This confession was first framed, at the requisition of the rulers and senate of Basil, by the delegates of the Helvetian states, which had embraced the evangelical doctrine, in the year 1536; the very year, in which Calvin settled at Geneva. It was drawn up by Bullenger, Mycomus, Grynæus, Capito, and Bucer; in order, if there should be need, to be exhibited to the general council, which was then expected.—It received the sanction of the Wittembergian theologians; as the letters of Luther himself to the Helvetians testify.-- But when this confession was too short, (brerior,) ' it was, for most weighty reasons, written over again A.D. 1756;

to which the Tigurini, the Bernenses, the Sangallenses, the · Rbæti, the Myl!busiani, the Biellenses ; and also the Geneves • subscribed. - This was two years after Calvin's death. But after twenty-eight years' residence at Genera, where his influence was exceedingly great, as well as in all the adjacent churches; it can hardly be doubted, but that it would bave sec-ived his full sanction, had his life been continued to that time. It should be noted, that be was succeeded, at Geneva, by his colleague Theodore Beza.--If then, we desire to know, what Calvin, and his nearest associates, approved, as proper to be inserted in a publick confession of faith, on those doctrines now called Calvinistick; this may, I apprehend, be learned in a good nieasure from the Helvetian confession. ACcordingly, I shall translate all those parts of it which directly relate to this subject.

[ocr errors]


ARTICLE VI.-Concerning the Providence of God. * By the providence of this wise, eternal, and omnipotent God, we believe, that all things in heaven, and in earth, and in all creatures, are preserved and governed.-- For David testifies and says: “ The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above " the heavens. Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwellerb

on high, and humbleih bimself to behold the tbings which are “ done in beaven and earth?". The same again says: “Thou bast

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

seen beforehand (prævidisti) all my ways: because there is “ not a word in my tongue, which thou hast not altogether known, O Lord."i Paul also testifies and says, " By him we “ live, and move, and are:" and "Of him, and by him, and “to him are all things.": Most truly, therefore, and according

to the Scripture, Augustine pronounced in the book concerning • the agony of Christ : The Lord said, “ Are not two sparrows • sold for one farthing? Yet not one of them falleth to the “ ground, without the will of your Father." But thus speaking, • he purposed to shew, that whatever men think the meanest, is

governed by the omnipotence of God. For thus the truth speak• eth ; " that the birds of the heavens are fed, and the lilies of the field are clothed by bim ;" and he saith, “ that even our bairs are all numbered."}

• We therefore condemn the Epicureans, who deny the provie . dence of God, and all those who blasphemously say, that God is employed about the grand concerns of heaven, (derseri circa curdines cæli; or, exists in the heavens,') and does not see, nor regard our affairs. For even David himself, the royal pro

phet, condemned these when he said, “ How long, O Lord, “ how long, shall the impious exult? Saying, God doth not see, “ neither doth the God of Jacob understand.-Understand, ye " stupid among the people, and ye fools, when will ye at lengib “ be wise ? He who formed the ear, cannot be hear? Or be “ who framed the eye, how cannot he see?"* But, at the sanje

time, we do not despise as useless the means, (media, middle, or intermediate, things,) by which divine Providence worketh: ! but we teach, that we ought to be as far attentive to them,

raccornmodandos esse) as they are commended (or enjoined, com mendentur,) in the word of God. Whence we disapprove the rash voices of those, who say; If all things are conducted by the providence of God; certainly our endeavours, and our pursuits (studia) are in vain. It will be sufficient, if we leave all things to the government of divine providence; nor is there any reason why we should be solicitous about any thing, or what we

may do. For though Paul acknowledged, that he sailed under • the providence of God, who had said to bim, “ Thou must bear “ witness to me at Rome;" who moreover bad promised to him • and had said, “ There shall be no loss of any life, neither shall a " hair fall from your head :" nevertheless when the sailors were

meditating flight, the same Paul said to the centurion, and to the soldiers, « Unless these remain in the ship, ye cannot be saved."s For God, who hath destined his own end of an affair to

each person, hath appointed both the beginning, and the means (media,) by which it is brought to that end. The heathens

· Ps, cxxxix, 2.A. · Acts xvii. 28. Rom. xi, 56. 3 Matt, vi, 26-30. x. 29...31.

* Po xcix. 64-9. 5 Acts xxiii. II. xxvii, 22-25, 30-34

* ascribe things to blind and uncertain chance. St. James is

not willing it should be said, “To-day, or to-morrow, we “ will journey into such a city, and we will carry on business."

(negotiabimur.) “ For that ye ought to say, If the Lord shall " will and we shall live, we will do this or that."" And Augus. • tine saith : 'All these thiags, which to vain men seem to be

done at random, in the nature of things, do not accomplish any

thing except his will, because they are not done, except by his ? command. Thus it seemed to come to pass by fortune, that • Saul seeking his father's asses, came to the prophet Samuel : • but the Lord had before said to the prophet, - To-morrow I will « send unto thee a man of the tribe of Benjamin, &c."3

[ocr errors]

ARTICLE VII. - On the Creation of all things ; concerning Angels,

the Devil, and Man. This good and omnipotent God created all things, both visible and invisible, by his own coeternal Word; and he also preserves

the same by his own coeternal Spirit ; David testifying and saying, “ By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the

power (virtus) of them by the Spirit of his mouth.” But all • the things, which God created, were, as the Scripture says,

Very good," and created for the profit and use of man. We' say then, that all things proceeded from one beginning, (or source, principio.) We therefore condemn the Manichees and

Marcionites, who impiously feigned two substances and natures, • of good and evil; and also two principles, (principia,) and two . Gods opposite to each other, a good, and a bad, God.

Among all the creatures, angels and men are pré-eminent. (prestant.) Concerning angels the divine Scripture pronounces ;

“Who creates his angels spirits, and his ministers a ki flame of fire." Also, “ Are they not ministering spirits, sent " forth for service, (in ministerium,) because of those, who are as the heirs of salvation." 0 • But the Lord Jesus himself testifies • concerning the devil, " He was a homicide from the beginning; e and he stood not in the truth, because truth is not in bina “ when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, (ex propriis, “ because he is a liar, and the father of that thing."? We teach, • therefore, that some angels indeed persevered in obedience, and

were deputed to the faithful ministry of God and of men, but • that others fell of their own accord; (sud sponte ;) and were pre

cipitated into destruction, and were made (or became, factos esse,
the enemies of all good and of the faithful.
. But now the Scripture saith concerning man, that at the be-
ginning he was created good, after the likeness and similitude of

· Jam. iv, 13-16. On Ps, calviii. 3 I Sam, ix, 15--20. * Ps, xxxiii, 6. Psy civ. 4. Heb. i. 7. . Hab. i. 14. Joka viii. 44.

• God; that God placed him in Paradise, and subjected all things

to him.' That which David magnificently celebrates in the

eighth psalm. He added to him also a wife, and blessed them. • But we say, that man consists indeed of two and diverse sub• stances, in one person; an immortal soul; inasmuch as, sepa

rated from the body, it neither sleeps nor dies; and a mortal

body, which yet at the last judgment, shall be raised from the ' dead; that from thence, the whole man, may remaid for ever, • either in life, or death. We condemn, therefore, those who

deride, or by subtle disputations call into doubt, the immortality

of souls; or say that the soul sleeps, or is a part of God.-In • brief, we condemn all the opinions of all, even as many as think

different things, concerning creation, concerning angels, and demons, and man, from those, which have been delivered to us

by the Holy Scriptures, in the apostolick church of Christ.' ARTICLE VII.—Concerning the Fall of Man, and Sin, and the

Cause of Sin. Man was at the beginning created by God after the image of God, in righteousness and holiness of truth, good and upright; (rectus;) but, by the instigation of the serpent, and by his own fault, failing from goodness and rectitude, he became obnoxious ito sin, death, and various calamities. And such as he became

by the fall, are all those, who have been produced, (prognati,) ' from him; being, I say, obnoxious to sin, death, and various

calamities. But we understand sin to be that corruption of man

by birth, (nativann illam hominis corruptionem,) which is derived ? and propagated from our first parents, unto us all; by wirich ? being sunk in depraved concupiscences, averse from good, but

propense to all evil; being full of all wickedness, unbelief, contempt, and hatred of God; we cannot do, nor indeed even think, any thing good, of our own sèlves.-Moreover, as now years proceed, we bring forth corrupt fruits, worthy of a bad tree, in

evil thoughts, speeches, and deeds, committed against the law i of God: on which account, (quo nomine,) by our own desert,

we become obnoxious to the wrath of God, and are subjected to just punishments : so that we should all have been cast off from God, unless Christ our Redeemer ( Liberator) had brought us back.

- Therefore by death, we understand, not only corporeal death, which must be undergone once by us all, because of sins; but even eternal punishments, due to our sins and to our corruption. For the apostle says,

“We were dead in trespasses and sins :" “and we were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest.

(cæteri.) But God, who is rich in mercy, when we were · dead because of sins, hath made us alive together with Christ.”s

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

" Sodom,"

. And likewise, “ Thus, as by one man sin entered into the world, " and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, in that all “ have sinned,” We therefore acknowledge original sin to be ' in all men: and we acknowledge all other sins, which arise out

of this, to be called, and in reality to be sins ; by whatever : name they may be distinguished, (nuncupentur,) whether mortal, or venial, and also that which is called the sin against the Holy Spirit, which is never remitted. We also confess, that all sins are not equal, though they all spring from the same fountain of

corruption, and unbelief; but that some are more heinous than • others. As our Lord says,

" It shall be more tolerable to ,"3 • than to the city which rejects the word of the gospel. • Therefore we condemn all, who have taught any thing contrary ' to these things, but especially Pelagius, and all the Pelagians ;

along with the Jovinianists, who with the Stoicks make all sins equal. But we think as to all things in this cause, with Augus

tine, who brought forth and defended his sentiments (sua,) from ' the Holy Scriptures. Moreover we condemn Florinus and · Blastus, againsi whom Irenæus also wrote, and all who make God the Author of sin: when it is expressly written, “ Thou art “ not a God who willest iniquiiy. Thou hatest all who work

iniquity, thou wilt destroy all, who speak a lie.”+ And again, " When the devil speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; because he is a liar, and the father of the thing." * But even in ourselves,

there is enough of vice and corruption, so that it is not at all

necessary for God to pour into us any new or increased pravity. • Therefore, when it is said in the Scriptures, that God“ hardens," " blinds," and " delivers up to a reprobate mind;" it should be • understood, that God doth this by a righteous judgment, as a

Judge and just Avenger. Finally, as often as God is said, or seems, to do any thing of evil; it is not said on that account, that

man does not the evil, but that God suffers, and does not hinder • it to be done, by his own just judgment, who could, if he had

co willed, have prevented it: or that he uses, to good purpose, • the evil of man; as the sins of Joseph's brethren: or that he

himself governs sins, that they should no more widely break ' forıb and prevail, than was convenient. (quam par erat.) St.

Augustine, in bis Enchiridion, says, In a wonderful and ineffable

manner, even ibat does noi come to pass beyond his will, which ' is contrary to his will : because it could not come 10 pass, unless ' he should permit it to be done. Nor indeed does he unwillingly

permit, but willingly. Nor would he who is good permit evil

to be done; unless, as on nipotent, he was able to do good even • from the evil.—These things he says. The other questions, • Whether God willed Adain to fall, or impelled him to the fall?


[ocr errors]


• Rom, v. 12.

3 Matt. xi.

Mark iii. 28--30. I Joho v. 16-18.'

20-24 4 Ps. v, 4-6,

« VorigeDoorgaan »