(Confession of Faith. part 2)

acceptable  in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all  sanctified
by   his   grace:  howbeit  they  are  of  no  account   towards   our
justification.  For it is by faith in Christ that  we  are  justified,
even  before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works,
any  more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself
is  good.  Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them,  (for
what can we merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works  we
do, and not he to us, since it is he that works in us both to will and
to  do  of  his  good  pleasure. Let us therefore attend  to  what  is
written:  when ye shall have done all those things which are commended
you,  say,  we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which  was
our duty to do. In the meantime, we not deny that God rewards our good
works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover,
though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them;  for
we  do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable;
and  at  though we could perform such works, still the remembrance  of
one  sin  is  sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then  we  would
always  be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and  our
poor  consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the  merits
of the suffering and death of our Saviour.

25. Of the abolishing of the Ceremonial Law

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

26. Of Christ's Intercession

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

27. Of the Catholic Christian Church

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

28. That every one is bound to join himself to the true Church

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

29. Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs
from the false Church

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

30. Concerning the Government of, and Offices in the Church

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

31. Of the Ministers, Elders, and  Deacons

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

32. Of the Order and Discipline of the Church

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

33. Of the Sacraments

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

34. Of Holy Baptism

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

35. Of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ

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

36. Of Magistrates

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

37. Of the Last Judgment

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


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