« IndietroContinua »
known to us by his holy and divine word; that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to his glory and to our salvation.,
III. Of the written word of God. We confess that this word of God was not sent, nor dlelivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spuke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God from a special care which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed word to writing, and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the law : Therefore we call such writings boly and divine scriptures.
IV. Canonical books of the holy Scriptures. We believe that the holy scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the old and new testament, which are canonical; against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the church of God. The books of the old testament are, the five books of Moses, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: the book of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, two books of Samuel, and two of the Kings, two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs : the four great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Those of the new testament are the four evangelists, viz. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, viz. one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thes
salonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Phile mon, and one to the Hebrews : the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude, and the Revelation of the apostle John. From whence do the holy scriptures derive their dig.
nity and authority. We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing, without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves : For the very blind are able to perceive, that the things foretold in them are fulfilling. VI. The difference between the canonical and apocry
phal books. We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, viz. the third and fourth books of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Syrach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the three Children in the Furnace, the History of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees : all which the church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books: but they are far from having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith, or of the christian religion ; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books. VII. The sufficiency of the holy scriptures, to be the
only rule of faith We believe that those holy scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise, than we are now taught in the holy scriptures : Nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away any thing from the word of God, it doth thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects, neither may we compare any writings of men, though ever so holy, with those divine scriptures, nor ought we to compare custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times or persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself: Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house. VIII. That God is one in essence, yet nevertheless dis
tinguished in three persons. According to this truth and the word of God, we believe in one only God, who is one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct, according to their incommunicable properties, namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is the cause, origin and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Ghost is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the holy scriptures teach us, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have each his personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident, that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless these persons thus distinguished, are not divided, nor intermixed : for the Father hath not assumed the flesh, nor hath the Holy Ghost, but the Son only. The Father hath never been withont his Son, or without his Holy Ghost; for they are all three co-eternal and co-essential. There is neither first nor last; for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy. IX. The proof of the foregoing article of the Trinity of
persons in one God. All this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the holy scriptures, that teach us to believe this holy Trinity, are written in many places of the old testament, which are not so necessary for us to enumerate, as to choose out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis, chap. i. 26, 27, God saith: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, &c. So God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. And Gen. ii. 22, Behold the man is become as one of us. From this saying, let us make man in our image, it appears thai there are more persons than one in the godhead : And when he saith, God created, he signifies the unity. It is true he doth not say how many persons there are, but that which appears to us somewhat obscure in the old testament, is very plain in the new. For when our Lord was baptised in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, this is my beloved Son: The Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers, Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also ihat holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God: likewise, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, he with you. And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. In all which places we are fully taught, that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless we now believe it by means of the word of God, but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in heaven. Moreover we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator by his power; the Son is our Saviour and Redeemer, by his blood; the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier, by his dwelling in our hearts. This doctrine of the holy Trinity hath always been defended and maintained by the true church, since the times of the apostles, to this very day, against the Jews, Mahometans, and some false christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nice, and of Athanasius : Likewise that, which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.