Now, in order to bring this account to an appropriate conclusion, we deem it not inadvisable, to add here a certain Confession of Faith, which very probably, was once contained in the History of the pious Anabaptist Martyrs, and is declared to have been the summary of their faith; though it may be (which we would not contradict), that they did not confess all said articles in precisely this form, but maintain more or less in regard to this or that point; which, however, if the true foundation of the same is retained, ought to, according to the nature of love, be borne with; especially in such persons who did not spare their dear lives, but gave them unto death; for their God and Saviour. Nevertheless, we do not find that any of them entertained contrary views, much less, that they opposed said confession; which incited us the more to insert it here; hoping that it will be productive
of at least some profit or good in these latter sorrowful and perverted times; the more to confirm the steadfast in the faith, as well as to give an occasion to the weak, to prove themselves wherein they have become weak, and how said weakness can be removed.
About A. D. 1600.--The time when this confession, which we have just mentioned, was originated, we have not been able definitely to ascertain; but as it is stated concerning it, that, as far as the sense is concerned, it was believed, taught, and practiced, by those called Mennonites, already many years ago, even as at the time, when it was committed to the printer, namely, when the last persecution was almost over. We have therefore given it a place about the year 1600; that is about the close of this century. The title of it is
Of the only God of heaven and earth. By the grace of God, according to the import of the holy Scriptures, we believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only, eternal, almighty, and true God; who is the Creator of heaven and earth, with all things visible and invisible; so that all things derive their origin and being from Him alone, and are all sustained, governed and upheld by His almighty word. He is a just, perfect, holy, incomprehensible and indescribable, spiritual Being; consisting of or through Himself, Ex. 3:14, and not needing the help or assistance of anything; but is Himself the origin and fountain of every good thing. From His overflowing goodness every good and perfect gift proceeds and descends. And He is the living One, eternal, without beginning or end, an almighty, true God and Lord of Hosts, a commanding King over all, and above us all in heaven and earth, a terrible judge and an avenging, consuming fire; the true Light, just, righteous and holy, full of grace and peace, and a God of love and of all comfort, longsuffering and of great mercy.
And this only good, and only wise, exalted God, who is all in all, dwells with His worshipful, glorious existence above in heaven, in a light which no man has seen, nor can see, and is present everywhere with His Spirit and power, filling heaven and earth, so that heaven is His throne, and the earth His footstool. From His all-seeing eye nothing is hid, but He is an omniscient hearer and beholder of the hearts and secret intents and thoughts of all men; all things being naked and open unto His eyes. I Cor. 4:5; Heb. 4:13.
And since He is such an omniscient God, full of all grace and mercy, and a God of all comfort, with whom alone the fountain of wisdom and all good gifts are to be found; and since He will not give his His divine honor to another, therefore all men are in duty bound, to seek, by ardent prayer and with a desiring heart, all grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, in God alone and in none other.*
And to this only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, before whose worshipful majesty the angels stand with trembling; whose word is true, and whose command is powerful; who is a righteous judge over all; finally every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that He alone is Lord, to the praise of His glory.
And this only, eternal, true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, consists in one true Father, and one true Son, and one true Holy Ghost. And besides this only God there never has been another, nor ever will be.
Concerning this only, eternal God, read: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. Deut. 6:4; Mark 12 29.
Through Isaiah he speaks: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. Isa. 46:9; 45:5; 44:6; 43:11; 41:4.
Through Paul he says: That an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. I Cor. 8:4; 12:6; Eph. 4:6.
And in this only God we must necessarily believe to salvation, as the beginning and foundation of the Christian faith. Read: For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Heb. 11:6.
To believe in this God, is also called a principle of the Christian doctrine. Read Heb. 6:1; Jas. 2: i 9; John 17:8; 14:1; Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:9.
Of the eternal birth and Godhead of the only and eternal Son of God, we confess: That the Son of God was born and proceeded from all eternity, in an ineffable manner, from the true God, His Father; of the essence and substance of the almighty God, as a Light from the true Light, true God from the true God; being in the form of God, the likeness of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person; so that He was born and proceeded from God His Father as the brightness of the everlasting light, the immaculate reflection of the power of God, and the image of His goodness; being equal with His Father in essence, form, and attributes; as eternal, almighty, holy, and the like. For it is an inevitable consequence that like produces like.
Thus, as the stone spoken of by the prophet Daniel, which was cut out of the mountain without hands, and itself became a great mountain, is of the same essence and substance with the mountain; so also the precious, elect cornerstone, Jesus Christ, was born or proceeded from God the almighty Father (who is called a mountain and rock forever), and is of the same essence and substance with him., " Since God knows everything, believers can call a on Him with a firm confidence; for He hears their cry and knows heir wants.
Hence, Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is to be believed in, confessed, served, honored, and worshiped by all believers, as the true God with His Father. But as this is also a matter of faith, and not of reason or comprehension, all this must be viewed, believed, judged, and spoken of, not humanly, nor carnally, but divinely and spiritually.
Concerning this high, eternal birth, issue, and Godhead of the Son of God, read, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Ps. 2:7."For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father; and he shall be to me a Son. And again, When he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world." Heb. 1:5, 6., "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee." Heb. 5:5., "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Acts 13:32, 33. Observe, that this passage of Paul has reference not only to the raising up of Christ from the dead, but chiefly to His eternal birth from God His Father.
The prophet Micah, speaking of Bethlehem, says, "Out of thee shall he come forth that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Mic. 5:2; John 16:28, 30.
Again, Paul says, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born (mark, the first-born) of every creature." Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14.
Also John, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (mark, the only begotten Son) which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." John 1:18 and 14.
. Read also: Prov. 8:23; Dan. 2:34, 45; Syr. 24:13; Rom. 8:29. Concerning the Godhead of Christ, read: Ps. 45:6; Heb. 1:8; John 1:1 and 20:28; Rom. 9:5; I John 5:20.
D f the Holy Ghost we believe and confess: That there is a true, real Holy Ghost, also comprehended in the only, eternal, divine essence; who proceeds from the Father and the Son and is the power of the Most High, by whom the Father and the Son operate, and through whom heaven and earth, and all the heavenly host were made. Hence, the divine attributes are ascribed to Him; as eternal, almighty, holy, omniscient; who searches the deep things of the Godhead, knows what is in God, and goes through and searches all spirits, however subtle they may be. He is therefore confessed as the true God with the Father and the Son. And He is the subtle breath of the power of God, who with His divine inspiration illuminates and enkindles the heart of man, and confirms and leads him into all ruth. He is given by God unto all who obey Him. All that are led by this Spirit, are the sons of God. He that has not this Spirit, does not belong to God. He is called the real and earnest of the inheritance of all true children of God. He who blasphemes this Spirit, must never expect forgiveness. Christ also commands to baptize believers in the name of the Holy Ghost.
Concerning this only Spirit of God, read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Gen. 1:1, 2.
Through Paul we are taught, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." I Cor. 12:4."But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." I Cor. 12:11, 13..Read also: II Sam. 23:2; Eph. 4:4; Matt. 10:20; Luke 12:12; Matt. 3:16; John 1:32; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16.
How Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are to be distinguished in certain attributes. Of this we confess
That in the only eternal Divine Being there are not three mere names; but that each name has its true signification and attributes; so that there is a true real Father, of whom all things are; and a true, real Son, by whom are all things; and a true, real Holy Ghost, through whom the Father and the Son operate. The Father is the true Father, who begat the Son before all time, and from whom the Son proceeded and came, and by whom He [the Father] created and made all things; and through whom the Son was sent to be the Saviour of the world. The Son was born of, proceeded and came from the Father; by whom the Father created all things, and who was sent by the Father, and came into the world, and, through the effectual power of the Most High was conceived by Mary, and born as man. He suffered, was crucified, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of His Almighty Father in heaven. The Holy Ghost is He that proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is sent by them; through whom the Father and the Son operate and work. He speaks not of Himself, but whatsoever He has heard from the Father; He takes of the things of Christ, to show them to His own.
Hence there are, in the same divine Essence, in heaven, three true witnesses: the Father, the Word; and the Holy Ghost; of whom the glory of the only begotten Son of God appeared really and distinctively, in the form of a servant, on earth, and was also seen by John the Baptist, at the Jordan. And the Holy Spirit was also distinctively seen by the same John to descend, in the form of a dove, from God out of heaven, upon Christ and abide upon
Him. And the Father who is. an invisible Spirit, and cannot be seen by mortal eye, let His voice be heard from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
These three true witnesses are distinctively spoken of, as follows, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me." John 5:31, 32., "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness,of myself, and the Father that sent me, beareth witness of me." John 8:16-18, 29, 54; I John 5:20; John 16:32 and 15:24. .
Again, Paul says, "There is one -God, and one Mediator between -God and men, the man Christ Jesus." I Tim. 2:5., "Whosoever transgresseth,-and abideth not in:he doctrine of Christ, hath not God: He that abid'!th in the doctrine of Cbrist, he hath both the'Fa:her and the Son." II John 1. 9.
Of the Holy Ghost, Christ says, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter;:hat he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit )f truth; whom the world cannot receive." John 14:11, 17; Matt. 12:32., "But if I depart I will send him unto you. , . . For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever ie shall hear, that shall he speak. . . He shall;lorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall;hew it unto you" John 16:7, 13, 14;
How John, the man of God, saw the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. Read,"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like, a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee. I am well pleased" Luke 3:22., "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him and I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" John 1:32-34: Read also Mark 1:10., "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" Matt. 3:16.
Mark, bow, awfully they sin against the Most High, who, cntrary to all these express words of the Holy Ghost, still dare- say and maintain, that John did not see the Holy Ghost, but only a natural or created dove.
Hear also how the voice of the Father was heard from heaven:."And to a voice from heaven-saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matt. 3:17., "For he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory." II Pet. 1:17. Read also Ps. 110:1; II Esd. 13:32; John 1:1; I Cor. 12:5; I John 6:7., "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost." I John 5:7; I Cor. 12:4; Rev. 3:14.
That these three true witnesses are but one only true God. Hereupon we confessed: That this must certainly follow, from the fact, that the Son proceeded or came forth from the eternal essence and substance of the Father; and that the Holy Ghost truly proceeds from the Father and Son, and is comprehended together with the Father and the Son in the only; eternal Divine Being.*
Moreover, this is abundantly testified and confirmed by the divine works and attributes, which are ascribed in the holy Scriptures jointly to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of which no angels in heaven, much less, any other creatures are capable, but which belong and are peculiar to the only God alone; as the creating, governing, and upholding of heaven and earth with all things visible and invisible; the gracious Gospel sent from heaven; the sending out of the apostles to preach the same among all nations; the raising of man from the dead, and the giving of eternal life; and all divine worship, honor and reverence. Hence they are perfectly one, not only in will, words, and works, but also in essence, and in the eternal and indescribable Godhead. Thus also in the divine works, so that whatsoever the Father does, the Son does likewise; and as the Father raises up the dead, even so the Son quickens whom He will; and all this they do in the power and with the co-operation of the Holy Ghost; and hence they can with reason and truth be called the one God of heaven and earth. Besides Him, there has been no other God, neither shall another be found in all eternity. Hence in the term one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are comprehended.
On this subject read the prophet Jeremiah, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom." Jer. 10:11, 12; Isa. 44:24; Ps. 96:5., "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Ps. 33:6; Heb. 3:4; Acts 4:24., "All things were made by him (Christ); and without him was not anything made that was made, " John 1:3 and 5:19.
Concerning this perfect unity read, "My Father, which gave them me (says Christ) is greater than all; and no man i's able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." John 10:29, 30.
Christ said to Philip, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" John 14:9, 10; 12:45; 17:21.
How the Holy Ghost is also called God. Read what Peter said to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" And a little further on, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5:3, 4., "Them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." I Pet. 1:12., "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." II Cor. 13:14., "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." I John 5:7; Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; I Cor. 8:6; Gal. 3:20.
Of the creation of all things visible and invisible, and of the creation of man we confess: That the only, almighty, and wonderworking God, who is the origin of all good, and for whose sake all things are created, and have their being, created, among other invisible things, also a multitude of many thousand angels, whom He has put as ministering and immortal spirits in His worshipful glory, to minister unto their Creator, and to offer Him praise, honor, and thanks; and who are sent forth by God, as messengers, to minister in manifold ways for men who shall be heirs of salvation; and with which angels of God, Christ Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven, to hold judgment over all men. And He shall glorify all that believe and please God, and make them like the glorious, immortal angels, and crown them with all holy angels in everlasting glory.
But as some of these angels became unfaithful and apostate to God, their Creator, they were, through their own voluntary sin or pride, rejected by the holy and righteous God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and were cast down from the glorious estate of heaven to hell, bound with chains of darkness and reserved until the great day of judgment, to be sentenced with all unbelievers to eternal damnation.
These impure spirits or devils are called: the prince of darkness and spirit of wickedness, who rules in the air and works in the children of disobedience; with whom all unbelievers, who are governed and seduced by Satan, are in fellowship. And as all believers are in the society or brotherhood of the holy angels, and shall enjoy eternal salvation with them; so, on the other band, shall all unbelievers have to endure everlasting damnation with all impure or apostate angels, with whom unbelievers are in fellowship.
Likewise, God Almighty, in the beginning, from nothing, in a most wonderful manner, and above all human reason and comprehension, created heav en, the earth, and the sea, with all their glorious adornment, He, the Blessed, only saying, "Let heaven and earth be made; and his word was a perfect work." He also adorned the heavens with many glorious lights; two great lights, one to rule and illume the day, and the other to rule the night; together with many glorious stars, which He ordained to the honor of their Creator, and the service of men.
Thus also, the Lord Almighty endowed the earth with many glorious fountains and running rivers, and adorned it with manifold trees and animals, and with all that lives and moves thereon. And He created the sea with great whales and various kinds of fish, for the wants of man, together with all that lives and moves therein. And He established the earth out of the water and in the water, by His almighty and everlasting word. They shall be preserved until the last great day of judgment.
After God, the Lord, in five days had most wisely and excellently created heaven, and earth, and the sea, together with all visible things, He, on the sixth day, formed man from the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life; and from his rib made Eve, a woman, and gave her to him as a helpmeet. Moreover, He loved them above all other creatures, and clothed them like Himself with divine virtues, which are righteousness and true holiness; endowing them with wisdom, speech, and reason, that they might know, fear, and love their Creator, and serve Him in voluntary obedience. He placed them as lords over all creatures, endowing them with immortality, that they might be and live before Him, and rule and reign over all creatures which God the Lord created.
Concerning this wonderful creation, read, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11., "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and in him." Col. 1:16; Ps. 33:6.
Regarding the angels, read, "He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Heb. 1:7, 14; Ps. 104:4.
Concerning the apostasy of the angels, read, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them unto chains and darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 10:18; Isa.14:8; Rev. 12:4.
Regarding the creation of the visible things, read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Gen. 1:1; John 1:3; Ps. 33:6.
God said, "Let heaven and earth be made; and thy word was a perfect work." II Esd. 6:38.
"For thine almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form." Wisd. 11:17., "I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven, and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise." II Macc. 7:28., "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Heb. 11:3; Acts 17:24; Ps. 146:6; 148:5.
Concerning the creation of man, read, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Gen. 1:26., "And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Gen. 2:7; Acts 17:25; I Cor. 15:45.
How man was created, read, "This only have I found, that God hath made man upright." Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 1:26; 5:1., "For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity." Wisd. 2:23; Sir. 17:1., "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Eph.4:24., "And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Gen. 1:31; Deut. 3254.
Of the fall and punishment of man we confess: The first man, Adam, and Eve, having been thus gloriously created after the likeness of their Creator, unto eternal life, did not continue long in this estate; but as they were created with a free will, to choose what they would, so that they could fear, serve and obey their Creator, or, disobey and forsake Him; and as their Creator had given them a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that they should eat thereof, they should surely die; they, notwithstanding this, in their vain desire to be equal to their Creator in wisdom and knowledge, were led and drawn away from God, and deceived by Satan; and thus they disobediently and voluntarily transgressed the command of their Creator. The woman, last created, was first deceived, and turned her ears away from God to Satan, and, also seducing her husband, they through this sin, fell under the wrath and disfavor of God, and, with all their posterity, became subject that very day, to temporal and eternal death, and were thus divested of the divine virtue, which is righteousness, and true holiness, and became sinful and mortal.
On this account, God the holy and righteous judge, in whose sight wickedness can not endure, but who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, or to look on iniquity; and who threatens from heaven with His wrath and disfavor all disobedience and ingratitude of men; was so incensed by the sin hus committed by Adam and Eve, that thereby they not only fell into eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, but God the Lord moreover imposed upon Adam and Eve divers temporal, bodily punishments, which also continually extend themselves into all their generations. Who are so corrupted in Adam, that they are all from their youth, by nature, inclined to sin and evil, and are therefore deprived of the beautiful pleasuregarden, or paradise, but must eat their bread, all their. life, in sorrow and in the sweat of their face, from the uncultivated earth, which because of this first sin was so cursed and marred, that it brings forth of itself weeds, thorns, and thistles; and cover the shame of their bodies made naked by sin. The woman, as the chief transgressor, has to subject her will and power to the man, and was constrained to bring forth her children in pain and anguish. This punishment continues upon all men, until they finally return to the dust and ashes whence they came.
Concerning how Adam, together with the whole human race, through sin, fell into temporal and eternal death, and, in consequence of this, became sinful, read, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men.""Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned." etc."And not as it was by one that sinned . . . for the judgment was by one to condemnation," etc."For if by one man's offense death reigned," etc."Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation," etc."For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners," etc. Rom. 5:12, 14-19., "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I Cor. 15:21, 22., "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Ps. 51:5., "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" Job 14:4., "Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die." Sir. 25:24; Tit. 2:14; Wisd. 2:24.
The prophet Esdra -says, "The first Adam bearing a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him.""And he transgressed, and thou immediately, thou appointedst death in him and in his generations." II Esd. 3:21, 7., "O thou Adam, what hast thou done! for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee." II Esd. 7:48. Read also: John 3:6; Rom. 8:5; Eph. 2:3; Sir. 17:16; Gen. 6:5.
Read further, how God announced unto Adam his punishment on account of sin, which punishment God extends unto all his posterity, "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee,
saying, Thou shalt not eat of it:. cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also. and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field: in the sweat of thy:face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.; for out of it wast thou taken: for, dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Gen. 3:17-19, 23, 24. Concerning the punishment of the woman, read: Gen. 3:16; I Cor. 14:34; I Tim. 2:12.
Of the restoration or justification. of man. We confess that Adam and Eve having thus fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, and into death and eternal condemnation, together with all their posterity, so that no remedy or deliverance 'vas to be found in heaven or earth, among any created beings, who could help, and redeem them, and reconcile them to God, the Creator of all things, who is the Almighty God (against whose majesty they had sinned, and who. alone could heal them), who is rich and abounding in all grace and mercy, had compassion upon Adam and his posterity, and, hence, promised them His only begotten Son as a comforting Redeemer and Saviour, , whom He would put as enmity between Satan and thp woman and their seed, to the comfort -and help of fallen mankind, in order thus to bruise the head of Satan, and to deprive him of his power; and, in this manner, to deliver Adam and his posterity from the prison of sin, the power of the devil and eternal perdition, and to reconcile them to. God.
And even as God the Lord, through this promise, clothed Adam and his seed internally, according to the soul, with His grace and mercy, He,-in token of this, also covered the outward shame and nakedness of the body, making coats of skirls, 'and clothing them therewith.
And even as Adam, through this.his first, one sin, brought, not only himself, but with him also his whole posterity, without exception of persons, and without their own actual evil work's, into: eternal death and condemnation; so also, God Al mighty, through this promise of the only Saviour Christ Jesus, redeemed, delivered, and Justified from condemnation, and placed into the state of grace and reconciliation, all mien, without exception of persons, without arty of their good works, only from pure grace and:mercy. Seeing that Adam's race was not born of him When lie stood under disfavor and condemnation before God; but as all men proceed from .Adam as being in a state of grace, peace, and reconciliation With God, he could bring forth none but such as stand with him in the same reconciliation.
Thus none of Adam's race are created or born to condemnation, but all are.born and brought forth into the world in the same state of grace and reconciliation with God. Hence, we hold it to militate not only against the holy Scriptures, but also utterly against the nature of God, which is just, righteous, holy, and merciful, that God should punish with eternal death and damnation, simply on account of Adam's sin; so great a number of Adam's race, who die in their infancy in a state of innocence, before they have followed Adam in sin; seeing the good God, through Christ and for Christ's sake, so graciously forgave Adam, (who had himself committed the sin) and placed him in a state of grace.
But men having attained the knowledge of good and evil, and, through the lust of the flesh, and their own desire, having been drawn away from the path of virtue and innocence, so that they follow Adam in sin, hence it comes that they separate themselves from their Creator, and, consequently, do not perish, nor are condemned on account of Adam's transgression, but because of their own unbelief and evil works.
But .the righteous God, who does indeed forgive sin, yet ofttimes does not suffer it to go entirely unpunished, permitted the temporal, bodily punishment to remain upon Adam and Eve, and their posterity, by which they ought to learn to know, fear, and serve their Creator, and to shun sin; such as this, that from their infancy they are by nature inclined to sin and evil, against which they have a 'continual warfare, are barred out from the beautiful paradise, must cover their nakedness; the women must subject their power and will to their husbands, and must bring forth their children in pain and anguish; and all must eat all the days of their life, with sorrow, of the corrupted earth, until they return to dust of the earth, whence they have come.
But all believers receive in this life the restoration or justification of Christ only through faith, in hope, and afterwards in the resurrection of the dead they shall receive it truly and actually, and shall enjoy it forever.
Concerning these glorious and comforting promises of salvation, read, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed, and her seed; it shall bruise thy head." Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:14, 15.
As to how this promise was renewed in the seed and race of Adam, read: -"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37. To Abraham: Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Acts 10:43.
Concerning the fact that this promise of justification does not extend only to a particular class of persons, but to all men without distinction, read, "Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:18, lg., "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I Cor. 15:21, 22.
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:9, 29., "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." I John 2:2., "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Col. 1:19, 20., "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Tit. 2:11. Read also Rom. 3:24; 11:32; I Tim. 4:10; II Cor. 5:19; 1 John 4:10; Isa. 53:6; I Pet. 2:24.
As to how the kingdom of heaven is promised by Christ to infants, without respect of persons, read, "Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 19:13, 14; 18:3; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15.
Concerning how God the righteous judge will not punish infants for the sin of their parents, or of Adam; but to requite each with righteousness, according to his own works, read, "For so much then as thou art righteous thyself, thou orderest all things righteously: thinking it not agreeable with thy power to condemn him that hath not deserved to be punished." Wisd. 12:15., "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him." Ezek. 18:20, 4."The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29., "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he shall judge the world in righteousness." Acts 17:31; Ps. 7:11; II Tim. 4:8., "But he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16."Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil." Rom. 2:9.
Of the free will or power of man before and after the fall; and of the saving grace of God. Of this we confess: That God Almighty in the beginning created the man Adam and his wife in His image and likeness, endowing them, above all creatures, with virtues, knowledge, speech, reason, and a free will or power; so that they could know, love, fear, and obediently serve their Creator; or could voluntarily and disobediently forsake their God; as appeared in the first transgression, when Adam and his wife, through the subtlety of the devil, who appeared in the form of a deceitful serpent, departed from the commandment of God; hence they did not sin through the foreordination or the will of God; but as they had been created with a free will, and to do as they would, they sinned through their own voluntary desire, and transgressed the command of God contrary to His will.
The man Adam and his wife having thus through their own sin fallen under the wrath and disfavor of God, whereby they became sinful and mortal, were again received into favor by God their Creator; so that they were not utterly divested of their former wisdom, speech, and knowledge, above all other creatures, nor of their previous free will or power, as may be seen from their voluntarily accepting God's gracious promises unto life, and obeying the voice of the Lord; and as also clearly appears from the fact that God the Lord very strictly appointed an angel with a flaming sword to keep the tree of life from Adam lest through his free will or power he should eat of the tree of life and live forever; which would have been in Adam's power. And this free will or power has been transmitted to all their descendants, who proceed from them as branches from.their stem; so that even as men are endowed of God with knowledge, reason and voluntary power, by which they can perform manifold works, and seek and desire from God the health of their diseased and infirmed bodies, and are not without action, as the irrational creatures, blocks and stones, so likewise, man, through the grace of God, and the moving of the Spirit, by which men live, and are moved, may open the door of the heart to the salutary grace of God-which through the Gospel is offered to all men, and through which death and life is set before manand seek the health of his wounded soul; or he may voluntarily resist, reject and neglect this offered grace and moving of the Spirit. Thus also, as men have eyes and ears, to see and to hear, yet not of themselves, but only from God the Giver, so they also, through the grace of God, have a free will or power to do the good and to leave the evil.
But men, considered in themselves, seeing they are without the grace of God, are of themselves incapable of thinking anything that is good, much less are they able to do it. But it is Almighty God, who through His Spirit of grace works in man both to will and to do, moves, draws, and chooses them, and accepts them as His children-, so that men are only recipients of God's saving grace. Hence all Christians are in duty bound, to ascribe the beginning, middle and end of their faith, with all the good fruits thereof, not to themselves, but only to the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus.
We confess moreover: That this saving grace of God is not limited to a few particular men, but even as the Almighty God lets His sun rise and shine on the evil and on the good, so He has extended His grace to all of Adam's race; as it is also evident, that God, in His goodness, did not leave Himself without witness among the heathen, doing them good, and so moving their hearts, that their thoughts and consciences accused and excused them, so that they could do by nature, without the
hearing of the law of Moses, the things contained in the law. This appears in still greater. clearness in the coming of Christ, that Almighty God has proclaimed the saving grace through the Gospel to the whole world, for a witness unto all nations, by which all excuse is taken from men, and as an evidence, that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent and be saved. According to the import of the holy and everlasting Gospel, a righteous, eternal, and irrevocable judgment shall be pronounced, in the last day, through Christ Jesus, the blessed, over all nations. Hence all men who now in this time of grace believe and accept the Gospel, attain unto life; but all who do not believe the Gospel, but voluntarily reject it, will receive death as their portion.
On the other hand, we reject the belief of those who say that Almighty God has indeed caused the word of reconciliation to be preached to all, or many, but does nevertheless withhold His grace from many of them, so that the greater part of mankind cannot accept the word of reconciliation and be saved, but will, through the purpose or eternal counsel and will of God, inevitably have to perish forever, and be damned.
On this subject, read various Scripture passages ascribing a will to man. And the holy Spirit does not speak in vain in the Scriptures, "He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; if thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable faithfulness. He hath set fire and water before thee; stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whether him liketh shall be given him." Sir. 15:14-17; Deut. 11:26; 30:15; 11 Esd. 7:59.
God the Lord said to Cain, "If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." Gen. 4:7.
Concerning man's free will, read, "Let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will." I Cor. 7:36-38., "And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a free will offering." Lev. 22:21, 23., "Who might offend, and hath not offended? or done evil, and hath not done it?" Sir. 31:10.
And Paul also says, "For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also." II Cor. 8:3, 11; Philem. 14; Mark 14:7; I Cor. 7:36.
Man can do nothing good of himself, by his own power; but through the grace of God, he, in his imperfectness, is able to keep God's commandments."For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philip. 2:13., "Thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not." Ezek. 12:2., "For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Rom. 7:18-21.
Read here all the Scriptures which unanimously testify that God does not desire the death of the sinner, but that he be converted, and live. Ezek. 18:32; 33:11; Wisd. 1:13; Isa. 55:7.
And that God has extended His saving grace not only to the elect, but to all of Adam's race; and that He also died for those that perish. Concerning this, read, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Tit. 2:11., "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Isa. 45:22., "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Rom. 5:18., "Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness," etc. Acts 14:16, 17; Rom. 1:19; 2:15., "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." II Pet. 2:1., "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." II Cor. 5:1.5."For God so' loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. John 3:16., "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" John 1:29., "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth." I Tim. 2:3, 4., "He is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." II Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4; Jas. 4:6; Acts 13:46. Read also: Matt. 23:36, 37; Luke 13:34; II Esd. 1:30.
As to how God the righteous judge will pronounce the final judgment upon those who disobey* the Gospel, read, "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." II Thess. 1:7, 8; Mark 16:16."This is the book of the commandments of God, and the law that endureth forever: all they that keep it shall come to life; but such as leave it shall die." Bar. 4:1.