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Of the Sonship of Believers. Believers in Christ are born of God, through the regenerating power of his Spirit, and are partakers of the Divine nature; for if that which is born of the flesh is flesh,' so that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.'
And all who are thus born of God are sons of God, and joint heirs with Christ; and therefore, without distinction of name, brethren with Christ and with one another.
Of Good Works. Good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, are 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. They who truly believe will seek to do the will of God, and they who do not thus seek are not to be accounted true believers.
Of Works of Supererogation. Voluntary works, besides, over, and above God's commandments, which they call works of supererogation, can not be taught without arrogancy and 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.
Salvation only in Christ. Holy Scripture doth set out unto us the name of Jesus Christ only, whereby men must be saved. His was a finished work and completely sufficient. Without any merit or deserving on our part he has secured Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine into the very body and blood of Christ) in the Supper of the Lord can not be proved by Holy Writ, is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrainent, and hath given occasion to many and idolatrous superstitions.
*[The Eng. Vers. reads: "all those things which are commanded you' (Luke xvii. 10). -Ed.]
Consubstantiation (or the doctrine that Christ is veiled under the unchanged bread and wine, and that his very body and blood are present therein and separate the one from the other) is utterly without warrant of Scripture, is contradictory of the fact that Christ, being raised, dieth no more, and is productive equally with transnbstantiation of idolatrous errors and practices.
We feed on Christ only through his Word, and only by faith and prayer; and we feed on him, whether at our private devotions, or in our meditations, or on any occasion of public worship, or in the memorial symbolism of the Supper.
The elements of the Lord's Supper were not by Christ's ordinance designed to be reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshiped.
Of Both Kinds. The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to any of his people, for both the bread and the wine, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
Of Unworthy Persons Ministering in the Congregation. 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 ordinances: yet, forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, the believer is not deprived of the benefits of God's ordinances; because, though they be ministered by evil men, yet are they Christ's institution, and set forth his promise.
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.
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 orig. inal and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. And as there is only this one sacrifice in the Christian Church, once made, never to be repeated, so there is but the one Priest, even Jesus Christ, the Apostle and High-Priest of our profession. Wherefore the sacrifices of masses, in the which it is commonly said that the priest offers Christ for the quick and the dead, for the remission of pain or guilt, or any representations of the Lord's Supper as a sacrifice, are blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.
Of Certain Erroneous Doctrines and Practices. The Romish doctrines concerning purgatory, penance, and satisfaction have no support from the Word of God, and are, besides, contradictory of the completeness and sufficiency of the redemption in Christ Jesus, of justification by faith, and of the sanctifying efficacy of God the Holy Ghost. Praying for the dead is man's tradition, vainly invented, and is in violation of the express warnings of Almighty God to the careless and unconverted. The adoration of relics and images, and the invocation of saints, besides that they are grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, are idolatrons practices, dishonoring to God, and comproinising the mediatorship of Christ. It is also repugnant to the Word of God to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the ordinances, in a tongue not understood by the people.
Of Confession and Absolution. Private confession of sins to a priest, commonly known as Auricular Confession, bas no foundation in the Word of God, and is a human invention. It makes the professed penitent a slave to mere human authority, entangles him in endless scruples and perplexities, and opens the way to many immoralities.
. If one sin against his fellow-man, the Scripture requires him to
Of the Authority of General Councils. General Councils (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God) may err, and sometimes have erred, not only in worldly matters, but also in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation are not binding, as such, on a Christian man's conscience unless it may be proved that they be taken out of Holy Scripture. No law or authority can override individual responsibility, and therefore the right of private judgment. For the individual Christian, as Christ distinctly affirms, is to be judged by the Word. The only rule of faith is God's Word written.
Of Ministering in the Congregation. Those who take upon themselves the office of public preaching, or mivistering the ordinances in the congregation, should be lawfully called thereunto, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent which be moved to this work by the Holy Ghost, and are duly accredited by the Lord's people.
That doctrine of. Apostolic Succession,' by which it is taught that the ministry of the Christian Church must be derived through a series of uninterrupted ordinations, whether by tactual succession or otherwise, and that without the same there can be no valid ministry, no Christian Church, and no due ministration of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, is wholly rejected as unscriptural and productive of great mischief.
This Church values its historic ministry, but recognizes and honors as equally valid the ministry of other Churches, even as God the Holy Ghost has accompanied their work with demonstration and power.
Of the Sacraments. By the word Sacrament this Church is to be understood as meaning only a symbol or sign divinely appointed.
Our Lord Jesus Christ hath knit together his people in a visible
company by sacraments, most few in number, most easy to be kept, most excellent in signification, viz., Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Those five so-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 by 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.
And in such only as worthily receive Baptism and the Lord's Supper are they of spiritual benefit, and yet not that of the work wrought (ex opere operato), as some men speak. Which word, as it is strange and unknown to Holy Scripture, so it gendereth no godly, but a very superstitious sense. In such as receive them rightly, faith is confirmed and grace increased by virtue of prayer to God. But they that receive them unworthily purchase to themselves judgment, as St. Paul saith; while it is eqnally true that none, however conscious of unworthiness, are debarred from receiving them, if they are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Of Baptism. Baptism represents the death of believers with Christ, and their rising with him to newness of life. It is a sign of profession, whereby they publicly declare their faith in him. It is intended as a sign of regeneration or new birth. They that are baptized are grafted into the visible Church : the promises of the forgiveness of sin and of adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost are visibly set forth. The baptism of young children is retained in this Church, as agreeable to ancient usage and not contrary to Holy Writ.
Of the Lord's Supper. The Supper of the Lord is a memorial of our Redemption by Christ's death, for thereby we do show forth the Lord's death till he come. It is also a symbol of the soul's feeding upon Christ. And it is a sign of the communion that we should have with one another.