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DOCTRINES OF THE REFORMED CHURCH
The members of the Reformed Church being much treated of in the Apocalypse, in its spiritual sense, it is expedient, before entering upon its explication, to unfold their doctrines in the following order : On God; on Christ the Lord; on Justification by Faith, and on Good Works; on the Law and the Gospel ; on Repentance and Confession ; on Original Sin ; on Baptism ; on the Holy Supper; on Free-will; and on the Church.
“I. On God. Of God they believe according to the Athanasian creed, which, as it is in the hands of every one, is not here inserted. That they believe in God the Father as the creator and preserver; in God the Son as the saviour and redeemer ; and in the Holy Spirit as the illuminator and sanctifier, is also well known.
“II. On Christ the LORD. Concerning the person of Christ, the same doctrine is not taught by all the reformed; the Lutherans teach that the Virgin Mary not only conceived and brought forth a real man, but also the real Son of God, whence she is justly called, and truly is, the mother of God. That in Christ there are two natures, a divine and a human, the divine from eternity, and the human in time; that these two natures are personally united, altogether in such a manner, that there are not two Christs, one the son of God, and the other the son of man,
but that one and the same is the son of God and the son of man, not that these two natures are mixed together into one substance, nor that one is changed into the other, but that both natures retain their essential properties, which are also described as to their qualities : that their union is hypostatic, and that this is the most perfect communion, like that of the soul and body; that therefore it is justly said, that in Christ God is man and man God: that he did not suffer for us as mere man only, but as such a man, whose human nature hath so strict and ineffable a union and communion with the son of God, as to become one person with him; that in truth the son of God suffered for us, but yet according to the properties of human nature ; that the son of Man, by whom is understood Christ as to his human nature, was really exalted to the right hand of God when he was taken into God, which was the case as soon as he was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of his mother ; that Christ always had that majesty by reason of his personal union, but that, in his state of exinanition, he only exercised it so far as he thought proper ; but that after his resurrection he fully and entirely put off the form of a servant, and put his human nature or essence into a plenary assumption of the divine majesty; and that in this manner he entered into glory; in a word, that Christ is, and remains to all eternity, perfect God and man in one indivisible person ; and the true, omnipotent, and eternal God; being also, with respect to his humanity, present at the right hand of God, governs all things in heaven and upon earth, and also fills all things, is with us, and dwells and operates in us. That there is no difference of adoration, because by the nature which is seen, the divinity which is not seen, is adored. That the divine essence communicates and imparts its own excellences to the human nature; and performs its divine operations by the body as by its organ; that thus all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, according to Paul. That the incarnation was accomplished that he might reconcile the Father to us, and become a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, as well original as actual; that he was incarnate of the substance of the Holy Spirit, but that his human nature was produced from the Virgin Mary, which, as the Word, he assumed and united to himself; that he sanctifies those who believe in him, by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts, to guide, comfort and vivify them, and defend them against the devil
and the power of sin. That Christ descended into hell, and destroyed hell for all believers; but in what manner these things were effected, he doth not wish them to scrutinize too curiously, but that the knowledge of this matter may be reserved for another age, when not only this mystery, but many other things also shall be revealed." These particulars are from Luther; the Augustan Confession; the Council of Ņice ; and the Smalcalden Articles. See the Formula Concordiæ.
“Some of the Reformed, who are also treated of in the Formula Concordiae, believe, that Christ, according to his human nature, by exaltation, received only created gifts and finite power, therefore that he is a man like any other, retaining the properties of the flesh; that therefore as to his human nature he is not omnipotent and omniscient; that although absent he governs, as a king, things remote from himself; that as God from eternity he is with the Father, and as a man born in time, he is with the angels in heaven; and that when it is said, in Christ God is man and man God, it is only a figurative mode of speech : besides other things of a like nature.
“But this disagreement is adjusted by the Athanasian Creed, which is received by all in the Christian world, where these words occur ; The true faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man: God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the world, and man of the substance of the mother, born in the world ; perfect God and perfect man : who, although he be God and man, yet these are not two but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the divine Essence into body, but by the taking of his manhood into God; One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person ; for as the reasonable soul and body is one man, so God and man is one Christ.”.
“ III. ON JUSTIFICATION BY Faith, AND ON Good Works. The justifying and saving faith of the clergy is this ;—that God the Father turned himself away from the human race by reason of their iniquities, and so, from justice, condemned them to eternal death, and that he there, fore sent his Son into the world to expiate and redeem them, and make satisfaction and reconciliation; and that the Son did this by taking upon himself the damnation of the law, and suffering himself to be crucified, and that thus by obedience he entirely satisfied God's justice, even to becoming
justice himself; and that God the Father imputes and applies this, as his merit, to believers, and sends the Holy Spirit to them, who operates charity, good works, and repentance, as a good tree produces good fruit; and justifies, renews, regenerates, and sanctifies; and that this faith is the only medium of salvation, and that by it alone a man's sins are forgiven. They make a distinction between the act and the state of justification by the act of justification they understand the beginning of justification, which takes place in a moment, when man by that faith alone apprehends with confidence the merit of Christ; by the state of justification they understand the progress of that faith, which takes place by the interior operation of the Holy Spirit, which does not manifest itself except by certain signs, concerning which they teach various things; they speak also of good works manifested, which are done from the man and his will, and follow that faith ; but they exclude them from justification, because the self hood, and therefore the merit, of man is in them. This is a summary of modern faith, but its confirmations, and the traditions concerning it, are numerous and manifold ; some of which also shall be adduced; which are, that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, and works, but gratuitously for Christ's sake, by faith; that by this faith they believe that they are received into grace, and their sins are remitted for his sake, who by his death made satisfaction for us, and that God the Father imputes this to believers for righteousness before him ; that this faith, that Christ suffered and died for us, is not only an historical knowledge, but also a cordial assent, confidence, and trust, that sins are gratuitously remitted for Christ's sake, and that they are justified; and that at this time these three things concur, gratuitous promise, the merit of Christ as a price, and propitiation : That faith is the righteousness by which we are reputed just before God by reason of the promise ; and that to be justified is to be absolved from sins, and that it may also be called a kind of quickening and regeneration ; that faith is reputed to us for righteousness, not because it is so good a work, but because it apprehends the merit of Christ. That the merit of Christ is his obedience, passion, death, and resurrection ; that it is necessary there should be something by which God can be approached, and that this is nothing else but faith, by which reception is effected. That faith, in the act of justification, enters by the word and by the hearing, and that it is not the act of
man, but that it is the operation of the Holy Spirit, and that man does not coöperate any more than a statue of salt, a stock, or a stone, doing nothing from himself, and knowing nothing of it; but that after the act he coöperates, yet not with
any will of his own in spiritual things ; in things natural, civil, and moral, it is otherwise : but that they can so far proceed in things spiritual as to will what is good, and to feel delight in consequence, yet this is not from their own will, but from the Holy Spirit, and that thus they coöperate not from their own powers, but from new powers and gifts begun in them by the Holy Spirit in their conversion; and that in real conversion a change, renovation, and motion are produced in the understanding and heart of man. That charity, good works, and repentance do not enter into the act of justification, but that they are necessary in the state of justification, especially by reason of God's command, and that by them are merited the corporeal rewards of this life, but not the remission of sins and the glory of everlasting Jife, because faith alone, without the works of the law, justifies and saves. That faith in act justifies man, but faith in state renovates him; that in renovation by reason of God's command, the works reputed good, as pointed out by the decalogue, are necessary to be performed, because it is the will of God that carnal lusts should be restrained by civil discipline, for which reason he has provided doctrine, laws, magistrates, and punishments; that, therefore, ii is consequently false, that by works we merit remission of sins and salvation, and that works have any effect in preserving faith ; and that it is also false, that man is reputed just on account of the rational justice or righteousness he may possess; and that reason can, from its own power, love God above all things and perform his law; in a word, that faith and salvation are not preserved and retained in men by good works, but only by the Spirit of God and by faith ; but still that good works are testimonies that the Holy Spirit is present and dwells in them. They condemn as pernicious, this mode of speech, that good works are hurtful to salvation; because the interior works of the Holy Spirit are to be understood, which are gond, not exterior works proceeding from man's own will, which are not good but evil, because they are meritorious. They teach, moreover, that Christ at the last judgment will pronounce sentence upon good and evil works as effects proper and not proper to the faith of man. This faith rules at this day in the whole reformed Christian world with the