The Myth Of The Papacy

You know by now that Benedict XVI has abdicated the papacy and the college of Cardinals have been preparing to elect a new pope. on Tuesday they are set to begin the process of actually electing a new pope. Over the next few days, news coverage will be intense and, until a pope is elected and if coverage follows the usual pattern, we will likely witness reporters standing outside the Vatican breathlessly saying or implying that this is the way things have been since the 1st century. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. As a matter of history, the papacy is a collection of myths.

Our word “myth” is derived from the Greek word muthos (μυθος). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in English usage, “myth” denotes a

traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces, which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon.

This sense of the word “myth” partly captures what I mean by it here. The papacy is largely the result of a long series of practical and political developments that have been cloaked in the fabric of piety and supernaturalism. In that sense the current papacy invokes a myth involving supernatural explanations of the papacy when there are perfectly natural, historical explanations.

The OED adds a layer of explanation as it begins to list a series of definitions:

a. A widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief; a widely held misconception; a misrepresentation of the truth. Also: something existing only in myth; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing.

This captures exactly what I mean by myth in this context. There is a widespread but untrue story about the papacy. It is partly the result of assumptions but it is partly the result of a grossly anachronistic story told by Romanist apologists.

The historical truth is that the papacy as we know it today did not begin to exist until Leo I, who was Bishop of Rome from 440–61.  In fact, the pope has not always been “the Pope.” There is absolutely no evidence in the Book of Acts that Peter had primacy among the apostles. Indeed, if we consider that Paul rebuked Peter at Antioch for denying the gospel (apparently “Peter” never learns), then the very notion of an unbroken succession of Petrine popes speaking infallibly from from a divinely instituted throne seems most unlikely indeed.

Though it is indeed possible and, depending upon how one reconstructs the patristic histories, even probable that Peter was in Rome, when the apostle Paul wrote to the congregation in Rome he made no mention of Peter, who, on this reconstruction, was in Rome under Claudius 14 years before. Were Peter regarded as primus inter pares (first among equals) then we would expect some recognition of that status but there is none nor do we find any such recognition in the rest of the NT. It’s at least possible that other NT documents were written to the congregation at Rome and yet there is no recognition of Peter’s alleged primacy. He certainly did not assert any such primacy in the two epistles under his name. In the gospel of Mark, likely written as a follow-on to his visit to Rome and closely associated with his ministry, gives not a hint of Petrine primacy.

The case for the papacy in the 2nd century (from 100 AD) is just as weak. There is no evidence in the so-called Apostolic Fathers (a somewhat arbitrary, if illuminating and important collection of texts from the early to mid-2nd century) that they regarded Peter as the first pope. Terrence Smith says, “There is an astonishing lack of of reference to Peter among ecclesiastical authors of the first half of the second century.”1

Robert Eno says,

The evidence (Clement, Hermas, Ignatius) points us in the direction of assuming that in the first century and into the second, that there was not bishop of Rome in the usual sense given to that title. The office of the single mon-episcopos was slowly emerging in the local Christian communities around the Mediterranean world.2

This is what one finds in the Apostolic Fathers. Because Patristic texts have sometimes been translated under what we might call an “Episcopal assumption,” i.e., under the assumption that when a text says “Episcopos” (επισκοπος) it signals a single, centralized regional manager of the church, we are sometimes left with a misimpression. If, however, we read the Apostolic Fathers in context it quickly appears that we cannot read into “episcopos” the later monepiscopal office and authority.

There was a variety of church governments in the second century. There is good evidence for a variety of ecclesiastical structures in the second century. Three offices are mentioned consistently, episcopos, presbyter, and deacon. These are often used in a non-hierachical sense and the plurality of presbyters is not uncommon.

Gradually, however, in the face of the pressure of persecution, through the third century the churches began to gather around pastors in leading cities (Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem) and those pastors began to exert more authority in the organization of the church. The rise of a bishop-centered polity, where a regional pastor exercised authority over local pastors and elders, was a pragmatic, development that modeled itself not on the New Testament pattern but on the prevailing pattern of (Roman) civil government. This, by the way, is yet another reason why Christians need to think carefully, historically, and intelligently about the problem of Christ and culture. When imitate the surrounding culture, when we fail to criticize the influence of the culture in the church, and when we baptize the prevailing culture—under whatever pretense—it has typically not gone well for the church.

The papacy as we know it today is a medieval creature. It did not exist in the first century, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, or even the sixth. It was Damasus I, who served 366–84, who first asserted the title “Pope” (Papa) and there was nothing like the papacy as we know it until Gregory I, who was in office from 590–604. As we will see in the series the power and influence of the papacy grew, gradually, by steps until the early 14th century, when, in 1302, in the papal decree (Unam Sanctam) the papacy asserted its primacy against Philip of France. That was likely the highpoint of genuine papal authority and the beginning of a long, ugly decline.

It seems likely that, if the college of cardinals (a medieval development), elects a pope, it will likely be the cardinal protodeacon who announces “Habemus papam” (“We have a pope”). That announcement is symbolic of the myth of the papacy. Reporters intone about the ancient rituals, about St Peter’s Basilica, as if things have always been this way. It just isn’t so, however. During this week of March-Papal-Madness, I’ll try to add some historical perspective.

Above I began to sketch a way of looking at the papacy that peers through the popular and Romanist myth of the papacy to the historical reality.

The point of this essay is to be suggestive, to alert the reader to the reality that the papacy is a very human, not a divine institution, that developed in response to external and internal stimuli. It wasn’t established by Christ. It doesn’t exist in the Acts of the Apostles. It did not exist in the 2nd or even 3rd centuries. Even when the Bishop (pastor) of Rome begins to be called “pope” that does not mean that he either actually was “pope” or that he was regarded as the universal vicar (representative) of Christ on the earth with authority to speak infallibly for Christ from an episcopal throne. Those are much later notions that cannot be read back into the late Patristic and early medieval periods.

One of the aspects of the development of the papacy that fascinates me is the existence of anti-popes. According to Romanist scholars there have been no fewer than 46 anti-popes in the history of the papacy. Of course that count includes figures that pre-date the actual existence of a “papacy.” One Romanist writer defines an anti-pope thus:

Any person who took the name of pope and exercised or claimed to exercise his functions without canonical foundation.

The definition is as problematic as it is interesting. It is problematic because it fails to recognize that the method of electing popes developed. Gregory I, probably the first Roman Bishop with anything like genuine papal power, was not elected by a college of cardinals. That institution did not develop for centuries. Gregory (Regula Pastoralis), by his own account, thrust into office by popular and priestly acclaim.

A cardinal Bishop is a papal elector. “Cardinal” was originally used adjectivally of any priest permanently attached to a church. Then it became restricted to priests, deacons, and bishops in and around Rome. Cardinal is derived from cardo (hinge, axis). By the 11th century “cardinal” became a noun. In 1059 Nicholas II (contra Henry IV of England), in In Nomine Domine, gave Cardinal Bishops the sole right to elect popes. Cardinal priests and deacons were to give assent. Thus, the process we are witnessing this week is an 11th century process, not an apostolic, patristic, or even early medieval process. It is a high medieval process. Study the history of the Western church and it soon becomes quite clear that the features that distinguish the Roman communion, that make Rome what it is, her claims to primacy, authority, her sacerdotal sacramental ministry, the papacy, and her doctrines—they are largely medieval creatures. The Roman sacramental system was not consolidated until the 4th Lateran Council in 1215. Thus, when the Reformation rejected those innovations they were no farther away chronologically than say Jonathan Edwards is from us. Even after the 4th Lateran, it is Trent, a 16th-century reaction to the Reformation that, as much as anything makes the Roman communion, including the papacy, what it is. In short: the antiquity of Romanism is a myth. It is a medieval and Tridentine creature.

Though we associate the papacy with Rome, it has not always resided in there. From 1305–78, the papacy relocated to Avignon, on the election of Clement V. He needed to stay near France but outside of Rome for fear of violence in Rome. He settled the Papacy in Avignon because it was an imperial city and he was trying to gain the support of France and England to resume the crusades.

As is the case today, the Italians, who regarded the papacy as theirs, were not happy about this move but the papacy remained in Avignon until 1377. The Italians did not take this lying down. They installed Nicholas V from 1328–30 so that briefly, there were two popes, both elected by papal electors. Gregory XI attempted to return the papacy to Rome, if only to reassert papal and Roman control of the peninsula. On Gregory’s death, in 1378, the problem of anti-popes intensified with the election of Urban VI, in Rome. He was so unpopular with the people that the cardinals lied about whom they had elected. He was also unpopular with some of the cardinals because he was said to have a temper and most outrageously, because he accused the cardinals of living ostentatiously. In retaliation, some electors accused him of being insane.

In reaction to his election, some of the papal electors decamped to Avignon, where the papacy had been from 1305–77 and elected Robert of Geneva as Clement VII. Here’s the rub. Clement VII gets the asterisk as the antipope. Why? Romanist historians can’t say. There’s no objective ground for disqualifying him other than that he was not in Rome, but the papacy had been in Avignon for decades and that is not regarded as illegitimate and the one competitor elected in Rome in 1328 gets an asterisk as an antipope so location isn’t definitive. Apparently a pope is antipope if Rome later says he was even if Rome cannot say how or why. Fiat!

There followed a succession of popes and “antipopes” in Rome and Avignon between 1378 and 1409, when things took an even stranger twist. It was then that the Council of Pisa, at which 22 cardinal Bishops were in attendance, elected Alexander V (June 1409–May 1410). Benedict XIII, who had been in Avignon fled Spain. Alexander V was succeeded by John XXIII,

By this time, there had already been multiple successions in both Rome and the Avignon. There had been mutual excommunications and depositions of competing popes by the Council of Pisa. At the Council of Constance (1414–18) John XXIII was arrested, brought back to Constance, and imprisoned until 1419 (but he was later made a Cardinal, so, as they say, “it’s all good”). Benedict XIII (in Spain) were deposed and Gregory XII abdicated. The council then elected Odo Colonna as Martin V on 11 November, 1417, ending the schism. Rome has never pronounced on the canonicity of Urban VI’s election or the legitimacy of Pisa.

One of my students showed me a news story yesterday which described the “ancient” rituals being enacted in the Vatican this week. Competition among competing popes, elected by competing gatherings of cardinal Bishops, is another ancient ritual but not one that will get much coverage this week. Those, however, who are interested in the history of the papacy should know that there was a severe crisis in the papacy in the 14th and 15th centuries that provoked grave doubts among honest, fair-minded Christians in the late medieval period. Indeed, without the gross corruption of the church “in head and members”(Fifth Lateran Council) the Reformation might have been less plausible.

The existence of simultaneous popes in Rome, Avignon, and Pisa also illustrates the grave problem of the very notion of an unbroken Petrine succession. There is no unbroken succession, first because the papacy has not always existed. Second, because there is no biblical or early evidence of Petrine primacy, and third, because the post-Avignon papacy is an orphan who has no idea who his father was in the 14th and 15th century.

UPDATE 13 March 2013

In researching an answer to another question I ran across some interesting stuff. First, on the “Catholic Answers” Forum. There it is asserted that Martin V was not a true pope because he was deposed. Gregory XII is said to have been a true pope because he resigned. So, deposition by a council nullifies a papacy but then they claim that no council can depose a pope. Never mind the fact that Constance decreed that all, including popes, must submit to councils. It’s okay if you find that confusing. It is.

Second, Eamon Duffy’s account of the Avignon crisis attempts to vindicate the Roman popes by trashing the Avignon popes as if the latter were less fit for office than the former. That’s a strange argument to make and not one that will favor the Renaissance papacy at all.


1. Terrence V. Smith, Petrine Controversies in Early Christianity: Attitudes Towards Peter in Christian Writings of the First Two Centuries (Tübingen: Mohr, 1985), 174 cited in Robert Eno, The Rise of the Papcy (Eugene: W & S, 1990), 15.

2. Eno, Ibid, 29.

This essay was originally published in two parts 11-13 March, 2013 at Heidelblog.net

Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs, and Instruments In The Latin Bibles

We Reformed folk like to think that what we do now in public worship is what we have always done. This is especially easy to do when we are cut off from or unaware of the original sources and practices of our tradition or when our practice has been changed and we are unaware of the changes that have been made. The history of the Reformed practice of worship is not well known nor is it easy to discover. Frequently, those who write about it do so either with an interest in defending our modern practice. Sometimes histories are written by those who do not sympathize with the original Reformed understanding of and approach to worship—now known as the regulative principle of worship.

There are, however, significant differences between the way we tend to think about Reformed worship and the way they did. We know this because our practice tends to vary, in some ways, considerably from the original Reformed practice. For example, today, virtually all Reformed congregations use musical instruments in public worship. In the Reformation, however, virtually none of our congregations used musical instruments in public worship. Instruments were banished from Reformed congregations in Zürich, Geneva, Heidelberg, the Netherlands, France, Scotland, and England. Instruments were absent from Christian worship for the first six centuries of church history and did not become widely used until the high middle ages. They were a relative novelty when the Reformed cast them out in the 16th century. They did not return widely until the 18th and 19th centuries. In some quarters they were still controversial in the early 20th century. For more on this see Recovering the Reformed Confession. What we sing in public worship also varies considerably from what we sang in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Geneva, in the Netherlands, in France, and in the British Isles Reformed congregations sang God’s Word in worship. They did not sing non-canonical hymns.1

Most of the time the shift from the original Reformed practice to our practice is either accepted without question or ignored. Sometimes we assume (as I did for a number of years) that our current practice is the historic practice. Sometimes, however, the original Reformed understanding of worship is ridiculed. One sees this in the discussion of the proper interpretation of the expression in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18: “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” The older Reformed writers tended to interpret this phrase as a reference to the 150 Psalms. More than once, however, I have heard contemporary interpreters appeal to this expression as a grounds for an “inclusive” position whereby a Reformed congregation would sing Psalms, extra-canonical hymns, and contemporary songs. This interpretation, however, is not probable. Most likely the phrase “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” refers to three parts of the Psalter in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (known as the Septuagint and symbolized with the Roman numerals LXX). When the Apostle Paul used the expression “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” he was using an expression with a history, which readers would have understood in context.

When our Reformed forefathers interpreted this phrase they were influenced by their experience with the Latin Bible. This is not something that most Reformed Christians in North America (or anywhere else) experience today, at least not directly. Most of us read Scripture in our own language (e.g., English) and then there those who read the original languages but relatively few of us read Latin any more but our Reformed theologians did. Indeed, when they were not reading Scripture in the original languages they were typically reading Scripture in Latin. Most of the time, when they quote Scripture in their Latin writings, it is in Latin. Sometimes they quote existing translations and sometimes they made their own translation. The Latin Bible that most influenced the Western church was the Biblia Vulgata, the Vulgate. It became the standard text of the Latin Bible through the middle ages and through much of the 16th century. The text was revised and republished by Rome as part of the Counter-Reformation response to the Protestants in 1590. That edition is referred to as the Clementine Vulgate. The Reformed were so familiar with and committed to reading Scripture in Latin that they even created their own Latin translation. Immanuel Tremellius (1510–80) and Franciscus Junius (1545–1602) translated the entire Old Testament and Theodore Beza (1519–1605) translated the New Testament. As Todd Rester explains, this translation became the “standard Latin biblical text of the scholarly Reformed world from 1579 through 1764.” It was widely published and widely used.

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs in the Vulgate

In the Vulgate (abbreviated Vg) the terms psalmus (psalm), hymnus (hymn), and canticum (song) appear in the superscriptions to the Psalms. The stem psal– occurs 153 times in the Vg, mostly, of course, in the Psalms. This would include the noun Psalmus (e.g., Ps 2:1 “Psalmus David“) and  also the verb Psallo, to sing (a psalm) as in 1 Cor 14:15. It also is Isaiah 38:20; Lamentations 3:63; Habbakuk 3:19 and in the NT. We can’t survey all of these uses in a blog post but it is instructive to notice how the terms “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” and related words were used in these two Latin Bibles and how that might have influenced the way the Reformed understood them. Of course the noun “Psalm” occurs in the superscriptions of a many of the Psalms, e.g., 4:1, 6:1, 29:1, 32:2 but the terms canticum and hymnus also occur apparently following the pattern of the LXX. Sometimes the terms occur together as in Ps 47:1 (the superscription to Ps 48 in English): Canticum Psalmi… (a song of a Psalm…). See also Ps 65:1 (superscription to 66 in English).

The noun hymnus occurs only twice in the Psalms, in Ps 118:171 (English 119:171) and in the superscription to Psalm 144:1 (145:1 in English), which is a “Hymn of David.” It only occurs 21 times in the whole of Scripture in the Vulgate. In 1 Kings 8:28 hymnus is used as a synonym for oratio (prayer). In 1 Chron 16:36 the congregation says an “amen” and a hymn to the Lord. 2 Chronicles 7:6 says:

The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments (organis carminum) for music to the Dominus that King David had made for giving thanks to the Dominus—for his eternal mercy—whenever David sang his hymnby their hands; then the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.

Here we see that, in the Vulgate, hymns, the levitical ministry, and musical instruments are quite interconnected. Hymns are also sung in Ezra 3:1, Nehemiah 12:8. Hymnusoccurs several times in the Apocryphal books (Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, 2 Esdras). It is used in the NT in Matthew 26:30, “and when they sang a hymn…” This is undoubtedly the source of the misleading English translation with which the reader is familiar. The Greek text, of course, uses a participle which simply means “having sung” and transliterating it thus, in English, gives the false impression that our Lord and the disciples sang the same sort of extra-canonical song that congregations sing today. As we have seen, however, It is a type of Psalm or other song sung in the canonical period, by canonical actors in the history of redemption.

The typical English translation of Acts 16:25 is also a little misleading. E.g., ESV has Paul and the others “singing hymns” about midnight. The Greek text uses the noun transliterated as “hymn” (ὕμνουν) but, again, the transliteration creates a misleading impression in the modern ear that Paul and company were doing just what we do today. The translation of “psalm” (ψαλμὸν) in 1 Corinthians 14:26 as “hymn” is even more misleading. Why transliterate “hymnos” in one place but not transliterate psalmos in another?

It is quite interesting also to note how the noun canticum (song) appears in the Psalter. Sometimes it appears in conjunction with psalmus, as we have observed, but sometimes it is used to characterize the entire Psalm as in Ps 3:1 (= superscription to Ps 3 in English). The Vulgate says, “A canticle of David when he fled from the face of Absalom (Abesselon) his son.” Psalms 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21,22, 23, 28, 30, are all a canticles. The noun canticum occurs 88 times in the Psalms and most of them in the superscription. As I mentioned, some of them are used together with Psalmus. By contrast, the noun psalmus occurs only 18 times in the Vulgate and usually in the superscription. This ratio suggests that, for readers of the Vulgate, the Psalms were more a collection of songs (canticles) than “Psalms” and that the two words were virtually identical in their sense.

In short, when the Reformed thought about “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in Colossians and Ephesians, given their background in the Latin Bible, they would not have interpreted that phrase as “the canonical psalms, a type of non-canonical song, and another type of non-canonical song.” The evidence from the Latin Bible simply will not allow such an interpretation. When they read those nouns, they understood them against the background of their use in the Latin Bible. When they read “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in Colossians and Ephesians they read them as types of Psalms or as synonyms for Psalms or other typological forms of praise.

Singing And Instruments

We have already noted that there is a connection between the stems psal–, hymn–, and cant– and the use of instruments by the Levitical priests. When the Reformed thought about the use of musical instruments in Scripture they thought of the typological period of redemption or the Old Testament in the broad sense. The first use of the verb Psallooccurs in Judges 5:3:

Domino canam psallam Domino Deo Israhel (I will play an instrument, I will sing [a psalm] to the Lord, to the Lord God of Israel))

In 1 Sam 10:5 the “harp” is a psalterium (psalterium et tympanum et tibiam et citharam) and in 16:16 a man who knows how to play (psallere) the cithara is sought. Similar uses occur in 1 Sam 18:10; 19:9; 2 Kings 3:15. They associated the use of musical instruments particularly with the Levitical, priestly ministry as in Nehemiah 12:27:

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres (ESV).

In the Vulgate the Levites are praising God “in cantico in cymbalis psalteriis et citharis” (in song with cymbals, stringed instruments, and lyres).

We see this pattern also in 1 Chronicles 15;16 where the leaders (chiefs) of the Levites are to appoint some of their brothers to play on “organs musicorum” (on the instruments of music). We see the same connection in 2 Chronicles 29:26 where the Levites are standing with the instruments (organa) of David and the levitical priests are playing trumpets (tubas). Again in 2 Chronicles 20:31 the Levites and the priests are playing musical instruments (organa) as in 2 Chronicles 34:12.

It is often asked (as I myself asked Bob Godfrey 23 years ago), “Why do you want us to sing Psalms but you won’t let us do what they say?” (i.e., play instruments). After all, Psalm 150 lists a number of instruments. The Vulgate, in Psalm 151:2 (English 150:4) even lists the “organ” as one of them. The difficulty that the Reformed saw with this line of reasoning is that it proves too much. They were convinced that the period of types and shadows had been fulfilled in Christ. This is why, in the new covenant, the church did not seek to kill the Canaanites. That commission ended with the death of Christ. In the “once for all” (Heb 7:27) death of Christ the bloody sacrificial ministry of the Levitical priesthood ended. Jesus’ priesthood was greater than Aaron’s and Levi’s. Those priests had to sacrifice for themselves. Jesus did not. His sacrifice was for us.

The Reformers knew their history, that the early church accepted these principles and worshipped without musical instruments for the first 7 centuries—8 if we count the Apostolic church. They knew that the reintroduction of musical instruments mean the return to types and shadows, to the priesthood and that is exactly what happened. By the 9th century medieval theologians were theorizing about the transformation of the elements of the Supper into the body and blood of Christ. After that, increasingly ministers became regarded as priests who were making offerings. Indeed, by the 9th century the Holy Roman Emperor is increasingly being seen as a new Davidic king. What had expired on the cross was being resurrected and the church was returned to types and shadows. The Reformers rejected the new priesthood, the new (memorial, propitiatory) sacrifices just as they rejected the medieval neo-levitical reintroduction of instruments.

As we wrestle with the interpretation of the expression “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” we should try to understand sympathetically the traditional Reformed reading and we can do that if we account for the influence of the Latin Bible on their interpretation.

The Latin Bible was a major formative influence on the way the Reformed theologians interpreted Scripture. The King James Version/Authorized Version (1611) particularly reflects the influence of the Latin Bible but its influence reverberates in many English translations. It influenced their word choice in translation. Since our theologians in the 16th and 17th centuries used a Latin Bible for their personal study, it also influenced their understanding of the meaning of Scripture.

In the first post in this series we looked at how the Psalms are categorized in the superscriptions of the Psalms in the Vulgate. We also considered the way those words are used in the NT.

From 1579, however, the Reformed orthodox had a new study tool. It didn’t have a clever title e.g., The New International Reformed Study Bible but that is what it was. When the Reformed orthodox writers used a Latin Bible they tended to use the edition produced by Franciscus Junius, Immanuel Tremellius, and Theodore Beza. It was titled Biblia sacra sive testamentum vetus et testamentum novum (Sacred Bible: Old Testament and New Testament).

Recently I have worked through the Biblia sacra to see how the psalms were classified in the superscriptions and the results are enlightening.

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

The question before us is this: Against what background did the orthodox Reformed understand the expression in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18, “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”?

In Beza’s Latin NT the expression reads:

psalmis, hymnes, et cantionibus spiritualibus

The only the difference between the Vulgate and Beza’s text is Beza’s choice of cantio in place of canticum for “songs.” Cantio is a relatively rare word, a late, post-classical word. It does not occur in the pre-Clementine Vulgate but and occurs only once (Ps 136:3) in the Clementine Vulgate (1592). That it occurs in Beza’s 1556 Latin New Testament suggests the word had found favor in the second half of the 16th century. Perhaps this noun was favored by the humanists for some reason? Calvin used it 4 times in the 1559 Institutes (3.8.11, 4.13.19, 4.19.22, 4.19.24). Was he influenced by Beza’s 1556 translation or were they both influenced by a broader trend?

How did Junius and Tremellius translate the superscriptions to the Psalms and how might that have influenced the Reformed understanding of the Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16? The other question we pursued was how the Vulgate translated the terms for musical instruments and how that influenced the Reformers. We will ask the same question of Tremellius/Junius.

This work was more difficult because there is no digitized version of Junius’ and Tremellius’ (hereafter Junius/Tremellius) translation but I went through the text carefully by hand.

41 of the Psalms in have no superscription and thus no classification for the psalm. 44 of the Psalms were classified as a Psalm (psalmus) of David or of Asaph et al. 19 of the psalms were classified as a canticum (song). 26 were classified as an ode, which is a transliteration of the Greek term used in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19. 4 psalms were classified as an oratio (prayer), 6 as a canticum et pslamus (song and psalm) and 1 as a carmen Davidis (a song of David).

These categories were not isolated or sealed from one another. Some psalms were classified as psalms and as something else, e.g., a canticum. No Psalms were classified as a hymnus but none are classified as a cantio, Beza’s word for canticum. The fact that ode was used suggests the retrospective influence of Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 on Junius/Tremellius. Their choices also suggest that the line between “psalm” and other forms of song is blurry, if it existed at all. The noun psalm occurs more frequently in Junius/Tremellius than in the Vulgate psalter.

They did not seem to have followed the LXX pattern exactly but there are some patterns. Psalmus tends to occur earlier in the psalter (books 1 and 2) and canticumoccurs with more frequency later in the psalter (book 5). Ode occurs throughout the psalter but occurs in most often in books 1 (1-41), 2 (42-72), and 3 (73-89) of the psalter.

Following the humanist pattern they used a greater diversity of terms (oratio, carmen, ode) than the Vulgate.

2 of the 3 terms used in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 were used interchangeably in the Junius/Tremellius translation of the superscriptions of the psalter and they used Paul’s word ode, which seems to connect their understanding of Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 directly to their understanding of the Psalter. Arguably, canticum stands for hymnus

Outside the psalter, e.g., in Matthew 26:30 Beza translated ὕμνουν as “hymn” and in Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas were “singing (canebant) hymns to God.” Like the Vulgate, Beza used the transliterated (Latinized) the Greek except that he turned the singular (in both the Majority Text and the NA 28) to a plural. That choice raises its own questions that we cannot pursue here. The caveats from last time still apply. We cannot anachronistically re-interpret “hymn” in light of our modern (largely psalm-less) experience. The question is how it was understood in the 16th and 17th centuries.

We get greater clarity about how Junius/Tremellius and Beza understood Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 in Beza’s translation of 1 Corinthians 14:26 where the Vulgate transliterated ψαλμὸν (psalm) Beza chose canticum. This is illuminating. He did not choose to transliterate psalm, which is the noun that Paul used, but instead chose to translate it with a different noun. Why? Because, in his understanding, and arguably that of the rest of the Reformed orthodox, there was no substantive difference between a psalm and a canticum (song) and, we should add, an ode nor was there any discernible difference between a canticum (Vulgate) and cantio (Beza). They signify the same thing.

In short, the Reformed orthodox would not have understood the objection against interpreting Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 against the background of the Psalter. In their minds, the two were bound together. For them, when Paul said “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” he was referring to the superscriptions of the psalms. Nor would they have sympathized with the argument that “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” must refer to distinct types of songs and certainly they had no sympathy for the notion that “psalm” refer to a canonical psalm, a hymn to a type of non-canonnical song, and “spiritual song” to another type of non-canonical song.

Musical Instruments

One of the more interesting facets the Junius/Tremellius psalter is their translation of the directions to the musician. In 55 psalms, in all five books of the psalter, this superscription appears:

To the master of the symphonia (magistro symphoniae).

Typically in our English Bibles, e.g., in the ASV and ESV, the superscription over Psalm 4 reads, “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” The 1559 Geneva bible has “To him that excelleth on Neginoth.” Thus, they left the Hebrew untranslated—though we have already observed how the editors/translators addressed the use of musical instruments in the new covenant, in the note on Psalm 150:3. KJV/AV revised the Geneva Bible slightly: “To the chief musician on Neginoth….” The Geneva/KJV tells the English reader less than the ASV/ESV but none of them has quite the same effect of the Junius/Tremellius translation. Symphonia was a transliteration of the Greek term (συμφωνία). According to Liddell and Scott (the precursor to Liddell, Scott, and Jones), a Symphonia, in this context, is a band or an orchestra. It features percussive instruments (drums, cymbals) but apparently included wind instruments since the superscriptions to Psalms 53 and 75 include instructions to the “master of the symphonia” regarding the use of a “pneumatic instrument.”

Outside the psalter, terms for musical instruments occur most frequently in 1-2 Chronicles, in conjunction with the Levitical, priestly ministry (and often in the context of burnt offerings and sacrifices). In 1 Chronicles 15:16, the Levites were playing “with instruments of music, psalteries, cithara, and cymbals. In 16:42 it is “trumpets and cymbals for resonating and musical instruments….” In 2 Chronicles 29 the Levites were using “musical instruments” including various horns. This fits the evidence we saw in the superscriptions to 2 psalms regarding the use of particular instruments.

What does the Junius/Tremellius translation tell us about how they saw musical instruments in the psalter and redemptive history? First, whereas the terms for a symphonia and musical instruments generally and certain instruments particularly occurred with regularity in the Psalter and in 1-2 Chronicles, they occur, of course, not at all in Beza’s NT. Second, it would have been very difficult for the Reformed orthodox, for whom the Junius/Tremellius/Beza Latin Bible became the study Bible (apart from the original text), not to think of musical instruments as inextricably tied to the typological period of redemptive history and to the sacrificial ministry of the Levites. Where our translations sometimes encourage us to thing of a vocal choir, their translation encouraged them to think of the use of musical instruments in the psalms. In that respect, our experience of the psalter is quite different from theirs. The use of “choir” or “choirmaster” anachronistically tends to create the impression that the Israelites did just as many modern congregations do but for the Reformed orthodox, who composed our confessions, when they thought of the psalter and Old Testament worship generally, they thought of musical instruments, sacrifices, and even holy war (Psalm 149) against the enemies of God’s national people.

This helps explain why the churches in Geneva, Heidelberg, the Netherlands, France, and the British Isles removed or sought to remove musical instruments from Reformed churches. They were relics of the era of types and shadows, intimately, inextricably bound up with the Levitical sacrifices.

Obviously, the predominant contemporary understanding of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” varies rather sharply from that reflected in the standard Latin study Bible used by our orthodox Reformed forefathers. Further, their is considerable discontinuity between the way modern Reformed folk tend to think about musical instruments and the way the Reformed theologians and churches thought of them in the formative, classical period (16th and 17th centuries) of Reformed theology, piety, and practice.

It is useful to know that most (but not all!) of us no longer agree with our Reformed sources. We need to wrestle honestly with the facts. It is simply not satisfactory to say, “Well they were wrong.” That might be the case but we cannot simply assert that. We must show why they were wrong. Why were they wrong to read “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in light of the superscriptions in the psalter? Why were they wrong to see the cultic (i.e., the use in public worship as distinct from the general, cultural) use of musical instruments as inextricably bound up with the types and shadows of the temporary, Israelite, national cultus and polity? It is an a fact of redemptive history that Levites played musical instruments so long as the burnt offerings were being made (2 Chron 29). They stopped with the sacrifices stopped. It is a fact of redemptive history that the same psalms that exhort us to dance and play musical instruments also exhort us to holy war against God’s national enemies.

When our theologies were being written and when our confessions were being framed, this was the understanding that informed them as they confessed that we may do in worship only that which God has commanded. In light of their understanding of redemptive history they removed instruments from the churches and sang only God’s Word (usually psalms) in response to God’s Word. They did not see musical instruments as circumstances. They saw them as elements just as the sacrifices were elements.

NOTE

1. There are two possible exceptions to this rule. The Strasbourg Psalter of 1545 seems to have included some non-canonical songs. The songbook used in Heidelberg in 1563 and 1573 seems to have contained non-canonical hymns. I am investigating whether non-canonical songs were sung in public worship. The Apostles’ Creed was the only non-canonical song sung in the Genevan liturgy but it was sung in place of the reading of the Word or as a summary of the Word. When the conjugation responded to the Word they also prayed or sang the Word. The Church Order of Dort (1619) provided for the singing of a song that may have been a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer or it may have been a non-canonical song. It is lost.

If Believers Are Playing Instruments In Heaven, Why May We Not?

Whenever a defense is advanced for something like the historic Reformed understanding of the rule of worship one of the objections that regularly arises is this: if musical instruments are being used in Scripture, we may we not use them now in our worship? This question is a species of the broader question, “if x is done in Scripture (e.g., holy war, dancing in worship, or use of musical instruments), why may we not do x?” Let us consider the broader question first and then this particular question.

The (usually) unstated assumption behind the broader question is this: we are in the same place in redemptive history as the canonical actors. This is an unsustainable assumption. To put it directly: we are not Noah, Moses, David, or Elijah. Yes, Yahweh spoke quietly to Elijah (1 Kings 19:12) but you and I are not Elijah. You and I are not the typological Old Covenant mediator (Moses) with whom Yahweh met face to face. In some ways you and I, as New Covenant Christians, have a more glorious position, since we have that for which they longed: the clear revelation of God the Son incarnate. You and I, however, are not actors in the canonical drama. We are recipients of the story and we participate in it, in Christ, by identity but God is not giving new revelation nor is he accomplishing new acts of redemption. There is only one outstanding act of redemption to come that is the glorious, visible, bodily return of Christ.

Yes, David danced before the ark but as Calvin reminded us centuries ago (CO, 7.609) but he did not do so as an example for us to imitate any more than the Israelite holy wars are to be imitated today. The Lord clearly commanded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 20. The Lord commanded “when Yahweh your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword” (v. 13). If we are to be consistent in the way we are reading Scripture, any argument to take the Old Testament musical instruments must also take up the Old Testament command to conduct holy war. Yet, one does not see such an argument. Why not? We know that the Old Testament holy wars were typological (illustrative of heavenly and future realities) and completed with the death of Christ but we are reluctant to apply that logic to the use of musical instruments. Why not? The answer is fairly straightforward, if difficult to read: musical instruments are familiar and pleasant but holy war is unfamiliar and unpleasant.

2 Chronicles 29:25–28 connects inextricably the religious use of musical instruments to the Old Covenant ceremonies that we know to have been fulfilled by the life and death of Jesus:

And he stationed the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from Yahweh through his prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to Yahweh began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished (ESV).

Yahweh commanded the very priests who were shedding the blood of animals also to play musical instruments in religious worship. Those instruments were splattered figuratively (and perhaps literally) with the blood of bulls and goats.  Christians regularly appeal to the use of musical instruments under the Old Covenant as grounds for using them today but they recoil when it suggested that we follow the pattern to its logical end.

The book of Hebrews is clear that the Old Covenant worship (cultus) was typological, that it has been fulfilled by Christ and that any return to it is an insult to the finished work of Christ. This argument was at the heart of the Protestant response to the thirteenth-century doctrine of the memorial, propitiatory (satisfying and wrath-turning), memorial, figurative re-sacrificing of Christ in the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper). Trent’s ratification of the 4th Lateran Council was in direct contradiction to the virtually the entire book of Hebrews.

Yet, when it began to suit us in the 17th century (in the Netherlands) and later in the 18th and 19th centuries in the British Isles and in USA, we began to do the very thing for which we had criticized the Romanists in the 16th century. We had begun to clean off the blood, as it were, from the types and shadows and to restore them to Christian worship. To be sure, it had been done in the 16th century by the Lutherans but even Thomas Aquinas ridiculed the use of musical instruments by Christians as “judaizing.” Everyone knew that the early church had unequivocally and strongly rejected the use of musical instruments on the same grounds and that, though the organ had been introduced into Christian worship in the 7th century in Spain (in one place), they were hardly used even in the middle ages. They were forbidden from Papal masses as inappropriate for such a solemn occasion.

These examples illustrate the grave biblical, theological, logical, and historical problems with the broader argument: if believers did x in Scripture we may we not do it now? We may not do it now because those actions were peculiar to that period of redemptive history. This is why the apostles did not take the sword against pagans. This is why they preached Christ and called pagans to repentance and faith. This is why they sang God’s Word in worship without the ceremonies of the typological period of redemptive history. They knew where they were in redemptive history.

So too, we need to realize where we are. We are not in the canon. We are recipients of the canon. We are not actors in the story except by identification. We are recipients of the story. This basic principles will help us understand how to approach the Revelation.

The question before concerns what the church ought to do in public worship. Christians often ask, “If they did x in Scripture, why may we not do them now?” In part 1 we considered the problems associated with this approach to Scripture, which blurs the line between the canonical history of redemption and us, who are recipients of the benefits of those acts of redemption. We also noted that this approach is almost always employed selectively, even arbitrarily. We are tempted to cherry pick those things that we might like to do, e.g., dance before the ark like David or play the harp in worship like the Levitical priests. Few Christians, however, want to identify the Canaanites in their region, let alone go to war against them nor do they wish to carry a lamb to the front of church and slit its throat. So, in this approach, we may have liturgical dancing and literal harps (or their equivalent) but we may not literally go to war with pagans. This, however is to re-institute, in the New Covenant, Old Covenant types and shadows (Heb 8:5; 10:1; Col 2:17).

A species of the general argument addressed in part 1 is the argument from the Revelation. The question is this: since, in the Revelation, we see instruments being used in heaven, why may we not use them now? There might be a certain prima facie attraction to this argument if we think of the history of redemption. After all, the Revelation was given in the New Covenant, after the fulfillment of types and shadows. Further, we do legitimately appeal to the Revelation 1:10 as evidence for the existence and practice of the Christian’s Lord’s Day.

Despite its attraction of there are insurmountable problems to this approach to the Revelation.  First, we must recognize that most of the first three chapters of the Revelation are rather different from the succeeding chapters. We know a fair bit about the actual (not symbolic) churches in Asia Minor to which the Revelation was sent and when (c. 93 AD). On this see e.g., Colin Hemer, Letters to the Seven Churches (1986). So, it is one thing to appeal to Rev 1:10 and another to appeal to chapter 5 as grounds for our practice.

Second, as a general rule, we ought to be careful about how we appeal to the Revelation as a justification for our practice. The Revelation was given by the Spirit, through the Apostle John, to the churches of Asia Minor (and to us) in order to help us get a broad overview of the movement of history between the ascension of our Lord and his return. Its purpose is not to provide detailed practical guidance in worship or in public works (e.g., Rev. 21:21). The Revelation was not given to guide Christians in the details of their practice. As a general rule, when we appeal to a text to answer a question which it does not intend to answer we must be sure that our inferences are legitimate. There are good reasons to doubt the legitimacy of the argument, “we see instruments used in heavenly worship, therefore we are justified in using them in Christian worship.”

Third, those places in which we see references to musical instruments being used are set solidly in the most symbolic literature in all of Holy Scripture. Just for that fact we should be very cautious. E.g., early in chapter 4 as the book shifts to the vision of heaven (this is the Ἀποκάλυψις) heaven is presented to us in symbolic terms:

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal (Rev 4:4–6; ESV).

Are we to think that there are 24 thrones, elders, literal lightening, literal torches? Probably not. Why not? Because there are not literally “seven spirits of God.” Seven is a perfect number. To say “seven spirits” is to communicate the perfection of God the Spirit. The Apostle John is not teaching us a that God is really one God in eight persons. There is not a literal sea of glass before Christ’s throne. In Revelation 5:13 our Lord is said to be sitting but in v. 6 not only is our Lord said to be standing but he is said to be “a Lamb…”. Our Lord is “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) but he not literally a lamb. There is no literal scroll (βιβλίον). Again, this is not liberalism. This is recognizing the highly symbolic nature of the Revelation. The Belgic Confession (1561; art. 37) recognizes this when it says that the books that are to be opened is a symbolic way of talking about our consciences.

Recognizing the intent and genre of the Revelation, we are prepared to consider the specific question of the function of the instruments. Revelation 5:8 says, “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp (κιθάραν), and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (ESV). Please notice that the Revelation itself tells us that these are symbols. There is not literal incense in heaven. Scripture says, “which are the prayers of the saints.” If there is not literal incense then to say or assume that we are to imagine literal instruments is not only implausible but a failure to pay attention to the clear hermeneutical (interpretative) instructions in the text itself. The argument that the heavenly instruments are grounds for our practice now rests on the assumption that the instruments are literal but to claim that they are literal though the incense (and all of the other features of this aspect of the vision) are figurative is nothing but special pleading (cherry picking). If, however, we are concede that the instruments are figurative but they may remain a basis for our use of instruments on earth, then how can we possibly deny those who would demand that we use incense in our worship services? We cannot. On that reading and logic to refuse to use incense would be purely arbitrary.

This entire argument, of course, misses the point of the Revelation. We are arguing about something that never entered the mind of the Apostle John and that is entirely outside the purpose of the Revelation. What we have in chapter 5 is a vision of heaven. To help us think about heaven, to give us a way to understand something that quite transcends our ability to understand fully, John uses images of OT temple worship. John sees a stringed instrument (κιθάραν). In 1 Corinthians 14:7 it is usually translated as “harp.” We see this instrument frequently in the LXX (the Greek translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures) as in e.g., Psalm 32:2: “Give thanks to Yahweh with the lyre (ἐν κιθάρᾳ); make melody to him with the harp of ten strings (ψαλτηρίῳ δεκαχόρδῳ)! See also Psalm 42:4; 56:9; 72:22; 80:3; 91:4 etc. This is the imagery and language from 2 Chronicles 29:25: “And he stationed the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from Yahweh through his prophets.” The terms used in the LXX vary from the terms John uses but the imagery is identical. The point of John’s vision in Revelation 5 is for beleaguered believers to lift their eyes to heaven to see something of eternity, to see something of the glory of the ascended Lord Jesus, that he lives, that he has indeed conquered, that he is sovereign, and that he is returning.

To be consistent with the logic that would have us using instruments because they are used in heaven, we should have not only to add incense to our worship services and unplug the guitars (the κιθάρα was acoustic, not electric) but a throne, and “living creatures”  to name but a few things. It does not seem too much to say that such an approach to the Revelation verges on absurdity.

We may confirm this approach to the cultic-musical imagery in the Revelation by looking at Revelation 15:2, which says “And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands” (ESV).

The beast is a figure. The sea of glass is a figure. The image and the number are figures. The harps are figures. These are not patterns for Christian worship. At the very same time this revelation was originally given to the churches in Asia Minor those congregations were singing God’s Word (in response to his Word read and preached) a cappella. We know from early second-century testimony that the early Fathers were opposed to musical instruments. Polycarp at least knew the Apostle John. There is no of any transition from instruments to a cappella singing in the early church. They early Fathers believed that they were following the Apostolic pattern. That fact is not itself definitive but lends credence to the proposed and historic interpretation of the Revelation and to the traditional understanding of the apostolic practice. It would be incongruous to say that the Revelation us instructing us to use instruments when the earliest Christians in the late 1st century and the early 2nd century knew nothing of the sort.

The temptation to find what we want in Scripture can be almost overwhelming at time. The deep emotional attachment that many of us have to musical instruments creates severe problems for the project of recovering early Reformed and early patristic worship patterns. Since, however, we confess that Scripture is the unique and final authority for the Christian faith and the Christian life we must be willing to criticize even our most dearly held practices, things that we have come to love, that have deep personal significance, by Scripture read in the light of history. More fundamentally, we must adopt a more tenable and sustainable way of reading Scripture generally and the Revelation in particular.

This essay first appeared serially on the Heidelblog in June, 2017.

Un Púlpito No Es Una Platforma

Desde principios del siglo 18, el cristianismo estadounidense ha estado dominado por personalidades. George Whitefield, los Wesley, y Jonathan Edwards ocupan un lugar destacado en cualquier narración de la historia del cristianismo estadounidense del siglo XVIII. Cuando pensamos en el siglo 19, pensamos en figuras como Charles Finney. El evangelicalismo estadounidense del siglo XX fue dominado por sujetos como Billy Sunday y Billy Graham. Muchas de esas figuras no estaban asociadas con algún pulpito en particular. Ellos eran predicadores viajeros e hicieron muchos seguidores. Los evangélicos estadounidenses han tendido a reunirse en torno a personalidades y plataformas en lugar de en torno a los predicadores y púlpitos.

Sabemos lo que literalmente es una plataforma literal: una superficie elevada sobre la cual un orador puede estar parado con el fin de ser escuchado. Es un estrado. Se destaca al orador, la personalidad. Una plataforma tiene equipo de sonido e iluminación técnica diseñadas para dar realce al orador.  La plataforma es lo suficientemente amplia para dar espacio a que el orador se mueva seguido por una luz direccional para producir un efecto dramático en la audiencia.

Un púlpito, sin embargo, es otra cosa. También se eleva. Dependiendo de cuando fue construido, puede incluso tener una caja de resonancia por encima de ella, con el fin de ayudar a proyectar el sonido de la voz del predicador a la congregación. Esa fue la tecnología de sonido del siglo XVI. Sin embargo, a diferencia de la plataforma, el púlpito no fue diseñado para poner de relieve ni al predicador ni su personalidad. A diferencia del escenario o plataforma, el púlpito es un mueble de un solo uso. Está diseñado para facilitar la predicación de la Palabra. En términos de arquitectura, un verdadero púlpito no es sólo un atril colocado en un escenario. Está en la parte superior de un corto tramo de escaleras. Tiene una puerta. El púlpito es una caja. Por diseño, una vez que el ministro entra en el púlpito no hay lugar donde pueda ir y nada más que deba hacer: predicar la Palabra.

Tradicionalmente, el púlpito estaba ocupado por un hombre ordenado, es decir, un hombre educacionalmente preparado para el ministerio pastoral, con un doble llamado: el primero de Dios y el segundo de la iglesia visible, reconocido por la iglesia, puesto aparte, e instalado en este oficio. Hasta hace relativamente poco, cuando cumplía este aspecto de su vocación, el ministro vestía un atuendo distintivo. En la práctica Presbiteriana Reformada, el ministro llevaba la toga de Ginebra, un manto negro liso (la modificación de la bata académica por Lutero en la década de 1520). La toga no solamente servía para identificar y señalar su oficio (en igual forma que el atuendo del Juez o la bata del médico) si no por el contrario, para oscurecer su personalidad.  No solamente era intercambiable, y bajo ciertas condiciones de luz, para hacerlo casi invisible. El pulpito y el hábito eran lo opuesto a la plataforma. No es mi intención proponer que los predicadores utilicen hábitos o batas. Esto es realmente una cuestión indiferente. El punto aquí se trata de hacer notoria la función para la que servía este atuendo.

Un pastor amigo y yo estábamos hablando el otro día acerca de la diferencia entre los púlpitos y las plataformas (por eso esta reflexión). Por supuesto, cuando hablamos de plataformas en estos días estamos lo más probable es que hablemos metafóricamente. La frase “Él tiene una gran plataforma” significa que una personalidad tiene un cierto grado de reconocimiento con una gran audiencia. Eso se traduce a influir. En términos de negocio se habla de mercadotecnia. En la radiodifusión, hablan de ratings o escalas de valoración. En Internet se trata de clics (descargas) y visitas, cuántas personas llegaron a un sitio y cuántos de ellos hicieron descargas en una página para ver en su dispositivo. Entre más espectadores y clics, mayor será la plataforma.

Una de las más grandes tentaciones del ministerio posmoderno es buscar la transformación del púlpito literal en una plataforma para figurar. Debido a que enseño en un seminario llego a ver el proceso de la formación de ministros desde el inicio, a través de seminario, y hasta el resultado final. Algunos de los graduados se contentan con el púlpito. Ellos no quieren nada más que preparar sermones fieles, que honran a Cristo, predicar bien y con gracia, visitar el rebaño, proporcionar consuelo en el sufrimiento, regocijarse con los que se gozan y llorar con los que lloran. Ocasionalmente, sin embargo, están aquellos que quieren más que eso. Parecen más interesados ​​en una plataforma que en un púlpito.

El Internet ha dado lugar al fenómeno de las realidades duales: predicadores con un tipo de vida real de iglesia y otro, un tipo de marca. Positivamente, algunos predicadores tienen torres altas, grandes púlpitos, y grandes plataformas. El difunto James Montgomery Boice era uno de esos. Fue ministro de la Décima Iglesia Presbiteriana en Filadelfia durante muchos años. Predicó semanalmente pero también escribió con regularidad. De hecho, gastó parte de su semana de descanso lejos de Filadelfia, donde pudo estudiar y escribir. Gran parte de lo que fue publicado fue el material con el que alimentaba a su congregación. Hubo una relación simbiótica entre su predicación y su escritura. En la providencia de Dios, sin embargo, no todos los ministros están destinados a ser un James Boice. El tiempo del ministerio no permite adiciones. Las horas que se empleen en preparar conferencias o libros es tiempo que le resta a pastorear la grey o a preparar o escribir sermones.

El atractivo de la gran plataforma puede ser destructivo. Pienso en Mark Driscoll*. Él es un clásico empresario religioso americano. Él y otros comenzaron una congregación en Seattle que se desarrolló en torno a su personalidad en medio de una gran preocupación que involucró a decenas de miles de personas. Detrás del escenario, sin embargo, con el tiempo, los patrones de comportamiento y formas de tratar a las personas se manifestaron. La plataforma y la marca se convirtieron en una cosa, la realidad de la vida de la iglesia y el ministerio en otra. La marca y la plataforma en Seattle se convirtió en una fachada oscureciendo el deterioro de la infraestructura, que se hizo evidente cuando todo se derrumbó repentinamente. Por supuesto, en la tradición religiosa del empresario viajero, unos pocos años más tarde, Driscoll ha resurgido como el Fenix con una nueva marca que ahora lleva su nombre. Podríamos seguir dando más ejemplos. Jimmy Swaggart** en realidad nunca desapareció, lo que ocurrió fue que su plataforma se hizo menos visible. Jim Bakker*** sigue saliendo en la televisión. Los mercachifles, esos viejos vendedores de baratijas nunca mueren, ellos apenas pierden valor en el mercado.

¿Estoy diciendo que los predicadores no deben escribir blogs, artículos y libros? No. Después de todo, escribo mensajes, artículos y libros. Como maestro estoy obligado a escribir. Es parte del llamado que tengo de la iglesia. Es una expectativa de mi empleador. Empecé a bloguear sólo porque mi iglesia (y otros) me solicitaron que lo hiciera. Puede ser bueno para los pastores investigar y escribir de vez en cuando. Yo digo, sin embargo, que los estudiantes no deben entrar al seminario con la esperanza de convertirse en famosos.  Hay una diferencia entre escribir de vez en cuando y salir deliberadamente a construir una plataforma y una marca. La iglesia difícilmente necesita más personas que usen el púlpito como palanca. Un ministro debe estar contenido cumpliendo con su vocación. Él no debe buscar una plataforma a expensas de su congregación. La búsqueda de una plataforma y una marca cuando su propia congregación está en crisis es como querer un trasatlántico cuando a su propio bote se le entra el agua. Las prioridades están fuera del lugar.

Empezamos a considerar las diferencias inherentes entre las plataformas y púlpitos. También hemos pensado un poco sobre las marcas. Considere esta metáfora. Es algo que un agricultor o ganadero hace al ganado. Una pieza al rojo vivo, formada de hierro se coloca sobre la piel de un ternero marcado de forma permanente. Una marca le dice a los demás a quién pertenece el animal. Los cristianos están marcados en su bautismo. En las iglesias presbiterianas y reformadas confesionales, los ministros son marcados, por así decirlo, cuando se ordenan, cuando se imponen las manos sobre ellos, cuando son apartados para el ministerio y se instalan en su oficio. De ahí la importancia del nombramiento del ministro y por eso hay que recuperar la distinción entre púlpitos y plataformas. Por definición, un ministro es un siervo. Eso es lo que significa la palabra.

Tal vez hace sólo 70 años, no era raro ver las iniciales VDM después del nombre de un ministro. Que representan la expresión latina, Verbi Dei Ministro, servidor de la Palabra de Dios. Esa era la marca del ministro, si se quiere. Por definición, un ministro no tiene la plataforma, sino sólo un púlpito, un lugar para anunciar la Palabra del Rey. Lo mismo sucede con los ministros. Su plataforma es nada. Su marca es nada. Pablo nunca tuvo problemas con las autoridades judías y romanas debido a su plataforma, marca o personalidad, sino debido a su Salvador y su Evangelio. Así debería ser con nosotros. El asunto por el que iba a ser conocido no era él, sino, por tomar una frase, Cristo, su Evangelio, y su iglesia.

Traducción: M.L.

Traducido y usado con permiso de Scott Clark

Tomado de:

https://heidelblog.net/2017/06/a-pulpit-is-not-a-platform/

 

Are The Remonstrants Heretics?

This question comes over the transom regularly. I think most confessional Reformed pastors would probably say that, though they disagree strongly with Arminianism, it is not heresy. Somewhere I read (or heard) that William Ames (1576–1633),   who served as an advisor at the Synod of Dort, regarded Arminianism as an error tending to heresy but not heresy itself. Whether Ames actually said that—he wrote treatises against the Remonstrants, which have not been translated—it all comes down to the definition of heresy.

Defining Heresy
The New Testament noun αἵρεσις (haeresis signals “faction” or “sect.” In Acts 5:17 the Sadducees are described as a “faction” or “sect.” In Acts 15:5 the Pharisees are a αἵρεσις. In Acts 24:5 Tertullus describes the Christians as a αἵρεσις. In 1 Cor 11:19 a αἵρεσις is divisive group in the Corinthian congregation. In Galatians 5:20 it refers to “divisions” that must be avoided in the church.

Already in the apostolic period the line between divisive behavior and divisive doctrine began to blur. The Corinthian congregation was riven by self-described “Super Apostles,” who denigrated Paul’s office and his doctrine. The Galatian Judaizers, who were teaching that God accepts (justifies) us partly on the basis of grace and partly on the basis of our law keeping (obedience) were guilty of schismatic doctrine, which produced divisions in the congregation. The Apostle Peter’s lapse was doctrinal and moral (Gal 2:11–14). Peter and Barnabas accepted false doctrine (i.e., that Gentiles must become Jews to become Christians) for which the Apostle Paul rightly denounced their doctrine and life as out of “step with the truth of the gospel.”

In the early post-Apostolic church this pattern, of recognizing the connection between doctrinal and moral error, continued. The ecumenical church, meeting in council (e.g., at Nicea in 325, at Constantinople in 381, at Ephesus in 431) recognized and denounced moral errors and great doctrinal errors. Today, however, we speak less frequently of moral heresy and more typically of doctrinal heresy.

There is another distinction to consider and that is between heresy used in the broad sense, to refer to error and heresy used in the narrow sense, to refer to a doctrinal error that contradicts the holy ecumenical faith and puts one in jeopardy of damnation. We know that there are such things. There is a sin against the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:31), namely attributing the work of the Spirit to the devil. The Athanasian Creed (mid-4th to mid-5th centuries AD) declares:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [ecumenical] faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

It is not possible to reject the doctrine of the ecumenical doctrine of the Trinity and be saved nor is it possible to reject the ecumenical doctrine of the two natures of Christ and be saved. The ecumenical faith is summarized by the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed (325, 381), the Definition of Chalcedon (451), and the Athanasian.

An Ecumenical Consensus On Salvation
What, however, should we say about the doctrine of salvation (soteriology)? Is there an ecumenical orthodoxy on salvation? Yes. The Council of Ephesus (431) condemned the errors of Coelestius [aka, Caelestius], who was an associate of Pelagius, the British monk who opposed Augustine’s doctrine that humans are fallen in Adam and utterly corrupted by sin and that salvation, including unconditional election, is by grace alone. Pelagius and Coelestius denied that in Adam’s fall sinned we all, as the colonial catechism had it. They denied the doctrine of total depravity (as it has come to be known). They taught that humans are all born like Adam, able to sin or not to sin, that we are able, at birth, if we will, to live sinless lives. They taught the doctrine of sinless perfection and that grace is to make salvation easier. Those doctrines were condemned not only at Ephesus but all through the medieval church and by the Reformation churches. The Second Council of Orange (529 AD), and even the Council of Trent (17 June 1546) condemned it. Pelagianism is condemned by name in the Augsburg Confession (1530), French Confession (1559), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Anglican Articles (1571), and by the Synod of Dort (1619). As I wrote some years ago, “to say that Pelagianism is heresy, is to stand in the broadest stream of the Western Church. It is not a narrow, bigoted position, at least not as seen from the perspective of the historic Western Christian tradition.”

Arguably, to deny the Augustinian doctrine of provenient grace (i.e., unconditional election, that grace comes first, that grace regenerates) and to deny the Augustinian doctrine of sin is to contradict the ecumenical understanding of holy Scripture. This is a significant claim. It is not clear to me how to reconcile the soteriology of post-7th century [Greek/Russian etc] Orthodox traditions, whose soteriology more closely resembles that of Origen and Pelagius than Augustine’s, with the ecumenical doctrine. Nor is it easy to see how the Wesleyan and Nazarene traditions are squared with the broad Augustinianism of Ephesus et al.

It is important to note that, to this point, I have only appealed to Scripture (the magisterial authority for the Christian faith and the Christian life; sola Scriptura) and to the Council of Ephesus, the Second Council of Orange, to the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, to the Council of Trent (!), and to the Reformed church insofar as they all agree contra Pelagius. It is important to recognize that this is not a narrow band of ecclesiastical authorities nor a bigoted opinion.

This bring us to the question of the way the international Synod of Dort (1618–19) addressed the Remonstrants [Arminians]. What category did they use to analyze and reject the Remonstrants?

Above we considered the definition of heresy. We saw that there is a distinction to be made between heresy defined narrowly and broadly. The question remains, what should we think of the Remonstrants? In 1610 they made their Remonstrance against the confession of the Reformed churches. They proposed that the Reformed churches should confess

  1. that election is conditioned upon foreseen faith (and perseverance). They proposed;
  2. that Christ died and has obtained forgiveness for all;
  3. that grace is resistible;
  4. that it is possible that believers can turn away from Christ

In 1611, the contra-Remonstrance replied to the Remonstrants in a series of 5 articles that would form the core of the Canons considered by the various committees and finally adopted by the Synod. The international Synod of Dort (1618–19) convened to respond to this challenge. Did they regard these proposed revisions as heresy and if so, in what sense? The Canons did not use the word heresy or heretic very often but they did use it in the preface to the Canons:

The truth of this kind promise is evident in the Church of all ages. She has been attacked from the beginning, not only by the public force of enemies and the ungodly violence of heretics, but also by the masked subtleties of seducers.

The promise to which Synod referred was “I will be with you always” in Matthew 28:20.

Synod was explicit in its support for the judgment of the Council of Ephesus that Pelagianism is heresy:

But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains); but it must be wholly ascribed to God…. (3/4.10)

Finally, they invoked the category of heresy in the 5th head of doctrine, article 15:

The carnal mind is unable to comprehend this doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and the certainty thereof, which God has most abundantly revealed in His Word, for the glory of His Name and the consolation of pious souls, and which He impresses upon the hearts of the believers. Satan abhors it, the world ridicules it, the ignorant and hypocritical abuse it, and the heretics oppose [spiritusque erronei oppugnant] it. But the bride of Christ has always most tenderly loved and constantly defended it as an inestimable treasure; and God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail, will dispose her so to continue to the end. Now to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.

So far it seems likely that Synod was confessing that the Remonstrants were teaching heresy but it is not certain. Even though the phrase “spiritusque erronei oppugnant” (“the spirits of the wanderers”) is widely translated as “heretics,” since the word heretic is not explicitly used in 5.15 some ambiguity remains. If, however, we consider the rhetorical function of their invocation of Pelagius, the picture becomes clearer.

Synod declared that the Remonstrant doctrine of conditional election “savors of the teaching of Pelagius” (Rejection of Errors, 1.10. Hereafter, RE). In the RE 2.3 Synod denounced the teaching that, “by his satisfaction” Christ neither merited salvation itself for anyone nor faith but he only merited the right to create a sort legal new deal, a new set of conditions to be met by the Christian the exercise of free will. Here the Remonstrants were guilty of judging “too contemptuously the death of Christ, in no way acknowledge that most important fruit or benefit thereby gained” and guilty of “bring[ing] again out of hell the Pelagian error.”

In RE 2.6 Synod complained bitterly that the Remonstrants, by using the distinction between “meriting” and “appropriating” such that our salvation depends upon our exercise of our free cooperation with grace, sought to “instill into the people the destructive poison of Pelagianism.”

In 3/4 head of doctrine, article 2, Synod contrasted the Augustinian teaching of the Reformed churches on the corruption and conversion of man with that of the Pelagians who held that sin was not inherited but communicated “by imitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted…”.

The Remonstrant doctrine that “the grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle persuasion” or an “advising,” is “altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture…” ( RE 3/4.7). The Remonstrant proposal to return to the old medieval system of grace and cooperation with grace was, according to Synod, a proposed return to “this doctrine of the Pelagians” that had “long ago ago condemned…” (RE 3/4.9). In the 3/4 head of doctrine, article 10, on the corruption and conversion of man, Synod rejected the Remonstrant doctrine that the ability to obey the gospel call lies in the human free will, by which “one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains)…”. In RE 4.7, Synod condemned as “altogether Pelagian” the Remonstrant doctrine that saving grace is but “gentle persuasion” or “advice” and the Remonstrant doctrine that grace and free will are both partial causes of our salvation as the “doctrine of the Pelagians” condemned “long ago” (RE 4.9). The Remonstrant idea that our perseverance depends partly on our free will is nothing but “outspoken Pelagianism” (RE 5.2).

Finally, in her sentence pronounced upon the Remonstrants, Synod explicitly characterized the Remonstrant errors as “heresies.”

Did Synod condemn the Remonstrants as heretics? If we consider the various points at which Synod flatly characterized the errors of the Remonstrants as heresy, the ways in which Synod repeatedly associated the Remonstrants themselves with the Pelagians, and characterized their errors as Pelagian it seems hard to avoid the conclusion that, for the Synod of Dort, the revisions proposed by the Remonstrants were errors of such a magnitude that they not mere errors and not merely heresy in the broad sense, but heresy in the narrow, technical sense described in the first part of this essay: an error transgressing the ecumenical teaching of the church as agreed at Ephesus in 431, in the condemnation of Coelestius (and through him, Pelagius).

In the modern period, and particularly under the influence of neo-Evangelicalism, the rhetorical tendency has been to downplay the differences between the Reformed and the Remonstrants. To be sure, much water has passed under the bridge since 1619 but the Reformed churches still confess the Canons (rules) of the Synod of Dort. These are not mere historical curiosities. They are the living voice of the Reformed Churches, they are our understanding of the Word of God as touching the revisions of Reformed doctrine proposed by Arminius and his followers.

Perhaps the most important use that can be made of a recovery of the judgment of Synod upon the original Arminian doctrine is to recognize how passionate the church was for the Reformation. This year is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort will be observed in 2018–19 and it is well that we should remember that what Synod feared most was that the Remonstrants were leading us away from the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone back to the medieval doctrine of salvation by grace and cooperation with grace. That threat is ever with us. It exists now in the form of the self-described Federal Vision theology. It exists in other proposals too. We ought to be as passionate for the Reformation and biblical doctrines of grace as the Synod was.

We ought also to recognize again how great the difference is between the Reformed confession of the Word of God and the Arminian-inspired versions that have dominated evangelical theology and piety since the early 19th century. Synod did not invoke the category of heresy lightly or unintelligently. They knew what they were doing and they used that language advisedly. It was meant to be bracing to the churches and to her ministers and so it should once again have that same affect in us.

This essay first appeared in May-June, 2017 on the Heidelblog. ©2017 R. Scott Clark. All rights reserved.

The Scots Confession (1560)

THE CONFESSON OF THE
Faith and Doctrine,
Belevit and professit be the
PROTESTANTIS of Scotland,
Exhibitit to the Estaitis of the same in Parliament, and be their publick Votis authorisit, as a Doctrine groundit upon the infallibil Worde of God, Aug. 1560. And afterwards stablished and publicklie confirmed be sundrie Acts of Parliaments, and of lawful General Assemblies.

THE PREFACE
The Estaitis of Scotland with the Inhabitants of the same professand Christ Jesus his haly Evangel, to their natural Countrymen, and unto all uther realmes professand the same Lord Jesus with them, wish Grace, Mercie and Peace fra god the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Spirit of richteous Judgement, for Salvatioun.

Lang have we thristed, dear Brethren, to have notified to the Warld the Sum of that Doctrine quhilk we professe, and for the quhilk we have susteined Infamie and Danger: Bot sik hes bene the Rage of Sathan againis us, and againis Christ Jesus his eternal Veritie latlie now againe born amangst us, that to this daie na Time hes been graunted unto us to cleir our Consciences, as maist gladlie we wald have done. For how we have been tossit heirtofoir, the maist part Europe, as we suppose, dois understand.

But seing that of the infinit Gudnes of our God (quha never sufferis his afflickit utterlie to be confoundit) above Expectation we have obteined sum Rest and Libertie, we culd not bot set furth this brefe and plaine Confessioun of sik Doctrine as is proponed unto us, and as we beleeve and professe; partlie for Satisfactioun of our Brethren quhaishartis, we nathing doubt, have been and zit ar woundit be the despichtful rayling of sik as zit have not learned to speke well: And partlie for stapping the mouthis of impudent blasphemers, quha bauldlie damne that quhilk they have nouther heard nor zit understude.

Not that we judge that the cankred malice of sik is abill to be cured be this our simple confession; na, we knaw that the sweet savoure of the evangel is and sal be deathe unto the sonnes of perditioun. Bot we have chief respect to our weak and infirme brethren, to quham we wald communicate the bottom of our hartes, leist that they be troubiled or carried awaie be diversity of rumoris, quhilk Sathan spredis againist us to the defeating of this our maist godlie interprize: Protestand that gif onie man will note in this our confessioun onie Artickle or sentence repugnand to Gods halie word, that it wald pleis him of his gentleness and for christian charities sake to admonish us of the same in writing; and we upon our honoures and fidelitie, be Gods grace do promise unto him satisfactioun fra the mouth of God, that is, fra his haly scriptures, or else reformation of that quhilk he sal prove to be amisse. For God we take to recorde in our consciences, that fra our heartis we abhorre all sectis of heresie and all teachers of erronious doctrine: and that with all humilitie we imbrace the purity of Christs Gospell, quhilk is the onelie fude of our sauls, and therefoir sa precious unto us, that we ar determined to suffer the extremest of wardlie daunger, rather than that we will suffer our selves to be defraudit of the sam. For heirof we ar maist certainlie perswadit, that quhasumever denieis Christ Jesus, or is aschamit of him in the presence of men, sal be denyit befoir the Father, and befoir his haly Angels. And therefoir be the assistance of the michtie Spirit of the same our Lord Jesus Christ, we firmelie purpose to abide to the end in the confessioun of this our faith, as be Artickles followis.

ART. I OF GOD
We confesse and acknawledge ane onelie God, to whom only we must cleave, whom onelie we must serve, whom onelie we must serve, whom onelie we must worship, and in whom onelie we must put our trust. Who is Eternall, Infinit, Unmeasurable, Incomprehensible, Omnipotent, Invisible: ane in substance, and zit distinct in thre personnis, the Father, the Sone, and the holie Gost. Be whom we confesse and beleve all thingis in hevin and eirth, aswel Visible as Invisible, to have been created, to be reteined in their being, and to be ruled and guyded be his inscrntable Providence, to sik end, as his Eternall Wisdome, Gudnes, and Justice hes appoynted them, to the manifestatioun of his awin glorie.

ART. II OF THE CREATIOUN OF MAN
We confesse and acknawledge this our GOD to have created man, to wit, our first father Adam, to his awin image and similitude, to whome he gave wisdome, lordship, justice, free-wil, and cleir knawledge of himselfe, sa that in the haill nature of man there culd be noted no imperfectioun. Fra quhilk honour and perfectioun, man and woman did bothe fal: the woman being deceived be the Serpent, and man obeying the voyce of the woman, both conspyring against the Soveraigne Majestie of GOD, who in expressed words had before threatned deith, gif they presumed to eit of the forbidden tre.

ART. III OF ORIGINAL SINNE
Be quhilk transgressioun, commonlie called Original sinne, wes the Image of GOD utterlie defaced in man, and he and his posteritie of nature become enimies to GOD, slaves to Sathan, and servandis unto sin. In samekle that deith everlasting hes had, and sall have power and dominioun over all that have not been, ar not, or sal not be regenerate from above: quhilk regeneratioun is wrocht be the power of the holie Gost, working in the hartes of the elect of GOD, ane assured faith in the promise of GOD, reveiled to us in his word, be quhilk faith we apprehend Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefites promised in him.

ART. IV OF THE REVELATION OF THE PROMISE
For this we constantlie beleeve, that GOD, after the feirfull and horrible defectioun of man fra his obedience, did seek Adam againe, call upon him, rebuke his sinne, convict him of the same, and in the end made unto him ane most joyful promise, to wit, That the seed of the woman suld break down the serpents head, that is, he suld destroy the works of the Devill. Quhilk promise, as it was repeated, and made mair cleare from time to time; so was it imbraced with joy, and maist constantlie received of al the faithfull, from Adam to Noe, from Noe to Abraham, from Abraham to David, and so furth to the incarnatioun of Christ Jesus, all (we meane the faithfull Fathers under the Law) did see the joyfull daie of Christ Jesus, and did rejoyce.

ART. V OF THE CONTINUANCE, INCREASE, AND PRESERVATIOUN OF THE KIRK
We maist constantly beleeve, that God preserved, instructed, multiplied, honoured, decored, and from death called to life, his Kirk in all ages. fra Adam, till the cumming of Christ Jesus in the flesh. For Abraham he called from his Fathers cuntry, him he instructed, his seede he multiplied; the same he marveilouslie preserved, and mair marveilouslie delivered from the bondage and tyrannie of Pharaoh; to them he gave his lawes, constitutions and ceremonies; them he possessed in the land of Canaan; to them after Judges, and after Saul, he gave David to be king, to whome hee made promise, that of the fruite of his loynes suld ane sit for ever upon his regall seat. To this same people from time to time he sent prophets, to reduce them to the right way of their God: from the quhilk oftentimes they declined be idolatry. And albeit that for their stubborne contempt of Justice, he was compelled to give them in the hands of their enimies, as befoir was threatned be the mouth of Moses, in sa meikle that the haly cittie was destroyed, the temple burnt with fire, and the haill land left desolate the space of lxx years: zit of mercy did he reduce them againe to Jerusalem, where the cittie and temple were reedified, and they against all temptations and assaultes of Sathan did abide, till the Messias come, according to the promise.

ART. VI OF THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST JESUS
Quhen the fulnes of time came, God sent his Sonne, his eternall Wisdome, the substance of his awin glory in this warld, quha tuke the nature of man-head of the substance of woman, to wit, of a virgine, and that be operatioun of the holie Ghost: and so was borne the just seede of David, the Angell of the great counsell of God, the very Messias promised, whome we confesse and acknawledge Emmanuel, very God and very man, two perfit natures united, and joyned in one persoun. Be quhilk our Confessioun we condemne the damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, Nestorius, and sik uthers, as either did denie the eternitie of his God-head, or the veritie of his humaine nature, or confounded them, or zit devided them.

ART. VII WHY IT BEHOOVED THE MEDIATOR TO BE VERY GOD AND VERY MAN
We acknawledge and confesse, that this maist wonderous conjunction betwixt the God-head and the man-head in Christ Jesus, did proceed from the eternall and immutable decree of God, from quhilk al our salvatioun springs and depends.

ART. VIII OF ELECTION
For that same eternall God and Father, who of meere grace elected us in Christ Jesus his Sonne, befoir the foundatioun of the warld was laide, appointed him to be our Head, our Brother, our Pastor, and great Bischop of our sauls. Bot because that the enimitie betwixt the justice of God and our sins was sik, that na flesh be it selfe culd or might have attained unto God: It behooved that the Sonne of God suld descend unto us, and tak himselfe a bodie of our bodie, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones, and so become the Mediator betwixt God and man, giving power to so many as beleeve in him, to be the sonnes of God; as himselfe dois witnesse, I passe up to my Father, and unto zour Father, to my God, and unto zour God. Be quhilk maist holie fraternitie, quhatsaever wee have tynt in Adam, is restored unto us agayne. And for this cause, ar we not affrayed to cal God our Father, not sa meikle because he hes created us, quhilk we have common with the reprobate; as for that, that he hes given to us his onely Sonne, to be our brother, and given unto us grace, to acknawledge and imbrace him for our onlie Mediatour, as before is said. It behooved farther the Messias and Redemer to be very God and very man, because he was to underlie the punischment due for our transgressiouns, and to present himselfe in the presence of his Fathers Judgment, as in our persone, to suffer for our transgression and inobedience, be death to overcome him that was author of death. Bot because the onelie God-head culd not suffer death, neither zit culd the onlie man-head overcome the samin, he joyned both togither in one persone, that the imbecillitie of the ane, suld suffer and be subject to death, quhilk we had deserved: And the infinit and invincible power of the uther, to wit, of the God-head, suld triumph and purchesse to us life, libertie, and perpetuall victory: And so we confesse, and maist undoubtedly beleeve

ART. IX OF CHRIST’S DEATH, PASSION, AND BURIAL
That our Lord Jesus offered himselfe a voluntary Sacrifice unto his Father for us, that he suffered contradiction of sinners, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressiouns, that hee being the cleane innocent Lambe of God, was damned in the presence of an earthlie Judge, that we suld be absolved befoir the tribunal seat of oar God. That hee suffered not onlie the cruell death of the Crosse, quhilk was accursed be the sentence of God; bot also that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father, quhilk sinners had deserved. Bot zit we avow that he remained the only welbeloved and blessed Sonne of his Father, even in the middest of his anguish and torment, quhilk hee suffered in bodie and saule, to mak the full satisfaction for the sinnes of the people. After the quhilk we confesse and avow, that there remaines na uther Sacrifice for sinne, quhilk gif ony affirme, we nathing dout to avow, that they ar blasphemous against Christs death, and the everlasting purgatioun and satisfactioun purchased to us be the same

ART. X OF THE RESURRECTION
We undoubtedly beleeve, that in sa mekle as it wes impossible, that the dolours of death sulde reteine in bondage the Author of life, that our LORD JESUS crucified, dead and buryed, quha descended into hell, did ryse agayne for our Justificatioun, and destroying of him quha wes the Author of death, brocht life againe to us, that wer subject to death, and to the bondage of the same. We knaw that his Resurrectioun wes confirmed be the testimonie of his verie Enemies, be the resurrectioun of the dead, quhais Sepultures did oppen, and they did ryse, and appeared to mony, within the Cittie of Jerusalem. It wes also confirmed be the testimonie of his Angels, and be the senses and judgements of his Apostles, and of uthers, quha had conversatioun, and did eate and drink with him, after his Resurrection.

ART. XI OF THE ASCENSION
We nathing doubt, bot the self same bodie, quhilk was borne of the Virgine, was crucified, dead, and buried, and quhilk did rise againe, did ascend into the heavens, for the accomplishment of all thinges: Quhere in our names, and for our comfort, he hes received all power in heaven and eirth, quhere he sittes at the richt hand of the Father, inaugurate in his kingdome, Advocate and onlie Mediator for us. Quhilk glorie, honour, and prerogative, he alone amonges the brethren sal posses, till that all his Enimies be made his futestule, as that we undoubtedlie beleeve they sall be in the finall Judgment: To the Execution whereof we certainelie beleve, that the same our Lord Jesus sail visiblie returne, as that hee was sene to ascend. And then we firmely beleve, that the time of refreshing and restitutioun of all things sall cum, in samekle that thir, that fra the beginning have suffered violence, injurie, and wrang, for richteousnes sake, sal inherit that blessed immortalitie promised fra the beginning.

Bot contrariwise the stubburne, inobedient, cruell oppressours, filthie personis, idolaters, and all such sortes of unfaithfull, sal be cast in the dungeoun of utter darkenesse, where their worme sall not die, nether zit their fyre sall bee extinguished. The remembrance of quhilk day, and of the Judgement to be executed in the same, is not onelie to us ane brydle, whereby our carnal lustes are refrained, bot alswa sik inestimable comfort, that nether may the threatning of worldly Princes, nether zit the feare of temporal death and present danger, move us to renounce and forsake that blessed societie, quhilk we the members have with our Head and onelie Mediator CHRIST JESUS: Whom we confesse and avow to be the Messias promised, the onlie Head of his Kirk, our just Lawgiver, our onlie hie Priest, Advocate, and Mediator. In quhilk honoures and offices, gif man or Angell presume to intruse themself, we utterlie detest and abhorre them, as blasphemous to our Soveraigne and supreme Governour CHRIST JESUS.

ART. XII OF FAITH IN THE HOLY GOSTE
This our Faith and the assurance of the same, proceeds not fra flesh and blude, that is to say, fra na natural poweris within us, bot is the inspiration of the holy Gost: Whome we confesse God equall with the Father and with his Sonne, quha sanctifyis us, and bringis us in al veritie be his awin operation, without whome we sulde remaine for ever enimies to God, and ignorant of his Sonne Christ Jesus; for of nature we are so dead, so blind, and so perverse, that nether can we feill when we ar pricked, see the licht when it shines, nor assent to the will of God when it is reveiled, unles the Spirit of the Lord Jesus quicken that quhilk is dead, remove the darknesse from our myndes, and bowe our stubburne hearts to the obedience of his blessed will. And so as we confesse, that God the Father created us, when we were not, as his Sonne our Lord Jesus redeemed us, when wee were enimies to him; so also do we confesse that the holy Gost doth sanctifie and regenerat us, without all respect of ony merite proceeding from us, be it before, or be it after our Regeneration. To speak this ane thing zit in mair plaine words: As we willingly spoyle our selves of all honour and gloir of our awin Creation and Redemption, so do we also of our Regeneration and Sanctification, for of our selves we ar not sufficient to think one gude thocht, bot he quha hes begun the wark in us, is onlie he that continewis us in the same, to the praise and glorie of his undeserved grace.

ART. XIII OF THE CAUSE OF GUDE WARKIS
Sa that the cause of gude warkis, we confesse to be not our free wil, bot the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, who dwelling in our hearts be trewe faith, bringis furth sik warkis, as God hes prepared for us to walke in. For this wee maist boldelie affirme, that blasphemy it is to say, that Christ abydes in the heartes of sik, as in whome there is no spirite of sanctification. And therefore we feir not to affirme, that murtherers, oppressers, cruell persecutors, adulterers, huremongers, filthy persouns, Idolaters, drunkards, thieves, and al workers of iniquity, have nether trew faith, nether ony portion of the Spirit of the Lord JESUS, so long as obstinatlie they continew in their wickednes. For how soone that ever the Spirit of the Lord JESUS, quhilk Gods elect children receive be trew faith, taks possession in the heart of ony man, so soone dois he regenerate and renew the same man. So that he beginnis to hait that quhilk before he loved, and begins to love that quhilk befoir he hated; and fra thine cummis that continuall battell, quhilk is betwixt the flesh and the Spirit in Gods children, till the flesh and natural man, according to the awin corruption, lustes for things pleisand and delectable unto the self, and grudges in adversity, is lyfted up in prosperity, and at every moment is prone and reddie to offend the majestie of God. Bot the spirite of God, quhilk gives witnessing to our spirite, that we are the sonnes of God, makis us to resist filthie plesures, and to groane in Gods presence, for deliverance fra this bondage of corruption; and finally to triumph over sin, that it reygne not in our mortal bodyis. This battell hes not the carnal men, being destitute of Gods Spirite, bot dois followe and obey sinne with greedines, and without repentance, even as the Devill, and their corrupt lustes do prick them. Bot the sonnes of God, as before wes said, dois fecht against sinne; dois sob and murne, when they perceive themselves tempted in iniquitie; and gif they fal, they rise againe with earnest and unfained repentance: And thir thingis they do not be their awin power, bot be the power of the Lord Jesus, without whom they were able to do nothing.

ART. XIV WHAT WARKIS ARE REPUTIT GUDE BEFOIR GOD
We confesse and acknawledge, that God hes given to man his holy Law, in quhilk not only ar forbidden all sik warkes as displeis and offend his godly Majestie, but alswa ar commanded al sik as pleis him, and as he hes promised to rewaird. And thir warkes be of twa sortes. The ane are done to the honour of God, the uther to the profite of our Nichtbouris; and both have the reveiled will of God for their assurance. To have ane God, to worschip and honour him, to call upon him in all our troubles, reverence his holy name, to heare his word, to beleve the same, to communicate with his holy Sacraments, are the warkes of the first Tabill. To honour Father, Mother, Princes, Rulers, and superiour powers; to love them, to support them, zea to obey their charges (not repugning to the commaundment of God), to save the lives of innocents, to represse tyrannie, to defend the oppressed, to keepe our bodies cleane and halie, to live in sobernes and temperance, to deall justlie with all men both in word and deed; and finally, to represse all appetite of our Nichtbouris hurt, are the gude warkes of the secund Tabill, quhilk are maist pleising and acceptabill unto God, as thir warkes that are commanded be himselfe. The contrary quhairof is sinne maist odious, quhilk alwayes displeisis him, and provokes him to anger: As not to call upon him alone, when we have need; not to hear his word with reverence, to contemne and despise it; to have or worschip idols, to maintene and defend Idolatrie; lichtlie to esteeme the reverend name of God; to prophane, abuse, or contemne the Sacraments of Christ Jesus; to disobey or resist ony that God hes placed in authoritie (quhil they passe not over the bounds of their office); to murther, or to consent thereto, to beare hatred, or to let innocent blude bee sched, gif wee may withstand it. And finally, the transgression of ony uther commandement in the first or secund Tabill, we confesse and affirme to be sinne, by the quhilk Gods anger and displesure is kindled against the proud unthankfull warld. So that gude warkes we affirme to be thir onlie, that are done in faith, and at Gods commandment, quha in his Lawe hes expressed what the thingis be that pleis him. And evill I warkis we affirme not only thir that expressedly ar done against Gods commaundement: bot thir alswa that in matteris of Religioun, and worschipping of God, hes na uther assurance bot the inventioun and opinioun of man: quhilk God fra the beginning hes ever rejected, as be the Prophet Esay, and be our Maister CHRIST JESUS we ar taught in thir words, In vaine do they worschip me, teaching the doctrines the precepts of men.

ART. XV OF THE PERFECTIOUN OF THE LAW, AND THE IMPERFECTIOUN OF MAN
The Law of God we confesse and acknawledge maist just, maist equall, maist halie, and maist perfite, commaunding thir thingis, quhilk being wrocht in perfectioun, were abill to give life, and abill to bring man to eternall felicitie. Bot our nature is sa corrupt, sa weake, and sa unperfite, that we ar never abill to fulfill the warkes of the Law in perfectioun. Zea, gif we say we have na sinne, evin after we ar regenerate, we deceive our selves, and the veritie of God is not in us. And therfore, it behovis us to apprehend Christ Jesus with his justice and satisfaction, quha is the end and accomplishment of the Law, be quhome we ar set at this liberty, that the curse and malediction of God fall not upon us, albeit we fulfill not the same in al pointes. For God the Father beholding us, in the body of his Sonne Christ Jesus, acceptis our imperfite obedience, as it were perfite, and covers our warks, quhilk ar defyled with mony spots, with the justice of his Sonne. We do not meane that we ar so set at liberty, that we awe na obedience to the Law (for that before wee have plainly confessed), bot this we affirme, that na man in eird (Christ Jesus onlie except) hes given, gives, or sall give in worke, that obedience to the Law, quhilk the Law requiris. Bot when we have done all things, we must falle down and unfeinedly confesse, that we are unprofitable servands. And therefore, quhosoever boastis themselves of the merits of their awin works, or put their trust in the works of Supererogation, boast themselves in that quhilk is nocht, and put their trust in damnable Idolatry.

ART. XVI OF THE KIRK
As we beleve in ane God, Father, Sonne, and haly Ghaist; sa do we maist constantly beleeve, that from the beginning there hes bene, and now is, and to the end of the warld sall be, ane Kirk, that is to say, ane company and multitude of men chosen of God, who richtly worship and imbrace him be trew faith in Christ Jesus, quha is the only head of the same Kirk, quhilk alswa is the bodie and spouse of Christ Jesus quhilk Kirk is catholike, that is, universal, because it conteinis the Elect of all ages, of all realmes, nations, and tongues, be they of the Jewes, or be they of the Gentiles, quha have communion and societie with God the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus, throw the sanctificatioun of his haly Spirit: and therefore it is called the communioun, not of prophane persounes, bot of Saincts, quha as citizenis of the heavenly Jerusalem, have the fruitioun of the maist inestimable benefites, to wit, of ane God, ane Lord Jesus, ane faith, and ane baptisme: Out of the quhilk Kirk, there is nouther lyfe, nor eternall felicitie. And therefore we utterly abhorre the blasphemie of them that affirme, that men quhilk live according to equitie and justice, sal be saved, quhat Religioun that ever they have professed. For as without Christ Jesus there is nouther life nor salvation; so sal there nane be participant therof, bot sik as the Father hes given unto his Sonne Christ Jesus, and they that in time cum unto him, avowe his doctrine, and beleeve into him, we comprehend the children with the faithfull parentes. This Kirk is invisible, knawen onelie to God, quha alane knawis whome he hes chosen; and comprehends as weill (as said is) the Elect that be departed, commonlic called the Kirk Triumphant, and they that zit live and fecht against sinne and Sathan as sail live hereafter.

ART. XVII OF THE IMMORTALITIE OF THE SAULES
The Elect departed are in peace and rest fra their labours: Not that they sleep, and come to a certaine oblivion, as some Phantastickes do affirme; bot that they are delivered fra all feare and torment, and all temptatioun, to quhilk we and all Goddis Elect are subject in this life, and therfore do beare the name of the Kirk Militant: As contrariwise, the reprobate and unfaithfull departed have anguish, torment, and paine, that cannot be expressed. Sa that nouther are the ane nor the uther in sik sleepe that they feele not joy or torment, as the Parable of Christ Jesus in the 16th of Luke, his words to the thiefe, and thir wordes of the saules crying under the Altar, O Lord, thou that art righteous and Just, How lang sall thou not revenge our blude upon thir that dwellis in the Eird? dois testifie.

ART. XVIII OF THE NOTIS, BE THE QUHILK THE TREWE KIRK IS DECERNIT FRA THE FALSE, AND QUHA SALL BE JUDGE OF THE DOCTRINE
Because that Sathan from the beginning hes laboured to deck his pestilent Synagoge with the title of the Kirk of God, and hes inflamed the hertes of cruell murtherers to persecute, trouble, and molest the trewe Kirk and members thereof, as Cain did Abell, Ismael Isaac, Esau Jacob, and the haill Priesthead of the Jewes Christ Jesus himselfe, and his Apostles after him. It is ane thing maist requisite, that the true Kirk be decerned fra the filthie Synagogues, be cleare and perfite notes, least we being deceived, receive and imbrace, to our awin condemnationn, the ane for the uther. The notes, signes, and assured takens whereby the immaculate Spouse of Christ Jesus is knawen fra the horrible harlot, the Kirk malignant, we affirme, are nouther Antiquitie, Title usurpit, lineal Descence, Place appointed, nor multitude of men approving ane error. For Cain, in age and title, was preferred to Abel and Seth: Jerusalem had prerogative above all places of the eird, where alswa were the Priests lineally descended fra Aaron, and greater number followed the Scribes, Pharisies, and Priestes, then unfainedly beleeved and approved Christ Jesus and his doctrine: And zit, as we suppose, no man of sound judgment will grant, that ony of the forenamed were the Kirk of God. The notes therefore of the trew Kirk of God we beleeve, confesse, and avow to be, first, the trew preaching of the Worde of God, into the quhilk God hes revealed himselfe unto us, as the writings of the Prophets and Apostles dois declair. Secundly, the right administration of the Sacraments of Christ Jesus, quhilk man be annexed unto the word and promise of God, to seale and confirme the same in our hearts. Last, Ecclesiastical discipline uprightlie ministred, as Goddis Worde prescribes, whereby vice is repressed, and vertew nurished. Wheresoever then thir former notes are seene, and of ony time continue (be the number never so fewe, about two or three), there, without all doubt, is the trew Kirk of Christ: Who, according unto his promise, is in the middis of them. Not that universall, of quhilk we have before spoken, bot particular, sik as wes in Corinthus, Galatia, Ephesus, and uther places, in quhilk the ministrie wes planted be Paull, and were of himselfe named the kirks of God. And sik kirks, we the inhabitantis of the Realme of Scotland, professoris of Christ Jesus, professis our selfis to have in our citties, townes, and places reformed, for the doctrine taucht in our Kirkis, conteined in the writen Worde of God, to wit, in the buiks of the Auld and New Testamentis, in those buikis we meane quhilk of the ancient have been reputed canonicall. In the quhilk we affirme, that all thingis necessary to be beleeved for the salvation of mankinde is sufficiently expressed. The interpretation qnhairof, we confesse, neither appertaines to private nor publick persone, nether zit to ony Kirk, for ony preheminence or prerogative, personallie or locallie, quhilk ane hes above ane uther, bot apperteines to the Spirite of God, be the quhilk also the Scripture was written. When controversie then happines, for the right understanding of ony place or sentence of Scripture, or for the reformation of ony abuse within the Kirk of God, we ought not sa meikle to luke what men before us have said or done, as unto that quhilk the haly Ghaist uniformelie speakes within the body of the Scriptures, and unto that quhilk Christ Jesus himselfe did, and commanded to be done. For this is ane thing universallie granted, that the Spirite of God, quhilk is the Spirite of unitie, is in nathing contrarious unto himselfe. Gif then the interpretation, determination, or sentence of ony Doctor, Kirk, or Councell, repugne to the plaine Worde of God, written in ony uther place of the Scripture, it is a thing maist certaine, that there is not the true understanding and meaning of the haly Ghaist, although that Councels, Realmes, and Nations have approved and received the same. For we dare non receive or admit ony interpretation quhilk repugnes to ony principall point of our faith, or to ony uther plaine text of Scripture, or zit unto the rule of charitie.

ART. XIX OF THE AUTHORITIE OF THE SCRIPTURES
As we beleeve and confesse the Scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make the man of God perfite, so do we affirme and avow the authoritie of the same to be of God, and nether to depend on men nor angelis. We affirme, therefore, that sik as allege the Scripture to have na uther authoritie bot that quhilk it hes received from the Kirk, to be blasphemous against God, and injurious to the trew Kirk, quhilk alwaies heares and obeyis the voice of her awin Spouse and Pastor; bot takis not upon her to be maistres over the samin.

ART. XX OF GENERALL COUNCELLIS, OF THEIR POWER, AUTHORITIE, AND CAUSE OF THEIR CONVENTION
As we do not rashlie damne that quhilk godly men, assembled togither in generall Councel lawfully gathered, have proponed unto us; so without just examination dare we not receive quhatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of generall Councellis: For plaine it is, as they wer men, so have some of them manifestlie erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. So farre then as the councell previs the determination and commandement that it gives bee the plaine Worde of God, so soone do we reverence and imbrace the same. Bot gif men, under the name of a councel, pretend to forge unto us new artickles of our faith, or to make constitutionis repugning to the Word of God; then utterlie we must refuse the same as the doctrine of Devils, quhilk drawis our saules from the voyce of our onlie God to follow the doctrines and constitutiones of men. The cause then quhy that generall Councellis convened, was nether to make ony perpetual Law, quhilk God before had not maid, nether zit to forge new Artickles of our beleife, nor to give the Word of God authoritie; meikle les to make that to be his Word, or zit the trew interpretation of the same, quhilk was not before be his haly will expressed in his Word: Bot the cause of Councellis (we meane of sik as merite the name of Councellis) wes partlie for confutation of heresies, and for giving publick confession of their faith to the posteritie following, quhilk baith they did by the authoritie of Goddis written Word, and not by ony opinion or prerogative that they culd not erre, be reasson of their generall assemblie: And this we judge to have bene the chiefe cause of general Councellis. The uther wes for gude policie, and ordour to be constitute and observed in the Kirk, quhilk, as in the house of God, it becummis al things to be done decently and in ordour. Not that We think that any policie and an ordour in ceremonies can be appoynted for al ages, times, and places: For as ceremonies, sik as men have devised, ar bot temporall; so may and aucht they to be changed, when they rather foster superstition then that they edifie the Kirk using the same.

ART. XXI OF THE SACRAMENTIS
As the Fatheris under the Law, besides the veritie of the Sacrifices, had twa chiefe Sacramentes, to wit, Circumcision and the Passeover, the despisers and contemners whereof were not reputed for Gods people; sa do we acknawledge and confesse that we now in the time of the Evangell have twa chiefe Sacramentes, onelie instituted be the Lord Jesus, and commanded to be used of all they that will be reputed members of his body, to wit, Baptisme and the Supper or Table of the Lord Jesus, called the Communion of his Body and his Blude. And thir Sacramentes, as weil of Auld as of New Testament, now instituted of God, not onelie to make ane visible difference betwixt his people and they that wes without his league: Bot also to exerce the faith of his Children, and, be participation of the same Sacramentes, to seill in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjunction, union and societie, quhilk the elect have with their head Christ Jesus. And this we utterlie damne the vanitie of thay that affirme Sacramentes to be nathing ellis bot naked and baire signes. No, wee assuredlie beleeve that be Baptisme we ar ingrafted in Christ Jesus, to be made partakeres of his justice, be quhilk our sinnes ar covered and remitted. And alswa, that in the Supper richtlie used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us, that hee bocummis very nurishment and fude of our saules. Not that we imagine anie transubstantiation of bread into Christes body, and of wine into his naturall blude, as the Papistes have perniciouslie taucht and damnablie beleeved; bot this unioun and conjunction, quhilk we have with the body and blude of Christ Jesus in the richt use of the Sacraments, wrocht be operatioun of the haly Ghaist, who by trew faith carryis us above al things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and makes us to feede upon the body and blude of Christ Jesus, quhilk wes anes broken and shed for us, quhilk now is in heaven, and appearis in the presence of his Father for us: And zit notwithstanding the far distance of place quhilk is betwixt his body now glorified in heaven and us now mortal in this eird, zit we man assuredly beleve that the bread quhilk wee break, is the communion of Christes bodie, and the cupe quhilk we blesse, is the communion of his blude. So that we confesse, and undoubtedlie beleeve, that the faithfull, in the richt use of the Lords Table, do so eat the bodie and drinke the blude of the Lord Jesus, that he remaines in them, and they in him: Zea, they are so maid flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones; that as the eternall God-head hes given to the flesh of Christ Jesus (quhilk of the awin conditioun and nature wes mortal and corruptible) life and immortalitie; so dois Christ Jesus his flesh and blude eattin and drunkin be us, give unto us the same prerogatives. Quhilk, albeit we confesse are nether given unto us at that time onelie, nether zit be the proper power and vertue of the Sacrament onelie; zit we affirme that the faithfull, in the richt use of the Lords Table, hes conjunctioun with Christ Jesus, as the naturall man can not apprehend: Zea, and farther we affirme, that albeit the faithfull, oppressed be negligence and manlie infirmitie, dois not profite sameikle as they wald, in the verie instant action of the Supper; zit sall it after bring frute furth, as livelie seid sawin in gude ground. For the haly Spirite, quhilk can never be divided fra the richt institution of the Lord Jesus, wil not frustrat the faithfull of the fruit of that mysticall action: Bot all thir, we say, cummis of trew faith, quhilk apprehendis Christ Jesus, who only makis this Sacrament effectuall unto us. And therefore, whosoever sclanders us, as that we affirme or beleeve Sacraments to be naked and bair Signes, do injurie unto us, and speaks against the manifest trueth. Bot this liberallie and franklie we confesse, that we make ane distinctioun betwixt Christ Jesus in his eternall substance, and betwixt the Elements of the Sacramentall Signes. So that wee will nether worship the Signes, in place of that quhilk is signified be them, nether zit doe we dispise, and interpret them as unprofitable and vaine, bot do use them with all reverence, examining our selves diligentlie before that so we do; because we are assured be the mouth of the Apostle, That sik as eat of that bread, and drink of that coup unworthelie, are guiltie of the bodie and blude of Christ Jesus.

ART. XXII OF THE RIGHT ADMINISTRATIOUN OF THE SACRAMENTIS
That Sacramentis be richtlie ministrat, we judge twa things requisite: The ane, that they be ministrat be lauchful Ministers, whom we affirme to be only they that ar appoynted to the preaching of the word, into quhais monthes God hes put sum Sermon of exhortation, they being men lauchfullie chosen thereto be sum Kirk. The uther, that they be ministrat in sik elements, and in sik sort, as God hes appoynted; else, we affirme, that they cease to be the richt Sacraments of Christ Jesus. And therfore it is that we flee the doctrine of the Papistical Kirk, in participatioun of their sacraments; first, because their Ministers are na Ministers of Christ Jesus; zea (quhilk is mair horrible) they suffer wemen, whome the haly Ghaist will not suffer to teache in the Congregatioun, to baptize: And secundly, because they have so adulterate both the one Sacrament and the uther with their awin inventions, that no part of Christs action abydes in the originall puritie: For Oyle, Salt, Spittill, and sik lyke in Baptisme, ar bot mennis inventiounis. Adoration, Veneration, bearing throw streitis and townes, and keiping of bread in boxis or buistis, ar prophanatioun of Christs Sacramentis, and na use of the same: For Christ Jesus saide, Take, eat, &c., do ze this in remembrance of me. Be quhilk words and charge he sanctifyed bread and wine, to the Sacrament of his halie bodie and blude, to the end that the ane suld be eaten, and that all suld drinke of the uther, and not that thay suld be keiped to be worshipped and honoured as God, as the Papistes have done heirtofore. Who also committed Sacrilege, steilling from the people the ane parte of the Sacrament, to wit, the blessed coupe. Moreover, that the Sacramentis be richtly used, it is required, that the end and cause why the Sacramentis were institute, be understanded and observed, asweil of the minister as of the receiveris: For gif the opinion be changed in the receiver, the richt use ceassis; quhilk is maist evident be the rejection of the sacrifices: As also gif the teacher planely teache fals doctrine, quhilk were odious and abhominable before God (albeit they were his awin ordinance) because that wicked men use them to an uther end than God hes ordaned. The same affirme we of the Sacraments in the Papistical kirk; in quhilk, we affirme, the haill action of the Lord Jesus to be adulterated, asweill in the external forme, as in the end and opinion. Quhat Christ Jesus did, and commanded to be done, is evident be the Evangelistes and be Saint Paull: quhat the Preist dois at his altar we neid not to rehearse. The end and cause of Christs institution, and why the selfesame suld be used, is expressed in thir words, Doe ze this in remembrance of me, als oft as ze sall eit of this bread, and drinke of this coupe, ze sall shaw furth, that is, extoll, preach, magnifie and praise the Lords death, till he cum. Bot to quhat end, and in what opinioun the Preistes say their Messe, let the wordes of the same, their awin Doctouris and wrytings witnes: To wit, that they, as Mediatoris betwix Christ and his Kirk, do offer unto God the Father, a Sacrifice propitiatorie for the sinnes of the quick and the dead. Quhilk doctrine, as blasphemous to Christ Jesus, and making derogation to the sufficiencie of his only Sacrifice, once offered for purgatioun of all they that sall be sanctifyed, we utterly abhorre, detest and renounce.

ART. XXIII TO WHOME SACRAMENTIS APPERTEINE
We confesse & acknawledge that Baptisme apperteinis asweil to the infants of the faithfull, as unto them that be of age and discretion: And so we damne the error of the Anabaptists, who denies baptisme to apperteine to Children, before that they have faith and understanding. Bot the Supper of the Lord, we confesse to apperteine to sik onely as be of the houshald of Faith, and can trie and examine themselves, asweil in their faith, as in their dewtie towards their Nichtbouris; sik as eite and drink at that haly Table without faith, or being at dissension and division with their brethren, do eat unworthelie: And therefore it is, that in our Kirk our Ministers tak publick & particular examination, of the knawledge and conversation of sik as are to be admitted to the Table of the Lord Jesus.

ART. XXIV OF THE CIVILE MAGISTRATE
We confesse and acknawledge Empyres, Kingdomes, Dominiounis, and Citties to be distincted and ordained be God; the powers and authoritie in the same, be it of Emperours in their Empyres, of Kingis in their Realmes, Dukes and Princes in their Dominionis, and of utheris Magistrates in the Citties, to be Gods haly ordinance, ordained for manifestatioun of his awin glory, and for the singular profite and commoditie of mankind: So that whosoever goeth about to take away, or to confound the haill state of Civile policies, now long established; we affirme the same men not onely to be enimies to mankinde, but also wickedly to fecht against Goddis expressed will. Wee farther confesse and acknawledge, that sik persouns as are placed in authoritie ar to be loved, honoured, feared, and halden in most reverent estimatioun; because that they are the Lieu-tennents of God, in whose Sessiouns God himself dois sit and judge: Zea, even the Judges & Princes themselves, to whome be God is given the sword, to the praise and defence of gude men, and to revenge and punish all open malefactors. Mairover, to Kings, Princes, Rulers and Magistrates, wee affirme that chieflie and most principallie the conservation and purgation of the Religioun apperteinis; so that not onlie they are appointed for Civill policie, bot also for maintenance of the trew Religioun, and for suppressing of Idolatrie and Superstitioun whatsoever: As in David, Josaphat, Ezechias, Josias, and utheris highlie commended for their zeale in that caise, may be espyed.

And therefore wee confesse and avow, that sik as resist the supreme power, doing that thing quhilk appertains to his charge, do resist Goddis ordinance; and therefore cannot be guiltles. And farther we affirme, that whosoever denies unto them ayde, their counsell and comfort, quhiles the Princes and Rulers vigilantly travell in execution of their office, that the same men deny their helpe, support and counsell to God, quha, be the presence of his Lieu-tennent, dois crave it of them.

ART. XXV OF THE GUIFTES FREELY GIVEN TO THE KIRK
Albeit that the Worde of God trewly preached, and the Sacraments richtlie ministred, and Discipline executed according to the Worde of God, be the certaine and infallible Signes of the trew Kirk, we meane not that everie particular persoun joyned with sik company, be ane elect member of Christ Jesus: For we acknawledge and confesse, that Dornell, Cockell, and Caffe may be sawen, grow, and in great aboundance lie in the middis of the Wheit, that is, the Reprobate may be joyned in the societie of the Elect, and may externally use with them the benefites of the worde and Sacraments: Bot sik being bot temporall professoures in mouth, but not in heart, do fall backe, and continew not to the end. And therefore have they na fruite of Christs death, Resurrection nor Ascension. Bot sik as with heart unfainedly beleeve, and with mouth bauldly confesse the Lord Jesus, as before we have said, sail most assuredly receive their guiftes: First, in this life, remission of sinnes, and that be only faith in Christs blude; in samekle, that albeit sinne remaine and continuallie abyde in thir our mortall bodies, zit it is not imputed unto us, bot is remitted, and covered with Christs Justice. Secundly, in the general Judgement, there sall be given to every man and woman resurrection of the flesh: For the Sea sall give her dead; the Earth, they that therin be inclosed; zea, the Eternall our God sall stretche out his hand on the dust, and the dead sall arise uncorruptible, and that in the substance of the selfe same flesh that every man now beiris, to receive according to their warkis, glory or punishment: For sik as now delyte in vanity, cruelty, filthynes, superstition or Idolatry, sal be adjudged to the fire unquencheable: In quhilk they sall be tormented for ever, asweill in their awin bodyes, as in their saules, quhilk now they give to serve the Devill in all abhomination. Bot sik as continew in weil doing to the end, bauldely professing the Lord Jesus, we constantly beleve, that they sall receive glorie, honor, and immortality, to reigne for ever in life everlasting with Christ Jesus, to whose glorified body all his Elect sall be made lyke, when he sall appeir againe in judgement, and sall rander up the kingdome to God his Father, who then sall bee, and ever sall remaine all in all things God blessed for ever: To whome, with the Sonne and with the haly Ghaist, be all honour and glorie, now and ever. So be it.

Arise (O Lord) and let thy enimies be confounded; let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godlie Name. Give thy servands strenth to speake thy word in bauldnesse, and let all Natiouns cleave to thy trew knawledge. Amen.

Chir Acts and Artickles ar red in the face of Parliament, and ratifyed be the thre Estatis, at Edinburgh the 17 day of August, the Zeir of GOD 1560 Zeiris.

<cite>Philip Schaff,</cite> The Creeds of ChristendomThe Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 437–79.

French Confession (1559)

THE FRENCH SUBJECTS WHO WISH TO LIVE IN THE PURITY OF THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

To the King.

Sire, we thank God that hitherto having had no access to your Majesty to make known the rigor of the persecutions that we have suffered, and suffer daily, for wishing to live in the purity of the Gospel and in peace with our own consciences, he now permits us to see that you wish to know the worthiness of our cause, as is shown by the last Edict given at Amboise in the month of March of this present year, 1559, which it has pleased your Majesty to cause to be published. This emboldens us to speak, which we have been prevented from doing hitherto through the injustice and violence of some of your officers, incited rather by hatred of us than by love of your service. And to the end, Sire, that we may fully inform your Majesty of what concerns this cause, we humbly beseech that you will see and hear our Confession of Faith, which we present to you, hoping that it will prove a sufficient answer to the blame and opprobrium unjustly laid upon us by those who have always made a point of condemning us without having any knowledge of our cause. In the which, Sire, we can affirm that there is nothing contrary to the Word of God, or to the homage which we owe to you.

For the articles of our faith, which are all declared at some length in our Confession, all come to this: that since God has sufficiently declared his will to us through his Prophets and Apostles, and even by the mouth of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we owe such respect and reverence to the Word of God as shall prevent us from adding to it any thing of our own, but shall make us conform entirely to the rules it prescribes. And inasmuch as the Roman Church, forsaking the use and customs of the primitive Church, has introduced new commandments and a new form of worship of God, we esteem it but reasonable to prefer the commandments of God, who is himself truth, to the commandments of men, who by their nature are inclined to deceit and vanity. And whatever our enemies may say against us, we can declare this before God and men, that we suffer for no other reason than for maintaining our Lord Jesus Christ to be our only Saviour and Redeemer, and his doctrine to be the only doctrine of life and salvation.

And this is the only reason, Sire, why the executioners’ hands have been stained so often with the blood of your poor subjects, who, sparing not their lives to maintain this same Confession of Faith, have shown to all that they were moved by some other spirit than that of men, who naturally care more for their own peace and comfort than for the honor and glory of God.

And therefore, Sire, in accordance with your promises of goodness and mercy toward your poor subjects, we humbly beseech your Majesty graciously to examine the cause for which, being threatened at all times with death or exile, we thus lose the power of rendering the humble service that we owe you. May it please your Majesty, then instead of the fire and sword which have been used hitherto, so have our confession of Faith decided by the Word of God: giving permission and security for this. And we hope that your yourself will be the judge of our innocence, knowing that there is in us no rebellion or heresy whatsoever, but that our only endeavor is to live in peace of conscience, serving God according to his commandments, and honoring your Majesty by all obedience and submission.

And because we have great need, by the preaching of the Word of God, to be kept in our duty to him, as well as to yourself, we humbly beg, sine, that we may sometimes be permitted to gather together, to be exhorted to the fear o God by his Word, as well as to be confirmed by the administration of the Sacraments which the Lord Jesus Christ instituted in his Church. And if it should please your Majesty to give us a place where any one may see what passes in our assemblies, we shall thereby be absolved from the charge of the enormous crimes with which these same assemblies have been defamed. For nothing will be seen but what is decent and well-ordered, and nothing will be heard but the praise of God, exhortations to his service, and prayers for the preservation of your Majesty and of your kingdom. And if it do not please you to great us this favor, at least let it be permitted us to follow the established order in private among ourselves.

We beseech yon most humbly, Sire, to believe that in listening to this application which is now presented to yon, listen to the cries and groans of an infinite number of year poor subjects, who implore of your mercy that you extinguish the fires which the cruelty of your judges has lighted in your kingdom. And that we may thus be permitted, in serving your Majesty, to serve him who has raised you to your power and dignity.

And if it should not please you, Sire, to listen to our voice, may it please you to listen to that of the Son of God, who, having given you power over our property, our bodies, and even our lives, demands that the control and dominion of our souls and consciences, which he purchased with his own blood, be reserved to him.

We beseech him, Sire, that he may lead yon always by his Spirit, increasing with your age, your greatness and power, giving you victory over all your enemies, and establishing for ever, in all equity and justice, the throne of your Majesty: before whom, may it please him that we find grace, and some fruit of this our present supplication, so that having exchanged our pains and afflictions for some peace and liberty, we may also change our tears and lamentations into a perpetual thanksgiving to God, and to your Majesty for having done that which is most agreeable to him, most worthy, of your goodness and mercy, and most necessary for the preservation of your most humble and obedient subjects and servants.

CONFESSION OF FAITH

Made in one accord by the French people, who desire to live according to the purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A.D. 1559.

ART. I. We believe and confess that there is but one God, who is one sole and simple essence, spiritual, eternal, invisible, immutable, infinite, incomprehensible, ineffable, omnipotent; who is all-wise, all-good, all-just, and all-merciful.

II. As such this God reveals himself to men; firstly, in his works, in their creation, as well as in their preservation and control. Secondly, and more clearly, in his Word, which was in the beginning revealed through oracles, and which was afterward committed to writing in the books which we call the Holy Scriptures.

III. These Holy Scriptures are comprised in the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, as follows: the five books of Moses, namely: GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS, DEUTERONOMY; then JOSHUA, JUDGES, RUTH, the first and second books of SAMUEL, the first and second books of the KINGS, the first and second books of the CHRONICLES, otherwise called Paralipomenon, the first book of EZRA; then NEHEMIAH, the book of ESTHER, JOB, the PSALMS of David, the PROVERBS or Maxims of Solomon; the book of ECCLESIASTES, called the Preacher, the SONG OF SOLOMON; then the book of ISAIAH, JEREMIAH, LAMENTATIONS of Jeremiah, EZEKIEL, DANIEL, HOSEA, JOEL, AMOS, OBADIAH, JONAH, MICAH, NAHUM, HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH, HAGGAI, ZECHARIAH, MALACHI; then the Holy Gospel according to St. MATTHEW, according to St. MARK, according to St. LUKE, and according to St. JOHN; then the second book of St. LUKE, otherwise called the ACTS of the Apostles; then the Epistles of St. PAUL: one to the ROMANS, two to the CORINTHIANS, one to the GALATIANS, one to the EPHESIANS, one to the PHILIPPIANS, one to the COLOSSIANS, two to the THESSALONIANS, two to TIMOTHY, one to TITUS, one to PHILEMON; then the Epistle to the HEBREWS, the Epistle of St. JAMES, the first and second Epistles of St. PETER, the first, second, and third Epistles of St. JOHN, the Epistle of St. JUDE; and then the APOCALYPSE, or Revelation of St. John.

IV. We know these books to be canonical, and the sure rule of our faith, not so much by the common accord and consent of the Church, as by the testimony and inward illumination of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to distinguish them from other ecclesiastical books upon which, however useful, we can not found any articles of faith.

V. We believe that the Word contained in these books has proceeded from God, and receives its authority from him alone, and not from men. And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it. Whence it follows that no authority, whether of antiquity, or custom, or numbers, or human wisdom, or judgments, or proclamations, or edicts, or decrees, or councils, or visions, or miracles, should be opposed to these Holy Scriptures, but, on the contrary, all things should be examined, regulated, and reformed according to them. And therefore we confess the three creeds, to wit: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, because they are in accordance with the Word of God.

VI. These Holy Scriptures teach us that in this one sole and simple divine essence, whom we have confessed, there are three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father, first cause, principle, and origin of all things. The Son, his Word and eternal wisdom. The Holy Spirit, his virtue, power, and efficacy. The Son begotten from eternity by the Father. The Holy Spirit proceeding eternally from them both; the three persons not confused, but distinct, and yet not separate, but of the same essence, equal in eternity and power. And in this we confess that which hath been established by the ancient councils, and we detest all sects and heresies which were rejected by the holy doctors, such as St. Hilary, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, and St. Cyril.

VII. We believe that God, in three co-working persons, by his power, wisdom, and incomprehensible goodness, created all things, not only the heavens and the earth and all that in them is, but also invisible spirits, some of whom have fallen away and gone into perdition, while others have continued in obedience. That the first, being corrupted by evil, are enemies of all good, consequently of the whole Church. The second, having been preserved by the grace of God, are ministers to glorify God’s name, and to promote the salvation of his elect.

VIII. We believe that he not only created all things, but that he governs and directs them, disposing and ordaining by his sovereign will all that happens in the world; not that he is the author of evil, or that the guilt of it can be imputed to him, as his will is the sovereign and infallible rule of all right and justice; but he hath wonderful means of so making use of devils and sinners that he can turn to good the evil which they do, and of which they are guilty. And thus, confessing that the providence of God orders all things, we humbly bow before the secrets which are hidden to us, without questioning what is above our understanding; but rather making use of what is revealed to us in Holy Scripture for our peace and safety, inasmuch as God, who has all things in subjection to him, watches over us with a Father’s care, so that not a hair of our heads shall fall without his will. And yet he restrains the devils and all our enemies, so that they can not harm us without his leave.

IX. We believe that man was created pure and perfect in the image of God, and that by his own guilt he fell from the grace which he received, and is thus alienated from God, the fountain of justice and of all good, so that his nature is totally corrupt. And being blinded in mind, and depraved in heart, he has lost all integrity, and there is no good in him. And although he can still discern good and evil, we say, notwithstanding, that the light he has becomes darkness when he seeks for God, so that he can in nowise approach him by his intelligence and reason. And although he has a will that incites him to do this or that, yet it is altogether captive to sin, so that he has no other liberty to do right than that which God gives him.

X. We believe that all the posterity of Adam is in bondage to original sin, which is an hereditary evil, and not an imitation merely, as was declared by the Pelagians, whom we detest in their errors. And we consider that it is not necessary to inquire how sin was conveyed from one man to another, for what God had given Adam was not for him alone, but for all his posterity; and thus in his person we have been deprived of all good things, and have fallen with him into a state of sin and misery.

XI. We believe, also, that this evil is truly sin, sufficient for the condemnation of the whole human race, even of little children in the mother’s womb, and that God considers it as such; even after baptism it is still of the nature of sin, but the condemnation of it is abolished for the children of God, out of his mere free grace and love. And further, that it is a perversity always producing fruits of malice and of rebellion, so that the most holy men, although they resist it, are still stained with many weaknesses and imperfections while they are in this life.

XII. We believe that from this corruption and general condemnation in which all men are plunged, God, according to his eternal and immutable counsel, calleth those whom he hath chosen by his goodness and mercy alone in our Lord Jesus Christ, without consideration of their works, to display in them the riches of his mercy; leaving the rest in this same corruption and condemnation to show in them his justice. For the ones are no better than the others, until God discerns them according to his immutable purpose which he has determined in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world. Neither can any man gain such a reward by his own virtue, as by nature we can not have a single good feeling, affection, or thought, except God has first put it into our hearts.

XIII. We believe that all that is necessary for our salvation was offered and communicated to us in Jesus Christ. He is given to us for our salvation, and ‘is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:’ so that if we refuse him, we renounce the mercy of the Father, in which alone we can find a refuge.

XIV. We believe that Jesus Christ, being the wisdom of God and his eternal Son, has put on our flesh, so as to be God and man in one person; man, like unto us, capable of suffering in body and soul, yet free from all stain of sin. And as to his humanity, he was the true seed of Abraham and of David, although he was conceived by the secret power of the Holy Spirit. In this we detest all the heresies that have of old troubled the Church, and especially the diabolical conceits of Servetus, which attribute a fantastical divinity to the Lord Jesus, calling him the idea and pattern of all things, and the personal or figurative Son of God, and, finally, attribute to him a body of three uncreated elements, thus confusing and destroying the two natures.

XV. We believe that in one person, that is, Jesus Christ, the two natures are actually and inseparably joined and united, and yet each remains in its proper character: so that in this union the divine nature, retaining its attributes, remained uncreated, infinite, and all-pervading; and the human nature remained finite, having its form, measure, and attributes; and although Jesus Christ, in rising from the dead, bestowed immortality upon his body, yet he did not take from it the truth of its nature, and we so consider him in his divinity that we do not despoil him of his humanity.

XVI. We believe that God, in sending his Son, intended to show his love and inestimable goodness towards us, giving him up to die to accomplish all righteousness, and raising him from the dead to secure for us the heavenly life.

XVII. We believe that by the perfect sacrifice that the Lord Jesus offered on the cross, we are reconciled to God, and justified before him; for we can not be acceptable to him, nor become partakers of the grace of adoption, except as he pardons [all] our sins, and blots them out. Thus we declare that through Jesus Christ we are cleansed and made perfect; by his death we are fully justified, and through him only can we be delivered from our iniquities and transgressions.

XVIII. We believe that all our justification rests upon the remission of our sins, in which also is our only blessedness, as saith the Psalmist (Psa. 32:2). We therefore reject all other means of justification before God, and without claiming any virtue or merit, we rest simply in the obedience of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to us as much to blot out all our sins as to make us find grace and favor in the sight of God. And, in fact, we believe that in falling away from this foundation, however slightly, we could not find rest elsewhere, but should always be troubled. Forasmuch as we are never at peace with God till we resolve to be loved in Jesus Christ, for of ourselves we are worthy of hatred.

XIX. We believe that by this means we have the liberty and privilege of calling upon God, in full confidence that he will show himself a Father to us. For we should have no access to the Father except through this Mediator. And to be heard in his name, we must hold our life from him as from our chief.

XX. We believe that we are made partakers of this justification by faith alone, as it is written: ‘He suffered for our salvation, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish.’ And this is done inasmuch as we appropriate to our use the promises of life which are given to us through him, and feel their effect when we accept them, being assured that we are established by the Word of God and shall not be deceived. Thus our justification through faith depends upon the free promises by which God declares and testifies his love to us.

XXI. We believe that we are enlightened in faith by the secret power of the Holy Spirit, that it is a gratuitous and special gift which God grants to whom he will, so that the elect have no cause to glory, but are bound to be doubly thankful that they have been preferred to others. We believe also that faith is not given to the elect only to introduce them into the right way, but also to make them continue in it to the end. For as it is God who hath begun the work, he will also perfect it.

XXII. We believe that by this faith we are regenerated in newness of life, being by nature subject to sin, Now we receive by faith grace to live holily and in the fear of God, in accepting the promise which is given to us by the Gospel, namely: that God will give us his Holy Spirit. This faith not only doth not hinder us from holy living, or turn us from the love of righteousness, but of necessity begetteth in us all good works. Moreover, although God worketh in us for our salvation, and reneweth our hearts, determining us to that which is good, yet we confess that the good works which we do proceed from his Spirit, and can not be accounted to us for justification, neither do they entitle us to the adoption of sons, for we should always be doubting and restless in our hearts, if we did not rest upon the atonement by which Jesus Christ hath acquitted us.

XXIII. We believe that the ordinances of the law came to an end at the advent of Jesus Christ; but, although the ceremonies are no more in use, yet their substance and truth remain in the person of him in whom they are fulfilled. And, moreover, we must seek aid from the law and the prophets for the ruling of our lives, as well as for our confirmation in the promises of the gospel.

XXIV. We believe, as Jesus Christ is our only advocate, and as he commands us to ask of the Father in his name, and as it is not lawful for us to pray except in accordance with the model God hath taught us by his Word, that all imaginations of men concerning the intercession of dead saints are an abuse and a device of Satan to lead men from the right way of worship. We reject, also, all other means by which men hope to redeem themselves before God, as derogating from the sacrifice and passion of Jesus Christ.

Finally, we consider purgatory as an illusion proceeding from the same source, from which have also sprung monastic vows, pilgrimages, the prohibition of marriage, and of eating meat, the ceremonial observance of days, auricular confession, indulgences, and all such things by which they hope to merit forgiveness and salvation. These things we reject, not only for the false idea of merit which is attached to them, but also because they are human inventions imposing a yoke upon the conscience.

XXV. Now as we enjoy Christ only through the gospel, we believe that the order of the Church, established by his authority, ought to be sacred and inviolable, and that, therefore, the Church can not exist without pastors for instruction, whom we should respect and reverently listen to, when they are properly called and exercise their office faithfully. Not that God doth require such aid and subordinate means, but because it pleaseth him to govern us by such restraints. In this we detest all visionaries who would like, so far as lies in their power, to destroy the ministry and preaching of the Word and sacraments.

XXVI. We believe that no one ought to seclude himself and be contented to be alone; but that all jointly should keep and maintain the union of the Church, and submit to the public teaching, and to the yoke of Jesus Christ, wherever God shall have established a true order of the Church, even if the magistrates and their edicts are contrary to it. For if they do not take part in it, or if they separate themselves from it, they do contrary to the Word of God.

XXVII. Nevertheless we believe that it is important to discern with care and prudence which is the true Church, for this title has been much abused. We say, then, according to the Word of God, that it is the company of the faithful who agree to follow his Word, and the pure religion which it teaches; who grow in grace all their lives, believing and becoming more confirmed in the fear of God according as they feel the want of growing and pressing onward. Even although they strive continually, they can have no hope save in the remission of their sins. Nevertheless we do not deny that among the faithful there may be hypocrites and reprobates, but their wickedness can not destroy the title of the Church.

XXVIII. In this belief we declare that, properly speaking, there can be no Church where the Word of God is not received, nor profession made of subjection to it, nor use of the sacraments. Therefore we condemn the papal assemblies, as the pure Word of God is banished from them, their sacraments are corrupted, or falsified, or destroyed, and all superstitions and idolatries are in them. We hold, then, that all who take part in these acts, and commune in that Church, separate and cut themselves off from the body of Christ Nevertheless, as some trace of the Church is left in the papacy, and the virtue and substance of baptism remain, and as the efficacy of baptism does not depend upon the person who administers it, we confess that those baptized in it do not need a second baptism. But, on account of its corruptions, we can not present children to be baptized in it without incurring pollution.

XXIX. As to the true Church, we believe that it should be governed, according to the order established by our Lord Jesus Christ That there should be pastors, overseers, and deacons, so that true doctrine may have its course, that errors may be corrected and suppressed, and the poor and all who are in affliction may be helped in their necessities; and that assemblies may be held in the name of God, so that great and small may be edified.

XXX. We believe that all true pastors, wherever they may be, have the same authority and equal power under one head, one only sovereign and universal bishop, Jesus Christ; and that consequently no Church shall claim any authority or dominion over any other.

XXXI. We believe that no person should undertake to govern the Church upon his own authority, but that this should be derived from election, as far as it is possible, and as God will permit. And we make this exception especially, because sometimes, and even in our own days, when the state of the Church has been interrupted, it has been necessary for God to raise men in an extraordinary manner to restore the Church which was in ruin and desolation. But, notwithstanding, we believe that this rule must always be binding: that all pastors, overseers, and deacons should have evidence of being called to then office.

XXXII. We believe, also, that it is desirable and useful that those elected to be superintendents devise among themselves what means should be adopted for the government of the whole body, and yet that they should never depart from that which was ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ. Which does not prevent there being some special ordinances in each place, as convenience may require.

XXXIII. However, we reject all human inventions, and all laws which men may introduce under the pretense of serving God, by which they wish to bind consciences; and we receive only that which conduces to concord and holds all in obedience, from the greatest to the least In this we must follow that which the Lord Jesus Christ declared as to excommunication, which we approve and confess to be necessary with all its antecedents and consequences.

XXXIV. We believe that the sacraments are added to the Word for more ample confirmation, that they may be to us pledges and seals of the grace of God, and by this means aid and comfort our faith, because of the infirmity which is in us, and that they are outward signs through which God operates by his Spirit, so that he may not signify any thing to us in vain. Yet we hold that their substance and truth is in Jesus Christ, and that of themselves they are only smoke and shadow.

XXXV. We confess only two sacraments common to the whole Church, of which the first, baptism, is given as a pledge of our adoption; for by it we are grafted into the body of Christ, so as to be washed and cleansed by his blood, and then renewed in purity of life by his Holy Spirit We hold, also, that although we are baptized only once, yet the gain that it symbolizes to us reaches over our whole lives and to our death, so that we have a lasting witness that Jesus Christ will always be our justification and sanctification. Nevertheless, although it is a sacrament of faith and penitence, yet as God receives little children into the Church with their fathers, we say, upon the authority of Jesus Christ, that the children of believing parents should be baptized.

XXXVI. We confess that the Lord’s Supper, which is the second sacrament, is a witness of the union which we have with Christ, inasmuch as he not only died and rose again for ns once, but also feeds and nourishes us truly with his flesh and blood, so that we may be one in him, and that our life may be in common. Although he be in heaven until he come to judge all the earth, still we believe that by the secret and incomprehensible power of his Spirit he feeds and strengthens us with the substance of his body and of his blood. We hold that this is done spiritually, not because we put imagination and fancy in the place of fact and truth, but because the greatness of this mystery exceeds the measure of our senses and the laws of nature. In short, because it is heavenly, it can only be apprehended by faith.

XXXVII. We believe, as has been said, that in the Lord’s Supper, as well as in baptism, God gives Us really and in fact that which he there sets forth to us; and that consequently with these signs is given the true possession and enjoyment of that which they present to us. And thus all who bring a pure faith, like a vessel, to the sacred table of Christ, receive truly that of which it is a sign; for the body and the blood of Jesus Christ give food and drink to the soul, no less than bread and wine nourish the body.

XXXVIII. Thus we hold that water, being a feeble element, still testifies to us in truth the inward cleansing of our souls in the blood of Jesus Christ by the efficacy of his Spirit, and that the bread and wine given to us in the sacrament serve to our spiritual nourishment, inasmuch as they show, as to our sight, that the body of Christ is our meat, and his blood our drink. And we reject the Enthusiasts and Sacramentarians who will not receive such signs and marks, although our Saviour said: ‘This is my body, and this cup is my blood.’

XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates, so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors, but honor add hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.

XL. We hold, then, that we must obey their laws and statutes, pay customs, taxes, and other dues, and bear the yoke of subjection with a good and free will, even if they are unbelievers, provided that the sovereign empire of God remain intact. Therefore we detest all those who would like to reject authority, to establish community and confusion of property, and overthrow the order of justice.

Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom…: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 356–82.

What Pastors Shouldn’t Tell Their Wives: The Danger Of Too Transparency

Megan Hill, a Presbyterian pastor’s wife, has been writing about what pastors tell their wives and what they should tell them. I can answer that question in one word: nothing. By nothing, I mean “no confidential information.” A pastor may tell his wife what he would tell other members of the congregation but no more. Of course he may ask for prayer. Of course he may tell his wife that he had a tough counseling session or a tough session meeting but he shouldn’t say with whom or “confidential” becomes a little leaky.

I understand that we live in an age of hyper-transparency, that many live in in full view of the digital public via social media. That reality, however, is no argument for ministers giving in to the temptation to share with their wives what they learn in session (consistory) meetings or in counseling sessions. What happens in session (consistory) stays in session. What happens in the counseling room, unless it involves a criminal matter or needs to go to the session, stays in the counseling room. It certainly does not go to the pastor’s wife.

This is not sexism. It’s mercy and wisdom. The pastor’s wife is not called to the pastoral ministry. She is not an unofficial co-pastor. She isn’t ordained (or shouldn’t be). Her vocation relative to the visible church is to be faithful to the due use of ordinary means, to love her husband and family. That’s it.

There are five reasons why the pastor’s wife does not need to know what the pastor knows.

1) Few things are as difficult in ministry as knowing what pastors (and elders) know. I have seen the burden add lines to the faces of pastors and ruling elders. Watch a newly elected ruling elder’s face the day before he takes office for the first time and the days after. There is often a discernible change. Pastors are called to carry this burden and to lay it before the Lord and to trust him with it. Those who learn to file it somewhere survive and those who do not, for whom it remains in the forefront of their consciousness, they will not likely survive pastoral ministry. The pastor’s wife is not a ruling elder or a minister. She’s not called to carry that burden.

2) It’s better for the pastor that his wife not know. When a pastor comes home from a difficult house visit (huisbezoek in Nederlands) it’s a great relief to see his wife, who is blissfully unaware of what just transpired. If she knows then he never really leaves it behind. There is no refuge. The session meeting just changed locations. That doesn’t help him. He needs her, sola gratia, to be free to love him and the rest of the congregation in the freedom of not knowing. He needs that more than he needs an ally against that obstreperous session member or that seemingly intractable counseling case.

3) It’s not good for the pastor’s family to know everything that is going on. One leak may lead to others. If the pastor’s wife is not called to know and carry this certainly the children are not equipped to deal with it. Leave them out of it. There is a reason that pastor’s kids can grow up bitter toward the church. Pastor’s need to resist the temptation to find vindication for themselves by unloading their burdens on their children.

4) Her view of the congregation isn’t trained or freighted or weighted down with the knowledge of what is happening in each family behind the pleasant facade. That’s as it should be. She shouldn’t know. She should be free to go on as if nothing happened. That’s important. There is grace. People do repent and move forward. Sure, everyone in the congregation can see the turbulent waters but they can’t all see what’s beneath. She’s free to be a prayer partner a and friend in a way that perhaps the pastor cannot be. Knowing what the pastor knows does not enable her to be unfettered in her life as a member of the congregation.

5) It’s not good for the congregation. Trust is a difficult thing to foster and it is easily damaged. It may take years for a congregation to trust the minister enough to confide in him and to seek from him the help they need. A careless word to his wife may destroy all that in a moment and that trust may never be restored. The members of the congregation should not look at her and wonder what she knows about them.

Please don’t misunderstand. The pastor is not a priest. He must keep the confidences that he may but when it comes to criminal matters or those things that must go to the session then he his bound to do it. Nevertheless, most things should be kept in confidence and those right between the minister’s ears. The good news is that, as the years pass, many of them just sort of slip away into the ether. I know that I’ve heard many things but right now, as I write, I can’t remember many of them. I can see faces and tears but no particulars come to mind. It’s a mercy.

By the Christ’s undeserved favor, with the Spirit’s help, and in the Father’s love it can be done. It must be done. It’s a matter of divine vocation. It’s a matter of integrity. God has called his ministers to hear confessions, to offer reminders of forgiveness, and counsel but the same is not true of every member of the congregation and that is what the pastor’s wife is: another member of the congregation. Perhaps this is a practical argument against every member ministry?

It seems worth spending a moment thinking about the idea of office. In this sense it refers to functions and particularly to duties. Used in this sense, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus:

A position or post to which certain duties are attached, esp. one of a more or less public character; a position of trust, authority, or service under constituted authority; a post in the administration of government, the public service, the direction of a corporation, company, society, etc.

One of the major assumptions behind the post that needs to be explained is that there is an important distinction to to be made between persons and office. When a person becomes a lawyer or a minister, that person has a double identity. He is no longer a merely private person. He has a private life but when he acts in his office he is not acting in a private capacity but in a public or official capacity and in that capacity there are limits imposed on him by his office.

Consider a governor. As a private person he might well ignore insults and even threats but insofar as he holds a public office he is not free to exercise that sort of discretion because, in his office, he is no longer acting as a private person but as a public person. As governor he does not belong to himself. He belongs to the people of the state and he obligated not merely to himself and to his family but to the entire state and to the laws of the state. Thus, if someone makes a threat to the welfare of the state he must act in his office.

Ministers and elders hold an office. Insofar as they are officers in the visible church their duties, a trust, ministerial authority (i.e., they serve the Lord Jesus Christ), and they conduct themselves under a divinely “constituted authority.” Because they hold office in the visible church, ministers are not free to regard themselves as private persons. What they hear or learn in their capacity as pastors belongs to the office not to the person. That information is like the official papers of the congregation. When a pastor leaves the church he doesn’t take the office papers of the congregation. He leaves them with the church because they don’t belong to him but to the office.

This distinction explains why Reformed churches speak about the preaching and ministry the way we do. We usually describe the speaking that unordained seminary students do on the Lord’s Day as “exhorting.” We describe what ordained ministers do as “preaching.” That’s why licentiates are allowed to exhort but not to preach or pronounce the benediction. Those functions belong to an office not to a person.

Confidential information that is disclosed in a counseling session or in a session (consistory) meeting or in an executive session of an ecclesiastical assembly belongs to the office not to the person. It isn’t his private possession. He only knows it by virtue of his office. He wouldn’t know if apart from the office. It’s not his to share outside the office.

As I tried to suggest above, the pastor’s wife is not the pastor. There is no office of pastor’s wife. Her vocation is to love and support her husband. That support of her husband does not require her to know those confidences that belong to the pastor’s office any more than the confidences of the judge’s chambers belong to the judge’s wife.

Of course, the distinction between person and office entails a distinction between public and private. The pastor, like other officers, has both aspects to his life. When he speaks out of his office he speaks in a public capacity. By public, I do not mean “civil” or tax-funded, but public as distinct from private and personal. What he says is not his private opinion but the Word of God as understood and confessed by the church. Of course he has a private life but there must be a clear separation between what he says as a public person and what he says as a private person. This doesn’t mean that he has two moral lives, a private and public but he does have two spheres of responsibilities under Christ’s Lordship and under God’s Word.

There is an ambiguity here. There is another sense of the word “private.” Thus far I’ve been writing of private as a synonym for “personal” or “not official.” The second sense of private refers to that which is no one else’s business. In this sense “public” means “that which is open to everyone.” These are important distinctions in an age that has all but lost them. This is particularly true for those generations that have grown up with the internet and smart phones, who live their private (i.e., that which should be kept secret) lives in the the digital public domain. It seems as if the very idea of “private” has been eroded. Ironically, this has happened at the same time we’ve become hyper-sensitive about “privacy” relative to sensitive information. It seems as if it’s not whether information that was once private will be public but who will make it so and to what effect.

The spirit of our age tends to erode the distinction between public and private, between personal and official, but for the well being of the church and her ministry its essential for them to be retained and, where these ideas have been lost, restored.

The essay first appeared, in 2013, on The Heidelblog.

Augustine’s Retractations, Perfectionism, And Fakespectations

For a long time I have been thinking about and planning to do something which I, with God’s assistance, I am now undertaking because I do not think it should be postponed: with a kind of judicial severity I am reviewing my works — books, letters, and sermons — and, as it were, with the pen of a censor, I am indicating what dissatisfies me. For, truly, only an ignorant man will have the hardihood to criticize me for criticizing my own errors. But if he maintains that I should not have said those things which, indeed, dissatisfied me later, he speaks the truth and concurs with me. In fact, he and I are critics of the same thing, for I should not have criticized such things if it had been right to say them.

Augustine of Hippo, Prologue to the Retractations (c. 427–28) in St. Augustine, The Retractations, The Fathers of the Church, vol. 60, trans. Mary Inez Bogan (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America), 3.

The expression “I retract nothing” appears with remarkable frequency among contemporary writers and speakers. In the parlance of gamblers it is called “doubling down.” Then candidate Trump was particularly noted for this rhetorical strategy but he is hardly alone. He is part of a great company. In contrast, I am an Augustinian and Augustinians not only believe in original sin they practice it. So does everyone else but other traditions are less willing or able to admit their sins. For example, once one in the Wesleyan tradition has reached entire perfection or sinless perfection. Some years ago one of my wife’s math students declared to her that he had reached entire sanctification such that he no longer sinned. As soon as she said that I thought, “Well, he just sinned by lying.” R. C. Sproul’s response to a similar claim is apt:

I had a difficult time concealing my astonishment at this spiritual arrogance. I asked him pointedly, “You mean that You, at age nineteen, after one year of Christian faith, have achieved a higher level of obedience to God than the apostle Paul enjoyed when he was writing the Epistle to the Romans?”

To my everlasting shock the young man replied without flinching, “Yes!” Such is the extent to which persons will delude themselves into thinking that they have achieved sinlessness.

Indeed, there is a sharp distinction between the Augustinian reading of Romans 7 and other readings (e.g., that of Pelagius and later of Arminius). Augustinians typically recognize themselves in the Apostle’s stark confession of his ongoing struggle with sin, even in a state of grace. The Pelagians and Arminians begin with the a priori conviction that Paul could not have been describing himself or any Christian. I understand that there are other approaches e.g., Ridderbos’ but the distance between his reading and Pelagius’ and Arminius’ is perhaps not as great as we might assume simply because Ridderbos was in the Dutch Reformed tradition. Ad fontes.

Augustine’s ruthless honesty and self-criticism in his Retractiones not only stands in stark contrast to what Sproul calls “the heresy of perfectionism” but it also stands as a rebuke to the spirit of our age (Die Zeitgeist), autonomy, self-assertion, self-aggrandizement, self-empowerment, self-realization, and self-actualization. Remove the titles on these topics from your local Barnes and Noble and the store would seem empty. We are more like Nietzsche than Augustine.

The Internet both reflects and increases the severity of the problem. How often have we read things like “the internet lives forever” or “nothing dies on the internet”? This axiom appears with regularity on social media platforms such as Twitter, which in its very nature invites immediate, unqualified, emotive reaction, which then can be “screen capped” (a virtual photograph taken) and preserved digitally even after the tweet has been deleted. Where once we might have thought something or even said it to a friend, today our “friends” are online and we say it to tens, hundreds, and even to thousands. Not long ago I tweeted a link to an interview I did a year ago with Sen. Sasse. I was astonished to see that within a few days it had received 20,000 “interactions” (what that means I don’t know but even I can tell that 20,000 is a large number). It was a bracing reminder to be careful on Twitter etc.

Here, as always, the distinction between law and gospel is helpful. Our social institutions, whether real, e.g., the civil magistrate, work, and school or virtual, i.e., the internet, are law. The law demands perfection and punishes when we do not hit the mark. Get caught running a red light: ticket. Show up late to work: lost wages or perhaps lost job. Write a poor final exam: lose points toward your grade. The internet is a particularly harsh judge, however. So we respond by creating an idealized online persona. Our life is not quite the way it is made to seem on social media. On one platform I follow various accounts that post videos and photos of Scottish Terriers. Call it brand loyalty. It is great fun to watch Scotties do Scottie things in Scottie ways but no one ever posts photos of picking up after the dog in the backyard. That’s also a part of the reality. The incomplete portrayal of life is a kind of law. It creates a false expectation about what life is. It creates a kind of pressure to portray perfection. Today, Middle and High School students report feeling pressure from social media to meet what I call fakespectations (© and ™2017) created by social media.

Near the end of his writing life Augustine wrote his Retractations to correct the mistakes he had made earlier in his ministry. Could anyone do that today? I am not sure that we could. I fear that we, even Christians, who should know better have lost something important. If the Apostle Paul, with the knowledge that he was writing God’s Word which would be preserved for the church, could write Romans 7 about himself, how is it that we mere Christians can no longer speak this way of ourselves? It is because we have been unknowingly taken captive by the self-justifying spirit  of the age. I am not suggesting that we indulge ourselves in self-indulgent self-revelation. We have seen episodes of that in the recent past and turned out to have been cover for gross immorality. There is a sharp difference between the sort of self-revelation we read in Romans 7 and the sort we have seen from some evangelical and Reformed folk in the last several years.

Because we live so much of our lives under the fakespectations created by social media, we can forget about grace and the one institution divinely instituted to be the minister of grace: the visible church.

Secular institutions and even extra-ecclesiastical Christian institutions have always been, in their essence, law. The civil magistrate may exercise mercy—Calvin’s first published work was a commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia (On Clemency), Seneca’s defense of the virtue of mercy to Nero. When a police officer pulls you over for speeding, he may write you a ticket or he may give you a warning. If he chooses the latter, that is a mercy. By law you were guilty. You deserved the fine whatever else comes your way (e.g., higher insurance rates). We are in a covenant of works with the civil magistrate (represented by the police officer): do this and live. School is a covenant of works. When it comes exams and term papers, a just teacher is, for the most part, only recognizing what the student has done. Speaking for myself, I take no pleasure in giving bad marks. Well written exams and term papers are pleasing. Most teachers want to see students learning and progressing but if an essay is poorly written or inaccurate, then that reality must be recognized. Like the magistrate, teachers and administrators may exercise mercy, i.e., they may lessen the severity of penalties but their office is not to exercise grace, i.e., to give to sinners what is not theirs by right.

These are not new realities but this axiom, that much of life is lived in a covenant of works, is portrayed for us as never before on the internet and especially on social (or, too often, anti-social) media. In Belgic Confession art. 37, we confess that, for unbelievers, the final judgment will look like this:

Then “the books” (that is, the consciences) will be opened, and the dead will be judged according to the things they did in the world, whether good or evil. Indeed, all people will give account of all the idle words they have spoken, which the world regards as only playing games. And then the secrets and hypocrisies of men will be publicly uncovered in the sight of all.

Many Christians live in fear of their lives being played out like a horrible video, at the last judgment. They have been taught to think that they have begun the Christian life and salvation by grace but that it must be completed by works.1 So it is on social media. Recall the poor woman who, before leaving for a trip to Africa, where she was to work with a relief agency and who, trying to be hip and ironic, tweeted that she hoped that she did not contract AIDS while in Africa. The Twitter-rage became so intense that while she was still in the air, she lost her job. With the ubiquity of cameras now, it would not be that difficult to put together an actual video of one’s life moment by moment.

There is an institution, however, whose principle is not works and judgment but grace and forgiveness: Christ’s church. By divine institution there is the preaching of the great Good News that Christ became incarnate for, obeyed for, suffered for, died for, and was raised for the free justification of all his people. She is the only institution authorized to proclaim this message. There alone do we find the sacrament of baptism, in which the gracious washing of new life and the forgiveness of sins is pictured for us and the promise of the same visibly represented to believers. There alone is administered the gracious communion in the body and blood of Christ, where believing sinners are freely invited freely to come, to eat, and to drink, to be nourished mysteriously by Christ’s true body and true blood.

In the church, believers ought to find refuge from the ever-present judgment of the social media. Of all the institutions in this world whether expressions of family or state, the church alone is that society in which Christians are free to be what they are: sinners redeemed by Christ, who are being gradually and graciously conformed to Christ’s image. The church alone is to be the place of unconditional acceptance of sinners by sinners.

Of course, this is not to say that in the church there is no correction. Certainly there is! Church discipline is one the marks of the church. Our Lord instituted church discipline but for believers discipline is an act of grace not condemnation. Believers recognized their sins, confess them, turn from them and seek to die to them. The ministry of discipline is a proclamation of the law to non-believers and with all such administrations of the law we do it in the hope and prayer that the Spirit will use it to soften hearts, to convict the hearer of the greatness of his sin and misery, and to make people receptive to the Good News.

Here is something to consider. Instead of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” how about “What is said at church, stays at church”? I do not mean to say that what the minister says is not public or that one should not broadcast sermons or services but I do mean to suggest that the church should ordinarily be a refuge from the sort of judgments that the world makes. I do mean that what is said in confidence between believers should stay there. There is even a case to be made that when it comes to the administration of church discipline that non-members be excused and the remaining members be admonished to treat the administration with due reverence.

The church should be a haven of grace (free acceptance for Christ’s sake alone) and forgiveness. Condemnation belongs to God. Even in the final act of church discipline (excommunication) the church does not send people to hell. Rather, we recognize that a person who once professed faith has, over time, shown himself to be an unbeliever. We are to treat that person as an unbeliever, i.e., we love him and pray that God the Spirit will soften his heart and open his eyes in new life and in true faith. We tell him that he is in grave danger but we do not do so as anything other than those who have been plucked from the fire by the grace of God.

Augustine wrote Retractations because he was, well, an Augustinian. He knew what he was, a sinner, whose intellect, will, and affections were corrupted by sin. He could publish his Retractions because he did not have to pretend to be what he was not. You and I may never need to write Retractations, if only because there would be little use or interest, but the church is meant to be a place where we are freely accepted, where burdens and even sins are shared. It is no mistake that after all that he had written to the Galatian congregation about grace he began the last chapter with these words:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load (Gal 6:1–5; ESV).

Paul too was an Augustinian. Sinners are to be restored, not ostracized and with gentleness, not arrogant self-righteousness. Embracing the spirit of the Retractions means being honest about our own sins and habits. It means graciously standing with, praying with, and even crying with fellow sinners as they share their struggles with sin. It means recognizing that, of ourselves, we are nothing. The congregation of sinners is no place for false self-esteem, self-realization, and accomplishments. Oprah can peddle that stuff elsewhere. I take verses 4–5 to refer to honest self-assessment, to recognizing (as Calvin says in his commentary on these verses) that whatever sanctification has occurred is a gift of the Spirit. Believers are not to compare themselves to one another but each of us is to reckon himself to be what he really is: a wretch freely and marvelously saved by grace alone, through the Spirit-wrought gift of faith, in Christ the only righteous One.

NOTES

1. Read the entire article. The judgement is law and condemnation for the unbeliever but comfort and gospel for the believer:

Finally we believe, according to God’s Word, that when the time appointed by the Lord is come (which is unknown to all creatures) and the number of the elect is complete, our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty, to declare himself the judge of the living and the dead. He will burn this old world, in fire and flame, in order to cleanse it.

Then all human creatures will appear in person before the great judge—men, women, and children, who have lived from the beginning until the end of the world.

They will be summoned there by the voice of the archangel and by the sound of the divine trumpet. For all those who died before that time will be raised from the earth, their spirits being joined and united with their own bodies in which they lived. And as for those who are still alive, they will not die like the others but will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye” from “corruptible to incorruptible.”

Then “the books” (that is, the consciences) will be opened, and the dead will be judged according to the things they did in the world, whether good or evil. Indeed, all people will give account of all the idle words they have spoken, which the world regards as only playing games. And then the secrets and hypocrisies of men will be publicly uncovered in the sight of all.

Therefore, with good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to wicked and evil people. But it is very pleasant and a great comfort to the righteous and elect, since their total redemption will then be accomplished. They will then receive the fruits of their labor and of the trouble they have suffered; their innocence will be openly recognized by all; and they will see the terrible vengeance that God will bring on the evil ones who tyrannized, oppressed, and tormented them in this world.

The evil ones will be convicted by the witness of their own consciences, and shall be made immortal—but only to be tormented in the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

In contrast, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honor. The Son of God will “confess their names” before God his Father and the holy and elect angels; all tears will be “wiped from their eyes”; and their cause—at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil officers—will be acknowledged as the “cause of the Son of God.”

And as a gracious reward the Lord will make them possess a glory such as the heart of man could never imagine.

So we look forward to that great day with longing in order to enjoy fully the promises of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

See also Heidelberg Catechism 52:

52. What comfort is it to you, that Christ “shall come to judge the living and the dead”?

That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head, look for the very same one, who before offered Himself for me to the judgment of God, and removed all curse from me, to come as Judge from heaven, who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation,2 but shall take me with all His chosen ones to Himself into heavenly joy and glory.

The believer looks forward to Christ’s return and to the judgment, not because he is sinless or because he he is finishing by works (e.g., cooperation with grace) what began with the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:3). Rather, the believer is looking forward to the judgment because there he will be vindicated and receive the consummation of what has been given and promised in this life.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. How doth it appear that there is a God?
A. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.

Q. 3. What is the Word of God?
A. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

Q. 4. How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?
A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.

Q. 5. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

WHAT MAN OUGHT TO BELIEVE CONCERNING GOD

Q. 6. What do the Scriptures make known of God?
A. The Scriptures make known what God is, the persons in the Godhead, his decrees, and the execution of his decrees.

Q. 7. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

Q. 8. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 9. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties.

Q. 10. What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?
A. It is proper to the Father to beget the Son, and to the Son to be begotten of the Father, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity.

Q. 11. How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?
A. The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only.

Q. 12. What are the decrees of God?
A. God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men.

Q. 13. What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory; and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favor as he pleaseth), hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.

Q. 14. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will.

Q. 15. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein, for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. 16. How did God create angels?
A. God created all the angels spirits, immortal, holy, excelling in knowledge, mighty in power, to execute his commandments, and to praise his name, yet subject to change.

Q. 17. How did God create man?
A. After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures; yet subject to fall.

Q. 18. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.

Q. 19. What is God’s providence towards the angels?
A. God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory; and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice.

Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Q. 24. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?
A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.

Q. 29. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?
A. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell-fire forever.

Q. 30. Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the covenant of works; but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace.

Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?
A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

Q. 33. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?
A. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New.

Q. 34. How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament?
A. The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament, by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the passover, and other types and ordinances, which did all foresignify Christ then to come, and were for that time sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised messiah, by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation.

Q. 35. How is the covenant of grace administered under the New Testament?
A. Under the New Testament, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the same covenant of grace was and still is to be administered in the preaching of the word, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper; in which grace and salvation are held forth in more fullness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations.

Q. 36. Who is the mediator of the covenant of grace?
A. The only mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fullness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever.

Q. 37. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ the Son of God became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance, and born of her, yet without sin.

Q. 38. Why was it requisite that the mediator should be God?
A. It was requisite that the mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death; give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God’s justice, procure his favor, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.

Q. 39. Why was it requisite that the mediator should be man?
A. It was requisite that the mediator should be man, that he might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer and make intercession for us in our nature, have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities; that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.

Q. 40. Why was it requisite that the mediator should be God and man in one person?
A. It was requisite that the mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole person.

Q. 41. Why was our mediator called Jesus?
A. Our mediator was called Jesus, because he saveth his people from their sins.

Q. 42. Why was our mediator called Christ?
A. Our mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure; and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability, to execute the offices of prophet, priest, and king of his church, in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 43. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in his revealing to the church, in all ages, by his Spirit and word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation.

Q. 44. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God, to be a reconciliation for the sins of the people; and in making continual intercession for them.

Q. 45. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ’s humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.

Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.

Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.

Q. 49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A. Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors; having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath, he laid down his life an offering for sin, enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?
A. Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

Q. 51. What was the estate of Christ’s exaltation?
A. The estate of Christ’s exaltation comprehendeth his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and his coming again to judge the world.

Q. 52. How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
A. Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death (of which it was not possible for him to be held), and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life), really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead: all which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.

Q. 53. How was Christ exalted in his ascension?
A. Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations, forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head, triumphing over enemies, visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men, to raise up our affections thither, and to prepare a place for us, where himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.

Q. 54. How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?
A. Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnisheth his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and maketh intercession for them.

Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?
A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father’s, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

Q. 57. What benefits hath Christ procured by his mediation?
A. Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.

Q. 58. How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?
A. We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured, by the application of them unto us, which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.

Q. 59. Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?
A. Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

Q. 60. Can they who have never heard the gospel, and so know not Jesus Christ, nor believe in him, be saved by their living according to the light of nature?
A. They who, having never heard the gospel, know not Jesus Christ, and believe not in him, cannot be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, or the laws of that religion which they profess; neither is there salvation in any other, but in Christ alone, who is the Savior only of his body the church.

Q. 61. Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?
A. All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.

Q. 62. What is the visible church?
A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.

Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

Q. 64. What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.

Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?
A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

Q. 67. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he doth, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his word and Spirit; savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.

Q. 68. Are the elect only effectually called?
A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their willful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.

Q. 69. What is the communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?
A. The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.

Q. 70. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace?
A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.

Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

Q. 74. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.

Q. 75. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

Q. 76. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, and upon the apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, he so grieves for and hates his sins, as that he turns from them all to God, purposing and endeavoring constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new obedience.

Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

Q. 78. Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification in believers?
A. The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.

Q. 79. May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
A. True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Q. 80. Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?
A. Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavor to walk in all good conscience before him, may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.

Q. 81. Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?
A. Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith, true believers may wait long before they obtain it; and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted, through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions; yet are they never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.

Q. 82. What is the communion in glory which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?
A. The communion in glory which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is in this life, immediately after death, and at last perfected at the resurrection and day of judgment.

Q. 83. What is the communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy in this life?
A. The members of the invisible church have communicated to them in this life the firstfruits of glory with Christ, as they are members of him their head, and so in him are interested in that glory which he is fully possessed of; and, as an earnest thereof, enjoy the sense of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and hope of glory; as, on the contrary, sense of God’s revenging wrath, horror of conscience, and a fearful expectation of judgment, are to the wicked the beginning of their torments which they shall endure after death.

Q. 84. Shall all men die?
A. Death being threatened as the wages of sin, it is appointed unto all men once to die; for that all have sinned.

Q. 85. Death being the wages of sin, why are not the righteous delivered from death, seeing all their sins are forgiven in Christ?
A. The righteous shall be delivered from death itself at the last day, and even in death are delivered from the sting and curse of it; so that, although they die, yet it is out of God’s love, to free them perfectly from sin and misery, and to make them capable of further communion with Christ in glory, which they then enter upon.

Q. 86. What is the communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death?
A. The communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls. Whereas the souls of the wicked are at their death cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, and their bodies kept in their graves, as in their prisons, till the resurrection and judgment of the great day.

Q. 87. What are we to believe concerning the resurrection?
A. We are to believe that at the last day there shall be a general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust: when they that are then found alive shall in a moment be changed; and the selfsame bodies of the dead which were laid in the grave, being then again united to their souls forever, shall be raised up by the power of Christ. The bodies of the just, by the Spirit of Christ, and by virtue of his resurrection as their head, shall be raised in power, spiritual, incorruptible, and made like to his glorious body; and the bodies of the wicked shall be raised up in dishonor by him, as an offended judge.

Q. 88. What shall immediately follow after the resurrection?
A. Immediately after the resurrection shall follow the general and final judgment of angels and men; the day and hour whereof no man knoweth, that all may watch and pray, and be ever ready for the coming of the Lord.

Q. 89. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?
A. At the day of judgment, the wicked shall be set on Christ’s left hand, and, upon clear evidence, and full conviction of their own consciences, shall have the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them; and thereupon shall be cast out from the favorable presence of God, and the glorious fellowship with Christ, his saints, and all his holy angels, into hell, to be punished with unspeakable torments, both of body and soul, with the devil and his angels forever.

Q. 90. What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?
A. At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

HAVING SEEN WHAT THE SCRIPTURES PRINCIPALLY TEACH US TO BELIEVE CONCERNING GOD, IT FOLLOWS TO CONSIDER WHAT THEY REQUIRE AS THE DUTY OF MAN

Q. 91. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

Q. 92. What did God first reveal unto man as the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule of obedience revealed to Adam in the estate of innocence, and to all mankind in him, besides a special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was the moral law.

Q. 93. What is the moral law?
A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul, and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.

Q. 94. Is there any use of the moral law since the fall?
A. Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law; yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate.

Q. 95. Of what use is the moral law to all men?
A. The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives: to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.

Q. 96. What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?
A. The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from the wrath to come, and to drive them to Christ; or, upon the continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable, and under the curse thereof.

Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.

Q. 98. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone; and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus; the four first commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.

Q. 99. What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the Ten Commandments?
A. For the right understanding of the Ten Commandments, these rules are to be observed:
1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth every one to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.
2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.
3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.
4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.
5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; what he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.
6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.
7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.
8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.

Q. 100. What special things are we to consider in the Ten Commandments?
A. We are to consider, in the Ten Commandments, the preface, the substance of the commandments themselves, and several reasons annexed to some of them, the more to enforce them.

Q. 101. What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?
A. The preface to the Ten Commandments is contained in these words, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.

Q. 102. What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?
A. The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God, is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.

Q. 103. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Q. 104. What are the duties required in the first commandment?
A. The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in anything he is offended; and walking humbly with him.

Q. 105. What are the sins forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the first commandment, are, atheism, in denying or not having a God; idolatry, in having or worshiping more gods than one, or any with or instead of the true God; the not having and avouching him for God, and our God; the omission or neglect of anything due to him, required in this commandment; ignorance, forgetfulness, misapprehensions, false opinions, unworthy and wicked thoughts of him; bold and curious searching into his secrets; all profaneness, hatred of God; self-love, self-seeking, and all other inordinate and immoderate setting of our mind, will, or affections upon other things, and taking them off from him in whole or in part; vain credulity, unbelief, heresy, misbelief, distrust, despair, incorrigibleness, and insensibleness under judgments, hardness of heart, pride, presumption, carnal security, tempting of God; using unlawful means, and trusting in lawful means; carnal delights and joys; corrupt, blind, and indiscreet zeal; lukewarmness, and deadness in the things of God; estranging ourselves, and apostatizing from God; praying, or giving any religious worship, to saints, angels, or any other creatures; all compacts and consulting with the devil, and hearkening to his suggestions; making men the lords of our faith and conscience; slighting and despising God and his commands; resisting and grieving of his Spirit, discontent and impatience at his dispensations, charging him foolishly for the evils he inflicts on us; and ascribing the praise of any good we either are, have, or can do, to fortune, idols, ourselves, or any other creature.

Q. 106. What are we specially taught by these words, before me, in the first commandment?
A. These words, before me, or before my face, in the first commandment, teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh special notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God: that so it may be an argument to dissuade from it, and to aggravate it as a most impudent provocation: as also to persuade us to do as in his sight, whatever we do in his service.

Q. 107. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Q. 109. What sins are forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

Q. 110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

Q. 111. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Q. 112. What is required in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment requires, that the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, his works, and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others.

Q. 113. What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious, or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarreling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God’s decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the word, or any part of it, to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.

Q. 114. What reasons are annexed to the third commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the third commandment, in these words, The LORD thy God, and, For the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain, are, because he is the Lord and our God, therefore his name is not to be profaned, or any way abused by us; especially because he will be so far from acquitting and sparing the transgressors of this commandment, as that he will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment, albeit many such escape the censures and punishments of men.

Q. 115. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 116. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requireth of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath, and in the New Testament called The Lord’s Day.

Q. 117. How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.

Q. 118. Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
A. The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

Q. 119. What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.

Q. 120. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: from the example of God, who in six days … made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 121. Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
A. The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restraineth our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it cometh but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it; and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.

Q. 122. What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?
A. The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man, is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others what we would have them do to us.

Q. 123. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Q. 124. Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?
A. By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

Q. 125. Why are superiors styled Father and Mother?
A. Superiors are styled Father and Mother, both to teach them in all duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them, according to their several relations; and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents.

Q. 126. What is the general scope of the fifth commandment?
A. The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors or equals.

Q. 127. What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors?
A. The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defense, and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.

Q. 128. What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?
A. The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.

Q. 129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

Q. 130. What are the sins of superiors?
A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.

Q. 131. What are the duties of equals?
A. The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honor to go one before another; and to rejoice in each others’ gifts and advancement, as their own.

Q. 132. What are the sins of equals?
A. The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement or prosperity one of another; and usurping preeminence one over another.

Q. 133. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, in these words, That thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, is an express promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good, to all such as keep this commandment.

Q. 134. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

Q. 135. What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
A. The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

Q. 137. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q. 138. What are the duties required in the seventh commandment?
A. The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labor in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto.

Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.

Q. 140. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.

Q. 141. What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?
A. The duties required in the eighth commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to every one his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary lawsuits, and suretiship, or other like engagements; and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.

Q. 142. What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving anything that is stolen; fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing landmarks, injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits, unjust enclosures and depredation; engrossing commodities to enhance the price; unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor what belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; distrustful and distracting cares and studies in getting, keeping, and using them; envying at the prosperity of others; as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God hath given us.

Q. 143. Which is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

Q. 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of the truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any; endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.

Q. 146. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.

Q. 147. What are the duties required in the tenth commandment?
A. The duties required in the tenth commandment are, such a full contentment with our own condition, and such a charitable frame of the whole soul toward our neighbor, as that all our inward motions and affections touching him, tend unto, and further all that good which is his.

Q. 148. What are the sins forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the tenth commandment are, discontentment with our own estate; envying and grieving at the good of our neighbor, together with all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

Q. 149. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

Q. 150. Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?
A. All transgressions of the law are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q. 151. What are those aggravations that make some sins more heinous than others?
A. Sins receive their aggravations,
1. From the persons offending; if they be of riper age, greater experience or grace, eminent for profession, gifts, place, office, guides to others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others.
2. From the parties offended: if immediately against God, his attributes, and worship; against Christ, and his grace; the Holy Spirit, his witness, and workings; against superiors, men of eminency, and such as we stand especially related and engaged unto; against any of the saints, particularly weak brethren, the souls of them, or any other, and the common good of all or many.
3. From the nature and quality of the offence: if it be against the express letter of the law, break many commandments, contain in it many sins: if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions, scandalize others, and admit of no reparation: if against means, mercies, judgments, light of nature, conviction of conscience, public or private admonition, censures of the church, civil punishments; and our prayers, purposes, promises, vows, covenants, and engagements to God or men: if done deliberately, willfully, presumptuously, impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, with delight, continuance, or relapsing after repentance.
4. From circumstances of time, and place: if on the Lord’s day, or other times of divine worship; or immediately before or after these, or other helps to prevent or remedy such miscarriages: if in public, or in the presence of others, who are thereby likely to be provoked or defiled.

Q. 152. What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?
A. Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserveth his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.

Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

Q. 154. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.

Q. 155. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners; of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ; of conforming them to his image, and subduing them to his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace, and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.

Q. 156. Is the Word of God to be read by all?
A. Although all are not to be permitted to read the word publicly to the congregation, yet all sorts of people are bound to read it apart by themselves, and with their families: to which end, the holy Scriptures are to be translated out of the original into vulgar languages.

Q. 157. How is the Word of God to be read?
A. The holy Scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God, and that he only can enable us to understand them; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them; with diligence, and attention to the matter and scope of them; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer.

Q. 158. By whom is the Word of God to be preached?
A. The Word of God is to be preached only by such as are sufficiently gifted, and also duly approved and called to that office.

Q. 159. How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?
A. They that are called to labor in the ministry of the word, are to preach sound doctrine, diligently, in season and out of season; plainly, not in the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; faithfully, making known the whole counsel of God; wisely, applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers; zealously, with fervent love to God and the souls of his people; sincerely, aiming at his glory, and their conversion, edification, and salvation.

Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the word preached?
A. It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

Q. 161. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.

Q. 162. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

Q. 163. What are the parts of a sacrament?
A. The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.

Q. 164. How many sacraments hath Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?
A. Under the New Testament Christ hath instituted in his church only two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s supper.

Q. 165. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord’s.

Q. 166. Unto whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.

Q. 167. How is baptism to be improved by us?
A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

Q. 168. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.

Q. 169. How hath Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?
A. Christ hath appointed the ministers of his word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.

Q. 170. How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord’s supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?
A. As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.

Q. 171. How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
A. They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.

Q. 172. May one who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord’s supper?
A. One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God’s account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord’s supper, that he may be further strengthened.

Q. 173. May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, be kept from it?
A. Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ hath left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.

Q. 174. What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper in the time of the administration of it?
A. It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fullness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.

Q. 175. What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?
A. The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.

Q. 176. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper agree?
A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper agree, in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.

Q. 177. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ?
A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.

Q. 178. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.

Q. 179. Are we to pray unto God only?
A. God only being able to search the hearts, hear the requests, pardon the sins, and fulfill the desires of all; and only to be believed in, and worshiped with religious worship; prayer, which is a special part thereof, is to be made by all to him alone, and to none other.

Q. 180. What is it to pray in the name of Christ?
A. To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake; not by bare mentioning of his name, but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation.

Q. 181. Why are we to pray in the name of Christ?
A. The sinfulness of man, and his distance from God by reason thereof, being so great, as that we can have no access into his presence without a mediator; and there being none in heaven or earth appointed to, or fit for, that glorious work but Christ alone, we are to pray in no other name but his only.

Q. 182. How doth the Spirit help us to pray?
A. We not knowing what to pray for as we ought, the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, by enabling us to understand both for whom, and what, and how prayer is to be made; and by working and quickening in our hearts (although not in all persons, nor at all times, in the same measure) those apprehensions, affections, and graces which are requisite for the right performance of that duty.

Q. 183. For whom are we to pray?
A. We are to pray for the whole church of Christ upon earth; for magistrates, and ministers; for ourselves, our brethren, yea, our enemies; and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those that are known to have sinned the sin unto death.

Q. 184. For what things are we to pray?
A. We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God, the welfare of the church, our own or others’ good; but not for anything that is unlawful.

Q. 185. How are we to pray?
A. We are to pray with an awful apprehension of the majesty of God, and deep sense of our own unworthiness, necessities, and sins; with penitent, thankful, and enlarged hearts; with understanding, faith, sincerity, fervency, love, and perseverance, waiting upon him, with humble submission to his will.

Q. 186. What rule hath God given for our direction in the duty of prayer?
A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in the duty of prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which our Savior Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord’s prayer.

Q. 187. How is the Lord’s prayer to be used?
A. The Lord’s prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make other prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.

Q. 188. Of how many parts doth the Lord’s prayer consist?
A. The Lord’s prayer consists of three parts; a preface, petitions, and a conclusion.

Q. 189. What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s prayer (contained in these words, Our Father which art in heaven) teacheth us, when we pray, to draw near to God with confidence of his fatherly goodness, and our interest therein; with reverence, and all other childlike dispositions, heavenly affections, and due apprehensions of his sovereign power, majesty, and gracious condescension: as also, to pray with and for others.

Q. 190. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition (which is, Hallowed be thy name), acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright, we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him, his titles, attributes, ordinances, word, works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by; and to glorify him in thought, word, and deed: that he would prevent and remove atheism, ignorance, idolatry, profaneness, and whatsoever is dishonorable to him; and, by his overruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory.

Q. 191. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.

Q. 192. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition (which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven), acknowledging that by nature we and all men are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and to do the will of God, but prone to rebel against his word, to repine and murmur against his providence, and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh, and of the devil: we pray, that God would by his Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness, weakness, indisposedness, and perverseness of heart; and by his grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things, with the like humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy, as the angels do in heaven.

Q. 193. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread), acknowledging that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.

Q. 194. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition (which is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors), acknowledging that we and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and thereby become debtors to the justice of God; and that neither we, nor any other creature, can make the least satisfaction for that debt: we pray for ourselves and others, that God of his free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, apprehended and applied by faith, acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin, accept us in his Beloved; continue his favor and grace to us, pardon our daily failings, and fill us with peace and joy, in giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness; which we are the rather emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect, when we have this testimony in ourselves, that we from the heart forgive others their offenses.

Q. 195. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil), acknowledging that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations; that Satan, the world, and the flesh, are ready powerfully to draw us aside, and ensnare us; and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and want of watchfulness, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations, but also of ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them; and worthy to be left under the power of them; we pray, that God would so overrule the world and all in it, subdue the flesh, and restrain Satan, order all things, bestow and bless all means of grace, and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we and all his people may by his providence be kept from being tempted to sin; or, if tempted, that by his Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation; or when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof: that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, forever.

Q. 196. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer (which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.) teacheth us to enforce our petitions with arguments, which are to be taken, not from any worthiness in ourselves, or in any other creature, but from God; and with our prayers to join praises, ascribing to God alone eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency; in regard whereof, as he is able and willing to help us, so we by faith are emboldened to plead with him that he would, and quietly to rely upon him, that he will fulfill our requests. And, to testify this our desire and assurance, we say, Amen.

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.

Q. 21. Who is the redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The only redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.

Q. 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.

Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our redeemer?
A. Christ, as our redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Q. 27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of, the sons of God.

Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will.

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.

Q. 41. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Q. 43. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Q. 44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.

Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Q. 50. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.

Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshiping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word.

Q. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.

Q. 53. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Q. 54. What is required in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works.

Q. 55. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh himself known.

Q. 56. What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the third commandment is that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.

Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.

Q. 63. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Q. 64. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors or equals.

Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.

Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.

Q. 67. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.

Q. 70. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech and behavior.

Q. 72. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words and actions.

Q. 73. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.

Q. 74. What is required in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.

Q. 75. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbor’s wealth or outward estate.

Q. 76. Which is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.

Q. 78. What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbor’s good name.

Q. 79. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

Q. 80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.

Q. 81. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word and deed.

Q. 83. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

Q. 85. What doth God require of us that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.

Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Q. 89. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

Q. 90. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.

Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

Q. 92. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. The sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s supper.

Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Q. 95. To whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Q. 96. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

Q. 97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Q. 98. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

Q. 99. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?
A. The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s prayer.

Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power and glory to him. And in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.

How To Fence The Lord’s Table

Introduction
After the a conference I received a question which asked essentially: whom should Reformed Churches admit to the Lord’s Table?

There are three basic approaches to fencing the table:

  • Open—Anyone who will, who professes faith in Christ, without regard to church membership, may come to the table.
  • Guarded—Anyone is a member of a particular sort of congregation may come to the table.
  • Closed—Anyone who is a member of our congregation or our denomination may come to the table.

I suppose that open communion is the dominant practice among American evangelicals. The only condition is profession of faith in Christ. I witnessed this during my years in broad evangelicalism. The assumption tends to be that the believer is the only person required to make an assessment of who should come to the table. In fairness, Paul does say, “Let a man examine himself” (or as the ESV has it: “Let a person examine himself” 1Cor 11:28) so there is an element of personal self-examination before coming to the table. The question is whether there is more than that?

The Reformed, Lutheran, and Roman traditions have said yes, there is more. The latter two traditions have practiced closed communion. One must be a Roman Christian in order to receive the consecrated and transubstantiated host from a Roman priest. In confessional Lutheran churches one must be a member of the denomination in order to commune. The assumption in a closed table is that the communicant has already professed faith and is eligible for communion.

The Reformed Approach: Guarding The Table
The Reformed approach historically has been to guard the table. Guarding or fencing means that there is more than one condition to communion. A person must profess faith in Christ and must examine himself but our understanding is that the Supper was instituted by Christ, to be administered in and by the visible church. Paul’s account of the institution and administration of the Supper says more than “Let a man examine himself.”

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

The American assumption tends to be individualistic, that the Supper is primarily a private or personal matter between the communicant and his God. This assumption is grounded in the history of Pietism, which emphasized the personal and individual aspects of faith. American evangelicals tend to be influenced by the low-church tradition that de-emphasizes the visible, institutional church and has tended to view the Supper less as a means of grace, an instrument through which the Spirit operates to sanctify and strengthen, and more as an opportunity to remember Christ’s death and to assess one’s spiritual state.

The Reformed, in contrast, confess that the Supper is a sacrament instituted by Christ. It certainly entails remembering and honest self-assessment but it is more than that. Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 66 says:

66. What are the Sacraments?

The Sacraments are visible holy signs and seals appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof He may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the Gospel: namely, that of free grace, He grants us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life for the sake of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross.

A sacrament, by definition, is a divinely-appointed sign and seal of the “promise of the Gospel: namely that of free grace, He grants us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life for the sake of the one sacrifice of Christ…”.

So, for us, the Supper is more than a time to reflect and remember. Something else is happening. God is certifying that the promise preached in the Gospel is true. There is more.

75. How is it signified and sealed to you in the Holy Supper, that you do partake of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and all His benefits?

Thus: that Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and to drink of this cup in remembrance of Him, and has joined therewith these promises: First, that His body was offered and broken on the cross for me and His blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup communicated to me; and further, that with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, as certainly as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, which are given me as certain tokens of the body and blood of Christ.

The catechism affirms remembering but we also confess that “with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life…”. The Holy Spirit accomplishes this feeding on the on the “crucified body and shed blood” mysteriously but it happens. In communion we are fed by more than bread, wine, and memories. We are fed by the “proper and natural body” and the “proper blood” of Christ (Belgic Confession, Art. 35).

Our understanding the Supper is that to “eat the crucified body and drink the shed blood of Christ” (HC Q. 76) means not only to “to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal” but the Supper is a way that the Spirit strengthens our union with Christ’s body. We look not only to the institution of the Supper as recorded in the gospels but to Paul’s explanation in 1 Corinthians 11, part of which says,

The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread

In other words, there is a communal aspect to communion. We come to the Supper not only as individuals but as members of a body which is not only an organism (Abraham Kuyper) but also an organization, to which our Lord Jesus gave the “keys of the kingdom” (Matt 16).

It is fine to say “I am a believer” but one must also say that to and in the visible, institutional church. Who is a believer? Is everyone who says, “I believe in Jesus” to be regarded as a Christian? Is that a sufficient profession of faith for the purposes of coming to the table?

The evidence in   1 Corinthians suggests no. The evidence in the early, post-apostolic, church suggests no. Catechumens preparing for communion for as long as three years (the length of the earthly ministry of Jesus before the institution of the Supper) before being admitted to the table.

This really comes down to the question: what is the church? Not every entity that gathers together and calls itself “church” is really a church. In Belgic Confession Art. 29 we say:

The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church—and no one ought to be separated from it.

So, when we think about who should come to the table we also ask, is this person a member of a church with the marks of a true church.

The Reformed church orders (church constitutions) reflect the churches’ attempt to synthesize the whole of biblical teaching and apply it to the life of the church in a given time and place. The most famous Dutch synod, of course, is the Great Synod of Dort (1618–19) but there were several synods before it, on which the Synod relied. According to the Synod of Emden (1571) only members of the Reformed churches were to be admitted to the table.

Synod of Dort (1574)

Art. 81. Whoever brings a valid certificate shall be admitted to the Lord’s Supper unless it was written a long time ago, in which case one must proceed as if there is no testimony. However, we deem it fitting and are inclined to accept rather than decline those whose piety has been attested either by a written or personal testimony.

The original practice of the Reformed churches was that one had a certificate of membership in a Reformed church. This was not a mechanical thing. The concern was not only membership but also piety and life.

The second half of Belgic Confession says:

As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.

They love the true God and their neighbors, They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works.

Though great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives, appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins, through faith in him.

There was some struggle, however, in the Netherlands between confessionally Reformed churches and civil magistrates who were influenced by what we might call Erasmian pietism. Their interest was less in establishing a “true church” than in keeping the peace between the various groups and promoting a minimalist approach to Christianity that centered on religious experience. They were, in some respects, the forerunners of the modern evangelical movement. So the the “church laws” of the Province of Holland and Zeeland, 1576, written by order of the magistrates, loosened the restriction (art 71) imposed by Synod in 1574 in favor of private self-examination relative to “travelers” who are passing through.

Synod of Dort (1578) had to address the question of what to do with those who were influenced by the “biblicism” of the Erasmians and others?

35. Whether it is permissible to admit to the Lord’s Supper those who do acknowledge the Bible alone as God’s Word but will neither answer nor agree to answer the usual questions which are asked of those who go to the Lord’s Supper.

Answer: The churches shall maintain their usual custom of requiring confession of faith. Everyone is bound to give an account of is faith according to the teaching of Peter. It is also not fitting that a usual custom of the congregation should be changed for some particular reason.

The intent of the Reformed churches became clearer by 1581. Here the language that would be used by the Great Synod of Dort was adopted:

Synod of Middelburg (1581)

43. No one shall be admitted to the Lord’s Supper except one who, according to the custom of the church which he joins, has made confession of the Reformed religion, who has testimony of godly behavior, without which those who come from other churches shall not be admitted.

In other words, those who had evidence of membership in a Reformed church (objective) and an indicator of a godly walk (subjective) were eligible to come to the table. This same language of “confession of the Reformed Religion” and “godly conduct” was adopted by the Synod of den Hague/Gravenhage in 1586. The provincial synod of Middelburg and Zeeland, art. 51 restricted the supper to those who “have made profession of the Reformed faith” and have given proof of pious conduct. The church order of Utrecht (1612), s.v. “Concerning the Lord’s Supper”

III. Those who come from other places and want to be admitted to the table of the Lord shall first present a proper certificate of their earlier way of life to the pastor of the place where they desire to be admitted.

Thus, the practice of the Reformed churches had been established for forty years by the time the Great Synod of Dort met. Now, most of us think of the famous “Five Points” in response to the Five Points of the Arminians (1609) but synod did much more than that. They also established the pattern of Reformed practice that would be the pattern for the centuries after.

The Dort Church Order (1619), Art. 61 says:

61. Only those shall be admitted to the Lord’s supper who, according to the usage of the churches which they join, have made confession of the Reformed religion, together with having testimony of a godly walk, without which also those who come from other churches shall not be admitted.

The original Reformed practice then was to “guard” or “fence” rather closely. There were fewer Reformed denominations in the late 16th and early 17th centuries but they did have to address many of the same challenges that we do. There were other traditions in the Netherlands at the time the Reformed were working out their practice. They were particularly aware of the Anabaptists (whom they called “Baptists” in the 1570s—there was a strange case of a kidnapping in order to prevent an infant baptism! More on that in another post) and other competing groups. They were aware of the problem of people traveling through town and visiting and asking for communion. There are substantial continuities between their church life and ours.

Whom should Reformed churches admit to the table? If we ask those who gave to us our confession of faith and who set the pattern for our practice we should admit those who confess the Reformed faith and of who have testimony of a godly life. The objective evidence for the latter is that they are not under church discipline.

The Practice Of Fencing The Table
There is irony in fencing the Lord’s Table. What should be a joyous celebration, after due preparation of course, and a communion of believers with their risen Lord and with one another, is for ministers—particularly for church planting pastors—sometimes a moment of uncertainty. We live in a transient culture. We do not know who will be in the congregation when we step behind the table to read the form. We can’t anticipate who will appear in the congregation halfway through the service and appear at the table or expect to be able to commune (on the assumption of open communion).

There is anxiety too. Sometimes when the table is fenced, whether that is done in the foyer by elders or from the table by issuing a warning (see below), pastors worry that newcomers, who are likely unfamiliar with historic Reformed practice, will be offended and leave quickly after the sermon and before the administration of communion. More than one pastor has chased a visitor to the parking lot after a service but when it’s time for communion that can’t happen. Practically, fencing the table can seem like just another way small, struggling Reformed congregations remain small and struggling.

So, when Reformed churches fence the table it is an act of faith in the wisdom, providence, and grace of God. Pastors and elders (and the members) desperately want the lost to come to faith and we want the confused to come to the truth. We live in a culture that, at least touching the evangelical sub-culture, is largely shaped by assumptions that we do not share. Thus, there is often a culture shock for visitors who have a Christian background but who are unfamiliar with Reformed practice. “What do you mean I cannot come to the table? Are you saying that I am not a Christian?” It’s impossible to sort out these thorny questions in the foyer and especially when people are lined up and coming to the table or receiving a tray of elements as it comes by.

This is not just Reformed hyper-scrupulosity. I have seen families give communion to their young children or infants, on the assumption that what they do at home is appropriate for church. I have seen people come to the table who had no idea of was happening.

These sort of challenges have caused some to say, “Well, it is a fine old practice but we live in a new day and we need to adapt to the realities at hand. Better to err on the side of inclusion than exclusion.”

One can sympathize with this reasoning. The old Reformed practice does look a little Grinchly when compared to the apparently open and gracious invitation given in congregations that do not fence the table. We do not want to be pharisees chasing off the publicans because they are unclean or not like us. One can understand those congregations that emphasize that it is “the Lord’s Table” and say, in effect, “Let the Lord sort it out.” Yes, it is the Lord’s Table and he has instituted a church, given to her the keys, and biblical revelation about the administration of the table.

It is not really a matter of whether there will be conditions. Even those who practice open communion ordinarily require that one be baptized and make a Christian profession before coming to the table (although I have seen even those conditions discarded). It is not really a question of whether there are conditions or even, in that sense, whether the table is to be fenced (if there are conditions, then there is a fence) but only how high the fence, if you will.

Remember, there is jeopardy attached to the table. It is not a free-for-all. The supper is just as much a communal act as it is an individual act. The actions of some, in Corinth, had fatal consequences and that was bad for the entire body. If one of us suffers, we all suffer.

So, given our principles, what do we do? First, we must explain ourselves. We need to smile and say something like the following:

We love you and we love the Lord. If you profess faith in Christ we would very much like for you to come to the table if certain things are true of you. As we understand the Lord’s Table it is both personal and communal and therefore we believe that our elders have a responsibility before the Lord to administer the Supper carefully. The Lord’s Table is for believers who are members of congregations that have three marks: the pure preaching of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and the use of church discipline.

If you are a member of a confessional Reformed or Presbyterian church we invite you to the table. If you do not know what this means please abstain from the table today and see me or one of the elders. We will be happy to talk and pray with you.

By this we are not saying that you are not a believer or that there are no other believers in the world. We know the gospel is preached elsewhere and we are thankful for this but we hope that you’ll respect our attempt to be obedient to God’s Word.

This certainly is not perfect language but it captures the essence of what I think we are trying to communicate. In my experience people without church backgrounds are not offended. They expect church to be religious and they expect a certain amount of order. The difficulty is with those Christians who assume autonomy relative to the visible, institutional church. There are those who profess faith but are united to no congregation or to a congregation that lacks the marks of a true church.

There are difficult cases. I have been asked about confessional Anglicans and Lutherans. I don’t know if the Reformed have ever spoken to either case explicitly but I’m still learning. The Dutch Reformed church orders help here. They do stipulate the “Reformed Religion,” which seems to mean, “the Belgic Confession” or its equivalent. If we exclude confessional Lutherans we should not expect them to be offended since they are familiar with closed communion. Someone from an Anglican congregation that confesses the 39 Articles might be admitted to the table. Church polity is not of the essence of the faith and there were three polities at Dort and Westminster. One difficulty is that the confessional Reformed and Presbyterian churches (i.e., NAPARC) have no relation to the Anglican communions. Maybe the most difficult case is the question of Baptists who confess aspects of the Reformed faith. There is frequent interchange between Baptist and Reformed and Presbyterian congregations. If “Reformed Religion” stands for the Belgic (or its equivalent) that would seem to answer the question. A Baptist shouldn’t be offended since they don’t accept our Baptism so they are familiar with a degree of exclusion.

Second, it may help to do more than to fence the table at the table. Some congregations have elders in the foyer and even signs announcing that communion is being administered today and that visitors should speak with an elder before coming to the table. This is not always practical. Some congregations do not have enough elders to pray with the minister and greet visitors in the foyer. Others find this procedure a bit daunting. Those can be interesting conversations!

Third, there may be real wisdom in the old Reformed and Presbyterian practice of a certificate of membership or a token. The old Scottish Presbyterian practice was to require communicants to attend the preparatory service the week prior. There one was given a token that was to be returned the next week when one went to the table. In the case that a congregation administers the supper weekly (Calvin’s desired practice) then every Lord’s Day is a preparatory service and the token becomes less practical.

Fourth, a statement in the bulletin explaining the congregation’s practice will be most useful. It might be well to have an elder, if possible, in the foyer to speak with late comers (this might not be a problem everywhere but it’s an issue in California).

Fifth, there might be wisdom in adopting the practice of coming forward for communion. This seems to have been the dominant practice in the German, Dutch, and French Churches, as well as the Scottish Presbyterian Church. There is evidence in the Dutch Church Orders from the late 16th century that communion was sometimes distributed to the seated congregation, as is often done today, but that seems to have been the minority practice.

If people come forward to commune, in rows or in a moving line, or simply to collect the elements and to return to their seats to commune together—I have seen this done effectively—then there is a fencing that can yet take place at the table. Ministers have been known to discourage from communion those who should not come to the table (e.g., those who’ve not made profession of faith). If the elements are distributed to the seated congregation then there is little that can be done after the distribution.

Conclusion
This side of glory there is no perfect way to administer communion but as ministers and elders we have a duty to try to administer the Supper in a way that is edifying to the body and obedient to the Chief Shepherd of the Church to whom we must give account. We are men under authority. That is why we are called “ministers.”

May the Lord bless your administration of Holy Communion and may it be a true communion in the body and blood of Christ by the work of the Spirit through faith.