Of the ordinances of the church of God, and the sending and electing of ministers. Of this we confessed: That, as a house, city, or country cannot subsist unless it have laws and ordinances by which to be governed and upheld, and as no human body can subsist without the members performing the service appointed by God for the needs of the body; so also, God the Lord has appointed in His church divers ordinances, laws and commandments, by which it is to be built up, edified, and improved.
And, as the necessities of the body require, as its chief and most indispensable members, eyes,
mouth, hands, and feet, to see, speak, and labor for the body, that it may thereby be fed and sustained; so Christ the Lord ordained as necessary in His church, first, by His own, present, commanding voice, His apostles, whom He sent out to preach the Gospel among all nations, and to teach them to observe His commandments, which He caused to be confirmed by signs and miracles.
This the apostles, through the Holy Spirit again enjoined upon their followers; namely, that they should elect, in the church, pastors, teachers, helpers and rulers, who as fit shining stars, by their good walk and sound doctrine, should shine to edification in the spiritual firmament, and, as messengers of peace, proclaim the good new tidings everywhere, that thereby men may be turned from their evil ways, added to the church, and thus the body of Christ be perfected and edified.
And since it is a known fact that a lack of faithful ministers, and the erring of the sheep because of the lack of good doctrine, arise principally from the unworthiness of the people; therefore the people of God, needing this, should not turn to such as have been educated in universities, according to the wisdom of man, that they may talk and dispute, and seek to sell their purchased gift for temporal gain; and who according to the custom of the world do not truly follow Christ in the humility of regeneration. But the true members of Christ, must, according to the counsel of God, with humble fasting and praying, turn to the Father of the harvest, who is the true Sender, that by His divine wisdom He will raise up men, whom He may set as faithful and wise stewards over His household, that they may give them proper meat in due season, and may enkindle them in their hearts with His Spirit, and urge them into His harvest, that they may feed the flock of Christ, not for the milk and wool, but of a ready mind, with knowledge and understanding, and lead them on the right way to the kingdom of God; and thus execute the ministry imposed upon them by God, with the strength which God gives.
Hence, believers who are in need, in this respect, shall, after having sought the face of God with ardent prayer, turn their eyes to a pious brother, who keeps under his own body, and brings it into subjection, and in whom the fruits of the Holy Spirit are perceived and seen. Having been chosen thereto by the voice of the Church, he shall be examined in the faith by the elder and pastors of the church, whether he, according to the Word of God, agrees with the church in every article, that he may teach others the way of truth, which he himself knows. And having been found to be sound, he may stand forth in the name of the Lord, to proclaim the will of God unto the people. And when it has thus been found that God has committed the preaching, of the Gospel to him so that he rightly divides the Word of God, and brings forth fruits with it, the church, if she require it, and he, after examination, has been found, according to the Word of God, to be of the same faith with the church, may, by the voice of the church, choose him as an elder and teacher in the full ministry, and cause him to be confirmed by the imposition of the hands of the elders, and ordain him to labor and work in the vineyard of the Lord, and to administer and execute Christian baptism, and the Lord's Supper, with all that pertains thereto.
In like manner, the church shall, by the voice of the church, elect deacons over the poor, and, after they have been examined in the faith, and found to be sound, cause them to be confirmed by the imposition of the hands of the elders, as helpers and governors, that willing givers may give their contributions to them, that they may thereby supply the wants of the poor members of Christ who according to their ability diligently labor and work with their hands, and still are not able to support themselves; that there may be found no poor among the people of God, nor any want in temporal things, and that the good gifts of the donor may be hidden from men, but become manifest before God, according to the doctrine of Christ.
And if any of said ministers depart in faith or conversation from the adopted way of truth, the church which elected him when he was pious and sound, shall punish or remove him, according as his deeds deserve. Matt. 18:8; I Tim. 1:20.
Of the ordinances of the church of Christ, read, "Joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." Col. 2:5; I Cor. 11:33; 14:40; II Cor. 8:19.
How men are to pray to God, who is the true Sender, for faithful laborers, read, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." Matt. 9:37, 38; Luke 10:2; Matt. 23:34; Luke 11:49; John 13:20; Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16; Matt. 25:14; Luke 19:12; John 20:21.
How necessary these ministers are, and how they shall teach the Word of God, and be qualified, read, "Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd." Num. 27:16, 17., "I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jer. 3:15., "For him whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God," etc. John 3:34; 7:18., "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth;that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ," etc. I Pet. 4:11., "Far the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." II Peter 1:21.
Of their qualifications, and how they are to minister after their examination, read: I Tim. 3 throughout; I Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:7; Eph. 4:11.
Concerning the mode in which they are to be chosen, read, "We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us, with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind." I I Cor. 8:18, 19; Acts 1:23., "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." Acts 13:2, 3; 20:28., "The things that thou bast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." II Tim. 2:2., "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." I Pet. 5:2, 3.
Of the election and confirmation of deacons, read, "It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.""Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." Acts 6:2, 3, 6; I Tim. 3:8-10.
Of Christian baptism we confess: That the same is a divine, evangelical transaction, practice and ordinance, which was first commenced by the man of God, John the Baptist, by the counsel and will of God, and was received by the worthy Son of God, Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself as a true example, and to whom the aforesaid John led and pointed with His doctrine and baptism, as being the true Baptizer with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He proceeded and came from God with full power in heaven and earth, and sent out His apostles, commanding them to preach the Gospel to all nations, and to baptize all true hearers and believers of it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and to teach them, before and after baptism, to observe all things which He had commanded them.
This the apostles of Christ, as obedient ministers of God, practiced according to this manner, beginning at Jerusalem, and preaching the Gospel in every country. And all who heard, believed and gladly received this heavenly doctrine were made disciples and followers, and were baptized with water, in the name of the triune God, and thus entered into covenant with Christ, to observe whatsoever He had commanded them.
And inasmuch as the doctrines and commandments of Christ are not instituted for a certain time, but are commanded to be kept until the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven; and as He will continue with His Spirit to the end of the world with His followers; therefore all believers and followers of Christ are bound in no wise, to alter or reject according to human opinions, these doctrines and commandments which God has commanded; but to practice and observe them constantly according to the form and institution of Christ, and the practice of His highly enlightened apostles; to preach the Gospel to the people; and all who believe the same, manifest repentance from sin and amendment of life, and submit to the will of God, shall, by an unblamable minister ordained to this purpose, be baptized once with water, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
This outward baptism with water does not properly constitute the entrance to the kingdom of God, nor does the visible element of the water contain any power or holiness; neither is it able to give any grace and salvation; but, as the waters of Jordan and Siloam did not, properly speaking, heal leprosy and blindness, but only the power of God, to which they were herein subject and obedient, so also the water in baptism has no power to forgive our sins, and to cleanse the filthiness of our flesh, but is simply a token and proof of the grace and blood of Christ in the washing away of sin, which man, through faith and regeneration, by grace, has received, in the heart, before baptism, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, which is proclaimed in baptism;. and without this internal baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire, the external, visible, water baptism is as useless and vain, as the seal on an empty letter.
Since, then, Christian baptism is of such a nature that it was ordained and commanded by Christ only upon faith, repentance, and reformation, and was practiced and taught by His high apostles in this, and in no other wise; therefore we herewith reject, with good reason, the baptism of unintelligent, speechless infants, which we regard as a human institution, etc.,* which ought justly to be rooted out and rejected. The principal originators of the same found this their infant baptism upon the fall of Adam, sayingt that thereby all men are born and placed into the world in-an unsaved and condemned state, and that by the power of water baptism they are translated and changed from this unsaved and condemned state into a saved and Godpleasing condition; thus binding not only the sal-
vation and condemnation of infants, but also the saving grace, death and atonement, of Christ to the willingness or unwillingness of man, and the weak element of water; so that when an infant is baptized it is instantly saved, and when this is neglected, it dies condemned.
Who that fears God can in any wise accept with a good conscience this human infant baptism, instead of the ordinance of God, since in the whole New Testament not the least is commanded or written concerning it, either by Christ or by His apostles.
The pedobaptists themselves plainly confess, that in the sending forth of the apostles into the whole world by Christ, to teach and baptize, infant baptism is not commanded, nor comprehended in these passages; neither is there any advocate of the same able to point out in the Word of God the author and first foundation of infant baptism (though every divine ordinance has its beginning where it was first commanded by God)-how then shall this fabric of infant baptism, of which no foundation can be found, stand in the sight of God?
Infant baptism is in fact nothing less than a contemning and trampling under foot of the true baptism of Christ, militating in many respects against it; since Christ has attached to baptism the doctrine of the Gospel, faith and repentance, as a seal and token of the same.
And, as infant baptism does not accord with, but militates against the baptism of Christ, even so does it not agree with the circumcision of the Jews, which was not commanded to children but to adults, namely, that on the eighth day, every male child among them should be circumcised, on pain of being cut off. But it is not so with the baptism of Christ, concerning which no command is given to the parents, much less to any one else, to baptize their children, or to have them baptized. But baptism is an ordinance of Christ, similar in part to the Supper, which no one is commanded to cause to be administered to another, but which Christian ordinance each must desire and receive by His own faith, for which reason it does in no wise apply to new born infants.
And as unqualified as infants are to observe the Supper (in which every reasonable person will agree with us), even so unfit are they also to receive Christian baptism. And, as infant baptism, for want of testimony from the divine Scriptures, is demonstrated only by arguments and uncertain conclusions, so also, by such and similar conclusions, the Supper may be appropriated to infants, as was formerly done in the Roman church. And as we may by no means, on such human conclusion, admit infants to the Supper, just as little may we on these conclusions admit them to baptism; but in all this all of us who do not wish to be seduced and deceived must necessarily adhere to the doctrine of Christ and His apostles. But, as the Jews adhered unchangingly to the circumcision on the eighth day, without following in any wise their own opinion, even so should all Christians still much more adhere unalterably to the doctrine of Christ, and administer baptism only upon faith and repentance, as Christ has ordained.
But all Christians are commanded and in duty bound to walk before their children with a good example, and to bring them up in the fear of the Lord, by good teachings and instructions, without using on them baptism, the Supper, or any other ceremonies; since it is known that it is impossible for any one to unite another to the Lord, without His will and knowledge.
But as soon as men grow up and arrive at the years of discretion, it is found, that through their ornate sinful nature they live after the flesh, and thereby fall from grace, to which they had been bought by the blood of Christ. Their souls then need the hearing of the Word of God, whence proceed faith and regeneration, and, as a consequence thereof, Christian baptism; which by Christ has been appended to faith and regeneration, and may never be separated therefrom; and which is represented as a grave in which men are to bury their own actual sins which they have put off, and are thus to rise with Christ to newness of life, and walk after the Spirit.
And as no bath to wash off the filth of the body can be used on an unborn child, but the child must first be born; so Christian baptism, which is compared to the washing of new born infants, can, according to the will of God, be given to none but those who are regenerated by faith, dead to sin, desire the same, rise from the death of sin, and walk in newness of life, observing whatsoever Christ has commanded them.
Hence no one can be recognized as a brother or sister in the church of Christ, with whom any Christian ordinance may be practiced, unless they have previously, according to the Word of God, received upon faith the. Christian baptism here spoken of, which is the first ordinance and the reception into the Christian communion, by which we submit and obligate ourselves to actually observe all the commandments and ordinances of God. And as there is but one faith and one God, so there is only one Christian baptism, which, having been once received upon true faith, according to the institution of Christ, may not be repeated or renewed.
Of the baptism of John, and how he as a messenger and forerunner sent before Christ, preached the baptism of repentance, and pointed to Christ, read, "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mark 1:4; Matt. 3:6, 11., "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." Luke 3:16; John 1:31.
How Christ Jesus commands His disciples to preach the Gospel, and to baptize only hearers and
believers of it, and not unintelligent, ignorant children, read, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 28:18-20., "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 14:16.
How the apostles, pursuant to this high injunction, preached the Gospel, and baptized only the hearers, believers, and self-desiring recipients, read, "When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for tfie remission of sins.""Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." Acts 2:37, 38, 41., "And the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all throe heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." Acts 8:36-38.
How the apostles, according to this foundation, taught and baptized several households, after they had heard the Word of God, had believed, had been filled with the Holy Ghost, ordained to the ministry of the saints, and regarded as believers, read: Acts 10:37; 16:15, 32; I Cor. 16:15; Acts 18:8.
How the apostles in their epistles described Christian baptism as a burying of sins into the death of Christ, a rising and walking in newness of life, a putting on of Christ, a washing of regeneration, a being baptized by one Spirit into one body, and the answer of a good conscience toward God, read: Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27; Tit. 3:5; I Cor. 12:13; I Pet. 3:21.
Of the Lord's Supper or the breaking of bread, we believe and confess: As baptism is an ordinance and institution of the Lord, by which believers are united with each other by one Spirit in fellowship with Christ; so the Supper is a worthy ordinance and institution of Christ, by which believers who have been baptized according to the ordinance of Christ, are taught and admonished, to live and walk in Christ even as they have received Him by faith in baptism, and to be bound by brotherly love to their neighbors, with whom they are to live and walk in the unity of the Spirit, according to the same rule of the divine Word; and that they are to remember hereby, with heartfelt contemplation, the bitter suffering and death of the Lord.
And in order to put men in remembrance of this, it pleased the Lord Jesus for this purpose to use bread and wine, things well known among men, and thereby to implant into the hearts of believers heavenly and hidden things; thereby teaching men to remember, that, as bread from many broken grains is made into one bread, and the wine being pressed from many grapes and made one beverage thereby being necessary, useful and adapted as food and drink for the body of man; even so Christ, from ardent love, suffered Himself to be broken on the cross, His blood to be shed, and trod the winepress of suffering alone, to minister by His flesh and blood, as necessary meat and drink, to the souls of men; by which we are taught, that like as bread is of many grains broken and prepared as bread, and wine is of many grapes pressed and made a beverage; so also, many believers, from various places, are by one faith become one bread or church, and bound together in fellowship; in order that thereby all those who worthily receive, and eat and drink with the mouth this bread and wine, may hereby through faith in the Spirit, receive, and become partakers of, Christ and all His heavenly riches, and thus be strengthened in the faith, fed in the soul, and be bound together by fervent love, with God and their neighbors, as members of one body.
But believers must in no wise place any confidence in these visible memorials, as though they in themselves were more sacred and worthy than other like, common meat and drink, or had power to give unto men grace and forgiveness of sins. By so doing one should depart with the heart from his Creator, and seek grace from the creature, where it is not to be found. But believers must receive these signs as nothing more than bread and wine, confide with a firm heart only in that which is thereby taught and signified, and look upon and regard these signs as figures, as the Holy Ghost is wont, in the Holy Scriptures, to call the signs, that which is signified by them. And as in this institution of the Supper by Christ the cup is called the New Testament in His blood, which cup is really not the New Testament itself, but is figuratively so called, because the blood of Christ which He shed for the sin of the world, is proclaimed and recommended to us through the New Testament; which signifies, that as a testator by a testament bequeaths to his heirs his property, which they are to receive and enjoy after his death; so has Christ in His last Supper-since He could not remain with them-bequeathed His last will in the New Testament, together with all its heavenly riches, to His friends and followers; in order that all those who in this testament are specified and recorded as children of God and heirs of Christ, shall enjoy His glorious riches; whereupon they receive in the Supper, with the mouth, only natural bread and wine; but through faith there is received, according to the spirit, Christ's flesh and blood, which He gave as an atonement for the human race, of which the natural bread and wine,
and the supper are figures, signs, and representations.
Hence, believers are to use this worthy institution of Christ among each other, and thereby, through an ordained blameless minister, proclaim with great reverence the bitter suffering and death of the Lord.
And after God has been thanked with an humble heart, for His boundless grace and mercy, and been called upon by fervent prayers, the bread shall be broken by the minister, the wine poured out, and be received by all believers baptized according to the ordinance of Christ, and each shall, examining himself, use, and avail himself of the same, with heartfelt contemplation of the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus. This shall constantly be observed by believers in this manner, when time and place permit, until the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven.
Of this institution and ordinance of Christ, read, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, -and said, Take eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19.
How the apostles in accordance with this also practiced and observed it in the same form and manner, with bread and wine, read, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoevO shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." I Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 2:42; 20:7, 11.
How the bread and wine in the Supper are not the real body and blood of Christ, but signs of His communion with the believer, read, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break', is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body': for' we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" I Cor. 10:16-18.
Mark, the Israelites did not eat the altar, but only the sacrifice, and thereby were partakers of the altar. Thus also, Christians do not eat and drink with the mouth the real body and blood of Christ, but only bread and wine, as figures; but according to the soul, they, by faith, receive Christ Jesus, with all His benefits, and are thus partakers of the true altar Christ Jesus.
Read in regard to this, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:35, 63.
Of the feet washing of believers we confess: After our Leader Christ Jesus had celebrated the Supper with His apostles, He, before His suffering, used another ordinance with them, and commanded that they should observe it with each other. He rose from supper, girded Himself with a linen towel, poured water into a basin, washed the disciples' feet, and wiped them with the towel; saying to them, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." And He also added, "If ye know these things, happy axe ye if ye do them, "
And we find that the apostles observed this ordinance of Christ in this manner, and that they counted it, in the ministry of the saints, among the good works, and required it of believers. Hence, the believers, as successors and followers of Christ and His apostles, ought also, when time and place permit, practice and observe this ordinance of Christ. When their fellow believers, out of love, visit them, they shall with heartfelt humility, receive them with the kiss of love and peace into their houses, and as a ministration to their neighbors, according to the humiliation of Christ, wash their feet; sincerely considering how the most worshipful Son of God humbled Himself, not only washing the feet of His apostles, but much more, washing and purifying with His precious death and blood, all our souls and consciences from the stain of eternal condemnation. On this the pious ought herein to meditate with an humble heart.
How Christ practiced this ordinance with His apostles, and commanded it to be observed, read, John 13:4-17.
And also, how the apostles required it of believers as one of the good works read, "Let not a widow be taken into the number under three-score years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet," etc. I Tim. 5:9, 10.
How the pious fathers practiced this ordinance with the guests whom they received, read: Genesis 18:4; 19:2. And also: Luke 7:38; John 11:2; Acts 16:33.
Of good works. Of good works we believe and confess: That for every true Christian it is not enough, in every respect according to the Scriptures, to confess the faith aright with the mouth, and to regard Christ Jesus as our only Head, Redeemer, and Saviour, but that above this we must necessarily manifest from our faith, as a fruit of gratitude, virtuous works. Thus also, it is not enough, that we put off all the accursed works of the flesh, and seek to bury them by baptism into the death of Christ; but we must also rise from this death of sin, and live and walk after the Spirit in a new life adorned with good works; and thus we are not only to put off the old man with his evil deeds, but it is also our duty to put on the new man with his good deeds, in righteousness and true holiness, and to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven; in order that thus all believers, as a tree by its good fruits, may be known and distinguished by their good works from all unfruitful and unbelieving men.
These good works must not be performed through an outward appearance of holiness to please mortal men; nor must we follow herein the hypocrites and self-righteous Pharisees, and others, whose works mainly consist in [things of] their own choice, and self-invented commandments, which, according to the Scriptures, is only a vain and unavailing worship; but we must work out from our faith such divine virtues as are taught, and required of us in the-holy Scriptures, and in which we have the example of Christ and His apostles, whose footsteps we are so highly commanded to follow; and all this we must do from the heart, to the honor of Him who created us; thus learning from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart, and thereby to put off all pride, which latter is the beginning of all destruction, and proceeds from man's sinful heart, and manifests itself outwardly in the adorning of and display in dress [in the style of], living, and in words and works; and on the contrary, to adorn ourselves inwardly with an humbled spirit, which does not think much of itself, but in lowliness esteems his neighbor better than himself; and outwardly in our conversation after our lowly Head and Example, Christ Jesus.
Thus we must also put off avarice, which is called the root of all evil, whence, proceed many sinful desires and unrighteous works, and, on the other hand, put on the love and mercy of our heavenly Father, and manifest it towards our neighbors and all men by works of mercy; seeing the practice of love and mercy is the chief sacrifice with which we can please our Creator in this present time. Likewise we must put off all unclean lusts and desires, fornication, and all uncleanness, each preserving, on the contrary, his body chaste, holy, and pure, and abstaining also from all drunkenness, revelings, and banquetings; in excessive eating and drinking, and on the contrary, live soberly, temperately, righteously, and godly in this world, with humble fasting and constant praying to God Almighty, and not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
We also must not walk in the way of sinners, nor hold fellowship with light-minded persons, where foolish talking and lies are bandied about; but we must associate with the pious, whose conversation treats of godliness, and who speak with tongues truly circumcised; and gladly attend the assembly of the believers, where we hear the praise of the Lord proclaimed; and furthermore, observe according to all our ability the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and thus by patient continuance in well doing seek for eternal life, remembering that Almighty God has promised eternal life to that faith which in this manner works by love; just as He has pronounced the sentence of eternal death upon unbelief with its evil works; and that all boasted faith without good works (as the body without the spirit), in itself is dead. But all the pious who thus evince divine virtue from their faith, and seek to excel in good works, must not suppose that they are able to merit salvation by their good works, or that God does owe them
anything for them; but all true Christians are to consider themselves unprofitable servants, who of themselves can do nothing good; but that Almighty God, by His grace works in them both to will and to do that which is good, and that they are encompassed with a body of sin, which lusts against the Spirit, against which they have a continual warfare until the last enemy, which is death, shall be vanquished. For this reason all the pious fall far too short in good works, are very imperfect and frail, and hence, are in duty bound to pray daily, with an humble heart, to Almighty God, for forgiveness and remission of sins, and to give heartfelt praise, honor and thanks to Him for His saving grace which He has manifested towards us. And thus we hope to be saved only through the unmerited grace and mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and not through our good works. Tit. 3:8; Luke 18:10.
Of the deadly works of darkness, which separate men from God, and which we must put off and lay aside by faith, read, "Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man," etc. Col. 3:9, 10.
Read further concerning the twenty-three sins which are worthy of eternal death. Rom. 1:29-31.
Of the ten works of unrighteousness which shall not inherit the kingdom of God, read: I Cor. 6:9, 10.
Of the seventeen works of the flesh to which the
kingdom of God is denied, read: Gal. 5:19-21; Matt. 7:23.
Of the good and virtuous works which the believers are to manifest from their faith as fruits of gratitude, read, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works," etc. Matt. 5:16; I Pet. 2:12; Phil. 2:15., "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." Rom. 2:7; John 8:39; James 2:22; Gal. 5:6., "But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." I Tim. 2:10., "That they do good, that they be rich in good works," etc. I Tim. 6:18.
Of the nine beatitudes, read: Matt. 5:1-11.
Of the seven works of mercy, read: Matthew 25:35, 36.
Of the nine fruits of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22, 23.
Of the seven cardinal virtues which we are to evince from our faith, and that where this does not follow, we are blind, read: II Pet. 1:5-7."For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26."And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Rev. 20:13; II Cor. 5:10.
How we are saved not through any works which we have done, but only through the grace of God, read, "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved." Acts 15:11., "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:5; II Tim. 1:9; Luke 17:10; Acts 4:12; 15:11.