There Is One Only God
We all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that He is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.
Eph. 4:6; Deut. 6:4; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 8:6
1 Tim. 1:17
Jas. 1:17; 1 Chron. 29:10-12
By What Means God is Made Known Unto Us
We know Him by two means: first, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, His eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul saith (Rom. 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse.
Secondly, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word; that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.
Ps. 19:2; Eph. 4:6
Ps. 19:8; 1 Cor. 12:6
The Written Word of God
We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care which He has for us and our salvation, commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit His revealed Word to writing; and He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
2 Pet. 1:21
Ex. 24:4; Ps. 102:19; Hab. 2:2
2 Tim. 3:16; Rev. 1:11
Canonical Books of the Holy Scriptures
We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testaments, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God. The books of the Old Testament are: the five books of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the two books of Samuel, the two of the Kings, two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Those of the New Testament are: the four Evangelists, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, namely, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.
From Whence the Holy Scriptures Derive Their Dignity and Authority
We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing, without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.
The Difference Between the Canonical and Apocryphal Books
We distinguish these sacred books from the apocryphal, viz., the third and fourth book of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Syrach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace, the History of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith or of the Christian religion; much less to detract from the authority of the other sacred books.
The Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to be the Only Rule of Faith
We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein. For since the whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For since it is forbidden to add unto or take away any thing from the Word of God,it doth thereby evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects.
Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures; nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees, or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.
Rom. 15:4; John 4:25; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:1; Prov. 30:5; Rev. 22:18; John 15:15; Acts 2:27
1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Cor. 15:2-3; 2 Tim. 3:14; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 John 10
Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Cor. 15:2; Acts 26:22; Rom. 15:4; 1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 3:14
Deut. 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18; John 4:25
Matt. 15:3; 17:5; Mark 7:7; Isa. 1:12; 1 Cor. 2:4
Isa. 1:12; Rom. 3:4; 2 Tim. 4:3-4
Gal. 6:16; 1 Cor. 3:11; 2 Thes. 2:2
1 John 4:1
2 John 10
God is One in Essence, Yet Distinguished in Three Persons
According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct, according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things, visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Ghost is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost have each His personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless these persons thus distinguished are not divided nor intermixed; for the Father hath not assumed the flesh, nor hath the Holy Ghost, but the Son only. The Father hath never been without His Son, or without His Holy Ghost. For they are all three coeternal and coessential. There is neither first nor last; for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.
1 John 5:7; Heb. 1:3
1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16
John 1:1,2; Rev. 19:13; Prov. 8:12
Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3
John 15:26; Gal. 4:6
Phil. 2:6,7; Gal. 4:4; John 1:14
The Proof of the Foregoing Article of the Trinity of Persons in One God
All this we know, as well from the testimonies of Holy Writ as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy Trinity, are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate as to choose them out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis 1:26, 27, God saith: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc. So God created man in His own image, male and female created He them. And Genesis 3:22: Behold, the man is become as one of us. From this saying, Let us make man in our image, it appears that there are more persons than one in the Godhead; and when He saith God created, He signifies the unity. It is true He doth not say how many persons there are, but that which appears to us somewhat obscure in the Old Testament is very plain in the New.
For when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, This is My beloved Son: the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Likewise, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And, There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. In all which places we are fully taught that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless we now believe it by means of the Word of God, but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in heaven.
Moreover we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator by His power;9 the Son is our Savior and Redeemer by His blood;10 the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier by His dwelling in our hearts.
This doctrine of the Holy Trinity hath always been defended and maintained by the true Church, since the times of the apostles to this very day, against the Jews, Mohammedans, and some false Christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers.
Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nice, and of Athanasius; likewise that which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.
2 Cor. 13:13
1 John 5:7
Ps. 45:8; Isa. 61:1
Eccl. 12:3; Mal. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:2
1 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 1:7; 4:14
1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Pet. 1:2; Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5; Rom. 8:9; John 14:16
Jesus Christ is True and Eternal God
We believe that Jesus Christ, according to His divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made nor created (for then He would be a creature), but coessential and coeternal with the Father, the express image of His person, and the brightness of His glory, equal unto Him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that He assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses saith that God created the world; and John saith that all things were made by that Word, which he calleth God. And the apostle saith that God made the worlds by His Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore it must needs follow that He who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ did exist at that time when all things were created by Him.
Therefore the prophet Micah saith: His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle: He hath neither beginning of days nor end of life. He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship, and serve.
John 1:14; Col. 1:15
John 10:30; Phil. 2:6
John 1:2; 17:5; Rev. 1:8
John 8:23,58; 9:35-37; Acts 8:37; Rom. 9:5
The Holy Ghost is True and Eternal God
We believe and confess also that the Holy Ghost from eternity proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore is neither made, created, nor begotten, but only proceedeth from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son; and therefore is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.
Ps. 33:6,17; John 14:16
Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:9; John 15:26
Gen. 1:2; Isa. 48:16; 61:1; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Ps. 139:7
We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by His Son, created of nothing the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto Him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator; that He doth also still uphold and govern them by His eternal providence and infinite power for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God.
He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked strategems to destroy all; and are therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments. Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels; and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.
Gen. 1:1; Isa. 40:26; Heb. 3:4; Rev. 4:11; 1 Cor. 8:6; John 1:3; Col. 1:16
Heb. 1:3; Ps. 104:10; Acts 17:25
1 Tim. 4:3-4; Gen. 1:29-30; 9:2-3; Ps. 104:14-15
1 Cor. 3:22; 6:20; Matt. 4:10
Ps. 103:20; 34:8; 148:2
Heb. 1:14; Ps. 34:8
John 8:44; 2 Pet. 2:4; Luke 8:31; Jude 6
1 Pet. 5:8; Job 1:7
Gen. 3:1; Matt. 13:25; 2 Cor. 2:11; 11:3,14
Matt. 25:41; Luke 8:30,31
We believe that the same God, after He had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that He rules and governs them according to His holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without His appointment; nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For His power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that He orders and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even then when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And as to what He doth surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into it further than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which He has revealed to us in His Word without transgressing these limits.
This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father, who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under His power that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being persuaded that He so restrains the devil and all our enemies that, without His will and permission, they cannot hurt us. And therefore we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.
John 5:17; Heb. 1:3; Prov. 16:4; Ps. 104:9, etc.; Ps. 139:2, etc.
Jas. 4:15; Job 1:21; 1 Kings 22:20; Acts 4:28; 1 Sam. 2:25; Ps. 115:3; 45:7; Amos 3:6; Deut. 19:5; Prov. 21:1; Ps. 105:25; Isa. 10:5-7; 2 Thes. 2:11; Ezek.
14:9; Rom. 1:28; Gen. 45:8; 1:20; 2 Sam. 16:10; Gen. 27:20; Ps. 75:7-8; Isa. 45:7; Prov. 16:4; Lam. 3:37-38; 1 Kings 22:34,38; Ex. 21:13
Matt. 8:31,32; John 3:8
Matt. 8:31; Job 1:12; 2:6
The Creation and Fall of Man, and His Incapacity to Perform What is Truly Good
We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature, whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he hath lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; where St. John calleth men darkness.
Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant to this concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin, and has nothing of himself unless it is given him from heaven. For who may presume to boast that he of himself can do any good, since Christ saith, No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God? In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God? And therefore what the apostle saith ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but what Christ hath wrought in man; which He teaches us when He saith, Without Me ye can do nothing.
Gen. 1:26; Eccl. 7:29; Eph. 4:24
Gen. 1:31; Eph. 4:24
Ps. 49:21; Isa. 59:2
Rom. 5:12; Gen. 2:17; 3:19
Acts 14:16-17; 17:27
Rom. 1:20,21; Acts 17:27
Eph. 5:8; Matt. 6:23
Isa. 26:12; Ps. 94:11; John 8:34; Rom. 6:17; 7:5,17
John 3:27; Isa. 26:12
John 3:27; 6:44,65
1 Cor. 2:14; Ps. 94:11
2 Cor. 3:5
We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and an hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother’s womb, and which produceth in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain: notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by His grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death. Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.
Rom. 5:12,13; Ps. 51:7; Rom. 3:10; Gen. 6:3; John 3:6; Job 14:4
Isa. 48:8; Rom. 5:14
Gal. 5:19; Rom. 7:8,10,13,17-18,20,23
We believe that all the posterity of Adam, being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest Himself such as He is; that is to say, merciful and just: merciful, since He delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom He, in His eternal and unchangeable counsel, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works; just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.
Rom. 9:18,22-23; 3:12
Rom. 9:15-16; 11:32; Eph. 2:8-10; Ps. 100:3; 1 John 4:10; Deut. 32:8; 1 Sam. 12:22; Ps. 115:5; Mal. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 8:29; 9:11,21; 11:5-6; Eph.1:4; Tit. 3:4-5; Acts 2:47; 13:48; 2 Tim. 2:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:2; John 6:27;15:16; 17:9
Rom. 9:17,18; 2 Tim. 2:20
The Recovery of Fallen Man
We believe that our most gracious God, in His admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown himself into temporal and spiritual death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to seek and comfort him when he trembling fled from His presence, promising him that He would give His Son, who should be made of a woman, to bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy.
Gen. 3:8-9,19; Isa. 65:1-2
Heb. 2:14; Gen. 22:18; Isa. 7:14; John 7:42; 2 Tim. 2:8; Heb. 7:14; Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4