These articles of belief were produced by the
Synod of Dordt (1618-1619). These constitute the final answer of orthodox
Calvinism to the Arminian Remonstrants. The five counter-points of what
came to be known as “Calvinism” were produced here in response to five
points presented by the Remontrants. The Synod convened in Dort, Holland,
and was an made up of distinguished visitors from almost every Reformed
county at the invitation of the Dutch States General.
FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE
HEAD: ARTICLE 1. As
all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of
eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to
perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin,
according to the words of the apostle: "that every mouth may be silenced
and the whole world held accountable to God." (Rom 3:19). And: "for all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom 3:23). And: "For the
wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23).
HEAD: ARTICLE 2.
in this the love of God was manifested, that He "sent his one and only Son
into the world, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have
eternal life." (1 John 4:9, John 3:16).
HEAD: ARTICLE 3. And
that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of
these most joyful tiding to whom He will and at what time He pleases; by
whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified.
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how
can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they
hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless
they are sent?" (Rom 10:14-15).
HEAD: ARTICLE 4. The
wrath of God abides upon those who believe not this gospel. But such as
receive it and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith are by
Him delivered from the wrath of God and from destruction, and have the
gift of eternal life conferred upon them.
HEAD: ARTICLE 5.
cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins is no wise in
God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation
through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: "For it is by grace
you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is
the gift of God" (Eph 2:8). Likewise: "For it has been granted to you on
behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him"
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 6.
That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive
it, proceeds from God's eternal decree. "For now unto God are all his
works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18 A.V.). "who works out
everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Eph 1:11).
According to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect,
however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the
non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And
herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same
time the righteous discrimination between men equally involved in ruin; or
that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God,
which, though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest it to
their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable
HEAD: ARTICLE 7.
Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the
foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the
sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race,
which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of
rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to
redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and
Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number,
though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with
them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to
be saved by Him, and effectually to call an draw them to His communion by
His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and
sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of
His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and
for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written "For
he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and
blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his
sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to
the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One
he loves." (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "And those he predestined, he also
called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also
glorified." (Rom 8:30).
HEAD: ARTICLE 8.
There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree
respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and New
Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and
counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen us
from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way of
salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein (Eph 1:4, 5;
HEAD: ARTICLE 9.
This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of
faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the
prerequisite, cause, or condition of which it depended; but men are chosen
to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election
is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness,
and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its
fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: "For he
chose us (not because we were, but) in him before the creation of the
world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Eph 1:4).
HEAD: ARTICLE 10.
The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election;
which does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and
actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that
He was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain
persons as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: "Yet, before
the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's
purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls--she (Rebekah)
was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written:
'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'" (Rom 9:11-13). "When the Gentiles
heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who
were appointed for eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48).
HEAD: ARTICLE 11.
And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent,
so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed,
recalled, or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their
HEAD: ARTICLE 12.
The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different
measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable
election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of
God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure
the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God - such
as, a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a
hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 13.
The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children of God
additional matter for daily humiliation before Him, for adoring the depth
of His mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful returns
of ardent love to Him who first manifested so great love towards them. The
consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging
remissness in the observance of the divine commands or from sinking men in
carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual
effects of rash presumption or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace
of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.
HEAD: ARTICLE 14.
the doctrine of election by the most wise counsel of God was declared by
the prophets, by Christ Himself, and by the apostles, and is clearly
revealed in the Scriptures both of the Old and the New Testament, so it is
still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God, for
which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in
the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy Name,
and for enlivening and comforting His people, without vainly attempting to
investigate the secret ways of the Most High (Acts 20:27; Rom 11:33f;
12:3; Heb 6:17f).
HEAD: ARTICLE 15.
What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and
unmerited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture
that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in
the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just,
irreprehensible, and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in
the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and
not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but,
permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last,
for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever,
not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins.
And this is the decree of reprobation, which by no means makes God the
Author of sin (the very though of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to
be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.
HEAD: ARTICLE 16.
Those in whom a living faith in Christ, and assured confidence of soul,
peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor after filial obedience, a
glorying in God through Christ, is not as yet strongly felt, and who
nevertheless make use of the means which God has appointed for working
these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation,
nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in
the use of means, and with ardent desires devoutly and humble to wait for
a season of richer grace. Much less cause to be terrified by the doctrine
of reprobation have they who, though they seriously desire to be turned to
God, to please Him only, and to be delivered from the body of death,
cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire;
since a merciful God has promised that He will not quench the smoking
flax, nor break the bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly terrible to
those who, regardless of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly
given themselves up to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the
flesh, so long as they are not seriously converted to God.
HEAD: ARTICLE 17.
Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies
that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of
the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are
comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation
of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their
infancy (Gen 17:7; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor 7:14).
HEAD: ARTICLE 18.
those who murmur at the free grace of election and the just severity of
reprobation we answer with the apostle "But who are you, O man, to talk
back to God?" (Rom 9:20), and quote the language of our Savior: "Don't I
have the right to do what I want with my own?" (Matt 20:15). And
therefore, with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words
of the apostle: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge
of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?' 'Who
has ever 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."
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine concerning
election and reprobation having been explained, the Synod rejects the
errors of those:
HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach: That the will of God to save
those who would believe and would persevere in faith and in the obedience
of faith is the whole and entire decree of election, and that nothing else
concerning this decree has been revealed in God's Word.
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which
declare that God will not only save those who will believe, but that He
has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom, above
others, He will grant in time, both faith in Christ and perseverance; as
it is written "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the
world. (John 17:6). "and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
(Acts 13:48)". And "For he chose us in him before the creation of the
world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:4)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 2.
Who teach: That there are various
kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and
indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn
is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive, and conditional, or
complete, irrevocable, decisive, and absolute. Likewise: That there is one
election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that election can be
unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation.
For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures,
whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of
our salvation is broken: "And those he predestined, he also called; those
he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Rom
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 3.
Who teach: That the good pleasure and
purpose of God, of which Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of
election, does not consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather
than others, but in this, that He chose out of all possible conditions
(among which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order of
things, that act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving, as
well as it incomplete obedience, as a condition of salvation, and that He
would graciously consider this in itself as a complete obedience and count
it worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of Christ
are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless questions from
the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture,
and this declaration of the apostle is charged as untrue: "who has saved
us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but
because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ
Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 4.
Who teach: That in the election unto
faith this condition is beforehand demanded that man should use the light
of nature aright, be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if
on these things election were in any way dependent.
For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the
doctrine of the apostle when he writes: "All of us also lived among them
at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following
its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of
wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is
by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated
us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the
coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed
in his kindness to 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)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 5. Who teach: That the incomplete and
non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because
of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began
or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election
occurred because of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith,
conversion, holiness, and godliness; and that this is the gracious and
evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen is more
worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience
of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits of the
unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions which, being required
beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected,
and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates
this and similar declarations: Election is "not by works but by him who
calls (Rom 9:12)." "And all who were appointed for eternal life believed
(Acts 13:48)." "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to
be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4)." "You did not choose me, but
I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last. Then
the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (John 15:16)." "And
if by grace, then it is no longer by works (Rom 11:6)." "This is love: not
that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 6.
Who teach: That not every election
unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of
God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish.
By this gross error they make God be changeable, and destroy the comfort
which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and
contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches that the elect can not be led
astray (Matt 24:24), that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave
him (John 6:39), and that God also glorified those whom he foreordained,
called, and justified (Rom 8:30).
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 7. Who teach: That there is in this life
no fruit and no consciousness of the unchangeable elect to glory, nor any
certainty, except that which depends on a changeable and uncertain
For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also
contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the
consciousness of their election rejoice with the apostle and praise this
favor of God (Eph 1); who according to Christ's admonition rejoice with
his disciples that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20); who
also place the consciousness of their election over against the fiery
darts of the devil, asking: "Who will bring any charge against those whom
God has chosen? (Rom 8:33)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 8. Who teach: That God, simply by virtue
of His righteous will, did not decide either to leave anyone in the fall
of Adam and in the common state sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by
in the communication of grace which is necessary for faith and conversion.
For this is firmly decreed: "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy,
and he hardens whom he wants to harden (Rom 9:18)." And also this: "The
knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you,
but not to them (Mat 13:11)." Likewise: "I praise you, Father, Lord of
heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and
learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes , Father, for this was
your good pleasure (Mat 11:25-26)."
FIRST HEAD: PARAGRAPH 9.
Who teach: That the reason why God
sends the gospel to one people rather than to another is not merely and
solely the good pleasure of God, but rather the fact that one people is
better and worthier than another to which the gospel is not communicated.
For this Moses denies , addressing the people of Israel as follows: "To
the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth
and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers
and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the
nations, as it is today (Deu 10:14-15)." And Christ said: "Woe to you,
Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you
had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in
sackcloth and ashes (Mat 11:21)."
SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE
The Death Of Christ, And The Redemption Of Men Thereby
HEAD: ARTICLE 1.
is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. And His justice
requires (as He has revealed Himself in His Word) that our sins committed
against His infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal
but with eternal punishments, both in body and soul; which we cannot
escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.
HEAD: ARTICLE 2.
Since, therefore, we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own
persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, He has been
pleased of His infinite mercy to give His only begotten Son for our
Surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that
He might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.
HEAD: ARTICLE 3.
death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and
satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly
sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.
HEAD: ARTICLE 4.
This death is of such infinite value and dignity because the person who
submitted to it was not only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and
infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications
were necessary to constitute Him a Savior for us; and, moreover, because
it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for
HEAD: ARTICLE 5.
Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ
crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together
with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published
to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction,
to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.
HEAD: ARTICLE 6.
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe
in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or
insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is
wholly to be imputed to themselves.
HEAD: ARTICLE 7.
as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and
destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit
solely to the grace of God given them in Christ from everlasting, and not
to any merit of their own.
HEAD: ARTICLE 8. For
this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God
the Father that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious
death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them
alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to
salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the
cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem
out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those
only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the
Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all
the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His
death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether
committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them
even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and
blemish, to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.
HEAD: ARTICLE 9.
This purpose, proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from
the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and
will henceforward still continue to be accomplished, notwithstanding all
the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell; so that the elect in due
time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be
wanting a Church composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in
the blood of Christ; which may steadfastly love and faithfully serve Him
as its Savior (who, as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down His life for
them upon the cross); and which may celebrate His praises here and through
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine having
been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach: That God the Father has ordained
His Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to
save any, so that the necessity, profitableness, and worth of what Christ
merited by His death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts
complete, perfect, and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in
fact been applied to any person.
For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and
of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to Scripture. For thus says
our Savior: "I lay down my life for the sheep ... and I know them. (John
10:15, 27)." And the prophet Isaiah says concerning the Savior: "Yet it
was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the
LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and
prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand (Isa
53:10)." Finally, this contradicts the article of faith according to which
we believe the catholic Christian Church.
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 2. Who teach: That it was not the
purpose of the death of Christ that He should confirm the new covenant of
grace through His blood, but only that He should acquire for the Father
the mere right to establish with man such a covenant as He might please,
whether of grace or of works.
For this is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that "Jesus has become
the guarantee of a better covenant that is a new covenant ..." and that
"it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. (Heb 7:22;
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 3.
Who teach: That Christ by His
satisfaction merited neither salvation itself for any one, nor faith,
whereby this satisfaction of Christ unto salvation is effectually
appropriated; but that He merited for the Father only the authority or the
perfect will to deal again with man, and to prescribe new conditions as He
might desire, obedience to which, however, depended on the free will of
man, so that it therefore might have come to pass that either none or all
should fulfill these conditions.
For these adjudge too contemptuously of the death of Christ, in no wise
acknowledge that most important fruit or benefit thereby gained and bring
again out of the hell the Pelagian error.
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 4. Who teach: That the new covenant of
grace, which God the Father, through the mediation of the death of Christ,
made with man, does not herein consist that we by faith, in as much as it
accepts the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but in
the fact that God, having revoked the demand of perfect obedience of
faith, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although
imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem it worthy
of the reward of eternal life through grace.
For these contradict the Scriptures, being: "justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a
sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Rom 3:24-25)." And
these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new and strange justification
of man before God, against the consensus of the whole Church.
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 5.
Who teach: That all men have been
accepted unto the state of reconciliation and unto the grace of the
covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation on account of original
sin, and that no one shall be condemned because of it, but that all are
free from the guilt of original sin.
For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by
nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3).
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 6. Who use the difference between
meriting and appropriating, to the end that they may instill into the
minds of the imprudent and inexperienced this teaching that God, as far as
He is concerned, has been minded to apply to all equally the benefits
gained by the death of Christ; but that, while some obtain the pardon of
sin and eternal life, and others do not, this difference depends on their
own free will, which joins itself to the grace that is offered without
exception, and that it is not dependent on the special gift of mercy,
which powerfully works in them, that they rather than others should
appropriate unto themselves this grace.
For these, while they feign that they present this distinction in a sound
sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive poison of the
SECOND HEAD: PARAGRAPH 7.
Who teach: That Christ neither could
die, nor needed to die, and also did not die, for those whom God loved in
the highest degree and elected to eternal life, since these do not need
the death of Christ.
For the contradict the apostle, who declares, Christ: "loved me and gave
himself for me (Gal 2:20)." Likewise: "Who will bring any charge against
those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that
condemns? Christ Jesus, who died (Rom 8:33-34)", namely, for them; and the
Savior who says: "I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15)." And: "My
command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no
one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13)."
THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE
The Corruption Of Man, His Conversion To God, And The Manner Thereof
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 1.
Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was
adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual
things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the
whole man was holy. But, revolting from God by the instigation of the
devil and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and an
in the place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible
darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious,
and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 2.
Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness. A corrupt stock
produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only
excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent, not by
limitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a
vicious nature, in consequence of the just judgment of God.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 3.
Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and are by nature children of
wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in
bondage thereto; and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit,
they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the
depravity of their nature, or to dispose themselves to reformation
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 4.
There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural
light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, or natural things, and of
the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and
for good outward behavior. But so far is this light of nature from begin
sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God and to true
conversion that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural
and civil. Nay further, this light, such as it is , man in various ways
renders wholly polluted, and hinders in unrighteousness, by doing which he
becomes inexcusable before God.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 5.
In the same light are we to consider the law of the Decalogue, delivered
by God to His peculiar people, the Jews, by the hands of Moses. For though
it reveals the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof,
yet, as it neither points out a remedy nor imparts strength to extricate
him from his misery, but, being weak through the flesh, leaves the
transgressor under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 6.
What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law could do, that
God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word or
ministry of reconciliation; which is the glad tidings concerning the
Messiah, by means whereof it has pleased God to save such as believe, as
well under the Old as under the New Testament.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 7.
This mystery of His will God reveals to but a small number under the Old
Testament; under the New Testament (the distinction between various
peoples having been removed) He reveals it to many. The cause of this
dispensation is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one nation
above another, nor to their better use of the light of nature, but results
wholly from the sovereign good pleasure and unmerited love of God. Hence
they to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated, above
their desert, or rather notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to
acknowledge it with humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to
adore, but in no wise curiously to pry into, the severity and justice of
God's judgments displayed in others to whom this grace is not given.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 8.
As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has
most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what is acceptable to Him,
namely, that those who are called should come unto Him. He also seriously
promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 9.
It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ offered therein, nor of
God, who calls men by the gospel and confers upon them various gifts, that
those who are called by the ministry of the Word refuse to come and be
converted. The fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called,
regardless of their danger, reject the Word of life; other, though they
receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart;
therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes,
and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the Word by perplexing
cares and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. This our
Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt 13).
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 10.
But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are
converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will,
whereby one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with
grace sufficient for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius
maintains); but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who, as He has chosen
His own from eternity in Christ, so He calls them effectually in time,
confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of
darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son; that they
may show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into
His marvelous light, and may glory not in themselves but in the Lord,
according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 11.
But when God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect, or works in them
true conversion, He not only cause the gospel to be externally preached to
them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, that they
may rightly under and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the
efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit He pervades the inmost recesses
of man; He opens the closed and softens the hardened heart, and
circumcises that which was uncircumcised; infuses new qualities into the
will, which, though heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil,
disobedient, and refractory, He renders it good, obedient, and pliable;
actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the
fruits of good actions.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 12.
And this is that regeneration so highly extolled in Scripture, that
renewal, new creation, resurrection from the dead, making alive, which God
works in us without out aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the
external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of
operation that, after God has performed His part, it still remains in the
power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue
unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and
at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable;
not inferior in efficacy to creation or the resurrection from the dead, as
the Scripture inspired by the Author of this work declares; so that all in
whose heart God works in this marvelous manner are certainly, infallibly,
and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. Whereupon the will
thus renewed is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in
consequence of this influence becomes itself active. Wherefore also man
himself is rightly said to believe and repent by virtue of that grace
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 13.
The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers in
this life. Nevertheless, they are satisfied to know and experience that by
this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart and to love
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 14.
Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of
its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his
pleasure, but because it is in reality conferred upon him, breathed and
infused into him; nor even because God bestows the power or ability to
believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free
will consent to the terms of salvation and actually believe in Christ, but
because He who works in man both to will and to work, and indeed all
things in all, produces both the will to believe and the act of believing
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 15.
God is under no obligation to confer this grace upon any; for how can He
be indebted to one who had no previous gifts to bestow as a foundation for
such recompense? Nay, how can He be indebted to one who has nothing of his
own but sin and falsehood? He, therefore, who becomes the subject of this
grace owes eternal gratitude to God, and gives Him thanks forever. Whoever
is not made partaker thereof is either altogether regardless of these
spiritual gifts and satisfied with his own condition, or is in no
apprehension of danger, and vainly boasts the possession of that which he
has not. Further, with respect to those who outwardly profess their faith
and amend their lives, we are bound, after the example of the apostle, to
judge and speak of them in the most favorable manner; for the secret
recesses of the heart are unknown to us. And as to others who have not yet
been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things
that are not as if they were. But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves
towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ.
AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 16.
But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature endowed with
understanding and will, nor did sin which pervaded the whole race of
mankind deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity
and spiritual death; so also this grace of regeneration does not treat men
as senseless stocks and blocks, nor take away their will and it
properties, or do violence thereto; but is spiritually quickens, heals,
corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it, that where
carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere
spiritual obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual
restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore, unless the
admirable Author of every good work so deal with us, man can have no hope
of being able to rise from his fall by his own free will, by which, in a
state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin.
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 17.
As the almighty operation of God whereby He brings forth and supports this
our natural life does not exclude but require the use of means by which
God, of His infinite mercy and goodness, has chosen to exert His
influence, so also the aforementioned supernatural operation of God by
which we are regenerated in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the
gospel, which the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of
regeneration and food of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles and the
teachers who succeeded them piously instructed the people concerning this
grace of God, to His glory and to the abasement of all pride, and in the
meantime, however, neglected not to keep them, by the holy admonitions of
the gospel, under the influence of the Word, the sacraments, and
ecclesiastical discipline; so even now it should be far from those who
give or receive instruction in the Church to presume to tempt God by
separating what He of His good pleasure has most intimately joined
together. For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more
readily we perform our duty, the more clearly this favor of God, working
in us, usually manifest itself, and the more directly His work is
advanced; to whom alone all the glory, both for the means and for their
saving fruit and efficacy, is forever due. Amen.
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine having
been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach: That it cannot
properly be said that original sin in itself suffices to condemn the whole
human race or to deserve temporal and eternal punishment.
For these contradict the apostle, who declares: "Therefore, just as sin
entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way
death came to all men, because all sinned (Rom 5:12)." And: "The judgment
followed one sin and brought condemnation (Rom 5:16)." And "the wages of
sin is death (Rom 6:23)."
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 2. Who teach: That the
spiritual gifts or the good qualities and virtues, such as goodness,
holiness, righteousness, could not belong to the will of man when he was
first crated, and that these, therefore, cannot have been separated
therefrom in the fall.
For such is contrary to the description of the image of God which the
apostle gives in Eph. 4:24, where he declares that it consists in
righteousness and holiness, which undoubtedly belong to the will.
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 3. Who teach: That in
spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not separate from the will of man,
since the will in itself has never been corrupted, but only hindered
through the darkness of the understanding and the irregularity of the
affection; and that, these hindrances having been removed, the will can
then bring into operation its nature powers, that is, that the will of
itself is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose,
all manner of good which may be presented to it.
This is an innovation and an error, and tends to elevate the powers of the
free will, contrary to the declaration of the prophet: "The heart is
deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jer 17:9)"; and of the
apostle: "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the
cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts (Eph
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 4.
Who teach: That the
unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of
all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst
after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and
broken spirit, which is pleasing to God.
For these things are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture: "you
were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1, 5)." And: "every
inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Gen
6:5, 8:21)." Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery
and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is
peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed (Ps 51:17;
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 5.
Who teach: That the corrupt
and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand
the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he
can gradually gain by their good use a greater, that is, the evangelical
or saving grace, and salvation itself; and that in this way God on His
part shows Himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since He applies
to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion.
For both the experience of all ages and the Scriptures testify that this
is untrue. "He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to
Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws (Psa
147:19-20)." "In the past, he let all nations go their own way (Acts
14:16)." And: "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of
Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching
the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia,
they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them
to (Acts 16:6-7)."
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 6. Who teach: That in the true
conversion of man no new qualities, powers, or gifts can be infused by God
into the will, and that therefore faith, through which we are first
converted and because of which we are called believers, is not a quality
or gift infused by God but only an act of man, and that it cannot be said
to be a gift, except in respect of the power to attain to this faith.
For thereby they contradict the Holy Scriptures, which declare that God
infuses new qualities of faith, of obedience, and of the consciousness of
His love into our hearts: ""This is the covenant I will make with the
house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in
their minds and write it on their hearts (Jer 31:33)." And: "For I will
pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour
out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants (Isa
44:3)." And: "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy
Spirit, whom he has given us (Rom 5:5)." This is also repugnant to the
constant practice of the Church, which prays by the mouth of the prophet
thus: "Restore me, and I will return (Jer 31:18)."
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 7.
Who teach: That the grace
whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle advising, or (as others
explain it) that this is the noblest manner of working in the conversion
of man, and that this manner of working, which consists in advising, is
most in harmony with man's nature; and that there is no reason why this
advising grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man
spiritual; indeed, that God does not produce the consent of the will
except through this manner of advising; and that the power of the divine
working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists in this that
God promises eternal, while Satan promise only temporal good.
But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture,
which, besides this, teaches yet another and far more powerful and divine
manner of the Holy Spirit's working in the conversion of man, as in
Ezekiel: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will
remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezek
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 8. Who teach: That god in the
regeneration of man does not use such powers of His omnipotence as
potently and infallibly bend man's will to faith and conversion; but that
all the works of grace having been accomplished, which God employs to
convert man, man may yet so resist god and the Holy Spirit, when God
intends man's regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed that
man often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration, and
that it therefore remains in man's power to be regenerated or not.
For this is nothing less than the denial of all that efficiency of God's
grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty God
to the will of man, which is contrary to the apostles, who teach that we
believe accord to the working of the strength of his might (Eph 1:19); and
that God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with
power (2 Thes 1:11); and that "His divine power has given us everything we
need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3)."
THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 9.
Who teach: That grace and
free will are partial causes which together work the beginning of
conversion, and that grace, in order of working, does not precede the
working of the will; that is, that God does not efficiently help the will
of man unto conversion until the will of man moves and determines to do
For the ancient Church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the
Pelagians according to the words of the apostle: "It does not, therefore,
depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy (Rom 9:16)."
Likewise: "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have
that you did not receive? And if you did receive it (1 Cor 4:7)?" And:
"for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good
purpose (Phil 2:13)."
FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE
The Perseverance Of The Saints
HEAD: ARTICLE 1.
Those whom God, according to His purpose, calls to the communion of His
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, He also
delivers from the dominion and slavery of sin, though in this life He does
not deliver them altogether form the body of sin and from the infirmities
of the flesh.
HEAD: ARTICLE 2.
Hence spring forth the daily sins of infirmity, and blemishes cleave even
to the best works of the saints. These are to them a perpetual reason to
humiliate themselves before God and to flee for refuge to Christ
crucified; to mortify the flesh more and more by the spirit of prayer and
by holy exercises of piety; and to press forward to the goal of
perfection, until at length, delivered from this body of death, they shall
reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.
HEAD: ARTICLE 3.
reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and also because the
temptations of the world and of Satan, those who are converted could not
persevere in that grace if left to their own strength. But God is
faithful, who, having conferred grace, mercifully confirms and powerfully
preserves them therein, even to the end.
HEAD: ARTICLE 4.
Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of
God, who confirms and preserves true believers in a state of grace, yet
converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God as
not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance of
divine grace, so as to be seduced by and to comply with the lusts of the
flesh; they must, therefore, be constant in watching and prayer, that they
may not be led into temptation. When these are great and heinous sins by
the flesh, the world, and Satan, but sometimes by the righteous permission
of God actually are drawn into these evils. This, the lamentable fall of
David, Peter, and other saints described in Holy Scripture, demonstrates.
HEAD: ARTICLE 5.
such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly
guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very
grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes for a while lose the
sense of God's favor, until, when they change their course by serious
repentance, the light of God's fatherly countenance again shines upon
HEAD: ARTICLE 6.
God, who is rich in mercy, according to His unchangeable purpose of
election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people
even in their grievous falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as t lose
the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit
the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirt; nor does He permit them to
be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting
HEAD: ARTICLE 7.
in the first place, in these falls He preserves in them the incorruptible
seed of regeneration from perishing or being totally lost; and again, by
His Word and Spirit He certainly and effectually renews them to
repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may
seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again
experience the favor of a reconciled God, through faith adore His mercies,
and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear
HEAD: ARTICLE 8.
Thus it is not in consequence of their own merits or strength, but of
God's free mercy, that they neither totally fall from faith and grace nor
continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which, with respect to
themselves is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with
respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since His counsel cannot be
changed nor His promise fail; neither can the call according to His
purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession, and preservation of
Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be
frustrated or obliterated.
HEAD: ARTICLE 9.
this preservation of the elect to salvation and of their perseverance in
the faith, true believers themselves may and do obtain assurance according
to the measure of their faith, whereby they surely believe that they are
and ever will continue true and living members of the Church, and that
they have the forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
HEAD: ARTICLE 10.
This assurance, however, is not produced by any peculiar revelation
contrary to or independent of the Word of God, but springs from faith in
God's promises, which He has most abundantly revealed in His Word for our
comfort; from the testimony of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with our spirit
that we are children and heirs of God (Rom 8:16); and lastly, from a
serious and holy desire to preserve a good conscience and to perform good
works. And if the elect of God were deprived of this solid comfort that
they shall finally obtain the victory, and of this infallible pledge of
eternal glory, they would be of all men the most miserable.
HEAD: ARTICLE 11.
The Scripture moreover testifies that believers in this life have to
struggle with various carnal doubts, and that under grievous temptations
they do not always feel this full assurance of faith and certainty of
persevering. But God, who is the Father of all consolation, does not
suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the
temptation make also the way of escape, that they may be able to endure it
(1 Cor 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit again inspires them with the
comfortable assurance of persevering.
HEAD: ARTICLE 12.
This certainty of perseverance, however, is so far from exciting in
believers a spirit of pride, or of rendering them carnally secure, that on
the contrary it is the real source of humility, filial reverence, true
piety, patience in every tribulation, fervent prayers, constancy in
suffering and in confessing the truth, and of solid rejoicing in God; so
that the consideration of this benefit should serve as an incentive to the
serious and constant practice of gratitude and good works, as appears from
the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.
HEAD: ARTICLE 13.
Neither does renewed confidence of persevering produce licentiousness or a
disregard of piety in those who are recovered from backsliding; but it
renders them much more careful and solicitous to continue in the ways of
the Lord, which He has ordained, that they who walk therein may keep the
assurance of persevering; lest, on account of their abuse of His fatherly
kindness, God should turn away His gracious countenance from them (to
behold which is to the godly dearer than life, and the withdrawal of which
is more bitter than death) and they in consequence thereof should fall
into more grievous torments of conscience.
HEAD: ARTICLE 14.
And as it has pleased God, by the preaching of the gospel, to begin this
work of grace in us, so He preserves, continues, and perfects it by the
hearing and reading of His Word, by meditation thereon, and by the
exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof, and by the use of the
HEAD: ARTICLE 15.
The carnal mind is unable to comprehend this doctrine of the perseverance
of the saints and the certainty thereof, which God has most abundantly
revealed in His Word, for the glory of His Name and the consolation of
pious souls, and which He impresses upon the hearts of the believers.
Satan abhors it, the world ridicules it, the ignorant and hypocritical
abuse it, and the heretics oppose it. But the bride of Christ has always
most tenderly loved and constantly defended it as an inestimable treasure;
and God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail, will
dispose her so to continue to the end. Now to this one God, Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.
REJECTION OF ERRORS
The true doctrine having
been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
HEAD: PARAGRAPH 1. Who teach: That the perseverance of the true
believers is not a fruit of election, or a gift of God gained by the death
of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant which (as they declare) man
before his decisive election and justification must fulfill through his
For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election, and is
given the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection, and the
intercession of Christ: "What Israel sought so earnestly it did not
obtain, but the elect did. 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 also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring
any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who
is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was
raised to life--is 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)?"
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 2. Who teach: That God does indeed
provide the believer with sufficient powers to persevere, and is ever
ready to preserve these in him if he will do his duty; but that, though
all though which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God will
use to preserve faith are made us of, even then it ever depends on the
pleasure of the will whether it will persevere or not.
For this idea contains outspoken Pelagianism, and while it would make men
free, it make them robbers of God's honor, contrary to the prevailing
agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which takes from man all cause of
boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this favor to the grace of God
alone; and contrary to the apostle, who declares that it is God, "He will
keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of
our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:8)."
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 3. Who teach: That the true believers and
regenerate not only can fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace
and salvation wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this
and are lost forever. For this conception makes powerless the grace,
justification, regeneration, and continued preservation by Christ,
contrary to the expressed words of the apostle Paul: "While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his
blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him (Rom
5:8-9)." And contrary to the apostle John: "No one who is born of God will
continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on
sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9)." And also contrary
to the words of Jesus Christ: "I give them eternal life, 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)."
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 4. Who teach: That true believers and
regenerate can sin the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit.
Since the same apostle John, after having spoken in the fifth chapter of
his first epistle, vs. 16 and 17, of those who sin unto death and having
forbidden to pray for them, immediately adds to this in vs. 18: "We know
that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (meaning a sin of that
character); the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one
cannot harm him (1 John 5:18)."
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 5. Who teach: That without a special
revelation we can have no certainty of future perseverance in this life.
For by this doctrine the sure comfort of the true believers is taken away
in this life, and the doubts of the papist are again introduced into the
Church, while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance, not
from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks proper to
the children of God and from the very constant promises of God. So
especially the apostle Paul: "neither height nor depth, nor anything else
in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is
in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:39)." And John declares: "Those who obey
his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he
lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24)."
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 6.
Who teach: That the doctrine of the
certainty of perseverance and of salvation from its own character and
nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals,
prayers, and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is
praiseworthy to doubt. For these show that they do not know the power of
divine grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they
contradict the apostle John, who teaches that opposite with express words
in his first epistle: "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what
we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,
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)."
Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of
the Old and the New Testament, who though they were assured of their
perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and
other exercises of godliness.
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 7. Who teach: That the faith of those who
believe for a time does not differ from justifying and saving faith except
only in duration.
For Christ Himself, in Matt 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other places,
evidently notes, beside this duration, a threefold difference between
those who believe only for a time and true believers, when He declares
that the former receive the seed on stony ground, but the latter in the
good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but the latter
have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter
bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 8. Who teach: That it is not absurd that
one having lost his first regeneration is again and even often born anew.
For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God,
whereby we are born again; contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter:
"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable
(1 Pet 1:23)."
FIFTH HEAD: PARAGRAPH 9. Who teach: That Christ has in no place
prayed that believers should infallibly continue in faith.
For they contradict Christ Himself, who says: "I have prayed for you,
Simon, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:32)", and the evangelist
John, who declares that Christ has not prayed for the apostles only, but
also for those who through their word would believe: "Holy Father, protect
them by the power of your name," and "My prayer is not that you take them
out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:11,