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The Westminster Confession of
Agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster London, England:
Examined and approved, Anno 1647, by the General Assembly of the Church
of Scotland; and ratified by the Acts of Parliament 1649 and 1690.a
on-line version © 2008 Reformation Christian Ministries, All rights reserved.
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Of the Holy Scripture
the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest
the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;
yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will,
which is necessary unto salvation.
Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal
Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church;
and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for
the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of
the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly
which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;
those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.
name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the
books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:
The Song of Songs
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT:
The Gospels according to
The first and second Epistles of
The first, second, and third Epistles
The Epistle of Jude
The Revelation of John
The Acts of the Apostles
To Timothy I
The Epistle to the Hebrews
Paul's Epistles to the
To Timothy II
The Epistle of James
The first and second Epistles of
The first, second, and third Epistles
The Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of James
The Revelation of John
which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.
The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no
part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the
Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other
authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed,
depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who
is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because
it is the Word of God.
We may be
moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem
of the Holy Scripture.
And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of
the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to
give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's
salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection
thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word
of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible
truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit
bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory,
man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or
by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which
nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or
traditions of men.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be
necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the
and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and
government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be
ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general
rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:
yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for
salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or
other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the
ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old),
and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was
most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by
His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore
so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto
But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who
have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear
of God, to read and search them,
therefore they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation
unto which they come,
that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an
and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.
infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and
therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any
Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by
other places that speak more clearly.
supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and
all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and
private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can
be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.
Of God, and of the Holy Trinity
but one only,
living, and true God,
who is infinite in being and perfection,
a most pure spirit,
without body, parts,
working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most
for His own glory;
gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving
iniquity, transgression, and sin;
the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him;
and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments,
hating all sin,
and who will by no means clear the guilty.
in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing
in need of any creatures which He has made,
nor deriving any glory from them,
but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone
fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things;
and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them
whatsoever Himself pleases.
In His sight all things are open and manifest,
His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature,
so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain.
He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.
To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship,
service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.
unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and
eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost:
the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally
begotten of the Father;
the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Of God's Eternal Decree
all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely,
and unchangeable ordain whatsoever comes to pass;
yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,nor
is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or
contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions;
yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that
which would come to pass upon such conditions.
decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels
are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting
angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and
unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot
be either increased or diminished.
mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the
world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret
counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting
out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good
works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as
conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto;
and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
As God has
appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose
of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are
elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,
are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season,
are justified, adopted, sanctified,
and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation.
Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified,
adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own
will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His
sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor
and wrath for their sin, to the praised of His glorious justice.
The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with
special prudence and care,
that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience
thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of
their eternal election.
So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of
and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey
God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,
in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things
therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very
After God had made all other creatures, He
created man, male and female,
with reasonable and immortal souls,
endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;
having the law of God written in their hearts,
and power to fulfil it;
and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their
own will, which was subject unto change.
Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had
dominion over the creatures.
great Creator of all things does uphold,
direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,
from the greatest even to the least,
by His most wise and holy providence,
according to His infallible foreknowledge,
and the free and immutable counsel of His own will,
to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things
come to pass immutably, and infallibly;
yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature
of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
His ordinary providence, makes use of means,
yet is free to work without,
and against them,
at His pleasure.
almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far
manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first
fall, and all other sins of angels and men;
and that not by a bare permission,
but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding,
and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to
His own holy ends;
yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from
God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or
approver of sin.
wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own
children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to
chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden
strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be
and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support
upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of
sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins,
does blind and harden,
from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been
enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts;
but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had,
and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin;
and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world,
and the power of Satan,
whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means
which God uses for the softening of others.
As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a
most special manner, it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and the
parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned, in
eating the forbidden fruit.
This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to
permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God,
and so became dead in sin,
and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed;
and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity
descending from them by ordinary generation.
original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made
opposite to all good,
and wholly inclined to all evil,
do proceed all actual transgressions.
corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are
and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself,
and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and
does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner,
whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God,
and curse of the law,
and so made subject to death,
with all miseries spiritual,
Of God's Covenant with Man
distance between God and the creature is go great, that although reasonable
creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have
any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary
condescension on God's part, which He has been pleased to express by way of
covenant made with man was a covenant of works,
wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity,
upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was
pleased to make a second,
commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners
life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they
may be saved,
and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His
Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.
covenant of grace is frequently set forth in scripture by the name of a
testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the
everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.
covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of
under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices,
circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the
people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come;
which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of
the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,
by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called
the Old Testament.
Gospel, when Christ, the substance,
was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the
preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and
the Lord's Supper:
which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less
outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and
to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles;
and is called the New Testament.
There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one
and the same, under various dispensations.
Of Christ the Mediator
It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His
only begotten Son, to be
the Mediator between God and man,
the Head and Savior of His Church,
the Heir of all things,
and Judge of the world:
unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed,
and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
The Son of God, the second person of the
Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal
Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man's nature,
with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without
being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary,
of her substance.
So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood,
were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition,
Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator
between God and man.
The Lord Jesus, in His human nature thus united
to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy
having in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;
in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell;
to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth,
He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.
Which office He took not unto Himself, but was thereunto called by His Father,
who put all power and judgment into His hand, and gave Him commandment to
execute the same.
This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly
which that He might discharge, He was made
and did perfectly fulfil it;
endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,
and most painful sufferings in His body;
was crucified, and died,
was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption.
On the third day He arose from the dead,
with the same body in which He suffered,
with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His
and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.
The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He
through the eternal Spirit,
once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied
the justice of His Father;
and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the
kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.
Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after
His incarnation, yet the virtue,
efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated
unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and
by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed, and signified
to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head; and the Lamb
slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and
Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature
doing that which is proper
yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is
sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
To all those for whom Christ has purchased
redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and
communicate the same;
making intercession for them,
and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;
effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing
their hearts by His word and Spirit;
overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner,
and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.
Of Free Will
God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither
forced, nor, by any absolute
necessity of nature, determined good, or evil.
Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that
which was good and well
pleasing to God;
but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.
Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly
lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying
so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,
and dead in sin,
is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself
When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees
him from his natural
bondage under sin;
and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is
yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or
only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.
The will of man is made perfectly and immutably
free to do good alone in the state of glory only.(214)
Of Effectual Calling
All those whom God hath predestinated unto life,
and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time,
effectually to call,
by His Word and Spirit,
out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and
salvation, by Jesus Christ;
enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of
taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;
renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which
and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:
yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.
This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything
at all foreseen in man,
is altogether passive therein, until, being
quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,
he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and
conveyed in it.
Elect infants, dying in infancy, are
regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit,
when, and where, and how He pleases:
so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called
by the ministry of the Word.
Others, not elected, although they may be called
by the ministry of the Word,
and may have some
common operations of the Spirit,
yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:
much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other
way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the
light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess.
And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be
Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely
not by infusing righteousness into them, but
pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as
righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's
sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other
evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the
obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,
they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith
they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and
His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification:
yet is it not alone in the person justified, but
is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but
works by love.
Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those
that are thus justified, and did
proper, real and full satisfaction to His Father's justice in their behalf.
Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them;
and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;
and both, freely, not for any thing in them; their justification is only of free
that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the
justification of sinners.
God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,
and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for
sins, and rise again for their justification:
nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time,
actually apply Christ unto them.
God does continue to forgive the sins of those
that are justified;
and although they can never fall from
yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have
the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves,
confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these
respects, one and the same with the
justification of believers under the New Testament.
All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for His only Son Jesus
Christ, to make partakers of the
by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges
of the children of God,
have His name put upon them,
receive the spirit of adoption,
have access to the throne of grace with boldness,
are enabled to cry, Abba, Father,
and chastened by Him as by a Father:
yet never cast off,
but sealed to the day of redemption;
and inherit the promises,
as heirs of everlasting salvation.
They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and
a new spirit created in
them, are further sanctified, really and
personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection,
by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them:
the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,
and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified;
and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,
to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man;
yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some
of corruption in every part;
whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
In which war, although the remaining corruption,
for a time, may much prevail;
yet, through the
continual supply of strength from the
sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome;
and so, the saints grow in grace,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Of Saving Faith
The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of
their souls,is the work of
of Christ in their hearts,
and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word,
by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is
increased and strengthened.
By this faith, a Christian believes to be true
whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God
and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains;
yielding obedience to the commands,trembling
at the threatenings,
and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.
But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting
upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue
of the covenant of grace.
This faith is different in degrees, weak or
may be often and many ways assailed,
weakened, but gets the victory:
growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ,
who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
Of Repentance unto Life
Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace,(
the doctrine whereof is to be
preached by every minister
of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in
By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of
the filthiness and odiousness of
his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and
righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such
as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all
purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.
Although repentance is not to be rested in, as
any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof,
which is the act of God's free grace in Christ,
yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without
As there is no sin so small, but it deserves
so there is no sin so great, that it can bring
upon those who truly repent.
Man ought not to content themselves with a
general repentance, but it is every man's duty to endeavour to
his particular sins, particularly.
As every man is bound to make private confession
of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof;
upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall
so, he that scandalizes his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be
willing, by a private or public confession, and sorrow for his sin, to declare
his repentance to those that are offended,
who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.
Of Good Works
Good works are only such as God has commanded in
His holy Word,
and not such as, without the
thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good
These good works, done in obedience to God's
commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and
and by them believers manifest their thankfulness,
strengthen their assurance,
edify their brethren,
adorn the profession of the Gospel,
stop the mouths of the adversaries,
and glorify God,whose
workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto,that,
having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.
Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the
Spirit of Christ.
they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces
they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same
Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure:
yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to
perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to
be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
They who, in their obedience, attain to the
greatest height which is possibly in this life, are so far from being
supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much
which in duty they are bound to do.
We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin,
or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great
disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite
distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor
satisfy for the debt of our former sins,but
when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable
and because, as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit,
and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness
and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.
Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their
good works also are
accepted in Him;
not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreproveable in
but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that
which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
Works done by unregenerate men, although for the
matter of them they may be things which God
and of good use both to themselves and others:
yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith;
nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word;
nor to a right end, the glory of God,
they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive
grace from God:
and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.
Of the Perseverance of the Saints
They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified
by His Spirit, can neither
totally nor finally fall away from the state of
grace, but shall certainly persevere
therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
This perseverance of the saints depends not upon
their own free will, but upon the immutability of the
election, flowing from the free and
unchangeable love of God the Father;
upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ,
the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them,
and the nature of the covenant of grace:
from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the
prevalency of corruption
remaining in them,
and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins;
and, for a time, continue therein:
whereby they incur God's displeasure,
and grieve His Holy Spirit,
come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts,
have their hearts hardened,
and their consciences wounded;
hurt and scandalize others,
and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.
Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation
Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves
with false hopes and carnal
of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation
(which hope of theirs shall perish):
yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity,
endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be
certainly assured that they are in the state of grace,
and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make
This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a
infallible assurance of faith founded upon the
divine truth of the promises of salvation,
the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,
the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are
the children of God,
which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day
This infallible assurance does not so belong to
the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long,
conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it:
yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him
of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary
means, attain thereunto.
And therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his
calling and election sure,
that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in
love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of
proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
True believers may have the assurance of their
salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted;
negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which wounds
the conscience and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by
God's withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear
Him to walk in darkness and to have no light:
yet are they never so utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith,
that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of
duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due
time, be revived;
and by the which, in the mean time, they are supported from utter despair.
Of the Law of God
God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all
his posterity, to personal, entire,
exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and
threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to
This law, after his fall, continued to be a
perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount
Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables:
the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six,
our duty to man.
Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people
of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical
ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions,
sufferings, and benefits;
and partly, holding forth divers instructions of moral duties.
All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the New Testament.
To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry
judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not
obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.
The moral law does forever bind all, as well
justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof;
and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect
of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it.
Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this
Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be
thereby justified, or condemned;(375)
yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life
informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to
discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives;
so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to
conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin,
together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the
perfection of His obedience.
It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that
it forbids sin:
and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what
afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the
curse thereof threatened in the law.The
promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience,and
what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof:
although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.
So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages
to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law:
and not under grace.
Neither are the forementioned uses of the law
contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply
the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely,
and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.
Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of
The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel consists
in their freedom from the
guilt of sin, and condemning wrath of God, the
curse of the moral law;
and, in their being delivered from this present
evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;
from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and
as also, in their free access to God,
and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like
love and willing mind.
All which were common also to believers under the law.
But, under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in
their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church
and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,
and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the
law did ordinarily partake of.
God alone is Lord of the conscience,
and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men,
in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, in matters of faith, or
So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience,
is to betray true liberty of conscience:
and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is
to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.
They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, do
practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy
the end of
Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our
enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before Him, all the days of our life.
And because the powers which God has ordained,
and the liberty which Christ has purchased are not
by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who,
upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful
exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of
And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as
are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity
(whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of
godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own
nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to
the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church, they
may lawfully be called to account,
and proceeded against, by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty
over all, is good, and does
good unto all, and is therefore to be feared,
loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and
with all the soul, and with all the might.
But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and
so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to
the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any
visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.
Religious worship is to be given to God, the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone;
angels, saints, or any other creature:
and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other
but of Christ alone.
Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special
part of religious worship,
is by God required of all men:
and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,
by the help of His Spirit,
according to His will,
with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance;
and, if vocal, in a known tongue.
Prayer is to be made for things lawful;
and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:
not for the dead,
nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,
the sound preaching
and conscionable hearing of the
Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding,
faith and reverence,
singing of psalms with grace in the heart;
as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments
instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:
beside religious oaths,
and thanksgivings upon special occasions,
which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and
Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious
worship, is now, under the Gospel, either
tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or
towards which it is directed:(but God is to be worshipped
in spirit and truth;(
as, in private families
and in secret, each one by himself;so, more solemnly in the public
assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken,
when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.
As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a
due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and
perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed
one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:
which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the
last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the
first day of the week,(438)
which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's
and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord,
when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand,
do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and
thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations,
but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of
His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
Of Lawful Oaths and Vows
lawful oath is part of religious worship,
wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calls God to witness
what he asserts, or promises, and to judge him according to the truth or
falsehood of what he swears.
name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be
used with all holy fear and reverence.Therefore,
to swear vainly, or rashly, by that glorious and dreadful Name; or, to swear at
all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred.
Yet, as in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of
God, under the New Testament as well as under the old;
so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to
Whosoever takes an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an
act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth:neither may any man
bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he
believes so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform.
Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just,
being imposed by lawful authority.
oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without
equivocation, or mental reservation.
It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to
performance, although to a man's own hurt.Not is it to be
violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.
22.5 A vow
is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like
religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness
22.6 It is
not to be made to any creature, but to God alone:and that it may be
accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in
way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want,
whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other
things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.
man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder
any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the
performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God.
In which respects, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed
poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher
perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian
may entangle himself.
Of the Civil Magistrate
23.1 God, the supreme
Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates, to be, under
Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end,
has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of
them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers.
23.2 It is lawful for
Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called
in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice,
and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth;so, for that end, they may
lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary
23.3 The civil
magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and
sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven:
yet he has authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be
preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all
blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship
and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordainances of God duly
settled, administrated, and observed
For the better effecting whereof, he has power to call synods, to be present at
them and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the
mind of God.
23.4 It is the duty of
people to pray for magistrates,
to honor their persons,
to pay them tribute or other dues,
to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for
Infidelity, or difference in religion, does not make void the magistrates' just
and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them:
from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted,
much less has the Pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions,
or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their
dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other
Of Marriage and Divorce
24.1 Marriage is to be
between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more
than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same
24.2 Marriage was
ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife
for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an
and for preventing of uncleanness
24.3 It is lawful for
all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent
Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord
And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with
infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be
unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life,
or maintain damnable heresies.
24.4 Marriage ought not
to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word.
Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or
consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.The
man may not marry any of his wife's kindred, nearer in blood then he may of his
own: nor the woman of her husband's kindred, nearer in blood than of her own.
24.5 Adultery or
fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives
just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.
In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to
sue out a divorce and, after the divorce
to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.
24.6 Although the
corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder
those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or
such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil
magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:
wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the
persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their
Of the Church
25.1 The catholic or
universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect,
that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head
thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all.
25.2 The visible Church,
which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one
nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world
that profess the true religion)
and of their children:
and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the house and family of God,out of which there is no ordinary
possibility of salvation.
25.3 Unto this catholic
visible Church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God,
for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the
world: and does, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make
them effectual thereunto.
25.4 This catholic
Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible.
And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure,
according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances
administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
25.5 The purest Churches
under heaven are subject both to mixture and error;
and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues
of Satan.Nevertheless, there shall be
always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.
25.6 There is no other
head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any
sense, be head thereof. but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of
perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is
Of the Communion of Saints
26.1 All saints, that
are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have
fellowship with Him in His grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory:
and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's
gifts and graces
and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do
conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
26.2 Saints by
profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship
of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual
as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several
abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be
extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord
26.3 This communion
which the saints have with Christ, does not make them in any wise partakers of
the substance of His Godhead; or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either
of which to affirm is impious and blasphemous.
Nor does their communion one with another, as saints, take away, or infringe the
title or propriety which each man has in his goods and possessions.
Of the Sacraments
27.1 Sacraments are holy
signs and seals of the covenant of grace,
immediately instituted by God,
to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him:
as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church
and the rest of the worldand solemnly to engage them to the
service of God in Christ, according to His Word.
27.2 There is, in every
sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the
thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one
are attributed to the other.
27.3 The grace which is
exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in
them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or
intention of him that does administer it:
but upon the work of the Spirit,and the word of institution, which
contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of
benefit to worthy receivers.
27.4 There are only two
sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism,
and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a
minister of the Word lawfully ordained.
27.5 The sacraments of
the Old Testament in regard to the spiritual things thereby signified and
for substance, the same with those of the new.
28.1 Baptism is a
sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,
not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church;
but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace,
of his ingrafting into Christ,
of remission of sins
and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of
sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in His Church until
the end of the world.
28.2 The outward element
to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of
the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.
28.3 Dipping of the
person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by
pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.
28.4 Not only those that
do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ,
but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized
28.5 Although it is a
great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,yet grace and salvation are not so
inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved,
or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
28.6 The efficacy of
Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;yet, notwithstanding, by the right
use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really
exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants)
as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His
28.7 The sacrament of
Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.
Of the Lord's Supper
29.1 Our Lord Jesus, in
the night wherein He was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of His body and
blood, called the Lord's Supper, to be observed in His Church, unto the end of
the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His
death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual
nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties
which they owe unto Him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with
Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.
29.2 In this sacrament,
Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all, for
remission of sins of the quick or dead;
but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon
the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto
God, for the same:
so that the popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably
injurious to Christ's one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the
sins of His elect
29.3 The Lord Jesus has,
in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to declare His word of institution to
the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to
set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to
take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the
but to none who are not then present in the congregation.
29.4 Private masses, or
receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other alone;
as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people,
worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for
adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all
contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.
29.5 The outward
elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have
such relation to Him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are
sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and
blood of Christ;albeit, in substance and nature,
they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.
29.6 That doctrine which
maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of
Christ's body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of
a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to
common sense, and reason; overthrows the nature of the sacrament, and has been,
and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yes, of gross idolatries.
29.7 Worthy receivers,
outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament,do then also, inwardly by faith,
really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and
feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood
of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread
and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in
that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses
29.8 Although ignorant
and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament; yet, they receive
not the thing signified thereby; but, by their unworthy coming thereunto, are
guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore, all
ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, so
are they unworthy of the Lord's table; and cannot, without great sin against
Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries,
or be admitted thereunto.
Of Church Censures
30.1 The Lord Jesus, as
king and head of His Church, has therein appointed a government, in the hand of
Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.
30.2 To these officers
the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed; by virtue whereof, they have
power, respectively, to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom against the
impenitent, both by the Word, and censures; and to open it unto penitent
sinners, by the ministry of the Gospel; and by absolution from censures, as
occasion shall require.
30.3 Church censures are
necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring
of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might
infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy
profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might
justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals
thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.
30.4 For the better
attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by
admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for a season; and
by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and
demerit of the person.(
Of Synods and Councils
31.1 For the better
government, and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such
assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.
31.2 As magistrates may
lawfully call a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, to consult and advise
with, about matters of religion
so, if magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ, of
themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons upon
delegation from their Churches, may meet together in such assemblies.
31.3 It belongs to
synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and
cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of
the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints
in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same; which
decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received
with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but
also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed
thereunto in His Word
31.5 All synods or
councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and
many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or
practice; but to be used as a help in both.
31.6 Synods and councils
are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are
not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by
way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for
satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil
Of the State of Men after Death, and of the
Resurrection of the Dead
32.1 The bodies of men,
after death, return to dust, and see corruption:
but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence,
immediately return to God who gave them:
the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received
into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory,
waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.
And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments
and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.
Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture
32.2 At the last day,
such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed:
and all the dead shall be raised up, with the selfsame bodies, and none other
(although with different qualities), which shall be united again to their souls
32.3 The bodies of the
unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor: the bodies of the
just, by His Spirit, unto honor; and be made conformable to His own glorious
Of the Last Judgment
33.1 God has appointed a
day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ,(572)
to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father.
In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,(574)
but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the
tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and
to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
33.2 The end of God's
appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the
eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the
reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into
everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall
come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked who know not God, and obey
not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from
the glory of His power.
33.3 As Christ would
have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to
deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their
so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal
security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord
will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly,
The Westminster Confession of Faith, notes.