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EXTRACTS FROM FOREIGN CONFESSIONS OF FAITH PUBLISHED AT THE TIME OF THE REFORMATION.
FROM THE HELVETIAN CONFESSION. This confession was first framed, at the requisition of the rulers and senate of Basil, by the delegates of the Helvetian (or Swiss) 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, Myconius, 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 divines of Wittemberg, as the letters of Luther himself to the Helvetians testify.— But, this confession being too short (brevior) it was, for weighty reasons, written over again A.D. 1566, to which the Tigurini,' the Bernenses,” the Sangallenses,
the Rhæti," the Myllhusiani, the Biellenses, and also the Gene. • vese subscribed.''- This was two years after Calvin's death. But, after twenty-eight years' residence at Geneva, where his influence was exceedingly great, as well as in all the adjacent churches; it can hardly be doubted that it would have received his full sanction had his life been continued to that time. It should be noted, that he 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 public confession of faith, on those doctrines now called Calvinistic; this may, I apprehend, be learned in a good measure from the Helvetian confession. Accordingly I shall translate all those parts of it which directly relate to this subject.
Zurich. • Berne. 3 The Grisons. 4 It is said also in the preface to Sylloge Confessionum, (Oxon. 1804.) to have been ‘approved by the (reformed) churches of England, Scotland, • France, Belgium, and many in Poland, Hungary, and Germany.'_J.S. 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 dwelleth on high, and humbleth himself to behold the things, which are done in heaven and earth?” He likewise says again “ Thou hast seen beforehand (prævidisti) all my ways: because there is not a word in my tongue, which though hast not altogether known, O Lord.”. 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 speaketh; “that the birds of the heavens are fed, and the lilies of the field are clothed by him ; and he saith “ that even our hairs are all numbered.”'
• We therefore condemn the Epicureans, who deny the providence of God, and all those who blasphemously say, that God is employed about the grand concerns of heaven, (versari circa cardines cæli ; or, exists in the heavens,') and does not see, nor regard our affairs. For even David himself, the royal prophet, 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 length be wise? He who formed the ear, cannot he hear? or he who framed the eye, how cannot he see?”But at the same 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 (accommodandos esse) as they are commended (or enjoined cummendentur,) in the word of God. Whence we disapprove the rash sentences 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 do.' For, though Paul acknowledged that he sailed under the providence of God, who had said to him, “ Thou must bear witness to me at Rome;" who moreover had promised to him and 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."! For God, who hath destined its own end to each affair hath appointed both the beginning, and the means (media) by which it is brought to that end. The heathens 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 : for that ye ought to say, If the Lord shall will and we shall live, we will do this or that.”? And Augustine saith : ‘All these things, 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 fathers 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.* ARTICLE vil. On the Creation of all things; concerning
* Ps. exiij. 4–6. ? Ps. cxxxix. 2-4. 3 Acts xvii. 28. Rom. xi, 36. 4 Matt. vi. 26-30. x. 29-31.
5 Ps. xciv. 6-9.
. 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 co-eternal Spirit; David testi. fying 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 sub
Acts xxiii. 11. xvii. 22–25. 30–34. • Jam. iv. 13—16. 3 On Ps. cxlviii.. + 1 Sam. ix. 15–20. 5. Ps. xxxiji. 6.
stances 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 pre-eminent (præstant). Concerning angels the divine scripture pronounces ; “ Who creates his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”! Also, “ Are they not ministering spirits, sent forth for service, (in ministerium,) because of those who are the heirs of salvation.”? But the Lord Jesus himself testifies concerning the devil, “ He was a homicide from the beginning; and he stood not in the truth, because truth is not in him; 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 precipitated 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 beginning he was created good, after the likeness and similitude of 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 substances in one person; an immortal soul; inasmuch as, separated 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 remain 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 apostolic church of Christ.' Article vi11.—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; Ps. civ. 4. Heb. i. 7.
? Heb. i. 14. 3 John viii. 44.
4 Gen. i. 26, 28. ii. 19, 20.
(rectus;) but, by the instigation of the serpent, and by his own fault, failing from goodness and rectitude, he became obnoxious to 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, (nativam illam hominis corruptionem,) which is derived and propagated from our first parents unto us all; by which 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 selves.-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 of God: on which account, (quo nomine,) by our own desèrt, 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 corporal death, which must be undergone once by 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 through sins, hath made us alive together with Christ.”! 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.” 2_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 Sodom,” • 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 1 Epb. ii. 1-4.
* Rom. v. 12. 3 Mark iii. 28-30. 1 John v. 16-18. 4 Matt, xi. 20—24. VOL. VIII.