Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical notes. Volume I. The History of Creeds.
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§ 61. The Helvetic Consensus Formula. A.D. 1675.


I. Formula Consensus Ecclesiarum Helveticarum Reformatarum, circa Doctrinam de Gratia universali et connexa, aliaque nonnulla capita (Einhellige Formul der reform. eidg. Kirchen, betreffend die Lehre von der allgemeinen Gnad und was derselben anhanget, sodann auch etliche andere Religionspunkten). Composed A.D. 1675; first printed at Zurich, 1714, as an appendix to the Second Helvetic Confession; then 1718, 1722, etc., in Latin and German. The official copy, in both languages, is in the archives of Zurich. The Latin text has a place in Niemeyer's Collectio, pp. 729–739; the German text in Böckel, pp. 348–360.

The writings of Amyraut, Cappel, and La Place; their friends, Paul Testard, Jean Daillé, and David Blondel; their opponents, Pierre du Moulin, Fr. Spanheim, and André Rivet; and the decisions of the Synods of Alençon, Charenton, and Loudon (1637–1669). See below.

II. J. Jac. Hottinger (d. 173S): Succincta et solida ac genuina Formulæ Consensus . . . historia, Latin and German, 1723. By the same: Helvetische Kirchengeschichte, Zurich, Theil III. pp.1086 sqq.; IV. pp. 258, 268 sqq.

Bayle: Dict. art. Amyraut.

Ch. M. Pfaff: Dissertatio histor. theologica de Formula Consensus Helv. Tübingen, 1723.

J. Rud. Salchli: Stricturæ et observationes in Pfaffi dissertationem de F. C. Bern, 1723.

(Barnaud:) Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des troubles arrivées en Suisse à l’occasion du Consensus. Amsterd. 1726.

Walch: Religionsstreitigkeiten ausserhalb der luth. Kirche, Jena, 1733, Vol. I. pp. 454 sqq.; III. pp. 736 sqq.

Hagenbach: Kritische Gesch. der ersten Basler Confession. Basle, 1827, pp. 173 sqq.

Alex. Schweizer: Die Protest. Centraldogmen in ihrer Entwicklung innerhalb der Reformirten Kirche. Zweite Häfte (Zurich, 1856), pp. 439–563. By the same: Die Enstehung der helvetischen Consensus-Formel, aus Zürich’s Specialgeschichte näher beleuchtet, in Niedner's Zeitschrift für histor. Theologie for 1860, pp. 122–148 (gives an extract from the MS. of J. H. Heidegger's Gründliche und wahrhaftige Historie). Comp. also Schweizer's art. Amyraut, in Herzog's Real-Encykl. 2d ed. Vol. I. pp. 356–361; and on the Life and Writings of Amyraut, in the Tübinger Theol Jahrbücher for 1852.

F. Trechsel: Helvetische Consensus-Formel, in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. 2d ed. Vol. V. pp. 755–764 (partly based on MS. sources).

Gust. Frank: Geschichte der Protestant. Theologie, Leipz. 1865, Vol. II. pp. 35 sqq.

Aug. Ebrard: Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte, Vol. III. (1866), pp. 538 sqq. and 552 sqq. Also his art. on Amyraldism (against Schweizer), in the Reform. Kirchenzeitung for 1853, No. 27 sqq.


The Helvetic Consensus Formula (Formula Consensus Helvetica) is the last doctrinal Confession of the Reformed Church of Switzerland, and closes the period of Calvinistic creeds. It has been called a 'symbolical after-birth.' It was composed in 1675, one hundred and eleven years after Calvin's death, by Professor John Henry Heidegger, of Zurich (1633–1698),913913   Author of Concilii Tridentini Anatome historico-theologica; Enchiridion Biblicum; Historia sacra patriarcharum; and Histoire du Papisme. at the request and with the co-operation of the Rev. Lucas Gernler, of Basle (d. 1675), and Professor Francis Turretin, of Geneva (1623–1687).914914   Author of the Institutio theologicæ elenchthicæ (1679–85), which still keeps its place among the best systems of Calvinistic theology. New edition, Edinburgh and New York, 1847, in four volumes. His son, John Alphonsus (1671–1737), Professor of Church History in Geneva, was inclined to Arminianism, and advocated toleration. See Schweizer, Centraldogmen, Vol. II. pp. 784 sqq. It never extended its authority beyond Switzerland, but it is nevertheless a document of considerable importance and interest in the history of Protestant theology. It is a defense of the scholastic Calvinism of the Synod of Dort against the theology of Saumur (Salmurium), especially against the universalism of Amyraldus. Hence it may be called a formula anti-Salmuriensis, or anti-Amyraldensis.


The Twenty-third National Synod of the Reformed Church in France, held at Alais, Oct. 1, 1620, adopted the Canons of Dort (1619), as being in full harmony with the Word of God and the French Confession of 1559, and bound all ministers and elders by a solemn oath to defend them to the last breath. The Twenty-fourth National Synod at Charenton, September, 1623, reaffirmed this adoption.915915   Aymon Tous les Synodes nationaux des églises réformées de France. A 1a Haye, 1710, Vol. II. pp. 183, 298; Schweizer, 1.c. pp. 229 sqq.

But in the theological academy at Saumur, founded by the celebrated Reformed statesman Du Plessis Mornay (1604), there arose a more liberal school, headed by three contemporary professors—Josué de la Pace (Placeus, 1596–1655), Louis Cappel (Capellus, 1585–1658), and Moyse Amyraut (Moses Amyraldus, 1596–1664)—which, without sympathizing with Arminianism, departed from the rigid orthodoxy then prevailing in the Lutheran and Reformed Churches on three points—the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, the particular predestination, and the imputation of Adam's sin.

Saumur acquired under these leaders great celebrity, and attracted many students from Switzerland. It became for the Reformed Church of France what Helmstädt, under the lead of Calixtus, was for the Lutheran Church in Germany; and the Helvetic Consensus Formula of Heidegger may be compared to the 'Consensus repetitus' of Calovius (1664), which was intended to be a still more rigorous symbolical protest against Syncretism, although it failed to receive any public recognition.916916   See p. 851, and Schweizer's comparison of the two documents, Vol. II. pp. 532 sqq.

The further development of the Saumur theology was arrested by the political oppression which culminated in the cruel revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV. (1685), and aimed at the utter annihilation of the Reformed Church in France. But its ideas have silently made progress, and were independently revived in more recent times.


Louis Cappel, the most distinguished of an eminent Huguenot family, and one of the first Biblical scholars of the seventeenth century, made the history of the text of the Hebrew Scriptures his special study, and arrived at conclusions which differed from the orthodox theory of a literal inspiration. He discovered and proved that the Hebrew system of vocalization did not date from Adam, nor from Moses, nor from Ezra and the Great Synagogue, but from the Jewish grammarians after the completion of the Babylonian Talmud.917917   'Arcanum punctationis revelatum,' added to his Commentarii et notæ criticæ in Vetus Testamentum, Amst. 1689. Cappel wrote this tract in 1622, and sent the MS. to the elder Buxtorf. of Basle (d. 1629), who returned it with the advice to keep back his view. It was first published anonymously by Erpenius at Leyden, 1624. Twenty years afterwards Buxtorf the younger (d. 1664) attacked it in his Tractatus de punctorum origine, antiquitate et autoritate, Basil. 1648. Against this Cappel wrote his Vindiciæ Arcani punctat. revel., but they were not published till 1689, by his son, Jacques C., in an Appendix to his Commentary. His views on the late origin of the Hebrew vowels were anticipated by rabbinical scholars, Abn-Ezra (d. 1174) and Elias Levita (d. 1549). This view is confirmed by the absence of vowels on Jewish coins, on the Phœnician and Punic monuments, on the inscription of the Moabite stone (discovered 1868), and by the analogy of the other Semitic languages. Cappel unsettled also the traditional view of the literal integrity and sacredness of the Masoretic text, and showed that the different readings (Keri and Ktib}, while they had no bearing on faith and morals, and therefore could not undermine the authority of the Scriptures, are not to be traced to willful corruption, but must be consulted, together with the ancient translations, in ascertaining the true text.918918   Critica sacra, etc., Paris, 1650, folio; another edition, by Vogel, in three volumes, Halle, 1775–86. The work was finished October, 1634, but the printing was delayed by the opposition of the Protestants until his son, Jean Cappel, who seceded to the Roman Church, procured a royal privilege for its publication in Paris.

These views, which are now generally accepted among Biblical scholars, met with violent opposition. Even the Buxtorfs, father and son, at Basle, who immortalized themselves by their rabbinical learning, advocated the divine inspiration of the Hebrew vowels. The Protestant orthodoxy of the seventeenth century, both Calvinistic and Lutheran, was very sensitive on this point, because it substituted an infallible Bible for an infallible papacy; while the Roman orthodoxy cared much more for the divine authority of the Church than for that of the Scriptures.


Moses Amyraut, originally a lawyer, but converted to the study of theology by the reading of Calvin's 'Institutes,' an able divine and voluminous writer, developed the doctrine of hypothetical or conditional universalism, for which his teacher, John Cameron (1580–1625), a Scotchman, and for two years Professor at Sanmur, had prepared the way. His object was not to set aside, but to moderate and liberalize Calvinism by ingrafting this doctrine upon the particularism of election, and thereby to fortify it against the objections of Romanists, by whom the French Protestants were surrounded and threatened. Being employed by the Reformed Synod in important diplomatic negotiations with the government, he came in frequent contact with bishops, and with Cardinal Richelieu, who esteemed him highly. His system is an approach, not so much to Arminianism, which he decidedly rejected, as to Lutheranism, which likewise teaches a universal atonement and a limited election.919919   Amyraut's writings on this subject are: Traité de la Prédestination (also in Latin), Saumur, 1634; Echantillon de la doctrine de Calvin sur la Prédestination, 1637; De la justification, 1638; De providentia Dei in malo, 1638; Defensio doctrinæ Calvini de absoluto reprobationis decreto, 1641; Dissertationes theol. quatuor, 1645; Exercitatio de gratia universali, 1646; Disputatio de libero hominis arbitrio, 1647; Sermons sur divers textes de la Ste. Écriture, 1653; Irenicum sive de ratione pacis in religionis negotio inter Evangelicos, 1662. Amyraut wrote besides a system of Christian Ethics (in six volumes), and a number of exegetical and practical works. See a list in Herzog, Vol. I. pp. 296 sq.

Amyraut maintained the Calvinistic premises of an eternal foreordination and foreknowledge of God, whereby he caused all things inevitably to pass—the good efficiently, the bad permissively.920920   'Ou de permettre tellement les mauvaises, que l’événement soit entièrement undubitable.' He also admitted the double decree of election and reprobation. But in addition to this he taught that God foreordained a universal salvation through the universal sacrifice of Christ offered to all alike (également pour tous), on condition of faith, so that on the part of God's will and desire (voluntas, velleitas, affectus) the grace is universal, but as regards the condition it is particular, or only for those who do not reject it and thereby make it ineffective. The universal redemption scheme precedes the particular election scheme, and not vice versa. He reasons from the benevolence of God towards his creatures; Calvinism reasons from the result, and makes actual facts interpret the decrees. Amyraut distinguished between objective grace which is offered to all, and subjective grace in the heart which is given only to the elect. He also makes a distinction between natural ability and moral ability, or the power to believe and the willingness to believe; man possesses the former, but not the latter, in consequence of inherent depravity.921921   The same distinction was a century later made by New England Calvinists under the lead of Jonathan Edwards, who knew of the Saumur theology through the works of Stapfer. He was disposed, like Zwingli, to extend the grace of God beyond the limits of the visible Church, inasmuch as God by his general providence operates upon the heathen, and may produce in them a sort of unconscious Christianity, a faith without knowledge; while within the Church he operates more fully and clearly through the means of grace. Those who never heard of Christ are condemned if they reject the general grace of providence; but the same persons would also reject Christ if he were offered to them. As regards the result, Amyraut agreed with the particularists. His ideal universalism is unavailable, except for those in whom God previously works the condition of faith, that is, for those who are included in the particular decree of election.922922   'Notre saint éternel depend de cette condition, que nous appellons la foy; cette foy depend de la grace de Dieu et de la puissance de son Esprit; cette grace, cette puissance de l’Esprit depend du conseil de l’election de Dieu, et ce conseil n’ayant autre fondement que sa volonté est constant et irrevocable, l’événement sursuit necessairement. Ce conseil depend de la libre volonté de Dieu.' Schweizer, pp. 296 sq.

Amyraut's doctrine created a great commotion in the Reformed Churches of France, Holland, and Switzerland. Jean Daillé (1594–1670),923923   Joh. Dallæi: Apologia pro duabus synodis nationalibus, altera Alensone 1637, altera Carentone 1645 habitis adv. Fr. Spanhemii Exercitationes de gratia universali. Amst. 1655 (1227 pages), and Vindiciæ Apologiæ pro duabus synodis. Amst. 1657. See extracts in Schweizer, pp. 390 sqq. Daillé is best known by his work Sur l’usage des Pères (De Usu Patrum). David Blondel (1591–1655),924924   Actes authentiques touchant la paix et charité fraternelle aves les Protestantes, etc. Amst. 1655. Blondel is best known by his De la primauté en église (1641), and other historical works. He was Secretary of the French Synod, which made him honorary professor, with a salary sufficient to enable him to devote himself without pastoral care to his studies. He had an enormous memory, and when blind in his old age he dictated two folios on difficult points in chronology. and others considered it innocent and consistent with the decrees of the Synod of Dort, where German Reformed and Anglican delegates professed similar views against the supralapsarianism of Gomarus. But Peter du Moulin (Molinæus, since 1621 Professor of the rival theological school of Sedan), Frederick Spanheim (1600–1649, Professor in Leyden), Andrew Rivet (1572–1651, Professor in Leyden), and the theologians of Geneva opposed it as a departure from the orthodox faith and a compromise between Calvinism and Arminianism.925925   See especially Pierre du Moulin: Examen de la doctrine des Messieurs Amyraut et Têtard touchant la prédestination et les poins, qui en dependent, Amsterd. 1638; and Eclaircissement des controverses Salmuriennes, ou défense de la doctrine des églises réformées sur l’immutabilité des decrets de Dieu, etc. Leyden, 1648. Spanheim (the elder): Disputatio de gratia universali, Lugd. Bat. 1644; and Exercitationes de gratia universali, Lugd. Bat. 1646 (1856 pages). André Rivet: Opera omnia, Lugd. Bat. 1651–60, Vol. III. pp. 828–878.

The friends of Amyraut urged the love, benevolence, and impartial justice of God, and the numerous passages in Scripture which teach that God loves 'the whole world,' that he will have 'all men to be saved,' that Christ died 'not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world,' that 'he shut up all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all.' On the other hand, it was objected that God could not really will and intend what is never accomplished; that he could not purpose an end without providing adequate means; that, in point of fact, God did not actually offer salvation to all; and that a universalism based on an impossible condition is an unfruitful abstraction.926926   The orthodox Lutherans, as far as they took notice of this controversy, saw in Amyraldism a concealment of Calvinism, a mockery on the part of God, a bridge to Syncretism, and characterized the gratia Amyraldina as a gratia Calvina, non divina. So Reheboldus, De natura et gratia Mosi Amyraldo opposita, Gissæ, 1651 (quoted by G. Frank, Vol. I. p. 43). Among American divines, Dr. Hodge notices this controversy (Syst. Theology, Vol. II. p. 322), and says that hypothetical redemption is liable to the objections against both Augustinianism and Arminianism. 'It does not remove the peculiar difficulties of Augustinianism, as it asserts the sovereignty of God in election. Besides, it leaves the case of the heathen out of view. They, having no knowledge of Christ, could not avail themselves of this decretum hypotheticum, and must therefore be considered as passed over by a decretum absolutum.' But Amyraut does notice the case of the heathen; see above.

The national Synods at Alençon, 1637; at Charenton, 1645; and at Loudun, 1659 (the last synod permitted by the French Government), decided wisely and moderately, saving the orthodoxy of Amyraut, and guarding only against misconceptions. He gave the assurance that he did not change the doctrine, but only the method of instruction. And his opponents were forced at last to admit that the idea of a universal grace, by which no one was actually saved unless included in the particular, effective decree of election, was quite harmless. In this way universalism and particularism were equally sanctioned, and a schism in the French Church was avoided.927927   Schweizer, pp. 307 sqq.; Ebrard, p. 555. The literary controversy continued for several years longer, and developed a large amount of learning and ability, until it was brought to an abrupt close by the political oppressions of the Reformed Church in France.928928   Schweizer gives a very full account of the writings on both sides, pp. 320–439. In modern times the great Schleiermacher has revived Amyraldism on German soil, but in a much bolder form, and at the expense of the Scripture doctrine of eternal punishment. He widens Calvinism (which he very acutely defends against Lutheranism and Arminianism) into a real and effective universalism of salvation, and makes the particularism of election and reprobation merely a temporary means to this end. Schweizer, one of his ablest pupils, adopts this solution of the problem in his Christliche Glaubenslehre, Leipzig, 1872, Vol. II. Part II. pp. 78 sqq. and 444 sqq. But this solution is subject to all the objections of what in America is popularly called the system of Universalism: it turns conversion into a process of nature or necessity; it dulls the edge of warning; freedom implies the continued power of resistance; repentance becomes more and more difficult, and at last impossible, especially in hell and in the case of the devil and diabolized men.

MEDIATE AND IMMEDIATE IMPUTATION929929   Syntagma thesium theologicarum in academia Salmuriensi disputatarum, Ed. II. Salmur. 1664. Placeus: De statu hominis lapsi ante gratiam, 1640; his defense, De imputatione primi peccati Adami, 1655, in his Opera omnia, 1699 and 1702, two vols. Against him, A. Rivet: Decretum Synodi nationalis Ecclesiarum Reformatarum Galliæ, A.D. 1645 de imputatione primi peccati omnibus Adami posteris, cum Ecclesiarum et doctorum protestantium consensu, ex scriptis eorum collecto, in the Opera Theol. of Rivet, Rotterd. 1660, Tom. III. pp. 798–827, translated in part in the Princeton Review for 1839, pp. 553–579. Comp. also Schweizer's art. Placeus, in Herzog, Vol. XI. pp. 755–57, and several American treatises on the imputation controversy by Hodge, Baird, Landis, G. P. Fisher, quoted in my annotations to Lange's Com. on Rom. v. 12 (pp. 191 sqq.), where the exegetical aspects are fully discussed in connection with the classical passage ἐφ᾽ ᾦ πάντες ἥμαρτον

All Augustinians and Calvinists agree in the doctrine of total depravity and original sin in consequence of Adam's fall; but differences arose among them concerning the imputation of Adam's sin and guilt to his posterity. The majority advocated the realistic theory of an actual, though impersonal and unconscious, participation of the whole human race in the fall of Adam as their natural organic head, who by his individual transgression vitiated the generic human nature, and transmitted it in this corrupt state by physical generation to his descendants. This, the old Augustinian view, was renewed by the Reformers. Others, since the seventeenth century, adopted the federal theory of a vicarious legal representation of mankind by Adam, in virtue of an assumed covenant of works made with him by the Sovereign Creator, to the effect that Adam should stand a moral probation in behalf of all his descendants (acting like a guardian for children yet unborn, or like a representative for future constituents), and that his act of obedience or disobedience, with all its consequences, should be judicially imputed to them, or accounted theirs in law.930930   Fœdus operum, or fœdus naturæ, as distinct from fœdus gratiæ. The only Scripture passage which the Federalists alleged in favor of this primal covenant is Hos. vi. 7: ' For they, like Adam [כְאָדָם], have broken the covenant;' but others translate with the Sept.: 'They [are] like men [who] break a covenant' (ὡς ἄνθρωπος παραβαίνων διαθήκην.) Still others combined the two theories so as to make imputation rest both on the moral ground of participation and on the legal ground of representation.

In connection with this doctrine of hereditary sin there arose among the Calvinists of the seventeenth century a controversy about immediate or antecedent, and mediate or consequent imputation.931931   Turretin (Instit. Pars I. pp. 556, Loc. ix. de peccato, Qu. X.) charges De la Place with inventing this distinction to evade the force of the synodical decision of Charenton, 1645. Augustine and the Reformers did not use the terms, and hence are quoted on both sides. The theory of immediate imputation makes all descendants of Adam responsible for his disobedience as participants in actu, and condemns them independently of, and prior to, native depravity and personal transgression, so that hereditary guilt precedes hereditary sin. The theory of mediate imputation makes inherent depravity derived from Adam, and this alone, the ground of imputation and condemnation (vitiositas præcedit imputationem). The school of Montauban, Rivet of Leyden, the elder Turretin of Geneva, Heidegger of Zurich, Garissol, Maresius, and the supralapsarians and federalists advocated the former, some exclusively, some in connection with mediate imputation. La Place (Placeus) of Saumur denied immediate imputation of a foreign sin as arbitrary and unjust, and allowed only a mediate imputation, but claimed to be nevertheless in full harmony with Calvin's teaching on this subject.

The Reformed national Synod at Charenton, near Paris, in 1645, rejected the theory of La Place (yet without calling him to an account or naming him), at least so far as it restricts the nature of original sin to the mere hereditary corruption of Adam's posterity. In vindication of the decree of the Synod, Rivet prepared a collection of passages on imputation (many of them very general and inconclusive) from Reformed and Lutheran confessions and the writings of Calvin, Beza, Bullinger, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, and others.


Several years after the leaders of the Saumur theology had passed from the stage of history it was thought desirable by some of the prominent divines of Switzerland to protect their Churches against possible danger from the new doctrines of Saumur, which were imported through writings and students, and met with considerable sympathy, especially in Geneva. It was feared—and not without reason— that, however innocent in themselves, they might lead, by legitimate logical development, to an ultimate abandonment of the system of Calvinism.

Hence the new Formula of orthodoxy which forms the subject of this section, was agreed upon by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of Zurich, Basle, and Geneva, and adopted in other Reformed cantons as a binding rule of public teaching for ministers and professors. Its authority was confined to Switzerland, and even there it could not maintain itself longer than about half a century. French ministers, who fled to Lausanne after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, refused to sign it; the great Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg (1686), and afterwards the Kings of Prussia and England, and the Corpus Evangelicorum at Ratisbon (1722), urged the Reformed cantons, in the interest of peace and union, to abandon the Formula. It gradually lost its hold upon the Swiss churches, and was allowed to die and be buried without mourners. Nevertheless the theology which it represents continues to be advocated by a respectable school of strict Calvinists in Europe, and especially in America.

The Helvetic Consensus Formula was not so much intended to be a new confession of faith, as an explanatory appendix to the former Confessions (resembling in this respect the Saxon Visitation Articles, which were an appendix to the Lutheran Formula of Concord, to guard the churches of Saxony against the dangers of crypto-Calvinism). The document does not breathe the fresh and bracing air of faith and religious experience which characterize the Confessions of the Reformation period. It is the product of scholasticism, which formularized the faith of Calvin into a stiff doctrinal system, and anxiously surrounded it with high walls to keep out the light of freedom and progress. Nevertheless it is more liberal than is generally represented and than might be expected from the bigotry and polemical violence of the seventeenth century. Heidegger was personally mild and modest; he spoke the truth in love, and resisted the pressure of extremists in Switzerland and Holland, who suspected even him of unsoundness, and desired a formal condemnation of the schools not only of Saumur but also of Cocceius and Cartesius. Instead of this, he speaks in the preface of the Formula, respectfully and kindly, of the Saumur theologians, and calls them venerable brethren in Christ, who built on the same foundation of faith, and whose peculiar doctrines are not condemned as heresies, but simply disapproved.932932   'Salvum enim utrinque per Dei gratiam stat fundamentum fidei. . . . Salva unitas corporis mystici et Sprititus. . . . Salvum denique apud nos semper tenerrimæ caritatis vinculum,' etc. The original draft of the Formula was even milder and much shorter. Schweizer has, in a purely historical interest, vindicated the memory of Heidegger and the comparatively moderate character of the Consensus Formula. See his extracts from the MS. of Heidegger's Report, in Niedner's Zeitschrift, above quoted, and his art. Heidegger, in Herzog's Real. Encykl.

The Formula consists of a preface and twenty-six canons or articles, which clearly state the points of difference between strict Calvinism and Salmurianism. They teach the following points:

1. The literal inspiration of the Scriptures and the integrity of the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament, including the vowels as well as consonants; so that we need not resort to manuscripts, translations, and conjectures.933933   'In specie autem Hebraicus Veteris Testamenti Codex, quem ex traditione Ecclesiæ Judaicæ, cui olim Oracula Dei commissa sunt, accepimus hodieque retinemus, tum quoad consonas, tum quoad vocalia, sive puncta ipsa, sive punctorum saltem potestatem, et tum quoad res, tum quoad verba θεόπνευστος, ut fidei et vitæ nostræ, una cum. Codice Novi Testamenti sit canon unicus et illibatus, ad cuius normam, ceu Lydium lapidem, universæ, quæ extant, Versiones, sive orientales, sive occidentales exigendæ, et sicubi deflectunt, revocandæ sunt.' The same theory of plenary inspiration of words and thoughts, which dates from Rabbinical orthodoxy, but was not held by the Reformers, prevailed in the Lutheran Church since John Gerhard, and is even now extensively held, especially in England and America, by those whose faith in the Word of God is not affected by modern criticism. It was most ably defended by the venerable Dr. Louis Gaussen (1790–1863), Professor in the Free Church Theological School of Geneva, in his works on Theopneusty (1840; second edition, 1842), and on the Canon (1862, two vols.). Dissent from him led to the resignation of his colleague, Scherer. Gaussen admitted, however, the individualities of the sacred writers, and compares them to the keys of an immense organ, on which the Holy Spirit played. Art. 1–3. Against Cappel.

This attempt to canonize the Hebrew vowels gave great offense to Claude, Daillé, and other French Calvinists; and Heidegger explained to Turretin that the object of the Formula was only to guard the authority and integrity of the original text, and not to decide grammatical and critical questions. But in its natural effect such a mechanical theory of inspiration, which, to be of any practical use, requires a perpetual literary miracle in the preservation of the text, would supersede all textual criticism, and make the Targums, the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and other ancient versions, worse than useless.

2. God decreed from eternity, first, to create man innocent; second, to permit (permittere) the fall; third, to elect some to salvation, and thus to reveal in them his mercy, but to leave the rest in the corrupt mass (alios vero in corrupta massa relinquere), and to devote them to eternal perdition. (This is clearly the Augustinian infralapsarianism.) In the gracious decree of election Christ himself is included, as the Mediator and our first-born Brother. The doctrine of an antecedent hypothetical will or intention of God934934   Called voluntas conditionata, velleitas, misericordia prima, desiderium inefficax. to save all men on condition of faith is rejected as unscriptural and as involving God in imperfection and contradiction. Art. 4–6. Against Amyraut.

3. The covenant of works made by God with Adam before the fall, promising to him eternal life (symbolized by the tree of life in Paradise), on condition of perfect obedience. Art. 7–9. Against Amyraut.

4. Immediate imputation of Adam's sin to all his posterity who fell in him, their representative head (in ipso ut capite et stirpe), and forfeited the promised blessing of the covenant of works. Man is thus doubly condemned, for his participation in the sin of Adam and for his hereditary depravity; to deny the former makes the latter doubtful.935935   Art. X. 'Censemus igitur peccatum Adami omnibus ejus posteris judicio Dei arcano et justo imputari' (Rom. v. 12, 19; 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22). Art. XI. 'Duplici igitur nomine post peccatum homo natura, indeque ab ortu suo, antequam ullum actuale peccatum in se admittat, iræ ac maledictioni divinæ obnoxius est; primum quidem ob παράπτωμα et inobedientiam, quam in Adami lumbis commisit; deinde ab consequentem in ipso conceptu hereditariam corruptionem insitam, qua tota ejus natura depravata et spiritualiter mortua est, adeo quidem, ut recte peccatum originale statuatur duplex . . . imputatum videlicet, et hereditarium inhærens.' Art. 10–12. Against La Place, not because he asserted mediate or consequent imputation (which the Formula likewise teaches), but because he excluded the other.

5. Limited atonement. Christ died only for the elect, and not indiscriminately for all men.936936   Art. XIII. 'Pro solis electis ex decretorio Patris consilio propriaque intentione diram mortem oppetiit [Christus], solos illos in sinum paternæ gratiæ restituit, solos Deo Patri offenso reconciliavit et a maledictione legis liberavit.' Art. XVI. 'Haud probare possumus oppositam doctrinam illorum qui statuunt, Christum propria intentione et consilio tum suo tum Patris ipsum mittentis, mortuum esse pro omnibus et singulis, addita conditione impossibili, si videlicet credant.' The ablest modern advocate of this limited atonement theory is Dr. Hodge, Syst. Theol. Vol. II. pp. 544 sqq. The infinite value and inherent sufficiency of Christ's satisfaction is not denied, but the divine intention and the practical efficiency are limited, and adjusted to the particularism of the decree of election. Art. 13–16. Against Amyraut.

6. The actual vocation to salvation never was absolutely general (numquam absolute universalis), but was confined to Israel in the old dispensation and to Christians in the new (Matt. xi. 25; Eph. i. 9). God's revelation in nature and providence (Rom. i. 19, 20) is insufficient for purposes of salvation, though it leaves the heathen without excuse for rejecting even this remnant of the knowledge of God. The external call of God through his "Word is always serious, and so far effective that it works salvation in the elect, and makes the unbelief of the reprobate inexcusable.937937   Art. XIX. 'Vocatio externa quæ per præconium Evangelicum fit, etiam vocantis Dei respectu, seria et sincera est. . . . Neque voluntas illa respectu eorum, qui vocationi non parent, inefficax est, quia semper Deus id, quod volens intendit, assequitur,' etc. Art. 17–20. Against Amyraut, who extended the vocation beyond the limits of the visible Church and the ordinary means of grace.

7. The natural as well as moral inability of man to believe the gospel of himself.938938   Art. XXI. 'Moralis ea impotentia dici possit, quatenus scilicet circa subjectum et objectum morale versatur: naturalis tamen esse simul et dici debet, quatenus homo φύσει, natura, adeoque nascendi lege, inde ab ortu est filius iræ' (Eph. ii. 2). Dr. Hodge likewise defends this doctrine against the New School Calvinists, who, with Amyraut, claim for man the natural ability, but admit his moral inability. This twofold inability has its ground in the depravity of our nature, from which only the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit can deliver us (1 Cor. ii. 14; 2 Cor. iv. 6). Art. 21, 22. Against Amyraut.

8. A twofold covenant of God with man—the covenant of works made with Adam and through him with all men, but set aside by the fall, and the covenant of grace made only with the elect in Christ, which is forever valid, and exists under two economies, the Jewish and the Christian. The saints of the Old Testament were saved by the same faith in the Lamb of God as we are (Apoc. xiii. 8; Heb. xiii. 8; John xiv. 1); for out of Christ there is no salvation. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is revealed in the Old Testament in words, figures, and types, sufficiently for salvation, though not as clearly as in the New. For no one can believe in Christ without the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity. Amyraut's doctrine of three essentially different covenants—natural, legal, and evangelical, with different degrees of knowledge and piety—is disapproved. Art. 23–25.

The concluding article (the 26th) prohibits the teaching of new or doubtful and unauthorized doctrines which are contrary to the Word of God, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Canons of the Synod of Dort, and other Reformed symbols.

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