Table of Contents
First Head of Doctrine
Divine Election and Reprobation
Articles of Faith
Rejection of Errors
Second Head of Doctrine
The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby
Articles of Faith
Rejection of Errors
Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine
The Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof
Articles of Faith
Rejection of Errors
Fifth Head of Doctrine
The Perseverance of the Saints
Articles of Faith
Rejection of Errors
First Head of Doctrine
Divine Election and Reprobation
As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving
of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all
to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according
to the words of the apostle: That every mouth may be stopped, and all
the world may be brought under the judgment of God (Rom. 3:19). And:
all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). And: For
the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
But in this the love of God was manifested, that He sent his only begotten
Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish,
but have eternal life (1 John 4:9; John 3:16).
And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers
of these most joyful tidings to whom He will and at what time He pleases;
by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified.
then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall
they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without
a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? (Rom. 10:14,
The wrath of God abides upon those who believe not this gospel. But such
as receive it and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith are
by Him delivered from the wrath of God and from destruction, and have the
gift of eternal life conferred upon them.
The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins is no
wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation
through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: By grace have
ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift
of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: To you it hath been granted in the
behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, etc. (Phil. 1:29).
That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive
it, proceeds from Gods eternal decree. For known unto God are all his
works from the beginning of the world (Acts 15:18, A.V.). Who worketh
all things after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11). According to
which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate,
and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the non- elect in His just
judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially
displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous
discrimination between men equally involved in ruin; or that decree of
election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which, though men
of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest it to their own destruction,
yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.
Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation
of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good
pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen
through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin
and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom
He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation
of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more
deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God
has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call
and draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them
true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved
them in the fellowship of His Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration
of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as
it is written: Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having
foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory
of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4,
5, 6). And elsewhere: Whom he foreordained, them he also called: and
whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he
also glorified (Rom. 8:30).
There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree
respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and the New
Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and
counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen
us from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way
of salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein (Eph. 1:4,
This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of
faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the
prerequisite, cause, or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen
to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election
is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness,
and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its
fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: He hath
chosen us (not because we were, but) that we should be holy, and
without blemish before him in love (Eph. 1:4).
The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which
does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and actions
of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that He was
pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons
as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: For the children
being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, etc.,
was said unto her (namely, to Rebekah), The elder shall serve the
younger. Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (Rom.
9:11, 12, 13). And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed
And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent,
so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled,
or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.
The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures,
attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not
by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by
observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure the infallible
fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God such as, a true faith
in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting
after righteousness, etc.
The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God
additional matter for daily humiliation before Him, for adoring the depth
of His mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful returns
of ardent love to Him who first manifested so great love towards them.
The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging
remissness in the observance of the divine commands or from sinking men
in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual
effects of rash presumption or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace
of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.
As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise counsel of God was
declared by the prophets, by Christ Himself, and by the apostles, and is
clearly revealed in the Scriptures both of the Old and the New Testament,
so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God,
for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence,
in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of Gods most holy
Name, and for enlivening and comforting His people, without vainly attempting
to investigate the secret ways of the Most High (Acts 20:27; Rom. 11:33,
34; 12:3; Heb. 6:17, 18).
What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and
unmerited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture
that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in
the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible,
and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in the common misery
into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon
them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but, permitting them in
His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last, for the declaration
of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account
of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree
of reprobation, which by no means makes God the Author of sin (the very
thought of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible,
and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.
Those in whom a living faith in Christ, an assured confidence of soul,
peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor after filial obedience, a glorying
in God through Christ, is not as yet strongly felt, and who nevertheless
make use of the means which God has appointed for working these graces
in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank
themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in the use
of means, and with ardent desires devoutly and humbly to wait for a season
of richer grace. Much less cause to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation
have they who, though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please
Him only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach
that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire; since a merciful
God has promised that He will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the
bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly terrible to those who, regardless
of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up
to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they
are not seriously converted to God.
Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies
that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of
the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended,
godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children
whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen. 17:7;
Acts 2:39; 1 Cor. 7:14).
To those who murmur at the free grace of election and the just severity
of reprobation we answer with the apostle: Nay but, O man, who art thou
that repliest against God? (Rom. 9:20), and quote the language of our
Savior: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?
(Matt. 20:15). And therefore, with holy adoration of these mysteries, we
exclaim in the words of the apostle: O the depth of the riches both
of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments,
and his ways past tracing out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord,
or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it
shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and unto
him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen. (Rom. 11:3336).
[Return to Contents]
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine concerning election and reprobation having been explained,
the Synod rejects the errors of those:
Who teach: That the will of God to save those who would believe and would
persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire
decree of election unto salvation, and that nothing else concerning this
decree has been revealed in Gods Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures,
which declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that
He has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom, above
others, He will grant, in time, both faith in Christ and perseverance;
as it is written: I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest
me out of the world (John 17:6). And as many as were ordained to
eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). And: Even as he chose us in
him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without
blemish before him in love (Eph. 1:4).
Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal
life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite;
and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive,
and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive, and absolute. Likewise:
That there is one election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that
election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election
For this is a fancy of mens minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures,
whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of
our salvation is broken: And whom he foreordained, them he also called:
and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them
he also glorified(Rom. 8:30).
Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture
makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that
God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this, that He chose
out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the law),
or out of the whole order of things, the act of faith which from its very
nature is undeserving, as well as its incomplete obedience, as a condition
of salvation, and that He would graciously consider this in itself as a
complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ
are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless questions from
the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture,
and this declaration of the apostle is charged as untrue: Who saved
us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but
according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus
before times eternal (2 Tim. 1:9).
Who teach: That in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand
demanded that man should use his innate understanding of God aright, be
pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election
were in any way dependent.
For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine
of the apostle when he writes: Among whom we also all once lived in
the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God, being
rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were
dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace
have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with
him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he
might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us in
Christ Jesus; for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not
of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should
glory (Eph. 2:39).
Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular
persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion,
holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but
that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance
unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness, and godliness; and that this
is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who
is chosen is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore
faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are
not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions
which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who
will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election
to glory does not occur.
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates
this and similar declara tions: Election is not of works, but of him
that calleth (Rom. 9:11). And as many as were ordained to eternal
life believed (Acts 13:48). He chose us in him before the foundation
of the world, that we should be holy (Eph. 1:4). Ye did not choose
me, but I chose you (John 15:16). But if it is by grace, it is no
more of works (Rom. 11:6). Herein is love, not that we loved God,
but that he loved us, and sent his Son (1 John 4:10).
Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but
that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish
and do indeed perish.
By this gross error they make God to be changeable, and destroy the
comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and
contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches that
the elect can not
be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those whom
the Father gave him (John 6:39), and that God also glorified those
whom he foreordained, called, and justified (Rom. 8:30).
Who teach: That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of
the unchangeable election to glory, nor any certainty, except that which
depends on a changeable and uncertain condition.
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also
contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness
of their election rejoice with the apostle and praise this favor of God
(Eph. 1); who according to Christs admonition rejoice with his disciples
their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20); who also place
the consciousness of their election over against the fiery darts of the
devil, asking: Who shall lay anything to the charge of Gods elect?
Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of His righteous will, did not decide
either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin
and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in the communication of grace which
is necessary for faith and conversion.
For this is firmly decreed: He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom
he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18). And also this: Unto you it is
given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is
not given (Matt. 13:11). Likewise: I thank thee, O Father, Lord
of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and
understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes; yea, Father, for so it
was well-pleasing in thy sight (Matt. 11:25, 26).
Who teach: That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people rather
than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure of God, but
rather the fact that one people is better and worthier than another to
which the gospel is not communicated.
For this Moses denies, addressing the people of Israel as follows: Behold,
unto Jehovah thy God belongeth heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth,
with all that is therein. Only Jehovah had a delight in thy fathers to
love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples,
as at this day(Deut. 10:14, 15). And Christ said: Woe unto thee,
Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done
in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long
ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21). [Return
Second Head of Doctrine
The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby
God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. And His justice
requires (as He has revealed Himself in His Word) that our sins committed
against His infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal
but with eternal punishments, both in body and soul; which we cannot escape,
unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.
Since, therefore, we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons,
or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, He has been pleased of His
infinite mercy to give His only begotten Son for our Surety, who was made
sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that He might make satisfaction
to divine justice on our behalf.
The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and
satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient
to expiate the sins of the whole world.
This death is of such infinite value and dignity because the person who
submitted to it was not only really man and perfectly holy, but also the
only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with
the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to
constitute Him a Savior for us; and, moreover, because it was attended
with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin.
Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ
crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together
with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published
to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction,
to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe
in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency
in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be
imputed to themselves.
But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and
destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit
solely to the grace of God given them in Christ from everlasting, and not
to any merit of their own.
For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of
God the Father that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious
death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them
alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to
salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of
the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem
out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those
only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the
Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all
the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His
death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether
committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them
even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and blemish,
to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.
This purpose, proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from
the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and
will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all
the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell; so that the elect in due
time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting
a Church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the
blood of Christ; which may steadfastly love and faithfully serve Him as
its Savior (who, as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down His life for
them upon the cross); and which may celebrate His praises here and through
all eternity. [Return to Contents]
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors
Who teach: That God the Father has ordained His Son to the death of the
cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity,
profitableness, and worth of what Christ merited by His death might have
existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect, and intact,
even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person.
For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father
and of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to Scripture. For thus
says our Savior: I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them
(John 10:15, 27). And the prophet Isaiah says concerning the Savior: When
thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he
shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his
hand (Is. 53:10). Finally, this contradicts the article of faith according
to which we believe the catholic Christian Church.
Who teach: That it was not the purpose of the death of Christ that He should
confirm the new covenant of grace through His blood, but only that He should
acquire for the Father the mere right to establish with man such a covenant
as He might please, whether of grace or of works.
For this is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that Christ hath
become the surety and mediator of a better, that is, the new covenant,
and that a testament is of force where there hath been death (Heb.
7:22; 9:15, 17).
Who teach: That Christ by His satisfaction merited neither salvation itself
for anyone, nor faith, whereby this satisfaction of Christ unto salvation
is effectually appropriated; but that He merited for the Father only the
authority or the perfect will to deal again with man, and to prescribe
new conditions as He might desire, obedience to which, however, depended
on the free will of man, so that it therefore might have come to pass that
either none or all should fulfill these conditions.
For these adjudge too contemptuously of the death of Christ, in no wise
acknowledge the most important fruit or benefit thereby gained, and bring
again out of hell the Pelagian error.
Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father, through
the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist
that we by faith, inasmuch as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified
before God and saved, but in the fact that God, having revoked the demand
of perfect obedience of faith, regards faith itself and the obedience of
faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does
esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace.
For these contradict the Scriptures: Being justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God set forth
to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood (Rom. 3:24, 25).
And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new and strange justification
of man before God, against the consensus of the whole Church.
Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation
and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation
on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because
of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin.
For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are
nature children of wrath(Eph. 2:3).
Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to the end that
they may instil into the minds of the imprudent and inexperienced this
teaching that God, as far as He is concerned, has been minded to apply
to all equally the benefits gained by the death of Christ; but that, while
some obtain the pardon of sin and eternal life, and others do not, this
difference depends on their own free will, which joins itself to the grace
that is offered without exception, and that it is not dependent on the
special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they rather
than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace.
For these, while they feign that they present this distinction in a
sound sense, seek to instil into the people the destructive poison of the
Who teach: That Christ neither could die, nor needed to die, and also did
not die, for those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected to
eternal life, since these do not need the death of Christ.
For they contradict the apostle, who declares: Christ loved me, and
gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20). Likewise: Who shall lay anything
to the charge of Gods elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that
condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died (Rom. 8:33, 34), namely, for
them; and the Savior who says: I lay down my life for the sheep
(John 10:15). And: This is my commandment, that ye love one another,
even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12, 13). [Return
Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine
The Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof
Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was
adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual
things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the
whole man was holy. But, revolting from God by the instigation of the devil
and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and in the
place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness,
vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate
in heart and will, and impure in his affections.
Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness. A corrupt stock
produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only
excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent, not by imitation,
as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature,
in consequence of the just judgment of God.
Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and are by nature children of wrath,
incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto;
and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither
able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature,
or to dispose themselves to reformation.
There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural
understanding, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things,
and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for
virtue and for good outward behavior. But so far is this understanding
of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God
and to true conversion that he is incapable of using it aright even in
things natural and civil. Nay further, this understanding, such as it is,
man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and hinders in unrighteousness,
by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.
Neither can the decalogue delivered by God to His peculiar people, the
Jews, by the hands of Moses, save men. For though it reveals the greatness
of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet, as it neither points
out a remedy nor imparts strength to extricate him from this misery, but,
being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse,
man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.
What, therefore, neither the innate understanding nor the law could do,
that God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word
or ministry of reconciliation; which is the glad tidings concerning the
Messiah, by means whereof it has pleased God to save such as believe, as
well under the Old as under the New Testament.
This mystery of His will God revealed to but a small number under the Old
Testament; under the New Testament (the distinction between various peoples
having been removed) He reveals it to many. The cause of this dispensation
is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one nation above another,
nor to their better use of the innate understanding of God, but results
wholly from the sovereign good pleasure and unmerited love of God. Hence
they to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated, above
their desert, or rather notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to acknowledge
it with humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to adore, but
in no wise curiously to pry into, the severity and justice of God s judgments
displayed in others to whom this grace is not given.
As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has
most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what is acceptable to Him,
namely, that those who are called should come unto Him. He also seriously
promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe.
It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ offered therein, nor of
God, who calls men by the gospel and confers upon them various gifts, that
those who are called by the ministry of the Word refuse to come and be
converted. The fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless
of their danger, reject the Word of life; others, though they receive it,
suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their
joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall
away; while others choke the seed of the Word by perplexing cares and the
pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. This our Savior teaches
in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).
But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted
is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one
distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient
for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains); but
it must be wholly ascribed to God, who, as He has chosen His own from eternity
in Christ, so He calls them effectually in time, confers upon them faith
and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates
them into the kingdom of His own Son; that they may show forth the praises
of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and
may glory not in themselves but in the Lord, according to the testimony
of the apostles in various places.
But when God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect, or works in them
true conversion, He not only causes the gospel to be externally preached
to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, that
they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;
but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit He pervades the inmost
recesses of man; He opens the closed and softens the hardened heart, and
circumcises that which was uncircumcised; infuses new qualities into the
will, which, though heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil, disobedient,
and refractory, He renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and
strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of
And this is that regeneration so highly extolled in Scripture, that renewal,
new creation, resurrection from the dead, making alive, which God works
in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external
preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation
that, after God has performed His part, it still remains in the power of
man to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue unconverted;
but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same
time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior
in efficacy to creation or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture
inspired by the Author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart
God works in this marvelous manner are certainly, infallibly, and effectually
regenerated, and do actually believe. Whereupon the will thus renewed is
not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence
becomes itself active. Wherefore also man himself is rightly said to believe
and repent by virtue of that grace received.
The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers
in this life. Nevertheless, they are satisfied to know and experience that
by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart and to
love their Savior.
Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account
of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure,
but because it is in reality conferred upon him, breathed and infused into
him; nor even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and
then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will consent
to the terms of salvation and actually believe in Christ, but because He
who works in man both to will and to work, and indeed all things in all,
produces both the will to believe and the act of believing also.
God is under no obligation to confer this grace upon any; for how can He
be indebted to one who had no previous gifts to bestow as a foundation
for such recompense? Nay, how can He be indebted to one who has nothing
of his own but sin and falsehood? He, therefore, who becomes the subject
of this grace owes eternal gratitude to God, and gives Him thanks forever.
Whoever is not made partaker thereof is either altogether regardless of
these spiritual gifts and satisfied with his own condition, or is in no
apprehension of danger, and vainly boasts the possession of that which
he has not. Further, with respect to those who outwardly profess their
faith and amend their lives, we are bound, after the example of the apostle,
to judge and speak of them in the most favorable manner; for the secret
recesses of the heart are unknown to us. And as to others who have not
yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the
things that are not as if they were. But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves
towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ.
But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature endowed with understanding
and will, nor did sin which pervaded the whole race of mankind deprive
him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death;
so also this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks
and blocks, nor take away their will and its properties, or do violence
thereto; but it spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same
time sweetly and powerfully bends it, that where carnal rebellion and resistance
formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign;
in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist.
Wherefore, unless the admirable Author of every good work so deal with
us, man can have no hope of being able to rise from his fall by his own
free will, by which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin.
As the almighty operation of God whereby He brings forth and supports this
our natural life does not exclude but require the use of means by which
God, of His infinite mercy and goodness, has chosen to exert His influence,
so also the aforementioned supernatural operation of God by which we are
regenerated in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the gospel, which
the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration and food
of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles and the teachers who succeeded
them piously instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to His
glory and to the abasement of all pride, and in the meantime, however,
neglected not to keep them, by the holy admoni tions of the gospel, under
the influence of the Word, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical discipline;
so even now it should be far from those who give or receive instruction
in the Church to presume to tempt God by separating what He of His good
pleasure has most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by
means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more
clearly this favor of God, working in us, usually manifests itself, and
the more directly His work is advanced; to whom alone all the glory, both
for the means and for their saving fruit and efficacy, is forever due.
Amen. [Return to Contents]
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors
Who teach: That it cannot properly be said that original sin in itself
suffices to condemn the whole human race or to deserve temporal and eternal
For these contradict the apostle, who declares: Therefore, as through
one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death
passed unto all men, for that all sinned (Rom. 5:12). And: The judgment
came of one unto condemnation (Rom. 5:16). And: The wages of sin
is death (Rom. 6:23).
Who teach: That the spiritual gifts or the good qualities and virtues,
such as goodness, holiness, righteousness, could not belong to the will
of man when he was first created, and that these, therefore, cannot have
been separated therefrom in the fall.
For such is contrary to the description of the image of God which the
apostle gives in Eph. 4:24, where he declares that it consists in righteousness
and holiness, which undoubtedly belong to the will.
Who teach: That in spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not separate
from the will of man, since the will in itself has never been corrupted,
but only hindered through the darkness of the understanding and the irregularity
of the affections; and that, these hindrances having been removed, the
will can then bring into operation its native powers, that is, that the
will of itself is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to
choose, all manner of good which may be presented to it.
This is an innovation and an error, and tends to elevate the powers
of the free will, contrary to the declaration of the prophet: The heart
is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt (Jer.
17:9); and of the apostle: Among whom (sons of disobedience) we
also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the
flesh and of the mind (Eph. 2:3).
Who teach: That the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in
sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet
hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice
of a contrite and broken spirit, which is pleasing to God.
For these things are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture:
were dead through your trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5). And:
imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually
(Gen. 6:5; 8:21). Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from
misery and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken
spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed
(Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:6).
Who teach: That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common
grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still
left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a
greater, that is, the evangelical or saving grace, and salvation itself;
and that in this way God on His part shows Himself ready to reveal Christ
unto all men, since He applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the
means necessary to conversion.
For both the experience of all ages and the Scriptures testify that
this is untrue. He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his
ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for
his ordinances, they have not known them (Ps. 147:19, 20). Who in
the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own way
(Acts 14:16). And: And they (Paul and his companions) having
been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia, when they
were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the
Spirit of Jesus suffered them not (Acts 16:6, 7).
Who teach: That in the true conversion of man no new qualities, powers,
or gifts can be infused by God into the will, and that therefore faith,
through which we are first converted and because of which we are called
believers, is not a quality or gift infused by God but only an act of man,
and that it cannot be said to be a gift, except in respect of the power
to attain to this faith.
For thereby they contradict the Holy Scriptures, which declare that
God infuses new qualities of faith, of obedience, and of the consciousness
of His love into our hearts: I will put my law in their inward parts,
and in their heart will I write it (Jer. 31:33). And: I will pour
water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will
pour my Spirit upon thy seed (Is. 44:3). And:
The love of God hath
been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given
unto us (Rom. 5:5). This is also repugnant to the constant practice
of the Church, which prays by the mouth of the prophet thus: Turn thou
me, and I shall be turned (Jer. 31:18).
Who teach: That the grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle
advising, or (as others explain it) that this is the noblest manner of
working in the conversion of man, and that this manner of working, which
consists in advising, is most in harmony with mans nature; and that there
is no reason why this advising grace alone should not be sufficient to
make the natural man spiritual; indeed, that God does not produce the consent
of the will except through this manner of advising; and that the power
of the divine working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists
in this that God promises eternal, while Satan promises only temporal goods.
But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture,
which, besides this, teaches yet another and far more powerful and divine
manner of the Holy Spirits working in the conversion of man, as in Ezekiel:
new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you;
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give
you a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).
Who teach: That God in the regeneration of man does not use such powers
of His omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend mans will to faith and
conversion; but that all the works of grace having been accomplished, which
God employs to convert man, man may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit,
when God intends mans regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed
that man often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration,
and that it therefore remains in mans power to be regenerated or not.
For this is nothing less than the denial of all the efficiency of Gods
grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty
God to the will of man, which is contrary to the apostles, who teach that
believe according to the working of the strength of his might (Eph.
1:19); and that God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work
of faith with power (2 Thess. 1:11); and that his divine power hath
granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2
Who teach: That grace and free will are partial causes which together work
the beginning of conversion, and that grace, in order of working, does
not precede the working of the will; that is, that God does not efficiently
help the will of man unto conversion until the will of man moves and determines
to do this.
For the ancient Church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the Pelagians
according to the words of the apostle: So then it is not of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy (Rom.
9:16). Likewise: For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that
thou didst not receive? (1 Cor. 4:7). And: For it is God who worketh
in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure(Phil. 2:13).
[Return to Contents]
Fifth Head of Doctrine
The Perseverance of the Saints
Those whom God, according to His purpose, calls to the communion of His
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, He also
delivers from the dominion and slavery of sin, though in this life He does
not deliver them altogether from the body of sin and from the infirmities
of the flesh.
Hence spring forth the daily sins of infirmity, and blemishes cleave even
to the best works of the saints. These are to them a perpetual reason to
humiliate themselves before God and to flee for refuge to Christ crucified;
to mortify the flesh more and more by the spirit of prayer and by holy
exercises of piety; and to press forward to the goal of perfection, until
at length, delivered from this body of death, they shall reign with the
Lamb of God in heaven.
By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and also because of the temptations
of the world and of Satan, those who are converted could not persevere
in that grace if left to their own strength. But God is faithful, who,
having conferred grace, mercifully confirms and powerfully preserves them
therein, even to the end.
Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of
God, who confirms and preserves true believers in a state of grace, yet
converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God
as not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance
of divine grace, so as to be seduced by and to comply with the lusts of
the flesh; they must, therefore, be constant in watching and prayer, that
they may not be led into temptation. When these are neglected, they are
not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins by the flesh, the
world, and Satan, but sometimes by the righteous permission of God actually
are drawn into these evils. This, the lamentable fall of David, Peter,
and other saints described in Holy Scripture, demonstrates.
By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly
guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously
wound their consciences, and sometimes for a while lose the sense of Gods
favor, until, when they change their course by serious repentance, the
light of Gods fatherly countenance again shines upon them.
But God, who is rich in mercy, according to His unchangeable purpose of
election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people
even in their grievous falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to
lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification, or to
commit the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit; nor does He permit
them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting
For in the first place, in these falls He preserves in them the incorruptible
seed of regeneration from perishing or being totally lost; and again, by
His Word and Spirit He certainly and effectually renews them to repentance,
to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain
remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor
of a reconciled God, through faith adore His mercies, and henceforward
more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
Thus it is not in consequence of their own merits or strength, but of Gods
free mercy, that they neither totally fall from faith and grace nor continue
and perish finally in their backslidings; which, with respect to themselves
is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to
God, it is utterly impossible, since His counsel cannot be changed nor
His promise fail; neither can the call according to His purpose be revoked,
nor the merit, inter- cession, and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual,
nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.
Of this preservation of the elect to salvation and of their perseverance
in the faith, true believers themselves may and do obtain assurance according
to the measure of their faith, whereby they surely believe that they are
and ever will continue true and living members of the Church, and that
they have the forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
This assurance, however, is not produced by any peculiar revelation contrary
to or independent of the Word of God, but springs from faith in Gods promises,
which He has most abundantly revealed in His Word for our comfort; from
the testimony of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with our spirit that we are
children and heirs of God (Rom. 8:16); and lastly, from a serious and holy
desire to preserve a good conscience and to perform good works. And if
the elect of God were deprived of this solid comfort that they shall finally
obtain the victory, and of this infallible pledge of eternal glory, they
would be of all men the most miserable.
The Scripture moreover testifies that believers in this life have to struggle
with various carnal doubts, and that under grievous temptations they do
not always feel this full assurance of faith and certainty of persevering.
But God, who is the Father of all consolation, does not suffer them to
be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation make
also the way of escape, that they may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13),
and by the Holy Spirit again inspires them with the comfortable assurance
This certainty of perseverance, however, is so far from exciting in believers
a spirit of pride, or of rendering them carnally secure, that on the contrary
it is the real source of humility, filial reverence, true piety, patience
in every tribulation, fervent prayers, constancy in suffering and in confessing
the truth, and of solid rejoicing in God; so that the consideration of
this benefit should serve as an incentive to the serious and constant practice
of gratitude and good works, as appears from the testimonies of Scripture
and the examples of the saints.
Neither does renewed confidence of persevering produce licentiousness or
a disregard of piety in those who are recovered from backsliding; but it
renders them much more careful and solicitous to continue in the ways of
the Lord, which He has ordained, that they who walk therein may keep the
assurance of persevering; lest, on account of their abuse of His fatherly
kindness, God should turn away His gracious countenance from them (to behold
which is to the godly dearer than life, and the withdrawal of which is
more bitter than death) and they in consequence thereof should fall into
more grievous torments of conscience.
And as it has pleased God, by the preaching of the gospel, to begin this
work of grace in us, so He preserves, continues, and perfects it by the
hearing and reading of His Word, by meditation thereon, and by the exhortations,
threatenings, and promises thereof, and by the use of the sacraments.
The carnal mind is unable to comprehend this doctrine of the perseverance
of the saints and the certainty thereof, which God has most abundantly
revealed in His Word, for the glory of His Name and the consolation of
pious souls, and which He impresses upon the hearts of the believers. Satan
abhors it, the world ridicules it, the ignorant and hypocritical abuse
it, and the heretics oppose it. But the bride of Christ has always most
tenderly loved and constantly defended it as an inestimable treasure; and
God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail, will dispose
her so to continue to the end. Now to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen. [Return to
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors
Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of
election, or a gift of God gained by the death of Christ, but a condition
of the new covenant, which (as they declare) man before his decisive election
and justification must fulfil through his free will.
For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election,
and is given the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection, and intercession
of Christ: But the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened
(Rom. 11:7). Likewise: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered
him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?
Who shall lay anything to the charge of Gods elect? It is God that justifieth;
who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that
was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Who teach: That God does indeed provide the believer with sufficient powers
to persevere, and is ever ready to preserve these in him if he will do
his duty; but that, though all things which are necessary to persevere
in faith and which God will use to preserve faith are made use of, even
then it ever depends on the pleasure of the will whether it will persevere
For this idea contains an outspoken Pelagianism, and while it would
make men free, it makes them robbers of Gods honor, contrary to the prevailing
agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which takes from man all cause of
boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this favor to the grace of God
alone; and contrary to the apostle, who declares that it is God, who
shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreprovable in the day
of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8).
Who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can fall from
justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation wholly and to the
end, but indeed often do fall from this and are lost forever.
For this conception makes powerless the grace, justification, regeneration,
and continued preservation by Christ, contrary to the expressed words of
the apostle Paul: That, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from
the wrath of God through him (Rom. 5:8, 9). And contrary to the apostle
Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth
in him; and he can not sin, because he is begotten of God (1 John 3:9).
And also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: I give unto them eternal
life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of
my hand. My Father, who hath given them to me, is greater than all; and
no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand (John 10:28,
Who teach: That true believers and regenerate can sin the sin unto death
or against the Holy Spirit.
Since the same apostle John, after having spoken in the fifth chapter
of his first epistle, vs. 16 and 17, of those who sin unto death and having
forbidden to pray for them, immediately adds to this in vs. 18: We know
that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not (meaning a sin of that
character), but he that was begotten of God keepeth himself, and the
evil one toucheth him not (1 John 5:18).
Who teach: That without a special revelation we can have no certainty of
future perseverance in this life.
For by this doctrine the sure comfort of the true believers is taken
away in this life, and the doubts of the papist are again introduced into
the Church, while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance,
not from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks proper
to the children of God and from the very constant promises of God. So especially
the apostle Paul: No creature shall be able to separate us from the
love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39). And John
declares: And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he
in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he
gave us (1 John 3:24).
Who teach: That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and of salvation
from its own character and nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious
to godliness, good morals, prayers, and other holy exercises, but that
on the contrary it is praiseworthy to doubt.
For these show that they do not know the power of divine grace and the
working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they contradict the apostle
John, who teaches the opposite with express words in his first epistle:
now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall
be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for
we shall see him even as he is. And every one that hath this hope set on
him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:2, 3). Furthermore,
these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of the Old and
the New Testament, who though they were assured of their perseverance and
salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and other exercises of
Who teach: That the faith of those who believe for a time does not differ
from justifying and saving faith except only in duration.
For Christ Himself, in Matt. 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other places,
evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference between
those who believe only for a time and true believers, when He declares
that the former receive the seed in stony ground, but the latter in the
good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but the latter
have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter
bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.
Who teach: That it is not absurd that one having lost his first regeneration
is again and even often born anew.
For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of
God, whereby we are born again; contrary to the testimony of the apostle
Peter: Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible
(1 Peter 1:23).
Who teach: That Christ has in no place prayed that believers should infallibly
continue in faith.
For they contradict Christ Himself, who says: I made supplication
for thee (Simon), that thy faith fail not (Luke 22:32), and
the evangelist John, who declares that Christ has not prayed for the apostles
only, but also for those who through their word would believe: Holy
Father, keep them in thy name, and: I pray not that thou shouldest take
them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one(John
17:11, 15, 20). [Return to Contents]
And this is the perspicuous, simple, and ingenuous declaration of the orthodox
doctrine respecting the five articles which have been controverted in the
Belgic Churches; and the rejection of the errors, with which they have
for some time been troubled. This doctrine the Synod judges to be drawn
from the Word of God, and to be agreeable to the confession of the Reformed
Churches. Whence it clearly appears that some, whom such conduct by no
means became, have violated all truth, equity, and charity, in wishing
to persuade the public:
That the doctrine of the Reformed Churches concerning predestination,
and the points annexed to it, by its own genius and necessary tendency,
leads off the minds of men from all piety and religion; that it is an opiate
administered by the flesh and the devil; and the stronghold of Satan, where
he lies in wait for all, and from which he wounds multitudes, and mortally
strikes through many with the darts both of despair and security; that
it makes God the author of sin, unjust, tyrannical, hypocritical; that
it is nothing more than an interpolated Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism,
Turcism; that it renders men carnally secure, since they are persuaded
by it that nothing can hinder the salvation of the elect, let them live
as they please; and, therefore, that they may safely perpetrate every species
of the most atrocious crimes; and that, if the reprobate should even perform
truly all the works of the saints, their obedience would not in the least
contribute to their salvation; that the same doctrine teaches that God,
by a mere arbitrary act of his will, without the least respect or view
to any sin, has predestinated the greatest part of the world to eternal
damnation, and has created them for this very purpose; that in the same
manner in which the election is the fountain and cause of faith and good
works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and impiety; that many children
of the faithful are torn, guiltless, from their mothers breasts, and tyrannically
plunged into hell: so that neither baptism nor the prayers of the Church
at their baptism can at all profit them ; and many other things of the
same kind which the Reformed Churches not only do not acknowledge, but
even detest with their whole soul.
Wherefore, this Synod of Dort, in the name of the Lord, conjures as
many as piously call upon the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to judge
of the faith of the Reformed Churches, not from the calumnies which on
every side are heaped upon it, nor from the private expressions of a few
among ancient and modern teachers, often dishonestly quoted, or corrupted
and wrested to a meaning quite foreign to their intention; but from the
public confessions of the Churches themselves, and from this declaration
of the orthodox doctrine, confirmed by the unanimous consent of all and
each of the members of the whole Synod. Moreover, the Synod warns calumniators
themselves to consider the terrible judgment of God which awaits them,
for bearing false witness against the confessions of so many Churches;
for distressing the consciences of the weak; and for laboring to render
suspected the society of the truly faithful.
Finally, this Synod exhorts all their brethren in the gospel of Christ
to conduct themselves piously and religiously in handling this doctrine,
both in the universities and churches; to direct it, as well in discourse
as in writing, to the glory of the Divine name, to holiness of life, and
to the consolation of afflicted souls; to regulate, by the Scripture, according
to the analogy of faith, not only their sentiments, but also their language,
and to abstain from all those phrases which exceed the limits necessary
to be observed in ascertaining the genuine sense of the Holy Scriptures,
and may furnish insolent sophists with a just pretext for violently assailing,
or even vilifying, the doctrine of the Reformed Churches. May Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, who, seated at the Fathers right hand, gives gifts to men,
sanctify us in the truth; bring to the truth those who err; shut the mouths
of the calumniators of sound doctrine, and endue the faithful ministers
of his Word with the spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all their discourses
may tend to the glory of God, and the edification of those who hear them.
Amen. [Return to Contents]
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