While differing occasionally on particular issues of theological interpretation, New Focus generally maintains a doctrinal position closely akin to the historical Reformed confessions of faith such as the 39 Articles of the Church of England, the Westminster Confession of Faith as espoused by confessional Presbyterians, and the Savoy Declaration of the 17th Century Independents. Consequently we also value the theological clarity of the Canons of Dort and the Heidelberg Catechism.
The following two statements of faith, perhaps better than any other we have discovered, provide a general introduction to the theological position maintained by the editor of New Focus and reflect our Christ-centred, free grace and baptistic heritage.
1729 Goat Yard Declaration of Faith
A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsely-down, under the Pastoral Care of Mr. John Gill, &c.
Having been enabled, through divine grace, to give up ourselves to the Lord, and likewise to one another by the will of God; we account it a duty incumbent upon us to make a declaration of our faith and practice, to the honour of Christ, and the glory of his name; knowing, that as with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, so with the mouth confession is made unto salvation--our declaration is as follows:
- We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
- We believe that there is but one only living and true God; that there are three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are equal in nature, power, and glory; and that the Son and the Holy Ghost are as truly and as properly God as the Father.
- We believe that, before the world began, God did elect a certain number of men unto everlasting salvation, whom he did predestinate to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, of his own free grace, and according to the good pleasure of his will: and that, in pursuance of this gracious design, he did contrive and make a covenant of grace and peace with his Son Jesus Christ, on the behalf of those persons, wherein a Saviour was appointed, and all spiritual blessings provided for them; as also that their persons, with all their grace and glory, were put into the hands of Christ, and made his care and charge.
- We believe that God created the first man, Adam, after his own image, and in his likeness; an upright, holy, and innocent creature, capable of serving and glorifying him; but, he sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God: the guilt of whose sin is imputed, and a corrupt nature derived, to all his offspring, descending from him by ordinary and natural generation: that they are by their first birth carnal and unclean, averse to all that is good, uncapable of doing any and prone to every sin; and are also by nature children of wrath, and under a sentence of condemnation, and so are subject not only to a corporal death, and involved in a moral one, commonly called spiritual, but are also liable to an eternal death, as considered in the first Adam, fallen and sinners; from all which there is no deliverance but by Christ, the second Adam.
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, being set up from everlasting as the Mediator of the new covenant, and he, having engaged to be the surety of his people, did, in the fulness of time, really assume human nature, and not before, neither in whole nor in part; his human soul, being a creature, existed not from eternity, but was created and formed in his body by him that forms the spirit of man within him, when that was conceived in the womb of the virgin; and so his human nature consists of a true body and a reasonable soul; both which, together, and at once, the Son of God assumed into union with his divine Person, when made of a woman, and not before; in which nature he really suffered and died as their substitute, in their room and stead, whereby he made all that satisfaction for their sins, which the law and justice of God could require, as well as made way for all those blessings, which are needful for them both for time and eternity.
- We believe that that eternal redemption which Christ has obtained, by the shedding of his blood, is special and particular, that is to say, that it was only intentionally designed for the elect of God, and sheep of Christ, who only share the special and peculiar blessings of it.
- We believe that the justification of God’s elect is only by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, without the consideration of any works of righteousness done by them; and that the full and free pardon of all their sins and transgressions, past, present, and to come, is only through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of his grace.
- We believe that the work of regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and faith, is not an act of man’s free will and power, but of the mighty, efficacious, and irresistible grace of God.
- We believe that all those who are chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sanctified by the Spirit, shall certainly and finally persevere, so that not one of them shall ever perish, but shall have everlasting life.
- We believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; and that Christ will come a second time to judge both quick and dead, when he will take vengeance on the wicked, and introduce his own people into his kingdom and glory, where they shall be for ever with him.
- We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of Christ, to be continued until his second coming; and that the former is absolutely requisite to the latter; that is to say, that those only are to be admitted into the communion of the church, and to participate of all ordinances in it, who upon profession of their faith, have been baptized by immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
- We also believe that singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, vocally, is an ordinance of the Gospel to be performed by believers; but that as to time, place, and manner, every one ought to be left to their liberty in using it.
Now all, and each of these doctrines and ordinances, we look upon ourselves under the greatest obligations to embrace, maintain, and defend; believing it to be our duty to stand fast, in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel.
And whereas we are very sensible, that our conversation, both in the world and in the church, ought to be as becometh the Gospel of Christ, we judge it our incumbent duty to walk in wisdom towards them that are without, to exercise a conscience void of offence towards God and men, by living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.
And as to our regards to each other, in our church-communion, we esteem it our duty to walk with each other in all humility and brotherly love: to watch over each other’s conversation; to stir up one another to love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as we have opportunity, to worship God according to his revealed will; and, when the case requires, to warn, rebuke, and admonish one another, according to the rules of the Gospel.
Moreover, we think ourselves obliged to sympathize with each other, in all conditions, both inward and outward, which God, in his providence, may bring us into; as also to bear with one another’s weaknesses, failings, and infirmities, and particularly to pray for one another, and that the Gospel and the ordinances thereof might be blessed to the edification and comfort of each other’s souls, and for the gathering in of others to Christ, besides those who are already gathered--all which duties we desire to be found in the performance of, through the gracious assistance of the Holy Spirit, whilst we both admire and adore the grace which has given us a place and a name in God’s house, better than that of sons and daughters.
THE CONFESSION OF FAITH
Originally Published in 1644
A confession of faith of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant, likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.
The Lord our God is but one God, whose subsistence is in Himself; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto; who is in Himself most holy, every way infinite, in greatness, wisdom, power, love; merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; who giveth being, moving, and preservation to all creatures.
1 Corinthians 8:6; Isaiah 44:6; 46:9; Exodus 3:14; 1 Timothy 6:16; Isaiah 43:15; Psalm 147:5; Deuteronomy 32:3; Job 36:5; Jeremiah 10:12; Exodus 34:6,7; Acts 17:28; Romans 11:36.
2. FATHER, WORD AND HOLY SPIRIT
In this divine and infinite Being there is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; each having the whole divine Essence, yet the Essence undivided; all infinite without any beginning, therefore but one God; who is not to be divided in nature, and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties.
1 Corinthians 1:3; John 1:1; 15:26; Exodus 3:14; 1 Corinthians 8:6
3. THE DECREES OF GOD
God hath decreed in Himself, before the world was, concerning all things, whether necessary, accidental or voluntary, with all the circumstances of them, to work, dispose, and bring about all things according to the counsel of His own will, to His glory: (Yet without being the [chargeable] author of sin, or having fellowship with any therein) in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, unchangeableness, power, and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree: And God hath before the foundation of the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of His grace; [having foreordained and] leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His justice.
Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:33; Psalm 115:3; 135:6; 33:15; 1 Samuel 10:9,26; Proverbs 21:6; Exodus 21:13; Proverbs 16:33; Psalm 144; Isaiah 45:7; Jeremiah 14:22; Matthew 6:28,30; Colossians 1:16,17; Numbers 23:19,20; Romans 3:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Ephesians 1:4,5; Jude 4,6; Proverbs 16:4.
4. CREATION AND FIRST SIN
In the beginning God made all things very good; created man after His own Image, filled with all meet perfection of nature, and free from all sin, but long he abode not in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to seduce first Eve, then by her seducing Adam; who without any compulsion, in eating the forbidden fruit, transgressed the command of God, and fell, whereby death came upon all his posterity; who now are conceived in sin, and by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and other miseries in this world, and for ever, unless the Lord Jesus Christ set them free.
Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16; Isaiah 45:12; 1 Corinthians 15:45,46; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:1,4,5; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14; Galatians 3:22; Romans 5:12,18,19; 6:22; Ephesians 2:3.
God in His infinite power and wisdom, doth dispose all things to the end for which they were created; that neither good nor evil befalls any by chance, or without His providence: and that whatsoever befalls the elect, is by His appointment, for His glory, and their good.
Job 38:11; Isaiah 46:10,11; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Mark 10:29,30; Exodus 21:13; Proverbs 16:33; Romans 8:28.
6. THE LOVE OF GOD
All the elect being loved of God with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, nor their own works, lest any man should boast, but, only and wholly by God, of His own free grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ, who is made unto us by God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and all in all, that he that rejoiceth, might rejoice in the Lord.
Jeremiah 31:2; Ephesians 1:3,7;2:8,9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Acts 13:48; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Jeremiah 9:23,24; 1 Corinthians 1:30,31; Jeremiah 23:6.
7. ETERNAL LIFE
And this is life eternal, that we might know Him the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. And on the contrary, the Lord will render vengeance, in flaming fire, to them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
John 17:3; Hebrews 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; John 6:36.
8. THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
The rule of this knowledge, faith, and obedience, concerning the worship of God, in which is contained the whole duty of man, is (not men’s laws, or unwritten traditions, but) only the word of God contained [viz. written] in the holy Scriptures; in which is plainly recorded whatsoever is needful for us to know, believe, and practice; which are the only rule of holiness and obedience for all saints, at all times, in all places to be observed.
Colossians 2:23; Matthew 15:6.9; John 5:39; 2 Timothy 3:15,16,17; Isaiah 8:20; Galatians 1:8,9; Acts 3:22,23.
9. LORD JESUS CHRIST
The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote, [and] the Apostles preached. He is the Son of God, the brightness of His glory, etc. by whom He made the world; who upholdeth and governeth all things that He hath made; who also when the fulness of time was come, was made of a woman, of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David; to wit, of the virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her, the power of the most High overshadowing her; and He was also tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Genesis 3:15; 22:18; 49:10; Daniel 7:13; 9:24, etc.; Proverbs 8:23; John 1:1,2,3; Hebrews l:8; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 7:14; Revelation 5:5; Genesis 49:9,10; Romans 1:3; 9:10; Matthew l:16; Luke 3:23,26; Hebrews 2:16; Isaiah 53:3,4,5; Hebrews 4:15.
10. MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT
Jesus Christ is made the mediator of the new and everlasting covenant of grace between God and man, ever to be perfectly and fully the prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God for evermore.
1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15; John 14:6; Isaiah 9:6, 7.
11. APPOINTED BY GOD
Unto this office He was appointed by God from everlasting; and in respect of His manhood, from the womb called, separated, and anointed most fully and abundantly with all gifts necessary. God having without measure poured out His Spirit upon Him.
Proverbs 8:23; Isaiah 42:6; 49:15; 11:2, 3, 4, 5; 61:1,2; Luke 4:17, 22; John 1:14, 26; 3:34.
12. CALLED OF GOD
Concerning His mediatorship, the Scripture holds forth Christ’s call to His office; for none takes this honour upon Him, but He that is called of God as was Aaron, it being an action of God, whereby a special promise being made. He ordains His Son to this office; which promise is, that Christ should be made a sacrifice for sin; that He should see His seed, and prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand; all of mere free and absolute grace towards God’s elect, and without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
Hebrews 5:4,5,6; Isaiah 53:10,11; John 3:16; Romans 8:32.
13. OFFICES PROPERLY CHRIST’S
This office to be mediator, that is, to be prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God, is so proper to Christ, that neither in whole, or any part thereof, it cannot be transferred from Him to any other.
1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:24; Daniel 7:14; Acts 4:12; Luke 1:33; John 14:6.
14. NECESSARY THREEFOLD OFFICE
This office to which Christ is called, is threefold; a prophet, priest, and king: This number and order of offices is necessary, for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office; in respect of our great alienation from God, we need His priestly office to reconcile us; and in respect of our averseness and utter inability to return to God, we need His kingly office, to convince, subdue, draw, uphold and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom.
Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22,23; Hebrews 3:1; 4:14,15; Psalm 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:21; John 16:8; Psalm 110:3; Song of Solomon 1:3; John 6:44; Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:18.
15. REVEALING GOD’S WILL
Concerning the prophecy of Christ, it is that whereby He hath revealed the will of God, whatsoever is needful for His servants to know and obey; and therefore He is called not only a prophet and doctor, and the apostle of our profession, and the angel of the covenant, but also the very wisdom of God, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who for ever continueth revealing the same truth of the gospel to His people.
John 1:18; 12:49, 50; 17:8; Deuteronomy 18:15; Matthew 23:10; Hebrews 3:1; Malachi 3:1; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Colossians 2:3.
16. AS BOTH GOD AND MAN
That He might be a prophet every way complete, it was necessary He should be God, and also that He should be man: For unless He had been God, He could never have perfectly understood the will of God; and unless He had been man, He could not suitably have unfolded it in His own person to men.
John 1:18; Acts 3:22; Deuteronomy 18:15; Hebrews 1:1.
That Jesus Christ is God is wonderful[ly and] clearly expressed in the Scriptures. He is called the mighty God, Isaiah 9:6. That Word was God, John I:I. Christ, who is God over all, Romans 9:5. God manifested in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16. The same is very God, 1 John 5:20. He is the first, Revelation 1:8. He gives being to all things, and without Him was nothing made, John 1:2. He forgiveth sins. Matthew 9:6. He is before Abraham, John 8:58. He was and is, and ever will be the same, Hebrews 13:8. He is always with His to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20. Which could not be said of Jesus Christ, if He were not God. And to the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, Hebrews 1:8; John 1:18.
Also, Christ is not only perfectly God, but perfect man, made of a woman, Galatians 4:4. Made of the seed of David, Romans 1:3. Coming out of the loins of David, Acts 2:30. Of Jesse and Judah, Acts 13:23. In that the children were partakers of flesh and blood He Himself likewise took part with them, Hebrews 2:14. He took not on Him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, verse 16. So that we are bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh, Ephesians 5:30. So that He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one, Hebrews 2:11. See Acts 3:22; Deuteronomy 18:15; Hebrews 1:1.
17. THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST
Concerning His priesthood, Christ having sanctified Himself, hath appeared once to put away sin by that one offering of Himself a sacrifice for sin, by which He hath fully finished and suffered all things God required for the salvation of His elect, and removed all rites and shadows, etc. and is now entered within the veil into the holy of holies, which is the presence of God. Also, He makes His people a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God through Him. Neither doth the Father accept, nor Christ offer to the Father, any other worship or worshippers.
John 17:19; Hebrews 5:7,8,9,10,12; Romans 5:19; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 1:20; Ephesians 2:14, etc.; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; 8:1; 1 Peter 2:5; John 4:23,24.
18. ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD
This priesthood was not legal or temporary, but according to the order of Melchisedec, and is stable and perfect, not for a time, but forever, which is suitable to Jesus Christ, as to Him that ever liveth. Christ was the priest, sacrifice, and altar: He was a priest according to both natures; He was a sacrifice according to His human nature; whence in Scripture it is attributed to His body, to His blood: Yet the effectualness of this sacrifice did depend upon His divine nature; therefore it is called the blood of God. He was the altar according to His divine nature, it belonging to the altar to sanctify that which is offered upon it, and so it ought to be of greater dignity than the sacrifice itself.
Hebrews 7:16, etc.; Hebrews 5:6; 10:10; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Colossians 1:20, 22; Hebrews 9:13; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:14; 13:10,12,15; Matthew 23:17; John 17:19.
19. CHRIST’S KINGLY OFFICE
Concerning His kingly office, Christ being risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and having all power in heaven and earth, He doth spiritually govern His church, and doth exercise His power over all, angels and men, good and bad, to the preservation and salvation of the elect, and to the overruling and destruction of His enemies. By this kingly power He applieth the benefits, virtue, and fruits of His prophecy and priesthood to His elect, subduing their sins, preserving and strengthening them in all their conflicts against Satan, the world, and the flesh, keeping their hearts in faith and filial fear by His Spirit: By this His mighty power He ruleth the vessels of wrath, using, limiting and restraining them, as it seems good to His infinite wisdom.
1 Corinthians 15:4; 1 Peter 3:21,22; Matthew 28:18,19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:1; 5:30, 31; John 19:36; Romans 14:9; John 5:26,27; Romans 5:6,7,8; 14:17; Galatians 5:22,23; Mark 1:27; Hebrews 1:14; John 16:15; Job 2:8; Romans 1:21; [9:17,18]; Ephesians 4:17, 18; 2 Peter 2.
20. KINGLY POWER AND GLORY
This His kingly power shall be more fully manifested when He shall come in glory to reign among His saints, when He shall put down all rule and authority under His feet, that the glory of the Father may be perfectly manifested in His Son, and the glory of the Father and the Son in all His members.
1 Corinthians 15:24,28; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 1 Thessalonians 4:15,16,17; John 17:21,26.
21. SALVATION FOR THE ELECT
Jesus Christ by His death did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him: These only have interest in Him, and fellowship with Him, for whom He makes intercession to His Father in their behalf, and to them alone doth God by His Spirit apply this redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given to them, and none else.
Ephesians 1:14; Hebrews 5:9; Matthew 1:21; John 17:6; Hebrews 7.25; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Romans 8:29,30; 1 John 5:12; John 15:13; 3:16.
Faith is the gift of God, wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God; by which faith they come to know and believe the truth of the Scriptures, and the excellency of them above all other writings, and all things in the world, as they hold forth the glory of God in His attributes, the excellency of Christ in His nature and offices. and of the power and fulness of the Spirit in its [His] workings and operations; and so are enabled to cast their souls upon His truth thus believed.
Ephesians 2:8; John 6:29; 4:10; Philippians 1:29; Galatians 5:22; John 17:17; Hebrews 4:11,12; John 6:63.
All those that have this precious faith wrought in them by the Spirit, can never finally nor totally fall away; seeing the gifts of God are without repentance; so that He still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise, and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock, which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief, and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of this light and love, be clouded and overwhelmed for a time; yet God is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
Matthew 7:24,25; John 13:10; 10:28,29; 1 Peter 1:4,5,6; Isaiah 49: 13,14,15,16.
24. THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL
Faith is ordinarily begotten by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power or agency in the creature; but it being wholly passive, and dead in trespasses and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead.
Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 1:28; Romans 9:16; Ezekiel 16:16; Romans 3:12; 1:16; Ephesians 1:19; Colossians 2:12.
25. CHRIST FREELY PREACHED
The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Saviour for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him.
John 3:14,15; 1:12; Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; 1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 4:5; 5:8; Acts 5:30,31; 2:36; 1 Corinthians 1:22,24.
26. LIVING BY GRACE
The same power that converts to faith in Christ, carrieth on the soul through all duties, temptations, conflicts, sufferings; and whatsoever a believer is, he is by grace, and is carried on in all obedience and temptations by the same.
1 Peter 1:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 2:12,13; John 15:5; Galatians 2:19,20.
27. UNION WITH GOD
All believers are by Christ united to God; by which union, God is one with them, and they are one with Him; and that all believers are the sons of God, and joint heirs with Christ, to whom belong all the promises of this life, and that which is to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:1; John 17:21; 20:17; Hebrews 2:11; 1 John 4:16; Galatians 2:19,20.
Those that have union with Christ, are justified from all their sins by the blood of Christ, which justification is a gracious and full acquittance of a guilty sinner from all sin, by God, through the satisfaction that Christ hath made by His death for all their sins, and this applied (in manifestation of it) through faith.
1 John 1:7; Hebrews 10:14; 9:26; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 3:23; Acts 13:38,39; Romans 5:1; 3:25,30.
All believers are a holy and sanctified people, and that sanctification is a spiritual grace of the new covenant, and an effect of the love of God manifested in the soul, whereby the believer presseth after a heavenly and evangelical obedience to all the commands, which Christ as head and king in His new covenant hath prescribed to them.
1 Corinthians 12; 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians l:4; 1 John 4:16; Matthew 28:20.
All believers through the knowledge of that justification of life given by the Father and brought forth by the blood of Christ have as their great privilege of that new covenant, peace with God, reconciliation, whereby they that were afar off are made nigh by that blood, and have peace passing all understanding; yea, joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received atonement.
2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 5:9,10; Isaiah 54:10; Ephesians 2:13,14; 4:7; Romans 5:10,11.
31. BELIEVER’S PRESENT WARFARE
All believers in the time of this life, are in a continual warfare and combat against sin, self, the world, and the devil; and are liable to all manner of afflictions, tribulations and persecutions, being predestinated and appointed thereunto, and whatsoever the saints possess or enjoy of God spiritually, is by faith; and outward and temporal things are lawfully enjoyed by a civil right by them who have no faith.
Romans 7:23, 24*; Ephesians 6:10, 11, etc.; Hebrews 2:9,10; 2 Timothy 3:12; Romans 8:29; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; Galatians 2:19, 20; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Deuteronomy 2:5.
*[It may be that this passage refers to the point in time at which conversion takes place.]
32. CHRIST: OUR STRENGTH
The only strength by which the saints are enabled to encounter with all oppositions and trials, is only by Jesus Christ, who is the captain of their salvation, being made perfect through sufferings: who hath engaged His faithfulness and strength to assist them in all their afflictions, and to uphold them in all their temptations, and to preserve them by His power to His everlasting kingdom.
John 16:33; 15:5; Philippians 4:11; Hebrews 2:9,10; 2Timothy 4:18.
33. THE CHURCH AND ORDINANCES
Jesus Christ hath here on earth a [manifestation of His] spiritual kingdom, which is His Church, whom He hath purchased and redeemed to Himself as a peculiar inheritance; which Church is a company of visible saints, called and separated from the world by the word and Spirit of God, to the visible profession of faith of the gospel. being baptised into that faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement in the practical enjoyment of the ordinances commanded by Christ their head and king.
Matthew 11:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Romans 1:7; Acts 19:8,9; 26:18; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Revelation 18:4; Acts 2:37; 10:37; Romans 10:10; Matthew 18:19,20; Acts 2:42; 9:26; 1 Peter 2:5.
34. CHRIST’S PROMISES
To this Church He hath made His promises, and giveth the signs of His covenant, presence, acceptation, love, blessing, and protection. Here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly graces flowing forth to refresh and strengthen them.
Matthew 28:18, etc.; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 3:21; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 9:4,5; Psalm 133:3; Romans 3:7,10; Ezekiel 47:2.
35. CHURCH FELLOWSHIP
And all His servants of all estates (are to acknowledge Him to be their prophet, priest, and king;) and called thither to be enrolled among His household servants, to present their bodies and souls, and to bring their gifts God hath given them, to be under His heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in this walled sheep-fold, and watered garden, to have communion here with His saints, that they may be assured that they are made meet to be partakers of their inheritance in the kingdom of God; and to supply each other’s wants, inward and outward; (and although each person hath a propriety in his own estate, yet they are to supply each other’s wants, according as their necessities shall require, that the name of Jesus Christ may not be blasphemed through the necessity of any in the Church) and also being come, they are here by Himself to be bestowed in their several order, due place, peculiar use, being fitly compact and knit together according to the effectual working of every part, to the edifying of itself in love.
Acts 2:41,47; Isaiah 4:3; 1 Corinthians 12:6,7, etc.; Ezekiel 20:37,40; Song of Solomon 4:12; Ephesians 2:19; Romans 12:4,5,6; Colossians 1:12; 2:5, 6,19; Acts 20:32; 5:4; 2:44,45; 4:34,35; Luke 14:26; 1 Timothy 6.1; Ephesians 4:16.
36. ELDERS AND DEACONS
Being thus joined, every [local] church hath power given them from Christ, for their wellbeing, to choose among themselves meet persons for elders and deacons, being qualified according to the word, as those which Christ hath appointed in His testament, for the feeding, governing, serving, and building up of His Church; and that none have any power to impose on them either these or any other.
Acts 1:23,26; 6:3; 15:22,25; Romans 12:7,8; 1 Timothy 3:2,6,7; 1 Corinthians 12:8,28; Hebrews 13:7,17; 1 Peter 5:1,2,3; 4:15.
37. THE MINISTRY
That the ministers lawfully called, as aforesaid, ought to continue in their calling and place according to God’s ordinance, and carefully to feed the flock of God committed to them, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.
Hebrews 5:4; John 10:3,4; Acts 20:28,29; Romans 12:7,8; Hebrews 13:7,17; 1 Peter 5:1,2,3.
38. MINISTER’S NEEDS SUPPLIED
The ministers of Christ ought to have whatsoever they shall need, supplied freely by the church, that according to Christ’s ordinance they that preach the Gospel should live of the gospel by the law of Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:7,14; Galatians 6:8; Philippians 4:15,16; 2 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Timothy 1:2; Psalm 110:3.
39. BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed upon persons professing faith, or that are made disciples; who upon profession of faith, ought to be baptised, and after to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Matthew 28:18,19; John 4:1; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:37,38; 8:36,37, etc.
40. MANNER OF BAPTISM
That the way and manner of dispensing this ordinance, is dipping or plunging the body under water; it being a sign, must answer the things signified, which is, that interest the saints have in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ: And that as certainly as the body is buried underwater, and risen again, so certainly shall the bodies of the saints be raised by the power of Christ, in the day of the resurrection, to reign with Christ.
Matthew 3:16; Mark 15:9 reads (into Jordan) in Greek; John 3:23; Acts 8:38; Revelation 1:5; 7:14; Hebrews 10:22; Romans 6:3,4,5,6; 1 Corinthians 15:28,29. The word baptizo signifies to dip or plunge (yet so as convenient garments be both upon the administrator and subject with all modesty).
41. ADMINISTRATION OF BAPTISM
The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.
Isaiah 8:16; Ephesians 2:7; Matthew 28:19; John 4:2; Acts 20:7; 11:10; 1 Corinthians 11:2, 10:16,17; Romans 16:2; Matthew 18:17.
42. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Christ hath likewise given power to His Church to receive in, and cast out, any member that deserves it; and this power is given to every congregation, and not to one particular person, either member or officer, but in relation to the whole body, in reference to their faith and fellowship.
Romans 16:2; Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4,11,14; 12:6; 2:3; 2 Corinthians 2:6,7.
43. CHURCH DISCIPLINE
And every particular member of each church, how excellent, great, or learned soever, is subject to this censure and judgement; and that the church ought not without great care and tenderness, and due advice, but by the rule of faith, to proceed against her members.
Matthew 18:16; 17:18; Acts 11:2,3; 1 Timothy 5:19, etc.; Colossians 4:17; Acts 15:1,2,3.
44. CHURCH GOVERNMENT
Christ for the keeping of this church in holy and orderly communion, placeth some special men over the church: who by their office, are to govern, oversee, visit, watch; so likewise for the better keeping thereof, in all places by the members, He hath given authority, and laid duty upon all to watch over one another.
Acts 20:27,28; Hebrews 13:17,24; Matthew 24:45; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 14; Jude 3, 20; Hebrews 10:34,35 [cf. 24,25]; 12:15.
45. CHURCH TEACHING
Also such to whom God hath given gifts in the church, may and ought to prophecy [viz., teach] according to the proportion of faith, and to teach publicly the word of God, for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:3, etc.; Romans 12:6; 1 Peter 4:10,11; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:19, etc.
46. CHURCH UNITY
Thus being rightly gathered, and continuing in the obedience of the gospel of Christ, none are to separate for faults and corruptions (for as long as the church consists of men subject to failings, there will be difference in the true constituted church) until they have in due order, and tenderness, sought redress thereof.
Revelation 2,3; Acts 15:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Hebrews 10:25; Jude 19; Revelation 2:20,21,27; Acts 15:1,2; Romans 14:1; 15:1,2,3.
47. MEMBERS OF ONE BODY
And although the particular congregations be distinct, and several bodies, every one as a compact and knit city within itself; yet are they all to walk by one rule of truth; so also they (by all means convenient) are to have the counsel and help one of another, if necessity require it, as members of one body, in the common faith, under Christ their head.
1 Corinthians 4:17; 14:33,36; 16:1; Psalm 122:3; Ephesians 2:12,19; Revelation 21; 1 Timothy 3:15; 6:13,14; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Acts 15:2,3; Song of Solomon 8:8,9; 2 Corinthians 8:1,4; 13:14.
48. CIVIL MAGISTRACY
A civil magistracy is an ordinance of God, set up by Him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well; and that in all lawful things, commanded by them, subjection ought to be given by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake; and that we are to make supplications and prayers for kings, and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
Romans 13:1,2, etc.; 1 Peter 2:13,14; 1 Timothy 2:1,2,3.
The supreme magistracy* of this kingdom we acknowledge to be the king and parliament (now established) freely chosen by the kingdom, and that we are to maintain and defend all civil laws and civil officers made by them, which are for the good of the commonwealth. And we acknowledge with thankfulness, that God hath made this present king and parliament honourable in throwing down the prelatical hierarchy, because of their tyranny and oppression over us, under which this kingdom long groaned, for which we are ever engaged to bless God, and honour them for the same. And concerning the worship of God; there is but one lawgiver, which is able to save and destroy, James 4:12; which is Jesus Christ, who hath given laws and rules sufficient in His word for His worship; and for any to make more, were to charge Christ with want of wisdom, or faithfulness, or both, in not making laws enough, or not good enough for His house: Surely it is our wisdom, duty, and privilege, to observe Christ’s laws only. Psalm 2:6,9,10,12. So it is the magistrates duty to tender the liberty of men’s consciences, Ecclesiastes 8:8 (which is the tenderest thing unto all conscientious men, and most dear unto them, and without which all other liberties will not be worth the naming, much less enjoying) and to protect all under them from all wrong, injury, oppression and molestation; so it is our duty not to be wanting in nothing which is for their honour and comfort, and whatsoever is for the wellbeing of the commonwealth wherein we live; it is our duty to do, and we believe it to be our express duty, especially in matters of religion, to be fully persuaded in our minds of the lawfulness of what we do, as knowing whatsoever is not of faith is sin. And as we cannot do anything contrary to our understandings and consciences, so neither can we forebear the doing of that which our understandings and consciences bind us to do. And if the magistrate should require us to do otherwise, we are to yield our persons in a passive way to their power, as the saints of old have done, James 5:4. And thrice happy shall he be, that shall lose his life for witnessing (though but for the least tittle) of the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 5. Galatians 5.
*[To be applied to the governmental authority of any land or nation].
49. OBEYING GOD RATHER THAN MEN
But in case we find not the magistrate [or governing authority] to favour us herein; yet we dare not suspend our practice, because we believe we ought to go in obedience to Christ, in professing the faith which was once delivered to the saints, which faith is declared in the holy Scriptures, and this our confession of faith a part of them, and that we are to witness to the truth of the Old and New Testament[s] unto the death, if necessity require, in the midst of all trials and afflictions, as His saints of old have done; not accounting our goods, lands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brethren, sisters; yea, and our own lives dear unto us, so we may finish our course with joy; remembering always, that we ought to obey God rather than men, who will when we have finished our course, and kept the faith, give us the crown of righteousness; to whom we must give an account of all our actions, and no man being able to discharge us of the same.
Acts 2:40,41; 4:19; 5:28,29; 20:23; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; Philippians 1:28,29; Daniel 3:16,17; 6:7,10,22,23; 1 Timothy 6:13,14; Romans 12:1,8; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Revelation 2:20; 2 Timothy 4:6,7,8; Romans 14:10, 12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Psalm 49:7; 50:22.
50. CIVIL OFFICE
It is lawful for a Christian to be a magistrate or civil officer; and also it is lawful to take an oath, so it be in truth, and in judgement, and in righteousness, for confirmation of truth, and ending of all strife; and that by wrath and vain oaths the Lord is provoked and this land mourns.
Acts 8:38; 10:1,2,35; Romans 16:23; Deuteronomy 6:13; Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 10:11; Jeremiah 4:2; Hebrews 6:16.
51. RESPECT FOR OTHERS
We are to give unto all men whatsoever is their due, as their place, age, estate, requires; and that we defraud no man of anything, but to do unto all men, as we would they should do unto us.
1 Thessalonians 4:6; Romans 13:5,6,7; Matthew 22:21; Titus 3; 1 Peter 2:15,17; 5:5; Ephesians 5:21,23, etc.; 6:1,9; Titus 3:1,2,3.
52. RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, and everyone shall give an account of himself to God, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:12. [Matthew 25; Revelation 22:11,12,13,14,15]
Thus we desire to give unto Christ that which is His; and unto all lawful authority that which is their due; and to owe nothing to any man but love; to live quietly and peaceably, as it becometh saints, endeavouring in all things to keep a good conscience, and to do unto every man (of what judgement soever) as we would they should do unto us, that as our practice is, so it may prove us to be a conscionable [viz., reasonable], quiet, and harmless people (no ways dangerous or troublesome to human society) and to labour and work with our hands that we may not be chargeable to any, but to give to him that needeth, both friends and enemies, accounting it more excellent to give than to receive. Also we confess, that we know but in part, and that we are ignorant of many things which we desire and seek to know; and if any shall do us that friendly part to show us from the word of God that [which] we see not, we shall have cause to be thankful to God and them; but if any man shall impose upon us anything that we see not to be commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ, we should in His strength rather embrace all reproaches and tortures of men, to be stripped of all outward comforts, and if it were possible, to die a thousand deaths, rather than to do anything against the least tittle of the truth of God or against the light of our own consciences. And if any shall call what we have said heresy, then do we with the Apostle acknowledge, that after the way they call heresy, worship we the God of our fathers, disclaiming all heresies (rightly so called) because they are against Christ, and to be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in obedience to Christ, as knowing our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
Arise, O God, plead thine own cause; remember how the foolish man blasphemeth Thee daily. O let not the oppressed return ashamed, but let the poor and needy praise Thy name.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
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