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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 equally 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.
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 sacrament, and hath given occasion to many and idolatrous superstitions.
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 Kind 8. 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 inqniry 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.
make confession to the offended party; and so if one sin and bring scandal upon the Christian society of which he is a member. Christians may often, with manifest profit, confess to one another their sins against God, with a view solely to instruction, correction, guidance, and encouragement in righteousness. But in any and every case confession is still to be made to God; for all sins are committed against him, as well such as offend our fellow-man as those that offend him alone.
Priestly absolution is a blasphemous usurpation of the sole prerogative of God. None can forgive sins as against God but God alone.
The blood of Jesus Christ only can cleanse us from our sins, and always we obtain forgiveness directly from God, whenever by faith in that blood we approach him with our confessions and prayers.
Of the Marriage of Ministers. Christian ministers 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.
Of the Power of the Civil Authority. The power of the civil magistrate extendeth to all men, as well ministers as people, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the gospel to pay respectful obedience to the civil authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.
Of Christian Men's Goods. The riches and goods of Christian men are not common, but their own, to be controlled and used according to their Christian judgment. Every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability; and as a steward of God, he should use his means and influence in promoting the cause of truth and righteousness to the glory of God.
THE DOCTRINAL BASIS OF THE EVANGELICAL AL
LIANCE. A.D. 1846. Adopted at the Organization of the American Branch of the Evan
gelical Alliance, in January, 1867. (The Nine Articles were adopted by the first meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, in London, 1846, and pablished in the Report of the Proceedings of the Conference, held at Freemasons' Hall, London, from Aug. 19th to Sept. 2d, 1846. Published by order of the Conference. London, 1847.
The preamble, which we print in small type, was added by the American Branch of the Aliance, organized in the Bible Honse, New York, Jan., 1867, and, with this qualifying preamble, the doctrinal articles were used at the General Couference of the Alliance held in New York, Oct., 1873.
The Evangelical Alliance is no Church, and has no authority to issue and enforce an ecclesiastical creed. It is simply a voluntary association of individual Christians for the promotion of Christian anion and religious liberty; but as such it may declare on what doctrinal basis it proposes to labor for its end, and how much or how little of the traditional faith it takes for granted among its members.]
Resolved, That in forming an Evangelical Alliance for the United States, in co-operative union with other Branches of the Alliance, we have no intention or desire to give rise to a new denomination or sect; nor to affect an amalgamation of Churches, except in the way of facilitating personal Christian intercourse and a mutual good understanding; nor to interfere in any way whatever with the internal affairs of the various denominations; but, simply, to bring individual Christians into closer fellowship and co-operation, on the basis of the spiritual union which already exists in the vital relation of Christ to the members of his body in all ages and countries.
Resolved, That in the same spirit we propose no new creed; but, taking broad, historical, and evangelical catholic ground, we solemnly reaffirm and profess our faith in all the doctrines of the inspired Word of God, and the consensus of doctrines as held by all true Christians from the beginning. And we do more especially affirm our belief in the Divine-human person and atoning work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as the only and sufficient source of salvation, as the heart and soul of Christianity, and as the centre of all true Christian union and fellowship.
Resolved, That, with this explanation, and in the spirit of a just Christian liberality in regard to the minor differences of theological schools and religious denominations, we also adopt, as a summary of the consensus of the various Evangelical Confessions of Faith, the Articles and Explanatory Statement set forth and agreed on by the Evangelical Alliance at its formation in London, 1846, and approved by the separate European organizations; which articles are as follows:
‘1. The Divine inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.
2. The right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
“3. The Unity of the Godhead, and the Trinity of the persons therein.
* In the original form the Articles are introduced by the following sentence:
“The parties composing the Alliance shall be such persons only as hold and maintain what are usually understood to be evangelical views in regard to the matters of doctrine understated, namely,