The Confession of Faith (P.J. Twisck, 1617)
The oldest fully developed confession of faith of the Mennonites is probably the Belydenisse near Godts heylig woort. It appeared first in the Hoorn Martyr Book (Historie der warachtighe getuygen) of 1617, then separately at Hoorn in 1620 and 1626, was, according to Hans Alenson's Tegenbericht, the product of two Old Frisian preachers, Sijwaert Pietersz and Peter J. Twisck.
The confession was printed in the Martyrs' Mirror in 1660 (1950 English ed., 373-410), and in 1837 was first published in English at Winchester, Virginia, as The Confession of Faith. It contains 33 articles, and presents the content of the Christian faith in great detail with thorough, exhaustive biblical argumentation. When and where it originally appeared, and by whom it was drawn up is not stated, but it was probably first printed about 1600.
Peter Jansz Twisck was a preacher and elder in the Old Frisian Mennonite Church at Hoorn beginning in 1592. He was conservative in theology against more liberal leaders like Hans de Ries. Twisck defended Menno Simons' doctrine of the Incarnation (Article 14), maintained the practice of banning, opposed marriage outside the church, and generally opposed unity efforts by other Mennonite groups. Sijwaert Pietersz was a co-worker in the Old Frisian Church; Twisck credited him for the composition of the confession, though Twisck's influence is clear.
This Confession is primarily composed of sentences borrowed from the works of Menno Simons. It has been influential because of its inclusion in the Martyrs' Mirror. The Church of God in Christ, Mennonites most often reprinted the English translation in the 20th century.
- 1 Text of the Confession
- 1.1 Confession of Faith, According to the Holy Word of God
- 1.1.1 Of the only God of heaven and earth
- 1.1.2 Of the eternal birth and Godhead of the only and eternal Son of God
- 1.1.3 Of the Holy Ghost
- 1.1.4 How Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are to be distinguished in certain attributes
- 1.1.5 That these three true witnesses are but one only true, God.
- 1.1.6 Of the creation of all things visible and invisible, and of the creation of man
- 1.1.7 Of the fall and punishment of man
- 1.1.8 Of the restoration or justification of man.
- 1.1.9 Of the free will or power of man before and after the fall; and of the saving grace of God.
- 1.1.10 Of the providence of God, the election of believers, and the rejection of unbelievers.
- 1.1.11 Of the written word of God, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ.
- 1.1.12 Article XII: Of saving faith.
- 1.1.13 Article XIII: Of regeneration and the new creature.
- 1.1.14 Article XIV: Of the incarnation of the eternal and only begotten Son of God.
- 1.1.15 Article XV: Of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, and the necessity of believing it.
- 1.1.16 Article XVI: Of the life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and of his again receiving his glory with his Father.
- 1.1.17 Article XVII: Of the office of Christ, and the specific reason of His coming into the world.
- 1.1.18 Article XVIII: Of the church of God and the communion of believers.
- 1.1.19 Article XIX: Of the signs of the church of God, by which it may be distinguished from all other peoples.
- 1.1.20 Of the ordinance of the church of God, and the sending and electing of ministers.
- 1.1.21 Of Christian baptism.
- 1.1.22 Of the Lord's Supper or the breaking of bread.
- 1.1.23 Of the feet-washing of believers.
- 1.1.24 Of good works.
- 1.1.25 Of marriage.
- 1.1.26 Of the swearing of oaths
- 1.1.27 Of the office of magistracy, and secular power
- 1.1.28 Of the discipline of the Christian Church and separation of offending members.
- 1.1.29 Of the withdrawing from and avoiding of apostate and separated members.
- 1.1.30 Of the last day and the second coming of Christ front heaven.
- 1.1.31 Of the Death of the body and the Resurrection of the dead.
- 1.1.32 Of the last judgment; of hell, and the damnation of unbelievers.
- 1.1.33 Of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life.
- 1.1 Confession of Faith, According to the Holy Word of God
- 2 Bibliography
Text of the Confession
Confession of Faith, According to the Holy Word of God
Of the only God of heaven and earth
By the grace of God, according to the import of the holy Scriptures, we believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only, eternal, almighty, and true God; who is the Creator of heaven and earth, with all things visible and invisible; so that all things derive their origin and being from Him alone, and are all sustained, governed and upheld by His almighty word. He is a just, perfect, holy, incomprehensible and indescribable, spiritual Being; consisting of or through Himself (Exodus 3:14), and not needing the help or assistance of any thing; but is Himself the origin and fountain of every good thing. From His overflowing goodness every good and perfect gift proceeds and descends. And He is the living One, eternal, without beginning or end, an almighty, true God and Lord of Hosts, a commanding King over all, and above us all in heaven and earth, a terrible judge, and an avenging, consuming fire; the true Light just, righteous, and holy, full of grace and peace, and a God of love and of all comfort, longsuffering and of great mercy.
And this only good, and only wise, exalted God, who is all in all, dwells with his worshipful, glorious existence above in heaven, in a light which no man has seen, nor can see, and is present everywhere with His Spirit and power, filling heaven and earth, so that heaven is His throne, and the earth His footstool. From His all-seeing eye nothing is hid, but He is an omniscient hearer and beholder of the hearts and secret intents and thoughts of all men; all things being naked and open unto His eyes (1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 4:13).
And since He is such an omniscient God, full of all grace and mercy, and a God of all comfort, with whom alone the fountain of wisdom and all good gifts are to be found; and since He will not give this His divine honor to another, therefore all men are in duty bound, to seek, by ardent prayer and with a desiring heart, all grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, in God alone and in none other.*
And to this only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, before whose worshipful majesty the angels stand with trembling; whose word is true, and whose command is powerful; who is a righteous judge over all; finally every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that He alone is Lord, to the praise of His glory.
And this only, eternal, true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, consists in one true Father, and one true Son, and one true Holy Ghost. And besides this only God there never has been another, nor ever will be.
Concerning this only, eternal God, read: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29).
Through Isaiah He speaks: "For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me" (Isaiah 46: 9; 45:5; 44:6; 43:11; 41:4).
Through Paul He says: "That an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one" (1 Corinthians 2:4; 12:6; Ephesians 4:6).
And in this only God we must necessarily believe to salvation, as the beginning and foundation of the Christian faith. Read: "For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
To believe in this God, is also called a principle of the Christian doctrine. (Read: Hebrews 6:1; James 2:19; John 17: 8; 14:1; Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:9.)
Of the eternal birth and Godhead of the only and eternal Son of God
That the Son of God was born and proceeded from all eternity, in an ineffable manner, from the true God, his Father; of the essence and substance of the almighty God, as a Light from the true Light, true God from the true God; being in the form of God, the likeness of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person; so that He was born and proceeded from God His Father as the brightness of the everlasting light, the immaculate reflection of the power of God, and the image of His goodness; being equal with His Father in essence, form, and attributes; as eternal, almighty, holy, and the like. For it is an inevitable consequence that like produces like.
Thus, as the stone spoken of by the prophet Daniel, which was cut out of the mountain without hands, and itself became a great mountain, is of the same essence and substance with the mountain; so also the precious, elect corner stone, Jesus Christ, was born or proceeded from God the almighty Father (who is called a mountain and rock forever), and is of the same essence and substance with Him. Hence, Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is to be believed in, confessed, served, honored, and worshiped by all believers, as the true God with His Father. But as this is also a matter of faith, and not of reason or comprehension, all this must be viewed, believed, judged, and spoken of, not humanly, nor carnally, but divinely and spiritually.
Concerning this high, eternal birth, issue, and Godhead of the Son of God, read: "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee" (Psalms 2:7). "For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. And again, When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world" (Hebrews 1:5,6).
"So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee" (Hebrews 5:5).
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Acts 13:32, 33). Observe, that this passage of Paul has reference not only to the raising up of Christ from the dead, but chiefly to His eternal birth from God His Father.
The prophet Micah, speaking of Bethlehem, says: "Out of thee shall he come forth that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2; John 16:28, 30).
Again Paul says: "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born (mark, the first-born) of every creature" (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14).
Also John: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (mark, the only begotten Son) which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1: 18 and 14).
Read also: Proverbs 8:23; Daniel 2:34, 45; Sirach 24:13; Romans 8:29. Concerning the Godhead of Christ, read: Psalms 45:6; Hebrews 1:8; John 1:1 and 20:28; Romans 9:5; 1 John 5:20.
Of the Holy Ghost
That there is a true, real Holy Ghost, also comprehended in the only, eternal, divine essence; who proceeds from the Father and the Son and is the power of the Most High, by whom the Father and the Son operate, and through whom heaven and earth, and all the heavenly host were made. Hence, the divine attributes are ascribed to Him; as eternal, almighty, holy, omniscient; who searches the deep things of the Godhead, knows what is in God, and goes through and searches all spirits, however subtle they may be. He is therefore confessed as the true God with the Father and the Son. And He is the subtle breath of the power of God, who with His divine inspiration illuminates and enkindles the heart of man, and confirms and leads him into all truth. He is given by God unto all who obey Him. All that am led by this Spirit, are the sons of God. He that has not this Spirit, does not belong to God. He is called the real and earnest of the inheritance of all true children of God. He who blasphemes this Spirit, must never expect forgiveness. Christ also commands to baptize believers in the name of the Holy Ghost.
Concerning this only Spirit of God, read: "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the -earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:1, 2).
Through Paul we are taught: "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:4). "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:11, 13. Read also: 2 Samuel 23:2; Ephesians 4:4; Matthew 10:20; Luke 12:12; Matthew 3:16; John 1:32; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16).
How Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are to be distinguished in certain attributes
Of this we confess: That in the only eternal Divine Being there are not three mere names; but that each name has its true signification and attributes; so that there is a true, real Father, of whom all things are; and a true, real Son, by whom are all things; and a true, real Holy Ghost, through whom the Father and the Son operate. The Father is the true Father, who begat the Son before all time, and from whom the Son proceeded and came, and by whom he (the Father) created and made all things; and through whom the Son was sent to be the Savior of the world. The Son was born of, proceeded and came from the Father; by whom the Father created all things, and who was sent by the Father, and came into the world, and through the effectual power of the Most High was conceived by Mary, and born as man. He suffered, was crucified, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of His Almighty Father in heaven. The Holy Ghost is He that proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is sent by them; through whom the Father and the Son operate and work. He speaks not of Himself, but whatsoever He has heard from the Father; He takes of the things of Christ, to show them to His own.
Hence there are, in the same divine essence, in heaven, three true witnesses: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; of whom the glory of the only begotten Son of God appeared really and distinctively, in the form of a servant, on earth, and was also seen by John the Baptist, at the Jordan. And the Holy Spirit was also distinctively seen by the same John to descend, in the form of a dove, from God out of heaven, upon Christ and abide upon Him. And the Father who is an invisible Spirit, and cannot be seen by mortal eye, let His voice be heard from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." These three true witnesses are distinctively spoken of as follows: "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness, of me" (John 5:31, 32).
"I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me, beareth witness of me" (John 8: 16-18, 29, 54; 1 John 5:20; John 16:32 and 15:24).
Again, Paul says: "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5). "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the -doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 1:9).
Of the Holy Ghost, Christ says: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive" (John 14:11, 17; Matthew 12:32).
"But if I depart I will send him unto you. For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you" (John 16:7, 13, 14).
How John, the man of God, saw the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, read: "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22).
"And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him and I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:32-34). Read also Mark 1:10.
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16).
Mark, how awfully they sin against the Most High, who, contrary to all these express words of the Holy Ghost, still dare say and maintain that John did not see the Holy Ghost, but only a natural or created dove.
Hear also how the voice of the Father was heard from heaven: "And lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
"For he received from God the Father honor and. glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory" (2 Peter 1:17. Read also: Psalm 110:1; 2 Esdras 13:32; John 1:1; 1 Corinthians 12:5; 1 John 5:7).
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost" (1 John 5:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 3:14).
That these three true witnesses are but one only true, God.
Hereupon we confessed: That this must certainly follow, from the fact, that the Son proceeded or came forth from the eternal essence and substance of the Father; and that the Holy Ghost truly proceeds from the Father and the Son in the only, eternal Divine Being.*
Moreover, this is abundantly testified and confirmed by the divine works and attributes, which are ascribed in the. holy Scriptures jointly to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of which no angels in heaven, much less, any other creatures are capable, but which belong and are peculiar to the only God alone; as, the creating, governing, and upholding of heaven and earth with all things, visible and invisible; the gracious Gospel sent from heaven; the sending out of the apostles to preach the same among all nations; the raising of man from the dead, and the giving of eternal life; and all divine worship, honor and reverence. Hence they are perfectly one, not only in will, words, and works, but also in essence, and in the eternal and indescribable godhead. Thus also, in the divine works, so that whatsoever the Father does, the Son does likewise; and as the Father raises up the dead, even so the Son quickens whom he will; and all this they do in the power and with the cooperation of the Holy Ghost; and hence they can with reason and truth be called the one God of heaven and earth. Besides him, there has been no other God, neither shall another be found in all eternity. Hence in the term one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are comprehended.
On this subject read the prophet Jeremiah: "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established' the world by his wisdom" (Jeremiah 10: 11, 12; Isaiah 44:24; Psalms 96:5).
"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of thew by the breath of his mouth" (Psalms 33: 6; Hebrews 3:4; Acts 4:24).
"All things were made by him (Christ); and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3 and 5:19). Concerning this perfect unity read: "My Father, which gave them me (says Christ) is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and. my Father are one" (John 10: 29, 30).
Christ said to Philip: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father,. and the Father in me?" (John 14:9, 10; 12:45; 17:21).
How the Holy Ghost is also called God, read what Peter said to Ananias: "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" And a little further on: "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3, 4).
"Them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" (1 Peter 1:12).
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2 Corinthians 13:14).
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one" (1 John 5:7; Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8: 6; Galatians 3:20).
- These things are very difficult to understand, and above human reason; hence they are not to be comprehended by reason, but must reverently be embraced in faith.
Of the creation of all things visible and invisible, and of the creation of man
That the only, almighty, and wonderworking God, who is the origin of all good, and for whose sake all things are created, and have their being, created, among other invisible things, also a multitude of many thousand angels, whom He has put as ministering and immortal spirits in His worshipful glory, to minister unto their Creator, and to offer Him praise, honor, and thanks; and who are sent forth by God, as messengers, to minister in manifold ways for men who shall be heirs of salvation; and with which angels of God, Christ Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven, to hold judgment over all men. And He shall glorify all that believe and please God, and make them like the glorious, immortal angels, and crown them with all holy angels in everlasting glory.
But as some of these angels became unfaithful and apostate to God, their Creator, they were, through their own voluntary sin or pride, rejected by the holy and righteous God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and were cast down from the glorious estate of heaven to hell, bound with chains of darkness and reserved until the great day of judgment, to be sentenced with all unbelievers to eternal damnation.
These impure spirits or devils are called: the prince of darkness and spirit of wickedness, who rules in the air and works in the children of disobedience; with whom all unbelievers, who are governed and seduced by Satan, are in fellowship. And as all believers are in the society or brotherhood of the holy angels, and shall enjoy eternal salvation with them; so, on the other hand, shall all unbelievers have to endure everlasting damnation with all im. pure or apostate angels, with whom unbelievers are in fellowship.
Likewise, God Almighty, in the beginning, from nothing, in a most wonderful manner, and above all human reason and comprehension, created heaven, the earth, and the sea, with all their glorious adornment, He, the Blessed, only saying: "Let heaven and earth be made; and his word was a perfect work." He also adorned the heavens with many glorious lights; two great lights, one to rule and illume the day, and the other to rule the night; together with many glorious stars, which He ordained to the honor of their Creator, and the service of men.
Thus also, the Lord Almighty endowed the earth with many glorious fountains and running rivers, and adorned it with manifold trees and animals, and with all that lives and moves thereon. And He created the sea with great whales and various kinds of fish, for the wants of man, together with all that lives and moves therein. And He established the earth out of the water And in the water, by His almighty and everlasting word. They shall be preserved until the last great day of judgment. After God, the Lord, in five days had most wisely and excellently created heaven, and earth, and the sea, together with all visible things, He, on the sixth day, formed man from the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life; and from his rib made Eve, a woman, and gave her to him as a helpmeet. Moreover, He loved them above all other creatures, and clothed them like Himself with divine virtues, which are righteousness and true holiness; endowing them with wisdom, speech, and son, that they might know, fear, and love their Creator, and serve Him in voluntary obedience. He placed them as lords over all creatures, endowing them with immortality, that they might be and live before Him, and rule and reign over all creatures which God the Lord created.
Concerning this wonderful creation, read: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and in him" (Colossians 1:16; Psalms 33:6).
Regarding the angels, read: "He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:7, 14; Psalms 104:4).
Concerning the apostasy of the angels, read: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them. down to hell, and delivered them unto chains and darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:8; Revelation 12:4).
Regarding the creation of the visible things, read: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Psalms 33:6).
God said: "Let heaven and earth be made; and thy word was a perfect work" (2 Esdras 6:38).
"For thine almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form" (Wisdom 11:17).
"I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven, and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise" (2 Maccabbees 7:28).
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3; Acts 17:24; Psalms 146:6; 148:5).
Concerning the creation of man, read: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26).
"And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7; Acts 17:25; 1 Corinthians 15: 45).
How man was created, read: "This only have I found, that God hath made man upright" (Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 1:26; 5:1).
"For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity" (Wis. 2:23; Sir. 17:1),
"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
"And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:4).
Of the fall and punishment of man
The first man, Adam, and Eve, having been thus gloriously created after the likeness of their Creator, unto eternal life, did not continue long in this estate; but as they were created with a free will, to choose what they would, so that they could fear, serve and obey their Creator, or, disobey and forsake Him; and as their Creator had given them a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that they should eat thereof, they should surely die; they, notwithstanding this, in their vain desire to be equal to their Creator in wisdom and knowledge, were led and drawn away from God, and deceived by Satan; and thus they disobediently and voluntarily transgressed the command of their Creator. The woman, last created, was first deceived, and turned her ears away from God to Satan, and, also seducing her husband, they, through this sin, fell under the wrath and disfavor of God, and, with all their posterity, became subject that very day, to temporal and eternal death, and were thus divested of the divine virtue, which is righteousness, and true holiness, and became sinful and mortal.
On this account, God, the holy and righteous judge, in whose sight wickedness can not endure, but who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, or to look on iniquity; and who threatens from heaven with His wrath and disfavor all disobedience and ingratitude of men; was so incensed by the sin thus committed by Adam and Eve, that thereby they not only fell into eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, but God the Lord moreover imposed upon Adam and Eve divers temporal, bodily punishments, which also continually extend themselves into all their generations. Who are so corrupted in Adam, that they are all from their youth, by nature, inclined to sin and evil, and are therefore deprived of the beautiful pleasure garden, or paradise, but must eat their bread, all their life, in sorrow and in the sweat of their face, from the uncultivated earth, which because of this first sin was so cursed and marred, that it brings forth of itself weeds, thorns, and thistles; and cover the shame of their bodies made naked by sin. The woman, as the chief transgressor, has to subject her will and power to the man, and was constrained to bring forth her children in pain and anguish. This punishment continues upon all men, until they finally return to the dust and ashes whence they came.
Concerning how Adam, together with the whole human race, through sin, fell into temporal and eternal death, and, in consequence of this, became sinful, read: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men." "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned," etc. "And not as it was by one that sinned . . . . for the judgment was by one to condemnation," etc. "For if by one man's offense death reigned," etc. "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation," etc. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners," etc. (Romans 5:12, 14-19).
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15: 21, 22).
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalms 51:5).
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" (Job 14:4).
"Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die" (Sirach 25:24; Titus 2:14; Wisdom 2:24).
The prophet Esdra says: "The first Adam bearing a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him." "And he transgressed, and thou immediately, thou appointedst death in him and in his generations" (2 Esdras 3:21, 7).
"O thou Adam, what hast thou done! for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee" (2 Esdras 7:48. Read also: John 3:6; Romans 8:5; Ephesians 2:3; Sirach 17:16; Genesis 6:5).
Read further, how God announced unto Adam his punishment on account of sin, which punishment God extends unto all his posterity: "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the, field: in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:17-19, 23, 24). Concerning the punishment of the woman, read: Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12.
Of the restoration or justification of man.
We confess that Adam and Eve having thus fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, and into death and eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, so that no remedy or deliverance was to be found in heaven or earth, among any created beings, who could help, and redeem them, and reconcile them to God, the Creator of all things, who is the Almighty God (against whose majesty they had sinned, and who alone could heal them), who is rich and abounding in all grace and mercy, had compassion upon Adam and his posterity, and, hence, promised. them His only begotten Son as a comforting Redeemer and Savior, whom He would put as enmity between Satan and the woman and their seed, to the comfort and help of fallen mankind, in order thus to bruise the head of Satan, and lo deprive him of his power; and, in this manner, to deliver Adam and his posterity from the prison of sin, the power of the devil, and eternal perdition, and to reconcile them to God.
And even as God the Lord, through this promise, clothed Adam and his seed internally, according to the soul, with His grace and mercy, He, in token of this, also covered the outward shame and nakedness of the body, making coats of skins, and clothing them therewith.
And even as Adam, through this his first, one sin, brought not only himself but with him also his whole posterity, without exception of persons, and without their own actual evil works, into eternal death and condemnation; so also, God Almighty, through this promise of the only Savior Christ Jesus, redeemed, delivered, and justified from condemnation, and placed into the state of grace and reconciliation, all men, without exception of persons, without any of their good works, only from pure grace and mercy. Seeing that Adam's race was not born of him when he stood under disfavor and condemnation before God; but as all men proceed from Adam as being in a state of grace, peace, and reconciliation with God, he could bring forth none but such as stand with him in the same reconciliation.
Thus none of Adam's race are created or born to condemnation, but all are born and brought forth into the world in the same state of grace and reconciliation with God. Hence, we hold it to militate not only against the holy Scriptures, but also utterly against the nature of God, which is just, righteous, holy, and merciful, that God should punish with eternal death and damnation, simply on account of Adam's sin, so great a number of Adam's race who die in their infancy in a state of innocence, before they have followed Adam in sin; seeing the good God, through Christ and for Christ's sake, so graciously forgave Adam, (who had himself committed the sin) and placed him in a state of grace.
But men having attained the knowledge of good and evil, and, through the lust of the flesh, and their own desire, having been drawn away from the path of virtue and innocence, so that they follow Adam in sin, hence it comes that they separate themselves from their Creator, and, consequently, do not perish, nor are condemned on account of Adam's transgression, but because of their own unbelief and evil works.
But the righteous God, who does indeed forgive sin, yet ofttimes does not suffer it to go entirely unpunished, permitted the temporal, bodily punishment to remain upon Adam and Eve, and their posterity, by which they ought to learn to know, fear, and serve their Creator, and to shun sin; such as this, that from their infancy they are by nature inclined to sin and evil, against which they have a continual warfare, are barred out from the beautiful paradise, must cover their nakedness; the women must subject their power and will to their husbands, and must bring forth their children in pain and anguish; and all must eat all the days of their life, with sorrow, of the corrupted earth, until they return to dust of the earth, whence they have come.
But all believers receive in this life the restoration or justification of Christ only through faith, in hope, and afterwards in the resurrection of the dead they shall receive it truly and actually, and shall enjoy it forever.
Concerning these glorious and comforting promises of salvation, read: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed, and her seed; it shall bruise thy head" (Genesis 3:15; Ephesians 2:14, 15).
As to how this promise was renewed in the seed and race of Adam, read: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 7:37). To Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Acts 10:43).
Concerning the fact that this promise of justification does not extend only to a particular class of persons, but to all men without distinction, read: "Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:18, 19).
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15: 21, 22).
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1 :9, 29).
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" 1 John 2:2).
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Colossians 1:19, 20).
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11). Read also: Romans 3: 24; 11:32; 1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 John 4:10; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24.
As to how the kingdom of heaven is promised by Christ to infants, without respect of persons, read: "Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:13, 14; 18:3; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15).
Concerning how God the righteous judge will not punish infants for the sin of their parents, or of Adam; but to requite each with righteousness, according to his own works, read: "For so much then as thou art righteous thyself, thou orderest all things righteously: thinking it not agreeable with thy power to condemn him that hath not deserved to be punished" (Wisdom 12:15).
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not beat the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20, 4). "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:29).
"Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will Judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31; Psalms 7:11; 2 Timothy 4:8).
"But he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). "Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that death evil" (Romans 2:9).
Of the free will or power of man before and after the fall; and of the saving grace of God.
Of this we confess: That God Almighty in the beginning created the man Adam and his wife in His image and likeness, endowing them, above all creatures, with virtues, knowledge, speech, reason, and a free will or power; so that they could know, love, fear, and obediently serve their Creator; or could voluntarily and disobediently forsake their God; as appeared in the first transgression, when Adam and his wife, through the subtlety of the devil, who appeared in the form of a deceitful serpent, departed from the commandment of God; hence they did not sin through the foreordination or the will of God; but as they had been created with a free will, and to do as they would, they sinned through their own voluntary desire, and transgressed the command of God contrary to His will.
The man Adam and his wife having thus through their own sin fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, whereby they became sinful and mortal, were again received into favor by God their Creator; so that they were not utterly divested of their former wisdom, speech, and knowledge, above all other creatures, nor of their previous free will or power, as may be seen from their voluntarily accepting God's gracious promises unto life, and obeying the voice of the Lord; and as also clearly appears from the fact that God the Lord very strictly appointed an angel with a flaming sword to keep the tree of life from Adam; lest through his free will or power he should eat of the tree of life and live forever; which would have been in Adam's power. And this free will or power has been transmitted to all their descendants, who proceed from them as branches from their stem; so that even as men are endowed of God with knowledge, reason and voluntary power, by which they can perform manifold works, and seek and desire from God the health of their diseased and infirm bodies, and are not without action, as the irrational creatures, blocks and stones, so likewise, man, through the grace, of God, and the moving of the Spirit, by which men live, and are moved, may open the door of the heart to the salutary grace of God -- which through the Gospel is offered to all men, and through which death and life is set before man -- and seek the health of his wounded soul; or he may voluntarily resist, reject and neglect this offered grace and moving of the 'Spirit. Thus also, as men have eyes and ears, to see and to hear, yet not of themselves, but only from God the Giver, so they also, through the grace of God, have a free will or power to do the good and to leave the evil.
But men, considered in themselves, seeing they are without the grace of God, are of themselves incapable -of thinking anything that is good, much less are they able to do it. But it is almighty God, who through His Spirit of grace works in man both to will and to do, moves, draws, and chooses them, and accepts them as His children, so that men are only recipients of God's saving grace. Hence all Christians are in duty bound to ascribe the beginning, middle and end of their faith, with all the good fruits thereof, not to themselves, but only to the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus.
We confess moreover: That this saving grace of God is not limited to a few particular men, but even as the Almighty God lets His sun rise and shine on the evil and on the good, so He has extended His grace to all of Adam's race; as it is also evident that God, in His goodness, did not leave Himself without witness among the heathen, doing, them good, and so moving their hearts, that their thoughts and consciences accused and excused them, so that they could do by nature, without the hearing of the law of Moses, the things contained in the law. This appears in still greater clearness in the coming of Christ, that Almighty God has proclaimed the saving grace through the Gospel to the whole world, for a witness unto all nations, by which all excuse is taken from men, and as an evidence, that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent and be saved. According to the import of the holy and everlasting Gospel, a righteous, eternal, and irrevocable judgment shall be pronounced, in the last day, through Christ Jesus, the blessed, over all nations. Hence all men who now in this time of grace believe and accept the Gospel, attain unto life, but all who do not believe the Gospel, but voluntarily reject it, will receive death as their portion.
On the other hand, we reject the belief of those who say that Almighty God has indeed caused the word of reconciliation to be preached to all, or many, but does nevertheless withhold His grace from many of them, so that the greater part of mankind cannot accept the word of reconciliation and be saved, but will, through the purpose or eternal counsel and will of God, inevitably have to perish forever, and be damned.
On this subject read various Scripture passages ascribing a will to man. And the Holy Spirit does not speak in vain in the Scriptures: "He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; if thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable faithfulness. He hath set fire and water before thee; stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whether him liketh shall be given him" (Sirach 15:14-17; Deuteronomy 11:26; 30:15; 2 Esdras 7:59).
God the Lord said to Cain: "If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him" (Genesis 4:7).
Concerning man's free will, read: "Let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will" (1 Corinthians 7:36-38).
"And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a free will offering" (Leviticus 22:21, 23).
"Who might offend, and hath not offended? or done evil, and hath not done it?" (Sirach 31:10).
And Paul also says: "For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also" (2 Corinthians 8:3, 11; Philippians 14; Mark 14:7; 1 Corinthians 7:36).
Man can do nothing good of himself, by his own power; but through the grace of God, he, in his imperfectness, is able to keep God's commandments. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
"Thou timeliest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have, ears to hear, and hear not" (Ezekiel 12:2).
"For to wilt is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not" (Romans 7:18-21).
Read here all the Scriptures which unanimously testify that God does not desire the death of the sinner, but that he be converted, and live (Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11; Wisdom 1: 13; Isaiah 55:7).
And that God has extended His saving grace not only to the elect, but to all of Adam's race; and that He also died for those that perish. Concerning this, read: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11 ).
"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 45:22).
"Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18).
"Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness," etc. (Acts 14:16, 17; Romans 1:19; 2:15).
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1).
"And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15). "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. (John 3:16).
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of truth" (1 Timothy 2:3, 4).
"He is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4; James 4:6; Acts 13:46. Read also: Matthew 23:36, 37; Luke 13:34; 2 Esdras 1:30).
As to how God the righteous judge will pronounce the final judgment upon those who disobey the Gospel, read: "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8; Mark 16:16).
"This is the book of the commandments of God, and the law that endureth forever: all they that keep it shall come to life; but such as leave it shall die" (Baruch 4:1).
Of the providence of God, the election of believers, and the rejection of unbelievers.
Of this we confess: As we believe and confess that God is omnipotent; and that with him nothing is impossible; so likewise is He also prescient and omniscient, so that nothing is hid from him in heaven. and in earth, neither that which is to take place until the end of all things, nor that which has taken place from all, eternity. And through this exceeding high prescience (foreknowledge), knowledge and wisdom of God, which are unfathomable, he very well saw and knew from the beginning in eternity until the consummation of the world, who would be the truly believing recipients of His grace and mercy; and, again, who should be found unbelieving despisers and rejecters of said grace. And, consequently, He from the beginning and from eternity knew, foresaw, elected and ordained all true believers to inherit eternal salvation through Christ Jesus; and on the other hand rejected all unbelieving despisers of said grace to eternal damnation. Hence the perdition of men is of themselves, and their salvation only through the Lord their God, without whom they can do nothing that is good.
But in no wise is it true that the gracious, merciful, and righteous God (who conforms to His holy nature) has from eternity foreseen, ordained or predestinated, and created, at a convenient time, by far the greater number of the human race unto eternal damnation; or that, they having fallen through the sin of the first man Adam, he let them remain without help in eternal death and condemnation, into which they had come without their knowledge and own actual evil works, without having in this case seen and known the just cause of their rejection. Far be it from us, to believe this from the only good and righteous God!
But, on the other hand, all true followers of Christ believe and confess: That the righteous God, in the beginning, created man good and upright, and gave him an existence, and He hates none of those things which He has created. And when through the subtlety of the devil they had fallen into eternal death, the blessed God, whose mercy is over all flesh, and who is not willing that any should perish, out of pure love and mercy, redeemed, bought, and delivered, through the atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the whole human race, without exception of persons, from eternal condemnation; so that, in consideration of the death of Christ, none shall perish on account of Adam's sin; but God the righteous judge will judge the world in righteousness, giving assurance unto all men, and rendering to every man according to his own works and deeds. The believers, who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for eternal life, attain glory and honor and immortality, but the unbelieving and disobedient, tribulation and anguish, and the everlasting wrath of God.
Concerning the foreknowledge or prescience of God, read: "And hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26; Dent. 32:8).
"She foreseeth signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times" (Wis. 8:8; Dan. 2:28; 5:17).
"O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be" (Hist. Sus. v. 42; Is. 46:10; job 42:2; Rom. 9:11; Acts 2:23, 31; 1 Pet. 1:20).
"My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being perfect ; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Ps. 139:15, 16).
"He knew all things ere ever they were created; so also after they were perfected he looked upon them all" (Sir. 23:20; Acts 15:18).
Here it is to be observed with attention, how God, through His presence, from the beginning elected the believers in Christ, and rejected the unbelievers. Read: "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" etc. (Jas. 2:5).
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen," etc. (1 Cor. 1:27, 28).
"I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shamed it thee: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and West called a transgressor from the womb" (Is. 48:5, 8; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 9: 13; Eph. 3:11 ; 2 Tim. 1:9).
"Before they were sealed that have gathered faith for a treasure; then did I consider these things," etc. (2 Esdr. 6:5).
"And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people?" (Is. 44:7).
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified" (Rom. 8:28-30).
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee," etc. (Jer. 1:5).
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world , " etc. (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; John 15:16; Acts 13:48).
Of the written word of God, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ.
We confess: That the old law which was given by Moses and received by the disposition of angels, was a perfect doctrine and rule for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom God had made and established this His covenant. According to the doctrine and tenor of this law, this people had to conduct and regulate themselves, without transgressing any part of it, or taking away from, or adding to it, or following their own opinion in regard to it, on pain of being exterminated, and falling under a great curse. On the other hand, those who hear, believe and fulfill this law, are promised life, and many glorious blessings. This blessing and cure extended mostly to temporal and bodily things.
This law of God - the five books of Moses - embracing also all kings, priests and prophets, who prophesied and spoke, through the Spirit of God, among this people, Israel (agreeing with the law of Moses), which is the entire Old Testament, has through the grace of God been made known to us in the Bible. This law is also spiritual, the bringing in of a better hope, and the schoolmaster to Christ. By its various figures and shadows, as the Levitical priesthood, ceremonies and sacrifices, the land of Canaan, kings, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple it pointed and led to Christ Jesus, because the old law was an intolerable yoke of bondage, which brought condemnation upon all who did not continue in and perform all that is written in the book of the law. And since men, through the weakness of the flesh, could not perfectly keep all this, they could not obtain the eternal blissful life through the law, but would have had to remain under the wrath and anger of God. But Christ Jesus came, who is the end and the fulfilling of the old law, and the beginner and author of the new law, of perfect liberty, and the real, true light, to which all the dark shadows pointed; He came sent from God, with full power in heaven and on earth and is the one who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
He has made a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, and has invited thereto all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, who in time past were strangers and enemies, but who now, through grace, are all invited, and for whom the way unto life has been opened and well beaten; so that by obedience through grace, they may now become fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And this is the word of reconciliation, by which Almighty God, through His Spirit, works faith, regeneration, and all the good fruits resulting therefrom in men; in which word of the New Testament are proclaimed to us full grace and peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, together with all things that pertain unto life and godliness, yea, all the counsel of God. According to this proclamation all believing children of the New Testament must necessarily regulate and conduct themselves in all matters relating to the faith; in accordance with which, finally an eternal judgment will be held. And it is so much worthier, and better established than the Old Testament, as it was given through a higher and worthier ambassador, and was sealed with a more precious blood; and it shall not cease, but continue till the end of the world. And as a man's covenant, if it be confirmed, may not be changed, or anything taken from or added to it, so this New and Everlasting Covenant, which is confirmed with the precious death and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, may still much less be diminished, or anything added thereto, nor may it be bent and distorted according to one's own individual opinions; but all Christians are in duty bound to bow their whole heart, mind and soul under the obedience of Christ and the mind of the Holy Spirit expressed in the holy Scriptures, and to regulate and measure their whole faith and conversation according to the import thereof.
The Old Testament is to be expounded by and reconciled with this New Testament and must be distinctively taught among the people of God: Moses with his stern, threatening, punishing law over all impenitent sinners as still tinder the law; but Christ with His new, glad tidings of the holy Gospel over all believing, penitent sinners as not under the law, but under grace.
To this new law of Jesus Christ all decrees, councils and ordinances made contrary to it by men in the world, must give place; but all Christians must necessarily, as far as the faith is concerned, regulate and conduct themselves only in accordance with this blessed Gospel of Christ. And as the outward man lives outwardly by the nourishment of bread; so the inward man of the soul lives by every word proceeding from the mouth of the Lord. Therefore the word of God must be purely and sincerely preached, heard, received and kept, by all believers.
Of the law of Moses: how it was written with the finger of God on tables of stone, and given by the disposition of angels, concerning this read: Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6; John 1:17; Acts 7:53; Exodus 31:18; 32:16.
Of the severity of the law, and how we must neither take away from, nor add to it; in regard to this, read: "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen" (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10).
"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32, 8; 29:19; Proverbs 30:6; Deuteronomy 4:2).
Of the imperfectness of the law, read: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things," etc. (Hebrews 10: 1; Colossians 2:17).
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did" (Hebrews 7:12, 18, 19; Galatians 2:16; Acts 13:39; Romans 8:3).
How Christ is the end and fulfilling of the law; with regard to this, read: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:4; Matthew 5:17; Romans 7:4; Galatians 1:19).
Of the power and dignity of the holy Gospel, read: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," etc. (Romans 1:16; John 1:17; Luke 16:16; Mark 1: 15; 1 Peter 1: 12).
"Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Peter 1:25).
Of the usefulness and power of the holy Gospel, read: "And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 3:15).
"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life." "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said," etc. (John 5:39; 7:38; James 1:21; Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3; Wisdom 16:26; Revelation 22:18; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6).
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
How Christ Jesus will pronounce the last judgment upon the obedience of the Gospel, read: "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord," etc. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 24:14; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 20: 12).
Article XII: Of saving faith.
We confess: That saving faith is not a vain or hidden thing unborn in man; nor does it consist in us having a historical knowledge derived from the holy Scriptures, and that we have much to say about it, without having the real substance or signification thereof. But the real and true faith, which avails before God, is a sure knowledge of the heart in a sure confidence, which we receive from God, not through our own power, will, or ability, but through the hearing of the word of God; and which, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, is imprinted on, and written in, the heart, and works so effectually in us, that we are drawn away by it from all visible and perishable things, to the invisible and living God; acquiring thereby a new spiritual taste for that which is heavenly, and not for that which is earthly. For saving faith, accompanied with hope and love, is of such a nature that it conforms to things not seen. Hence, all true believers gladly and obediently submit themselves to all the commandments of God, contained in the holy Scriptures, and, when necessary, testify to and confess them with the mouth before kings, princes, lords, and all men, not allowing themselves to be drawn away therefrom by any means whatever, though, on account thereof, money, property, body and life be sacrificed unto spoiling, water, and fire. For the power of God, which preserves them in the faith, strengthens them, so that they esteem all the sufferings of this time brief and light, not avenging themselves, but praying for their persecutors, gladly suffering for the name of the Lord what is imposed upon them, because of the faith, hope, and love which they have to their Creator and His heavenly riches.
Where this true faith is received in the heart, there the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as witnesses of the same, must follow and flow out. On the contrary, unbelief, with its unfruitful works of darkness must flee, as darkness before the clear sunlight. By this faith, which is the beginning of the Christian doctrine, we become children of God, overcome the world, are armed against all the subtle wiles of the devil, become sanctified, justified, saved, and partakers of all the benefits of God shown in Christ Jesus; and without this faith it is impossible to please God.
In this true faith we cannot stand still, but, with humble fasting, praying and supplicating in the Spirit, we must plead for help, assistance, and new strength in all divine virtues, unto the end, in order that God may strengthen and preserve us in the same. Where this is neglected men may fall from the faith; the good Spirit may be taken away, and their names blotted out of the Book of Life, and written again in the earth. To this true faith, which is a noble gift of God, all men, who have attained to understanding and knowledge, so that they can hear and understand the word of God, without distinction of persons, are called through the divine word, and invited to come; but all infants, and those whom God permits to remain in their infancy, are herefrom excepted and excluded. They are under the grace and pleasure of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, by which He, through His blood, cleansed and redeemed the whole human race from the fall of Adam, without requiring of them any other means than faith, hope, love, and the observance of certain commandments of God. It is therefore a great error that some ascribe faith to new born infants; or (that they say) that without this they cannot be saved. It is a sure sign that said persons do not know the true faith, and do not believe the words of Jesus Christ, who has promised the kingdom of heaven to infants without this.
For, as true faith consists in hearing, believing and accepting the good things which God offers us through His word; and, again, as unbelief consists in despising and rejecting those things; and since infants have neither knowledge, ability, inclination, nor emotion concerning any of these things, as all intelligent persons see and know; therefore it must truly follow that neither faith nor unbelief may be attributed to infants; but they are simple and ignorant, and in this state perfectly pleasing to God, He having set them as examples for us, that we should imitate them in their simplicity.
How the true faith is a gift of God, and is wrought in the hearts of men through the hearing of God's word, read: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 12:3; Colossians 2:12; Philippians 1:29; Jude 3).
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 6:2).
With regard to how we must believe in God through His word, read: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word" (John 17:20; Ephesians 1:9; John 7:38; 14:1; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:15).
Concerning how true faith is not vain, but manifests its effectual power and nature, read: "By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations," etc. (Romans 1:5; 16:25; Acts 6:7).
"When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
"In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).
He that does not evince from his faith the seven virtues required, "is blind, and cannot see afar off," etc. (2 Peter 1:9; James 2:26).
"But the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4; Hebrews 10:38; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).
By faith we become righteous and partakers of the benefits of God (Acts 26:18; Romans 10:10; Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; Mark 16:16).
We must pray to God, to be strengthened and kept in the faith (Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 1:5).
When the grace of God is neglected through unbelief and evil works, one may fall away from the faith, and be blotted out of the Book of Life. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:10).
"Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).
"One that returneth from righteousness to sin: the Lord prepareth such a one for the sword" (Sirach 26:28; Jeremiah 17:13; Proverbs 3:21; Hebrews 6:6).
"The Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book" (Exodus 32:33; Revelation 3:5; Psalms 69:29; Isaiah 1:2; 30:1; Jeremiah 18:7).
How infants are simple and ignorant, and that therefore neither faith nor unbelief may be imputed to them; but that they are well-pleasing to God through His grace, without any other means, read: "Moreover, your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it" (Deuteronomy 1:39; Matthew 19:14).
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" 1 Corinthians 13:11; Hebrews 5:13).
"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children" (1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 4:14; Matthew 18:2; 19:13; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15).
Article XIII: Of regeneration and the new creature.
Inasmuch as our first parents, Adam and Eve, through their transgression, separated themselves from God, and fell into temporal and eternal death, with all their posterity, and, consequently, lost the image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness; became depraved in their nature, and inclined to sin and wickedness from their youth; so that of all men none can attain unto faith and a godly conversation through the power of their first birth, which has sprung and proceeded from sinful seed; because that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and hence, carnally minded, and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; therefore, all men, having come of the earth, shall return to dust and earth, and, in part, are also like to the corrupted earth, which of itself does not bring forth good grain, but must thereto be prepared .anew, and sown with good seed. Thus also, all men, when they have passed their youth, and have come to understand and discern good and evil, we perceive, that their carnal hearts and earthly life, being conceived in sin, are inclined to sin, which conceives by its own lust, which awakens sin in them, and allures and moves them to actual sin; and thus they fall from grace, -- to which they had been redeemed through the atonement of Christ--which plunges them into the death of sin.
Hence, God the Lord requires and demands through His word, of all men of understanding, a true reformation and a renewing from these their own actual sins; that is, that through the hearing of the word of God they receive the faith, become regenerated from above, of God, be created anew in the inner mind of the heart, according to the image of God, and circumcised, being translated from the carnal into the spiritual, from unbelief into faith, from that which is earthly-minded and like Adam into that which is heavenly-minded and like Jesus Christ; that they crucify and mortify their earthly members, and feel, prove, and taste that which is heavenly, and not that which is earthly. To this, God promises life, peace, and all heavenly riches; and it is the sanctification in the spirit of the mind, and the appropriation of all the benefits of Christ (which have been lost through our own actual sin), and has the promise of eternal salvation.
And wherever this renewing and conversion of the mind and heart is not found (among all those who know sin have served it), there Christ and the life do not exist; and without this renewing neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, baptism nor Supper, nor any ceremonies, how-ever glorious they may appear, avail anything.
And as man in the beginning is brought forth with pain ,and anguish from the flesh, so the second, spiritual generation is also called a birth; and it takes place with godly sorrow over sin, and with the crucifying and mortifying of the earthly members. And as men by the fall of Adam were not altogether deprived and divested of all godly virtues and qualities, so as to become like Satan in evil, but through the grace of God have retained many good principles, so the innate sinful nature, affection for, and proneness to sin are not utterly removed by regeneration, but remain until death in the regenerated; so that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the lust or indwelling sin wars against the law of the new mind, so that the regenerated enter upon a continuous warfare, and must constantly crucify and mortify the lusts of the flesh, tame and bring into subjection their bodies, and abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; and thus fighting, they must keep the victory unto death.
On the other hand, the assertion of those who ascribe regeneration to new-born infants, and say that without this they cannot be saved, is rejected as a grave error. Some of these found regeneration upon infant baptism, maintaining that as soon as they have their children baptized, they are also, through this ceremony of baptism, regenerated. Others build the regeneration of infants on the justification or general redemption of Christ, by which the human race has been reconciled from the fall of Adam and put in a state of grace; saying that children are regenerated as soon as they are conceived by the mother; thus putting regeneration, against all right and probability, before the first birth which is of the flesh. Some can not tell whether infants become partakers of regeneration before, in, or after baptism; from which it is judged that the aforesaid persons treat of regeneration without the holy Scriptures and all true reason, as the blind man of colors; since Almighty God, nowhere in His holy word speaks of the regeneration of infants. And though children are conceived in sin, or born from sinful seed, yet they have never known, served, or practiced sin, from which they might be regenerated, converted, and renewed in their mind and heart; but they have without this been born, and placed by God in so holy and Godpleasing a state, through the atonement of Christ, that no adult person can, through regeneration and the putting off of the sinful body of the flesh, and the renewing of the mind, become more sinless, holy and God-pleasing; 'seeing the innate sinfulness, lust or inclination to sin remains in the most pious, regenerated, adult persons until death (not less then in children, in their infancy), against which they carry on a constant warfare; and besides this, Almighty God, by His word, requires of all men that have served sin, no higher or greater reparation than that they be converted by regeneration, and become like unto children in sin and malice. With what reason, then, can regeneration be applied to children, who have never committed sin, from which they could be regenerated; seeing infancy has already the innocence which is acceptable to God, and has been set as an example before men, after which all the regenerated must labor and strive until death.
Of this heavenly birth from God, and how it is effected through the Spirit and the word of God, read: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1Peter 1:22, 23; 2:2; James 1:18; 1 Corinthians 4:15; Galatians 4:19; Philemon 10).
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost," etc. (Titus 3:5).
That regeneration is not a vain or hidden thing, but demands a new life and the following of Christ, and that eternal salvation is promised thereupon, read: "Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:15, 16).
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12, 13).
To all who have served sin, and have not been regenerated, the kingdom of God is denied. Concerning this, read: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou nearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:3, 5-8).
That the regenerated do not become perfect in this life, but must fight unto death against the flesh, the world, and sin, read: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after," etc. (Philippians 3:12; 1:30; Colossians 1:29; Revelation 2:10).
" I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27).
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit," etc. (Galatians 5:17, 18; 1 Peter 2:11 ; Romans 7:18, 23; James 3:2).
Article XIV: Of the incarnation of the eternal and only begotten Son of God.
We confess: That the exalted and true God. faithfully kept and fulfilled His exceeding great and precious promises, which He had made in the beginning concerning His Son, who had been foreordained to this end before the foundation of the world, but in these last times was manifest for our sakes.
This glorious and cheering promise was originally given to fallen Adam and Eve, and was afterwards renewed in their seed, as in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and David. Of Him did all the prophets prophesy, and on Him did all the pious fathers hope with a firm confidence (as though they had seen Him), that Shiloh would come from Judah, and that this beautiful star would arise out of Jacob. This truly and really took place as follows: When everything was in tranquility, when the royal sceptre had departed from Judah, and the seed of Jacob was under tribute to the heathen; then the gracious God remembered His holy covenant, and sent His true, real Word or Son out of heaven, from His royal throne; having to this end foreordained and elected the righteous Joseph, of the house and generation of David, whose espoused wife was Mary, whom God had blessed and chosen for this purpose above all other women.
To this Joseph and Mary the Holy Ghost points from generation to generation, as well as to the town of Bethlehem, out of which this Light long before promised was to arise and come forth; in order that all the pious who waited and hoped for this salvation, might have a certain consolation and knowledge from which tribe, city and place they were to expect this Savior of the world.
Thus Mary received the message through the angel of God, and believed it, being overshadowed by the power of the Highest, and conceived of the Holy Ghost the true, real Word, which was in the beginning with God, and by which all things were created. The same, through the effectual power of the Almighty God, became flesh or man in her, and was born of her, the Son of the Most High God, whom she had before conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Thus the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God became a visible man subject to suffering. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, and was brought up at Nazareth under the care of His (imputed) father and His mother. He hungered, thirsted, was wearied with walking, sighed and wept, and increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man; so that the eternal, only begotten Son of the living God, in the time of His incarnation, did not continue like His heavenly Father in an invisible, impassive, immortal, and spiritual form, but for our sakes, humbled Himself into a visible, passive, mortal and servile form, became like unto us men in all things, except sin; in order thereby to heal us from the poisonous bite of the serpent, and from everlasting torment.
Hence, all true witnesses of Jesus Christ are bound, by virtue of the holy Scriptures, to believe and confess: That this same Word, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, by which all things were made, proceeded from God His Father, came into the world, and, through the power of God, became Himself man or flesh, so that the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth was touched and seen.
Thus He who before was like unto His Father in brightness and glory -- not given or usurped Godlikeness, but one peculiar thing to Him by nature -- left His brightness and glory, and humbled Himself, and became in form like unto us men; He who before was greater than the angels, and in an invisible, immortal form, like unto God His Father, was now made lower than the angels, and became like unto His brethren in a visible and mortal form. He who could have had joy with His Father, and was surrounded by eternal riches, became poor for our sakes, and suffered on the cross, despising the shame. He who in the presence of the apostles ascended heavenward, was the same who before had descended from God out of heaven into the lower parts of the earth; and the same ascended above all heavens. This is the mystery of godliness, which is great, but on account of their carnal and flickering reason, is believed by but few: that God the Son was thus manifest in the flesh: and that He appeared, as a true Redeemer and Savior, and eternal Light, to them who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.
And, as the food which the Israelites ate in the wilderness, is called bread from heaven or heavenly bread, because the substance of the bread was no fruit of this earth, but had come from heaven, though the same, was in this world prepared in the form of bread, so also Christ Himself calls His flesh the true bread which came down from heaven; and says that the Son of man should ascend up where He was before, because His flesh or body became flesh, not of Mary or of any created substance, but only of the Word of life which had come down from heaven.
He it was who spake with Moses on the mount and in the wilderness; and Him the fathers tempted in the wilderness, and resisted His Spirit. This is the same who was from the beginning. Him the apostles touched with their hands, and beheld with their eyes; herein the life was manifested, that they saw and proclaimed to men, that which was with the Father, and was manifested unto them, and was even the same Word which spake with them.
And though it is true that the eternal Son of the living God forsook His divine glory, and, for a brief time, was, made lower than the angels, and appeared in the visible form of a servant; yet He did not thereby lose His eternal Sonship and Godhead with His Father; but when God the Father brought this His first and only begotten Son into the world, He prepared Him a body, not of any created substance, but only of the Word of life, which became flesh, and which by all the angels of God is honored and worshiped as the true God.
Likewise, Christ glorified Himself before His apostles, on mount Tabor, that His face shone as the bright sun, and He was confessed by His Father from heaven as His beloved Son. Thus have also the highly enlightened apostles of Christ, and all true believers, confessed, pronounced, honored and worshiped this visible and palpable Christ Jesus as the true God, and Son of God. Hence all true believers, according to these testimonies of holy Scripture, and the examples of all the saints of God, must necessarily, unto salvation, follow, believe, and confess, that the whole crucified Christ Jesus, visible and invisible, mortal and immortal, is the true God, and the Son of God, God and man in one undivided person. To Him be praise forever and ever, Amen.
Of these promises concerning the Savior, read, how God the Lord, in the beginning promised fallen Adam and Eve, to put Him as enmity between Satan and the woman, and between their seed. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15; Col. 1:19; 3:15; Eph. 2:15).
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 7:37; Read also Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8; Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Matthew 2:2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Isaiah 9:6; 11:1; Acts 10:43).
And that this Savior of the world originally did not spring from the fathers, Mary, or any creature, but was sent and came from God, and was conceived and brought forth by Mary, read: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son" (Matthew 1:23; Is. 7:14; Luke 2:21; Galatians 4:4:). "When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." And further: "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:18, 20).
The angel of God said unto Mary: "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:30-35).
Read in this connection St. John, who also gives thorough information regarding this matter: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the, Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 2, 14; Baruch 3:37; Zechariah 2:10).
And further: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us,)" (1 John 1:1, 2; John 8:25; Micah 5:2; 2 Peter 1:16; John 20:28; Wisdom 18:15).
Of the humbling of the eternal and only Son of God. (Mark especially the word made; for nowhere do we find anything about assuming man) read: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man," etc. (Philippians 2:6-8).
"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels." "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor" (Hebrews 2:7, 9; Psalms 8:5).
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9; Ecclesiastes 9:15).
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame," etc. (Hebrews 12:2).
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51. Read also verses 58 and 63).
How the saints of God confessed and worshiped this humiliated Jesus also in the days of His flesh, as the true God, and the Son of God, read: "Whom do men say that 1, the Son of man, am?" And after a few more words: Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 13:16). Understand, the true Son who was born and came forth from the essence of the Father; and not a Son become so in time, or assumed, as believers, who because of the faith, are also called sons and daughters" (2 John 1:3; John 1:49; 10: 36; 11:27; Acts 8:37; Matthew 27:54).
Jesus said to the blind man: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? and Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him" (John 9:35-38).
"Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed," etc. (John 20:28, 29). "In his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" (1 John 5:20, 21; Romans 9:5).
©1996-2012 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
Article XV: Of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, and the necessity of believing it.
Of this we confess: That it is necessary for all Christians to believe that the knowledge of the only Son of the Father, is, as one of the principal articles of our faith, in the highest degree essential unto salvation. It is therefore not sufficient to know Christ only after the flesh, or His humanity; as, that He was born of Mary, and became like unto us in all things, except sin; but we must also (which is the most important) know Him after the Spirit, and His eternal Godhead; that is, that He before all time, in eternity, in an unspeakable manner, was born of or proceeded from the true God His Father, and that He is the true, real Word and Wisdom, which proceeded from the mouth of the Most High, and which for this reason, was equal with His Father in brightness, glory, power, might and eternal Godhead, before the foundation of the world. And that this only Son of God, for our justification became a visible man, that by His present, visible humanity -- which is not of this tabernacle or sinful substance, but in essence far different from sinners -- He might give us a holy, unblamable example in doctrine and conversation, in order thus to incite all men to follow Him.
And that according to His divine power and might He was able to deliver us from the captivity of sin, hell, the. devil, and death, and save us forever; seeing no other means or name in heaven or on earth is given unto men for salvation. To this end, Christ was made unto us, of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Hence neither Moses with His threatening and punishing law of commandments, nor Aaron with the entire Levitical priesthood, and all their sacrifices and offerings, which were made only for remembrance of sins, and consequently, passed by polluted mankind without affording them any help (for no corruptible man could redeem his brother, and reconcile him with God; as all human, sinful substance was not able to redeem the soul from eternal death); but this was fulfilled and accomplished by the slain Lamb, which was foreordained and was manifest in these last times. He restored that which He had not taken away. He, the innocent one, took the guilt of us all upon Him, and only He was found worthy in heaven and earth, to open the book with its seven seals. And by His coming into this world (which can never be sufficiently praised), He opened the entrance to the kingdom of God, which was closed by sin, not by the blood of bulls and goats, or of any corruptible man, nor by corruptible silver or gold; but Christ paid and accomplished this by His own dear and precious blood, thereby obtaining an eternal redemption.
And as the sun in the heavens is endowed by God with a glorious splendor, so that it is the eye of the world, which illuminates the darkness, and spreads its beautiful light over all visible things, and receives nothing from any of them; so also Christ Jesus, the true Sun of righteousness, and what is still more, the Creator and Ruler of the sun, and of all things, did not take to His assistance any created substance, by which to accomplish the work of our salvation; but came with His most praiseworthy light from God out of heaven, and shone into this dark world, where He was received, and arose, as the beautiful day-star, in the hearts of many men; and was thus a Giver, but not a recipient. Hence, the praise and honor for this redemption must be ascribed to the only God of heaven and earth, and not to any created man; otherwise we would rob the Creator of His proper honor, and ascribe the same to sinful, created flesh like unto ourselves; thereby making flesh our arm, Redeemer, God and Savior; and thus departing with our hearts from God' our Salvation, we should fall into damnable idolatry, seeking life from the dead, where it cannot be found.
Herein we are to know the love and goodness, and also the severity of God, and how greatly the Almighty God hates sin; -- His severity and justice, from the fact, that through the one sin of the first man, the whole human race became corrupted; and that this could be paid and atoned for by no other means than through the death and blood of God's own, only begotten Son. God's goodness and everlasting love are known from this, that He, the Blessed, so graciously looked upon and recognized, the weakness and nothingness of man; and, hence, as He often sent angels, as His faithful messengers, in human form to men, upon the earth, knowing that this sinful, mortal, earthly flesh and blood is not able to behold the immortal, heavenly glory of the angels; much less can man with his sinful and mortal eyes behold the immortal, eternal, holy splendor and glory of the eternal Creator of all things; therefore the eternal, invisible, and immortal Son of God, through His unfathomable love, had Himself to become a visible, mortal man, for a little while lower than the angels, and to appear in the form of a servant, like unto His brethren; so that the glory of the eternal and only begotten Son of God was felt and seen in human form, that He might be a true example for us to follow His footsteps. Herein we may especially know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge: that the holy, heavenly, only begotten, blessed Son of God, Jesus Christ, became man, died and rose for us, when we were yet ungodly and His enemies.
And though Christ suffered for us in the flesh, and was crucified, and died; yet it was not possible that He should be held by death, or that His holy flesh should see corruption. But He had Himself the keys of death and hell, and the power to open and to shut, to lay down His life, and to take it again; and He it is that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, He is alive forevermore.
Hence all true believers must believe that the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, both of His true divinity, and pure, immaculate humanity, is necessary to salvation. And to this, life and eternal salvation are promised by the Holy Ghost; and that Christ would build His church upon this foundation, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against her. On the other hand: that all unbelievers, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, (that is, that the Son of God became man, and thus coming, appeared in the flesh), are not of God, but of the spirit of Antichrist, who began already in the days of the apostles, and is to exalt himself. still more in the last times.
Of the necessity of this knowledge of Jesus Christ, read: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3; Hosea 13:4).
"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also," etc. (John 14:7).
"Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" (2 Corinthians 5:16).
"And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2: 11; Romans 14:11; Colossians 2:2; Philippians 3:8).
"And Jesus said to Peter, after the latter had confessed and pronounced the man Jesus, to be Christ, the Son of the living God: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:17, 18).
"And after the apostle Thomas had confessed the visible and palpable man Jesus as his Lord and God, Christ did not reprehend him for it, but accepted it as the belief of the truth, saying: "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29; 17:20; 1 Peter 1:8).
Read in this connection the various Scripture passages, how the apostles through the Holy Ghost, labored with all their might, to impress on men, not that the eternal Son of God dwelt concealed in the man Jesus; but on the contrary, that the visible man Jesus was the Christ; that is, the Anointed, and the Savior of the world, sent down from heaven; and to this, the promise of life is given. Read: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30, 31).
"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, ,God dwelleth in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:5; 2 John 1:3; John 6:47).
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1, 5, 10; Acts 18:5, 28).
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? he is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22).
"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (that is, that the eternal Word became flesh, and being thus flesh, came into his own) is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 John 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:7).
Read further, how we have been redeemed and bought by no other means, than only by the death of the Son of God.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," etc. (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 5:9).
"If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all," etc. (Romans 8:31, 32; 1 John 3:16).
"Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, be,cause that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9).
Article XVI: Of the life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and of his again receiving his glory with his Father.
Of this we confess: That the Lord Jesus, in the time of His humiliation in the flesh, being about thirty-three years, did not only with words, but also by works and deeds, set us a holy, godly example, to be looked to as the Captain of the faith, by all believers, and followed in the regeneration; for in his youth He was subject to His father and mother. And when His time was fulfilled, He entered in full obedience toward His heavenly Father, on the office and ministry imposed upon Him, proclaimed unto them His Father's good pleasure, made the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the blind to see, cleansed the lepers, cast out devils, raised the dead from their graves, forgave men their sins, and promised eternal life to those who believe in Him.
These things Christ did not do in the same manner and form as His apostles and others, who performed miracles through a power and gift only received, which had been conferred upon and given them by Christ. But such was not the case with Christ; for He Himself had all power in heaven and earth; so that He said to the two blind men: "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" And further: "That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." And still further: "I will raise them up at the last day; and I give unto them eternal life."
Thus the Lord Jesus completely fulfilled and accomplished the works of His Father, and shone as a clear heavenly light into this dark world, convincing the same of her evil works, and pointing them out to her; by which He incurred the hatred of the blinded scribes and Pharisees, who did not know the light of truth, and who, from hatred and envy, censured Him for all these divine deeds attributing them to the devil; and thus they delivered this innocent one into the hands of the unbelieving heathen, Pontius Pilate. They also examined this dumb Lamb with many severe threats, mocked Him, spat in His face, smote Him with their fists, scourged Him, wounded His head with a crown of thorns, and finally stripped Him and stretched Him naked on the cross, nailed His hands and feet thereon, and thus suspended Him, as the Prince and Captain of all malefactors, between two murderers. In His bitter thirst they gave Him vinegar to drink, mixed with gall; they pierced His side with a spear, so that blood and water flowed out therefrom. Thus He gave up the ghost with a loud voice, commending it into the hands of His Father. And when He had died, heaven and earth were convulsed by this precious death and resurrection; so that the sun lost his brightness, and darkness came over All the earth; the earth quaked; the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and many bodies of the saints arose from their graves, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
And as in the time of His flesh, suffering and death, He showed that He had become man, so He also showed herein that this very man was also true God with His Father; and that He had the keys of the power of death and hell, that He could again raise up the broken temple of His body in three days, and had the power to lay down His life, and to take it up again; so that it was impossible that He should be held by death, or that His holy flesh should see corruption, but rose triumphantly from the dead, on the third day, by the glory of the Father, revealed Himself to His apostles and others, and miraculously appeared unto them, as they were assembled with doors closed, ate and drank with them, and for forty days spake with them of many things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Then, in the presence of the apostles, He was taken up to heaven by a cloud, and sat down on the right hand of His Almighty Father in heaven.
Thus the only begotten Son of God suffered, was crucified and put to death according to the flesh; but thereby was again glorified and made alive according to the spirit, and again fully received His previous divine glory, and His equality with the Father. He will now die no more, neither will death have any more dominion over Him; but He shall live and rule as a reigning King of kings, and Lord of lords over mount Zion and the house of Jacob, forever and ever.
Of the unblamable life and conversation of Christ, and how He was subject to His father and mother, read: Luke 2:51; John 8:46; Acts 1:1.
And after His time was fulfilled, how He entered on the ministry imposed upon Him, and performed many glorious deeds in His Father's name, read: Mark 1:15; Matthew 8: 16; 9:35; 11:5; 12:15; John 10; Acts 10:38; Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:24.
And how He, as a light in the world, testified of their dark and evil works, and thus fell into the hands of sinners, read: "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (John 7:7; 1:5; 3:19; Matthew 27:18.)
How Christ in the time of His humiliation in the flesh was obedient to His heavenly Father, read: "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).
Of the suffering, death, and burial of Christ, read: Psalms 22:16; 60:9, 21; Isaiah 53:7; 63:3; Acts 8:32; Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19; Acts 3:15; 1 Corinthians 15:4, 20; Matthew 27:57; Isaiah 53:9.
Of the resurrection of Christ, read: Matthew 28:7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:7; 1 Corinthians 15:4, 20; Acts 3:26; 10:40.
How Christ again received the divine glory and likeness which He had forsaken; and how He ascended unto heaven, read: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18; Psalms 8:6).
"Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and. to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26).
"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crowndest him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet" (Hebrews 2:7-9; John 17:5).
"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior," etc. (Acts 5:30, 31; Philippians 2:9; Acts 2:33, 36).
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up," etc. (Acts 1:9, 10; Mark 16:19;. Luke 24:51).
Article XVII: Of the office of Christ, and the specific reason of His coming into the world.
We confess: That Christ is the true promised Prophet, High Priest, and King, whom Moses and all the prophets foretold and proclaimed, and to whom the former priests and kings pointed as figures and shadows. And the specific reason of His coming into the world was: to destroy the works of the devil, to seek that which was lost, to deliver the whole human race from the captivity of sin, and the power of the devil, and to reconcile them with God His Father, and thus to save sinners.
According to His prophetical office He went out from God, and came into the world to proclaim unto men,, through the Gospel, the full counsel and will of God, which had been hid from the beginning of the world, and thus to preach deliverance to the captives, the Gospel to the poor, and the acceptable year of the Lord, according to which as the last declaration and will of God, all the children of the New Covenant are required to live and walk, according to a perfect rule of faith, which shall obtain until the end of the world.
According to His office as High Priest He fulfilled and changed the Levitical priesthood; and by His one offering, made on the cross, He opened the closed entrance to the Holy of Holies; and through this His one offering, which is of eternal value, He fulfilled and finished the sacrifice of the law, and obtained an eternal redemption. And thus reconciling mankind with the Father, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, and is become the believers' only Advocate, Mediator, High Priest, and Intercessor with God His Father, and ever lives to make intercession for them.
And according to His office as King He came with full. power from His almighty Father from heaven, to reestablish, as a mighty King of kings, and commander of the people, judgment and righteousness on earth; and He was the end and fulfillment of all the kings of Israel. But as His kingdom was not of this world, and He was a spiritual, heavenly King, He avoided all earthly kingdoms of this world, and desired and had only a spiritual, heavenly kingdom. Among His subjects He reformed, improved and fulfilled the commandments, laws, and customs, given by Moses. As a commanding king He dissuaded and prohibited His followers from all revenge, whether with words or by deed; (and taught them) that they should beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into scythes and sickles, and should learn war no more; but that, on the contrary, they, according to, the example of Christ, their Captain, should love their enemies, and pray for those who injure and persecute them -- very far indeed from allowing them to wage war against their enemies with carnal weapons. But Christ armed His people only with the armor of God, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, with which to fight against flesh and blood, the world, sin, and the manifold wiles of the devil, and thus finally to receive, through grace, from this eternal King, the crown of everlasting life, as their recompense and exceeding great reward.
How Christ is the prophet promised by God, whom we must hear and follow as the perfect teacher of the will of God, read: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 7:37; 3:22; Matthew 17:5).
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19).
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son," etc. (Hebrews 1: 1, 2).
Of His prophecies, read: Matthew 24 throughout; Luke 17:20; 19:41-44.
Of His priestly office, read: "And having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith," etc. (Hebrews 10:21, 22).
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (Hebrews 7:12; 8:6; 10:12).
"But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come," etc. (Hebrews 9:11).
Of His preaching, read: Matthew 9:35; Mark 1:14; Matthew 5:2; 11:1; Luke 4:15.
Of His office of King, read: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee," etc. (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5).
Behold, the days come, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Isaiah 32:1).
"Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (John 1:49; Acts 10:36; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:11).
Of His spiritual kingdom and dominion, read: "And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom: there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32, 33).
"For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14).
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," etc. (1 Peter 2:9; Exodus 19:6; Revelation 5:10; John 18:36, 37; Psalms 22:28).
Of His government, read: "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people" (Isaiah 55:4).
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy," etc. (James 4:12; 1 Corinthians 9:21; Matthew 12:8; 28:20; James 1:25).
Article XVIII: Of the church of God and the communion of believers.
Concerning this we believe and confess: Whereas men by reason of the natural birth of the flesh, follow sin and wickedness when they attain to their understanding, and thereby depart from God their Creator; therefore the high and holy God, before whom the sinners and ungodly cannot stand, from the beginning of the world, called and chose, from all the unbelieving nations of the world, an own special people, and separated them from all other nations. These are they who turn their ears to the calling voice of God, and thereby have separated themselves from the world with all its sinful lusts, and all false worship, and have again united themselves to Christ, bowing, as obedient members and sheep of Jesus Christ, under His head and commanding voice, and shunning everything strange which militates against this. These are they who are renewed in the inward man, and are circumcised, changed, and converted, and live after the Spirit.
This church of God was first commenced on earth, with Adam and Eve in Paradise, and afterwards, with Enoch, Noah, and all those who with them honored and called upon the high name of God; which was the first period of time, that is, before the law.
After this God the Lord established His covenant or church with Abraham and his seed, giving them circumcision as a sign of the covenant, together with many laws, ceremonies, statutes, and customs; which continued till the coming of Christ, and was the second period, or the time of the law of Moses.
Finally God sent His Son, who, as a potentate in heaven and earth, established a new and perfect covenant with the house of Israel, calling to the same all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, all those who amend their sinful life, and obediently yield their bodies under this covenant. With all these Christ has established His church and congregation; this is the third and last period, which shall thus continue, without change in faith, walk, and laws, until the reappearing of Christ from heaven. And though the people of God in these three periods, had different and special laws and ceremonies, according to which they had to live and walk; yet this was the will of God, and they were nevertheless only one people of God, and were moved and led by one Spirit.
This church and congregation of believers has not always been visible to the eyes of all men, but has frequently vanished from the sight of the sinful and bloodthirsty world, the latter not being worthy of them. This can be seen in the case of Noah with his families in the ark, who concealed themselves from the whole world; in the people of Israel in the Red Sea, and here and there during the forty years in the wilderness; in the pious in Judah from the bloody sword of Manasseh; and in all the godfearing in Israel from the awful threats of Jezebel. Thus also the bride of the Lamb, the church of Jesus Christ, had to hide herself in the wilderness, forty-two months, or three times and a half time,* from the abominable beast of Antichrist, which with his tyrannical sword and burning, exalted itself above everything which is called and worshiped as God. Afterwards, through the grace of God, she again came to the light, and was built upon the first, ancient apostolical foundation.
And as Solomon's temple was destroyed, and the second building continued until the first coming of Chris in the flesh, so we hold that the church of Jesus Christ rebuilt upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, shall also continue openly in the light until the second coming of Christ from heaven.
This church of God, that is, all believers, are, as members of one body, joined together by faith and the bond of love: they are like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; they live according to the same rule of the divine word, and are bound together by the same love, thus having fellowship with one another. Those whom God has blessed with spiritual gifts, minister with them to the souls of their neighbors out of love. And those whom God has provided with temporal possessions, minister with them to the temporal needs of their neighbors; thus showing that they have their temporal and spiritual goods in common, and suffer no want in spiritual and temporal gifts. This church of God has existed on the earth from the beginning of the world, either in greater or in smaller numbers, secretly or openly, and shall thus continue unto the end of the world, and Christ will be with her, with His Spirit, always.
Of the Christian church, that is, of all believing regenerated persons, gathered and purified by the Holy Spirit, read: "The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; 1 Peter 2:9).
"And among all the multitude of peoples thou hast gotten thee one people: and unto this people, whom thou lovedst, thou gavest a law that is approved of all" (2 Esdras 5:27).
How the church of God, which is built upon Christ must be subject, as members to their head, read: "And upon this rock (Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18; 28:20).
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27, 29, 32; 1:22).
"That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:20; 4.16; Hebrews 12:23).
Of the fellowship of believers, read: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship" (Acts 2:42; 4:34; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:28; John 17:21).
- Understand, taking each time for a great year, there are as many years as there are days in three years and a half; which is about 1260 years. (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5.)
Article XIX: Of the signs of the church of God, by which it may be distinguished from all other peoples.
In the first place, all true Christians are known by the only saving faith, which works by love. It is wrought, through the grace of God, in the heart of man by the hearing of the word of God, and hence, is not founded and built upon human decrees, but upon the word of God alone; and it works so effectually that by it we are drawn and impelled from all visible things and sinful lusts of this world to the invisible God and His heavenly riches.
Secondly. All true children of God are known by the second or new birth, from above, of God; which is wrought by the Spirit of God internally in the heart, through the putting off of the sinful lusts of the flesh; so that, as man, through his first birth of the flesh, brings forth his human nature and mind; so, through regeneration, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature, by which lie is also to bring forth godly and spiritual fruits, and the mind of Christ Jesus.
Thirdly. The church, or the believers, are known by the good works which they evince as fruits of gratitude from their faith; which may not be done according to human instructions, in a self-selected holiness, but in which we follow Christ and His apostles, as they prescribed and walked. And with these divine virtues all true believers must be clothed, that, as a light on the candlestick, and a city on a hill, they may excel and shine among all men, and may be known thereby, as a good tree is known and distinguished by its good fruits.
Fourthly. The church. of God is known by the glorious appellations by which she is described and honored by the Holy Spirit, as a city and temple of the living God, in which God will dwell and walk; the bride of the Lamb, the daughter of Zion; a chaste virgin, joined to Christ by faith; so that, even as with all cities which are subject to the command of their Lord and king, and it may thereby properly be known, under whose power and dominion they belong, so also the church of God is known by this that she recognizes and obeys Christ Jesus as her only Head and King, in all matters of faith, and observes His commandments. And as a pure virgin and bride forsakes father, mother, and all strange company and subjects herself to the will and obedience of her only bridegroom, so all true children of God must separate themselves from all false worship, flee from the stranger's voice, and unite themselves to Christ, to hear and obediently follow His voice, which is proclaimed by the ministers sent by Him.
Fifthly. The people of God are known by their faithful ministers, who, according to the doctrine of Paul, are unblamable in doctrine and life, and feed the sheep of Christ, not for the milk and wool, but with a willing mind, with knowledge and understanding; speaking not their own words, but only the words of their Lord, and executing His work; rightly dividing and dispensing the word of God, and bringing forth fruits with it; in order that through this good message of the ways of the Lord men might, according to the counsel and will of God, be converted from their evil ways, and won to God.
Sixthly, and lastly. All true disciples of Jesus Christ are known by the unfeigned godly love, which our Savior Himself has put as a sign, by which His disciples should be specially known; which is comprehended in these things: That we love the Lord God our Creator with all our heart and strength, above all other things, which consists principally in the keeping of His commandments. And besides: That we love our brethren or neighbors as ourselves, not only in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth; so that those to whom God has given spiritual gifts, minister therewith, from love, to the souls of their neighbors; and those whom God has blessed with temporal possessions, minister therewith unto the temporal needs of their neighbors, in order that thus among this true Israel of God, there may be found no poor, nor any lack in spiritual or temporal things. Finally, we must show charity to all men, though they be our open enemies, who persecute and kill us, whom we may by no means resist with carnal weapons; but, as Christ did not open His mouth in revenge upon His enemies, but, as an humble and dumb lamb, prayed for them, so we must also follow this infallible example. And as all soldiers forsake their former avocation, and wear the livery of their lord and king, as a sign to distinguish them from all strange servants, and that they are bound to their captain even unto death; so also, must all true servants ,of Jesus Christ be armed with the aforesaid marks, that thereby they may be known and distinguished from all other people.
Where, therefore, men believe with the heart, in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and in the incarnation, justification or redemption, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment; and where, besides, the ordinances of the Lord, as baptism, Supper, separation, and the like, are rightly observed, according to Scripture, and Christ is followed therein, in the clean fear of the Lord, and in the regeneration-there is the city and church of the living God, the pillar and firm ground of the truth, the tabernacle of God with men, in which God will dwell and walk with His Spirit. Such a body (church) has Christ for its Head, Preserver, and Savior. But where said marks do not exist, and where the ordinances of men are the rule of action, there is no ,church of God, but a vain boasting of the same.
How the true faith is to be known, read: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:5).
"For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6; Heb. 11:1; Habakkuk 2:4; Hebrews 10:38; Romans 1:17).
How the children of God are to be known by regeneration or the new birth, read: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Peter 1:23).
"Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Galatians 6:15; John 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
How the true members of Christ are to be known from their godly conversation, read: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:19-21; 5:16; 12:50; John 15:14; Sirach 19:24).
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life" (Philippians 2:14-16).
"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil" (1 John 3:7, 8).
How the people of God are to be known from this that they have separated themselves from all other people, and put themselves under Christ their Head, hearing only His voice, and observing His commandments, read: "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils" (1 Corinthians 10:14, 21).
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17; Revelation 18:4; Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 15:19; 51:6).
"As I said unto you, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:26, 27, 5).
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; John 8: 31; 14:21; 15:10; Mattjew 11:28, 29; 1 John 3:7).
How the false prophets are to be known and distinguished from the true servants of Jesus Christ, read: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15, 16; Deuteronomy 13:1).
"He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18).
"For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God" (John 3:34; 8:31; 1 Peter 4:11).
"But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings" (Jeremiah 23:22, 31; Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 23 throughout; Colossians 1:6; read also Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3 throughout).
How Christians are to be known by their love, read: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:34, 35; 1 John 3:23).
"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother" (1 John 3:10; 15:12; Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7).
Of the ordinance of the church of God, and the sending and electing of ministers.
Of Christian baptism.
Of the Lord's Supper or the breaking of bread.
Of the feet-washing of believers.
Of good works.
Of the swearing of oaths
Of the office of magistracy, and secular power
Of the discipline of the Christian Church and separation of offending members.
Of the withdrawing from and avoiding of apostate and separated members.
Of the last day and the second coming of Christ front heaven.
Of the Death of the body and the Resurrection of the dead.
Of the last judgment; of hell, and the damnation of unbelievers.
Of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life.
- Zijpp, N. van der. "Twisck, Peter Jansz." Mennonite Encyclopedia, 4. Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1959: 757-759.
- Zijpp, N. van der. "Pietersz, Syvaert." Mennonite Encyclopedia, 4. Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1959: 176.
- Martyrs Mirror. Scottdale, Pa. : Herald Press, 1950: 373-410.
- The Thirty-three Articles of Faith as Published in the Martyrs' Mirror. Hillsboro, Kan. : Publication Board of the Church of God in Christ (Mennonites), n.d.