Our Beliefs

Introduction

This electronic edition of the Westminster Confession of Faith is, in main, the American version of the 1647 text. Chapter 24 (Of Marriage and Divorce) is the PCUS version as amended by the EPC. The EPC adopted chapters 34 (Of the Holy Spirit) and 35 (Of the Gospel of the Love of God and Missions) which are 1903 additions of the PCUSA.

The EPC adopted The Westminster Confession of Faith (An Authentic Modern Version) published by Summertown Texts with the additions above. The EPC Second Edition, including Scripture references in the text, is not available on line, but may be ordered from the Office of the General Assembly.

 

 

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

CHAPTER 1

Of the Holy Scripture

1.1 Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary

unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to

reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better

preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and

comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of

the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the holy Scripture to

be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being

now ceased.

1.2 Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained

all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:

Of the Old Testament:

Genesis II Chronicles Daniel

Exodus Ezra Hosea

Leviticus Nehemiah Joel

Numbers Esther Amos

Deuteronomy Job Obadiah

Joshua Psalms Jonah

Judges Proverbs Micah

Ruth Ecclesiastes Nahum

I Samuel The Song of Songs Habakkuk

II Samuel Isaiah Zephaniah

I Kings Jeremiah Haggai

II Kings Lamentations Zechariah

I Chronicles Ezekiel Malachi;

Of the New Testament:

The Gospels the Galatians The Epistle of

according to the Ephesians James

Matthew the Philippians The 1st & 2nd

Mark the Colossians Epistles of

Luke the Thessalonians I Peter

John the Thessalonians II The 1st, 2nd,

The Acts of the Timothy I & 3rd Epistles

Apostles Timothy II of John

Paul’s Epistles to Titus The Epistle

the Romans Philemon of Jude

the Corinthians I The Epistle to The Revelation

the Corinthians II the Hebrews of John

All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.

1.3 The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no

part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the church of God,

nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

1.4 The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed,

dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is

truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word

of God.

1.5 We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and

reverent esteem of the holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy

of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the

whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of

man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection

thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of

God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and

divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by

and with the Word in our hearts.

1.6 The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory,

man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and

necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any

time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be

necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and

that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of

the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the

light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word,

which are always to be observed.

1.7 All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:

yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation,

are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only

the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a

sufficient understanding of them.

1.8 The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of

God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was

most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his

singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in

all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because

these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and

interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search

them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto

which they come, that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him

in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may

have hope.

1.9 The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and

therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which

is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak

more clearly.

1.10 The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined,

and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private

spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but

the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

CHAPTER 2

Of God and of the Holy Trinity

2.1 There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection,

a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense,

eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute;

working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous

will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in

goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that

diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin,

and who will by no means clear the guilty.

2.2 God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in

and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath

made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto,

and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to

whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for

them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and

manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as

nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his

works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other

creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.

2.3 In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power,

and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of

none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the

Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

CHAPTER 3

Of God’s Eternal Decree

3.1 God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will,

freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither

is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the

liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

3.2 Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed

conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that

which would come to pass upon such conditions.

3.3 By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels

are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

3.4 These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly

and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be

either increased or diminished.

3.5 Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of

the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret

counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out

of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or

perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or

causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

3.6 As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most

free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are

elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in

Christ by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by

his power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ,

effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

3.7 The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of

his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of

his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and

wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

3.8 The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special

prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and

yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be

assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise,

reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation

to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

CHAPTER 4

Of Creation

4.1 It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory

of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of

nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six

days; and all very good.

4.2 After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with

reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true

holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power

to fulfil it: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own

will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they

received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which

while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over

the creatures.

CHAPTER 5

Of Providence

5.1 God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all

creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and

holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable

counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice,

goodness, and mercy.

5.2 Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all

things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth

them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or

contingently.

5.3 God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work

without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.

5.4 The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far

manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and

all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath

joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and

governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the

sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being

most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

5.5 The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season,

his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to

chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of

corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise

them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to

make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just

and holy ends.

5.6 As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for

former sins, doth blind and harden, from them he not only withholdeth his grace

whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon

in their hearts; but sometimes withdraweth the gifts which they had, and exposeth them

to such objects as their corruption makes occasions of sin; and, withal, gives them over

to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it

comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth

for the softening of others.

5.7 As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most

special manner, it taketh care of his church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.

CHAPTER 6

Of the Fall of Man, of Sin and of the Punishment Thereof

6.1 Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned,

in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and

holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

6.2 By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God,

and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and

body.

6.3 They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the

same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from

them by ordinary generation.

6.4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and

made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual

transgressions.

6.5 This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are

regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself,

and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

6.6 Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of

God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner,

whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made

subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

CHAPTER 7

Of God’s Covenant with Man

7.1 The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable

creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any

fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension

on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

7.2 The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was

promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal

obedience.

7.3 Man, by his fall, having made himself uncapable of life by that covenant, the Lord

was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he

freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in

him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto

eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

7.4 This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a

testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting

inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

7.5 This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time

of the gospel: under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices,

circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people

of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and

efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith

in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation;

and is called the Old Testament.

7.6. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in

which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration

of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: which, though fewer in number,

and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held

forth in more fulness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and

Gentiles; and is called the new testament. There are not therefore two covenants of

grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

CHAPTER 8

Of Christ the Mediator

8.1 It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his

only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and

King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world:

unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in

time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

8.2 The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of

one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take

upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof,

yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the

virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the

Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without

conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet

one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

8.3 The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified,

and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in him all the treasures of

wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell; to

the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be

thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator, and surety. Which office he

took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father, who put all power and

judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.

8.4 This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might

discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it; endured most grievous

torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified,

and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.

On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered, with

which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father,

making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.

8.5 The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he,

through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, satisfied the justice of his Father;

and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of

heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

8.6 Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his

incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the

elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those

promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed

of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the

beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.

8.7 Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature

doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which

is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated

by the other nature.

8.8 To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and

effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and

revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually

persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his

Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in

such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable

dispensation.

CHAPTER 9

Of Free Will

9.1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced,

nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.

9.2 Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that

which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

9.3 Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual

good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that

good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare

himself thereunto.

9.4 When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth

him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to

will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining

corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that

which is evil.

9.5 The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state

of glory only.

CHAPTER 10

Of Effectual Calling

10.1 All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased,

in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that

state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus

Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,

taking away their heart and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and,

by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing

them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

10.2 This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at

all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and

renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace

the grace offered and conveyed in it.

10.3 Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the

Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect

persons who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

10.4 Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and

may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ,

and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian

religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their

lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And,

to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

CHAPTER 11

Of Justification

11.1 Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing

righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting

their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for

Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other

evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience

and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his

righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

11.2 Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone

instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever

accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

11.3 Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that

are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice

in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his

obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in

them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace of

God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

11.4 God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the

fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they

are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

11.5 God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although

they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under

God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto

them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their

faith and repentance.

11.6 The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects,

one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament.

CHAPTER 12

Of Adoption

12.1 All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ,

to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number,

and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon

them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness,

are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by

him, as by a Father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit

the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.

CHAPTER 13

Of Sanctification

13.1 They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and

a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the

virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the

dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more

and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and

strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man

shall see the Lord.

13.2 This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there

abiding still some remnants of corruption in whence ariseth a continual and

irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

13.3 In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail;

yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the

regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in

the fear of God.

CHAPTER 14

Of Saving Faith

141 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their

souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the

ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and

prayer, it is increased and strengthened.

14.2 By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word,

for the authority of God himself speaking therein; and acteth differently upon that which

each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands,

trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that

which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and

resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the

covenant of grace.

14.3 This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may be often and many ways

assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a

full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.

CHAPTER 15

Of Repentance unto Life

15.1 Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be

preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.

15.2 By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the

filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of

God; and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so

grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and

endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.

15.3 Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any

cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet it is of

such necessity to all sinners, that none may without it.

15.4 As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great,

that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.

15.5 Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every

man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins.

15.6 As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for

the pardon thereof; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy; so, he

that scandalizeth his brother, or the church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or

public confession, and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are

offended, who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.

CHAPTER 16

Of Good Works

16.1 Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not

such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, blind zeal, or upon any

pretense of good intention.

16.2 These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits

and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their

thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of

the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and whose workmanship they are,

created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have

the end, eternal life.

16.3 Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the

Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have

already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in

them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow

negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of

the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

16.4 They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in

this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires,

as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

16.5 We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of

God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come;

and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither

profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we

have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good,

they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed

with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s

judgment.

16.6 Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their

good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly

unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his

Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with

many weaknesses and imperfections.

16.7 Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be

things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet,

because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right

manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore

sinful, and cannot make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of

them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.

CHAPTER 17

Of the Perseverance of the Saints

17.1 They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified

by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall

certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

17.2 This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon

the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from unchangeable love of God the

Father; upon the efficacy of the intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit,

and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all

which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.

17.3 Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the

prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their

preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a therein: whereby they incur God’s

displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their

graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt

and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

CHAPTER 18

Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

18.1 Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves

with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in God, and estate of salvation

(which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love

him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may, in this life,

be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of

the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

18.2 This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a

fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of upon the divine truth of the promises of

salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,

the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children

of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed

redemption.

18.3 This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true

believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet,

being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he

may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain

thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his

calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the

Holy and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the obedience, the

proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.

18.4 True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken,

diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some

special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or

vehement temptation; by God.s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering

even such as fear him to walk in darkness, and to have no light: yet are they never

utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren,

that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the

Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the mean time,

they are supported from utter despair.

CHAPTER 19

Of the Law of God

19.1 God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all

his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the

fulfilling, and threatened death upon the and endued him with power and ability to keep

it.

19.2 This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as

such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in

two tables: the four first commandments containing towards God; and the other six, our

duty to man.

19.3 Beside this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people

of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, several typical ordinances, partly of

worship, prefiguring actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly, holding forth of moral

duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the new testament.

19.4 To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired

together with the state of that people; not obliging any further than the general equity

thereof may require.

19.5 The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the

obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in

respect of the authority of God the Creator, Neither doth Christ, in the gospel, any way

dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.

19.6 Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be

thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in

that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds

them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts,

and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of,

humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they

have the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the restrain their

corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the serve to show what even their sins deserve;

and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse

thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s

approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance

thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s

doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and

deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and, not under

grace.

19.7 Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel,

but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ enabling the will of man to do that

freely, and cheerfully, which God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.

CHAPTER 20

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

20.1 The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in

their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral

law; and, in their being delivered from world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;

from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting

damnation; as also, in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience out of

slavish fear, but a childlike love and willing mind. All which were common also to

believers under the law. But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further

enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church

was subjected; and in boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller

communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily

partake of.

20.2 God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and

commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary Word; or beside it, if matters of

faith, or worship. So that, to doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is

to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and blind

obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

20.3 They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any

lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of

the hands of our enemies, we might without fear, in holiness and righteousness before

him, all the days of our life.

20.4 And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ

hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, mutually to uphold and preserve

one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful

power, or the lawful whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.

And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are

contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether

concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such

erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of

publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which

Christ hath established in the church, they lawfully be called to account, and proceeded

against, by the church.

CHAPTER 21

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

21.1 The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and

sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared,

loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the

soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is

instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be

worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of

Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy

Scripture.

21.2 Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to

him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a

Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.

21.3 Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God

required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the

Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence,

humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.

21.4 Prayer is to be made for things lawful; and for all sorts of men living, or that shall

live hereafter: but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they

have sinned the sin unto death.

21.5 The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and

conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith,

and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration

and worthy receiving of the sacraments Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious

worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon

special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy

and religious manner.

21.6 Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel,

either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or

towards which it is directed: but God is to be everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in

private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the

public assemblies, not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by

his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.

21.7 As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for

the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, perpetual commandment binding all

men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a sabbath, to be

kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ,

was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the

first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued

to the end of the world, as the Christian sabbath.

21.8 This sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of

their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs do not only observe an holy rest, all

the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments

and recreations, but taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his

worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

CHAPTER 22

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

22.1 A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein, upon just occasion, the

person swearing solemnly calleth God to witness what he asserteth, or promiseth, and

to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.

22.2 The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be

used with all holy fear and reverence. Therefore, to swear vainly, or rashly, by that

glorious and dreadful Name; or, to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be

abhorred. Yet, as in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of

God, under the new testament as well as under the old; so a lawful oath, being imposed

by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to be taken.

22.3 Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn

an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth: neither

may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is good and just, and what he

believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform.

22.4 An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without

equivocation, or mental reservation. It cannot oblige to sin; but in anything not sinful,

being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt. Nor is it to be

violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.

22.5 A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the

like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.

22.6 It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and, that it may be

accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of

thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more

strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties; or, to other things, so far and so long as they

may fitly conduce thereunto.

22.7 No man may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God, or what would

hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the

performance whereof he hath no promise of ability from God. In which respects, popish

monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are

so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful

snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.

CHAPTER 23

Of the Civil Magistrate

23.1 God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates,

to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this

end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement

of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers.

23.2 It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when

called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety,

justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for

that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and

necessary occasion.

23.3 Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word

and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least,

interfere in matters of faith Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to

protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any

denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical

persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging

every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ

hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any

commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the

voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession

and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all

their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon

pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any

other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical

assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

23.4 It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay

them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their

authority, for conscience. sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void

the magistrates. just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to

them: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, much less hath the pope

any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people;

and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be

heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.

Chapter 24 (See Introduction)

Of Marriage and Divorce

24.1 Marriage is a union between one man and one woman, designed of God to last

so long as they both shall live.

24.2 Marriage is designed for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the

safeguarding, undergirding, and development of their moral and spiritual character; for

the propagation of children and the rearing of them in the discipline and instruction of

the Lord.

24.3 All persons who are able with judgment to give their consent may marry, except

within the limits of blood relationship forbidden by Scripture, and such marriages are

valid before God in the eyes of the church. But no marriage can be fully and securely

Christian in spirit or in purpose unless both partners are committed to a common

Christian faith and to a deeply shared intention of building a Christian home. Evangelical

Christians should seek as partners in marriage only persons who hold in common a

sound basis of evangelical faith.

24.4 Marriage for the Christian has religious as well as civil significance. The

distinctive contribution of the church in performing the marriage ceremony is to affirm

the divine institution of marriage; to invoke God’s blessing upon those who enter into the

marital relationship in accordance with his word; to hear the vows of those who desire to

be married; and to assure the married partners of God’s grace within their new

relationship.

24.5 It is the divine intention that persons entering the marriage covenant become

inseparably united, thus allowing for no dissolution save that caused by the death of

either husband or wife. However, the weaknesses of one or both partners may lead to

gross and persistent denial of the marriage vows; yet only in cases of extreme,

unrepented-of, and irremedial unfaithfulness (physical or spiritual) should separation or

divorce be considered. Such separation or divorce is accepted as permissable only

because of the failure of one or both of the partners, and does not lessen in any way the

divine intention for indissoluble union.

24.6 The remarriage of divorced persons may be sanctioned by the church, in keeping

with the redemptive gospel of Christ, when sufficient penitence for sin and failure is

evidence, and a firm purpose of and endeavor after Christian marriage is manifested.

24.7 Divorced persons should give prayerful thought to discover if God’s vocation for

them is to remain unmarried, since one failure in this realm raises serious question as to

the rightness and wisdom of undertaking another union.

CHAPTER 25

Of the Church

25.1 The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number

of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head

thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

25.2 The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not

confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the

world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord

Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility

of salvation.

25.3 Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and

ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end

of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make

them effectual thereunto.

25.4 This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And

particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as

the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public

worship performed more or less purely in them.

25.5 The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and

some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of

Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth, to worship God according

to his will.

25.6 There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ.

CHAPTER 26

Of the Communion of Saints

26.1 All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit, and by faith,

have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and,

being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and

graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do

conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.

26.2 Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in

the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their

mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their

several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to

be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

26.3 This communion which the saints have with Christ, doth not make them in any

wise partakers of the substance of his Godhead; or to be equal with Christ in any

respect: either of which to affirm is impious and blasphemous. Nor doth their

communion one with another, as saints, take away, or infringe the title or propriety

which each man hath in his goods and possessions.

CHAPTER 27

Of the Sacraments

27.1 Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately

instituted by God, to represent Christ, and his benefits; and to confirm our interest in

him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the church, and

the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ,

according to his Word.

27.2 There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between

the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of

the one are attributed to the other.

27.3 The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not

conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon

the piety or intention of him that doth administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and

the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use

thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

27.4 There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospel; that is

to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any,

but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.

27.5 The sacraments of the old testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby

signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the new.

CHAPTER 28

Of Baptism

28.1 Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only

for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be

unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of

regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ,

to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be

continued in his church until the end of the world.

28.2 The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party

is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a

minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

28.3 Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly

administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.

28.4 Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but

also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

28.5 Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and

salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated,

or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

28.6 The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is

administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace

promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to

such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel

of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

28.7 The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.

CHAPTER 29

Of the Lord’s Supper

29.1 Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of

his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end

of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the

sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in

him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a

bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his

mystical body.

29.2 In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to his Father; nor any real sacrifice

made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that

one offering up of himself, by himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual

oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same: so that the popish sacrifice of the

mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the

alone propitiation for all the sins of his elect.

29.3 The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his

word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and

thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the

bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the

communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.

29.4 Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone; as

likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshiping the elements, the lifting them

up, or carrying them about, for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended

religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of

Christ.

29.5 The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by

Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are

sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of

Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine,

as they were before.

29.6 That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into

the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by

consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but

even to common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and

hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.

29.7 Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do

then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but

spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the

body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the

bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that

ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

29.8 Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this

sacrament; yet, they receive not the thing signified thereby; but, by their unworthy

coming thereunto, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation.

Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with

him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table; and cannot, without great sin against

Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted

thereunto.

CHAPTER 30

Of Church Censures

30.1 The Lord Jesus, as king and head of his church, hath therein appointed a

government, in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.

30.2 To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed; by virtue

whereof, they have power, respectively, to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom

against the impenitent, both by the Word, and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the

ministry of the gospel; and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.

30.3 Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending

brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven

which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy

profession of the gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall

upon the church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be

profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

30.4 For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the church are to proceed by

admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by

excommunication from the church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of

the person.

CHAPTER 31

Of Synods and Councils

31.1 For the better government, and further edification of the church, there ought to be

such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils: and it belongeth to the

overseers and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their office, and the

power which Christ hath given them for edification and not for destruction, to appoint

such assemblies; and to convene together in them, as often as they shall judge it

expedient for the good of the church.

31.2 It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of

faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering

of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to receive complaints in

cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees

and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence

and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power

whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word.

31.3 All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular,

may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or

practice; but to be used as a help in both.

31.4 Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is

ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the

commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of

advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil

magistrate.

CHAPTER 32

Of the State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead

32.1 The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption: but their souls,

which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God

who gave them: the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are

received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory,

waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. And the souls of the wicked are cast into

hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the

great day. Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture

acknowledgeth none.

32.2 At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: and all the

dead shall be raised up, with the selfsame bodies, and none other (although with

different qualities), which shall be united again to their souls forever.

32.3 The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor: the

bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honor; and be made conformable to his own

glorious body.

CHAPTER 33

Of the Last Judgment

33.1 God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world, in righteousness, by

Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not

only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon

earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts,

words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body,

whether good or evil.

33.

mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the damnation of the

reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into

everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the

presence of the Lord; but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the gospel of

Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting

destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

33.

judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in

their adversity: so will he have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all

carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord

will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, Amen.

CHAPTER

Of the Holy Spirit

2 The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of his3 As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of34 (See Introduction)

34.1 The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and

the Son, of the same substance and equal in power and glory, is, together with the

Father and the Son, to be believed in, loved, obeyed, and worshipped throughout all

ages.

34.2 He is the Lord and Giver of life, everywhere present, and is the source of all good

thoughts, pure desires, and holy counsels in men. By him the prophets were moved to

speak the word of God, and all the writers of the Holy Scriptures inspired to record

infallibly the mind and will of God. The dispensation of the gospel is especially commit

ted to him. He prepares the way for it, accompanies it with his persuasive power, and

urges its message upon the reason and conscience of men, so that they who reject its

merciful offer are not only without excuse, but are also guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit.

34.3 The Holy Spirit, whom the Father is ever willing to give to all who ask him, is the

only efficient agent in the application of redemption. He regenerates men by his grace,

convicts them of sin, moves them to repentance, and persuades and enables them to

embrace Jesus Christ by faith. He unites all believers to Christ, dwells in them as their

Comforter and Sanctifier, gives to them the spirit of Adoption and Prayer, and performs

all those gracious offices by which they are sanctified and sealed unto the day of

redemption.

34.4 By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit all believers being vitally united to Christ, who

is the Head, are thus united one to another in the church, which is his body He calls and

anoints ministers for their holy office, qualifies all other officers in the church for their

special work, and imparts various gifts and graces to its member. He gives efficacy to

the word and to the ordinances of the gospel. By him the church will be preserved,

increased, purified, and at last made perfectly holy in the presence of God.

 

CHAPTER

Of the Gospel of the Love of God and Missions

35 (See Introduction)

35.1 GOD in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace,

through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, as way of life and

salvation, suffi cient for and adapted to the whole lost race of man, doth freely offer this

salvation to all men in the gospel.

35.2 In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men

should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life

to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the

offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the word pleads with men to accept his

gracious invitation.

35.3 It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to

accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur

aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.

35.4 Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and

since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing

the word of God, Christ hath commissioned his church to go into all the world and to

make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the

ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to

contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the kingdom of

Christ throughout the whole earth.

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