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OF THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD, ITS
ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND IMMOV
ABLE STABILITY, THROUGH
[As in the following work a survey is given, to some degree, of the succession and establishment of the church, we find it expedient in order that the same may not be misinterpreted, and because some of our good friends have requested and besought us (though we have intended to leave it as it was), to precede, by way of introduction, that which follows, by our exposition of the true and the false church, and of their respective good and evil succession and progress; also, to state the views we hold in regard to the right of succession. We will, therefore, begin here, and, so as not to be tedious, endeavor to be as brief as possible.]
As there are two different peoples, two different congregations and churches, the one of God and from heaven, the other of Satan and from the earth; so there is also a different succession and progress belonging to each of them.*
We shall first speak of the divine and heavenly church, and then of the last mentioned one.
The divine and heavenly church, which is the separated holy flock and people of God, originated upon earth at the beginning of the world; has existed through all the ages up to the present time; and will continue to the end of the world.
OF THE DIVINE SERVICE OF THE CHURCH
The state and divine service of this church have varied from the beginning according to the different periods in which it existed and flourished.
From Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the end of the world, God ordained, for each of these periods, different customs, as regards the external divine service of this church; also different signs, seals, and appurtenances; though it is, was and shall be, the same church, the same people, and also the same God whom they served, still serve, and shall serve unto the end.
Before Adam fell, divine service had no respect to Christ; He had not yet been presented to men as a means of salvation, much less as their only Prophet, Priest, and King, or the only true way, entrance and door to heaven, through whom alone men can be saved; but their happiness depended on their obedience to the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gen. 2:16, 17. **
* Not only the word of God, but also experience, confirms the truth of our statement with reference to the two different churches; since daily and universally we may observe people who lead a very modest, devout and godfearing life; and, on the other hand, such whose rife is extremely profligate, impious and godless: thus it is also with the root of lite, that is, with the matter of faith or of unbelief. How can these be called or recognized by a different name than that of members of the two above mentioned churches?
** The religion before the fall of Adam, with which we begin, was of short duration; hence little is said of it in the word of God.
After the fall, divine service had respect altogether, to Christ, Acts 4:12. Truly God promised His Son to men, represented Him by types, and finally gave Him to them. In the meantime, the fathers who were before the advent of Christ, hoped in Him, longed for His coming, and ordered and founded all their divine services, whatever these, according to the time and the command of God, might be, on His only and eternal reconciliation. Compare Gen. 3:15; 22:18; 49:10,18 with John 5:46; 8:56; I Peter 1:10, 11.
Touching the external mode of divine service, this was not uniform at all periods, but varied very much; for it seems that in the time from Adam to Noah, men followed the implanted light of nature, or, to speak properly, the engraven law of the conscience or the mind; observing no essential and express ceremonial commandments, excepting Abel's offering, and the commandment that the sons of God, that is, the members of His church, should not marry the daughters of men, that is, those who were not members of the church of God; which was enjoined under a severe penalty. Compare Gen. 4:4 with Gen. 6:3.*
In the time from Noah to Abraham, there was added God's command, not to eat blood, nor to shed human blood. At that time God made a covenant with Noah and every living creature; that He would destroy them no more by a flood; and He set the bow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant. Compare Gen. 9:4, 5 with verses 11, 12, 13.
In the time from Abraham to Moses God instituted the circumcision among His people; which served for the purpose of distinguishing the descendants of Abraham, of whom the church of God consisted, from all other nations, and as a seal of the covenant which God had made with Abraham and his seed, in particular. See Gen. 17:10, 11, 12; compare with Rom. 4:11.
From the time of Moses to Christ God gave, in addition to circumcision, many laws and commandments, too numerous to mention, which were to be observed by His people. These consisted in manifold sacrifices, oblations, purifications, etc., for the performances of which holy times were set apart, as the passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles, new moons, and fast days; together with sacred places, as the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon; Shiloh, Mizpah, Moriah, etc.; also holy persons, as prophets, priests, Levites, singers, and doorkeepers. See Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
From the time of Christ to the end of the world, God, through Christ, has taken away the ceremonies of the Mosaic law as well as the signs by which it is scaled; and, to the acknowledgment of the grace of Christ, commended the observance of other ceremonies and signs, as baptism, supper, etc. These external commandments, together with
faith, and true penitence of life, which is the spiritual and moral virtue, the Lord has very strictly enjoined upon all members of the church of Christ. See Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16, compared with I Cor. 11:2-28; also the entire epistles of the apostles, which treat of the fulfillment of the Mosaic ceremonial law, as Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:10, 11 and 5:1-4; .Col. 2:16.
Having now briefly shown the diversity of the external divine service of the church of God, through all the times, it behooves us to state, on the other hand, in what points this church has always continued the same.
IN WHAT POINTS THE CHURCH OF GOD HAS
ALWAYS CONTINUED THE SAME
God has always ordained teachers in His church, and, therefore, always caused His will to be proclaimed to the people; which commenced principally in the days of Enos, the grandson of Adam; for then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. 4:26.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, preached of the judgment and the great day of vengeance of the Lord. Jude vv. 14, 15.
Abraham, the father of the faithful, preached of the name of the everlasting God. Gen. 21:33.
Moses preached of the faithfulness, goodness, and righteousness of God; so that his doctrine dropped as the rain, and his speech distilled as the dew. Deut. 32:2-5.
David preached of the righteousness of God in the great (God's) congregation, and would not let his mouth be stopped, that is, he would not be overcome by his adversaries. Ps. 40:10.
Afterwards, all the holy prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, preached of the laws, punishments and promises of God, and prophesied of the blessed and felicitous coming of the Messiah whom God had promised. Read the books containing their prophecies, throughout.
After the time of the Prophets, Christ Himself preached of the fulfillment of the time, the coming of the kingdom of heaven, repentance, and faith in the Gospel. Mark 1:15.
The apostles followed the example and the command of their Lord, in proclaiming the will of God; and not that alone, but when their departure was nigh at hand, they appointed others in their stead, as Timothy, Titus, the seven teachers in the seven churches in Asia, who also, especially Timothy, were charged to appoint faithful men, who would be able to teach others also. II Tim. 2:2.
In order, moreover, that the church of Jesus Christ might always know, according to what rule persons were to be chosen for the ministry, the Holy Spirit, through the hand of Paul, has written concerning this matter, and transmitted it to posterity. I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9.
Besides the office of preaching, which has always belonged to the church, various other articles, in faith* and life as well as in outward worship, which have always obtained, and must still obtain, could be mentioned; however, since we think we have pointed out the chief article, by virtue of which, principally, a church is a church, and through what the same is sustained, we will, so as not to bring too much of the same thing, dismiss the subject here, and proceed to the stability, durability, and visible discernibility of this church, as we have promised in the beginning.
OF THE STABILITY, DURABILITY, AND VISIBLE
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHURCH OF GOD
That this church,.from the beginning to the time of David, was always visible, discernible, and distinguished from other nations, is clear and manifest, and, as far as we know, not doubted by anybody. There remains, then, only to be proved, that the same after the time of David, has always been discernible, according to the preceding manner, and will continue to be so to the end.**
To show this, the song of David of the city or church of God, Ps. 46:3, 4, serves an excellent purpose. "Though the sea rage and roll, so that through its tempest the mountains fall in, Selah I the city of God shall nevertheless remain glad with her fountains, where the holy tabernacles of the Almighty are." This passage, beginning with the preceding verse reads as follows according to the original text: "Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early."***
Who is there so ill versed in the Word of God, as to suppose that he is to understand by the words city of God and the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High, etc., the city of Jerusalem in the
* In the matter of faith all the pious, from the beginning, looked to the Messiah; to whom also we, in these last days, must look; for He is the foundation not only of the apostles, but also of the prophets. Eph. 2:20. Divine worship, humility, righteousness, faithfulness, and many other virtues, have been common in the ancient church as well as now in the last church.
** The discernibility of the church of God before the time of David, will, we think, not be disputed; and we shall begin, therefore, from that period, leaving the time previous to that untouched.
*** The swelling sea and the tempests of which David speaks here, must not be understood as having reference to elemental water, or a disturbance of the natural, created things; but to the onset of the evil practices and doctrines of evil minded and ungodly men, through the wiles of Satan, the hellish adversary. The removing of the earth and the displacing or falling in of the mountains through the aforesaid tempests may be understood to refer to the ruin and destruction of the earthly minded and great of this world, who perish through the noxious waters and commotions of evil doctrines. The streams which make glad the city of God, can very properly be applied as having reference to the saving doctrines through which the city or church of God is refreshed, gladdened, and through the divine promises contained in His word made to rejoice in the Spirit.
land of Palestine, and the Temple which was built in that city? for this city and the Temple which was in it, were laid waste and totally demolished and destroyed, first by the Chaldeans, in the time of Jeremiah, and subsequently by the Romans, who conquered the land of Canaan and Jerusalem; so that, according to the prophecy, of Christ, not one stone was left upon another. We must, therefore, understand this as relating to the church of God, which is called, in holy Scriptures, the city of.God. Heb. 12:22; for of the same it is said that God is in the midst of her, and that, therefore, she shall not be moved, etc., as shall appear more fully from the following testimonies, Isaiah 2:2: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountains* of the Lord's house shall be established . . . and all nations shall flow unto it." It is beyond dispute that here, by the words the Lord's house, we are to understand the church of the Lord, unless there be one who holds, with the Jews, that it must be understood as having reference to the house of stone, which, in former time, Solomon built, to the honor of God, on Mount Moriah; which house is now in ruins; but was to be rebuilt. But this cannot be expected, for the prophet Daniel, with respect to this desolation, says clearly that it shall be poured upon the desolate, even until the consummation (that is, the end of the world): Dan. 9:27 compared with Matt. 24:15:
No small proof of this is furnished by the fact that about forty years after the ascension of Christ, this very house was , destroyed, demolished and burned by Titus Vespasian, and has not yet been rebuilt, though about sixteen hundred years have elapsed since; and, on account of the continual quarrels of the Palestinean and other eastern rulers, it is, viewing it from a human standpoint, not likely that it will ever be done.
Since it is true, then, that by the words "the house of the Lord," we must understand the church of the Lord, there follows also what is said in connection with it namely: that the same shall be firmly, i. e., invincibly, established on the mountain, that is, Christ, the immovable foundation.
Besides the adduced prophecy, Isaiah 2:2, showing the firmness and immovability of the house (or the church) of God, which is founded upon the mountain of the Lord Christ Jesus the same prophet treating of the durability, glory and divine dignity of this church, under the type of the New Jerusalem, produces various commendatory testimonies for .this purpose, saying among other things, chap. 60, verse 11: "Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day not night."
" The mountain of which Isaiah says that the house of the Lord is built upon, must necessarily be understood as referring to Christ who in the language of the prophets is called a mountain in holy Scripture. Dan. 2:35. On the other hand, the house which Solomon built upon Mount Moriah has been destroyed, and lain waste now for about 1600 years, without being rebuilt. But Christ is such a foundation, that whatever is truly built on it, cannot fall: for "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Cor 3:11).
This is a simile drawn from a peaceful city which has neither fear nor care that enemies will attack her, and, therefore, leaves her gates open by night as well as by day, for the accommodation of the citizens, and the messengers and strangers who are traveling in the night. Thus, he would say, will it also be with the future church of Jesus Christ.
Then, in verse 14, speaking of the enemies of the church of God, and of those who had slandered her, lie says: They "shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel."
When a city has become so great that even her deadly . enemies who had purposed to lay waste and destroy her, come bending their knees, and, as begging for favor, bow down before her, as is shown here of the enemies of the city and church of God; there is no probability that such city will easily be conquered, laid waste, or subjugated. So it is, in a spiritual sense, with the city and church of Jesus Christ; for it is this to which this prophecy has reference.
Immediately after, in the fifteenth verse, the prophet declares that God will make this city or church an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.
And, as though by this the durability and excellency of this city, well beloved of God, were not yet sufficiently expressed, he adds these words, verse 19: "But the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory."
And, lastly, verse 21: "Thy people, O God, also shall be all righteousness: they shall inherit the land forever." Here no further explanation is required, since the text plainly and clearly expresses our meaning; and we will, therefore let it suffice.
We then proceed to what Christ, the Son of God, Himself testifies concerning this matter. Matt. 16:18: "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Christ, in another place, speaking by parable of a man who built his house upon the sand, adds the explanation: that the same was a foolish man; because such a foundation, and, therefore, also the building which is founded upon it, cannot stand before the floods, rains, and storms, which beat against it.
On, the ,other hand, He commends him as wise and prudent, who built his house upon a rock; since the same, being well founded, is able to withstand all dangers.
But the foundation of which the Lord speaks here,, that He will build His church upon it, is much firmer than any material rock, for these must all pass away with time; but the foundation which is Christ Himself, remains, shall remain, and shall never decay: for "the foundation of God standeth sure" (II Tim. 2:19).
Yet not only the foundation, but also the building of the church shall not decay, though in nature it is otherwise; for a house, church, or tower, resting on an immovable foundation, but being not sufficiently firm or strong in itself, finally decays, yea falls to the ground; but here it stands so that no opposing agencies, not even the devil himself, can prevail against it, which is evident from these words: "And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
In or under the gates councils were wont to be held; and the gates were the strength and power of the cities. Compare Zech. 8:16 with Ps. 147:13. Hence, by the words, "The gates of hell," etc., we are to understand the council and power of the hellish fiend. Yet, according to the last mentioned place of Scripture these shall not prevail against the church of Christ;* and, consequently, no other opposing agencies; for these are the most powerful and worst enemies.
We pass on to other Scripture testimony written for the same purpose. Matt. 28:20: "And, lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the ages." Nearly all translators, in order to follow therein the Dutch way of speaking, render the last words of this sentence: "unto the end of the world." But we have, for good reasons, preserved the Greek mode of expression, inasmuch as it serves better and more clearly to the end we have in view. For we have found that, after the common translation, the words, "unto the end of the world," have been misinterpreted, and stretched beyond their meaning, by some inexperienced persons, so that these expound that which has been spoken of the consummation of time, as referring to the end of locality; even as though Christ had not here promised His apostles, to remain with them till all time should have come to an end; but only until, for the promulgation of the Gospel, they should have traveled unto the uttermost parts of the earth. which, because it is not possible to travel farther by land, are called the end of the world.
This is a great error, for; according to his explanation, this promise would have belonged to the apostles alone, and been limited by their lifetime, since they traveled everywhere to preach, so that their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.** Compare Mark 16:20 with Rom. 10:18.
* If Christ is so firm a foundation that not even the gates of hell can prevail against that which is built upon it, how very foolish careless and imprudent are they who forsake this foundation, and build upon, and trust in, the vain things of this world! Certainly everything under the sun, yea, all which our eyes behold, is vain and transitory. "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, . all is vanity" (Eccl. 1:2), understand: earthly things. But how much more vain are the sinful and evil things which God has forbidden, and concerning which He has warned us in His word, that we should have nothing to do with them! How great will be the fall of those who build upon these forbidden vanities! If we suffer damage, and complain, when a material house or building falls, because its foundation is not firm, how much greater loss will they sustain, and what greater reason will they have to lament, who will fall both in soul and body, without ever being able to rise again!
** The words of David, Psa. 19:6, which he spoke of the circuit of the sun around the whole earth every twenty four hours, the apostle Paul applies to the traveling and preaching of the apostles through the whole world saying, Rom . 10:18: "Verily their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." Since the apostles, in their time, traveled through the whole world, to preach the Gospel, and consequently, have been at the ends or uttermost limits of the earth, it would follow, according to our opponents' own words, that the promise of Christ, "Lo, I am with you" (or by you), etc., was completely fulfilled in the apostles, excluding their descendants from assuming any part of it whatever. This would certainly be a comfortless matter for us, their descendants; but the case is quite a different one as is shown in this column.
But, in order that all true followers of Christ and His apostles, to the end of time, might comfort themselves with this promise, the Lord has expressly spoken of the consummation of the ages, and declared that so long (understand: spiritually) He will be with them.
We arrive now at the point we had in view from the beginning, and which we shall now present more plainly and fully. It is certain that the Lord has spoken here of the preaching of the holy Gospel, of faith, of baptism, and of the manner of establishing and building up His church, as it was His will that the same should be built up and maintained through all ages. After saying this, He gave the before mentioned promise.
It is settled, therefore, that the visible church of Jesus Christ (for this is the one in whom the preaching of the holy Gospel, faith, baptism, and whatever there is more besides, have place) shall exist through all time, even unto the consummation of the ages; for, otherwise, the promise. "Lo, I am with you all the days," etc., can not be fulfilled in her.
Even as, besides preaching and faith, baptism shall continue in the church to the end of time, so also the holy supper. This appears from the words of Paul, I Cor. 11:2'6: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come."
Thus, if mention is made here of the eating of the bread, the drinking of the cup, and the showing forth of the Lord's death, with the additional clause that this shall be observed, and continue, till the Lord come (that is, the end of time, to judge the world), it follows that there will be, throughout all ages to the end of the world, a church which will observe the external ordinances of Christ not only in respect to holy baptism, but also to the holy supper, and the shewing forth of the Lord's death; unless it can be shown that the words, "till he come," have another signification, such as we have never yet met with in any commentator, since the text is not only too clear, but also too conclusive.* Compare this with Matt. 25:31; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; I Thess. 4:16; Jude 14; Rev. 1:7; 22:12, 20.
THE CHURCH OF GOD OBSCURED AND RENDERED
ALMOST INVISIBLE IN SOME PLACES; AND
WHAT HAS BEEN THE CAUSE OF IT
FROM ANCIENT TIMES
As the moon, notwithstanding her substance and body never perish, is not always seen in her full
* Whenever, in the New Testament, the coming of Christ is spoken of, there is generally, yea, universally, meant by it His last coming to judgment. "Then . . . they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:30). `Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. ' Rev. 1:7; also I Cor. 11:26.
light by the human eye, either, because she sinks beneath the horizon, or, being too close to the sun, is obscured by him, or, being far from the sun, is darkened by the shadow of the earth, which is called an eclipse; even so it is with the substance and appearance of the church of God on earth. The latter, though never perishing entirely, does not always show herself in her full form, yea, at times she seems to have vanished altogether, yet not in all, but only in some places, either through the slothfulness of some people, who, from want of regard, or for some other reason, neglect the external, manifest commandments of God, or on account of some misconceptions or errors that have arisen, and whereby sometimes many of the true believers have been perverted, and seduced from the true worship of God; or in consequence of persecution, violence and tyranny, exercised against the faith and the practice of it, on account of which the pious are compelled to hide and, as outcasts from mankind, seclude themselves in forests, wildernesses, and solitary places; so that its characteristics, light and virtue could not be seen, much less known, by the common world.
When the church of God of the Old Testament was in Egypt, it could not observe its divine worship, but had to request permission "to go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord." Ex. 8:26, 27, compared with Ex. 10:26.
During the forty years that this same people was in the wilderness, such remarkable events happened that all their children remained uncircumcised, not receiving circumcision until they had become old, and arrived in the land of Canaan, at mount Aralot. Josh. 5:2-8.
In the time of Elijah this church was so greatly obscured on account of persecution, that he thought that he alone was left, though God had reserved to Himself seven thousand persons who served Him, and had not bowed their knees to Baal. I Kings 19:14, 18; Rom. 11:3, 4.
When this people had been carried away into Babylon, the house of God, at Jerusalem, where divine worship was wont to be made, lay waste, and the stones of the sanctuary were scattered in all the streets; yea, among the people in Babylon, matters were in so bad a condition, in regard to religion and the songs of praise with which they were wont to worship God, that they had hung their harps on the willows that were planted there by the rivers, Ps. 137:1-4; for which reason they were numbered among the dead and among those that go down to the grave. Bar. 3:10-14.
After the Babylonian captivity, in the time of the Maccabees, many of the church of Israel, because of the existing danger, hid themselves in caves, in order that they might keep the Sabbath. II Macc. 6:11.
All these obscurations, like sad eclipses in the divine worship, have happened in the church of God of the Old Testament, before the birth and advent of Christ into this world; and much more might be said in regard to this, if it were necessary, but we consider it sufficient to have made simple mention of it from time to time.
The same took place also after the advent of Christ in the church under the Gospel, which was composed of Jews and Gentiles; she too, could not always raise her head with safety, but was ofttimes, like the sun behind clouds, concealed from the common sight of men.
Even in the time when Christ dwelt bodily among men, and had risen from the dead, His disciples, the chief members of His church, sat concealed, with closed doors, for fear of the Jews. John 20:19.
After the ascension of Christ, the very numerous church which was at Jerusalem, dispersed, on account of persecution, through the land of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles; so that this distinguished church, which, it appears, was the chief one on the face of the earth, had to sojourn secretly in a strange land. Acts 8:1.
Afterwards, when the emperor Domitian had banished John, the holy apostle and evangelist, for the Gospel's sake, to the island of Patmos, the Holy Ghost revealed unto him the future state of the church of Christ, namely, that she would have to flee into the wilderness, on account of the persecution of Antichrist, and there be fed by God, a thousand two hundred and threescore days, which, reckoned according to prophetic language, means as many years. Rev. 12:6-11.
Whether we begin to reckon these years from the death of the apostles; or with the year 300, when the so called patriarchs had their origin; or with the year 600; or a little later, when Mohammed rose in the east among the Greeks, and the pope in the west among the Latins, and raised no small persecution against the defenseless and innocent little flock of the church of Christ, so that all who did not wish to be devoured, either in soul or in body, had to hide themselves in deserts and wildernesses; let it be reckoned as it may, say we, a very long period is to be understood by it, which has extended to this, or about this time.
Here the rose has blossomed very gloriously among the thorns. Song of Sol. 2:2. Here the dove that was in the clefts of the rock and in the secret places of the stairs, let her sweet voice be beard.* Verse 14. Here the Lord said: "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed" (Song of Sol. 4:12). Here the Son of God has fed, sustained and preserved His church against the sentence of worldly and carnalminded men, who, because they are carnal, cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit of God.
But lest any should misconstrue our preceding proposition, let it be understood, that when we speak of the obscuration, concealment, or the be
* In the clefts of the rock and in the secret places of the stairs, that is, In persecutions and in solitary and strange regions; just as "among the thorns" signifies, in the power of evil minded and bloodthirsty tyrants.
coming invisible, of the church of God, we do not mean the church in general, or in all places, for the church in general has never been obscured and hidden in all places at the same time; but we mean thereby some parts of the church in general, namely, some particular societies, belonging to the body of the general church which is spread over the whole earth.
It must be stated, also, that by the term, general church, we do not understand all the churches which bear the Christian name; but only those who express the Christian name by their upright faith and pure observance of the Christian and Evangelical commandments.
Now the question arises, whether our church of the present day, called the Anabaptists, has truly descended, and derived her succession, from the aforementioned church of God which has existed from the beginning, and kept the commandments of God in purity.
But, in order to do this briefly and in the best manner, we shall leave untouched the time and conditions of the church from Adam to Christ, as being an undisputed point; and only examine the time and condition of the church after the advent of Christ; for the point of difference relates solely to those who and which, by virtue of true succession, have a right to the same.
THE SUCCESSION OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, PER;
SONAL SUCCESSION, AND SUCCESSION OF
From the Latin word succedo,. that is, to go under, or to take the place of one, is derived the word, succession, which we, though improperly, have mixed into our Dutch language. The various branches proceeding from this root, that is, the numerous words taking their origin from it, together with their significations, we leave untouched; in general we understand by it, to follow any one in his place, right, or reign.
There is a twofold succession, natural and spiritual, political and ecclesiastical, or civil and ecclesiastical; but we have to speak here only of the spiritual and ecclesiastical, and not of the natural, political, or civil, succession; for only the former, and, by no means, the latter, belongs here.*
Now, as succession is of twofold nature and kind, so also is each kind of the same twofold and distinct in itself. This will be shown plainly in the spiritual and ecclesiastical succession. .
In order to present this in a clear light, we say that the ecclesiastical succession may be considered in two ways: firstly, with respect to the, succession of persons; secondly, with respect to the succession of doctrine.
* There is not only a natural and spiritual succession, which could be considered as indifferent only; but both, the natural and the spiritual, can be good or bad, form both we find either the one or the other. But we purpose to speak here only of a spiritual succession, and moreover, of such an one that is good. This we shall consider with regard o good persons as well as to good doctrine.
The latter is a sign and evidence of the former, so that the former cannot subsist without the latter. Where the latter is, the former need not be looked for so carefully. But where both are found in truth and verity, it is not to be doubted that there is also the true and genuine church of God, in which God will dwell and walk; which has the promise of an eternal and blissful life; and about which the holy Scriptures glory and teach so much.
As a great building, house, or castle, can be considered, firstly, with regard to it as a whole, and, secondly, with respect to its different parts, so also the whole church of Christ can properly be considered: firstly, in the whole or in general, as comprising all the congregations in the whole world, which have in common the most holy faith, and the practice, which, according to God's holy Word, must follow therefrom; secondly, in any particular part of the same, as, this or that church which is in accord with it, as for instance, the church at Amsterdam, Harlem, Dort, etc.
Likewise there is also (or, certainly can be) a twofold personal succession: (1) a general, (2) a particular one. By the general is understood that succession, which has been, in general, throughout the whole world, through a succession of true teachers, whether few or many, according to the opportunity of the times; who have rightly taught the truth, and propagated it according to their ability; concerning which (touching their doctrine, especially in regard to holy baptism, etc.) we have shown, which the true succession is, which, together with the observance of all the other commandments of Jesus Christ, is recognized by us, according to the promise of the Lord given to the true teachers, Matt. 28:20.
By the particular succession is understood the succession of teachers, from person to person; in a particular church, at a separate place, and sitting on a throne prepared for this purpose, as for instance, at Constantinople, of which the Greeks boast; but principally at Rome, about which the Latins, that is, the papists, make a great ado. But concerning this there is no promise, law, or commandment to be found in the whole Gospel, and we, therefore, pass on.*
SUCCESSION OF DOCTRINE
Here the words of Tertullian are applicable. He says: "The Christian church is called apostolic not just because of the succession of persons, but on
* The twelve tribes of Israel, considered as a whole, were but one church; but with respect to certain parts who had remained on the other side of the Jordan namely, Reuben Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh (Jos . 22:1-5); the tribes of Judah and Benjamin who dwelt in Jerusalem, and formed also a part; and the residue of the multitude of Israel, who dwelt by the cities of Samaria, it could very properly be said, that Israel consisted of three churches: (1) on the other side of Jordan; (2) at Jerusalem; (3) in Samaria, etc. Even so there is but one church, which, keeping the true faith, is scattered over many places; but with respect to the multiplicity of places where they dwell, they may be called many churches."
account of the kinship of doctrine, since she holds the doctrine of the apostles." Lib. de praescript, etc.
This doctrine everyone who boasts* of the true succession, must prove from the true apostolic writings, as the means by which the church was originally instituted, subsequently established, and maintained through all times (we speak of the Christian and evangelical church). Therefore, this doctrine must necessarily, also in these last times be the mark of the true succession.
Now, if this is united with the common succession of teachers, we have everything that is necessary for the demonstration of the true church. This stands so fast that it cannot reasonably be disputed, much less, refuted.
The question now will be, in what church the true apostolic doctrine has been held from the beginning, and is still held; which is a privilege boasted of by many. We leave it to them, and content ourselves with the testimony of our conscience, compared with the holy Gospel of Christ and the faith of the holy church, of which mention is made, throughout, in the ancient church histories.
To give evidence, then, of the faith professed by us, we declare, that we believe in our heart, and confess with our mouth:
THE APOSTLES' CREED
1. I believe in one God, the Father, the almighty Creator of heaven and earth.
2. And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin Mary.
4. Who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. Rose from the dead on the third day.
6. Ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the almighty Father.
7. From whence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost.
9. I believe in a holy general Christian church, the communion of saints.
10. Forgiveness of sins.
11. Resurrection of the flesh.
12. And an eternal life.
This is the most ancient and simple creed, which, it appears, was confessed already in or about the time of the apostles; and for which many, yea the greater part of the first Christian believers, have sacrificed their lives. But as, in the course of time, the true and simple meaning of the confession set
* "Let no man glory in men," says Paul, I Cor. 3:21. We may not glory, therefore, in the succession of eminent persons, if they do not derive their eminence from the eminence and truth of the word of God. The prophet Jeremiah, going further yet in this point, has cursed that man who trusts in man, and maketh flesh his arm. Jer. 17:5.
forth was assailed and disputed by the contradiction and perverse interpretation of contentious and, not less, erring persons going under the name of good Christians; the true believers of the church of God were compelled, as often as this happened, and necessity required, to declare how they understood and interpreted this or that article.
Hence it has come that at this day there are found among those who are called Anabaptists, various confessions, which differ in style, but not in faith, (we speak of the foundation of the same), in which confessions the creed set forth above is more fully interpreted and explained.
Of these we shall present here principally three, which were acknowledged and adopted without contradiction as a unanimous confession, by a great number of teachers, assembled from various distrkts, in the year 1649, in the city of Harlem. Two of these had been drawn up at Amsterdam, in 1627 and 1630, and the third at Dort, the 21st of April 1632; all on account of certain church unions which took place subsequently in these years.
Drawn up at Amsterdam, the 27th of September, 1627, called Scriptural Instruction, concerning who the people are, on whom the peace of God rests, and how they are bound to peace and unity; given in answer to the following several questions, of which the first is
What are the fundamental and unmistakable marks by which the children of God and members of Jesus Christ (being the church of God) can and must be known, according to the testimony of the word of the Lord?
In order to answer this question correctly, we must consider what the means are, by which men become children of God, members of Jesus Christ, and the church of God. For although the blessed Lord Jesus Christ is the only meritorious cause of the justification of man, their adoption by God as His children, and the foundation of their eternal salvation (Rom. 3:24,25; I Cor. 1:30; Tit. 3:7; Heb. 5:12; Eph. 1:5; Col. 3:11; Acts 4:12); God, the heavenly Father, of whom all things are, I Cor. 8:6; and who is the true Father of the whole family in heaven and earth, Eph. 3:14, 15, has nevertheless been pleased to impute the merits of His Son Jesus Christ to man, and make him partaker of the same, through the means of faith in His beloved, only, and only begotten Son (Rom. 3:25; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8; John 3:15, 36; 6:40); whereby He owns them as children, and adopts them as heirs of everlasting life, according to the testimony of John, who says: "He" (that is, Christ) "came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:11-13). Paul confirms this with these words: "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). Through this means faith apprehended from the Word of God, and confirmed by the Holy Spirit, men are born of God; hence, the appellation, children o f God, truly belongs to them, since they have God for their father, and Christ for their brother. God the Father acknowledges them as His sons and daughters; and Christ, for this reason, is not ashamed to call them His brethren. (Rom. 10:17; I I Cor. 4:13; Rom. 8:16; John 1:12; I John 5 ,1; James 2:18; I Pet. 1:23; Matt. 5:45; John 1:12, 13; 3:2; 20:17; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:16; Matt. 12:50; II Cor. 6:18; Heb. 2:11, 12). These children of God and brethren of Jesus Christ, are heirs of God, yea, joint heirs in the inheritance of their brother Jesus Christ, as has been promised to them by God the Father, through the means of faith, all the acquired benefits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which are, chiefly, forgiveness of sins, justification, and peace with God; and, because they are children of the resurrection, they shall not come into condemnation, but are passed from death unto life; they shall enjoy salvation, eternal life, and unspeakable happiness, yea, possess all things that the Lord Christ possesses. Rom. 8:17; Eph. 1:11; John 7:3; Acts 10:43; Rom. 3:26; 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; Luke 20:26; John 5:24; Matt. 16:16, 17; Mark 16:16; Rom. 10:9; I Pet. 1:9; John 3:16; 6:47; 17:3; 20:31; I John 5:11; I Pet. 1:8; Luke 22; Rev. 21:7.
Hence, we reply, in conclusion to the question presented: That the fundamental, certain mark of the children of God and members of Jesus Christ, is that by virtue of which this appellation belongs to them in truth according to the promise of God, namely, the only saving faith which worketh by love; upon which God Himself looks with gracious eyes, and which alone avails before Him (Gal. 5:6; Jer. 5:3; Hos. 2:2; Jer. 5:1; Acts 8:37; 15:11; Isa. 26:2) wherefore we, being one or unanimous with God, must have respect to it alone, seeing that the Lord Christ Himself, promising Peter salvation upon his faith and confession, adds "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).
We shall now briefly show, what faith in Christ is, what is to be believed, what its design is, and what are the internal and external operations of faith.
This faith in Christ, by which men become partakers of all the acquired benefits of Jesus. Christ, is neither an uncertain opinion nor merely a bare confession of the mouth, but a firm and sure confidence of the heart, which doubts not the things promised by God in Christ; but has a firm assurance that He who has promised them is able also to perform them. Heb. 11:13; 3:6; Rom. 10:10; 4:20, 21. By this firm and sure confidence the believer in the promises of God is established in Jesus Christ his Saviour, because he knows that all the promises of God are yea and amen in Him; on which he lays firm hold, as on an anchor of his soul, both sure and steadfast. Acts 10:43; I Pet. 1:10, 11; John 8:56; Heb. 11:26; II Cor. 1:20; Heb. 6:18, 19. He believes with his heart that God, for the fulfilling of His gracious promises, willing to show His great love toward mankind who, through sin, had fallen into death and manifold corruptions, by redeeming them, sent into this world for this purpose, when the time of all prophecies was fulfilled, His only, dear and beloved Son, who from eternity was with His Father in great glory and beloved by Him before the foundation of the world, possessing great riches and being equal with God His Father, by whom all things were made, and without whom not anything was made of all that was made in heaven or upon earth, and in whom they all stand, since He upholds all things by the word of His power. Gen. 22:18; Deut. 8:15; Isa. 7:15; 9:6; 11:1; 40:9; Micah 5:2; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 9:31; I John 4:9, 10; Gen. 3:19; Wisd. 2:24; IV Esd. 7:48; Rom. 4:5, 12; I Cor. 15:21; Rom. 5:16; IV Esd. 3:7; Gen. 3:17; Rom. 1:2; 8:3; Col. 1:13; Eph. 1:7; Gal. 4:4; Mark 12:6; 1:11; Matt. 17:5; 3:17; Heb. 1:8; 7:3; 13:8; 1;3; John 16:28; 17:5, 24; I I Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6; Rev. 1:18.
He left His divine glory, form, and riches, went out from God, His Father, and came down from heaven into this world, so that He was conceived by a virgin, and she brought forth this Son at Bethlehem, where God brings His first born Son into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh. John 13:3; 3:13, 31; 6:38, 51, 62; Eph. 4:9, 10; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 2:21; Isa. 9:6; Luke 3:6; Gal. 4:4; Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:6; Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:3. For the Word became flesh; that which was from the beginning, which the apostles say, which they heard with their ears, and which their hands handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, so that there was seen that eternal life, which was with the Father. John 1:14; I John 1:1, 2; John 1:9; 20:25, 27; Isa. 40:5, 9. Therefore, all true believers must show and ascribe to their Saviour, not as to a creature, but as to the Creator, all divine honor, even as they do unto the Father. John 5:23; 3:30, 31; 20:28. For, although, for a little while, He was made lower than the angels, yet all the angels of God must worship Him. Phil. 2:10; Matt. 14:33; Heb. 1:6; for He is worthy of this who bath so loved us that He purchased us with His death, and washed us from our sins in His own blood; who died for our sins and rose for our justification; who destroyed the power of the devil, bell, and death; who abolished the sinful handwriting of the law, and has forgiven all sins, reconciling to God the Father all things that are in heaven and earth, in that He made peace through the blood of His cross; who brought life and immortality to light, and unto whom we are appointed by God, to inherit eternal salvation. Rev. 5:9; 1:5; Rom. 5:10; Acts 20:28; Col. 1:14; I Pet. 1:19; Rom. 4:25; 5:6, 8; Col. 2:13, 14, 19, 20; Heb. 2:14; I Cor. 15:54, 55; Rev. 20:14; Isa. 25:8; II Tim. 1:10; Eph. 1:10; 2:13; 1 Thess. 5:9.
Thus the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is the true cornerstone, the way and door to eternal life, and there is no other name given unto man, either in heaven or on earth, whereby he can be saved, and become a child or heir of God, than the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isa. 28: 16; Rom. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; I Pet. 2:6; John 14: 6; 10:9; Acts 4:12.
The believer, seeing, by faith, that God in His weightiest and unspeakably great promises is not mutable, but does, in truth, fulfill them through the giving of His only, dear, and beloved Son, feels assured by this, that there is nothing with God, which He shall not also give us with His Son. He, therefore, has firm confidence, that the benefits which God has promised in and through the suffering, death, shed blood, resurrection and ascension of His Son, belong to the believer, and that he shall in truth receive them. Heb. 6:17, 18; Ps. 33:4; John 3:16; I John 4:9; Eph. 1:6; Col. 1: 12-14; II Tim. 4:8; Eph. 1:11-13; Rom. 8:32, 34: 38; II Pet. 1:3; Gal. 2:21; Eph. 2:17; II Cor. 4:6, 7.
This faith begets in the heart of the believer an inward taste of the kindness of God, and of the powers of the world to come; which is followed by gladness, joy, and a firm security of the Father's favor in the soul, whereby, in every time of need, he is enabled to say, confident that he will be heard, "Abba, Father;" and doubts not, though the thing promised be not apparent to human eyes, nay, seem contrary to nature, and transcends the comprehension, understanding and capability of man (Ps. 34:8; I Pet. 2:3; Eph. 2:7; Heb. 6:5, 19; I I Cor. 4:17; Rom. 12:12; 14:17; I I Cor. 6:10; John 8:56; Rev. 19:7; Rom. 8:31, 38; Ps. 32':1; Pet. 5:7; Ps. 55:22; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Rom. 4:20; James 1:6; Heb. 11:1; Rom. 4:18, 19; Heb. 11:11; Heb. 11:29), for the believer, by faith, looks not only at the things which, through the creation and government of God, exist in nature (which man may comprehend and understand) but to the goodness and omnipotence of the Promiser, unto whom nature and all creatural power in heaven, earth and sea, nay, death itself, must bow. Upon this ground the believer stands fast, even when, with Abraham, the father of the faithful, and with many of the pious, he is tried of God by things seemingly contradictory; for he is assured that God cannot lie. Ps. 52:9; Rom. 4:21.; Heb. 11:19; Ps. 135:5; Isa. 40:26; IV Esd. 3:21; 23; Josh. 10:13; Hab. 3:10, 11; Matt. 27:44; Isa. 40:12; Rev. 20:11; Prov. 8:29; Jer. 5:22; Ex. 14:22; Heb. 11:10; 35; II Cor. 1:10; Gen. 22:1; I Pet. 1:7.
But this faith of the heart is known the very best unto God, who also, being the only discerner of the intents and thoughts of the heart, will judge the internal signs of the faith of the heart, according as He finds it to be upright or dissembling. Jer. 17:10; Acts 1:24; Rev. 2:23; Heb. 4:12. But to man, who has no other way of judging this faith of the heart, than by the fruits of the same, which he hears and sees, there are given as signs by which to distinguish it, the confession of it with the mouth, and the obedience of faith as manifested in outward works. Therefore the believer, according to the command of Christ, must confess openly before men, to the honor of his Creator and Redeemer, what he believes and experiences in his heart, no matter, what sufferings may result to him on that account. He can not do otherwise, for he must hearken unto God more than unto men (Mark 16:16; John 3:26; I Cor. 2:11; John 3:11; Rom. 10:10; 1:5, 16, 25; Acts 4:19, 20) ; for the Lord Christ hath said: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." Matt. 10:32; Luke 9:26. John says: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (I John 4:2), and Paul explains: "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken;* we also believe, and therefore speak" (II Cor. 4:13) .
That, therefore, oral confession proceeding from sincere faith conduces to salvation, Paul testifies with these words: "If thou shalt confess with try mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9, 10 ).
This faith exhibits also its outward fruits of love worthy of the faith; wherefore the believer, according to the teaching of the apostle Peter, must give all diligence to show forth from his faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly love, and charity; and walk in the Spirit, whose fruits, as love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness,, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance are seen on them outwardly. II Pet. 1:5-7; Gal. 5:16, 22, 23; 6:1; Eph. 5:9. By these good fruits, and by brotherly love, as external signs of the true life, they are known as good trees, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a light which is put on a candlestick, to give light unto all that are in the house, a city set on a hill which cannot be hid. And thus they let their good works so shine before men, that they, seeing them, may glorify God, the heavenly Father. Matt. 7:17, 20; 12:35; 5:13-16.
* These words of Paul, "I believed, and therefore have I spoken," are taken from the 116th Psalm of David.
For, as children who in their appearance and department show forth their father's form and qualities, are thereby judged and known to be the children of such parent, even so the believers, having, through the new birth, become partakers of the divine nature (inasmuch as they pattern after God in virtues), are thereby judged or known to be His children; and, in order that they might well express this image, they are abundantly admonished by Christ and His apostles in regard to it. . So, for instance, with these words: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." "And every man . . . purifieth himself, even as he is pure." "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Forgive one another, as God hath forgiven you. II Pet. 1:4; I Pet. 1:23; John 3:6; I John 4:7; 5:1; James 1:18; John 1:13; Rom. 8:16; Matt. 5:48; I Pet. 1:15; I John 3:3; Luke 6:36; Eph. 4:2; Cal. 3:13.
Again "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). The Lord says further: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye (show that ye) are the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Wherever, then, such similarity with God appears, through the putting on of the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, these show forth the image of Christ in their mortal flesh. Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; Gal. 2:20; II Cor. 5:17. They are an epistle of Christ, in which Christ can be seen, and read by all men; and they are justly called Christians; and, consequently, are true children of God, and members of Jesus Christ: therefore they must be recognized and accepted by all those who truly fear God, as belonging to one body, which is the church of the living Gad; and as having through this fruitful faith, fellowship with God the righteous judge, with Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, with the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, with an innumerable company of angels, and with all the spirits of just men made perfect. II Cor. 3:2; Acts 11:26; Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:4, 16; I Cor. 12:13; Acts 20:28; I Tim. 3:15. Of this church Christ is the foundation, Head, King, Shepherd, Leader, Master and Lord. I Cor. 3:11; Eph. 4:15; Jer. 33:15; Luke 1:33; John 10:11, 14; 13:14. She alone is His body, adorned bride, dove, flock, and people, spiritual flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones. Rom. 12:5; Rev. 21:2; Song of Sol. 2:14; 4:1.
Now, although this fruitful faith is the only certain fundamental mark by which the children of God and members of Jesus Christ shall be known, and through which alone they are also, by grace, made partakers of the (by us unmerited) benefits of Christ, God has notwithstanding been pleased to set forth and confirm to believers, by external, visible signs, the benefits and merits of His Son Jesus Christ, which, as has been said, are received only by faith, and retained by obedience, in order that the things signified (of the promises of the grace of God), might shine forth the more clearly by the external signs, partly to assure the consciences of the believers, in the new covenant of the grace of God, and partly to bind the members of Jesus Christ together in unity, as members belonging to one body. For this purpose He has instituted in the church of the New Testament especially two such ordinances or signs suited to the thing signified, in which all true believers find great benefit and comfort. These are the Holy Baptism, and the Holy Supper. Eph. 2:7; John 1:16; Mark 16:16; Luke 22:19; Acts 2:38;1 Cor. 11:24; Jer. 31:31; I Pet. 3:21; I Cor. 12:13; 10:17; Rom. 6:5; Matt. 28:19, 26.
OF HOLY BAPTISM
Holy baptism is an external, visible ordinance, the rite of which consists in this: That all those who hear, believe, and receive gladly with a penitent heart, the doctrine of the holy Gospel, are baptized, for a holy purpose, with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, according to the institution of Christ, and the usage of His apostles. Acts 2:41; Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:35-38; 10:48.
The benefit which the Lord God, on His part, declares through the sign of baptism, is the washing away of the sinful corruptions of the soul, through the shedding of the blood of Christ; which signifies the forgiveness of sins, obtained through this blood, to the assurance of a good conscience with God, by which believers comfort themselves with the promise of eternal salvation. Acts 22:16; Col. 1:14; I John 1:7; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:5.
The obligations which baptism lays upon those baptized are: That they, burying their sins thereby into the death of Christ, bind themselves to the newness of the life of Jesus, in order to employ, as members of the body of Christ (having put on Christ), each his several gift, for the maintenance and improvement of this body in spiritual and temporal things; and further, that they as the true household of God, and citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, must obey the civil laws of their King by observing all His commandments. Rom. 6:3, 4; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27; I Cor. 12:25; Eph. 2:19; Matt. 28:20.
OF THE HOLY SUPPER
The holy Lord's Supper is an ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ in remembrance of Himself, to be observed until His coming, by all who are baptized on true faith in Christ to be one body, in the church of the New Testament. Matt. 26:26; 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24, 26.
This rite consists in this, that a minister of the Gospel, according to the institution of Christ, and the usage of His apostles, take bread and wine for a holy purpose, breaks the bread, and pours in the wine, and, after preparation and giving of thanks, dispenses both to the believing members. The broken bread is eaten, and the wine drank; Christ's passion or bitter suffering and death, and the shedding of His precious blood; also the motives for this, together with the benefits of His death, through which man receives the remission of his sins, which is signified by this visible signall this is proclaimed thereby, in order that the believing church may give thanks to God for this benefit, and, as behooves members of one body, live and walk together here, as one heart and soul, in peace and love and unity. Luke 22:19, 20; Acts 2:42; 20:11; I Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:23-25; Acts 4:32.
The sum of all that has been said is: (1) That the Lord Christ is the foundation and only meritorious cause of eternal salvation; (2) that true faith in Him is the means whereby we become children of God and partakers of His merits; (3) that the children of God are to be known outwardly by the confession and fruits of their faith; (4) that God, through the external signs of Holy Baptism and the Supper, sets before the eyes of His children His gracious benefits, and binds them, as members of Jesus Christ, to one body, that is, to a church of God and Christ, whereby they are also admonished to the obedience they owe.
Here the answer to the first question might be concluded, but, since the Lord God, for the welfare of His church, and propagation of the truth, as being promotive of the honor of His name and the salvation of mankind, has instituted other ceremonies and laws, besides certain offices, which, according to the circumstances of the case, the true members of the church of God are bound to observe; we shall, as briefly as is possible and proper, subjoin these to what has preceded; and this the more, as our peace presentation to people of the same faith points partly to them; that it may appear the more clearly, whether they agree with us, and we with them, in the order of the Christian household, to live according to it, through Christian obedience, together in love, peace and unity, without thinking for any reason, ever again to separate one from 'another.
OF THE OFFICE OF TEACHER AND DEACON IN THE
CHURCH; ALSO HOW THE ELECTION TO, AND
THE CONFIRMATION IN, THESE OFFICES,
MUST PROCEED, ACCORDING TO THE
ORDINANCE OF GOD
As a body consists of different members, each of them having its own and special function, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself, even so it is with the church of God; for although each believer is a member of the body of Christ, yet not all are therefore pastors, teachers, elders, or deacons, for these are those who have been properly appointed to such offices. For this reason, the administration of these offices, as the public preaching of the Word of God, the administering of the holy ordinances of baptism and supper, according to the institution of Christ, and the usage of His apostles, appertains to persons thus ordained, and elected thereto the pastors and teachers; just as it is the province of the deacons, to provide for the necessities of the poor. Rom. 12:4; I Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:7; Acts 20:28; Tit. 1:1; Rom. 12:7; II Tim. 4 2; I Pet. 5:2; Matt. 28; Mark 16; Acts 6; I Tim. 3:8; 5:9.
Concerning their calling and election to these offices, regard must be paid to the conditions required in those persons who will worthily fill said offices, according to the requirements:of the apostle, I Tim. 3; Tit. 1. In order to obtain these, the church must prepare herself by a devout fear, by fasting and prayer, with constant invocation of the name of God, that as the discerner of all hearts He will show through the unanimous vote of the church, whom He counts worthy of such office; trusting that the Lord, who hears the prayers of those who are assembled in His name, and grants the petition of the godly, will, by His Holy Spirit, manifest His co operation, and bring forth those whom He knows to be fit for this office; whereupon, after having been examined, they are confirmed to this office, before the church, by the teachers, with the laying on of the hands. Acts 1:24; 6; Luke 6:8; Matt. 2:8; I Tim. 3:10; 4:14; 5:22; 11 Tim. 1:6.
OF FEET WASHING
Feet washing we confess to be an ordinance of Christ, which He Himself performed on His disciples, and after His example, commended to true believers, that they should imitate it, saying: "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." Again: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:14, 15, 17).
The purpose for which the Lord has instituted this ordinance is principally this: That we may remember in true humiliation, that by grace, we are washed from sin through the blood of Christ, and that He, our Lord and Master, by His lowly example, binds us to true humility towards one another. John 13:8, 10, 14. The apostle classes feet washing among the good works. I Tim. 5:10.
Marriage we hold to be an ordinance of God, which was first instituted by God in Paradise, and confirmed in our first parents, Adam and Eve, who were created after the image of God, male and female, while they both were yet in favor with God. Gen. 2:22; 1:27.
In accordance with this first institution, and agreeably to Christ's ordinance, Matt. 19:5, the marriage of Children of God (who are not too nearly related by consanguinity) must be entered into, after prayer, and kept inviolable, so that each man shall have his own, only wife, and each wife her own husband; and nothing shall separate them, save adultery. Lev. 18;20; I Cor. 5:1; Matt. 19; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 7:2; Matt. 5:32; I Cor. 9:5.
Thus, it is lawful for a brother to take a sister to wife; a sister, also, may be married to whom she will, only in the Lord, that is, according to the ordinance and pleasure of the Lord, as mentioned before. But we do not find that God has anywhere, through His Word, ordained or instituted, that a believing member of the church should enter into matrimony with an unbelieving, worldly person; on the contrary, we find, that God the Lord was very angry with those who did so, and declared that they were flesh, who would not be led by His Spirit; therefore, we reprove all those who follow herein the lust of their own flesh, in the same manner as we do other carnal sinners. I Cor. 7:39; Deut. 7:3; Neh. 10:30; 13:25-27; Gen. 6:6.
OF THE OFFICE OF THE MAGISTRACY
The secular power or magistracy is ordained by God in all countries, and bears the sword not in vain, for it is the minister of God, and a revenger, for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good. Rom. 13:2, 4; Sir. 17:18, I Pet. 2:14.
Everyone is commanded to be subject unto the higher powers. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rom. 13:1, 2.
All true believers are therefore in duty bound by the Word of God, to fear the magistracy, to render honor and obedience to the same, in all things not contrary to the commandments of the Lord, and to pay tribute, custom, and taxes to them, without gainsaying or murmuring, seeing that, according to the words of Peter, we must submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, and pray to Almighty God for them; also to give our greatest thanks to the Lord for good and reasonable authorities. Rom. 13:7; Acts 4:19; 5:29; I Pet. 2:13; Jer. 29:7; Bar. 1:11; I Tim. 2:2.
Yet, we do not find, that the Lord Jesus Christ has ordained this office of secular authority in His spiritual kingdom the Church of the New Testament or added it to tlw offices of His church; nor has He given them laws adapted for such office and government; but He said to His disciples: The kings and lords of the Gentiles, and they that exercise authority among them, are called gracious lords. But it shall not be so among you. Matt. 20:25, 26; Luke 22:25, 26. Here we leave the matter, as we do not consider it necessary to enter into further details.
OF THE SWEARING OF OATHS
But the Son of the living God, the King and Lawgiver of the New Testament, whose command we are bound, through a voice from God out of heaven, to obey, has forbidden Christians all swearing, as does likewise, the apostle James; therefore, the swearing of oaths is forbidden to the believers of the New Testament. Matt. 3:17; 17:5; 5:34; James 5:12.
Separation, or the putting away from the church, is a decree or sentence of the same, by virtue and authority of the Word of God, against a member, or members, of the church, who, through open sin, a scandalous life, heresy, or stubbornness, have separated themselves from God and the fellowship of Jesus Christ, and no longer belong into Christ's kingdom, or to His church; therefore, their brotherhood, or sisterhood, is renounced, by virtue of the Word of God, in the name of the whole church. I Cor. 5:3; Matt. 18:18; I Cor. 5:1; Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3; Matt. 18:17; Isa. 59; Tit. 1:16; I Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:21; I Cor. 5:12; II Cor. 2:8.
The reason for which this is done, and to which the church must have respect in the separation, are principally these: (1) to show that her doctrine does by no means permit such sins, but is wholly opposed to them: that, by so doing, the doctrine may be preserved pure, and the name of God glorified. I Tim. 1:20; Tit. 1:13; I I Tim. 4:15, 23; (2 ) through separation to prove in fact that she is the enemy of sin, and will in no wise tolerate it, in order that all causes for reproach to the church may be averted. I Cor. 5:1, 2; Tit. 2:8; (3) that not, by constant intercourse and fellowship with the evil, the good become leavened or corrupted. I Cor. 5:7; II Tim. 2:17; (4) that the sinner, through excommunication and withdrawal may be convicted in his conscience, and moved to shame and reformation, that he may be saved. II Thess. 3; I Cor. 5:5; and (5) that others, by hearing and seeing this, may be admonished, so that they will fear to follow such evil.
But when the separated sinner shows genuine fruits of repentance, we must at all times be ready to receive him again in peace to the Christian communion of the church, if he earnestly requests it. II Cor. 2.
Since daily intercourse and mingling with ungodly apostates, in common eating, drinking, buying, selling, and similar unnecessary temporal or worldly transactions, is not only dangerous for the pious, who, thereby, may become contaminated, or be counted as companions of the apostate, but is also hurtful to the apostate himself, since he, through such mingling, may probably harden in sin, and esteem his offence of less consequence, therefore, we understand from the Word of God, that in order to avoid, according to the unction of the Spirit, the dangers of sin, and offenses, and to bring the apostate sinner to shame and repentance the true member of Christ must withdraw from the daily intercourse and communion with impenitent apostates; must shun them, and have nothing to do with them; and this without respect to persons, as far as they are not bound to the apostate by any command of God; for as one may do anything in the matter of shunning, which is contrary to love, benevolence, Christian propriety and justice, which supreme virtues a Christian is in duty bound to show unto all men, even to his enemies, for which purpose God has given all laws, which may, for no reason, be diminished, much less, broken or transgressed. I Cor. 5:5; II Tim. 2:21; II Thess. 3; Tit. 3; II Thess. 3:14; II Pet. 1:6; Tit. 2:12; Rom. 13:8; Matt. 5:44.; Rom. 13:9, 10; I Tim. 1:5; Rev. 22:19; Matt. 5:19; James 2:1.
OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST, THE RESUR;
RECTION OF THE DEAD, AND THE LAST
Finally, we believe, that the Son of the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Prophet, Priest and King, will visibly, as He ascended, descend from heaven, in the clouds, and all the holy angels of God with Him, with power and great glory, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, which shall be heard everywhere. Then all men who have lived upon earth, and have died, good and evil, just and unjust, shall rise from the dead, in incorruption, with their own body, in which they have lived; but those who still live on that day, and have not tasted death, shall be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, to incorruption, at the last sound of the last trumpet. Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; II Thess. 1:7 I Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:50; Zeph. 1:16; Matt. 25:7; I I Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:11; Jer. 5:29; Acts 24:15; I Cor. 15:42; Jer. 26:19; I Cor. 15:38, 52.
Thus, the whole human family shall be placed before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. For the Lord Jesus Christ shall then, as a shepherd, separate the sheep from the goats. Those who have done good, He shall set on His right hand, but those that have done evil, on the left; and He shall there pronounce the eternal, irrevocable sentence. II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:32, 33, 46; Jude 14.
To the true believers, who, through faith, have done works of love and mercy, He shall say_: "Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." These shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord, who shall take them away with Him into life eternal, in the heavenly glory and splendor, where they shall forever be with the Lord, in the innumerable company of the holy angels, in the society of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the pious, with great, unspeakable joy and gladness. II Pet. 1:5; Matt. 25:35; Luke 16:9; II Pet. 1:11; I Thess. 4:17,14; John 14:3; 17:24; Dan. 12:12; I Pet. 1:8, 9.
But the unrighteous who have not known God, nor obeyed the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and have done no works of love or mercy, shall then be sentenced to everlasting fire, in these grievous and intolerable words: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;" "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." I Cor. 6:9; II Thess. 1:8; Rom. 2:9; Matt. 25:41; 22:13.
These shall go, where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched. There will come upon them tribulation and anguish, displeasure, wrath, and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:46; Mal. 4:1; Rom. 2:9; II Thess. 1:9; IV Esd. 9:10; Luke 16:24.
May the God of grace and mercy preserve us, through Jesus Christ, His dear and beloved Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, from this dreadful punishment of the ungodly, and grant us His grace, that we may live holy here on earth, and die happy, to a glad resurrection and joyful appearance in the presence of His glory. Amen.
Here follow two other questions and the answers to the same, which we could adduce, but we deem it unnecessary, since the treatise given embraces the substance or whole sum of the confession of saving faith, if it is only well apprehended.
Added was also a letter, as a preparative for peace, and signed by various persons (elders and teachers).
Given at Amsterdam, the 26th of September, 1627.
Also drawn up at Amsterdam, on the 7th of October, 1630, called: Confession of Faith, and the principal articles of the Christian doctrine.
[Not divided into separate articles, except the articles of belief in God, and the manner of life in the church.]
We believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only, eternal, incomprehensible, spiritual Being, which, in Scripture, is called God; to whom alone is ascribed omnipotence, mercy, righteousness, perfection, wisdom, all goodness, and omniscience, and who is called a fountain of life, and the source of all good, the Creator of all things; and the Preserver of the same; who in the Old Testament bears various appellations the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God Schadai, the God Jehovah, the God of
Israel, I am that I am, the Alpha and Omega, etc.; but who in the New Testament is called by three distinct names God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whom we confess to differ thus far, namely, that the Father, as far as He is Father, is another than the Son; and the Son, as far as He is Son, is another than the Father, and the Holy Ghost, as far as He is a true Holy Ghost, is another than the Father and the Son, and that they, although differing in name, are nevertheless in their divine nature and attributes, one only, undivided God, according to the testimony of the apostle: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Rom. 10:9; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5, 21; Rom. 3:30; I Cor. 8:4; Eph. 4:6; Gen. 21:33; Ps. 90:2; Isa. 49:28; Ps. 145:3; IV Esd. 8:21; Gen. 17:1; II Cor. 6:18; Ex. 34:6, 7; Luke 6:36; Ps. 11:7; Col. 3; Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48; I Tim. 1:2; Ps. 103:8; Matt. 19:17; Ps. 139; James 1:17; Gen. 1:1; Job 38 and 39; Ex. 3:6; 6:6; 5:1; Rev. 1:8; 22:13; Matt. 28:19; John 14:16; I John 5:7.
That this Holy God, by His great power and incomprehensible wisdom, created, in six days, out of nothing, heaven and earth, together with all things visible and invisible; and on the sixth day prepared man a body of the dust of the earth, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and thus made him a living soul, or man; that He exalted this man above all creatures, endowed him with wisdom, understanding and reason, and made him lord over all creatures; nay, above all this, created him in His divine image, in holiness and righteousness, for immortality, and placed him in the garden of Eden, where he might have been happy forever, yet requiring of him true obedience, saying: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." From this we see the free will of man. Gen. 1:6, 9, 14,24; Jer. 32:17; Acts 17:24; Gen. 1:26, 28; 2:7; Sir. 17:5; Wisd. 2:23; Gen. 2:8, 9.
That man, through the subtlety of the serpent and the envy of the devil, was brought to disobey his Creator; whereby he, with all his posterity, fell into death and condemnation, and thus, from the most glorious, became the most miserable creature. Gen. 3:4; Wisd. 2:24; IV Esd. 7:48; Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:21.
That the Lord God, seeing the fall of His most glorious creature, and that he could neither through himself nor through any other creature be redeemed therefrom, showed that He was a gracious and merciful God, yea, the supreme or only goodness, in that He sought to reconcile unto Himself, out of pure grace and without any merit, man and all who had fallen in him. Ps. 49:8; Rev. 5:3; Ps. 33:5; Matt. 19:17; Rom. 5:12; 3:24; II Cor. 5:19.
But as the justice of God required, that the sin committed should not go unpunished, and as no creature could satisfy the former, he not only frequently promised man to Bend His only beloved Son as a Saviour, but prefigured it by various types. Gen. 3.:15; 12:3, 7; 16:18; 24:19; 7:14; 9:6; 11:10; 53; Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:15; Dan. 7:13; 9:24; Micah 5:2; Hag. 2:23; Matt. 3:1; Ex. 12:3; 25:17; Num. 21:9; Deut. 30:15; Sir. 15:14.
That the Lord, after as well as before the fall, left man his free will to accept, through faith in the promised Saviour, the proffered grace of God, or to reject it, is evident not only from the sending out of His prophets, apostles, and disciples, but also from the kind invitation of His beloved Son; and this justly, in order that He, as a righteous judge, might have just cause, on the last day, to punish the despisers with the pains of hell, and reward the obedient lambs with the joys of heaven. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 17:31; Matt. 11: 28; 22:9; I Tim. 1:15; Tit. 2:11; 11 Thess. 1:8; Acts 3:46; Rom. 2:5; Bar. 3:29; John 3:16, 36; I Thess. 1:6; Heb. 6:10.
That the Lord, being a true God, who does not repent of that which He has promised, when the time which He, in the secret counsels of His divine will, had determined was fulfilled, sent His only, own and true Son as a redeemer unto the world. I John 5:20; Deut. 7:8; Gal. 4:4.
And since there has been for many years, and still is daily, much disputation, concerning this birth of our Saviour, according to the flesh; therefore, we believe and confess, that it is a supernatural .birth, which cannot be fathomed by human reason. Yet, we believe and confess, by virtue of the Scriptures, that the eternal, not spoken, but itself speaking, real Word, which was before the foundation of the world in great glory with the Father, was before Abraham, was in the beginning with God, and was itself God; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, and through which all things are created and have their being; that this same, real Word, in the fullness of the time, came forth from the Father, and descended from heaven into the lowest parts of the earth, and, according to the prophecy (Isa. 7), was (at Nazareth, that He might be called a Nazarene) conceived in the virgin body of Mary (who, although betrothed to Joseph of the house of David, yet was not known of him) by the power of the most high God, and the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and became flesh, remaining what He had been, namely, God and the Son of God, and becoming what He had not been, namely, man and the son of man; in this manner, that we confess that the child which Mary bore, and which was born at Bethlehem, grew up, and suffered on the cross, was outwardly and inwardly, visibly and invisibly, as He sojourned here, the only, own, and true Son of God, and the Redeemer of us all. John 1:1; .17:5; 8:58; Micah 5:1; John 1:3; 16:28; Eph. 4:9; Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:31; Matt. 2:23; John 1:14; Rom. 9:5; Ps. 2:7; Matt. 3:17; Luke 2:6, 40; Matt. 27; 17:5.
We believe and confess also, that He came to redeem us from the curse, and, therefore, became obedient unto the law, was circumcised on the eighth day, and named after the name announced by the angel before He was born, namely, Jesus, that He might make His holy name to agree with His holy work, namely, to save His people from their sins. Gal. 3:13; 4:5; Gen. 17:12; Gal. 4:4; Luke 2:21; Matt. 1:21; 18:11; Luke 19:10.
We also confess that He is our only true high Prophet, High Priest, and spiritual King, who, in His office as a prophet has proclaimed unto us God's great, secret counsel of the eternal peace with God, through the holy Gospel, and, moreover, all that is necessary fox us to the new life. Deut. 18:15; Ps. 110:4; Heb. 3:1; Jer. 33:15; Matt. 2:15;13:35; Luke 10:5; John 3:3; Matt. 18:9.
Who, in His office as priest, has not only offered up on the cross a sacrifice for His believing lambs that will avail forever; but, after His glorious resurrection, has entered into the holy of holies, yea, the most holy, namely heaven, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood; by which He has obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe in Him, yea, sitteth on the right hand of God His heavenly Father, where, as a high priest, He pours out His holy prayers for the ignorance of His people, and obtains forgiveness for them. Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:12; 9:12; Col. 3:1; Heb. 5:2, 5.
Who, in His office as king, as a victorious prince has vanquished death, the devil, hell, and all our enemies, and has prepared a place for the members of His kingdom; ruling with the scepter of His word, and protecting those who put their trust in Him, helping them to triumph till they receive the everlasting kingdom at His hand. II Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14, 15; John 14:2; Ps. 45:6; Eccles. 29:25; II Cor. 2:14.
But since His kingdom was not of this world, He did not take possession of it by carnal weapons of iron or steel, but through suffering and fighting in the flesh; to which end He prepared Himself for temptation, tribulation and suffering, and took upon Him the cursed death of the cross, under Pontius Pilate; we confess, moreover, that this same Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified at Jerusalem, and tasted death on mount Calvary, with exclamation of His groaning Spirit, and amidst the convulsions of heaven and earth, was the only and own Son of God, and that we are reconciled unto God by the blood and death of His Son, who by Himself purged our sins. John 18:36; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1; Matt. 16:21; Gal. 3:13.; Deut. 21:23; I Tim. 6:13; Matt. 27; Luke 23; I John 3:16; Rom. 8:22; 5:10; Heb. 1:3.
Who, also, as a sign that He was really dead, was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea; who wrapped Him in a clean white cloth, and laid Him in a new hewn tomb, before which a great stone was rolled, and a guard placed. Matt. 27:57.
But, since it was impossible that He should be held by the hands of death, or that the Holy One should see corruption, therefore we believe and confess also, that by the glory of the Father, according to the predictions of the prophets, He was raised from the dead on the third day, amidst the convulsions of heaven and earth, and arose bodily; and that He certainly also confirmed His resurrection for forty days by words, signs, and miracles, that He taught, comforted, and admonished His disciples, and finally, on Mount Olivet, was received by a cloud, and in their sight ascended visibly unto heaven, and entered into the holy of holies, seating Himself, as a true high priest, mediator, and advocate between God and man, on the right hand of the Majesty on high, where He appears continually before His Father's face to make intercession for His believers. Acts 2:24; Ps. 16:10; Rom. 6:4; Acts 13:34; Matt. 28:2; John 20:4; Luke 24:36; Acts 1:12; Heb. 9:12; I John 2:1; I Tim. 2:5; Rom. 8:34.
And since before His precious suffering He taught and comforted them, not to let their hearts be afraid; that when He should have ascended to heaven, He would send them another comforter, the Holy Ghost; therefore, we believe that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, blessed forever, was, as true God, also found true in this particular, and did send, ten days after His ascension, the Holy Ghost in visible form to, or upon, His apostles in Jerusalem; which Holy Ghost is a wisdom, strength, and power of God, that proceeds from the Father through the Son, and, no less than the Father and the Son, is with them an eternal, undivided God; also a teacher, leader and guide to all godfearing and consolation seeking souls, showing them the way to and into the spiritual Canaan. John 14:1; 15:26; 16:7; Matt. 21:3; Rom. 9:5; John 5:20; Acts 2:2; Luke 1:35; Acts 5:3; John 14:26.
We believe, also, that the Lord God chose, first the holy angels in heaven, then, two sanctified persons in Paradise, and finally, of all the various nations of the earth, a penitent and believing people for His people; which is not only called a general Christian church or congregation of Godfearing men; but which the Lord Christ has purchased with His precious blood, and washed and cleansed with the waters of the Holy Ghost, that He might present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. And since the same is so dear to Him, He would, for the prosperity and growth of His kingdom, not leave this holy church unprovided for; but provided her, not only before, but also after His ascension, with faith, love, hope, and other ordinances, and also with two special ministries, namely, the ministry of the holy Word, and the care for the poor, or the office of deacon; and appointed in it, some prophets, pastors, teachers, helpers and rulers, to provide by common counsel wisely for the church of God; and sent them out.
In like manner, the apostles also commanded their followers, to choose such men with fasting and prayer. First, they shall be examined, then let them minister; and the believer shall honor, love and obey these men. Acts 6:3; 16:2; I Tim. 3:10; I Thess. 5:13; Heb. 13:17; I Tim. 5:17, 18.
And, inasmuch as this church bears the figure of the true church in heaven, they practice here on earth, externally in the preaching of the Word, of baptism, the supper, and other Christian ordinances, and internally in the spirit, a true communion, here and also in heaven with God and all the sanctified of the Lord, after which, in the last day, the true reality will follow. Acts 4:32; Heb. 12:22.
Matters, whereby those who unite in this church, submit willingly and obediently to the customs, laws and ordinances, which the Lord Christ, as the chief Head of His church; Eph. 5:32, and only Lawgiver of the New Testament, Matt. 28:20, has ordained in His church, and which are also taught and, in our weakness, practiced by us, viz.:
1. The Baptism of penitent and believing ad;ults, which is an external evangelical act, in which the man who truly repents of his sins, who clothes his heart with faith in Christ, and thereby mortifies and buries his earthly members, and arises to a new, penitent life, is baptized by an unblamable minister ordained thereto, with common water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, for the remission of all his sins; and such a man, once baptized upon true repentance and scriptural faith, we do not baptize again. Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 8:14, 34, 36, 37; 10:43; I Cor. 3:5; Rom. 6:4;Matt. 3:11; Acts 10; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 4:5; Heb. 6:2.
2. The holy Supper of the Lord, also called the Christian communion, which is to be held among believers only, not with consecrated, but with com;mon bread and wine; not only in remembrance of the precious, holy, and bitter suffering and death, and the glorious resurrection of our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ, but also of the consolatory fruits thereby prepared for all believers; that they, by virtue of this, may not only be moved to sincerely deplore the bitter suffering and death of Jesus Christ, which He endured for the remission of their sins; but also to praise and bless the Lord, with an internal, spiritual thanksgiving, for the benefits which have sprung therefrom; and, also, to confirm their Christian, brotherly, and spiritual communion by a holy and godly life, to the praise of the Lord. Matt. 26:26; Luke 22:19; Acts 2:46; 20:7; Mark 14:22, 23; John 6:51; I Cor. 10:16, 17; I Cor. 11:23, 24.
3. Then follows the Washing o f the Saints' Feet; that is, when our fellow believers from distant places come to visit us, we wash their. feet, according as opportunity offers, after the custom of the Old Testament, and the example of Christ; thereby declaring our humility toward God and our neighbor, with .an humble prayer, that the Lord would strengthen us more and more in humility, and that, like as we have washed one another's feet, He would be pleased to wash and cleanse our souls with His blood and the waters of the Holy Ghost, from every stain ,and impurity of sin, that we may appear pure and. blameless before His Father. Gen. 18:4; John 13:5; I Tim. 5:10; Luke 22:26; Phil. 2:3.
4. Likewise, The Works of Love, which we divide into three parts: (1) That a believer is bound to bring his alms, according as the Lord has blessed him, to the deacons, that they may have wherewith to properly support the poor believers. (2) To visit, comfort, attend, and nurse, according to the nature of the case, the sick, imprisoned and sorrowing hearts. (3) When we see our fellow believers in oppressive household cares, bad circumstances, or with an insufficient income, to assist them with advice and in deed, and by giving them our custom in preference to a stranger. Matt. 6:1; Luke 12:33; 16:9; Acts 6:13; Matt. 25:35; Heb. 13:1-3.
5. As Marriage which was good and rightly instituted in Paradise, was afterwards abused through lust by the children of the first world and also through hardness of heart by the Jews, the great Lawgiver of the New Testament restored it according to its original ordinance, Matt. 19:4; and the apostle says, I Cor. 7:39: "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." By this we understand that a believer is not at liberty to unite in marriage with an unbeliever; but only with one, who, with him, of one heavenly Father, of incorruptible seed, and thus of a spiritual generation, is born anew, heavenly and spiritual; for since they in baptism have offered up their members unto God, and have given them to the obedience of their Head, Christ, they cannot take away these, their members from Christ, their Head, and be yoked together with one who is unregenerated. Gen. 2:24; 6:1, 2; Dent. 24:1; Matt. 19:8; I Pet. 1:23; John 3:15; Rom. 12:1; I Pet. 1:22; Eph. 5:23.
* 6. The Office o f the Secular Authority we recognize as an ordinance of God, for the protection of the good, and the punishment of the wicked; we also recognize that we owe unto it honor, obedience, custom, taxes, and tribute, and that we should also pray for it; but we do not find that Paul mentions it among the offices of the church, nor that Christ taught His disciples such a thing, or called them to it; but, on the contrary, that He enjoined them to follow Him in His defenseless life and cross bearing footsteps, prohibiting all revenge, not only that with arms, but also to return railing for railing, and, on the contrary, commanding to pray for one's enemies, to do good unto them who do us evil; and much of a similar nature which is connected with the office of the magistracy; hence we are afraid to fill such offices in our Christian calling. Rom. 13:2, 3; I Pet. 2:13; Acts 4:19; Matt. 22:17; Rom. 13:7; Tit. 3:1; Jer. 29:7; I Cor. 12:28; Matt. 20:25; Luke 22:25; John 8:12; 10:27; Heb. 12:2; I Pet. 2:21; Rom. 12:19; Matt. 5:44.
7. The Swearing of Oaths permitted in the Old Testament, and in which many abuses have crept, is prohibited by Christ and James, without any distinction; therefore it is not lawful for a Christian to swear the oath of blasphemy. Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Matt. 5:37; James 5:12.
8. But as in a good government ordinances without penalties lose their force the Lord also has not failed to place penalties to His ordinances; for Paul says: "Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (I Tim. 5:20). Christ also, in Matt. 18, has taught us to rebuke sinners. Paul teaches to purge out the old leaven, and to put away from among us those that are wicked; by which we understand the Christian Ban which is instituted for the shaming and conversion of the sinner, and for the purpose of keeping the church pure, lest a little leaven leaven the whole lump (I Cor. 5:6, 13; Deut. 13:5; II Thess. 3:14; Gal. 5:9), according to Matt. 16:19: "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven"; and Matt. 18:18: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." This disciple is used against those who have once been enlightened, and have received for truth the sound doctrine of Christ, but who afterwards fall into false doctrine and heresy. These, after they have been admonished once or twice, but still persist in their evil principles, shall, by Christian Separation, be avoided and shunned. Tit. 3:10. Further, it is also used against persons who are going astray in the gross works of the flesh, upon sufficient confession of such persons themselves, or upon the testimony of other commendable witnesses; for such the church must have, before she ma proceed with the separation. Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:; I Cor. 5:3; 6:9.
9. We understand that Marrying out of the Church is sinful, since it is contrary to the command of the Lord, and has at various times been reproved by the Lord and His prophets, through deeds as well as through words; and since it is a sin, arising either from a carnal, sensual life, or from a want of confidence in God, as though He would not provide him with a virtuous spouse; and is, moreover, committed with premeditation, for which reason it cannot be included in Gal. 6:1
"If a man be overtaken in a fault, . . restore such an one in the spirit of meekness," but much rather in Num. 15:30: "The soul that doeth aught presumptuously .... shall be cut off from among his people," therefore many God fearing men, who were assembled at different times, have understood, as also we understand, that marriage out of the church, with impenitents and unbelievers, is also to be punished with separation from the church, that they may the more earnestly seek repentance.
But as all sins are not equally great, and do not actually reserve separation without previous admonition, there is observed in the reproving of sin between brother and brother the rule in Matt. 18:15-18. And if any man is overtaken in a fault, then the rule Gal. 6:1 is followed.
Now, since we also understand that there can be no separation where no withdrawing is found, we confess also that we are in duty bound to admonish (I Thess. 3:15) the one separated, to reconcile himself to the church by true repentance; and if there is in him a willingness to reconcile himself, to make haste with the anointing or reinstating, and not to wait with those who have married out of the church, until he or she bring with him, or her, the spouse married out of the church. II Cor. 2:8. But if the good admonition. should be heedlessly rejected, since the daily intercourse of the ungodly apostates is unedifying, polluting, offensive, and frequently hardens the sinner in his wicked life; we confess that the person separated, or punished with a ban, is to be avoided and shunned, even without the aforesaid admonition, immediately after the separation, in common, free, worldly transactions, as: In eating and drinking, buying and selling, and such like unnecessary matters; yet with this distinction, that it be done with such moderation and discretion that the Word of God may everywhere retain its place, and the higher laws and commandments of the Lord, by which the believer is bound to the separated one, be not broken, but that everywhere necessity, word, promise, love, benevolence, mercy, justice, and Christian discretion be observed. I Cor. 5:5; II Tim. 2:16-18; II Thess. 3:14; Tit. 3:10; Luke 6:36; II Pet. 1:6.
Likewise, if one man understand the passage respecting shunning, in I Cor. 5, in a higher, and another man, in a lower sense, both men being God fearing in their life, they should, until further enlightenment, be borne with in love, without contention or disputing.
Whosoever seeks, in human weakness, to live according to these, the chief, as well as to other commandments, doctrines, and ordinances of the Lord (more explicitly defined in His holy Word), and thus to accomplish his pilgrimage on this earth, of him we believe that he will not only feel at his departure from earth a sure witness of his conscience, and have a glad hope; but at the resurrection of the dead will indeed find it to be so, that all his sins will be forgiven him through the holy merits and comforting intercession of Christ. Luke 24:47; Col. 1:14; Acts 13:38; I Tim. 2:5; I John 2:1; Rom. 8:34.
Finally, we believe also, that our Saviour Jesus Christ, forever blessed, shall visibly come again in the clouds, like as He ascended before; not so humble, lowly, and serving, as He appeared to the world in His holy incarnation; but glorious and magnificent, with the power and glory of all His angels; not to call the sinner to repentance, but to hold the last judgment; to which end He will not only sit upon the throne of His glory, but, as the natural sun in springtime draws forth from the earth, not only flowers, herbs and good fruits, but also nettles, thistles, and thorns, so also, the true Sun of righteousness, Jesus Christ, blessed forever, will then, with the sound of the trumpet call forth and cause to arise from the earth, all the great number of the dead who from the beginning of the world up to the present day have lived, died, and sown their bodies in the earth to corruption, and as the womb her fruit so shall the sea, hell, and death give up their dead; then shall the dead be covered with their own skin, and with their own eyes behold God, yea, be clothed with their own bodies, in or with which they have here, served or despised the Lord. And after those who then will be still living, will have been changed to immortality in the twinkling of an eye, the general multitude of all mankind will be placed before the holy throne of God, where the books of conscience shall be opened, and also another book, which is the book of life; and the dead shall be judged according to that which is written in these books, that every one may receive in his own body, either good or evil, according to what they have done, or how they have lived here. Then will the Lord, as a righteous judge, separate the believers from the ungodly, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats; and will set the believers, as obedient lambs, on His right hand; but the unbelievers, as wicked, rebellious stinking goats, on His left hand. He will look upon the lambs with His loving eyes, and say to them in a voice sweet as the honey comb: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." But upon the goats His angry face shall be like the lightening, and His voice sound like the thunder, and He shall say to them: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. 1:21; Acts 4:12; I Tim. 1:15; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:30; II Thess. 1:7; Matt. 25:31; 16:27; Acts 17:31; Jude 14; Dan. 7:9, 13; Mal. 4:2; I Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:31; John 5:29; Dan. 12:2; I Cor. 15:42; I V Esd. 7:32; Rev. 20:13; Job 19:26; Rev. 1:7; I I Cor. 5:10; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; I Cor. 15:51; Matt. 25:32; Ezek. 34:17; Matt. 25:33, 34, 41; IV Esd. 16:10; II Thess. 1:8; Luke 17:24.
And we also further confess that then the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be changed into blood, the star, shall fall from heaven, and the earth and all that is therein shall be burned with fire; and then shall the irrevocable sentence of the Greatest King be executed. II Pet. 3:10; Rev. 6:12,13.
Then shall the ungodly, like sheep for the slaughter, be driven to hell, and be cast into the great bottomless pit, where there will be no lack of fuel. There they shall not be laid on beds of down, but on biting moths, and be covered with gnawing worms, and tormented with flaming fire, so that their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, but the torment of their pain shall ascend as the smoke of a fiery furnace, and it shall last forever and ever. But on the contrary, we confess, that the blessed of God shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and shall then be led by the Lord Christ, their spiritual bridegroom, into heaven, before the throne of God, where He shall deliver up again to the Father the kingdom and all power, that God may be all in all. Ps.49:14; Isa. 30:33; 14:11; II Thess. 1:9; Mark 9:48; Isa. 66:24; Rev. 9:2; 14:11; I Thess. 4:17; Matt. 25:6; I Cor. 15:28.
Then shall the blessed of God be changed through the glory of God from glory to glory, their tears shall be wiped away; the crown of life, of glory, and of gladness, shall be placed .on their heads; palms of victory shall be put in their hands, and they shall be adorned with the white robe of the righteousness of the saints. Thus shall they be joined to all the saints of God, and be led to the fountain of living waters, there to be refreshed for everlasting consolation; they shall be fed on the spiritual mount Zion, yea, shall follow the sweet Lamb, Jesus Christ, who has bought them with His blood and death, in the heavenly pleasure grounds, through contemplation of the holy God in His inestimable throne, the heavens in their beauty, and the angels in their joy. II Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21; Isa. 25:8; Rev. 7:17; James 1:12; II Tim. 4:8; IV Esd. 2:43, 46; Rev. 7:9; 19:8; Matt. 8:11; Rev. 7:17; 14:1, 4; IV Esd. 8:21; Bar. 3:24.
Then shall the blessed of God abound in heavenly joy, so that with angelic tongues and heavenly voices they will begin to sing with all the saints of God the new song, giving unto Him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, praise, honor, glory, and blessing, for ever and ever. Amen. Rev. 14:3; 7:10,12.
Thus done by us, the undersigned ministers, teachers, and elders of the United Friesic and High German Churches, for ourselves, as well as in the name of our fellow brethren and ministers, and strangers assembled at these proceedings with us, here at Amsterdam. October the 7th, 1730, new style, and was subscribed to by fourteen persons, heads of the churches, for themselves as well as in the name of the churches by whom they were sent.
Drawn up at Dort, at a certain peace convention on the 21st of April, 1632, being a statement of the chief articles of our general Christian faith, as the same are taught and practiced throughout in our church.
I. OF GOD AND THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS,
Since we find it testified that without faith it is impossible to please God, and that he that would come to God must believe that there is a God, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him; therefore, we confess with the mouth, and believe with the heart, with all the pious, according to the holy Scriptures, in one eternal, almighty, and incomprehensible God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and in none more, nor in any other; before whom no God was made or existed, nor shall there be any after Him: for of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things; to Him be praise and honor forever and ever, Amen. Heb. 11:6; Deut. 6:4; Gen. 17:1; Isa. 46:8; 1 John 5:7; Rom. 11:36.
Of this same one God, who worketh all in all, we believe and confess that He is the Creator of all things visible and invisible; that He, in six days, created, made, and prepared, heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; and that He still governs and upholds the same and all His works through His wisdom, might, and the word of His power, I Cor. 12:6; Gen. 1; Acts 14:15.
And when He had finished His works, and had ordained and prepared them, each in its nature and properties, good and upright, according to His pleasure, He created the first man, the father of us all, Adam; whom He formed of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living soul, created by God in His own image and likeness, in righteousness and holiness, unto eternal life. He regarded him above all other creatures, endowed him with many high and glorious gifts, placed him in the pleasure garden or Paradise, and gave him a command and prohibition; afterwards He took a rib from Adam, made a woman therefrom, and brought her to him, joining and giving her to him for a helpmate, companion and wife; and in consequence of this He also caused, that from this first* man Adam, all men that dwell upon the whole earth have descended. Gen. 1:27; 2:7, 17, 18, 22.
II. OF THE FALL OF MAN
We believe and _ confess, according to the holy Scriptures, that these our first parents, Adam and Eve, did not continue long in this glorious state in which they were created, but that they, seduced by the subtlety and deceit of the serpent, and the envy of the devil, transgressed the high commandment of God and became disobedient to their Creator; through which disobedience sin has come into the world, and death by sin, which has thus passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, and, hence, brought upon themselves the wrath of God, and condemnation; for which reason they were of God driven out of Paradise, or the pleasure garden, to
* The old edition says: "only" or "one". See Acts 17:26: "And bath made of one blood all nations of men."
till the earth, in sorrow to eat of it, and to eat their bread in the sweat of their face, till they should return to the earth, from which they were taken; and that they, therefore, through this one sin, became so ruined, separated, and estranged from God, that they, neither through themselves, nor through any of their descendants, nor through angels, nor men, nor any other creature in heaven or on earth, could be raised up, redeemed, or reconciled to God, but would have had to be eternally lost, had not God, in compassion for His creatures, made provision for it, and interposed with His love and mercy. Gen. 3:6; I V Esd. 3:7; Rom. 5:12,18; Gen. 3:23; Ps. 49:8; Rev. 5:9; John 3:16.
III. OF THE RESTORATION OF MAN THROUGH THE
PROMISE OF THE COMING CHRIST
Concerning the restoration of the first man and his posterity we confess and believe, that God, notwithstanding their fall, transgression, and sin, and their utter inability, was nevertheless not willing to cast them off entirely, or to let them be forever lost; but that He called them again to Him, comforted them, and showed them that with Him there was yet a means for their reconciliation, namely, the immaculate Lamb, the Son of God, who had been foreordained thereto before the foundation of the world, and was promised them while they were yet in Paradise, for consolation, redemption and salvation, for themselves as well as for their posterity; yea, who through faith, had, from that time on, been given them as their own; for whom all the pious patriarchs, unto whom this promise was frequently renewed, longed and inquired, and to whom, through faith, they looked forward from afar, waiting for the fulfillment, that He by His coming, would redeem, liberate, and raise the fallen race of man from their sin, guilt and unrighteousness. John 1:29; I Pet. 1:19; Gen. 3:15; I John 3:8; 2:1; Heb. 11:13, 39; Gal. 4:4.
IV. .OF THE COMING OF CHRIST INTO THIS
WORLD, AND THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH
We believe and confess further, that when the time of the promise, for which all the pious forefather's had so much longed and waited, had come and was fulfilled, this previously promised Messiah, Redeemer, and Saviour, proceeded from God, was sent, and, according to the prediction of the prophets, and the testimony of the evangelists, came into the world, yea, into the flesh, was made manifest, and the Word, Himself became flesh and man; that He was conceived in the virgin Mary, who was espoused to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and that she brought Him forth as her firstborn son, at Bethlehem, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. John 4:25; 16:28; I Tim. 3:16; John 1:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 2:7.
We confess and believe also, that this is the same whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, without beginning of days; or end of life; of whom it is testified that He Himself is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last; that He is the same, and no other, who was foreordained, promised, sent, and came into the world; who is God's only, first and own Son; who was before John the Baptist, before Abraham, before the world; yea, who was David's Lord, and the God of the whole world, the first born of every creature; who was brought into the world, and to whom a body was prepared, which He yielded up as a sacrifice and offering, for a sweet savor unto God, yea, for the consolation, redemption, and salvation of all mankind. John 3:16; Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:32; John 1:30; Matt. 22:43; Col. 1:15; Heb. 10:5.
But as to how and in what manner this precious body was prepared, and how the Word became flesh, and He Himself man, in regard to this we content ourselves with the statement pertaining to this matter which the worthy evangelists have left us in their accounts, according to which we confess with all the saints, that He is the Son of the living God, in whom alone consist all our hope, consolation, redemption, and salvation, which we neither may nor must seek in any other. Luke 1:31, 32; John 20:31; Matt. 16:16:
We furthermore believe and confess with the Scriptures, that, when He had finished His course, and accomplished the work for which He was sent and came into the world, He was, according to the providence of God, delivered into the hands of the unrighteous; suffered under the judge, Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, was buried, and, on the third day, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven; and that He sits on the right hand of God the Majesty on high, whence He will come again to judge the quick and the dead. Luke 22:53; 23:l; 24:6, 7, 51.
And that thus the Son of God died, and tasted death and shed His precious blood for all men; and that He thereby bruised the serpent's head, destroyed the works of the devil, annulled the handwriting and obtained forgiveness of sins for all mankind; thus becoming the cause of eternal salvation for all those who, from Adam unto the end of the world, each in his time, believe in, and obey Him. Gen. 3:15; I John 3:8; Col. 2:14; Rom. 5:18.
V. THE LAW OF CHRIST, i.e., THE HOLY GOSPEL
OR THE NEW TESTAMENT
We also believe and confess that before His ascension He instituted His New Testament, and, since it was to be and remain an eternal Testament, that He confirmed and sealed the same with His precious blood, and gave and left it to His disciples, yea, charged them so highly with it, that neither angel nor man may alter it, nor add to it nor take away from it; and that He caused the same, as containing the whole counsel and will of His heavenly Father, as far as is necessary for salvation to be proclaimed in His name by His beloved apostles, messengers, and ministers whom He called, chose, and sent into all the world for that purpose among all peoples, nations, and tongues; and repentance and remission of sins to be preached and testified of; and that He accordingly has therein declared all men without distinction, who through faith, as obedient children, heed, follow, and practice what the same contains, to be His children and lawful heirs; thus excluding no one from the precious inheritance of eternal salvation, except the unbelieving and disobedient, the stiffnecked and obdurate, who despise it, and incur this through their own sins, thus making themselves unworthy of eternal life. Jer. 31:31; Heb. 9:15-17; Matt. 26:28; Gal. 1:8; I Tim. 6:3; John 15:15; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Rom. 8:17; Acts 13:46.
VI. OF REPENTANCE AND REFORMATION OF LIFE
We believe and confess, that, since the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, and, therefore, prone to all unrighteousness, sin, and wickedness, the first lesson of the precious New Testament of the Son of God is repentance and reformation of life, and that, therefore, those who have ears to hear, and hearts to understand, must bring forth genuine fruits of repentance, reform their lives, believe the Gospel, eschew evil and do good, desist from unrighteousness, forsake sin, put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness: for, neither baptism, supper, church, nor any other outward ceremony, can without faith, regeneration, change or renewing of life, avail anything to please God or to obtain of Him any consolation or promise of salvation; but we must go to God with an upright heart, and in perfect faith, and believe in Jesus Christ, as the Scripture says, and testifies of Him; through which faith we obtain forgiveness of sins, are sanctified, justified, and made children of God, yea partake of His mind, nature and image, as being born again of God from above, through incorruptible seed. Gen. 8:21; Mark 1:15; Ezek. 12:2; Col. 3:9,10; Eph. 4:22, 24; Heb. 10:22, 23; John 7:38.
VII. OF HOLY BAPTISM
Concerning baptism we confess that all penitent believers, who, through faith, regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, are made one with God, and are written in heaven, must, upon such scriptural confession of faith, and renewing of life, be baptised with water, in the most worthy name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, according to the command of Christ, and the teaching, example, and practice of the apostles, to the burying of their sins, and thus be incorporated into the communion of the saints; henceforth to learn to observe all things which the
VIII. OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
We believe in, and confess a visible church of God, namely, those who, as has been said before, truly repent and believe, and are rightly baptized; who are one with God in heaven, and rightly incorporated into the communion of the saints here on earth. These we confess to be the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, who are declared to be the bride and wife of Christ, yea, children and heirs of everlasting life, a tent, tabernacle and habitation of God in the Spirit, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ Himself is declared to be the cornerstone (upon which His church is built). This church of the living God, which He has acquired, purchased, and redeemed with His own precious blood; with which, according to His promise, He will be and remain always, even unto the end of the world, for consolation and protection, yea, will dwell and walk among them, and preserve them, so that no floods or tempests, nay, not even the gates of hell, shall move or prevail against them this church we say, may be known by her scriptural faith, doctrine, love, and godly conversation, as, also, by the fruitful observance, practice, and maintenance of the true ordinances of Christ, which He so highly enjoined upon His disciples. I Cor. 12: I Pet. 2:9; John 3:29; Rev. 19:7; Tit. 3:6, 7; Eph. 2:19-21; Matt. 16:18; I Pet. 1:18, 19; Matt. 28:20; II Cor. 6:16; Matt. 7:25.
IX. OF THE ELECTION, AND OFFICES OF
TEACHERS, DEACONS, AND DEACONESSES,
IN THE CHURCH
Concerning the offices and elections in the church, we believe and confess, that, since without offices and ordinances the church cannot subsist in her growth, nor continue in building, therefore the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as a husbandman in His house, has instituted, ordained, enjoined and commanded His offices and ordinances, how everyone is to walk therein, and give heed to and perform His work and calling, as is meet, even as He Himself, as the faithful, great, chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, was sent, and came into the world, not to bruise, break, or destroy the souls of men, but to heal and restore them, to seek the lost, to break down the middle wall of partition, to make of twain one, and thus to gather of Jews, Gentiles, and all nations, one flock, for a church in His name, for which that no one should err or be lost He Himself laid down His life, thus ministering to their salvation, and liberating and redeeming them, (mark) wherein no one else could help or assist them. Eph. 4:10-12; I Pet. 2:25; .Matt. 12:19; 18:11; Eph. 2:14; Gal. 3:28; John 10:9,11,15; Ps. 49:8.
And that He, moreover, before His departure, left His church supplied with faithful ministers, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers, whom He before, through the Holy Ghost, had chosen with prayer and supplication; that they might govern the church, feed His flock, and watch over, protect, and provide for it, yea, do in all things, as He had gone before .them, had taught, by example shown, and charged them, to teach to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded them. Luke 10:1; 6:12, 13; John 2:15.
That the apostles, likewise, as faithful followers of Christ, and leaders of the church, were diligent in this respect, with prayer and supplication to God, through the election of brethren; to provide every city, place, or church, with bishops, pastors and leaders, and to ordain such persons thereto, who would take heed unto themselves, and unto the doctrine and flock, who were sound in faith, pious in life and conversation, and of good report without as well as in the church; that they might be an example, light, and pattern in all godliness and good works, worthily administering the Lord's ordinances baptism and supper, and that they might everywhere (where such could be found) appoint faithful men who would be able to teach others also, as elders, ordaining them by the laying on of hands in the name of the Lord, and provide for all the wants of the church according to their ability; so that, as faithful servants, they might husband well their Lord's talent, get gain with it, and, consequently, save themselves and those who hear them. I Tim. 3:1; Acts 23:24; Tit. 1:5; I Tim. 4:16; Tit. 2:1, 2; I Tim. 3:7; II Tim. 2:2; I Tim. 4:14; 5:2; Luke 19:13.
That they should also see diligently to it, particularly each among his own over whom he has the oversight, that all places be well provided with deacons( to look after and care for the poor), who may receive the contributions and alms, in order to dispense them faithfully and with all propriety to the poor and needy saints. Acts 6:3-6.
And that also honorable aged widows should be chosen and ordained deaconesses, that they with the deacons may visit, comfort, and care for, the poor, feeble, sick, sorrowing and needy, as also the widows and orphans, and assist in attending to other wants and necessities of the church to the best of their ability. I'Tim. 5:9; Rom. 16:1; James 1:27.
Furthermore, concerning deacons, that they, especially when they are fit, and chosen and ordained thereto by the church, for the assistance and relief of the elders, may exhort the church (since they, as has been said, are chosen thereto), and labor also in the Word and in teaching; that each may minister unto the other with the gift he has received of the Lord, so that through mutual service and the assistance of every member, each in his measure, the body of Christ may be improved, and the vine and church of the Lord continue to grow, increase, and be built up, according as it is proper.
X. OF THE HOLY SUPPER
We also confess and observe the breaking of bread, or Supper, as the Lord Christ Jesus before His suffering instituted it with bread and wine, and observed and ate with His apostles, commanding them to observe it in remembrance of Him; which they accordingly taught and practiced in the church, and commanded that it should be kept in remembrance of the suffering and death of the Lord; and that His precious body was broken, and His blood shed, for us and all mankind, as also the fruits hereof, namely, redemption and eternal salvation, which He purchased thereby, showing such great love .towards us sinful men; whereby we are admonished to the utmost, to love and forgive one another and our neighbor, as He has done unto us, and to be mindful to maintain and live up to the unity and fellowship which we have with God and one another, which is signified to us by this breaking of bread. Matt. 26:26; Mark 14: 22; Acts. 2:42; I Cor. 10:16;11:23.
XI. OF THE WASHING OF THE SAINTS' FEET*
We also confess a washing of the saints' feet, as the Lord Christ not only instituted, enjoined and commanded it, but Himself, although He was their Lord and Master, washed His apostles' feet, thereby giving an example that they should likewise wash one another's feet, and do as He had done unto them; which they accordingly, from this time on, taught believers to observe, as a sign of true humility, and, especially, to remember by this feet washing, the true washing, whereby we are washed through His precious blood, and made pure after the soul. John 13:4-17; I Tim. 5:10.
XII. OF THE STATE OF MATRIMONY
We confess that there is in the church of God an honorable state of matrimony, of two free, believing persons, in accordance with the manner after which God originally ordained the same in Paradise, and instituted it Himself with Adam and Eve, and that the Lord Christ did away and set aside all the abuses of marriage which had meanwhile crept in, and referred all to the original order, and thus left it. Gen. 1:27; Mark 10:4.
In this manner the apostle Paul also taught and permitted matrimony in the church, and left it free for everyone to be married, according to the original order, in the Lord, to whomsoever one may get to consent. By these words, in the Lord, there is to be understood, we think, that even as the patriarchs had to marry among their kindred or generation, so the believers of the New Testament have likewise no other liberty than to marry among the chosen generation and spiritual kindred of Christ, namely such, and no others, who have previously become united with the church as one heart and soul, have received one baptism, and
stand in one communion, faith, doctrine and practice, before they may unite with one another by marriage. Such are then joined by God in His church according to the original order; and this is called, marrying in the Lord. II Cor. 7:2; I Cor. 9:5; Gen. 24:4; 28:2; I Cor. 7:39.
XIII. OF THE OFFICE OF THE SECULAR AUTHORITY
We believe and confess that God has ordained power and authority, and set them to punish the evil, and protect the good, to govern the world, and maintain countries and cities, with their subjects, in good order and regulation; and that we, therefore, may not despise, revile or resist the same, but must acknowledge and honor them as the ministers of God, and be subject and obedient unto them, yea, ready for all good works, especially in that which is not contrary to the law, will, and commandment of God; also faithfully pay custom, tribute and taxes, and to render unto them their dues, even also as the Son of God taught and practiced, and commanded His disciples to do; that we, moreover, must constantly and earnestly pray to the Lord for them and their welfare, and for the prosperity of the country, that we may dwell under its protection, earn our livelihood, and lead a quiet, peaceable life, with all godliness and honesty; and, furthermore, .that the Lord would recompense unto them, here, and afterwards in eternity, all benefits, liberty and favor which we enjoy here under their praiseworthy administration. Rom.. 13:1-7; Tit. 3:1; I Pet. 2:17; Matt. 22:21; 17:27; I Tim. 2:1.
XIV. OF REVENGE
As regards revenge, that is, to oppose an enemy with the sword, we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has forbidden and set aside to His disciples and followers all revenge and retaliation, and commanded them to render to no one evil for evil, or cursing for cursing, but to put the sword into the sheath, or, as the prophets have predicted, to beat the swords into ploughshares, Matt. 5:39, 44; Rom. 12:14; I Pet. 3:9; Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3; Zech. 9:8, 9.
From this we understand that therefore, and according to His example, we must not inflict pain, harm or sorrow upon any one, but seek the highest welfare and salvation of all men, and even, if necessity require it, flee for the Lord's sake from one city or county into another, and suffer the spoiling of our goods; that we must not harm any one, and, when we are smitten, rather turn the other cheek also, than take revenge or retaliate. Matt. 5:39.
And, moreover, that we must pray for our enemies, feed and refresh them whenever they are hungry or thirsty, and thus convince them by welldoing, and overcome all ignorance. Rom. 12: 19,20.
XV. OF THE SWEARING OF OATHS
Concerning the Swearing of Oaths we believe and confess, that the Lord Christ has set aside and forbidden, the same to His disciples, that they should not swear at all, but that yea should be yea, and nay, nay; from which we understand that all oaths, high and low, are forbidden, and that instead of them we are to confirm all our promises and obligations, yea, all our declarations and testimonies of any matter, only with our word yea, in that which is yea, and with nay, in that which is nay; yet, that we must always, in all matters, and with everyone, adhere to, keep, follow, and fulfill the same, as though we had confirmed it with a solemn oath. And if we do this, we trust that no one, not even the Magistracy itself, will have just reason, to lay a greater burden on our mind and conscience. Matt. 5:34, 35; James 5:12; II Cor. 1:17.
XVI.OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL BAN, OR
SEPARATION FROM THE CHURCH
We also believe in, and confess, a ban, Separation, and Christian correction in the church, for amendment, and not for destruction, in order to distinguish that which is pure from the impure; namely, when any one, after he is enlightened, has accepted ~he knowledge of the truth, and been incorporated into the communion of the saints, sins again unto death, either through willfulness, or through presumption against God, or through some other cause, and falls into the unfruitful works of darkness, thereby becoming separated from God, and forfeiting the kingdom of God, that such a one, after the deed is manifest and sufficiently known to the church, may not remain in the congregation of the righteous, but, as an offensive member and open sinner, shall and must be separated, put away, reproved before all, and purged out as leaven; and this for his amendment, as an example, that others may fear, and to keep the church pure, by cleansing her from such spots, lest, in default of this, the name of the Lord be blasphemed, the church dishonored, and offense given to them that are without; and finally, that the sinner may not be condemned with the world, but become convinced in .his mind, and be moved to sorrow, repentance and reformation. Jer. 59:2; I Cor. 5:5,13; I Tim. 5:20; I Cor. 5:6; II Cor. 10:8; 13:10.
Further, concerning brotherly reproof or admonition, as also the instruction of the erring, it is necessary to exercise all diligence and care, to watch over them and to admonish them with all meekness, that they may be bettered, and to reprove, according as is proper, the stubborn who remain obdurate; in short, the church must put away from her the wicked (either in doctrine or life), and no other. James 5:19; Tit. 3:10; I Cor. 5:13.
AVII OF SHUNNING THE SEPARATED
Concerning the withdrawing from, or shunning the separated, we believe and confess, that if any one, either through his wicked life or perverted doctrine, has so far fallen that he is separated from God, and, consequently, also separated and punished by the church, the same must, according to the doctrine of Christ and His apostles, be shunned, without distinction, by all the fellow members of the church, especially those to whom it is known, in eating, drinking, and other similar intercourse, and no company be had with him; that they may not become contaminated by intercourse with him, nor made partakers of his sins; but that the sinner may be made ashamed, pricked in his heart, and convicted in his conscience, unto his reformation. I Cor. 5:9-11; II Thess. 3:14.
Yet, in shunning as well as in reproving, such moderation and Christian discretion must be used, that it may conduce, not to the destruction, but to the reformation of the sinner. For, if he is needy, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or in any other distress, we are in duty bound, necessity requiring it, according to love and the doctrine of Christ and His apostles, to render him aid and assistance; otherwise, shunning would in this case tend more to destruction than to reformation.
Therefore, we must not count them as enemies, but admonish them as brethren, that thereby they may be brought to a knowledge of and to repentance and sorrow for their sins, so that they may become reconciled to God, and, consequently be received again into the church; and that love may continue with them, according as is proper. II Thess. 3:15.
XVIII. OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD,
AND THE LAST JUDGMENT
Finally, concerning the resurrection of the dead, we confess with the mouth, and believe with the heart, according to Scripture, that in the last day all men who shall have died, and fallen asleep, shall be awaked and quickened, and shall rise again, through the incomprehensible power of God; and that they, together with those who then will still be alive, and who shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trump, shall be placed before the judgment seat of Christ, and the good be separated from the wicked; that then everyone shall receive in his own body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or evil; and that the good or pious, as the blessed, shall be taken up with Christ, and shall enter into life eternal, and obtain that joy, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, to reign and triumph with Christ forever and ever. Matt. 22:30, 31; Dan. 12:12; Job 19:26, 27; Matt. 25:31; John 5:28; II Cor. 5:10; I Cor. 15; Rev. 20:12; I Thess. 4:15; I Cor. 2:9.
And that, on the other hand, the wicked or impious, as accursed, shall be cast into outer darkness, yea, into the everlasting pains of hell, where their worm shall not die, nor their fire be quenched, and where they, according to holy Scripture, can nevermore expect any hope, comfort or redemption. Mark 9:44; Rev. 14:11.
May the Lord, through His grace, make us all worthy and meet, that this may befall none of us; but that we may thus take heed unto ourselves, and use all diligence, that on that day we may be found before Him unspotted and blameless in peace. Amen.
These, then, as has been briefly stated before, are the principal articles of our general Christian faith, as we teach and practice the same throughout in our churches and among our people; which, in our judgment, is the only true Christian faith, which the apostles in their time believed and taught, yea, testified with their life, confirmed with their death, and, some of them, also sealed with their blood; wherein we in our weakness with them and all the pious, would fain abide, live, and die, that we may afterwards obtain salvation with them through the grace of the Lord.
Thus done and finished in our united churches, in the city of Dortrecht, the 21st of April, 1632,' new style.
And was signed by the mutually united
Besides that the last mentioned confession was received by so many churches, and signed by their leaders, as has been shown, also all the churches in Alsace and in the Palatinate, in Germany, afterwards unanimously adopted and signed it; wherefore it was undertaken to translate the same for their benefit and that of others, into French and into German. This is given as a remembrance. Here is the patience and faith of the saints. Rev. 13:10.
OF THE UNGODLY AND FALSE CHURCH,
WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF THE
CHURCH OF GOD, AND THE ORIGIN,
PROGRESS AND SUCCESSION OF
THE SAME THROUGH ALL
Where God builds a temple, says the old proverb, there the devil builds another in opposition. This has been apparent ever since the beginning of the world. For at the same time that Abel became a martyr of God, and, therefore, a good leader of the children of God, Cain made himself a murderer, and became a leader of the children of Satan, who belong to the ungodly and false church, as members of one body. Gen. 4:8.
He was followed by Lamech, one of Cain's descendants, who slew a young man, and afterwards spoke of it to his wives Addah and Zillah, in a boasting and presumptuous manner. Gen. 4:23.
The people of the first world universally, with the exception of eight, followed in the footsteps of Lamech in wickedness; they exercised tyranny, violence, and oppression, and would not be governed by the Spirit of God. Gen. 6:3, 4.
The Sodomites followed in the same course, vexing with their unbecoming walk the righteous soul of Lot from day to day. Gen. 19; II Pet. 2:8.
These were succeeded by the Egyptians, who imposed grievous and insupportable burdens upon the people of God, and finally sought their lives, yea pursued them even into the sea. Compare Ex. 1:11 with Ex. 14:9,10, 23.
After these were the seven nations, or inhabitants, of the land of Palestine, who were greater and mightier than the children of Israel, but were banished by God on account of their wickedness; namely the Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, etc. Deut. 7:1, 2.
After these manifested themselves the Amorites, Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, and many others, who disturbed, oppressed, and harassed in manifold ways the people of God, which was dwelling in quiet. See throughout in the book of the judges, the books of Samuel, the Kings, and Chronicles.
The Chaldeans, Assyrians, and the inhabitants of the land of Babylon, followed those already mentioned; they carried the church of God away into foreign lands, burned the house of God, and laid waste the city of Jerusalem, which God had chosen above all cities of the whole earth. II Kings 1-17; Jer. 52:1-20; Lam. 1:1-5.
The mighty cities, Tyre and Sidon, in Phoenicia, and afterwards, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, which defied the world itself with their greatness, and cast the threatenings of God to the wind, lifted up their heads after the last mentioned, but to their own destruction. Compare Isa. 23:4, 5; Ezek. 27 and 28 throughout, with Matt. 11:20-23.
All these who have been mentioned, from Cain on, succeeded one another in regular order, and may be considered as members of the church of Satan; since they have neither in generation, nor in faith, nor in worship, nor in manner of life, agreed with the church of God, but opposed it in every respect.
After the coming of Christ, many who had adopted the Christian religion and worship, apostatized, denying the faith, and thus becoming fellow members in the last mentioned, ungodly, and wicked congregation; as, for instance: Simon Magus, who by confession of faith, and baptism had joined himself to the visible church of God, but fell from it, desiring to purchase the gift of the Holy Ghost with money, which, according to the apostle Peter, tended to his destruction, although he afterwards, as it appears, was again converted. Acts 8:13, 18-22.
Phygellus and Hermogenes, who with the greater number of those in Asia, were turned away from Paul, and, consequently, also from the doctrine of the Gospel which they had received. II Tim. 1:15.'
Demas, who forsook Paul, having loved the world. II Tim. 4:10.
Many others, who, though they bore the name of members of the Christian church, did not stand by but forsook the oft mentioned servant of God, when he was to answer before the Emperor Nero in regard to the Evangelical doctrine; for which reason their names did no longer belong among the pious. See last mentioned chapter verse 16.
After these followed many who in the days of John went out from the Church of Jesus Christ, and did the works of antichrist; wherefore they were called antichrists, being forerunners of the great antichrist who was to follow afterwards. See I John 2:18, 19. Besides these who arose already in the time of the apostles, and went out from the holy congregation of God, many others, who can not all be mentioned, followed in all ages and will follow to the last days.
Of this the apostles prophesied when their departure was near at hand, and warned the believers of their coming.
When Paul knew and was fully assured through the revelation of the Holy Ghost that all those among whom he had traveled preaching the Gospel would see his face no more, he thus addressed, on the island of Miletus, the elders of the church of Ephesus, who had come to him: I know, beloved brethren, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:29-31.
Afterwards when he was in the city of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana, he wrote in a certain letter to his beloved friend Timothy, concerning the apostasy which should be through some in the latter times, thus: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." I Tim. 4:1-3.
Who these apostates were that, in many instances, have forbidden marriage and meats it is unnecessary to point out, since the truth of the matter is clear and manifest to almost everyone.
But at the close of his life, when he was imprisoned at Rome the second time, and had already received his sentence of death, namely, to be executed with the sword, for the name of the Lord, he once more renewed the foregoing to his friend and spiritual son Timothy, in order that he might never forget it, but also put the church, where he was a teacher, in remembrance of it with these words: "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." II Tim. 3:1-5.
Continually, he adds this declaration for further instruction: "The time will come when they" (namely, certain members of the Christian church) "will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:3, 4).
In like manner, Peter also, as his departure drew nigh, expressly prophesied to the chosen strangers scattered abroad: That, as there were, in times past, false prophets among the people (Israel), there should also be false teachers among (or out of) them, who should privily bring in pernicious heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. II Pet. 2:1.
It would require too much time to recount what also John says on this subject, not only in his epistles, but especially in his revelation; since he gives a description of the condition of both the church of Christ and of antichrist, from his time to the end of the world.
OF THE EVIL SUCCESSION OF THE ROMAN CHURCH,
CONSISTING ONLY IN THE SUCCESSION OF
THE PERSONS, AND NOT OF THE
Here is to be considered the great error of the Romanists, when they without regarding the true succession of the doctrine build on, and parade the succession of the persons, who either from the beginning of the world, or from the time of the apostles have existed throughout, as they pretend up to the present time; surely a very insignificant matter!*
For, if they reckon from the beginning of the world, we have shown, that Cain, who was a murderer, has had his successors as well as Abel, who was slain for the sake of his faith** and godliness.
* "Trust ye not in lying words," saith the Lord, "saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these" (Jer. 7:4).
** "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and he being dead yet speaketh" (Heb. 11:4).
And also, if they reckon from the time of the apostles, we have demonstrated that at that time already there were many apostates, yea, adversaries of the Christian religion and the true worship of God; and that more have followed, according to the prophecies and predictions which the holy apostles uttered and left to posterity.
Hence it follows, that neither the antiquity, nor the long or great succession of persons, can assure the truth of any religion or church, since the evil is as ancient as the good, and the erring spirits and evildoers have had, and still have, as great a succession as the true believers and good; unless the antiquity, and the succession of persons be accompanied with the divine truth and piety possessed by the upright ancients in the beginning.
OBJECTION OF THE PAPISTS, BY MEANS OF THREE
But, in order to maintain the aforementioned succession, the Papists are accustomed to say, that they do not reckon the same from the antiquity of some erring spirits who were before, in, or after the time of the apostles; but from the church of Christ itself, and from Peter, whom they styled the prince of the apostles, upon whom Christ Himself, as they asserted, wished to build His church. Bell. lib. I. de pont Rom. cap. 10. Quansuy ex.
To this they add as a second argument, that to him and no other, were given, by Christ, the keys of heaven, to open or to close the same according to his pleasure.
And, thirdly, that the Lord thrice commanded him more than the other apostles to feed His flock, that is, His church.
Moreover, that he occupied the Roman throne, and that the popes succeeded him therein.
To prove this supremacy of Peter, and, consequently, the succession of the popes in his place, they have, for a long time already, misused three passages of holy Scripture, namely Matt. 16:18, 19; and John 21:15-17; to which we will reply in the following.
REPLY TO THE FIRST PASSAGE
Matt. 16:18, the Lord says: "Upon this rock I will build my church."
The error of the Romanists consists in this, that they misinterpret the word petra, as though thereby was meant the apostle Peter; but this is a great and palpable error. For the Lord there plainly distinguishes between the name Petros (Peter) and the word petra (rock); saying immediately before: "Thou art Peter," but afterwards: "and upon this rock;" upon which follows: "I will build my church;" so that the Lord does not promise there, to build His church upon Peter, but upon the rock; which he plainly mentions.
Now it will depend upon the true meaninb who and what is to be understood by this rock. Some maintain the first mentioned meaning, which we have refuted just now, namely, that Peter himself is meant thereby; for which purpose they misapply the passage John 1:42, where this apostle is called Cephas,* which, in their opinion, signifies a foundation stone; but this is also an error.
It is true that, according to the explanation of orientalists, those versed in oriental languages, by this word there is to be understood a stone; but what kind of a stone? Not a foundation stone, but a piece, corner, or chip of a stone, upon which no building could ever be founded. The word Cephas, they say, is derived from the Hebrew word Keph, which with them means a corner or edge of a stone; while, on the other hand, the rocks or foundation stones are designated by the.name Sela or Zur ** according to Deut. 32:13. Thus Peter is indeed called a stone in holy Scripture, yet not a foundation stone, but only such a one as is generally built upon a foundation. Christ is properly the foundation stone, as Peter himself declares, when he calls Christ the living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious (I Pet. 2:4); whereupon he adduces the words of the Prophet Isaiah saying: "Wherefore also it is contained in .the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him" (that is built, upon him through faith) "shall not be confounded." I Pet. 2:6 from Isa. 28:16. Therefore he admonishes the believers, to build themselves, as living stones, to a spiritual house, upon the foundation which is laid Christ. Verse 5.
Paul confirms this, when he says: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 3:11). In another place he calls Him the foundation of the apostles and prophets, etc. (namely, upon whom the apostles and pr phets themselves were built up, and upon whom they, through their doctrine, built up others also.); for he adds: "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:20-22) .
It is not inconsistent with this, that the twelve apostles, of whom Peter was one, are called twelve foundation stones, *** upon which, as John says, the city of God, that descended from heaven, was built. Rev. 21:14. For, even if it were admitted that by
* And he (Andrew) brought him (Simon Peter) to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou stu be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. John 1:42.
** He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields: and he made him to suck honey out of the "Sela" rock, and oil out of the "Zur" flinty rock. Deut. 32:13.
*** The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev.21:14). In the first place it is questionable (even if it be admitted that by this description of the city of God we are to understand the church of God) whether thereby is meant the church of God as it is here on earth, or the glorified church of God, as it will be afterwards in heaven t for only the former, and not he latter, is to be considered here. In the second place, it is certain that the name "foundation stone" is ascribed here not to Peter alone, but to all the twelve apostles; hence he is here called a foundation not any more than any of the others.
the words, city of God, in this place, there is to be understood the church of God here on earth, this would only prove, that Peter, as well as the other apostles, was one of the twelve foundation stones of the church of Christ; which by no means confirms the proposed objection, that Peter alone is the foundation stone, or foundaition, o f the church.
Again, the word "foundation stones" here does not signify the foundation itself, since, properly speaking, in nature, the foundation, as the ground or bottom of a building, is something different from the stones built upon it, which are called foundation stones; for, upon the ground or bottom the foundation stones are laid, and upon the foundation stones the building; so that the ground of foundation must support both, the foundation stones and the building. Thus, Christ is the ground, bottom, or foundation of His church; the apostles, through their doctrine, are the foundation stones; and. the church is the building erected upon these foundation stones and the foundation. It stands fast, therefore, that they err, who make Peter the only foundation of the church of Christ, and that, consequently the building which they erect thereon, is erroneous and false *
REPLY TO THE SECOND PASSAGE
The second passage is taken from Matt. 16:19: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
But this does not in the least tend to prove that church discipline or the power of expelling from, and readmitting unto the church, was given, among the apostles, to Peter alone, and to no other of the twelve; for in verse 13 it is written: "When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" Whereupon it is related, that Peter (in the name of all) answered: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Then follows, verse 19: "I will give unto thee the keys," etc., which promise, though addressed specially to Peter, extended to all the apostles in general, since the Lord did not ask Peter alone; but the whole of them collectively; upon which, when he (Peter) had answered in the name of all, followed the above mentioned promise.
This is explained still further by the holy evangelist John, who says, chap. 20:19, 22, 23, that Christ, after His resurrection, standing in the midst of His disciples, breathed on them all, and said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," adding
"Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained;" which words are of equal impor
* James, Cephas" (or Peter), "and John, who seemed to be pillars," etc. Gal. 2:9. Here James is mentioned before Cephas (or Peter). Again, John and James are called pillars as well as Cephas (or Peter), in order to show that the worthiness or the ministry of one was not more than that of the other, and that they, without distinction, were all equal therein.
tance with those just quoted from Matthew, concerning the giving of the keys.
Moreover, that the church also has received this power, is expressed in words not obscure at all in Matt. 18:17, 18: If he (the sinner) neglect to hear ,the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye (understand, according to the sentence of the church, which is here spoken of) shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Who doubts that these are the express words which were previously addressed to Peter, but, of course, are intended for all the apostles, and here for the whole church?
We see that the Corinthian church, at the time of Paul, possessed the right of expelling and readmitting, called binding and loosing; for, touching the expulsion of the sinner, it was said to them
"Purge out therefore the old leaven" (namely, the obstinate sinner), etc. I Cor. 5:7. Again: "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Verse 13.
Concerning the readmittance of the one who manifested penitence, they are commanded: "Sufficient to such a man (namely, who repents of his sins) is this punishment (that is, the expulsion from the church) which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" (II Cor. 2:6,7).
Besides, that this power of binding and loosing was not given to Peter alone, but to all the apostles, and also to the church, it is entirely different in its nature from that of which the pope of Rome as the imaginary successor of Peter boasts. For the power of which Christ spoke, must be limited by the rule of His Word, Matt. 7:24, 26; Gal. 1:6-8; while on the contrary the power of which the pope boasts is unlimited, has no rule, and extends as far as his pleasure. Bald. in cap. Eccles. Also, dirt. 40. cap. S. Papae, etc.
It follows then, that to the pope is attributed wrongfully a power which was not given to Peter himself; moreover, that the power which was given him, was common to all the apostles, and also to the church.
REPLY TO THE THIRD PASSAGE
The third passage (or argument) is taken from John 21:15-17, where the Lord asked Peter three times whether he loved Him, and Peter answered each time: "Yea, Lord, I love thee;" to which the Lord replied, three times: "Feed my lambs;" "Watch my sheep," etc.
Some among the papists, in order to maintain the supremacy of Peter and, consequently, that of the popes of Rome, have so strained these words, that a certain celebrated author among them did not hesitate to write, that Peter is here appointed a ruler, watchman, and pastor, not only over the church, but over the apostles themselves. Bell. lib. 1. de Pont. Rom. cap. 14 & 15. 16. Second S. belt. etc.
But herein they do violence to the text, since various arguments from the holy Scriptures overthrow this view. For, in the first place, it is certain, that at that time Peter had greatly and grievously gone astray, more than any of the other apostles; since he, contrary to warning and his own solemn promise, had so faithlessly denied, yea, entirely forsaken, the Lord; hence, there is no probability that the Lord exalted him above all the others, and appointed him ruler over them; which would be altogether incompatible with the justice of Christ, and the nature of the case.
In the second place it would not accord with what the Lord had taught His apostles in general, on a previous occasion, when strife had arisen among them, as to which of them, after His departure, should be the greatest; saying: "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the youngest; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve" (Luke 22:25, 26) . Again: "Neither be ye called masters for one is your Master, even Christ" (Matt. 23:8, 10).
In the third place, if we examine the proposed argument, we shall find, that neither the threefold question of the Lord: Lovest thou me? nor His threefold injunction: "Feed, or watch, my lambs, and sheep," was directed to Peter any more than to the other apostles.
For, as regards the question, Lovest thou me? what does it signify more than that Peter should examine himself, whether he did love Christ? Very well. What, then, had Peter more than any of the other apostles? or than Paul afterwards had? who said: "For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 3,9). Again: "The love of Christ constraineth us;" etc. II Cor. 5:14. Yea, every Christian in particular, and all in general, are bound to this love, which is so necessary, that it is written: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha" (I Cor. 16:22) .
Concerning the injunction, Watch, or feed, my lambs and sheep, this is also enjoined upon all true teachers. "Take heed therefore," says Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus, "unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28) .
Peter, moreover, has, in this respect, not placed himself above, but beside his fellow ministers, when he, exhorting them says: "The elders which are among you I exhort, which am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ . . . Feed the flock of God which is among you," etc. (I Pet. 5:1, 2).
This is further confirmed by the fact, that the Lord did not command Peter only, but all the apostles in general, to go into all the world, to preach and baptize the believers. Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16.
Again, He said to them all: "Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
It follows therefore, that in the matter of watching over, .and feeding, the sheep of Christ, that is, in preaching the holy Gospel, and taking care of the church of Christ, Peter possessed no more authority, power, and distinction than the other apostles and apostolic teachers.
It now remains to give a solution, why the Lord thrice asked Peter alone, and none of the others, whether he loved Him, and thrice commanded him to feed His sheep.
To this we reply: since Peter only a short time before had thrice forsaken the Lord, it was not more than right, that he should also confess thrice that he loved Him whom he had forsaken; and that, therefore, this question should be put to him three times.
Besides, since Peter, by his denial had entirely abandoned, or, at least, had become totally unworthy of his office of teaching and feeding the church of Christ, none of the other apostles would, under any consideration, have recognized or received him therein; hence it was necessary, that the Lord Himself should earnestly, yea thrice, charge him with it, so that no one might come to doubt the worthiness of his person (since he was now converted), or the validity of his office.
Thence follows again the absurdity of those who make the matter in question say more than the Lord Himself has done: namely, that Peter hereby was not reinstated into his office, which he had abandoned; but that he was appointed head of the whole church, yea, even over all the other apostles; as can be seen in lib. 1. de pont. Rom. cap. 11. Bellorm.
THE GROUNDLESSNESS [OF THE ALLEGATIONS] OF
THOSE WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO DEDUCE
THE ROMAN SUCCESSION FROM PETER
THE HOLY APOSTLE, AND WHEREIN
Besides that the three proposed passages are of no use to the papists in proving the supremacy of Peter over the other apostles and the whole Christian church, there follow various reasons and circumstances which show clearly, that the succession of the popes, which they would deduce from Peter, cannot stand, but is unfounded and untrue.
For, to come to the point, it cannot be shown, that Peter was ever at Rome, (where the seat of the pope is placed), except at the close of his life, and then he was not received as pope, but was put to death as a martyr, with Paul, his fellow apostle, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, as we have circumstantially shown in the History of the Holy Martyrs,of the year 69 A. D. Also, EgesiÂ¢p. Hist. van de verstoring Jerusalem, 3. Bock, 2 cap. Also, W. Band. Apopth. Christian, lib. I. ex Hieron. de vitis illustribus. Johan. Strac. in festo Johan. Evang, etc.
Eusebius quotes from Dionysius, a teacher of the church at Corinth, concerning the coming of Paul and Peter to Rome, as also concerning their preaching, which was the cause of their death, these words: They (namely Paul and Peter) were both together in our congregation at Corinth, teaching (from) there (on) throughout all Italy; they taught also in this city (namely, Rome, of which he had first spoken); where they both were crowned martyrs at the same time. Euseb. Pamph. Chron. Eccl. Edition of 1,588 lib. 2. cap. z,5.
He speaks of Peter's coming to, and preaching at, Rome, even as if having taken place at the close of his life; and although he puts Paul's coming and preaching in the same time, Paul's coming to this city, nevertheless, happened much earlier than the coming of Peter, which took place shortly before their death; in which time both together preached the holy Gospel in that city.
That Paul was there much earlier and longer, appears from all the circumstances of the Acts of the apostles; for while Peter was preaching at Cesarea, Antioch, Jerusalem, and in other places, Paul was brought to Rome, and, having arrived there, "dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." Here the account of the Acts of the Apostles ends, without mentioning anything further of Peter. See Acts 28:30, 31.
VARIOUS ARGUMENTS FROM THE HOLY SCRIP;
TURES, SHOWING THAT PETER WAS NOT AT
ROME DURING THE TIME PAUL WAS
THERE, EXCEPT (AS HAS BEEN EX;
PLAINED ABOVE) AT THE CLOSE
OF HIS LIFE
In this demonstration we shall forego the method employed by Sebastian Frank, Gysius, and others, who have written syllogistically upon this subject, and shall confine ourselves solely to the express testimony of (or, at least, plain inferences from) Holy Scripture, upon which we propose to found our arguments.
Reason. First Argument. When Paul drew near the city of Rome, where he was to be arraigned before Cesar, the brethren* came out of the city
* By which of the other apostles these brethren at Rome were converted, is not mentioned in the text; but it may have been that they were converted on the day of Pentecost at erusalem, for at that time strangers of Rome were there. Acts 2:10.
to meet him, as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns, whom, when Paul saw, he took courage. Acts 28:15: But among these Peter is not once mentioned, which would undoubtedly have been the case, had he been with them and occupied the episcopal throne at that place, as is pretended.
Second Argument. When it came to pass, that Paul was to give an account before the emperor for the first time, he was forsaken by all, and no man stood with him, so that he complained of it to Timothy. II Tim. 4:16, Now, if Peter had been at Rome; he certainly would not have forsaken Paul, whom he was wont to call his beloved brother, II Pet. 3:15; but would have stood by him with counsel and actual assistance, according to his ability. This, however, did not happen; which clearly shows that he was not there at that time; unless some one might conclude, that he, who before had forsaken his Lord and Saviour (which was a matter of much consequence), now probably also forsook Paul, who was inferior.
To this may serve as reply: That Peter, at the time he forsook Christ, was not filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was not poured upon the apostles until after Christ's ascension, Acts 2:1-3; hence he could easily come to this fall; but now, being filled with the Holy Ghost,* it was quite otherwise, so much so, that he and his fellow apostles feared no suffering, not even death itself. Compare Acts 4:19-21 with 5:40-42 and 12:3, 4. Also I Pet. 3:14 and 4:16.
Moreover, in Paul's complaint to Timothy not a word is mentioned as to Peter having forsaken him; which, had it happened, would certainly, as a notable matter, not have been passed over in silence; more especially, as he mentions some of those who forsook him, by name, as, Demas, Alexander the coppersmith, etc.
Third Argument. When Paul was confined in prison at Rome, and bound in chains, he commended Onesiphorus, because he had visited him, and was not ashamed of his chain; without mentioning anything about others, saying: "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain" (II Tim. 1:16) .
But why does he not commend Peter as having visited him in his bonds? or, if Peter was there and did not do so, but was ashamed of his chain, .why does he not complain, that so great a man, who ought to have been .a leader unto others, was so negligent therein?
Doubtless, if Peter had been in the city at that time, and visited, or not visited, him in prison, Paul would not have passed it over in utter silence, without commending or complaining of it.
Fourth Argument When many had departed from Paul, while he was in prison, he made mention of one who had remained by, or with him, namely, in the city of Rome. He calls him Luke,
* Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. John 16:13.
and says: Only Luke is with (or by) me. II Tim. 4:11. It follows, therefore, that at the time when Paul wrote this, Peter was not at Rome, or it could not have been that only Luke was with him. ,
Fifth Argument. A little further on from the above mentioned words, Paul requests of Timothy, that when he, came to him, he should bring Mark with him, since the same would be very profitable to him for his ministry, saying: Take Mark, and bring him with thee (when thou comest); for he is profitable to me for the ministry. II Tim. 4:11.
Now, if Peter was in Rome .at that time, why was Paul under the necessity of sending for Mark for the ministry? or, if he was not there, why did he not send for Peter? Certainly, if he had sent for him, he would, unless prevented by some important cause, not have refused to come: and then it could be concluded, that Peter zws there a considerable time, since, as we find, they both died considerable time afterwards.
But it does not appear that Paul sent for him; hence, it cannot be concluded, that he came in answer to his summons; and even if he had come at that time, his stay there could not have lasted several years, much less twenty five years, as the papists say, since death overtook him as well as Paul, as has been shown in its proper place. . The preparation, however, of this whole argument is unnecessary and superfluous.
Sixth Argument. Paul wrote various epistles from his prison at Rome to the believers; as to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, to Timothy, Philemon, etc., in which he puts various salutations from believers of the church at Rome, as also, in the beginning of the same makes mention sometimes of his fellow laborers; but he never mentions Peter. We will show here the manner in which this is done.
In the beginning of the epistle to the Philippians he writes these words: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ. Now, why does he not add here: and Simon Peter?
Nearly in the same manner he commences the epistle to the Colossians, saying; "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus, our brother." Why does he not add: and Peter, the chief apostle?
In concluding these epistles he adds the salutations of the saints who were with him. To the Philippians he writes: "All the saints salute you
. . chiefly they that are of Caesar's household" (Phil. 4:21, 22) . To the Colossians he addresses these words: "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you" (Col: 4:12).. Also: Luke, the physician, greets you. Verse 14.
Peter is not mentioned here at all, which, certainly, had he been there, would have been highly necessary.
This same manner he followed in all the other epistles which he wrote from Rome. To Timothy he says: "Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia". (II Tim. 4:21).
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To Philemon: "There salute thee Epaphras . . . Marcus, Aristarchus" (Phil. 23, 24) .
There might be much said upon this subject, but it would all amount to this: that it would be a strange thing, if Peter was at Rome, when Paul wrote his epistles from the Roman prison, that the latter did never mention in these epistles a salutation from Peter (which, as has been shown, he did not); seeing he mentions salutations from different leaders and members of the Roman church, whom he calls by name: hence it is quite reasonable to conclude, that Peter was not there during that time.
Besides the six arguments mentioned, proving that during the time Paul was imprisoned under Nero, Peter was not at Rome, as far as the testimony of Holy Scriptures go in regard to this, there follow various circumstances showing (by like virtue of Holy Scripture), that also during the time Paul was out of prison, Peter was not to be found in this city.
First Circumstance. Here is to be considered, why Paul wrote an epistle to the Roman church, as well for the confirmation of the Christian faith, as for stirring up in the moral virtues (which epistle is still in existence), if Peter was there at that time, and had the charge of said church? or, if it was necessary for important reasons, that he should write to them, why he did not send this epistle to Peter as their leader, like he did to Timothy, the teacher of the Ephesian church; and to Titus, the teacher of the church in the Island of Crete?
Or, at least, if we look at the contents of .this epistle, we may well consider, why he did not address a salutation to him, or once mention him by name? seeing he filled nearly a whole chapter with the names of those whom he salutes at Rome: as, Aquila with his wife Priscilla, Epenetus and Mary, together with Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Apelles, Herodion, those of the household of Narcissus (the women), Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Philologus, Nereus, etc., Rom. 16 throughout; without mentioning in any way whatever the person or name of Peter; from which there may be concluded again with good reason, that which has been concluded before from the account of the salutations which Paul wrote while in prison at Rome, namely, that Peter was not in this city at that time
Second Circumstance. When it afterwards happened that Paul, having traveled through Arabia and the country of Damascus, returned after three years, with a particular desire to see Peter; he did not seek him at Rome, but at Jerusalem; where, when he had found him, he abode with him fifteen days: and then departed again into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. Gal. 1:17-21.
Third Circumstance. When fourteen more years had elapsed, namely, those spent by Paul in his Syrian and Cilician journey, where was Peter to be found? Certainly not at Rome, but at Antioch; for there Paul came to him, and rebuked him, because he had eaten with the Gentiles in the presence of the Jews. Compare Gal. 2:1 with verses 11,12.
Fourth Circumstance. When some came down from Judea, and troubled the brethren, saying that, unless they were circumcised after the man= ner of Moses, they could not be saved; and Paul, Barnabas, and other pious men were sent to the apostles .and elders, to consult about the matter; Peter as well as the others to whom they were sent, was found at Jerusalem. Acts 15:1-7.
Fifth Circumstance. Gal. 2:7, we read, that the uncircumcision (that is, the Gentiles) was committed to Paul, but the circumcision (that is, the Jews or the Jewish nation) to Peter; also, verse 9, that Peter (there called Cephas) together with James and John gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hand and agreed, that these should go unto the heathen, but they unto the circumcision (the Jews); namely, to preach the Gospel unto them.
It is, therefore, a settled fact, that Peter was properly a teacher of the Jews (after this agreement was made), and not of the Gentiles. But if he had taught among the Romans, who were Gentiles by nature, he would have gone altogether beyond his engagement and promise; which certainly is not to be supposed of so great and _ eminent a man as Peter was at that time.
Sixth Circumstance. From the two epistles of Peter, especially from the words, I Pet. 1:1, it evidently appears, that he preached to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (namely those who were scattered there from the twelve tribes of Israel) according to the statement of James, chap. 1:1; for which preaching, since these countries are very far, some even a hundred and more leagues apart, several years were required, in order to travel through them; during which time Peter apparently could not be there and at Rome at once; this is incontrovertible.
Seventh Circumstance. At the end of the first epistle of Peter, namely I Pet. 5:13, are these words: "The church that is at Babylon, elected . . . saluteth you."
How could Peter send a salutation from the church at Babylon, unless he was with it in Babylon at that time? But if he was in Babylon, he was not at Rome, unless he had two bodies; of which we do not read anything, nor have we any reason to believe it.
Eighth Circumstance. Those who hold that Peter was bishop at Rome, make no distinction between the words apostle, or messenger, and bishop, or overseer; yet there always has been a marked difference between the office of an apostle and that of a bishop.
The office of an apostle was to travel from one country to another, yea, through the whole world, and preach the Gospel to those who had not yet heard it; without being bound to any particular place or church, as appears from Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15.
On the other hand, the office of a bishop or overseer was to watch over, care for, feed and govern, as a shepherd his flock, a particular church, unto which the Gospel had been already preached, and which had accepted faith and the sign of holy baptism. Compare Acts 20:28 with I Tim. 3:1-5; Tit. 1:5-7.
Now, it is a fact, that properly not the latter, but the former office was enjoined upon Peter, for he gives himself the first mentioned nameapostle (see I Pet. 1:1 and II Pet. 1:1); for which purpose Christ Himself had chosen him, Luke 6:13, 14, and sent him out, as can plainly be seen in the last chapter of Matthew and of Mark.
How could it be then, that Peter sat as bishop of the church in the city of Rome? and, what is still more for a considerable number of years! unless it be said that Peter abandoned his charge, and accepted another office and ministry than the one to which he was called; which it would be difficult to prove, since nothing is mentioned of it in Holy Writ.
Further Remarks on the foregoing circumstances. If one should confine himself solely to the testimony of the holy Scriptures, not accepting anything else as worthy of belief, it could in no wise be shown that Peter was ever at Rome; but, since the holy Scriptures do not relate all that has happened, the testimony of some accepted authors of that time may be recognized as credible, as far as their testimony is not contrary to what is expressed in holy Scripture.
We have shown from the apostolic writings, that during the time Paul wrote his epistles in the prison at Rome, and also during the whole period that he (Peter) was preaching in foreign countries, Peter was not in Rome, but in Jerusalem, Antioch, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and in other places where the Jews were scattered. This we have plainly shown, first by six arguments, and then by eight circumstances, derived from the holy Scriptures. But as to where Peter was, or how he died, after Paul wrote his last epistle from Rome, the Scriptures are silent.
Hence the testimony of those writers whom we have just mentioned cannot well be contradicted; who maintain, that Peter shortly before his death came to Rome, and there laid down his life for the doctrine of the Evangelical truth; without mentioning anything there about his bishopric, much less, popedom.
DISCORDANCE OF PAPISTIC WRITERS. 1. WHETHER
PETER WAS AT ROME. 2. HOW LONG HE WAS
BISHOP THERE. 3. WHO FOLLOWED HIM
The common tenet of the papists is, that Peter sat as the chief bishop upon the Roman throne; yet the authors whom they adduce for this purpose greatly differ. For, as respects his arrival in that city, some fix it in the year 41 after Christ; others in the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Claudius; others in the second year of this same Claudius; others in the fourth year; others in the beginning of the reign of Nero; others in the fourteenth year after Paul's conversion, etc., as it is noted in Irenaeus, Orosius, Damasus, Hornantius, Th. Aquinus, The Lives of the Saints, etc.
Concerning the length of time he was bishop, there is not less disagreement; as also in regard to how long he was absent from his bishopric sojourning in other places. Cortesius writes of eighteen years, Onuphrius of seven years; but the general opinion among them is, that he sat twentyfive years upon the chair governing their church; although some flatly oppose it. See the last mentioned three authors.
Touching the person who succeeded him in his bishopric, there is much confusion and uncertainty in what is said concerning this subject. Some write that Clemens succeeded Peter; as Septimus Florens Tert.; others, that Linus followed him; as Irenaeus, Eusebius, Epiphan., etc., De Praes 32 r. Contr. lov.; others, that Linus discharged Peter's office two years before death of the latter; as Damasus, etc.; others, that .Peter ordered that Clemens should succeed after the death of Linus; In Pontific. Petr. etc., Clem. in Epist. ad Jacobum, etc.; others, that the chair of Peter was vacant while Linus and Cletus lived, Clemens, who was ordained by Peter as his successor, not being willing, as they say, to occupy the chair in their lifetime; which is testified to by Bellarminus; others that Linus occupied the chair eleven years after Peter's death; see Eusebius; others, that Linus died before Peter, and consequently was not his successor in the bishopric; see Turrianus, Sophronius, etc.; others, that Anacletus succeeded Peter, and Clemens, Anacletus. See Homil. de Agon. Pet. and Paul. In Chron, in Anno Clem.; others, finally, that Peter and Linus were bishops simultaneously in the city of Rome; yet so, that Peter was the superior, and Linus, the inferior bishop. See Ruffilnus, Sabellicus, Turrianus, In vita Petri.
OF THE RISE OF THE POPES AFTER THE YEAR 606,
AS ALSO OF THE INTERRUPTION OF THE
SUCCESSION OF THE SAME
Besides, that in the first three centuries after the death of the apostles, nothing was known in the Roman church, as regards rulers of the same, but common bishops or overseers, until the time of Constantine the Great, and from that time on to the year 600, only archbishops and patriarchs, but no popes, till after the year 606, when, by the power of the Emperor Phocas, the Roman Bishop Boniface III was declared and established the general head and supreme ruler of the whole church; the succession also of the following popes was interrupted by many important occurrences, with respect to the manner of the papal election as well as to the doctrine and the life of the popes themselves, as also with regard to various circumstances pertaining to these matters. Of this an account shall presently be given.
NOTE. Besides what we have mentioned in our account of holy baptism, for the year 606, of the rise and establishment of the Roman pope, there is also found, concerning the cause of the same (in the Chronijk van den Ondergang der Tyrannen, edition of 1617, book VII, page 211, col. 2), this annotation: When the patriarch at Constantinople reproved the Emperor Phocas for the shameful murder he had committed, or would not consent to, or remit, it, while the bishop of Rome winked at, or excused this wicked deed, the Emperor Phocas, in his displeasure, deprived the church of Constantinople of the title, Head of Christendom, and, at the request of Boniface III, conferred it upon the Roman church; which was done amidst great contentions, for the eastern churches could not well consent to it, that the see of Rome should be considered by everybody, and everywhere, as the head and the supreme (of the) church. Compare this with Platinae Reg. Pap. fol. 123; Fase. Temp, fol. 122; Pol. Virgil, lib. Â¢. cap. ro; Hist. Georg. lib. Â¢; Conrad. Oelutar. fol. rg; Tract, called, Ouden en Nieuwen Godt. lib. r; M. Zanchij Tract. Pap. fol. Â¢r; Zeg. Chron. Rom. Pap. fol.r32.
OF THE ELECTION OF THE POPE; AND OF SUCH AS
HAVE USURPED THE CHAIR
In the introduction to the Martyr's Mirror (edition of 1631, fol. 25, 26, 27) mention is made from Cardinal Baronius (we have looked into his history, and found it to be so at the place referred to), of various popes who ran of themselves, without lawful! election or mission; and also of some who usurped the chair, without the consent of the church, merely by the power of princes and potentates.
Among the popes who, without lawful election or mission, ran of themselves, are numbered Stephen VI, Christopher, and Sergius III, with whom it was as follows
Stephen VI expelled Boniface VI by force from the Roman see, after the death of Formosus; and afterwards committed an abominable deed on the dead body of said Formosus, who was counted a lawful and good pope; which deed the Cardinal C. Baronius describes from Luytprandus and others as follows
"In this same year was perpetrated the great wickedness which Luytprandus and others relate, but incorrectly by Sergius; since the acts of the aforementioned Synod under Pope John IX, to which doubtless more credence is to be given, impute it to the then existing pope, Stephen IX.
He caused the dead body of Formosus to be exhumed, and placed it on the pope's throne, dressed in all his papal robes; whereupon he upbraided Formosus, as though he were alive, that he, through great ambition, had come from the chair of Porto into that of Rome; anathematized him on this account, had the dead body stripped of all the robes, as also the three fingers with which Formosus according to custom used to ordain, cut off from the same, and thus thrown into the Tiber. Besides this he deposed all those who had been ordained by Formosus, and reordained them; all of which he did from pure madness." See C. Baron. histor. Eccl. Anno 897. num. 1. 2.
After this the same Baronius relates of Christophorus, who also thrust himself into the papal chair, the following:
"Further, in the following year of Christ . . . in the tenth indiction,* Pope Benedict IV died, and was buried in St. Peter's church. In his place succeeded Leo, the fifth of this name, a native of Ardea, who held the chair only forty days, being expelled and imprisoned after that by Christophorus,, who himself occupied the chair after him." Baron Ann. gob. 907. num. 2.
The aforementioned Christophorus, who had expelled his predecessor, Leo V, from the chair, and taken possession of it himself, was, in his turn, robbed of the occupancy of the chair by another, called Sergius III, who was ambitious of the same dominion; which Sergius, although he attained to the papal dignity, without being elected or called, yea, more than that, was, according to the testimony of the papists themselves, fearfully tyrannical and unchaste, is nevertheless recorded with the aforementioned upon the Register of the legitimate popes of Rome. See Baron. Ann. 907. num. 2., Ann. 9o8. num. 3.
In the midst of this account this papistic writer declares, that these were the dreadful times when every self constituted pope immediately nullified that which his predecessor had made. Ann. 9o8. num. 2.
Confirmatory of this matter is also that which is adduced in the "Chronijk van den Ondergang," edition 1617, for the year 891, page 315. col. 1, 2. from the tract of "Den Onpartijdigen Rechter."
If one will but consider, says this writer, the spiritual or ecclesiastical perfidiousness and rebelliousness of the popes, he will find in ancient history, that the Roman popes have at all times quarreled and contended with one another for the papal chair.
Thus John XXIV, having come to Bononia with many soldiers, threatened all the cardinals severely, if they would elect a pope who would not please him. When many had been nominated to him, and he would assent to none of them, he was finally requested to state whom he would elect thereto. He replied: "Give me Peter's robe, and I shall deliver it to the future pope." But, when that was done, he put the robe upon his own shoulders, saying: "I am the pope." And though this greatly dis
* A cycle of fifteen years, instituted by Constantine the Great, in connection with the payment of tribute, and afterwards made a substitute for Olympiads in reckoning time. It was much used in the ecclesiastical chronology of the middle ages, and is reckoned from the year 313 as its origin. Websters Dictionary.
pleased the other cardinals, they were nevertheless compelled to acquiesce in it.
In the same manner John XXII elected himself pope when the election was committed to him. See 9th book of the above mentioned chronicle, for the year'891, at the place there referred to.
NOTE. In addition to what has been stated in the body [of this work] concerning the popes who exalted themselves to the papal reign, it is also proper to give what may be read in the "Chronijk van den Ondergang der Tyrannen," for the year 537, where the popedom of Vigilius is thus spoken of: "This Pope Vigilius was certainly impelled by the spirit of ambition; he greatly aspired to the popedom, and wrongfully ascended the papal chair, for he counseled the empress, how to expel Pope Silverius. He engaged false witnesses, who said that Silverius intended to betray the city of Rome secretly, and surrender it to the Goths (of which we shall afterwards speak more fully); therefore he was deposed from the popedom by force, and relegated into misery; and thus Vigilius six days afterwards became pope. The Empress Theodora desired him to reinstate Anthenius at Constantinople, as he had promised to do; but Vigilius refused, saying that one was not bound to keep a bad promise against one's conscience." Compared with the account of Platina, in his "Panselijh Register," fol. iio. Also, Chron. Fasci. Temp. fol. 117.
OF SOME WHO ATTAINED POSSESSION OF THE
ROMAN CHAIR THROUGH SECULAR POWER
AND OTHER UNGODLY MEANS
There is, moreover, mention made of another kind of popes, who attained possession of the Roman chair, not properly through themselves, inasmuch as they were too weak, but through the power of princes and potentates, yea, even through the Arians. Among these are particularly numbered the two popes named, Felix, both of whom were exalted to papal dignity, and put in their office by Arian Kings, who ruled Italy, and consequently, also the city of Rome; the one by Constantius,* the other by Theodoric, both of whom belonged to the Arian sect. Cas. Bar. Ann. 526. mums. 2.
But quite the contrary happened when Pope Silverius was reputed to favor the Goths, who sided with the Arians. Prince Belizarius deposed him, and sent him away into Greece, putting Vigilius in his stead as pope. According to the testimony of Procopius. Ann. 538. num. 2.
After Vigilius, Peiagius was declared pope by two bishops only, and one from Ostien, ** through the favor and assistance of the emperor Justinian; notwithstanding, as Anastasius says, the bad suspicion of having caused the death of the previous Pope Vigilius, rested on him; for which reason none of the other ecclesiastics, nay, not even the
* This Constantius was a Roman emperor, while Theodoric was King of the Goths.
** Probably Ostia, a town at the mouth of the Tiber. (Pub.)
laity, would have communion or anything to do with him. Ann. 555. mum. 2.
OF THE DREADFUL TIME, CALLED BY THE PAPISTS
THE IRON AND LEADEN CENTURY, WHICH
WAS WITH RESPECT TO THE ELECTION
OF THE POPES
The oftmentioned cardinal Caesar Baronius, proceeding in his account of the Register of the Popes, arrives at the year 901, the beginning of the tenth century, where he bursts out, as if with sorrow, calling this time hard, unfruitful, and productive of much evil; and comparing it to an iron and leaden century, full of wickedness and darkness, particularly in respect to the great irregularity practiced in the installing and deposing of the Roman popes; which was done partly by the Roman princes, partly by the princes of Tuscany, who, now this one, then that one, usurped the authority to elect the popes, and to dethrone them; which happened in such a manner that all the preceding abuses committed with reference to the Roman chair were mere child's play in comparison with it.
For now, as Baronius writes, many monsters were thrust into this chair as popes; which continued throughout this whole century; yea, for a hundred and fifty years, namely from the year 900 to about the year 1049, when the German Ottoes, who occupied the imperial throne, interposed between both, although they, not less than their predecessors, retained as their prerogative the right of electing and rejecting the popes. Baron. Ann. 901. mum. 1.
The same cardinal relates, that in these awful and terrible times some popes attained to the popedom not only by the power of princes and potentates, but through the foolish love of certain dishonorable and loose women, by whom Rome was ruled; which we could in no wise believe, had not so eminent a man and rigid papist, as Baronius was, described it so plainly and circumstantially. See in Baronius' Church History, printed at Antwerp 1623 for the year 912. mum. 1; also 928. mums. i; also 931. mums. 1.
Our soul is amazed, and we are ashamed to relate all that is adduced there from various papistic writers, concerning the election of some of the popes.
O God! open the eyes of these blind lovers of papacy, that they may see, what succession it is, of which they have so long boasted in vain; so that they may truly turn to Thee and Thy church, and be saved I
NOTE. With respect to this matter, the writer of the Introduction to the Martyr's Mirror, of the year 1831, says: "After that arose a time far more horrible, etc., for the margraves of Tuscany, and after them the emperors, exercised so much violence with reference to the papal chair, that they thrust into it many monsters;'among whom was John X, who was thrust into the chair by Theodora, mistress of Rome, while Lando was deposed." Introduction, fol. 26. col. 2. from Baron. Church History, Anno 912. num. I.
After that he relates, that John X was deposed by Theodora's daughter, who also reigned over Rome, and that John XI, a bastard child of Pope Sergius III, was put into it. "And thus," he writes, "have whores and rogues, according to the testimony of cardinal Baronius, ruled the papal chair, deposing and instituting whomsoever they would." Fol. 27. Col. i. from Baronius, Anno 931. num. i. Continuing, the aforementioned author remarks: "In this iron century it also happened, that Stephen IX, having illegitimately attained to the chair, was marked in the face by some rogues, for which reason he staid in his house." Same place, from Bdronius Anno 9Â¢o. num. z.
But, in order to give an account of those particular ones only, who attained unlawfully to the papal chair, since we are treating of the succession and mission of the popes, we must also mention Pope John XII, who, being only eighteen .years old, was forcibly put into the chair, and made pope by his father, the margrave of Tuscany. Afterwards he was deposed by a council at Rome, on account of his wicked life; but he remained pope nevertheless, since nobody would excommunicate the pope, however wicked his life might be, as Baronius relates. Compare Baron. Anno 955. num. I. with Anno 963. num. z. 2.
After that, Albericus, the count of Tusculum, made his son, who was but ten years old, pope, and by his authority put him into the chair under the name of Benedict IX'. After he had reigned about nine years, a certain faction of the. Romans elected another pope. When Gratianus, a priest at Rome, saw this, he bought out both of them with money, and called himself Gregory VI.
But the Emperor, not willing. to tolerate this, deposed all three of them, and put Clemens II in their stead; and then Damascus II; after him Leo IX; and finally, Victor II.
Thus the imperial line of the popes continued, until the clergy itself became powerful enough to elect the popes without waiting for the imperial mission, which formerly had been deemed necessary; this afterwards gave rise to great schisms and divisions in the Roman Church. Compare concerning all this Baron. Hist. Eccl. Anno 1033, num. 2. with Anno 1044. nuvn. 2. 3; also, Anno 10Â¢6. num. 1; Anno 10Â¢8. num. 1; Anno 10Â¢9 nun. 2; Anno ro55.
With regard to the aforesaid matters, the writer "of the Introduction mentioned says (Fol. 27. Col. 2): "This being taken into consideration, we say, that it is not true that they, namely the Romanists, have an uninterrupted succession from the days of the apostles to the present time, as they would make the people believe, with their long register of popes, whom they have connected as the links of a chain, as though they, through lawful mission had always maintained a continuous succession; but we have proved here that this chain of succession is, in many ways, broken.
"In the first place, by. Stephen VII and his successors, who have forcibly thrust themselves into the chair. These certainly had no mission; and where the mission ceases, the succession ceases also.
"In the second place, by those who were thrust into the chair, without the order or sanction of the church, only by kings and princes, yea, even by whores, through lewd love; or who bought the same with money, as we have shown. These also were certainly not sent; or, if they were sent, it must be proved, by whom: for two contrary things cannot consist together. If they were sent, they did not thrust themselves into the chair, as Baronius says notwithstanding; but if they thrust themselves into it, or were thrust into it by others through unlawful means, then they were not sent, and consequently, had no succession from the apostles." Introduction. fol. 28. Col. z.
TWO, THREE, AND FOUR POPES REIGNING AT THE
SAME TIME; THE CHAIR OF ROME OCCASION;
ALLY WITHOUT A POPE FOR A LONG
Formerly, when the papal dominion was coveted, the aim was directed solely to the Roman chair, but now it was quite different; for, instead of according to Rome, the honor of electing the pope, as had always been the case heretofore, they of Avignon, in France began, without regarding the Romans or Italians, to constitute themselves the electors of the pope; insomuch that they for this end elected a certain person, whom they call Benedict XIII, notwithstanding the Roman chair was occupied by a pope called Gregory XII; thus setting not only pope against pope, but France against Italy, and Avignon against Rome.*
Of this, P. J. Twisk gives the following account "At this time there reigned two popes, who were for a long time at great variance with each other; the one at Rome in Italy, the other at Avignon.
"When Pope Innocentius at Rome was dead, Benedict XIII still occupied the papal chair in France. Then Gregory XII was elected pope." Chron. P. .I. Twish, ISth Book, for the year 1406. page .758. col. z. ex Chron. Platinae, fol. 396. Fasc. Temp. fol. 187.
The same writer, after narrating successively several other things which happened in the five subsequent years, again makes mention, for the year 1411, of this Pope Benedict, who was elected at Avignon; as well as of two others, who arose during his reign, namely, Gregory and John; and
* After pope Anastasius, Symmachus was elected pope in a tumult; and immediately also Laurentius was elected, with whom he had two contests, yet came off victor, as the papists say, for the clergy and king Diederik were on his side. But after four years some of the clergy, who lusted after uproar and contention, anal some Roman senators, recalled Laurentius; but they were sent into banishment. This caused a fearful riot at Rome. . J. Twisk, 5th Book, Anno 499. page 171. col. 2 ex Platinal Chron, fol. 101. Fasc. Temp. fol. 114.
also of their mutual contentions. These are his words
"At that time. there were three popes at once, who incessantly excommunicated one another, and of whom the one gained this potentate for his adherent, the other another. Their names were Benedict, Gregory, and John.
"These strove and contended with each other, not for the honor of the Son of God, nor in behalf of the reformation and correction of the adulterated doctrines or the manifold abuses of the (Roman) church, but solely for the supremacy; to obtain which, no one hesitated to perpetrate the most shameful deeds.
"In brief, the emperor exerted himself with great diligence, and traveled three years through Europe, to exterminate this shameful and pernicious strife and discord which prevailed in Christendom. Having, therefore, rejected these three schismatic popes, he brought it about, that Otto Columnius was made pope by common consent; for, within the last twenty nine years there had always been at least two popes; one at Rome, and the other at Avignon. When one blessed, the other cursed.* See aforementioned Chronicle, 15th Book, for the year 1411. page 765. Col. r, a.
Concerning the overthrow of these three popes the same author gives this statement: "In this year, Pope John XXIV, having been convicted in fifty four articles, of heresies, crimes, and base villainies, was deposed from papal dignity, by the council of Constance, and given in custody to the palsgrave. When these articles were successively read to him, he sighed deeply and replied, that he had done something still worse, namely, that he had come down from the mountain of Italy, and committed himself under the jurisdiction of a council, in a country where he possessed neither authority nor power.
After he had been in confinement at Munich three years, to the astonishment of everyone, he was released, and made cardinal and bishop of Tusculum, by Pope Martin V, whose feet he submissively came to kiss at Florence. Shortly afterwards in the year 1419, he died there, and was buried with great pomp and solemnity in the church of St. John the Baptist.
After he had thus received his sentence, the other two popes were summoned; of whom Gregory XII, who resided at Rimini, sent Charles Maletesta thither, with instructions to abdicate voluntarily in his name the papal dignity; in reward of which he was made a legate in Marca d'Ancona, where he subsequently died of a broken heart, at Racanay, a seaport on the Adriatic Sea.
Benedict XIII, the pope at Avignon, remained obstinate in his purpose, so that neither entreaties nor threats, nor the authority of the council could move him, to submit, or lay down his office, for the tranquillity of all Christendom. See the afore
* So writes Jan Crispijn.
mentioned Chronicle, 15th Book, for the year 1415 page 773. Col. a. and 774. Col. z.
NOTE Pope Benedict XIII, through the incitation of the Ring of France, and the University of Paris, sent his legates to Pope Boniface IX; but they received as an answer, that their master could not properly be called a pope, but an antipope; whereupon they refuted him. See De Ondergang, 15th Book, Anno 1404. page 757. Col. z.
Here it is proper to note what the last mentioned author narrates concerning the plurality of the popes, who existed at one and the same time.
"Besides this," he writes, "it is related that there were sometimes four, sometimes three, and sometimes two popes at the same time."
Victor, Alexander III, Calixtus III, and Paschalis, possessed together the papal authority, at the time of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa; and also Benedict VIII, Sylvester II, and Gregory V were popes together, till finally, Henry III deposed them.
Likewise Gregory XII, Benedict XIII, and Alexander V arrogated, by excommunications, the papal authority.*
Further, how Stephen III and Constantine, Sergius III and Christophorus, Urbanus V and Clemens VII, Eugene IV and Clemens VIII, and many other popes, whom to mention it would take too long, strove and contended with each other for the triple crown, their own historians have sufficiently elucidated. See in the 9th Book o f the Chronicle for the year 891. page 315. Col. 2. from the tract, Den Onpartiidigen Rechter.
HOW THE ROMAN CHAIR STOOD VACANT
As great as was at times the inordinate desire manifested by some for the possession of the chair of papal dominion, so great was at other times the negligence and aversion as regards the promotion of the same cause;** for it occasionally happened that the chair stood vacant for a considerable time, in consequence of the contentions and dissensions of the cardinals; so that the whole Roman church was without a head; without which, as the papists themselves assert, it cannot subsist.
In order to demonstrate this matter, we shall (so as not to intermix all sorts of writers) adduce the various notes of P. J. Twisk, who gives information in regard to this subject from Platina's Registers of the Popes, and other celebrated papistic authors, in his Chronicle, printed Anno 1617 at Hoorn; from which we shall briefly extract the following instances, and present them to the reader.
* Concerning this matter, P. J, Twisk gives this account: "At this time there were three popes at once, namely, Gregory XII, Benedict XIII, and Alexander V. Thus was the' great city, the spiritual Babylon divided into three parts, as a token of its approaching fall. Chron. for the year 1409, page 762, col. 1.
** Where no true foundation is, there is no stability; this is apparent here: for as immoderate as they were in seeking to possess the Roman chair, so immoderate they were also in leaving it vacant.
We shall, however, omit brief periods of a few
days, weeks, or months, and pass on to intervals of more than a year, which, consequently, are not reckoned by months, or still lesser periods. In this we shall begin with the shortest period, and end with the longest.
On page 225, cot. 1, mention is made of pope Martin I (in the Register the seventy sixth), that he was carried away a prisoner by Constantine, emperor at Constantinople, and sent into exile, where he died; whereupon the chair stood vacant for over a year. Ex. Hist. Georg; lib. 4. Platin. fol. 135. Zeg. fol. 224, 225.
Page 260, cot. 2, the same writer relates of Paul I (the ninety fifth in the Register), that he excommunicated Constantine V, who had thrown the images out of the church; and that Constantine, not heeding this, in his turn excommunicated the pope; whereupon the latter died, and the Roman chair was without occupant, and the church without a head, one year and one month. Ex. Platinae Regist. Pap. fol. 166. hist. Georg. lib. 4. Franc. Altars. fol. 54.
After that he. makes mention of. Pope Honorius I (in the Regiter the seventy second), that he, having instituted the exaltations of the Holy Cross, the Saturday processions, which had to be held at Rome, the special prayers in the invocation of the departed saints, etc., was deposed by a certain council at Constantinople; and that, he having died the chair at Rome was vacant for one year and seven months. See above mentioned Chronicle, page 218. cot. 1. ex hist. Georg. lib. 4. Franc. Ala. Reg. fol. 44. Platin. Succ. Papae. fol. 130.
When Pope John XXIV was deposed on account of his wicked life and ungodly conduct, .and placed in confinement somewhere, in the time of emperor Sigismund and the council of Constance, there was for the time of two years and five months no one who took charge of the papal government; hence the chair was without an occupant for that length of time. See aforementioned Chronicle, for the year 1411, p. 769. cot. v. ex Fasc. Temp. fol. 187. Platin. fol. 401. Onu f . fol. 406. 417. Hfst. Eccl. Casp. Hedio. part. 3. lib. 11. Chronol. Leonh. lib. 6. Joh. Stumpf. fol. 21. Hist. Georg. lib. 9. Hist. Mart. Adr. fol. 53. to 66. Jan Crisp. fol. 356. to 175. Zeg. fol. 326.
Moreover, twice it happened, that for the space of about three years no one was pope, or general head of the Roman church; first, after the deposition of Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon; secondly, before the election of Otto Calumna, called Martin V, thus named because he was consecrated or ordained on St. Martin's day. Concerning the first time, see P. J. Twisk, Chron. for the year 1415. page 774 cot. 1; concerning the second, see in the same book, for the year 1417, or two years afterwards p. 781. cot. 1. compared with Fasc. Temp. fol. 187 Platin. fol. 470. Hist. Georg. lib. 6. Mern. fol. 913. Seb. Fr. (old edition) fol. 31.
After the death of Pope Nicholas I (the 108th in the Register), information is obtained from Platina, according to the account of various other authors, relative to the condition of the Roman church at that time; namely, that she had no pope or head for eight years, seven months and nine days. Compare Plat. Reg. Pap. fol. 197. with Georg. hist. lib. 5. Joh. Munst. fol. 14. Mern. fol. 556. Francisc. Ala. fol. 60. Also, P. J. Twisk, Chron. 9th Book, edition o f 1617. p. 297. cot. 2.
OF THE UNGODLY LIFE AND DISORDERLY CONDUCT
OF SOME OF THE POPES
Many of the ancient writers, even good Romanists, are so replete with the manifold ungodly and extremely disorderly conduct of some of those who occupied the papal chair, and are placed in the Register of the true successors of Peter, that one hardly knows how to begin, much less how to end.*
We shall therefore, so as not to cause any doubts as regards our impartiality, not adduce all, but only a few, and these not the worst, but, when contrasted with those whom we shall not mention, the very best examples of the kind; and shall then soon leave them, as we have no desire to stir up this sink of rottenness, and pollute our souls with its stench.
Concerning the simony or sacrilege of some popes, a brief account is given from Platina and other papistic writers, in the Chronijk van den Ondergang, 9th Book, for the year 828. p. 281. cot. 2. and p. 282. cot. 1. The writer of said chronicle, having related the complaint of the king of France
* Besides what is told in the body of the work concerning the ungodly life and disorderly conduct of some popes, it is related by other authors, that some of them were accused (even by those of the Roman church) of heresy, and apostasy from the Roman faith. From "Platina's Register of the Popes, number 37," is adduced the apostasy of Pope Liberius to the tenets of the Arians; which happened in this wise: The emperor, being at that time tainted with the tenets of the Arians, deposed Pope Liberius, and sent him into exile ten years. But when Liberius, overcome by the grievousness of his misery, became infected with the faith and the confession of the Arian sect, he was victoriously reinstated by the emperor, into his papal chair at Rome. Compare Chron. Platinae (old edition) fol. 73. Fasc. Temp fol. 102. Chron. Holl. div. 2. cap. 20. with P. J. Twisk Chron. 4th Book, for the year 353, page 150. cot. 2.
Concerning the apostasy of Pope Anastasius II to the tenets of Achacius, bishop of Constantinople, and, consequently. to the Nestorians, we find, from various Roman authors, this annotation: Anastasius was at first a good Christian, but was afterwards seduced by the heretic Achacius, bishop of Constantinople. This was the second pope of bad repute who adhered to the heresy of Nestorius, even as Liberius adhered to the heresy of Arius. Plat. Regist. Pap. fol. 100. Fasc. Temp. fol. 113. Chron. Holl. div. c. 20. compared with the Chronijk van den Ondergang, edition of 1617, 5th Book, for the year 497. p. 171. cot. 2.
Some time after Hononus I had been exalted to the dig$nits of the Roman chair, it was found that he did not maintain the doctrines of the Roman church, but was opposed to them, although he seemed to ingratiate himself with her in some external things. Concerning this, the following words are given by a certain author: Honorius added the invocation of the saints to the litanies: he built many temples, and decorated them with great magnificence; but this pope was afterwards condemned as a heretic, to ether with six prelates, by the sixth council of Constantinople. Compare Hist. Georg . lib. 4. Franc. Ala. fol. 44. Platin, Regiat. Pap. fol. 130. with the last mentioned Chronicle, edition of 1617, for the year 622, page 218. cot. 1.
In addition to the evil testimony which is given of John XXIV, P. J. Twisk gives the following account: "This Pope John, as some say, forcibly took possession of the papal chair, and is styled by the ancient writers a true standard bearer of all heretics and epicures. He was a man better fitted for arms and war, than for the service of God." Chronijk, P. J. Twisk, 15th Book, for the year 1411. p. 768. eol. 2.
about the revenue of twenty eight tonnen gold,* annually drawn by the popes from said kingdom, proceeds, to say: "How true the foregoing is, appears sufficiently from the fact that John XXII. at his death left two hundred and fifty tonnen gold ($7,000,000) in his private treasury; as Franciscus Petrarcha, a credible writer, plainly states.
Boniface VII, finding that he could no longer remain in safety at Rome, surreptitiously took the precious jewels and treasures. from St. Peter's coffers, and fled with them to Constantinople.
Clemens VIII, and other popes, were at various times convicted of such sacrilege, by their own people.
Gregory IX sold his absolution to the emperor for a hundred thousand ounces of gold.
Benedict IX, being stricken with fear, sold to Gregory VI the papal chair, for fifteen hundred pounds of silver.
The simony and sacrilege of Alexander Vi is also sufficiently known, from his epitaph, whieh we, for certain reasons, omit.
Further, how Leo X, through Tetzel, and many other popes, through their legates and nuncios, sold their letters of indulgence, is better known throughout all so called Christendom than the popes of Rome desire. Compare this with Ghron.. Plat. ( old edition) fol. 183. Fran. Ala. fol. 58 Onpartijdigen Rechter, fol. 28.
Concerning the open tyranny, secret treachery, and deadly poisoning, imputed to some of the popes, the following account is given from Vergerius and others
I. Their Tyranny. Julius II had more than two hundred thousand Christians put to death, in the space of seven years.
Gregory IX caused the emperor's envoys by whom he was informed, that Jerusalem was retaken, to be strangled, contrary to all justice.
Clemens IV openly beheaded Conrad, the son of the king of Sicily, without valid reasons, or legal proceedings.
It is not necessary to give a recital here, of the innumerable multitude of true Christians, who, through the pretensions of some popes, were deprived of life, in all parts of the earth, by fearful deaths at the hands of the executioner, only on account of their religion; for this is sufficiently known, and needs no further demonstration.
II. Their Treachery. The Emperor Frederick, at the diet of Nuremburg, openly complained of the treachery of Pope Alexander III, and that in the presence of the princes of the empire, before whom he read the letter containing the treason, which the pope had sent to the soldiers of the Turkish emperor.
Gregory II secretly issued a prohibition, not to pay to the Emperor Leo his customary (and due) tax.
Alexander VI availed himself of the assistance
* 2,800,000 guilders, or $784,000.
of the Turks (or at least, called upon them), against the French.
III Their Poisoning. Ancient writers mention, that Pope Paul III poisoned his own mother and niece, that the inheritance of the Farnesi might fall to him.
Innocentius IV, through a priest, administered poison to the emperor, in a host, thus removing him from this life.
Moreover, how another pope, whose name is sufficiently known, put to death by poison, in accordance with Turkish custom, the brother of Gemeno Vajazet, the Mohammedan emperor, which was contrary to common justice, because he was ransomed with two tonnen treasure, needs not to be recounted, as the fame of it has gone out both into the east and the west.
This same pope had at a certain time determined to poison in like manner some cardinals, when the cupbearer made a mistake in the tankard containing the poison (as the ancient writers have annotated), and he who had arranged this, was himself served with it, insomuch that he died with the cardinals who had drank of it. Compare De Tractaten Contarcene, hergerij des Onpartijdigen Rechters, especially pp. 48, 49, 50, with the Cleronijk van den Ondergang, first part, for the year 1227. p. 544. col. 1. 2. Also p. 768. col. 2, of the bad conduct of Pope John XXIV, taken from Fase. Temp. f od. 187. Platin. fol. 401 Ontc f r. fol. 406. 417. Hist. Eccl. Cusp. H.edio. part 3. lib. 11. Chronolog. Leonh. lib. 6. Henr. Bull. of the councils, 2d Book, chap. 8. Joh. Stumph. fol. 21. Hist. Georg. lib. 6. Seb. Fra. (old edition) fol. 31 fol. 89. Hist. Andriani fol. 53 to fod. 66. Jan Crisp. fol. 256 tto 369. Chron. Car. lib. 5. Zeg. fol. 326.
OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS AND PUNISHMENTS
VISITED UPON SOME OF THE POPES
The divine vengeance for great misdeeds is sometimes carried out in this life, and sometimes reserved for the life to come.* The vengeance which is inflicted in this life, is sometimes executed immediately by God Himself; at other times He uses means either the elements, or things composed of the elements, yet without life; and sometimes He does it by means of living creatures as, men, beasts, etc. However, here we shall only speak of the judgment of God visited upon some of the popes in such a manner and through such means, as will be shown.
In the eighth book of the Chrot2ijk van den Undergang der Tyrannen, for the year 767, page 262, col. 2, several examples of this kind are successively related, which we shall present here as is most suitable, and in the best possible order.**
* But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds. Rom. 2:5, 6.
** Notwithstanding, the examples, related in the body of the work are recorded by P. J. Twisk, it is proper to state, that they were extracted from various papistic writers.
The author of said chronicle, after mentioning the ignominious expulsion of Pope Sylvester Campanus from the city of Rome, relates the sad ending of Constantine, Hadrian, John Benedict, Boniface, Lucius% Innocentius, Nicholas, Paul, Leo, Clement, etc.
Pope Constantine II, having led an ungodly life, was deprived, in a council, of both his eyes, and the papal power, and then put into a convent.
Hadrian III, fleeing from Rome, came to Venice in the habit of a gardener, where he was ordered to work in a garden.
Hadrian IV was choked to death by a fly, which flew into his mouth, or, as others say, into his drink, while he was drinking.
John XI,* being apprehended by the soldiers of a certain Guido, was smothered with a pillow, which they held upon his mouth.
John XXII was crushed by the falling in of the vault of a pavilion, and thus departed this life.
Benedict Vl,** was shut up in the Castle Angelo, by Cynthius, a citizen of Rome, and there strangled by him, on account of his great villainy.
Benedict IX was killed by poison, which had been put into a fig by an abbess, who was considered a devout, spiritual daughter.
The body of Boniface VII, who had died a sudden death, was dragged along the street, with his feet tied to a rope, and ignominiously buried in the common grave.
Lucius II, about to storm the capitol, whither the senators had fled, was so seriously pelted with stones, that he died soon afterwards.
When Innocentius IV had unjustly sentenced to death Robert of Lincoln, because he had censured, with the mouth as well as with the pen, the nefarious deeds of the popes, and Robert therefore appealed to Christ, the Supreme judge, the pope was found dead in his bed the following day. ***
Nicholas III died very unexpectedly of apoplexy (called the stroke of God).
Paul II, having supped very merrily, died soon after, likewise apoplexy.
Leo X died while laughing and frolicking at his cups.
Clemens VIII, having conspired with Franciscus, king of France, against the Emperor Charles V, was afterwards apprehended by the emperor's captains, derided above measure, ultimately reinstated in the papal chair, but finally, in the year 1534, suffocated, together with several cardinals, with the smoke of torches. From Onpar. Recht. Also, from various other accepted authors who have previously been referred to. ****
* John XI was put for John XXII; by the author from whom this was taken, but this is an error.
** This Beneict VI was also put for his successor, Benedict IX; which error we have corrected.
*** Our author relates, that before the death of Pope Innocentius IV a voice was hard in the papal court, saying "Come, thou wretched man, to the judgment of God!"
**** Many more such examples might be related here, but, since by these few our aim is sufficiently understood, we deem it unnecessary to enter more deeply into this subject, and shall, therefore, let this suffice.
CONCLUSION OF THE MATTERS HERE RELATED
We will now take leave of the popes, and let them pass. It is enough for us to know, that their succession, of which the papists boast so much, is confused and vain, or, at least, without tenable grounds. How we have proved this, is not for us to say; we let others judge.
This would be a proper time in order to exhibit the highly renowned Latin church, the Roman Babylon, in her full form to bring up from the bottom, and present minutely and in the best order, the manifold and implacable contentions which have arisen from time to time in, with, and among them, on matters of faith, although they have so much to say about their extraordinary unity: how the popes contended against the councils, and the councils against the popes; how one annulled and rejected what the other had made and instituted; yea, how they sometimes persecuted one another even unto death, and devoured and killed each other in the most cruel manner, even as though they were fighting with their avowed enemies; to say nothing of the great amount of superstition and human invention,* which, like horrible monsters and abortions, have proceeded, now by one, then by another, from the lap of the misnamed holy Roman church; for to treat of this, as the subject demands, would be almost an endless task, or, at least, require a whole book. What was once a comedy (with respect to the gay and merry regime of the papal dominion) has, through the beginnings of its downfall, been changed into a tragedy. However, what we have shown, relates only to this present life; but the most mournful tragedy, according to the threatening of God (still we hope for the best), is yet to come, and concerns the future and eternal life.**
Besides these most ungodly things which we have mentioned, they were drunk with the blood of the saints; yea, they did not only pour out as water the blood of the beloved friends and children of God, and cool their thirst for blood therewith, but, besides inconceivable cruelties, they heaped also the greatest ignominy upon their bodies, throwing them like mire upon the earth, or giving them to the beasts for food, or, on stakes and wheels, to the birds to devour.***
God shall certainly visit this yet upon them, and not let it go unavenged. "He that toucheth you," says Zechariah to the church of God, "toucheth the apple of his eye" (Zech. 2:8).
* "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men," saith the Lord. Matt. 15:9.
. ** Everything has its opposite: weeping is the opposite to laughingiwailing and mourning, to shouting and rejoicing; but in all this t is better to rejoice last than before. "Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with theel when thou shall cease to spoil, thou shall be spoiled; and when thou shall make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee" (Isa. 33:1).
*** ` Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matt. 7:1, 2). "If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: be that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword" (Rev. 13:9, 10).
Oh, that they would become converted betimes! Oh, that they would anticipate the uplifted rod of the divine wrath! Oh, that they would fear, and escape, through genuine repentance, the fearful kindled fire of his everlasting displeasure, which the wicked and impenitent shall certainly incur. That meanwhile all those who .are still imprisoned in Babylon, and sit in the darkness and shadow of death, would, for the preservation of their soul, flee out of her; that they would set out for Jerusalem, the spiritual vision of peace (understand, the true church of God); that they would seek their souls' salvation while it is time, yea, that they would find, obtain and preserve it! This is certainly a thing to be wished for.
NOTE- â€œCome out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her sins" ( Rev. 18:4) ,
These words as it appears are taken from the address of the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites who were in bondage, in Babylon, saying as in a hasty and affrighted voice: "Flee out of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense" ( Jer. 51:6).
In like manner men must also hastily come out of the spiritual Babel, out of the confusion and many corrupt, human forms of worship and vanities of the world. "Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). "The Lord give thee understanding in all things" (II Tim. 2:7).
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