The Churchman’s Guide In Perilous Times; or,
The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England
Explained and Commented Upon
by Thomas Pigot
[2d ed.] R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1835
[Spelling/punctuation selectively modernized. Bible citations converted to all Arabic numerals. Annotations moved and in smaller font within square brackets for web viewing convenience.]
Articles Agreed Upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces, and the whole Clergy, in the Convocation holden at London, in the Year 1562, for the avoiding of Diversities of Opinions, and for the establishing of Consent touching true Religion.
My Dear Parishioners,
It has been well observed, that the responsibility of the Clergy is increased by the circumstances of the times. Looking at the dangers which threaten “our Zion,” unusual exertion is now required from those whose sacred character ought to procure for them a very great influence over the community: for since the time of the Reformation, the enemies of our Church were at no period more on the alert than at the present moment, and with a bitterness unexampled. Thank God there is very little of this spirit here; but if you will take notice of the proceedings of ‘the London Ecclesiastical Knowledge society,’ and ‘the Congregational Union Society,’ both most actively employed against us, you will not think I have made use of too strong an expression.
The following is a precious specimen of the rancour of some of our enemies. ‘The clergy as a body (say they) are, in despite of their gowns, and bands, and oaths, a swarm of detected blasted infidels.’ See also Cobbett’s ‘Legacy to Parsons,’ a work full of rancorous hostility against the Church, full also of the grossest misrepresentations; but he is now gone to his account, may be find mercy at the Great Day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed.
Shall we allow spirits like these to interfere with the adjustment of the affairs of the Hierarchy? Let them first endeavour to eradicate the evils which grow rank among themselves – they will have enough to do.
‘O say, shall the Temple our forefathers built,
Which the storms of long ages have battered in vain,
Abandon’d by us from supineness or guilt,
O say, shall it fall by the rash or profane?
No; perish the impious hand, that would take
One shred from its altar, one stone from its towers;
The pure blood of martyrs hath flow’d for its sake,
And its fall (if it fall) shall be redden’d by ours.’
Lord Francis Egerton
The most spiritual members of all denominations were united together in holy and happy fellowship for the prosecution of objects fitted to advance the regeneration of mankind. Who put an end to this harmony, it may be asked?
The Church of England, blessed be God, never possessed so many truly devoted preachers of righteousness, as at this present moment; never were flocks, (generally speaking) so well instructed in scripture truth; never were there so many societies aided or upheld by Her, for extending and perpetuating the knowledge of the way of salvation. How painful, then, to see the unchristian spirit with which she is attacked by those from whom we had hoped better things. But we do not wish to return to them “railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing;” and to give the contradiction to our calumniators, not by our lips so much as by our labours. The clergy are keenly watched and criticized; be it so: as a body we do not shun, we rather invite criticism, only may it be kind, and just, and generous; and never let it be supposed, for a moment, that we object to any safe reform in our church – far otherwise. “Nothing, we know, is infallible but God; nothing perfect but his word:” and instead of being adverse to reform in its legitimate acceptation, we are most anxious for the correction of every real abuse; and gladly would we lend our assistance and influence too, in bringing about any judicious improvement: but we are not to connect ourselves with those whose intentions are not even disguised, and who hesitate not to declare that the reform which they seek is nothing less than her destruction. But has the church anything to fear if she be true to herself, and if her clergy, both “ by their preaching and living, set forth God’s word,” and shine like lights in this dark world? O no. God will not forsake his own, and “the very gates of hell will not prevail against her;” “her foundations are on the holy mountains, her doctrines are entirely scriptural, her liturgy approximates to inspiration, her articles were written by the blood of the reformers, her prayers comforted the hearts of martyrs; she is in her spirit the most tolerant Church in the world, and in her operations the best adapted to the actual state of mankind.”’
I bless God that I was brought up within her pale, and “if I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her cunning.”
Against those who differ from me, I would not set down “aught in malice,” for well I know (to use the words of the pious Hooker) “that there will come a time when three words uttered with charity and meekness, shall receive a more blessed reward than three thousand volumes, written with disdainful sharpness of wit:” nevertheless I would have every member of our excellent Church to be “ready always to give an answer to every man, who asketh a reason for the hope that is in him;” and to have it in his power to prove that she is “built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief Corner Stone.”
In printing a second edition of this work, I have followed the advice of some judicious friends, by giving the Scripture Proofs at full length. I have also compiled or composed for each article, some explanatory remarks which under God’s blessing may be useful. The Scriptures alone are the proper standard of truth; the Bible, and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants; but the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy of the Church of England, are an authorized interpretation of the sense in which all her members profess to understand the Scriptures. The first on this list, (the thirty-nine Articles) are now presented to you in the form of a Catechetical Exposition, with Scripture Proofs and Practical Observations, for the use of yourselves and your children; that in these times of religious warfare you may “speak out,” and boldly declare to those who oppose themselves why you are a Churchman. May you study the Articles well, they are the grand bulwark of the Church of England; they contain the very essence of the gospel and are, in the scriptural sense, really and truly evangelical.
I pray that the Spirit of God may instruct you all in the spiritual meaning of his written word, and that you may by God’s grace every day become more humble, more holy, and more happy. May he “guide you with his counsel, and afterwards receive you to glory.” But I warn you that there is a form of knowledge as well as a form of godliness. I believe that the danger of the present day is a worldly religion, exhibiting the appearance of evangelical doctrine. O may we never try to reconcile a quiet conscience with a worldly mind. We may turn Calvinists, or Armenians, or Methodists, or Roman Catholics, or Protestants, and not once have thought seriously of turning Christians. We may become wise in our own conceits, without becoming wise unto salvation. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; “this is the sum and substance of the gospel – but if we presume to hope that without holiness we shall enter heaven, we are under the strongest possible delusion; and the stronger that hope the stronger that delusion.
God bless you, my dear people; from your affectionate friend and Minister,
St. Helen’s Parsonage, Lancashire
“I will endeavour that ye may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance.” – 2 Peter 1:15
I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
II. Of Christ the Son of God
III. Of his going down into Hell
IV. Of his Resurrection
V. Of the Holy Ghost
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Scripture
VII. Of the Old Testament
VIII. Of the Three Creeds
IX. Of Original Sin
X. Of Free Will
XI. Of Justification
XII. Of Good Works
XIII. Of Works before Justification
XIV. Of Works of Supererogation
XV. Of Christ alone without Sin
XVI. Of Sin after Baptism
XVII. Of Predestination and Election
XVIII. Of obtaining Salvation by Christ
XIX. Of the Church
XX. Of the Authority of the Church
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils
XXII. Of Purgatory
XXIII. Of ministering in the Congregation
XXIV. Of speaking in the Congregation
XXV. Of the Sacraments
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of Ministers
XXVII. Of Baptism
XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ
XXX. Of both Kinds
XXXI. Of Christ’s one Oblation
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests
XXXIII. Of Excommunicate Persons
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church
XXXV. Of the Homilies
XXXVI. Of Consecrating of Ministers
XXXVII. Of Civil Magistrates
XXXVIII. Of Christian Men’s Goods
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man’s Oath
Articles of Religion
I – Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Q. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one living and true God.
Q. What are his attributes?
A. He is everlasting, without body, parts, or passions, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.
Q. Of what is He the maker and preserver?
A. Of all things, both visible and invisible.
Q. In the unity of this Godhead, how many Persons are there?
A. Three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity.
Q. Who are they?
A. The Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
Deuteronomy 6: Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.
1 Corinthians 8:4. There is none other God but one.
Psalm 147:5. Great is our Lord, and great is his power; yea, and his wisdom is infinite.
Colossians 1:16. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible.
1 John 5:7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
2 Corinthians 13:14. The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Matt. 28:19.
Those who deny the Doctrine of the Trinity ground their denial upon an alleged zeal for the unity of God, and by the name of Unitarian which they assume desire evidently to be considered as the only persons who maintain this great truth. But it should be understood that those who hold the doctrine of the Trinity do in the strongest sense assert and maintain this fundamental doctrine. They do not consider their own belief in the three divine Persons as interfering with the doctrine of the divine unity: – God has mercifully given us, as it were, some glimpses of his nature, and let us not use the light He has bestowed to question the truth of his own revelation – baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may we enlist with our whole hearts under the banner of the gospel, and God will give us the victory, through our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Unbelievers in the doctrine of the Trinity usually speak of the Holy Spirit as an attribute of God; but if only so, what becomes of the passages describing his Personality, and plainly distinguishing Him from the Father and the Son. See Article 5.
In like manner, if the Son is not God, who is He? and how must be understood the titles given to Him – “the only-begotten Son of God,” “the mighty God,” “God blessed forever” – many in the hope of escaping difficulties have even reduced our Saviour to the rank of Man; but what difficulties have not these men to encounter ? what forced interpretations have they not been compelled to employ? O! why cannot they be satisfied with the Saviour’s own words, He himself speaks of his existence before He came into the world, “of the glory which He had with the Father, before the world was,” of his being in the form of God, before He was in the likeness of Man; hence also He said unto Philip, “hast thou not seen me, Philip? he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father?” If the question be asked, ‘How can God and man be united’? ‘ I must answer, I know not, but neither can I conceive how the soul and body constitute one man. The recesses of the divine nature constitute a depth that we have no eye to measure, and no line to fathom, and he who rashly presumes upon his powers, sinks only from one abyss of error and confusion into another.
Texts of Scripture in reference to Christ’s human nature. – Acts 13:33. Psalm 2:7. 1 Tim. 3:16, 2:5.
Texts in reference to Christ’s vicarious sufferings. – Isaiah 53:5, 6. John 11:49–52. Romans 5:10. 2 Corinthians 5:18–21. 1 John 1:7.
II – Of the Word, or Son of God, Which Was Made Very Man
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
Q. What is the word of the Father?
A. The Son, begotten from everlasting, of the Father; the very, and eternal God; of one substance with the Father.
Q. Whose nature did he take?
A. Man’s nature, in the womb of the blessed virgin, of her substance.
Q. What two whole and perfect natures were joined together in one person, never to be divided?
A. The Godhead, and Manhood.
Q. What do they constitute?
A. One Christ, very God, and very Man.
Q. What did Christ undergo to reconcile his Father to us?
A. He truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried.
Q. For what else did Christ suffer?
A. To be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of men.
Micah 5:2. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. John 1:1. Isaiah 11:3.
John 1:14. 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 10:30. I and my Father are one.
Matthew 1:23. Behold a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Isaiah 7:14.
Philippians 2:6, 7. 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 man.
1 John 2:2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
This article is evidently directed against those who consider Jesus Christ as a mere man and deny the doctrine of the atonement. When man, by transgressing the “holy, just, and good” law of his Creator had fallen under its curse, God was pleased of his infinite compassion to provide a ransom for his deliverance from that curse and its penalty; the Father of mercies sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him; thus “God was manifest in the flesh.” He “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” And now the way is opened for the reconciliation of fallen man to his offended God, the Socinian feels no need of redeeming love, God help him: the Antinomian sees no need of holiness, God help him too: the humble follower of the Lamb, feels his need of both. O may the self-dependent learn “there is none other name given under Heaven, whereby man can be saved, but that of Jesus Christ!” Let the inquiring and awakened soul hear the voice which says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;” and, let the adoring Christian trust and know, that on the Redeemer’s Cross he has an “anchor for his soul, both sure and steadfast.” “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” A religion without a Saviour, is the temple without the Shechinah; and its worshippers will desert it.
III – Of the Going down of Christ into Hell
As Christ died for us, and was buried; so also is it to be believed that he went down into Hell.
Q. As Christ died for us, and was buried, what is further to be believed concerning him?
A. That he went down into hell.
Ephesians 4:9, 10. Now that he ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens.
Acts 2:27. Because thou will not leave my soul in Hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
‘It seems probable (says the late Bishop of Lincoln) that this doctrine of Christ’s descent into Hell was first introduced into Creeds, for the purpose of declaring the actual separation of Christ’s body and soul, in opposition to those who asserted that the crucifixion produced only a trance, and that Christ did not really suffer death.’ ‘I give a full and undoubting assent unto this, as to a certain truth (says Bishop Pearson) that when all the sufferings of Christ were finished’ on the Cross, and his soul was separated from his body, though his body were dead, yet his soul died not; and though it died not, yet it underwent the condition of the souls of such as die: but because there was no sin in Him, and He had fully satisfied for the sins of others which He took upon him: therefore as God suffered not his Holy One to see corruption, so He left not his soul in Hell, and thereby gave sufficient security to all those who belong to Christ, of never coming under the power of Satan, or suffering in the flames prepared for the Devil and his angels; and thus, and for these purposes, may every Christian say, I believe that Christ descended into Hell.’
IV – Of the Resurrection of Christ
Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all men at the last day.
Q. What do you say of the resurrection of Christ?
A. That Christ did truly rise again from death.
Q. In what manner did he rise?
A. He took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature.
Q. To what place, did he ascend?
A. He ascended into Heaven.
Q. Where is he now sitting?
A. In Heaven.
Q. When shall he return?
A. At the last day.
Q. For what purpose shall he return?
A. To judge all men.
Matthew 20:19. And the third day he shall rise again.
Luke 24:39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Acts 2:24–36.
Acts 10:40–42. Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even unto us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.
Psalm 68:18. Thou art gone up on high, thou hut led captivity captive, and received gifts for men. Acts 17:31.
John 5:22, 23. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.
2 Peter 3:10. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.
“Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation and godliness looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God.” “I am,” says the Redeemer, “the resurrection and the life; he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die: believest thou this?” The whole truth of Christianity rests on the certainty of Christ’s resurrection from the dead; and the greater our faith is, the deeper will our self-abasement be, the more fruitful our gratitude, the more active our obedience. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God,” and whoever liveth to make intercession for us.
V – Of the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Q. Whence doth the Holy Ghost proceed?
A. From the Father and the Son.
Q. Of what substance, majesty, and glory is he?
A. The same as the Father, and the Son.
Q. What else is he?
A. Very and eternal God.
John 15:26. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me.
Acts 5:3, 4. And Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan tilled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Isaiah 59:19. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.
In these passages the Holy Spirit is plainly spoken of as a Person, and the powers attributed to him are such, that they can only belong to a divine Person. He is the Author of all good. His sanctifying influences are necessary at all times; corrupt nature must always need them. If we see our need of salvation, it is by his grace; if we see the way of salvation by a crucified Saviour, it is by his teaching; if we are made willing to be saved in that way, it is by his power. If then we would attain the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls, we must pray earnestly and fervently for the aid of the Spirit, who alone can assist us in the conflict, and secure to us our final triumph. Reader! have you the Spirit? He may be known by His fruit. He quickens the dead soul; hath He quickened you? and hath He made you fit for glory? O may this solemn truth be deeply impressed upon your mind that in all the Book of God there is not one comfortable word for the disobedient, impenitent, and unbelieving.
Matthew 10:20. Gal. 4:6.
In the former of these texts, the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father.
In the latter He is called the Spirit of the Son. “The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.” (See Athanasian Creed.)
VI – Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or to be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the old and new Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.
Q. What book containeth all things necessary to salvation?
A. The Holy Scripture.
Q. What is not required of any man to be believed as an article of faith; or thought requisite to salvation?
A. Whatsoever is not read in the Holy Scripture, nor may be proved thereby.
Q. What do we understand in the name of the Holy Scripture?
A. Those canonical books of the old and new Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Q. What do you mean by the word, “canonical”?
A. Fixed, by ecclesiastical laws.
Q. Repeat the names of the canonical books.
A. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, The first book of Samuel, The second book of Samuel, The first book of Kings, The second book of Kings, The first book of Chronicles, The second book of Chronicles, The first book of Esdras, The second book of Esdras, The book of Esther, The book of Job, The Psalms, The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or Preacher, Cantica or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the greater, Twelve Prophets the less.
And the other books (as Hierome saith) the church doth read for example of life, and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.
Q. What are the other books called?
A. Because they are of doubtful authority.
Q. For what purpose, are the other books read?
A. For example of life and instruction of manners; but without using them for the establishment of any doctrine.
Q. Repeat their names.
A. The third book of Esdras, The fourth book of Esdras, The book of Tobias, The book of Judith, The rest of the book of Esther, The book of Wisdom, Jesus the son of Sirach, Baruch the Prophet, The Song of the three Children, The Story of Susannah, Of Bel and the Dragon, The Prayer of Manasses, The first book of Maccabees, The second book of Maccabees.
Q. What other books do we receive as canonical?
A. All the books of the New Testament.
2 Timothy 3:16, 17. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for correction, and for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. John 5:39.
Deuteronomy 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Proverbs 30:5, 6. Every word of God is pure; and add thou not unto his words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Revelation 22:18, 19. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.
Acts 17:11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Everyone has an undoubted right to read the word of God; and if we neglect doing so, it is at the peril of our souls. Whomever attempts to prevent its being read, acts contrary to the will of Him who hath commanded us “to search the Scriptures,” and will “haply” be found in the end) “fighting against God.” His word is a light, which will finally dissipate every system of darkness; it is a light which Satan dreads, and which no one can obstruct or oppose, without shewing at once, that be loves “darkness rather than light,” such a one being without palliation or excuse, the active and zealous agent of the enemy of God and his Christ.
VII – Of the Old Testament
The old Testament is not contrary to the new; for both in the old and new Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof, ought of necessity, to be received, in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.
Q. Is the old Testament contrary to the new?
A. No, for in both everlasting life is offered to mankind.
Q. By whom is it offered?
A. By Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man; being both God and man. Q. Who are therefore not to be heard or obeyed?
A. They who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises.
Q. Although the law, given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies, and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received, in any commonwealth; yet what are Christians bound to?
A. No Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.
1 Corinthians 10:1–4. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
Isaiah 53:5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 7:14. And shall call his name Immanuel (God with us.)
Job 19:25. I know that my Redeemer liveth.
Matthew 5:17–19. Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; and whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdoms of heaven.
This Article shows very plainly the connection between the old and new Testament: – “The law was our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ,” “that we might be justified by faith;” and “faith working by love,” through the operation of the Holy Spirit, gives us a disposition to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord.” The law as a covenant is broken, but it must be ever considered as a rule of life to believers. Christ died not to save his people in their sins, but from their sins. I here caution you against the most baneful heresy that ever infested a Christian church, I mean the heresy of ‘Antinomianism,’ which is a compound of ignorance, self-conceit, and spiritual pride; clamorous, morose, and scornful; and warn you that no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.
VIII – Of the Three Creeds
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
Q. What are the names of the three Creeds?
A. The Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and the Apostles’ Creed.
Q. Why ought these three Creeds to be thoroughly received and believed?
A. Because they may be proved by most certain warrant of Holy Scripture.
Hebrews 11:6. Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Mark 16:16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Jude 3. Ye should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Great respect is due to all these Creeds, on account of their antiquity and general reception among Christians.
The Nicene Creed is so denominated because the greater part was drawn up and agreed to at the Council of Nice, A. D. 325.
The Athanasian Creed is a confession of faith long supposed to have been drawn up by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in the fourth century to justify himself against the calumnies of his Arian enemies; however, it is now generally allowed not to have been his, and that it obtained the name of the Athanasian Creed because it contains the principles of Athanasius on the Trinity. The reception of this Creed has been both general and ancient.
The Apostles’ Creed contains a summary of the Christian faith; it may be said to be that of the Apostles, with respect to the doctrines contained in it: but we receive these three creeds, not for their own sakes, nor for the sakes of these who prepared them, but because we believe that the doctrine they declare is contained in Holy Writ.
IX – Of Original or Birth Sin
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain; yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust, hath of itself, the nature of sin.
Q. What is original sin?
A. It is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam.
Q. What is the consequence thereof?
A. Man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit.
Q. In every person born into this world, what doth this original sin deserve?
A. God’s wrath, and damnation.
Q. What remaineth in them that are regenerated?
A. This infection of nature, or original sin.
Q. How are the Greek words, “phronema sarkos,” expounded?
A. Some expound them the wisdom, some the sensuality, some the affection, and some the desire of the flesh.
Q. What is not subject to the law of God?
A. The lust of the flesh.
Q. Although there be no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet, what doth the Apostle confess?
A. That concupiscence and lust, have of themselves the nature of sin.
Genesis 8:21. For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it.
Galatians 5:17. 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.
Ephesians 2:3. And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Romans 7:23. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.
Romans 8:7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
What is Redemption (I would ask) if we are not by nature children of wrath: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God:” “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin;” but if we deny the fall and man’s natural depravity, then the glory of Him who contrived and executed the plan of our redemption shines no longer. We know that the most variegated and liveliest colours of the rainbow are painted by the sun’s rays upon the darkest cloud: so it is in the dark gloom of our apostate nature that the rays of the Sun of Righteousness are reflected with the most conspicuous luster. But how can the Saviour be precious to that soul that does not feel its need of redeeming love? May the words of the pious Bishop Beveridge on this subject be engraved on every heart: ‘Alas!’ he says, ‘I can neither set my hand nor my heart about anything, but I still shew myself the sinful offspring of sinful parents; say, I do not only betray the inbred venom of my heart by poisoning my common actions, but even my most religious performances also with sin. I cannot pray but I sin; my repentance needs to be repented of; my tears want washing; and the very washing of my tears need still to be washed over again in the blood of my Redeemer.’ How precious to his soul must have been the cheering text: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” “In strains as sweet as angels use, the Gospel whispers peace.”
X – Of Free Will
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
Q. What is the condition of man after the fall?
A. He cannot turn, and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God.
Q. Have we in ourselves power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God?
A. Not without the grace of God, by Christ preventing us?
Q. What do you mean by preventing us?
A. Going before, or assisting us.
Q. To what end?
A. That we may have a good will; and working with us, when we have that good will.
Q. How are we to obtain the grace of God?
A. By fervent, diligent, persevering prayer.
2 Corinthians 3:5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.
1 Corinthians 2:14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. John 6:4. John 25:5.
Philippians 2:13. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Romans 8:8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Luke 11:13. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
I would illustrate this article by the following similitude. The sunflower (it is said) turns its face to the bright orb of day. Shall we suppose the sun to say, If thou doest so, I will give thee light; rather we may imagine this to be the language of the luminary, ‘I pour upon thee my light, that thou mayest turn to me.’ So we, receiving a principle of life from God through Jesus Christ, through whom alone we are accepted, naturally and freely turn unto the Lord with all our hearts; and the more we feel in them a love to God and goodness, the more reason have we to give thanks to Him “from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.” God hath reserved to Himself the dispensing of the Holy Spirit, because He will be called upon for it by prayer: this article is not meant to be made use of to discourage our endeavours, but only to increase our humility, and induce as to apply to the strong for “strength equal to our day”.
XI – Of the Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings: wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort: as more largely is expressed in the homily of justification.
Q. For what cause are we justified, or accounted righteous before God?
A. For the merit of our Lord and Saviour only.
Q. By what means are we accounted righteous?
A. By faith, and not for our own works or deservings.
Q. What is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort?
A. That we are justified by faith only.
Q. Where is this more largely expressed?
A. In the homily of justification.
Romans 3:24. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 4:3.
Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Ephesians 2:8, 9. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Galatians 2:16.
The doctrine of Justification by Faith only, was held so high by Martin Luther, that he considered this article of belief to be the test of orthodoxy, or otherwise, according as it was held soundly or corruptly; – that all other points were subordinate to and centered in this; and that every objection to it, which could possibly be devised, was done away by this single consideration, viz. that a right faith was necessarily productive of good works. ‘But to name merits,’ says the pious Hooker, ‘is to lay our souls upon the rack; believers forsake all things wherein they have trusted, no staff to lean on, no ease, no rest, no comfort but only in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ ‘We acknowledge a dutiful necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of doing well, we utterly renounce.’ Bishop Latimer says, ‘It must not be our merits that serve, but Christ’s; our good works will be rewarded in heaven, but they cannot get heaven, for that would be a robbing of Christ.’ – It cost much to redeem our souls, man must leave that alone for ever. If the reader thinks that St. Paul and St. James are at variance upon the subject of Justification, he may very easily reconcile them – the former is speaking of Justification before God; the latter of Justification before men.
XII – OF GOOD WORKS
Albeit that good works; which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith: insomuch that by them, a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit.
Q. What are good works?
A. The fruits of faith.
Q. Do they go before or follow after justification?
A. They follow after.
Q. What can they not do?
A. They cannot put away our sins, nor endure the severity of God’s judgments.
Q. What then are they?
A. Pleasing, and acceptable to God, in Christ.
Q. Whence do they spring?
A. Out of a true and lively faith.
Q. How may a lively faith be known?
A. As a tree is discerned by the fruit.
Galatians 5:6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them..
Titus 2:14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
James 2:26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Matthew 7:17. Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.
Our Church considers good works as essential to the character of a true Christian, and as the necessary consequence of a true faith in Christ; but not as the meritorious conditions of salvation. ‘There is somewhat in the nature of man apt to swell and raise itself out of measure,’ says Bishop Burnet, ‘and to that, no indulgence ought to be given; the word ‘merit’ has a sound so daring, that on many accounts it ought not to be made use of.’ ‘We may preach morality long enough,’ says Bishop Wilson, ‘as the heathen philosophers did, without any great effect, if we do not preach Jesus Christ, who alone can give us grace to fulfill the law; without faith in Him we can do nothing profitable to salvation; faith being the source of prayer, prayer of grace, and grace enabling us to keep the law. The knowledge of the moral law can only make us sensible of our inability, but cannot help us. It is not only forgiveness of sins, that Jesus Christ hath merited for us by his death, but grace to do good. God forbid, that we should glory in anything save in the cross of our Redeemer.’
XIII – Of Works Before Justification
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the school authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
Q. What works are not pleasant to God?
A. Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit.
Q. For what reason?
A. Forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace.
Q. How do the school authors express it?
A. To “ deserve grace of congruity.”
Q. Why do we doubt not, but they have the nature of sin?
A. Because they are not done as God willed and commanded them to be done.
Titus 3:4, 5. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 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.
Ephesians 2:4, 5. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.)
Romans 14:23. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Matthew 7:18.
Bishop Beveridge expresses the same truths, in the following most striking words: “_Tis a matter of admiration to me, how any one that pretends to the use of reason can imagine that he should be accepted before God for what comes from himself! for how is it possible that I should be justified by good works, when I can do no good works at all, before I be first justified ? my works cannot be accepted as good, till my person be so, nor can my person be accepted by God, till first engrafted into Christ; before which engrafting into the true Vine, it is impossible I should bring forth good fruit.”
The expression “works that deserve grace of congruity,” means such works as men do by mere natural strength, which the Papists vainly suppose deserve a suitable reward, vainly because they are not done from a Christian motive; for no action can be good in the sight of God, unless the motives of the agent be so likewise; the deed is stamped by the motive.
XIV – Of Works of Supererogation
Voluntary works besides, over and above God’s commandments, which they call works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy impiety; for by them, men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required; whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
Q. What are called works of supererogation?
A. Voluntary works, besides, over and above God’s commandments.
Q. Why cannot they be taught, without arrogancy and impiety?
A. Because by them, men do declare, that they not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required.
Q. But what doth Christ plainly say?
A. When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, “we are unprofitable servants.”
Luke 17:10. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
Philippians 3:3. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
1 Corinthians 4:7. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
Matthew 25:9. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you.
1 Corinthians 1:31. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
The best Christians know they have nothing to spare: we owe to God all the service we can perform, and more, therefore there is due unto us no reward of justice; what is given us is of free mercy; we merit no reward, and have nothing to boast of; and he is the greatest saint upon earth, who is the most humble; to become exalted in an opinion of our own worthiness is to “fall into the condemnation of the devil;” we owe to our blessed Saviour ten thousand times more than we can ever pay, and all He requires of us, is to accept a discharge and to settle our love upon Him, not as any part of payment, but because He knows we cannot otherwise be happy.
XV – Of Christ Alone Without Sin
Christ in the truth of our nature was made Me unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh and in his spirit. He came to be the lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world, and sin (as St. John saith) was not in him. But all we the rest (although baptized and born again in Christ) yet offend in many things I and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Q. In what manner was Christ made like unto us?
A. In the truth of our nature; sin only excepted.
Q. From what was he clearly void?
A. From sin, both in his flesh, and in his spirit.
Q. For what purpose did he come?
A. To be the lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world.
Q. What doth St. John say?
A. That sin was not in him.
Q. What do you say of all us, the rest?
A. That although baptized, and born again in Christ, yet we offend in many things.
Q. If we say we have no sin, what do we do?
A. We deceive ourselves; and the truth is not in us.
Hebrews 4:15. Was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
John 1:29. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
1 John 1:8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. Hebrews 7:26, 27.
1 John 3:5. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 1 Peter 2:22.
That Christ was free from sin of every kind appears from the whole course of his life, but that all men are liable to sin, there can be no doubt. Let no one, says Cyprian, flatter himself with the idea of being innocent, since nobody is innocent, and by extolling himself, a person would only aggravate his punishment. He is instructed and taught that he is guilty of sin every day, since he is commanded to pray every day, for the forgiveness of his sins.
XVI – Of Sin After Baptism
Not every deadly sin, willingly committed after baptism, is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may rise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
Q. What do you say of every deadly sin, willingly committed after baptism?
A. That it is not sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable.
Q. What do you thence infer?
A. That the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such, as fall into sin after baptism.
Q. What do you further say?
A. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin; and by the grace of God, we may rise again, and amend our lives.
Q. Who are therefore to be condemned?
A. They who say they can no more sin, as long as they live here; or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
Revelation 2:5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.
Isaiah 55:7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Acts 3:19. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
“Deadly sin,” or the “sin unto death,” (1 John 5:16) is here to be understood as opposed to sins of ignorance and infirmity. It is open blasphemy against Christ, and his religion. But God is waiting to be gracious; – “Him that cometh unto me,” says the kind friend of sinners, “I will in no wise cast out.” The “sin not unto death,” mentioned in the same verse, is the sin of surprise. The sin against the Holy Ghost, alluded to in this article, was that of the Pharisees, in attributing the miracles of our Saviour to the power of the devil.
XVII – Of Predestination and Election
Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he lath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit, working in due season: they through grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members; and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things: as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God; so, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness, [carelessness] of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.
Q. What is predestination to life?
A. Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, (before the foundations of the world were laid,) he hath constantly decreed, by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ, out of mankind, and to bring them, by Christ, to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.
Q. What happens to those who are endued with so excellent a benefit of God?
A. They be called, according to God’s purpose, by his Spirit, working in due season; they, through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
Q. What is the character of the godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ?
A. It is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves, the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things.
Q. What else doth it?
A. It doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ; and also doth fervently kindle their love towards God.
Q. Is absolute predestination here meant?
A. I think not: because if it were, Reprobation must apparently follow, which is denied in several passages of Scripture; We are elect only, “according to the fore-knowledge of God.” 1 Peter 1:2. Again, Romans 8:29, “For whom he did fore-know, he did also predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Q. What is a most dangerous downfall?
A. For curious and carnal persons, lacking the spirit of Christ, to have continually, before their eyes, the sentence of God’s predestination; whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of the most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Q. How are we required in this article, to receive God’s promises?
A. In such wise as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture.
Q. Repeat some of his promises?
A. Proverbs 20:22, “Wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.” John 6:37, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.”
Q. What will of God is to be followed in our doings?
A. That which we have expressly declared to us in the word of God.
Q. What is God’s will towards mankind in general?
A. 1 Timothy 2:1. “He will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:6. “He, (Christ,) gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Ezekiel 18:31, 32. “Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
Q. What conclusion may be drawn from what has been said?
A. That some will be saved, and that all may, if they will come unto Christ, that they may have life. “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” John 6:37.
Ephesians 1:4, 5. According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
2 Timothy 1:9. Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
‘In treating of these matters,’ the pious Bishop Ridley says, ‘I am so fearful that I dare not speak farther, yea almost none otherwise than the very text does, as it were, lead me by the hand.’ This article seems to have been framed in accordance with the text: “All that the Father hath given me shall come to me; and whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out,” – teaching, in other words, that some will be saved; but that none are excluded except those who “will not come unto Christ that they may have life.” There is no doubt but that Calvinists and Armenians agreed about the wording of this article; and why they should not agree about it now, I know not. One thing, however, is certain, – that when we see a man live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world, whether Calvinist or Armenian, we see a real Christian, beyond all doubt: for real Christians, differing as they do in some minute points of controversial theology, all agree in this, viz., they are all penitent for their transgressions; they are all mourning over their innate depravity; they are all looking up to the same Saviour for pardon through his blood; they are all praying for the influences of the same Spirit; they are all striving against the same body of sin; and all are pressing forward towards the same mark for the prize of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus. With respect to the much-disputed doctrine of final perseverance, the Scriptures tell us that “he that endureth unto the end, shall be saved.” The doctrine then is best shewn by persevering. ‘Though I am no Armenian,’ says Mr. Simeon, I do think that the refinements of Calvinism have done great harm to the Church, they have driven multitudes from the plain and popular way of speaking, used by the inspired writers, and made them unreasonably and unscripturally squeamish in their modes of expression.’ We all want a Saviour, and God be praised. we may all possess Him; and as to Calvinists and Armenians, observes a pious writer, as there are only five points on which they differ, and at least five hundred on which, if real Christians, they agree, I desire to embrace all the articles of our common faith, and leave the rest to be settled in heaven. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law,” Deut. 29:29.
XVIII – Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ
They also are to be had accursed, that presume to say, that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law, and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
Q. Who are to be had accursed?
A. Those who presume to say that any man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth.
Q. Upon what conditions is it asserted, that a man shall be thus saved?
A. So that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law, and the light of nature.
Q. Wherefore is this an accursed doctrine?
A. Because Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
Galatians 3:21, 22. For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.
Acts 16:30, 31. And he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, And thou shalt be saved.
John 16:6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way.
John 3:18. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
In every respect, from first to last, our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of all our hopes of salvation. From Him arises the beginning of religion, repentance; “Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance,” no less than forgiveness of sins. From Him proceeds Faith; “He is the author and finisher of our faith.” From Him is derived our reconciliation with God; “through Him we have access to the Father.” This article is to be considered as directed against those, who (like the liberals of the present day) maintained, that all religions were equally acceptable to God; whereas the Bible says, that there is only one way to heaven, and that Christ is the way. He is a new way, a living way, a free way, a safe way, a pleasant way, and the only way. Reader consider your ways, for “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
XIX – Of The Church
The visible church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred; so also the church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.
Q. What is the visible church of Christ!
A. A congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached.
Q. What else is there done?
A. The sacraments be duly ministered according to God’s ordinance, in all things, that of necessity are requisite to the same.
Q. As the churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred, what other church hath erred?
A. The church of Rome.
Q. In what particulars hath the church of Rome erred?
A. Not only in their living, and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.
Romans 12:5. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:2. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.
Matthew 28:19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Sacrament of Baptism.)
Matthew 26:26, 27. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. (Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.)
Ephesians 4:5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
The Christian church is a society of believers, who are hereby knit together, in that they acknowledge one only pure source of religious knowledge, viz. the divine scriptures of the Old and New Testament, which they revere as a revelation of God through the Spirit. The Christian church has one only faith, viz. in Christ Jesus, the only Saviour, Redeemer, Reconciler, and Pledge of bliss, a faith which, without the merit of works, doth of grace, and through the merits of Christ, justify us, and then shows itself by love. The Christian church constitutes here below a body militant, held together in one spirit, and looks forward to appear hereafter in garments of triumph and glory, in the presence of Him “of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” The church from which we have separated, considers itself as the only Christian church: Protestants consider all men as Christians, who love the Lord Jesus with sincerity; and the compilers of our Articles protest in the strongest manner against the pretended claim of the church of Rome to infallibility, as being repugnant to the nature of man, as unfounded in scripture, and as inconsistent with God’s general government of the world.
XX – Of the Authority of the Church
The church hath the power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith: and yet, it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s word written; neither may it expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the church be a witness, and a keeper of holy writ, yet as it ought not to decree anything against the same; so besides the same, ought it not to enforce anything to be believed, for necessity of salvation.
Q. What power hath the church?
A. To decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith.
Q. What is it not lawful for the church to do?
A. To ordain anything that is contrary to God’s word written.
Q. What else?
A. Neither may it so expound one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another.
Q. What more?
A. Although the church be a witness and a keeper of holy writ, yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same, ought it not to enforce anything to be believed, for necessity of salvation.
1 Corinthians 14:26, 33, 40. Let all things be done unto edifying. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. Let all things be done decently, and in order.
Galatians 1:8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Mark 7:13. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.
Deuteronomy 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you.
We do not presume to ascribe to our church infallible authority, but we think that great deference is due to her judgment, in taking cognizance of any disputes or “controversies of faith.” Every man, says Bishop Burnet, that finds his own thoughts differ from her decisions, ought to examine the matter over again with much attention and care, freeing himself all he can from prejudice and obstinacy, with a just distrust of his own understanding, and an humble respect to the judgment of his superiors. This is due to the consideration of peace and union, and to that authority which the church has to obtain it; but if, after all possible methods of inquiry, a man cannot master his thoughts, or make them agree with the public decisions, his conscience is not under bonds, since this authority is not absolute, nor grounded upon a promise of infallibility.
XXI – Of the Authority of General Councils
General councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the spirit and word of God) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation, have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.
Q. How are general councils to be gathered together?
A. General councils cannot be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes.
Q. When they be gathered together, what may follow?
A. When they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the spirit and word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God.
Q. What do you say of things ordained by them, as necessary to salvation?
A. They have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.
Romans 13:1. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.
Isaiah 8:20. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Acts 15:6. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
The first General Council was that of Nice, convened by the Emperor Constantine, A. D. 329; the second was held at Constantinople in the year 381, by Theodosius the Great; the third at Ephesus, by Theodosius, jun. A. D. 431; and the fourth at Chalcedon, by the Emperor Marcian, A. D. 451. These four first were by far the most eminent of General Councils. We reverence the Councils for the sake of the doctrines which they declared and maintained. At Nice it was declared that the Son is truly God, of the same substance with the Father; at Constantinople, that the Holy Ghost is also truly God; at Ephesus, that the Divine nature was truly united to the human in Christ in one person; at Chalcedon, that both natures remained distinct, and that the human nature was not lost or absorbed in the divine. But we do not believe these doctrines upon the authority of the Councils, but of the Scriptures.
See Num. 11:16; 1 Chron. 13:1, 2; 2 Chron. 29:4: 1 Kings 8:1.
XXII – Of Purgatory
The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as of reliques, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God.
Q. What is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded on no warranty of Scripture?
A. The Romish doctrine of Purgatory, pardons, worshipping, and adoration, as well of images as of reliques.
Q. What else?
A. Invocation of saints.
Q. What is rather the character of this doctrine?
A. It is repugnant to the word of God.
Luke 16:22. The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom – [not into Purgatory.]
Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
1 John 1:7. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Luke 23:43. Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. John 5:24; 2 Cor. 5:8.
Revelation 14:13. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours.
Philippians 1:23. Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.
Daniel 9:9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses.
Exodus 20:4, 5. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them.
Matthew 4:10. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
1 John 5:21. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Dr. Watts says of Purgatory, “that it was a gainful contrivance of the priests of Rome, to erect a building between heaven and hell, where to dispose of good Christians after death, till they are completely fit for heaven: this is purgatory – a place where the remaining vices of the dying man are purged out with fire. Those souls for whom the priest is hired to say most masses are soonest freed from the relics of iniquity, and get the speediest release to the heavenly regions.” But where is purgatory? Is it not altogether an invention? and where is limbo? where are these two places? Finding that Lazarus, at death, was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom; that the dying thief received the Saviour’s promise, “today shalt thou be with me in paradise;” and that St. Paul considered that “being absent from the body, he should be present with the Lord” – surely we are clearly taught by the word of God, that there is no such place as the one or the other. With respect to “ Pardons,” otherwise called Indulgences, I can find no passage in scripture in support of them; and if I bow the knee in invoking departed saints (who cannot hear a single word that I say), to intercede for me, I reject the sole Mediator who stands between man and his offended God, and place my soul in jeopardy.
XXIII – Of Ministering in the Congregation
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work, by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.
Q. What is not lawful for any man to take upon him?
A. The office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same.
Q. Whom ought we to judge lawfully called, and sent?
A. Those which be chosen and called to this work, by men who have public authority given unto them, in the congregation, to call, and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.
Hebrews 5:4. No man taketh this honour unto himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
Matthew 28:19, 20. Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
2 Timothy 2:2. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Acts 14:23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Titus 1:5. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
No particular mode of ordination, says the late bishop of Lincoln, is here declared to be a necessary object of faith; nor are any persons specified by whom ministers are to be ordained to their sacred function: it is only asserted in general terms that they are to receive their appointment from the authority prescribed by the church to which they belong. We who live in this country have the satisfaction of knowing that we live under a form of ecclesiastical polity, founded in apostolical authority, and under a form of civil government of unparalleled excellence; and these constitutions in church and state are admirably suited by their congenial nature and intimate alliance to afford mutual assistance and support to each other. The union of church and state was never intended to make the church secular, but the state religious; and they are so blended and interwoven that they must stand or fall together, and the friends of the temporal and of the eternal interests of their fellow creatures are equally called upon to stand forward in the maintenance and defense of both: – unchurch the state, and you unchristianize the nation.
XXIV – Of Speaking in the Congregation in
Such a Tongue as the People Understandeth
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God, and the custom of the primitive church, to have public prayer in the church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.
Q. What thing is plainly repugnant to the word of God?
A. To have public prayer in the church, or to minister the sacraments, in an unknown tongue.
Q. To what else is it repugnant?
A. To the custom of the primitive church.
1 Cor. 14:26. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1 Cor. 14:9, 11, 19. Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian; and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:15. I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.
In all things, edification should be aimed at; but how can this be if public service is performed in a language of which the common people understand not a single word. The apostle thanked God that he could speak with more tongues than all the Corinthians put together; yet he said that he had rather utter five words, so that others might be edified by what he said, than ten thousand words in a language which could be of no use to them. Is it possible, I would ask, in this way to worship God in spirit and in truth? Is it not substituting the form of godliness for the power for it?
XXV – Of the Sacraments
Sacraments ordained of Christ, be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession; but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith in him.
There are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the gospel; that is to say, baptism, and the supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called sacraments; that is to say, confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction, are not to be counted for sacraments of the gospel; being such as have grown, partly of the corrupt following of the apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the scriptures; but yet have not like nature of sacraments with baptism and the Lord’s supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about: but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as St. Paul saith.
Q. What are sacraments ordained of Christ?
A. They be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us.
Q. How doth he work in us by them?
A. Invisibly, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen, and confirm our faith in him.
Q. How many sacraments are there ordained of Christ our Lord, in the gospel?
A. There are two, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Q. What do you say of those five commonly called sacraments, (by the Roman Catholics,) that is to say, confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction?
A. They are not to be counted for sacraments of the gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
A. For that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
Q. For what purpose are sacraments ordained of Christ?
A. Not to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them.
Q. In whom have they a wholesome effect or operation?
A. In such only as worthily receive the same; but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as St. Paul saith.
Acts 2:41, 42. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.
1 Corinthians 10:16. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
Galatians 3:27. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.
Matthew 15:9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Romans 2:28, 29. For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
1 Corinthians 11:23–26. For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Deuteronomy 16:22. Neither shalt thou set thee up any image, which the Lord thy God hateth.
1 Corinthians 11:27. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
‘As for the number of the sacraments (as we read in one of our homilies), if they should be considered according to the exact signification of a sacrament, namely, for the visible signs, expressly commanded in the New Testament, whereunto is annexed the promise of free forgiveness of our sins, and of our holiness and joining in Christ, there be but two, namely, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.’ To these the church, from which we have separated, has added five more, viz. Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction.—
Confirmation is a ceremony of high importance: it is a solemn manner of persons taking upon themselves their baptismal vow; our church receives it as a religious ordinance, but not as a sacrament.
Penance. It is scarcely necessary to observe that the penance of the Church of Rome is totally different from the Gospel doctrine of Repentance, which consists in a change of heart and life, as the original word imports. This pretended sacrament has no foundation whatever in Scripture.
Orders. The name of a sacrament seems to have been given to ‘Orders,’ for the purpose of raising the importance of the clerical character in the eyes of the common people; for there is no ground whatever in Scripture for considering ordination as a sacrament.
Matrimony has no promise, nor is it a sign of inward grace, which is essential to a sacrament.
Extreme Unction. The Unction spoken of by St. James (6:14) was for the purpose of restoring the sick to health, and not for the good of their souls when life is despaired of; it has no claim whatever to be considered as a Christian sacrament. “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” I would rather be supported by one single text of Scripture than by all the decrees of councils, all the papal bulls, and all the traditions in the world.
XXVI – Of the Unworthiness of Ministers, Which Hinders Not
the Effect of the Sacraments
Although in the visible church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments: yet, forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the word of God, and in receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such, as by faith, and rightly, do receive the sacraments, ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the church, that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
Q. Although in the visible church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments, how may we use the ministry of those unworthy of the office?
A. Forasmuch as they do not use the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the word of God, and in receiving of the sacraments.
Q. Is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness?
Q. What do you say further?
A. Nor is the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the sacraments ministered unto them.
Q. Why are they effectual?
A. Because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Q. What appertaineth to the discipline of the church?
A. That inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those who have knowledge of their offences.
Q. And being found guilty, how must they be punished?
A. Being finally found guilty, by just judgment, they shall be deposed.
1 Corinthians 4:1, 2. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Matthew 5:13. Ye arc the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
John 6:70. Jesus answered them, Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
Matthew 7:22, 23. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will ,I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The ministers of Christ do not minister their own, but their Master’s sacraments, and the Church in receiving them hath respect to Christ himself, and not to them; and therefore she receives them, not so much from the ministers as from Christ, through their hands: it is nowhere said in Scripture, nor is it agreeable to reason, that the efficacy of these holy ordinances should in any degree depend upon the worthiness of those who administer them; and when ministers, who ought to be patterns of righteousness, become examples of sin, the Church has power to inquire into their conduct and may depose them from their sacred office. There is no one point in which the interest of religion is more deeply concerned than in the morals and conduct of its ministers, they should not only preach the gospel, but live it too; not only “allure to brighter worlds,” but “lead the way”; and consistency is the only true test of piety, and devotedness to its cause.
XXVII – Of Baptism
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church: the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed: faith is confirmed, and grace increased, by virtue of prayer unto God. The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Q. What is baptism?
A. It is a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from others, that be not christened.
Q. What is it more?
A. It is a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly, are grafted into the church.
Q. What promises are visibly signed, and sealed thereby?
A. The promise of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be sons of God, by the Holy Ghost.
Q. What is to be gained by virtue of prayer to God?
A. Faith is confirmed, and grace increased.
Q. Why is the baptism of young children in any wise to be retained in the church?
A. As most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Galatians 3:27. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.
Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.
John 3:5. Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Matthew 28:19, 20. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Mark 10:14. Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
St. Peter tells us that “the baptism which saveth us, is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” It is not then the performance of the outward ordinance which saves us; water is a very proper emblem to signify the passing from a course of defilement to a greater degree of purity, both in doctrine and practice. The latter part of this article relates to the baptism of infants, to be retained in our Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ. In the administration of baptism we pray for the inward spiritual grace, and the very appointment of the sacrament, by our Lord himself, is our warrant to expect it, we may therefore give God thanks in a believing expectation that his promised blessing is bestowed. If, however, the baptized persons should grow up in sin, and manifest no sign of real conversion, we must not flatter them that they are regenerate. The minister in baptizing speaks the language of faith, hope, and charity; but if his expectations are disappointed, his subsequent admonitions and reproofs should prevent the danger of delusion.
XXVIII – Of the Lord’s Supper
The supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break, is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the supper, is faith.
The sacrament of the Lord’s supper, was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
Q. What is the supper of the Lord?
A. It is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption, by Christ’s death.
Q. To such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, what is the bread which we break?
A. It is a partaking of the body of Christ.
Q. What is the cup of blessing?
A. A partaking of the blood of Christ.
Q. What do you say of transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine?
A. That it cannot be proved by holy writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.
Q. What doth it?
A. It overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
Q. How is the body of Christ given, taken and eaten in the supper?
A. Only after an heavenly and spiritual manna.
Q. What is the mean whereby the body of Christ is received, and eaten, in the supper?
Q. What more do you say of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper.
A. That it was not, by Christ’s ordinance, reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
1 John 4:11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1 Corinthians 10:17. For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Matthew 26:26–28. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
1 Corinthians 11:26. As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.
Luke 22:19. This do in remembrance of me.
1 Corinthians 10:7. Neither be ye idolaters.
In partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, we are called upon jointly to commemorate the love of Christ dying “for us men and for our salvation,” as the ground of our hope of everlasting life, that while our hearts are warmed with religious gratitude to our heavenly Benefactor, the very act of uniting in the celebration of this holy rite may produce in us feelings of kindness towards those whom we see partaking of the same covenant of grace, and rejoicing in the same hope of everlasting happiness. The death of Christ was not merely a proof of his love to lost mankind, it was also an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. But if we worship a wafer, a piece of bread, are we not making the cross of Christ of none effect, owning another sacrifice than that which God appointed? and are we not committing likewise the deadly sin of idolatry? “The bread,” saith our Lord, “that I shall give you, is my flesh,” meaning his life. “The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life,” – “it is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” Our Saviour gave his life as an atoning sacrifice for the forfeited life of the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles; and of which every true believer shall partake. “As often,” says St. Paul, “as ye eat THIS BREAD and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come”; that, therefore, which is eaten in the Lord’s Supper is still bread, and this text may of itself be considered as decisive against the doctrine of transubstantiation; and the expression, “ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” is another proof that the institution was commemorative of the death of Christ. Our church in her communion service fully explains the subject. “If with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive the Holy Sacrament, then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood.” The astonishing, monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation arose from taking figurative words in a literal sense. According to the doctrine of the church from whisk we have separated, when words of consecration have been pronounced by the priest, the bread becomes that same actual body of flesh and blood in which our Saviour suffered on the Cross; and our Lord must have taken his own body in his own hands, and offered it to his disciples. “I believe that God made man,” said poor Anne Askew, “but I cannot believe that man can make God.”
The language which our Lord used in instituting the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, is manifestly figurative, and cannot admit of a literal interpretation. When He said “I am the door,” was he literally a door? When He said “I am the vine,” was he literally a vine? “Cum fruges Cererem, vinum Liberum dicimus, genere nos quidem sermonis utimur usitato, sed ecquem tam amentem esse putas, qui illud quo vescatur, Deum credat esse.” – Cicero de Natura Deorum 3–16. “When we call corn Ceres, and wine Bacchus, we use a familiar kind of speech; but do you think anyone so mad as to believe that that is a God which he feeds upon?” May the Church of Rome take a lesson from a heathen.
The last part of this article refers to those whose custom it is to reserve part of the consecrated bread for the purpose of giving it to the sick at some future time, who also “carry about” the host or consecrated wafer, elevate it with superstitious ceremony, and worship it in the same manner as they would worship Jesus Christ: at one moment it is the object of adoration – at the next, a mass of corrupting matter: but it is written, “Thou wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” If, you are but sure you know bread and wine, says Baxter, when you see, and feel, and taste, and smell them, then you are at the end of this controversy.
XXIX – Of the Wicked, Which Eat Not the Body of Christ,
in the Use of the Lord’s Supper
The wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as St. Augustine saith) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet, in no wise are they partakers of Christ, but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink, the sign or sacrament of so great a thing.
Q. What do you say of the wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith?
A. Although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth, (as St. Augustine saith,) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ.
Q. What do they rather eat and drink?
A. To their condemnation they do eat and drink the sign, or sacrament of so great a thing.
1 Corinthians 10:21. 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 11:29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
The inward and spiritual effects of the sacrament depend upon the state and disposition of him who communicates; so we of the Church of England, who own no other presence but an inward and spiritual one, cannot conceive that the wicked who believe not in Christ do receive Him. This Article is drawn up in the very words of St. Augustine, and entirely overthrows the doctrine of Transubstantiation; for if the elements be changed into the very body and blood of Christ, then no reason can be assigned why wicked men, and even rats and mice, may not eat the body of Christ. Origen says, ‘the good eat the living bread which came down from heaven; but the wicked eat dead bread, which is death.’
It is a question whether the eating of the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood (John 6:53) is to be understood of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, because it was not appointed till a year after these words were spoken.
XXX – Of Both Kinds
The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay-people: for, both the parts of the Lord’s sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
Q. What do you say of the cup of the Lord?
A. That it is not to be denied to the lay-people.
Q. Whom do you mean by lay-people?
A. People distinct from the clergy.
Q. For what reason is the cup not to be denied to the lay-people?
A. Because both parts of the Lord’s sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
Mark 14:23. And He took the cup; and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
1 Corinthians 11:26. As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords death till He come.
Matthew 26:27. Drink ye all of it.
Those who refuse the Cup to the Laity, and give an unbroken wafer instead of broken bread, in effect disannul our Lords institution, and substitute another in its place.
It is material to notice the reason assigned by our Redeemer why all the Apostles were to drink of the Cup, “for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” All, therefore, who stand in need of remission of sins, are to drink of the Cup; that is, all mankind, Laity as well as Clergy.
XXXI – Of the One Oblation of Christ Finished Upon the Cross
The offering of Christ once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
Q. What is the offering of Christ, once made?
A. It is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual.
Q. Is there any other satisfaction for sin?
A. None but that alone.
Q. What were the sacrifices of masses, in which it was commonly said, that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain, or guilt?
A. They were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
Hebrews 9:12, 25, 26. Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Nor yet that he should offer Himself often, as the High Priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
1 Timothy 2:6. Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
1 John 2:2. And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Psalm 51:17. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.
The atonement and satisfaction to God for our sins, was made wholly and solely by the perfect obedience and meritorious sufferings, and death of Christ our blessed Lord, in our nature, in our stead, as our sacrifice and our surety, who has paid the whole debt, to the uttermost farthing, to the last demand of infinite justice. He made, on the cross, (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; the sacrifice of masses may, therefore, justly be called fables, since they have no authority in Scripture; and they are blasphemous, as they derogate from the sufficiency of the death and passion of Christ, as an expiation for the sins of mankind; and they are dangerous deceits, because they lead men to place their hope of salvation upon a false foundation. The “mass” is part of the liturgy, or Church service, among the Roman Catholics. Mass was the name for the Lord’s Supper, in England, till the middle of the reign of Edward the Sixth.
XXXII – Of the Marriage of Priests
Bishops, priests, and deacons, are not commanded by God’s law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
Q. What do you say of bishops, priests, and deacons?
A. That they are not commanded by God’s law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage.
Q. What is therefore lawful for them to do?
A. As for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
1 Timothy 3:2. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife.
1 Timothy 4:1, 3. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, forbidding to marry.
Hebrews 13:4. Marriage is honourable in all.
1 Corinthians 9:5. Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles.
Matthew 8:14. And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother sick of a fever.
1 Corinthians 7:2. Let every man have his own wife.
However expedient the single life might be in some cases, for instance, in “the present distress,” that is, in the times of persecution, alluded to by the Apostle, yet marriage not only consists with the office of a stated pastor, but with that of a missionary, as it did with that of the holy Apostles. The “forbidding to marry” is mentioned as a character of the apostasy of the latter times. St. Peter was certainly a married man: Philip, the deacon, was a married man; (Acts 21:8, 9) and St. Paul says, Let every man have his own wife, not excluding either bishop, priest or deacon.
XXXIII – Of Excommunicate Persons, How They Are To Be Avoided
That person which by open denunciation of the church is rightly cut off from the unity of the church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an heathen and publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the church by a judge that hath authority thereunto.
Q. How ought that person who by open denunciation of the church is rightly cut off from the unity of the church, to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful?
A. He ought to be taken as a heathen and publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance.
Q. By whom should he be received again into the church?
A. By a judge that hath authority thereunto.
1 Corinthians 5:13. Therefore put away from yourselves that wicked person.
Romans 16:16. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
2 Corinthians 2:6, 7. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
Every community must possess the right of expelling those members who will not conform to its regulations; but a Christian minister is not to call upon God from the altar to fulfill execrations which the devil himself might seem to have inspired. In the forms of malediction appointed for this service in the Romish church, a curse is pronounced (by those who ought to know better) against the obnoxious persons, in soul and body. They are cursed at home and abroad, by day and by night, and every hour, in all places and at all times, everywhere and always. God is invoked to afflict them with hunger and thirst, with poverty and want, with cold and with fever, with blindness and madness, to make their wives widows, and their children orphans and beggars. This denunciation, horrible as it may seem, is continually had recourse to, by ‘the Agitator’s’ political priests in Ireland, when they wish to frighten their poor deluded followers into their measures. In England the priests know better than to try such an experiment, for they are well aware that it would not answer.
The following is a table of the supposed dates of the introduction of the leading papal superstitions, copied from the Christian Observer for the year 1827, page 565.
Holy water introduced 120
Mass in Latin 394
Extreme unction 550
Invocation of Virgin and Saints 593
Papal usurpation 607
Kissing the Pope’s Toe 709
Image worship 715
Baptism of Bells 1000
Celibacy of the Priesthood 1015
Auricular Confession 1215
Elevation of the host 1222
Every Roman Catholic Member of Parliament takes the following oath, upon being admitted into the House of Commons: – ‘I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of property within this realm, as established by the laws, and I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment, as settled by law, within this realm. And I do solemnly swear, that I will never exercise any privilege to which I am, or may become, entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant Religion or Protestant Government in this kingdom. And I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make the declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of the oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever.’ Whether they have kept this oath, the last day will show. This fancied safeguard seems to me at least, to be broken by these disciples of the Pope with as much apparent ease as if it had no existence.
XXXIV – Of the Traditions of the Church
It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s word. Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the church, which be not repugnant to the word of God, and he ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly (that others may fear to do the like) as he that offendeth against the common order of the church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the church, ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
Q. Is it necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one?
A. No, for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s word.
Q. How should he be treated, who, by his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the church, which be not repugnant to the word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority?
A. He ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like.
Q. In what manner?
A. As one that offendeth against the common order of the church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Q. What authority hath every particular or national church?
A. To ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the church, ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
Acts 5:29. Obey God rather than man.
Hebrews 13:17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.
1 Timothy 5:20. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
1 Corinthians 8:12. But when you sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
Romans 14:19. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
‘It is sometimes objected to the discipline of our church,’ says the late Bishop of Lincoln, ‘that several of its ceremonies are still the same as those of the Romish church: but to this it may be answered, that we have retained none which are not authorized by the practice of the early Christians, or suited to the important purposes of religious worship.’ Such was the moderation of our Reformers, that they did not think it necessary to abolish rites merely because they were used by the church of Rome. The ceremonies of our public offices are grave, simple, and significant, calculated to excite devotion in the mind, while all things are done decently and in order.’
XXXV – Of the Homilies
The second book of homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this article, doth contain a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former book of homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the VIth; and therefore we judge them to be read in churches by the ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Q. What doth the second book of homilies contain?
A. A godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times.
Q. What doth the former book of homilies set forth in the reign of Edward the VIth, contain?
A. The same godly and wholesome doctrine.
Q. What is therefore judged?
A. That they be read in churches by the ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Q. Repeat the names of the homilies.
A. 1. Of the right Use of the Church.
2. Against Peril of Idolatry.
3. Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4. Of good Works: first of Fasting.
5. Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6. Against Excess of Apparel.
7. Of Prayer.
8. Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9. That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10. Of the reverend estimation of God’s word.
11. Of alms-doing.
12. Of the Nativity of Christ.
13. Of the Passion of Christ.
14. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15. Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16. Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17. Of the Rogation Days.
18. Of the State of Matrimony.
19. Of Repentance.
20. Against Idleness.
21. Against Rebellion.
Jude 3. Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
Titus 1:9. Holding fast the faithful word, as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
The word ‘Homily’ signifies conference or conversation; it was applied to those familiar exhortations which were delivered by ministers to their congregations assembled in churches. At the time of the reformation, many of the clergy were exceedingly illiterate; therefore, to supply the defects of some, and to oblige the rest to teach according to the form of sound doctrine, there were two books of Homilies prepared, the first was published in 1547, and was supposed to be written by Creamer, the second book was published in 1560, and was supposed to be written by Bishop Jewel; they are plain and short discourses, chiefly calculated to impress the nation with a sense of the purity of the Gospel.
XXXVI – Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers
The book of consecration of archbishops and bishops, and ordering of priests and deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the sixth, and confirmed at the same time by, authority of parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering: neither hath it any thing, that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the rites of that book, since the second year of the forenamed king Edward, unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
Q. What doth the book of consecration of archbishops and bishops, and ordering of priests and deacons, set forth in the time of Edward the sixth, contain?
A. All things necessary to such consecration and ordering: neither hath it any thing, that of itself is superstitious, and ungodly.
Q. What is decreed of those who are consecrated or ordered, according to the rites of that book, since the second year of the forenamed king Edward, unto this time, or of those who shall hereafter be consecrated according thereto?
A. That all such are rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
1 Timothy 5:17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Acts 6:3–6. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Such elders as preside well and wisely over the church, especially such as truly labour in word and doctrine, both in public and private, the Apostle declares are worthy of double honour. Three things are absolutely necessary in the right ordering of ministers: First, that they be called or moved inwardly of God to take upon them the office. Secondly, that they be outwardly called and sent forth by men having authority thereunto. Thirdly, that they be publicly ordained by prayer and imposition of hands. The ceremony of laying on of hands was used in the church of old on many occasions, as we read in various parts of the Bible; and thus were ministers ordained in early times of the Christian Church; and the service for their ordination is indeed so solemn and impressive, and contains such an excellent summary of the duties of the ministers of the Gospel, and such earnest exhortations to the discharge of those duties, that every clergyman, whatever be his age or his station in the church, would do well to read it carefully and attentively at least once in every year.
XXXVII – Of The Civil Magistrates
The king’s majesty hath the chief power in this realm of England, and other his dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
Where we attribute to the king’s majesty the chief government, by which titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our princes the ministering either of God’s word, or of the sacraments, the which thing the injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil doers.
The bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.
The laws of the realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.
Q. Who hath the chief power in this realm of England, and other the dominions?
A. The king’s majesty.
Q. To whom doth the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all cases appertain?
A. To the king’s majesty: and is not, nor ought to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction whatsoever.
Q. Where we attribute to the king’s majesty the chief government, by which titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended, what do we not give our princes?
A. The ministering either of God’s word, or of the sacraments, the which things the injunctions also set forth by Elizabeth our queen, do most plainly certify.
Q. What do we really give to them?
A. That only prerogative which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scripture by God himself.
Q. What is the power or prerogative?
A. That they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil doers.
Q. Hath the bishop of Rome any jurisdiction in this realm of England.
Q. What power hath the laws of this realm?
A. They may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
Q. What is it lawful for Christian men to do?
A. At the commandment of the magistrate it is lawful for them to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.
1 Timothy 1:2. I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority.
1 Peter 2:13. Submit yourselves unto every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be unto the king as supreme.
Romans 13:4. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain.
Isaiah 49:23. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers.
Acts 10:1, 2. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man.
In our happy land the advantages derived from civil governments are immense; our grievances are minute, and very often imaginary, and our rulers are only a terror to evil doers, and not to those that do well. None are afraid but those who ought to fear; so that it becomes us to be “subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake,” – the making our Sovereign the temporal Head of our church, does not convey to Him a right to administer God’s word or sacraments; those holy functions can be exercised by none but those who are lawfully appointed to them. The words “slanderous folks,” refer to the Puritans who denied the right of the civil magistrate to interfere in any, ecclesiastical matter whatever. As the pretended jurisdiction of the Pope over this realm, hath no foundation in Scripture, so it has been justly renounced. The primitive Christians thought they might continue in military employments, as appears from the works of Tertullian; nor did St. Peter charge Cornelius to forsake his post as a soldier when he baptized him.
XXXVIII – Of Christian Men’s Goods Which Are Not Common
The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
Q. What do you say of the riches and goods of Christians?
A. That they are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same.
Q. Who do falsely so boast?
A. Certain Anabaptists.
Q. Notwithstanding, what ought every man to do?
A. He ought. of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
Acts 5:4. Whiles it remained, was it not thine own, and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power.
Luke 11:41. Give alms of such things as ye have.
James 2:15, 16. If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be you warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body, what doth it profit?
‘It can never be thought a just and equitable thing,’ says Bishop Burnet, ‘that the sober and industrious should be bound to share the fruits of their labour with the idle and luxurious. This would be such an encouragement to those whom all wise governments ought to discourage, and would so discourage those who ought to be encouraged, that all the order of the world must be dissolved, if so extravagant a conceit should be entertained. Both the rich and the poor have rules given them, and there are virtues suitable to each state of life: the rich ought to be bountiful and charitable – the poor ought to submit to the providence of God, and to study to make sure of a better portion in another state than God has thought fit to give them in this world.’
XXXIX – Of a Christian Man’s Oath
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his apostle: so we judge, that Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet’s teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
Q. What do we confess?
A. That vain and rash swearing is forbidden by our Lord. Jesus Christ, and James his apostle.
Q. What do we judge?
A. That Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity.
Q. How should it be done?
A. According to the prophet’s teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
James 5:12. Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath.
Deuteronomy 6:13. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
Jeremiah 4:2. And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness.
The irreverent use of the name of God should be cautiously guarded against; his awful name must not be unfeelingly, ungratefully singled out as the object of decided irreverence and thoughtless levity, to be used indiscriminately to express anger, joy, grief, surprise, impatience, – and profane oaths and curses are wicked in the extreme. This sin has, of all others, the least temptation to it, as it is neither productive of gain, pleasure, or reputation: it is utterly inexcusable – it stands distinguished from all others in its nature and guilt. But oaths used in the administration of justice are not forbidden in scripture, “for an oath for confirmation is an end of all controversy,” (Hebrew 6:16) which words surely admit the lawfulness of an oath, when applied to the settlement of points in litigation. The “prophet’s teaching,” mentioned in this article, refers to the text last quoted, Jeremiah 4:2.
Reader – We may say Lord, Lord! but unless we are doers as well as hearers of the word, our religion will not avail us anything, either now or at the hour of death, or at the dreadful day of judgment.
The times (I repeat) are perilous, and if the country is to be saved from the many perils that surround us, ‘it is (to use the language of Dr. Chalmers,) by the efficacy of moral means working a moral transformation: humanly speaking, its Christian instructors will be its only saviours. This is the great specific for the people’s wellbeing, and however derided by the liberalism of the age, or undervalued in the estimation of merely secular politicians, still it is with the Christianity of our towns and parishes that the country is to stand or fall.’ ‘If the candidate of patriotism (says Dr. Johnson) endeavours to infuse right opinions into the higher ranks, and by their influence to regulate the lower – if he consorts chiefly with the wise, the temperate, the regular, and the virtuous, his love of the people may be rational and honest; but if his first and principal application be to the indigent, who are always inflammable, to the weak who are naturally suspicious, to the ignorant who are easily misled, and to the profligate who have no hope but from mischief, let love of the people be no longer boasted.’
The Roman Catholic priests are continually endeavouring to prove that their church was the first (to use their own words) and shall be the last; but all who read their Bibles must think very differently. Jesus Christ says, “I am the first and the last,” and that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (not at Rome) and all his faithful followers of every denomination without doubt will be saved, for these constitute the real church of Christ, the catholic or universal church, and to such as these, he says (generally) “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world”; but not particularly to the Roman Catholic church. “The church of this kingdom was not planted by the see of Rome, it existed for centuries before the time of Augustine, through ‘the heptarchy’ proofs abound of the primitive Christianity of the bishops and presbyters of Great Britain, and of their resistance to the then growing encroachments of the bishop of Rome. It was during the subsequent iron sway of the Norman conquerors that popery usurped the place of Christianity in England, and seized upon the possessions of the church. (Southey.) And we learn from Dr. Buchanan’s Christian Researches that in the year 1503, when the Portuguese first visited the western coast of Hindustan, they were agreeably surprised to find upwards of a hundred Christian churches, along the coast, and numbers of Christians who had been settled there from the early ages of Christianity. But when these bigoted people (the Portuguese) became acquainted with the purity and simplicity of their worship, they were offended; these churches, said they, belong to the pope. ‘Who is the pope?’ said the natives, ‘we never heard of him, (neither did ANY one hear of him, till the sixth century after Christ) and we,’ said they, ‘are of the true faith, whatever you, from the west, may be, for we come from the place (Antioch) where the followers of Christ were first called Christians’ – the Portuguese priests were yet more alarmed when they found that these Christians, for 1300 years before that period had enjoyed a succession of bishops, appointed by the patriarch of Antioch. But, “grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with sincerity,” the language of Zion is, the Lord prosper thee whosoever thou art, that doest good, and at the last day it will not be asked of what congregation were you a member, but have you been a sincere follower of the Lamb of God; have you, “denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, lived soberly, righteously and godly in this present evil world.” Here is the test, and it is all comprehended in one word – CONSISTENCY.