« ZurückWeiter »
Q. 43. What doth it profit thee now that thou believest all this?
A. Thus : that the perfect satisfaction, and righteousness of Christ alone are imputed to me of God, by which my sins are forgiven me, and I become an heir of everlasting life ; and that I cannot receive that righteousness by any other means than by faith.
Q. 46. Why cannot our good works be our righteousness before God, or some part thereof?
A. Because even our best works, in this life, are imperfect, and polluted with sins.
Q. 47. Do our good works then merit nothing, which yet God will reward in this, and in a futnre life?
A. This reward is not given out of merit, but of grace.
A. They are holy signs and seals instituted by God, thereby to assure us, that he of grace grants us remission of sins, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ finished on the cross.
Q. 52. How many sacraments hath Christ instituted in the new testament?
A. Two: holy haptism, and the holy supper.
R. 54. What doth that signify and seal ?
A. In the institution of baptism; which is as follows, “Go ve into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he, that believeth not, shall be damned.”
Q. 56. Are infants also to be baptised?
A. Yes. For they, as well as the adult, are comprehended in the covenant of God, and in his church.
Q. 57. What is the outward sign in the Lord's supper?
A. The broken bread that we cat, and the poured out wine, which we drink, in remembrance of the sufferings and death of Christ.
Q. 58. What is thereby significs and sealed ?
A. That Christ, with his crucified body and shed blood, feeds and nourishes our souls to everlasting life.
R. 59. Where hath Christ promised such things to us ?
A. In the institution of the Lord's supper, which is thus expressed, by St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11. 23, 24, 25, 26, • For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, bruke it, and said, take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, it remembrance of me. For so oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.”
Q. 60. Is the bread changed into the body of Christ, and the wine into his blood ?
A. No: no more than the water in baptism is changed into the blood of Christ.
Q. 61. After what manner must you examine yourself before you come to the Lord's supper?
A. 1. I must examine whether I abhor myself for my sins, and bumble myself before God on account of them. 2. Whether I believe and trust that all my sins are forgiven me for Christ's sake. 3. Whether I also have a sincere resolution henceforward, to walk in all good works.
Q. 62. May those be admitted to the Lord's supper, who teach false doetrines, or lead offensive lives?
A. No: lest the covenant of God be profaned, and his wrath kindled against the whole church. 'Q. 63. How must we then deal with such persons ?
A. According to the appointment given us by Christ, Mat. 18. 15, 16, 17. " If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone : if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother : but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established: and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church : but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee, as an heathen man, and a publican."
THE THIRD PART: OF THE GRATITUDE WE OWE TO GOD FOR REDEMPTION.
Q. 64. Since we are saved merely of grace through Christ, why must we then yet do good works?
A. Not to merit heaven thereby (which Christ hath done); but because this is commanded me of God.
Q. 65. What purpose then do your good works answer?
A. That I may thereby testify my thankfulness to God for all his benefits, and that he may be glorified by me; and that also I may be assured of the sincerity of my faith, by good works, as the fruits thereof, and that my neighbours may be edified thereby and gained to Christ.
Q. 66. Shall they also be saved who do no good works?
A. No: For the scripture saith, that neither fornicators, nor idolaters, por adulterers, nor whoremongers, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers, nor such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God, i Cor. 6. 9, and 10, unless they turn to the Lord.
Q. 67. Wherein doth the conversion of man consist ? A. In a hearty repentance, and avoiding of sin, and in an earnest desire after, and doing all good works.
Q. 68. What are good works?
A. Only those, which proceed from a true faith; are done according to the law of God, and to his glory; and not those, which are founded on buman institutions, or on our cwn imaginations.
Q. 69. Can they, who are converted to God, perfectly keep the law ?
A. Not at all: but even the most holy men, as long as they are in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that they with a sincere resolution begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the commandinents of God, as they also constantly pray to God that they may daily increase therein.
Q. 70. To whom must we pray for this?
A. Not to any creature, but to God alone, who can help us, and will hear us for Jesus Christ's gake.
Q. 71. lo whose name must we pray to God?
72. What must we pray to God for?'
A. For all things necessary for soul and body, which Christ our Lord has comprised in that prayer, he himself has taught us.
Q. 73. What are the words of that prayer?
A. Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our dehtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Q. 74. What do you desire of God in this prayer:
A. 1. That all things, which tend to the glory of God, may be promoted, and whatsover is repugnant thereto, or contrary to bis will, may he prevented. 2. That he may provide me with all things necessary for the body, and as to my soul, preserve me from all evil, which might in any wise be detrimental to my salvation. Amen.
When those who are inclined to become members in full communion of the church, and to approach the Holy Supper of the Lord, tijoroughly know and confess these fundamental trutiis, tiey are then to be asked whether they have any druht on any point concerning the doctrine ; to the end they may be satisfied : and in case any of them should answer in the affirmative, endeavours must be used to convince them from the scriptures, and is satisfied, they must be asked whether they have experienced the power of the truth in their hearts, and are willing and desirous to be saved by Jesus Christ from their sing ; and whether they propose, by the grace of God, te persevere in this doctrine, to forsake the world, and to lead a new christian life. Lastly, they are to be asked, whether they will submit themselves to the christian discipline
Which being done, they are to be cxhorted to peace, love and concord with all men, and to reconciliation, if there is any variance subsistinz be. Iween them and their neighbours.
THE CONFESSION OF FAITH
OF TRE REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH.
REVISED IN THE NATIONAL SYNOD, HELD AT DORDRECHT, IN THE TEARS
1618, AND 1619.
That there is one only God. We all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that he is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.
II. By nhat means God is made known unto us. We know him by two means : first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe ; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, his eternal power and Godhed, as the apostle Paul saith, Rom. i. 20. All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse. Secondly, he makes himself more clearly and fully known to us by his holy and divine word ; that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to his glory and our salvation.
III. Of the written word of God. We confess that this word of God was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle l'eter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed nord to writing; and he himself wrote with his owo finger, the two tables of the law : Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
IV. Canonical books of the holy Scriptures. We believe that the holy scriptures are contained in two books, pamely, the old and new testament, which are canonical, against which pothing can he alleged. These are thus pamed in the church of God The books of the old testament are, the five books of Moses, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the book of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, two bocks of Samuel, and two of the Kings; two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon. the first of Ezra, Nenemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel ; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Anos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malacbi.
Those of the new testament are the four evangelists; viz. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ; the Acts of the Apostles ; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, viz. one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Collossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews : the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John. V. From whence do the holy scriptures derive their dignity and authority.
We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith ; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.
VI. The difference between the canonical and apocryphical books. We distinguish those sacred hooks from the apocryphical ; viz. the third and fourth book of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sy. rach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the three Children in the Furnace, the history of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the prayer of Monasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All which the church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical hooks; but they are far froin having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirin any point of faith, or of the christian religion; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books. VII. The sufficiency of the holy scriptures, to be the only rule of faith.
We believe that those holy scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that, whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficieutly taught therein. For since the whole inanner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise, than we are now taught in the holy scriptures : Nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For, since it is forbidden, to add unto er take away any thing from the word of God, 'it doth thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither may we compare any writings of men, though ever so holy, with those divine scriptures, nor ought we to compare custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times or persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, with the truth of God, for the truth is above all ; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself : Therefore, we rejeet, with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house. VIII. That God is one in essence, yet nevertheless distinguished in
three persons. According to this truth and this word of God, we believe in one only God, who is one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct, according to their incommunicable properties ; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is the cause, origin and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and image of the Father ; the Holy Ghost is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless God is not hy this distinction divided into three, since the holy scriptures teach us, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have each his personality, distinguished by their properties ; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident, that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed : For the Father hath not assumed the flesh, nor bath the Holy Ghost, but the Son only. The Father hath never been without his Son, or without his Holy Ghost. For they are all three co-eternal and co-essential. There is neither first nor last : for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy. IX. The proof of the foregoing article of the trinity of persons in one God.
All this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the holy scriptures, that teach us to believe this holy trinity, are written in many places of the old testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate, as to choose them out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis, chap. i. 26, 27, God saith : Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, 8c. So God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. And Gen. iii. 22. Behold the man has become as one of us. From this saying, let us make man in our image, it appears that there are inore persons than one in the Godheade and when he saith, God created, signifies the unity. It is true he doth not say how inany persons there are, but that, which appears to us soinewhat obscure in the old testament, is very plain in the new. For when our Lord was baptised in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, this is my beloved Son: The Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptise all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God: likewise the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. In all which places we are fully taught, that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding ; nevertheless we now he lieve it by means of the word of God, but expect hereafter, to enjoy