Of the providence of God, the election of believers, and the rejection of unbelievers. Of this we confess: As we believe and confess that God is
omnipotent; and that with Him nothing is impossible; so likewise is He also prescient and omniscient, so that nothing is hid from Him in heaven and in earth, neither that which is to take place until the end of all things, nor that which has taken place from all eternity. And through this exceeding high prescience (foreknowledge), knowledge and wisdom of God, which are unfathomable, He very well saw and knew from the beginning in eternity until the consummation of the world, who would be the truly believing recipients of His grace and mercy; and, again, who should be found unbelieving despisers and rejecters of said grace. And, consequently, He from the beginning and from eternity knew, foresaw, elected and ordained all true believers to inherit eternal salvation through Christ Jesus; and, on the other hand rejected all unbelieving despisers of said grace to eternal damnation. Hence the perdition of men is of themselves, and their salvation only through the Lord their God, without whom they can do nothing that is good.
But in no wise is it true that the gracious, merciful, and righteous God (who conforms to His holy nature) has from eternity foreseen, ordained or predestinated, and created, at a convenient time, by far the greater number of the human race unto eternal damnation; or that, they having fallen through the sin of the first man Adam, He let them remain without help in eternal death and condemnation, into which they had come without their knowledge and own actual evil works, without having in this case seen and known the just cause of their rejection. Far be it from us, to believe this from the only good and righteous God I
But, on the other hand, all true followers of Christ believe and confess: That the righteous God, in the beginning, created man good and upright, and gave him an existence, and He hates none of those things which He has created. And when through the subtlety of the devil they had fallen into eternal death, the blessed God, whose mercy is over all flesh, and who is not willing that any should perish, out of pure love and mercy, redeemed, bought, and delivered, through the atonement of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the whole human race, without exception of persons, from eternal condemnation; so that, in consideration of the death of Christ, none shall perish on account of Adam's sin; but God the righteous judge will judge the world in righteousness, giving assurance unto all men, and rendering to every man according to his own works and deeds. The believers, who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for eternal life, attain glory and honor and immortality, but the unbelieving and disobedient, tribulation and anguish, and the everlasting wrath of God.
Concerning the foreknowledge or prescience of God, read, "And hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation." Acts 17:26; Deut. 32:8."She foreseeth signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times." Wisd. 8:8; Dan. 2:28; 5:17., "O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be." Hist. Sus. v. 42; Isa. 46:10; Job 42:2; Rom. 9:11; Acts 2:23, 31; I Pet. 1:20., "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." Ps. 139:15, 16., "He knew all things ere ever they were created; so also after they were perfected he looked upon them all." Sir. 23:20; Acts 15:18.
Here it is to be observed with attention, how God, through His prescience, from the beginning elected the believers in Christ, and rejected the unbelievers. Read, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" etc. Jas. 2:5., "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen," etc. I Cor. 1:27, 28., "I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I. shewed it thee: for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb." Isa. 48:5, 8; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 9:13; Eph. 3:11; II Tim. 1:9., "Before they were sealed that have gathered faith for a treasure; then did I consider these things," etc. II Esd. 6:5., "And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people?" Isa. 44:7., "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified." Rom. 8:28-30., "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee," etc. Jer. 1:5., "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," etc. Eph. 1:4; II Tim. 1:9; John 15:16; Acts 13:48.
Of the written Word of God, the law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ. We confess: That the old law which was given by Moses and received by the disposition of angels, was a perfect doctrine and rule for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, with whom God had made and established this His covenant. According to the doctrine and tenor of this law, this people had to conduct and regulate themselves, without transgressing any part of it, or taking away from, or adding to it, or following their own opinion in regard to it, on pain of being exterminated, and falling under a great curse. On the other hand, those who hear, believe and fulfill this law, are promised life, and many glorious blessings. This blessing and curse extended mostly to temporal and bodily things.
This law of God-the five books of Moses-embracing also all kings, priests and prophets, who prophesied and spoke, through the Spirit of God, among this people, Israel (agreeing with the law of Moses), which is the entire Old Testament, has through the grace of God been made known to us in the Bible. This law is also spiritual, the bringing in of a better hope, and the schoolmaster to Christ. By its various figures and shadows, as the Levitical priesthood, ceremonies and sacrifices, the land of Canaan, kings, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple, it pointed and led to Christ Jesus, because the old law was an intolerable yoke of bondage, which brought condemnation upon all who did not continue in, and perform all that is written in the book of the law. And since men, through the weakness of the flesh, could not perfectly keep all this, they could not obtain the eternal blissful life through the law, but would have had to remain under the wrath and anger of God. But Christ Jesus came, who is the end and the fulfilling of the old law, and the beginner and author of the new law, of perfect liberty, and the real, true light, to which all the dark shadows pointed; He came sent from God, with full power in heaven and on earth and is the one who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
He has made a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, and has invited thereto all the Gentiles and nations of the earth, who in time past were strangers and enemies, but who now, through grace, are all invited, and for whcfm the way unto life has been opened and well beaten; so that by obedience through grace, they may now become fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And this is the word of reconciliation, by which Almighty God, through ,His Spirit, works faith, regeneration, and all the good fruits resulting therefrom in men; in which word of the New Testament are proclaimed to us full grace and peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, together with all things, that pertain unto life and godliness, yea, all the counsel of God. According to this proclamation all believing children of the New Testament must necessarily regulate and conduct themselves in all matters relating to the faith; in accordance with which, finally, an eternal judgment will be held. And it is so much worthier, and better established than the Old Testament, as it was given through a higher and worthier ambassador, and was sealed with a more precious blood; and it shall not cease, but continue till the end of the world. And as a man's covenant, if it be confirmed, may not be changed, or anything taken from or added to it, so this New and everlasting Covenant, which is confirmed with the precious death and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, may still much less be diminished, or anything added thereto, nor may it be bent and distorted according to one's own individual opinions; but all Christians are in duty bound to bow their whole heart, mind and soul under the obedience of Christ and the mind of the Holy Spirit expressed in the holy Scriptures, and to regulate and measure their whole faith and conversation according to the import thereof.
The Old Testament is to be expounded by and reconciled with the New Testament and must be distinctively taught among the people of God
Moses with his stern, threatening, punishing law over all impenitent sinners as still under the law; but Christ with His new, glad tidings of the holy Gospel over all believing, penitent sinners as not under the law, but under grace.
To this new law of Jesus Christ all decrees, councils and ordinances made contrary to it by men in the world, must give place; but all Christians must necessarily, as far as the faith is concerned, regulate and conduct themselves only in accordance with this blessed Gospel of Christ. And as the outward man lives outwardly by the nourishment of bread; so the inward man of the soul lives by every word proceeding from the mouth of the Lord. Therefore the Word of God must be purely and sincerely preached, heard, received and kept, by all believers.
Of the law of Moses: how it was written with the finger of God on tables of stone, and given by the disposition of angels, concerning this read
Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6; John 1:17; Acts 7:53; Ex. 31:18; 32:16.
Of the severity of the law, and how we must neither take away from, nor add to, it; in regard to this, read, "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen." Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10., "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Deut. 12:32, 8; 29:19; Prov. 30:6; Deut. 4:2.
Of the imperfectness of the law, read, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things," etc. Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17., "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." Heb. 7:12, 18, 19; Gal. 2:16; Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:3.
How Christ is the end and fulfilling of the law; with regard to this, read, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that be-
lieveth." Rom. 10:4; Matt. 5:17; Rom. 7:4; Gal. 1:19.
Of the power and dignity of the holy Gospel, read, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," etc. Rom. 1:16; John 1:17; Luke 16:16; Mark 1:15; I Pet. 1:12., "Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." II Tim. 1:10; I Pet. 1:25.
Of the usefulness and power of the holy Gospel, read, "And that from a child thou hast known the
holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." II Tim. 3:15-17; II Peter 3:15., "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.""He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said," etc. John 5:39; 7:38; James 1:21; Matt. 4:4; Dent. 8'3; Wisd. 16:26; Rev. 22:18; Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6., "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Rom. 15:4.
How Christ Jesus will pronounce the last judgment upon the obedience of the Gospel, read."The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge, him in the last day." John 12:48., "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
who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord," etc. II Thess. 1:7-9; Matt. 24:14; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 20:12.
Of saving faith. We confess: That saving faith is not a vain or hidden thing unborn in man; nor does it consist in us having a historical knowledge derived from the holy Scriptures, and that we have much to say about it, without having the real substance or signification thereof. But the real and true faith, which avails before God, is. a sure knowledge of the heart in a sure confidence, which we receive from God, not through our own power, will, or ability, but through the hearing of the Word of God; and which, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit is imprinted on, and written in, the heart, and works so effectually in us, that we are drawn away by it from all visible and perishable things, to the invisible and living God; acquiring thereby a new spiritual taste for that which is heavenly, and not for that which is earthly. For saving faith, accompanied with hope and love, is of such a nature that it conforms to things not seen. Hence, all true believers gladly and obediently submit hemselves to all the commandments of God, con tained in the holy Scriptures, and, when necessary testify to and confess them with the mouth before kings, princes, lords, and all men, not allowing themselves to be drawn away therefrom by any means whatever, though, on account thereof, mon ey, property, body and life be sacrificed unto spoil ing, water, and fire. For the power of God, which preserves them in the faith, strengthens them, so that they esteem all the sufferings of this time brief and light, not avenging themselves, but praying for their persecutors, gladly suffering for the name of the Lord what is imposed upon them, because of .the faith, hope, and love which they have to their Creator and His heavenly riches.
Where this true faith is received in the heart, there the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as witnesses of the same, must follow and flow out. On the contrary, unbelief, with its unfruitful works of darkness must flee, as darkness before the clear, sunlight. By this faith, which is the beginning of the Christian doctrine, we become children of God, overcome the world, are armed against all the subtle wiles of the devil, become sanctified, justified, saved, and partakers of all the benefits of God shown in Christ Jesus; and without this faith it is impossible to please God.
In this true faith we cannot stand still, but, with humble fasting, praying, and supplicating in the Spirit, we must plead for help, assistance, and new strength in all divine virtues, unto the end, in order that God may strengthen and preserve us in the same. Where this is neglected men may fall from the faith; the good Spirit may be taken away, and their names blotted out of the Book of Life, and written again in the earth. To this true faith, which is a noble gift of God, all men, who have attained to understanding and knowledge, so that they can hear and understand the Word of God, without distinction of persons, are called through the divine word, and invited to come; but all infants, and those whom God permits to remain in their infancy are herefrom excepted and excluded. They are under the grace and pleasure of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, by which He, through His blood, cleansed and redeemed the whole human race from the fall of Adam, without requiring of them any other means than faith, hope, love and the observance of certain commandments of God. It is therefore a great error that some ascribe faith to new born infants; or [that they say] that without this they cannot be saved. It is a sure sign that said persons do not know the true faith, and do not believe the words of Jesus Christ, who has promised the kingdom of heaven to infants without this.
For, as true faith consists in hearing, believing and accepting the good things which God offers us through His Word; and, again, as unbelief consists in despising and rejecting those things; and since infants have neither knowledge, ability, inclination. nor emotion concerning any of these things, as all intelligent persons see and know; therefore it must
truly follow that neither faith nor unbelief may be attributed to infants; but they are simple and ignorant, and in this state perfectly pleasing to God, He having set them as examples for us, that we should imitate them in their simplicity.
How the true faith is a gift of God, and is wrought in the hearts of men through the hearing of God's Word, read, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Eph. 2:8; Rom. 12:3; Col. 2:12; Phil. 1:29; Jude 3., "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Rom. 10:17; Heb. 6:2.
With regard to how we must believe in God through His Word, read, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." John 17:20; Eph. 1:9; John 7:38; 14:1; Heb. 11:6; I Pet. 1:21; II Tim. 3:15.
Concerning how true faith is not vain, but manifests its effectual power and nature, read, "By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations," etc. Rom. 1:5; 16:25; Acts 6:7., "When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." I Thess. 2:13., "In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." Gal. 5:6.
He that does not evince from his faith the seven virtues required,"is blind, and cannot see afar off," etc. II Pet. 1:9; Jas. 2:26., "But the just shall live by his faith." Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:38; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11.
By faith we become righteous and partakers of the benefits of God. Acts 26:18; Rom. 10:10; Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Mark 16:16.
We must pray to God, to be strengthened and kept in the faith. Luke 17:5; I Pet. 1:5.
When the grace of God is neglected through unbelief and evil works, one may fall away from the faith, and be blotted out of the Book of .Life. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith. I Tim. 4:1; II Peter 2:1; I Tim. 6:10.
"Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." Luke 8:13., "One that returneth from righteousness to sin: the Lord prepareth such a one for the sword." Sirach 26:28; Jer. 17:13; Prov. 3:21; Heb. 6:6., "The Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever bath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." Ex. 32:33; Rev. 3:5; Ps. 69:29; Isa. 1:2; 30:1; Jer. 18:7.
How infants are simple and ignorant, and that therefore neither faith nor unbelief may be imputed to them; but that they are well-pleasing to God through His grace, without any other means, read, "Moreover, your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it." Deut. 1:39; Matt. 19:14., "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I Cor. 13:11; Heb. 5:13., "Brethren, be not children in understanding howbeit in malice be ye children." I Cor. 14:20; Eph. 4:14; Matt. 18:2; 19:13; Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15.
Of regeneration and the new creature, we confess: Inasmuch as our first parents, Adam and Eve, through their transgression, separated themselves from God, and fell into temporal and eternal death, with all their posterity, and, consequently, lost the image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness; became depraved in their nature, and inclined to sin and wickedness from their youth; so that of all men none can attain unto faith and a godly conversation through the power of their first birth, which has sprung and proceeded from sinful seed; because that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and hence, carnally minded, and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; therefore, all men, having come of the earth, shall return to dust and earth, and, in part, are also like to the corrupted earth, which of itself does not bring forth good grain, but must thereto be prepared anew, and sown with good seed. Thus also, all men, when they have passed their youth, and have come to understand and discern good and evil, we perceive, that their carnal hearts and earthly life, being conceived in sin, are inclined to sin, which conceives by its own lust, which awakens sin in them, and allures and moves them to actual sin; and thus they fall from grace, to which they had been redeemed through the atonement of Christwhich plunges them into the death of sin.
Hence, God the Lord requires and demands through His Word, of all men of understanding, a true reformation and a renewing from these their own actual sins; that is, that through the hearing of the Word of God they receive the faith, become regenerated from above, of God; be created anew in the inner mind of the heart, according to the image of God, and circumcised, being translated from the carnal into the spiritual, from unbelief into faith, from that which is earthly-minded and like Adam into that which is heavenly-minded and like Jesus Christ; that they crucify and mortify their earthly members, and feel, prove, and taste that which is heavenly, and not that which is earthly. To this, God promises life, peace, and all heavenly riches; and it is the sanctification in the spirit of the Mind, and the appropriation of all the benefits of Christ (which have been lost through our own actual sin), and has the promise of eternal salvation.
And wherever this renewing and conversion of the mind and the heart is not found (among all those who know sin have served it), there Christ and the life do not exist; and without this renewing neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, baptism nor Supper, nor any ceremonies, however glorious they may appear, avail anything.
And as man in the beginning is brought forth with pain and anguish from the flesh, so the second, spiritual generation is also called a birth; and it takes place with godly sorrow over sin, and with the crucifying and mortifying of the earthly members.
And as men by the fall of Adam were not altogether deprived and divested of all godly virtues and qualities, so as to become like Satan in evil, but through the grace of God have retained many good principles, so the innate sinful nature, affection for, and proneness to sin are not utterly removed by regeneration, but remain until death in the regenerated; so that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the lust or indwelling sin wars against the law of the new mind, so that the regenerated enter upon a continuous warfare, and must constantly crucify and mortify the lusts of the flesh, tame and bring into subjection their bodies, and abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; and thus fighting, they must keep the victory unto death.
On the other hand, the assertion of those who ascribe regeneration to new-born infants, and say that without this they cannot be saved, is rejected as a grave error. Some of these found regeneration upon infant baptism, maintaining that as soon as they have their children baptized, they are also, through this ceremony of baptism, regenerated. Others build the regeneration of infants in the justification or general redemption of Christ, by which the human race has been reconciled from the fall of Adam and put in a state of grace; saying that children are regenerated as soon as they are conceived by the mother; thus putting regeneration, against all right and probability, before the first birth which is of the flesh. Soiree cannot tell whether infants become partakers of regeneration before, in, or after baptism; from which it is judged that the aforesaid persons treat of regeneration without the holy Scriptures and all true reason, as the blind man of colors; since Almighty God, nowhere in His holy Word speaks of the regeneration of infants. And though children are conceived in sin, or born from sinful seed, yet they have never known, served, or practiced sin, from which they might be regenerated, converted, and renewed in their mind and heart; but they have without this been born, and placed by God in so holy and God-pleasing a state, through the atonement of Christ, that no adult person can, through regeneration and the putting off of the sinful body of the flesh, and the renewing of the mind, become more sinless, holy and God-pleasing; seeing the innate sinfulness, lust or inclination to sin remains in the most pious, regenerated, adult persons until death (not less than in children, in their infancy), against which they carry on a constant warfare; and besides this, Almighty God, by His Word, requires of all men that have served sin, no higher or greater reparation than that they be converted by regeneration, and become like unto children in sin and malice. With what reason, then, can regeneration be applied to children, who have never committed sin, from which they could be regenerated; seeing infancy has already the innocence which is acceptable to God, and has been set as an example before men, after which all the regenerated must labor and strive until death.
Of this heavenly birth from God, and how it is effected through the Spirit and the Word of God, read, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." I Pet. 1:22, 23; 2:2; James 1:18; I Cor. 4:15; Gal. 4:19; Philem. 10., "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost," etc. Tit. 3:5.
That regeneration is not a vain or hidden thing, but demands a new life and the following of Christ, and that eternal salvation is promised thereupon, read, "Verily, 1 say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matt. 19:28., "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Gal. 6:15, 16., "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12, 13.
To all who have served sin, and have not been regenerated, the kingdom of God is denied. Concerning this, read, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.", "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:3, 5-8.
That the regenerated do not become perfect in this life, but must fight unto death against the flesh,
the world, and sin, read, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after," etc. Phil. 3:12; 1:30; Col. 1:29; Rev. 2:10., " I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." I Cor. 9:27., "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary, the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit," etc. Gal. 5:17,18; I Pet. 2:11; Rom. 7:18, 23; Jas. 3:2.
Of the incarnation of the eternal and only begotten Son of God. We confess: That the exalted and true God faithfully kept and fulfilled His exceeding great and precious promises, which He had made in the beginning concerning His Son, who had been foreordained to this end before the foundation of the world, but in these last times was manifest for our sakes.
This glorious and cheering promise was originally given to fallen Adam and Eve, and was afterwards renewed in their seed, as in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and David. Of Him did all the prophets prophesy, and on Him did all the pious fathers hope with a firm confidence (as though they had seen Him), that Shiloh would come from Judah, and that this beautiful star would arise out of Jacob. This truly and really took place as follows: When everything was in tranquillity, when the royal sceptre had departed from Judah, and the seed of Jacob was under tribute to the heathen; then the gracious God remembered His holy covenant, and sent His true, real Word or Son out of heaven, from His royal throne; having to this end foreordained and elected the righteous Joseph, of the house and generation of David, whose espoused wife was Mary, whom God had blessed and chosen for this purpose above all other women.
To this Joseph and Mary the Holy Ghost points from generation to generation, as well as to the town of Bethlehem, out of which this Light long before promised was to arise and come forth; in order that all the pious who waited and hoped for this salvation, might have a certain consolation and knowledge from which tribe, city and place they were to expect this Saviour of the world.
Thus Mary received the message through the angel of God, and believed it, being overshadowed by the power of the Highest, and conceived of the Holy Ghost the true, real Word, which was in the beginning with God, and by which all things were created. The same, through the effectual power of the Almighty God, became flesh or man in her, and was born of her, the Son of the Most High God, whom she had before conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Thus the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God became a visible man subject to suffering. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, and brought up at Nazareth under the care of His [imputed] father and His mother. He hungered, thirsted, was wearied with walking, sighed and wept, and increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man; so that the eternal, only begotten Son of the living God, in the time of His incarnation, did not continue like His heavenly Father in an invisible, impassive, immortal, and spiritual form, but for our sakes, humbled Himself into a visible, passive, mortal, and servile form, became like unto us men in all things, except sin; in order thereby to heal us from the poisonous bite of the serpent, and from everlasting torment.
Hence, all true witnesses of Jesus Christ are bound, by virtue of the holy Scriptures, to believe and confess: That this same Word, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, by which all things were made, proceeded from God His Father, came into the world, and, through the power of God, became Himself man or flesh, so that the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth was touched and seen.
Thus He who before was like unto His Father in brightness and glory-not given or usurped Godlikeness, but one peculiar to Him by nature-left His brightness and glory, and humbled Himself, and became in form like unto us men; He who before was greater than the angels, and in an invisible, immortal form, like unto God His Father, was now made lower than the angels, and became like unto His brethren in a visible and mortal form. He who could have had joy with His Father, and was surrounded by eternal riches, became poor for our sakes, and suffered on the cross, despising the shame. He who in the presence of the apostles ascended heavenward, was the same who before had descended from God out of heaven into the lower parts of the earth; and the same ascended above all heavens. This is the mystery of godliness, which is great, but on account of their carnal and flickering reason, is believed by but few: that God the Son was thus manifest in the flesh; and that He appeared, as a true Redeemer and Saviour, and eternal Light, to them who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.
And, as the food which the Israelites ate in the wilderness, is called, bread from heaven or heavenly bread, because the substance of the bread was no fruit of this earth, but had come from heaven, though the same, was in this world, prepared in the form of bread; so also Christ Himself calls His flesh the true bread which came down f rom heaven; and says that the Son of man should ascend up where He was before, because His flesh or body became flesh, not of Mary or of any created substance, but only of the Word of life which had come down from heaven.
He it was who spake with Moses on the mount and in the wilderness; and Him the fathers tempted in the wilderness, and resisted His Spirit. This is the same who was from the beginning. Him the
apostles touched with their hands, and beheld with their eyes; herein the life was manifested, that they saw and proclaimed to men, that which was with the Father, and was manifested unto them, and was even the same Word which spake with them.
And though it is true that the eternal Son of the living God forsook His divine glory, and, for a brief time, was made lower than the angels, and appeared in the visible form of a servant; yet He did not thereby lose His eternal Sonship and Godhead with His Father; but when God the Father brought this His first and only begotten Son into the world, He prepared Him a body, not of any created substance, but only of the Word of life, which became flesh, and which by all the angels of God is honored and worshiped as the true God.
Likewise, Christ glorified Himself before His apostles, on Mount Tabor, that His face shone as the bright sun, and He was confessed by His Father from heaven as His beloved Son. Thus have also the highly enlightened apostles of Christ, and all true believers, confessed, pronounced, honored and worshiped this visible and palpable Christ Jesus as the true God, and Son of God. Hence all true believers, according to these testimonies of holy Scripture, and the examples of all the saints of God, must necessarily, unto salvation, follow, believe, and confess, that the whole crucified Christ Jesus, visible and invisible, mortal and immortal, is the true God, and the Son of God, God and man in one undivided person. To Him. be praise forever and ever. Amen.
Of these promises concerning the Saviour, read, how God the Lord, in the beginning promised fallen Adam and Eve, to put Him as enmity between Satan and the woman, and between their seed."And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. 3:15; Col. 1:19; 3:15; Eph. 2:15., "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; Read also: Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8; Genesis 49:10; Num. 24:17; Matt. 2:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Isa. 9:6; 11:1; Acts 10:43.
And that this Saviour of the world originally did not spring from the fathers, Mary, or any creature, but was sent and came only from God, and was conceived and brought forth by Mary, read, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son." Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14; Luke 2:21; Gal. 4:4."When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." And further, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Matt. 1:18, 20.
The angel of God said unto Mary, "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:30-35.
Read in this connection St. John, who also gives thorough information regarding this matter, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." John 1:1, 2, 14; Bar. 3:37; Zech. 2:10.
And further, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us,)" I John 1:1, 2; John 8:25; Micah 5:2; II Peter 1:16; John 20:28; Wisd. 18:15.
Of the humbling of the eternal and only Son of God, (Mark especially the word made; for nowhere do we find anything about assuming man) read, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men
and being found in fashion as a man," etc. Phil. 2:6-8., "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels.""But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor." Heb. 2:7, 9; Ps. 8:5., "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." II Cor. 8:9; Eccl. 9:15., "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame," etc. Hebrews 12:2., "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:51. Read also verses 58 and 63.
How the saints of God confessed and worshiped this humiliated Jesus also in the days of His flesh, as the true God, and the Son of God, read, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" And after a few more words, "Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 13:16. Understand, the true Son who was born and came forth from the essence of the
Father; and not a Son become so in time, or assumed, as believers, who because of the faith, are also called sons and daughters." II John 1:3; John 1:49; 10:36; 11:27; Acts 8:37; Matt. 27:54.
Jesus said to the blind man, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that 1 might believe on him? and Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him." John 9:35-38., "Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed," etc. John 20:28, 29., "In his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." I John 5:20, 21. Rom. 9:5.