Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

or pastors to preach the word of God, and to administer the sacraments; also elders and deacons, who, together with the pastors, form the council of the church: that by these means the true religion may be preserved, and the true docrine every where propagated, likewise transgressors punished and restrained by spiritual means: also, that the poor and distressed may be relieved and comforted, according to their necessities.--By these means, every thing will be carried on in the church with good order and decency, when faithful men are chosen, according to the rule prescribed by Paul in his epistle to Timothy.

XXXI. Of the ministers, elders, and deacons. We believe that the ministers of God's word, and the elders and deacons, ought to be chosen to their respective offices by a lawful election by the church, with calling upon the name of the Lord, and in that order, which the word of God teacheth. Therefore every one must take heed, not to intrude himself by indecent means, but is bound to wait till it shall please God to call him; that he may have testimony of his calling, and be certain and assured that it is of the Lord. As for the ministers of God's word, they have equally the same power and authority wheresoever they are, as they are all ministers of Christ, the only universal Bishop, and the only head of the church. Moreover, that this holy ordinance of God may not be violated or slighted, we say that every one ought to esteem the ministers of God's word, and the elders of the church, very highly for their work's sake, and be at peace with them without murmuring, strife or contention, as much as possible.

XXXII. Of the order and discipline of the church.

In the mean time we believe, though it is useful and beneficial, that those, who are rulers of the church, institute and establish certain ordinances among them

[ocr errors]

selves for maintaining the body of the church; yet they ought studiously to take care, that they do not depart from those things, which Christ, our only Master, hath instituted. And therefore, we reject all human inventions, and all laws, which man would introduce into the worship of God, thereby to bind and compel the conscience, in any manner whatever. Therefore we admit only of that, which tends to nourish and preserve concord, and unity, and to keep all men in obedience to God. For this purpose, excommunication or church discipline is requisite, with the several circumstances belonging to it, according to the word of God.

XXXIll. Of the sacraments. We believe that our gracious God, on account of our weakness and infirmities, hath ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us his promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God toward us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which he hath joined to the word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses, both that which he signifies to us by his word, and that which he works inwardly in our hearts, therehy assuring and confirining in us the salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof, God worketh in us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore the signs are not in vain or insignificant, so as to deceive us. For jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Lord bath instituted, which are two only, pamely, the sacraments of baptism, and of the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[ocr errors]

XXXIV. Of holy baptism. We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law, hath made an end, by the shedding of his blood, of all other sheddings of blood, which men could or would make as a propitiation or satisfaction for sin : and that he, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, hath instituted the sacrament of baptism instead thereof; by which we are received into the church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to him, whose ensign and banner we bear : And which serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious God and Father. Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to be baptised with pure water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Thereby signifying to us, that as water washeth away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the bapti. sed, when sprinkled upon him; so doth the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it of its sins, and regener‘ate us from children of wrath, upto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our red sea, through which we must pass, to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan. Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord giveth that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts, and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of his fatherly goodness; putting on us the neix man, and putting of the old man with ail his deeds. Therefore we believe, that erery

wan, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptised with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same : since we cannot be born twice. Neither doth this baptism only avail us at the time when the water is poured upon us, and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life ; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, who we believe ought to be baptised and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful, than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that, which Christ hath done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law, that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ's sufferings and death, shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism is to our children. And for this reason Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ. XXXV. Of the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe and confess that our Saviour Jesus Christ did ordain and institute the sacrament of the holy supper, to nourish and support those whom he hath already regenerated and incorporated into his family, which is his church. Now those, who are regenerated, have in them a two-fold life, the one corporal and temporal, which they have from the first birth, and is common to all men : the other spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth, which is effected by the word of the gospel, in the communion

of the body of Christ; and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God's elect. In like manner God hath given us, for the support of the bodily and earthly life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto, and is common to all men, even as life itself. But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life, which believers have, he hath sent a living bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life of believers, when they eat him, that is to say, when they apply and receive him by faith in the spirit. Christ, that he might represent unto us this spiritual and heavenly bread, hath instituted an earthly and visible bread as a sacrament of his body, and wine as a sacrament of his blood, to testify by them unto us, that, as certainly as we receive and hold this sacrament in our hands, and eat and drink the same with our mouths, by which our life is afterwards nourished, we also do as certainly receive by faith (which is the hand and mouth of our soul) the true body and blood of Christ our only Saviour in our souls, for the support of our spiritual life. Now, as it is certain and beyond all doubt, that Jesus Christ hatlı not enjoined to us the use of his sacraments in vain, so he works in us all that he represents to us by these holy signs, though the manner surpasses our understanding, and cannot be comprehended by us, as the operations of the Holy Ghost are hidden and incomprehensible. In the mean time we err not, when we say, that what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body, and the proper blood of Christ. But the manner of our partaking of the same, is not by the mouth, but by the spirit through faith. Thus then, though Christ always sits at the right hand of his Father in the heavens, yet doth he not therefore cease to make us partakers of himself by faith. This feast is a spiritual table, at which Christ communicates himself

« НазадПродовжити »