« IndietroContinua »
ten from eternity, not made nor created, (for then he would be a creature) but co-essential and co-eternal with the Father, the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory, equal unto him in all things: Who is the Son of God, not only from the time that he assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses saith, that God created the world; and John saith, that all things were made by that Word, which he calleth God: And the apostle saith, that God made the Worlds by his Son. Likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore it must needs follow, that he, who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time when all things were created by him. Therefore the prophet Micah saith, his goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle, he hath neither beginning of days, nor end of life: He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship, and
XI. That the Holy Ghost is true and eternal God. We believe and confess also, that the Holy Ghost, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore is neither made, created, nor begotten, but only proceedeth from both; who in order is the third person of the holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son; and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the holy scripture teaches us.
XII. Of the Creation.
We believe that the Father by the Word, that is by his Son, hath created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That he doth also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence,
and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God. He hath also created the angels good, to be his messengers, and to serv e his elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition and the others have, by the grace of God, remained stedfast and continued in their primitive state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the church, and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments. Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels: and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.
XIII. Of Divine Providence.
We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment: nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And as to what he doth surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn
only those things which he has revealed to us in his word, without transgressing these limits. This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Fa ther; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head, (for they are all numbered) nor a sparrow can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust; being persuaded that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us. And therefore we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say, that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.
XIV. Of the creation and fall of man, and his incapacity to perform what is truly good.
We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But being in honour, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but wilfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he hath lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which however are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the scriptures teach us, saying, The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness
comprehended it not: Where John calleth men darkness. Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin; and has nothing of himself, unless it is given him from heaven. For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ saith, no man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God? In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God? And therefore what the apostle saith ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but what Christ hath wrought in man, which he teaches us, when he saith, without me ye can do nothing.
XV. Of Original Sin.
We believe that through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and an hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother's womb, and which produceth in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and ́mercy is forgiven them: Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of
this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death.~ Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.
XVI. Of Eternal Election.
We believe that all the posterity of Adam, being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, MERCIFUL AND JUST: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom, he in his eternal and unchangeable council of mere goodness, hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.
XVII. Of the recovery of fallen Man.
We believe that our most gracious God, in his admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown himself into temporal and spiritual death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to seek and comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence, promising him that he would give his Son, who should be made of a woman, to bruise the head of the serpent, and make him happy.
XVIII. Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
We confess therefore, that God did fulfil the promise which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only begotten and eternal Son. Who took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the means of man. And did not only assume human nature as to the