible.

Now, since there are many who believe that children that die without baptism are damned, as also the priests maintain, we will, by the grace of God, give a brief answer to our opponents, so that my lords may be relieved on this point.

DEFENSE AGAINST THE OPPONENTS BY THOMAS VAN IMBRŒCK.

In the first place, our opponents say, it is written: “Allow little children to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  Mat. 19:14.  Now, if they have the promise, why should they not also receive baptism, which is less than the promise?

Answer.—We believe and confess that infants are saved on account of the promise; but that salvation depends on baptism, we do not confess; for when Christ promised the children the kingdom of God, they were not baptized, nor did he baptize them, but he embraced them, and spoke kindly to, or blessed, them.  Mark 9:36,37.  Christ also states the reason why the children are acceptable to God, since he sets them as examples for adults, and admonishes us, that we should be like them, for thus he says to his disciples: “Truly I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Mat. 18:3,4.

Therefore, since we are admonished to become as children, it is incontrovertible, that as long as they remain in a state of innocence, God holds them guiltless, and no sin is imputed to them; and although they are of a sinful nature, partaking of the nature of Adam, there still remains something in them which is pleasing to God, namely, innocence and humility; however, they are saved only through the grace of Christ.

But if some condemn infants, if they die without baptism, it is a despising of the blood of Christ; for the sin of Adam and of the whole world, is reconciled through the sacrifice of Christ, and no sin from Adam is imputed to children; how then can children be damned?

Who will accuse the children, for whom Christ shed his blood?  Who will condemn them, to whom Christ has promised the kingdom of God?  Who will deny the holy Scriptures, which declare so emphatically, that the sin of Adam and of the whole world has been taken away; the handwriting of the law, which was against us, blotted out, and nailed to the cross, and that grace has abounded over sin, and the life of Christ conquered death?

Therefore, he who says that children are condemned, or accuses them on account of original sin, denies the death and blood of Christ.  For, if the children are condemned because of Adam’s death, then Christ died in vain, Adam’s guilt is still upon us, and not reconciled through Christ, and grace has not abounded over sin through Christ.  God forbid.

For the grace of God has richly appeared to all men.  Tit. 2:11; Rom. 5:18.  All malediction, curse, and the sin of the whole world have been taken away through Christ, and as adults are saved through faith, so children are saved through their innocence; but all through grace.

An answer, then, remains yet to be given, why, if they are saved, they should not be baptized.

In the first place, because we have no command from Christ for it.  Abraham had received a command from the Lord, to circumcise all males on the eighth day.  Now, he had received no command respecting females, nor did he follow his own opinion, but, according to the command of God, caused only the male children to be circumcised; and circumcision was the sign of the covenant which God had established with Abraham; and still, the women were included in the covenant as well as the men.

And afterwards, when Israel was in the wilderness, and had grossly sinned against the Lord, so that God said, they should not enter into the promised land, and this on account of their unbelief, he (Jehovah) said: But your children which now know neither good nor evil, they shall possess it.

Now, if the children, whom the Lord had commanded to be circumcised on the eighth day,* obtained mercy from him, and he promised to give them the land, and that they should possess it, how much more should now his grace be upon the children for whom Christ died?

In the second place, our opponents say that the Lord said to Nicodemus: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  John 3:5.  From this, they say, it follows, that no one can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be baptized with water.

Answer.—These words of Christ must not be understood with reference to children; for the passage which the Lord spoke to Nicodemus, namely: Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God, declares differently; for here we hear that Christ presented to Nicodemus regeneration, which takes place only through the word of God, as has above, in my confession, been sufficiently explained; and then Nicodemus said: How can a man, when he is old, enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born again?

Mark, he says, when he is old; from which we well perceive that the Lord did not speak of children.  And thereupon Christ says: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
That this is not spoken of children, the following words prove, namely: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said unto you, You must be born again.  The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.*
By these words Christ indicates that the regenerated man becomes spiritual, and is born of the Spirit, and of a spiritual nature; as Peter says: “We are become partakers of the divine nature, if we flee the corruptible lusts of this world.”  By this every one may know whether he is born of the Spirit, namely, if he has the nature of the Spirit, even as one that is born of the flesh, has the nature of the flesh, each in his order.  Birds have their peculiar nature; so also wild animals; likewise man; each is minded like him of whom he is born.

Thus, he that is born of the Spirit, is also spiritually minded; therefore Paul says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Finally Christ says to Nicodemus: If I have told you earthly things, and you cannot comprehend or believe, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Here the Lord deems it greater to comprehend heavenly things, than earthly things; but children comprehend nothing of earthly things, how much less of heavenly.

Therefore Paul says: Do not be children in understanding; howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men.  For, faith cannot be comprehended without understanding, even as Paul says to the Hebrews: Faith is a sure confidence of things hoped for, and conforms itself to things not seen; so that faith has such a power in itself, that it always conforms to heavenly things, and seeks those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.

That children do not have such faith, experience and the holy Scriptures teach, though some say: God can easily give children this faith.  So say I; and not only faith, but also understanding, by which faith is comprehended; yes, even language to confess it; but what sort of faith children have, they show by their life and fruits.  But though God is almighty, and does according to his will, which none can resist, he nevertheless observes order in all his works, according to his pleasure.  Therefore, let every one see well to it, that he does not prescribe to God according to his own opinion; for he has made all things well.  To him be eternal praise and honor.  Amen.

Since these are the most important passages* with which it is sought to prove infant baptism, I have, in my weakness and simplicity, answered them.  But that you, my noble sirs, may not become weary of my long writing, I will conclude; nevertheless, if my noble sirs desire a fuller answer, I am willing and ready to answer, as much as lies in my power.  May God give his grace to us all.  Amen.  Your humble servant,

Thomas van Imbroeck.

A.D. 1569.—Now when the papists sat in such darkness that they immediately put to death those who, having been baptized in infancy, were, when arriving at riper years and understanding, baptized upon faith, a god-fearing teacher of the church of Jesus Christ, named Jacob de Roore, did nevertheless not hesitate to make, with regard to this matter, a salutary and good confession, writing in his bonds and imprisonment at Bruges, in Flanders, the following words: “Furthermore, I confess a Christian baptism, according to the tenor of the word of God, as Christ commanded his apostles, saying: “Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them,” etc.

Afterwards he relates how the apostles executed this command of Christ, saying: “Thus did the apostles, according to their Lord’s command,” etc.

Continuing, he explains the words of Peter, Acts 2:39: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children,” etc.; from which the opponents were frequently wont to prove (in their manner) infant baptism, or at least, to give it some plausibility.  Thereupon he says as follows: “By this the apostle shows that the gift of the Holy Spirit was to be given, not only to the Jews and their children, but also to the Gentiles, who were far from the kingdom of God, and whom God should also call, as the prophet Joel had foretold.*

Thus, he says finally, baptism must be received upon faith, for a burial of sin, a washing of regeneration, a covenant of the Christian life, a putting on of the body of Christ, an ingrafting into the true olive tree and vine of Christ, an entrance into the spiritual ark of Noah, of which Christ is the true householder, as is written of him (this he says of his church): “Behold, here am I, and the children (the true believers) which you have given me.”  See in Martyrs Mirror, page 537, col. 2, 3, and afterwards, in the Account of the Martyrs, for the year 1569.

It is not necessary here to say anything more; since the views of this man, regarding this matter, are well known and in the memory of almost every one.  Therefore we will conclude this, and proceed to others of like confession.

A.D. 1572.—At this time there was imprisoned at Dort, in Holland, a man of great virtue and piety, named John Wouterss van Kuyck, who, in a letter written to his wife, relates what happened to him in prison on account of the faith.  Among other things he speaks of what the bailiff, in his presence, demanded of the judges, namely: That pursuant to the decree of the King, he should be burnt alive at the stake; because he had departed from the Roman Catholic faith, and had (as he said), been rebaptized by the Anabaptists.

Thereupon this pious witness of Jesus answered as he further writes, saying: “Then I replied: I have never departed from the Christian faith; and I know no Anabaptists.  I have been baptized only once upon my faith; infant baptism I do not consider a baptism; and when I was a child, I did as a child, as my parents led me.”  See in the last-mentioned Martyrs Mirror, page 692, col. 2, also in the following account of the martyrs, for the year 1572.

In another letter delivered by him to the bailiff and the council of said city, he makes this confession of his own baptism: “Faith and inward baptism constrained me to obedience toward his word, to fulfill his righteousness.  Therefore I confess that I was baptized upon my faith, and this on my request, according to the command of Christ, renouncing the devil, the world, etc.”  Same book, page 701.

Thus, this witness of Jesus openly, boldly, and unfeignedly declared the truth of God in this matter, according to the testimony of the word of God, and his conscience; to show which has here been our sole aim.

A.D. 1586.—At Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, one Christian Gasteiger, after suffering much onset and opposition from the Jesuits, was, among other things, also assailed in regard to his belief respecting baptism; since he held that it should be administered to none but the believing and penitent.  On a certain day, therefore, there came to him, where he was imprisoned, two of that order, saying that a child had to be baptized, or it would be damned.  But he contradicted them with arguments and the authority of the holy Scriptures.  This belief he held fast to the end, since he died thereupon, as shall appear more fully in the account of the martyrs, regarding his death, for the year 1586.  Also, in Mart. Mir., page 886, col. 2.

A.D. 1592.—We find that besides a disputation held against some papists who maintained infant baptism, Bartholomew Panten, a pious brother, also left, before his departure from this world, a testament, as a last farewell, to his little daughter; in which he, among other things, admonishes her, how she, when arriving at maturity, should act with regard to this matter, saying: “My dear child, take this to heart, and when you attain your understanding, my paternal request to you is, to join those who fear God, who are by far the least among all people, but who are nevertheless the true congregation and church of God; who practice their rule according to the ordinance of the Lord, and the practice of the apostles, namely, a baptism which is founded upon faith, and must be received as Christ has commanded, and as is written in Matthew.”

Then, treating of the words of the holy evangelists, respecting the unprepared condition in which the Pharisees came to the baptism of John, and that the latter rebuked them, saying: “O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bring forth therefore fruits fit for repentance,” he says by way of explanation: “Here it is to be well understood, that confession is not sufficient, but that also sorrow of heart, and good works, must be evinced.  For all outward actions, without renewing the spirit, cannot please God.”  See the beforementioned Mart. Mirr., p. 924, col. 1. This matter will be shown more circumstantially in the account of his martyrdom, for the year 1592.

Note.—We could have filled this century with a very great number of salutary confessors respecting this article, had we not deemed this unnecessary and to no purpose; for no one who has but a little experience in history will doubt it; since this was not one of the least points, on account of which an almost countless number of persons lost their lives in the last persecution, early in this century, and throughout to the close.

Now, in order to bring this account to an appropriate conclusion, we deem it not inadvisable to add here a certain Confession of Faith, which very probably, was once contained in the History of the pious Anabaptist Martyrs, and is declared to have been the summary of their faith; though it may be (which we would not contradict), that they did not confess all said articles in precisely this form, but maintained more or less in regard to this or that point; which, however, if the true foundation of the same is retained, ought to, according to the nature of love, be borne with; especially in such persons who did not spare their dear lives, but gave them unto death, for their God and Savior.  Nevertheless, we do not find that any of them entertained contrary views, much less, that they opposed said confession; which incited us the more to insert it here; hoping that it will be productive of at least some profit or good in these latter sorrowful and perverted times; the more to confirm the steadfast in the faith, as well as to give an occasion to the weak, to prove themselves in which they have become weak, and how said weakness can be removed.

About A.D. 1600.—The time when this confession, which we have just mentioned, was originated, we have not been able definitely to ascertain; but as it is stated concerning it that, as far as the sense is concerned, it was believed, taught, and practiced, by those called Mennonites, already many years ago, even as at the time when it was committed to the printer, namely, when the last persecution was almost over.  We have therefore given it a place about the year 1600; that is about the close of that century.  The title of it is: Confession of Faith according to the holy Word of God.

 

Confession of Faith, According to the Holy Word of God.

ARTICLE I.

Of the only God of heaven and earth.  By the grace of God, according to the import of the holy Scriptures, we believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only, eternal, almighty, and true God; who is the Creator of heaven and earth, with all things visible and invisible; so that all things derive their origin and being from him alone, and are all sustained, governed and upheld by his almighty word.  He is a just, perfect, holy, unsearchable and indescribable, spiritual Being; consisting of or through himself, Exo. 3:14, and not needing the help or assistance of any thing; but is himself the origin and fountain of every good thing.  From his overflowing goodness every good and perfect gift proceeds and descends.  And he is the living One, eternal, without beginning or end, an almighty, true God and Lord [Jehovah] of Hosts, a commanding King over all, and above us all in heaven and earth, a terrible Judge and an avenging, consuming fire; the true Light, just, righteous and holy, full of grace and peace, and a God of love and of all comfort, long-suffering and of great mercy.

And this only good, and only wise, exalted God, who is all in all, dwells with his worshipful, glorious existence above in heaven, in a light which no man has seen, nor can see, and is present everywhere with his Spirit and power, filling heaven and earth, so that heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool.  From his all-seeing eye nothing is hidden, but he is an omniscient hearer and beholder of the hearts and secret intents and thoughts of all men; all things being naked and open unto his eyes.  1 Cor. 4:5; Heb. 4:13.

And since he is such an omniscient God, full of all grace and mercy, and a God of all comfort, with whom alone the fountain of wisdom and all good gifts are to be found; and since he will not give this his divine honor to another, therefore all men are in duty bound, to seek, by ardent prayer and with a desiring heart, all grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, in God alone and in none other.*

And to this only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, before whose worshipful majesty the angels stand with trembling; whose word is true, and whose command is powerful; who is a righteous Judge over all; finally every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he alone is Lord, to the praise of his glory.

And this only, eternal, true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, consists in one true Father, and one true Son, and one true Holy Spirit.  And besides this only God there never has been another, nor ever will be.

Concerning this only, eternal God, read: Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.  Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29.

Through Isaiah he speaks: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.  Isa. 46:9; 45:5; 44:6; 43:11; 41:4.

Through Paul he says: That an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.  1 Cor. 8:4; 12:6; Eph. 4:6.

And in this only God we must necessarily believe to salvation, as the beginning and foundation of the Christian faith.  Read: For he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  Heb. 11:6.

To believe in this God, is also called a principle of the Christian doctrine.  Read Heb. 6:1; Jas. 2:19.  John 17:8; 14:1; Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:9.

ARTICLE II.

Of the eternal birth and Godhead of the only and eternal Son of God, we confess: That the Son of God was born and proceeded from all eternity, in an ineffable manner, from the true God, his Father; of the essence and substance of the almighty God, as a Light from the true Light, true God from the true God; being in the form of God, the likeness of the invisible God, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person; so that he was born and proceeded from God his Father as the brightness of the everlasting light, the immaculate reflection of the power of God, and the image of his goodness; being equal with his Father in essence, form, and attributes; as eternal, almighty, holy, and the like.*  For it is an inevitable consequence that like produces like.

Thus, as the stone spoken of by the prophet Daniel, which was cut out of the mountain without hands, and itself became a great mountain, is of the same essence and substance with the mountain; so also the precious, elect corner-stone, Jesus Christ, was born or proceeded from God the almighty Father (who is called a mountain and rock forever), and is of the same essence and substance with him.  Therefore, Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is to be believed in, confessed, served, honored, and worshiped by all believers, as the true God with his Father.  But as this is also a matter of faith, and not of reason or comprehension, all this must be viewed, believed, judged, and spoken of not humanly, nor carnally, but divinely and spiritually.

Concerning this high, eternal birth, issue, and Godhead of the Son of God, read: “You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.”  Psm. 2:7.  “For unto which of the angels has he said at any time, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you?  And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son.  And again, when he brings in the first-begotten into the world.”  Heb. 1:5,6.

“So also Christ did not glorify himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, You are my Son, to-day have I begotten you.”  Heb. 5:5.

“And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.”  Acts 13:32,33.  Observe, that this passage of Paul has reference not only to the raising up of Christ from the dead, but chiefly to his eternal birth from God his Father.

The prophet Micah, speaking of Bethlehem, says: “Out of you shall he come forth that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  Mic. 5:2; John 16:28,30.

Again, Paul says: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born (mark, the first-born) of every creature.”  Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14.

Also John: “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (mark, the only begotten Son) which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.”  John 1:18 and 14.

Read also: Prov. 8:23; Dan. 2:34,45; Syr. 24:13; Rom. 8:29.  Concerning the Godhead of Christ, read: Psm. 45:6; Heb. 1:8; John 1:1 and 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 1 John 5:20.

ARTICLE III.

Of the Holy Spirit we believe and confess: That there is a true, real Holy Spirit, also comprehended in the only, eternal, divine essence; who proceeds from the Father and the Son and is the power of the Most High, by whom the Father and the Son operate, and through whom heaven and earth, and all the heavenly host were made.  Therefore, the divine attributes are ascribed to him; as eternal, almighty, holy, omniscient; who searches the deep things of the Godhead, knows what is in God, and goes through and searches all spirits, however subtle they may be.  He is therefore confessed as the true God with the Father and the Son.  And he is the subtle breath of the power of God, who with his divine inspiration illuminates and enkindles the heart of man, and confirms and leads him into all truth.  He is given by God unto all who obey him.  All that are led by this Spirit, are the sons of God.  He that has not this Spirit, does not belong to God.  He is called the real and earnest of the inheritance of all true children of God.  He who blasphemes this Spirit, must never expect forgiveness.  Christ also commands to baptize believers in the name of the Holy Spirit.

Concerning this only Spirit of God, read: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”  Gen. 1:1,2.

Through Paul we are taught: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”  1 Cor. 12:4.  “But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  1 Cor. 12:11,13.  Read also: 2 Sam. 23:2; Eph. 4:4; Mat. 10:20; Luke 12:12; Mat. 3:16; John 1:32; Mat. 28:19; Mark 16:16.

ARTICLE IV.

How Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be distinguished in certain attributes.  Of this we confess: That in the only eternal Divine Being there are not three mere names; but that each name has its true signification and attributes; so that there is a true real Father, of whom all things are; and a true, real Son, by whom are all things; and a true, real Holy Spirit, through whom the Father and the Son operate.  The Father is the true Father, who begat the Son before all time, and from whom the Son proceeded and came, and by whom he [the Father] created and made all things; and through whom the Son was sent to be the Savior of the world.  The Son was born of, proceeded and came from the Father; by whom the Father created all things, and who was sent by the Father, and came into the world, and, through the effectual power of the Most High was conceived by Mary, and born as man.  He suffered, was crucified, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of his Almighty Father in heaven.  The Holy Spirit is he that proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is sent by them; through whom the Father and the Son operate and work.  He speaks not of himself, but whatsoever he has heard from the Father; he takes of the things of Christ, to show them to his own.

Therefore there are, in the same divine Essence, in heaven, three true witnesses: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; of whom the glory of the only begotten Son of God appeared really and distinctively, in the form of a servant, on earth, and was also seen by John the Baptist, at the Jordan.  And the Holy Spirit was also distinctively seen by the same John to descend, in the form of a dove, from God out of heaven, upon Christ and abide upon him.  And the Father who is an invisible Spirit, and cannot be seen by mortal eye, let his voice be heard from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

These three true witnesses are distinctively spoken of, as follows: “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.  There is another that bears witness of me.”  John 5:31,32.

“I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.  It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.  I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me, bears witness of me.”  John 8:16–18,29,54; 1 John 5:20; John 16:32 and 15:24.

Again, Paul says: “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  1 Tim 2:5.

“Whosoever transgresses, and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God.  He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son.”  2 John 1:9.

Of the Holy Spirit, Christ says: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive.”  John 14:11,17; Mat. 12:32.

“But if I depart I will send him unto you.  For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.  He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”  John 16:7,13,14.

How John, the man of God saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.  Read, “And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased.”  Luke 3:22.

“And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him and I did not know him: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the Holy Spirit.  And I saw, and bear record that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:32–34.  Read also Mark 1:10.

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.  Mat. 3:16.

Mark, how awfully they sin against the Most High, who, contrary to all these express words of the Holy Spirit, still dare say and maintain that John did not see the Holy Spirit, but only a natural or created dove.

Hear also how the voice of the Father was heard from heaven: “And lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Mat. 3:17.

“For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory.”  2 Pet. 1:17.  Read also: Psm. 110:1; 2 Esdr. 13:32; John 1:1; 1 Cor. 12:5; 1 John 5:7.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.”  1 John 5:7; 1 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 3:14.

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CHCoG: This last paragraph needs comment.  First, the Corinthians and Revelation references have nothing to do with the 1 John quotation, so we are really dealing only with this 1 John 5:7 quotation.  And it is quoted oddly, in that although it uses the spurious 1 John 5:7 version created by the papists, it only partly quotes it, which is perhaps a tacit acknowledgement that the authors knew it was suspect.  The full quote for this falsified verse is: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.”  This is followed by “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”  The Roman catholic hierarchy began inserting these verses above into their Old Latin Bibles in the fifth century.  It then went into their Vulgate in the seventh century, and finally made its way into some copies of the Greek manuscripts, beginning in 1522, and thus less than 80 years before this Confession of Faith was written.  This forgery was clearly a desperate attempt to force their Babylonian trinity into the Bible.  The earlier Greek manuscripts preserve the original, as does the Peshitta, in which the two verses translate as this: “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.”  Neither the Father nor the Son were ever even in these verses, let alone being described as a three in one trinity.  This is all part of Rome’s pagan trinity, as explained in The Two Babylons.  Be very, very careful about what you accept from Roman doctrines, which also has strongly influenced the following article, even though they have avoided directly quoting “and these three are one.”

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ARTICLE V.

That these three true witnesses are but one only true God.  Hereupon we confessed: That this must certainly follow, from the fact, that the Son proceeded or came forth from the eternal essence and substance of the Father; and that the Holy Spirit truly proceeds from the Father and Son, and is comprehended together with the Father and the Son in the only, eternal Divine Being.*

Moreover, this is abundantly testified and confirmed by the divine works and attributes, which are ascribed in the holy Scriptures jointly to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of which no angels in heaven, much less, any other creatures are capable, but which belong and are peculiar to the only God alone; as, the creating, governing, and upholding of heaven and earth with all things visible and invisible; the gracious Gospel sent from heaven; the sending out of the apostles to preach the same among all nations; the raising of man from the dead, and the giving of eternal life; and all divine worship, honor and reverence.  Therefore they are perfectly one, not only in will, words, and works, but also in essence, and in the eternal and indescribable godhead.  Thus also in the divine works, so that whatsoever the Father does, the Son does likewise; and as the Father raises up the dead, even so the Son quickens whom he will; and all this they do in the power and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit; and therefore they can with reason and truth be called the one God of heaven and earth.  Besides him, there has been no other God, neither shall another be found in all eternity.  Therefore in the term one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are comprehended.

On this subject read the prophet Jeremiah: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.  He has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom.”  Jer. 10:11,12; Isa. 44:24; Psm. 96:5.

“By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”  Psm. 33:6; Heb. 3:4; Acts 4:24.

“All things were made by him (Christ); and without him was not anything made that was made.”  John 1:3 and 5:19.

Concerning this perfect unity read: “My Father, which gave them to me (says Christ) is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.  I and my Father are one.”  John 10:29,30.

Christ said to Philip: “He that has seen me has seen the Father.  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” John 14:9,10; 12:45; 17:21.

How the Holy Spirit is also called God.  Read what Peter said to Ananias: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” And a little further on: “You have not lied unto men, but unto God.”  Acts 5:3,4.

“Them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.”  1 Pet. 1:12.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.  Amen.”  2 Cor. 13:14.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”*  1 John 5:7; Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 3:20.

ARTICLE VI.

Of the creation of all things visible and invisible, and of the creation of man we confess: That the only, almighty, and wonder working God, who is the origin of all good, and for whose sake all things are created, and have their being, created, among other invisible things, also a multitude of many thousand angels, whom he has put as ministering and immortal spirits in his worshipful glory, to minister unto their Creator, and to offer him praise, honor, and thanks; and who are sent forth by God, as messengers, to minister in manifold ways for men who shall be heirs of salvation; and with which angels of God, Christ Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven, to hold judgment over all men.  And he shall glorify all that believe and please God, and make them like the glorious, immortal angels, and crown them with all holy angels in everlasting glory.

But as some of these angels became unfaithful and apostate to God, their Creator, they were, through their own voluntary sin or pride, rejected by the holy and righteous God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and were cast down from the glorious estate of heaven to hell, bound with chains of darkness and reserved until the great day of judgment, to be sentenced with all unbelievers to eternal damnation.

These impure spirits or devils are called: the prince of darkness and spirit of wickedness, who rules in the air and works in the children of disobedience; with whom all unbelievers, who are governed and seduced by Satan, are in fellowship.  And as all believers are in the society or brotherhood of the holy angels, and shall enjoy eternal salvation with them; so, on the other hand, shall all unbelievers have to endure everlasting damnation with all impure or apostate angels, with whom unbelievers are in fellowship.

Likewise, God Almighty, in the beginning, from nothing, in a most wonderful manner, and above all human reason and comprehension, created heaven, the earth, and the sea, with all their glorious adornment, he, the Blessed, only saying: “Let heaven and earth be made; and his word was a perfect work.”  He also adorned the heavens with many glorious lights; two great lights, one to rule and illume the day, and the other to rule the night; together with many glorious stars, which he ordained to the honor of their Creator, and the service of men.

Thus also, the Lord Almighty endowed the earth with many glorious fountains and running rivers, and adorned it with manifold trees and animals, and with all that lives and moves thereon.  And he created the sea with great whales and various kinds of fish, for the wants of man, together with all that lives and moves in this.  And he established the earth out of the water and in the water, by his almighty and everlasting word.  They shall be preserved until the last great day of judgment.

After God, the Lord [Jehovah], in five days had most wisely and excellently created heaven, and earth, and the sea, together with all visible things, he, on the sixth day, formed man from the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life; and from his rib made Eve, a woman, and gave her to him as a help-mate.  Moreover, he loved them above all other creatures, and clothed them like himself with divine virtues, which are righteousness and true holiness; endowing them with wisdom, speech, and reason, that they might know, fear, and love their Creator, and serve him in voluntary obedience.  He placed them as lords over all creatures, endowing them with immortality, that they might be and live before him, and rule and reign over all creatures which Jehovah God created.

Concerning this wonderful creation, read: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.”  Rev. 4:11.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and in him.”  Col. 1:16; Psm. 33:6.

Regarding the angels, read: “He makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Heb. 1:7,14; Psm. 104:4.

Concerning the apostasy of the angels, read: “For if God did not spare the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them unto chains and darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”  2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 10:18; Isa. 14:8; Rev. 12:4.

Regarding the creation of the visible things, read: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  Gen. 1:1; John 1:3; Psm. 33:6.

God said: “Let heaven and earth be made; and your word was a perfect work.”  2 Esdr. 6:38.

“For your almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form.”  Wis. 11:17.

“I beseech you, my son, look upon the heaven, and the earth, and all that is in this, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise.”  2 Mac. 7:28.

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  Heb. 11:3; Acts 17:24; Psm. 146:6; 148:5.

Concerning the creation of man, read: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  Gen. 1:26.

“And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  Gen. 2:7; Acts 17:25; 1 Cor. 15:45.

How man was created, read: “This only have I found that God has made man upright.”  Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 1:26; 5:1.

“For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.”  Wis. 2:23; Syr. 17:1.

“And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”  Eph. 4:24.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”  Gen. 1:31; Deut. 32:4.

ARTICLE VII.

Of the fall and punishment of man we confess: The first man, Adam, and Eve, having been thus gloriously created after the likeness of their Creator, unto eternal life, did not continue long in this estate; but as they were created with a free will, to choose what they would, so that they could fear, serve and obey their Creator, or, disobey and forsake him; and as their Creator had given them a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that they should eat of it, they should surely die; they, notwithstanding this, in their vain desire to be equal to their Creator in wisdom and knowledge, were led and drawn away from God, and deceived by Satan; and thus they disobediently and voluntarily transgressed the command of their Creator.  The woman, last created, was first deceived, and turned her ears away from God to Satan, and, also seducing her husband, they, through this sin, fell under the wrath and disfavor of God, and, with all their posterity, became subject that very day, to temporal and eternal death, and were thus divested of the divine virtue, which is righteousness, and true holiness, and became sinful and mortal.

On this account, God the holy and righteous Judge, in whose sight wickedness can not endure, but who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, or to look on iniquity; and who threatens from heaven with his wrath and disfavor all disobedience and ingratitude of men; was so incensed by the sin thus committed by Adam and Eve, that by it they not only fell into eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, but Jehovah God moreover imposed upon Adam and Eve diverse temporal, bodily punishments, which also continually extend themselves into all their generations.  Who are so corrupted in Adam, that they are all from their youth, by nature, inclined to sin and evil, and are therefore deprived of the beautiful pleasure-garden, or paradise, but must eat their bread, all their life, in sorrow and in the sweat of their face, from the uncultivated earth, which because of this first sin was so cursed and marred, that it brings forth of itself weeds, thorns, and thistles; and cover the shame of their bodies made naked by sin.  The woman, as the chief transgressor, has to subject her will and power to the man, and was constrained to bring forth her children in pain and anguish.  This punishment continues upon all people, until they finally return to the dust and ashes from where they came.

Concerning how Adam, together with the whole human race, through sin, fell into temporal and eternal death, and, in consequence of this, became sinful, read: “Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men.”  “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned,” etc.  “And not as it was by one that sinned . . . for the judgment was by one to condemnation,” etc.  “For if by one man’s offense death reigned,” etc.  “Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” etc.  “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” etc.  Rom. 5:12,14–19.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  1 Cor. 15:21,22.

“Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”  Psm. 51:5.

“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job 14:4.

“Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.”  Syr. 25:24; Tit. 2:14; Wis. 2:24.

The prophet Esdra says: “The first Adam bearing a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him.”  “And he transgressed, and you immediately, you appointed death in him and in his generations.”  2 Esdr. 3:21,7.

“O Adam, what have you done!  For though it was you that sinned, you have not fallen alone, but we all that come from you.”  2 Esdr. 7:48.  Read also: John 3:6; Rom. 8:5; Eph. 2:3; Syr. 17:16; Gen. 6:5.

Read further, how God announced unto Adam his punishment on account of sin, which punishment God extends unto all his posterity: “Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field: in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are and unto dust shall you return.”  Gen. 3:17–19,23,24.  Concerning the punishment of the woman, read: Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12.

ARTICLE VIII.

Of the restoration or justification of man.  We confess that Adam and Eve having thus fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, and into death and eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, so that no remedy or deliverance was to be found in heaven or earth, among any created beings, who could help, and redeem them, and reconcile them to God, the Creator of all things, who is the Almighty God [Jehovah] (against whose majesty they had sinned, and who alone could heal them), who is rich and abounding in all grace and mercy, had compassion upon Adam and his posterity, and, therefore, promised them his only begotten Son as a comforting Redeemer and Savior, whom he would put as enmity between Satan and the woman and their seed, to the comfort and help of fallen mankind, in order thus to bruise the head of Satan, and to deprive him of his power; and, in this manner, to deliver Adam and his posterity from the prison of sin, the power of the devil, and eternal perdition, and to reconcile them to God.

And even as Jehovah God, through this promise, clothed Adam and his seed internally, according to the soul, with his grace and mercy, he, in token of this, also covered the outward shame and nakedness of the body, making coats of skins, and clothing them with this.

And even as Adam, through this his first, one sin, brought, not only himself, but with him also his whole posterity, without exception of persons, and without their own actual evil works, into eternal death and condemnation; so also, God Almighty, through this promise of the only Savior Christ Jesus, redeemed, delivered, and justified from condemnation, and placed into the state of grace and reconciliation, all men, without exception of persons, without any of their good works, only from pure grace and mercy.  Seeing that Adam’s race was not born of him when he stood under disfavor and condemnation before God; but as all men proceed from Adam as being in a state of grace, peace, and reconciliation with God, he could bring forth none but such as stand with him in the same reconciliation.

Thus none of Adam’s race are created or born to condemnation, but all are born and brought forth into the world in the same state of grace and reconciliation with God.  Therefore, we hold it to militate not only against the holy Scriptures, but also utterly against the nature of God, which is just, righteous, holy, and merciful, that God should punish with eternal death and damnation, simply on account of Adam’s sin, so great a number of Adam’s race, who die in their infancy in a state of innocence, before they have followed Adam in sin; seeing the good God, through Christ and for Christ’s sake, so graciously forgave Adam, (who had himself committed the sin) and placed him in a state of grace.

But men having attained the knowledge of good and evil, and, through the lust of the flesh, and their own desire, having been drawn away from the path of virtue and innocence, so that they follow Adam in sin, therefore it comes that they separate themselves from their Creator, and, consequently, do not perish, nor are condemned on account of Adam’s transgression, but because of their own unbelief and evil works.

But the righteous God, who does indeed forgive sin, yet ofttimes does not suffer it to go entirely unpunished, permitted the temporal, bodily punishment to remain upon Adam and Eve, and their posterity, by which they ought to learn to know, fear, and serve their Creator, and to shun sin; such as this, that from their infancy they are by nature inclined to sin and evil, against which they have a continual warfare, are barred out from the beautiful paradise, must cover their nakedness; the women must subject their power and will to their husbands, and must bring forth their children in pain and anguish; and all must eat all the days of their life, with sorrow, of the corrupted earth, until they return to dust of the earth, from where they have come.

But all believers receive in this life the restoration or justification of Christ only through faith, in hope, and afterwards in the resurrection of the dead they shall receive it truly and actually, and shall enjoy it forever.

Concerning these glorious and comforting promises of salvation, read: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed, and her seed; it shall bruise your head.”  Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:14,15.

As to how this promise was renewed in the seed and race of Adam, read: “Jehovah your God will raise up unto you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall hearken.”  Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37.  To Abraham: Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Acts 10:43.

Concerning the fact that this promise of justification does not extend only to a particular class of persons, but to all men without distinction, read: “Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  Rom. 5:18,19.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  1 Cor. 15:21,22.

“That was the true Light, which is the light of every man that comes into the world.”  John 1:9,29.

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  1 John 2:2.

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”  Col. 1:19,20.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”  Tit. 2:11.  Read also: Rom. 3:24; 11:32; 1 Tim. 4:10; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 4:10; Isa. 53:6; 1 Pet. 2:24.

As to how the kingdom of heaven is promised by Christ to infants, without respect of persons, read: “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, Allow little children, and do not forbid them, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  Mat. 19:13,14; 18:3; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15.

Concerning how God the righteous Judge will not punish infants for the sin of their parents, or of Adam; but to requite each with righteousness, according to his own works, read: “For so much then as you are righteous yourself, you order all things righteously: thinking it not agreeable with your power to condemn him that has not deserved to be punished.”  Wis. 12:15.

“The soul that sins, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him.”  Ezek. 18:20,4.  “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”  Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29.

“Because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.”  Acts 17:31; Psm. 7:11; 2 Tim. 4:8.

“But he that does not believe shall be damned.”  Mark 16:16.  “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil.”  Rom. 2:9.

ARTICLE IX.

Of the free will or power of man before and after the fall; and of the saving grace of God.  Of this we confess: That God Almighty in the beginning created the man Adam and his wife in his image and likeness, endowing them, above all creatures, with virtues, knowledge, speech, reason, and a free will or power; so that they could know, love, fear, and obediently serve their Creator; or could voluntarily and disobediently forsake their God; as appeared in the first transgression, when Adam and his wife, through the subtlety of the devil, who appeared in the form of a deceitful serpent, departed from the commandment of God; therefore they did not sin through the fore-ordination or the will of God; but as they had been created with a free will, and to do as they would, they sinned through their own voluntary desire, and transgressed the command of God contrary to his will.

The man Adam and his wife having thus through their own sin fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, by which they became sinful and mortal, were again received into favor by Jehovah God their Creator; so that they were not utterly divested of their former wisdom, speech, and knowledge, above all other creatures, nor of their previous free will or power, as may be seen from their voluntarily accepting God’s gracious promises unto life, and obeying the voice of the Lord; and as also clearly appears from the fact that Jehovah God very strictly appointed an angel with a flaming sword to keep the tree of life from Adam; lest through his free will or power he should eat of the tree of life and live forever; which would have been in Adam’s power.  And this free will or power has been transmitted to all their descendants, who proceed from them as branches from their stem; so that even as men are endowed of God with knowledge, reason and voluntary power, by which they can perform manifold works, and seek and desire from God the health of their diseased and infirm bodies, and are not without action, as the irrational creatures, blocks and stones, so likewise, man, through the grace of God, and the moving of the Spirit, by which men live, and are moved, may open the door of the heart to the salutary grace of God—which through the Gospel is offered to all men, and through which death and life is set before man—and seek the health of his wounded soul; or he may voluntarily resist, reject and neglect this offered grace and moving of the Spirit.  Thus also, as men have eyes and ears, to see and to hear, yet not of themselves, but only from God the Giver, so they also, through the grace of God, have a free will or power to do the good and to leave the evil.

But men, considered in themselves, seeing they are without the grace of God, are of themselves incapable of thinking anything that is good, much less are they able to do it.  But it is almighty God, who through his Spirit of grace works in man both to will and to do, moves, draws, and chooses them, and accepts them as his children, so that men are only recipients of God’s saving grace.  Therefore all Christians are in duty bound, to ascribe the beginning, middle and end of their faith, with all the good fruits of it, not to themselves, but only to the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus.

We confess moreover: That this saving grace of God is not limited to a few particular men, but even as the Almighty God lets his sun rise and shine on the evil and on the good, so he has extended his grace to all of Adam’s race; as it is also evident that God, in his goodness, did not leave himself without witness among the heathen, doing them good, and so moving their hearts, that their thoughts and consciences accused and excused them, so that they could do by nature, without the hearing of the law of Moses, the things contained in the law.  This appears in still greater clearness in the coming of Christ, that Almighty God has proclaimed the saving grace through the Gospel to the whole world, for a witness unto all nations, by which all excuse is taken from men, and as an evidence, that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent and be saved.  According to the import of the holy and everlasting Gospel, a righteous, eternal, and irrevocable judgment shall be pronounced, in the last day, through Christ Jesus, the blessed, over all nations.  Therefore all men who now in this time of grace believe and accept the Gospel, attain unto life; but all who do not believe the Gospel, but voluntarily reject it, will receive death as their portion.

On the other hand, we reject the belief of those who say that Almighty God has indeed caused the word of reconciliation to be preached to all, or many, but does nevertheless withhold his grace from many of them, so that the greater part of mankind cannot accept the word of reconciliation and be saved, but will, through the purpose or eternal counsel and will of God, inevitably have to perish forever, and be damned.

On this subject, read various Scripture passages ascribing a will to man.  And the holy Spirit does not speak in vain in the Scriptures: “He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; if you will, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable faithfulness.  He has set fire and water before you; stretch forth your hand unto whether you will.  Before man is life and death; and whichever he likes shall be given him.”  Syr. 15:14–17; Deut. 11:26; 30:15; 2 Esdr. 7:59.

Jehovah said to Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”  Gen. 4:7.

Concerning man’s free will, read: “Let him do what he will, he sins not; let them marry.  Nevertheless he that stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will.”  1 Cor. 7:36–38.

“And whosoever offers a sacrifice of peace offerings unto Jehovah to accomplish his vow, or a free will offering.”  Lev. 22:21,23.

“Who might offend, and has not offended?  or do evil, and has not done it?” Syr. 31:10.

And Paul also says: “For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.  Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also.”  2 Cor. 8:3,11; Phil. 14; Mark 14:7; 1 Cor. 7:36.

“Man can do nothing good of himself, by his own power; but through the grace of God, he, in his imperfectness, is able to keep God’s commandments.  For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  Philip. 2:13.

“You dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see, and does not see; they have ears to hear, and do not hear.”  Ezek. 12:2.

“For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I do not find.”  Rom. 7:18–21.

Read here all the Scriptures which unanimously testify that our Lord Jehovah does not desire the death of the sinner, but that he be converted, and live.  Ezek. 18:32; 33:11; Wis. 1:13; Isa. 55:7.

And that God has extended his saving grace not only to the elect, but to all of Adam’s race; and that he also died for those that perish.  Concerning this, read: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”  Tit. 2:11.

“Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.”  Isa. 45:22.

“Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  Rom. 5:18.

“Who in times past allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.  Nevertheless he did not leave himself without witness,” etc.  Acts 14:16,17; Rom. 1:19; 2:15.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”  2 Pet. 2:1.

“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”  2 Cor. 5:15.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” etc.  John 3:16.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29.

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.”  1 Tim. 2:3,4.

“He is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  2 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4; Jas. 4:6; Acts 13:46.  Read also: Mat. 23:36,37; Luke 13:34; 2 Esdr. 1:30.

As to how God the righteous Judge will pronounce the final judgment upon those who disobey* the Gospel, read: “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that do not know God, and that do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Thes. 1:7,8; Mark 16:16.  “This is the book of the commandments of God, and the law that endures forever: all they that keep it shall come to life; but such as leave it shall die.”  Bar. 4:1.

ARTICLE X.

Of the providence of God, the election of believers, and the rejection of unbelievers.  Of this we confess: As we believe and confess that God is omnipotent; and that with him nothing is impossible; so likewise is he also prescient and omniscient, so that nothing is hidden from him in heaven and in earth, neither that which is to take place until the end of all things, nor that which has taken place from all eternity.  And through this exceeding high prescience (foreknowledge), knowledge and wisdom of God, which are unfathomable, he very well saw and knew from the beginning in eternity until the consummation of the world, who would be the truly believing recipients of his grace and mercy; and, again, who should be found unbelieving despisers and rejecters of said grace.  And, consequently, he from the beginning and from eternity knew, foresaw, elected and ordained all true believers to inherit eternal salvation through Christ Jesus; and, on the other hand rejected all unbelieving despisers of said grace to eternal damnation.  Therefore the perdition of men is of themselves, and their salvation only through the Lord their God, without whom they can do nothing that is good.

But in no way is it true that the gracious, merciful, and righteous God (who conforms to his holy nature) has from eternity ordained or predestinated, and created, at a convenient time, by far the greater number of the human race unto eternal damnation; or that, they having fallen through the sin of the first man Adam, he let them remain without help in eternal death and condemnation, into which they had come without their knowledge and own actual evil works, without having in this case seen and known the just cause of their rejection.  Far be it from us, to believe this from the only good and righteous God!

But, on the other hand, all true followers of Christ believe and confess: That the righteous God, in the beginning, created man good and upright, and gave him an existence, and he hates none of those things which he has created.  And when through the subtlety of the devil they had fallen into eternal death, the blessed God, whose mercy is over all flesh, and who is not willing that any should perish, out of pure love and mercy, redeemed, bought, and delivered, through the atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the whole human race, without exception of persons, from eternal condemnation; so that, in consideration of the death of Christ, none shall perish on account of Adam’s sin; but God the righteous Judge will judge the world in righteousness, giving assurance unto all men, and rendering to every man according to his own works and deeds.  The believers, who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for eternal life, attain glory and honor and immortality, but the unbelieving and disobedient, tribulation and anguish, and the everlasting wrath of God.

Concerning the foreknowledge or prescience of God, read: “And has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”  Acts 17:26; Deut. 32:8.

“She foresees signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times.”  Wis. 8:8; Dan. 2:28; 5:17.

“O everlasting God, that knows the secrets, and knows all things before they be.” Hist. Sus. v. 42; Isa. 46:10; Job 42:2; Rom. 9:11; Acts 2:23,31; 1 Pet. 1:20.

“My substance was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in your book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”  Psm. 139:15,16.

“He knew all things ere ever they were created; so also after they were perfected he looked upon them all.”  Syr. 23:20; Acts 15:18.

Here it is to be observed with attention, how God, through his prescience, from the beginning elected the believers in Christ, and rejected the unbelievers.  Read: “Hearken, my beloved brethren, has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith?” etc.  Jas. 2:5.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen,” etc.  1 Cor. 1:27,28.

“I have even from the beginning declared it to you; before it came to pass I showed it you: for I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb.”  Isa. 48:5,8; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 9:13; Eph. 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9.

“Before they were sealed that have gathered faith for a treasure; then did I consider these things,” etc.  2 Esdr. 6:5.

“And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people?”  Isa. 44:7.

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified.”  Rom. 8:28–30.

“Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you,” etc.  Jer. 1:5.

“According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” etc.  Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; John 15:16; Acts 13:48.

ARTICLE XI.

Of the written word of God, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ.  We confess: That the old law which was given by Moses and received by the disposition of angels, was a perfect doctrine and rule for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom God had made and established this his covenant.  According to the doctrine and tenor of this law, this people had to conduct and regulate themselves, without transgressing any part of it, or taking away from, or adding to it, or following their own opinion in regard to it, on pain of being exterminated, and falling under a great curse.  On the other hand, those who hear, believe and fulfill this law, are promised life, and many glorious blessings.  This blessing and curse extended mostly to temporal and bodily things.

This law of God—the five books of Moses—embracing also all kings, priests and prophets, who prophesied and spoke, through the Spirit of God, among this people, Israel (agreeing with the law of Moses), which is the entire Old Testament, has through the grace of God been made known to us in the Bible.  This law is also spiritual, the bringing in of a better hope, and the schoolmaster to Christ.  By its various figures and shadows, as the Levitical priesthood, ceremonies and sacrifices, the land of Canaan, kings, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, it pointed and led to Christ Jesus, because the old law was an intolerable yoke of bondage,* which brought condemnation upon all who did not continue in, and perform all that is written in the book of the law.  And since men, through the weakness of the flesh, could not perfectly keep all this, they could not obtain the eternal blissful life through the law, but would have had to remain under the wrath and anger of God.  But Christ Jesus came, who is the end and the fulfilling of the old law, and the beginner and author of the new law, of perfect liberty, and the real, true light, to which all the dark shadows pointed; he came sent from God, with full power in heaven and on earth and is the one who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.

He has made a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, and has invited to this all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, who in time past were strangers and enemies, but who now, through grace, are all invited, and for whom the way unto life has been opened and well beaten; so that by obedience through grace, they may now become fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.  And this is the word of reconciliation, by which Almighty God, through his Spirit, works faith, regeneration, and all the good fruits resulting from it in men; in which word of the New Testament are proclaimed to us full grace and peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, together with all things that pertain unto life and godliness, yes, all the counsel of God.  According to this proclamation all believing children of the New Testament must necessarily regulate and conduct themselves in all matters relating to the faith; in accordance with which, finally, an eternal judgment will be held.  And it is so much worthier, and better established than the Old Testament, as it was given through a higher and worthier ambassador, and was sealed with a more precious blood; and it shall not cease, but continue till the end of the world.  And as a man’s covenant, if it be confirmed, may not be changed, or anything taken from or added to it, so this New and everlasting Covenant, which is confirmed with the precious death and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, may still much less be diminished, or anything added to this, nor may it be bent and distorted according to one’s own individual opinions; but all Christians are in duty bound to bow their whole heart, mind and soul under the obedience of Christ and the mind of the Holy Spirit expressed in the holy Scriptures, and to regulate and measure their whole faith and conduct according to the import of it.

The Old Testament is to be expounded by and reconciled with this New Testament and must be distinctively taught among the people of God: Moses with his stern, threatening, punishing law over all impenitent sinners as still under the law;* but Christ with his new, glad tidings of the holy Gospel over all believing, penitent sinners as not under the law, but under grace.

To this new law of Jesus Christ all decrees, councils and ordinances made contrary to it by men in the world, must give place; but all Christians must necessarily, as far as the faith is concerned, regulate and conduct themselves only in accordance with this blessed Gospel of Christ.  And as the outward man lives outwardly by the nourishment of bread; so the inward man of the soul lives by every word proceeding from the mouth of the Lord.  Therefore the word of God must be purely and sincerely preached, heard, received and kept, by all believers.

Of the law of Moses: how it was written with the finger of God on tables of stone, and given by the disposition of angels, concerning this read: Exo. 20:2; Deut. 5:6; John 1:17; Acts 7:53; Exo. 31:18; 32:16.

Of the severity of the law, and how we must neither take away from, nor add to, it; in regard to this, read: “Cursed be he that does not confirm all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen.”  Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10.

“What thing soever I command you, observe and do it: you shall not add to this, nor diminish from it.”  Deut. 12:32,8; 29:19; Prov. 30:6; Deut. 4:2.

Of the imperfectness of the law, read: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things,” etc.  Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17.

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.  For there is truly a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness of it.  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.”  Heb. 7:12,18,19; Gal. 2:16; Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:3.

How Christ is the end and fulfilling of the law; with regard to this, read: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.”  Rom. 10:4; Mat. 5:17; Rom. 7:4; Gal. 1:19.

Of the power and dignity of the holy Gospel, read: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes,” etc.  Rom. 1:16; John 1:17; Luke 16:16; Mark 1:15; 1 Pet. 1:12.

“Who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”  2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:25.

Of the usefulness and power of the holy Gospel, read: “And that from a child you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration from God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  2 Tim. 3:15–17; 2 Peter 3:15.

“Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life.”  “He that believes on me, as the Scripture has said,” etc.  John 5:39; 7:38; James 1:21; Mat. 4:4; Deut. 8:3; Wis. 16:26; Revelation 22:18; Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6.

“For whatsoever things were written before this time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  Rom. 15:4.

How Christ Jesus will pronounce the last judgment upon the obedience of the Gospel, read: “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”  John 12:48.

“When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that do not know God, and that do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord,” etc.  2 Thessalonians 1:7–9; Mat. 24:14; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 20:12.

ARTICLE XII.

Of saving faith.  We confess: That saving faith is not a vain or hidden thing unborn in man; nor does it consist in us having a historical knowledge derived from the holy Scriptures, and that we have much to say about it, without having the real substance or signification of it.  But the real and true faith, which avails before God, is a sure knowledge of the heart in a sure confidence, which we receive from God, not through our own power, will, or ability, but through the hearing of the word of God; and which, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, is imprinted on, and written in, the heart, and works so effectually in us, that we are drawn away by it from all visible and perishable things, to the invisible and living God; acquiring by it a new spiritual taste for that which is heavenly, and not for that which is earthly.  For saving faith, accompanied with hope and love, is of such a nature that it conforms to things not seen.  Therefore, all true believers gladly and obediently submit themselves to all the commandments of God, contained in the holy Scriptures, and, when necessary, testify to and confess them with the mouth before kings, princes, lords, and all men, not allowing themselves to be drawn away from it by any means whatever, though, on account of it, money, property, body and life be sacrificed unto spoiling, water, and fire.  For the power of God, which preserves them in the faith, strengthens them, so that they esteem all the sufferings of this time brief and light, not avenging themselves, but praying for their persecutors, gladly suffering for the name of the Lord what is imposed upon them, because of the faith, hope, and love which they have to their Creator and his heavenly riches.

Where this true faith is received in the heart, there the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as witnesses of the same, must follow and flow out.  On the contrary, unbelief, with its unfruitful works of darkness must flee, as darkness before the clear sunlight.  By this faith, which is the beginning of the Christian doctrine, we become children of God, overcome the world, are armed against all the subtle wiles of the devil, become sanctified, justified, saved, and partakers of all the benefits of God shown in Christ Jesus; and without this faith it is impossible to please God.

In this true faith we cannot stand still, but, with humble fasting, praying and supplicating in the Spirit, we must plead for help, assistance, and new strength in all divine virtues, unto the end, in order that God may strengthen and preserve us in the same.  Where this is neglected men may fall from the faith; the good Spirit may be taken away, and their names blotted out of the Book of Life, and written again in the earth.  To this true faith, which is a noble gift of God, all men, who have attained to understanding and knowledge, so that they can hear and understand the word of God, without distinction of persons, are called through the divine word, and invited to come; but all infants, and those whom God permits to remain in their infancy are excepted and excluded from this.  They are under the grace and pleasure of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, by which he, through his blood, cleansed and redeemed the whole human race from the fall of Adam, without requiring of them any other means than faith, hope, love and the observance of certain commandments of God.  It is therefore a great error that some ascribe faith to new-born infants; or [that they say] that without this they cannot be saved.  It is a sure sign that said persons do not know the true faith, and do not believe the words of Jesus Christ, who has promised the kingdom of heaven to infants without this.

For, as true faith consists in hearing, believing and accepting the good things which God offers us through his word; and, again, as unbelief consists in despising and rejecting those things; and since infants have neither knowledge, ability, inclination, nor emotion concerning any of these things, as all intelligent persons see and know; therefore it must truly follow that neither faith nor unbelief may be attributed to infants; but they are simple and ignorant, and in this state perfectly pleasing to God, he having set them as examples for us, that we should imitate them in their simplicity.

How the true faith is a gift of God, and is wrought in the hearts of men through the hearing of God’s word, read: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Eph. 2:8; Rom. 12:3; Col. 2:12; Phil. 1:29; Jude 3.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Rom. 10:17; Heb. 6:2.

With regard to how we must believe in God through his word, read: “Neither do I pray for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”  John 17:20; Eph. 1:9; John 7:38; 14:1; Heb. 11:6; 1 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:15.

Concerning how true faith is not vain, but manifests its effectual power and nature, read: “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations,” etc.  Rom. 1:5; 16:25; Acts 6:7.

“When you received the word of God which you heard by us, you received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.”  1 Thessalonians 2:13.

“In Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.”  Gal. 5:6.

He that does not evince from his faith the seven virtues required, “is blind, and cannot see afar off,” etc.  2 Pet. 1:9; Jas. 2:26.

“But the just shall live by his faith.”  Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:38; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11.

By faith we become righteous and partakers of the benefits of God.  Acts 26:18; Rom. 10:10; Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Mark 16:16.

We must pray to God, to be strengthened and kept in the faith.  Luke 17:5; 1 Pet. 1:5.

When the grace of God is neglected through unbelief and evil works, one may fall away from the faith, and be blotted out of the Book of Life.  “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.”  1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 Tim. 6:10.

“Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”  Luke 8:13.

“One that returns from righteousness to sin: the Lord prepares such a one for the sword.”  Syrach 26:28; Jer. 17:13; Prov. 3:21; Heb. 6:6.

Jehovah said unto Moses, ‘Whosoever has sinned against me, him I will blot out of my book.’”  Exo. 32:33; Rev. 3:5; Psm. 69:29; Isa. 1:2; 30:1; Jer. 18:7.

How infants are simple and ignorant, and that therefore neither faith nor unbelief may be imputed to them; but that they are well-pleasing to God through his grace, without any other means, read: “Moreover, your little ones, which you said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them I will give it, and they shall possess it.”  Deut. 1:39; Mat. 19:14.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  1 Corinthians 13:11; Heb. 5:13.

“Brethren, do not be children in understanding: howbeit in malice be children.”  1 Corinthians 14:20; Eph. 4:14; Mat. 18:2; 19:13; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15.

ARTICLE XIII.

Of regeneration and the new creature, we confess: Inasmuch as our first parents, Adam and Eve, through their transgression, separated themselves from God, and fell into temporal and eternal death, with all their posterity, and, consequently, lost the image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness; became depraved in their nature, and inclined to sin and wickedness from their youth; so that of all men none can attain unto faith and a godly conduct through the power of their first birth, which has sprung and proceeded from sinful seed; because that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and therefore, carnally minded, and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; therefore, all men, having come from the earth, shall return to dust and earth, and, in part, are also like to the corrupted earth, which of itself does not bring forth good grain, but must for this be prepared anew, and sown with good seed.  Thus also, all men, when they have passed their youth, and have come to understand and discern good and evil, we perceive that their carnal hearts and earthly life, being conceived in sin, are inclined to sin, which conceives by its own lust, which awakens sin in them, and allures and moves them to actual sin; and thus they fall from grace,—to which they had been redeemed through the atonement of Christ—which plunges them into the death of sin.

Therefore, Jehovah God requires and demands through his word, of all men of understanding, a true reformation and a renewing from these their own actual sins; that is, that through the hearing of the word of God they receive the faith, become regenerated from above, of God, be created anew in the inner mind of the heart, according to the image of God, and circumcised, being translated from the carnal into the spiritual, from unbelief into faith, from that which is earthly-minded and like Adam into that which is heavenly-minded and like Jesus Christ; that they crucify and mortify their earthly members, and feel, prove, and taste that which is heavenly, and not that which is earthly.  To this, God promises life, peace, and all heavenly riches; and it is the sanctification in the spirit of the mind, and the appropriation of all the benefits of Christ (which have been lost through our own actual sin), and has the promise of eternal salvation.

And wherever this renewing and conversion of the mind and the heart is not found (among all those who know sin have served it), there Christ and the life do not exist; and without this renewing neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, baptism nor Supper, nor any ceremonies, however glorious they may appear, avail anything.

And as man in the beginning is brought forth with pain and anguish from the flesh, so the second, spiritual generation is also called a birth; and it takes place with godly sorrow over sin, and with the crucifying and mortifying of the earthly members.

And as men by the fall of Adam were not altogether deprived and divested of all godly virtues and qualities, so as to become like Satan in evil, but through the grace of God have retained many good principles, so the innate sinful nature, affection for, and proneness to sin are not utterly removed by regeneration, but remain until death in the regenerated; so that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the lust or indwelling sin wars against the law of the new mind, so that the regenerated enter upon a continuous warfare, and must constantly crucify and mortify the lusts of the flesh, tame and bring into subjection their bodies, and abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; and thus fighting, they must keep the victory unto death.

On the other hand, the assertion of those who ascribe regeneration to new-born infants, and say that without this they cannot be saved, is rejected as a grave error.  Some of these found regeneration upon infant baptism, maintaining that as soon as they have their children baptized, they are also, through this ceremony of baptism, regenerated.  Others build the regeneration of infants on the justification or general redemption of Christ, by which the human race has been reconciled from the fall of Adam and put in a state of grace; saying that children are regenerated as soon as they are conceived by the mother; thus putting regeneration, against all right and probability, before the first birth which is of the flesh.  Some can not tell whether infants become partakers of regeneration before, in, or after baptism; from which it is judged that the aforesaid persons treat of regeneration without the holy Scriptures and all true reason, as the blind man of colors; since Almighty God, nowhere in his holy word speaks of the regeneration of infants.  And though children are conceived in sin, or born from sinful seed, yet they have never known, served, or practiced sin, from which they might be regenerated, converted, and renewed in their mind and heart; but they have without this been born, and placed by God in so holy and God-pleasing a state, through the atonement of Christ, that no adult person can, through regeneration and the putting off of the sinful body of the flesh, and the renewing of the mind, become more sinless, holy and God-pleasing; seeing the innate sinfulness, lust or inclination to sin remains in the most pious, regenerated, adult persons until death (not less then in children, in their infancy), against which they carry on a constant warfare; and besides this, Almighty God, by his word, requires of all men that have served sin, no higher or greater reparation than that they be converted by regeneration, and become like unto children in sin and malice.  With what reason, then, can regeneration be applied to children, who have never committed sin, from which they could be regenerated; seeing infancy has already the innocence which is acceptable to God, and has been set as an example before men, after which all the regenerated must labor and strive until death.

Of this heavenly birth from God, and how it is effected through the Spirit and the word of God, read: “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.”  1 Pet. 1:22,23; 2:2; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 4:15; Gal. 4:19; Philem. 10.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” etc.  Tit. 3:5.

That regeneration is not a vain or hidden thing, but demands a new life and the following of Christ, and that eternal salvation is promised thereupon, read: “Truly, I say unto you, that you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Mat. 19:28.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”  Gal. 6:15,16.

“But as many as received him, to them 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 1:12,13.

To all who have served sin, and have not been regenerated, the kingdom of God is denied.  Concerning this, read: “Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said unto you, You must be born again.  The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:3,5–8.

That the regenerated do not become perfect in this life, but must fight unto death against the flesh, the world, and sin, read: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after,” etc.  Phil. 3:12; 1:30; Col. 1:29; Rev. 2:10.

“I discipline my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  1 Cor. 9:27.

“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that you cannot do the things that you would.  But if you be led by the Spirit,” etc.  Gal. 5:17,18; 1 Pet. 2:11; Rom. 7:18,23; Jas. 3:2.

ARTICLE XIV.

Of the incarnation of the eternal and only begotten Son of God.  We confess: That the exalted and true God faithfully kept and fulfilled his exceeding great and precious promises, which he had made in the beginning concerning his Son, who had been foreordained to this end before the foundation of the world, but in these last times was manifest for our sakes.

This glorious and cheering promise was originally given to fallen Adam and Eve, and was afterwards renewed in their seed, as in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and David.  Of him did all the prophets prophesy, and on him did all the pious fathers hope with a firm confidence (as though they had seen him), that Shiloh would come from Judah, and that this beautiful star would arise out of Jacob.  This truly and really took place as follows: When everything was in tranquillity, when the royal sceptre had departed from Judah, and the seed of Jacob was under tribute to the heathen; then the gracious God remembered his holy covenant, and sent his true, real Word or Son out of heaven, from his royal throne; having to this end foreordained and elected the righteous Joseph, of the house and generation of David, whose espoused wife was Mary, whom God had blessed and chosen for this purpose above all other women.

To this Joseph and Mary the Holy Spirit points from generation to generation, as well as to the town of Bethlehem, out of which this Light long before promised was to arise and come forth; in order that all the pious who waited and hoped for this salvation, might have a certain consolation and knowledge from which tribe, city and place they were to expect this Savior of the world.

Thus Mary received the message through the angel of God, and believed it, being overshadowed by the power of the Highest, and conceived by the Holy Spirit the true, real Word, which was in the beginning with God, and by whom all things were created.  The same, through the effectual power of the Almighty God, became flesh or man in her, and was born from her, the Son of the Most High God, whom she had before conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Thus the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God became a visible man subject to suffering.  He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, and brought up at Nazareth under the care of his [imputed] father and his mother.  He hungered, thirsted, was wearied with walking, sighed and wept, and increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man; so that the eternal, only begotten Son of the living God, in the time of his incarnation, did not continue like his heavenly Father in an invisible, serene, immortal, and spiritual form, but for our sakes, humbled himself into a visible, passive, mortal, and servile form, became like unto us men in all things, except sin; in order by it to heal us from the poisonous bite of the serpent, and from everlasting torment.

Therefore, all true witnesses of Jesus Christ are bound, by virtue of the holy Scriptures, to believe and confess: That this same Word, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, by which all things were made, proceeded from God his Father, came into the world, and, through the power of God, became himself a man of flesh, so that the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth, was touched and seen.

Thus he who before was like unto his Father in brightness and glory—not given or usurped God-likeness, but one peculiar to him by nature—left his brightness and glory, and humbled himself, and became in form like unto us men; he who before was greater than the angels, and in an invisible, immortal form, like unto God his Father, was now made lower than the angels, and became like unto his brethren in a visible and mortal form.  He who had joy with his Father, and was surrounded by eternal riches, became poor for our sakes, and suffered on the cross, despising the shame.  He who in the presence of the apostles ascended heavenward, was the same who before had descended from God out of heaven into the lower parts of the earth; and the same ascended above all heavens.  This is the mystery of godliness, which is great, but on account of their carnal and flickering reason, is believed by but few: that God the Son was thus manifest in the flesh: and that he appeared, as a true Redeemer and Savior, and eternal Light, to them who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.

And, as the food which the Israelites ate in the wilderness is called bread from heaven, or heavenly bread, because the substance of the bread was no fruit of this earth, but had come from heaven, though the same was in this world, prepared in the form of bread; so also Christ himself calls his flesh the true bread which came down from heaven; and says that the Son of man should ascend up where he was before, because his flesh or body became flesh, not of Mary or of any created substance, but only of the Word of life which had come down from heaven.*

He it was who spoke with Moses on the mount and in the wilderness; and him the fathers tempted in the wilderness, and resisted his Spirit.  This is the same who was from the beginning.  Him the apostles touched with their hands, and beheld with their eyes; herein the life was manifested, that they saw and proclaimed to men, that which was with the Father, and was manifested unto them, and was even the same Word which spoke with them.

And though it is true that the eternal Son of the living God forsook his divine glory, and, for a brief time, was made lower than the angels, and appeared in the visible form of a servant; yet he did not by it lose his eternal Sonship and Godhead with his Father; but when God the Father brought this his first and only begotten Son into the world, he prepared him a body, not of any created substance, but only of the Word of life, which became flesh, and which by all the angels of God is honored and worshiped as the true God.

Likewise, Christ glorified himself before his apostles, on mount Tabor, that his face shone as the bright sun, and he was confessed by his Father from heaven as his beloved Son.  Thus have also the highly enlightened apostles of Christ, and all true believers, confessed, pronounced, honored and worshiped this visible and palpable Christ Jesus as the true God, and Son of God.  Therefore all true believers, according to these testimonies of holy Scripture, and the examples of all the saints of God, must necessarily, unto salvation, follow, believe, and confess that the whole crucified Christ Jesus, visible and invisible, mortal and immortal, is the true God, and the Son of God, God and man in one undivided person.  To him be praise forever and ever, Amen.

Of these promises concerning the Savior, read how Jehovah God, in the beginning promised fallen Adam and Eve, to put him as enmity between Satan and the woman, and between their seed.  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Gen. 3:15; Col. 1:19; 3:15; Eph. 2:15.

Jehovah your God will raise up unto you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall hearken.”  Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37; Read also: Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8; Genesis 49:10; Num. 24:17; Mat. 2:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Isa. 9:6; 11:1; Acts 10:43.

And that this Savior of the world originally did not spring from the fathers, Mary, or any creature, but was sent and came only from God, and was carried and brought forth by Mary, read: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son.”  Mat. 1:23; Isa. 7:14; Luke 2:21; Gal. 4:4.  “When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit.”  And further: “Joseph, you son of David, do not fear to take unto you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”  Mat. 1:18,20.

The angel of God said unto Mary: “Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and Jehovah God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.  Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I do not know a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.”  Luke 1:30–35.

Read in this connection St. John, who also gives thorough information regarding this matter: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”  John 1:1,2,14; Bar. 3:37; Zech. 2:10.

And further: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us,)” 1 John 1:1,2; John 8:25; Micah 5:2; 2 Peter 1:16; John 20:28; Wis. 18:15.

Of the humbling of the eternal and only Son of God.  (Mark especially the word made; for nowhere do we find anything about assuming man) read: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man,” etc.  Phil. 2:6–8.

“You made him a little lower than the angels.”  “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.”  Heb. 2:7,9; Psm. 8:5.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich.”  2 Cor. 8:9; Eccl. 9:15.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,” etc.  Hebrews 12:2.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  John 6:51.  Read also verses 58 and 63.

How the saints of God confessed and worshiped this humiliated Jesus also in the days of his flesh, as the true God, and the Son of God, read: “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?”  And after a few more words: “Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Mat. 13:16.  Understand, the true Son who was born and came forth from the essence of the Father; and not a Son become so in time, or assumed, as believers, who because of the faith, are also called sons and daughters.”  2 John 1:3; John 1:49; 10:36; 11:27; Acts 8:37; Mat. 27:54.

Jesus said to the blind man: “Do you believe on the Son of God?  He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?  And Jesus said unto him, You have both seen him, and it is he that talks with you.  And he said, Lord, I believe.  And he worshiped him.”  John 9:35–38.

“Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus says unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed,” etc.  John 20:28,29.

“In his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”  1 John 5:20,21.  Rom. 9:5.

ARTICLE XV.

Of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, and the necessity of believing it.  Of this we confess: That it is necessary for all Christians to believe that the knowledge of the only Son of the Father, is, as one of the principal articles of our faith, in the highest degree essential unto salvation.  It is therefore not sufficient to know Christ only after the flesh, or his humanity; as, that he was born of Mary, and became like unto us in all things, except sin; but we must also (which is the most important) know him after the Spirit, and his eternal Godhead; that is, that he before all time, in eternity, in an unspeakable manner, was born of or proceeded from the true God, his Father, and that he is the true real Word and Wisdom, which proceeded from the mouth of the Most High, and which for this reason, was equal with his Father in brightness, glory, power, might and eternal Godhead, before the foundation of the world.  And that this only Son of God, for our justification, became a visible man, that by his present, visible humanity—which is not of this tabernacle or sinful substance, but in essence far different from sinners—he might give us a holy, unblamable example in doctrine and conduct, in order thus to incite all men to follow him.

And that according to his divine power and might he was able to deliver us from the captivity of sin, hell, the devil, and death, and save us forever; seeing no other means or name in heaven or on earth is given unto men for salvation.  To this end, Christ was made unto us, of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.  Therefore neither Moses with his threatening and punishing law of commandments, nor Aaron with the entire Levitical priesthood, and all their sacrifices and offerings, which were made only for remembrance of sins, and consequently, passed by polluted mankind without affording them any help (for no corruptible man could redeem his brother, and reconcile him with God; as all human, sinful substance was not able to redeem the soul from eternal death); but this was fulfilled and accomplished by the slain Lamb, which was foreordained and was manifest in these last times.  He restored that which he had not taken away.  He, the innocent one, took the guilt of us all upon him, and only he was found worthy in heaven and earth, to open the book with its seven seals.  And by his coming into this world (which can never be sufficiently praised), he opened the entrance to the kingdom of God, which was closed by sin, not by the blood of bulls and goats, or of any corruptible man, nor by corruptible silver or gold; but Christ paid and accomplished this by his own dear and precious blood, by it obtaining an eternal redemption.

And as the sun in the heavens is endowed by God with a glorious splendor, so that it is the eye of the world, which illuminates the darkness, and spreads its beautiful light over all visible things, and receives nothing from any of them; so also Christ Jesus, the true Sun of righteousness, and what is still more, the Creator and Ruler of the sun, and of all things, did not take to his assistance any created substance, by which to accomplish the work of our salvation; but came with his most praiseworthy light from God out of heaven, and shone into this dark world, where he was received, and arose, as the beautiful day-star, in the hearts of many men; and was thus a Giver, but not a recipient.  Therefore, the praise and honor for this redemption must be ascribed to the only God of heaven and earth, and not to any created man; otherwise we would rob the Creator of his proper honor, and ascribe the same to sinful, created flesh like unto ourselves; by it making flesh our arm, Redeemer, God and Savior; and thus departing with our hearts from God our Salvation, we should fall into damnable idolatry, seeking life from the dead, where it cannot be found.

Herein we are to know the love and goodness, and also the severity of God, and how greatly the Almighty God hates sin;—his severity and justice, from the fact that through the one sin of the first man, the whole human race became corrupted; and that this could be paid and atoned for by no other means than through the death and blood of God’s own, only begotten Son.  God’s goodness and everlasting love are known from this, that he, the Blessed, so graciously looked upon and recognized the weakness and nothingness of man; and, therefore, as he often sent angels, as his faithful messengers, in human form to men, upon the earth, knowing that this sinful, mortal, earthly flesh and blood is not able to behold the immortal, heavenly glory of the angels; much less can man with his sinful and mortal eyes behold the immortal, eternal, holy splendor and glory of the eternal Creator of all things; therefore the eternal, invisible and immortal Son of God, through his unfathomable love, had himself to become a visible, mortal man, for a little while lower than the angels, and to appear in the form of a servant, like unto his brethren; so that the glory of the eternal and only begotten Son of God was felt and seen in human form, that he might be a true example for us to follow his footsteps.  Herein we may especially know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge: that the holy, heavenly, only begotten, blessed Son of God, Jesus Christ, became man, died and rose for us, when we were yet ungodly and his enemies.

And though Christ suffered for us in the flesh, and was crucified, and died; yet it was not possible that he should be held by death, or that his holy flesh should see corruption.  But he had himself the keys of death and hell, and the power to open and to shut, to lay down his life, and to take it again; and he it is that lived, and was dead, and, behold, he is alive forevermore.

Therefore all true believers must believe that the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, both of his true divinity, and pure, immaculate humanity, is necessary to salvation.  And to this, life and eternal salvation are promised by the Holy Spirit; and that Christ would build his church upon this foundation, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against her.  On the other hand: that all unbelievers, who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (that is, that the Son of God became man, and thus coming, appeared in the flesh), are not of God, but of the spirit of antichrist, who began already in the days of the Apostles, and is to exalt himself still more in the last times.

Of the necessity of this knowledge of Jesus Christ, read: “And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  John 17:3; Hosea 13:4.

“If you had known me, you should have known my Father also,” etc.  John 14:7.

“Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth we know him no more.”  2 Corinthians 5:16.

“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Phil. 2:11; Rom. 14:11; Col. 2:2; Phil. 3:8.

“And Jesus said to Peter, after the latter had confessed and pronounced the man Jesus, to be Christ, the Son of the living God: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.  And I say also unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Mat. 16:17,18.

“And after the apostle Thomas had confessed the visible and palpable man Jesus as his Lord and God, Christ did not reprehend him for it, but accepted it as the belief of the truth, saying: “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29; 17:20; 1 Pet. 1:8.

Read in this connection the various Scripture passages, how the apostles through the Holy Spirit, labored with all their might, to impress on men, not that the eternal Son of God dwelt concealed in the man Jesus; but, on the contrary, that the visible man Jesus was the Christ; that is, the Anointed, and the Savior of the world, sent down from heaven; and to this, the promise of life is given.  Read: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.”  John 20:30,31.

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.”  1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:5; 2 John 1:3; John 6:47.

“Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”  1 John 5:1,5,10; Acts 18:5,28.

“Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ?  He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.”  1 John 2:22.

“Hereby know you the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [that is, that the eternal Word became flesh, and being thus flesh, came into his own] is of God: and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now it is already in the world.”  1 John 4:2,3; 2 John 1:7.

Read further, how we have been redeemed and bought by no other means, than only by the death of the Son of God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” etc.  John 3:16; Rom. 5:8.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” etc.  Rom. 5:10; Heb. 5:9.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?  He that did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,” etc.  Rom. 8:31,32; 1 John 3:16.

“You know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conduct received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  1 Pet. 1:18,19.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”  1 John 4:9.

ARTICLE XVI.

Of the life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and of his again receiving his glory with his Father.  Of this we confess: That the Lord Jesus, in the time of his humiliation in the flesh, being about thirty-three years, did not only with words, but also by works and deeds, set us a holy, godly example, to be looked to as the Captain of the faith, by all believers, and followed in the regeneration; for in his youth he was subject to his father and mother.  And when his time was fulfilled, he entered in full obedience toward his heavenly Father, on the office and ministry imposed upon him, proclaimed unto them his Father’s good pleasure, made the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the blind to see, cleansed the lepers, cast out devils, raised the dead from their graves, forgave men their sins, and promised eternal life to those who believe in him.

These things Christ did not do in the same manner and form as his apostles and others, who performed miracles through a power and gift only received, which had been conferred upon and given them by Christ.  But such was not the case with Christ; for he himself had all power in heaven and earth; so that he said to the two blind men: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  And further: “That you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.”  And still further: “I will raise them up at the last day; and I give unto them eternal life.”

Thus the Lord Jesus completely fulfilled and accomplished the works of his Father, and shone as a clear heavenly light into this dark world, convincing the same of her evil works, and pointing them out to her; by which he incurred the hatred of the blinded scribes and Pharisees, who did not know the light of truth, and who, from hatred and envy, censured him for all these divine deeds, attributing them to the devil; and thus they delivered this innocent one into the hands of the unbelieving heathen, Pontius Pilate.  They also examined this dumb Lamb with many severe threats, mocked him, spat in his face, smote him with their fists, scourged him, wounded his head with a crown of thorns, and finally stripped him and stretched him naked on the cross, nailed his hands and feet thereon, and thus suspended him, as the Prince and Captain of all malefactors, between two murderers.  In his bitter thirst they gave him vinegar to drink, mixed with gall; they pierced his side with a spear, so that blood and water flowed out from it.  Thus he gave up the ghost with a loud voice, commending it into the hands of his Father.  And when he had died, heaven and earth were convulsed by this precious death;* so that the sun lost his brightness, and darkness came over all the earth; the earth quaked; the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and many bodies of the saints arose from their graves, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

And as in the time of his flesh, suffering and death, he showed that he had become man, so he also showed herein that this very man was also God with his Father; and that he had the keys of the power of death and hell, that he could again raise up the broken temple of his body in three days, and had the authority (exousia) to lay down his life, and to take it up again; so that it was impossible that he should be held by death, or that his holy flesh should see corruption, but rose triumphantly from the dead, on the third day, by the glory of the Father, revealed himself to his apostles and others, and miraculously appeared unto them, as they were assembled with doors closed, ate and drank with them, and for forty days spoke with them of many things pertaining to the kingdom of God.  Then, in the presence of the apostles, he was taken up to heaven by a cloud, and sat down on the right hand of his Almighty Father in heaven.

Thus the only begotten Son of God suffered, was crucified and put to death according to the flesh; but by it was again glorified and made alive according to the spirit, and again fully received his previous divine glory, and his equality with the Father.  He will now die no more, neither will death have any more dominion over him; but he shall live and rule as a reigning King of kings, and Lord of lords over mount Zion and the house of Jacob, forever and ever.

Of the unblamable life and conduct of Christ, and how he was subject to his father and mother, read: Luke 2:51; John 8:46; Acts 1:1.

And after his time was fulfilled, how he entered on the ministry imposed upon him, and performed many glorious deeds in his Father’s name, read: Mark 1:15; Mat. 8:16; 9:35; 11:5; 12:15; John 10; Acts 10:38; Isa. 53:7; 1 Pet. 2:24.

And how he, as a light in the world, testified of their dark and evil works, and thus fell into the hands of sinners, read: “The world cannot hate you; but it hates me, because I testify of it, that its works are evil.”  John 7:7; 1:5; 3:19; Mat. 27:18.

How Christ in the time of his humiliation in the flesh was obedient to his heavenly Father, read: “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Phil. 2:8.

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”  Heb. 5:8.

Of the suffering, death, and burial of Christ, read: Psm. 22:16; 60:9,21; Isa. 53:7; 63:3; Acts 8:32; Mat. 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19; Acts 3:15; 1 Cor. 15:4,20; Mat. 27:57; Isa. 53:9.

Of the resurrection of Christ, read: Mat. 28:7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:7; 1 Cor. 15:4,20; Acts 3:26; 10:40.

How Christ again received the divine glory and likeness which he had forsaken; and how he ascended unto heaven, read: “And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”  Mat. 28:18; Psm. 8:6.

“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Luke 24:26.

“You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands: you have put all things in subjection under his feet.”  Heb. 2:7–9; John 17:5.

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hanged on a tree.  God has exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior,” etc.  Acts 5:30,31; Phil. 2:9; Acts 2:33,36.

“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  And they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up,” etc.  Acts 1:9,10; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51.

ARTICLE XVII.

Of the office of Christ, and the specific reason of his coming into the world.  We confess: That Christ is the true promised Prophet, High Priest, and King, whom Moses and all the prophets foretold and proclaimed, and to whom the former priests and kings pointed as figures and shadows.  And the specific reason of his coming into the world was: to destroy the works of the devil, to seek that which was lost, to deliver the whole human race from the captivity of sin, and the power of the devil, and to reconcile them with God his Father, and thus to save sinners.*

According to his prophetical office he went out from God, and came into the world to proclaim unto men, through the Gospel, the full counsel and will of God, which had been hidden from the beginning of the world, and thus to preach deliverance to the captives, the Gospel to the poor, and the acceptable year of the Lord, according to which, as the last declaration and will of God, all the children of the New Covenant are required to live and walk, according to a perfect rule of faith, which shall obtain until the end of the world.

According to his office as High Priest he fulfilled and changed the Levitical priesthood; and by his one offering made on the cross, he opened the closed entrance to the Holy of holies; and through this, his one offering, which is of eternal value, he fulfilled and finished the sacrifice of the law, and obtained an eternal redemption.  And thus reconciling mankind with the Father, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, and is become the believers’ only Advocate, Mediator, High Priest, and Intercessor with God his Father, and ever lives to make intercession for them.

And according to his office as King he came with full power from his almighty Father from heaven, to re-establish, as a mighty King of kings, and commander of the people, judgment and righteousness on earth; and he was the end and fulfillment of all the kings of Israel.  But as his kingdom was not of this world, and he was a spiritual, heavenly King, he avoided all earthly kingdoms of this world, and desired and had only a spiritual, heavenly kingdom.  Among his subjects he reformed, improved and fulfilled the commandments, laws, and customs, given by Moses.  As a commanding king he dissuaded and prohibited his followers from all revenge, whether with words or by deed; [and taught them] that they should beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into scythes and sickles, and should learn war no more; but that, on the contrary, they, according to the example of Christ, their Captain, should love their enemies, and pray for those who injure and persecute them—very far indeed from allowing them to wage war against their enemies with carnal weapons.  But Christ armed his people only with the armor of God, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, with which to fight against flesh and blood, the world, sin, and the manifold wiles of the devil, and thus finally to receive, through grace, from this eternal King, the crown of everlasting life, as their recompense and exceeding great reward.

How Christ is the prophet promised by God, whom we must hear and follow as the perfect teacher of the will of God, read: “Jehovah your God will raise up unto you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall hearken.”  Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37; 3:22; Mat. 17:5.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place.”  2 Pet. 1:19.

“God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” etc.  Heb. 1:1,2.

Of his prophecies, read: Mat. 24 throughout; Luke 17:20; 19:41–44.

Of his priestly office, read: “And having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” etc.  Hebrews 10:21,22.

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”  Heb. 7:12; 8:6; 10:12.

“But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come,” etc.  Heb. 9:11.

Of his preaching, read: Mat. 9:35; Mark 1:14; Mat. 5:2; 11:1; Luke 4:15.

Of his office of King, read: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King comes unto you,” etc.  Zech. 9:9; Mat. 21:5.

“Behold, the days come, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”  Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Isa. 32:1.

“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”  John 1:49; Acts 10:36; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 2:11.

Of his spiritual kingdom and dominion, read: “And Jehovah God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  Luke 1:32,33.

“For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”  Rev. 17:14.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,” etc.  1 Pet. 2:9; Exo. 19:6; Rev. 5:10; John 18:36,37; Psm. 22:28.

Of his government, read: “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.”  Isa. 55:4.

“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy,” etc.  Jas. 4:12; 1 Cor. 9:21; Matthew 12:8; 28:20; Jas. 1:25.

ARTICLE XVIII.

Of the church of God and the communion of believers.  Concerning this we believe and confess: Whereas men by reason of the natural birth of the flesh, follow sin and wickedness when they attain to their understanding, and by it depart from God their Creator; therefore the high and holy God, before whom the sinners and ungodly cannot stand, from the beginning of the world, called and chose, from all the unbelieving nations of the world, an own special people, and separated them from all other nations.  These are they who turn their ears to the calling voice of God, and by it have separated themselves from the world with all its sinful lusts, and all false worship, and have again united themselves to Christ, bowing, as obedient members and sheep of Jesus Christ, under his head and commanding voice, and shunning everything strange which militates against this.  These are they who are renewed in the inward man, and are circumcised, changed, and converted, and live after the Spirit.

This church of God was first commenced on earth, with Adam and Eve in paradise, and afterwards, with Enoch, Noah, and all those who with them honored and called upon the high name of God; which was the first period of time, that is, before the law.

After this Jehovah God established his covenant or church with Abraham and his seed, giving them circumcision as a sign of the covenant, together with many laws, ceremonies, statutes, and customs; which continued till the coming of Christ, and was the second period, or the time of the law of Moses.

Finally God sent his Son, who, as a potentate in heaven and earth, established a new and perfect covenant with the house of Israel, calling to the same all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, all those who amend their sinful life, and obediently yield their bodies under this covenant.  With all these Christ has established his church and congregation; this is the third and last period, which shall thus continue, without change in faith, walk, and laws, until the reappearing of Christ from heaven.

And though the people of God in these three periods, had different and special laws and ceremonies, according to which they had to live and walk; yet this was the will of God, and they were nevertheless only one people of God, and were moved and led by one Spirit.

This church and congregation of believers has not always been visible to the eyes of all men, but has frequently vanished from the sight of the sinful and blood-thirsty world, the latter not being worthy of them.  This can be seen in the case of Noah with his families in the ark, who concealed themselves from the whole world; in the people of Israel in the Red Sea, and here and there during the forty years in the wilderness; in the pious in Judah, from the bloody sword of Manasseh; and in all the god-fearing in Israel from the awful threats of Jezebel.  Thus also the bride of the Lamb, the church of Jesus Christ, had to hide herself in the wilderness, forty-two months, or three times and a half a time,* from the abominable beast of antichrist, which with his tyrannical sword and burning, exalted itself above everything which is called and worshiped as God.  Afterwards, through the grace of God, she again came to the light, and was built upon the first, ancient apostolical foundation.

And as Solomon’s temple was destroyed, and the second building continued until the first coming of Christ in the flesh, so we hold that the church of Jesus Christ, rebuilt upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, shall also continue openly in the light until the second coming of Christ from heaven.

This church of God, that is, all believers, are, as members of one body, joined together by faith and the bond of love; they are like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; they live according to the same rule of the divine word, and are bound together by the same love, thus having fellowship with one another.  Those whom God has blessed with spiritual gifts, minister with them to the souls of their neighbors, out of love.  And those whom God has provided with temporal possessions, minister with them to the temporal needs of their neighbors; thus showing that they have their temporal and spiritual goods in common, and suffer no want in spiritual and temporal gifts.  This church of God has existed on the earth from the beginning of the world, either in greater or in smaller numbers, secretly or openly, and shall thus continue unto the end of the world, and Christ will be with her, with his Spirit, always.

Of the Christian church, that is, of all believing regenerated persons, gathered and purified by the holy Spirit, read: “Jehovah your God has chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; 1 Pet. 2:9.

“And among all the multitude of peoples you have gotten you one people: and unto this people, whom you loved, you gave a law that is approved of all.”  2 Esdr. 5:27.

How the church of God, which is built upon Christ, must be subject, as members to their head, read: “And upon this rock (Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Mat. 16:18.  28:20.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  Eph. 5:25–27, 29, 32; 1:22.

“That you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”  1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:20; 4:16; Hebrews 12:23.

Of the fellowship of believers, read: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7.

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.”  Acts 2:42; 4:34; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Gal. 3:28; John 17:21.

ARTICLE XIX.

Of the signs of the church of God, by which it may be distinguished from all other peoples, we confess the following: In the first place, all true Christians are known by the only saving faith, which works by love.  It is wrought, through the grace of God, in the heart of man by the hearing of the word of God, and therefore, is not founded and built upon human decrees, but upon the word of God alone; and it works so effectually that by it we are drawn and impelled from all visible things and sinful lusts of this world to the invisible God and his heavenly riches.

Secondly.  All true children of God are known by the second or new birth, from above, through God; which is wrought by the Spirit of God internally in the heart, through the putting off of the sinful lusts of the flesh; so that, as man, through his first birth of the flesh, brings forth his human nature and mind; so, through regeneration, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature, by which he is also to bring forth godly and spiritual fruits, and the mind of Christ Jesus.

Thirdly.  The church, or the believers, are known by the good works which they evince as fruits of gratitude from their faith; which may not be done according to human instructions, in a self-selected holiness, but in which we follow Christ and his apostles, as they prescribed and walked.  And with these divine virtues all true believers must be so clothed that, as a light on the lampstand, and a city on a hill, they may excel and shine among all men, and may be known by it, as a good tree is known and distinguished by its good fruits.

Fourthly.  The church of God is known by the glorious appellations by which she is described and honored by the Holy Spirit, as a city and temple of the living God, in which God will dwell and walk; the bride of the Lamb, the daughter of Zion; a chaste virgin, joined to Christ by faith; so that, even as with all cities which are subject to the command of their Lord and king, and it may by it properly be known, under whose power and dominion they belong, so also the church of God is known by this that she recognizes and obeys Christ Jesus as her only Head and King, in all matters of faith, and observes his commandments.  And as a pure virgin and bride forsakes father, mother, and all strange company and subjects herself to the will and obedience of her only bridegroom; so all true children of God must separate themselves from all false worship, flee from the stranger’s voice, and unite themselves to Christ, to hear and obediently follow his voice, which is proclaimed by the ministers sent by him.

Fifthly.  The people of God are known by their faithful ministers, who, according to the doctrine of Paul, are unblamable in doctrine and life, and feed the sheep of Christ, not for the milk and wool, but with a willing mind, with knowledge and understanding; speaking not their own words, but only the words of their Lord, and executing his work; rightly dividing and dispensing the word of God, and bringing forth fruits with it; in order that through this good message of the ways of the Lord men might, according to the counsel and will of God, be converted from their evil ways, and won to God.

Sixthly, and lastly.  All true disciples of Jesus Christ are known by the unfeigned godly love, which our Savior himself has put as a sign, by which his disciples should be specially known; which is comprehended in these things: That we love the Lord Jehovah our Creator with all our heart and strength, above all other things, which consists principally in the keeping of his commandments.  And besides: That we love our brethren or neighbors as ourselves, not only in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth; so that those to whom God has given spiritual gifts, minister with this, from love, to the souls of their neighbors; and those whom God has blessed with temporal possessions, minister with this unto the temporal needs of their neighbors, in order that thus among this true Israel of God, there may be found no poor, nor any lack in spiritual or temporal things.  Finally, we must show charity to all men, though they be our open enemies, who persecute and kill us, whom we may by no means resist with carnal weapons; but, as Christ did not open his mouth in revenge upon his enemies, but, as a humble and dumb lamb, prayed for them, so we must also follow this infallible example.  And as all soldiers forsake their former avocation, and wear the livery of their lord and king, as a sign to distinguish them from all strange servants, and that they are bound to their captain even unto death; so also, must all true servants of Jesus Christ be armed with the aforesaid marks, that by it they may be known and distinguished from all other people.

Where, therefore, men believe with the heart, in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in the incarnation, justification or redemption, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment; and where, besides, the ordinances of the Lord, as baptism, Supper, separation, and the like, are rightly observed, according to Scripture, and Christ is followed in this, in the clean fear of the Lord, and in the regeneration—there is the city and church of the living God, the pillar and firm ground of the truth, the tabernacle of God with men, in which God will dwell and walk with his Spirit.  Such a body [church] has Christ for its Head, Preserver, and Savior.  But where said marks do not exist, and where the ordinances of men are the rule of action, there is no church of God, but a vain boasting of the same.

How the true faith is to be known, read: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Rom. 10:17.

“He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”  John 7:28.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”  1 Cor. 2:5.

“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.”  Gal. 5:6; Heb. 11:1; Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:38; Rom. 1:17.

How the children of God are to be known by regeneration or the new birth, read: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.”  1 Pet. 1:23.

“Jesus said unto them, Truly I say unto you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Mat. 19:28.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”  Gal. 6:15; John 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:17.

How the true members of Christ are to be known from their godly conduct, read: “Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.  Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  Mat. 7:19–21; 5:16; 12:50; John 15:14; Syr. 19:24.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.”  Phil. 2:14–16.

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that commits sin is of the devil.”  1 John 3:7,8.

How the people of God are to be known from this that they have separated themselves from all other people, and put themselves under Christ their Head, hearing only his voice, and observing his commandments, read: “Therefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.”  1 Cor. 10:14,21.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  Therefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing.”  2 Cor. 6:14,17; Rev. 18:4.  Isa. 52:11; Jer. 15:19; 51:6.

“As I said unto you, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him; for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  John 10:26,27,5.

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”  Mat. 28:20; 2 Thes. 2:15; John 8:31; 14:21; 15:10; Mat. 11:28.  1 John 3:7.

How the false prophets are to be known and distinguished from the true servants of Jesus Christ, read: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  You shall know them by their fruits.”  Mat. 7:15,16; Deut. 13:1.

“He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.”  John 7:18.

“For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God.”  John 3:34; 8:31; 1 Pet. 4:11.

“But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.”  Jer. 23:22,31; Isa. 55:11; Mat. 23 throughout; Col. 1:6; read also Tit. 1:6; 1 Tim. 3 throughout.

How Christians are to be known by their love, read: “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.  By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”  John 13:34,35; 1 John 3:23.

“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not do righteousness is not of God, neither he that does not love his brother.”  1 John 3:10; 15:12; Mat. 22:39; Eph. 5:2; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet. 1:7.

ARTICLE XX.

Of the ordinances of the church of God, and the sending and electing of ministers.  Of this we confessed: That, as a house, city, or country cannot subsist unless it have laws and ordinances by which to be governed and upheld, and as no human body can subsist without the members performing the service appointed by God for the needs of the body; so also, Jehovah God has appointed in his church diverse ordinances, laws and commandments, by which it is to be built up, edified, and improved.

And, as the necessities of the body require, as its chief and most indispensable members, eyes, mouth, hands and feet, to see, speak, and labor for the body, that it may by it be fed and sustained; so Christ the Lord ordained as necessary in his church, first, by his own, present, commanding voice, his apostles, whom he sent out to preach the Gospel among all nations, and to teach them to observe his commandments, which he caused to be confirmed by signs and miracles.

This the apostles, through the Holy Spirit again enjoined upon their followers; namely, that they should elect, in the church, pastors, teachers, helpers and rulers, who as fit shining stars, by their good walk and sound doctrine, should shine to edification in the spiritual firmament, and, as messengers of peace, proclaim the good new tidings everywhere, that by it men may be turned from their evil ways, added to the church, and thus the body of Christ be perfected and edified.

And since it is a known fact that a lack of faithful ministers, and the erring of the sheep because of the lack of good doctrine, arise principally from the unworthiness of the people; therefore the people of God, needing this, should not turn to such as have been educated in universities, according to the wisdom of man, that they may talk and dispute, and seek to sell their purchased gift for temporal gain; and who according to the custom of the world do not truly follow Christ in the humility of regeneration.  But the true members of Christ, must, according to the counsel of God, with humble fasting and praying, turn to the Father of the harvest, who is the true Sender, that by his divine wisdom he will raise up men, whom he may set as faithful and wise stewards over his household that they may give them proper meat in due season, and may enkindle them in their hearts with his Spirit, and urge them into his harvest, that they may feed the flock of Christ, not for the milk and wool, but of a ready mind, with knowledge and understanding, and lead them on the right way to the kingdom of God; and thus execute the ministry imposed upon them by God, with the strength which God gives.

Therefore, believers who are in need, in this respect, shall, after having sought the face of God with ardent prayer, turn their eyes to a pious brother, who keeps his own body under [control], and brings it into subjection, and in whom the fruits of the Holy Spirit are perceived and seen.  Having been chosen for this by the voice of the Church, he shall be examined in the faith by the elders and pastors of the church, whether he, according to the word of God, agrees with the church in every article, that he may teach others the way of truth, which he himself knows.  And having been found to be sound, he may stand forth in the name of the Lord, to proclaim the will of God unto the people.  And when it has thus been found that God has committed the preaching of the Gospel to him so that he rightly divides the word of God, and brings forth fruits with it, the church, if she require it, and he, after examination, has been found, according to the word of God, to be of the same faith with the church, may, by the voice of the church, choose him as an elder and teacher in the full ministry, and cause him to be confirmed by the imposition of the hands of the elders, and ordain him to labor and work in the vineyard of the Lord, and to administer and execute Christian baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, with all that pertains to this.

In like manner, the church shall, by the voice of the church, elect deacons over the poor, and, after they have been examined in the faith, and found to be sound, cause them to be confirmed by the imposition of the hands of the elders, as helpers and governors, that willing givers may give their contributions to them, that they may by it supply the wants of the poor members of Christ who according to their ability diligently labor and work with their hands, and still are not able to support themselves; that there may be found no poor among the people of God, nor any want in temporal things, and that the good gifts of the donor may be hidden from men, but become manifest before God, according to the doctrine of Christ.

And if any of said ministers depart in faith or conduct from the adopted way of truth, the church which elected him when he was pious and sound, shall punish or remove him, according as his deeds deserve.  Mat. 18:8; 1 Tim. 1:20.

Of the ordinances of the church of Christ, read: “Joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”  Col. 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11:33; 14:40; 2 Cor. 8:19.

How men are to pray to God, who is the true Sender, for faithful laborers, read: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”  Mat. 9:37,38; Luke 10:2; Mat. 23:34; Luke 11:49; John 13:20; Mat. 10:40; Luke 10:16; Mat. 25:14; Luke 19:12; John 20:21.

How necessary these ministers are, and how they shall teach the word of God, and be qualified, read: “Let Jehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of Jehovah is not as sheep which have no shepherd.”  Num. 27:16,17.

“I will give you pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”  Jer. 3:15.

“For him whom God has sent, speaks the words of God,” etc.  John 3:34; 7:18.

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,” etc.  1 Peter 4:11.

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:21.

“For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you: if any be blameless,” etc.  Tit. 1:5,6.

Of their qualifications, and how they are to minister after their examination, read: 1 Tim. 3 throughout; 1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:7; Eph. 4:11.

Concerning the mode in which they are to be chosen, read: “We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us, with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind.”  2 Cor. 8:18,19; Acts 1:23.

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”  Acts 13:2,3; 20:28.

“The things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  2 Tim. 2:2.

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight of it, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.”  1 Pet. 5:2,3.

Of the election and confirmation of deacons, read: “It is not reasonable that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.  Therefore brethren, search out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”  “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”  Acts 6:2,3,6; 1 Tim. 3:8–10.

ARTICLE XXI.

Of Christian baptism we confess: That the same is a divine, evangelical transaction, practice and ordinance, which was first commenced by the man of God, John the Baptist, by the counsel and will of God, and was received by the worthy Son of God, Christ Jesus, who humbled himself as a true example, and to whom the aforesaid John led and pointed with his doctrine and baptism, as being the true Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  He proceeded and came from God with full power in heaven and earth, and sent out his apostles, commanding them to preach the Gospel to all nations, and to baptize all true hearers and believers of it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach them, before and after baptism, to observe all things which he had commanded them.

This the apostles of Christ, as obedient ministers of God, practiced according to this manner, beginning at Jerusalem, and preaching the Gospel in every country.  And all who heard, believed and gladly received this heavenly doctrine were made disciples and followers, and were baptized with water, in the name of the triune God, and thus entered into covenant with Christ, to observe whatsoever he had commanded them.

And inasmuch as the doctrines and commandments of Christ are not instituted for a certain time, but are commanded to be kept until the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven; and as he will continue with his Spirit to the end of the world with his followers; therefore all believers and followers of Christ are bound in no way, to alter or reject according to human opinions, these doctrines and commandments which God has commanded; but to practice and observe them constantly according to the form and institution of Christ, and the practice of his highly enlightened apostles; to preach the Gospel to the people; and all who believe the same, manifest repentance from sin and amendment of life, and submit to the will of God, shall, by an unblamable minister ordained to this purpose, be baptized once with water, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

This outward baptism with water does not properly constitute the entrance to the kingdom of God, nor does the visible element of the water contain any power or holiness; neither is it able to give any grace and salvation; but, as the waters of Jordan and Siloam did not, properly speaking, heal leprosy and blindness, but only the power of God, to which they were herein subject and obedient, so also the water in baptism has no power to forgive our sins, and to cleanse the filthiness of our flesh, but is simply a token and proof of the grace and blood of Christ in the washing away of sin, which man, through faith and regeneration, by grace, has received, in the heart, before baptism, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, which is proclaimed in baptism; and without this internal baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire, the external, visible, water baptism is as useless and vain, as the seal on an empty letter.

Since, then, Christian baptism is of such a nature that it was ordained and commanded by Christ only upon faith, repentance, and reformation, and was practiced and taught by his high apostles in this, and in no other wise; therefore we with this reject, with good reason, the baptism of unintelligent, speechless infants, which we regard as a human institution invented in the kingdom of antichrist, which ought justly to be rooted out and rejected.  The principal originators of the same base their infant baptism upon the fall of Adam, saying* that by it all men are born and placed into the world in an unsaved and condemned state, and that by the power of water baptism they are translated and changed from this unsaved and condemned state into a saved and God-pleasing condition; thus binding not only the salvation and condemnation of infants, but also the saving grace, death, and atonement of Christ to the willingness or unwillingness of man, and the weak element of water; so that when an infant is baptized it is instantly saved, and when this is neglected, it dies condemned.

None that fear God can in any way accept with a good conscience this human infant baptism, instead of the ordinance of God, since in the whole New Testament not the least is commanded or written concerning it, either by Christ or by his apostles.

The pedobaptists themselves plainly confess that in the sending forth of the apostles into the whole world by Christ, to teach and baptize, infant baptism is not commanded, nor comprehended in these passages; neither is there any advocate of the same able to point out in the word of God the author and first foundation of infant baptism (though every divine ordinance has its beginning where it was first commanded by God)—how then shall this fabric of infant baptism, of which no foundation can be found, stand in the sight of God?

Infant baptism is in fact nothing less than a contemning and trampling under foot of the true baptism of Christ, militating in many respects against it; since Christ has attached to baptism the doctrine of the Gospel, faith and repentance, as a seal and token of the same.

And, as infant baptism does not accord with, but militates against the baptism of Christ, even so it does not agree with the circumcision of the Jews, which was not commanded to children but to adults, namely, that on the eighth day, every male child among them should be circumcised, on pain of being cut off.  But it is not so with the baptism of Christ, concerning which no command is given to the parents, much less to any one else, to baptize their children, or to have them baptized.  But baptism is an ordinance of Christ, similar in part to the Supper, which no one is commanded to cause it to be administered to another, but which Christian ordinance each must desire and receive by his own faith, for which reason it does in no way apply to new-born infants.

And as unqualified as infants are to observe the Supper (in which every reasonable person will agree with us), even so unfit are they also to receive Christian baptism.  And, as infant baptism, for want of testimony from the divine Scriptures, is demonstrated only by arguments and uncertain conclusions, so also, by such and similar conclusions, the Supper may be appropriated to infants, as was formerly done in the Roman church.  And as we may by no means, on such human conclusion, admit infants to the Supper, just as little may we on these conclusions admit them to baptism; but in all this all of us who do not wish to be seduced and deceived must necessarily adhere to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles.  But, as the Jews adhered unchangingly to the circumcision on the eighth day, without following in any way their own opinion, even so should all Christians still much more adhere unalterably to the doctrine of Christ, and administer baptism only upon faith and repentance, as Christ has ordained.

But all Christians are commanded and in duty bound to walk before their children with a good example, and to bring them up in the fear of the Lord, by good teachings and instructions, without using on them baptism, the Supper, or any other ceremonies; since it is known that it is impossible for any one to unite another to the Lord, without his will and knowledge.

But as soon as men grow up and arrive at the years of discretion, it is found that through their innate sinful nature they live after the flesh, and by it fall from grace, to which they had been bought by the blood of Christ.  Their souls then need the hearing of the word of God, from which proceeds faith and regeneration, and, as a consequence of it, Christian baptism; which by Christ has been appended to faith and regeneration, and may never be separated from it; and which is represented as a grave in which men are to bury their own actual sins which they have put off, and are thus to rise with Christ to newness of life, and walk after the Spirit.

And as no bath to wash off the filth of the body can be used on an unborn child, but the child must first be born; so Christian baptism, which is compared to the washing of new-born infants, can, according to the will of God, be given to none but those who are regenerated by faith, dead to sin, desire the same, rise from the death of sin, and walk in newness of life, observing whatsoever Christ has commanded them.

Therefore no one can be recognized as a brother or sister in the church of Christ, with whom any Christian ordinance may be practiced, unless they have previously, according to the word of God, received upon faith the Christian baptism here spoken of, which is the first ordinance and the reception into the Christian communion, by which we submit and obligate ourselves to actually observe all the commandments and ordinances of God.  And as there is but one faith and one God, so there is only one Christian baptism, which, having been once received upon true faith, according to the institution of Christ, may not be repeated or renewed.

Of the baptism of John, and how he as a messenger and forerunner sent before Christ, preached the baptism of repentance, and pointed to Christ, read: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”  Mark 1:4; Mat. 3:6,11.

“I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”  Luke 3:16; John 1:31.

How Christ Jesus commands his disciples to preach the Gospel, and to baptize only hearers and believers of it, and not unintelligent, ignorant children, read: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Therefore go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  Mat. 28:18–20.

“He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does not believe shall be damned.”  Mark 16:16.

How the apostles, pursuant to this high injunction, preached the Gospel, and baptized only the hearers, believers, and self-desiring recipients, read: “When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”  “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized.”  Acts 2:37,38,41.

“And the eunuch said, See, here is water; what hinders me from being baptized?  And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”  Acts 8:36–38.

How the apostles, according to this foundation, taught and baptized several households, after they had heard the word of God, had believed, had been filled with the Holy Spirit, ordained to the ministry of the saints, and regarded as believers, read: Acts 10:37; 16:15,32; 1 Cor. 16:15; Acts 18:8.

How the apostles in their epistles described Christian baptism as a burying of sins into the death of Christ, a rising and walking in newness of life, a putting on of Christ, a washing of regeneration, a being baptized by one Spirit into one body, and the answer of a good conscience toward God, read: Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27; Tit. 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Pet. 3:21.

ARTICLE XXII.

Of the Lord’s Supper or the breaking of bread, we believe and confess: As baptism is an ordinance and institution of the Lord, by which believers are united with each other by one Spirit in fellowship with Christ; so the Supper is a worthy ordinance and institution of Christ, by which believers who have been baptized according to the ordinance of Christ, are taught and admonished, to live and walk in Christ even as they have received him by faith in baptism, and to be bound by brotherly love to their neighbors, with whom they are to live and walk in the unity of the Spirit, according to the same rule of the divine word; and that they are to remember hereby, with heartfelt contemplation, the bitter suffering and death of the Lord.

And in order to put men in remembrance of this, it pleased the Lord Jesus for this purpose to use bread and wine, things well known among men, and by it to implant into the hearts of believers heavenly and hidden things; by it teaching men to remember that, as bread from many broken grains is made into one bread, and the wine being pressed from many grapes and made one beverage by it being necessary, useful and adapted as food and drink for the body of man; even so Christ, from ardent love, suffered himself to be broken on the cross, his blood to be shed, and trod the winepress of suffering alone, to minister by his flesh and blood, as necessary meat and drink, to the souls of men; by which we are taught that like as bread is of many grains broken and prepared as bread, and wine is of many grapes pressed and made a beverage; so also, many believers, from various places, are by one faith become one bread or church, and bound together in fellowship; in order that by it all those who worthily receive, and eat and drink with the mouth this bread and wine, may hereby through faith in the Spirit, receive, and become partakers of, Christ and all his heavenly riches, and thus be strengthened in the faith, fed in the soul, and be bound together by fervent love, with God and their neighbors, as members of one body.

But believers must in no way place any confidence in these visible memorials, as though they in themselves were more sacred and worthy than others, like common meat and drink, or had power to give unto men grace and forgiveness of sins.  By so doing one should depart with the heart from his Creator, and seek grace from the created, where it is not to be found.  But believers must receive these signs as nothing more than bread and wine, confide with a firm heart only in that which is by it taught and signified, and look upon and regard these signs as figures, as the Holy Spirit is wont, in the Holy Scriptures, to call the signs, that which is signified by them.  And as in this institution of the Supper by Christ the cup is called the New Testament in his blood, which cup is really not the New Testament itself, but is figuratively so called, because the blood of Christ which he shed for the sin of the world, is proclaimed and recommended to us through the New Testament; which signifies, that as a testator by a testament bequeaths to his heirs his property, which they are to receive and enjoy after his death; so has Christ in his last Supper—since he could not remain with them—bequeathed his last will in the New Testament, together with all its heavenly riches, to his friends and followers; in order that all those who in this testament are specified and recorded as children of God and heirs of Christ, shall enjoy his glorious riches; whereupon they receive in the Supper, with the mouth, only natural bread and wine; but through faith there is received, according to the Spirit, Christ’s flesh and blood, which he gave as an atonement for the human race, of which the natural bread and wine, and the Supper are figures, signs, and representations.

Therefore, believers are to use this worthy institution of Christ among each other, and by it, through an ordained blameless minister, proclaim with great reverence the bitter suffering and death of the Lord.*

And after God has been thanked with a humble heart, for his boundless grace and mercy, and been called upon by fervent prayers, the bread shall be broken by the minister, the wine poured out, and be received by all believers baptized according to the ordinance of Christ, and each shall, examining himself, use, and avail himself of the same, with heartfelt contemplation of the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus.  This shall constantly be observed by believers in this manner, when time and place permit, until the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven.

Of this institution and ordinance of Christ, read: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Mat. 26:26–29; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19.

How the apostles in accordance with this also practiced and observed it in the same form and manner, with bread and wine, read: “I have received from the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.  Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”  1 Cor. 11:23–29; Acts 2:42; 20:7,11.

How the bread and wine in the Supper are not the real body and blood of Christ, but signs of his communion with the believer, read: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.  Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” 1 Cor. 10:16–18.

Mark, the Israelites did not eat the altar, but only the sacrifice, and by it were partakers of the altar.  Thus also, Christians do not eat and drink with the mouth the real body and blood of Christ, but only bread and wine, as figures; but according to the soul, they, by faith, receive Christ Jesus, with all his benefits, and are thus partakers of the true Christ Jesus.

Read in regard to this: “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst.  It is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”  John 6:35,63.

ARTICLE XXIII.

Of the feet-washing of believers we confess: After our Leader Christ Jesus had celebrated the Supper with his apostles, he, before his suffering, used another ordinance with them, and commanded that they should observe it with each other.  He rose from supper, girded himself with a linen towel, poured water into a basin, washed the disciples’ feet, and wiped them with the towel; saying to them: You call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am.  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.  And he also added: If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.

And we find that the apostles observed this ordinance of Christ in this manner, and that they counted it, in the ministry of the saints, among the good works, and required it of believers.  Therefore, the believers, as successors and followers of Christ and his apostles, ought also, when time and place permit, practice and observe this ordinance of Christ.  When their fellow believers, out of love, visit them, they shall, with heartfelt humility, receive them with the kiss of love and peace into their houses, and as a ministration to their neighbors, according to the humiliation of Christ, wash their feet; sincerely considering how the most worshipful Son of God humbled himself, not only washing the feet of his apostles, but much more, washing and purifying with his precious death and blood, all our souls and consciences from the stain of eternal condemnation.  On this the pious ought herein to meditate with a humble heart.

How Christ practiced this ordinance with his apostles, and commanded it to be observed, read John 13:4–17.

And also, how the apostles required it of believers as one of the good works, read: “Do not let a widow be taken into the number under three-score years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet,” etc.  1 Tim. 5:9,10.

How the pious fathers practiced this ordinance with the guests whom they received, read: Genesis 18:4; 19:2.  And also Luke 7:38; John 11:2; Acts 16:33.

ARTICLE XXIV.

Of good works.  Of good works we believe and confess: That for every true Christian it is not enough, in every respect according to the Scriptures, to confess the faith aright with the mouth, and to regard Christ Jesus as our only Head, Redeemer, and Savior, but that above this we must necessarily manifest from our faith, as a fruit of gratitude, virtuous works.  Thus also, it is not enough, that we put off all the accursed works of the flesh, and seek to bury them by baptism into the death of Christ; but we must also rise from this death of sin, and live and walk after the Spirit in a new life adorned with good works; and thus we are not only to put off the old man with his evil deeds, but it is also our duty to put on the new man with his good deeds, in righteousness and true holiness, and to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven; in order that thus all believers, as a tree by its good fruits, may be known and distinguished by their good works from all unfruitful and unbelieving men.

These good works must not be performed through an outward appearance of holiness to please mortal men; nor must we follow herein the hypocrites and self-righteous Pharisees, and others, whose works mainly consist in [things of] their own choice, and self-invented commandments, which, according to the Scriptures, is only a vain and unavailing worship; but we must work out from our faith such divine virtues as are taught, and required of us in the holy Scriptures, and in which we have the example of Christ and his apostles, whose footsteps we are so highly commanded to follow; and all this we must do from the heart, to the honor of him who created us; thus learning from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart, and by it to put off all pride, which latter is the beginning of all destruction, and proceeds from man’s sinful heart, and manifests itself outwardly in the adorning of and display in dress [in the style of], living, and in words and works; and on the contrary, to adorn ourselves inwardly with a humbled spirit, which does not think much of itself, but in lowliness esteems his neighbor better than himself; and outwardly in our conduct after our lowly Head and Example, Christ Jesus.

Thus we must also put off avarice, which is called the root of all evil, from where proceed many sinful desires and unrighteous works, and, on the other hand, put on the love and mercy of our heavenly Father, and manifest it towards our neighbors and all men by works of mercy; seeing the practice of love and mercy is the chief sacrifice with which we can please our Creator in this present time.

Likewise we must put off all unclean lusts and desires, fornication, and all uncleanness, each preserving, on the contrary, his body chaste, holy, and pure, and abstaining also from all drunkenness, revelings and banquetings; in excessive eating and drinking, and on the contrary, live soberly, temperately, righteously, and godly in this world, with humble fasting and constant praying to God Almighty, and not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts of it.

We also must not walk in the way of sinners, nor hold fellowship with light-minded persons, where foolish talking and lies are bandied about; but we must associate with the pious, whose conversation treats of godliness, and who speak with tongues truly circumcised; and gladly attend the assembly of the believers, where we hear the praise of the Lord proclaimed; and furthermore, observe according to all our ability the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and thus by patient continuance in well doing seek for eternal life, remembering that Almighty God has promised eternal life to that faith which in this manner works by love; just as he has pronounced the sentence of eternal death upon unbelief with its evil works; and that all boasted faith without good works (as the body without the spirit), in itself is dead.  But all the pious who thus evince divine virtue from their faith, and seek to excel in good works, must not suppose that they are able to merit salvation by their good works, or that God does owe them anything for them; but all true Christians are to consider themselves unprofitable servants, who of themselves can do nothing good; but that Almighty God, by his grace works in them both to will and to do that which is good, and that they are encompassed with a body of sin, which lusts against the Spirit, against which they have a continual warfare until the last enemy, which is death, shall be vanquished.  For this reason all the pious fall far too short in good works, are very imperfect and frail, and therefore, are in duty bound to pray daily, with a humble heart, to Almighty God, for forgiveness and remission of sins, and to give heartfelt praise, honor and thanks to him for his saving grace which he has manifested towards us.  And thus we hope to be saved only through the unmerited grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and not through our good works.  Tit. 3:8; Luke 18:10.

Of the deadly works of darkness, which separate men from God, and which we must put off and lay aside by faith, read: “Seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man,” etc.  Col. 3:9,10.

Read further concerning the twenty-three sins which are worthy of eternal death.  Rom. 1:29–31.

Of the ten works of unrighteousness which shall not inherit the kingdom of God, read: 1 Corinthians 6:9,10.

Of the seventeen works of the flesh to which the kingdom of God is denied, read: Gal. 5:19–21; Mat. 7:23.

Of the good and virtuous works which the believers are to manifest from their faith as fruits of gratitude, read: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,” etc.  Mat. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12; Phil. 2:15.

“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”  Rom. 2:7; John 8:39; James 2:22; Gal. 5:6.

“But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.”  1 Tim. 2:10.

“That they do good, that they be rich in good works,” etc.  1 Tim. 6:18.

Of the nine beatitudes, read: Mat. 5:1–11.

Of the seven works of mercy, read: Matthew 25:35,36.

Of the nine fruits of the Spirit.  Gal. 5:22,23.

Of the seven cardinal virtues which we are to evince from our faith, and that where this does not follow, we are blind, read: 2 Pet. 1:5–7.  “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  James 2:26.  “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.”  Rev. 20:13; 2 Cor. 5:10.

How we are saved not through any works which we have done, but only through the grace of God, read: “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.”  Acts 15:11.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.”  Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:5; 2 Tim 1:9; Luke 17:10; Acts 4:12; 15:11.

ARTICLE XXV.

Of marriage.  Of marriage we confess: That the same is honorable and an ordinance of God, who in the beginning instituted this state with the two human beings first created in the image of God, blessed it, and joined them together.  And since this divine ordinance, through the hardness of the heart and the evil wantonness of man had fallen into great disorder, so that men, through the lusts of the flesh, married whomsoever they would, and took unto them many wives, and then, for diverse reasons, dismissed them by a bill of divorcement and married others; therefore Christ as a perfect Lawgiver, rejected and abolished the writing of divorcement and permission of Moses, together with all abuses of it, referring all that heard and believed him to the original ordinance of his heavenly Father, instituted with Adam and Eve in Paradise; and thus re-establishing marriage between one man and one woman, and so inseparably and firmly binding the bond of matrimony, that they might not, on any account, separate and marry another, except in case of adultery or death.

Therefore, every believer who desires to enter into matrimony, must follow this doctrine of Christ and the above example, and unite himself in marriage only with one person, who has been, by a like faith with him, born from above, of God, and renewed, and created after the image of God.  And such persons, after their parents and the church have given their consent, shall, in the presence of the church, with fervent prayer to God, be joined together by a minister.  This we believe to be marrying in the Lord, of which God is himself the Author and Joiner.  2 Pet. 1:1; Jn. 3:3; 1 Jn. 5:4.

But all unregenerated persons, who are not yet sanctified by faith in Christ, and do thus marry, we also regard as being in honorable matrimony, but not in the Lord.  Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:12.

And, as Christ accepts none as his bride and a member of his body, but those alone who are united with him by faith; so also, believers cannot sever their bodies which are sanctified and surrendered to God, as members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit from Christ, and unite them in marriage with the unregenerate, and thus be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, who are not known to the church, by faith and Christian baptism, as brethren or sisters in fellowship, seeing that baptism is the first Christian ordinance in the church, after which all other ordinances of God follow.  Eph. 5:30; Gal. 3:26.

Thus marriage is advised by the Holy Spirit, to avoid fornication and all uncleanness; but if any one does not need this, and can without it, keep himself pure and undefiled, in a virginal state, in order to serve the Lord the better and without hindrance, it is commended still more highly.  Therefore, marriage is free for all, but no commandment.

How God our Lord in the beginning instituted marriage, read: “And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help-mate for him.”  “And the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  Gen. 2:18,22,24.

How Christ rejected all abuses of marriage, and renewed the ordinance of his Father, read: “Have you not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and the twain shall be one flesh?  Therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, do not let man put asunder.”  Mat. 19:4–6,8; 1 Corinthians 7:10.

“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whore-mongers and adulterers God will judge.”  Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:2.

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[CHCoG: Also these: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so the wives are to be to their own husbands in everything.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.  For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Eph. 5:22-33.

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.  The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.  And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” 1 Cor. 7:3-4.]

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“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”  1 Cor. 7:39; Gen. 1:27; 24:4; Exodus 34:16; Num. 36:6; Deut. 7:3; Tob. 7:13.

Concerning the transgressors of this, and their punishment, read: Gen. 6:3; Num. 25:1; Nehemiah 13:26,27; 1 Kings 11:1.

ARTICLE XXVI.

Of the swearing of oaths, we confess: That the people of the Old Testament were permitted to swear in various ways by the name of the Lord; either by lifting up their hand toward heaven, or by putting it on the thigh of some one, which was done in various ways, and into which practice, through the artifice of man, many abuses were introduced, so that they would swear by heaven and earth, by Jerusalem, by their head, the temple, the gold of the temple, the altar, and the sacrifice; on account of which the Lord Christ, who had come from God, and been sent, to execute judgment and righteousness, being the only lawgiver, utterly abolished and prohibited all the aforesaid swearing, whether permitted or feigned and, in place of it, referred all his hearers and followers, only to yes and no, which is so in truth.

And we also find that the high apostles of Christ, as obedient sheep of their only Shepherd, followed the doctrine of Christ in this respect.  Therefore all believers are in duty bound obediently to follow this doctrine of Christ and the course of his apostles, putting away all lying, and dealing only in truth, and thus testifying in all true matters, whether before authority, or however the case may be, only with yes that which is yes, and with no that which is no, without adding anything more; and to keep these few words, little in sound, but great and strong in signification, as inviolable as an oath, thus showing themselves to be obedient followers of Christ and his apostles.

Of the rejection and abolishment of the ancient custom of swearing, and how Christ commanded yes and no in place of it, read: “Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself, but shall perform unto the Lord your oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shall you swear by your head, because you can not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatsoever is more than these comes from evil.”  Mat. 5:33–37; 23:21.

“But above all things, my brethren, do not swear, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation.”  James 5:12.

“When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness?  or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yes, yes, and no, no?  For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen.”  2 Cor. 1:17,20.

ARTICLE XXVII.

Of the office of magistracy, and secular power, we confess: That the office of magistracy is an ordinance and institution of God who himself willed and ordained that such a power should be over every country in order that by it countries and cities might, through good policy and laws, for the punishment of the evil and the protection of the pious, be governed and maintained in quiet and peace, in a good civil life; without which power of authority the world, lying as it is in wickedness, could not subsist.  Therefore, all believers are in duty bound, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake, to submit themselves to this power, and as good subjects, to obey it with fear and reverence; willingly and without murmuring to render unto their human ordinances and laws everything that is due to them, whether it be tribute custom or excise; and to pray with a humble heart for their life and welfare, and thus to seek with a faithful heart the prosperity of the country and city in which they reside; and though they, for the word of God, may have to suffer persecution, the spoiling of their property, and death, from the authorities, they may not speak evil of them, nor resist them in any way with weapons and defense, but commit vengeance to God alone, and expect consolation with God after this life.  Rom. 12:2; Wis. 6:4; Ecclesiastes 17:14.

But if the authorities, through Christian equity, grant liberty to practice the faith in every respect, we are under so much the greater obligation of submissive obedience to them; but so far as the authorities abuse the office imposed on them, which extends only to the temporal, bodily government of men in temporal things, and encroach on the office of Christ, who alone has power over the spirits and souls of men, seeking, through their human laws, to press and compel men to act contrary to the word of God, we may not follow them, but must obey God rather than men, seeing Christ has been set by God his Father above all authority and power, the head in his church; and to this Father of Spirits we are directed, that in all things pertaining to the faith we should obey him.

And as the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but spiritual, he has dissuaded and prohibited all his servants and followers from all secular government and highness, and has instituted in his church various ordinances, as pastors, teachers, helps and governments, by which the saints may be joined together, to edify the body of Christ; but the secular office, though not the office of authority, he left to the secular government, under which the followers of Christ as strangers and pilgrims, who have here no kingdom, power or continuing city, must sojourn, and fight only with spiritual weapons, which is the word of God; seeing neither Christ nor his apostles prescribed to believers any laws or rules according to which they should govern the world; neither did they refer them to the laws of the Jews, much less to those of the Roman emperors, or heathen laws, according to which they might regulate themselves herein; but they prescribed to believers only good doctrines, how they should conduct themselves in all Christian propriety as obedient subjects, under the government of the authorities; referring them to his own example, who shunned all the greatness of this world, and showed himself only as a poor servant.  Thus must also all his followers avoid the office of magistracy in all its departments, and not administer it, following also in this the example of Christ and his apostles, in whose church said offices were not administered, as is well known to every intelligent person.

But as all Christians are not permitted, but very strictly prohibited by God, to speak evil of, judge or condemn any one that is without their communion, we would with this still much less speak evil or injuriously of the magistracy, but trust in the only good God, who keeps all the alms of man as a signet, and his good deeds as the apple of the eye, and has promised a true reward to him who will give only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple; that he, the Blessed, will also be gracious to, and not leave unrewarded the good deeds of all authorities, particularly those who administer their office aright according to the ordinances of God, which consists chiefly in protecting good, innocent, defenseless people, and in punishing the evil.  Therefore, all Christians are in duty bound to regard the authorities as God’s ministers, and to pray for them, with a fervent heart, that it may please God to be gracious to them and give them eternal salvation.

How government is from God, and for what purpose it is instituted, read: “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God.  Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Will you then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to you for good.  But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil.”  Rom. 13:1–4; Syrach 17:17.

“Jesus answered Pilate: You could have no power at all against me, except it was given to you from above.”  John 19:11; Wis. 6:3; Dan. 2:21; 4:25; 5:21; Jer. 27:5.

How Christ taught his followers not to accept magisterial office, read: “But Jesus called them to him, and said unto them, You know that they which are accounted to rule over the gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant: and whosoever of you will be the chief shall be servant of all.  For even the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:42–45; Mat. 20:25; Luke 22:5.

Mark the words: But it shall not be so among you.  This can not be applied to the apostles only, who were equal servants, the one being no greater than the other, and they soon separating from each other to preach the Gospel to all nations, could not, on this account, show to each other alone the duty of servants here required; therefore the words, among you, must necessarily be understood of the whole church, seeing Christ spoke to his twelve apostles many others of his principal doctrines and commandments, which relate to all believers, as his blessed lips say in the Gospel: “And what I say unto you I say unto all.”  Mark 13:37.

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here.”  John 18:36; 6:15; Mat. 5:39; 2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:13; Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3; Zech. 9:10; Psm. 76:3.

Read further, not according to what law the believers are to govern the unbelievers, but only how the church of Christ shall be obedient to government.  “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.”  “Therefore you must need be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.”  “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear.”  Rom. 13:1,5,7.

“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”  Mat. 22:21; Mark 12:17.

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.”  1 Pet. 2:13,14.

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.”  Tit. 3:1,2; 1 Tim. 2:2; Jer. 29:7; Baruch 1:11.

ARTICLE XXVIII.

Of the discipline of the Christian Church and separation of offending members.  Of this we confess: That, as a house or city cannot be maintained without doors, gates and walls by which evil men may be expelled, excluded and debarred, and the good and pious be taken in and protected; so Christ, for the preservation of his church, gave her the key of heaven, which is his word, that by and according to the same she should judge and reprove according to truth, for their reformation, all those in her communion that are found to offend in doctrine and conduct, that is, to act contrary to any commandment or ordinance which God has given to his church; and thus to separate the disobedient from her communion, that the church may not be leavened and stained by their false doctrine and impure walk, and become a partaker of other men’s sins; and that the pious by it may be brought to fear, and restrain themselves from the commission of similar offenses.

And, as God through Moses commanded this punishment of transgressors to be inflicted according to the magnitude of the offense, so that those who through ignorance, weakness, and otherwise, offended by minor sins against any of the commandments of the Lord, were reconciled to God by various offerings and the intercessions of the priests, but the open, great transgressors of the law could not be reconciled by such offerings, but had to die without mercy under two or three witnesses; so Christ in the New Testament also taught to inflict christian punishment according to the magnitude of the offense; not to man’s destruction, as in the punishment of Israel, which was death, by which the transgressor was cut off from repentance and reformation; but Christ having come to save men’s souls, instituted this punishment for the reformation of sinners and ordained that if any one see his brother commit a transgression which is obviously a sin, but not so great as to have brought forth death in him, he shall out of Christian love for his soul, speak to him privately, with the word of God, and reprove him of his sin and admonish him.  If he receives this Christian admonition, he has gained his brother, and shall, out of fervent charity, conceal and cover his sin.  1 Pet. 4:8.  But if he does not hear him, he shall take one or two more with him, so that in the mouth of these witnesses every word may be established.  But if he shall neglect to hear them, then the matter must be brought before the church; and if he neglects to hear the church, all the members of which are judges, he shall be excluded from the brotherhood.

But if any one fall into open works of the flesh, from which the church perceives that through these sins he has separated himself from his God, and incurred the divine wrath, such a one the church shall, without any of the aforesaid admonitions and words as in the case of the offending sinner, on account of his sins, exclude from the brotherhood, and point him to repentance and reformation, by which he may again find grace with God, even as he has become separated from God through the evil works of the flesh.  Thus the church shall knowingly keep none in her communion who are separated from God through their sins; nor separate any from her communion save those who have previously through their sins become separated from God; nor again receive any, and promise life and peace to them, except those who through faith and true repentance have first been received into grace with God.

This true repentance possesses the following properties: 1. That we have a sincere sorrow before Almighty God for all the sins we have committed; 2. that we confess our sins from the heart, before God and men; 3. that we desist from and do not continue any longer in sin, and, according to our ability, seek to make amends for the evil we have done, by doing good.  This repentance and reformation again opens the entrance to the kingdom of God, which before was closed to us on account of our sins.  So that the church of God, by this her separation and reception, may according to his word, follow the previous separation and reception by God in heaven, of which the action of the church is only a proof and proclamation.

And since with God there is no respect of persons, therefore the church of God shall use this key of the word of God aright, and, in punishing, spare no one, whether he be minister or brother, man or woman, but shall judge the small as well as the great after one rule and measure of the divine word, according to the truth.  And, as all disobedient sinners by consent of the church, with sorrow and sadness of heart, are excluded from the brotherhood, and referred to repentance and reformation; so also shall all obedient, penitent sinners with the consent and concurrence of the church, be received, by the bishop of the church.  And, as men are wont to rejoice over the finding of a lost sheep, piece of silver, or son, so shall believers rejoice with all the angels of God over the repentance and return of their erring brother or sister.

How the minor sins, whether caused through weakness or ignorance, were reconciled by the priest with various offerings, read: Lev. 4:27; 5; Numbers 5:6; 15:22.

But the open transgressors of the law were put to death without mercy under two or three witnesses.  Of this read: Num. 15:30; Lev. 24:14; Deut. 17:12; 19:15; Heb. 10:28.

In connection with this read also the words of the high priest Eli: “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sins against Jehovah, who shall intercede for him?” 1 Sam. 2:25.

How Christ commanded that small offenses between brother and brother should be punished, read: “If your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone: if he shall hear you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he 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 shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Mat. 18:15–18; Luke 17:3; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19.

“If any man sees his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that do not sin unto death.”  1 John 5:16.

But open offending members Christ commanded to sever and cast away without exercising admonition, intercession, or forgiveness in regard to them, before the separation.  Read Mat. 18:8; Mark 9:42.

Thus the apostles also did, according to the doctrine of Christ, deny eternal life to all the known [practicers of] works of the flesh, condemning them to death, and [excluded them from] their assembly; delivered the Corinthian fornicator unto Satan, with the word and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, without using the aforesaid admonition with regard to him.  1 Cor. 5:3.  Read also: 1 Tim. 1:20; 5:20; 2 Cor. 13:2.

“There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”  1 John 5:16; Numbers 15:30; Heb. 10:28; 1 Cor. 5:13; 2 Cor. 13:2; Psm. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:20; 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5.

ARTICLE XXIX.

Of the withdrawing from and avoiding of apostate and separated members, is confessed: As separation is commanded by God for the reformation of sinners, and the maintenance of the purity of the church; so God has also commanded and willed, that in order to shame him to reformation, the separated individual shall be shunned and avoided.  This withdrawing proceeds from the separation, and is a fruit and proof of the same, and without it separation is vain and unavailing.  Therefore, this ordinance of God shall be practiced and maintained, by all believers, with the separated persons.  This withdrawing extends to all spiritual communion, as the supper, evangelical salutation, the kiss of peace, and all that pertains to it.  This withdrawing extends likewise to all temporal and bodily things, as eating, drinking, buying and selling, daily intercourse and conversation, with all that pertains to it.

Thus, believers shall, according to the word of God, withdraw themselves from the separated in all spiritual, evangelical matters, as well as in all bodily and temporal things.  And as in separation no persons may be regarded or spared, but must, by consent, be separated from the true members of the body; so also in withdrawing, extending to all spiritual and temporal matters, none may be spared or excepted, whether man or woman, parent or child, or whatever relation it may be; seeing we nowhere read where God gave His church a general commandment or ordinance, that any member of said church was entirely exempted and excluded from such commandment; but on the contrary, it appears in many places, that the whole number, without exception, had to regulate themselves according to one rule set before them by God; therefore this ordinance of God must be practiced and maintained by all the members of the body of Christ, without respect of persons, in the fear of God, to shame sinners to reformation, until the person punished is again received into the church.

But as all divine ordinances must be tempered with Christian kindliness and discretion, these also must have their place in this matter of shunning.  Therefore, the believers must conduct themselves with more discernment and equity with regards to separated persons, than did the scribes and Pharisees with regard to the Sabbath; who, as it appears would rather let men perish, than that they should receive help on the Sabbath, thinking that the Sabbath should be broken by it, though they themselves, in such a case, broke the Sabbath for various minor matters.  But, even as the pious followers of the law did not sin, nor break the Sabbath, when they, on this day, performed not their own, but only the works which God had commanded them, so the believers neither sin nor act contrary to the commandment of shunning, when they perform not their own works, but only the works which God has commanded them concerning separated persons; as, in case of necessity, to minister to their bodies with food and other needful things, and to their souls with the word of God, as well as to assist them by virtue of the commandment of God, in case of danger from water, fire and the like; these all believers are in duty bound to do; and they must thus, with great carefulness, seek that which is lost, and lead that which has erred back to the right way, reprove and instruct them with the word of God, where such Christian admonition may take place, according to the example of Christ; but in all human works believers must with all diligence withdraw themselves from the separated persons, until they have reformed and been united again with the church.

In order rightly to understand this matter, it must be considered that the people of Israel at the time of Christ were under the power and dominion of the Romans, and could not punish transgressors according to the law of Moses, therefore they separated from their communion and avoided those who departed from the law of the fathers, and went over to the Gentiles, Samaritans, or [were] open sinners.  Concerning this read: They regarded them as unclean, abhorred them, compared them to heathens and enemies, avoided all dealings and intercourse with them, and hindered them in their business.  3 Maccabees 2:34.  Read also: John 18:31; 4–9; Acts 10:28; 11; Gal. 2:12.

This custom Christ also observed, and commanded that the disobedient in the church should be so regarded, saying: “If he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto you as a heathen man and a tax collector.”  Mat. 18:17.

This the apostles also practiced in like manner, according to the doctrine of Christ.  Read: “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must you need to go out of the world.  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.”  1 Cor. 5:9–11.

Here the holy apostle forbids us to company and eat with apostate brethren or sisters, which he did not mean or command with reference to the unrighteous of this world, but permitted it with them; else we would needs have to go out of the world, seeing the whole world lies in wickedness; therefore it must necessarily be understood with reference to daily intercourse and eating, buying and selling, and the like.  “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.”  Titus 3:10; 2 Tim. 4:15; 2 John 10.

“And if any man does not obey our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”  2 Thes. 3:14.

How this withdrawing is to be observed by all believers, with regard to all apostates, walking disorderly, without respect of person, read: “Now, we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received from us.”  2 Thes. 3:6.

Understand this withdrawing according to scriptures.  Gal. 2:12; 3 Macc. 2:34, and the like, according to the spirit of the Gospel of Christ.

How believers must seek the lost, and not count the separated as enemies, but admonish them as brethren.  Read: 2 Thessalonians 3:15; Jas. 5:19; Luke 19:10; 15, the whole chapter.

ARTICLE XXX.

Of the last day and the second coming of Christ from heaven, we confess: That the great God of heaven, who in the beginning created heaven and earth with all visible things out of nothing, also appointed a day and time, which cannot be known by the angels of God in heaven; much less by mortal men, but which shall unexpectedly overtake men, as the snare of the bird, and a thief in the night; at which time the Almighty God will destroy this whole visible, earthly, realm, and burn it with everlasting fire, except those of the human race who shall have done the will of God; these shall abide forever.

In the last great day of the Lord,* the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who in the presence of the apostles ascended from the earth in a cloud, shall come again from heaven, in the clouds of the sky, but not in the humiliated form of a servant, as in his first coming into the world at Bethlehem.  For at this his second coming he shall reveal himself in the clouds as a King of mighty kings, and Lord of lords, with the power and glory of his almighty Father, and all the angels of God with him, and shall thus, with the trump of God, and the voice of the archangel, peal forth an unutterable sound and shout; so that heaven and earth, all the mountains and islands, shall be moved; the sun and moon shall lose their brightness, the stars shall fall from heaven, and all kindreds of the earth shall weep and wail over themselves, for fear and expectation of the things which are to come; and all shall see the Son of man coming, with power and great glory.

Of this last day of the Lord, read: “And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?  Mat. 24:3.

“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are in this shall be burned up.”  2 Peter 3:16; Syrach 16:18; Mal. 4:1.

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child.”  1 Thes. 5:2,3.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.  But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”  Mat. 24:35,36; Mark 13:31; Psm. 102:27; Isa. 51:6.

Of Christ’s coming from heaven, read: “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.”  1 Thes. 4:16.

“Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”  Rev. 1:7; Mat. 24:30; Luke 21:27.  Read also: 1 Thes. 1:10; 2 Thes. 1:7; Dan. 7:13; Jude 14.

ARTICLE XXXI.

Of the Death of the body and the Resurrection of the dead, we confess: That, in the beginning, man was created immortal, but that through the envy of the devil and the sin of our first parents, death came into the world.  And, as through the sin of Adam all men became sinful in him, so also through him, all men became subject to bodily death; so that in consequence of it it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; seeing this sinful, corruptible flesh and blood cannot inherit the eternal, incorruptible kingdom, but must be renewed and glorified through death and the resurrection, by the power of God.

And, even as, when a man falls into a deep sleep, his heart, soul or spirit does not entirely sleep, as the body; so also the spirit or soul of man does not die or fall asleep with the body, but is and remains an immortal spirit.  Therefore temporal death, in the Scriptures, is called a sleep, and the resurrection of the dead an awakening from this sleep of death.

And as a sleeping man cannot receive and enjoy any good gifts, either according to the soul or the body, much less any punishment, pain and torment, unless he be previously awakened from his sleep; so also, believers cannot receive the perfect heavenly existence, nor unbelievers the eternal death or the pain of hell, either in the soul or in the body, except they have first been awakened from the sleep of death, and have arisen, through the coming of Christ.

Until this last day of judgment the souls of believers are waiting in the hands of God, under the altar of Christ, to receive then in their souls and bodies, the rewards promised to them.  So also the souls of unbelievers are reserved to be punished, after the day of judgment, in their souls and bodies.

And as through the sin and transgression of Adam death came upon all men; so also the resurrection of the dead came upon all men through the Savior Jesus Christ; so that, as in the springtime the sun, through his glorious radiance and brightness, draws forth all sweet scented herbs from the earth, as well as thistles and thorns, which are rejected and reserved for the fire; so also, shall Christ Jesus, the true Son of righteousness, in this great last day and hour, through his glorious coming and appearing in the clouds of heaven, draw forth from the earth, and cause to arise all men, the wicked and the pious; so that this great God, through his power and commanding voice, by which he spoke in the beginning: Let heaven and earth be made; and his word was immediately a perfect work; and who created all visible things from that which was invisible, and made man of the dust of the ground; this same God shall, through his unchangeable power and almighty word, in the last day, call all men who have been changed into dust and earth, and have been consumed by fire, birds, and fishes, from the dust, and cause each to arise with his own body, flesh, and bones, with which they have served either their Creator or sin.

And, as a woman in travail, when her hour is come, cannot retain, but makes haste to deliver, the fruit of her womb, so also shall in this last hour, death, earth, or hell and sea make haste to deliver up the great number of the dead which in them have become dust and ashes, and passed away.  These shall all arise, with their own bodies, which shall again be united with the soul and spirit, which through death had been separated from the body, and had remained immortal.  At that time the pious shall be glorified and changed from the mortal and corruptible into the immortal and incorruptible, from the weak and frail, into the strong and glorious, being made like unto the angels of God, and the glorious body of Christ.  Thus shall also those who shall live and remain at this sudden second coming of Christ from the heaven, be changed and glorified after the image of Christ.

Of the first or temporal death, which came by the first transgression, read: “For dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”  Gen. 3:19; 25:33.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  Heb. 9:27.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”  1 Cor. 15:21.

“For God made not death: neither has he pleasure in the destruction of the living.”  Wisdom 1:13.

“Nevertheless, through envy of the devil came death into the world.”  Wis. 2:24; Rom. 5:12.

How at the second coming of Christ the dead shall rise through Christ, read: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”  1 Thes. 4:16.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.”  John 5:28,29.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold.”  Job 19:25–27.

Read also: Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:13; Mat. 22:31; Luke 20:35; John 6:40; 11:25; 1 Cor. 15 throughout; Psm. 90:3.

How in the resurrection of the dead, humans’ vile bodies shall be glorified, read: “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”  Mat. 22:30.

“For our conduct is in heaven, from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”  Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Corinthians 15:42,53.

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[CHCoG: The above account incorrectly merges the two resurrections, even though they may be separated by up to one thousand years.  Only the first, for the blessed, happens as Christ Returns:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.  But after these things he must be released for a little while.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.  Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.  And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“This is the first resurrection.*  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.”  Rev. 20:1-8

The rest, who were not already Christ’s when he returned, may not be resurrected until the end of the Millennium of Peace, as stated above and expanded in Rev. 20:7-15.]

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ARTICLE XXXII.

Of the last judgment; of hell, and the damnation of unbelievers, we confess: That in the last day, when Christ Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, all nations shall be gathered before his judgment seat, and he shall separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, placing the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left.  Over these Christ Jesus is ordained by his Father Judge of quick and dead, who will regard no person, nor need the testimony of any; for the heart, mind and thoughts of every one are manifest before him as an open book.  This righteous Judge will judge the whole world in righteousness, and as the great Shepherd of the sheep, pronounce an eternal, irrevocable judgment upon them, rewarding each in his own body according to that he has done.  To all the believing, generated children of God who in this life, as obedient sheep, heard and followed the voice of Christ, he shall say: “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  And to all unbelievers, who would not have Christ and his word in this life, but, as disobedient, obstinate goats, rejected them, he will say: ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ”

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[CHCoG: There is much in these Articles that is scriptural and right.  But sadly, that does not apply to most of Article XXXII, which tries to superimpose pagan/papal viciousness onto God’s justice.  We will insert comments on the worst errors where they are claimed to be supported by scripture.  This topic is dealt with in more detail in Will the Earth be Desolate During the Millennium?]

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In that last day of the Lord the righteous God will deprive this world of all good gifts; so that the sun, moon and stars shall lose their brightness, and all the light and glory of the world shall be changed into everlasting darkness.  In that time the earth, waters and streams shall be turned into burning pitch and brimstone, which shall burn forever and ever.  And, seeing this earth is called hell in many places in Scripture, and no other hell being anywhere mentioned, the same is regarded as hell and the place of damnation; in which fiery pool and outer darkness all unbelievers will finally have to suffer the burning of hell and eternal damnation; and thus they shall at last be punished and tormented with the visible things, which in preference to the eternal and invisible, they chose and served in this life.

Into that place of darkness and fiery pool all unbelievers shall, after the resurrection, their souls having been united with their bodies, be sentenced by Christ.  Then shall be fulfilled that which is written concerning this last, sad day of separation; namely, that one of two shall be taken in the field, in the bed, and at the mill, and be caught up in the air to meet the Lord; but the others shall be left, and be sentenced into said pool of darkness, where they shall be tormented with the devil and his angels, burning, and suffering in all eternity, forever deprived of all grace and mercy from God, which is the second death.

Of the last judgment, and how the whole human race shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive each in his own body an eternal sentence, read: “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained by God to be the Judge of quick and dead.”  Acts 10:42.

“Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained.”  Acts 17:31; Psalms 7:11.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.”  2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”  Rev. 20:12; Dan. 7:10.

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  Mat. 25:31,32; 16:27; 26:64; 2 Thes. 1:7.

Of hell and the place of damnation, read: “For it is the day of Jehovah’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.  And the streams of it shall be turned into pitch, and the dust of it into brimstone, and the land of it shall become burning pitch.  It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke of it shall go up forever.”  Isa. 34:8–10; 2 Peter 3:10; Syr. 16:18.

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[CHCoG: Contrary to these claims, there is nowhere in the Bible that says our entire earth will be converted into an eternally burning hell.  Read all of Isaiah 34 and you will see that it relates only to Edom, and perhaps a few other areas, where the people’s antagonism to God and His people was such that their land will be left devastated throughout the Thousand Years of Peace, both as a punishment for them and a warning to others.  And even so, God says that there will be animals living in that land.  Nowhere does God say that this area will become the Lake of Fire and be used to punish his enemies.  And though we will no longer need the sun and the moon to provide us with light when the New Jerusalem comes, the Bible does not say that they will forever cease to shine.]

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“And it came to pass as he (Moses) had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground cleaved asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.”  Num. 16:31,32.

Read further concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, how they were overturned and condemned and made an example; and how the earth is called hell.  Gen. 19:24; Jude 7; Acts 2:27,31; Psm. 16:10,11.

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[CHCoG: There are three issues here.  The first is the allegation that the earth is called hell.  Though Acts speaks of Jeshua’s body being in hell, in this case hell is precisely, and nothing other than, the grave.  The Greek word used here is ᾍδης hades, and though the pagan Greeks used this to refer to their god of their infernal regions, in the Bible it simply means the grave, as correctly translated in 1 Corinthians 15:55.  In Revelation 20:14 we are told that Hades (the grave) will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which signifies that there will no longer be anyone dead in the grave.  And sadly, we all know what the grave is: a hole dug into the earth where the dead body is placed.  None of these verses say that our entire earth is the grave (hell).

Secondly, Jude 7 says that Sodom and Gomorrah: “are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”  These cities were entirely burnt up, and the fires continued until there was nothing left to burn.  But then they burnt out.  They are not still burning today.  The eternal fire that burnt them may have come from the altar before God in heaven, and is thus truly eternal fire.  And the fire burnt it all forever, in that they have never been rebuilt, and never will be.  Likewise, the fires in Edom and even in the Lake of Fire will burn until they have fully completed their purpose.

Thirdly, the Bible teaches that Christ will return to earth as its King, and our earth will be restored into a paradise during the Thousand Years of Peace, and we will help him rule and teach the remaining physical humans during this time (Mat 5:5, Rev 5:10, Acts 1:9-11, Rev 19:1 to 20:10, Zec 12:10 to 13:2, Ezek 43:1-7, Dan 2:31-45)  Remember, God formed the earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18).  And if earth was a barren waste for the thousand years, where would all the people come from in the final battle against Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennium?]

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“That they might know that wherewithal a man sins, by the same also shall he be punished.”  Wis. 11:16.

“Your gold and silver is corroded; and their venom shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh like fire.”  James 5:3.

How the souls of unbelievers are reserved by God until the last day of vengeance, to be tormented with their bodies after the resurrection, read: “For after death shall the judgment come, when we shall live again: and then shall the names of the righteous be manifest, and the works of the ungodly shall be declared.”  2 Esdr. 14:35.

“For behold, the day comes that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud; yes, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says Jehovah, that shall leave them neither root nor branch.”  Mal. 4:1.

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[CHCoG: Please think about this verse, and the fact that being cast into the Lake of Fire is the Second Death. (Rev. 20:14)  They shall be burnt up, that is, fully consumed, destroyed eternally, forever, with absolutely no possibility of ever existing again.  As Jeshua tells us in Mat. 10:28, God can, and will, destroy both body and soul in Gehenna (γέεννα is the Hebrew derived word used as “hell” in this verse).  Gehenna means the Lake of Fire.  Yes, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and that will last from the moment they realise they are going to be destroyed in the Lake of Fire until they finally die in it.  But Jehovah, our God, is a god of mercy and justice.  He is not going to relentlessly torture millions of humans for untold billions of years.  Only Satan and his minions would want to do something as sadistic as that.  This is covered in detail in The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment.]

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“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”  2 Peter 3:9.

Them [the fallen angels] “he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”  Jude 6; Mat. 25:30; Rom. 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Read further concerning the fearful and intolerable pain of hell.  Judith 16:17; Mark 9:46; Matthew 22:13; 24:51; 25:30,41; Rev. 19:20; 21:8.

ARTICLE XXXIII.

Of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, we confess: That as there is a visible, perishable kingdom of this, which, through the sins and wickedness of men, lies in darkness; of which darkness, Satan, the spirit of wickedness, who works in the children of unbelief, is the supreme prince, who at last, with all his servants, shall be brought to everlasting lamentation and remorse, and shall perish; so also there is an eternal, immovable and invisible kingdom of heaven, of which Christ Jesus is King, Prince and Lord; in which all believers shall live with God forever in everlasting joy.  To this glorious kingdom of heaven, God, through his grace and goodness, from the beginning of the world, caused the fallen human race to be called; first through his servants, the prophets, and then through the Son himself, who, leaving this his kingdom for a time, came to preach, and to invite all men, to flee the shadow of this world, and to make haste to enter into this eternal rest.  For this end the fatlings are killed, and this glorious feast is prepared; so that men are prevented from making any excuse concerning the piece of land, the oxen, and the wife, but the way, door and gate, is open and well prepared.

This glorious kingdom of heaven is typified and represented to us by a city full of all good things, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, which is beautifully prepared by God, as a bride adorned for her husband; the streets of it are pure gold, and the gates and walls built of and beautifully adorned with manifold pearls and precious stones.  In this city is the glory of the Almighty God, which neither Moses on Mount Sinai, nor the eyes of any mortal man were able to behold.  This brightness and everlasting light shall shine in this city forever and ever.  Here all sorrow and mourning, cold, nakedness, hunger and thirst shall be changed into everlasting, satisfying joy and consolation.  This glory and joy is so exceedingly great and unspeakable, that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him; and into this heavenly state, which is beyond all praise, all believers and God-pleasing persons shall, at the resurrection of the dead, when their souls, which through death had become separated from the body, and until this last time were preserved in the hand of God, shall be re-united with their bodies, be caught up from this earthly darkness, to meet the Lord in the air.

And, as a bride is received by her bridegroom; so also shall all true children of God then be received with body and soul through grace, by Christ Jesus, and be admitted to this glorious joy, where they shall see God as he is, in his unspeakable glory, together with all the heavenly hosts.  Then shall their robe of mourning, or the mortal clothing of the flesh be put off, and the immortal be put on; and they shall be clothed in white, shining raiment, and together with all God’s chosen ones, be fed by the son of God, whom they confessed in the world, with the hidden heavenly bread, and shall eat of the tree of life, and drink out of the living fountain of water, and, being as the angels, shall, with joyful tongues and mouths, in gladsome voices, to the honor of the lamb, their bridegroom, sing the new song, with unspeakable, glorious joy, which no one can take away from them; but they shall be kings and priests of God, and shall live and reign with Christ for ever and ever.

May the God of grace and mercy, and of all comfort, who has from the beginning called us to this his heavenly kingdom and glory, endow us unworthy children of men with his good spirit, make us worthy of him and draw us to him-ward, that we may follow and run after this high prize, and by grace receive the same, through Jesus Christ, and enjoy it for ever.  Amen.

Of the everlasting kingdom of heaven, and its King, read: “Therefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace.”  Hebrews 12:28.

“My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from therefore.”  John 18:36.

“Receive the gift that is given you, and be glad, giving thanks unto him that has called you to the heavenly kingdom.”  2 Esdr. 2:37; Col. 1:13; Psm. 22:28.

Read further how this eternal King, Christ Jesus, at his second coming from heaven, after the dead shall have arisen, and the eternal judgment been held, shall receive all the members of his kingdom in this his everlasting glorious kingdom of heaven, where they shall behold God in unspeakable glory.  “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  Mat. 25:34.

But the righteous live for ever more; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High.  Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand.”  Wis. 5:15,16; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:12.

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”  1 Thes. 4:17,18; 1 Cor. 2:9; 1 Peter 1:8; John 16:22.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:20,21.

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.”  Col. 3:4.

“your eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.  Your heart shall meditate terror.”  Isa. 33:17,18.

Of all who from a true faith shall show forth the required spiritual virtues, and shall continue to the end in this divine calling, read: “If you do these things, you shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 1:10,11.

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[CHCoG: All of the above in this article is true.  However, it ignores the fact that when Jesus returns to the earth, He will establish the Kingdom of God on earth, where he will reign from the new Temp