The London Baptist Confession of Faith
Published in 1646
The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English
words - but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.
CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of
Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists;
published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant;
likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in
pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.
I. THE Lord our God is but one God,
whose subsistence is in Himself; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but
Himself, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can
approach unto; who is in Himself most holy, every way infinite, in greatness,
wisdom, power, love: merciful and gracious, long- suffering, and abundant in
goodness and truth; who giveth being, moving and preservation to all creatures.
1 Cor.8:6; Isa.44:6, 46:9; Exod.3:14; 1 Tim.6:16; Isa. 43:15; Ps.147:5; Deut.32:3; Job 36:5; Jer.10:12; Exod.34:6.7; Acts17:28; Rom.11:36
II. IN this divine and infinite
Being there is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; each having the whole
divine Essence, yet the Essence undivided; all infinite without any beginning,
therefore but one God; who is not to be divided in nature, and being, but
distinguished by several peculiar relative properties.
1 Cor.1:3; John 1:1, 15:26; Exod.3:14; 1 Cor.8:6.
III. GOD hath decreed in Himself,
before the world was, concerning all things, whether necessary, accidental or
voluntary, with all the circumstances of them, to work, dispose, and bring about
all things according to the counsel of His own will, to His glory: (Yet without
being the author of sin, or having fellowship with anything therein) in which
appears His wisdom in disposing all things, unchangeableness, power, and
faithfulness in accomplishing His decree: And God hath before the foundation of
the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the
praise and glory of His grace; and leaving the rest in their sin to their just
condemnation, to the praise of His justice.
Isa.46:10; Eph.1:11; Rom.11:33; Ps.115:3, 135:6, 33:15; 1
Sam.10:9.26; Prov.21:6; Exod.21:13; Prov.16:33; Ps.144; Isa.45:7: Jer.14:22;
Matt.6:28,30; Col.1:16, 17; Num.23:19.20 Rom.3:4; Jer.10:10; Eph.1:4,5. Jude
IV. IN the beginning God made all
things very good; created man after His own Image, filled with all meet
perfection of nature, and free from all sin; but long he abode not in this
honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to seduce first Eve, then by her
seducing Adam; who without any compulsion, in eating the forbidden fruit,
transgressed the command of God, and fell, whereby death came upon all his
posterity; who now are conceived in sin, and by nature the children of wrath,
the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and other miseries in this world,
and for ever, unless the Lord Jesus Christ set them free.
Gen.1:1; Col.1:16; lsa.45:12; 1 Cor.15:45,46; Eccles.7:29;
Gen.3:1,4,5; 2 Cor.11:3; 1 Tim.2:14; Ga1.3:22; Rom.5:12,18,19,6:22; Eph.2:3.
V. GOD in His infinite power and
wisdom, doth dispose all things to the end for which they were created; that
neither good nor evil befalls any by chance, or without His providence; and that
whatsoever befalls the elect, is by His appointment, for His glory, and their
Job 38:11: Isa.46:10,11; Eccles.3:14; Mark 10:29.30;
Exod.21:13; Prov.16:33; Rom.8:28.
VI. ALL the elect being loved of God
with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves,
nor their own works, lest any man should boast, but, only and wholly by God,
of His own free grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ, who is made unto us by
God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and all in all, that
he that rejoiceth, might rejoice in the Lord.
Jer.31:2; Eph.1:3,7, 2:8,9; 1 Thess.5:9; Acts 13:38; 2
Cor.5:21; Jer.9:23.24; 1 Cor.1:30.31; Jer.23:6.
VII. AND this is life eternal, that
we might know Him the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. And on
the contrary, the Lord will render vengeance, in flaming fire, to them that know
not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
John 17:3; Heb.5:9; 2 Thess.1:8; John 6:36.
VIII. THE rule of this knowledge,
faith, and obedience, concerning the worship of God, in which is contained the
whole duty of man, is (not men's laws, or unwritten traditions, but) only the
word of God contained in the holy Scriptures; in which is plainly recorded
whatsoever is needful for us to know, believe, and practice; which are the only
rule of holiness and obedience for all saints, at all times, in all places to be
Col.2:23; Matt.15:6,9; John 5:39; 2 Tim.3:15,16,17; Isa.8:20;
Gal.1:8.9: Acts 3:22,23.
IX. THE Lord Jesus Christ, of whom
Moses and the Prophets wrote, the Apostles preached, He is the Son of God, the
brightness of His glory, etc. by whom He made the world; who upholdeth and
governeth all things that He hath made; who also when the fulness of time was
come, was made of a woman, of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and
David; to wit, of the virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her, the
power of the most High overshadowing her; and He was also tempted as we are, yet
Gen.3:15, 22:18, 49:10; Dan.7:13, 9:24, etc.; Prov.8:23; John
1:1,2,3; Heb.1:8; Ga1.4:4; Heb.7:14; Rev.5:5; Gen.49:9,10; Rom.l:3, 9:10;
Matt.l:16; Luke 3:23,26; Heb.2:16; Isa.53:3,4,5; Heb.4:15.
X. JESUS Christ is made the mediator
of the new and everlasting covenant of grace between God and man, ever to be
perfectly and fully the prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God for
1 Tim.2:5; Heb.9:15; John 14:6; Isa.9:6,7.
XI. UNTO this office He was
appointed by God from everlasting; and in respect of his manhood, from the womb
called, separated, and anointed most fully and abundantly with all gifts
necessary. God having without measure poured out His Spirit upon Him.
Prov.8:23; Isa.42:6, 49:15, 11:2,3,4,5, 61:1.2; Luke
4:17,22; John 1:14,26, 3:34.
XII. CONCERNING His mediatorship,
the Scripture holds forth Christ's call to His office; for none takes this
honour upon Him, but He that is called of God as was Aaron, it being an action
of God, whereby a special promise being made, He ordains His Son to this office;
which promise is, that Christ should be made a sacrifice for sin; that He should
see His seed, and prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper
in His hand; all of mere free and absolute grace towards God's elect, and
without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
Heb.5:4,5,6; Isa.53:10,11; John 3:16; Rom.8:32.
XIII. THIS office to be mediator,
that is, to be prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God, is so proper to
Christ, that neither in whole, or any part thereof, it cannot be transferred
from Him to any other.
1 Tim.2:5; Heb.7:24; Dan.7:14; Acts 4:12; Luke 1:33; John
XIV. THIS office to which Christ is
called, is threefold; a prophet, priest, and king: This number and order of
offices is necessary, for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His
prophetical office; in respect of our great alienation from God, we need His
priestly office to reconcile us; and in respect of our averseness and utter
inability to return to God, we need His kingly office, to convince, subdue,
draw, uphold and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom .
Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22,23; Heb. 3:1, 4:14,15; Ps.2:6; 2
Cor. 5:20; Acts 26:18; Col.1:21; John 16:8; Ps.110:3; Song of Sol.1:3; John 6:44;
Phil.4:13; 2 Tim.4:18.
XV. CONCERNING the prophecy of
Christ, it is that whereby He hath revealed the will of God, whatsoever is
needful for His servants to know and obey; and therefore He is called not only a
prophet and doctor, and the apostle of our profession, and the angel of the
covenant, but also the very wisdom of God, in whom are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge, who for ever continueth revealing the same truth of the
gospel to His people.
John 1:18. 12:49,50, 17:8; Deut.18:15; Matt.23:10; Heb.3:1;
Mal.3:1;1 Cor.1 :24; Col.2:3.
XVI. THAT He might be a prophet
every way complete, it was necessary He should be God, and also that He should
be man: For unless He had been God, He could never have perfectly understood the
will of God; and unless He had been man, He could not suitably have unfolded it
in His own person to men.
John 1:18; Acts 3:22; Deut.18:15; Heb.1:1.
Note: That Jesus Christ is God is
wonderfully and clearly expressed in the Scriptures. He is called the mighty
God. lsa.9:6. That Word was God, John 1:1. Christ, who is God over all, Rom.9:5.
God manifested in the flesh, 1 Tim.3:16. The same is very God, 1 John 5:20. He
is the first, Rev.1:8. He gives being to all things, and without Him was nothing
made, John 1:2. He forgiveth sins, Matt.9:6. He is before Abraham, John 8:58. He
was and is, and ever will be the same, Heb.13:8. He is always with His to the
end of the world, Matt.28:20. Which could not be said of Jesus Christ, if He
were not God. And to the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,
Heb.1:8. John 1:18. Also, Christ is not only perfectly God, but perfect man,
made of a woman, Ga1.4:4. Made of the seed of David, Rom.1:3. Coming out of the
loins of David, Acts 2:30. Of Jesse and Judah, Acts 13:23. In that the children
were partakers of flesh and blood He Himself likewise took part with them,
Heb.2:14. He took not on Him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham,
verse 16. So that we are bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. Eph.5:30. So
that He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one. Heb.2:11.
See Acts 3:22; Deut.18:15 Heb.1:1.
XVII. CONCERNING His priesthood,
Christ having sanctified Himself, hath appeared once to put away sin by that one
offering of Himself a sacrifice for sin, by which He hath fully finished and
suffered all things God required for the salvation of His elect, and removed all
rites and shadows, etc. and is now entered within the veil into the holy of
holies, which is the presence of God. Also, He makes His people a spiritual
house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God
through Him. Neither doth the Father accept, nor Christ offer to the Father, any
other worship or worshippers.
John 17:19; Heb.5:7,8,9,10.12; Rom.5:19; Eph.5:2; Col.1:20;
Eph.2:14, etc.; Rom.8:34; Heb.9:24, 8:1; 1 Pet.2:5; John 4:23.24.
XVIII. THIS priesthood was not legal
or temporary, but according to the order of Melchisedek, and is stable and
perfect, not for a time, but forever, which is suitable to Jesus Christ, as to
Him that ever liveth. Christ was the priest, sacrifice, and altar: He was a
priest according to both natures; He was a sacrifice according to His human
nature; whence in Scripture it is attributed to His body, to His blood: Yet the
effectualness of this sacrifice did depend upon His divine nature; therefore it
is called the blood of God. He was the altar according to His divine nature, it
belonging to the altar to sanctify that which is offered upon it, and so it
ought to be of greater dignity than the sacrifice itself.
Heb.7:16, etc.; Heb.5:6, 10:10; 1 Pet.l:18,19; Col.1:20 22;
Heb.9:13; Acts 20:28; Heb.9:14, 13:10.12,15; Matt.23:17; John 17:19.
XIX. CONCERNING His kingly office,
Christ being risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and having all power
in heaven and earth, He doth spiritually govern His church, and doth exercise
His power over all, angels and men, good and bad, to the preservation and
salvation of the elect, and to the overruling and destruction of His enemies. By
this kingly power He applieth the benefits, virtue, and fruits of His prophecy
and priesthood to His elect, subduing their sins, preserving and strengthening
them in all their conflicts against Satan, the world, and the flesh, keeping
their hearts in faith and filial fear by His Spirit: By this His mighty power He
ruleth the vessels of wrath, using, limiting and restraining them, as it seems
good to His infinite wisdom.
1 Cor.15:4; 1 Pet.3:21,22; Matt.28:18,19; Luke 24:51; Acts
1:1, 5:30,31; John 19:36; Rom.14:9; John 5:26,27; Rom. 5:6,7,8, 14:17;
Ga1.5:22,23; Mark 1:27; Heb.l:14; John 16: 15; Job 2:8;
Rom.1:21; Eph.4:17,18; 2 Pet.2.
XX. THIS His kingly power shall be
more fully manifested when He shall come in glory to reign among His saints,
when He shall put down all rule and authority under His feet, that the glory of
the Father may be perfectly manifested in His Son, and the glory of the Father
and the Son in all His members.
1 Cor.15:24,28; Heb.9:28; 2 Thess.l:9,10; 1 Thess.4:15,16,17;
XXI. JESUS Christ by His death did
purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him: These only have
interest in Him, and fellowship with Him, for whom He makes intercession to His
Father in their behalf, and to them alone doth God by His Spirit apply this
redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given to them, and none
Eph.1:14; Heb.5:9; Matt.1:21; John 17:6; Heb.7:25; 1 Cor.2:
12; Rom.8:29.30; 1 John 5:12; John 15:13,3:16.
XXII. FAITH is the gift of God,
wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God; by which faith they
come to know and believe the truth of the Scriptures, and the excellency of them
above all other writings, and all things in the world, as they hold forth the
glory of God in His attributes, the excellency of Christ in His nature and
offices, and of the power and fulness of the Spirit in its [His] workings and
operations; and so are enabled to cast their souls upon His truth thus believed.
Eph.2:8; John 6:29, 4:10; Phi1.1:29; Ga1.5:22; John 17:17;
Heb.4: 11,12; John 6:63.
XXIII. ALL those that have this
precious faith wrought in them by the Spirit, can never finally nor totally fall
away; seeing the gifts of God are without repentance; so that He still begets
and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of
the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise, and beat
against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and
rock, which by faith they are fastened upon; not withstanding, through unbelief,
and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of this light and love, be
clouded and overwhelmed for a time; yet God is still the same, and they shall be
sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their
purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their
names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
Matt.7:24.25; John 13:10.10:28,29; 1 Pet.1:4.5,6;
XXIV. FAITH is ordinarily begotten
by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power
or agency in the creature; but it being wholly passive, and dead in trespasses
and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less power than that which raised
Christ from the dead.
Rom.10:17; 1 Cor.1:28; Rom.9:16; Ezek.16:16; Rom. 3:12,1:16;
XXV. THE preaching of the gospel to
the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely
necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding
ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to
receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince
and a Saviour for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe
John 3:14.15.1:12; Isa.55:1; John 7:37; 1 Tim.1:15;
Rom.4:5.5:8; Acts 5:30.31,2:36; 1 Cor.1:22,24.
XXVI. THE same power that converts
to faith in Christ, carrieth on the soul through all duties, temptations,
conflicts, sufferings; and whatsoever a believer is, he is by grace, and is
carried on in all obedience and temptations by the same.
1 Pet.1:5; 2 Cor.12:9; 1 Cor.15:10; Phil.2:12,13; John 15:5; Gal. 2:19-20.
XXVII. ALL believers are by Christ
united to God; by which union, God is one with them, and they are one with Him;
and that all believers are the sons of God, and joint heirs with Christ, to whom
belong all the promises of this life, and that which is to come.
1 Thess.1:1; John 17:21, 20:17; Heb.2:11; 1 John 4:16;
XXVIII. THOSE that have union with
Christ, are justified from all their sins by the blood of Christ, which
justification is a gracious and full acquittance of a guilty sinner from all
sin, by God, through the satisfaction that Christ hath made by His death for all
their sins, and this applied (in manifestation of it) through faith.
1 John 1:7; Heb.10:14, 9:26; 2 Cor.5:19; Rom.3:23; Acts
13:38-39; Rom.5:1, 3:25,30.
XXIX. ALL believers are a holy and
sanctified people, and that sanctification is a spiritual grace of the new
covenant, and an effect of the love of God manifested in the soul, whereby the
believer presseth after a heavenly and evangelical obedience to all the
commands, which Christ as head and king in His new covenant hath prescribed to
1 Cor.1:2; 1 Pet.2:9; Eph.1:4; 1 John 4:16; Matt.28:20.
XXX. ALL believers through the
knowledge of that justification of life given by the Father and brought forth by
the blood of Christ have as their great privilege of that new covenant, peace
with God, reconciliation, whereby they that were afar off are made nigh by that
blood, and have peace passing all understanding; yea, joy in God through our
Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received atonement.
2 Cor.5:19; Rom.5:9,10; Isa.54:10; Eph.2:13,14, 4:7;
XXXI. ALL believers in the time of
this life, are in a continual warfare and combat against sin, self, the world,
and the devil; and are liable to all manner of afflictions, tribulations and
persecutions, being predestinated and appointed thereunto, and whatsoever the
saints possess or enjoy of God spiritually, is by faith; and outward and
temporal things are lawfully enjoyed by a civil right by them who have no faith.
Rom.7:23,24; Eph.6:10,11,etc.; Heb.2:9,10; 2 Tim.3:12;
Rom.8:29; 1 Thess.3:3; Gal.2:19,20; 2 Cor.5:7; Deut.2:5.
XXXII. THE only strength by which
the saints are enabled to encounter with all oppositions and trials, is only by
Jesus Christ, who is the captain of their salvation, being made perfect through
sufferings; who hath engaged His faithfulness and strength to assist them in all
their afflictions, and to uphold them in all their temptations, and to preserve
them by His power to His everlasting kingdom.
John 16:33,15:5; Phil.4:11; Heb.2:9,10; 2 Tim.4:18.
XXXIII. JESUS Christ hath here on
earth a spiritual kingdom, which is His Church, whom He hath purchased and
redeemed to Himself as a peculiar inheritance; which Church is a company of
visible saints, called and separated from the world by the word and Spirit of
God, to the visible profession of faith of the gospel, being baptized into that
faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement in the
practical enjoyment of the ordinances commanded by Christ their head and king.
Matt.11:11; 2 Thess.1:1; 1 Cor.1:2; Eph.1:1; Rom.1:7; Acts
19:8,9,26:18; 2 Cor.6:17; Rev.18:4; Acts 2:37,10:37; Rom.10:10; Matt.18:19.20;
Acts 2:42, 9:26; 1 Pet.2:5.
XXXIV. TO this Church He hath made
His promises, and giveth the signs of His covenant, presence, acceptation, love,
blessing, and protection. Here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly
graces flowing forth to refresh and strengthen them.
Matt.28:18, etc.; 1 Cor.11:24. 3:21; 2 Cor.6:18; Rom.9:4.5;
Ps.133:3; Rom.3:7,10; Ezek.47:2.
XXXV. AND all His servants of all
estates (are to acknowledge Him to be their prophet, priest, and king;) and
called thither to be enrolled among His household servants, to present their
bodies and souls, and to bring their gifts God hath given them, to be under His
heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in this walled sheepfold,
and watered garden, to have communion here with His saints, that they may be
assured that they are made meet to be partakers of their inheritance in the
kingdom of God; and to supply each others wants, inward and outward; (and
although each person hath a propriety in his own estate, yet they are to supply
each others wants, according as their necessities shall require, that the name
of Jesus Christ may not be blasphemed through the necessity of any in the
Church) and also being come, they are here by Himself to be bestowed in their
several order, due place, peculiar use, being fitly compact and knit together
according to the effectual working of every part, to the edifying of itself in
Acts 2:41,47; Isa.4:3; 1 Cor.12:6,7, etc.; Ezek.20:37,40; Song
of Sol.4:12: Eph.2:19: Rom.12:4,5,6; Col.1:12, 2:5,6,19; Acts 20:32, 5:4,
2:44,45, 4:34.35; Luke 14:26; 1 Tim.6:1; Eph.4:16.
XXXVI. BEING thus joined, every
church hath power given them from Christ, for their wellbeing, to choose among
themselves meet persons for elders and deacons, being qualified according to the
word, as those which Christ hath appointed in His testament, for the feeding,
governing, serving, and building up of His Church; and that none have any power
to impose either these or any other.
Acts 1:23,26,6:3,15:22.25; Rom.12:7,8; 1 Tim.3:2,6.7; 1 Cor.
12:8,28; Heb.13:7,17; 1 Pet.5:1,2,3, 4:15.
XXXVII. THAT the ministers lawfully
called, as aforesaid, ought to continue in their calling and place according to
God's ordinance, and carefully to feed the flock of God committed to them, not
for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.
Heb.5:4; John 10:3,4; Acts 20:28,29; Rom.12:7,8; Heb.13:7.17;
1 Pet.5: 1.2,3.
XXXVIII. THE ministers of Christ
ought to have whatsoever they shall need, supplied freely by the church, that
according to Christ's ordinance they that preach the Gospel should live of the
gospel by the law of Christ.
1 Cor.9:7,14; Ga1.6:8; Phil.4:15,16; 2 Cor.10:4; 1 Tim.1:2;
XXXIX. BAPTISM is an ordinance of
the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed upon persons professing
faith, or that are made disciples; who upon profession of faith, ought to be
baptized, and after to partake of the Lord's Supper.
Matt.28:18,19; John 4:1; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:37.38,
XL. THAT the way and manner of
dispensing this ordinance, is dipping or plunging the body under water; it being
a sign, must answer the things signified, which is, that interest the saints
have in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ: And that as certainly as
the body is buried under water, and risen again, so certainly shall the bodies
of the saints be raised by the power of Christ, in the day of the resurrection,
to reign with Christ.
Matt.3:16; Mark 15:9 reads (into Jordan) in Greek; John 3:23;
Acts 8:38; Rev.1:5, 7:14; Heb.10:22; Rom.6:3,4,5.6; 1 Cor.15:28.29. The word
baptizo signifies to dip or plunge (yet so as convenient garments be both upon
the administrator and subject with all modesty).
XLI. THE person designed by Christ
to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no
where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the
commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered
disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.
Isa.8:16; Eph.2:7; Matt.28:19; John 4:2; Acts 20:7,11:10; 1
Cor.11:2, 10:16,17; Rom.16:2; Matt.18:17.
XLII. CHRIST hath likewise given
power to His Church to receive in, and cast out, any member that deserves it;
and this power is given to every congregation, and not to one particular person,
either member or officer, but in relation to the whole body, in reference to
their faith and fellowship.
Rom.16:2; Matt.18:17; 1 Cor.5:4,11,13;12:6;2:3; 2 Cor.2:6,7.
XLIII. AND every particular member
of each church, how excellent, great, or learned soever, is subject to this
censure and judgment; and that the church ought not without great care and
tenderness, and due advice, but by the rule of faith, to proceed against her
Matt.18:16, 17:18; Acts 11:2,3; 1 Tim.5:19, etc.; Col.4:17;
XLIV. CHRIST for the keeping of this
church in holy and orderly communion, placeth some special men over the church
who by their office, are to govern, oversee, visit, watch; so likewise for the
better keeping thereof, in all places by the members, He hath given authority,
and laid duty upon all to watch over one another.
Acts 20:27.28; Heb.13:17,24; Matt.24:45; 1 Thess.5:2,14; Jude
3.20: Heb.10:34.35 [cf. 24,25], 12:15.
XLV. ALSO such to whom God hath
given gifts in the church, may and ought to prophecy [viz., teach] according to
the proportion of faith, and to teach publicly the word of God, for the
edification, exhortation, and comfort of the church.
1 Cor.14:3, etc.; Rom.12:6; 1 Pet.4:10,11.; 1 Cor.l2:7 1
XLVI. THUS being rightly gathered,
and continuing in the obedience of the gospel of Christ, none are to separate
for faults and corruptions (for as long as the church consists of men subject to
failings, there will be difference in the true constituted church) until they
have in due order, and tenderness, sought redress thereof.
Rev.2,3; Acts 15:12; 1 Cor.1:10; Heb.10:25; Jude 19, Rev.
2:20,21,27; Acts 15:1,2; Rom.14:1, 15:1,2,3.
XLVII. AND although the particular
congregations be distinct, and several bodies, every one as a compact and knit
city within itself; yet are they all to walk by one rule of truth; so also they
(by all means convenient) are to have the counsel and help one of another, if
necessity require it, as members of one body, in the common faith, under Christ
1 Cor.4:17, 14:33,36,16:1; Ps.122:3; Eph.2:12,19: Rev.2:1; 1
Tim.3:15, 6:13,14; 1 Cor.4:17; Acts 15:2,3; Song of Sol.8:8.9; 2 Cor.8:1.4,
XLVIII. A CIVIL magistracy is an
ordinance of God, set up by Him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the
praise of them that do well; and that in all lawful things, commanded by them,
subjection ought to be given by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for
conscience sake; and that we are to make supplications and prayers for kings,
and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable
life, in all godliness and honesty.
Rom.13:1,2, etc.; 1 Pet.2:13,14; 1 Tim.2:1,2,3.
Note: The supreme magistracy of this
kingdom we acknowledge to be the king and parliament (now established) freely
chosen by the kingdom, and that we are to maintain and defend all civil laws and
civil officers made by them, which are for the good of the commonwealth. And we
acknowledge with thankfulness, that God hath made this present king and
parliament honorable in throwing down the prelatical hierarchy, because of their
tyranny and oppression over us, under which this kingdom long groaned, for which
we are ever engaged to bless God, and honour them for the same. And concerning
the worship of God; there is but one lawgiver, which is able to save and
destroy, James 4;12; which is Jesus Christ, who hath given laws and rules
sufficient in His word for His worship; and for any to make more, were to charge
Christ with want of wisdom, or faithfulness, or both, in not making laws enough,
or not good enough for His house: Surely it is our wisdom, duty, and privilege,
to observe Christ's laws only, Ps. 2:6,9,10,12. So it is the magistrates duty to
tender the liberty of mens' consciences. Eccles.8:8 (which is the tenderest
thing unto all conscientious men, and most dear unto them, and without which all
other liberties will not be worth the naming, much less enjoying) and to protect
all under them from wrong, injury, oppression and molestation; so it is our duty
not to be wanting in nothing which is for their honour and comfort, and
whatsoever is for the wellbeing of the commonwealth wherein we live; it is our
duty to do, and we believe it to be our express duty, especially in matters of
religion, to be fully persuaded in our minds of the lawfulness of what we do, as
knowing whatsoever is not of faith is sin. And as we cannot do anything contrary
to our understandings and conscience: neither can we forebear the doing or that
which our understandings and consciences bind us to do. And if the magistrate
should require us to do otherwise, we are to yield our persons in a passive way
to their power, as the saints of old have done, James 5:4. And thrice happy
shall he be, that shall lose his life for witnessing (though but for the least
tittle) of the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Pet.5: Gal:5.
XLIX. BUT in case we find not the
magistrate to favour us herein; yet we dare not suspend our practice, because we
believe we ought to go in obedience to Christ, in professing the faith which was
once delivered to the saints, which faith is declared in the holy Scriptures,
and this our confession of faith a part of them, and that we are to witness to
the truth of the Old and New Testament(s) unto the death, if necessity require,
in the midst of all trials and afflictions, as His saints of old have done; not
accounting our goods, lands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brethren,
sisters; yea, and our own lives dear unto us, so we may finish our course with
joy; remembering always, that we ought to obey God rather than men, who will
when we have finished our course, and kept the faith, give us the crown of
righteousness; to whom we must give an account of all our actions, and no man
being able to discharge us of the same.
Acts 2:40,41,4:19,5:28,29,20:23; 1 Thess.3:3; Phil.1:28,29;
Dan. 3:16,17,6:7,10,22,23; 1 Tim.6:13,14; Rom.12:1.8; 1 Cor.14:37; Rev.2:20; 2
Tim.4:6,7,8; Rom.14:10,12; 2 Cor.5:10; Ps.49:7, 50:22.
L. IT is lawful for a Christian to
be a magistrate or civil officer; and also it is lawful to take an oath, so it
be in truth, and in judgment, and in righteousness, for confirmation of truth,
and ending of all strife; and that by wrath and vain oaths the Lord is provoked
and this land mourns.
Acts 8:38, 10:1,2,35; Rom.16:23; Deut.6:13; Rom.1:9; 2 Cor.
10:11; Jer.4:2; Heb.6:16.
LI. WE are to give unto all men
whatsoever is their due, as their place, age, estate, requires; and that we
defraud no man of anything, but to do unto all men, as we would they should do
1 Thess.4:6; Rom.13:5,6,7; Matt.22:21; Titus 3; 1 Pet.
2:15.17. 5:5; Eph.5:21,23, etc., 6:1.9; Titus 3:1,2,3.
LII. THERE shall be a resurrection
of the dead, both of the just and unjust, and everyone shall give an account of
himself to God, that every one may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Acts 24:15; 1 Cor.5:10: Rom.14:12.
THUS we desire to give unto Christ that which is His; and unto
all lawful authority that which is their due; and to owe nothing to any man but
love; to live quietly and peaceably, as it becometh saints, endeavouring in all
things to keep a good conscience, and to do unto every man (of what judgment
soever) as we would they should do unto us, that as our practice is, so it may
prove us to be a conscientious, quiet, and harmless people (no ways dangerous or
troublesome to human society) and to labour and work with our hands that we may
not be chargeable to any, but to give to him that needeth, both friends and
enemies, accounting it more excellent to give than to receive. Also we confess,
that we know but in part, and that we are ignorant of many things which we
desire and seek to know; and if any shall do us that friendly part to show us
from the word of God what we see not, we shall have cause to be thankful to God
and them; but if any man shall impose upon us anything that we see not to be
commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ, we should in His strength rather embrace all
reproaches and tortures of men, to be stripped of all outward comforts, and if
it were possible, to die a thousand deaths, rather than to do anything against
the least tittle of the truth of God or against the light of our own
consciences. And if any shall call what we have said heresy, then do we with the
Apostle acknowledge, that after the way they call heresy, worship we the God of
our fathers, disclaiming all heresies (rightly so called) because they are
against Christ, and to be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in obedience
to Christ, as knowing our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
ARISE, O God, plead thine own cause; remember how the foolish
man blasphemeth Thee daily. O let not the oppressed return ashamed, but let the
poor and needy praise Thy name.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
DECLARATION of the FAITH and JUDGMENT of Baptized Believers:
"Be ready always” saith the Apostle Peter, "to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear," 1 Pet. 3:15. It is therefore our duty in meekness and love to give an answer to those godly persons, which desire to be fully informed of our judgment concerning religion and the ways of our God: To those therefore that have expressed a desire to be so informed, I thus answer.
In a book lately reprinted, entitled, A Confession of Faith of Several Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, etc. is a plain and sincere expression of our judgment in the things therein spoken of, in 52 Articles: And if our judgment touching some particulars, wherein we seem, or are supposed, to dissent from some others, do not appear clearly enough in that confession, I hope that same shall somewhat more clearly appear in this ensuing Appendix.
We believe that the punishment due to Adam for his first rebellion, and due to all men for their sin in Adam, and for all their sins against the law, was not a lying of the whole person of man in the dust, or grave, eternally without life or sense; for then the punishment of man that sinned, should not have differed from the punishment to the brute beast that sinned not. But the punishment due to man, as aforesaid, was "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish," and that eternal: And consequently the redemption, which we have by Christ from the curse of the law, is a redemption from eternal misery and torment: this we learn from these places of Scripture compared together, Rom. 2:8-9; Jude 7; Ga1. 3:13: Heb. 9:12.
We believe that the eternity of the punishment of the vessels of wrath, is an absolute eternity, knowing no end; as well as the eternity of the life of the saints, Matt. 25:46. This we maintain against those that affirm that all men shall be saved at the last.
Although all the power of the creature to act be from the Creator, and there is a providence of God always extended to every creature, and to every action of the creature; yet we judge that the final corruption of the creature, and the sinfulness of the creature's action, is from the creature, and not from God: and that it is a great sin to say that God is the author of sin, Eccles. 7:29; Hab. 1:13; James 1:13-15; 1 Cor. 14:33; 1 John 2:16.
As touching that place which is here objected against us, viz., Amos 3:6, "Shall there be evil in a city, etc.." we conceive that it is either to be rendered according to the last translation in the margin, "Shall there be evil in a city, and shall not the Lord do somewhat?" or else that it is to be understood only of the evil of punishment, and not of the evil of sin.
We teach that they only do, or can believe in Jesus Christ, to whom it is given to believe in Him by a special, gracious and powerful work of His Spirit: And that this is (and shall be) given to the elect in the time appointed of God for their effectual calling; and to none but the elect, John 6:64-65; Phil. 1:29; Jer. 31:33-34; Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 8:29-30; John 10:26. This we hold against those that do maintain a freewill and sufficient ability in a man to believe; and do deny election.
We affirm, that as Jesus Christ never intended to give remission of sins and eternal life unto any but His sheep (John 10:15, 17:2; Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 5:9); so these sheep only have their sins washed away in the blood of Christ: The vessels of wrath, as they are none of Christ's sheep, nor ever believe in Him, so they have not the blood of Christ sprinkled upon them, neither are partakers of Him: And therefore have all their sins remaining upon them, and are not saved by Christ from any of them under any consideration whatsoever; but must lie under the intolerable burden of them eternally. The truth of this appears unto us by the light of these Scriptures compared together. Heb.12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Heb. 3:14; Matt. 7:23; Eph. 5:6; 1 Tim. 1:9; John 8:24.
Though some of our opponents do affirm. that by this doctrine we leave no Gospel to be preached to sinners for their conversion; yet through the goodness of God we know and preach to sinners this precious Gospel: "God so loved the world, (that is, has been so loving to mankind) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him. should not perish, but have everlasting life," John 3:16; and this faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, "That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim.1:15, viz., all those sinners (how vile and grievous soever) not only which already do, but also which hereafter shall believe on Him to everlasting, 1 Tim.1:16, and that "to Christ all the Prophets give witness, that through His name, whosoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins," Acts 10:43. And this is called “The word of the Gospel”, Acts 15:7. This is the Gospel, which Christ and His Apostles preached, which we have received, and by which we have been converted, unto Christ. And we desire to mind what Paul saith in Gal.1:9, "If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Though we confess that no man doth attain unto faith by his own good will; John 1:13, yet we judge and know that the Spirit of God doth not compel a man to believe against his will, but doth powerfully and sweetly create in a man a new heart, and so make him to believe and obey willingly, Ezek.36:26-27; Ps. 110:3. God thus working in us both to will and to do, of His good pleasure, Phil. 2:13.
Though all our workings for life be in vain, irregular, and not accepted of God, (Jesus Christ being our life, who is freely given to us of God) yet we believe and know that being made partakers of Jesus Christ, we do, and shall, and must, through Him, and walking in Him, bring forth the fruit of good works, serving God (in true obedience, and love, and thankfulness unto Him) in holiness and righteousness, being "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which He hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:10; Luke 1:74-75.
Though we that believe in Christ, be not under the law, but under grace, Rom. 6:14; yet we know that we are not lawless, or left to live without a rule; "not without law to God, but under law to Christ," 1 Cor.9:21. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a law, or commanding rule unto us; whereby, and in obedience whereunto, we are taught to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:11,12; the directions of Christ in His evangelical word guiding us unto, and in this sober, righteous, and godly walking, 1 Tim. 1:10, 11.
Though we be not now sent to the law as it was in the hand of Moses, to be commanded thereby, yet Christ in His Gospel teacheth and commandeth us to walk in the same way of righteousness and holiness that God by Moses did command the lsraelites to walk in, all the commandments of the Second Table being still delivered unto us by Christ, and all the commandments of the First Table also (as touching the life and spirit of them) in this epitome or brief sum, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, etc.," Matt. 22:37,38-40; Rom. 13:8-10.
Though no sin be imputed to those that believe in Christ, nor any sins do totally or fully reign over them, or in them, yet in them "the flesh lusteth against the spirit," Gal. 5:17; and "in many things they all offend," James 3:2, where the Apostle speaks of offenses that one believer may take notice of in another. Thus "there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." Eccles.7:20, and "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," 1 John 1:8.
Though there be no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, yet they are taught, and that effectually, to be ashamed of their sins. Rom.6:21, and to be sorry for them after a godly sort, 2 Cor.7:9-11. Yea to loath themselves for them, Ezek.36:31. Because that sin is an evil and a filthy thing, and in its own nature tends to the provoking and dishonouring of God, being disobedience against God, and a thing which the most holy God declares Himself to loath and abhor; so that nothing but the blood of Christ could purge us from our sins, and reconcile us to God, whom by sin we had offended. Therefore the saints both are, and must be grieved, and must judge them selves, because they have sinned against their holy and glorious God, and merciful and loving Father, 1 Cor.11:31.
Though nothing be hid from God, and God imputeth not iniquity to any believer, yet ought we to confess our sins unto God, and to beseech Him to deal with us according to His own promise; viz.. to be still gracious and merciful unto us though we have sinned against Him, not being wroth with us, nor rebuking us, nor ceasing to do good unto us because we have sinned, Isa. 54:9; Heb. 8:12; Dan. 9:18-20; Ps.32:5, 25:7; Ezek.36:37; James 5:1. Thus according to Christ's direction, we pray unto God to forgive us our sins, Luke 11:4; yet still we are to look upon God as our Father, Luke 11:2; and consequently upon ourselves as His children; and so not short of justification, or under wrath, but washed in Christ's blood from all our sins. In such confession and petitions we show obedience to God, and do also exercise faith towards God, and repentance or godly sorrow for sin by which we see and confess that we for our parts have deserved wrath.
Though they which are once really engrafted into Christ shall certainly "be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," 1 Pet. 1:5; yet ought they to "beware, lest being led away with the error of the wicked they fall from their own steadfastness." 2 Pet. 3:17. They ought therefore to seek continual support from God. Yea they ought to seek at God's hand (in prayer, and in the right use and study of His Word, and in the right use of His ordinances) not only continuance, but also growth in grace, 2 Pet. 3:18. First, because this is God's command. Secondly, because God who will establish them, will do it in this way; viz.. giving them grace to be obedient to this His command, and blessing them in this obedience.
As we mind that our whole salvation is given unto us of the Father by Jesus Christ, and for His sake; so we likewise mind, that the Father's giving Jesus Christ for us, and to us, and so saving us in Him, and for His sake, is the acting and manifesting of that free love of His towards us, which was in Himself from all eternity. John 17:23; Eph.1:4-5.
Although a true believer, whether baptized, or unbaptized, be in the state of salvation, and shall certainly be saved: Yet in obedience to the command of Christ every believer ought to desire baptism, and to yield himself to be baptized according to the rule of Christ in His word: And where this obedience is in faith performed, there Christ makes this His ordinance a means of unspeakable benefit to the believing soul, Acts 2:38, 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:21. And a true believer that here sees the command of Christ lying upon him, cannot allow himself in disobedience thereunto, Acts 24:16.
Believers baptized ought to agree and join together in a constant profession of the same doctrine of the Gospel, and in professed obedience thereunto, and also in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, Acts 2:42. And a company of baptized believers so agreeing and joining together, are a church or congregation of Christ, Acts 2:47.
As the preaching of the Gospel, both for the conversion of sinners, and the edifying of those that are converted; so also the right use of baptism, and of the Lord's Supper, ought to be till the end of the world, Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:26.
A disciple gifted and enabled by the Spirit of Christ to preach the Gospel, and stirred up to this service by the same Spirit, bringing home to his soul the command of Christ in His word for the doing of this work, is a man authorized and sent by Christ to preach the Gospel, see Luke 19:12, etc., Mark 16:15, and Matt. 28:19 compared with Acts 8:4, Phil. 1:14-15; John 17:20. And those gifted disciples which thus preach Jesus Christ who came in the flesh, are to be looked upon as men sent and given of the Lord. 1 John 4:2; Rom. 10:15; Eph. 4:11-13. And they which are converted from unbelief and false worship, and so brought into church fellowship by such preachers according to the will of Christ, are a seal of their ministry, 1 Cor. 9:2. And such preachers of the Gospel may not only lawfully administer baptism unto believers, and guide the action of the church in the use of the Supper, (Matt. 28:19; Acts 8:5-12; 1 Cor.10:16) but may also call upon the churches, and advise them to choose fit men for officers, and may settle such officers so chosen by a church, in the places or offices (of elder or deacon) to which they are chosen by imposition of hands and prayer. Acts 6:3-6; 14:23; Titus 1:5.
Though a believer's right to the use of the Lord's Supper doth immediately flow from Jesus Christ apprehended and received by faith, yet in as much as all things ought to be done not only decently, but also in order, 1 Cor.14:40; and the Word holds forth this order, that disciples should be baptized, Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, and then be taught to observe all things (that is to say. all other things) that Christ commanded the Apostles, Matt. 28:20, and accordingly the Apostles first baptized disciples, and then admitted them to the use of the Supper, Acts 2:41-42. We therefore do not admit any in the use of the Supper, nor communicate with any in the use of this ordinance, but disciples having once been Scripturally baptized, less we should have fellowship with them in their doing contrary to order.
Although we know that in some things we are yet very dark, and in all things as yet we know but in part, and do therefore wait upon God for further light, yet we believe that we ought in our practice to obey, and serve, and glorify God in the use of that light which He hath given us; and not neglect the good using of that light which God hath already given us, under pretense of waiting for more, I Cor. 13:9; Acts 18:25.
As Christ doth not teach, nor allow that we should be without natural affection, or unsociable (see Rom. 1:31); so our being made partakers of Christ, doth not discharge us from the duties of our relations. Believing servants must perform the duties of servants toward their masters though unbelieving, 1 Tim. 6:1. So believing children must perform the duties of children toward their parents, Col. 3:20; believing wives, the duties of wives toward their husbands, 1 Pet. 3:1; and believing subjects must be subject to principalities and powers, and obey magistrates, Rom.13:1ff., Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-15. But still they must remember that their fear toward God must not be taught by the precept of men, Isa. 29:13; that these ought to obey God rather than men, Acts 5:29; and that the submission that must be given to men, must be given to them for the Lord's sake, 1 Pet. 2:14. Thus I conclude with the Apostle's words (in 2 Tim. 2:7) a little varied, but not misapplied, "Consider what we teach: and the Lord give you understanding in all things."