多特信經The Canons of Dordt

CANONES SYNODI DORDRECHTANÆ.

 (中英拉丁文三語言版本)

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多特信經[1]

(Chinese version)

(with minor edition of Charles Chao’s version)

The Canons of Dordt

(Christian Reformed Church’s version)[2]

CANONES SYNODI DORDRECHTANÆ.

(Latin version from Philip Schaff)[3]

此信經是1618年在荷蘭多特召開的議會中完成的,當時阿民念派在教會中制造了許多紛爭,他們不接納加爾文的救恩神學觀點,不認為神在人的救恩上有主權。阿民念提出:

    1. 神的揀選與否在于祂預見人是否有信心。

    2. 雖然只有信的人才能得救,但基督已為所有的人死。

    3. 人極其敗壞,若非神賜下先在的恩典而起信,否則人不

       能行善。

    4. 人可以拒絕神拯救之恩。

    5. 真正重生之人不一定在信仰上確被保守。

    為了解決此爭辯,荷蘭國會在1618年召開一全國性的會議,並邀請各國改革宗教會的代表參加;當時有35位本地的牧師,幾位長老,5位神學家,18位國家顧問,及27位外國代表列席,包括蘇格蘭、英格蘭、比利時、瑞士、法蘭西等。阿民念派本以為將以平等的身分共同參與會議,從沒想到竟處于被告,且要為自己辯護的地位。議會為保守加爾文信仰傳統,判定阿民念派的五項提案為錯誤,並完成《多特信經》,規定加爾文派教理五項,是加爾文預定論全備的推演:

    1.    神無條件的揀選及人的信皆為神的恩典。

    2.    雖然基督的死足可贖全世界人的罪,但贖罪的功能只臨到神所揀選的人。

    34.世上所有的人都墮落了,不能自救,只有在神的主權和恩典中被召的人,才能重生並且經歷生命的更新。

    5   神所呼召的,祂必保守到底,所以信徒即使在極大的軟弱中,仍能有救恩的確據。

    此信經對荷蘭改革宗教會有極大的影響。而30年后完成的《韋斯敏斯德信條》(Westminster Confession of Faith)也是建立在它的神學根基上。

Each of the errors being rejected is shown in bold maroon type. This translation of the Canons, based on the only extant Latin manuscript among those signed at the Synod of Dordt, was adopted by the 1986 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The biblical quotations are translations from the original Latin and so do not always correspond to current versions. Though not in the original text, subheadings have been added to the positive articles and to the conclusion in order to facilitate study of the Canons.

 

The Canons of the Synod of Dort. A.D. 1618 and 1619.

[We give first the full Latin text of the Acts of the Synod of Dort (Dordrecht) on the five controverted heads of doctrine, viz., the Preface, the Articles of Faith, the Errors Rejected, the Names of Subscribers, the Conclusion, the Sentence against the Remonstrants, and the Approval of the States-General, but distinguishing the several parts by different type. They were officially published May 6, 1619, and often since in Latin, Dutch, German, and English. The original is given in the Corpus et Syntagma Confess. ed. II. 1654, in the Oxford Sylloge Confess. (pp. 397–454), in Niemeyer's Collectio (pp. 690–728); the German in Beck's and Böckel's Collections. To the Latin text we append the English abridgment, as adopted by the Reformed Dutch Church in America.][4]

多特信經

(于一六一八年與一六一九年為在多特所召開的荷蘭改革宗教會

全國總會所批準。)

 

第一項教義  論神的預定

 

第一條 

因眾人在亞當里都犯了罪,受咒詛,當受永死,所以神若令眾人滅亡,因罪的緣故而被定罪,祂也不算不公義。根據使徒保羅在羅馬書三章19節說:“好塞住各人的口,叫普世的人都伏在神審判之下。”又在23節說:“因為世人都犯了罪,虧缺了神的榮耀。”又羅馬書六章23節說:“因為罪的工價乃是死。”

 

 

第二條 

但“神差遣祂的獨生子到世間來,神的愛就在此顯明了,叫一切信祂的,不至滅亡,反得永生。”(約壹四9;約三16

 

 

第三條 

為了使人相信,神便在祂自己所定的時刻,本著祂的恩慈,將傳這大喜信息的使者,差派到祂所預定要傳的人中間;由于他們的傳講,人便悔改並相信釘十字架的基督。羅馬書十章14-15節:“然而人未曾信祂,怎能求祂呢?未曾聽見祂,怎能信祂呢?沒有傳道的,怎能聽見呢?若沒有奉差遣,怎能傳道呢?”

 

 

第四條 

神的忿怒常在那些不信此福音的人身上。但那些憑真實活潑的信心接受福音,並相信救主耶穌的人,卻蒙祂拯救,脫離神的忿怒,脫離死亡,並得到加在他們身上的永生恩賜。

 

 

第五條 

此不信以及其他眾罪的原因與罪孽,並不在于神,乃在于人自己;然而相信耶穌基督,並因祂而得救,乃是神白白的恩賜,因為經上記著說:“你們得救是本乎恩,也因著信,這並不是出于自己,乃是神所賜的”(弗二8)。腓立比一章29節:“因為你們蒙恩,不但得以信服基督”等等。

 

第六條 

有些人從神領受了相信的恩賜,有些人則否,這都是出于神永遠的定旨,“這話是從創世以來,顯明這事的主說的”(徒十五18)。“這原是那位隨己意行作萬事的,照著祂旨意所預定的”(弗一11)。神按著這定旨,本著慈愛軟化選民的心,不拘他們如何固執,也使他們相信;而任憑那非被揀選者,為他們自己的邪

惡與硬心受神公義的審判。在此特別顯示,那共同陷入滅亡中的人所有深奧、慈愛,同時又公義的區分;或顯示揀選與遺棄的定旨,乃啟示在神的話語中,雖然那些謬妄、不潔與不堅固的人對神的定旨加以強解,就自取敗壞,可是對聖潔與敬虔的人,卻給予不可言喻的安慰。

 

 

第七條 

揀選是神不變的旨意,借此神在創立世界以前,只是出于祂的慈愛,按著祂主權的美意,從全人類中,就是由于自己的錯謬而墮落,從他們原始無邪的狀態,而墮入罪惡與敗壞中的全人類,祂揀選一定的人數而得基督的救贖,這位基督就是從永恆神所派定的選民的中保與元首,並為選民得救的根基。此被選的人數,雖然在本性上比別人沒有強到哪里,也不配,反陷于共同悲慘的命運中,可是神卻定意將他們給予基督,被祂救贖,有效地呼召他們並吸引他們,借著聖經和聖靈與神有交通,賜給他們真實的信心、稱義與成聖,在與祂兒子的交通上得蒙全力的保守;最后,為彰顯祂的慈愛,並祂榮耀的恩典得著稱贊,就使他們得榮耀;正如經上記著說:“就如神從創立世界以前,在基督里揀選了我們,使我們在祂面前成為聖潔,無有瑕疵;又因愛我們,就按著自己旨意所喜悅的,預定我們借著耶穌基督得兒子的名分,使祂榮耀的恩典得著稱贊;這恩典是祂在祂愛子里所賜給我們的”(弗一4-6)。又在別處說:“預先所定下的人又召他們來;所召來的人又稱他們為義,所稱為義的人又叫他們得榮耀”(羅八30)。

 

 

第八條 

並非有各種不同揀選的定旨,只有一個同一的定旨,就是關乎所有那些在舊新約之下要得救的人;因為聖經宣稱神所喜悅、所預定的旨意只有一個,按此旨意,祂從永遠揀選我們得恩典與榮耀,得拯救並得救之法,就是祂所安排我們要行在其中的。

 

 

第九條 

此揀選並非根據預先所見之信,以及信心的順服、聖潔,或在人里面看見任何其他美好的品格與氣質作為得救所依靠的先決條件;因此神的揀選才是各種得救后的美德,即如從此而來的信心、聖潔以及其他得救的恩賜,最終得著永生作為蒙選的果效,按著使徒保羅所說:“在基督里揀選了我們(不是因為我們已經),

使我們在祂面前成為聖潔,無有瑕疵”(弗一4)。

 

 

第十條 

神的美意乃是此恩慈揀選的惟一原因,這並不在乎神揀選一些人,是出于人行動中一切可能的品格,作為得救的條件;而是出于祂樂意從罪人的群眾中,收養某些特作自己的子民,如經上記著說:“雙子還沒有生下來,善惡還沒有作出來”等等;又對利百加說:“將來大的要服事小的。”正如經上所記:“雅各是我所

愛的,以掃是我所惡的”(羅九11-13)。“凡預定得永生的人都信了”(徒十三48)。

 

 

第十一條 

神既然是全智、不變、無所不知、無所不能的,所以祂所作的揀選,既不能受挫,也不能改變、收回或作廢;選民既不能被遺棄,人數也不能被減少。

 

 

第十二條 

在適當的時候,蒙選召的人,對于他們永遠與不改變揀選的確知上,會有些不同程度與各種大小,這並不是由于好奇問難地窺探神隱秘和深奧之事而來,乃是由于他們聖潔、屬靈地觀察到自己里面有聖經所指出蒙揀選的確實果子,即如在基督里真實的信心,兒子一般的敬畏,為罪的憂傷,飢渴慕義等。

 

 

第十三條 

此蒙揀選的意識與確定性,會叫神的兒女每日在神面前更謙卑,更贊美祂的深恩厚愛,並潔凈自己,就是要報答祂首先向他們所彰顯如此的大愛。想到此揀選的教義,決不能叫人忽視神的命令,或沉緬于肉體上的安全;以上所說這些,由神公正的審判看來,乃是那些不行選民之道的人,對揀選之恩存輕率的假設,或存

虛妄的與放肆的輕薄所得的結果。

 

 

第十四條 

神按其至智旨意揀選的教義,既由先知、基督自己與眾使徒所宣布,並清楚地在舊新約聖經中啟示出來,所以仍須于神的教會中,適時適地予以發表,因為這是特別為教會預備的,應存敬畏的心,以分辨虔誠的態度,為求神至聖之名的榮耀,來鼓勵並安慰祂的子民,而不虛妄地企圖去查考至高者的隱秘作為。“因為神

的旨意,我並沒有一樣避諱不傳給你們的”(徒二十27)。“深哉!神豐富的智慧和知識。祂的判斷何其難測!祂的蹤跡何其難尋!誰知道主的心?誰作過祂的謀士呢”(羅十一33-34)?“我憑著所賜我的恩對你們各人說:不要看自己過于所當看的;要照著神所分給各人信心的大小,看得合乎中道”(羅十二3)。神願意為那承受應許的人格外顯明祂的旨意是不更改的,就起誓為証。借這兩件不更改的事,神決不能說謊,好叫我們這逃往避難所,持定擺在我們前頭指望的人可以大得勉勵”(來六17-18)。

 

 

第十五條 

我們之所以特別注意並推舉揀選之永遠與白白的恩典,乃是因為聖經明明的見証,並不是所有的人,乃是一些人蒙揀選,而其他的人由于永恆的定旨被遺棄;這些人都是出于神的主權、極公義、無可指摘與不變的美意,預定了將他們棄置于他們自己所投入共同悲慘的境域中,並不將得救的信心與改正的恩典賜給他們;反而在祂公正的判斷中任他們自行己路;最后,為了宣揚祂的公義,永遠定他們的罪又刑罰他們,這不僅是因為他們的不信,也是因為他們所有別的罪。這就是遺棄的預旨,這決不使神成為罪惡之源(連有這種念頭也是褻瀆的),反而宣布祂是可畏的、無可指摘和公義的審判者與報復者。

 

 

第十六條 

那些尚未被神有效地造成經歷『在基督里活潑的信心』 [a living faith in Christ (Qui vivam in Christum fidem)] ,內心有確切把握,良心的平安,像兒子一般誠懇的順服,和借基督榮耀神的人,應當堅持使用神所指定的這些蒙恩之道(法),在我們里面生發這些恩賜,不該為了以上所提的遺棄而驚慌,也不應該把自己列入被棄者之中,乃當殷勤恆常使用這蒙恩方法,並存著熱望,敬畏謙虛地等候更豐盛恩典的時期來到。凡誠心願意歸向神,惟願討神喜悅,並願身體脫離死亡,還沒有到達所盼望聖潔與信心程度的人,更不必因遺棄的教義而驚懼;因為慈愛的神已經應許,將殘的燈火祂不吹滅,壓傷的蘆葦祂不折斷。但是這教義對那些忽視神與救主耶穌基督,沉緬于世界和肉體快樂,尚未誠懇歸向神的人,才真是可怕的

 

 

第十七條 

既然我們是從神的話語來辨明神的旨意,而神的話証明信徒的兒女是聖潔的,不是由于他們的本性,乃是由于他們同父母所承受的恩典之約,所以愛神的父母,當神按其美意將他們的子女于嬰孩時期召去時,決無理由懷疑他們的蒙選與得救。

 

 

第十八條 

對那些因揀選白白的恩典,與遺棄公正的嚴厲而不平的人,我們要像使徒保羅回答說:“你這個人哪!你是誰,竟敢向神強嘴呢”(羅九20)?又引証我們救主的話說:“我的東西難道不可隨我的意思用嗎”(太二十15)?因此,對這些神秘要本著聖潔景仰的心,我們要用使徒保羅的話驚嘆說:“深哉!神豐富的智慧和知識。祂的判斷何其難測!祂的蹤跡何其難尋!誰知道主的心,誰作過祂的謀士呢?誰是先給了祂,使祂后來償還呢?因為萬有都是本于祂,依靠祂,歸于祂。願榮耀歸給祂,直到永遠。阿們”(羅十一33-36)!

 

關于揀選與遺棄的真實教義已經解說了;總的來說是反對以下的錯謬:

 

一、有人教導說:神的旨意是拯救那些要相信並在信上堅持而順服的人,這是揀選人得救的整個與完全的預旨,關于此預旨在神的話語中並未啟示其他別的。

 

因為這些欺騙的話明明與聖經相反,聖經說神不但拯救那些要相信的人,祂也從永遠揀選某些特定的人,超過別人到了時候要賜給他們在基督里的信心與恆忍;正如經上記著說:“你從世上賜給我的人,我已將你的名顯明與他們”(約十七6)。“凡預定得永生的人都信了”(徒十三48)。又說:“就如神從創立世

界以前,在基督里揀選了我們,使我們在祂面前成為聖潔,無有瑕疵”(弗一 4)。

 

二、有人教導說:神揀選人得永生的種類不同:有一般的與不確定的,有特殊的與確定的;而后者照樣是不完全的,可反悔的,不確定的與有條件的,或是完全的不可反悔的,確定的與決定的。同樣,有一揀選得信心,另外是揀選得救,所以揀選可以得到稱義的信心,未必然是確定的而得救。因為這都是人心的幻想,不照聖經而有的發明,以此來敗壞揀選的道理,並破壞了我們救恩的金鎖鏈:“預先所定下的人又召他們來;所召來的人又稱他們為義,所稱為義的人又叫他們得榮耀”(羅八30)。

 

三、有些人教導說:神的美意與目的(論此聖經在揀選的教義中提到)並不包括在揀選中,說神揀選某些人而遺棄某些人,乃是說祂從可能的條件下揀選人(在其中也有律法的行為),或從事物的次序中揀選,從信心的作為上揀選;同時因其不完全的順服作為得救的條件,而神要恩慈地考慮這些,作為完全的順服,並且認為值得永生的賞賜。這種錯謬的說法破壞了神的美意與基督的功勞,使之失去效力;而人從恩慈的因信稱義,並從聖經的單純性,被無用的問題而奪去,而使徒保羅的宣稱被認為是不真實的:“神救了我們,以聖召召我們,不是按我們的行為,乃是按祂的旨意和恩典。這恩典是萬古之先,在基督耶穌里賜給我們的”(提后一9)。

 

四、有些人教導說:因信蒙選的條件事先已經要求了,即是說人應當正確用此自然之光而敬虔、謙卑、溫柔而配得永生,正如這些事才是揀選所靠賴的。因為這正是伯拉糾所教導的,與使徒的教義正相反,保羅寫著說:“我們從前也都在他們中間,放縱肉體的私欲,隨著肉體和心中所喜好的去行,本為可怒之子,和別人一樣。然而神既有豐富的憐憫,因祂愛我們的大愛,當我們死在過犯中的時候,便叫我們與基督一同活過來,(你們得救是本乎恩)。祂又叫我們與基督耶穌一同復活,一同坐在天上,要將祂極豐富的恩典,就是祂在基督耶穌里向我們所施的恩慈,顯明給后來的世代看。你們得救是本乎恩,也因著信,這並不是出于自己,乃是神所賜的;也不是出于行為,免得有人自夸”(弗二3-9)。

 

五、有些人教導說:某些人在揀選而得救上不完全與未決定之事發生,乃因未見到他們的信心、聖潔、敬虔,就是才開始或已繼續一段時間的緣故;但那些完全與決定揀選之發生,乃因預先見到他們在信心上的堅忍、歸正、聖潔與敬虔;又因蒙揀選之人比未蒙揀選之人更蒙恩,更值得;因此信心、信心的順服、聖潔、敬虔與堅忍,並非不變之揀選得救的結果,乃是事先見到所要求的條件為那些蒙揀選的所履行。

 

以上所說完全與聖經相反。聖經所說的常包括與此相似的聲明:揀選並非出自行為,乃是出于那人的主。“神揀選人的旨意,不在乎人的行為,乃在乎召人的主”(羅九11)。“凡預定得永生的人都信了”(徒十三48)。“就如神從創立世界以前,在基督里揀選了我們,使我們在祂面前成為聖潔”(弗一4)。“不是你們揀選了我,是我揀選了你們”(約十五16)。“既是出于恩典,就不在乎行為”(羅十一6)。“不是我們愛神,乃是神愛我們,差祂的兒子為我們的罪作了挽回祭,這就是愛了”(約壹四10)。

 

六、有些人教導說:並不是每一被選得救之人是不變的,乃是有些被選之人,雖有神的預旨還是滅亡,而且真的滅亡。由于這種大錯,而使神成為可改變的,並破壞了敬虔之人從他們蒙選的可靠中所得的安慰,而且與聖經相沖突;聖經教導說,蒙揀選之人永不能隨流失去(太廿四24);基督永不能失落父所賜給他的人(約六39);而神也榮耀他所預定、所召、所稱為義的人(羅八30)。

 

七、有些人教導說:我們今生不知道永遠被揀選至榮耀里的事,也無果實,這一切都在乎改變與不確實的情況。說這不確實的話實在是荒謬的,也與聖經不符。聖徒由于他們蒙揀選與使徒一同快樂,贊美神恩。以弗所一章說按照基督的訓誨,因名字記載在天上與祂的門徒一同歡喜,路加也說要因你們的名字記錄在

天上歡喜(路加十20)。他們也以蒙揀選的確知來面對魔鬼的火箭,說“誰能控告神所揀選的人呢”(羅八33)?

 

八、有些人教導說:神並沒有僅憑他公義的旨意,決定任憑人留在亞當的墮落中,與被定罪的共同情況中;或遺棄什麼人,以致得不到信心與歸正所必需的恩典上的交通。為此有神確定的預旨:“神要憐憫誰,就憐憫誰,要叫誰剛硬,就叫誰剛硬”(羅九18)。耶穌又回答說:“因為天國的奧秘,只叫你們知道,不叫別人知道”(太十三11)。同樣:“耶穌說,父啊,天地的主,我感謝你,因為你將這些事,向聰明通達人就藏起來,向嬰孩就顯出來。父啊,是的,因為你的美意本是如此”(太十一25-26)。

 

九、有些人教導說:神為什麼把福音傳給一個人,而不給另外一個人,並不僅是出于神的美意,乃是由于一個人比另外一個人更好,並更值得接受福音的事實。為此摩西反對,他對以色列說以下的話:“看哪!天和天上的天,地和地上所有的,都屬耶和華你的神。耶和華但喜悅你的列祖,愛他們,從萬民中揀選他們的后裔,就是你們,像今日一樣”(申十14-15)。基督說:“哥拉汛哪,你有禍了!伯賽大啊,你有禍了!因為在你們中間所行的異能,若行在推羅、西頓,他們早已披麻蒙灰悔改了”(太十一21)。

 

 

第二項教義  論基督的死,和人借此所得的救贖

 

第一條 

神不僅極其慈愛,祂也極其公義。祂的公義要求(正如在祂的話語中所啟示的),所犯敵擋祂無限尊嚴的罪應受刑罰;不但身體靈魂受暫時的,而且要受永遠的刑罰;這刑罰除非滿足神的公義,是不能逃脫的。

 

 

第二條 

既因我們自己不能補償,也不能救自己脫離神的忿怒,所以由于無限的慈愛,樂意賜下祂的獨生子作我們的保人,成為罪,為我們受了咒詛,並替我們補償了神的公義。

 

 

第三條 

神兒子的死是為罪所獻唯一和最完全的祭與補償;它有無限的價值,足以補償全世界的罪。

 

 

第四條 

由此可見基督之死的無限價值與尊嚴的理由,乃因受死者非僅一真實的人與一完全的聖者,而且是神的獨生子,與聖父和聖靈有同一永遠與無限的本質,這本質使祂有資格作我們的救主;又因為祂是本著為我們的罪,擔當我們的罪,而受神的忿怒與咒詛而死的。

 

 

第五條 

此外,福音的應許乃是:凡相信釘十字架基督的人,不至滅亡,反得永生。此應許以及吩咐人悔改相信的命令,應當毫無區分地向萬國萬民宣揚公布;因神是出于祂的美意,向他們傳揚福音。

 

 

第六條 

而許多蒙福音呼召而不悔改,也不相信基督,反倒在不信中滅亡;這並不在于基督在十字架上所獻的祭有任何缺失或不足,乃要完全歸罪于他們自己。

 

 

第七條 

但凡真實相信,並借基督之死從罪惡與滅亡中得蒙拯救的人,只是有由于神在基督里從永遠賜給他們的恩典才得此恩典,並非由于他們自己的任何功德。

 

 

第八條 

因為這是父神主權的旨意,與極恩惠的意願與目的,叫祂兒子極寶貴之死的復蘇與拯救的效能臨到所有選民,將稱義信心的恩典唯獨賜給他們,借此使他們確實得救;那就是,神的旨意乃是叫基督在十字架上所流的血,堅固了新約,並有效地從各民、各族、各國中拯救那些(唯獨那些)從永遠蒙選召的人得救,就是聖

父所賜給祂的那些人;祂又賜給他們信心,這信心連同聖靈所有其他的恩賜,都是祂借祂的死所買來的;又除掉他們的原罪與本罪,不拘是他們相信以前或以后所犯的罪,都一並除清;並且既然信實地保守他們到底,就至終無瑕無疵,把他們帶到神面前,得享永遠的榮耀。

 

 

第九條 

此對選民的旨意是從永遠的愛所發出的,從世界之始以迄今日已經具有權能地完成了,以后要繼續完成;雖然有陰間權柄所有無效的反抗,但選民在適當的時候就被集合成為一體,成為信者所組成的教會,這教會的根基就是基督的血。這教會要以堅貞的愛來愛祂,並忠實地服事他們的救主,祂如新郎為新婦在十字架上

舍命,並在今世直到永遠贊頌祂。

 

此真實的教義已解釋清楚,總會反對以下錯謬:

一、有些人教導說:父神曾預定祂的兒子死在十字架上,並沒有確定的預旨去拯救任何人,所以基督由祂的死所賺來的必須性、恩益與價值已經存在,並在其各部分中保持完整,甚至所賺來的救贖向來未用在任何人身上也是這樣。這說法是藐視父神的智慧與耶穌的功勞,並與聖經相沖突。救主耶穌曾說過:“我為羊舍命,我也認識他們”(約十1527)。關于救主,先知以賽亞說:“耶和華以祂為贖罪祭。祂必看見后裔,並且延長年日,耶和華所喜悅的事,必在祂手中亨通”(賽五十三10)。最后,這也與我們的信條相沖突;根據這信條,我們相信聖而公之基督教會。

 

二、有些人教導說:基督之死的目的,並不是借著祂的血堅固了新約,只不過是為父神獲得了與人立此約的權利,或借恩典或憑行為,討神的喜悅。此與聖經矛盾,因為聖經教導說,基督已成為更美之約的中保,那就是新約,就是由基督的死所立的約。“既是起誓立的,耶穌就作了更美之約的中保”(來七22)。“為此,他作了新約的中保,既然受死贖了人在前約之時所犯的罪過,便叫蒙召之人得著所應許永遠的產業”(來九15)。“因為人死了,遺命才有效力;若留遺命的尚在,那遺命還有用處嗎”(來九17)?

 

三、有人教導說:基督借著祂的補贖,即未為任何人獲得救恩,也未獲得信心,借此基督的補贖而有效地得救;乃是為父神獲得了權柄或對待人的完全旨意,並附帶新條件願意順服,全在乎人的自由意志,並因此或許無人,或許所有的人能履行這條件。以上這些說法乃是太輕視基督的死,毫未承認基督之死所獲得極其重要的果實與恩益,這乃是伯拉糾派錯謬的復活。

 

四、有些人教導說:神借基督之死的和解,與人立了恩典的新約,並不包括我們借信心接受基督的功勞,在神面前稱義而得救,乃是事實上,神取消了完全順服律法的要求,認為信心本身以及信心的順服(雖然不完全)作為律法的完全順服,並視為借著恩典得永生的賞賜。這與聖經相反:“如今卻蒙神的恩典,因基督耶穌的救贖,就白白的稱義。神設立耶穌作挽回祭,是憑著耶穌的血,借著人的信”(羅三24-25)。以上所說的那些,乃是可惡的索西奴派的人在神面前稱義的新奇方法,是與全教會的一致意見相左。

 

五、有些人教導說:所有的人都在和好的狀況中被接納,並得到恩約之恩,所以無一人為原罪之故而被定罪,既然無一人因此而被定罪,所以一切的人都脫離原罪。這種意見與聖經沖突,聖經教導說:“我們本為可怒之子”(弗二3)。

 

六、有些人教導說:有人在憑功德與支取之間作區分,結果他們將這教訓放在老實與無經驗之人的心中,說神將基督之死所得之恩益同等地應用在所有的人身上;雖然有的人得到罪的赦免,有的人則否,這種不同乃在乎他們的自由意志,因他們的自由意志毫無例外地取得恩典,並不在乎神特別的施恩,就是神用大

能在他們中間所作的工,以致他們比別人能得到此恩典。這些話雖然他們偽裝是出于善意,提出此分別,其實是企圖將伯拉糾派錯謬之毒放在人們的心中。

 

七、有些人教導說:基督不能,不需要,也並未為那些神所愛並揀選得永生之人而死,因為這些人不需要基督的死。這些人所說的與使徒保羅相反,保羅說:“基督愛我,為我舍己 ”(加二20);又說:“誰能控告神所揀選的人呢?有神稱他們為義了。誰能定他們的罪呢?有基督耶穌已經死了”(羅八33-34)。也就是為他們,救主說:“我為羊舍命”(約十15)。又說:“你們要彼此相愛,像我愛你們一樣,這就是我的命令。人為朋友舍命,人的愛心沒有比這個大的”(約十五12-13)。

 

 

第三與第四項教義  論人的敗壞,歸向神及其方式

 

第一條 

人原是照神的形象造的,他對于他的創造主和聖靈的事上具有真正與拯救的知識。他的心與意志是正直的,他的一切情感是純潔的,全人是聖潔的;但他因受魔鬼的煽動就背叛了神,又誤用了自己意志的自由,就喪失了這些優美的恩賜;相反地把自己陷入內心的盲目,可怕的黑暗、虛空和判斷的謬妄中,在內心與意志上變為邪惡、背叛、頑固、情感不潔。

 

 

第二條 

人墮落后按照自己的形象生兒育女,一敗壞的族類產生了敗壞的子孫。因此亞當所有的后裔,除了基督之外,都從他們的始祖承受了敗壞,並不是由于模效,如古時伯拉糾派所說的,乃是由于邪惡本性的傳殖。

 

 

第三條 

因此所有的人都生在罪中,本為可怒之子,不能行拯救自己的善事,傾向邪惡,死在罪及其捆綁中,若沒有聖靈的重生之恩,他們既不能,也不願歸向神,既不能改革本性的敗壞,也不能傾向于改革。

 

 

第四條 

然而,人墮落之后,在他里面還保留自然之光的余輝(a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall)( lumen aliquod naturæ),借此他對神,對自然之物,和善惡之分還擁有些知識;對德行、社會的治安,仍能維持外部的善良行為(for good outward behavior)(ac disciplinæ externæ studium ostendit)。但這自然之光(hoc naturæ lumine)不足以領人對神有得救上的知識(不能認識神),不能領人得到真正的改變,而且在自然和民事上()(in naturalibus ac civilibus recte)他們也不能正確使用這知識。尤有甚者,人在各方面把這光完全弄暗了,在不義中把它給壓住了;如此他在神面前不可原諒,無法推諉。

 

 

第五條 

我們要同樣去看神借摩西之手交給祂的選民猶太人十條誡命的律法。雖然借著律法顯明罪惡之重大,並使人更加知道罪,但是它不能指出救法,也不能賦予力量,解救他脫離悲苦,並且既因肉體上的軟弱,而把犯罪者置于咒詛之下。人不能靠此律法而得救恩。

 

 

第六條 

因此,為那自然之光和律法所不能行的事,神便借著聖靈的工作,借著聖道,或使人和好的服事完成了;這道就是有關彌賽亞的佳音,借此神樂意拯救在舊新約之下相信的人。

 

 

第七條 

神旨意的奧秘只對舊約之下少數的人顯明,在新約中(不論人與人之間的區分)卻將祂自己啟示給許多人。這種安排的原因,不在于一個民族比另外一個民族更優越,也不在于他們更善于利用自然之光,乃完全由于神出于主權的美意和白白賜予的愛。因此那些雖然不配,反有缺欠,卻領受了如此偉大、如此恩慈的祝福

的人,應當用謙虛與感恩的心承認這福分,要同使徒去贊美,不要存著好奇心去窺探神對別人審判的嚴厲和公義,說神未有施恩給他們。

 

 

第八條 

凡蒙福音所召的人,都是真實被召的;因為神在祂的話語中,極誠懇地真實宣布了什麼是祂所悅納的,即一切蒙召者,都接受邀請。此外,祂誠懇地應許,將永生和安息賜給凡到祂面前而相信的人。

 

 

第九條 

那些凡蒙福音所召的人,若拒絕前來,悔改歸主,錯處不在福音,也不在于福音中所提供的基督,也不在于那用福音召人並賜各種恩給他們的神。錯處乃在于他們自己,其中有些人蒙召時,不顧他們的危險,拒絕生命之道;其他的人,雖然接受,卻不容這道在他們的心中留下永久的印象;因此他們的喜樂既從『暫時的信心』而生(a temporary faith)(fidei temporariæ),不久即消失,他們便跌倒了(gaudium resiliunt);還有些人因憂慮和今世的快樂把這道的種子給擠住了,不能結實。我們的救主在撒種的比喻中已經教導了(太十三章)。

Article 9: Human Responsibility for Rejecting the Gospel

The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life's cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

 

 

第十條 

但其他被福音所召的人,順服此召,悔改歸主,這並非在于人自由意志的適當運用,借此使他們比別人出人頭地,使他們有足以相信歸主的同樣恩典,如伯拉糾派驕傲的異端所主張的;乃完全在于神,祂既從永遠在基督里揀選了屬祂的人,就使他們相信並悔改,把他們從黑暗權勢中拯救出來,又把他們遷到祂愛子的國

里,使他們可以贊美那召他們出黑暗入奇妙光明者的美德,並不以自己夸口,乃指著主夸口,這是照著使徒在各方面所作的見証。

 

 

第十一條 

但當神在選民里面成就祂的美意,或在他們心內成就真正的改變時,祂不僅使福音在外表上傳給他們,並用聖靈大大光照他們的心,使他們正確了解並分辨神屬靈的事,乃用聖靈使人重生的效能,滲透那人的心底,打開並軟化已經關閉而剛硬的心扉,並使那未受割禮的心受割禮,把新性情注入他已死的意志,祂使之復

蘇,使之從邪惡的、悖逆的、倔強的,變為善良的、順服的、溫柔的,使之活潑強健,好像一棵樹,結出善行的果子。

 

 

第十二條 

這就是聖經所最稱贊的重生,並名之為新創造,從死人中復活,也就是神在我們里面不借著我們幫助而產生的生命。但這新生命並不僅由福音外部的宣傳,道德的勸勉所產生的,也不是在神成就了祂的部分以后,人是否重生歸主,還是以人的能力為定;顯然地這乃是超自然之工,是極有能力,同時也是極其可喜悅的、

驚人的、神秘的、不可言喻的;其功效並不次于創造與復活,正如那受此工之主的靈所感動聖經的著者所宣布的;所以凡在心中有神這樣奇妙運行的人,是確定、無誤、有效地重生了,並且實在相信。因此,這被更新了的意志,不僅被神所激動、影響,而且因此影響成為自動的了。由此,也可以說人由于所接受的恩典,自己相信悔改了。

 

 

第十三條 

這種運行的方式,信徒在今生是不能完全領悟的。雖然如此,他們只要知道並經驗靠神的這種恩典,能以心里相信並愛他們的救主,便覺得心中安息與滿意了。

 

 

第十四條 

因此,信心被認為是神的恩賜,並不是因為它是由神向人提出的,而任憑人取舍;乃是實在由神所賜給、所呼出、所注入給人的;這也不是因為神將相信的能力賜給人,然后期望人運用自己的自由意志,去同意得救的條件,並實際相信基督;乃是因為那使人立志行事的,甚至在眾人里面行作萬事的主,產生相信的意志

,也產生相信的行動。

 

 

第十五條 

神沒有義務要將這恩典賜給任何人;因為人沒有先給祂作為償還的根基,怎能叫神償還呢?不是的,人除了罪惡和虛偽之外,別無所有。因此,領受神恩典的人應當永遠感謝神。凡領受者,或是完全不顧這些屬靈的恩賜,而對自己的情況感到滿足;或是未想到自己的危險,而空夸自己所沒有的。至于那些在外表上承認

信仰的,而又過正常生活的人,我們必要按照使徒的榜樣,盡最大的善意去談到他們,判斷他們因為我們不知道人心底中的隱秘(Furthermore, following the example of the apostles, we are to think and to speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us.)( Porro de iis, qui externe fidem profitentur, et vitam emendant, optime secundum exemplum apostolorum judicandum et loquendum est, penetralia enim cordium nobis sunt incomperta.)至于尚未蒙召的人,我們就應當為他們向神禱告,祂是使無變有的。我們萬不可以高傲的態度對待他們,就好像那使我們與人不同的,乃是我們自己一樣。

 

 

第十六條 

但人由于墮落並未停止為受造者,他有悟性有意志,使全人類墮落的罪並未剝奪他的人性,乃是把墮落與屬靈的死亡帶給了他;所以這重生之恩並未把人看作毫無知覺的木石,也未將他們的意志與屬性奪去,亦未對之施以強迫;乃在屬靈方面蘇醒之、醫治之、改正之,同時用甜蜜的、大有能力的方法使之折服;從前在

那里有肉體的悖逆橫行,如今在那里有甘願和誠懇的心靈順服開始掌權,這順服使我們的意志得到真正屬靈的恢復與自由。因此,除非那可佩服的,行作各樣善事的主,在我們里面動了工,人不能憑自己的自由意志希望從墮落中復原,他因妄用自由意志,從無辜的境況自陷于毀滅中。

 

 

第十七條 

正如神借其全能的運行(工作)延續並支持我們的生命,並不排除,而反需用方法,借此神本著祂無限恩慈與善良來運用祂的影響,以上所述神用以使我們重生的超自然方法,也不排除,或推翻福音的用途,這福音就是全智的神命定作為重生的種子與靈糧。因此,眾使徒以及繼承他們的眾教師,將神的這項恩典虔誠地

教導人,為要榮耀神,抑制一切驕傲,同時卻並不忽略用福音聖潔的教訓,來遵行聖道、聖禮與管教;所以,直至今日,無論是施教的,或是受教的,決不可在教會中試探上帝,將祂樂意密切配合的分開。因為恩典是借勸勉所賜的;我們越甘願履行本分,神的這福分往往就越顯著地在我們里面運行,而祂的工作就更直

接地被推進了;各樣的方法,以及拯救的效果的一切榮耀,惟獨永遠屬于神。阿們。

 

我們既已解說此真實的教義,總會就拒絕以下的錯謬:

一、有些人教導說:不可說原罪本身足以令全人類被定罪,或應受暫時的與永遠的刑罰。因這與使徒保羅相反,他說:“這就如罪是從一人入了世界,死又是從罪來的;于是死就臨到眾人,因為眾人都犯了罪”(羅五12)。又說:“原來審判是由一人而定罪”(羅五16)。又說:“罪的工價乃是死”(羅六23)。

 

二、有些人教導說:屬靈的恩賜,或如善良、聖潔、公義美德,當人最初受造時並不屬于人的意志,因此當這些墮落時不能與人分離。這說法與使徒保羅在以弗所書四章24節所描述的神之形象相沖突;那里說,神的形象包括仁義和聖潔,這當然是屬于意志的。

 

三、有人教導說:在屬靈的死上,屬靈的恩賜並未與人的意志分離,因為意志的本身向來未敗壞,只不過是受到悟性的昏暗與情感不協調的影響而已;這些影響既除,意志就可以按其自然能力而活動,那就是說,意志本身可以意願與揀選,或不意願與不揀選,可以介紹給他各樣為善的方式。這是一種新說法與錯謬,企圖高抬自由意志的能力,與先知的聲稱相反:“人心比萬物都詭詐,壞到極處”(耶十七9);也與傳統保羅的話相沖突:“我們從前也都在他們中間,放縱肉體的私欲,隨著肉體和心中所喜好的去行”(弗二3)。

 

四、有人教導說:未重生之人並未真正地或完全地死在罪中,也並非完全沒有行屬靈之善的能力,但他仍能飢渴慕義而生活,並能獻上令神喜悅的憂傷痛悔與祭。這明明與聖經的見証相沖突。“你們已經死在過犯罪惡之中”(弗二1-5);“人終日所思想的盡都是惡”(創六5)。“人從小時心里懷著惡念”(創八21)。

 

此外,又飢又渴想脫離愁苦而求生活勝利,並向神獻上痛悔之心的祭物,乃是特別屬于重生蒙召得福之人。“神啊!求你為我造清潔的心,使我里面重新有正直的靈”(詩五十一10)。“那時,你必喜愛公義的祭和燔祭,並全牲的燔祭;那時,人必將公牛獻在你壇上”(詩五十一19)。“飢渴慕義的人有福了!因為他們必得飽足”(太五6)。

 

五、有些人教導說:敗壞屬血氣的人,能運用普通的恩典(借此他們了解自然之光),雖然這恩賜在墮落后離開,他們能逐漸地借善于運用更大的恩賜,即福音的或拯救之恩而得救。如此在神那方面表明祂願意將基督啟示給萬人,因為祂將充分地、有效地使人歸正的方法賜給人。由于歷世代的經驗以及聖經証明以上所說為不真實,“祂將祂的道指示雅各,將祂的律例典章指示以色列。別國祂都沒有這樣待過;至于祂的典章,他們向來沒有知道”(詩一四七19-20)。“祂在從前的世代,任憑萬國各行其道”(徒十四16)。

又說:“聖靈既然禁止他們(保羅和他的同工)在亞西亞講道,他們就經過弗呂家,加拉太一帶地方。到了每西亞的邊界,他們想要往庇推尼去,耶穌的靈卻不許”(徒十六6-7)。

 

六、有些人教導說:在人真正歸主上,並沒有神新的、有能力的或恩賜注入在人的意志里,因此,我們首先借以悔改歸主的信心(indeed that the faith [or believing] by which we first come to conversion),並因此我們稱為信徒的,並不是由神而來的特性或恩賜,乃只是人的作為,不可以稱之為恩賜,除了得此信的能力這方面。這與聖經相反,因為聖經說,神將信心的新性,順服以及愛心注入在我們的心中:“我要將我的律法放在他們里面,寫在他們心上”(耶卅一33)。又:“我要將水澆灌口渴的人,將河澆灌干旱之地,我要將我的靈澆灌你的后裔,將我的福澆灌你的子孫”(賽四十四3)。又:“因為所賜給我們的聖靈,將神的愛澆灌在我們心里”(羅五5)。這也與教會向來所施行的相反;先知如此祈禱說:“求你使我回轉,我便回轉”(耶卅一18)。

 

七、有些人教導說:我們借此歸向神的恩只不過是一種溫和的勸勉,或(如別人所說的)說這是在人的轉變上非常的運行方式,此種運作的方式包括勸勉,與人的性情非常吻合。為什麼這種勸勉之恩不能單獨使屬血氣的人變為屬靈的人;誠然,若沒有這勸勉的方法,就是神也不知叫人生出意志上的同意;神借以勝過撒但工作的能力乃在于此,神所應許的乃是永遠福氣,而撒但所應許的只不過是暫

時的。這乃是伯拉糾派的思想,與全部聖經相沖突,此外,聖經在以西結書中還教導聖靈在轉變之人的心中用更有力、更屬神的方法作工:“我也要賜給你們一個新心,將新靈放在你們里面。又從你們的肉體中除掉石心,賜給你們肉心”(結卅六26)。

 

八、有些人教導說:神在重生人上,並不用祂無所不能的力量去用力地、無誤地折服人的意志而相信並歸正;但是神用以改變人所用一切恩典之工,人還是可以扺擋神與聖靈,當神想要人重生時,而那人往往扺抗而完全拒絕重生,因此一個人得重生與否,還在乎人。這種說法不是別的,簡直就是否認神的恩典在我們的

悔改歸正上的有效性,以及叫全能神的工作服從于人的意志,是與使徒保羅的教訓相反的,他說:“知道祂向我們這信的人所顯的能力,是何等浩大”(弗一19)。又說:“又用大能成就你們一切所羡慕的良善”(帖后一11)。彼得說:“神的神能已將一切關乎生命和虔敬的事賜給我們”(彼后一3)。

 

九、有些人教導說:恩典與自由意志都是一部分的原因,二者加起來開始了人的悔改歸正,在次序上說恩典不能在意志工作之前;那意思是說,神不能有效地幫助人的意志去歸向神,除非人的意志開始行動決定如此作。古代教會很早以前就定伯拉糾派此教訓的罪,按照使徒保羅的話:“據此看來,這不在乎那定意的,也不在乎那奔跑的,只在乎發憐憫的神”(羅九16)。照樣他又說:“使你與人不同的是誰呢?你有什麼不是領受的呢”(林前四7)。又說:“因為你們立志行事,都是神在你們心里運行,為要成就的美意”(腓二13)。

 

 

第五項教義  聖徒的堅守(一次得救,永遠得救

[趙中輝牧師翻譯這段時,加入了「一次得救,永遠得救」的標題。]

The Fifth Main Point of Doctrine

The Perseverance of the Saints

Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.

QUINTUM DOCTRINæ CAPUT, DE PERSEVERANTIA SANCTORUM.

 

第一條 

按神旨意蒙召與祂的兒子,我們的主耶穌基督有相交,並蒙聖靈重生的人,他也從今世罪惡的統治與奴役中拯救出來;雖然當他們還在世上的時候,不能救他們完全脫離罪身和肉體的軟弱。

 

 

第二條 

因此就生出每天所犯的軟弱之罪,從此在聖徒最好的善行上附帶著污點;要使他們時常在神面前謙卑,並飛奔到被釘十字架的基督那里避難;用祈禱的心以及聖潔敬虔的操練多多治死肉體,並向著完全的標竿努力前進,直到至終脫離肉身的死亡,他們就在天上與神的羔羊一同作王。

 

 

第三條 

由于住在里面殘余的罪(Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them),以及罪惡與世界的引誘,那些悔改歸主的人,如果要靠自己的力量,就不能在恩典的境況中恆忍。但是神是信實的,祂既賜恩給他們,以恩慈堅固他們,並以大能保守他們,直到末了。

 

 

第四條 

雖然說肉體的軟弱不能勝過神的大能,祂能堅固並保守真信徒在恩典的境況中;可是,悔改歸主者並不時常受神的靈感動而有時在特殊情況下犯罪,離開神恩典的引導,受肉體私欲引誘而順從肉體;因此,他們必須時常儆醒祈禱,免得入了迷惑。當他們忽略這些事的時候,不僅有被撒但、世界與肉體誘入大而且惡之

危險中,而且有時因神公義的許可而實際陷入這些邪惡之中。這由大衛、彼得可悲的墮落,以及聖經所描述的其他聖徒所顯示出來了。

 

 

第五條 

雖然他們因此類的罪,大大地干犯了神,負擔致死的罪債,叫聖靈擔憂,不能再發揮信心,嚴重地傷害自己的良心,有時失去了神的恩寵,可是一旦他們以嚴肅悔改的心歸回正道,神如慈父的面光才再照耀著他們。

 

 

第六條

但是滿有憐憫的神,按照祂不變的揀選旨意,甚至當祂自己的子民陷于悲慘的墮落中,祂也沒有完全收回聖靈;也不讓他們進行到喪失兒子名分之恩,以及稱義的地位,或犯至死的罪(好像敵對聖靈的罪)[ commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit)](aut peccatum ad mortem, sive in Spiritum Sanctum committant)不讓他們完全被棄,自陷于永遠的滅亡中。

Article 6: God's Saving Intervention

For God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election does not take his Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does he let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by him, into eternal ruin.

 

 

 

第七條 

因為首先在這些墮落中,祂在他們里面保守那不能朽壞的重生種子(his imperishable seed from which they have been born again)不致敗壞,或完全喪失;再者,用祂的道和靈重新使他們真正悔改,誠懇為罪憂傷,使他們靠中保之血尋求並得到罪的赦免,可以再經歷到和好之神的眷愛,借著信心贊美祂的憐憫,並從此以后懷著恐懼戰兢,更殷勤地作成自己得救的工夫。

 

 

第八條 

這樣,他們之所以不至完全從信仰與恩典中墮落,也不至繼續退后,終至滅亡的原因,不在于他們自己的功德或力量,乃在于神白白的憐憫。論到他們自己,不僅有滅亡的可能,而且是必然的(With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen;)但在神那方面說,滅亡是決不可能的,因為祂的旨意不能改變,祂的應許不能落空,按祂旨意的選召不能撤回,基督的功德、

代求與保守不能失效,聖靈的印証也不能受挫或作廢。

[保持有滅亡可能這張力!]

 

第九條 

論到選民這種終必得救的恆忍,以及他們在信上的堅忍不拔,真信徒按照他們信心的程度concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith (vereque fidelium in fide perseverantia),能夠而的確得到確據;借此他們確實知道,自己要繼續在教會中作一真實而活潑的肢體(vera et viva Ecclesiæ membra)( they are and always will remain true and living members of the church),經歷罪的赦免,並至終承受永生。

 

 

第十條 

然而,這確知並非與聖經相沖突,或在聖經以外的特殊啟示所產生的,乃是從為了安慰我們在祂話語中所豐富啟示的,相信神的應許而來的;是出于聖靈與我們的心同作見証我們是神的兒女(羅八16);最后是出自一個要保守無虧的良心,並行各種善事真摯和聖潔的願望。假如神的選民缺乏這種至終得勝的堅定安慰,

以及永遠得榮的這種確切憑據,他們就算比眾人更可憐。

 

 

第十一條 

聖經更証明信徒在今生要與各種屬肉體的疑惑爭斗,並且在極惡劣的試探之下,他們不常常感覺到這種信仰的完全確知,與堅忍的把握。但那慈愛的父神不叫他們受試探過于所能受的,在受試探的時候,總要給他們開一條出路,叫他們能忍受得住 (林前十13);並且借聖靈感動他們,使他們再有堅忍的確據。

 

 

第十二條 

然而,此堅守的確實性決不刺激信徒驕傲的態度或使他們有屬肉體的安全感(This assurance of perseverance, however, so far from making true believers proud and carnally self-assured,);相反地,卻使信徒謙卑,如兒女般尊敬,真正虔誠,在患難中忍耐,熱心祈禱,在苦難中恆忍,見証真理,並以神為堅實喜樂的根源。所以,人一想到這恩惠,就應當激起嚴肅的、立即的感恩行動並行善,正如聖經的見証和眾聖徒的榜樣所表現的。

 

 

第十三條 

那些從退后而轉回,重新得到堅守確據的人,也不至于生出放縱,或不虔,反倒使他們更留心並更渴望謹守主道,這道就是主已命定,叫行在其中的人可以持守堅忍的憑據,免得有人濫用神慈父般的仁慈,神便收回祂的慈容,瞻仰這慈容對敬虔信徒來說,比生命更寶貴;若被收回就比死亡更痛苦,結果他們便陷入良心

更愁苦的折磨中 “They observe these ways in order that by walking in them they may maintain the assurance of their perseverance, lest, by their abuse of his fatherly goodness, the face of the gracious God (for the godly, looking upon his face is sweeter than life, but its withdrawal is more bitter than death) turn away from them again, with the result that they fall into greater anguish of spirit.” [ne propter paternæ benignitatis abusum propitii Dei facies (cujus contemplatio piis vita dulcior, subductio morte acerbior) denuo ab ipsis avertatur, et sic in graviores animi cruciatus incidant.]

 

 

第十四條 

神既已樂意用福音的傳講,在我們里面開始了這恩典之工,祂就用聽道、讀經、默想其中的道,並借著勸勉、警告與應許,以及聖禮的運用,在我們里面保守、繼續並完成此工。

 

 

第十五條 

此聖徒蒙保守和確據的教義,是屬血肉之心所不能理解的,就是神為祂名的榮耀,並安慰敬虔之人的心,而在聖經中極其豐富地啟示了,又印在信徒的心上。為撒但所痛恨,為世界所嘲笑,為無知和假冒為善者所妄用,為異端分子所反對;但基督的新婦總是最喜愛它,保衛它,以之為無價之寶;而那位勝過一切計謀和

權能的神要使她繼續此行為,一直到底。願尊貴、榮耀歸給獨一的神,聖父、聖子與聖靈,直到永遠。阿們。

 

真實教義既經解釋,總會就反對以下的錯謬:

一、有人教導說:真信徒的恆忍並非揀選的果實,或因基督之死所得到神的恩賜,乃是新約的條件,就是人在決定他蒙選與稱義前,所必須借自由意志所履行。因為聖經証明此恆忍乃是出自揀選,因基督的死、復活與代求所賜給選民的:“惟有蒙揀選的人得著了,其余的就成了頑梗不化的”(羅十一7)。照樣:“神既不愛惜自己的兒子,為我們眾人舍了,豈不也把萬物和祂一同白白的賜給我們嗎?誰能控告神所揀選的人呢?有神稱他們為義了。誰能定他們的罪呢?有基督耶穌已經死了,而且從死里復活,現今在神的右邊,也替我們祈求。誰能使我們與基督的愛隔絕呢”(羅八32-35)?

 

二、有人教導說:神的確賜給信徒充分的能力去恆忍,如果他要履行此本分,就能在他里面恆忍這些;但雖然一切在信心上必須恆忍的,就是神用以保守信心的,也必須看人的意志願意不願意去恆忍。此觀念含有伯拉糾主義,雖然是使人得到自由,但卻剝奪了神的尊榮,與福音派一致的用意相沖突;福音派除去一

切人為的夸口,而將一切的頌贊唯獨歸給神的憐憫和恩典。這也與使徒保羅相反,他說:“祂也必堅固你們到底,叫你們在我們主耶穌基督的日子無可責備”(林前一8)。

 

三、有人教導說:那些真正相信和已經重生的信徒(those who truly believe and have been born again)(Vere credentes et regenitos)不但能從稱義的信心中墮落,同樣也能完全從恩典與救恩中墮落,而永遠滅亡。這種觀念使恩典、稱義、重生並繼續蒙基督保守毫無能力,明明與使徒保羅的話相沖突:“惟有基督在我們還作罪人的時候為我們死。……我們既靠著祂的血稱義,就更要借著祂免去神的忿怒”(羅五8-9)。也與使徒約翰的話相違:“凡從神生的,就不犯罪,因神的道存在他心里;他也不能犯罪,因他是由神生的”(約壹三9)。也與耶穌基督的話相沖突:“我又賜給他們永生;他們永不滅亡,誰也不能從我手里把他們奪去。我父把羊賜給我,祂比萬有都大,誰也不能從我父手里把他們奪去”(約十28-29)。

 

四、有人教導說:得蒙重生的真信徒能犯以至于死的罪甚或扺擋聖靈(Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again can commit the sin that leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit).)( Qui docent, 'Vere fideles ac regenitos posse peccare peccato ad mortem, vel in Spiritum Sanctum.')這使徒約翰既在約翰一書五章16節與17節說到那些犯了至于死的罪的,不當為他們祈求之后,他立刻在18節說:“我們知道凡從神生的,必不犯罪(即上面所說的那種罪),從神生的,必保守自己,那惡者也就無法害他”(約壹五18)。

 

五、有人教導說:在今生若沒有特殊的啟示,我們就不會有將來蒙保守的把握。因為這種教訓,真信徒(vere fidelium)(true believers)在今生的真正安慰就給剝奪無遺了,而且天主教的懷疑又被介紹到教會中來了,而聖經時常確論此種確據,並非從特殊的啟示,乃是從神兒女的一般表顯,並從神的應許中得此確論。所以使徒保羅特別說:“受造之物,都不能叫我們與神的愛隔絕,這愛是在我們的主基督耶穌里的”(羅八39)。使徒約翰說:“遵守神命令的,就住在神里面,神也住在他里面。我們所以知道神住在我們里面,是因祂所賜給我們的聖靈”(約壹三24)。

 

六、有人教導說:恆忍與得救把握的教義,就其本身性質來說,乃是使人怠惰之主因,也是對敬虔、良好道德、祈禱,以及其他聖潔行為是有害的,相對的也是值得懷疑的。這表明他們不知道神恩典的大能,以及聖靈在聖徒里面的工作。並且他們與使徒約翰相反,約翰在他的第一書信中明明教導與以上相反的事:“親愛的弟兄啊,我們現在是神的兒女,將來如何,還未顯明;但我們知道,主若顯現,我們必要像祂,因為必得見祂的真體。凡向祂有這指望的,就潔凈自己,像祂潔凈一樣”(約壹三2-3)。此外,這些似乎與舊新約聖徒的例子相沖突--雖然他們知道他們蒙保守與救恩,但仍時常祈禱以及其它敬虔上的操揀。

 

七、有人教導說:那些暫時相信之人的信心稱義和得救的信心除了時間之外並無分別(Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.)( Qui docent, 'Fidem temporariorum a justificante et salvifica fide non differre nisi sola duratione.')說這話是不對的,因為基督自己在馬太福音十三章20節,路加福音八章13節與別處,在此時間之外,又明明地說到,在那些暫時相信的人真信徒之間有三種不同(these further differences between temporary and true believers) ( triplex præterea inter temporarios et veros fideles discrimen manifesto constituit),祂說前者種子落在土淺石頭地上,但后者落在好土或心里,前者無根,但后者有穩固的根;前者無果子,但后者必然結出不同數量的果子。

 

 

八、有人教導說:一個人失掉了頭一次重生之后往往再能重生一次,這並沒有什麼荒唐之處。這教訓與神不能朽壞借以重生的種子是相沖突的,與使徒彼得的見証相反:“你們蒙了重生,不是由于能壞的種子,乃是由于不能壞的種子”(彼前一23?

 

九、有人教導說:基督未曾禱告說信徒要在信上一直堅固。他們說這話是與基督相反,祂說:“我已經為你(西門)祈求,叫你不至于失了信心”(路廿二32);使徒約翰說,基督不但為使徒們祈求,也為那些因使徒的話而相信的人祈求:“聖父啊,求你因你所賜給我的名保守他們(約十七11)”;又說:“我不求你叫他們離開世界,只求你保守他們脫離那惡者,我不但為這些人祈求,也為那些因他們的話信我的人祈求”(約十七1520)。

 

 

結論

    以上乃有關在比利時教會中爭辯的五條款之純正教義,最清楚、簡明、坦誠的聲明;並附帶錯謬的反駁,此錯謬曾困擾教會為時已久。此教義經總會由聖經中提出,又與改革宗教會信條一致。因此,可以清楚看見,有些存心不良之輩,已經違犯一切真理、公平與愛心,企圖公開教唆以下諸點?

    "有關預定之改革宗教會的教義,以及附加各點,由其特征與傾向看來,領導人偏離敬虔與信仰;是由肉體與魔鬼所主使的麻醉劑,撒但的據點,準備攻擊各人;從此傷害多人,用失望與安全的火箭致命地打擊多人;此教義使神成為罪惡、不公、暴虐與假冒之源;不是別的,乃混入斯多亞派、陰陽教與宗教自由派

等等毒素;使人得到肉體上的安全,因為他們被勸導說,沒有任何事可以阻擋選民的救恩,讓他們任意而行;因此,他們可以犯各樣的大罪而不懼怕;如果被遺棄之人,若真正履行聖徒各項工作,他們的順服對他們的得救上,也絲毫無用;同時這教義還教導說,神本著祂武斷的旨意,一點不考慮到任何罪,已經預定了

世界大多數的人永遠滅亡,並且就是為了這個目的而創造他們;同樣,在此旨意中,揀選乃信心與善行之源,遺棄乃不信與邪惡之因,許多信者之子女,無辜地從他們母親的懷中被奪去,殘暴地被拋置在地獄中;所以,在他們洗禮時所受的洗與教會的祈禱,對他們毫無益處。”以及其他許多類似的事情,改革宗教會不

但不加以承認,反而極端的加以拒絕。

    因此,本多特總會,奉主的名召聚一切求告救主耶穌基督之名的人,來判斷改革宗教會的信仰,並非根據從各方面收集的毀謗,也不是根據幾位古今的教師所發表的個人意見,這些往往出自不誠實的引証,或牽強附會與他們的原意不合;乃是根據教會本身公開的承認,並根據正統信仰的聲明,並經由全體總會各會員一致的同意而批準。此外,總會鄭重警告誣毀者要想到,為了作假見証,扺擋如此眾多教會的信認,為了傷害軟弱弟兄的良心,並為努力使真實信者的社團受到懷疑,有神可怕的刑罰在等候著他們。最后,本總會勸勉在基督福音中的眾弟兄,要在大學與教會中處理此教義上愈發敬虔;為了榮耀神的名,造就信徒聖潔生活,並安慰在患難中的人,在講論與著述中要指導他們,要根據信仰的比喻,用聖經來規范他們,不僅規范他們的情緒,也要規范他們的言語,免除一切與聖經真義不符的詞句;並為了那傲慢的詭辯者無情的攻擊,或甚至說改革宗教會之教義的壞話,提出公正的辯詞。

    願主耶穌基督,坐在天父右邊的神的兒子,將諸般的恩賜賜給人,用真理使他們成聖,把那些錯謬的人帶到真理面前,封閉那些毀謗真道者的口,以智慧和分辨的靈堅固真道信實的牧者,使他們一切的講論都歸榮耀于神,並造就聽者。阿們。

 

The Canons of Dordt

Formally Titled

The Decision of the Synod of Dordt on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands


The First Main Point of Doctrine

Divine Election and Reprobation
The Judgment Concerning Divine Predestination
Which the Synod Declares to Be in Agreement with the Word of God
and Accepted Till Now in the Reformed Churches,
Set Forth in Several Articles

Article 1: God's Right to Condemn All People

Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).*

--*All quotations from Scripture are translations of the original Latin manuscript.--

Article 2: The Manifestation of God's Love

But this is how God showed his love: he sent his only begotten Son into the world, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel

In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).

Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel

God's anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those who do accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are delivered through him from God's anger and from destruction, and receive the gift of eternal life.

第四條 

神的忿怒常在那些不信此福音的人身上。但那些憑『真實』『活潑的信心』(with a true and living faith)(vera ac viva fide)接受福音,並相信救主耶穌的人,卻蒙祂拯救,脫離神的忿怒,脫離死亡,並得到加在他們身上的永生恩賜。

Qui huic Evangelio non credunt, super eos manet ira Dei. Qui vero illud recipiunt, et Servatorem Jesum vera ac viva fide amplectuntur, illi per ipsum ab ira Dei et interitu liberantur, ac vita æterna donantur.

p. 552

http://www.theoric.org/CDs%20Backups/Christian%20Libraries%201%20&%202/_01/Volumes%20of%20History/Creeds%20of%20Christendom%20Vol.%203%20See%20Here%20for%20Creeds.pdf

 

 

Article 5: The Sources of Unbelief and of Faith

The cause or blame for this unbelief, as well as for all other sins, is not at all in God, but in man. Faith in Jesus Christ, however, and salvation through him is a free gift of God. As Scripture says, It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: It has been freely given to you to believe in Christ (Phil. 1:29).

Article 6: God's Eternal Decision

The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act--unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just--of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God's Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words.

Article 7: Election

Election [or choosing] is God's unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:

Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. He did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation. And so he decided to give the chosen ones to Christ to be saved, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ's fellowship through his Word and Spirit. In other words, he decided to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of his Son, to glorify them.

God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of his glorious grace.

As Scripture says, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Article 8: A Single Decision of Election

This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God's will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to walk in.

Article 9: Election Not Based on Foreseen Faith

This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not because we were, but) so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Article 10: Election Based on God's Good Pleasure

But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad..., she (Rebecca) was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

Article 11: Election Unchangeable

Just as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, all-knowing, and almighty, so the election made by him can neither be suspended nor altered, revoked, or annulled; neither can his chosen ones be cast off, nor their number reduced.

Article 12: The Assurance of Election

Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word-- such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

Article 13: The Fruit of This Assurance

In their awareness and assurance of this election God's children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God's children lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God's just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.

Article 14: Teaching Election Properly

Just as, by God's wise plan, this teaching concerning divine election has been proclaimed through the prophets, Christ himself, and the apostles, in Old and New Testament times, and has subsequently been committed to writing in the Holy Scriptures, so also today in God's church, for which it was specifically intended, this teaching must be set forth--with a spirit of discretion, in a godly and holy manner, at the appropriate time and place, without inquisitive searching into the ways of the Most High. This must be done for the glory of God's most holy name, and for the lively comfort of his people.

Article 15: Reprobation

Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and undeserved grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in that it further bears witness that not all people have been chosen but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God's eternal election-- those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following decision: to leave them in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves; not to grant them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but finally to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.

Article 16: Responses to the Teaching of Reprobation

Those who do not yet actively experience within themselves a living faith in Christ (Qui vivam in Christum fidem) or an assured confidence of heart, peace of conscience, a zeal for childlike obedience, and a glorying in God through Christ, but who nevertheless use the means by which God has promised to work these things in us--such people ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to count themselves among the reprobate; rather they ought to continue diligently in the use of the means, to desire fervently a time of more abundant grace, and to wait for it in reverence and humility. On the other hand, those who seriously desire to turn to God, to be pleasing to him alone, and to be delivered from the body of death, but are not yet able to make such progress along the way of godliness and faith as they would like--such people ought much less to stand in fear of the teaching concerning reprobation, since our merciful God has promised that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick and that he will not break a bruised reed. However, those who have forgotten God and their Savior Jesus Christ and have abandoned themselves wholly to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh--such people have every reason to stand in fear of this teaching, as long as they do not seriously turn to God.

Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers

Since we must make judgments about God's will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

Article 18: The Proper Attitude Toward Election and Reprobation

To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, Have I no right to do what I want with my own? (Matt. 20:15). We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).


Rejection of the Errors

by Which the Dutch Churches Have for Some Time Been Disturbed

Having set forth the orthodox teaching concerning election and reprobation, the Synod rejects the errors of those

I

Who teach that the will of God to save those who would believe and persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire decision of election to salvation, and that nothing else concerning this decision has been revealed in God's Word.

For they deceive the simple and plainly contradict Holy Scripture in its testimony that God does not only wish to save those who would believe, but that he has also from eternity chosen certain particular people to whom, rather than to others, he would within time grant faith in Christ and perseverance. As Scripture says, I have revealed your name to those whom you gave me (John 17:6). Likewise, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48), and He chose us before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy... (Eph. 1:4).

II

Who teach that God's election to eternal life is of many kinds: one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and the latter in turn either incomplete, revocable, nonperemptory (or conditional), or else complete, irrevocable, and peremptory (or absolute). Likewise, who teach that there is one election to faith and another to salvation, so that there can be an election to justifying faith apart from a peremptory election to salvation.

For this is an invention of the human brain, devised apart from the Scriptures, which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this golden chain of salvation: Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

II

Who teach that God's good pleasure and purpose, which Scripture mentions in its teaching of election, does not involve God's choosing certain particular people rather than others, but involves God's choosing, out of all possible conditions (including the works of the law) or out of the whole order of things, the intrinsically unworthy act of faith, as well as the imperfect obedience of faith, to be a condition of salvation; and it involves his graciously wishing to count this as perfect obedience and to look upon it as worthy of the reward of eternal life.

For by this pernicious error the good pleasure of God and the merit of Christ are robbed of their effectiveness and people are drawn away, by unprofitable inquiries, from the truth of undeserved justification and from the simplicity of the Scriptures. It also gives the lie to these words of the apostle: God called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of works, but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim. 1:9).

IV

Who teach that in election to faith a prerequisite condition is that man should rightly use the light of nature, be upright, unassuming, humble, and disposed to eternal life, as though election depended to some extent on these factors.

For this smacks of Pelagius, and it clearly calls into question the words of the apostle: We lived at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us alive with Christ, by whose grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him and seated us with him in heaven in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages we might show the surpassing riches of his grace, according to his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God) not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:3-9).

V

Who teach that the incomplete and nonperemptory election of particular persons to salvation occurred on the basis of a foreseen faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness, which has just begun or continued for some time; but that complete and peremptory election occurred on the basis of a foreseen perseverance to the end in faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness. And that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, on account of which the one who is chosen is more worthy than the one who is not chosen. And therefore that faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits or effects of an unchangeable election to glory, but indispensable conditions and causes, which are prerequisite in those who are to be chosen in the complete election, and which are foreseen as achieved in them.

This runs counter to the entire Scripture, which throughout impresses upon our ears and hearts these sayings among others: Election is not by works, but by him who calls (Rom. 9:11-12); All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48); He chose us in himself so that we should be holy (Eph. 1:4); You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16); If by grace, not by works (Rom. 11:6); In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10).

VI

Who teach that not every election to salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the chosen can perish and do in fact perish eternally, with no decision of God to prevent it.

By this gross error they make God changeable, destroy the comfort of the godly concerning the steadfastness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scriptures, which teach that the elect cannot be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those given to him by the Father (John 6:39), and that those whom God predestined, called, and justified, he also glorifies (Rom. 8:30).

VII

Who teach that in this life there is no fruit, no awareness, and no assurance of one's unchangeable election to glory, except as conditional upon something changeable and contingent.

For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain assurance, but these things also militate against the experience of the saints, who with the apostle rejoice from an awareness of their election and sing the praises of this gift of God; who, as Christ urged, rejoice with his disciples that their names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:20); and finally who hold up against the flaming arrows of the devil's temptations the awareness of their election, with the question Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Rom. 8:33).

VIII

Who teach that it was not on the basis of his just will alone that God decided to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and condemnation or to pass anyone by in the imparting of grace necessary for faith and conversion.

For these words stand fast: He has mercy on whom he wishes, and he hardens whom he wishes (Rom. 9:18). And also: To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matt. 13:11). Likewise: I give glory to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and have revealed them to little children; yes, Father, because that was your pleasure (Matt. 11:25-26).

IX

Who teach that the cause for God's sending the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and solely God's good pleasure, but rather that one people is better and worthier than the other to whom the gospel is not communicated.

For Moses contradicts this when he addresses the people of Israel as follows: Behold, to Jehovah your God belong the heavens and the highest heavens, the earth and whatever is in it. But Jehovah was inclined in his affection to love your ancestors alone, and chose out their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as at this day (Deut. 10:14-15). And also Christ: Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! for if those mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21).


The Second Main Point of Doctrine

Christ's Death and Human Redemption Through Its

Article 1: The Punishment Which God's Justice Requires

God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. His justice requires (as he has revealed himself in the Word) that the sins we have committed against his infinite majesty be punished with both temporal and eternal punishments, of soul as well as body. We cannot escape these punishments unless satisfaction is given to God's justice.

Article 2: The Satisfaction Made by Christ

Since, however, we ourselves cannot give this satisfaction or deliver ourselves from God's anger, God in his boundless mercy has given us as a guarantee his only begotten Son, who was made to be sin and a curse for us, in our place, on the cross, in order that he might give satisfaction for us.

Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death

This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value

This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the person who suffered it is--as was necessary to be our Savior--not only a true and perfectly holy man, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Another reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God's anger and curse, which we by our sins had fully deserved.

Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All

Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 6: Unbelief Man's Responsibility

However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent or believe in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross is deficient or insufficient, but because they themselves are at fault.

Article 7: Faith God's Gift

But all who genuinely believe and are delivered and saved by Christ's death from their sins and from destruction receive this favor solely from God's grace--which he owes to no one--given to them in Christ from eternity.

Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ's Death

For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.

Article 9: The Fulfillment of God's Plan

This plan, arising out of God's eternal love for his chosen ones, from the beginning of the world to the present time has been powerfully carried out and will also be carried out in the future, the gates of hell seeking vainly to prevail against it. As a result the chosen are gathered into one, all in their own time, and there is always a church of believers founded on Christ's blood, a church which steadfastly loves, persistently worships, and--here and in all eternity--praises him as her Savior who laid down his life for her on the cross, as a bridegroom for his bride.


Rejection of the Errors

Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those

I

Who teach that God the Father appointed his Son to death on the cross without a fixed and definite plan to save anyone by name, so that the necessity, usefulness, and worth of what Christ's death obtained could have stood intact and altogether perfect, complete and whole, even if the redemption that was obtained had never in actual fact been applied to any individual.

For this assertion is an insult to the wisdom of God the Father and to the merit of Jesus Christ, and it is contrary to Scripture. For the Savior speaks as follows: I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them (John 10:15, 27). And Isaiah the prophet says concerning the Savior: When he shall make himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10). Finally, this undermines the article of the creed in which we confess what we believe concerning the Church.

II

Who teach that the purpose of Christ's death was not to establish in actual fact a new covenant of grace by his blood, but only to acquire for the Father the mere right to enter once more into a covenant with men, whether of grace or of works.

For this conflicts with Scripture, which teaches that Christ has become the guarantee and mediator of a better--that is, a new-covenant (Heb. 7:22; 9:15), and that a will is in force only when someone has died (Heb. 9:17).

III

Who teach that Christ, by the satisfaction which he gave, did not certainly merit for anyone salvation itself and the faith by which this satisfaction of Christ is effectively applied to salvation, but only acquired for the Father the authority or plenary will to relate in a new way with men and to impose such new conditions as he chose, and that the satisfying of these conditions depends on the free choice of man; consequently, that it was possible that either all or none would fulfill them.

For they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ, do not at all acknowledge the foremost fruit or benefit which it brings forth, and summon back from hell the Pelagian error.

IV

Who teach that what is involved in the new covenant of grace which God the Father made with men through the intervening of Christ's death is not that we are justified before God and saved through faith, insofar as it accepts Christ's merit, but rather that God, having withdrawn his demand for perfect obedience to the law, counts faith itself, and the imperfect obedience of faith, as perfect obedience to the law, and graciously looks upon this as worthy of the reward of eternal life.

For they contradict Scripture: They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ, whom God presented as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:24-25). And along with the ungodly Socinus, they introduce a new and foreign justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.

V

Who teach that all people have been received into the state of reconciliation and into the grace of the covenant, so that no one on account of original sin is liable to condemnation, or is to be condemned, but that all are free from the guilt of this sin.

For this opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by nature children of wrath.

VI

Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order to instill in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he is concerned, wished to bestow equally upon all people the benefits which are gained by Christ's death; but that the distinction by which some rather than others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends on their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered indiscriminately) but does not depend on the unique gift of mercy which effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others, apply that grace to themselves.

For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable sense, they attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism.

VII

Who teach that Christ neither could die, nor had to die, nor did die for those whom God so dearly loved and chose to eternal life, since such people do not need the death of Christ.

For they contradict the apostle, who says: Christ loved me and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20), and likewise: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, that is, for them (Rom. 8:33-34). They also contradict the Savior, who asserts: I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15), and My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).


The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine

Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs

Article 1: The Effect of the Fall on Human Nature

Man was originally created in the image of God and was furnished in his mind with a true and salutary knowledge of his Creator and things spiritual, in his will and heart with righteousness, and in all his emotions with purity; indeed, the whole man was holy. However, rebelling against God at the devil's instigation and by his own free will, he deprived himself of these outstanding gifts. Rather, in their place he brought upon himself blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in his mind; perversity, defiance, and hardness in his heart and will; and finally impurity in all his emotions.

Article 2: The Spread of Corruption

Man brought forth children of the same nature as himself after the fall. That is to say, being corrupt he brought forth corrupt children. The corruption spread, by God's just judgment, from Adam to all his descendants-- except for Christ alone--not by way of imitation (as in former times the Pelagians would have it) but by way of the propagation of his perverted nature.

Article 3: Total Inability

Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform.

Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature

There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him--so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

Article 5: The Inadequacy of the Law

In this respect, what is true of the light of nature is true also of the Ten Commandments given by God through Moses specifically to the Jews. For man cannot obtain saving grace through the Decalogue, because, although it does expose the magnitude of his sin and increasingly convict him of his guilt, yet it does not offer a remedy or enable him to escape from his misery, and, indeed, weakened as it is by the flesh, leaves the offender under the curse.

Article 6: The Saving Power of the Gospel

What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law can do, God accomplishes by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word or the ministry of reconciliation. This is the gospel about the Messiah, through which it has pleased God to save believers, in both the Old and the New Testament.

Article 7: God's Freedom in Revealing the Gospel

In the Old Testament, God revealed this secret of his will to a small number; in the New Testament (now without any distinction between peoples) he discloses it to a large number. The reason for this difference must not be ascribed to the greater worth of one nation over another, or to a better use of the light of nature, but to the free good pleasure and undeserved love of God. Therefore, those who receive so much grace, beyond and in spite of all they deserve, ought to acknowledge it with humble and thankful hearts; on the other hand, with the apostle they ought to adore (but certainly not inquisitively search into) the severity and justice of God's judgments on the others, who do not receive this grace.

Article 8: The Serious Call of the Gospel

Nevertheless, all who are called through the gospel are called seriously. For seriously and most genuinely God makes known in his Word what is pleasing to him: that those who are called should come to him. Seriously he also promises rest for their souls and eternal life to all who come to him and believe.

Article 9: Human Responsibility for Rejecting the Gospel

The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life's cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

Article 10: Conversion as the Work of God

The fact that others who are called through the ministry of the gospel do come and are brought to conversion must not be credited to man, as though one distinguishes himself by free choice from others who are furnished with equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains). No, it must be credited to God: just as from eternity he chose his own in Christ, so within time he effectively calls them, grants them faith and repentance, and, having rescued them from the dominion of darkness, brings them into the kingdom of his Son, in order that they may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into this marvelous light, and may boast not in themselves, but in the Lord, as apostolic words frequently testify in Scripture.

Article 11: The Holy Spirit's Work in Conversion

Moreover, when God carries out this good pleasure in his chosen ones, or works true conversion in them, he not only sees to it that the gospel is proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating Spirit, he also penetrates into the inmost being of man, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is uncircumcised. He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.

Article 12: Regeneration a Supernatural Work

And this is the regeneration, the new creation, the raising from the dead, and the making alive so clearly proclaimed in the Scriptures, which God works in us without our help. But this certainly does not happen only by outward teaching, by moral persuasion, or by such a way of working that, after God has done his work, it remains in man's power whether or not to be reborn or converted. Rather, it is an entirely supernatural work, one that is at the same time most powerful and most pleasing, a marvelous, hidden, and inexpressible work, which is not lesser than or inferior in power to that of creation or of raising the dead, as Scripture (inspired by the author of this work) teaches. As a result, all those in whose hearts God works in this marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do actually believe. And then the will, now renewed, is not only activated and motivated by God but in being activated by God is also itself active. For this reason, man himself, by that grace which he has received, is also rightly said to believe and to repent.

Article 13: The Incomprehensible Way of Regeneration

In this life believers cannot fully understand the way this work occurs; meanwhile, they rest content with knowing and experiencing that by this grace of God they do believe with the heart and love their Savior.

Article 14: The Way God Gives Faith

In this way, therefore, faith is a gift of God, not in the sense that it is offered by God for man to choose, but that it is in actual fact bestowed on man, breathed and infused into him. Nor is it a gift in the sense that God bestows only the potential to believe, but then awaits assent--the act of believing--from man's choice; rather, it is a gift in the sense that he who works both willing and acting and, indeed, works all things in all people produces in man both the will to believe and the belief itself.

Article 15: Responses to God's Grace

God does not owe this grace to anyone. For what could God owe to one who has nothing to give that can be paid back? Indeed, what could God owe to one who has nothing of his own to give but sin and falsehood? Therefore the person who receives this grace owes and gives eternal thanks to God alone; the person who does not receive it either does not care at all about these spiritual things and is satisfied with himself in his condition, or else in self-assurance foolishly boasts about having something which he lacks. Furthermore, following the example of the apostles, we are to think and to speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us. But for others who have not yet been called, we are to pray to the God who calls things that do not exist as though they did. In no way, however, are we to pride ourselves as better than they, as though we had distinguished ourselves from them.

Article 16: Regeneration's Effect

However, just as by the fall man did not cease to be man, endowed with intellect and will, and just as sin, which has spread through the whole human race, did not abolish the nature of the human race but distorted and spiritually killed it, so also this divine grace of regeneration does not act in people as if they were blocks and stones; nor does it abolish the will and its properties or coerce a reluctant will by force, but spiritually revives, heals, reforms, and--in a manner at once pleasing and powerful--bends it back. As a result, a ready and sincere obedience of the Spirit now begins to prevail where before the rebellion and resistance of the flesh were completely dominant. It is in this that the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consists. Thus, if the marvelous Maker of every good thing were not dealing with us, man would have no hope of getting up from his fall by his free choice, by which he plunged himself into ruin when still standing upright.

Article 17: God's Use of Means in Regeneration

Just as the almighty work of God by which he brings forth and sustains our natural life does not rule out but requires the use of means, by which God, according to his infinite wisdom and goodness, has wished to exercise his power, so also the aforementioned supernatural work of God by which he regenerates us in no way rules out or cancels the use of the gospel, which God in his great wisdom has appointed to be the seed of regeneration and the food of the soul. For this reason, the apostles and the teachers who followed them taught the people in a godly manner about this grace of God, to give him the glory and to humble all pride, and yet did not neglect meanwhile to keep the people, by means of the holy admonitions of the gospel, under the administration of the Word, the sacraments, and discipline. So even today it is out of the question that the teachers or those taught in the church should presume to test God by separating what he in his good pleasure has wished to be closely joined together. For grace is bestowed through admonitions, and the more readily we perform our duty, the more lustrous the benefit of God working in us usually is and the better his work advances. To him alone, both for the means and for their saving fruit and effectiveness, all glory is owed forever. Amen.


Rejection of the Errors

Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those

I

Who teach that, properly speaking, it cannot be said that original sin in itself is enough to condemn the whole human race or to warrant temporal and eternal punishments.

For they contradict the apostle when he says: Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death passed on to all men because all sinned (Rom. 5:12); also: The guilt followed one sin and brought condemnation (Rom. 5:16); likewise: The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

II

Who teach that the spiritual gifts or the good dispositions and virtues such as goodness, holiness, and righteousness could not have resided in man's will when he was first created, and therefore could not have been separated from the will at the fall.

For this conflicts with the apostle's description of the image of God in Ephesians 4:24, where he portrays the image in terms of righteousness and holiness, which definitely reside in the will.

III

Who teach that in spiritual death the spiritual gifts have not been separated from man's will, since the will in itself has never been corrupted but only hindered by the darkness of the mind and the unruliness of the emotions, and since the will is able to exercise its innate free capacity once these hindrances are removed, which is to say, it is able of itself to will or choose whatever good is set before it--or else not to will or choose it.

This is a novel idea and an error and has the effect of elevating the power of free choice, contrary to the words of Jeremiah the prophet: The heart itself is deceitful above all things and wicked (Jer. 17:9); and of the words of the apostle: All of us also lived among them (the sons of disobedience) at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts (Eph. 2:3).

IV

Who teach that unregenerate man is not strictly or totally dead in his sins or deprived of all capacity for spiritual good but is able to hunger and thirst for righteousness or life and to offer the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit which is pleasing to God.

For these views are opposed to the plain testimonies of Scripture: You were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5); The imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil all the time (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). Besides, to hunger and thirst for deliverance from misery and for life, and to offer God the sacrifice of a broken spirit is characteristic only of the regenerate and of those called blessed (Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:6).

V

Who teach that corrupt and natural man can make such good use of common grace(by which they mean the light of nature)or of the gifts remaining after the fall that he is able thereby gradually to obtain a greater grace-- evangelical or saving grace--as well as salvation itself; and that in this way God, for his part, shows himself ready to reveal Christ to all people, since he provides to all, to a sufficient extent and in an effective manner, the means necessary for the revealing of Christ, for faith, and for repentance.

For Scripture, not to mention the experience of all ages, testifies that this is false: He makes known his words to Jacob, his statutes and his laws to Israel; he has done this for no other nation, and they do not know his laws (Ps. 147:19-20); In the past God let all nations go their own way (Acts 14:16); They (Paul and his companions) were kept by the Holy Spirit from speaking God's word in Asia; and When they had come to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit would not allow them to (Acts 16:6-7).

VI

Who teach that in the true conversion of man new qualities, dispositions, or gifts cannot be infused or poured into his will by God, and indeed that the faith [or believing] by which we first come to conversion and from which we receive the name "believers" is not a quality or gift infused by God, but only an act of man, and that it cannot be called a gift except in respect to the power of attaining faith.

For these views contradict the Holy Scriptures, which testify that God does infuse or pour into our hearts the new qualities of faith, obedience, and the experiencing of his love: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts (Jer. 31:33); I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring (Isa. 44:3); The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). They also conflict with the continuous practice of the Church, which prays with the prophet: Convert me, Lord, and I shall be converted (Jer. 31:18).

VII

Who teach that the grace by which we are converted to God is nothing but a gentle persuasion, or(as others explain it) that the way of God's acting in man's conversion that is most noble and suited to human nature is that which happens by persuasion, and that nothing prevents this grace of moral suasion even by itself from making natural men spiritual; indeed, that God does not produce the assent of the will except in this manner of moral suasion, and that the effectiveness of God's work by which it surpasses the work of Satan consists in the fact that God promises eternal benefits while Satan promises temporal ones.

For this teaching is entirely Pelagian and contrary to the whole of Scripture, which recognizes besides this persuasion also another, far more effective and divine way in which the Holy Spirit acts in man's conversion. As Ezekiel 36:26 puts it: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; and I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh....

VIII

Who teach that God in regenerating man does not bring to bear that power of his omnipotence whereby he may powerfully and unfailingly bend man's will to faith and conversion, but that even when God has accomplished all the works of grace which he uses for man's conversion, man nevertheless can, and in actual fact often does, so resist God and the Spirit in their intent and will to regenerate him, that man completely thwarts his own rebirth; and, indeed, that it remains in his own power whether or not to be reborn.

For this does away with all effective functioning of God's grace in our conversion and subjects the activity of Almighty God to the will of man; it is contrary to the apostles, who teach that we believe by virtue of the effective working of God's mighty strength (Eph. 1:19), and that God fulfills the undeserved good will of his kindness and the work of faith in us with power (2 Thess. 1:11), and likewise that his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).

IX

Who teach that grace and free choice are concurrent partial causes which cooperate to initiate conversion, and that grace does not precede--in the order of causality--the effective influence of the will;that is to say,that God does not effectively help man's will to come to conversion before man's will itself motivates and determines itself.

For the early church already condemned this doctrine long ago in the Pelagians, on the basis of the words of the apostle: It does not depend on man's willing or running but on God's mercy (Rom. 9:16); also: Who makes you different from anyone else? and What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Cor. 4:7); likewise: It is God who works in you to will and act according to his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).


The Fifth Main Point of Doctrine

The Perseverance of the Saints

Article 1: The Regenerate Not Entirely Free from Sin

Those people whom God according to his purpose calls into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, he also sets free from the reign and slavery of sin, though in this life not entirely from the flesh and from the body of sin.

Article 2: The Believer's Reaction to Sins of Weakness

Hence daily sins of weakness arise, and blemishes cling to even the best works of God's people, giving them continual cause to humble themselves before God, to flee for refuge to Christ crucified, to put the flesh to death more and more by the Spirit of supplication and by holy exercises of godliness, and to strain toward the goal of perfection, until they are freed from this body of death and reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

Article 3: God's Preservation of the Converted

Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of the temptations of the world and Satan, those who have been converted could not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them and powerfully preserving them in it to the end.

Article 4: The Danger of True Believers' Falling into Serious Sins

Although that power of God strengthening and preserving true believers in grace is more than a match for the flesh, yet those converted are not always so activated and motivated by God that in certain specific actions they cannot by their own fault depart from the leading of grace, be led astray by the desires of the flesh, and give in to them. For this reason they must constantly watch and pray that they may not be led into temptations. When they fail to do this, not onlycan they be carried away by the flesh, the world, and Satan into sins, even serious and outrageous ones, but also by God's just permission they sometimesare so carried away--witness the sad cases, described in Scripture, of David, Peter, and other saints falling into sins.

Article 5: The Effects of Such Serious Sins

By such monstrous sins, however, they greatly offend God, deserve the sentence of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith, severely wound the conscience, and sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time--until, after they have returned to the way by genuine repentance, God's fatherly face again shines upon them.

Article 6: God's Saving Intervention

For God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election does not take his Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does he let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by him, into eternal ruin.

Article 7: Renewal to Repentance

For, in the first place, God preserves in those saints when they fall his imperishable seed from which they have been born again, lest it perish or be dislodged. Secondly, by his Word and Spirit he certainly and effectively renews them to repentance so that they have a heartfelt and godly sorrow for the sins they have committed; seek and obtain, through faith and with a contrite heart, forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator; experience again the grace of a reconciled God; through faith adore his mercies; and from then on more eagerly work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Article 8: The Certainty of This Preservation

So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God's undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen, since his plan cannot be changed, his promise cannot fail, the calling according to his purpose cannot be revoked, the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.

Article 9: The Assurance of This Preservation

Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith, by which they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Article 10: The Ground of This Assurance

Accordingly, this assurance does not derive from some private revelation beyond or outside the Word, but from faith in the promises of God which he has very plentifully revealed in his Word for our comfort, from the testimony of the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are God's children and heirs (Rom. 8:16-17), and finally from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works. And if God's chosen ones in this world did not have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most miserable.

Article 11: Doubts Concerning This Assurance

Meanwhile, Scripture testifies that believers have to contend in this life with various doubts of the flesh and that under severe temptation they do not always experience this full assurance of faith and certainty of perseverance. But God, the Father of all comfort, does not let them be tempted beyond what they can bear, but with the temptation he also provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit revives in them the assurance of their perseverance.

Article 12: This Assurance as an Incentive to Godliness

This assurance of perseverance, however, so far from making true believers proud and carnally self-assured, is rather the true root of humility, of childlike respect, of genuine godliness, of endurance in every conflict, of fervent prayers, of steadfastness in crossbearing and in confessing the truth, and of well-founded joy in God. Reflecting on this benefit provides an incentive to a serious and continual practice of thanksgiving and good works, as is evident from the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.

Article 13: Assurance No Inducement to Carelessness

Neither does the renewed confidence of perseverance produce immorality or lack of concern for godliness in those put back on their feet after a fall, but it produces a much greater concern to observe carefully the ways of the Lord which he prepared in advance. They observe these ways in order that by walking in them they may maintain the assurance of their perseverance, lest, by their abuse of his fatherly goodness, the face of the gracious God (for the godly, looking upon his face is sweeter than life, but its withdrawal is more bitter than death) turn away from them again, with the result that they fall into greater anguish of spirit.

Article 14: God's Use of Means in Perseverance

And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments.

Article 15: Contrasting Reactions to the Teaching of Perseverance

This teaching about the perseverance of true believers and saints, and about their assurance of it--a teaching which God has very richly revealed in his Word for the glory of his name and for the comfort of the godly and which he impresses on the hearts of believers--is something which the flesh does not understand, Satan hates, the world ridicules, the ignorant and the hypocrites abuse, and the spirits of error attack. The bride of Christ, on the other hand, has always loved this teaching very tenderly and defended it steadfastly as a priceless treasure; and God, against whom no plan can avail and no strength can prevail, will ensure that she will continue to do this. To this God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.


Rejection of the Errors

Concerning the Teaching of the Perseverance of the Saints

Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those

I

Who teach that the perseverance of true believers is not an effect of election or a gift of God produced by Christ's death, but a condition of the new covenant which man, beforewhat they callhis "peremptory" election and justification, must fulfill by his free will.

For Holy Scripture testifies that perseverance follows from election and is granted to the chosen by virtue of Christ's death, resurrection, and intercession: The chosen obtained it; the others were hardened (Rom. 11:7); likewise, He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not, along with him, grant us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised--who also sits at the right hand of God, and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:32-35).

II

Who teach that God does provide the believer with sufficient strength to persevere and is ready to preserve this strength in him if he performs his duty, but that even with all those things in place which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God is pleased to use to preserve faith, it still always depends on the choice of man's will whether or not he perseveres.

For this view is obviously Pelagian; and though it intends to make men free it makes them sacrilegious. It is against the enduring consensus of evangelical teaching which takes from man all cause for boasting and ascribes the praise for this benefit only to God's grace. It is also against the testimony of the apostle: It is God who keeps us strong to the end, so that we will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8).

III

Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again not only can forfeit justifying faith as well as grace and salvation totally and to the end, but also in actual fact do often forfeit them and are lost forever.

For this opinion nullifies the very grace of justification and regeneration as well as the continual preservation by Christ, contrary to the plain words of the apostle Paul: If Christ died for us while we were still sinners, we will therefore much more be saved from God's wrath through him, since we have now been justified by his blood (Rom. 5:8-9); and contrary to the apostle John: No one who is born of God is intent on sin, because God's seed remains in him, nor can he sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9); also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: I give eternal life to my sheep, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand (John 10: 28-29).

IV

Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again can commit the sin that leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit).

For the same apostle John, after making mention of those who commit the sin that leads to death and forbidding prayer for them (1 John 5: 16-17), immediately adds: We know that anyone born of God does not commit sin (that is, that kind of sin), but the one who was born of God keeps himself safe, and the evil one does not touch him (v. 18).

V

Who teach that apart from a special revelation no one can have the assurance of future perseverance in this life.

For by this teaching the well-founded consolation of true believers in this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into the church. Holy Scripture, however, in many places derives the assurance not from a special and extraordinary revelation but from the marks peculiar to God's children and from God's completely reliable promises. So especially the apostle Paul: Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39); and John: They who obey his commands remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains in us: by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24).

VI

Who teach that the teaching of the assurance of perseverance and of salvation is by its very nature and character an opiate of the flesh and is harmful to godliness, good morals, prayer, and other holy exercises, but that, on the contrary, to have doubt about this is praiseworthy.

For these people show that they do not know the effective operation of God's grace and the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and they contradict the apostle John, who asserts the opposite in plain words: Dear friends, now we are children of God, but what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he is made known, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3). Moreover, they are refuted by the examples of the saints in both the Old and the New Testament, who though assured of their perseverance and salvation yet were constant in prayer and other exercises of godliness.

VII

Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

VIII

Who teach that it is not absurd that a person, after losing his former regeneration, should once again, indeed quite often, be reborn.

For by this teaching they deny the imperishable nature of God's seed by which we are born again, contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter: Born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable (1 Pet. 1:23).

IX

Who teach that Christ nowhere prayed for an unfailing perseverance of believers in faith.

For they contradict Christ himself when he says: I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:32); and John the gospel writer when he testifies in John 17 that it was not only for the apostles, but also for all those who were to believe by their message that Christ prayed: Holy Father, preserve them in your name (v. 11); and My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you preserve them from the evil one (v. 15).


Conclusion

Rejection of False Accusations

And so this is the clear, simple, and straightforward explanation of the orthodox teaching on the five articles in dispute in the Netherlands, as well as the rejection of the errors by which the Dutch churches have for some time been disturbed. This explanation and rejection the Synod declares to be derived from God's Word and in agreement with the confessions of the Reformed churches. Hence it clearly appears that those of whom one could hardly expect it have shown no truth, equity, and charity at all in wishing to make the public believe:

--that the teaching of the Reformed churches on predestination and on the points associated with it by its very nature and tendency draws the minds of people away from all godliness and religion, is an opiate of the flesh and the devil, and is a stronghold of Satan where he lies in wait for all people, wounds most of them, and fatally pierces many of them with the arrows of both despair and self-assurance;

--that this teaching makes God the author of sin, unjust, a tyrant, and a hypocrite; and is nothing but a refurbished Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism, and Mohammedanism;

--that this teaching makes people carnally self-assured, since it persuades them that nothing endangers the salvation of the chosen, no matter how they live, so that they may commit the most outrageous crimes with self-assurance; and that on the other hand nothing is of use to the reprobate for salvation even if they have truly performed all the works of the saints;

--that this teaching means that God predestined and created, by the bare and unqualified choice of his will, without the least regard or consideration of any sin, the greatest part of the world to eternal condemnation; that in the same manner in which election is the source and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and ungodliness; that many infant children of believers are snatched in their innocence from their mothers' breasts and cruelly cast into hell so that neither the blood of Christ nor their baptism nor the prayers of the church at their baptism can be of any use to them; and very many other slanderous accusations of this kind which the Reformed churches not only disavow but even denounce with their whole heart.

Therefore this Synod of Dordt in the name of the Lord pleads with all who devoutly call on the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to form their judgment about the faith of the Reformed churches, not on the basis of false accusations gathered from here or there, or even on the basis of the personal statements of a number of ancient and modern authorities--statements which are also often either quoted out of context or misquoted and twisted to convey a different meaning--but on the basis of the churches' own official confessions and of the present explanation of the orthodox teaching which has been endorsed by the unanimous consent of the members of the whole Synod, one and all.

Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.

Finally, this Synod urges all fellow ministers in the gospel of Christ to deal with this teaching in a godly and reverent manner, in the academic institutions as well as in the churches; to do so, both in their speaking and writing, with a view to the glory of God's name, holiness of life, and the comfort of anxious souls; to think and also speak with Scripture according to the analogy of faith; and, finally, to refrain from all those ways of speaking which go beyond the bounds set for us by the genuine sense of the Holy Scriptures and which could give impertinent sophists a just occasion to scoff at the teaching of the Reformed churches or even to bring false accusations against it.

May God's Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of his Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen.

 

Sententia, de Divina Prædestinatione, et Annexis ei Capitibus,

Quam Synodus Dordrechtana Verbo Dei consentaneam, atque in Ecclesiis Reformatis hactenus receptam esse, judicat, quibusdam Articulis exposita.

primum doctrinæ caput, de divina prædestinatione.

Articulus Primus.

Cum omnes homines in Adamo peccaverint, et rei sint facti malediction is et mortis æternæ, Deus nemini fecisset injuriam, si universum genus humanum in peccato et maledictione relinquere, ac propter peccatum 552damnare voluisset, juxta illa Apostoli, Totus mundus est obnoxius condemnationi Dei. Rom. iii. 19. Omnes peccaverunt et destituuntur gloria Dei. Ver. 23. Et, Stipendium peccati mors est. Rom. vi. 23.

II.

Verum in hoc manifestata est charitas Dei, quod Filium suum unigenitum in mundum misit, ut omnis qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam. 1 Johan. iv. 9; Johan. iii. 16.

III.

Ut autem homines ad fidem adducantur, Deus clementer lætissimi hujus nuntii præcones mittit, ad quos vult, et quando vult, quorum ministerio homines ad resipiscentiam et fidem in Christum crucifixum vocantur. Quomodo enim credent in eum, de quo non audierint? quomodo autem audient absque prædicante? quomodo prædicabunt, nisi fuerint missi? Rom. x. 14, 15.

IV.

Qui huic Evangelio non credunt, super eos manet ira Dei. Qui vero illud recipiunt, et Servatorem Jesum vera ac viva fide amplectuntur, illi per ipsum ab ira Dei et interitu liberantur, ac vita æterna donantur.

V.

Incredulitatis istius, ut et omnium aliorum peccatorum, caussa seu culpa neutiquam est in Deo, sed in homine. Fides autem in Jesum Christum et salus per ipsum, est gratuitum Dei donum, sicut scriptum est: Gratia salvati estis per fidem, et hoc non ex vobis, Dei donum est. Ephes. ii. 8. Item: Gratis datum est vobis in Christum credere. Phil. i. 29.

VI.

Quod autem aliqui in tempore fide a Deo donantur, aliqui non donantur, id ab æterno ipsius decreto provenit; Omnia enim opera sua novit ab æterno: Actor. xv. 18; Ephes. i. 11; secundum quod decretum electorum corda, quantumvis dura, gratiose emollit, et ad credendum inflectit, non electos autem justo judicio suæ malitiæ et duritiæ relinquit. Atque hic potissimum sese nobis aperit profunda, misericors pariter et justa hominum æqualiter perditorum discretio; sive decretum 553illud electionis et reprobationis in verbo Dei revelatum. Quod ut perversi, impuri, et parum stabiles in suum detorquent exitium, ita sanctis et religiosis animabus ineffabile præstat solatium.

VII.

Est autem electio immutabile Dei propositum, quo ante jacta mundi fundamenta ex universo genere humano, ex primæva integritate in peccatum et exitium sua culpa prolapso, secundum liberrimum voluntatis suæ beneplacitum, ex mera gratia, certam quorundam hominum multitudinem, aliis nee meliorum, nec digniorum, sed in communi miseria cum aliis jacentium, ad salutem elegit in Christo, quem etiam ab æterno Mediatorem et omnium electorum caput, salutisque fundamentum constituit; atque ita eos ipsi salvandos dare, et ad ejus communionem per verbum et Spiritum suum efficaciter vocare ac trahere; seu vera et ipsum fide donare, justificare, sanctificare, et potenter in Filii sui communione custoditos tandem glorificare decrevit, ad demonstrationem suæ misericordiæ, et laudem divinarum gloriosæ suæ gratiæ, sicut scriptum est: Elegit nos Deus in Christo, ante jacta mundi fundamenta, ut essemus sancti et inculpati in conspectu ejus, cum charitate; qui prædestinavit nos quos adoptaret in filios, per Jesum Christum, in sese, pro beneplacito voluntatis suæ, ad laudem gloriosæ suæ gratiæ, qua nos gratis sibi acceptos fecit in illo dilecto. Ephes. i. 4, 5, 6. Et alibi: Quos prædestinavit, eos etiam vocavit; et quos vocavit, eos etiam justificavit; quos autem justificavit, eos etiam glorificavit. Rom. viii. 30.

VIII.

Hæc electio non est multiplex, sed una et eadem omnium salvandorum in Vetere et Novo Testamento, quandoquidem Scriptura unicum prædicat beneplacitum, propositum, et consilium voluntatis Dei, quo nos ab æterno elegit et ad gratiam et ad gloriam; et ad salutem et ad viam salutis, quam præparavit ut in ea ambulemus.

IX.

Eadem hæc electio facta est non ex prævisa fide, fideique obedientia, sanctitate, aut alia aliqua bona qualitate et dispositione, tanquam caussa seu conditione in homine eligendo prærequisita, sed ad fidem, 554fideique obedientiam, sanctitatem, etc. Ac proinde electio est fons omnis salutaris boni: unde fides, sanctitas, et reliqua dona salvifica, ipsa denique vita æterna, ut fructus et effectus ejus profluunt, secundum illud Apostoli: Elegit nos (non quia eramus, sed) ut essemus sancti et inculpati in conspectu ejus in charitate. Ephes. i. 4.

X.

Caussa vero hujus gratuitæ electionis, est solum Dei beneplacitum, non in eo consistens, quod certas qualitates seu actiones humanas, ex omnibus possibilibus, in salutis conditionem elegit; sed in eo, quod certas quasdam personas ex communi peccatorum multitudine sibi in peculium adscivit, sicut scriptum est: Nondum natis pueris, cum neque boni quippiam fecissent neque mali, etc., dictum est (nempe Rebeccæ), Major serviet minori, sicut scriptum est, Jacob dilexi, Esau odio habui. Rom. ix. 11, 12, 13. Et, Crediderunt quotquot erant ordinati ad vitam æternam. Act. xiii. 48.

XI.

Atque ut Deus ipse est sapientissimus, immutabilis, omniscius, et omnipotens: ita electio ab ipso facta nec interrumpi, nec mutari, revocari, aut abrumpi, nec electi abjici, nec numerus eorum minui potest.

XII.

De hac æterna et immutabili sui ad salutem electione, electi suo tempore, variis licet gradibus et dispari mensura, certiores redduntur, non quidem arcana et profunditates Dei curiose scrutando; sed fructus electionis infallibiles, in verbo Dei designatos, ut sunt vera in Christum fides, filialis Dei timor, dolor de peccatis secundum Deum, esuries et sitis justitiæ, etc., in sese cum spirituali gaudio et sancta voluptate observando.

XIII.

Ex hujus electionis sensu et certitudine, filii Dei majorem indies sese coram Deo humiliandi, abyssum misericordiarum ejus adorandi, seipsos purificandi, et eum, qui ipsos prior tantopere dilexit, vicissim ardenter diligendi, materiam desumunt: tantum abest, ut hac electionis doctrina atque ejus meditatione in mandatorum divinorum observatione segniores, aut carnaliter securi, reddantur. Quod iis justo Dei 555judicio solet accidere, qui de electionis gratia, vel temere præsumentes, vel otiose et proterve fabulantes, in viis electorum ambulare nolunt.

XIV.

Ut autem hæc de divina electione doctrina sapientissimo Dei consilio per prophetas, Christum ipsum, atque Apostolos, sub Veteri æque atque sub Novo Testamento, est prædicata, et sacrarum deinde literarum monumentis commendata: ita et hodie in Ecclesia Dei, cui ea peculiariter est destinata, cum spiritu discretionis, religiose et sancte, suo loco et tempore, missa omni curiosa viarum altissimi scrutatione, est proponenda, idque ad sanctissimi nominis divini gloriam, et vividum populi ipsius solatium.

XV.

Cæterum æternam et gratuitam hanc electionis nostri gratiam eo vel maxime illustrat, nobisque commendat Scriptura Sacra, quod porro testatur non omnes homines esse electos, sed quosdam non electos, sive in æterna Dei electione præteritos, quos scilicet Deus ex liberrimo, justissimo, irreprehensibili, et immutabili beneplacito decrevit in communi miseria, in quam se sua culpa præcipitarunt, relinquere, nec salvifica fide et conversionis gratia donare, sed in viis suis, et sub justo judicio relictos, tandem non tantum propter infidelitatem, sed etiam cætera omnia peccata, ad declarationem justitiæ suæ damnare, et æternum punire. Atque hoc est decretum reprobationis, quod Deum neutiquam peccati authorem (quod cogitatu blasphemum est) sed tremendum, irreprehensibilem, et justum judicem ac vindicem constituit.

XVI.

Qui vivam in Christum fidem, seu certam cordis fiduciam, pacem conscientiæ, studium filialis obedientiæ, gloriationem in Deo per Christum in se nondum efficaciter sentiunt, mediis tamen, per quæ Deus ista se in nobis operaturum promisit, utuntur, ii ad reprobationis mentionem non consternari, nec se reprobis accensere, sed in usu mediorum diligenter pergere, ac horam uberioris gratiæ ardenter desiderare et reverenter humiliterque expectare debent. Multo autem minus doctrina de reprobatione terreri debent ii, qui cum serio ad Deum converti, ei unice placere, et e corpore mortis eripi desiderant, in via tamen 556pietatis et fidei eo usque, quo volunt, pervenire nondum possunt, siquidem linum fumigans se non extincturum, et arundinem quassatam se non fracturum, promisit misericors Deus. Iis autem hæc doctrina merito terrori est, qui Dei et Servatoris Jesu Christi obliti, mundi curis et carnis voluptatibus se totos manciparunt, quamdiu ad Deum serio non convertuntur.

XVII.

Quandoquidem de voluntate Dei ex verbo ipsius nobis est judicandum, quod testatur liberos fidelium esse sanctos, non quidem natura, sed beneficio fderis gratuiti, in quo illi cum parentibus comprehenduntur, pii parentes de electione et salute suorum liberorum, quos Deus in infantia ex hac vita evocat, dubitare non debent.

XVIII.

Adversus hanc gratuitæ electionis gratiam, et justæ reprobationis severitatem, obmurmuranti opponimus hoc apostolicum: O homo! tu quis es qui ex adverso responsas Deo? Rom. ix. 20. Et illud Servatoris nostri, An non licet mihi quod volo facere in meis? Matt. xx. 15. Nos vero hæc mysteria religiose adorantes, cum Apostolo exclamamus: O profunditatem divitiarum tum sapientiæ tum cognitionis Dei! Quam imperscrutabilia sunt Dei judicia, et ejus viæ impervestigabiles! Quis enim cognovit mentem Domini? Aut quis fuit ei a consiliis? Aut quis prior dedit ei ut reddatur ei? Nam ex eo, et per eum, et in eum sunt omnia. Ipsi sit gloria in sæcula. Amen. Rom. xi. 33–36.

Rejectio Errorum,

Quibus Ecclesiæ Belgicæ sunt aliquamdiu perturbatæ. Exposita doctrina Orthodoxa de Electione et Reprobatione, Synodus rejicit Errores eorum:

I.

Qui docent, 'Voluntatem Dei de servandis credituris, et in fide fideique obedientia perseveraturis, esse totum et integrum electionis ad salutem decretum; nec quicquam aliud de hoc decreto in verbo Dei esse revelatum.' Hi enim simplicioribus imponunt, et Scripturæ sacræ manifeste contradicunt, testanti Deum non tantum servare velle credituros, sed etiam certos quosdam homines ab æterno elegisse, quos præ aliis in tempore fide in Christum et perseverantia donaret; sicut scriptum est, Manifestum feci nomen tuum hominibus, quos dedisti 557mihi. Johan. xvii. 6. Item, Crediderunt quotquot ordinati erant ad vitam æternam. Act xiii. 48. Et, Elegit nos ante jacta mundi fundamenta, ut essemus sancti, etc. Ephes. 1. 4.

II.

Qui docent, 'Electionem Dei ad vitam æternam esse multiplicem; aliam generalem et indefinitam, aliam singularem et definitam; et hanc rursum vel incompletam, revocabilem, non peremptoriam, sive conditionatam: vel completam, irrevocabilem, peremptoriam, seu absolutam.' Item, 'Aliam electionem esse ad fidem, aliam ad salutem; ita ut electio ad fidem justificantem absque electione peremptoria ad salutem esse possit.' Hoc enim est humani cerebri commentum extra Scripturas excogitatum, doctrinam de electione corrumpens, et auream hanc salutis catenam dissolvens: Quos prædestinavit, eos etiam vocavit: et quos vocavit, eos etiam justificavit: quos autem justificavit, eos etiam glorificavit. Rom. viii. 30.

III.

Qui docent, 'Dei beneplacitum ac propositum, cujus Scriptura meminit in doctrina electionis, non consistere in eo, quod Deus certos quosdam homines præ aliis elegerit, sed in eo, quod Deus ex omnibus possibilibus conditionibus (inter quas etiam sunt opera legis) sive ex omnium rerum ordine actum fidei, in sese ignobilem, et obedientiam fidei imperfectam, in salutis conditionem elegerit; eamque gratiose pro perfecta obedientia reputare, et vitæ æternæ præmio dignam censere voluerit.' Hoc enim errore pernicioso beneplacitum Dei et meritum Christi enervatur, et homines inutilibus quæstionibus a veritate justificationis gratuitæ, et simplicitate Scripturarum avocantur; illudque Apostoli falsi arguitur; Deus nos vocavit vocatione sancta; non ex operibus, sed ex suo proposito et gratia, quæ data est nobis in Christo Jesu ante tempora sæculorum. 2 Tim. i. 9.

IV.

Qui docent, 'In electione ad fidem hanc conditionem prærequiri, ut homo lumine naturæ recte utatur, sit probus, parvus, humilis, et ad vitam æternam dispositus, quasi ab ipsis electio aliquatenus pendeat.' Pelagium enim sapiunt, et minime obscure falsi insimulant Apostolum scribentem: Versati sumus olim in cupiditatibus carnis nostræ, facientes quæ carni et cogitationibus libebant, eramusque natura filii iræ, ut et reliqui. Sed Deus, qui dives est misericordia, propter multam charitatem suam, qua dilexit nos, etiam nos cum in offensis mortui essemus, una vivificavit cum Christo, cujus gratia estis servati, unaque suscitavit, unaque collocavit in clis in Christo Jesu; ut ostenderet in seculis supervenientibus supereminentes illas opes suæ gratiæ, pro sua erga nos benignitate in Christo Jesu. Gratia enim estis servati per fidem (et hoc non ex vobis, Dei donum est), non ex operibus, ut ne quis glorietur. Ephes. ii. 3–9.

V.

Qui docent, 'Electionem singularium personarum ad salutem, incompletam et non peremptoriam, factam esse ex prævisa fide, resipiscentia, sanctitate et pictate inchoata, aut aliquamdiu continuata: completam vero et peremptoriam ex prævisæ fidei, resipiscentiæ, sanctitatis, et pietatis finali perseverantia: et hanc esse gratiosam et evangelicam dignitatem, propter quam qui eligitur dignior sit illo qui non eligitur: ac proinde fidem, fidei obedientiam, sanctitatem, pietatem, et perseverantiam non esse fructus sive effectus electionis immutabilis ad gloriam, sed conditiones, et caussas sine quibus non, in eligendis complete prærequisitas, et prævisas, tanquam præstitas.' Id quod toti Scripturæ repugnat, quæ hæc et alia dicta passim auribus et cordibus nostris ingerit: Electio non est ex operibus, sed ex vocante. Rom. ix. 11. Credebant quotquot ordinati erant ad vitam æternam. Act. xiii. 48. Elegit nos in semetipse ut sancti essemus. Ephes. i. 4. Non vos me elegistis, sed ego elegi vos. Johan. xv. 16. Si ex gratia, non ex operibus. Rom. xi. 6. In hoc est charitas, non quod nos dilexerimus Deum, sed quod ipse dilexit nos, et misit Filium suum. 1 Johan. iv. 10.

558

VI.

Qui docent, 'Non omnem electionem ad salutem immutabilem esse, sed quosdam electos, nullo Dei decreto obstante, perire posse et æternum perire.' Quo crasso errore et Deum mutabilem faciunt, et consolationem piorum de electionis suæ constantia subvertunt, et Scripturis sacris contradicunt docentibus, Electos non posse seduci: Matt. xxiv. 24. Christum datos sibi a Patre non perdere: Johan. vi. 39. Deum quos prædestinavit, vocavit et justificavit, eos etiam glorificare. Rom. viii. 30.

VII.

Qui docent, 'Electionis immutabilis ad gloriam nullum in hac vita esse fructum, nullum sensum, nullam certitudinem, nisi ex conditione mutabili et contingente.' Præterquam enim quod absurdum sit ponere certitudinem incertam, adversantur hæc experientiæ sanctorum, qui cum Apostolo ex sensu electionis sui exultant, Deique hoc beneficium celebrant, qui gaudent cum discipulis, secundum Christi admonitionem, quod nomina sua scripta sunt in clis: Luc. x. 20; qui sensum denique electionis ignitis tentationum diabolicarum telis opponunt, quærentes, Quis intentabit crimina adversus electos Dei? Rom. viii. 33.

VIII.

Qui docent, 'Deum neminem ex mera justa sua voluntate decrevisse in lapsu Adæ et in communi peccati et damnationis statu relinquere, aut in gratiæ ad fidem et conversionem necessariæ communicatione præterire.' Stat enim illud, Quorum vult, miseretur; quos vult, indurat. Rom. ix. 18. Et illud, Vobis datum est nosse mysteria regni clorum, illis autem non est datum. Matt. xiii. 11. Item, Glorifico te, Pater, Domine cli et terræ, quod hæc occultaveris sapientibus et intelligentibus, et ea detexeris infantibus: etiam, Pater, quia ita placuit tibi. Matt. xi. 25, 26.

IX.

Qui docent, 'Caussam cur Deus ad hanc potius, quam ad aliam gentem Evangelium mittat, non esse merum et solum Dei beneplacitum, sed quod hæc gens melior et dignior sit ea, cui Evangelium non communicator.' Reclamat enim Moses, populum Israeliticum sic alloquens, En Jehovæ Dei tui sunt cli, et cli clorum, terra, et quicquid est in ea: Tantum in majores tuos propensus fuit amore Jehova diligendo eos; unde selegit semen eorum post eos, vos inquam, præ omnibus populis, sicut est hodie. Deut. x. 14, 15. Et Christus: Væ tibi Chorazin, væ tibi Bethsaida, quia si in Tyro et Sidone factæ essent virtutes illæ quæ in vobis factæ sunt, in sacco et cinere olim pnitentiam egissent. Matt. xi. 21.

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Ita nos sentire et judicare, manuum nostrarum subscriptions testamur.

Johannes Bogermannus, Pastor Ecclesiæ Leoverdiensis et Synodi Præses.

Jacobus Rolandus, Pastor Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis et Præsidis Assessor.

Hermannus Faukelius, Pastor Ecclesiµ Middelburgensis et Præsidis Assessor.

Sebastianus Damman, Pastor Ecclesiæ Zutphaniensis et Synodi Scriba.

Festus Hommius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Leydensis et Synodi Scriba.

Ex Magna Britannia.

Georgius Episcopus Landavensis.

Johannes Davenantius, Presbyter; Doctor ac Sacræ Theologiæ publicus Professor in Academia Cantabrigiensi et Collegii Reginalis ibidem Præses.

Samuel Wardus, Presbyter, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Archidiaconus Fauntonnensis, et Collegii Sidneyani in Academia Cantabrigiensi Præfectus.

Thomas Goadus, Presbyter, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Cathedralis Ecclesiæ Paulinæ Londinensis Præcentor.

Gualterus Balcanquallus, Scoto-Britannus, Presbyter, S. Theologiæ Baccalaureus.

Ex Electorali Palatinatu.

Abrahamus Scultetus, S. Theologiæ Doctor et Professor in Academia Heydelbergensi.

Paulus Tossanus, S. Theologiæ Doctor, et Consiliarius in Senatu Ecclesiastico inferioris Palatinatus.

Henricus Altingius, S. Theologiæ Doctor et Professor in Academia Heydelbergensi.

559

Ex Hassia.

Georgius Cruciger, S. Theologiæ Doctor, Professor, et pro tempore Rector Academiæ Marpurgensis.

Paulus Steinius, Concionator Aulicus et S. Theologiæ in Collegio Nobilitatis Adelphico Mauritiano Professor, Cassellis.

Daniel Angelocrator, Ecclesiæ Marpurgensis Pastor, et vicinarum ad Lanum et Æderam Superintendens.

Rodolphus Goclenius, Senior. Philosophiæ purioris in Academia Marpurgensi Antecessor primarius, et nunc Decanus.

Ex Helvetia.

Joannes Jacobus Breytingerus, Ecclesiæ Tigurinæ Pastor.

Marcus Rutimeyerus, S. Theologiæ Doctor et Ecclesiæ Bemensis Minister.

Sebastianus Beckius, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, et Novi Testamenti Professor in Academia Basiliensi, ibidemque Facultatis Theologicæ Decanus.

Wolfgangus Mayerus, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Ecclesiæ Basiliensis Pastor.

Johannes Conradus Kochius, Ecclesiæ Schaphusianæ Minister.

A Correspondentia Wedderavica.

Johannes Henricus Alstedius, in illustri Schola Nassovica, quæ est Herbornæ, Professor ordinarius.

Georgius Fabricius, Ecclesiæ Windeccensis in Comitatu Sanovico Pastor, et vicinarum Inspector.

Ex Republica et Ecclesia Genevensi.

Johannes Deodatus, in Ecclesia Genevensi Pastor, et in eadem Schola SS. Theologiæ Professor.

Theodorus Tronchinus, Divini verbi Minister in Ecclesia Genevensi, el ibidem SS. Theologiæ Professor.

Ex Republica et Ecclesia Bremensi.

Matthias Martinius, illustris Scholæ Bremensis Rector, et in ea Divinarum literarum Professor.

Henricus Isselburg, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, in Bremensi Ecclesia ad B. Virginis Jesu Christi servus et in Schola Novi Testamenti Professor.

Ludovicus Crocius, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, Ecclesiæ Bremensis ad S. Martini Pastor, et in illustri Schola Veteris Testamenti et Philosophiæ practicæ Professor.

Ex Republica et Ecclesia Emdana.

Daniel Bernardus Eilshemius, Emdanæ Ecclesiæ Pastor Senior

Ritzius Lucas Grimershemius, Emdanæ Ecclesiæ Pastor.

SS. Theologiæ Professores Belgici.

Johannes Polyander, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, atque in A cademia Leydensi Professor.

Sibrandus Lubertus, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, et Professor in Academia Frisiorum.

Franciscus Gomarus, Sacrosanctæ Theologiæ Doctor, et Professor in Academia Gronimgæ et Omlandiæ.

Antonius Tysius, Sacræ Theologiæ in illustri Schola Geldr-Velavica, quæ est Hardervici, Professor.

Antonius Walæus, Pastor Ecclesiæ Middelburgensis, et ex ejusdem urbis illustri Schola inter Theologos ad Synodum evocatus.

Ex Ducatu Geldriæ, et Comitatu Zutphaniæ.

Guilielmus Stephani, SS. Theologiæ Doctor, et Arnhemiensis Ecclesiæ Pastor,

Ellardus a Mehen, Ecclesiæ Hardrovicenæ Pastor.

Johannes Bouillet, Pastor Ecclesiæ Warnsfeldensis.

Jacobus Verheyden, Senior, Ecclesiæ Noviomagensis et Scholæ Rector.

Ex Hollandia Australi.

Balthasar Lydius, M. F. Pastor Ecclesiæ Dei in urbe Dordrechto.

Henricus Arnoldi, Ecclesiastes Delphensis.

Gisbertus Voetius, Ecclesiæ Heusdanæ Pastor.

Arnoldus Musius ab Holy, Baillivus Suyd-Hollandiæ, Senior Ecclesiæ Dortrechtanæ.

Johannes de Laet, Senior Ecclesiæ Leydensis,

560

Ex Hollandia Boreali.

Jacobus Triglandius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.

Abrahamus a Doreslaer, Pastor Ecclesiæ Enchusanæ.

Samuel Bartholdus, Pastor Ecclesiæ Monachodammensis.

Theodorus Heyngius, Senior Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.

Dominicus ab Heemskerck, Senior Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.

Ex Zelandia.

Godefridus Udemannus, Pastor Ecclesiæ Ziericzeanæ.

Cornelius Regius, Ecclesiæ Goesanæ Pastor.

Lambertus de Rycke, Ecclesiæ Bergizomianæ Pastor.

Josias Vosbergius, Senior Ecclesiæ Middelburgensis.

Adrianus Hofferus, urbis Zirizææ Senator, et Ecclesiæ ibidem Senior.

Ex Provincia Ultrajectina.

Johannes Dibbezius, Pastor Dordracenus, Synodi Orthodoxæ Ultrajectinæ Deputatus.

Arnoldus Oortcampius, Ecclesiæ Amersfortianæ Pastor.

Ex Frisia.

Florentius Johannes, Jesu Christi crucifixi Servus in Ecdesia Snecana.

Philippus Danielis Eilshemius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Harlingensis.

Kempo Harinxma a Donia, Senior Ecclesiæ Leoverdiensis.

Tacitus ab Aysma, Senior Ecclesiæ in Buirgirt Hichtum, et Hartwardt.

Ex Transisalania.

Casparus Sibelius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Daventriensis.

Hermannus Wiferdingius, Ecclesiæ Swollanæ in Evangelio Christi Minister.

Hieronymus Vogellius, Hasseltanæ Ecclesiæ Pastor, tempore deputationis inserviens Ecclesiæ Orthodoxæ Campensi.

Johannes Langius, Ecclesiastes Vollenhovianus.

Wilhelmus a Broeckhuysen ten Doerne, tanquam Senior deputatus.

Johannes a Lauwick, tanquam Senior deputatus.

Ex Civitate Groningana, et Omlandiis.

Cornelius Hillenius, Servus Jesu Christi in Ecclesia Groningana.

Georgius Placius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Appingadammonensis.

Wolfgangus Agricola, Pastor Ecclesiæ Bedumanæ.

Wigboldus Homerus, Ecclesiæ Midwoldanæ Pastor.

Egbertus Halbes, Ecclesiæ Groninganæ Senior.

Johannes Rufelaert, Senior Ecclesiæ Stedumanæ.

Ex Drentia.

Themo ab Asscheberg, Pastor Ecclesiæ Meppelensis.

Patroclus Romelingius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Rhuinensis.

Ex Ecclesiis Gallo-Belgicis.

Daniel Colonius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Leydensis, et Regens Collegii Gallo-Belgici in Academia Leydensi

Johannes Crucius, Pastor Ecclesiæ Haerlemensis.

Johannes Doucher, Pastor Ecclesiæ Flissinganæ.

Jeremias de Pours, Ecclesiæ Gallo-Belgicæ Middelburgensis Pastor.

Everardus Beckerus, Senior Ecclesiæ Gallo-Belgicæ Middelburgensis.

Petrus Pontanus, Senior Ecclesiæ Amstelodamensis.

561

Secundum Doctrinæ Caput, de Morte Christi, et Hominum per eam Redemptione.

Articulus Primus.

Deus non tantum est summe misericors, sed etiam summe justus. Postulat autem ejus justitia (prout se in verbo revelavit), ut peccata nostra, adversus infinitam ejus majestatem commissa, non tantum temporalibus, sed etiam æternis, tum animi, tum corporis, pnis puniantur: quas pnas effugere non possumus, nisi justitiæ Dei satisfiat.

II.

Cum vero ipsi satisfacere, et ab ira Dei nos liberare non possimus, Deus ex immensa misericordia Filium suum unigenitum nobis Sponsorem dedit, qui, ut pro nobis satisfaceret, peccatum et maledictio in cruce pro nobis, seu vice nostra, factus est.

III.

Hæc mors Filii Dei est unica et perfectissima pro peccatis victima et satisfactio, infiniti valoris et pretii, abunde sufficiens ad totius mundi peccata expianda.

IV.

Ideo autem hæc mors tanti est valoris et pretii, quia persona, quæ eam subiit, non tantum est verus et perfecte sanctus homo, sed etiam unigenitus Dei Filius, ejusdem aeternæ et infinitæ cum Patre et Spiritu S. essentiæ, qualem nostrum Servatorem esse oportebat. Deinde, quia mors ipsius fuit conjuncta cum sensu iræ Dei et maledictionis, quam nos peccatis nostris eramus commeriti.

V.

Cæterum promissio Evangelii est, ut quisquis credit in Christum crucifixum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam. Quæ promissio omnibus populis et hominibus, ad quos Deus pro suo beneplacito mittit Evangelium, promiscue et indiscriminatim annunciari et proponi debet cum resipiscentiæ et fidei mandato.

562

VI.

Quod autem multi per Evangelium vocati non resipiscunt, nec in Christum credunt, sed infidelitate pereunt, non fit hoc hostiæ Christi in cruce oblatæ defectu, vel insufficientia, sed propria ipsorum culpa.

VII.

Quotquot autem vere credunt, et per mortem Christi a peccatis, et interitu liberantur ac servantur, illis hoc beneficium, ex sola Dei gratia, quam nemini debet, ab æterno ipsis in Christo data, obtingit.

VIII.

Fuit enim hoc Dei Patris liberrimum consilium, et gratiosissima voluntas atque intentio, ut mortis pretiosissimæ Filii sui vivifica et salvifica efficacia sese exereret in omnibus electis, ad eos solos fide justificante donandos, et per eam ad salutem infallibiliter perducendos: hoc est, voluit Deus, ut Christus per sanguinem crucis (quo novum fdus confirmavit) ex omni populo, tribu, gente, et lingua, eos omnes et solos, qui ab æterno ad salutem electi, et a Patre ipsi dati sunt, efficaciter redimeret, fide (quam, ut et alia Spiritus Sancti salvifica dona, ipsis morte sua acquisivit) donaret, ab omnibus peccatis, tum originali, tum actualibus, tam post, quam ante fidem commissis sanguine suo mundaret, ad finem usque fideliter custodiret, tandemque absque omni labe et macula gloriosos coram se sisteret.

IX.

Hoc consilium, ex æterno erga electos amore profectum ab initio mundi in præsens usque tempus, frustra obnitentibus inferorum portis, potenter impletum fuit, et deinceps quoque implebitur: ita quidem ut electi suis temporibus in unum colligantur, et semper sit aliqua credentium Ecclesia in sanguine Christi fundata, quæ illum Servatorem suum, qui pro ea, tanquam Sponsus pro sponsa, animam suam in cruce exposuit, constanter diligat, perseveranter colat, atque hic et in omnem æternitatem celebret.

563

Rejectio Errorum,

Exposita doctrina orthodoxa, rejicit Synodus errores eorum:

I.

Qui docent, 'Quod Deus Pater Filium suum in mortem crucis destinaverit, sine certo ac definito consilio quemquam nominatim salvandi, adeo ut impetrationi mortis Christi sua necessitas, utilitas, dignitas sarta tecta, et numeris suis perfecta, completa atque integra constare potuisset, etiamsi impetrata redemptio nulli individuo unquam actu ipso fuisset applicata.' Hæc enim assertio in Dei Patris sapientiam meritumque Jesu Christi contumeliosa, et Scripturæ contraria est. Sic enim ait Servator: Ego animam pono pro ovibus, et agnosco eas. Johan. x. 15, 27. Et de Servatore Esaias propheta: Cum posuerit se sacrificium pro reatu, videbit semen, prolongabit dies, et voluntas Jehovæ in manu ejus prosperabitur. Esai. liii. 10. Denique, articulum Fidei, quo Ecclesiam credimus, evertit.

II.

Qui docent, 'Non fuisse hunc finem mortis Christi, ut novum gratiæ fdus suo sanguine reipsa sanciret, sed tantum, ut nudum jus Patri acquireret, quodcunque fdus, vel gratiæ, vel operum, cum hominibus denuo ineundi.' Hoc enim repugnat Scripturæ, quæ docet, Christum melioris, id est, novi fderis Sponsorem et Mediatorem factum esse. Heb. vii. 22. Et, Testamentum in mortuis demum ratum esse. Heb. ix. 15, 17.

III.

Qui docent, 'Christum per suam satisfactionem, nullis certo meruisse ipsam salutem et fidem, qua hæc Christi satisfactio ad salutem efficaciter applicetur, sed tantum Patri acquisivisse potestatem vel plenariam voluntatem, de novo cum hominibus agendi, et novas, quascunque vellet conditiones, præscribendi, quarum præstatio a libero hominis arbitrio pendeat, atque ideo fieri potuisse, ut vel nemo, vel omnes eas implerent.' Hi enim de morte Christi nimis abjecte sentiunt, primarium fructum seu beneficium per eam partum nullatenus agnoscunt, et Pelagianum errorem ab inferis revocant.

IV.

Qui docent, ' Fdus illud novum gratiæ, quod Deus Pater, per mortis Christi interventum cum hominibus pepigit, non in eo consistere, quod per fidem, quatenus meritum Christi apprehendit, coram Deo justificemur et salvemur; sed in hoc, quod Deus, abrogata perfectæ obedientiæ legalis exactione, fidem ipsam et fidei obedientiam imperfectam pro perfecta legis obedientia reputet, et vitæ æternæ præmio gratiose dignam censeat.' Hi enim contradicunt Scripturæ, Justificantur gratis, ejus gratia, per redemptionem factam in Jesu Christo, quem proposuit Deus placamentum per fidem in sanguine ejus. Rom. iii. 24, 25. Et cum impio Socino, novam et peregrinam hominis coram Deo justificationem, contra totius Ecclesiæ consensum, inducunt.

V.

Qui docent, 'Omnes homines in statum reconciliationis et gratiam fderis esse assumptos, ita ut nemo propter peccatum originate sit damnationi obnoxius, aut damnandus, sed omnes ab istius peccati reatu sint immunes.' Hæc enim sententia repugnat Scriptura, affirmanti nos natura esse filios iræ. [Ephes. ii. 3.]

VI.

Qui impetrationis et applicationis distinctionem usurpant, ut incautis et imperitis hanc opinionem instillent: Deum, quantum ad se attinet, omnibus hominibus ex æquo ea beneficia voluisse conferre, quæ per mortem Christi acquiruntur; quod autem quidam præ aliis participes fiant remissionis peccatorum, et vitæ æternæ, discrimen illud pendere ex libero eorum 564arbitrio, se ad gratiam indifferenter oblatam applicante, non autem ex singulari misericordiæ dono, efficaciter in illis operante, ut præ aliis gratiam illam sibi applicent. Nam isti, dum simulant se distinctionem hanc sano sensu proponere, populo perniciosum Pelagianismi venenum conantur propinare.

VII.

Qui docent, 'Christum, pro iis, quos Deus summe dilexit, et ad vitam æternam elegit, mori nec potuisse, nec debuisse, nec mortuum esse, cum talibus morte Christi non sit opus.' Contradicunt enim Apostolo dicenti: Christus dilexit me, et tradidit seipsum pro me. Galat. ii. 20. Item, Quis est, qui crimina intentet adversus electos Dei? Deus est is, qui justificat. Quis est qui condemnet? Christus est, qui mortuus est. Rom. viii. 33, 34: nimirum, pro illis. Et Salvatori asseveranti, Ego pono animam meam pro ovibus meis, Johan. x. 15. Et, Hoc est præceptum meum, ut diligatis alii alios, sicut ego dilexi vos. Majorem dilectionem nemo habet, quam ut ponat animam suam pro amicis. Johan. xv. 12, 13.

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Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.

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Tertium et Quartum Doctrinæ Caput, de Hominis Corruptione, et Conversione ad Deum ejusque Modo.

Articulus Primus.

Homo ab initio ad imaginem Dei conditus vera et salutari sui Creatoris et rerum spiritualium notitia in mente, et justitia in voluntate et corde, puritate in omnibus affectibus exornatus, adeoque totus sanctus fuit; sed Diaboli instinctu, et libera sua voluntate a Deo desciscens, eximiis istis donis seipsum orbavit: atque e contrario eorum loco ccitatem, horribiles tenebras, vanitatem, ac perversitatem judicii in mente, malitiam, rebellionem, ac duritiem in voluntate et corde, impuritatem denique in omnibus affectibus contraxit.

II.

Qualis autem post lapsum fuit homo, tales et liberos procreavit, nempe corruptus corruptos; corruptione ab Adamo in omnes posteros [solo Christo excepto] non per imitationem [quod Pelagiani olim voluerunt], sed per vitiosæ naturæ propagationem, justo Dei judicio, derivata.

III.

Itaque omnes homines in peccato concipiuntur, et filii iræ nascuntur, inepti ad omne bonum salutare, propensi ad malum, in peccatis mortui, et peccati servi; et absque Spiritus Sancti regenerantis gratia, ad Deum redire, naturam depravatam corrigere, vel ad ejus correctionem se disponere nec volunt, nec possunt.

565

IV.

Residuum quidem est post lapsum in homine lumen aliquod naturæ, cujus beneficio ille notitias quasdam de Deo, de rebus naturalibus, de discrimine honestorum et turpium retinet, et aliquod virtutis ac disciplinæ externæ studium ostendit: sed tantum abest, ut hoc naturæ lumine ad salutarem Dei cognitionem pervenire, et ad eum se convertere possit, ut ne quidem eo in naturalibus ac civilibus recte utatur, quinimo qualecumque id demum sit, id totum variis modis contaminet, atque in injustitia detineat, quod dum facit, coram Deo inexcusabilis redditur.

V.

Quæ luminis naturæ, eadem hæc Decalogi per Mosen a Deo Judæis peculiariter traditi est ratio: cum enim is magnitudinem quidem peccati retegat, ejusque hominem magis ac magis reum peragat, sed nec remedium exhibeat, nec vires emergendi ex miseria conferat, adeoque per carnem infirmatus transgressorem maledictione relinquat, non potest homo per eum salutarem gratiam obtinere.

VI.

Quod igitur nec lumen naturæ, nec lex potest, id Spiritus Sancti virtute præstat Deus, per sermonem, sive ministerium reconciliationis, quod est Evangelium de Messia, per quod placuit Deo homines credentes tam in Veteri, quam in Novo Testamento servare.

VII.

Hoc voluntatis suæ mysterium Deus in Veteri Testamento paucioribus patefecit, in Novo Testamento pluribus, sublato jam populorum discrimine, manifestat. Cujus dispensationis caussa, non in gentis unius præ alia dignitate, aut meliore luminis naturæ usu, sed in liberrimo beneplacito, et gratuita dilectione Dei est collocanda. Unde illi, quibus præter et contra omne meritum tanta fit gratia, eam humili et grato corde agnoscere, in reliquis autem, quibus ea gratia non fit, severitatem et justitiam judiciorum Dei cum Apostolo adorare, nequaquam vero curiose scrutari debent.

VIII.

Quotquot autem per Evangelium vocantur, serio vocantur. Serio 566enim et verissime ostendit Deus verbo suo, quid sibi gratum sit, nimirum, ut vocati ad se veniant. Serio etiam omnibus ad se venientibus et credentibus requiem animarum, et vitam æternam promittit.

IX.

Quod multi per ministerium Evangelii vocati, non veniunt et non convertuntur, hujus culpa non est in Evangelio, nec in Christo per Evangelium oblato, nec in Deo per Evangelium vocante, et dona etiam varia iis conferente, sed in vocatis ipsis, quorum aliqui verbum vitæ non admittunt securi; alii admittunt quidem, sed non in cor immittunt, ideoque post evanidum fidei temporariæ gaudium resiliunt; alii spinis curaram et voluptatibus sæculi semen verbi suffocant, fructusque nullos proferunt; quod Servator noster seminis parabola docet, Matt. xiii.

X.

Quod autem alii, per ministerium Evangelii vocati, veniunt et convertuntur, id non est adscribendum homini, tanquam seipsum per liberum arbitrium ab aliis pari vel sufficiente gratia ad fidem et conversionem instructis discernenti (quod superba Pelagii hæresis statuit), sed Deo, qui ut suos ab æterno in Christo elegit, ita eosdem in tempore efficaciter vocat, fide et resipiscentia donat, et e potestate tenebrarum erutos in Filii sui regnum transfert, ut virtutes ejus, qui ipsos e tenebris in admirandam hanc lucem vocavit, prædicent, et non in se, sed in Domino, glorientur. Scriptura apostolica passim id testante.

XI.

Cæterum, quando Deus hoc suum beneplacitum in electis exequitur, seu veram in iis conversionem operatur, non tantum Evangelium illis externe prædicari curat, et mentem eorum per Spiritum Sanctum potenter illuminat, ut recte intelligant et dijudicent quæ sunt Spiritus Dei, sed ejusdem etiam Spiritus regenerantis efficacia ad intima hominis penetrat, cor clausum aperit, durum emollit, præputiatum circumcidit, voluntati novas qualitates infundit, facitque eam ex mortua vivam, ex mala bonam, ex nolente volentem, ex refractaria morigeram, agitque et roborat eam, ut, ceu arbor bona, fructus bonarum actionum proferre possit.

567

XII.

Atque hæc est illa tantopere in Scripturis prædicata regeneratio, nova creatio, suscitatio e mortuis, et vivificatio, quam Deus sine nobis, in nobis operatur. Ea autem neutiquam fit per solam forinsecus insonantem doctrinam, moralem suasionem, vel talem operandi rationem, ut post Dei (quoad ipsum) operationem, in hominis potestate maneat regenerari vel non regenerari, converti vel non converti; sed est plane supernaturalis, potentissima simul et suavissima, mirabilis, arcana, et ineffabilis operatio, virtute sua, secundum Scripturam (quæ ab Authore hujus operationis est inspirata) nec creatione, nec mortuorum resuscitatione minor, aut inferior, adeo ut omnes illi, in quorum cordibus admirando hoc modo Deus operatur, certo, infallibiliter, et efficaciter regenerentur, et actu credant. Atque tum voluntas jam renovata, non tantum agitur et movetur a Deo, sed a Deo acta, agit et ipsa. Quamobrem etiam homo ipse per gratiam istam acceptam credere et resipiscere recte dicitur.

XIII.

Modum hujus operationis fideles in hac vita plene comprehendere non possunt; in eo interim acquiescentes, quod per istam Dei gratiam, se corde credere, et Servatorem suum diligere, sciant ac sentiant.

XIV.

Sic ergo fides Dei donum est, non eo quod a Deo hominis arbitrio offeratur, sed quod homini reipsa conferatur, inspiretur, et infundatur. Non etiam quod Deus potentiam credendi tantum conferat, consensum vero seu actum credendi ab hominis deinde arbitrio expectet, sed, quod et velle credere, et ipsum credere in homine is efficiat, qui operatur et velle et facere, adeoque omnia operatur in omnibus.

XV.

Hanc gratiam Deus nemini debet. Quid enim debeat ei, qui prior dare nihil potest, ut ei retribuatur? Imo quid debeat ei, qui de suo nihil habet, præter peccatum et mendacium? Qui ergo gratiam illam accipit, soli Deo æternas debet et agit gratias; qui illam non accipit, is aut hæc spiritualia omnino non curat, et in suo sibi placet: aut securus se habere inaniter gloriatur, quod non habet. Porro de iis, qui externe fidem profitentur, et vitam emendant, optime secundum exemplum 568apostolorum judicandum et loquendum est, penetralia enim cordium nobis sunt incomperta. Pro aliis autem qui nondum sunt vocati, orandus est Deus, qui quæ non sunt vocat tanquam sint. Neutiquam vero adversus eos est superbiendum, ac si nosmetipsos discrevissemus.

XVI.

Sicuti vero per lapsum homo non desiit esse homo, intellectu et voluntate præditus, nec peccatum, quod universum genus humanum pervasit, naturam generis humani sustulit, sed depravavit, et spiritualiter occidit; ita etiam hæc divina regenerationis gratia, non agit in hominibus tanquam truncis et stipitibus, nec voluntatem ejusque proprietates tollit, aut invitam violenter cogit, sed spiritualiter vivificat, sanat, corrigit, suaviter simul ac potenter flectit: ut ubi antea plene dominabatur carnis rebellio et resistentia, nunc regnare incipiat prompta, ac sincera Spiritus obedientia; in quo vera et spiritualis nostræ voluntatis instauratio et libertas consistit. Qua ratione nisi admirabilis ille omnis boni opifex nobiscum ageret, nulla spes esset homini surgendi e lapsu per liberum arbitrium, per quod se, cum staret, præcipitavit in exitium.

XVII.

Quemadmodum etiam omnipotens illa Dei operatio, qua vitam hanc nostram naturalem producit et sustentat, non excludit sed requirit usum mediorum, per quæ Deus pro infinita sua sapientia et bonitate virtutem istam suam exercere voluit: ita et hæc prædicta supernaturalis Dei operatio, qua nos regenerat, neutiquam excludit, aut evertit usum Evangelii, quod sapientissimus Deus in semen regenerationis, et cibum animæ ordinavit. Quare, ut Apostoli, et qui eos secuti sunt doctores, de gratia hac Dei ad ejus gloriam et omnis superbiæ depressionem, pie populum docuerant, neque tamen interim sanctis Evangelii monitis, sub verbi, sacramentorum, et disciplinæ exercitio eum continere neglexerunt: sic etiamnum, absit, ut docentes aut discentes in Ecclesia Deum tentare præsumant, ea separando, quæ Deus pro suo beneplacito voluit esse conjunctissima. Per monita enim confertur gratia, et quo nos officium nostrum facimus promptius, hoc ipso Dei in nobis operantis beneficium solet esse illustrius, rectissimeque ejus opus procedit. Cui soli omnis, et mediorum, et salutaris eorum fructus atque efficaciæ debetur gloria in sæcula. Amen.

569

Rejectio Errorum.

Exposita doctrina orthodoxa, Synodus rejicit errores eorum:

I.

Qui docent, 'Proprie dici non posse, quod peccatum originis per se sufficiat toti generi humano condemnando, aut temporales et æternas pnas promerendo.' Contradicunt enim Apostolo, dicenti, Rom. v. 12: Per unum hominem peccatum in mundum introiit, ac per peccatum mors, et ita in omnes homines mors transiit, in quo omnes peccaverunt. Et vers. 16: Reatus ex uno introiit ad condemnationem. Item, Rom. vi. 23: Peccati stipendium mors est.

II.

Qui docent, 'Dona spiritualia, sive habitus bonos, et virtutes, ut sunt bonitas, sanctitas, justitia, in voluntate hominis, cum primum crearetur, locum habere non potuisse, ac proinde nec in lapsu ab ea separari.' Pugnat enim hoc cum descriptione imaginis Dei, quam Apostolus ponit Ephes. iv. 24; ubi illam describit ex justitia et sanctitate, quæ omnino in voluntate locum habent.

III.

Qui docent, 'Dona spiritualia non esse in morte spirituali ab hominis voluntate separata, cum ea in sese nunquam corrupta fuerit, sed tantum per tenebras mentis, et affectuum inordinationem impedita; quibus impedimentis sublatis, liberam suam facultatem sibi insitam exerere, id est, quodvis bonum sibi propositum ex se, aut velle, sive eligere, aut non velle, sive non eligere possit.' Novum hoc et erroneum est, atque eo facit ut extollantur vires liberi arbitrii, contra Jeremiæ prophetæ dictum, cap. xvii. 9: Fraudulentum est cor ipsum supra omnia et perversum. Et Apostoli, Ephes. ii. 3: Inter quos (homines contumaces) et nos omnes conversati sumus olim in cupiditatibus carnis nostræ, facientes voluntates carnis ac cogitationum.

IV.

Qui docent, 'Hominem irregenitum non esse proprie nec totaliter in peccatis mortuum, aut omnibus ad bonum spirituale viribus destitutum, sed posse justitiam vel vitam esurire ac sitire, sacrificiumque Spiritus contriti, et contribulati, quod Deo acceptum est, offerre.' Adversantur enim hæc apertis Scripturæ testimoniis, Ephes. ii. 1, 5: Eratis mortui in offensis et peccatis. Et Gen. vi. 5 et viii. 21: Imaginatio cogitationum cordis hominis tantummodo mala est omni die. Adhæc liberationem ex miseria et vitam esurire ac sitire, Deoque sacrificium Spiritus contriti offerre, regenitorum est, et eorum qui beati dicuntur. Psa. li. 19 et Matt. v. 6.

V.

Qui docent, 'Hominem corruptum et animalem gratia communi, quæ ipsis est lumen naturæ, sive donis post lapsum relictis, tam recte uti posse, ut bono isto usu majorem gratiam, puta evangelicam, sive salutarem, et salutem ipsam gradatim obtinere possit. Et hac ratione Deum se ex parte sua paratum ostendere, ad Christum omnibus revelandum, quandoquidem media ad Christi revelationem, fidem, et resipiscentiam necessaria, omnibus sufficienter et efficaciter administret.' Falsum enim hoc esse præter omnium temporum experientiam Scriptura testatur. Psa. cxlvii. 19, 20: Indicat verba sua Jacobo, statuta sua et jura sua Israeli, non fecit ita ulli genti, et jura ista non noverunt. Act. xiv. 16: Deus sivit præteritis ætatibus omnes gentes suis ipsarum viis incedere. Act. xvi. 6, 7: Prohibiti sunt (Paulus cum suis) a Spiritu Sancto loqui sermonem Dei in Asia. Et, Quum venissent in Mysiam, tentabant ire versus Bithyniam, sed non permisit eis Spiritus.

VI.

Qui docent, 'In vera hominis conversione, non posse novas qualitates, habitus, seu dona in voluntatem ejus a Deo infundi, atque adeo fidem, qua primum convertimur, et a qua fideles 570nominamur, non esse qualitatem seu donum a Deo infusum; sed tantum actum hominis, neque aliter donum dici posse, quam respectu potestatis ad ipsam perveniendi.' Contradicunt enim hæc sacris literis, quæ testantur Deum novas qualitates fidei, obedientiæ, ac sensus amoris sui cordibus nostris infundere. Jer. xxxi. 33: Indam legem meam menti eorum, ac cordi eorum inscribam eam. Esa. xliv. 3: Effundam aquas super sitientem, et fluenta super aridam; effundam Spiritum meum super semen tuum. Rom. v. 5: Charitas Dei effusa est in cordibus nostris per Spiritum Sanctum, qui datus est nobis. Repugnant etiam continuæ praxi Ecclesiæ, sic apud prophetam orantis: Converte me, Domine, et convertar. Jer. xxxi. 18.

VII.

Qui docent, 'Gratiam, qua convertimur ad Deum, nihil aliud esse quam lenem suasionem; seu' (ut alii explicant) 'nobilissimum agendi modum in conversione hominis, et naturæ humanæ convenientissimum esse, qui fiat suasionibus; nihilque obstare quo minus vel sola moralis gratia homines animales reddat spirituales; imo Deum non aliter quam morali ratione consensum voluntatis producere: atque in eo consistere operationis divinæ efficaciam, qua Satanæ operationem superet, quod Deus æterna bona, Satan autem temporaria promittat.' Omnino enim hoc Pelagianum est, et universæ Scripturæ contrarium, quæ præter hunc etiam alium, et longe efficaciorem ac diviniorem Spiritus Sancti agendi modum, in hominis conversione agnoscit. Ezech. xxxvi. 26: Dabo vobis cor meum, et spiritum novum dabo in medio vestri, et auferam cor lapideum, daboque cor carneum, etc.

VIII.

Qui docent, 'Deum in hominis regeneratione eas suæ omnipotentiæ vires non adhibere, quibus voluntatem ejus ad fidem et conversionem potenter et infallibiliter flectat; sed positis omnibus gratiæ operationibus, quibus Deus ad hominem convertendum utitur, hominem tamen Deo, et Spiritui regenerationem ejus intendenti, et regenerare ipsum volenti, ita posse resistere, et actu ipso sæpe resistere, ut sui regenerationem prorsus impediat, atque adeo in ipsius manere potestate, ut regeneretur vel non regeneretur.' Hoc enim nihil aliud est, quam tollere omnem efficaciam gratiæ Dei in nostri conversione, et actionem Dei omnipotentis subjicere voluntati hominis, idque contra Apostolos, qui docent, Nos credere pro efficacitate fortis roboris Dei. Ephes. i. 19. Et, Deum bonitatis suæ gratuitam benevolentiam et opus fidei potenter in nobis complere. 2 Thess. i. 11. Item, Divinam ipsius vim omnia nobis donasse, quæ ad vitam et pietatem pertinent. 2 Pet. i. 3.

IX.

Qui docent, 'Gratiam et liberum arbitrium esse causas partiales simul concurrentes ad conversionis initium; nec gratiam ordine causalitatis efficientiam voluntatis antecedere;' id est, 'Deum non prius hominis voluntatem efficaciter juvare ad conversionem, quam voluntas ipsa hominis se movet ac determinat.' Hoc enim dogma Ecclesia prisca in Pelagianis jam olim condemnavit, ex Apostolo Rom. ix. 16: Non est volentis nec currentis, sed Dei miserentis. Et, 1 Cor. iv. 7: Quis te discernit? Et, Quid habes quod non acceperis? Item, Phil. ii. 13: Deus est qui in vobis operatur ipsum velle et perficere pro suo beneplacito.

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Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.

571

Quintum Doctrinæ Caput, de Perseverantia Sanctorum.

Articulus Primus.

Quos Deus secundum propositum suum, ad communionem Filii sui Domini nostri Jesu Christi, vocat, et per Spiritum Sanctum regenerat, eos quidem et a peccati dominio et servitute, non autem a carne, et corpore peccati, penitus in hac vita liberat.

II.

Hinc quotidiana infirmitatis peccata oriuntur, et optimis etiam sanctorum operibus nævi adhærescunt: quæ illis perpetuam sese coram Deo humiliandi, ad Christum crucifixum confugiendi, carnem magis ac magis per Spiritum precum et sancta pietatis exercitia mortificandi, et ad perfectionis metam suspirandi, materiam suggerunt; tantisper dum hoc mortis corpore soluti, cum Agno Dei in clis regnent.

III.

Propter istas peccati inhabitantis reliquias, et mundi insuper ac Satanæ tentationes, non possent conversi in ista gratia perstare, si suis viribus permitterentur. Sed fidelis est Deus, qui ipsos in gratia semel collata misericorditer confirmat, et in eadem usque ad finem potenter conservat.

IV.

Etsi autem illa potentia Dei vere fideles in gratia confirmantis et conservantis, major est, quam quæ a carne superari possit; non semper tamen conversi ita a Deo aguntur et moventur, ut non possint in quibusdam actionibus particularibus a ductu gratiæ, suo vitio, recedere, et a carnis concupiscentiis seduci, iisque obsequi. Quapropter ipsis perpetuo est vigilandum et orandum, ne in tentationes inducantur. Quod cum non faciunt, non solum a carne, mundo, et Satana, in peccata etiam gravia et atrocia abripi possunt, verum etiam interdum justa Dei permissione abripiuntur. Quod tristes Davidis, Petri, aliorumque sanctorum lapsus, in sacra Scriptura descripti, demonstrant.

V.

Talibus autem enormibus peccatis Deum valde offendunt, reatum 572mortis incurrunt, Spiritum S. contristant, fidei exercitium interrumpunt, conscientiam gravissime vulnerant, sensum gratiæ nonnunquam ad tempus amittunt: donec per seriam resipiscentiam in vitam revertentibus paternus Dei vultus rursum affulgeat.

VI.

Deus enim, qui dives est misericordia, ex immutabili electionis proposito, Spiritum Sanctum, etiam in tristibus lapsibus, a suis non prorsus aufert, nec eousque eos prolabi sinit, ut gratia adoptionis, justificationis statu excidant, aut peccatum ad mortem, sive in Spiritum Sanctum committant, et ab eo penitus deserti in exitium æternum sese præcipitent.

VII.

Primo enim in istis lapsibus conservat in illis semen illud suum immortale, ex quo regeniti sunt, ne illud pereat aut excutiatur. Deinde per verbum et Spiritum suum, eos certo et efficaciter renovat ad pnitentiam, ut de admissis peccatis ex animo secundum Deum doleant, remissionem in sanguine Mediatoris, per fidem, contrito corde, expetant, et obtineant, gratiam Dei reconciliati iterum sentiant, miserationes per fidem ejus adorent, ac deinceps salutem suam cum timore et tremore studiosius operentur.

VIII.

Ita non suis meritis, aut viribus, sed ex gratuita Dei misericordia id obtinent, ut nec totaliter fide et gratia excidant, nec finaliter in lapsibus maneant aut pereant. Quod quoad ipsos non tantum facile fieri posset, sed et indubie fieret; respectu autem Dei fieri omnino non potest: eum nec consilium ipsius mutare, promissio excidere, vocatio secundum propositum revocari, Christi meritum, intercessio, et custodia irrita reddi nec Spiritus Sancti obsignatio frustranea fieri aut deleri possit.

IX.

De hac electorum ad salutem custodia, vereque fidelium in fide perseverantia, ipsi fideles certi esse possunt, et sunt pro mensura fidei, qua certo credunt se esse et perpetuo mansuros vera et viva Ecclesiæ membra, habere remissionem peccatorum, et vitam æternam.

573

X.

Ac proinde hæc certitudo non est ex peculiari quadam revelatione præter aut extra verbum facta, sed ex fide promissionum Dei, quas in verbo suo copiosissime in nostrum solatium revelavit: ex testimonio Spiritus Sancti testantis cum spiritu nostro nos esse Dei filios et hæredes. Rom. viii. 16. Denique ex serio et sancto bonæ conscientiæ et bonorum operum studio. Atque hoc solido obtinendæ victoriæ solatio, et infallibili æternæ gloriæ arrha, si in hoc mundo electi Dei destituerentur, omnium hominum essent miserrimi.

XI.

Interim testatur Scriptura fideles in hac vita cum variis carnis dubitationibus conflictari, et in gravi tentatione constitutos hanc fidei plerophoriam, ac perseverantiæ certitudinem, non semper sentire. Verum Deus, Pater omnis consolationis, supra vires tentari eos non sinit, sed cum tentatione præstat evasionem. 1 Cor. x. 13. Ac per Spiritum Sanctum perseverantiæ certitudinem in iisdem rursum excitat.

XII.

Tantum autem abest, ut hæc perseverantiæ certitudo vere fideles superbos, et carnaliter securos reddat, ut e contrario humilitatis, filialis reverentiæ!, veræ pietatis, patientia; in omni lucta, precum ardentium, constantiæ in cruce et veritatis confessione, solidique in Deo gaudii vera sit radix: et consideratio istius beneficii sit stimulus ad serium et continuum gratitudinis et bonorum operum exercitium, ut ex Scripturæ testimoniis et sanctorum exemplis constat.

XIII.

Neque etiam in iis, qui a lapsu instaurantur, lasciviam ant pietatis injuriam procreat rediviva perseverantiæ fiducia; sed multo majorem curam de viis Domini solicite custodiendis, quæ præsparatæ sunt ut in illis ambulando perseverantiæ suæ certitudinem retineant, ne propter paternæ benignitatis abusum propitii Dei facies (cujus contemplatio piis vita dulcior, subductio morte acerbior) denuo ab ipsis avertatur, et sic in graviores animi cruciatus incidant.

574

XIV.

Quemadmodum autem Deo placuit, opus hoc suum gratiæ per prædicationem Evangelii in nobis inchoare; ita per ejusdem auditum, lectionem, meditationem, adhortationes, minas, promissa, nec non per usum sacramentorum illud conservat, continuat, et perficit.

XV.

Hanc de vere credentium ac sanctorum perseverantia, ejusque certitudine, doctrinam, quam Deus ad nominis sui gloriam, et piarum animarum solatium, in verbo suo abundantissime revelavit, cordibusque fidelium imprimit, caro quidem non capit, Satanas odit, mundus ridet, imperiti et hypocritæ in abusum rapiunt, spiritusque erronei oppugnant; sed sponsa Christi ut inæstimabilis pretii thesaurum tenerrime semper dilexit, et constanter propugnavit: quod ut porro faciat procurabit Deus, adversus quem nec consilium valere, nec robur ullum prævalere potest. Cui soli Deo, Patri, Filio, et Spiritui Sancto sit honor et gloria in sempiternum. Amen.

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Rejectio Errorum circa Doctrinam de Perseverantia Sanctorum.

Exposita doctrina orthodoxa, Synodus rejicit errores eorum:

I.

Qui docent, 'Perseverantiam vere fidelium non esse effectum electionis, aut donum Dei morte Christi partum, sed esse conditionem novi fderis, ab homine ante sui electionem ac justificationem' (ut ipsi loquuntur) 'peremtoriam, libera voluntate præstandam.' Nam sacra Scriptura testatur eam ex electione sequi, et vi mortis, resurrectionis et intercessionis Christi electis donari. Rom. xi. 7: Electio assecuta est, reliqui occalluerunt. Item, Rom. viii. 32: Qui proprio Filio non pepercit, sed pro omnibus nobis tradidit ipsum, quomodo non cum eo nobis omnia donabit? Quis intentabit crimina adversus electos Dei? Deus est qui justificat. Quis est qui condemnet? Christus in est qui mortuus est, imo qui etiam resurrexit, qui etiam sedet ad dexteram Dei, qui etiam intercedit pro nobis: Quis nos separabit a dilectione Christi?

II.

Qui docent, ' Deum quidem hominem fidelem sufficientibus ad perseverandum viribus instruere, ac paratum esse eas in ipso conservare si officium faciat: positis tamen illis omnibus, quæ ad perseverandum in fide necessaria sunt, quæque Deus ad conservandam fidem adhibere vult, pendere semper a "voluntatis arbitrio, ut perseveret, vel non perseveret.' Haec enim sententia manifestum Pelagianismum continet; et homines, dum vult facere liberos, facit sacrilegos, contra perpetuum evangeliæ doctrina; consensum, quas omnem gloriandi materiam homini adimit, et hujus beneficii laudem soli divinæ gratia; transcribit; et contra Apostolum testantem: Deum esse qui confirmabit nos usque in finem inculpatos in die Domini nostri Jesu Christi. 1 Cor. i. 8.

575

III.

Qui docent, 'Vere credentes et regenitos non tantum posse a fide justificante, item gratia, et salute totaliter et finaliter excidere, sed etiam reipsa non raro ex iis excidere, atque in æternum perire. 'Nam hæc opinio ipsam justificationis ac regenerationis gratiam, et perpetuam Christi custodiam irritam reddit, contra diserta Apostoli Pauli verba, Rom. v. 8, 9: Si Christus pro nobis mortuus est, quum adhuc essemus peccatores, multo igitur magis, jam justificati in sanguine ejus, servabimur per ipsum ab ira. Et contra Apostolum Johannem, 1 John iii. 9: Omnis qui natus est ex Deo, non dat operam peccato: quia semen ejus in eo manet, nec potest peccare, quia ex Deo genitus est. Nec non contra verba Jesu Christi, Johan. x. 28, 29: Ego vitam æternam do ovibus meis, et non peribunt in æternum, nec rapiet eas quisquam de manu mea; Pater meus, qui mihi eas dedit, major est omnibus, nec ullus potest eas rapere de manu Patris mei.

IV.

Qui docent, 'Vere fideles ac regenitos posse peccare peccato ad mortem, vel in Spiritum Sanctum.' Quum idem Apostolus Johan. [Ep. I.] cap. v. postquam vers. 16, 17 peccantium ad mortem meminisset, et pro iis orare vetuisset, statim ver. 18 subjungat: Scimus quod quisquis natus est ex Deo, non peccat (nempe illo peccati genere), sed qui genitus est ex Deo, conservat seipsum, et malignus ille non tangit eum.

V.

Qui docent, 'Nullam certitudinem futuræ perseverantiæ haberi posse in hac vita, absque speciali revelatione.' Per hanc enim doctrinam vere fidelium solida consolatio in hac vita tollitur, et pontificiorum dubitatio in Ecclesiam reducitur. Sacra vero Scriptura passim hanc certitudinem, non ex speciali et extraordinaria revelatione, sed ex propriis filiorum Dei signis, et constantissimis Dei promissionibus petit. Imprimis Apostolus Paulus, Rom. viii. 39: Nulla res creata potest nos separare a charitate Dei, quæ est in Christo Jesu, Domino nostro. Et Johannes, Epist. I. iii. 24: Qui servat mandata ejus, in eo manet, et ille in eo: et per hoc novimus ipsum in nobis manere, ex Spiritu quem dedit nobis.

VI.

Qui docent, 'Doctrinam de perseverantiæ: ac salutis certitudine, ex natura et indole sua, esse carnis pulvinar, et pietati, bonis moribus, precibus aliisque sanctis exercitiis noxiam; contra vero de ea dubitare, esse laudabile.' Hi enim demonstrant se efficaciam divinæ gratiæ, et inhabitantis Spiritus S. operationem ignorare: et contradicunt Apostolo Johanni contrarium disertis verbis affirmanti, Epist. I. iii. 2, 3: Dilecti mei, nunc filii Dei sumus; sed nondum patefactum est id quod erimus: scimus autem fore, ut quum ipse patefactus fuerit, similes ei simus, quoniam videbimus eum, sicuti est. Et quisquis habet hanc spem in eo, purificat seipsum, sicut et ille purus est. Hi præterea sanctorum tam Veteris quam Novi Testament! exemplis redarguuntur, qui licet de sua perseverantia et salute essent certi, in precibus tamen, aliisque pietatis exercitiis, assidui fuerunt.

VII.

Qui docent, 'Fidem temporariorum a justificante et salvifica fide non differre nisi sola duratione.' Nam Christus ipse Matt. xiii. 20 et Luc. viii. 13 ac deinceps, triplex præterea inter temporarios et veros fideles discrimen manifesto constituit, quum illos dicit semen recipere in terra petrosa, hos in terra bona, seu corde bono: illos carere radice, hos radicem firmam habere: illos fructibus esse vacuos, hos fructum suum diversa mensura, constanter seu perseveranter proferre.

VIII.

Qui docent, 'Non esse absurdum, hominem priore regeneratione extincta, iterate, imo renasci.' Hi enim per hanc doctrinam negant seminis Dei, per quod renascimur, incorruptibilitatem: 576adversus testimonium Apostoli Petri, Epist. I. i. 23: Renati non ex semine corruptibili, sed incorruptibili.

IX.

Qui docent, 'Christum nunquam rogasse pro infallibili credentium in fide perseverantia. 'Contradicunt enim ipsi Christo, dicenti, Luc. xxii. 32: Ego rogavi pro te, Petre, ne deficiat fides tua; et Evangelistæ Johanni, testanti, Johan. xvii. 20, Christum non tantum pro apostolis, sed etiam pro omnibus, per sermonem ipsorum credituris, orasse, ver. 11: Pater sancte, conserva eos in nomine tuo; Et ver. 15: Non oro ut eos tollas e mundo, sed ut conserves eos a malo.

Conclusio.

Atque hæc est perspicua, simplex, et ingenua Orthodoxæ de Quinque Articulis in Belgio controversis doctrinæ declaratio, et errorum, quibus Ecclesiæ Belgicæ aliquamdiu sunt perturbatæ, rejectio, quam Synodus ex verbo Dei desumptam, et Confessionibus Reformatarum Ecclesiarum consentaneam esse judicat. Unde liquido apparet eos, quos id minime decuit, citra omnem veritatem, æquitatem, et charitatem, populo inculcatum voluisse:

'Doctrinam Ecclesiarum Reformatarum de prædestinatione et annexis ei capitibus, proprio quodam genio atque impulsu, animos hominum ab omni pietate et religione abducere: esse carnis et Diaboli pulvinar, arcemque Satanæ, ex qua omnibus insidietur, plurimos sauciet, et multos tum desperationis, tum securitatis jaculis lethaliter configat: eandem facere Deum authorem peccati, injustum, tyrannum, hypocritam; nec aliud esse quam interpolatum Stoicismum, Manicheismum, Libertinismum, Turcismum: eandem reddere homines carnaliter securos, quippe ex ea persuasos electorum saluti, quomodocunque vivant, non obesse, ideoque eos secure atrocissima quæque scelera posse perpetrare; reprobis ad salutem non prodesse, si vel omnia sanctorum opera vere fecerint: eadem doceri Deum nudo puroque voluntatis arbitrio, absque omni ullius peccati respectu, vel intuitu, maximam mundi partem ad æternam damnationem prædestinasse et creasse: eodem modo, quo electio est fons et caussa fidei ac bonorum operum, reprobationem esse caussam infidelitatis et impietatis: multos fidelium infantes ab uberibtis matrum innoxios abripi et tyrannice in gehennam præcipitari, adeo ut iis nec baptismus, nec Ecclesiæ in eorum baptismo preces prodesse queant.'

Et quæ ejus generis sunt alia plurima, quæ Ecclesiæ Reformatæ non solum non agnoscunt, sed etiam toto pectore detestantur. Quare quotquot 577nomen Servatoris nostri Jesu Christi pie invocant, eos Synodus hæc Dordrechtana per nomen Domini obtestatur, ut de Ecclesiarum Reformatarum fide, non ex coacervatis hinc inde calumniis, vel etiam privatis nonnullorum, tum veterum tum recentium doctorum dictis, sæpe etiam aut mala fide citatis, aut corruptis, et in alienum sensum detortis, sed ex publicis ipsarum Ecclesiarum Confessionibus, et ex hac orthodoxæ doctrinæ declaratione, unanimi omnium et singulorum totius Synodi membrorum consensu firmata, judicent. Calumniatores deinde ipsos serio monet, viderint quam grave Dei. judicium sint subituri, qui contra tot Ecclesias, contra tot Ecclesiarum Confessiones, falsum testimonium dicunt, conscientias infirmorum turbant, multisque vere fidelium societatem suspectam reddere satagunt.

Postremo hortatur hæc Synodus omnes in Evangelio Christi symmystas, ut in hujus doctrinæ pertractatione, in scholis atque in ecclesiis, pie et religiose versentur, earn tum lingua, tum calamo, ad Divini nominis gloriam, vitæ sanctitatem, et consternatorum animorum solatium accommodent, cum Scriptura secundum fidei analogiam non solum sentiant, sed etiam loquantur; a phrasibus denique iis omnibus abstineant, quæ præscriptos nobis gennini sanctarum Scripturarum sensus limites excedunt, et protervis sophistis justam ansam præbere possint doctrinam Ecclesiarum Reformatarum sugillandi, aut etiam calumniandi. Filius Dei Jesus Christus, qui ad dextram Patris sedens dat dona hominibus, sanctificet nos in veritate, eos qui errant adducat ad veritatem, calumniatoribus sanæ doctrinæ ora obstruat, et fidos verbi sui ministros spiritu sapientiæ et discretionis instruat, ut omnia ipsorum eloquia ad gloriam Dei, et ædificationem auditorum, cedant. Amen.

Huic capiti eadem quæ prius subscribuntur nomina.

————————

Hæc omnia de Quinque Doctrinæ Capitibus Controversis supra comprehensis, ita esse gesta testatur Illustrissimorum ac Præpotentium DD. Ordinum Generalium ad hanc Synodum Deputati, manuum nostrarum subsignatione.

Ex Geldria.

Martinus Gregorii D., Consiliarius Ducatus Geldriæ, et Comitatus Zutphaniæ.

Henricus van Essen, Consiliarius Ducatus Geldriæ, et Comitatus Zutphaniæ.

Ex Hollandia.

Walravus de Brederode.

Hugo Muys van Holy.

578

Jacobus Boelius.

Gerardus de Nieuburch.

Ex Zelandia.

Symon Scotte, Consiliarius et Secretarius Civitatis Middelburgensis.

Jacobus Campe, Ordinum Zelandiæ Consiliarius.

Ex Provincia Ultrajectina.

Fredericus van Zuylen van Nyevelt.

Wilhelmus van Hardevelt.

Ex Frisia.

Ernestus ab Aylva, Ordinum Frisian Consiliarius, Orientalis Dongriæ Grietmannus.

Ernestus ab Harinxma, Consiliarius primarius in Curia Provinciali Frisiæ.

Ex Transisalania.

Henkicus Hagen.

Ex Civitate Groningensi et Omlandiis.

Hieronymus Isbrants, I. U. D.

Edvardus Jacobus Clant a Stedum.

Et Illustribus ac Amplissirnis DD. Delegatis a Secretis,

Daniel Heinsius.

 

 

 



[1] http://www.ccel.org/contrib/cn/creeds/canondort.html

Translated by Dr. Charles Chao D. D. Copy right by Reformation Translation Fellowship P. O. Box 366, Peitou, Taipei, Taiwan  Provided by China Christian Books.

[2] http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_dordt.html

http://www.theoric.org/CDs%20Backups/Christian%20Libraries%201%20&%202/_01/Volumes%20of%20History/Creeds%20of%20Christendom%20Vol.%203%20See%20Here%20for%20Creeds.pdf

The Decision of the Synod of Dordt on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands is popularly known as the Canons of Dordt. It consists of statements of doctrine adopted by the great Synod of Dordt which met in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-19. Although this was a national synod of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of Dutch delegates but also of twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries.

The Synod of Dordt was held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points. After Arminius's death, his own followers presented their views on five of these points in the Remonstrance of 1610. In this document or in later more explicit writings, the Arminians taught election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace, and the possibility of a lapse from grace. In the Canons the Synod of Dordt rejected these views and set forth the Reformed doctrine on these points, namely, unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints.

The Canons have a special character because of their original purpose as a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute during the Arminian controversy. The original preface called them a "judgment, in which both the true view, agreeing with God's Word, concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine is explained, and the false view, disagreeing with God's Word, is rejected." The Canons also have a limited character in that they do not cover the whole range of doctrine, but focus on the five points of doctrine in dispute.

Each of the main points consists of a positive and a negative part, the former being an exposition of the Reformed doctrine on the subject, the latter a repudiation of the corresponding errors. Each of the errors being rejected is shown in bold maroon type. Although in form there are only four points, we speak properly of five points, because the Canons were structured to correspond to the five articles of the 1610 Remonstrance. Main Points 3 and 4 were combined into one, always designated as Main Point III/IV.

 

[4] Judicium Synodi Nationalis Reformatarum Ecclesiarum Belgicarum,

Habito Dordrechti Anno MDCXVIII. et MDCXIX. Cui plurimi insignes Theologi Reformatarum Ecclesiarum Magnæ Britanniæ, Germaniæ, Galliæ, interfuerunt, de Quinque Doctrinæ. Capitibus in Ecclesiis Belgicis Controversis: promulgatum VI. Maii MDCXIX.

 

Præfatio.

in nomine domini et servatoris nostri jesu christi. amen.

Inter plurima, quæ Dominus et Servator noster Jesus Christus militanti suæ Ecclesiæ in hac ærumnosa peregrinatione dedit solatia, merito celebratur illud, quod ei ad Patrem suum in cleste sanctuarium abiturus reliquit: Ego, inquiens, sum vobiscum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem sæculi. Hujus suavissimæ promissionis veritas elucet in omnium temporum Ecclesia, quæ quum non solum aperta inimicorum violentia, et hæreticorum impietate, sed etiam operta seductorum astutia inde ab initio fuerit oppugnata, sane, si unquam salutari promissæ suæ præsentiæ præsidio eam destituisset Dominus, pridem aut vi tyrannorum fuisset oppressa, aut fraude impostorum in exitium seducta. Sed bonus ille Pastor, qui gregem suum, pro quo animam suam posuit, constantissime diligit, persecutorum rabiem tempestive semper, et exserta sæpe dextera, miraculose repressit, et seductorum vias tortuosas, ac consilia fraudulenta detexit atque dissipavit, utroque se in Ecclesia sua præsentissimum esse demonstrans. Hujus rei illustre documentum exstat in historiis piorum imperatorum, regum, et principum, quos Filius Dei in subsidium Ecclesiæ suæ toties excitavit, sancto domus suæ zelo accendit, eorumque opera, non tantum tyrannorum furores compescuit, sed etiam Ecclesiæ cum falsis doctoribus religionem varie adulterantibus conflictanti, sanctarum synodorum remedia procuravit, in quibus fideles Christi servi conjunctis precibus, consiliis, et laboribus pro Ecclesia et veritate Dei fortiter steterunt, Satanæ ministris, licet in angelos lucis se transformantibus, intrepide se opposuerunt, errorum et discordiæ semina sustulerunt, Ecclesiam in religionis puræ concordia conservarunt, et sincerum Dei cultum ad posteritatem illibatum transmiserunt.

Simili beneficio fidelis noster Servator Ecclesiæ Belgicæ, annos aliquam multos afflictissimæ, gratiosam suam præsentiam hoc tempore testatus est. Hanc enim Ecclesiam a Romani antichristi tyrannide et horribili papatus idololatria potenti Dei manu vindicatam, in belli diuturni periculis toties miraculose custoditam, et in veræ doctrinæ atque disciplinæ concordia ad Dei sui laudem, admirabile reipub. incrementum, totiusque reformati orbis gaudium efflorescentem, Jacobus Arminius ejusque sectatores, nomen Remonstrantium præ se ferentes, variis, tam veteribus, quam novis erroribus, primum tecte, deinde aperte tentarunt, et scandalosis dissensionibus ac schismatibus pertinaciter turbatam, in tantum discrimen adduxerunt, ut florentissimæ Ecclesiæ, nisi Servatoris nostri miseratio opportune intervenisset, horribili dissidiorum 551et schismatum incendio tandem conflagrassent. Benedictus autem sit in sæcula Dominus, qui postquam ad momentum faciem suam a nobis (qui multis modis iram et indignationem ejus provocaveramus) abscondisset, universo orbi testatum fecit, se fderis sui non oblivisci, et suspiria suorum non spernere. Cum enim vix ulla remedii spes humanitus appareret, illustrissimis et præpotentibus Belgii fderati ordinibus generalibus hanc mentem inspiravit, ut consilio et directione illustrissimi et fortissimi principis Arausicani legitimis mediis, quæ ipsorum apostolorum, et quæ eos secutæ Ecclesiæ Christianæ exemplis longo temporum decursu sunt comprobata, el magno cum fructu in Ecclesiæ etiam Belgica antehac usurpata, sævientibus hisce malis obviam ire decreverint, synodumque ex omnibus, quibus præsunt, provinciis, authoritate sua, Dordrechtum convocarint, expetitis ad eam et favore serenissimi ac potentissimi Magnæ Britanniæ regis Jacobi, et illustrissimorum principum, comitum, et rerumpublicarum, impetratis plurimis gravissimis theologis, ut communi tot Reformatæ Ecclesiæ theologorum judicio, ista Arminii ejusque sectatorum dogmata accurate, et ex solo Dei verbo, dijudicarentur, vera doctrina stabiliretur, et falsa rejiceretur, Ecclesiisque Belgicis concordia, pax et tranquillitas, divina benedictione, restitueretur. Hoc est illud Dei beneficium, in quo exultant Ecclesiæ Belgicæ, et fidelis Servatoris sui miserationes humiliter agnoscunt, ac grate prædicant.

Hæc igitur veneranda Synodus (prævia per summi magistratus authoritatem in omnibus Belgicis Ecclesiis, ad iræ Dei deprecationem et gratiosi auxilii implorationem, precum et jejunii indictione et celebratione) in nomine Domini Dordrechti congregata, divini Numinis et salutis Ecclesiæ accensa amore, et post invocatum Dei nomen, sancto juramento obstricta, se solam Scripturam sacram pro judicii norma habituram, et in caussæ hujus cognitione et judicio, bona integraque conscientia versaturam esse, hoc egit sedulo magnaque patientia, ut præcipuos horum dogmatum patronos, coram se citatos, induceret ad sententiam suam de Quinque notis doctrinæ Capitibus, sententiæque rationes, plenius exponendas. Sed cum Synodi judicium repudiarent, atque ad interrogatoria, eo, quo æquum erat, modo respondere detrectarent, neque Synodi monitiones, nec generosorum atque amplissimorum ordinum generalium Delegatorum mandata, imo ne ipsorum quidem illustrissimorum et præpotentum DD. ordinum generalium imperia, quicquam apud illos proficerent, aliam viam eorundem Dominorum jussu, et ex consuetudine jam olim in synodis antiquis recepta, ingredi coacta fuit; atque ex scriptis, confessionibus, ac declarationibus, partim antea editis, partim etiam huic Synodo exhibitis, examen illorum quinque dogmatum institutum est. Quod cum jam per singularem Dei gratiam, maxima diligentia, fide, ac conscientia, omnium et singulorum consensu absolutum sit, Synodus hæc ad Dei gloriam, et ut veritatis salutaris integritati, conscientiarum tranquillitati, et paci ac saluti Ecclesiæ Belgicæ consulatur, sequens judicium, quo et vera verboque Dei consentanea de prædictis Quinque Doctrinæ Capitibus sententia exponitur, et falsa verboque Dei dissentanea rejicitur, statuit promulgandum.