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.


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.

To the Evangelical Nicodemites

Over the last few years there have been a few laments about “Reformed rocks stars.” Carl Trueman has rightly warned against the cult of personality. Now I would like to turn the tables. If we should be concerned about rock stars and personalities in evangelicalism and Reformed-dom then we should also be concerned about about another party to all this: those who attend those conferences and those who do not.

First, there are lots of Christians who attend congregations which, shall we say, are part of the problem more than they are part of the solution, where the gospel is not preached purely, where the sacraments are not administered purely, and where discipline is not practiced. These folk also attend Reformed conferences. They attend because they are “fed” there, because they can fellowship with like-minded folk there, because, in some cases, it’s a relief from their congregation. Still they stay in their congregations.

I know this happens because I have heard the stories and I’ve met such. They bring to mind Nicodemus (John 9), who came to Jesus late at night when it was safe to visit, so that he would not have to pay the price for being publicly associated with Jesus. In the 16th century, there was an analogous group whom the Reformed called “Nicodemites.” These were Roman Catholics who professed to hold the evangelical faith but who, nevertheless, were unwilling to leave their Roman congregations. They told their Reformed friends and sometimes even wrote to the reformers themselves to ask for counsel about this very problem. They felt the tension themselves. They were fearful of offending family. They feared leaving the familiar and the comfortable. They feared social consequences, even economic consequences, losing a job or an inheritance. In some cases it might have meant leaving town for purely religious reasons. There were strong external incentives to remain in the Roman Church while practicing the evangelical faith privately.

There are discontinuities, of course, between 16th-century Roman Catholics and 21st-century evangelicals, but there are continuities too. There are strong external reasons not to leave the local mega-church. There is a comfortable anonymity and safety in the theater seating, at the coffee bar, or on the couch with the candles. The services might not be great but the small groups are fantastic. It is the place to be. The band is hot. One can dress casually. All one’s friends attend. There’s a peer pressure or family pressure to conform.

There are things to be lost in walking away from one’s comfortable evangelical congregation. Indeed, I have known more than a few Reformed folk who, upon leaving their evangelical congregation have been shunned, have lost business or business opportunities and have hurt family connections. Calvin addressed these very problems in a number of letters and in A Short Treatise Setting Forth What the Faithful Man Must Do When He is Among the Papists and Knows the Truth of the Gospel (1543). It is worth considering this treatise and it is useful to apply it to our evangelical Nicodemite friends in hopes of encouraging them to identify with those churches who were, in the 16th century and who, in the late modern period, are once again “under the cross.”

In his brilliant work, War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship From Erasmus to Calvin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), Carlos M. N. Eire adds some context to the Nicodemite problem as Calvin faced it. As Eire, notes, the problem was not in Geneva, but in France (235) where “French Protestants lives in an environment that was hostile to their beliefs and practices, making the threat of idolatry even greater.” Before “such pressure, some Protestants assumed the attitude of compromise and deceit that came to be known as Nicodemism” (236). Beza explained.

There were also at that time in France certain persons, who, having renounced the protestant religion at the commencement, through fear of persecution, had begun afterwards so far to flatter themselves as to deny there was any sin in being present with their bodies only at the celebration of the mass, provided they embraced the true religion in their hearts. Calvin, whom they blamed for the excess of his severity, plainly refuted, by his clear and elegant writings, this very pernicious error, which the fathers had long ago condemned. He annexed also the opinions of the most learned reformers, Philip Melanchthon, Peter Martyr, Bucer, and the church of Zurich, and so far restrained the progress of this error, that the Nicodemites, which name they had acquired by adducing the example of this most holy person as a pretext for their false sentiments, he fell into bad repute in the church.

As Beza noted (and as Eire follows him) Calvin wasn’t the only one to face this problem. It was universal to the confessional Protestants. The confessional Lutheran theologian, Johannes Brenz used the adjective “Nicodemish” in 1529. Calvin wrote Luther to and translated two books into Latin just for him to ask him to speak out against it (but Melanchthon pocketed the letter because, as he told Calvin, “Pericles” was in no mood just then to hear from the Reformed about worship). There is a debate in the scholarship over whether Nicodemism was a coherent movement. Carlo Ginzburg argues it was and Eire disagrees (239). If we compare the 16th-century “Nicodemites” to today’s churchless evangelicals wandering from congregation to congregation to to no congregation at all, we can see how there can be a sort of intellectual community with no organization. There seem to be a lot of folk who share certain ideas but just as they seem to be allergic to the visible church so they lack any formal organization. It is hard to imagine any sort of formal organization of people afraid to identify publicly as Protestants or as Reformed or as evangelicals.

Calvin was conscious that there were some difficulties in calling these “dissemblers” Nicodemites. He didn’t regard Nicodemus as a dissembler (Eire, 243). The cowardly Nicodemus became a faithful man. He even describes his contemporaries as “pseudo-Nicodemites” because at least Nicodemus came forward to identify openly with Jesus. By 1562 he stopped using it as an epithet altogether. Nevertheless, we persevere if only for the ease of the label. He identified 4 different classes of Nicodemites:

  1. Those who do it for money
  2. Those who try to convert high-born ladies, but who do not take the gospel seriously.
  3. Those who try to reduce Christianity to a philosophy
  4. Those merchants and common people who fear danger.

Not everyone in Paris was pleased with Calvin’s critiques. Some, of a certain social status, felt he was rocking the boat too much. They thought he was too harsh. The more they complained, the more Calvin pushed. “When I heard that many people complained about my strictness, especially those kinds of people who think that their wisdom increases proportionately to the care they take in protecting their lives, I wrote an apology which made their ears twitch even harder than the first book….” (Letter to Luther; Eire, 246). Calvin was less worried about what French elites thought than what Christ thinks.

The problem of the refusal of crypto-evangelicals to come out of the Roman church and into the confessing Protestant churches (and especially into the Reformed Churches) troubled Calvin enough to cause him to write on the topic repeatedly and to publish several letters and other short writings through his career until the early ‘60s.

In the 1562 treatise he concluded, “That if no service is agreeable to God, except that which comes from an honest conviction: the opposite holds true, that no simulation can displease him, when one only pretends to adore the idols without having devotion in order to please the unbelievers.”

For Calvin, one cannot separate body and soul. They can be distinguished, but Calvin was an anti-Gnostic. We are embodied persons. We cannot worship Christ with our “souls” if our bodies are in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing (violating his moral will). It’s a 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 problem. It’s one thing to eat meat offered to idols. It’s another thing to sit at table with one who involves one in his offering. Once it’s not just a meal anymore, then we have communion with idols and, for Calvin, as for Paul, one cannot be joined to Christ and to idols.

In France and in modern Belgium there were a considerable number of people who privately, personally identified with Reformed or evangelical theology (in the 16th century “evangelical” meant confessional Lutheran or Reformed theology. Calvin frequently spoke of “the evangelical” view when describing his view of this or that) but they did so without leaving their local Roman congregation. These churches were the status quo. They had family ties or political connections or perhaps there was no local Reformed congregation with which to identify. In some cases to leave the Roman Church meant leaving a Roman city and moving to an “evangelical” city where there was a Reformed congregation. In some cases the local Roman Cathedral was the local mega-church. It was the biggest or best show in town. After all, a high mass was quite a sight. It was high, visual drama. It produced intense religious feelings, people “experienced” God.  It was the “place to be” and the “place to be seen.” But what about those poor souls who weren’t allowed to “by the papists to worship God purely”?

Calvin said the answer is easy, “if their hearts were fully resolved to follow everything that God declares to them completely and unquestioningly.”  The problem is “most men , having learned a thing to be displeasing to God, nevertheless give themselves leave to go seeking its defence.” [sic] Calvin said that “a hundred people” had asked him about this in the same way Balaam asked God for leave to go before King Balak (Num 22). He knew it was contrary to God’s will but he asked anyway. In the same way, crypto-evangelicals (my term; perhaps better than “Nicodemites” and in our case we might speak of “crypto-Calvinists”) attend the mega-church because of the youth group or or the praise and worship or what have you.  Calvin says these folk are “fairly convinced in their consciences that it is wrong to bow down before idols , inquire and query about what they should do, and not to subdue their affections to God by submitting to his word, but so that they may have free rein, and having an answer to their liking, may flatter themselves enough to remain in their evil doing.” He says that this lot is looking for “cushions to put their consciences to sleep, and for someone to make them believe they are alive when really they are dead.”

Remember, he was speaking to people who were “not allowed” to worship God according to the Scriptures. In some cases obeying God would have meant tremendous hardship and possibly the most extreme hardship: arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death. In the 16th century probably no fewer than 62,000 Calvinists were martyred for the faith by Roman authorities. Tens of thousands of those died in one week, in 1572, during the “St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.” The rest were systematically hunted and murdered by Spanish troops in the Netherlands. In many places, knowing the Calvinist and Reformed conviction that only God’s Word may be sung in worship (and that often meant the psalms), authorities banned the singing of psalms and then, when Christians were found to be singing the psalms, they arrested them. When people were converted through watching the Calvinists go to the stake singing God’s praise in his own Word, in their own language, the Roman authorities began cutting out the tongues of the martyrs to prevent them from praising God.

Calvin was well aware of what he was about to ask of the crypto-Calvinists or secret Calvinists. He wrote letters of comfort to some of them as they languished in dark, rat-infested prisons, awaiting a sham trial and a bloody, fiery death. He also understood that what he was saying was controversial. Some influential Parisian Protestants thought or alleged that he was saying that the only way to go to heaven was to be a member of the Genevan church. Of course he was not saying that at all. Some of Calvin’s critics were misrepresenting his argument in order to discredit it. They were attempting to justify themselves. At the same time, despite their scorn, he was loving them. He was concerned that those Roman Catholics who did not “come out” of the Roman communion and identify publicly with the evangelical (in the 16th-century sense, which today would mean “confessional Protestant” or as the Synod of Dort put, “who profess the Reformed Religion”) church would find themselves in genuine spiritual danger.

This attempt to discredit Calvin was, of course, self-serving since some of these folk were well placed and would have suffered significant personal setbacks and loss by leaving Rome and uniting with the suffering French Reformed Church.  Despite the scorn, Calvin persevered.

However, since our office is to give pure testimony to the truth, I cannot dissemble or draw back from saying what I think of things which are useful to know, even when it is required of me to do so. However, since the whole difficulty stems from our being more interested in remaining the good graces of the world than in pleasing God, I exhort every believer in the name of the Lord Jesus to compel his affections to, in order to make them obedient to the Master’s will.

He understood

it is a hard thing to put oneself in danger of losing body and goods, of arousing everyone’s ire against oneself, of being held in contempt and scorned, of leaving the land where one can live comfortably in order to depart for a strange land, like someone lost. Yes, what is the first lesson we must learn in the school of Jesus Christ, but to renounce ourselves?

In contemporary evangelicalism, words such as “mortification”  and “self-denial” are not fashionable. One is much more likely to hear about “self-affirmation’ and improving one’s “self-image.” To be sure, as a pastor and as one who grew up in the lower Midwest, where everyone is or used to be, as Garrison Keillor says, “a dark Lutheran,” (even those who aren’t Lutherans) people do suffer real damage to their self-image and there is psychological harm done by sin and by sinners. Nevertheless, the fundamental Christian message is not, “You’re okay, I’m okay,” but “God made us good, we fell, Christ obeyed and died for sinners and was raised on the third day for their justification.” Our self-image rests in the image of God and in his grace in Christ.

For Calvin, denying to self, dying to sin (mortification) was of the essence of the Christian life. We do by God’s grace alone. It’s a catch-22. The crypto-evangelicals (or today’s crypto-Reformed) aren’t going to grow as they ought in their present circumstances but they won’t really grow until they leave. They need to leave to grow but in order to leave they need to trust Christ enough (which implies growth) to leave!

Indeed, no one but Calvin is calling them to identify  with Christ, to suffer, to change. The current congregations and their friends are all telling them to stay, that religion is a private matter, an interior matter. But real mortification is interior with exterior consequences. Comfort is borne of security and familiarity, even when that comfort and familiarity are wrongly, even wickedly placed.

Calvin understood:

Now, if there are some who are so weak, that they cannot determine from the word ‘go’ to do what they should, I beseech them at least not to flatter themselves, looking for subterfuges and frivolous excuses to conceal themselves. This is nothing but reckoning without one’s host. Such ways of escape shall not deliver them fro God’s judgment.

He knew whereof he spoke. There was a period of murkiness as he became an evangelical. There must have been a period of transition in Paris, an inward wrestling with whether or when to stop attending Mass. Whether and when to identify with the evangelicals. How? Where? At what cost? His public identification with the evangelical church in Geneva, his virtual imprisonment by Farel, being pressed into service in Geneva against his will, having been unceremoniously dismissed by the City Council and then recalled from a much more pleasant place–Calvin only wanted to study and write–these were all crosses he bore. He considered that living in Geneva was like being crucified 1000 times a day. He did it at the expense of his own health, his own happiness, his own peace of mind, against his better judgment and personal inclinations, because his Savior did it for him.

He writes, “Indeed, we shall see that this has been, as it were, the part of the ruin of those who have become alienated from the grace of God: seeing that it was not safe for them to reveal themselves openly before men as true servants of god, in order to duly honor him, and they wanted to be considered just and above reproach because they polluted themselves in many idolatries. ” This passage from Calvin’s 1543 short treatise against the Nicodemites or the crypto-evangelicals who refused to leave the Roman communion and identify openly with the Reformation cause illustrates two very important Reformed doctrines.

First, because we do not know the divine decree ahead of time, we must deal with life in the covenant of grace as it unfolds before us. Call this the “Hebrews 6/10” view of the church, i.e. this is the view taken in Hebrews chapters 6 and 10. People are in the external covenant community, they “taste of the powers of the age to come” and the “trample underfoot” the covenant when they apostatize. When they are with us, professing faith, we regard them as believers, as members of Christ according to the judgment of charity. After they have apostatized, however, we realize that, in fact, they were only members externally, that they lacked true faith and genuine union with Christ.

So, for Calvin, it was with the crypto-evangelicals who remained in false churches. He was willing to accept the genuineness of their profession provisionally and to be understanding about the difficulties they faced in leaving their current congregation in order to join a true church. At a certain point, however, the understanding changes. If the profession is never matched by action a discontinuity arises. They say that they are Protestants (evangelicals) but they continue to worship outwardly like Romanists, they continue to attend mass, they continue to participate in the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ (Session 22, Council of Trent, Canon 3)—which Calvin and all the Protestants regarded as an abomination to God and “an accursed idolatry” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 80).

In view of the existential reality of the outward reality of their evangelical profession Calvin warned of the very real possibility of their “ruin” and becoming “alienated” from grace. This is a genuine spiritual danger to the Nicodemites or the crypto-evangelicals. This is also a genuine danger to the crypto-Calvinists in the evangelical mega-churches and other congregations that lack the marks of a true church, in which the crypto-Calvinists find themselves. How long can they sit through therapeutic, moralistic, Deistic sermons and worship without doing real harm to themselves? I’ve had correspondence from people in such circumstances and they testify that the are “dead inside” and that they “dread” going to church. Sometimes they just stop going. After all, if what happens on Sunday morning is a poor imitation of Oprah or George Will, what’s the point?

The second truth here, however, is reflected in Calvin’s phrase, “as it were.” This is the difference between Calvin’s handling of this problem and the way the so-called, self-described Federal Vision movement handles this same situation. The FV says that every baptized person is, by virtue of his baptism, united to Christ. They reject any distinction between those who are merely outward members of the visible church or of the administration of the covenant of grace, and those who are outward and inward members [Rom 2:28] of the church and the covenant of grace. Because they reject this distinction they have it that one can be actually united to Christ, elect, regenerate, justified, adopted etc and yet still fall away. In this view their view is formally like the Remonstrants who were rejected at the Synod of Dort.

Calvin and the Reformed Churches understood, however, that only those who are actually united to Christ, sola gratia et sola fide  (by grace alone and through faith alone) in Christ alone, are actually united to Christ and receive his benefits. This is because Calvin and the Reformed Churches made a distinction between the two ways of being in the one covenant of grace. Not everyone who participates in the administration of the covenant of grace is necessarily elect, regenerate, or united to Christ. This is the force Calvin’s little phrase, “as it were.” All forms of rationalism, whether Open Theism or the FV, ignore this “as it were” qualification. The Heidelberg Catechism says “by his hand, as it were…” signaling that we understand that God, considered apart from the incarnation, does not have a body. We are not Mormons.

When Calvin wrote “as it were,” he recognized the tentative nature of human judgment in this world. He recognized that we are not God and that we do not know things as God knows them. We make the best judgments we can and we urge folk to live according to God’s self-disclosure (Deut 29:29) in God’s Word. We do not play “guess the elect.”  Christ has a church, and it exists where ever the gospel is preached purely, where ever the sacraments are administered purely, and where ever discipline is administered. From all one can tell these are not the three marks of most so-called evangelical congregations today. They are marked by programs, power points, and puppets.

Lest my evangelical friends think I’m being too hard on then, I well recognize that too many nominally Reformed or Presbyterian congregations are indistinguishable from the great mass of therapeutic, moralistic Deism that passes for Christianity in our age. It may well be possible to be a crytpo-Calvinist in a nominally Reformed or Presbyterian congregation where the substance of the Reformed theology, piety, and practice has been replaced with weak alternatives.

Calvin continued:

Then later, seeing that they still could not avoid all suspicion in this way, they considered it to be doing their duty when they concealed their Christianity altogether, not speaking a single word about God, except when they were with their close friends and family members, well enclosed in some room. Meanwhile, they permitted the truth of God to be blasphemed and whatever dishonor anyone did Jesus Christ, not only did they not say anything against it, but they put on a good show of consenting to it, being concerned only to take care that no one perceive that they were Christians.

Remember, when he said “Christianity,” he’s not speaking about people living in a predominantly pagan world or in a post-Christian culture (or in a pre-Christian culture). He’s speaking about crypto-evangelicals who are, for reasons of safety or comfort, hiding in Roman congregations. The blasphemies to which he refers are either Roman criticisms of the evangelical (i.e. confessional Protestant) faith or/and the Roman doctrine of the eucharistic sacrifice and the like.

In response, the cryptos clam up. If they do not say anything then no one will know that they dissent inwardly. When folk around them slander the evangelicals or invoke saints or pray to the BVM, they keep their mouths shut.  Calvin reminded the cryptos that, in redemptive history, God dealt harshly with those who practiced “wicked subtlety,” that God “let them stumble into a n abyss of darkness, depriving them of the knowledge he had formerly given them.”

The proper response is not that one should seek to “justify himself in his iniquity” but rather that we should “give glory to God” by “confessing our wretchedness, rather than doubly confounding and condemning ourselves by squirming about  and seeking vain excuses.”

Over the years I have had posts from crypto-Calvinists who hide themselves in the local megachurch. Sometimes they seek to justify themselves by arguing that they are seeking reformation of the congregation. If so, then they are not really “crypto” (secret) Calvinists or Reformers at all, are they? If they are seeking reformation then the ministers and congregational leadership will be aware of them and of their efforts. If this megachurch is worth its salt as a megachurch, they have a plan and they have read the church growth literature. Rule #1 of the church growth program is to get rid of dissenters. Any “reformer” worth his salt is a dissenter from the tawdry songs, puppets, Playdoh, and powerpoint that passes for public piety in the megachurch. Immovable object meet irresistible force. Something has to give. Maybe the megachurch leadership will be struck in the heart but maybe not. What then? Most of the time, however, the cryptos remain just that: hidden, quiet, secret.

For Calvin, the core issue of the Nicodemite (crypto-evangelical) problem is the Lordship of Christ, not necessarily in the sense in which that word was used in the recent American evangelical controversy but in the sense that the cryptos are acting as if they were God’s “counterparts.”  The issue is whether the Christian will submit to the revealed will of God. He appealed to the example of Cyprian to illustrate what he meant obedience. He reminds his readers that “St. Cyprian, after being condemned to death, because he was unwilling to sacrifice to idols, was asked to consent to it in order to save his life.” The judge did not want to put Cyprian to death and urged him to simply say the magic words. Cyprian, however, was so determined to follow God’s will that he would do it even if death was the necessary result. For Calvin, Cyprian is a perfect example of one who “did not take counsel from” his “own” head, “turning aside from his Word….”  Calvin offered several proofs that, in fact, it is the Lord’s revealed, moral will for the cryptos to identify publicly with the Reformation. First he appealed to Jesus saying in Luke 9:26 that “if we are ashamed of him before me, he will likewise be ashamed of us when he appears in his majesty with the angels of God.” He appealed to Romans 10:10, that if we “believeth with the heart unto righteousness” then one will confess “with the mouth unto salvation.” True faith produces confession.  “Whoever draws back from doing so must seek another master.”

Calvin anticipated the objection that he was attempting to make all believers into preachers. Not at all. “For, since it is a particular office to preach publicly, it is not necessary, nor even expedient or suitable for everyone to intrude himself in it….I do not therefore mean for everyone to climb up into a pulpit to prove their Christianity…. However, let everyone take thought to give God glory in the vocation in which he finds himself.”

He would have it that every professing Christian should confess his faith in the place and station in which he finds himself. He appeals to 1 Peter 3:15. We should each be ready to give an account of his faith. It is “the office of every believer” to “take his neighbor by the hand and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of Zion, to the house of Jacob, and he shall teach us to talk in his ways (Isa 23:3; Mic 4:2).

What does this have to do with crypto-Calvinists in the local evangelical congregation? Well, the fundamental point, about submitting to the revealed will of God applies to all Christians everywhere but particularly where a crypto-Calvinist finds himself in a congregation dominated by therapeutic, moralistic deism, where the gospel is absent, the means of grace are deformed or ignored, and discipline was banished by the church growth gurus as impractical.

Calvin did not call the cryptos in his day to superhuman feats. He only wanted them to speak to the truth in love and to trust the providence of God. It’s true he was, in effect, calling many to great suffering and possible even death. In our case, however, there is much less at stake and even less reason why our cryptos cannot confess their faith openly before men, since, in many cases, it merely involves stopping at that local NAPARC congregation by which they drive on the way to the mega-church.

Once more an admonition to my NAPARC brothers and sisters. If our evangelical crypto-Calvinists do step out in faith to lay hold of the blessings of the heritage of the Reformation, what will they find this Sabbath in your congregation? Will they find what they just left behind, cliques, clans, and clowns or will they find the law distinguished from the gospel and the latter preached sweetly? Will they find joy in the Lord or some nasty congregational contention over who is in charge? Will they find a socio-political rant or the ministry of Christ? When they visit, our evangelical friends are looking for three things: the pure preaching of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and discipline. Indeed, that is what the Lord asks of us. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that we should be doing these things, even if no crypto-Calvinists visit.

Calvin recognized that there is a certain degree of subjectivity in deciding “how far and how much we must proceed….” Therefore each one must “pray our Lord to direct him in true prudence, in order to judge what will be suitable.” For Calvin, the driving principle, is the same in any case: “there must be in us such a seal, both exalt the reign of God and to edify our neighbors, that we extend all our powers and apply all our efforts to it.” In other words, because Calvin wouldn’t go beyond Scripture and good and necessary deductions and because he recognized that circumstances would vary he was unwilling to legislate exactly how each one must act in every case. Nevertheless, it was clear to Calvin that each one must act.Our goal is the appropriate imitation of Christ, who was consumed by zeal for the house of God (Ps 69:9; John 2:17). This zeal caused Christ to be restless in his desire to glorify and serve his Father. Calvin reminds us that some of his followers “did not dare to confess Jesus Christ after having believed on him: ‘They loved the glory of men better than that of God’ (John 12:43). How sad and perverse a choice is it to prefer men to God!”

The question, for Calvin and for us, is “whether the Christian man, being rightly instructed in the truth of the gospel, offends God or not, by doing as the others do when he is among Papists, by going to Mass and other such ceremonies.” The first part of the question is that of “dissumulation” or “hiding the truth one has within the heart. The second part concerns “simulation” or “pretending and faking something that is not so. In short, what lying is in words, simulation is in deeds.”

This a question because we are not disembodied. We are not Gnostics seeking to overcome the body (contrary to the repeated Romanist criticism of historic, confessional Protestantism). Rather, Calvin recognized that because we are body and soul we must love God with our bodies and our souls. We owe to God a “two-fold honor—namely the spiritual service of the heart, and outward worship — likewise there is a, on the contrary, a twofold sort of idolatry. First, when man corrupts and perverts the spiritual service of the only God by a lying fantasy. The other sort is when he transfers to some creature, such as an image, the honor which belongs to God alone.”

To those crypto-Calvinists in broad, mega, “evangelical,” congregations which offer neither the “evangel,” or are hardly “congregations,” (but rather a collection of “venues” — someone recently asked one of our members which “venue” he attended? Puzzled, this member said, “Well, the worship venue.” “Which one is that? Do they serve coffee? Is there a praise band?” “No,” the member replied, “It’s the whole congregation together, worshiping God, singing psalms, listening to the sermon.” Talk about a clash of paradigms. Our member was mystified by the “venue question and the broad evangelical fellow was completely mystified by historic Reformed worship) the question remains. There may not be the memorial, ritual, propitiatory sacrifice of the mass but there there are “dramas” and there is clowning, and Narcissism and the trivialization of God and of his Christ so that the service is hardly recognizably “Christian”  any longer. Few strangers are in jeopardy of walking into such services and of being confronted by the awful reality of the living God so that they might want to throw themselves to the ground (1 Cor 14:25).

In their own ways the broad “evangelical” seeker service (with all its venues) and the Roman Mass seek to tame God. Since Rome made Jesus so utterly transcendent (because of their Christology and their piety) his place as a truly human Mediator was taken by saints and the BVM. By transubstantiation God the Son becomes manageable. The Mass, confession, and penance are all things that we do. We process in, we adore, we remember, we offer. So too in the evangelical megachurch, we worship, we praise, we experience, we entertain, we choose the venue by which we shall approach God. Different dramas, same story.

The God is scripture is not manageable. He has a nasty tendency to “break out” against sin or trivialization. The golden calf trivialized God. The golden calf made them comfortable. It allowed them to approach God on terms that were familiar. The God of history, the God of Scripture, the God who is, however, will not be approached, not that way. He comes to us on his terms and calls us to respond, to come to him, on his terms. There are no venues for approaching God except humble and holy worship in response to his Law and his Gospel. Calvin understood this and knew that God, the God of Scripture, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To illustrate and prove the connection between inward and outward piety, between body and soul, Calvin turned to 1 Corinthians 8. When eating food offered to idols leads others to worship the idols it’s obvious that eating the food isn’t innocent. At stake is the spiritual well being of “one for whom Christ died.” The case is even clearer in 1 Corinthians 10. Participating in ritual sacrifices to God makes one a “partaker of the true consecration” and participating in sacrifices to idols also makes one a participant in idolatry. The true worship of the true God is exclusive. It is impossible to worship the true God false or to truly worship a false god. “Whoever takes the one, utterly renounces the other.” That principle of exclusivity alone explains Daniel and his companions. Were it otherwise they would have been able “to escape by this subtlety.” Indeed, were it otherwise it would have been foolish for them to “expose themselves to death.”They could have said, “others will worship the statue, nut  our spirit shall be lifted up to heaven to worship the living God….” Either they were guilty of “ill considered zeal” or the Nicodemites are wrong.

What about the ordinary, mere Christian? After all, “not everyone can be so steadfast?” Calvin accused those who make such pleas  of “seeking cover-ups for our sins….” They argue that 1 Corinthians 10 was about rank paganism, not about the Roman mass and, however corrupt, the intention of the mass is to worship the God. It seems to them that “there is not so great a danger in partaking in idolatry which is cloaked in the name of God….” To which he responded by pointing to the example of the brass serpent (Num 21:8). Here is an example of a “holy sacrament of Jesus Christ” instituted by God that had been corrupted into idolatry. They too “pleaded the fair colors of the name of God.” Then there is the case of the golden calf (Ex 32) which was “designed to represent” God.” Nevertheless it was “false and perverse” and idolatry.  The same was true of the calves erected by Jereboam at Bethel and Dan (1 Kgs 12:28). They were dedicated to the worship of God and yet they were idolatrous. The same was true of the temple in Samaria. It was not dedicated to Jupiter, but to God.  “I therefore conclude that it is no more permitted to partake in idolatry wich has the name of God imposed upon it than if it was purely something of the Saracens [i.e., Muslims] or pagans.”

What Calvin saw, which we in our late modern subjectivist time have difficulty seeing, is that intention is not everything, it doesn’t change the truth, the reality. Christ died for our bodies and our souls and demands that we return to him true, grateful worship without bodies and souls, inwardly and outwardly. There is more to worship than intention. Actions matter. Location matters. There is an objective reality that cannot be denied. Participating in false worship, however sincerely, is still participating in false worship. It offends God and hurts other Christians. For Calvin it was indefensible on both grounds.

He  recognized that difference between some of the biblical narratives and his own time and yet he also recognized that some of the narratives described situations quite like his. Mutatis mutandis (with the changes having been changed), he moved from the biblical narratives to his own time. If there were difficulties for Calvin so there are for us. This series is not aimed at Roman Christians who profess the Reformed faith but to those in nominally evangelical congregations where the preaching of the gospel has been replaced with therapy and the sacraments are absent or corrupt and where the 2nd commandment isn’t even a distant memory. Yes, these congregations may be nominally Protestant, but how different are they really from those of which Calvin was thinking? The most fundamental issue remains the same: the ostensible good intention of private worship in a corrupt congregation that has rejected reformation is corrupt whatever the private intention of the crypto-Calvinist.

Sometimes it seems as if Calvin were living in our day. Sometimes his criticism of our hypocrisy is so penetrating that it’s hard to believe that it was written more than 400 years ago. The next section in his Short Treatise (1543) is a good example. He addressed first those who “wish to be perceived as more devout than others” who attend the “daily” mass. “Anyone who has made modest progress in the gospel knows that what the priest does there is sacrilege and abomination.” For Calvin it was obvious that it was the moral equivalent of prostrating oneself “before an idol.” It was sin. It was partaking of the “useless works of darkness” (Eph 5:11). How can one participate in it, pretend “to acknowledge it” then later wash ones hands of it? Does God see nothing? Here Calvin penetrated the heart: “But they say, ‘We are not the ones who commit the evil. What more can we do, since it is not up to us to correct it?’ I answer that the evil that I reprove in them is that they do not abstain from what they know to be bad….”

The “parochial Mass” (weekly) is a similar case. The Nicodemite defends himself by arguing that at least there, despite the great corruption, they may participate in the Supper “‘because it is a memorial to us of the Supper of the Lord, we take it thus.’” Calvin replied to the crypto-evangelical, “Indeed? Can we thus transform things to our taste, and say that darkness is light?” Once more his arrow hit dead center. Ours is an age of extreme subjectivism, i.e. the thought and attitude that says that how one experiences something (or someone) is the most important thing. Indeed, in our time, it is widely held that experience determines reality. Of course this is complete rubbish and is easily shown to be so. Try “experiencing” a red light as a green light. Try explaining to the nice police officer that you experienced the light as green and that it was green for you. In response, he will explain that he is writing you a citation for $271 and that the law expects your experience to conform to objective reality henceforth.

What is fascinating here is that, in the crypto-evangelicals, Calvin faced the very same subjectivism that dominates American religion and particularly the religion of American “evangelicals,” including that of our “crypto-Calvinists” who make the very same argument in defense of their remaining in the mega-church, multi-venue worship services. Since they receive the service in a certain way, it is that way to them.

Calvin was not having any of it:

I ask you, what similarity is there between the holy sacrament instituted by the Lord Jesus, and this mixture made up of all sorts of garbage? First do they thing it’s nothing that the Mass is accounted a sacrifice, whereby God is appease not only concerning the living, but also concerning the dead? Is it nothing that the canon, which is the main substance of the Mass, is full of abominable blasphemies? Again, is it nothing that the prayer is made for the souls in purgatory, which we know to be utterly superstitious? However, were there only the diabolical delusion of sacrificing Jesus Christ to God, so that such a work could a satisfaction and payment for the living and the dead, this is not altogether a patent renunciation of his death and passion, which is nullified if one does not recognize it as a unique and perpetual sacrifice? Is it not a direct corruption of his sacred Supper? Certainly these to such execrable pollutions cannot be separated from the Mass anymore than heat can be separated from fire.

The objective facts of the Roman Mass are too plain to be denied. Our experience does not create or norm reality. God spoke creation into existence. Certainly we do experience reality, but our experience of it isn’t normative. We cannot transform, as if by fiat, sins into righteousness, whether those sins be part of the parochial mass or the “evangelical” skit. Are puppets, playdoh, and powerpoint really any better than the sorts of things about which Calvin complained concerning the Roman Mass?

Finally, we should not miss the obvious tension that now exists between Calvin’s (and that of Reformed orthodoxy) understanding of the Roman Mass and the understanding that which is being promoted in certain borderline (see Recovering the Reformed Confession, 1-2, 169) Reformed communions. They cannot both be right. Either the Roman Mass includes an ostensible memorial, propitiatory, sacrifice or it does not. The Council of Trent, Session 22, in 1562 declared that the Eucharist is a propitiatory sacrifice. It condemned anyone who denied that doctrine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) perpetuates that dogma. That is what Calvin, who was raised in the Roman Communion, was taught and that is the view he rejected as completely inimical to biblical doctrine of the Supper. The Heidelberg Catechism rejected the same doctrine in Q. 80. The Reformed did not misrepresent the the Roman doctrine and practice. As with the doctrine of justification, it seems that their desire to be ecumenical has caused our friends to attempt to transform (to use Calvin’s word) certain unpleasant realities in the Roman doctrine and practice in order to justify their ecumenism.

[This essay was first published serially in 2009 and appears here slightly revised]

Who Are The True Catholics?

There are truly important works that have simply been forgotten or unjustly ignored. One of those is William Ames’ Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in defense of the Reformed theology and practice of worship. Another is William Perkins’ 1597 treatise, A Reformed Catholic subtitled Or a Declaration Showing How Near We may Come to the Present Church of Rome in Sundry Points of Religion and Wherein We Must Forever Depart From Them. To this he added, With An Advertisement [a statement calling attention to something] to “All Favorers of the Roman Religion Showing How the Said Religion is Against the Catholic Principles and Grounds of the [English] Catechism.”

William Perkins (1558–1602) is worthy of our attention for a few reasons. First, he was one of the most important English Reformed theologians of the Reformation/post-Reformation periods. The other is John Owen. Arguably Perkins should be on anybody’s short list of Great English Theologians. Second, his teaching was a great influence on the Westminster Assembly, and thus to understand Perkins is to understand our own confession more fully. Third, he articulated Reformed theology at a time when the Reformation was under assault from the Socinians, the Arminians (Remonstrants), and a renewed Romanism. We still face these challenges in our day. We know the Socinians as “The Unitarians” today but they were influential upon many of the followers of Arminius (post-Episcopius) and their methodological influence is still felt in American Evangelical circles. The advocates of Open Theism rely on essentially a Socinian view of God and biblical hermeneutic (approach to reading Scripture). “Biblicism,” i.e., the idea that one is going to read the Bible as if no one has ever read it before, is not only deliberately ignorant and contrary to the Reformation approach to reading Scripture with the church past and present, is essentially a Socinian approach to Scripture that yielded a denial of Christ’s divinity, the Trinity, and the atonement, among other things.

Most Reformed folk who are familiar with Perkins might think of his Golden Chaine, his exposition of the doctrine of predestination, and the criticism he received from Jacob Arminius but Perkins was much more than a theologian of predestination. He was a member of the “Spiritual Brotherhood” at Cambridge. He was a Reformed churchman who understood that theology is not mere theory. He defined it as the “science of living blessedly forever. ” He was as devoted to cultivating true piety as he was to defending true theology. For Perkins the two were inseparable. For more on his life and setting see Paul Schaefer’s The Spiritual Brotherhood, 49–107.

Were the Reformation a boxing match, it appeared in the first half of the sixteenth century that Rome was flat on the canvas. Beginning with Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) in the 1540s, Rome got off the canvas, as it were, and began counter-punching theologically and militarily. Rome would try to recover her geo-political influence and the struggle would not end until the close of the Thirty-Years War (1648). The Jesuits and others proved to be a genuine difficulty for the Reformation. They began to make more sophisticated appeals to tradition and to Scripture that required increased sophistication from the Reformed.

In this essay we cannot survey all that Perkins wrote but we will look at how his soteriology (doctrine of salvation) responded to Rome. Perkins’ argument was that it was the Reformed (and the Reformation doctrine more broadly), not Rome, that was the home of truly catholic (universal), Christian theology.

The Reformed Response To The Roman Counter-Reformation
This treatise is an interesting and useful example of the way the Reformed responded to the Roman response (the “Counter Reformation” or the “Catholic Reformation”). Perkins responded by challenging a central Romanist assumption: that the Roman communion is the “Catholic Church.”

Perkins began his assault on Rome in the dedicatory epistle. [NB: I’ve modernized the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation on C. S. Lewis’ theory that we tend to impute ignorance to older writers when we see variance from our practice.]

RIGHT worshipful, it is a notable policy of the devil, which he has put into the heads of sundry men in this age, to think that our religion, and the religion of the present Church of Rome are all one for substance: and that they may be re-united as (in their opinion) they were before. Writings to this effect are spread abroad in the French tongue, and respected of English Protestants more then is meet, or ought to be. For, let men in show of moderation, pretend the peace and good estate of the Catholic Church as long as they will; this union of the two religions can never be made, more then the union of light and darkness. And this shall appear, if we do but a little consider, how they of the Roman Church have razed the foundation.

For though in words they honor Christ, yet in deed they turn him to a Pseudo-Christ, and an idol of their own brain. They call him our Lord, but with this condition, that the Servant of Servants of this Lord, may change and add to his commandments: having so great power, that he may open and shut heaven to whom he will; and bind the very conscience with his own laws, and consequently be partaker of the spiritual kingdom of Christ.

Again, they call him a Savior, but yet in us: in that he gives this grace unto us, that by our merits, we may partake in the merits of the saints. And they acknowledge, that he died and suffered for us, but with this caveat, that the fault being pardoned, we must satisfy for the temporal punishment, either in this world, or in purgatory. In a word, they make him our Mediator of Intercession unto God: but withal, his Mother must be the Queen of Heaven, and by the right of a Mother command him there.

Thus, in word, they cry Hosanna, but indeed they crucify Christ. Therefore we have good cause to bless the name of God, that hath freed us from the yoke of this Roman bondage, and hath brought us to the true light and liberty of the Gospel. And it should be a great height of unthankfulness in us, not to stand out against the present Church of Rome, but to yield our selves to plots of reconciliation.

To this effect and purpose I have penned this little treatise, which I present to your worship, desiring it might be some token of a thankful mind, for undeserved love. And I crave withal, not only your worshipful (which is more common) but also your learned protection; being well assured, that by skill and art you are able to justify whatsoever I have truly taught. Thus wishing to you and yours the continuance and the increase of faith and good conscience, I take my leave.

Cambridge, June 28. 1597.

Your W. in the Lord,


Notice the issues that Perkins highlighted: the unique authority (and Spirit-wrought) clarity of the Scriptures, its corollary Christian freedom, the uniqueness of Christ’s once-for-all work, and the Roman denial of the assurance of faith that is gift of God to believers as a consequence of the first two.

These are the issues that face us today. Perkins was concerned about a false ecumenism then and we have just as much right to be concerned about it now. As Rome begins its year-long celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II it is well to remember that Vatican II changed none of the doctrines against which the Reformation reacted. The issues remain. The popular, informal role of Mary as mediatrix has become formalized. The Roman doctrine of the necessity of cooperation with grace as part of progressive sanctification unto eventual justification (after purgatory), the mediation of the saints, the authority of the church, all these issues are as divisive today as they were at Trent and Perkins’ re-assertion of the genuine catholicity (university) of the Reformed faith, against the pretension of the Roman Bishop and councils, is as relevant today as the day it was first published.

In his treatise defending the Reformation understanding of Scripture against resurgent Romanism Perkins counted 22 issues between Protestants (his term) and Rome:

  1. Of Free-will.
  2. Of Original sin.
  3. Assurance of salvation.
  4. Justification of a sinner.
  5. Of Merits.
  6. Satisfactions for sin.
  7. Of Traditions.
  8. Of Vows.
  9. Of Images.
  10. Of Real presence.
  11. The sacrifice of the Mass.
  12. Of Fasting.
  13. The state of Perfection.
  14. Worshipping of Saints departed.
  15. Intercession of Saints.
  16. Implicit faith.
  17. Of Purgatory.
  18. Of the Supremacy.
  19. Of the efficacy of the Sacraments.
  20. Of Faith.
  21. Of Repentance.
  22. The sins of the Roman Church

He began he exposition with a decidedly unfriendly quotation from Revelation 18:4:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Go out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues….

His intent, as he went on to make clear, was to identify Rome as the whore of Babylon:

And the whore of Babylon, as by all circumstances may be gathered, is the state or regiment of a people that are the inhabitants of Rome and appertain thereto. This may be proved by the interpretation of the holy Ghost: for in the last verse of the seventeenth Chapter, the woman, that is, the whore of Babylon, is said to be a city which reigns over the kings of the earth: now in the days when Saint John penned this book of Revelation, there was no city in the world that ruled over the kings of the earth but Rome; it then being the seat where the Emperor put in execution his imperial authority. Again, in the seventh verse she is said to sit on a beast having seven heads and ten horns: which seven heads be seven hills, verse 9. whereon the woman sits, and also they be seven kings. Therefore by the whore of Babylon is meant a city standing on seven hills. Now it is well known, not only to learned men in the Church of God, but even to the heathen themselves, that Rome alone is the city built on seven distinct hills….

In response to the charge that to separate from Rome is schism, Perkins replied:

…all those who will be saved, must depart and separate themselves from the faith and religion of this present church of Rome. And whereas they are charged with schism that separate on this manner; the truth is, they are not schismatics that do so, because they have the commandment of God for their warrant: and the party is the schismatic in whom the cause of this separation lies: and that is the Church of Rome, namely, the cup of abomination in the whores hand, which is their heretical and schismatical religion

The Problem Of Sin And Free Will
His first charge against Rome, which he notes is not the principal issue, is that the Roman communion has corrupted the doctrine of sin. It comes under the heading of free will, which he defined thus:

Free-will both by them and us, is taken for a mixed power in the mind and will of man; whereby discerning what is good and what is evil, he doth accordingly choose or refuse the same.

He identified three aspects of free will. Natural, human, and spiritual. The question is whether, after the fall, humans have this power. He began to address this question the same way Augustine began with the Pelagians (and semi-Pelagians!) and the way Thomas Boston would do after Perkins, with the fourfold state of humanity:

Man must be considered in a four-fold estate, as he was created, as he was corrupted, as he is renewed, as he shall be glorified. In the first estate, we ascribe to mans will liberty of nature, in which he could will or not nill [to be unwilling] either good or evil: in the third, liberty of grace: in the last, liberty of glory. All the doubt is of the second estate: and yet therein also we agree

“All the doubt is of the second….” The issue between Rome and Protestants is what are the effects of the fall. How sinful are we? The great attraction of semi-Pelagianism has always been that they avoid to obvious and gross error of the Pelagians, who denied any legal or spiritual connection between Adam and us, formally by affirming our connection with Adam. They affirm that in Adam’s fall sinned we all but they deny what Paul, Augustine, the medieval neo-Augustinians, and the Protestants affirm, namely that the effect of Adam’s sin is extensive and intensive. According to the semi-Pelagians, whether in Rome or out, we’re not that sinful. In this case, they assert that we are not so sinful that we cannot do our part in cooperation with grace, which is said to make it possible.

He distinguished between different aspects of human freedom. On the question of what Luther and Melanchthon called “external freedom,” i.e., the lack of compulsion, there is no disagreement:

Human actions are such as are common to all men good and bad, as to speak, and use reason, the practice of [al]mechanical and liberal arts, and the outward performance of civil and ecclesiastical duties; [such] as to come to [the] church, to speak and preach the word, to reach out the hand to receive the Sacrament, and to lend the ear to listen outwardly to that which is taught. And hither we may refer the outward actions of civil virtues: as namely, justice, temperance, gentleness, and liberality.

The Augustinian and Protestant doctrine of corruption (pravitas) does not teach that humans are as wicked as they could be. In the providence of God, by which the Spirit restrains evil, humans are capable of civil, outward, virtues.

Protestants agree with Rome that when fallen humans sin they do so without compulsion.

[I]n these we likewise join with the Papists, and teach, that in sins or evil actions man have freedom of will.

On Free Will And Regeneration
Perkins says that we Protestants even agree with Rome, in part on a second part of spiritual willing.

We likewise in part join with the Church of Rome, and say, that in the first conversion of a sinner, man’s free-will concurs with Gods grace, as a fellow or co-worker in some sort. For in the conversion of a sinner three things are required: the Word, God’s spirit, and man’s will, for man’s will is not passive in all and every respect, but has an action in the best conversion and change of the soul. When any man is converted, this work of God is not done by compulsion, but he is converted willingly: and at the very time when he is converted, by Gods grace he wills his conversion.

The point of discussion is what we now call “regeneration,” not sanctification as much as the moment of awakening from death to life. He quoted Augustine to the effect that when God gives quickening grace he also gives “a desire and will” simultaneously. We will freely but we do so with a renewed, Spirit-given, will. When he gives faith the Spirit gives a new will causing the will to “desire faith and to willingly receive the gift of believing….” So, even in regeneration we do not act under compulsion because, as Perkins noted, “no man can receive grace utterly against his will, considering [that] will constrained is no will.”

On free will, the difference between confessional Protestants and Rome is the effect of the fall.

The Papists say, mans will concurs and works with Gods graces in the first conversion of a sinner, by itself, and by it own natural power: and is only helped by the Holy Ghost. We say, that mans will works with grace in the first conversion: yet not of it self, but by grace. Or thus: They say, will has a natural cooperation: we deny it, and say it has cooperation only by grace, being in itself not active but passive, willing well only as it is moved by grace, whereby it must first be acted and moved, before it can act or will.

The difference between Rome and Protestants is illustrated by the different analogies we use. They use the analogy of a prisons and prisoners, who are said to be bound and weak, who are “but living in part” i.e., “not wholly dead” and therefore “yet has ability to stir….” On this image, if the warden [the Holy Spirit] “and do but untie his bands, and reach him his hand of grace, then can [the prisoner] stand of himself, and will his own salvation, or any thing else that is good.”

We Protestants, however, use a different image to describe the human condition after the fall: death. Perkins wrote that we must describe the prisoner as he actually is, “even stark dead” and “one that lies rotten in the grave, not having any ability or power to move or stir: and therefore he cannot so much as desire to do any thing that is truly good of himself” who is utterly dependent upon the Spirit, who

must first come and put a new soul into him, even the spirit of grace to quicken and revive him: and then being thus revived, the will begins to will good things at the very same time, when God by his spirit first infuses grace.

This is, as Perkins wrote, “the true difference between us and the Church of Rome in this point of free will.” The issue is not whether we sinned in Adam but whether, as Perkins put it, “after baptism…how far forth it remains after baptism.” In other words, after baptism, how sinful are we. This is important because, as he wrote, “hereupon depend many points of Popery.”

The Reformed and Romanists agree that after baptism “natural corruption” is abolished but we disagree as to what extent. For Perkins there were three things in original sin:

  1. The punishment (the first and second death)
  2. Guiltiness (the binding up of the creature unto punishment)
  3. The fault (offending of God)

Under the third heading he addressed our guilt in Adam, the corruption of the heart, i.e., a natural inclination and proclivity to “any thing that is evil or against the law of God.”

According to Perkins, for the regenerate, in baptism, “the punishment of original sin is taken away” because “There is no condemnation (saith the Apostle) to them that be in Jesus Christ, Rom. 8. 1.”

Working backward, guilt is also taken away in the regenerate (i.e., those given new life). He cautioned that this is true of the person regenerate but not of the “sin in the person.” His clear intent was to restrict these benefits to the regenerate and he did not attribute the power of regeneration (new life) to the sacrament of baptism. In effect he was saying that Baptism was the sign and seal to the regenerate of what is promised in the gospel. He continued to explain that the corruption of sin remains until death.

Where he differ with Rome, however, concerns “the manner, and the measure of the abolishment of this sin.” Rome teaches, he argued, that, in baptism, original sin is “taken away” so completely that “it ceases to be a sin properly” so that it is now, after baptism, only a “want, a defect, a weakness” which leaves the potential of sin “like tinder” that is ready to burst into flames. They take this position in order to make it possible for them to “uphold some gross opinions of theirs namely, that a man in this life may fulfill the law of God: and do good works void of sin: that he may stand righteous at the bar of God’s judgement by them.”

In contrast, the Reformed teach that though “original sin be taken away in the regenerate” nevertheless it remains in them after baptism not only as “a want and weakness” but “as sin….”

He appealed to Romans 7:17. Sin, not mere want or weakness, dwells in baptized believers. Further, baptized infants “die the bodily death before they come to the years of discretion.” If baptism removes original sin in the way Rome claims there would be no cause of death them. Third, concupiscence (sinful desire) remains after baptism (Galatians 5:17 and (James 1:14). Finally, under this heading, Perkins appealed to Augustine (Epistle 29), where he argued that in baptism the reigning power of sin is broken but not that there is no sin whatever.

Perkins concluded this section by addressing four objections the essence of which has to do with defining sin. According to Perkins, Rome is Pelagianizing. Rome’s account of sin does not match the biblical doctrine of sin and it doesn’t square with Augustine’s (mature) doctrine of sin against the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians. Rome is implicitly perfectionist. Once again, according to Rome, in Adam we are sinful but we are not so sinful (depraved) that we cannot do our part, cooperate with grace unto sanctification and thence to justification.

Assurance Of Salvation
Perkins’ third point against Rome concerned the assurance of salvation. According to Perkins, the Protestants and Rome agree that:

  1. A man in this life may be certain of salvation; and the same thing does the Church of Rome teach and hold (William Perkins, A Reformed Catholic 562).
  2. A man is to put a certain trust [“affiance”] in God’s mercy in Christ for the salvation of his soul
  3. Assurance of salvation in our hearts is joined doubting; and there is no man so assured of his salvation, but he at sometime doubts
  4. A man may be certain of the salvation of men, or of the Church by Catholic faith: and so say we.
  5. A man by faith may be assured of his own salvation through extraordinary revelation, as Abraham and others were, and so do we.

The disagreements between the Reformed faith and Rome on assurance are quite substantial. Perkins wrote,

We hold that a man may be certain of his salvation in his own conscience even in this life, and that by ordinary and special faith. They hold that a man is certain of his salvation only by hope: both of us hold a certainty, we by faith, they by hope (ibid, 563).

There have been some Reformed writers who made assurance a second blessing. There are some who continue to teach that assurance may be had only by a special work of the Spirit. This is closer to the Roman dogma than to the confessional Reformed faith. According to Roman dogma, assurance is only “only probable.” Further, by contrast we “hold and avouch that our certainty by true faith is infallible.”

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), which had been widely used in Latin and English by the time Perkins wrote, confessed that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. The first question began with “trust” (German) or “consolation” (Latin). Our comfort, trust, consolation is that we belong to Christ. It’s not that might belong or we belong if we meet a test. Our comfort is that we cannot be separated from Christ.

According to the Heidelberg Catechism, true faith is “a certain knowledge and a hearty trust” (following the German text). The Latin text, with which Perkins was certainly familiar defined faith as not only knowledge (notitia) “by which we firmly assent to all things, which God works in us by his Word, but also a certain trust (certa fiducia) kindled (accensa) in my heart by the Holy Spirit through the gospel….” In fact, the catechism refers to certainty no fewer than nine times.

Perkins summarized the difference between Rome and the Reformed thus:

our confidence comes from certain and ordinary faith: theirs from hope, ministering (as they say) but a conjectural certainty.

He anticipates three objections from Rome:

  1. Where there is no word, there is no faith, for these two are relatives: but there is no word of God, saying, Cornelius believe thou, Peter believe thou, and thou shalt be saved (ibid);
  2. It is no article of the Creed, that a man must believe his own salvation: and therefore no man is bound thereto
  3. We are taught to pray for the pardon of our sins day by day, Mat. 6 12. and all this were needless, if we could be assured of pardon in this life.

Perkins replied:

It is true. God does not speak to men particularly, “Believe and you shall be saved. But yet does he that which is answerable hereunto, in that he gives a general promise, with a commandment to apply the same: and has ordained the holy ministry of the word to apply the same to the persons of the hearers in his own name: and that is as much as if the Lord himself should speak to men particularly. To speak more plainly: in the Scripture the promises of salvation be indefinitely propounded: it does not say any where, “If John will believe, he shall be saved;” or “if Peter will believe, he shall be saved;” but “whosoever believes shall be saved.” Now then comes the minister of the word, who standing in the room of God, and in the stead of Christ himself, takes the indefinite promises of the Gospel, and lays them to the hearts of every particular man: and this in effect is as much as if Christ himself should say, “Cornelius believe thou, and thou shalt be saved: Peter believe thou, and thou shalt be saved.”

These promises are not for “hypocrites, heretics, and unrepentant persons.” They are presumptuous, not believing. “Nevertheless it is true in all the elect having the spirit of grace, and prayer: for when God in the ministry of the word being his own ordinance….” When the offer of the gospel comes, they believe by divine grace.

Rome Does Not Understand The Creed

for in that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, every article implies in it this particular faith. And in the first article, “I believe in God,” are three things contained: the first, to believe that there is a God, the second, to believe the same God to be my God, the third, to put my confidence in him for my salvation: and so much contain the other articles, which are concerning God.

Finally, to the objection that we cannot have assurance since that denies the fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer that asks for the forgiveness of sins:

The fourth petition must be understood not so much of our old debts or sins, as of our present and new sins: for as we go on from day to day, so we add sin to sin: and for the pardon of them must we humble our selves and pray. I answer again, that we pray for the pardon of our sins; not because we have no assurance thereof, but because assurance is weak and small: we grow on from grace to grace in Christ, as children do to mans estate by little and little (ibid, 564).

According to Perkins “true faith” is “both an infallible assurance, and a particular assurance of the remission of sins, and of life everlasting.” True faith is not simply a categorical faith that certain things are true of believers but a particular faith, i.e., that things are true of one’s self. He appealed to Matthew 14:31, our Lord’s rebuke of the disciples’ unbelief. To doubt is not to believe. To believe is to trust. As Perkins says, “to be certain and to give assurance is of the nature of faith.” He also quoted Romans 4:20, 22. Abraham, he reminds us, “did not doubt” God’s promise but believed. The “property of faith is to apprehend and apply the promise, and the thing promised, Christ with his benefits” John 1:12).

The very act of communion presupposes a personal, particular assurance:

[H]e sets forth his best hearers, as eaters of his body and drinkers of his blood; and…he intends to prove this conclusion, that to eat his body and to drink his blood, and to believe in him, are all one. Now then, if Christ be as food, and if to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, be to believe in him, then must there be a proportion between eating and believing (ibid, 564).

Perkins also argued the “Holy Ghost particularly testifies to us our adoption, the remission of our sins, and the salvation of our soul. Therefore we may and must particularly and certainly by faith believe the same” (ibid, 565). Rome says that the Spirit does witness to us about our adoption but they reduce it to a “bare sense” or mere “comfortable feeling of God’s love and favor” but it is weak “and oftentimes deceitful.”

Law And Gospel
By definition, the command to pray presupposes faith. One cannot ask anything of God unless he believes that God has made a promise. Part of the Roman problem is that they do not distinguish the law and the gospel:

God in the Gospel commands us to believe the pardon of our own sins, and life everlasting; and therefore we must believe thus much, and may be assured thereof. This proposition is plain by the distinction of the commandments of the law, and of the Gospel, The commandments of the law show us what we must do, but minister no power to perform the thing to be done; but the doctrine and commandments of the Gospel do otherwise, and therefore they are called spirit and life: God with the commandment giving grace that the thing prescribed may be done. Now this is a commandment of the Gospel, to believe remission of sins, for it was the substance of Christ’s ministry, repent and believe the Gospel.

Since Rome makes all of Scripture a species of law (old law or new law) they see no free promise in Scripture. It’s worth noting how naturally Perkins turns to this distinction. It was a basic part of his hermeneutic (way of interpreting Scripture) and a quite uncontroversial piece of mental furniture.

Again, the gospel is not believed in general but in particular. It’s more than a vague hope. When Rome speaks of “hope” she makes it essentially uncertainty. Biblically, hope is certainty. “For the property of true and lively hope is never to make a man ashamed, Romans 5:5.” Rome objects that we can never be sure of our own disposition (to which we we come in the next post the series) and Perkins agrees. We cannot be certain of our disposition but we can be certain of God’s toward us and we may be, on the basis of his gracious promise in Christ revealed in his Holy Word.

The Formal And Material Principles Of The Reformation
In theological terms, there were two principles of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation: the formal principle and the material principle. The first, the formal principle, was the doctrine that Scripture is the sole, unique, and infallible authority for Christian faith and life. The second, the material principle, was the pan-Protestant consensus that sinners are justified, i.e., accepted by God as righteous, solely on the basis of righteousness or merit Christ earned for his people and imputed to them and received by faith that rests and trusts in Christ and his finished work.

In his fourth point, Perkins turned his attention to the material principle of the Reformation, the “justification of a sinner.” He first summarizes the Protestant position and then the Roman view indicating where we disagree. We get a glimpse into the significance of this section (and the heat with which it was composed) when he added, “wherein we are to stand against them, even to death.”

He began with “four rules:”

Rule I. That justification is an action of God, whereby he absolves a sinner, and accepts him to life everlasting for the righteousness and merit of Christ.
Rule II. That justification stands in two things: first, in the remission of sins by the merit of Christ his death: secondly, in the imputation of Christ his righteousness; which is another action of God whereby he accounts and esteems that righteousness which is in Christ, as the righteousness of that sinner which believes in him. By Christ his righteousness we are to understand two things, first, his sufferings specially in his death and passion, secondly, his obedience in fulfilling the law: both which go together: for Christ in suffering obedience and obeying suffered. And the very shedding of his blood to which our salvation is ascribed, must not only be considered as it is passive, that is, a suffering; but also as it is active, that is, an obedience, in which he showed his exceeding love both to his Father and us, and thus fulfilled the law for us. This point if some had well thought on, they would not have placed all justification in remission of sins as they do.

A word of explanation is in order here. Under this point Perkins not only gave a brief account of the Protestant doctrine of justification but articulated it in light of developments after Calvin, one of which was the denial by the Lutheran theologian Kargius and the Reformed theologian Piscator (and others) of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience. To do this they first made a chronological distinction between the obedience Christ owed for himself, which he accomplished in order to qualify himself to be the Savior of sinners by his death. His passion, or “suffering” then, they argued is that part of Christ’s obedience intended to be substitutionary.The majority of the Reformed theologians, however, rejected the chronological distinction in Christ’s work. They taught that his “whole obedience” (to use the language that was proposed at the Westminster Assembly but rejected in favor of “perfect obedience” in order to satisfy the minority who opposed IAO) was both active and passive. This is why Perkins says that Christ suffered while he obeyed and he obeyed while he suffered. For more on this see the chapter on the imputation of active obedience in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.

Rule III. That justification is from Gods mere mercy and grace, procured only by the merit of Christ.
Rule IV. That a man is justified by faith alone; because faith is that alone instrument created in the heart by the holy Ghost, whereby a sinner lays hold of Christ his righteousness, and applies the same unto himself. There is neither hope, nor love, nor any other grace of God within man, that can do this but faith alone.
In contrast, Perkins wrote, the Roman communion teaches that before justification there must be a “preparation” which is worked partly by the Holy Spirit and partly by the “power of natural free will” by which a man disposes himself or a “habitus” is created in him toward future justification.

When Rome says “faith” they mean “a general knowledge” or an intellectual apprehension of one’s sins, “a fear of hell, hope of salvation, love of God, repentance and the like….” When we have attained to these things they are said by Rome to be “fully disposed” to their justification. In short, for Rome, justification is the process, the result of sanctification or grace and cooperation with grace.

For Rome, justification is not God’s declaration that we are righteous on account of what Christ has done for us but a recognition of the righteousness that has been wrought in us by grace and cooperation with grace.

To effect this, two things are required: first, the pardon of sin, which is one part of the first justification: secondly, the infusion of inward righteousness, whereby the heart is purged and sanctified, and this habit [disposition] of righteousness stands specially in hope and charity.

This is the first justification. According to Rome there is a second, when a “just man is made better and more just: and this, say they, may proceed from works of grace: because he which is righteous by the first justification, can bring forth good works: by the merit whereof he is able to make himself more just and righteous: and yet they grant that the first justification comes only of Gods mercy by the merit of Christ.”

The great difference between the Protestants and Rome is the “cause” or ground of justification with God. We say: “Nothing but the righteousness of Christ, which consists partly in his sufferings and partly in his active obedience in fulfilling the rigor of the law.” Rome grants that “in justification sin is pardoned by the merits of Christ, and that none can be justified without remission of sins” and they concede that “the righteousness whereby a man is made righteous before God, comes from Christ” alone. Further, the “most learned among them” teach that Christ’s satisfaction and merit is “imputed to every sinner” who believes and we agree.

The “very point of difference”is that we say that Christ made satisfaction for us and Rome says

The thing…that makes us righteous before God, and causes us to be accepted to life everlasting, is remission of sins, and the habit of inward righteousness; or charity with the fruits thereof.

Perkins hastened to add that we believe in a “habit of righteousness.” We call it sanctification and it is the “most excellent gift of God” but it not the ground of justification but rather the fruit of justification.

William Perkins illustrates the Reformed contention that Rome, by embracing the very error rejected at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), by effectively turning its back on Augustine, by rejecting the biblical doctrines of sin, grace, free will, regeneration, and the biblical distinction between law and gospel, removed itself from true catholicity. Perkins thought that catholicity was a significant category. He valued universality. In other words, he did not consider the Reformed a mere sect nor the Reformation a sectarian movement. In that he might be thought to have answered critics of the Reformation such as Hillaire Belloc, who classified the Reformation as one of the great heresies in the history of the church.

Canones Synodi Dordrechtanae


Habitæ Dordrechti Anno MDCXVIII. et MDCXIX. Cui Plurimi insignes Theologi Reformatarum Ecclesiarum Magnæ Britanniæ Germaniæ, Galliæ, interfuerunt, de Quinque Doctrinæ Capitibus in Ecclesiis Belgicis Controversis: Promulgatum VI. Maii MDCXIX.



Inter plurima, quæ Dominus et Servator noster Jesus Christus militanti suæ Ecclesiæ in hac ærumnosa peregrinatione dedit solatia, merito celebratur illud, quod ei ad Patrem suum in cœleste sanctuarium abiturus reliquit: Ego, inquiens, sum vobiscum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem sæculi. Hujus suavissimæ promissionis veritas elucet in omnium temporum Ecclesia, quæ quum non solum aperta inimicorum violentia, et hæreticorum impietate, sed etiam operta seductorum astutia inde ab initio fuerit oppugnata, sane, si unquam salutari promissæ suæ præsentiæ præsidio eam destituisset Dominus, pridem aut vi tyrannorum fuisset oppressa, aut fraude impostorum in exitium seducta. Sed bonus ille Pastor, qui gregem suum, pro quo animam suam posuit, constantissime diligit, persecutorum rabiem tempestive semper, et exserta sæpe dextera, miraculose repressit, et seductorum vias tortuosas, ac consilia fraudulenta detexit atque dissipavit, utroque se in Ecclesia sua præsentissimum esse demonstrans. Hujus rei illustre documentum exstat in historiis piorum imperatorum, regum, et principum, quos Filius Dei in subsidium Ecclesiæ suæ toties excitavit, sancto domus suæ zelo accendit, eorumque opera, non tantum tyrannorum furores compescuit, sed etiam Ecclesiæ cum falsis doctoribus religionem varie adulterantibus conflictanti, sanctarum synodorum remedia procuravit, in quibus fideles Christi servi conjunctis precibus, consiliis, et laboribus pro Ecclesia et veritate Dei fortiter steterunt, Satanæ ministris, licet in angelos lucis se transformantibus, intrepide se opposuerunt, errorum et discordiæ semina sustulerunt, Ecclesiam in religionis puræ concordia conservarunt, et sincerum Dei cultum ad posteritatem illibatum transmiserunt.
Simili beneficio fidelis noster Servator Ecclesiæ Belgicæ, annos aliquam multos afflictissimæ, gratiosam suam præsentiam hoc tempore testatus est. Hanc enim Ecclesiam a Romani antichristi tyratnnide et horribili papatus idololatria potenti Dei manu vindicatam, in belli diuturni periculis toties miraculose custoditam, et in veræ doctrinæ atque disciplinæ concordia ad Dei sui laudem, admirabile reipub. incrementum, totiusque reformati orbis gaudium efflorescentem, JACOBUS ARMINIUS ejusque sectatores, nomen Remonstruntium præ se ferentes, variis, tam veteribus, quam novis erreribus, primum tecte, deinde aperte tentarunt, et scandalosis dissensionibus ac schismatibus pertinaciter turbatam, in tantum discrimen adduxerunt, ut florentissimæ Ecclesiæ, nisi Servatoris nostri miseratio opportune intervenisset, horribili dissidiorum et schismatum incendio tandem conflagrassent. Benedictus autem sit in sæcula Dominus, qui postquam ad momentum faciem suam a nobis (qui multis modis iram et indignationem ejus provocaveramus) abscondisset, universo orbi testatum fecit, se fœderis sui non oblivisci, et suspiria suorum non spernere. Cum enim vix ulla remedii spes humanitus appareret, illustrissimis et præpotentibus Belgii fæderati ordinibus generalibus hanc mentem inspiravit, ut consilio et directione illustrissimis et fortissimi principis Arausicani legitimis mediis, quæ ipsorum apostolorum, et quæ eos secutæ Ecclesiæ Christianæ exemplis longo temporum decursu sunt comprobata, et magno cum fructu in Ecclesia etiam Belgica antehac usurpata, sævientibus hisce malis obviam ire decreverint, synodumque ex omnibus, quibus præsunt, provinciis, authoritate sua, Dordrechtum convocarint, expetitis ad eam et favore serenissimi ac potentissimi Magnæ Britanniæ regis JACOBI, et illustrissimorum principum, comitum, et rerumpublicarum, impetratis plurimis gravissimis theologis, ut communi tot Reformatæ Ecclesiæ theologorum judicio, ista ARMINII ejusque sectatorum dogmata accurate, et ex solo Dei verbo, dijudicarentur, vera doctrina stabiliretur, et falsa rejiceretur, Ecclesiisque Belgicis concordia, pax et tranquillitas, divina benedictione, restitueretur. Hoc est illud Dei beneficium, in quo exultant Ecclesiæ Belgicæ, et fidelis Servatoris sui miserationes humiliter agnoscunt, ac grate prædicant.
Hæc igitur veneranda Synodus (prævia per summi magistratus authoritatem in omnibus Belgicis Ecclesiis, ad iræ Dei deprecationem et gratiosi auxilii implorationem, precum et jejunii indictione et celebratione) in nomine Domini Dordrechti congregata, divini Numinis et salutis Ecclesiæ accensa amore, et post invocatum Dei’uomen, sancto juramento obstricta, se solam Scripturam sacram pro judicii norma habituram, et in caussæ kujus cognitione et judicio, bona integraque conscientia versaturam esse, hoc egit sedulo magnaque patientia, ut præcipuos horum dogmatum patronos, coram se citatos, induceret ad sententiam suam de Quinque notis doctrinæ Capitibus, sententiæque rationes, plenius exponendas. Sed cum Synodi judicium repudiarent, atque ad interrogatoria, eo, quo æquum erat, modo respondere detrectarent, neque Synodi monitiones, nec generosorum atque amplissimorum ordinum generalium Delegatorum mandata, imo ne ipsorum quidem illustrissimorum et præpotentum DD. ordinum generalium imperia, quicquam apud illos proficerent, aliam viam eorundem Dominorum jussu, et ex consuetudine jam olim in synodis antiquis recepta, ingredi coacta fuit; atque ex scriptis, confessionibus, ac declarationibus, partim antea editis, partim etiam huic Synodo exhibitis, examen illorum quinque dogmatum institutum est. Quod cum jam per singularem Dei gratiam, maxima diligentia, fide, ac conscientia, omnium et singulorum consensu absolutum sit, Synodus hæc ad Dei gloriam, et ut veritatis salutaris integritati, conscientiarum tranquillitati, et paciac saluti Ecclesiæ Belgicæ consulatur, sequens judicium, quo et vera verboque Dei consentanea de praedictis Quinque Doctrinæ Capitibus sententia exponitur, et falsa verboque Dei dissentanea rejicitur, statuit promulgandum.


Quam Synodus Dordrechtana Verbo Dei consentaneam atque in Ecclesiis, Reformatis hactenus receptam esse, judicat, quibusdam Articulis exposita.



Cum omnes homines in Adamo peccaverint, et rei sint facti maledictionis et mortis æternæ, Deus nemini fecisset injuriam, si universum genus humanum in peccato et maledictione relinquere, ac propter peccatum damnare voluisset, juxta illa Apostoli, Totus mundus est obnoxius condemnationi Dei. Rom. 3:19. Omnes peccaverunt et destituuntur gloria Dei. Ver. 23. Et, Stipendium peccati mors est. Rom. 6:23.


Verum in hoc manifestata est charitas Dei, quod Filium suum unigenitum in mundum misit, ut omnis qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam. 1 Johan. 4:9; Johan. 3:16.


Ut autem homines ad fidem adducantur, Deus clementer Iætissimi hujus nuntii præcones mittit, ad quos vult, et quando vult, quorum ministerio homines ad resipiscentiam et fidem in Christum crucifixum vocantur. Quomodo enim credent in eum, de quo non audierint? quomodo autem audient absque prædicante? quomodo prædicabunt, nisi fuerint missi? Rom. 10:14, 15.


Qui huic Evangelio non credunt, super eos manet ira Dei. Qui vero illud recipiunt, et Servatorem Jesum vera ac viva fide amplectuntur, illi per ipsum ab ira Dei et interitu liberantur, ac vita æterna donantur.


Incredulitatis istius, ut et omnium aliorum peccatorum, caussa seu culpa neutiquam est in Deo, sed in homine. Fides autem in Jesum Christum et salus per ipsum, est gratuitum Dei donum, sicut scriptum est: Gratia salvati estis per fidem, et hoc non ex vobis, Dei donum est. Ephes. 2:8. Item: Gratis datum est vobis in Christum credere. Phil. 1:29.


Quod autem aliqui in tempore fide a Deo donantur, aliqui non donantur, id ab æterno ipsius decreto provenit; Omnia enim opera sua novit ab æterno: Actor. 15:18; Ephes. 1:11; secundum quod decretum electorum corda, quantumvis dura, gratiose emollit, et ad credendum inflectit, non electos autem justo judicio suæ malitiæ et duritiæ relinquit. Atque hic potissimum sese nobis aperit profunda, misericors pariter et justa hominum æqualiter perditorum discretio; sive decretum illud electionis et reprobationis in verbo Dei revelatum. Quod ut perversi, impuri, et parum stabiles in suum detorquent exitium, ita sanctis et religiosis animabus ineffabile præstat solatium.


Est autem electio immutabile Dei propositum, quo ante jacta mundi fundamenta ex universo genere humano, ex primæva integritate in peccatum et exitium sua culpa prolapso, secundum liberrimum voluntatis suæ beneplacitum, ex mera gratia, certam quorundam hominum multitudinem, aliis nec meliorum, nec digniorum, sed in communi miseria cum aliis jacentium, ad salutem elegit in Christo, quem etiam ab æterno Mediatorem et omnium electorum caput, salutisque fundamentum constituit; atque ita eos ipsi salvandos dare, et ad ejus communionem per verbum et Spiritum suum efficaciter vocare ac trahere; seu vera et ipsum fide donare, justificare, sanctificare, et potenter in Filii sui communione custoditos tandem glorificare decrevit, ad demonstrationem suæ misericordiæ, et laudem divitiarum gloriosæ suæ gratiæ, sicut scriptum est: Elegit nos Deus in Christo, ante jacta mundi fundamenta, ut essemus sancti et inculpati in conspectu ejus, cum charitate; qui prædestinavit nos quos adoptaret in filios, per Jesum Christum, in sese, pro beneplacito voluntatis suæ, ad laudem gloriosæ suæ gratiæ, qua nos gratis sibi acceptos fecit in illo dilecto. Ephes. 1:4, 5, 6. Et alibi: Quos prædestinavit, eos etiam vocavit; ct quos vocavit, eos etiam justificavit; quos autem justificavit, eos etiam glorificavit. Rom. 8:30.


Hæc electio non est multiplex, sed una et eadem omnium salvandorum in Vetere et Novo Testamento, quandoquidem Scriptura unicum prædicat beneplacitum, propositum, et consilium voluntatis Dei, quo nos ab æterno elegit et ad gratiam et ad gloriam; et ad salutem et ad viam salutis, quam præparavit ut in ea ambulemus.


Eadem hæc electio facta est non ex prævisa fide, fideique obedientia, sanctitate, aut alia aliqua bona qualitate et dispositione, tanquam caussa sen conditione in homine eligendo prærequisita, sed ad fidem, fideique obedientiam, sanctitatem, etc. Ac proinde electio est fons omnis salutaris boui: unde fides, sanctitas, et reliqua dona salvifica, ipsa denique vita æterna, ut fructus et effectus ejus profluunt, secundum illud Apostoli: Elegit nos (non quia eramus, sed) ut essemus sancti et inculpati in conspectu ejus in charitate. Ephes. 1:4.


Caussa vero hujus gratuitæ electionis, est solum Dei beneplacitum, non in eo consistens, quod certas qualitates seu actiones humanas, ex omnibus possibilibus, in salutis conditionem elegit; sed in eo, quod certas quasdam personas ex communi peccatorum multitudine sibi in peculium adscivit, sicut scriptum est: Nondum natis pueris, cum neque boni quippiam fecissent neque mali, etc., dictum est (nempe Rebeccæ), Major serviet minori, sicut scriptum est, Jacob dilexi, Esau odio habui. Rom. 9:11, 12, 13. Et, Crediderunt quotquot erant ordinati ad vitam æternam. Act. 13:48.


Atque ut Deus ipse est sapientissimus, immutabilis, omniscius, et omnipotens: ita electio ab ipso facta nee interrumpi, nec mutari, revocari, aut abrumpi, nec electi abjici, nee numerus eorum minui potest.


De hac æterna et immutabili sui ad salutem electione, electi suo tempore, variis licet gradibus et dispari mensura, certiores redduntur, non quidem arcana et profunditates Dei curiose scrutando; sed fructus electionis infallibiles, in verbo Dei designatos, ut sunt vera in Christum fides, filialis Dei timor, dolor de peccatis secundum Deum, esuries et sitis justitiæ, etc., in sese cum spirituali gaudio et sancta voluptate observando.


Ex hujus electionis sensu et certitudine, filii Dei majorem indies sese coram Deo humiliandi, abyssum misericordiarum ejus adorandi, seipsos purificandi, et eum, qui ipsos prior tantopere dilexit, vicissim ardenter diligendi, materiam desumunt: tantum abest, ut hac electionis doctrina atque ejus meditatione in mandatorum divinorum observatione segniores, aut carnaliter securi, reddantur. Quod iis justo Dei judicio solet accidere, qui de electionis gratia, vel temere præsumentes, vel otiose et proterve fabulantes, in viis electorum ambulare nolunt.


Ut autem hæc de divina electione doctrina sapientissimo Dei consilio per prophetas, Christum ipsum, atque Apostolos, sub Veteri æque atque sub Novo Testamento, est prædicata, et sacrarum deinde literarum monumentis commendata: ita et hodie in Ecclesia Dei, cui ea peculiariter est destinata, cum spiritu discretionis, religiose et sancte, suo loco et tempore, missa omni curiosa viarum altissimi scrutatione, est proponenda, idque ad sanctissimi nominis divini gloriam, et vividum populi ipsius solatium.


Cæterum æternam et gratuitam hanc electionis nostri gratiam eo vel maxime illustrat, nobisque commendat Scriptura Sacra, quod porro testatur non omnes homines esse electos, sed quosdam non electos, sive in æterna Dei electione præteritos, quos scilicet Deus ex liberrimo, justissimo, irreprehensibili, et immutabili beneplacito decrevit in communi miseria, in quam se sua culpa præcipitarunt, relinquere, nec salvifica fide et conversionis gratia donare, sed in viis suis, et sub justo judicio relictos, tandem non tantum propter infidelitatem, sed etiam cætera omnia peccata, ad declarationem justitiæ suæ damnare, et æternum punire. Atque hoc est decretum reprobationis, quod Deum neutiquam peccati authorem (quod cogitatu blasphemum est) sed tremendum, irreprehensibilem, et justum judicem ac vindicem constituit.


Qui vivam in Christum fidem, seu certam cordis fiduciam, pacem conscientiæ, studium filialis obedientiæ, gloriationem in Deo per Christum in se nondum efficaciter sentiunt, mediis tamen, per quæ Deus ista se in nobis operaturum promisit, utuntur, ii ad reprobationis mentionem non consternari, nec se reprobis accensere, sed in usu mediorum diligenter pergere, ac horam uberioris gratiæ ardenter desiderare et reverenter humiliterque expectare debent. Multo autem minus doctrina de reprobatione terreri debent ii, qui cum serio ad Deum converti, ei unice placere, et e corpore mortis eripi desiderant, in via tamen pietatis et fidei eo usque, quo volunt, pervenire nondum possunt, siquidem linum fumigans se non extincturum, et arundinem quassatam se non fracturum, promisit misericors Deus. Iis autem hæc doctrina merito terrori est, qui Dei et Servatoris Jesu Christi obliti, mundi curis et carnis voluptatibus se totos manciparunt, quamdiu ad Deum serio non convertuntur.


Quandoquidem de voluntate Dei ex verbo ipsius nobis est judicandum, quod testatur liberos fidelium esse sanctos, non quidem natura, sed beneficio fœderis gratuiti, in quo illi cum parentibus comprehenduntur, pii parentes de electione et salute suorum liberorum, quos Deus in infantia ex hac vita evocat, dubitare non debent.


Adversus hanc gratuitæ electionis gratiam, et justæ reprobationis severitatem, obmurmuranti opponimus hoc apostolicum: O homo! tu quis es qui ex adverso responsas Deo? Rom. 9:20. Et illud Servatoris nostri, An non licet mihi quod volo facere in meis? Matt. 20:15. Nos vero hæc mysteria religiose adorantes, cum Apostolo exclamamus: O profunditatem divitiarum tum sapientiæ tum cognitionis Dei! Quam imperascrutabilia sunt Dei judicia, et ejus viæ impervestigabiles! Quis enim cognovit mentem Domini? Aut quis fuit ei a consiliis? Aut quis prior dedit ei ut reddatur ei? Nam ex eo, et per eum, et in eum sunt omnia. Ipsi sit gloria in sæcula. Amen. Rom. 11:33–36.


Quibus Ecclesiæ Belgicæ sunt aliquamdiu perturbatæ. Exposita doctrina Orthodoxa de Electione et Reprobatione, Synodus rejicit Errores eorum:


Qui docent, ‘Voluntatem Dei de servandis credituris, et in fide fideique obedientia perseveraturis, esse totum et integrum electionis ad salutem decretum; nec quicquam aliud de hoc decreto in verbo Dei esse revelatam.’ Hi enim simplicioribus imponunt, et Scripturæ sacræ manifeste contradicunt, testanti Deum non tantum servare velle credituros, sed etiam certos quosdam homines ab æterno elegisse, quos præ aliis in tempore fide in Christum et perseverantia donaret; sicut scriptum est, Manifestum feci nomen tuum hominibus, quos dedisti mihi. Johan. 17:6. Item, Crediderunt quotquot ordinati erant ad vitam æternam. Act. 13:48. Et, Elegit nos ante jacta mundi fundamenta, ut essemus sancti, etc. Ephes. 1:4.


Qui docent, ‘Electionem Dei ad vitam æternam esse multiplicem; aliam generalem et indefinitam, aliam singularem et definitam; et hanc rursum vel incompletam, revocabilem, non peremptoriam, sive conditionatam: vel completam, irrevocabilem, peremptoriam, seu absolutam.’ Item, ‘Aliam electionem esse ad fidem, aliam ad salutem; ita ut electio ad fidem justificantem absque electione peremptoria ad salutem esse possit.’ Hoc enim est humani cerebri commentum extra Scripturas excogitatum, doctrinam de electione corrumpens, et auream hanc salutis catenam dissolvens: Quos prædestinavit, eos etiam vocavit: et quos vocavit, eos etiam justificavit: quos autem justificavit, eos etiam glorificavit. Rom. 8:30.


Qui docent, ‘Dei beneplacitum ac propositum, cujus Scriptura meminit in doctrina electionis, non consistere in eo, quod Deus certos quosdam homines præ aliis elegerit, sed in eo, quod Deus ex omnibus possibilibus conditionibus (inter quas etiam sunt opera legis) sive ex omnium rerum ordine actum fidei, in sese ignobilem, et obedientiam fidei imperfectam, in salutis conditionem elegerit; eamque gratiose pro perfects obedientia reputare, et vitæ æternæ præmio dignam censere voluerit.’ Hoc enim errore pernicioso beneplacitum Dei et meritum Christi enervatur, et homines inutilibus quæstionibus a veritate justificationis gratuitæ, et simplicitate Scripturarum avocantur; illudque Apostoli falsi arguitur; Deus nos vocavit vocatione sancta; non ex operibus, sed ex suo proposito et gratia, quæ data est nobis in Christo Jesu ante tempora sæculorum. 2 Tim. 1:9.


Qui docent, ‘In electione ad fidem hanc conditionem prærequiri, ut homo lumine naturæ recte utatur, sit probus, parvus, humilis, et ad vitam æternam dispositus, quasi ab ipsis electio aliquatenus pendeat.’ Pelagium enim sapiunt, et minime obscure falsi insimulant Apostolum scribentem: Versati sumus olim in cupiditatibus carnis nostrœ, facientes quæ carni et cogitationibus libebant, eramusque natura filii iræ, ut et reliqui. Sed Deus, qui dives est misericordia, propter multam charitatem suam, qua dilexit nos, etiam nos cum in offensis mortui essemus, una vivificavit cum Christo, cujus gratia estis servati, unaque suscitavit, unaque collocavit in cœlis in Christo Jesu; ut ostenderet in seculis supervenientibus supereminentes illas opes suæ gratiæ, pro sua erga nos benignitate in Christo Jesu. Gratia enim estis servati per fidem (et hoc non ex robis, Dei donum est), non ex operibus, ut ne quis glorietur. Ephes. 2:3–9.


Qui docent, ‘Electionem singularium personarum ad salutem, incompletam et non peremptoriam, factam esse ex prævisa fide, resipiscentia, sanctitate et pictate inchoata, aut aliquamdiu continuata: completam vero et peremptoriam ex prævisæ fidei, resipiscentiæ, sanctitatis, et pietatis finali perseverantia: et hanc esse gratiosam et evangelicam dignitatem, propter quam qui eligitur dignior sit illo qui non eligitur: ac proinde fidem, fidei obedientiam, sanctitatem, pietatem, et perseverantiam non esse fructus sive effectus electionis immutabilis ad gloriam, sed conditiones, et caussas sine quibus non, in eligendis complete prærequisitas, et prævisas, tanquam præstitas.’ Id quod toti Scripturæ repugnat, quæ hæc et alia dicta passim auribus et cordibus nostris ingerit: Electio non est ex operibus, sed ex vocante. Rom. 9:11. Credebant quotquot ordinati erant ad vitam æternam. Act. 13:48. Elegit nos in semetipso ut sancti essemus. Ephes. 1:4. Non vos me elegistis, sed ego elegi vos. Johan. 15:16. Si ex gratia, non ex operibus. Rom. 11:6. In hoc est charitas, non quod nos dilexerimus Deum, sed quod ipse dilexit nos, et misit Filium suum. 1 Johan. 4:10.


Qui docent, ‘Non omnem electionem ad salutem immutabilem esse, sed quosdam electos, nullo Dei decreto obstante, perire posse et æternam perire.’ Quo crasso errore et DEUM mutabilem faciunt, et consolationem piorum de electionis suæ constantia subvertunt, et Scripturis sacris contradicunt docentibus, Electos non posse seduci: Matt. 24:24. CHRISTUM datos sibi a Patre non perdere: Johan. 6:39. DEUM quos prædestinavit, vocavit et justificavit, eos etiam glorificare. Rom. 8:30.


Qui docent, ‘Electionis immutabilis ad gloriam nullum in hac vita esse fructum, nullum sensum, nullam certitudinem, nisi ex conditione mutabili et contingente.’ Præterquam enim quod absurdum sit ponere certitudinem incertam, adversantur hæc experientiæ sanctorum, qui cum Apostolo ex sensu electionis sui exultant, Deique hoc beneficium celebrant, qui gaudent cum discipulis, secundum Christi admonitionem, quod nomina sua scripta sunt in cœlis: Luc. 10:20; qui sensum denique electionis ignitis tentationum diabolicarum telis opponunt, quærentes, Quis intentabit crimina adversus electos Dei? Rom. 8:33.


Qui docent, ‘Deum neminem ex mera justa sua voluntate decrevisse in lapsu Adæ et in communi peccati et damnationis statu relinquere, aut in gratiæ ad fidem et conversionem necessariæ communicatione præterire.’ Stat enim illud, Quorum vult, miseretur; quos vult, indurat. Rom. 9:18. Et illud, Vobis datum est nosse mysteria regni cœlorum, illis autem non est datum. Matt. 13:11. Item, Glorifico te, Pater, Domine cæli et terræ, quad hæc occultaveris sapientibus et intelligentibus, et ea detexeris infantibus: etiam, Pater, quia ita placuit tibi. Matt. 11:25, 26.


Qui docent, ‘Caussam cur Deus ad hanc potius, quam ad aliam gentem Evangelium mittat, non esse merum et solum Dei beneplacitum, sed quod hæc gens melior et dignior sit ea, cui Evangelium non communicatur.’ Reclamat enim Moses, populum Israeliticum sic alloquens, En Jehovæ Dei tui sunt cæli, et cæli cœlorum, terra, et quicquid est in ea: Tantum in majores tuos propensus fuit amore Jehova diligendo eos; unde selegit semen eorum post eos, vos inquam, præ omnibus populis, sicut est hodie. Deut. 10:14, 15. Et Christus: Væ tibi Chorazin, væ tibi Bethsaida, quia si in Tyro et Sidone factæ essent virtutes illæ quæ in vobis factæ sunt, in sacco et cinere olim pœnitentiam egissent. Matt. 11:21.

Ita nos sentire et judicare, manuum nostrarum subscriptione testamur.

JOHANNES BOGERMANNUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Leoverdiensis et Synodi Præses.
JACOBUS ROLANDUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis et Præsidis Assessor.
HERMANNUS FAUKELIUS, Pastar Ecclesiæ Middelburgensis et Præsidis Assessor.
SEBASTIANUS DAMMAN, Pastor Ecclesiæ Zutphaniensis et Synodi Scriba.
FESTUS HOMMIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Leydensis et Synodi Scriba.


JOHANNES DAVENANTIUS, Presbyter; Doctor ac Sacrœ Theologiæ publicus Professor in Academia Cantabrigiensi et Collegii Reginalis ibidem Præses.
SAMUEL WARDUS, Presbyter, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Archidiaconus Fauntonnensis, et Collegii Sidneyani in Academia Cantabrigiensi Præfectus.
THOMAS GOADUS, Presbyter, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Cathedralis Ecclesiæ Paulinæ Londinensis Præcentor.
GUALTERUS BALCANQUALLUS, Scoto-Britannus, Presbyter, S. Theologiæ Baccalaureus.


ABRAHAMUS SCULTETUS, S. Theologiæ Doctor et Professor in Academia Heydelbergensi.
PAULUS TOSSANUS, S. Theologiæ Doctor, et Consiliarius in Senatu Ecclesiastico inferioris Palatinatus.
HENRICUS ALTINGIUS, S. Theologiæ Doctor et Professor in Academia Heydelbergensi.


GEORGIUS CRUCIGER, S. Theologiæ Doctor, Professor, et pro tempore Rector Academiæ Marpurgensis.
PAULUS STEINIUS, Concionator Aulicus et S. Theologiæ in Collegio Nobilitatis Adelphico Mauritiano Professor, Cassellis.
DANIEL ANGELOCRATOR, Ecclesiæ Marpurgensis Pastor, et vicinarum ad Lanum et Æderam Superintendens.
RODOLPHUS GOCLENIUS, Senior. Philosophiæ purioris in Academia Marpurgensi Antecessor primarius, et nunc Decanus.


MARCUS RUTIMEYERUS, S. Theologiæ Doctor et Ecclesiæ Bernensis Minister.
SEBASTIANUS BECKIUS, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, et Novi Testamenti Professor in Academia Basiliensi, ibidemque Facultatis Theologice Decanus.
WOLFGANGUS MAYERUS, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Ecclesiæ Basiliensis Pastor.
JOHANNES CONRADUS KOCHIUS, Ecclesiæ Schaphusianœ Minister.


JOHANNES HENRICUS ALSTEDIUS, in illustri Schola Nassovica, quw est Herbornæ, Professor ordinarius.
GEORGIUS FABRICIUS, Ecclesiæ Windeccensis in Comitatu Hanovico Pastor, et vicinarum Inspector.


JOHANNES DEODATUS, in Ecclesia Genevensi Pastor, et in eadem Schola SS. Theologiæ Professor.
THEODORUS TRONCHINUS, Divini verbi Minister in Ecclesiæ Genevensi, et ibidem SS. Theologiæ Professor.


MATTHIAS MARTINIUS, illustris Scholæ Bremensis Rector, et in ea Divinarum literarum Professor.
HENRICUS ISSELBURG, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, in Bremensi Ecclesia ad B. Virginis Jesu Christi servus et in Schola Novi Testamenti Professor.
LUDOVICUS CROCIUS, SS. Theologiœ Doctor, Ecclesiæ Bremensis ad S. Martini Pastor, et in illustri Schola Veteris Testamenti et Philosophiœ Professor.


DANIEL BERNARDUS EILSHEMIUS, Emdanæ Ecclesiæ Pastor senior


JOHANNES POLYANDER, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, atque in A cademia Leydensi Professor.
SIBRANDUS LUBERTUS, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, et Professor in A cademia Frisiorum.
FRANCISCUS GOMARUS, Sacrosanctæ Theologiæ Doctor, et Professor in Academia Groningæ et Omlandiæ.
ANTONIUS TYSIUS, Sacræ Theologiœ in illustri Schola Geldro-Velavica, quæ est Hardervici, Professor.
ANTONIUS WALÆUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Middelburgensis, et ex ejusdem urbis illustri Schola inter Theologos ad Synodum evocatus.


GUILIELMUS STEPHANI, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, et Arnhemiensis Ecelesiæ Pastar.
ELLARDUS A MEHEN, Ecclesiæ Hardrovicenæ Pastor.
JOHANNES BOUILLET, Pastor Ecclesiæ Warnsfeldensis.
JACOBUS VERHEYDEN, Senior, Ecclesiæ Noviomagensis et Scholæ Rector.


BALTHASAR LYDIUS, M. F. Pastor Ecclesiæ Dei in urbe Dordrechto.
HENRICUS ARNOLDI, Ecclesiastes Delphensis.
GISBERTUS VOETIUS, Ecclesiæ Heusdanæ Pastor.
ARNOLDUS MUSIUS AB HOLY, Baillivus Suyd-Hollandiæ, Senior Ecclesiæ Dordrechtanæ.
JOHANNES DE LAET, Senior Ecclesiæ Legdensis.


JACOBUS TRIGLANDIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.
ABRAHAMUS A DORESLAER, Pastor Ecclesiæ Enchusanæ.
SAMUEL BARTHOLDUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Monachodammensis.
THEODORUS HEYNGIUS, Senior Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.
DOMINICUS AB HEEMSKERCK, Senior Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.


GODEFRIDUS UDEMANNUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Ziericzeanœ.
CORNELIUS REGIUS, Ecclesiæ Goesanæ Pastor.
LAMBERTUS DE RYCKE, Ecclesiæ Bergizomianœ Pastor.
JOSIAS VOSBERGIUS, Senior Ecclesiæ Middelburgensis.
ADRIANUS HOFFERUS, urbis Zirizææ Senator, et Ecclesiæ ibidem Senior.


JOHANNES DIBBEZIUS, Pastor Dordracenus, Synodi Orthodoxæ Ultrajectinæ Deputatus.
ARNOLDUS OORTCAMPIUS, Ecclesiæ A mersfortianæ Pastor.


FLORENTIUS JOHANNES, Jesu Christi crucifixi Servus in Ecclesia Snecana.
PHILIPPUS DANIELIS EILSHEMIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Harlingensis.
KEMPO HARINXMA A DONIA, Senior Ecclesiæ Leoverdiensis.
TACITUS AB AYSMA, Senior Ecclesiæ in Buirgirt Hichtum, et Hartwardt.


CASPARUS SIBELIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Daventriensis.
HERMANNUS WIFERDINGIUS, Ecclesiæ Swollanæ in Evangelio Christi Minister.
HIERONYMUS VOGELLIUS, Hasseltanæ Ecclesiæ Pastor, tempore deputationis inserviens Ecclesiæ Orthodoxæ Campensi.
JOHANNES LANGIUS, Ecclesiastes Vollenhovianus.
JOHANNES A LAUWICK, tanquam Senior deputatus.


CORNELIUS HILLENIUS, Servus Jesu Christi in Ecclesia Groningana.
GEORGIUS PLACIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Appingadammonensis.
WOLFGANGUS AGRICOLA, Pastor Ecclesiæ Bedumanæ.
WIGBOLDUS HOMERUS, Ecclesiæ Midwoldanæ Pastor.
EGBERTUS HALBES, Ecclesiæ Groninganæ Senior.
JOHANNES RUFELAERT, Senior Ecclesiæ Stedumanæ.


THEMO AB ABSCHEBERG, Pastor Ecclesiæ Meppelensis.
PATROCLUS ROMELINGIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Rhuinensis.


DANIEL COLONIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Leydensis, et Regens Collegii Gallo-Belgici in Academia Leydensis.
JOHANNES CRUCIUS, Pastor Ecclesiæ Haerlemensis.
JOHANNES DOUCHER, Pastor Ecclesiæ Flissinganæ.
JEREMIAS DE POURS, Ecclesiæ Gallo-Belgicæ Middelburgensis Pastor.
EVERARDUS BECKERUS, Senior Ecclesiæ Gallo-Belgicæ Middelburgensis.
PETRUS PONTANUS, Senior Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.


Articulus Primus.

Deus non tantum est summe misericors, sed etiam summe justus. Postulat autem ejus justitia (prout se in verbo revelavit), ut peccata nostra, adversus infinitam ejus majestatem commissa, non tantum temporalibus, sed etiam æternis, tum animi, tum corporis, pœnis puniantur: quas pœnas effugere non possumus, nisi justitiæ Dei satisfiat.


Cum vero ipsi satisfacere, et ab ira Dei nos liberare non possimus, Deus ex immensa misericordia Filium suum unigenitum nobis Sponsorem dedit, qui, ut pro nobis satisfaceret, peccatum et maledictio in cruce pro nobis, seu vice nostra, factus est.


Hæc mors Filii Dei est unica et perfectissima pro peccatis victima et satisfactio, infiniti valoris et pretii, abunde sufficiens ad totius mundi peccata expianda.


Ideo autem hæc mors tanti est valoris et pretii, quia persona, quæ eam subiit, non tantum est verus et perfecte sanctus homo, sed etiam unigenitus DEI Filius, ejusdem æternæ et infinitæ cum Patre et Spiritu S. essentiæ, qualem nostrum Servatorem esse oportebat. Deinde, quia mors ipsius fuit conjuncta cum sensu iræ Dei et maledictionis, quam nos peccatis nostris eramus commeriti.


Cæterum promissio Evangelii est, ut quisquis credit in Christum crucifixum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam. Quæ promissio omnibus populis et hominibus, ad quos Deus pro suo beneplacito mittit Evangelium, promiscue et indiscriminatim annunciari et proponi debet cum resipiscentiæ et fidei mandato.


Quod autem multi per Evangelium vocati non resipiscunt, nec in Christum credunt, sed infidelitate pereunt, non fit hoc hostiæ CHRISTI in cruce oblatæ defectu, vel insufficientia, sed propria ipsorum culpa.


Quotquot autem vere credunt, et per mortem CHRISTI a peccatis, et interitu liberantur ac servantur, illis hoc beneficium, ex sola Dei gratia, quam nemini debet, ab æterno ipsis in CHRISTO data, obtingit.


Fuit enim hoc Dei Patris liberrimum consilium, et gratiosissima voluntas atque intentio, ut mortis pretiosissimæ Filii sui vivifica et salvifica efficacia sese exereret in omnibus electis, ad eos solos fide justificante donandos, et per eam ad salutem infallibiliter perducendos: hoc est, voluit Deus, ut Christus per sanguinem crucis (quo novum fœdus confirmavit) ex omni populo, tribu, gente, et lingua, eos omnes et solos, qui ab æterno ad salutem electi, et a Patre ipsi dati sunt, efficaciter redimeret, fide (quam, ut et alia Spiritus Sancti salvifica dona, ipsis morte sua acquisivit) donaret, ab omnibus peccatis, tum originali, tum actualibus, tam post, quam ante fidem commissis sanguine suo mundaret, ad finem usque fideliter custodiret, tandemque absque omni labe et macula gloriosos coram se sisteret.


Hoc consilium, ex æterno erga electos amore profectum ab initio mundi in præsens usque tempus, frustra obnitentibus inferorum portis, potenter impletum fuit, et deinceps quoque implebitur: ita quidem ut electi suis temporibus in unum colligantur, et semper sit aliqua credentium Ecclesia in sanguine Christi fundata, quæ illum Servatorem suum, qui pro ea, tanquam Sponsus pro sponsa, animam suam in cruce exposuit, constanter diligat, perseveranter colat, atque hic et in omnem æternitatem celebret.


Exposita doctrina orthodoxa, rejicit Synodus errores eorum:


Qui docent, ‘Quod Deus Pater Filium suum in mortem crucis destinaverit, sine certo ac definito consilio quemquam nominatim salvandi, adeo ut impetrationi mortis Christi sua necessitas, utilitas, dignitas sarta tecta, et numeris suis perfecta, completa atque integra constare potuisset, etiamsi impetrata redemptio nulli individuo unquam acta ipso fuisset applicata.’ Hæc enim assertio in Dei Patris sapientiam meritumque Jesu Christi contumeliosa, et Scripturæ contraria est. Sic enim ait Servator: Ego animam pono pro ovibus, et agnosco eas. Johan. 10:15, 27. Et de Servatore Esaias propheta: Cum posuerit se sacrificium pro reatu, videbit semen, prolongabit dies, et voluntas Jehovæ in manu ejus prosperabitur. Esai. 53:10. Denique, articulum Fidei, quo Ecclesiam credimus, evertit.


Qui docent, ‘Non fuisse hunc finem mortis Christi, ut novum gratiæ fœdus suo sanguine reipsa sanciret, sed tantum, ut nudum jus Patri acquireret, quodcunque fœdus, vel gratiæ, vel operum, cum hominibus denuo ineundi.’ Hoc enim repugnat Scripturæ, quæ docet, Christum melioris, id est, novi fœderis Sponsorem et Mediatorem factum esse. Heb. 7:22. Et, Testamentum in mortuis demum ratum esse. Heb. 9:15, 17.


Qui docent, ‘Christum per suam satisfactionem, nullis certo meruisse ipsam salutem et fidem, qua hæc Christi satisfactio ad salutem efficaciter applicetur, sed tantum Petri acquisivisse potestatem vel plenariam voluntatem, de novo cum hominibus agendi, et novas, quascunque vellet conditiones, præscribendi, quarum præstatio a libero hominis arbitrio pendeat, atque ideo fieri potuisse, ut vel nemo, vel omnes eas implerent.’ Hi enim de morte Christi nimis abjecte sentiunt, primarium fructum seu beneficium per eam partum nullatenus agnoscunt, et Pelagianum errorem ab inferis revocant.


Qui docent, ‘Fœdus illud novum gratiæ, quod Deus Pater, per mortis Christi interventum cum hominibus pepigit, non in eo censistere, quod per fidem, quatenus meritum Christi apprehendit, coram Deo justificemur et salvemur; sed in hoc, quod Deus, abrogate perfectæ obedientiæ legalis exactione, fidem ipsam et fidei obedientiam imperfectam pro perfecta legis obedientia reputet, et vitæ æternæ præmio gratiose dignam censeat.’ Hi enim contradicunt Scripturæ, Justificantur gratis, ejus gratia, per redemptionem factam in Jesu Christo, quem proposuit Deus placamentum per fidem in sanguine ejus. Rom. 3:24, 25. Et cum impio Socino, novam et peregrinam hominis coram Deo justificationem, contra totius Ecclesiæ consensum, inducunt.


Qui docent, ‘Omnes homines in statum reconciliationis et gratiam fœderis esse assumptos, ita ut nemo propter peccatum originale sit damnationi obnoxius, aut damnandus, sed omnes ab istius peccati reatu sint immunes.’ Hæc enim sententia repugnat Scripturæ, affirmanti nos natura esse filios iræ. [Ephes. 2:3.]


Qui impetrationis et applicationis distinctionem usurpant, ut incautis et imperitis hanc opinionem instillent: Deum, quantum ad se attinet, omnibus hominibus ex æquo ea beneficia voluisse conferre, quæ per mortem Christi acquiruntur; quod autem quidam præ aliis participes fiant remissionis peccatorum, et vitæ æternæ, discrimen illud pendere ex libero eorum arbitrio, se ad gratiam indifferenter oblatam applicante, non autem ex singulari misericordiæ dono, efficaciter in illis operante, ut præ aliis gratiam illam sibi applicent. Nam isti, dum simulant se distinctionem hanc sano sensu proponere, populo perniciosum Pelagianismi venenum conantur propinare.


Qui docent, ‘CHRISTUM, pro iis, quos DEUS summe dilexit, et ad vitam æternam elegit, mori nec potuisse, nec debuisse, nec mortuum esse, cum talibus morte CHRISTI non sit opus.’ Contradicunt enim Apostolo dicenti: Christus dilexit me, et tradidit seipsum pro me. Galat. 2:20. Item, Quis est, qui crimina intentet adversus electos DEI? DEUS est is, qui justificat. Quis est qui condemnet? CHRISTUS est, qui mortuus est. Rom. 8:33, 34: nimirum, pro illis. Et Salvatori assevcranti, Ego pono animam meam pro ovibus meis, Johan. 10:15. Et, Hoc est præceptum meum, ut diligatis alii alios, sicut ego dilexi vos. Majorem dilectionem nemo habet, quam ut ponat animam suam pro amicis. Johan. 15:12, 13.

Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.


Articulus Primus.

Homo ab initio ad imaginem DEI conditus vera et salutari sui creatoris et rerum spiritualium notitia in mente, et justitia in voluntate et corde, puritate in omnibus affectibus exornatus, adeoque totus sanctus fuit; sed Diaboli instinctu, et libera sua voluntate a Deo desciscens, eximiis istis donis seipsum orbavit: atque e contrario eorum loco cœcitatem, horribiles tenebras, vanitatem, ac perversitatem judicii in mente, malitiam, rebellionem, ac duritiem in voluntate et corde, impuritatem denique in omnibus affectibus contraxit.


Qualis autem post lapsum fuit homo, tales et liberos procreavit, nempe corruptus corruptos; corruptione ab Adamo in omnes posteros [solo Christo excepto] non per imitationem [quod Pelagiani olim voluerunt], sed per vitiosæ naturæ propagationem, justo Dei judicio, derivata.


Itaque omnes homines in peccato concipiuntur, et filii iræ nascuntur, inepti ad omne bonum salutare, propensi ad malum, in peccatis mortui, et peccati servi; et absque Spiritus Sancti regenerantis gratia, ad Deum redire, naturam depravatam corrigere, vel ad ejus correctionem se disponere nec volunt, nec possunt.


Residuum quidem est post lapsum in homine lumen aliquod naturæ, cujus beneficio ille notitias quasdam de Deo, de rebus naturalibus, de discrimine honestorum et turpium retinet, et aliquod virtutis ac disciplinæ externæ studium ostendit: sed tantum abest, ut hoc naturæ lumine ad salutarem Dei cognitionem pervenire, et ad eum se convertere possit, ut ne quidem eo in naturalibus ac civilibus recte utatur, quinimo qualecumque id demum sit, id totum variis modis contaminet, atque in injustitia detineat, quod dum facit, coram Deo inexcusabilis redditur.


Quæ luminis naturæ, eadem hæc Decalogi per Mosen a Deo Judæis peculiariter traditi est ratio: cum enim is magnitudinem quidem peccati retegat, ejusque hominem magis ac magis reum peragat, sed nec remedium exhibeat, nec vires emergendi ex miseria conferat, adeoque per carnem infirmatus transgressorem maledictione relinquat, non potest homo per eum salutarem gratiam obtinere.


Quod igitur nec lumen naturæ, nec lex potest, id Spiritus Sancti virtute præstat Deus, per sermonem, sive ministerium reconciliationis, quod est Evangelium de Messia, per quod placuit Deo homines credentes tam in Veteri, quam in Novo Testamento servare.


Hoc voluntatis suæ mysterium Deus in Veteri Testamento paucioribus patefecit, in Novo Testamento pluribus, sublato jam populorum discrimine, manifestat. Cujus dispensationis caussa, non in gentis unius præ alia dignitate, aut meliore luminis naturæ usu, sed in liberrimo beneplacito, et gratuita dilectione DEI est collocanda. Unde illi, quibus præter et contra omne meritum tanta fit gratia, eam humili et grato corde agnoscere, in reliquis autem, quibus ea gratia non fit, severitatem et justitiam judiciorum DEI cum Apostolo adorare, nequaquam vero curiose scrutari debent.


Quotquot autem per Evangelium vocantur, serio vocantur. Serio enim et verissime ostendit DEUS verbo suo, quid sibi gratum sit, nimirum, ut vocati ad se veniant. Serio etiam omnibus ad se venientibus et credentibus requiem animarum, et vitam æternam promittit.


Quod multi per ministerium Evangelii vocati, non veniunt et non convertuntur, hujus culpa non est in Evangelio, nec in Christo per Evangelium oblato, nec in Deo per Evangelium vocante, et dona etiam varia iis conferente, sed in vocatis ipsis, quorum aliqui verbum vitæ non admittunt securi; alii admittunt quidem, sed non in cor immittunt, ideoque post evanidum fidei temporariæ gaudium resiliunt; alii spinis curarum et voluptatibus sæculi semen verbi suffocant, fructusque nullos proferunt; quod Servator noster seminis parabola docet, Matt. 13.


Quod autem alii, per ministerium Evangelii vocati, veniunt et convertuntur, id non est adscribendum homini, tanquam seipsum per liberum arbitrium ab aliis pari vel sufficiente gratia ad fidem et conversionem instructis discernenti (quod superba Pelagii hæresis statuit), sed Deo, qui ut suos ab æterno in Christo elegit, ita eosdem in tempore efficaciter vocat, fide et resipiscentia donat, et e potestate tenebrarum erutos in Filii sui regnum transfert, ut virtutes ejus, qui ipsos e tenebris in admirandam hanc lucem vocavit, prædicent, et non in se, sed in Domino, glorientur. Scriptura apostolica passim id testante.


Cæterum, quando Deus hoc suum beneplacitum in electis exequitur, seu veram in iis conversionem operatur, non tantum Evangelium illis externe prædicari curat, et mentem eorum per Spiritum Sanctum potenter illuminat, ut recte intelligant et dijudicent quæ sunt Spiritus Dei, sed ejusdem etiam Spiritus regenerantis efficacia ad intima hominis penetrat, cor clausum aperit, durum emollit, præputiatum circumcidit, voluntati novas qualitates infundit, facitque eam ex mortua vivam, ex mala bonam, ex nolente volentem, ex refractaria morigeram, agitque et roborat eam, ut, ceu arbor bona, fructus bonarum actionum proferre possit.


Atque hæc est illa tantopere in Scripturis prædicata regeneratio, nova creatio, suscitatio e mortuis, et vivificatio, quam Deus sine nobis, in nobis operatur. Ea autem neutiquam fit per solam forinsecus insonantem doctrinam, moralem suasionem, vel talem operandi rationem, ut post Dei (quoad ipsum) operationem, in hominis potestate maneat regenerari vel non regenerari, converti vel non converti; sed est plane supernaturalis, potentissima simul et suavissima, mirabilis, arcana, et ineffabilis operatio, virtute sua, secundum Scripturam (quæ ab Authore hujus operationis est inspirata) nec creatione, nec mortuorum resuscitatione minor, ant inferior, adeo ut omnes illi, in quorum cordibus admirando hoc modo Deus operatur, certo, infallibiliter, et efficaciter regenerentur, et actu credant. Atque tum voluntas jam renovata, non tantum agitur et movetur a Deo, sed a Deo acta, agit et ipsa. Quamobrem etiam homo ipse per gratiam istam acceptam credere et resipiscere recte dicitur.


Modum hujus operationis fideles in hac vita plene comprehendere non possunt; in eo interim acquiescentes, quod per istam DEI gratiam, se corde credere, et Servatorem suum diligere, sciant ac sentiant.


Sic ergo fides Dei donum est, non eo quod a Deo hominis arbitrio offeratur, sed quod homini reipsa conferatur, inspiretur, et infundatur. Non etiam quod Deus potentiam credendi tantum conferat, consensum vero seu actum credendi ab hominis deinde arbitrio expectet, sed, quod et velle credere, et ipsum credere in homine is efficiat, qui operatur et velle et facere, adeoque omnia operatur in omnibus.


Hanc gratiam DEUS nemini debet. Quid enim debeat ei, qui prior dare nihil potest, ut ei retribuatur? Imo quid debeat ei, qui de suo nihil habet, præter peccatum et mendacium? Qui ergo gratiam illam accipit, soli Deo æternas debet et agit gratias; qui illam non accipit, is aut hæc spiritualia omnino non curat, et in suo sibi placet: aut securus se habere inaniter gloriatur, quod non habet. Porro de iis, qui externe fidem profitentur, et vitam emendant, optime secundum exemplum apostolorum judicandum et loquendum est, penetralia enim cordium nobis sunt incomperta. Pro aliis autem qui nondum sunt vocati, orandus est Deus, qui quæ non sunt vocat tanquam sint. Neutiquam vero adversus eos est superbiendum, ac si nosmetipsos discrevissemus.


Sicuti vero per lapsum homo non desiit esse homo, intellectu et voluntate præditus, nec peccatum, quod universum genus humanum pervasit, naturam generis humani sustulit, sed depravavit, et spiritualiter occidit; ita etiam hæc divina regenerationis gratia, non agit in hominibus tanquam truncis et stipitibus, nec voluntatem ejusque proprietates tollit, aut invitam violenter cogit, sed spiritualiter vivificat, sanat, corrigit, suaviter simul ac potenter flectit: ut ubi antea plene dominabatur carnis rebellio et resistentia, nunc regnare incipiat prompta, ac sincera Spiritus obedientia; in quo vera et spiritualis nostrœ voluntatis instauratio et libertas consistit. Qua ratione nisi admirabilis ille omnis boni opifex nobiscum ageret, nulla spes esset homini surgendi e lapsu per liberum arbitrium, per quod se, cum staret, præcipitavit in exitium.


Quemadmodum etiam omnipotens illa Dei operatio, qua vitam hanc nostram naturalem producit et sustentat, non excludit sed requirit usum mediorum, per quæ Deus pro infinita sua sapientia et bonitate virtutem istam suam exercere voluit: ita et hæc prædicta supernaturalis DEI operatio, qua nos regenerat, neutiquam excludit, aut evertit usum Evangelii, quod sapientissimus DEUS in semen regenerationis, et cibum animæ ordinavit. Quare, ut Apostoli, et qui eos secuti sunt doctores, de gratia hac DEI ad ejus gloriam et omnis superbiæ depressionem, pie populum docuerunt, neque tamen interim sanctis Evangelii monitis, sub verbi, sacramentorum, et disciplinæ exercitio eum continere neglexerunt: sic etiamnum, absit, ut docentes aut discentes in Ecclesia DEUM tentare præsumant, ea separando, quæ DEUS pro suo beneplacito voluit esse conjunctissima. Per monita enim confertur gratia, et quo nos officium nostrum facimus promptius, hoc ipso DEI in nobis operantis beneficium solet esse illustrius, rectissimeque ejus opus procedit. Cui soli omnis, et mediorum, et salutaris eorum fructus atque efficaciæ debetur gloria in sæcula. Amen.


Exposita doctrina orthodoxa, Synodus rejicit errores eorum:


Qui docent, ‘Proprie dici non posse, quod peccatum originis per se sufficiat toti generi humano condemnando, aut temporales et æternas pœnas promerendo.’ Contradicunt enim Apostolo, dicenti, Rom. 5:12: Per unum hominem peccatum in mundum introiit, ac per peccatum mors, et ita in omnes homines more transiit, in quo omnes peccaverunt. Et vers. 16: Reatus ex uno introiit ad condemnationem. Item, Rom. 6:23: Peccati stipendium mors est.


Qui docent, ‘Dona spiritualia, sive habitus bonos, et virtutes, ut sunt bonitas, sanctitas, justitia, in voluntate hominis, cum primum crearetur, locum habere non potuisse, ac proinde nec in lapsu ab ea separari.’ Pugnat enim hoc cum descriptione imaginis Dei, quam Apostolus ponit Ephes. 4:24; ubi illam describit ex justitia et sanctitate, quæ omnino in voluntate locum habent.


Qui docent, ‘Dona spiritualia non esse in morte spirituall ab hominis voluntate separata, cum ea in sese nunquam corrupta fuerit, sed tantum per tenebras mentis, et affectuum inordinationem impedita; quibus impedimentis sublatis, liberam suam facultatem sibi insitam exerere, id est, quodvis bonum sibi propositum ex se, aut velle, sive eligere, aut non velle, sive non eligere possit.’ Novum hoc et erroneum est, atque eo facit ut extellantur vires liberi arbitrii, contra, Jeremiæ prophetæ dictum, cap. 17:9: Fraudulentum est cor ipsum supra omnia et perversum. Et Apostoli, Ephes. 2:3: Inter quos (homines contumaces) et nos omnes conversati sumus olim in cupiditatibus carnis nostrœ, facientes voluntates carnis ac cogitationum.


Qui docent, ‘Hominem irregenitum non esse proprie nec totaliter in peccatis mortuum, aut omnibus ad bonum’ spirituale viribus destitutum, sed posse justitiam vel vitam esurire ac sitire, sacrificiumque Spiritus contriti, et contribulati, quod Deo acceptum est, offerre.’ Adversantur enim hæc apertis Scripturæ testimoniis, Ephes. 2:1, 5: Eratis mortui in offensis et peccatis. Et Gen. 6:5 et 8:21: Imaginatio cogitationum cordis hominis tantummodo mala est omni die. Adhæc liberationem ex miseria et vitam esurire ac sitire, Deoque sacrificium Spiritus contriti offerre, regenitorum est, et eorum qui beati dicuntur. Psa. 51:19 et Matt. 5:6.


Qui docent, ‘Hominem corruptum et animalem gratia communi, quæ ipsis est lumen naturæ, sive donis post lapsum relictis, tam recte uti posse, ut bono isto usu majorem gratiam, puta evangelicam, sive salutarem, et salutem ipsam gradatim obtinere possit. Et hac ratione DEUM se ex parte sua paratum ostendere, ad Christum omnibus revelandum, quandoquidem media ad Christi revelationem, fidem, et resipiscentiam necessaria, omnibus sufficienter et efficaciter administret.’ Falsum enim hoc esse præter omnium temporum experientiam Scriptura testatur. Psa. 147:19, 20: Indicat verba sua Jacobo, statuta sua et jura sua Israeli, non fecit ita ulli genti, et jura ista non noverunt. Act. 14:16: Deus sivit præteritis ætatibus omnes gentes suis ipsarum viis incedere. Act. 16:6, 7: Prohibiti sunt (Paulus cum suis) a Spiritu Sancto loqui sermonem DEI in Asia. Et, Quum venissent in Mysiam, tentabant ire versus Bithyniam, sed non permisit eis Spiritus.


Qui docent, ‘In vera hominis conversione, non posse novas qualitates, habitus, seu dona in voluntatem ejus a Deo infundi, atque adeo fidem, qua primum convertimur, et a qua fideles nominamur, non esse qualitatem seu donum a Deo infusum; sed tantum actum hominis, neque aliter donum dici posse, quam respectu potestatis ad ipsam perveniendi.’ Contradicunt enim hæc sacris literis, quæ testantur DEUM novas qualitates fidei, obedientiæ, ac sensus amoris sui cordibus nostris infundere. Jer. 31:33: Indam legem meam menti eorum, ac cordi eorum inscribam eam. Esa. 44:3: Effundam aquas super sitientem, et fluenta super aridam; effundam Spiritum meum super semen tuum. Rom. 5:5: Charitas Dei effusa est in cordibus nostris per Spiritum Sanctum, qui datus est nobis. Repugnant etiam continuæ praxi Ecclesiæ, sic apud prophetam orantis: Converte me, Domine, et convertar. Jer. 31:18.


Qui docent, ‘Gratiam’ qua convertimur ad Deum, nihil aliud esse quam lenem suasionem; seu’ (ut alii explicant) ‘nobilissimum agendi modum in conversione hominis, et naturæ humanæ convenientissimum esse, qui fiat suasionibus; nihilque obstare quo minus vel sola moralis gratia homines animales reddat spirituales; imo Deum non aliter quam morali ratione consensum voluntatis producere: atque in eo consistere operationis divinæ efficaciam, qua Satanæ operationem superet, quod Deus æterna bona, Satan autem temporaria promittat.’ Omnino enim hoc Pelagianum est, et universæ Scripturæ contrarium, quæ præter hunc etiam alium, et longe efficaciorem ac diviniorcm Spiritus Sancti agendi modum, in hominis conversione agnoscit. Ezech. 36:26: Dabo vobis cor meum, et spiritum novum dabo in medio vestri, et auferam cor lapideum, daboque cor carneum, etc.


Qui docent, ‘Deum in hominis regeneratione eas suæ omnipotentiæ vires non adhibere, quibus voluntatem ejus ad fidem et conversionem potenter et infallibiliter flectat; sed positis omnibus gratiæ operationibus, quibus Deus ad hominem convertendum utitur, hominem tamen Deo, et Spiritui regenerationem ejus intendenti, et regenerare ipsum volenti, ita posse resistere, et actu ipso sæpe resistere, ut sui regenerationem prorsus impediat, atque adeo in ipsius manere potestate, ut regeneretur vel non regeneretur.’ Hoc enim nihil aliud est, quam tollere omnem efficaciam gratiæ Dei in nostri conversione, et actionem Dei omnipotentis subjicere voluntati hominis, idque contra Apostolos, qui docent, Nos credere pro efficacitate fortis roboris Dei. Ephes. 1:19. Et, Deum bonitatis suæ gratuitam benevolentiam et opus fidei potenter in nobis complere. 2 Thess. 1:11. Item, Divinam ipsius vim omnia nobis donasse, quæ ad vitam et pietatem pertinent. 2 Pet. 1:3.


Qui docent, ‘Gratiam et liberum arbitrium esse causas partiales simul concurrentes ad conversionis initium; nec gratiam ordine causalitatis efficientiam voluntatis antecedere;’ id est, ‘Deum non prius hominis voluntatem efficaciter juvare ad conversionem, quam voluntas ipsa hominis se movet ac determinat.’ Hoc enim dogma Ecclesia prisca in Pelagianis jam olim condemnavit, ex Apostolo Rom. 9:16: Non est volentis nec currentis, sed Dei miserentis. Et, 1 Cor. 4:7: Quis te discernit? Et, Quid habes quod non acceperis? Item, Phil, 2:13: Deus est qui in vobis operatur ipsum velle et perficere pro suo beneplacito.

Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.


Articulus Primus.

Quos Deus secundum propositum suum, ad communionem Filii sui Domini nostri Jesu Christi, vocat, et per Spiritum sanctum regenerat, eos quidem et a peccati dominio et servitute, non autem a carne, et corpore peccati, penitus in hac vita liberat.


Hinc quotidiana infirmitatis peccata oriuntur, et optimis etiam sanctorum operibus nævi adhærescunt: quæ illis perpetuam sese coram Deo humiliandi, ad Christum crucifixum confugiendi, carnem magis ac magia per Spiritum precum et sancta pietatis exercitia mortificandi, et ad perfectionis metam suspirandi, materiam suggerunt; tantisper dum hoc mortis corpore soluti, cum Agno Dei in cœlis regnent.


Propter istas peccati inhabitantis reliquias, et mundi insuper ac Satanæ tentationes, non possent conversi in ista gratia perstare, si suis viribus permitterentur. Sed fidelis est Deus, qui ipsos in gratia semelcollata misericorditer confirmat, et in eadem usque ad finem potenter conservat.


Etsi autem illa potentia Dei vere fideles in gratia confirmantis et conservantis, major est, quam quæ a carne superari possit; non semper tamen conversi ita a Deo aguntur et moventur, ut non possint in quibusdam actionibus particularibus a ductu gratiæ, suo vitio, recedere, et a carnis concupiscentiis seduci, iisque obsequi. Quapropter ipsis perpetuo est vigilandum et orandum, ne in tentationes inducantur. Quod cum non faciunt, non solum a carne, mundo, et Satana, in peccata etiam gravia et atrocia abripi possunt, verum etiam interdum justa Dei permissione abripiuntur. Quod tristes Davidis, Petri, aliorumque sanctorum lapsus, in sacra Scriptura descripti, demonstrant.


Talibus autem enormibus peccatis Deum valde offendunt, reatum mortis incurrunt, Spiritum S. contristant, fidei exercitium interrumpunt, conscientiam gravissime vulnerant, sensum gratiæ nonnunquam ad tempus amittunt: donec per scriam resipiscentiam in vitam revertentibus paternus Dei vultus rursum affulgeat.


Deus enim, qui dives est misericordia, ex immutabili electionis proposito, Spiritum Sanctum, etiam in tristibus lapsibus, a suis non prorsus aufert, nec eousque eos prolabi sinit, ut gratia adoptionis, justificationis statu excidant, aut peccatum ad mortem, sive in Spiritum Sanctum committant, et ab eo penitus deserti in exitium æternum sese præcipitent.


Primo enim in istis lapsibus conservat in illis semen illud suum immortale, ex quo regeniti sunt, ne illud pereat aut excutiatur. Deinde per verbum et Spiritum suum, eos certo et efficaciter renovat ad pœnitentiam, ut de admissis peccatis ex animo secundum Deum doleant, remissionem in sanguine Mediatoris, per fidem, contrito corde, expetant, et obtineant, gratiam Dei reconciliati iterum sentiant, miserationes per fidem ejus adorent, ac deinceps salutem suam cum timore et tremore studiosius operentur.


Ita non suis meritis, aut viribus, sed ex gratuita Dei misericordia id obtinent, ut nec totaliter fide et gratia excidant, nec finaliter in lapsibus maneant aut pereant. Quod quoad ipsos non tantum facile fieri posset, sed et indubie fieret; respectu autem Dei fieri omnino non potest: cum nec consilium ipsius mutari, promissio excidere, vocatio secundum propositum revocari, Christi meritum, intercessio, et custodia irrita reddi nec Spiritus Sancti obsignatio frustranea fieri aut deleri possit.


De hac electorum ad salutem custodia, vereque fidelium in fide perseverantia, ipsi fideles certi esse possunt, et sunt pro mensura fidei, qua certo credunt se esse et perpetuo mansuros vera et viva Ecclesiæ membra, habere remissionem peccatorum, et vitam æternam.


Ac proinde hæc certitudo non est ex peculiari quadam revelatione præter aut extra verbum facta, sed ex fide promissionum Dei, quas in verbo suo copiosissime in nostrum solatium revelavit: ex testimonio Spiritus Sancti testantis cum spiritu nostro nos esse Dei filios et hæredes. Rom. 8:16 Denique ex serio et sancto bonæ conscientiæ et bonorum operum studio. Atque hoc solido obtinendæ victoriæ solatio, et infallibili æternæ gloriæ arrha, si in hoc mundo electi Dei destituerentur, omnium hominum essent miserrimi.


Interim testatur Scriptura fideles in hac vita cum variis carnis dubitationibus conflictari, et in gravi tentatione constitutos hanc fidei plerophoriam, ac perseverantiæ certitudinem, non semper sentire. Verum Deus, Pater omnis consolationis, supra vires tentari eos non sinit, sed cum tentatione præstat evasionem. 1 Cor. 10:13. Ac per Spiritum Sanctum perseverantiæ certitudinem in iisdem rursum excitat.


Tantum autem abest, ut hæc perseverantiæ certitudo vere fideles superbos, et carnaliter securos reddat, ut e contrario humilitatis, filialis reverentiæ, veræ pietatis, patientiæ in omni lucta, precum ardentium, constantiæ in cruce et veritatis confessione, solidique in Deo gaudii vera sit radix: et consideratio istius beneficii sit stimulus ad serium et continuum gratitudinis et bonorum operum exercitium, ut ex Scripturæ testimoniis et sanctorum exemplis constat.


Neque etiam in iis, qui a lapsu instaurantur, lasciviam aut pietatis injuriam procreat rediviva perseverantiæ fiducia; sed multo majorem curam de viis Domini solicite custodiendis, quæ præparatæ sunt ut in illis ambulando perseverantiæ suæ certitudinem retineant, ne propter paternæ benignitatis abusum propitii Dei facies (cujus contemplatio piis vita dulcior, subductio morte acerbior) denuo ab ipsis avertatur, et sic in graviores animi cruciatus incidant.


Quemadmodum autem Deo placuit, opus hoc suum gratiæ per prædicationem Evangelii in nobis inchoare; ita per ejusdem auditum, lectionem, meditationem, adhortationes, minas, promissa, nec non per usum sacramentorum illud conservat, continuat, et perficit.


Hanc de vere credentium ac sanctorum perseverantia, ejusque certitudine, doctrinam, quam Deus ad nominis sui gloriam, et piarum animarum solatium, in verbo suo abundantissime revelavit, cordibusque fidelium imprimit, caro quidem non capit, Satanas odit, mundus ridet, imperiti et hypocritæ in abusum rapiunt, spiritusque erronei oppugnant; sed sponsa Christi ut inæstimabilis pretii thesaurum tenerrime semper dilexit, et constanter propugnavit: quod ut porro faciat procurabit Deus, adversus quem nec consilium valere, nec robur ullum prævalere potest. Cui soli Deo, Patri, Filio, et Spiritui Sancto sit honor et gloria in sempiternum. Amen.


Exposita doctrina orthodoxa, Synodus rejicit errores eorum:


Qui docent, ‘Perseverantiam vere fidelium non esse effectum electionis, aut donum Dei morte Christi partum, sed esse conditionem novi fœderis, ab homine ante sui electionem ac justificationem’ (ut ipsi loquuntur) ‘peremtoriam, libera voluntate præstandam.’ Nam sacra Scriptura testatur eam ex electione sequi, et vi mortis, resurrectionis et intercessionis Christi electis donari. Rom. 11:7: Electio assecuta est, reliqui occalluerunt. Item, Rom. 8:32: Qui proprio Filio non pepercit, sed pro omnibus nobis tradidit ipsum, quomodo non cum eo nobis omnia donabit? Quis intentabit crimina adversus electos Dei? Deus est qui justificat Quis est qui condemnet? Christus in est qui mortuus est, imo qui etiam resurrexit, qui etiam sedet ad dexteram Dei, qui etiam intercedit pro nobis: Quis nos separabit a dilectione Christi?


Qui docent, ‘Deum quidem hominem fidelem sufficientibus ad perseverandum viribus instruere, ac paratum esse eas in ipso conservare si officium faciat: positis tamen illis omnibus, quæ ad perseverandum in fide necessaria sunt, quæque Deus ad conservandam fidem adhibere vult, pendere semper a voluntatis arbitrio, ut perseveret, vel non perseveret.’ Hæc enim sententia manifestum Pelagianismum continet; et homines, dum vult facere liberos, facit sacrilegos, contra perpetuum evangelicæ doctrinæ consensum, quæ omnem gloriandi materiam homini adimit, et hujus beneficii laudem soli divinæ gratiæ transcribit; et contra Apostolum testantem: Deum esse qui confirmabit nos usque in finem inculpatos in die Domini nostri Jesu Christi. 1 Cor. 1:8.


Qui docent, ‘Vere credentes et regenitos non tantum posse a fide justificante, item gratia, et salute totaliter et finaliter excidere, sed etiam reipsa non raro ex iis excidere, atque in æternum perire.’ Nam hæc opinio ipsam justificationis ac regenerationis gratiam, et perpetuam Christi custodiam irritam reddit, contra diserta Apostoli Pauli verba, Rom. 5:8, 9: Si Christus pro nobis mortuus est, quum adhuc essemus peccatores, multo igitur magis, jam justificati in sanguine ejus, servabimur per ipsum ab ira. Et contra Apostolum Johannem, 1 John 3:9: Omnis qui natus est ex Deo, non dat operam peccato: quia semen ejus in eo manet, nec potest peccare, quia ex Deo genitus est. Nec non contra verba Jesu Christi, Johan. 10:28, 29: Ego vitam æternam do ovibus meis, et non peribunt in æternum, nec rapiet eas quisquam de manu mea; Pater meus, qui mihi eas dedit, major est omnibus, nec ullus potest eas rapere de manu Patris mei.


Qui docent, ‘Vere fideles ac regenitos posse peccare peccato ad mortem, vel in Spiritum Sanctum.’ Quum idem Apostolus Johan. [Ep. I.] cap. 5 postquam vers. 16, 17 peccantium ad mortem meminisset, et pro iis orare vetuisset, statim ver. 18 subjungat: Scimus quod quisquis natus est ex Deo, non peccat (nempe illo peccati genere), sed qui genitus est ex Deo, conservat seipsum, et malignus ille non tangit eum.


Qui docent, ‘Nullam certitudinem futuræ perseverantiæ haberi posse in hac vita, absque speciali revelatione.’ Per hanc enim doctrinam vere fidelium solida consolatio in hac vita tollitur, et pontiflciorum dubitatio in Ecclesiam reducitur. Sacra vero Scriptura passim hanc certitudinem, non ex speciali et extraordinaria revelatione, sed ex propriis filiorum Dei signis, et constantissimis Dei promissionibus petit. Imprimis Apostolus Paulus, Rom. 8:39: Nulla res creata potest nos separare a charitate Dei, quæ est in Christo Jesu, Domino nostro. Et Johannes, Epist. I. 3:24: Qui servat mandata ejus, in eo manet, et ille in eo: et per hoc novimus ipsum in nobis manere, ex Spiritu quem dedit nobis.


Qui docent, ‘Doctrinam de perseverantiæ ac salutis certitudine, ex natura et indole sua, esse carnis pulvinar, et pietati, bonis moribus, precibus aliisque sanctis exercitiis noxiam; contra vero de ea dubitare, esse laudabile.’ Hi enim demonstrant se efficaciam divinæ gratiæ, et inhabitantis Spiritus S. operationem ignorare: et contradicunt Apostolo Johanni contrarium disertis verbis affirmanti, Epist. I. 3:2, 3: Dilecti mei, nunc filii Dei sumus; sed nondum patefactum est id quod erimus: scimus autem fore, ut quum ipse patefactus fuerit, similes ei simus, quoniam videbimus eum, sicuti est. Et quisquis habet hanc spem in eo, purificat seipsum, sicut et ille purus est. Hi præterea sanctorum tam Veteris quam Novi Testamenti exemplis redarguuntur, qui licet de sua perseverantia et salute essent certi, in precibus tamen, aliisque pietatis exercitiis, assidui fuerunt.


Qui docent, ‘Fidem temporariorum a justificante et salvifica fide non differre nisi sola duratione.’ Nam Christus ipse Matt. 13:20 et Luc. 8:13 ac deinceps, triplex præterea inter temporarios et veros fideles discrimen manifesto constituit, quum illos dicit semen recipere in terra petrosa, hos in terra bona, seu corde bono: illos carere radice, hos radicem firmam habere: illos fructibus esse vacuos, hos fructum suum diversa mensura, constanter seu perseveranter proferre.


Qui docent, ‘Non esse absurdum, hominem priore regeneratione extincta, iterato, imo sæpius renasci.’ Hi enim per hanc doctrinam negant seminis Dei, per quod renascimur, incorruptibilitatem: adversus testimonium Apostoli Petri, Epist. I. 1:23: Renati non ex semine corruptibili, sed incorruptibili.


Qui docent, ‘Christum nunquam rogasse pro infallibili credentium in fide perseverantia.’ Contradicunt enim ipsi Christo, dicenti, Luc. 22:32: Ego rogavi pro te, Petre, ne deficiat fides tua; et Evangelistæ Johanni testanti, Johan. 17:20, Christum non tantum pro apostolis, sed etiam pro omnibus, per sermonem ipsorum credituris, orasse, ver. 11: Pater sancte, conserva eos in nomine tuo; Et ver. 15: Non oro ut eos tollas e mundo, sed ut conserves eos a malo.


Atque hæc est perspicua, simplex, et ingenua Orthodoxæ de Quinque Articulis in Belgio controversis doctrinæ declaratio, et errorum, quibus Ecclesiæ Belgicæ aliquamdiu sunt perturbatæ, rejectio, quam Synodus ex verbo Dei desumptam, et Confessionibus Reformatarum Ecclesiarum consentaneam esse judicat. Unde liquido apparet eos, quos id minime decuit, citra omnem veritatem, æquitatem, et charitatem, populo inculcatum voluisse:
‘Doctrinam Ecclesiarum Reformatarum de prædestinatione et annexis ei capitibus, proprio quodam genio atque impulsu, animos hominum ab omni pietate et religione abducere: esse carnis et Diaboli pulvinar, arcemque Satanæ, ex qua omnibus insidietur, plurimos sauciet, et multos tum desperationis, tum securitatis jaculis lethaliter configat: eandem facere Deum authorem peccati, injustum, tyrannum, hypocritam; nec aliud esse quam interpolatum Stoicismum, Manicheismum, Libertinismum, Turcismum: eandem reddere homines carnaliter securos, quippe ex ea persuasos electorum saluti, quomodocunque vivant, non obesse, ideoque eos secure atrocissima quæque scelera posse perpetrare; reprobis ad salutem non prodesse, si vel omnia sanctorum opera vere fecerint: eadem doceri Deum nudo puroque voluntatis arbitrio, absque omni ullius peccati respectu, vel intuitu, maximam mundi partem ad æternam damnationem prædestinasse et creasse: eodem modo, quo electio est fons et caussa fidei ac bonorum operum, reprobationem esse caussam infidelitatis et impietatis: multos fidelium infantes ab uberibus matrum innoxios abripi et tyrannice in gehennam præcipitari, adeo ut iis nec baptismus, nec Ecclesiæ in eorum baptismo preces prodesse queant.’
Et quæ ejus generis sunt alia plurima, quæ Ecclesiæ Reformatæ non solum non agnoscunt, sed etiam toto pectore detestantur. Quare quotquot nomen Servatoris nostri Jesu Christi pie invocant, eos Synodus hæc Dordrechtana per nomen Domini obtestatur, ut de Ecclesiarum Reformatarum fide, non ex coacervatis hinc inde calumniis, vel etiam privatis nonnullorum, tum veterum tum recentium doctorum dictis, sæpe etiam aut mala fide citatis, aut corruptis, et in alienum sensum detortis, sed ex publicis ipsarum Ecclesiarum Confessionibus, et ex hac orthodoxæ doctrinæ declaratione, unanimi omnium et singulorum totius Synodi membrorum consensu firmata, judicent. Calumniatores deinde ipsos serio monet, viderint quam grave Dei judicium sint subituri, qui contra tot Ecclesias, contra tot Ecclesiarum Confessiones, falsum testimonium dicunt, conscientias infirmorum turbant, multisque vere fidelium societatem suspectam reddere satagunt.
Postremo hortatur hæc Synodus omnes in Evangelio Christi symmystas, ut in hujus doctrinæ pertractatione, in scholis atque in ecclesiis, pie et religiose versentur, eam tum lingua, tum calamo, ad Divini nominis gloriam, vitæ sanctitatem, et consternatorum animorum solatium accommodent, cum Scriptura secundum fidei analogiam non solum sentiant, sed etiam loquantur; a phrasibus denique iis omnibus abstineant, quæ præscriptos nobis genuini sanctarum Scripturarum sensus limites excedunt, et protervis sophistis justam ansam præbere possint doctrinam Ecclesiarum Reformatarum sugillandi, aut etiam calumniandi. Filius Dei Jesus Christus, qui ad dextram Patris sedens dat dona hominibus, sanctificet nos in veritate, eos qui errant adducat ad veritatem, calumniatoribus sanæ doctrinæ ora obstruat, et fidos verbi sui ministros spiritu sapientiæ et discretionis instruat, ut omnia ipsorum eloquia ad gloriam Dei, et ædificationem auditorum, cedant. Amen.

Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.

Hæc omnia de Quinque Doctrinæ Capitibus Controversis supra comprehensis, ita esse gesta testatur Illustrissimorum ac Præpotentium DD. Ordinum Generalium ad hanc Synodum Deputati, manuum nostrarum subsignatione.


MARTINUS GREGORII D., Consiliarius Ducatus Geldriæ, et Comitatus Zutphaniæ.
HENRICUS VAN ESSEN, Consiliarius Ducatus Geldriæ, et Comitatus Zutphaniæ.




SYMON SCOTTE, Consiliarius et Secretarius Civitatis Middelburgensis.
JACOBUS CAMPE, Ordinum Zelandiæ Consiliarius.




ERNESTUS AB AYLVA, Ordinum Frisiæ Consiliarius, Orientalis Dongriæ Grietmannus.
ERNESTUS AB HARINXMA, Consiliarius primarius in Curia Provinciali Frisiæ





Et Illustribus ac Amplissimis DD. Delegatis a Secretis,


Explicata hactenus, et asserta, per Dei gratiam, veritate, erroribus rejectis, et damnatis, abstersis iniquis calumniis; SYNODUS HÆC DORDRECHTANA (quæ ipsi porro cura superest) serio, obnixe et pro auctoritate, quam ex Dei verbo in omnia suarum Ecclesiarum membra obtinet, in Christi nomine rogat, hortatur, monet, atque injungit omnibus et singulis in Fœderato Belgio Ecclesiarum Pastoribus, academiarum et scholarum Doctoribus, Rectoribus, et Magistris, atque adeo omnibus in universum, quibus vel animarum cura, vel juventutis disciplina est demandata, ut missis quinque notis Remonstrantium Articulis, qui et erronei sunt, et mera errorum latibula, hanc sanam veritatis salutaris doctrinam, ex purissimis verbi divini fontibus haustam, sinceram, et inviolatam, pro viribus et munere suo, conservent: illam populo et juventuti fideliter et prudenter proponant et explicent; usumque ejus suavissimum atque utilissimum, tum in vita, tum in morte, diligenter declarent: errantes ex grege, secus sentientes, et opinionum novitate abreptos, veritatis evidentia mansuete erudiant, si quando det ipsis Deus resipiscentiam, ad agnoscendam veritatem: ut saniori menti redditi, uno spiritu, ore, fide, charitate, Ecclesiæ Dei, et sanctorum communioni, denuo accedant; atque tandem coalescat vulnus Ecclesiæ, et fiat omnium ejus membrorum cor unum et anima una in Domino.
At vero, quia nonnulli e nobis egressi, sub titulo Remonstrantium (quod nomen Remonstrantium ut et Contra-Remonstrantium, SYNODUS perpetua oblivione delendum censet), studiis et consiliis privatis, modis illegitimis, disciplina et ordine Ecclesiæ violato, atque fratrum suorum monitionibus et judiciis contemptis, Belgicas Ecclesias antea florentissimas, in fide et charitate conjunctissimas, in his Doctrinæ Capitibus, graviter et periculose admodum turbarunt: errores noxios et veteres revocarunt, et novos procuderunt, publice et privatim, voce ac scriptis, in vulgus sparserunt, et acerrime propugnarunt: doctrinam, hactenus in Ecclesiis receptam, calumniis et contumeliis enormibus insectandi, nec modum nec finem fecerunt: scandalis, dissidiis, conscientiarum scrupulis, et exagitationibus, omnia passim compleverunt: quæ certe gravia in fidem, in charitatem, in bonos mores, in Ecclesiæ unitatem et pacem, peccata, cum in nullo homine tolerari juste possint, in Pastoribus censura severissima ab omni ævo in Ecclesia usurpata, necessario animadverti debent; SYNODUS, invocato Dei sancto nomine, suæ auctoritatis ex verbo Dei probe conscia, omnium legitimarum tum veterum tum recentium Synodorum vestigiis insistens, et illustrissimorum DD. Ordinum Generalium auctoritate munita, declarat atque judicat, Pastores illos, qui partium in Ecclesia ductores, et errorum doctores sese præbuerunt, corruptæ religionis, scissæ Ecclesiæ unitatis, et gravissimorum scandalorum, citatos vero ad hanc Synodum, intolerandæ insuper adversus supremi magistratus in hac Synodo publicata decreta, ipsamque hanc venerandam Synodum, pervicaciæ, reos et convictos teneri. Quas ob causas, primo Synodus prædictis citatis omni ecclesiastico munere interdicit, eosque ab officiis suis abdicat, et academicis functionibus etiam indignos esse judicat, donec per seriam resipiscentiam, dictis, factis, studiis contrariis abunde comprobatam, Ecclesiæ satisfaciant, et cum eadem vere et plene reconcilientur, atque ad ejus communionem recipiantur: quod nos in ipsorum bonum, et totius Ecclesiæ gaudium unice in Christo Domino nostro exoptamus. Reliquos autem, quorum cognitio ad Synodum hanc Nationalem non devenit, Synodus Provincialibus, Classibus, et Presbyteriis, ex ordine recepto, committit: quæ omni studio procurent ne quid Ecclesia detrimenti vel in præsens capere, vel in posterum metuere possit. Errorum istorum sectatores spiritu prudentiæ discriminent: refractarios, clamosos, factiosos, turbatores, quam primum officiis ecclesiasticis, et scholasticis, quæ sunt suæ cognitionis et curæ, abdicent: eoque nomine monentur, ut nulla interjecta mora, post acceptum hujus Synodi Nationalis judicium, impetrata ad hoc magistratus auctoritate, conveniant, ne lentitudine malum invalescat et roboretur. Ex infirmitate, et vitio temporum lapsos, vel abreptos, et in levioribus forte hæsitantes, aut etiam dissentientes, modestos tamen, sedatos, vitæ inculpatæ, dociles, omni lenitate, charitatis officiis, patientia, ad veram atque perfectam concordiam cum Ecclesia provocent: ita tamen, ut diligenter sibi caveant, ne quemquam ad sacrum ministerium admittant, qui doctrinæ hisce synodicis constitutionibus declaratæ subscribere, eamque docere recuset: neminem etiam retineant, cujus manifesta dissensione, doctrina in hac Synodo tanto consensu comprobata violari, et Pastorum concordia, Ecclesiarumque tranquillitas denuo turbari queat. Præterea veneranda hæc Synodus serio monet ecclesiasticos omnes cœtus, ut invigilent diligentissime in greges sibi commissos, omnibus subnascentibus in Ecclesia novitatibus mature obviam eant, easque tanquam zizania ex agro Domini evellant: attendant scholis et scholarum moderatoribus ne qua ex privatis sententiis et pravis opinionibus juventuti instillatis, postmodum Ecclesiæ et reipub. pernicies denuo creetur. Denique illustrissimis et præpotentibus DD. Fœderati Belgii Ordinibus Generalibus, gratiis reverenter actis, quod tam necessario et opportuno tempore, afflictis et labentibus Ecclesiæ rebus, Synodi remedio clementer succurrerint, probos et fideles DEI servos in suam tutelam receperint, pignus omnis benedictionis et præsentiæ divinæ, verbi nempe ipsius veritatem, in suis ditionibus sancte et religiose conservatam voluerint: nulli labori, nullis sumptibus ad tantum opus promovendum et perficiendum pepercerint: pro quibus eximiis officiis largissimam a Domino et publice et privatim, et spiritualem et temporalem, remunerationem toto pectore SYNODUS comprecatur: Eosdem porro Dominos clementissimos obnixe et demisse rogat, ut hanc salutarem doctrinam, fidelissime ad verbum Dei et Reformatarum Ecclesiarum consensum a Synodo expressam, in suis regionibus solam et publice audiri velint et jubeant: arceant suborientes omnes hæreses et errores, spiritus inquietos et turbulentos compescant: veros et benignos Ecclesiæ nutritios ac tutores sese probare pergant: in personas supra dictas sententiam pro jure ecclesiastico, patriis legibus confirmato, ratam esse velint, et auctoritatis suæ adjecto calculo, synodicas constitutiones immotas et perpetuas reddant.


FESTUS HOMMIUS, Eccl. Leydensis Pastor, et Synodi Nat. Actuarius.

In testimonium Actorum, DANIEL HEINSIUS.


Ordines Generales Fœderati Belgii omnibus qui hasce visuri aut lecturi sunt, salutem. Notum facimus, Quum ad tollendas tristes et noxias illas controversias, quæ aliquot abhine annis cum magno reipubl. detrimento, et pacis Ecclesiarum perturbatione, exortæ sunt super quinque notis Doctrinæ Christianæ Capitibus, eorumque appendicibus, visum nobis fuerit, ex ordine in Ecclesia Dei, ipsaque adeo Belgica, Dordrechtum convocare Synodum Nationalem omnium Ecclesiarum Fæderati Belgii; utque illa maximo cum fructu et reipubl emolumento celebrari posset, non sine gravi molestia, magnisque impensis, ad eandem expetiverimus et impetraverimus complures præstantissimos, doctissimos, et celeberrimos Reformatæ Ecclesiæ Theologos exteros, uti ex prædictæ Synodi Decretorum subscriptione, post singula doctrinæ Capita videre est; delegatis insuper ex singulis provinciis ad ejusdem directionem nostris deputatis, qui in eadem ab initio usque ad finem præsentes curam gererent, ut omnia ibidem in timore Dei, et recto ordine, ex solo Dei verbo, sinceræ nostrœ intentioni congruenter, possent pertractari: Cumque prædicta hæc Synodus singulari Dei benedictione tanto omnium et singulorum, tam exterorum quam Belgicorum, consensu, de prædictis quinque Doctrinæ Capitibus, eorumque doctoribus jam judicarit, nobisque consultis et consentientibus sexto Maii proxime præterito decreta et sententiam hisce præfixa promulgarit; Nos, ut exoptati fructus ex magno et sancto hoc opere (quale nunquam antehac Ecclesiæ Reformatæ viderunt), ad Ecclesias harum regionum redundare queant, quandoquidem nihil nobis æque cordi et curæ est, quam gloria Sanctissimi Nominis Divini, quam conservatio et propagatio veræ Reformatæ Christianæ Religionis (quæ fundamentum est prosperitatis et vinculum unionis Fœderati Belgii), quam concordia, tranquillitas, et pax Ecclesiarum; itemque conservatio concordiæ et communionis Ecclesiarum, quæ sunt in hisce regionibus, cum omnibus exteris Reformatis Ecclesiis, a quibus nos separare nec debuimus, nec potuimus, Visis, cognitis, et mature examinatis atque expensis, prædicto judicio et sententia Synodi, ista plene in omnibus approbavimus, confirmavimus, et rata habuimus, approbamus, confirmamus, et rata habemus per præsentes: Volentes ac statuentes, ut nulla alia doctrina de quinque prædictis Doctrinæ Capitibus in Ecclesiis harum regionum doceatur aut propagetur, præter hanc, quæ prædicto judicio sit conformis atque consentanea; Mandantes atque imperantes omnibus ecclesiasticis cœtibus, Ecclesiarum Ministris, Sacrosanctæ Theologiæ Professoribus et Doctoribus, Collegiorum Regentibus, omnibusque in universum et singulis, quos hæc aliquatenus concernere queant aut attingere, ut in suorum ministeriorum et functionum exercitio eadem in omnibus fideliter et sincere sequantur, iisque convenienter sese gerant. Utque bonæ nostrœ intentioni plene ac per omnia ubique possit satisfieri, Denunciamus et mandamus Ordinibus, Gubernatoribus, Deputatis Ordinum, Consiliariis et Ordinibus Deputatis provinciarum Geldriæ, et comitatus Zutphaniæ, Hollandiæ, et Westfrisiæ, Zelandiæ, Ultrajecti, Frisiaæ, Transisalaniæ, civitatis Groningæ et Omlandiarum, omnibusque aliis Officiariis, Judicibus, et Justitiariis, ut prædicti Judicii Synodici, eorumque quæ inde dependent, observationem promoveant et tueantur, ac promovere et tueri faciant, adeo ut nullam in hisce mutationem aut ipsi faciant, aut ab aliis ullo modo fieri permittant: Quoniam ad promovendam Dei gloriam, securitatem et salutem status harum regionum, tranquillitatem et pacem Ecclesiæ, ita fieri debere judicamus.
Actum sub nostro sigillo, signatione Præsidis, et subscriptione nostri Graphiarii, Hagæ-Comitis, secundo Julii, anno millesimo, sexcentesimo et decimo nono, signatum erat.

A. PLOOS, ut
Et inferius
Ex mandato prædictorum Præpotentium Dominorum Ordinum Generalium
Eratque spatio impressum prædictum sigillum in cera rubra.

Source: Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 550–80.

The 5 Articles Of Remonstrance (1610)

ARTICLE I. That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John iii. 36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

ART. II. That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness ef sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John iii. 16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”; and in the First Epistle of John ii. 2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only. but also for the sins of the whole world.”

ART. III. That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free-will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as having faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John xv. b: “Without me ye can do nothing.”

ART. IV. That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of an good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting; awakening, following, and co-operative grace, elm neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost, -Acts vii., and elsewhere in many places.

ART. V. That those who an incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his lifegiving spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand; and if only they are ready for the conflict. and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the word of Christ, John x. 28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable. through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.

John Owen: Two Short Catechisms

(minor style revisions by R. Scott Clark, March 2006)

Wherein the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, are unfolded and explained.

To my Loving Neighbors and Christian Friends.


My heart’s desire and request unto God for you is, that you may be saved. I say the truth in Christ also, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow in my heart, for them amongst you who, as yet, walk disorderly, and not as appropriate the Gospel, little laboring to acquaint themselves with the mystery of godliness; for many walk, of whom I have told you often weeping, and now tell you again with sorrow, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things. You know, brethren, how I have been amongst you, and in what manner, for these few years past, and how I have kept back nothing (to the utmost of the dispensation to me committed) that was profitable unto you; but have showed you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to all repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, with what sincerity this has been by me performed, with what issue and success by you received, God the righteous Judge will one day declare; for before him must both you and I appear, to give an account of the dispensation of the glorious Gospel amongst us; – in the meanwhile, the desire of my heart is, to be servant to the least of you in the work of the Lord; and that in any way which I can concede profitable unto you, – either in your persons or your families. Now, amongst my endeavors in this kind, after the ordinance of public preaching the Word, there is not, I conceive, any more needful (as all will grant that know the estate of this place, how taught of late days, how full of grossly ignorant persons) than catechizing; which has caused me to set aside some hours for the compiling of these following, which also I have procured to be printed, merely because the least part of the parish are able to read it in writing; – my intention in them being, principally, to hold out those necessary truths wherein you have been in my preaching more fully instructed. As they are, the use of them I shall briefly present unto you: –

1. The Lesser Catechism may be so learned of the younger sort, that they may be ready to answer to every question thereof.

2. The Greater will call to mind much of what has been taught you in public, especially concerning the Person and Offices of Jesus Christ.

3. Out of that you may have help to instruct your families in the Lesser, being so framed, for the most part, that a chapter of the one is spent in unfolding a question of the other.

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4. The texts of Scripture quoted are diligently to be sought out and pondered, that you may know indeed whether these things are so.

5. In reading the Word, you may have light into the meaning of many places, by considering what they are produced to confirm.

6. I have been sparing in the doctrine of the Sacraments, because I have already been so frequent in examinations about them.

7. The handling of moral duties I have wholly omitted, because, by God’s assistance, I intend for you a brief explication of the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, with some articles of the Creed, not unfolded in these, by themselves, by the way of question and answer.

Now, in all this, as the pains has been mine, so I pray that the benefit may be yours, and the praise His, to whom alone any good that is in this or any thing else is to be ascribed. Now, the God of heaven continue that peace, love, and amity, amongst ourselves, which hitherto has been unshaken, in these divided times, and grant that the scepter and kingdom of his Son may be gloriously advanced in your hearts, that the things which concern your peace may not be hidden from your eyes in this your day; Which is the daily prayer of Your servant in the work of the Lord,

J .O. From my Study,
September the last, [1645].

The Lesser Catechism

Q. Whence is all truth concerning God and ourselves to be learned?
Ans. From the holy Scripture, the Word of God. – Chapter 1 of the Greater Catechism.

Q. What do the Scriptures teach that God is?
A. An eternal, infinite, most holy Spirit, giving being to all things, and doing with them whatsoever he pleases. – Chap. 2.

Q. Is there but one God?
A. One only, in respect of his essence and being, but one in three distinct persons, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. – Chap. 3.

Q. What else is held forth in the Word concerning God, that we ought to know.?
A. His decrees, and his works. – Chap. 4.

Q. What are the decrees of God concerning us?
A. His eternal purposes, of saving some by Jesus Christ, for the praise of his glory, and of condemning others for their sins. – Chap. 5.

Q. What are the works of God?

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A. Acts or doings of his power, whereby he creates, sustains, and governs all things. – Chap. 6.

Q. What is required from us towards Almighty God?
A. Holy and spiritual obedience, according to his law given unto us – Chap. 7.

Q. Are we able to do this of ourselves?
A. No, in no wise, being by nature unto every good work reprobate. – Chap. 7.

Q. How came we into this estate, being at the first created in the image of God, in righteousness and innocence?
A. By the fall of our first parents, breaking the covenant of God, losing his grace, and deserving his curse. – Chap. 8.

Q. By what way may we be delivered from this miserable estate?
A. Only by Jesus Christ. – Chap. 9.

Q. What is Jesus Christ?
A. God and man united in one person, to be a mediator between God and man. – Chap 10.

Q. What is he unto us?
A. A King, a Priest, and a Prophet. – Chap. 11.

Q. Wherein does he exercise his kingly power towards us?
A. In converting us unto God by his Spirit, subduing us unto his obedience, and ruling in us by his grace. – Chap. 12.

Q. In what does the exercise of his priestly office for us chiefly consist?
A. In offering up himself an acceptable sacrifice on the cross, so satisfying the justice of God for our sins, removing his curse from our persons, and bringing us unto him. – Chap. 13.

Q. Wherein does Christ exercise his prophetical office towards us?
A. In revealing to our hearts, from the bosom of his Father, the way and truth whereby we must come unto him. – Chap. 13.

Q. In what condition does Jesus Christ exercise these offices?
A. He did in a low estate of humiliation on earth, but now in a glorious estate of exaltation in heaven. – Chap. 14.

Q. For whose sake does Christ perform all these?
A. Only for his elect. – Chap. 15.

Q. What is the church of Christ?
A. The universal company of God’s elect, called to the adoption of children. – Chap. 16.

Q. How come we to be members of this church?
A. By a lively faith. – Chap. 17.

Q. What is a lively faith?

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A. An assured resting of the soul upon God’s promises of mercy in Jesus Christ, for pardon of sins here and glory hereafter. – Chap. 18.

Q. How come we to have this faith?
A. By the effectual working of the Spirit of God in our hearts, freely calling us from the state of nature to the state of grace. – Chap. 18.

Q. Are we accounted righteous for our faith?
A. No, but only for the righteousness of Christ, freely imputed unto us, and laid hold of by faith. – Chap. 19.

Q. 1. Is there no more required of us but faith only?
A. Yes; repentance also, and holiness. – Chap. 20.

Q. 2. What is repentance?
A. A forsaking of all sin, with godly sorrow for what we have committed. – Chap. 20.

Q. 3. What is that holiness which is required of us?
A. Universal obedience to the will of God revealed unto us. – Chap. 20.

Q. What are the privileges of believers?
A. First, union with Christ; secondly, adoption of children; thirdly, communion of saints; fourthly, right to the seals of the new covenant; fifthly, Christian liberty; sixthly, resurrection of the body to life eternal. – Chap. 21.

Q. 1. What are the sacraments, or seals, of the new covenant?
A. Visible seals of God’s spiritual promises, made unto us in the blood of Jesus Christ. – Chap. 21.

Q. 2. Which be they?
A. Baptism and the Lord’s supper.

Q. What is baptism?
A. A holy ordinance, whereby, being sprinkled with water according to Christ’s institution, we are by his grace made children of God, and have the promises of the covenant sealed unto us. – Chap. 23.

Q. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. A holy ordinance of Christ, appointed to communicate unto believers his body and blood spiritually, being represented by bread and wine, blessed, broken, poured out, and received of them. – Chap. 24.

Q. Who have a right unto this sacrament?
A. They only who have an interest in Jesus Christ by faith. – Chap. 24.

Q. What is the communion of saints?
A. A holy conjunction between all God’s people, partakers of the same Spirit, and members of the same mystical body. -Chap. 25.

Q. What is the end of all this dispensation?

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A. The glory of God in our salvation. Glory be to God on high!

The Greater Catechism


Q. 1. What is Christian religion?

Ans. The only way of knowing God aright, and living unto him.

John 14:5, 6, 17:3;
Acts 4:12. Colossians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Galatians 2:19, 20.

Q. 2. Whence is it to be learned?

A. From the holy Scripture only.

Isaiah 8:20; John 5:39.

Q. 3. What is the Scripture?

A. The books of the Old and New Testament, given by inspiration from God, containing all things necessary to be believed and done, that God may be worshipped and our souls saved.

Isaiah 8:20; Romans 3:2. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Revelation 22:19, 20 Psalm 19:7, 8; Jeremiah 7:13; John 20:31.

Q. 4. How know you them to be the word of God?

A. By the testimony of God’s Spirit working faith in my heart to close with that heavenly majesty, and clear divine truth, that shines in them.

Matthew 16:17; John

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16:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 2:20, 5:6. Luke 24:32; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:19.


Q. 1. What do the Scriptures teach concerning God?

A. First, what he is, or his nature; secondly, what he does, or his works.

Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 45:6; Hebrews 1:1-3, 11:6.

Q. 2. What is God in himself?

A. An Eternal, infinite, etc. incomprehensible Spirit, giving being to all things, and doing with them whatsoever he pleases.

Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 1:8. 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:2-5, Exodus 33:20; 1 Timothy 6:16. Genesis 1:1; Psalm 115:3, 135:6; Isaiah 46:10; John 5:17;

Q. 3. Do we here know God as he is?

A. No, his glorious being is not of us, in this life, to be comprehended.

Exodus 33:23; 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Q. 4. Whereby is God chiefly made known unto us in the Word?

A. First, by his names; secondly, by his attributes or properties.

Exodus 3:14, 6:3; Psalm 83:18. Exodus 34:6,7; Matthew 5:48.

Q. 5. What are the names of God?

A. Glorious titles, which he has given himself, to hold forth his excellencies unto us, with some perfections whereby he will reveal himself.

Exodus 3:14, 15, 6:3, 34:6, 7; Genesis 17:1.

Q. 6. What are the attributes of God?

A. His infinite perfections in being and working.

Revelation 4:8-11.

Q. 7. What are the chief attributes of his being?

A. Eternity, infiniteness, Simplicity or purity, all-sufficiency, Perfection, immutability, life, will, and understanding.

Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 93:2; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 1:11. 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:1-4, 8-10. Exodus 3:14. Genesis 17:1; Psalm 135:4-6. Job 11:7-9; Romans 11:33-36. Malachi 3:6; James 1:17. Judges 8:19; 1 Samuel 25:34; 2 Kings 3:14; Ezekiel 14:16; 16:48; Matthew 16:16; Acts 14:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:5, 11; James 1:18. Psalm 7:8, 139:2, 147:4; Jeremiah 11:20; Hebrews 4:13.

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Q. 8. What are the attributes which usually are ascribed to him in his works, or the acts of his will?

A. Goodness, power, justice, mercy, holiness, wisdom, and the like; which he delights to exercise towards his creatures, for the praise of his glory.

Psalm 119:68; Matthew 19:17. Exodus 15:11; Psalm 62:11; Revelation 19:1. Zephaniah 3:5; Psalm 11:7; Jeremiah 12:1; Romans 1:32. Psalm 130:7; Romans 9:15; Ephesians 2:4. Exodus 15:11; Joshua 24:19 Habakkuk 1:13; Revelation 4:8. Romans 11:33, 16:27.


Q. 1. Is there but one God to whom these properties do belong?

A. One only, in respect of his essence and being but one in three distinct persons, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 19:17; Ephesians 4:5, 6. Genesis 1:26; 1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19.

Q. 2. What mean you by person?

A. A distinct manner of subsistence or being, distinguished from the other persons by its own properties.

John 5:17;  Hebrews 1:3.

Q. 3. What is the distinguishing property of the person of the Father? A. To be of himself only the fountain of the Godhead.

John 5:26, 27; Ephesians 1:3.

Q. 4. What is the property of the Son?

A. To be begotten of his Father from eternity.

Psalm 2:7; John 1:14, 3:16.

Q. 5. What of the Holy ghost?

A. To proceed from the Father and the Son.

John 14:17, 16:14, 15:26, 20:22.

Q. 6. Are these three one?

A. One every way, in nature, will, and essential properties, distinguished only in their personal manner of subsistence.

John 10:30; Romans 3:30. John 15:26; 1 John 5:7.

Q. 7. Can we conceive these things as they are in themselves?

A. Neither we nor yet the angels of heaven are at all able to dive into these secrets, as they are internally God; but in respect of the outward dispensation of themselves to us by creation, redemption, and sanctification, a knowledge may be attained of these things, saving and

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1 Timothy 6:16. Isaiah 6:2, 3. Colossians 1:11-14.


Q. 1. What do the Scriptures teach concerning the works of God?

A. That they are of two sorts; first, internal, in his counsel, decrees, and purposes, towards his creatures; secondly, external, in his works over and about them, to the praise of his own glory.

Acts  15:18; Proverbs 16:4.

Q. 2. What are the decrees of God?

A. Eternal, unchangeable purposes of his will, concerning the being and well-being of his creatures.

Micah 5:2; Ephesians 3:9-11; Acts 15:18. Isaiah 14:24, 46:10; Romans 9:11; 2 Timothy 2:19.

Q. 3. Concerning which of his creatures chiefly are his decrees to be considered?

A. Angels and men, for whom other things were ordained.

1 Timothy 5:21; Jude 6.

Q. 4. What are the decrees of God concerning men?

A. Election and reprobation. Romans 9:11-13.

Q. 5. What is the decree of election?

A. The eternal, fire immutable purpose of God, whereby in Jesus Christ he chooseth unto himself whom he pleaseth out of whole mankind, determining to bestow upon them, for his sake, grace here, and everlasting happiness hereafter, for the praise of his glory, by way of mercy.

Ephesians 1:4;  Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29, 30. Matthew 11:26. 2 Timothy 2:19. Ephesians 1:4, 5; Matthew 22:14. Romans 9:18-21. John 6:37, 17:6, 9, 11, 24.

Q. 6. Doth any thing in us move the Lord thus to choose us from amongst others?

A. No, in no wise; we are in the same lump with others rejected when separated by his undeserved grace.

Romans 9:11, 12; Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:9.

Q. 7. What is the decree of reprobation?

A. The eternal purpose of God to suffer many to sin, leave them in their sin, and not giving them to Christ, to punish them for their sin.

Romans 9:11, 12, 21, 22; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 11:25, 26; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 4.


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Q. 1. What are the works of God that outwardly respect his creatures?

A. First, of creation; secondly, of actual providence.

Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 1:2, 3.

Q. 2. What is the work of creation?

A. An act or work of God’s almighty power, whereby of nothing, in six days, he created heaven, earth, and the sea, with all things in them contained.

Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Proverbs 16:4.

Q. 3. Wherefore did God make man?

A. For his own glory in his service and obedience.

Genesis 1:26, 27, 2:16, 17; Romans 9:23.

Q. 4. Was man able to yield the service and worship that God required of him?

A. Yea, to the uttermost, being created upright in the image of God, in purity, innocence, righteousness, and holiness.

Genesis 1:26; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.

Q. 5. What was the rule whereby man was at first to be directed in his obedience?

A. The moral or eternal law of God, implanted in his nature and written in his heart by creation, being the tenor of the covenant between him, sacramentally typified by the tree of knowledge good and evil.

Genesis 2:15-17; Romans 2:14, 15; Ephesians 4:24.

Q. 6. Do we stand in the same covenant still, and have we the same power to yield obedience unto God?

A. No; the covenant was broken by the sin of Adam, with whom it was made, our nature corrupted, and all power to do good utterly lost.

Genesis 3:16-18; Galatians 3:10, 11, 21; Hebrews 7:19, 8:13. Job 14:4; Psalm 51:5. Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 13:23.


Q. 1. What is God’s actual providence?

A. The effectual working of his power, and almighty act of his will, whereby he sustaineth, governeth, and disposeth of all things, men and their actions, to the ends which he has ordained for them.

Exodus 4:11; Job 5:10-12, 9:5, 6; Psalm 147:4; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 45:6, 7; John 5:17; Acts 17:28; Hebrews 1:3.

Q. 2. How is this providence exercised towards mankind?

A. Two ways; first, peculiarly towards his church, or elect, in their generations, for whom are all things; secondly, towards

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all in a general manner, yet with various and divers dispensations.

Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8; Matthew 16:18, 19: 2, 29; 1 Peter 5:7. Genesis 9:5; Psalm 75:6, 7; Isaiah 45:6, 7; Matthew 5:45.

Q. 3. Wherein chiefly consists the outward providence of God towards his church?

A. In three things; — first, in causing and things to work together for their good; secondly, in ruling and disposing of kingdoms, nations, and persons, for their benefit; thirdly, in avenging them of their adversaries.

Matthew 6:31-33; Romans 8:28; 1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Peter 1:3. Psalm 105:14,15; Isaiah 44:28; Daniel 2:44; Romans 9:17. Isaiah 60:12; Zechariah 12:2-5; Luke 17:7; Revelation 17:14.

Q. 4. Does God rule also in and over the sinful actions of wicked men?

A. Yea, he willingly (according to his determinate counsel) suffereth them to be, for the manifestation of his glory, and by them effecteth his own righteous ends.

2 Samuel 12:11, 16:10; 1 Kings 11:31, 22:22; Job 1:21; Proverbs 22:14; Isaiah 10:6, 7; Ezekiel 21:19-21; Amos 7:17; Acts 4:27, 28; Romans 1:24, 9:22; 1 Peter 2:8; Revelation 17:17.


Q. 1. Which is the law that God gave man at first to fulfill?

A. The same which was afterwards written with the finger of God in two tables of stone Mount Horeb, called the Ten Commandments.

Romans 2:14, 15.

Q. 2. Is the observation of this law still required of us?

A. Yes, to the uttermost tittle. Matthew 5:17; 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:31; James 2:8-10; Galatians 3.

Q. 3. Are we able of ourselves to perform it?

A. No, in no wise; the law is spiritual, but we are carnal.

1 Kings 8:46; Genesis 6:5; John 15:5; Romans 7:14, 8:7; 1 John 1:8.

Q. 4. Did, then, God give a law which could not be kept?

A. No; when God gave it, we had power to keep it; which since we have lost in Adam.

Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 4:19; Romans 5:12.

Q. 5. Whereto, then, does the law now serve?

A. For two general ends; first, to be a rule of our duty, or to discover to us the John Owen

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obedience of God required; secondly, lets drive us unto Christ.

Psalm 19:7-11; 1 Timothy 1:8, 9. Galatians 3:24.

Q. 6. How does the law drive us unto Christ?

A. Divers ways; as, first, by laying open unto us the utter disability of our nature to do any good; secondly, by charging the wrath and curse of God, due to sin, upon the conscience; thirdly, by bringing the whole soul under bondage to sin, death, Satan, and hell — so making us long and seek for a Savior.

Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:19. Romans 3:19, 20, 4:15,5:20; Galatians 3:10. Galatians 3:22; Hebrews 2:15.


Q. 1. How came this weakness and disability upon us?

A. By the sin and shameful fall of our first parents.

Romans 5:12, 14.

Q. 2. Wherein did that hurt us, their posterity?

A. Divers ways; first, in that we were all guilty of the same breach of covenant with Adam, being all in him; secondly, our souls with his were deprived of that holiness, innocence, and righteousness wherein they were at first created; thirdly, pollution and defilement of nature came upon us; with, fourthly, an extreme disability of doing any thing that is wellpleasing unto God; by all which we are made obnoxious to the curse.

John 3:36; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:3. Genesis 3:10; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:10. Job 14:4; Psalm 51:7; John 3:6; Romans 3:13. Genesis 6:5; Ephesians 2:1; Jeremiah 6:16, 13:23; Romans 8:7. Genesis 3:17; Galatians 3:10.

Q. 3. Wherein does the curse of God consist?

A. In divers things; first, in the guilt of death, temporal and eternal; secondly, the loss of the grace and favor of God; thirdly, guilt and horror of conscience, despair and anguish here; with, fourthly, eternal damnation hereafter.

Genesis 2:17; Romans 1:18, 5:12, 17; Ephesians 2:3.  Genesis 3:24; Ezekiel 16:3-5; Ephesians 2:13. Genesis 3:10; Isaiah 48:22; Romans 3:9, 19, Galatians 3:22. Genesis 3:10,
13; John 3:36.

Q. 4. Are all men born in this estate?

A. Every one without exception.

Psalm 51:5; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:9-12; Ephesians 2:3.

Q. 5. And do they continue therein?

A. Of themselves they cannot otherwise do, Being able neither to know, nor will, nor do any thing that is spiritually good and

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pleasing unto God.

Acts 8:31, 16:14; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 5:8; John 1:5. Jeremiah 6:16, 13:23; Luke 4:18; Romans 6:16, 8:7. John 6:44; 2 Corinthians 3:5.

Q. 6. Have they, then, no way of themselves to escape the curse and wrath of God?

A. None at all; they can neither satisfy his justice, nor fulfill his law.


Q. 1. Shall all mankind, then, everlastingly perish?

A. No; God, of his free grace, has prepared a way to redeem and save his elect.

John 3:16; Isaiah 53:6.

Q. 2. What way was this?

A. By sending his own Son Jesus Christ in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemning sin sinful flesh, condemning sin.

Romans 8:3.

Q. 3. Who is this you call his own Son?

A. The second person of the Trinity, coeternal and of the one Deity with his Father.

John 1:14; Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 1:1.

Q. 4. How did God send him?

A. By causing him to be made flesh of a pure virgin, and to dwell among us, that he might be obedient unto death, the death of the cross.

Isaiah 50:6; John 1:14; Luke 1:35; Philippians 2:8; 1 Timothy 3:16.


Q. 1. What does the Scripture teach us of Jesus Christ?

A. Chiefly two things first, his person, or what he is in himself; secondly, his offices, or what he is unto us.

Q. 2. What does it teach of his person?

A. That he is truly God, and perfect man, partaker of the natures of God and man in one person, between whom he is a Mediator.

John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Ephesians 4:5; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 1:1.

Q. 3. How prove you Jesus Christ to be truly God?

A. Divers ways; first, by places of Scripture, speaking of the great God Jehovah in the Old Testament, applied to our Savior in the New; as,

Numb. 21:5, 6, in 1 Corinthians 10:9; Psalm 102:25-27, in Hebrews 1:10; Isaiah 6:2-4, in John

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12:40 ,41; Isaiah 8:13,14, in Luke 2:34, Romans 9:33; Isaiah 40:3, 4, in John 1:23; Isaiah 45:22, 23, in Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10, 11; Malachi 3:1, in Matthew 11:10.

Secondly, By the works of the Deity ascribed unto him; as, first, of creation,

John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2;

secondly, of preservation in providence,

Hebrews 1:3; John 5:17; thirdly, miracles.

Thirdly, By the essential attributes of God being ascribed unto him; as, first, immensity, Matthew 28:20; John 14:23; Ephesians 3:17;

secondly, eternity, John 1:1; Revelation 1:11; Micah 5:2; thirdly, immutability, Hebrews 1:11, 12; fourthly, omniscience, John 21:17; Revelation 2:2 3; fifthly, majesty and glory equal to his Father, John 5:23; Revelation 5:13; Philippians 1:2, 2:6, 9, 10. Fourthly, By the names given unto him; as, first, of God expressly John 1:1, 20:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6; Hebrews 1:8; 1 Timothy 3:16; secondly, of the Son of God, John 1:18; Romans 8:3, etc.

Q. 4. Was it necessary that our Redeemer should be God?

A. Yes; that he might be able to save to the uttermost, and to satisfy the wrath of his Father, which no creature could perform.

Isaiah 43:25, 53:6; Daniel 9:17, 19.

Q. 5. How prove you that he was a perfect man?

A. First, By the prophecies that went before, that so he should be. Secondly, By the relation of their accomplishment. Thirdly, By the Scriptures assigning to him those things which are required to a perfect man; as, first, a body, secondly, a soul, and therein, first, a will, secondly, affections, thirdly, endowments, Fourthly, General infirmities of nature.

Genesis 2:15, 18:18. Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:4; Galatians 4:4. Luke 24:39; Hebrews 2:17, 10:5; 1 John 1:1; Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34; Matthew 26:39; Mark 3:5; Luke 10:21; Luke 2:52. Matthew 4:2; John 4:6; Hebrews 2:18.

Q. 6. Wherefore was our Redeemer to be man?

A. That the nature which had offended might suffer, and make satisfaction, and so he might be every way a fit and sufficient Savior for men.

Hebrews 2:10-17.


Q. 1. How many are the offices of Jesus Christ?

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A. Three; first, of a King; secondly, of Priest; thirdly, of Prophet.

Psalm 2:6. Psalm 110:4. Deuteronomy 18:15.

Q. 2. Hath he these offices peculiar by nature?

A. No; he only received them for offended might suffer, and make satisfaction, and so he might be every way a fit and sufficient Savior for men. until the work of redemption be perfected.

Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:36, 10:42; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 15:27, 28; Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 3:2, 6, 2:7-9.

Q. 3. Wherein does the kingly office of Christ consist?

A. In a two-fold power; first, his power of ruling in and over his church; secondly, his power of subduing his enemies.

Psalm 110:3-7.

Q. 4. What is his ruling power in and over his people?

A. That supreme authority which, Christ’s subjects are all for their everlasting good, born rebels, and are he useth towards them, stubborn, until he make them whereof in general there be obedient by his Word and two acts; spirit. first, internal and spiritual, in converting their souls unto him, making them unto himself a willing, obedient, persevering people; secondly, eternal and ecclesiastical, in giving perfect laws and rules for their government, as gathered into holy societies under him.

Isaiah 53:12, 59:20, 21; Hebrews 8:10-12; Isaiah 61:1, 2; John 1:16, 12:32; Mark 1:15; Matthew 28:20; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5. Matthew 16:19; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:8-14; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Revelation 22:18, 19.

Q. 5. How many are the acts of his kingly power towards his enemies?

A. Two also first, internal, by the mighty working of his Word, and the spirit of bondage upon their hearts, convincing, amazing, terrifying their consciences, hardening their spirits for ruin; Secondly, external, in judgements and vengeance, which ofttimes he beginneth in this life, and will continue unto eternity.

Psalm 110; John 6:46, 8:59; 9:41; 12:40; 2 Corinthians 10:4-6; 1 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Timothy 1:20. Mark 16:16; Luke 19:27; Acts 13:11; Revelation 17:14.


Q. 1. By what means did Jesus Christ undertake the office of an eternal priest?

A. By the decree, ordination, and will of God his Father, whereunto he yielded voluntary obedience; so that concerning

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this there was a compact and covenant between them.

Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:5, 6; 7:17,18. Isaiah 50:4-6; Hebrews 10:5- 10. Psalm 2:7, 8; Isaiah 53:8, 10-12; Philippians 2:7, 9; Hebrews 12:2; John 17:2, 4.

Q. 2. Wherein does his execration of this office consist?

A. In bringing his people unto God.

Hebrews 2:10, 4:16, 7:25.

Q. 3. What are the parts of it?

A. First, oblation; secondly, intercession.

Hebrews 9:14. Hebrews 7:25.

Q. 4. What is the oblation of Christ?

A. The offering up of himself secondly, intercession. an holy propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of all the elect throughout the world; as also, the presentation of himself for us in heaven, sprinkled with the blood of the covenant.

Isaiah 53:10,12; John 3:16, 11:51, 17:19; Hebrews 9:13, 14. Hebrews 9:24.

Q. 5. Whereby does this oblation do good unto us?

A. Divers ways; first, in that it satisfied the justice of God; secondly, it redeemed us from the power of sin, death, and hell; thirdly, it ratified the new covenant of grace; fourthly, it procured for us grace here, and glory hereafter; by all which means the peace and reconciliation between God and us is wrought.

Ephesians 2:14, 15.

Q. 6. How did the oblation of Christ satisfy God’s justice for our sin?

A. In that for us he underwent the punishment due to our sin.

Isaiah 53:4-6; John 10:11; Romans 3:25, 26, 4:25; 1 Corinthians15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 2:24.

Q. 7. What was that punishment?

A. The wrath of God, the curse of the law, the pains of hell, due to sinners, in body and soul.

Genesis 2:17; Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:3; John 3:36; Hebrews 2:14.

Q. 8. Did Christ undergo all these?

A. Yes; in respect of the greatness and extremity, not the eternity and continuance of those pains; for it was impossible he should be holden of death.

Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:33, 34; 15:34; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 5:7; Psalm 18:5.

Q. 9. How could the punishment of one satisfy for the offense of all?

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A. In that he was not a mere man only, but God also, of infinitely more value than all those who had offended.

Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 3:18.

Q. 10. How did the oblation of Christ redeem from death and hell?

A. First, by paying a ransom to God, the judge and lawgiver, who had condemned us; secondly, by overcoming and spoiling Satan, death, and the powers of hell, that detained us captives.

Matthew 20:28; John 6:51; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 10:9. John 5:24; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19.

Q. 11. What was the ransom that Christ paid for us?

A. His own precious blood.

Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:19.

Q. 12. How was the new covenant ratified in his blood?

A. By being accompanied with his death; for that, as all other testaments, was to be ratified by the death of the testator.

Genesis 22:18; Hebrews 9:16, 8:10-12.

Q. 13. What is this new covenant?

A. The gracious, free, immutable promise of God, made unto all his elect fallen in Adam, to give them Jesus Christ, and in him mercy, pardon, grace, and glory, with a re-stipulation of faith from them unto this promise, and new obedience.

Genesis 3:15; Jeremiah 31:31-34, 32:40; Hebrews 8:10-12. Galatians 3:8, 16; Genesis 12:3. Romans 8:32; Ephesians 1:3, 4. Mark 16:16; John 1:12, 10:27, 28.

Q. 14. How did Christ procure for us grace, faith, and glory?

A. By the way of purchase and merit; for the death of Christ deservedly procured of God that he should bless us with all spiritual blessings needful for our coming unto him.

Isaiah 53:11, 12; John 17:2; Acts 20:28; Romans 5:17, 18; Ephesians 2:15, 16, 1:4; Philippians 1:29; Titus 2:14; Revelation 1:5, 6.

Q. 15. What is the intercession of Christ?

A. His continual soliciting of God on our behalf, begun here in fervent prayers, continued in heaven by appearing as our advocate at the throne of grace.

Psalm 2:8; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25, 9:24, 10:19-21; 1 John 2:1, 2; John 17. in heaven by appearing as our advocate at the throne of grace.


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Q. 1. Wherein does the prophetical office of Christ consist?

A. In his embassage from God to man, revealing from the bosom of his Father the whole mystery of godliness, the way and truth whereby we must come unto God.

Matthew 5; John 1:18, 3:32, 9, 14, 14:5, 6, 17:8, 18:37.

Q. 2. Mow does he exercise this office towards us?

A. By making known the whole instrumentally, by the Word a saving and spiritual manner.

Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 42:6; Hebrews 3:1.

Q. 3. By what means does he perform all this?

A. Divers; as, first, internally and of humiliation or abasement; secondly, of exaltation or glory. writing his law in our hearts; secondly, outwardly and instrumentally, by the Word preached.

Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 8:10. John 20:31; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:8-13; 2 Peter 1:21.


Q. 1. In what estate or condition does Christ exercise these offices?

A. In a two-fold estate; first, of humiliation or abasement; secondly, of exaltation or glory.

Philippians 2:8-10.

Q. 2. Wherein consisteth the state of Christ’s humiliation?

A. In three things; first, in his incarnation, or being born of woman; secondly, this obedience, or fulfilling the whole law, moral and ceremonial; thirdly, in his passion, or enduring all sorts of miseries, even death itself.

Luke 1:35; John 1:14; Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 2:9, 14. Matthew 3:15, 5:17; Luke 2:21; John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 3:5. Isaiah 53:6; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 2:21.

Q. 3. Wherein consists his exaltation?

A. In, first, his resurrection; secondly, ascension; thirdly, sitting at the right hand of God; — by all which he was declared to be the Son of God with power.

Matthew 28:18; Romans 1:4, 6:4; Ephesians 4:9; Philippians 2:9, 10; 1 Timothy 3:16.


Q. 1. Unto whom do the saving benefits of what Christ performeth, in the execution of his offices, belong?

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A. Only to his elect.

John 17:9; Isaiah 63:9; Hebrews 3:6, 10:21.

Q. 2. Died he for no other?

A. None, in respect of his Father’s eternal purpose, and his own intention of removing wrath from them, and procuring grace and glory for them.

Acts 20:28; Matthew 20:28, 26:28; Hebrews 9:28; John 11:51, 52; Isaiah 53:12; John 3:16, 10:11-13,15; Ephesians 5:25; Romans 8:32, 34; Galatians 3:13; John 6:37, 39; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 20.

Q. 3. What shall become of them for whom Christ died not?

A. Everlasting torments for their sins; their portion in their own place.

Mark 16:16; John 3:36; Matthew 25:41; Acts 1:25.

Q. 4. For whom does he make intercession?

A. Only for those who from eternity were given him by his Father.

John 17; Hebrews 7:24, 25.


Q. 1. How are the elect called, in respect of their obedience unto Christ, and union with him?

A. His church.

Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:32.

Q. 2. What is the church of Christ?

A. The whole company of God’s elect, called elect, called by the Word and Spirit, out of their natural condition, to the dignity of his children, and united unto Christ their head, by faith, in the bond of the Spirit.

Acts 2:47; 1 Timothy 5:21; Hebrews 12:22-24. Romans 1:5, 6, 9:11,24; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Timothy 1:9. Acts 16:14; John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:23; Hebrews 8:10. Ephesians 2:11-13; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Peter 2:9. John 17:21; Ephesians 2:18-22.

Q. 3. Is this whole church always in the same state?

A. No; one part of it is militant, the other triumphant.

Q. 4. What is the church militant?

A. That portion of God’s elect which, in their generation, cleaveth unto Christ by faith, and fighteth against the world, flesh, and devil.

Ephesians 6:11, 12; Hebrews 11:13, 14, 12:1, 4.

Q. 5. What is the church triumphant?

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A. That portion of God’s people who, having fought their fight and kept the faith, are now in heaven, resting from their labors.

Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 3:21, 14:13.

Q. 6. Are not the church of the Jews before the birth of Christ, and the church of the Christians since, two churches?

A. No; essentially they are but one, differing only in some outward administrations.

Ephesians 2:11-16; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Galatians 4:26, 27; Hebrews 11:16, 26, 40.

Q. 7. Can this church be wholly overthrown on the earth?

A. No; unless the decree of God may be changed, and the promise of Christ fail.

Matthew 16:18, 28:20; John 14:16; John 17; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:19.


Q. 1. By what means do we become actual members of this church of God?

A. By a lively justifying faith, of his Father the whole mystery of godliness, the way and truth whereby we must come unto God. Christ, the head thereof.

Acts 2:47, 13:48; Hebrews 11:6, 12:22,23, 4:2; Romans 5:1,2; Ephesians 2:13,14.

Q. 2. What is a justifying faith?

A. A gracious resting upon the free promises of God in Jesus Christ for mercy, with a firm persuasion of heart that God is a reconciled Father unto us in the Son of his love.

1 Timothy 1:16; Job 13:15, 9:25; Romans 4:5. Hebrews 4:16; Romans 8:38,39; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:20,21.

Q. 3. Have all this faith?

A. None but the elect of God.

Titus 1:1; John 10:26; Matthew 13:11; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:30.

Q. 4. Do not, then, others believe that make profession?

A. Yes; with, first, historical faith, or a persuasion that the things written in the Word are true; secondly, temporary faith, which has some joy of the affections, upon unspiritual grounds, in the things believed.

James 2:19. Matthew 13:20; Mark 6:20; John 2:23,24; Acts 8:13.


Q. 1. How come we to have this saving faith?

A. It is freely bestowed upon us and wrought in us by the Spirit of God, in our vocation or calling.

John 6:29,44;

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Ephesians 2:8, 9; Philippians 1:29; 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Q. 2. What is our vocation, or this calling of God?

A. The free, gracious act of Almighty God, whereby in Jesus Christ he calleth and translateth us from the state of nature, sin, wrath, and corruption, into the state of grace and union with Christ, by the mighty, effectual working of his preaching of the Word.

Colossians 1:12,13; 2 Timothy 1:9; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 11:25, 26; John 1:13, 3:3, 8; Ephesians 1:19; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 4:7; James 1:18; 2 Peter 2:20; Acts 16:14.

Q. 3. What do we ourselves perform in this change, or work of our conversion?

A. Nothing at all, being merely church are outwardly called by the Word, none effectually but the elect. church are outwardly called by the Word, none effectually but the elect. in ourselves we have no ability to any thing that is spiritually good.

Matthew 7:18, 10:20 John 1:13, 15:5; 1 Corinthians 12:3, 2:5; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Ephesians 2:1, 8; Romans 8:26; Philippians 1:6.

Q. 4. Does God thus call all and every one?

A. All within the pale of the church are outwardly called by the Word, none effectually but the elect.

Matthew 22:14;  Romans 8:30.


Q. 1. Are we accounted righteous and saved for our faith, when we are thus freely called?

A. No, but merely by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ apprehended and applied by faith; for which alone the Lord accepts us as holy and righteous.

Isaiah 43:25; Romans 3:23-26, 4:5.

Q. 2. What, then, is our justification or righteousness before God?

A. The gracious, free act of imputation of the righteousness of Christ apprehended and applied by faith; for which alone the Lord accepts us as holy and righteous. righteousness of Christ to a believing sinner, and for that speaking peace unto his conscience, in the pardon of his sin, pronouncing him to be just and accepted before him.

Genesis 15:6; Acts 13:38, 39; Luke 18:14; Romans 3:24, 26, 28, 4:4-8; Galatians 2:16.

Q. 3. Are we not, then, righteous before God by our own works?

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A. No; for of themselves they can neither satisfy his justice, fulfill his law, nor endure his trial.

Psalm 130:3,4, 143:2; Isaiah 64:6; Luke 17:10.


Q. 1. Is there nothing, then, required of us but faith only?

A. Yes; repentance, and holiness or new obedience.

Acts 20:21; Matthew 3:2; Luke 13:3. 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Hebrews 12:14.

Q. 2. What is repentance?

A. Godly sorrow for every known sin committed against God, with a firm purpose of heart to cleave unto him for the to cleave unto him for the quickening of all graces, to walk before him in newness of life.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Acts 2:37; Psalm 51:17. Psalm 34:14; Isaiah 1:16, 17; Ezekiel 18:27, 28; Acts 14:15. Ephesians 4:21-24; Romans 6:12, 13, 18, 19, 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15.

Q. 3. Can we do this of ourselves?

A. No; it is a special gift and grace of God, which he bestoweth on whom he pleaseth

Leviticus 20:8; Deuteronomy  30:6; Ezekiel 11:19,20; 2 Timothy 2:25; Acts 11:18.

Q. 4. Wherein does the being of true repentance consist, without which it is not acceptable?

A. In its performance according to the Gospel rule, with faith and assured hope of divine mercy.

Psalm 51; 1 John 2:1,2; 2 Corinthians 7:10,11; Acts 2:38; Matthew 26:75.

Q. 5. What is that holiness which is required of us?

A. That universal, sincere obedience to the whole will of God, in our hearts, minds, wills, and actions, whereby we are in some measure made conformable to Christ, our head.

Psalm 119:9; 1 Samuel 15:22; John 14:15; Romans 6:19; Hebrews 12:14; Titus 2:12; 2 Peter 1:5-7; Isaiah 1:16,17. 1 Chronicles 28:9; Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37. Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 2:21; Colossians 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:11, 12.

Q. 6. Is this holiness or obedience in us perfect?

A. Yes, in respect of all the parts of it, but not in respect of the degrees wherein God requires it.

2 Kings 20:3; Job 1:1; Matthew 5:48; Luke 1:6; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:24; Titus 2:12. Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 130:3; Exodus 28:38; Philippians 3:12.

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Q. 7. Will God accept of that obedience which falls so short of what he requireth?

A. Yes, from them whose persons he accepteth and justifieth freely in Jesus Christ

Romans 12:1; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:22; Ephesians 1:6.

Q. 8. What are the parts of this holiness?

A. Internal, in the quickening of all graces, purging act of all graces, purging act frequent prayers, alms, and all manner of righteousness.

Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 3:16, 17; Romans 2:29, 6:12. Matthew 5:20; Romans 8:1,2; Ephesians 4:22, 23; Titus 2:12.

Q. 9. May not others perform these duties acceptably, as well as those that believe?

A. No; all their performances in this kind are but abominable sins before the Lord.

Proverbs 15:8; John 9:31; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 11:6.


Q. 1. What are the privileges of those that thus believe and repent?

A First, union with Christ; secondly, adoption of children; thirdly, Christian liberty; fourthly, a spiritual, holy right to the seals of the new covenant; fifthly, communion with all saints; sixthly, resurrection of the body unto life eternal.

Q. 2. What is our union with Christ?

A. An holy, spiritual conjunction unto him, as our head, husband, and foundation, whereby we are made partakers of the same Spirit with him, and derive all good things from him.

1 Corinthians 12:12; John 15:1, 2, 5-7, 17:23. Ephesians 4:15, 5:23; Colossians 1:18. 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 21:9. Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-7. Romans 8:9, 11; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19. John 1:12, 16; Ephesians 1:3.

Q. 3. What is our adoption?

A. Our gracious reception into the family of God, as his children, and coheirs with Christ.

John 1:12; Romans 8:15, 17; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5.

Q. 4. How come we to know this?

A. By the especial working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, sealing unto us the promises of God, and raising up our souls to an assured expectation of the promised inheritance.

Romans 8:15, 17; Ephesians 4:30; 1 John 3:1; Romans 8:19,23; Titus 2:13.

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Q. 5. What is our Christian liberty?

A. An holy and spiritual freedom from the slavery of sin, the bondage of death and hell, the curse of the law, Jewish ceremonies, and thraldom of conscience, purchased for us by Jesus Christ, and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:1. John 8:32, 34, 36; Romans 6:17, 18; Isaiah 61:1; 1 John 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Romans 8:15; Hebrews 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:55, 57. Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:15, 16; Galatians 4:5; Romans 8:1. Acts 15:10,11; Galatians 3,4,5. 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 1 Peter 2:16. 1 Corinthians 2:12.

Q. 6. Are we, then, wholly freed from the moral law?

A. Yes, as a covenant, or as it has any thing in it bringing into bondage, — as the curse, power, dominion, and rigid exaction of obedience; but not as it is a rule of life and holiness.

Jeremiah 31:31-33; Romans 7:1-3, 6:14; Galatians 3:19,24; Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:18. Matthew 5:17; Romans 3:31, 7:13, 22, 25.

Q. 7. Are we not freed by Christ from the magistrate’s power and human authority?

A. No; being ordained of God, and commanding for him, we owe them act lawful obedience. Romans 13:1-4; 1 Timothy 2:1,2; 1 Peter 2:13-15.


Q. 1. What are the seals of the New Testament?

A. Sacraments instituted of Christ to be visible seats and pledges, whereby God in him confirmeth the promises of the covenant to all believers, restipulating of them growth in faith and obedience.

Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 4:11 1 Corinthians 10:2-4, 11:26-29.

Q. 2. How does God by these sacraments bestow grace upon us?

A. Not by any real essential conveying of spiritual grace by corporeal means, but by the way of promise, obsignation, and covenant, confirming the grace wrought in us by the Word and Spirit.

Hebrews 4:2; 1 Corinthians 10; Romans 4:11, 1:17; Mark 16:16; Ephesians 5:26. confirming the grace wrought in us by the Word and Spirit.

Q. 3. How do our sacraments differ from the sacraments of the Jews?

A. Accidentally only, in things concerning the outward matter and form, as their number, quality, clearness of signification, and the like, — not

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essentially, in the things signified, or grace confirmed.

1 Corinthians 10:1,2, 3, etc.; John 6:35; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11.


Q. 1. Which are these sacraments?

A. Baptism and the Lord’s supper.

Q. 2. What is baptism?

A. An holy action, appointed of Christ, whereby being sprinkled with water in the name of the whole Trinity, by a lawful minister of the church, we are admitted into the family of God, and have the benefits of the blood of Christ confirmed unto us.

Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15, 16. Acts 2:41, 8:37. Acts 2:38,39; John 3:5; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Q. 3. To whom does this sacrament belong?

A. Unto all to whom the promise of the covenant is made; that is, to believers, and to their seed.

Acts 2:39; Genesis 17:11,12; Acts 16:15; Romans 4:10,11; 1 Corinthians 7:14.

Q. 4. How can baptism seal the pardon of all sins to us, all our personal sins following it?

A. Inasmuch as it is a seal of that promise which gives pardon of all to believers.

Acts 2:39; Romans 4:11, 12.


Q. 1. What is the Lord’s supper?

A. An holy action instituted and appointed by Christ, to set forth his death, and communicate unto us spiritually his body and blood by faith, being represented by bread and wine, blessed by his word, and prayer, broken, poured out, and received of believers.

Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26. Mark 14:22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25; John 6:63. 1 Corinthians 11:23, 25. 1 Corinthians 11:24; Matthew 26:26. Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19.

Q. 2. When did Christ appoint this sacraments?

A. On the night wherein he was betrayed to suffer. 1 Corinthians 11:23.

Q. 3. Whence is the right lose of it to be learned?

A. From the word, practice, and actions of our Savior, at its institution.

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Q. 4. What were the actions of our Savior to be imitated by us?

A. First, blessing the elements by prayer; secondly, breaking the bread, and pouring out the wine; thirdly, distributing them to the receivers, sitting in a tablegesture.

Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:23, 24.

Q. 5. What were the words of Christ?

A. First, of command, — “ Take, eat;” secondly, of promise, — “ This is my body;” thirdly, of institution for perpetual use, — “ This do,” etc.

1 Corinthians 11:24-26.

Q. 6. Who are to be receivers of this sacrament?

A. Those only have a true right to the signs who by faith in have an holy interest in Christ, the thing signified.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29; John 6:63.

Q. 7. Do the elements remain bread and wine still, after the blessing of them?

A. Yes; all the spiritual change is wrought  by the faith of the receiver, not the words of the giver: to them that believe, they are the body and blood of Christ.

John 6:63; 1 Corinthians 10:4, 11:29.


Q. 1. What is the communion of saints?

A. An holy conjunction between all God’s people, wrought by their participation of the same Spirit, whereby we are all made members of that one body whereof Christ is head.

Song of Solomon 6:9; Jeremiah 32:39; John 17:22; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:3-6, 13; 1 John 1:3, 6, 7.

Q. 2. Of what sort is this union?

A. First, spiritual and internal, in the enjoyment of the same Spirit and graces, — which is the union of the Hebrews church catholic; secondly, external and ecclesiastical, in the same outward ordinances, — which is the union of particular congregations.

1 Corinthians 12:12,13; Ephesians 2:16, 19-22; 1 Corinthians 10:17; John 17:11, 21, 22; John 10:16; 1:11. 1 Corinthians 1:10,11; Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27,28; Ephesians 4:11-13; Philippians 2:2; Colossians 3:15; 1 Peter 3:8.


Q. 1. What are particular churches?

A. Peculiar assemblies of professors in one place, under officers of Christ’s institution, enjoying the ordinances of

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God, and leading lives be seeming their holy calling.

Acts 11:26; 1 Corinthians 4:17, 11:22; 2 Corinthians 1:1. Acts 20:17,28, 14:23; 2 Corinthians 8:23; Hebrews13:17. 1 Corinthians 3:6; Revelation 2:1-3. 2 Thessalonians 3:5, 6,
11; Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

Q. 2. What are the ordinary officers of such churches?

A. First, pastors or doctors, to teach and exhort; secondly, elders, to assist in rule and government; thirdly, deacons, to provide for the poor.

Romans 12:7, 8; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28. Romans 12:8; 1 Timothy 5:17. Acts 6:2, 3.

Q. 3. What is required of these officers, especially the chiefest, or ministers?

A. That they be faithful in the ministry committed unto them; sedulous in dispensing the Word; watching for the good of the souls committed to them; going before them in an example of all godliness and holiness of life.

1 Corinthians 4:2; Acts 20:18-20. 2 Timothy 2:15, 4:1-5. Titus 1:13; 1 Timothy 4:15, 16. Titus 2:7; 1 Timothy 4:12; Matthew 5:16; Acts 24:16.

Q. 4. What is required in the people unto them?

A. Obedience to their message and ministry; honor and love to their persons; maintenance to them and their families. 2 Corinthians 5:20; Romans 6:17; Hebrews 13:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Romans 16:19; 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. 1 Corinthians 4:1; Galatians 4:14; 1
Timothy 5:17,18. Luke 10:7; James 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 9:9-13.


Q. 1. What is the resurrection of the flesh?

A. An act of the mighty power of God’s Holy Spirit, applying unto us the virtue of Christ’s resurrection, etc.; whereby, at the last day, he will raise our whole bodies from the dust, to be united again unto our souls in everlasting happiness.

Job 19:25-27; Psalm 16:9-11; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:2,3; Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15:16, Revelation 20:12, 13.

Q. 2. What is the end of this whole dispensation?

A. The glory of God in our eternal salvation.

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To Him be all glory and honor for evermore! Amen.

Resources On The Double Procession And Filioque

Double Procession of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the W. Church acc. to which the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Support for it is found in several NT passages, notably Jn. 16:13–15, where Christ says of the Holy Spirit ‘He shall take (λήψεται) of Mine and shall shew it unto you’. It is urged that in the Inner-Trinitarian relations one Person cannot ‘take’ or ‘receive’ (λήψεται) anything from either of the others except by way of Procession. Among other texts adduced for the doctrine are Gal. 4:6, where the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of the Son’, Rom. 8:9 ‘the Spirit of Christ’, Phil. 1:19 ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ’, and the Johannine texts on the sending of the Holy Spirit by Jesus (14:16, 15:26, 16:7).

Among the Greek Fathers St *Cyril of Alexandria is usually considered one of the most important witnesses to the doctrine. He develops it in his struggle against *Nestorianism, speaking of the Holy Spirit as belonging to the Son, τὸ ἴδιον τοῦ Υἱοῦ. He also uses several times the characteristic Latin formula ‘and the Son’ side by side with the Greek phrase ‘through the Son’, the former indicating the equality of principle, the latter the order of origin. The doctrine was expressly denied, on the other hand, by *Theodore of Mopsuestia and *Theodoret. Among the Latin Fathers, St *Jerome, St *Ambrose, and esp. St *Augustine are representatives of the teaching summed up in the ‘*Filioque’ (q.v.). But the doctrine did not become a matter of controversy until the time of *Photius (864), who asserted it to be contrary to the teaching of the Fathers and even suspected the relevant passages as interpolations. At the Council of *Florence (1439), Mark of Ephesus repeated this theory; but today most theologians of the E. Church recognize that St Augustine and other Latin Fathers taught the Double Procession, but only as a private opinion. The objection urged by E. theologians against the doctrine is that there must be a single Fount of Divinity (πηγὴ θεότητος) in the Godhead. The consideration urged by W. theologians in its support is that, as both Latins and Greeks attribute everything as common to the Father and the Son except the relation of Paternity and Filiation, the Spiration of the Holy Spirit, in which this relation is not involved, must also be common to both.

H. B. *Swete, On the History of the Doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Apostolic Age to the Death of Charlemagne (1876). Preface to P. E. *Pusey’s Eng. tr. of Cyril’s Commentary on the Gospel according to S. John (LF 43; 1874), pp. ix-lx. M. Jugie, AA, Theologia Dogmatica Christianorum Orientalium ab Ecclesia Catholica Dissentium, 1 (Paris, 1926), esp. pp. 286–311, and 2 (1933) pp. 296–535. Id., De Processione Spiritus Sancti ex Fontibus Revelationis et secundum Orientales Dissidentes (Lateranum, NS 2, nos. 3–4; 1936), with refs. Eng. tr. of V. *Lossky, ‘The Procession of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Triadology’, Eastern Churches Quarterly, 7 (1948), suppl. issue, 2, pp. 31–53. R. Haugh, Photius and the Carolingians: The Trinitarian Controversy (Belmont, Mass., 1975). H. J. Marx, SVD, Filioque und verbot eines anderen Glaubens auf dem Florentinum (Veröffentlichungen des Missionspriesterseminars St Augustin bei Bonn, 26; 1977). J.-M. Garrigues, L’Esprit qui dit ‘Père!’: L’Esprit-Saint dans la vie trinitaire et le problème du Filioque [1981]. See also bibl. s.v. filioque.

—Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd edition) s.v. “Double Procession”

5. The Filioque
Curiously intertwined with the series of incidents by which the creed worked its way into the Eucharist is the problem of the fateful interpolation in the third article which, ever since the eighth century, has been one of the most explosive topics of debate between the churches of East and West. For many hundreds of years the text of C accepted in the Latin church and its daughter communions has contained the clause proceeding from the father and the son (filioque) of the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox churches of the East have remained fiercely, even fanatically, attached to the more primitive proceeding from the father. A full discussion of the portentous addition in all its implications would necessitate an examination of at least three questions—the theology of the double procession, the history of the insertion of the filioque, and the history of the long-standing quarrel between East and West over it. Here we shall be mainly concerned with the second, although a few remarks about the first must be set down by way of preface. The third belongs by rights to the field of church history proper rather than the study of creeds.

So far as theology is concerned, the doctrine that the third Person derives His being equally and coordinately from the first and the second was characteristic, in its fully developed form, of Western Trinitarianism and, in particular, of St Augustine’s presentation of it. From the days of Tertullian the typical formula had been, “From the Father through the Son.” In the fourth century, however, the deeper implication was extracted from this that the Son, conjointly with the Father, was actually productive of the Holy Spirit. The text to which appeal was regularly made was the Lord’s statement in Jn. 16:14, “He (i.e. the Spirit) will receive of mine.” Here the pioneers were St Hilary (cf. his Patre et Filio auctoribus) and Marius Victorinus3 (not St Ambrose, whose texts refer to the Spirit’s external mission), but both these avoid speaking directly of His procession from the Son. St Augustine felt no need for reserve. His Trinitarianism did not start with the Father as the source of the other two Persons, but with the idea of the one, simple Godhead Which in Its essence is Trinity. The logical development of his thought involved the belief that the Holy Spirit proceeded as truly from the Son as from the Father, and he did not scruple to expound it with frankness and precision on numerous occasions. He admitted that, in a primordial sense (principaliter), the Spirit proceeded from the Father, because it was the Father Who endowed the Son with the capacity to produce the Holy Spirit. But it was a cardinal premiss of his theology that whatever could be predicated of one of the Persons could be predicated of the others. So it was inevitable that he should regard the denial of the double procession as violating the unity and simplicity of the Godhead.

This way of thinking became universally accepted in the West in the fifth and sixth centuries: there could be no more illuminating instance of the hold the great African had on Latin Christianity. Greek theology, however, was by no means prepared to take the bold step which seemed so easy and natural to St Augustine. Many passages can be cited from the Eastern fathers, and have been cited in the course of the long, embittered controversy, which appear to approximate to the doctrine of the double procession. One or two writers, like St Epiphanius, may even have succumbed to the influence of their Latin associates so far as to echo their language. Generally speaking, however, they never lost sight of the idea, which St Gregory of Nyssa brought out forcibly at the close of his Quod non sunt tres dii, that what accounted for the distinctions in the Trinity was the fact that one of the Persons stood in the relation of cause (τὸ αἴτιον) to the other two. Thus they found no difficulty in saying that the Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son, the Son being considered the Father’s instrument or agent. But they treated it as axiomatic that the Father alone was the source or fountain-head of Deity, and that both the Son and the Spirit derived, in the only legitimate sense of the word, from Him, the one by generation and the other by procession. Their steadfast refusal to fall into line with the Latins was not the fruit of mere obstinacy, but sprang from an instinctive sense of the deep principle involved. What really divided East and West in their acrimonious and often unsavoury quarrel over the filioque was a fundamental difference of approach to the problem of the mystery of the triune Godhead.

Naturally the leaders of Western Christianity, while fully accepting and teaching the doctrine of the double procession, were far too cautious and diplomatic to flaunt it as an official dogma in the face of Eastern theologians. Gatherings held far from the centre, like the third council of Toledo (589) and the English synod of Hatfield (680), might proclaim the doctrine and anathematize its deniers, but the papacy deliberately resisted the temptation to commit itself. To take but one example, the procession of the Spirit from the Son as well as from the Father was expressly taught by St Gregory the Great (590–604), but the formula expressing it was carefully omitted from the profession of faith put out almost a century later (680) by Pope Agathon in the name of a synod held at Rome. So far as creeds are concerned, the double procession made its first appearance, it would seem, in Spain, in a series of local formulae directed against the Priscillianist heresy. One of the most ancient of these is the so-called creed of Damasus, in its original form ascribed to St Jerome, which A. E. Burn identified as the Pope’s reply to the treatise addressed to him by Priscillian of Avila in 380. K. Künstle hazarded the guess that its actual compilation was the work of the synod of Saragossa, which condemned the heretic in the same year, and which may have sent it to Damasus for his approval. Markedly anti-Priscillianist in tone, it contains the statement: “We believe … in the Holy Spirit, not begotten nor unbegotten, not created nor made, but proceeding from the Father and the Son.” Another example is the creed with twelve anathemas which has often been fathered on the first council of Toledo (400), but which Dom Morin suggested2 might be the long-lost Libellus in modum symboli of Pastor, bishop of Gallicia in 433. Here, too, belief is expressed in “the Spirit, the Paraclete, Who is neither the Father Himself nor the Son, but proceeds from the Father and the Son”. Many other similar texts might be quoted, and the student might be tempted to infer that there was something particularly deadly to Priscillianism in the filioque. The true explanation, however, is that Priscillianism was marked with a deep strain of Sabellianism, and the refutation of it demanded a detailed exposition of Trinitarian teaching. The presence of the filioque in Spanish creeds of this period merely testifies to the popularity of the doctrine in this section of the Western church.

A vivid illustration of the hold the double procession had on Spanish Christianity is provided by the record of events at Reccared’s council at Toledo in 589. At the opening session the king addressed the assembled bishops and notables, dwelling at length on his own conversion and his earnest desire to do what he could to set forth the true faith. Thereupon he proceeded to recite an exposition of it, in the course of which the following statement occurred:

In equal degree must the Holy Spirit be confessed by us, and we must preach that He proceeds from the Father and the Son and is of one substance with the Father and the Son: moreover, that the Person of the Holy Spirit is the third in the Trinity, but that He nevertheless shares fully in the divine essence with the Father and the Son.
Evidently the doctrine was regarded as clinching the case against Arianism. It implied that the Son, as the source equally of the Spirit, was in no sense inferior to the Father, and that all three Persons were completely coordinate and participated equally in the divine essence. The council followed Reccared’s lead enthusiastically, and drafted the third of its anathemas in the form: “Whoever does not believe in the Holy Spirit, or does not believe that He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and denies that He is coeternal and coequal with the Father and the Son, let him be anathema.” The suggestion of this language is that, while the doctrine was considered indispensable, it did not strike the council as revolutionary, but rather as an accepted article of orthodoxy.

It has often been held that the interpolation of the word filioque into the actual text of the creed must date from this occasion. King Reccared formally recited the Nicene creed, with its anathemas, and the Constantinopolitan Creed as embodying the faith of the first four general councils. It has seemed incredible that, after his own forceful language on the subject of the double procession and the enthusiasm with which the council took it up, the term symbolizing the doctrine should not have been incorporated in the creed. The evidence of the MSS, however, is not free from ambiguity on the point. Many years ago A. E. Burn drew attention to the fact that several important MSS containing the acts of the council either lack the crucial word or exhibit it inserted by a later hand. The matter still requires investigation, but the conclusion seems inescapable that, as originally recited at the council of Toledo, the text of C was the pure one without filioque. Nevertheless it was inevitable that, with the growing stress laid on the doctrine, the word should speedily creep into the creed. Spanish MSS of the subsequent centuries give abundant illustrations of the process at work.

The rest of the story is familiar enough. The use of the filioque spread from Spain to Gaul, where, even before it installed itself in the creed, it found a niche in some rites in the Preface of the mass. At first the West seems to have been genuinely unaware that the doctrine of the double procession represented a definite advance on, or certainly clarification of, the teaching of earlier centuries. Thus the synod of Hatfield, summoned to stabilize the Church against the presumed Eutychian tendencies of Monotheletism, expressed its loyal adherence to the decisions of the first five ecumenical councils and of the Lateran synod held in 649 under Pope Martin I. But the profession of faith which it published ran as follows:

We acknowledge and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ as they (i.e. the fathers of the general councils) glorified Him, neither adding nor subtracting anything, and we anathematize with heart and voice those whom they anathematized, and we acknowledge those whom they acknowledged, glorifying God the Father without beginning, and His only-begotten Son, begotten of the Father before all ages, and the Holy Spirit proceeding in an inexpressible manner from the Father and the Son, as those holy apostles and prophets and doctors taught whom we have mentioned.

Language like this reads all the more strangely when it is remembered that archbishop Theodore, who presided at the synod, had once been a monk at Tarsus and so presumably was familiar with the true text of the creed. Sooner or later, however, a clash between East and West was bound to come. The first round seems to have been fought at the council of Gentilly, at Easter 767. The immediate subjects under discussion were the worship of images and the return of territories in Italy, to which Constantinople felt it had a claim, but it is reported that “the question about the Trinity was ventilated between the Greeks and the Romans, and whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son in the same way as He proceeds from the Father”. Apparently what happened was that the Western delegates accused the ambassadors of the emperor Constantine V (Copronymus) of neglect in the matter of the worship of images, and they retorted with a reproach about the impropriety of inserting filioque into the creed.

The dispute which had thus flared up almost accidentally was not long in developing into a steady blaze. Pippin, king of France, who had been present at the council of Gentilly, died in 768, and his son and successor, Charlemagne, took up the filioque with something like fervour, using every opportunity to parade it before the horrified East and trying his best to induce the papacy to lend him its moral and practical support. A good example was the remonstrance he addressed to Pope Hadrian I in 794. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Tarasius, had circulated a letter to the clergy of Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople giving a creed expressing belief in the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone, and it appeared that Hadrian had given his assent to this confession at the seventh general council held at Nicaea in 787. Charlemagne rebuked the Pope for admitting such erroneous doctrines as those of Tarasius, “who professes that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father and the Son, according to the faith of the Nicene symbol, but from the Father through the Son”. The Pope in his reply, written also in 794, defended the Patriarch, arguing that his theology was not his own, but was consonant with the teaching of many ancient fathers and with the practice of the Roman church.
In the same year the filioque received great publicity at the synod of Frankfurt-on-Main, which met to condemn the Adoptionist heresy and its chief supporters, Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel. Charlemagne was present in person, and the Pope was represented by legates. Among the documents read out was the Libellus of the Italian bishops against Elipandus, which was probably the work of St Paulinus of Aquileia. Here the doctrine of the double procession was vigorously asserted. Later in the proceedings a letter of Charlemagne’s to Elipandus and the other Spanish bishops was read out, and appended to this was a form of creed in which he, too, proclaimed belief in the double procession. Two years later, in 796 or 797, at the synod of Cividale which St Paulinus summoned, the symbol set forth was C with the filioque in the third article. In his inaugural address St Paulinus skilfully justified its insertion: it no more violated the principle that new creeds must not be framed than did the alterations which the fathers of 381 had felt obliged to make in N. It had become necessary to interpolate and from the son “on account of those heretics who whisper that the Holy Spirit is of the Father alone”. We need not doubt that the form in which the creed was sung in the royal chapel at Aachen, and in the Frankish dominions generally after 798, also contained the disputed clause.

Nevertheless the papacy had not been won over to accept it, and Charlemagne, who saw the filioque as a trump-card against the Eastern empire, could not rest until he had persuaded Rome to fall into line with his policy. He made a strong attempt to do so on the occasion of the troublesome incident which took place at Jerusalem in 808. There was a convent of Latin monks settled on Mount Olivet, and these were treated as heretics and threatened with expulsion by their Orthodox neighbours because they chanted the Constantinopolitan Creed at mass with the addition of and from the son. Naturally they resisted, protested their rights in the matter, and addressed a letter to Leo III complaining and inquiring what they should do. They requested him to inform Charlemagne, for it was in his chapel that they had heard the creed sung with the filioque. The Pope, it appears, first of all sent them a profession of faith aimed at the Eastern churches and affirming the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. Then he informed the emperor of the affair. It was as a result of these happenings that Charlemagne, who assumed the role of protector of Christians in the Holy Land, commissioned Theodulphus of Orleans to write his treatise De Spiritu sancto3 and assembled a council at Aachen in 809–10. The delegates present approved and endorsed Theodulphus’s book, pronounced in favour of the filioque, and possibly even enjoined its addition to the creed. It was as a consequence of this gathering that Charlemagne sent that embassy to Leo III of which abbot Smaragdus preserved an account. As his report of the conversation still shows, the envoys used all their arts on the Pope without avail. With Roman conservatism, and a shrewd sense that if he yielded he would put himself in an awkward position vis-à-vis the East, he parried their ingenious arguments. The doctrinal truth conveyed by the filioque, he freely admitted, was essential to orthodoxy, but not all essential truths were enshrined in the creed. He admitted, too, that he had sanctioned the singing of the creed in the Frankish territories, but his permission had not been intended to cover an amended form of it. He went on to say that, if they wanted his candid opinion, all this trouble would have been avoided if they had adhered to the custom of the Roman church, where the creed was not sung at mass but only used for instructional purposes. His advice therefore was to drop the creed from the Eucharist altogether by gradual stages, making a start with the royal chapel.

Leo III thus emerged victorious from the encounter. He seems to have desired, however, to make a more public and permanent record of his determination to cleave steadfastly to the primitive version of the creed. The chronicler Anastasius tells the story of how he caused two silver shields inscribed with the creed, one in Greek and the other in Latin, to be fixed up in the basilica of St Peter’s. In the eleventh century St Peter Damian and others noticed the striking monument and reproduced part of the inscription. Their report makes it clear that the third article read proceeding from the father.

At the beginning of the ninth century, therefore, although the doctrine of the double procession was taught everywhere in the Western Church and the clause filioque was ensconced in the creed in Spain, France, Germany, and at any rate North Italy, Rome herself declined to tamper with the authorized text. No doubt sturdy traditionalism was one motive: reluctance to follow in the footsteps of provincial churches may have been another, although the period of Roman borrowing from the Gallican liturgy was beginning. There must also have been a very understandable determination on the part of the papacy not to put itself and the Western Church irretrievably in the wrong in the eyes of Constantinople. It was one thing for churches on the fringe to naturalize the controversial clause in their creeds: for the Holy See it involved far more to take the irrevocable step. It seems that the popes maintained this attitude for two full centuries more. Even during the Photian controversy, in the middle of the ninth century, when the patriarch of Constantinople was hurling violent accusations of heresy against the whole Western Church and, in particular, charging it with admitting the double procession, there is nothing to show that the creed at Rome had been altered. At what precise date and in what circumstances Rome received the filioque into the creed remains a mystery. The theory which has been widely accepted is that the decisive occasion was the day when, overborne by the persuasions of the emperor Henry II, Benedict VIII consented to have the Constantinopolitan Creed sung at the Holy Eucharist. The guess is plausible: it is hard to believe that the Pope could have been so tactless as to flourish in the emperor’s face a text of the symbol which lacked the phrase to which the church of Charlemagne and his successors attached so much importance.

— J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, pp. 358-68:

2. The demonstration of the filioque: “double procession.” The traditionally Western trinitarian concept of the double procession of the Holy Spirit was consistently upheld by the Reformers and argued with some vigor against the Greek Orthodox view. The Reformed exegetes, moreover, understood the issue to be one of exegesis, not merely an issue of the form of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and found the biblical text to be entirely of one accord in favor of double procession. Vermigli writes, with reference to John 15:26,
Seeing the Son saith, that he will send the Spirit, and (as we said before) affirmeth him to receive of his; no man doubteth, but that he proceedeth from the Son. And now he expressly addeth; Who proceedeth from the Father.
Calvin took the point with equal seriousness, noting in his commentary on the same text,

When he says that he will send him from the Father, and, again, that he proceedeth from the Father, he does so in order to increase the weight of his authority; for the testimony of the Spirit would not be sufficient against attacks so powerful, and against efforts so numerous and fierce, if we were not convinced that he proceedeth from God. So then it is Christ who sends the Spirit, but it is from the heavenly glory, that we may know that it is not a gift of men, but a sure pledge of Divine grace. Hence it appears how idle was the subtlety of the Greeks, when they argued, on the ground of these words, that the Spirit does not proceed from the Son; for here Christ, according to his custom, mentions the Father in order to raise our eyes to the contemplation of his Divinity.

As in Vermigli’s comment, Calvin’s analysis of the text assumes the sending of the Spirit by Christ and therefore the procession of the Spirit from the Son and views the further statement of the Gospel that the Spirit proceeds from the Father not restrictively but as an expansion of the meaning to include the Father.
Calvin rather emphatically takes the words “he proceeds from the Father” as an indication of the authority of the Spirit, not of the sole origin of his eternal procession: Christ here sends the Spirit, but manifests the Spirit as a “sure pledge of divine grace.” It is, he concludes, an “idle subtlety of the Greeks” to claim this text as warrant for their denial of double procession. Calvin points out in his comment on Romans 8:9,

But let readers observe here, that the Spirit is, without any distinction, called sometimes the Spirit of God the Father, and sometimes the Spirit of Christ; and thus called, not only because his whole fulness was poured on Christ as our Mediator and head, so that from him a portion might descend on each of us, but also because he is equally the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, who have one essence, and the same eternal divinity.

The orthodox follow the Reformers in upholding the Western doctrine of the filioque. The orthodox Reformed writers not only argue the Augustinian doctrine of double procession they insist on it as a biblical point held over against the teachings of the Greek Orthodox:

The property of the Son in respect of the Holy Ghost is to send him out, John 15:26. Hence arose the Schism between the Western and the Eastern Churches, they affirming the procession from the Father and the Son, these from the Father alone.

Among the Reformed orthodox theologians, Pictet notes the clear distinction of persons in John 15:26:
Here the Comforter, or Spirit, is plainly distinct from the Father and the Son. Again, they are so distinguished, that some things are said of the Father which cannot be said of the Son, and some things of the Son which are no where said of the Spirit. The Father is said to have begotten the Son … the Spirit is said to proceed from the Father, and to be sent by the Son; but nowhere is the Father said to proceed from nor the Son to be sent by the Spirit. Yet are these persons distinct in such a manner, that they are not three Gods but one God; for the scripture everywhere proves and reason confirms, the unity of the Godhead.

Similar statements are found among the Reformed exegetes of the era. Poole notes that the text has been read variously: some exegetes understand the Spirit’s procession from the Father merely as his coming forth or being poured out at Pentecost, whereas others—“the generality of the best interpreters”—understand the text as a reference to “the Holy Spirit’s eternal proceeding.” Owen, by way of contrast, argues the primary meaning of the text to be that the Spirit “goeth forth or proceedeth” in order to “put into execution” the salvific counsel of God in the application of grace and views the immanent procession of the Spirit as a secondary meaning, a conclusion to be drawn from the text.

As Pictet notes, the Reformed orthodox uniformly follow the Western doctrine:

That the Spirit proceeds from the Son, is proved by those passages in which he is represented as being sent no less by the Son than by the Father; nor is he any less the Spirit of the Son than of the Father: Rom. 8:9, “any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ …; Gal. 4:6, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts”; John 16:7, “If I do not go away, Comforter will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.”
Nor is this a minor point in theology that can be dismissed:

To deny the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, is a grievous error of Divinity, and would have grated the foundation, if the Greek Church had so denied the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, as that they had made an inequality between the Persons. But since their form of speech is, that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father by the Son, and is the Spirit of the Son, without making any difference in the consubstantiality of the Persons it is a true though erroneous Church in this particular; divers learned men think that à Filio & per Filium in the sense of the Greek Church, was but a question in modo loquendi, in manner of speech, and not fundamental.

The problem of the filioque was, therefore, not something that the Reformed orthodox could ignore: they refused to go so far as to claim that the Greek church was a false church, but they still insisted that it ensconced an error in its doctrinal explanations of the creed.

From the Reformed perspective, moreover, the Greek critique of the filioque, that it implied two ultimate principia or archai in the Godhead, did not hold—for there could only be two archai if the Father and the Son separately and equally were the sources of the Spirit’s procession. The orthodox conception of the filioque, however, insisted on the unity of the act of the Father and the Son, so that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Father and Son by “one and the same breathing” and does so from both equally, the Father and the Son acting in communion with one another. Thus, the Holy Ghost, the third person, proceeds from the Father and the Son: “and albeit the Father and the Son are distinct persons, yet they are both but one beginning of the holy Ghost.” At the same time, following the Western pattern, the Reformed orthodox insisted on the begetting of the Son as placing the Son second in order, thus maintaining the Father as ultimate source of the personal distinctions and the Father and the Son together as the source of the Spirit.

Thus, when addressing the question of the procession of the Spirit, Owen indicates that the “fountain” or “source” of the Spirit’s procession is the Father, as indicated by John 15:26. There is, moreover, he adds, a “twofold ekporeusis or ‘procession’ of the Spirit: 1. physike or hypostatike, in respect substance and personality; 2. oikonomike or dispensatory, in respect of the work of grace.” The hypostatic procession, furthermore, must be understood in terms of the filioque: “he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, proceeding from both eternally, so receiving his substance and personality.” Once stated, however, the point cannot, indeed, may not be elaborated, but rather accepted as “the bare acquiescence of faith in the mystery revealed.” It is only of the economic procession of the Spirit ad extra in the work of grace that Owen feels capable of speaking.

3. Procession and the scholastic tradition: Reformed reservations. The distinction between procession and begetting is also clear, albeit indefinable by finite creatures:

That procession may be distinguished from generation can be demonstrated from the fact that the Holy Spirit is always said to proceed from, and never to have been begotten by, the Father; nor is he ever called the image of God—but we must not curiously inquire into the nature of the difference. Let us guard against the unbridled and unsuccessful boldness of the schoolmen, who attempt to explain it: I certainly do not grasp the distinction between generation and procession, I am not desirous of this, nor am I able.

The usual unwillingness of the Protestant scholastics to enter into a lengthy discussion of the way in which the emanations of the second and third persons of the Trinity differ represents a rather significant example of the difference between medieval and Protestant scholasticism: the Protestants revert to the caveat of Gregory of Nazianzen against excessive inquiry into the mystery and emulate the Reformers in their somewhat reserved acceptance of the tradition without further explanation. The extensive and frequently cogent speculation of the medieval doctors concerning the relation of the emanations to the divine nature, intellect, and will (itself an extension of the Augustinian metaphors) is simply ignored by most of the Reformed orthodox. Keckermann’s early orthodox discussion of the procession of the Spirit as a volitional act of love in the Godhead, framed as part of a logical argument for the Trinity as three modes of existing in the one God, is quite unique in the era of orthodoxy.

A few writers note the problem and reflect on the medieval solutions, some with a high degree of distaste for the Augustinian metaphors and for speculative elaboration of the doctrine. Thus, Turretin, Heidegger, Pictet, and Rijssen indicate that the procession of the Spirit denotes a relation to the other persons of the Godhead different from the relation of the Son to the Father by generation. Both comment that what this difference is remains a mystery—we cannot explain it nor ought we to inquire into it as did the medieval scholastics. Turretin and Rijssen note, without any angry polemic, that the scholastics compared the operations of intellect and will to generation and procession, as if the Son, the Wisdom of God, were generated in an intellective manner (per modum intellectus) and the Spirit, identified with the divine love, proceeded in a volitional manner (per modum voluntatis). These arguments were posed, however, he continues, without the express corroboration of Scripture—and they serve to confuse even as they attempt to explain. Heidegger similarly rejects these distinctions as alogon, having no basis in Scripture or reason: after all, he notes, the correct doctrine of the divine attributes understands them as equally belonging to each of the persons, so that the intellectus Dei cannot pertain differently to the Father and the Son or the voluntas Dei differently by the Father and the Spirit. The relative gentleness of the criticism derives, perhaps, from Rijssen’s, Heidegger’s, and Turretin’s recognition that some of their Reformed predecessors had adopted the medieval solutions on this point.

Still, it is clear that the Spirit is different from the Son, related to the Son in origin, but a distinct person. It is also permissible to note three grounds of this distinction: first, in principio or foundation, for the Son emanates from the Father alone, the Spirit from both the Father and the Son. Thus, the Father alone is the principium of the Son, whereas the Father and the Son together are the principium of the Spirit. Second, in modo, since “the way of generation” terminates not only in the personalitas of the Son but also in a “similitude,” according to which the Son is called “the image of the Father” and according to which “the Son receives the property of communicating the same essence to another person.” In contrast, the Spirit “does not receive the property of communicating that essence to another person,” inasmuch as “the way of spiration” terminates “only in the personalitas” of the Spirit and not in a similitude of the Father. Third, there is a difference in ordine according to “our mode of perception,” insofar as the generation of the Son is somehow prior to the operation or procession of the Spirit, although, of course, the persons are coeternal—the spiration or procession of the Spirit presumes the generation of the Son, given the procession of the Spirit from the Son as well as from the Father.

Whereas most of the orthodox follow this line of argument and define the procession of the Spirit as a “spiration,” which is to say analogically, a “breathing forth,” some of the later writers, perhaps because of the confusion of “spirit” and “thought” in debates over Cartesianism, find the usage less than satisfactory, despite the patristic and medieval precedent: “Some think he is so called, because he proceeds from God in a way of breathing, but this is to explain what is obscure by what is still more obscure,” or, in the words of another later orthodox writer, if “spiration” is a “mere metaphorical expression,” it is unsuitable to the identification of distinct subsistence or personhood. “Since we are much in the dark about this mode of speaking, it would be better to lay it aside, as many modern writers have done.”

Ridgley notes that “some” have “pretended” to define the difference between the generation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit as identified by the power to communicate essence—a power communicated by the Father to the Son, but not communicated by the Father and the Son to the Spirit. The Spirit, therefore, does not have a power “to communicate the divine essence to any other as a fourth Person in the Godhead.” For Ridgley, this is an excessive speculation into an “unsearchable mystery.” All that can be said is that the various biblical texts that refer to the relationship of the Spirit to the Father and the Son “evince the truth” of the “communication of his divine essence or, at least, his personality, and that his being ‛sent by the Son,’ implies that this communication is from him as well as from the Father”—and, in Ridgley’s view, the question remains as to whether the biblical texts refer to an ad intra procession or merely to an ad extra sending.

HT709 Thesis Proposal

(Revised April, 2013)

Course Description

Designed for those enrolled in the MA Historical Theology emphasis and may be attempted only after all the core courses for the degree have been completed. This course entails preparation for the completion of a thesis in the Spring Semester. The thesis proposal will be developed in consultation with faculty in the department of theological studies and will include a brief statement of topic, the state of the question, the proposed argument, research methods and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

Content and Organization

    1. Introduction
      1. Name
      2. Context, i.e. your personal interest in this project (why are you writing thisproject?)
    1. Brief Statement of the Topic
      1. What is the topic
      2. Why should anyone care about this topic
    1. State of the Question
      1. What is at issue?
      2. Who are the parties involved in the discussion?
      3. What is the state of the literature?
    1. Proposed Argument
      1. What is your tentative thesis/argument/hypothesis?
      2. How do you intend to make your case?
    1. Research Methods
      1. What historiographic method will you use?
      2. What sources will you use?
    1. Bibliography
      1. What are the most important primary sources?
      2. What are the most important secondary sources?
  1. Supervisor and Reader
    1. Who is your proposed supervisor?
    2. Who is your proposed reader?


Not to exceed 3000 words, double-spaced.

Please read or re-read On the Writing of Essays.

Please read (or re-read) MA (HT) Thesis Guidelines

Due Date: Last day of the Winter Term Final Exam period, 10:00 AM.


Most of your effort should be directed toward explaining the topic you are researching, the state of the question and explaining how your research supplements the current body of knowledge. It is understood that your .thesis may change as your research progresses.


Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition

Kate L. Turabian, A Manual For Writers

Assertion of Intellectual Property Rights

The instructor holds the copyright to all course lectures and original course materials. This copyright extends to student notes and summaries that substantially reflect the lectures or original course materials. Course lectures and materials are made available for the personal use of students only and may not be recorded or otherwise distributed (including the publication of student notes or summaries on social media) in any way for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the express written permission of the instructor.

HT606 Medieval Seminar

Course Description

An introduction to, analysis and survey of the development of doctrine in the Western church in the the early, high, and late medieval periods. We consider several theologians in their context and pay close attention to some of the great texts from each period. Readings are drawn from Boethius, Anselm, Bernard, Abelard, Lombard, Joachim of Fiore, Aquinas, Ockham, and Bradwardine.  Spring. 2 Credits.

The Student Learning Outcome for the Historical Theology Program: The student demonstrates understanding of the main eras of church history, the significant issues and leaders/theologians of each.

NB: CH602 is a pre-requisite for this course unless waived by the instructor.

Class conflict petitions will not be approved for this course.

Course Requirements:

(1) Attend all classes, complete all readings, participate in classdiscussion, lead discussions, and present a research paper. Absence is permitted only with reasonable notice and explanation.

There are 26 class hours. Each student shall lead class sessions by introducing an assigned writer and text. The introduction should provide a discussion of the biography of the writer, a brief account of the setting of the writer and text, an introduction to the structure/organization of the text, and the a brief survey of the most important secondary literature. After the schedule is established it will be posted on Populi.

(2) Research Paper (50%). Limit 3000 words (approximately 9 pages). Each student shall present and defend his or her completed paper to the seminar. The last 4–5 hours of class will be devoted to the reading and discussion of papers. After reading the paper to the seminar, the student shall revise and re-submit it to the instructor for a final mark. The final paper is by 10:00 a.m. on the last day of classes.

Requirements: Each student shall supply a copy of his or her paper to eachmember of the seminar 24 hours in advance of the meeting of class so that themembers of the seminar will have time to read it.

Penalties: Students who do not meet the class time deadline shall be marked down 1/2 grade. An essay shall be marked down a full grade for every day it is late for either the seminar or the final deadline.

Required Readings:

Gottschalk and a Medieval Predestination Controversy: Texts Translated from the Latin, Medieval Philosophical Texts in Translation, trans. Victor Genke and Francis X. Gumerlock (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2010), 69–96, 107–55. ISBN: 0-87462-253-0

E. R. Fairweather, trans. and ed., A Scholastic Miscellany Anselm to Ockham (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956), 100–183.

Peter Abelard, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, The Fathers of the Church Mediaeval Continuation, trans. Steven R. Cartwright (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011), 111–24; 131–38; 149–87; 194–205; 209–28; 249–64; 288–304.

Bernard of Clairvaux, On Grace and Free Choice, trans. Daniel O’ Donovan. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications 1988, 51–111.

Peter Lombard, The Sentences. trans Giulio Silano, 4 vol. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2007–10):

  • Book 1, Dist. 1–14)
  • Book 2, Dist. 1–12
  • Book 3, Dist. 16–22, 25–27
  • Book 4, Dist. 1–12, 14, 23, 26, 43

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae:

  • 1a, Questions 1–10, 14–25, 75–83, 95–97;
  • 1a2ae, Questions 1–3, 21, 49–53, 55–58, 61–63, 88, 106–114;
  • 2a2ae, Questions 1–7, 17–18, 23–25, 164–165;
  • 3a, Questions 1–5, 7–20, 24, 41–50, 60–63, 65–66, 68–69, 72–77, 79–80, 84, 86, 89.

Scotus, God and the Moral Law (populi)

Ockham, Predestination, God’s Foreknowledge, and Future Contingents (Populi)

Recommended Reading

Dorothy Sayers, “Lost Tools of Learning

G. R. Evans, ed. The Medieval Theologians (Oxford: Blackwells, 2001).

——A Brief History of Heresy (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003).

Marcia L. Colish, Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition 400-1400, Yale Intellectual History of the West (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998).

Sabina Flanagan, Hildegard of Bingen, a Visionary Life, (Routledge, London, 1989).

Hildegard von Bingen,The letters of Hildegard of Bingen, trans. Joseph L. Baird, Radd K. Ehrman. (New York : Oxford University Press, 1994).

Assertion of Intellectual Property Rights

The instructor holds the copyright to all course lectures and original course materials. This copyright extends to student notes and summaries that substantially reflect the lectures or original course materials. Course lectures and materials are made available for the personal use of students only and may not be recorded or otherwise distributed (including the publication of student notes or summaries on social media) in any way for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the express written permission of the instructor.

HT611 Reformed Scholasticism

Course Description

A study of the theology and methods of Reformed orthodoxy from 1561–1725. Special attention will be given to soteriology. Fall. 2 Credits.

Course Goals

— Academic Goal:

  • To enable the student to understand and discuss intelligently the development of Reformed academic theology from 1560s through the 17th century.
  • The student “demonstrates understanding of the dogmatic (theological) development in the history of the church” (Source: WSC Student Learning Outcomes).— Pastoral Goal: To gain a sympathetically critical appreication of an important period in the Reformed tradition.
  • The student “exhibits growing integrity, teachability/humility, perseverance, self-discipline” (Source: WSC Student Learning Outcomes).
  • The student “gives reasons for convictions rather than merely asserting them.” (Source: WSC Student Learning Outcomes).


  1. Attend all classes, complete all readings, prepare seminar discussion papers, lead and participate in class discussion (50%). After the initial orientation, each class session will be led by a student who shall have prepared a brief (limit 1,000 word) seminar paper analyzing an assigned reading or introducing an assigned author/reading. Every student shall produce an outline of the assigned reading for the class session. Each member must bring to class a hardcopy of the readings assigned for that session.The seminar leader will be responsible for leading discussion and seminar participants will be expected to interact with the seminar paper intelligently. Participation is essential in a seminar. If you cannot be present for a seminar, you must give the instructor reasonable notice and explanation.
  2. Essay (50%). Limit 2,500 words (approximately 10 pages). Each student shall present and defend his completed paper to the seminar. Each paper must be distributed to each member of the seminar at least 48 hours in advance of presentation to the seminar.
  3. Penalties: Students who do not meet the class time deadline shall be marked down 1/2 a grade. An essay shall be marked down a full grade for every day it is late for either the seminar or the final deadline.
  4. After reading the paper to the seminar, the student shall revise and re-submit it to the instructor for a final mark. The final draft is due at 10:00AM on the last day of class. Send the essay as a PDF to clark at wscal dot edu.

Required Reading (in the order assigned. The readings are either published or provided online):

To be Done Before the First Class:

Part 1:


Part 2:

Part 3:

Audio: Recovering the Past for Use in the Present

To be Read According to the Schedule Below

Theodore Beza, The Christian Faith, trans. J. Clark (East Sussex: Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1992) (Populi)

Theodore Beza, Summa Totius Christianismi

Zacharias Ursinus, Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1985), 82–116, 205–58; 324–40.

Franciscus Junius, On True Theology. (all; omit preface)

William Perkins, Golden Chain (chapters 19-30; pages 53–149)

Johannes Wollebius, Compendium of Christian Theology in J. W. Beardslee, ed. and trans., Reformed Dogmatics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), 29–190 (bookstore)

Gisbertus Voetius, Select Theological Disputations in J. W. Beardslee, ed. and trans. Reformed Dogmatics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), 262–334

John Owen, Vindiciae Evangelicae cap. 7 (populi)

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. G. M. Giger, ed. J T Dennison, 3 vols (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1992–1997, vol. 2, topics 16–17, pages 633–723.

P. Van Mastricht, A Treatise on Regeneration (Soli Deo Gloria, repr. 2002), all.

J. H. Heidegger, The Concise Marrow of Christian Theology (Zurich, 1697) (populi).


Hour/Date Author/Topic Leader
1/Sep Historiography rsc
2/Sep Beza Bio/Christian Faith student
3/Sep Beza, Summa Student
4/Sep Ursinus, Intro/Bio Student
5/Sep Ursinus, Commentary Student
6/Sep Junius/Intro Student
7/Sep Junius/On True Theology Student
8/Sep Perkins, Bio/Intro Student
9/Oct  Perkins/Golden Chain Student
10/Oct Wollebius, Bio/Intro Student
11/Oct Wollebius, Compendium Student
12/Oct Voetius, Bio/Intro Student
13/Oct Voetius, Select Student
14/Oct Owen, Bio/Intro Student
15/Oct Owen, Vindiciae Student
16/Oct Turretin, Bio/Intro Student
17/Nov Turretin, Institutes Student
18/Nov Van Mastricht, Bio/Intro Student
19/Nov Van Mastricht, Treatise Student
20/Nov Heidegger intro Student
21/Nov Heidegger/Marrow Student
22-26/Nov Papers Student
  1. Recommended Reading:
  2. Willem J. van Asselt, Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism. Reformed Historical-Theological Studies (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011).
  3. Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics: Illustrated and Set Out From the Sources, ed. E. Bizer, trans. G. T. Thomson (Grand Rapids: Baker, repr. 1978). (Caution: Heppe re-arranged subjects according to his theological program and the translations are not always accurate).
  4. Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 2nd edition, 4 vol. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
  5. Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986).
  6. After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological TraditionOxford Studies in Historical Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).
  7. Calvin and the Reformed Tradition.
  8. William van Asselt and Eef Dekker, eds, Reformation and Scholasticism: An Ecumenical Enterprise (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001).
  9. Carl Trueman, The Claims of Truth: John Owen’s Trinitarian Theology (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1998).
  10. —John Owen, Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man.
  11. Sebastian Rehnman, Divine Discourse: The Theological Methodology of John Owen (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
  12. Robert D. Preus, The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism, 2 vols (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1970-72 )
  13. W. R. Godfrey, “Tensions within International Calvinism: The Debate on the Atonement at the Synod of Dort, 1618–1619,” (Ph.D. Thesis, Stanford University, 1974)
  14. Mark E. Dever, Richard Sibbes. Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2000).
  15. —[with Dr. Joel Beeke], “Ursinus, Oxford and the Westminster Divines,” The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century: Essays in Remembrance of the 350th Anniversary of the Publication of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 3 vols, ed. Ligon Duncan (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2003-), 2.1-32.
  16. —ed. and trans., Classic Covenant Theology
  17. —”Janus, the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel and Westminster Theology,” in David VanDrunen, ed., The Pattern of Sound Words: A Festschrift for Robert B. Strimple(Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2004).
  18. J. E. Platt, Reformed Thought and Protestant Scholasticism (Leiden: Brill, 1982).
  19. Jeffrey Mallinson, Faith, Reason, and Revelation in Theodore Beza 1519-1605 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).
  20. Willem J. van Asselt, “The Fundamental Meaning of Theology: Archetypal and Ectypal Theology in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Thought,” Westminster Theological Journal 64 (2002): 319–35.
  21. — The Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius 1603–1669 (Leiden: Brill, 2001).
  22. — “The Theologian’s Tool Kit: Johannes Maccovius (1588–1644) and the Development of Reformed Theological Distinctions,” Westminster Theological Journal 68 (2006): 23–40.
  23. J. Mark Beach, “The Doctrine of the Pactum Salutis in the Covenant Theology of Herman Witsius,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 13 (2002): 101–142.
  24. Backus, Irena Dorota. Life Writing in Reformation Europe: Lives of Reformers by Friends, Disciples and Foes. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate Pub, 2008.
  25. Backus, Irena Dorota. The Reformed Roots of the English New Testament: The Influence of Theodore Beza on the English New Testament. Pittsburgh, Pa: Pickwick Press, 1980.
  26. Raitt, Jill. Shapers of Religious Traditions in Germany, Switzerland, and Poland, 1560-1600. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
  27. — The Eucharistic Theology of Theodore Beza: Development of the Reformed Doctrine. Chambersburg, Pa: American Academy of Religion, 1972.
  28. Raitt, Jill. The Colloquy of Montbéliard: Religion and Politics in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Assertion of Intellectual Property Rights

The instructor holds the copyright to all course lectures and original course materials. This copyright extends to student notes and summaries that substantially reflect the lectures or original course materials. Course lectures and materials are made available for the personal use of students only and may not be recorded or otherwise distributed (including the publication of student notes or summaries on social media) in any way for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the express written permission of the instructor.

HT566 History Of Covenant Theology

Course Description

An introduction to Reformed federal or covenant theology. The course surveys the historical-theological development of covenant theology, its exegetical foundations, and systematic-theological consequences. Fall Semester. 2 Credits.

Course Goals

—Academic Goal:

To enable the student to understand and discuss intelligently the background, development, and nature of Reformed covenant theology.

—Pastoral Goal:

To help the student gain a critical appreciation for the development of Reformed covenant theology in the periods of early, high, and late Reformed orthodoxy.

Required Reading

Primary Texts

  1. Heinrich Bullinger, A Brief Exposition of the One and Eternal Testament or Covenant of God (1534) in C. S. McCoy and J. W. Baker, Fountainhead of Federalism (Louisville: WJKP, 1991), 99–138. (Populi)
  2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. F. L. Battles, ed. J. T. McNeill, 2 vols (Philadelphia, 1961), 1.15 (all); 2.1 (all); 2.6–7 (all); 2.10–12 (all); 3.1–3 (all); 3.11, 14, 17, 4.14–15; 4.17.1–13, 4.17.31–33, 4.17.41–44; (Note: The Instiutes are cited as book.chapter.section. Where are there are only two numers they refer to book and chapter).
  3. Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp.2–39, 97–106, 324–440.
  4. ——, Large and Small Catechisms in Bierma et al eds. Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 137–223.
  5. Caspar Olevianus, An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, trans. Lyle Bierma, Classic Reformed Theology Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).
  6. Robert Rollock, Some Questions and Answers About God’s Covenant in Aaron C. Denlinger, “Robert Rollock’s Catechism on God’s Covenants,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 20 (2009): 105–129 (Populi)
  7. William Ames, Marrow of Theology, pp. 110–64, 202–13, 278–300.
  8. J. Wollebius, Compendium of Christian Theology in Reformed Dogmatics, trans. John W, Beards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), pp. 54–58, 64–129.
  9. Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (all)
  10. Johannes Cocceius, Summary of the Covenant and Testament of God [all]
  11. Samuel Rutherford, The Covenant of Life Opened, 1.1–11, 1.13–16, 2.5–12 (in the bookstore).
  12. Turretin, Institutes of the Elenctic Theology, 1.568–89; 2.169–269. (Populi)
  13. Herman Witsius, Economy of the Covenants 1.41–324.
  14. John Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1999), all.
  15. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2.117–129, 354–77. (Populi)
  16. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: 2: God and Creation, 563–80 and 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, 193–232. (Populi)
  17. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, trans. G. W. Bromiley, 13 vols (Edinburgh: 1936–), 4:1:1–78. (Populi)

Required Secondary Reading

  1. R. Scott Clark, “Christ and Covenant: Federal Theology in Reformed in Orthodoxy,” in Herman Selderhuis, ed. Companion to Reformed Orthodoxy (Populi)
  2. ——, “Baptism and the Benefits of Christ: The Double Mode of Communion in the Covenant of Grace,” The Confessional Presbyterian Journal 2 (2006): 3–19.
  3. —, Caspar Olevian and the Substance of the Covenant: The Double Benefit of Christ (2005; Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), chapters, 5–7.
  4. Willem van Asselt, “The Doctrine of Abrogations in the Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius,” Calvin Theological Journal 29 (1994): 101–16.
  5. J. Mark Beach, “The Doctrine of the Pactum Salutis in the Covenant Theology of Herman Witsius,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 13 (2002): 101–42.
  6. Richard A. Muller, The Covenant of Works and the Stability of Divine Law in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Orthodoxy: A Study in the Theology of Herman Witsius and Wilhelmus a Brakel,” Calvin Theological Journal 29 (1994): 75–101 (Populi)

Recommended Primary Sources

  1. William Ames, A Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism, trans. Todd M. Rester, Classic Reformed Theology Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Press, 2008).
  2. Robert Rollock, A Treatise of Our Effectual Calling in Select Works of Robert Rollock, 1.29–60, 160–177, 194–238.
  3. John Ball, A Treatise on the Covenant of Grace
  4. Nehemiah Coxe (Baptist), Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ (A Discourse of the Covenants that God Made with Men Before the Law. Wherein the Covenant of Circumcision is more largely handled and the invalidity of the plea for paedobaptism taken from thence discovered and John Owen, An Expositon of Hebrews 8:6–13 whrein the nature and differences between the Old and New covenants is covered), eds. Ronald D. Miller, James M. Renihan, and Francisco Orozco (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005).
  5. Thomas Boston, A View of the Covenant of Grace (reprint edition; Lewis, UK: Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1990).

Recommended Secondary Reading

  1. Andrew A. Woolsey, Unity and Continuity in Covenantal Thought: A Study in the Reformed Tradition to the Westminster Assembly.
  2. Richard A. Muller, Calvin and the Reformed Tradition.
  3. Mark Beach, Christ and the Covenant: Francis Turretin’s Federal Theology as a Defense of the Doctrine of Grace.
  4. Brian Lee, Johannes Cocceius and the Exegetical Roots of Federal Theology.
  5. Aaron Denlinger, Omnes in Adam ex pacto Dei: Ambrogio Catarino’s Doctrine of Covenantal Solidarity and Its Influence on Post-Reformation Reformed Theologians (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010).
  6. ——, “Calvin’s Understanding of Adam’s Relationship to Humankind: Recent Assertions of the Reformer’s ‘Federalism’ Evaluated,” Calvin Theological Journal 44 (2009): 226–250.
  7. Michael G. Brown, “Christ and the Condition: Samuel Petto c. 1624–1711″ on the Mosaic Covenant,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 20 (2009): 131–57.
  8. ——“Christ and the Condition: The Covenant Theology of Samuel Petto (c. 1624-1711)” M. A. Thesis Westminster Seminary California (2009).
  9. Brannan Ellis, “Christ our Righteousness: Petrus van Mastricht’s (1630-1706) High Orthodox Doctrine of Justification in its pre-Enlightenment Context”, M.A. Thesis Westminster Seminary California (2006).
  10. J. V. Fesko, “Calvin and Witsius on the Mosaic Covenant” in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 25–43
  11. D. G. Hart, “Princeton and the Law: Enlightened and Reformed,” in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 44–75.
  12. Brenton C. Ferry, “Works in the Mosaic Covenant: a Reformed Taxonomy,” in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 76–108.
  13. J. Mark Beach, “Calvin and the Dual Aspect of Covenant Membership: Galatians 3:15–22—and Other Key Texts,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 20 (2009): 49–73.
  14. ——, “The Promise of the Covenant and the Enigma of Unbelief: Reflections on Covenant Promise with a Selection from Samuel Volbeda’s “Catechetics,” Offering a Critique of William Heyns’ Doctrine of the Covenant and the Apostasy of Covenant Youth, in Mid-America Journal of Theology 15 (2004): 125–63.
  15. Richard A. Muller, “Divine Covenants Absolute and Condiitonal: John Cameron and the Early Orthodox Development of Reformed Covenant Theology,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 17 (2006): 11–56.
  16. G. Vos, “The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology,” in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, ed. R. B. Gaffin, Jr. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1975), 234–67.
  17. R. Scott Clark and Joel R. Beeke, “Ursinus, Oxford, and the Westminster Divines,” inThe Westminster Confession into the 21st Century: Essays in Remembrance of the 350th Anniversary of the Publication of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 3 vols (Ross-Shire, UK: Mentor, 2003), 2.1–32.
  18. Rowland Ward, God and Adam: Reformed Theology and the Creation Covenant(Wantirna, Australia: New Melbourne Press, 2003).
  19. John von Rohr, The Covenant of Grace in Puritan Thought.
  20. John Girardeau, The Federal Theology: Its Import and Regulative Influence (reprint, Greenville, SC: Reformed Academic Press, 1994)
  21. Jeong Koo Jeon, Covenant Theology and Justification By Faith.
  22. ——Calvin and the Federal Vision
  23. ——Covenant Theology: John Murray’s and Meredith G. Kline’s Response to the Historical Development of Federal Theology in Reformed Thought
  24. Guy Prentiss Waters, “The Theology of Norman Shepherd: A Study in Development, 1963–2006,” in The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson, ed. Robert L. Penny (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008), 206–31.
  25. Anthony Selvaggio, “Unity or Disunity? Covenant Theology from Calvin to Westminster,” in Anthony T. Selvaggio, ed., The Faith Once Delivered: Celebrating the Legacy of Reformed Systematic Theology and the Westminster Assembly (Essays in Honor of Dr. Wayne Spear). (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007), 217–45.
  26. P. Y. DeJong, The Covenant Ida in New England Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1945).
  27. Willem J. Van Asselt, The Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669), trans. Raymond J. Blacketer, Studies in the History of Christian Thought (Leiden: Brill, 2001).
  28. Philip G. Ryken, Thomas Boston as Preacher of the Fourfold State (Carlisle, UK: Rutherford House, 1999).
  29. Carol A. Williams, “The Decree of Redemption is in Effect a Covenant: David Dickson and the Covenant of Redemption” (PhD Dissertation, Calvin Theological Seminary, 2005).

Course Structure

Each class session will involve lecture and discussion.

Course Requirements:

1. Complete the assigned reading 40%

2. Attend class 10%

3. Research paper (limit 2500 words) 50%. Due by 10:00AM on the last Friday at the semester. Email your paper as a Word (or Pages) document to rsclark at wscal dot edu Name the file: lastnamefirstname.doc (or .pages). It is not possible to submit a paper without a thesis sentence and pass this course.

Standards and Manner:

Read On the Writing of Essays, even if you’ve read it before. Your mark for the paper will be reduced by one full letter for each day an assignment is late. A paper submitted after 10 AM on the last day of classes is late. No exceptions. No excuses.

Start your paper now. If you wait until late in the semester your hard drive will crash, your cat will get leukemia, or something equally dreadful will happen and you will come to me to ask for an extension and I will say “NO!” Be a Calvinist. Plan for trouble and hardship in this life.

Comparative papers are more difficult than papers with one subject because a comparative paper requires investigation of two bodies of secondary literature (assuming they both exist). Thus a paper comparing Luther and Calvin will be about twice as difficult as a paper focusing only on Calvin or Luther. Therefore, they are not encouraged.

Papers must be grounded in primary sources. This means that there must be primary sources for any topic you wish to cover. If there are not primary sources at hand to support your research you should find another topic. Do not count on inter-library loan. Those resources may not arrive in time for you to meet the deadline.

Electronic sources found on sites such as Google Books are appropriate insofar as the original text is a published primary source or secondary text. Other appropriate electronic sources are the DLCP database (available through the WSC library page) or EEBO or the Post-Reformation Digital Library other such reputable primary source sites.

Cheating and Plagiarism

Don’t even think about it. Cheating and plagiarism are a serious infractions of the law of God and punishable by a measures determined by the faculty up to and including expulsion from the seminary. Cheating is presenting someone else’s work during an exam as your own. Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work as your own in a paper. Please acknowledge all sources with appropriate footnotes. See the Student Handbook for a complete statement on plagiarism.

Assertion of Intellectual Property Rights

The instructor holds the copyright to all course lectures and original course materials. This copyright extends to student notes and summaries that substantially reflect the lectures or original course materials. Course lectures and materials are made available for the personal use of students only and may not be recorded or otherwise distributed (including the publication of student notes or summaries on social media) in any way for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the express written permission of the instructor.

CH601 Ancient Church

Course Description 

A study of the developing theology, ecclesiology, piety, and worship of the Christian church from the close of the apostolic age to 600 A.D. Special attention will be given to primary sources. Fall semester. 2 credits.

Course Goals

—Academic Goals:

    • To enable the student to understand and discuss intelligently the institutional, theological, and social history of the church from c. 100 AD c. 450 AD.
    • The student “demonstrates understanding of the dogmatic (theological) development in the history of the church” (Source: WSC Student Learning Outcomes).

—Pastoral Goals:

    • To help the student gain a critical appreciation for the development of Christian theology, piety, and practice from c.100 AD to 450 AD.
    • The student “exhibits growing integrity, teachability/humility, perseverance, self-discipline” (Source: WSC Student Learning Outcomes).
    • The student “gives reasons for convictions rather than merely asserting them.” (Source:WSC Student Learning Outcomes).

Required Reading

NB: I do not usually discuss the background texts at length (Heath, Chadwick, Kelly, Brown) in class. The lectures assume that you have read them but you must read and master them in order to complete the course. Please do the readings in the order presented below. Reference will be made, in class, to the primary source texts.

  1. Gordon L. Heath, Doing Church History: A User-Friendly Introduction to Researching the History of Christianity
  2. Henry Chadwick, The Early Church
  3. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines.
  4. Early Christian Fathers
    1. Ad Diognetum (please print out this online text if you’re using this version)
    2. Didache
    3. Justin, First Apology
    4. Irenaeus, Against Heresies
  5. Christology of the Later Fathers
    1. Athanasius, On the Incarnation
    2. Gregory of Nazianzus, Letters on the Apollinarian Controversy
    3. Gregory of Nyssa, An Answer to Ablabius
    4. Documents (pp. 329ff.)
  6. Early Latin Theology.
    1. Tertullian, All
    2. Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church and Letter 33
  7. J. Pelikan and V. Hotchkiss, eds. Creeds and Confessions in the Christian Tradition(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 1.58–61, 75–99; 158–81 (Reference Room)
  8. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo.
  9. Augustine, City of God, Books 1, 11–18, 20, 22.

Suggested Reading

    1. Irena Backus, The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West: From the Carolingians to the Maurists (Leiden: Brill, 1997), volume 2, part 3 (Renaissance, Reformation, Counter-Reformation).
    2. ——”Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290–1349) and the Church Fathers” Studia patristic 28 (1993): 161–68.
    3. —— “The Bible and the Fathers according to Abraham Scultetus (1566–1624) and Andre Rivet (1571/73–1651): The Case of Basil of Caesarea” Patristik in der Bibelexegese des 16. Jahrhunderts 231 (1999).
    4. —— “Irenaeus, Calvin and Calvinist Orthodoxy: The Patristic Manual of Abraham Scultetus (1598)” Reformation and Renaissance Review 1 (1999): 41–53.
    5. —— “Calvin and the Greek Fathers” Continuity and Change (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 253–276.
    6. Moreschini, Claudio and Enrico Norelli. Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature: a Literary History. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.
    7. Drobner, Hubertus R. The Fathers of the Church: a Comprehensive Introduction. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007.
    8. Holmes, Michael W. The Apostolic Fathers. Greek Texts and English Translations. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

Course Requirements:

Mid-term 40% (Lectures to that point and assigned reading (see below) The mid-term will be in the middle of the semester (week 7).

Final exam 40%

NB: A failing grade on the final exam means a failing grade for the course. The exam covers the lectures and assigned readings. Note: Students are expected to sit the final exam at the scheduled time. Please make your travel plans accordingly.

Reading 20%

The WSC catalogue requires attendance to class. Class conflict petitions will not ordinarily be approved for this course.

Anyone found to be using the computer in class inappropriately will face discipline.

Reading Schedule

Week Reading
1 Heath, all, Chadwick, ch’s 1-9
2 Chadwick, 10-18, Kelly, ch’s 1-4
3 Kelly, ch’s 5-10
4 Kelly, ch’s 11-17
5 Ad Diognetum, Didache, Justin’s 1st Apol
6 Pelikan/Hotchkiss (all), Irenaeus (all)
7 Mid-Term, Athanasius (all)
8 Nazianzus (all), Nyssa (all)
9 Documents (all), Tertullian (all)
10 Cyprian (all), Brown, chs 1-16
11 Brown, chs 17-36
12 Augustine, bks 1, 11-15
13 Augustine, bks 16-18, 20, 22


Students who take class notes by computer tend to create a large, detailed transcript but they also tend not to analyze the information they are receiving. They hear the lecture but it is more difficult to listen (i.e., to think about and interact with) what is being said. As a consequence, students find themselves with a large transcript with which they are not intimately familiar which can make the mid-term and final more difficult than necessary.

The student who takes notes by hand must synthesize and prioritize material in class. As a result, the student with handwritten notes has relatively less material to review before the exam. An informal survey of students with handwritten notes suggests that they felt better prepared for exams than they had with a large transcript.

The goal of the lectures is to provide a framework within which to interpret church history. Thus, it may be best to note, in bullet points, important themes and arguments and the most important details that illustrate the theme or support the interpretation being offered.

It is not wise to rely on the class notes of others or upon study group (e.g., Google Doc) answers. You will be most successful if you do your own work.


Assertion of Intellectual Property Rights

The instructor holds the copyright to all course lectures and original course materials. This copyright extends to student notes and summaries that substantially reflect the lectures or original course materials. Course lectures and materials are made available for the personal use of students only and may not be recorded or otherwise distributed (including the publication of student notes or summaries on social media) in any way for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the express written permission of the instructor.