The Confession of Faith of the American Presbyerian Church
Of the Holy Scriptures
SECTION I : Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as to leave men inexcusable, yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of his will which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times and in divers manners, to reveal himself and to declare that his will unto his church and, afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
SECTION II : Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these…
Of the Old Testament
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Of the New Testament
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.
All of which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.
SECTION III : The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the scripture and, therefore, are of no authority in the church of God nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.
SECTION IV : The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man or Church but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof, and, therefore, it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
SECTION V : We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture, and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and Divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
SECTION VI : The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the church common to human actions and societies which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
SECTION VII : All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves nor alike clear unto all, yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other that not only the learned but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
SECTION VIII : The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old) and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical, so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto and interest in the Scriptures and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.
SECTION IX : The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and, therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
SECTION X : The Supreme Judge, by whom all controversies of religion are to be determined and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits are to be examined and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.
Of God and of the Holy Trinity
SECTION I : There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth; forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty.
SECTION II : God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself, and is alone in and unto himself all sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, not deriving any glory from them but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleases. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men and every other creature whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.
SECTION III : In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is of none, neither begotton nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotton of the Father; the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Of God’s Eternal Decree
SECTION I : God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
SECTION II : Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet has he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
SECTION III : By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death.
SECTION IV : These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
SECTION V : Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works or perseverance in either of them or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him thereunto, and all to the praise of his glorious grace.
SECTION VI : As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed in Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
SECTION VII : The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extends or withholds mercy as he pleases, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.
SECTION VIII : The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation, to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
SECTION I : It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
SECTION II : After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts and power to fulfill it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept they were happy in their communion with God and had dominion over the creatures.
SECTION I : God, the great Creator of all things, does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
SECTION II : Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; yet by the same providence he orders them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
SECTION III : God in his ordinary providence makes use of means yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.
SECTION IV : The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence that it extends itself even to the first fall and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature and not from God; who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
SECTION V : The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts to chastise them for their former sins or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled, and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
SECTION VI : As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins does blind and harden, from them he not only withholds his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings and wrought upon in their hearts, but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.
SECTION VII : As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it takes care of his Church and disposes all things to the good thereof.
Of The Fall, Sin, and Punishment
SECTION I : Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
SECTION II : By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
SECTION III : They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.
SECTION IV : From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
SECTION V : This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated, and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself and all the motions thereof are truly and properly sin.
SECTION VI : Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God and contrary thereunto, does, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
Of God’s Covenants
SECTION I : Before the foundation of the world the persons of the Godhead made the Trinitarian Covenant to bring to pass the theocratic kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
SECTION II : The distance between God and the creature is so great that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
SECTION III : The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience. In the family covenant which God also instituted with Adam, the family unit was established as the basis of society to populate the earth with a godly seed and to gain dominion over it.
SECTION IV : Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by the covenant of works, the Lord was pleased to make another, called the Edenic, wherein he promised that Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, would redeem man by his blood, cover them with his righteousness, and destroy their enemy Satan.
SECTION V : After unrestrained wickedness culminated in the judgments of the flood, God made a covenant with Noah establishing civil government to enforce the second table of the law and restrain wickedness, and promising to spare the earth from utter destruction so that human society might be preserved and the purpose of the family be realized until Christ, the Seed, should come and the elect be gathered.
SECTION VI : To provide for the spiritual welfare of the family, God made a covenant with Abraham establishing the visible church, wherein he would be their God and they would be his people, and promised that in his seed, the Christ, would all families of the earth be blessed. God also promised that a great nation and kings would come from him, and to him and his seed the land of Canaan would be given in order to fulfill his purpose of the theocratic kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
SECTION VII : In furtherance of God’s purpose a covenant was made with Israel, the elect nation, at Sinai, placing them in a theocratic relationship and giving them provisional possession of the land of promise upon condition of national obedience to the law.
SECTION VIII : In partial fulfillment of the terms of the Abrahamic covenant God established an everlasting covenant with David, the king, to provide out of his seed a theocratic king, the Christ, who would sit on David’s throne and rule over the elect nation forever in a new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
SECTION IX : Israel broke the covenant that God made with them at Sinai; therefore, he made a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, established on better promises, whereby he would call to himself a holy nation. This covenant, initiated by Christ and sealed with his blood, replaced the Sinaitic and was extended to include the Gentiles, who by faith were grafted into the elect nation, thus breaking down the middle wall of partition.
Of Christ The Mediator
SECTION I : It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotton Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world, unto whom he did, from all eternity, give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
SECTION II : The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
SECTION III : The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety. Which office he took not unto himself but was thereunto called by his Father, who put all power and judgment into his hand and gave him commandment to execute the same.
SECTION IV : This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law and did perfectly fulfill it, endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul and most painful sufferings in his body, was crucified and died, was buried and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into heaven and there sits at the right hand of his Father, making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the age.
SECTION V : The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of his Father and purchased not only reconciliation but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given unto him.
SECTION VI : Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed and signified to be the Seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, being yesterday and today the same, and forever.
SECTION VII : Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself, yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
SECTION VIII : To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, he does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation, effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.
Of Free Will
SECTION I : God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty that it is neither forced nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.
SECTION II : Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well pleasing unto God, but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it.
SECTION III : Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation, so as a natural man, being altogether adverse from that good and dead in sin is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself or to prepare himself thereunto.
SECTION IV : When God converts a sinner and translates him into the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good, yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly nor only will that which is good but does also will that which is evil.
SECTION V : The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.
Of Effectual Calling
SECTION I : All those whom God has predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by his Word and Spirit out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone and giving unto them a heart of flesh, renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
SECTION II : This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
SECTION III : Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how he pleases. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
SECTION IV : Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ and therefore cannot be saved; much less can men not professing the Christian religion be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess, and to assert and maintain that they may is very pernicious and to be detested.
SECTION I : Those whom God effectually calls he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them but by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them but for Christ’s sake alone, not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
SECTION II : Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.
SECTION III : Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
SECTION IV : God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit does in due time actually apply Christ unto them.
SECTION V : God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s fatherly displeasure and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
SECTION VI : The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
SECTION I : All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God; have his name put upon them; receive the Spirit of adoption; have access to the throne of grace with boldness; are enabled to cry, Abba, Father; are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a father; yet never cast off but sealed to the day of redemption and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.
SECTION I : They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified really and personally through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
SECTION II : This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abides still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.
SECTION III : In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome, and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Of Saving Faith
SECTION I : The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also and by the administration of the sacraments and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.
SECTION II : By this faith a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein, and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains, yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
SECTION III : This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong, may be often and many ways assailed and weakened, but gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
Of Repentance Unto Life
SECTION I : Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace; the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.
SECTION II : By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.
SECTION III : Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ, yet it is of such necessity to all sinners that none may expect pardon without it.
SECTION IV : As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation, so there is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.
SECTION V : Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins particularly.
SECTION VI : As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy; so he that scandalizes his brother or the Church of Christ ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him and in love to receive him.
Of Good Works
SECTION I : Good works are only such as God has commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal or upon any pretense of good intention.
SECTION II : These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith, and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end eternal life.
SECTION III : Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure, yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
SECTION IV : They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
SECTION V : We cannot, by our best works, merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty and are unprofitable servants; and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.
SECTION VI : Yet, notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works are also accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
SECTION VII : Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: And yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.
Of the Perseverance of the Saints
SECTION I : They whom God has accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved.
SECTION II : This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own freewill, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
SECTION III : Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.
Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation
SECTION I : Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish, yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God; which hope shall never make them ashamed.
SECTION II : This certainly is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.
SECTION III : This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it, yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And, therefore, it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance, so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
SECTION IV : True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.
Of The Law of God
SECTION I : God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.
SECTION II : This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai in ten commandments and written in two tables, the first four commandments containing our duty towards God and the other six our duty to man.
SECTION III : Besides this law, commonly called Moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a Church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated under the New Testament.
SECTION IV : To them, also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.
SECTION V : The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God, the Creator, who gave it. Neither does Christ in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
SECTION VI : Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly, discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin, and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works, so as a man’s doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.
SECTION VII : Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.
Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
SECTION I : The Liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin; from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear but a childlike love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law, but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.
SECTION II : God alone is Lord of the conscience and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to his Word; or beside it, in matters of faith or worship. So that to believe such doctrines or to obey such commandments out of conscience is to betray true liberty of conscience, and the requiring of an implicit faith and an absolute and blind obedience is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.
SECTION III : They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin or cherish any lust, such as the use of alcoholic beverages and desecration of the Sabbath day, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty; which is, that, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
SECTION IV : And because the powers which God has ordained and the liberty which Christ has purchased are not intended by God to destroy but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And for their publishing of such opinions or maintaining of such practices as are contrary to the light of nature or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or to the power of godliness; or such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church; they may lawfully be called to account and proceeded against by the censures of the Church.
Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
SECTION I : The light of nature shows that there is a God who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is, therefore, to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.
SECTION II : Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and to him alone, not to angels, saints, or any other creature; and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.
SECTION III : Prayer with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.
SECTION IV : Prayer is to be made for things lawful and for all sorts of men living or that shall live hereafter, but not for the dead nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
SECTION V : The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God, besides religious oaths, and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.
SECTION VI : Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is, now under the gospel, either tied unto or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed or towards which it is directed, but God is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and in truth; as in private families, daily, and in secret each one by himself; so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calls thereunto.
SECTION VII : As it is of the law of nature that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God, so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he has particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him; which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s Day and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath.
SECTION VIII : This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
SECTION I : A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calls God to witness what he asserts or promises and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he swears.
SECTION II : The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name or to swear at all by any other thing is sinful and to be abhorred. Yet as, in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God under the New Testament as well as under the Old, so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to be taken.
SECTION III : Whosoever takes an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is good and just and what he believes so to be and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.
SECTION IV : An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. It cannot oblige to sin, but in anything not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt, nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics or infidels.
SECTION V : A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath and ought to be made with the like religious care and to be performed with the like faithfulness.
SECTION VI : It is not to be made to any creature but to God alone, and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties or to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.
SECTION VII : No man may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God. In which respects Popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
Of the Civil Magistrate
SECTION I : God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers.
SECTION II : It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto, in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth, so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
SECTION III : Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. It is the duty of the civil magistrates to uphold the last five commandments of the moral law and thus protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever, and to take order that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.
SECTION IV : It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, does not make void the magistrate’s just and legal authority nor free the people from their due obedience to him, from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, much less has the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their dominions or over any of their people, and least of all to deprive them of their dominions or lives if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.
Of Marriage and Divorce
SECTION I : Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.
SECTION II : Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue and of the Church with a holy seed, and for preventing of uncleanness.
SECTION III : It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry who are able with judgment to give their consent, yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolators, neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life or maintain damnable heresies.
SECTION IV : Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word, nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife. The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own, nor the woman of her husband’s kindred nearer in blood than of her own.
SECTION V : Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.
SECTION VI : Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage, yet nothing but adultery or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage, wherein a public and orderly course of proceedings is to be observed, and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills and discretion in their own case.
Of the Church
SECTION I : The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be, gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof, and is the spouse, the body, and fullness of him that fills all in all.
SECTION II : The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before, under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children, and is the present aspect of the future, glorious, visible kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
SECTION III : Unto this catholic visible Church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints in this life to the end of the world, and does by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
SECTION IV : This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible, and particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
SECTION V : The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error, and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to his will.
SECTION VI : The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church, and the claim of any man to be the vicar of Christ and the Head of the Church is unscriptural, without warrant in fact, and is a usurpation dishonoring to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Of the Communion of Saints
SECTION I : All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory. And being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
SECTION II : Saints, by profession, are bound to maintain a holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
SECTION III : This communion which the saints have with Christ does not make them in anywise partakers of the substance of his Godhead, or to be equal with Christ in any respect, either of which to affirm is impious and blasphemous. Nor does their communion one with another, as saints, take away or infringe the title or property which each man has in his goods and possessions.
Of the Sacraments
SECTION I : Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits and to confirm our interest in him, as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world, and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.
SECTION II : There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.
SECTION III : The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them, neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
SECTION IV : There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospel; that is to say, baptism and the supper of the Lord; neither of which may be dispensed by any but by a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
SECTION V : The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.
SECTION I : Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life; which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.
SECTION II : The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by a minister of the gospel lawfully called thereunto.
SECTION III : Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary, but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.
SECTION IV : Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.
SECTION V : Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
SECTION VI : The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered, yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Spirit, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.
SECTION VII : The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person.
Of the LORD’S Supper
SECTION I : Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his Church unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death, the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him, and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him and with each other, as members of his mystical body.
SECTION II : In this sacrament Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead, but only a commemoration of that one offering up of himself by himself, upon the cross, once for all, and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same; so that the Popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
SECTION III : The Lord Jesus has, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use, and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants, but to none who are not then present in the congregation.
SECTION IV : Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest or any other alone, as likewise the denial of the cup to the people, worshiping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament and to the institution of Christ.
SECTION V : The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.
SECTION VI : That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation), by consecration of a priest or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason; overthrows the nature of the sacrament; and has been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.
SECTION VII : Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified and all benefits of his death, the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
SECTION VIII : Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament, yet they receive not the the thing signified thereby, but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table and cannot, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries or be admitted thereunto.
Of Church Censures
SECTION I : The Lord Jesus, as king and head of his Church, has therein appointed a government in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.
SECTION II : To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word and censures, and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.
SECTION III : Church censures are necessary for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ and the holy profession of the gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer his covenant and the seals thereof to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.
SECTION IV : For the better obtaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition, suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season, and by excommunication from the Church, according to the nature of the crime and demerit of the person.
Of Synods and Councils
SECTION I : For the better government and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils, and it belongs to the overseers and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their office and the power which Christ has given them for edification and not for destruction, to appoint such assemblies and to convene together to them, as often as they shall judge it expedient for the good of the Church.
SECTION II : It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God and government of his Church, to receive complaints in cases of maladministration and authoritatively to determine the same, which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his word.
SECTION III : All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith and practice, but to be used as a help in both.
SECTION IV : Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience.
Of the State of Man After Death and of the Resurrection of the Dead
SECTION I : The bodies of men, after death, return to dust and see corruption, but their souls (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledges none.
SECTION II : At the return of the Lord Jesus Christ such living persons as are found in him shall not die but be changed, and all the dead in Christ shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
SECTION III : The bodies of the unjust shall, after Christ has reigned on earth a thousand years, be raised by the power of God to dishonor.
Of the Last Things
SECTION I : God has appointed a day (which word in Scripture in reference to the last things may represent a period of time including the thousand years following the visible, personal, and premillennial return of Christ) wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all reprobate persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the Great White Throne, to be judged according to their works and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
SECTION II : The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect, and of his justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing which shall come from the presence of the Lord, but the wicked, who know not God and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.
SECTION III : As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity, so will he have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security and be always watchful because they know not at what hour the Lord will come and may be ever prepared to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.
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