Notes on the Thirty-Nine Articles,
Historical and Explanatory, With Examination Questions.
For The Use Of Teachers And Pupils In Sunday And Other Schools.
By John Macbeth
Wm. McGee; Simpkin, Marshall, 1894.
[Spelling selectively modernized. Bible citations converted to all Arabic numerals. Footnotes moved into or near their places of citation.]
I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man
III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell
IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ
V. Of the Holy Ghost
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation
VII. Of the Old Testament
VIII. Of the Three Creeds
IX. Of Original or Birth Sin
X. Of Free Will
XI. Of the Justification of Man
XII. Of Good Works
XIII. Of Works before Justification
XIV. Of Works of Supererogation
XV. Of Christ alone without Sin
XVI. Of Sin after Baptism
XVII. Of Predestination and Election
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ
XIX. Of the Church
XX. Of the Authority of the Church
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils
XXII. Of Purgatory
XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation
XXIV. Of speaking in the Congregation in such a tongue as the people understandeth
XXV. Of the Sacraments
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament
XXVII. Of Baptism
XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper
XXIX. Of the wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper
XXX. Of both kinds
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests
XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church
XXXV. Of the Homilies
XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers
XXXVII. Of the Civil Magistrates
XXXVIII. Of Christian men’s Goods, which are not common
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man’s Oath
Works of Supererogation
The Immaculate Conception
Questions given at Examination of Teachers
Questions given at Examination of Intermediate Schools
The Board of Religious Education of the General Synod, in conjunction with the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge, is doing much to promote religious instruction in our Intermediate Schools, and in the Training Colleges for the Teachers of Primary Schools.
As one of the examiners under these Boards – from the commencement of this department of their work – I have had peculiar opportunities of noticing, from year to year, the steady improvement in the answering, both in the Holy Scripture and Church Formularies. The necessity, however, for a small handbook on the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion has long been apparent: such a book has been frequently asked for both by pupils and teachers.
In these “Notes” I have endeavoured to supply a handbook, suited not only to the special requirements of our higher Schools and Training Colleges, but also to the teachers and more advanced classes in Sunday Schools.
I have followed the same plan as that adopted in my “Notes on the Book of Common Prayer, according to the use of the Church of Ireland.”
In the explanatory portions I have had chiefly in view the needs of the junior classes, the historical portions being for the more advanced.
The analyses will, I trust, be found useful as aids to memory, and the questions helpful and suggestive to the teachers.
I have given in the Appendix specimens of Examination Papers, set to candidates in Intermediate Schools, and also of the Questions given to the teachers in the Training Colleges.
In the Appendix will also be found an examination of some of the principal texts and “proofs” by which the Church of Rome endeavours to support the erroneous doctrines which, from time to time, she has imposed as articles of faith, and which – in common with all Reformed Churches – the Church of Ireland has rejected.
In compiling these “Notes,” I have availed myself of all sources of information within my reach, and taken considerable pains to verify all references and quotations.
Killegney Parsonage, Enniscorthy,
31st July, 1894.
The necessity of having a distinct statement of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith was very early apparent. Our Lord commanded that baptism should be administered “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (St. Matt. 28:19). A simple profession of belief in “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” would therefore be required from those about to be admitted to baptism. The words in which the profession of belief was made would, no doubt, vary with the different teachers, but would be substantially similar in all cases. Hence the origin of Creeds.
Gradually, as erroneous opinions had to be guarded against, and the necessity of fuller statements became apparent, these early Creeds were enlarged.
The advantage, however, of having one uniform mode in which to express belief in the fundamental truths – rather than many, however close their agreement with each other in essentials – was evident. We have such in “the Apostles’ Creed,” and more fully still in “the Nicene Creed,” which was drawn up by the General Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), enlarged by the Council of Constantinople (381), and has since practically continued to be the Creed of universal Christendom.
It contains in short compass the great verities of our religion; and the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) decreed that no addition should be made to it.
But even in apostolic times there were false teachers (Acts 15:1; 2 Peter 2:1). The attempt, on the one hand, to graft Judaism on the Christian faith, and, on the other, to harmonize it with the philosophical opinions of its early converts from heathenism, were fruitful sources of heretical opinions. These were condemned by many Councils as occasion demanded, and the truth asserted. The decrees of the first four General Councils – Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451) – are acknowledged by the universal Church. In the middle ages the study of God’s Word was much neglected. Legends and superstitions gradually obscured the truth, and erroneous doctrines and practices naturally increased. The invention of printing, and the revival of learning, enabled men to compare the Church’s doctrines and practices with God’s Word, and to discover that the truth had become much overlaid with error. The Word of God was studied by the people. Men became dissatisfied with the corruption around. The Church of Rome refused to reform. On the continent men like Erasmus, Melancthon, and Luther, not only protested against error, but drew up statements of their doctrinal belief. The Augsburg Confession, presented to the diet at Augsburg, 1530, is one of the earliest documents in which are embodied the doctrinal opinions of the Reformed Churches on the Continent; a few years later, 1552, the Wurtemberg Confession was drawn up. These documents were most helpful to our own Reformers in England, where the same causes as those abroad were gradually preparing the way for the Reformation.
The British Church was long independent of Rome. Her first Christian martyr, St. Alban, suffered in 303. Her bishops were represented at the Council of Arles, A.D. 314. There was the closest communion between the Irish and British Churches. The Church of Ireland, justly noted for its missionary zeal, had given St. Columba to Scotland in 563; St. Columbanus to France and Italy in 590; St. Aidan to England in 634.
The British Church suffered much from the invasion of the Saxons, before whom her bishops and clergy had to flee. When Gregory the Great sent Augustine to Britain in 590, his mission was chiefly to the heathen Saxons, amongst whom he succeeded in founding a new Church, different in its origin, and in some of its usages also, from the old British Church already in existence. Missionaries from this Church, and from the Irish Church, also laboured amongst the Saxons. Their customs, maintained in opposition to those of the Roman Church, were the source of continual controversies. At the Conference at Whitby in 664, chiefly in reference to the time for keeping Easter, the Roman party were successful, and their influence gradually increased. About the end of the eighth century, the ancient British Church seems to have conformed to the Roman customs, with but an occasional protest.
The Danish invasion was very disastrous to the cause of religion, though the Danes nominally embraced Christianity as a condition of settling in English territory. The Norman invasion, on the other hand, undertaken with the sanction of the Pope, naturally advanced the Papal claims.
The Church of Ireland owes much to the missionary zeal of St. Patrick, though he tells us that, on his coming in 432, he found that the Gospel of Christ had already been preached in many places. The Church founded by St. Patrick was wholly independent of that of Rome; so much so indeed, that Rome spoke of her bishops as schismatics, and as late as the close of the seventh century, Irish and British bishops refused to hold social intercourse with those of the Roman communion.
The influences, however, which were at work in England were not unfelt in Ireland.
The Danes, notwithstanding their defeat at Clontarf, in 1014, by Brian Boru, continued to hold possession of many of the principal towns. These were gradually converted to Christianity, but being connected by race with those in England and the Normans, who had come over with William the Conqueror, they refused to accept Irish bishops or clergy, but sought for them from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Thus it was that Ireland was for the first time brought into intimate connection with the Romish Church.
At the Synod of Cashel, held after the conquest of Ireland by Henry II, 1172, it was decreed that the rites of the Church of Ireland should be brought into conformity with those of England.
Thus the independence of the Irish Church and nation was lost.
The attempt of Rome to assert supremacy in England over both Church and State was at length successful, when, in 1213, King John resigned his dominions to Pope Innocent III, and received them back as a vassal of the Church of Rome. But there were many and continued protests. In doctrine and practice Rome was becoming very corrupt; many refused to accept her teaching; others resented her interference with the authority of the kings.
The translation of the Bible in the latter part of the fourteenth century enabled men to see more clearly the errors with which Rome had gradually overlaid the truth, and the Lollards and others protested against them. The national progress in intelligence and freedom would not long tolerate interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom from the Pope or any foreign power. Rebellion against such interference in the State naturally brought in its train reformation in the Church; the best men were prepared for both; and when, in Henry VIII’s reign, opportunity arose, it was seized, and freedom, religious and political, resulted.
A formal statement of what was accepted and rejected in religion was necessary; hence the origin of these Articles of our Church.
They contain no new doctrines, but they restate the old truths, decreed by General Councils, making God’s Word the standard of truth; they reject all error by which that truth had become gradually obscured, and free religious ceremonies from the superstitious customs that had been added to them. The Thirty-nine Articles were the result of long and earnest effort in establishing purity of doctrine. In the reign of Henry VIII, the first doctrinal articles were drawn up; these, however, retained much of Romish doctrine. On the accession of Edward VI, in 1547, further progress was made in the Reformation movement, and the Forty-two Articles were drawn up in 1552, but abolished on the accession of Mary. In the reign of Elizabeth, the Forty-two Articles were twice revised, and reduced to Thirty-nine, which were finally translated from the Latin, and sanctioned in 1571, and have remained unchanged since. The English and the Latin Articles are of equal authority, and their comparison helps to explain the meaning of some ambiguous expressions.
Prefixed to the Articles is the statement that they were agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces, and the whole Clergy, in the Convocation holden at London, 1562.
Received and approved by the Archbishops and Bishops, and the rest of the Clergy of Ireland, in the Synod holden in Dublin, 1634.
Received and approved by the Archbishops and Bishops, and the Clergy and Laity of the Church of Ireland, in the Synod holden in Dublin, 1870.
1. Trace the origin of Creeds.
2. Name the four General Councils acknowledged by Christendom: when held?
3. What do you know of the Augsburg and Wurtemberg Confessions?
4. Show how and when the British and Irish Churches became subject to Rome.
5. Trace the religious and political causes which gradually resulted in the Reformation.
6. Show that the Church of England was no new Church set up at the Reformation.
7. Trace briefly the steps by which the Reformed doctrine was at length defined in the Thirty-nine Articles.
8. When were the Articles accepted by the English, when by the Irish, Church?
Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Historical. – “He that cometh to God must believe that He is” (Heb. 11:6). Thus the belief in the existence of God is the foundation of all religion, whether natural or revealed. Belief in the doctrine of the Trinity – Three Persons in one God – is the basis of the Christian religion. And this doctrine is made known to us only through the Divine Revelation. Naturally, therefore, the statement of our “Faith in the Holy Trinity” occupies the first place in our Articles.
There are many indications of the Trinity in the Old Testament; but the doctrine is more clearly revealed in the New.
Very early was the Christian Church called upon to vindicate this fundamental doctrine of her faith. The attempt to explain the facts of revelation by human reason, and to combine its truths with Gnostic philosophy, led some to deny the doctrine of the Trinity; hence the necessity in the primitive Church of distinct statements on the subject.
The term “Trinity” does not occur in Holy Scripture; but as early as 181, we find it used by Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, to indicate the Church’s doctrine. When the Arian and other heretics denied this doctrine, the General Councils of Nice (325) and Constantinople (381) condemned them, and authoritatively declared it the doctrine of universal Christendom.
St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who died 373, was the great champion of orthodoxy against the Arians, and one of the clearest expositions of the doctrine of the Trinity is that contained in the Church’s Creed which bears his name.
The Arian and Socinian heretics of the early days of Christianity are now represented by the Unitarians, who deny the Godhead of Christ.
It will be found, as a rule, that all the modern objections against Christianity and revelation are simply a revival in some form of old heresies long exploded, and whose arguments and objections have been answered again and again.
Hence the practical value of such accurate and authoritative statements of doctrine as are found in our Articles and the Creeds of the Church.
Our present Article was drawn up in 1552, and founded on the first published formulary of a Reformed Church, that drawn up by Melancthon, Luther, and other Continental Reformers, in 1530, with a view of being presented to the Romish Council of Trent, then in session, but, not being received by the Council, was presented to the Diet at Augsburg, and has since been known as the Augsburg Confession. Many of our Articles are derived from the same source, the English and Continental Reformers mutually sympathizing with each other.
Analysis. – The Article consists of two distinct parts: –
I. That which natural as well as revealed religion teaches, viz.: –
(a) The existence and unity of the Godhead.
(b) His nature.
(c) His attributes, and
(d) His relations to the universe.
II. That which revelation alone can teach, viz.: – The Trinity in Unity.
Explanatory. – It is to be remembered that the Latin and English versions of the Articles are of equal authority; they are, therefore, often mutually explanatory where ambiguity as to the meaning of some expressions in either version arises.
“Without body, parts, or passions” = immaterial, indivisible and incapable of suffering; thus expressed in scientific language to meet the errors as to His nature propounded by heathen philosophers, and held by some heretics in early times.
“Of infinite power”. – Latin, immense, the same word which in the Athanasian Creed is translated “incomprehensible,” i.e., immeasurable, boundless.
“The Maker and Preserver of all things,” etc. – Against the old pantheistic idea, which would make the universe God, and deny a Providence in its laws.
“Of this Godhead”, – Latin, divinae naturae.
“Person”. – It is important to remember that the only meaning that ought here to be attached to the word “person,” is that which conveys the idea of a proper existence of its own; the further ideas suggested by the ordinary use of the word must be carefully avoided.
“Of one substance” = of the same essence. Latin, ejusdem essentiae.
Proof. – 1. To show that there is a God.
There are many ways by which the existence of a God is proved by natural religion, from which we may select the following: –
(a) By the universal consent of mankind. Every branch of the human race has formed some idea of the existence of a God. The conceptions, it is true, are often false and degrading; yet their universality shows the existence of a Being of whom the whole race has formed some idea. It is only “the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psa. 14:1).
(b) By the fact that nothing can bring itself into existence; therefore, that which exists must have had a cause which called it into being, that cause an antecedent cause, and so on, till we arrive at the great First Cause – the Self-Existent Being, i.e., God.
(c) By the fact that in the universe there are evident marks of design. Where design is, there must be a designer, and, therefore, this leads back to a God whose existence must precede all marks of design.
(d) The unity of the Godhead is also clearly established by natural religion, not only from the order of the universe evidently obeying one will; but also the very idea of an infinitely perfect being proves that unity. This agrees with His own revelation of Himself: “There is none other God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4).
2. To show that His nature is truly described in the Article.
(a) That He is everlasting. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God” (Psa. 90:2, Heb. 1:12).
(b) That He is without body, parts, or passions, even natural religion teaches, for that which is composed of parts, or capable of suffering, or liable to disturbing emotions, must necessarily be imperfect, and would contradict the very idea of a God. To this agree the words of revelation – “God is a Spirit” (St. John 4:24); and a spirit hath no parts (St. Luke 24:39); “the everlasting God … fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isa. 40:28).
3. To show that His attributes are truly described in the Article.
(a) That His power is infinite, He Himself asserts: “I am the Almighty God” (Gen.17:1); and as such the great multitude in heaven greets Him: “The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:6).
(b) So of His wisdom – “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psa. 147:5, Rom. 11:33).
(c) So of His goodness – “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psa. 33:5), which “endureth continually” (Psa. 70:1).
4. To show His relation to the universe as Maker and Preserver.
Science demonstrates that the world contains elements of destruction, and will come to an end; now, that which comes to an end must necessarily have had a beginning: therefore the world must have been called into being by someone. Hence a Creator – God. And Holy Scripture shows the truth of these deductions. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, St. John 1:2–3). “By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16). Not only has He created, but He also preserves, “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
5. To show that in the Old Testament, while the unity of God is insisted on, a plurality, of Persons in the Godhead is indicated.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4), asserts the unity of the Godhead; yet in that Divine consultation, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26), a plurality is indicated, and it is immediately added, “God created man in His own image.” So also the expression in reference to the tower of Babel, “Let us go down and confound their language,” indicates that there is more than one Person in the Godhead, as does God’s saying, “The man is become as one of us” (Gen. 3:22).
6. To show that the New Testament reveals that the plurality indicated in the Old Testament is that of Three Persons in one God.
(a) That the Son is God. He claims to be one with the Father: “I and My Father are one” (St. John 10:30); and St. Paul says: “In Him” (Christ) “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9), and distinctly calls Him God: “As concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5).
(b) That the Holy Ghost is God. When Ananias denied the truth, Peter said to him, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” and, in the next verse, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3–4), showing that the Holy Ghost is God – as is also shown by comparing 1 Cor. 3:16, with 1 Cor. 6:19. The Lord Himself indicates this Trinity in unity in His commission to the Apostles to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (St. Matt. 28:19) – which names, without any mark of inequality, St. Paul associates together in the well-known Apostolic blessing.
1. How does the Article define the nature and attributes of God?
2. What can natural religion teach of God?
3. Explain the words “parts,” “passions,” and “person,” as used in the Article.
4. In what two-fold relation is God said to stand towards the universe? Give Scriptural authority.
5. What indications of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead have we in the Old Testament?
6. Show from the New Testament that there are Three Persons in the Godhead.
7. Show from Scripture that God’s attributes are truly described in the Article.
Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
Historical. – As faith in God is the foundation of all religion, so is belief in the Person, Nature, and Office of the God-Man the foundation of the Christian religion. Hence the necessity of stating clearly in our Articles the Church’s doctrine in reference to Him.
This was peculiarly necessary when our Articles were drawn up, inasmuch as the religious excitement of the Reformation period, both on the Continent and in England, led men into many erroneous opinions in reference to the Person and work of Christ. Many of the ancient heresies were revived, and had once more to be guarded against by a simple statement of the Church’s faith in language designedly used to meet that in which the erroneous opinions were expressed.
The early history of the Christian Church contains almost a continuous record of the labours of the early Fathers to counteract the heretical opinions which were put forth, in almost every conceivable form, in reference to the Person and work of our Lord.
The Arians and Apollinarians of the fourth century, attempting by Platonic philosophy to reduce the mysteries of the Godhead to the sphere of human analogies, denied that Christ had taken man’s nature when He assumed a human body. The Nestorians of the fifth century taught that there were not only two natures, but two persons, in Christ; while, again, the followers of Eutyches, an abbot of Constantinople, in their zeal against the Nestorians, went to the opposite extreme, and, in reference to the Incarnation, held that the two natures in Christ were so united as to become but one. Against these false views the Council of Ephesus (431) and of Chalcedon (451) asserted the true doctrine embodied in our Articles. The heresies of the present day as to our Lord’s Person are but a restatement of those of old, and are fully met in this Article, drawn up in 1552 – the clause “begotten ... with the Father” being added in 1562.
Analysis. – The structure of the Article is simple. It asserts –
I. The Divine Nature and Sonship of Christ, coeternal and of one substance with the Father.
II. His human nature.
A full definition of the doctrine of the Incarnation.
III. The perfection and permanency of these two natures in His Person.
The Godhead and Manhood never to be divided.
IV. The reality and object of His suffering – “truly suffered ... to reconcile His Father to us.”
Explanatory. – “The Word.” – So called (St. John 1:1) as the Revealer of the Father.
“Begotten from everlasting.” – Asserting His eternal Sonship. Not “made,” nor “created,” but “begotten”.
“Very God” = true God, as in Nicene Creed, to distinguish Him from anything created. Unitarians deny His Divinity.
“Of one substance” = essence, Latin, consubstantialis; so the Creeds.
N.B. – Guard here also against the idea of visible matter which is associated with the modern use of the word “substance” – its true meaning being something which underlies, or rather stands under, the visible – that which is visible being called the “accidents”.
“Two whole and perfect Natures.” – So expressed to meet the Eutychian heresy.
“Joined together in one Person.” – Against the Nestorian heresy.
“Never to be divided,” i.e., the union permanent. “God and man one Christ.”
“Who truly suffered,” etc. – As opposing opinions, known as Docetism – held by various sects in the second and third centuries – which asserted that Christ’s body was only a phantom, and all His actions only appearances.
“To reconcile His Father to us.” – Denied by the Socinians and Unitarians.
“A sacrifice ... original guilt ... actual sins.” – A definition of His atonement, which was full and complete – an implicit denial of Rome’s doctrine of a further atonement for actual sins – as explained in Art. XXXI.
Proof. – 1. To prove the Sonship of Christ.
The Father Himself so calls Him, “Lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (St. Matt. 3:17); and Christ claims the title: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” etc. (St. John 3:16–17).
2. To prove the Divinity of Christ.
The Godhead of Christ is clearly shown from the fact that (a) He is distinctly called God; (b) The attributes of Deity are applied to Him; (c) He received worship as God.
(a) He is called God in St. John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; and in verse 14: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Showing that Christ, who was made flesh, was the Word, who was God.
So, “Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). “As concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5, Phil. 2:5–9, Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:16; etc.).
(b) The attributes of Deity – such as eternal, everlasting, the Creator of all things (St. John 1:1–3, Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:8–11) – are applied to Him; and He is spoken of as knowing all things – men’s thoughts and hearts (St. Matt. 9:4; St. John 2:25, 16:30) – all which attributes belong to God alone (Jer. 17:10; 1 Kings 8:39); so the name “Immanuel” = God with us.
(c) He accepted worship from His disciples (St. Matt. 14:33), from the blind man (St. John 10:38), from St. Paul (2 Cor. 12:8–9), from the angels (Heb. 1:9), and is worshipped by every creature (Rev. 5:13–14). Compare Isaiah 6:1–10 with St. John 12:40. Therefore, called God, possessing the powers and attributes of God, and worshipped as God, we believe that the Son is God.
3. To show He was also very man.
His body grew in stature, and His mind in wisdom, as in the case of other children (St. Luke 2:52). He was liable to the infirmities of man’s nature (sin only excepted) – as hunger (St. Luke 4:2), thirst and fatigue (St. John 4:6–7); to mental and bodily pain (St. John 19:34, St. Luke 22:44); death (St. Luke 23:46).
4. To show that these two natures are not to be divided.
He brought His human nature from the grave. (St. Luke 24:39). With that nature He ascended into heaven, and with it shall so come back (Acts 1:9, 11); being also a Priest forever (Heb. 6:20), and a King over an everlasting kingdom, reigning “for ever and ever” (Dan. 2:44, Rev. 11:15), His human nature cannot be laid aside; if it were, He would be no longer Christ – God and Man.
5. To show that He truly suffered, etc.
Friends who mourned and buried Him (St. Matt. 15:44, St. Luke 23:53), and enemies who hated Him and put Him to death, acknowledged that He was dead. “When they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs” (St. John 19:33–34). The human soul forsook the human body, and went to the world of spirits. “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (St. Luke 23:43).
6. To show that Christ’s death was a sacrifice, etc.
He willingly offered up His life: “ No man taketh it from me; I lay it down of myself” (St. John 10:18). And His death is called a sacrifice: “Once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26, 10:12). So is He called “the Lamb slain” (Rev. 5:6), and “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (St. John 1:29).
7. To show that His sacrifice was not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.
“As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” Cor. 15:22), refers to original guilt. “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled” (Col. 1:21). Showing clearly that if “all iniquity” includes “original guilt,” so the phrase “by wicked works” indicates “actual sins of men”. So (1 John 2:1–2, Isa. 53:4–6).
8. To show that He reconciled the Father to us.
Though we are often spoken of as being reconciled to God – as in Rom. 5:10, Heb. 2:17, Eph. 2:16 – yet also is it implied that the Father is reconciled to us by the atonement of Christ, e.g., “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19). So also a twofold reconciliation is implied in the expression “One Mediator between God and man” (1 Tim. 2:5).
1. In what words does the Article assert the Incarnation of our Lord? In what the Atonement? And His preexistence? Scriptural authority for each?
2. What is asserted of the union of two natures in Christ? Against whom?
3. What of the extent and object of His death? Why actual sins mentioned?
4. What the meaning of the terms “substance,” “very God,” and the force of the expression “truly suffered”?
5. Prove clearly the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. By what modern heretics is it denied?
6. Show from Scripture that His death was a sacrifice, that He truly suffered, and that the Article rightly asserts the sufficiency of His sacrifice.
Of the going down of Christ Into Hell.
As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed that He went down into Hell.
Historical. – The necessity for Creeds and Articles of belief arises from the various forms of error against which the Church has to protect her children; hence naturally the truth contained in this Article only came prominently forward when erroneous views on the subject had to be met.
Though the descent into hell (Hades) is distinctly asserted by the early Fathers, down from Ignatius, who suffered martyrdom in 117, yet it was not until the fourth century, when the Arian and Apollinarian heretics denied a rational human soul in Christ, that the doctrine found a place in the Apostles’ Creed.
It was then emphasized to prove that, as Christ’s soul at death was separated from His body, and descended into hell, as did that of other men, that therefore He was perfect man, with a “reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.”
The present Article is only the first part of that drawn up in 1552; the latter part, which asserted that His spirit (while separated from the body) was preaching to the other spirits in Hades, was omitted in 1571.
Analysis. – The Article is a simple assertion that the descent of Christ’s soul into hell naturally follows from the fact of His death.
Explanatory. – Hell, i.e., Hades, or the invisible place where the souls of the dead await their full and final measure of bliss or woe, which they will receive in all its fullness only at the last day. It cannot mean, as some have urged, simply the grave, for both in the Article and the Apostles’ Creed the fact of His burial is also separately mentioned. Nor can it mean the hell of the lost, “Gehenna” (which, like “Hades” is also translated by the same English word “hell”) – this word never being used in reference to the place where our Lord’s soul went after death; nor, indeed, could we conceive our Lord’s soul in a place of punishment.
Proof. – 1. To show that there is an intermediate state between death and judgment, where the souls of the saved, through Christ, are conscious of a measure of happiness, and the wicked suffer a measure of woe.
(a) “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (St. Luke 23:43). Now, our Lord did not ascend into heaven till after His resurrection; therefore, paradise, to which the penitent thief [robber, R.V.] went with Him on the day of crucifixion, could not be heaven; and as paradise was promised as something to be thankful for, it could not be hell, the abode of the lost. It must, therefore, have been an intermediate state where a measure of happiness was possible.
(b) “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven” (St. John 3:13). Now, if none but Christ had ascended into heaven (as He alone came down from heaven), therefore, the Old Testament saints could not have ascended to their eternal and final bliss, which is always called heaven; and as we dare not think of them in the hell of the damned, they must be in that intermediate state, enjoying that measure of happiness which a soul is capable of enjoying while separated from the body.
(c) The parable of “the rich man and Lazarus” (St. Luke 16) proves the same truth; because, whether it be a parable or a reality, our Lord describes it as evidently taking place immediately after death, and before the final judgment, for the rich man’s brothers were yet alive; and yet both Lazarus and the rich man were receiving their respective rewards, though in all places it is to the final judgment at the resurrection we are directed to look for the full reward. See also St. Matt. 16:27, 25:34, 41; 2 Thess. 1:9–10, etc., etc.
2. To show that our Lord’s soul went into the intermediate state or place, called hell or Hades.
This has already been indicated in His promise to the penitent thief: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (St. Luke 23:43). “Neither was He left in Hades” (Acts 2:31, R.V.); therefore He must have been in it.
NOTE. – 1. That as the penitent thief was not buried with Christ, therefore paradise could not mean the grave.
2. That as he was promised it as a reward, and as the rich man and Lazarus, in Hades, were being comforted and tormented, therefore the state between death and judgment is not one of unconscious slumber.
3. As the rich man could get no relief from his torments, and the thief went with Christ to paradise, the fact of an intermediate state gives no ground to infer the Romish doctrine of Purgatory.
1. State clearly the meaning of “hell” in this article. Support your answer from God’s Word.
2. Show that there is an intermediate state. What is revealed as to the soul there?
3. Prove that Christ’s soul was in Hades. What follows from this?
4. Show that the doctrine of Purgatory cannot be inferred from the fact of an intermediate state.
Of the Resurrection of Christ.
Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all things pertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until He return to judge all men at the last day.
Historical. – The doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ is made the very foundation of Christian preaching. “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Hence, therefore, the history of the doctrine of the Resurrection is that of the preaching of the Gospel. Yet, even in the Apostles’ days, we find heretical teaching concerning it, some denying a resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12), and others the significance thereof (2 Tim. 2:18). Many of the heretical sects, unable to account for it on philosophical principles, simply denied it, as did the Docetae, who considered His body only a phantom. Not only was the fact of the Resurrection universally accepted by all orthodox Christians, but the early Fathers of the Church spoke of its nature, as does our Article, asserting that His resurrection body was essentially the same as that in which He died.
The first day of the week, which was observed both by Jewish and Gentile Christians as the weekly festival of the Lord’s Resurrection, soon took the place of the Jewish Sabbath, as did its annual commemoration supplant the Paschal Feast. The universal observance of both these days supplies a historic chain of evidence of the strongest character as to the truth of the event which they commemorate. Indeed, the Russian name for the first day of the week is still Vos Kresenyeh, i.e., “resurrection”. Not till the fourth century, however, was a day set apart in commemoration of the Ascension.
Analysis. – The Article asserts:–
I. The reality of Christ’s resurrection.
II. The complete and perfect character thereof, with all things pertaining to the perfection of man’s nature.
III. His ascension in the perfection of man’s nature.
IV. The fact of His return to earth, and the purpose thereof.
Explanatory. – “Did truly rise.” Not, as the Docetae asserted, only in appearance, but truly. Latin, vere.
“Took again His body,” etc. – The same body in which He suffered.
“Wherewith He ascended,” etc., i.e., in that same resurrection body, “the Godhead and Manhood never to be divided.”
“There sitteth until He return to judge.” – In that resurrection body wherewith He ascended to His home.
Proof. – 1. To show that Christ did truly rise from death.
The angel said, “He is not here, for He is risen, as He said” (St. Matt. 28:6). “This is the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead” (St. John 21:14, Acts 10:40, Rom. 14:9).
2. To show that He rose in the perfection of man’s nature.
When the disciples thought that He was a spirit, “He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet” (St. Luke 24:36–41). And to Thomas He showed the print of the nails in His hands and the spear mark in His side (St. John 20:27) – proving clearly that the resurrection body was the same body that had been crucified on the cross.
3. To show that He ascended therewith into heaven.
He was speaking to His disciples in His resurrection body. “And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (St. Luke 26:51, Acts 1:10).
4. To show the effect of Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, etc.
“He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:14); and “God ... hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–6). So also should it be a drawing of our desires heavenward. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).
5. To show that He shall come again to judge all men.
Christ Himself has told us that “the Father judgeth no man, but bath committed all judgment unto the Son” (St. John 5:22). “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
6. To show that the judgment will take “place at the last day.
We are told He will “judge the quick [the living] and the dead at His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:1), and that at the day of judgment the heavens shall pass away, elements melt, and the earth be burned up (2 Peter 3:10–12) – showing that it will then be the end of all things, “the last day”.
NOTE. – If Christ always retains His human nature, is now in heaven, till He come at the last day to judge, does it not follow that in that nature He cannot be on earth? And therefore this Article also implicitly denies the possibility of the Romish doctrine of Transubstantiation. See the explanation after the office of Holy Communion in the Prayer Book.
1. What historical evidence does “the Lord’s Day,” or Christian Sabbath, afford now of the reality of Christ’s Resurrection?
2. What is said, in the Article, of Christ’s resurrection body? Why?
3. The object of Christ’s return? What the Scriptural authority?
4. On what day does the Church commemorate the Ascension? Since when?
5. This Article implicitly denies the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
Of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Historical. – The Godhead of the Holy Ghost was firmly held in the early ages of the Church. The great controversy with the Arians and other kindred heretics was concerning the Second Person of the Trinity. During the years occupied with this controversy, the nature of the Holy Ghost was not under discussion; therefore it is that no mention of that nature is made in the Creed drawn up at the Council of Nicaea (325), which simply asserted belief in the Holy Ghost.
About the end of the fourth century, however, denial of His Divinity became the chief characteristic of the Semi-Arians, who, while acknowledging the Godhead of the Son, held that the Spirit was only as one of the angels.
The Second General Council, met at Constantinople (381), condemned this heresy, and, as the expression of the Church’s doctrine, added the words “the Lord, and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.” Thus the Nicene Creed was brought by the decision of the Eastern and Western Churches – united Christendom – to its present form, save that, as the question of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son was not discussed, the word “Filioque,” i.e., “and from the Son,” was not inserted.
The Council of Ephesus (431) – the Third General Council – which defined the Catholic faith respecting the Person of the Son, considered the Nicene Creed, as enlarged by the Council of Constantinople, sufficient to meet the heretical opinions concerning the Trinity, and decreed that nothing should be added to it.
At the Council of Toledo, in Spain (589), the word “Filioque,” i.e., “and from the Son,” appeared in the Nicene Creed, and as it expressed a fact for which there was ample Scriptural authority, it was generally accepted by the Western Church. The Eastern Church, however, though implicitly accepting the doctrine, resented any addition thus made to the Creed as sanctioned by the General Councils, and refused to accept the addition. This, together with other matters, such as the assumption of ecclesiastical jurisdiction by the Popes, led eventually (in 1053) to that schism between the Eastern and Western Churches which still exists.
Long before the stirring epoch of the Reformation, skepticism and infidelity were very prevalent in Italy. The rationalistic spirit which called in question the supernatural elements of Christianity, led to a revival of some phases of old heretical opinions, and to the formation of parties with divers forms of unbelief. These – classed under the general name of Anabaptists – had also to be contended with at the Reformation.
The doctrine of the Trinity was assailed early in the sixteenth century; and, about 1579, Faustus Socinus, an Italian, who had settled in Poland, systematized those opinions which have since been known as Socinianism. They spread considerably on the Continent, and are still represented by the Unitarians of the present day, who also deny the Personality of the Holy Ghost.
This Article (added 1562) meets such errors by asserting His Personality and Divinity, and was necessary to complete the statement of the Church’s faith in reference to each of the Three Persons in the Trinity.
Analysis. – The Article deals with –
I. The procession of the Holy Ghost “from the Father and the Son.”
II. His Personality, and
III. His Divinity, “ very and eternal God.”
Explanatory. – “Proceeding from.” This was termed spiration by the schoolmen, who in vain attempted to explain the nature of the mysteries of the Divine Trinity. The word “procession,” therefore, is only used as in some sense conveying an idea of the relation of the Spirit to Father and Son, in Scriptural language, without carrying with it a distinct conception of the nature of that relation, though indicating a distinct Personality.
“One substance.” – i.e., essence.
“Very and eternal God” = true God; “the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one.”
Proof. – 1. To prove the procession of the Holy Ghost from both Father and Son.
(a) “The Spirit of the Father” is a name applied to Him (St. Matt. 10:20); and in St. John 4:26, our Lord speaks of Him as “the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father”; and so St Paul – “The Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God” (1 Cor. 6:19) – proves that the procession of the Spirit from the Father, ever held by the Church, is asserted in Scripture.
(b) Since the Son is God, the Holy Ghost is often called the “Spirit of the Son” (Phil. 1:10 and “the Spirit of Christ” (1 Peter 1:11), the Lord Himself speaking of Him as the “Comforter” – “If I depart, I will send Him [the Comforter] unto you” (St. John 16:7) – showing clearly that He proceeded from Him, as does also the fact that He communicated the Holy Ghost to the Apostles directly: “He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (St. John 20:22).
2. To show the Personality of the Holy Ghost.
He is spoken of in language which can only be applied to a person. He is said to “reprove,” to “hear,” to “receive,” to “guide,” to “speak,” etc. (St. John 14, 15, 16) – actions wholly inapplicable to a mere influence, and, therefore, conclusively showing His Personality; and further, that that Personality is distinct from both that of the Father and the Son, is clearly indicated in such passages as “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from the Father” (St. John 15:26). For, sent from the Father, and by the Son, shows that He must be a Being distinct from each.
3. To show the Divinity of the Holy Ghost.
Not only are the attributes and powers of God ascribed to Him in Holy Scripture, but He is also there expressly called God.
(a) In 2 Chron. 6:30, we read that God “only knoweth the hearts of the children of men”; but St. Paul tells us that “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10), thus showing the Spirit is God. The Spirit is said to be everywhere present – an attribute which can only be applied to God; so also the attribute “eternal,” etc. Therefore, since He is spoken of as eternal, all-seeing, all-knowing, everywhere present, we must believe that He is God.
(b) He is called God, as when Peter said to Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” and then, “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3–14) – showing that the Holy Ghost is called God; so St. Paul, in calling our bodies both “temples of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:19) and “temples of God” (1 Cor. 3:16), proves the same fact.
1. In what words does the Article assert the Divinity of the Holy Ghost?
2. Show from Scripture His Divinity, as also His Personality.
3. Account for a statement of His Divinity not being inserted in the Nicene Creed. When was it made part of the Creed? Why?
4. Give a short account of the manner in which the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son was made part of the Nicene Creed.
5. Prove His procession “from the Father and the Son”.
Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books.
The First Book of Samuel
The Second Book of Samuel
The First Book of Kings
The Second Book of Kings
The First Book of Chronicles
The Second Book of Chronicles
The First Book of Esdras
The Second Book of Esdras
The Book of Esther
The Book of Job
Ecclesiastes, or Preacher
Cantica, or Songs of Solomon
Four Prophets the greater
Twelve Prophets the less
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine – such are these following:–
The Third Book of Esdras
The Fourth Book of Esdras
The Book of Tobias
The Book of Judith
The rest of the Book of Esther
The Book of Wisdom
Jesus the Son of Sirach
Baruch the Prophet
The Song of the Three Children
The Story of Susanna
Of Bel and the Dragon
The Prayer of Manasses
The First Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account them Canonical.
Historical. – In the early Christian Church the sufficiency of Holy Scripture for salvation was universally acknowledged. As a rule, heretics, as well as orthodox Christians, appealed to them, as writings whose authority was final on all subjects of controversy in matters of faith. For the first four hundred years this was so; for instance, the Arians, condemned by the General Council of Nicaea (325), asserted that they were bound by the Divine Scriptures, but that “unscriptural expressions deserve no regard”.
St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, the great champion of orthodoxy against the Arians, gives a catalogue of the books of the New Testament, which is the same as ours, and adds: “Let no man add to them or take anything from them.”
From the fifth century learning was on the decline, and during the dark ages doctrines which found no sanction in God’s Word were gradually accepted, and the Western Church had become Roman.
The revival of learning, which rendered the Bible accessible to the people in their own language, resulted in a revolt against Romanism.
It was seen that the Christianity then taught differed from that which was found in the Scriptures, and when men asked why, Rome’s claim to infallibility prevented her from repudiating her more recent doctrines, which were opposed to God’s Word; and not willing to acknowledge that she invented them, she therefore for the first time adopted the opinion of the Valentinian heretics – refuted by Irenaeus towards the end of the second century – that the Bible alone does not contain all that is necessary for salvation, but must be supplemented by the traditions in her keeping, which she said had been handed down from Christ and His Apostles.
In 1546 the Council of Trent decreed “that the truth is contained in the written Word and in the unwritten traditions” – which traditions are to be received with equal reverence and authority as the books of the New Testament.
Thus the Roman Church differs, not only from the primitive Church, but from all other Christian Churches, in maintaining that Holy Scripture is defective, and does not contain all that is necessary for salvation. The same Council further decreed that “he who shall presume to read or have a Bible without a license, may not receive absolution until he has surrendered the Bible.”
The Church of Rome differs also from all other Christian Churches as to what books constitute the Canon of Scripture. She alone includes the Apocrypha as inspired; we, in common with the Eastern Church and all reformed Churches, accept it only as a valuable collection of uninspired writings, which throws light on the times immediately preceding the advent of our Lord.
The Article not only defines Holy Scripture, but enumerates the books of the Old Testament. Now, these books, which constitute the Canon of the Old Testament, are exactly the same as those recognized by the modern Jews; and we know from St. Jerome in the fourth century, and Josephus in the first, that they are also identical with those of the Hebrew Canon in our Lord’s day, to which, by frequent allusion and quotations, He gave His Divine sanction and approval. Of these books therefore “there was never any doubt in the Church.”
The Apocryphal Books were written sometime between the return of the Jews from the Captivity of Babylon and the birth of Christ, at a time when Hebrew was a dead language; they never therefore found a place in the Hebrew Canon.
The Septuagint (LXX), a Greek version of the Old Testament – made at Alexandria about 280 B.C., and so called from the tradition that it was the work of 70 (or 72) translators – was used by the Jews and early Christians. To it many of the Apocryphal Books were added by the Alexandrian Jews, containing, as they did, valuable links in the Jewish history from the time of the Captivity, and also the record of the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. But the uninspired character of these books was fully recognized.
As the Latin translation of the Septuagint naturally contained these books, they were received with great reverence by the Latin Church, but with less discrimination as to their character than formerly.
St. Jerome (329) was the first to translate the Old Testament into Latin direct from the Hebrew text; and to those books which he found in the Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew, gave the name “Apocryphal”. In 373 we find St. Athanasius condemning those who would mix Apocryphal books with the Divine Scripture. These books, however, remained in the Latin Vulgate, and the Council of Trent declared them to be canonical, in opposition to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.
The New Testament Canon is the same in all branches of the Christian Church.
Our Lord gave His Apostles authority to teach and write, and in doing so they were divinely inspired (St. John 14:25–26, 16:13).
The only question, therefore, to be decided was, whether a letter or a book were written by an Apostle, or with his knowledge and sanction. This was simply a matter of testimony; and when this were once proved for a book or a letter, no further question could arise as to its inspiration or the infallibility of its doctrines.
The fact that certain books were for a time doubted by some Churches – though they were received by others – is what would naturally occur from the nature of the case, and shows the extreme caution of the early Church, in requiring clear historic proof of Apostolic authorship or sanction, before receiving them. But when once received, there was no longer “any doubt in the Church”. We know from St. Luke 1:1 that there were many histories of our Lord’s life, and such writings of the early Christians would be valued and read in many Churches. These, however, gradually gave place to the inspired books, many being destroyed in the Diocletian persecution (300), in which an effort was made to exterminate the Christian writings.
It is asserted that we owe the Canon of Scripture to the Roman Catholic Church – an assertion for which there is absolutely no foundation. The claims of our sacred books rest on far higher grounds than the decision of any Council, viz.: historical evidence that they are Apostolic – evidence fully recognized by the whole Christian Church in countries the most remote, and that, too, before the end of the fourth century. Original manuscripts, catalogues, versions, and commentaries are so numerous, that even now there is no lack of evidence as to the certainty of the Canon of our Scriptures.
Analysis. – This Article is divided into three parts, which treat of –
I. The sufficiency of Holy Scripture, and the rejection of all else as a necessary of faith.
II. The definition of Holy Scripture, and the enumeration of the Canonical Books of the Old Testament.
III. The titles of the Apocryphal Books, and the extent to which these books may be used.
Explanatory. – “Holy Scripture,” the name now exclusively given to the inspired writings, and, as a rule, so limited in the writings themselves (2 Tim. 3:15–16, Acts 28:24); its equivalent in Article XX being “God’s Word written,” and “Holy Writ”.
“All things necessary,” etc. – We have no other trustworthy source of information as to the teaching of our Lord and His Apostles; it is tradition in reference to this teaching that we reject.
“May be proved thereby.” That means that every legitimate inference from Scripture is as binding as that for which there are express words. It is therefore but a captious objection to any doctrine that it is not expressed in the very words of Scripture, for “the sense of Scripture is Scripture.”
“Canonical Books,” used in a twofold sense, for as “Canon” = a rule or measure, hence the Books are –
(a) Those which have been by a rule determined to be Holy Scripture; and then further –
(b) Those books which are themselves a rule or measure of faith (Gal. 6:16; 2 Cor. 10:13–16).
“Never any doubt in the Church,” i.e., in the Church as a whole, which has never doubted or changed the Canon. That books doubted by some Churches came at length to be universally received as inspired Scripture, shows that the strength of the historical evidence in favour of Apostolic authorship could no longer be resisted.
“The First Book of Esdras” = Ezra.
“The Second Book of Esdras” = Nehemiah.
“Four Prophets the Greater” = Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
NOTE. – The terms “the greater” and “the less,” applied to the prophets, have reference only to the size and extent of their writings, and not to any difference in their inspired authority.
“The other Books” = the Apocryphal Books, sometimes also called “Ecclesiastical” Books, from being read in Churches.
“The Church doth read,” i.e., occasionally in its Public Services on weekdays, as the first lesson, e.g., the Greek Church, the Church of England, and the American. The Church of Ireland, however, does not read them, these books having been omitted from the Lectionary at its revision in 1873.
“Hierome,” i.e., St. Jerome, born 329, the most learned Christian writer of his time. The great work of his life was the translation of the Old Testament into Latin direct from the original Hebrew. The list which he gives of the Books of the Old and New Testament is the same as ours; he admits no others into the “Sacred Library”.
“Instruction of manners,” i.e., morals, formation of character.
“Doth not apply them to establish any doctrine” – because not inspired. Every aid is welcomed which can help to the right understanding of Holy Scripture, and the rites and ceremonies of the early Church, be it from Apocryphal Books, tradition, or profane history; but from the written Word of God alone is established every doctrine “requisite to salvation”.
Proof. – 1. To show from ordinary experience the uncertainty of Tradition.
It is a fact of ordinary experience that reports circulated only by word of mouth, through a series of persons, are proverbially unreliable. Such is oral tradition.
The written word remains unchanged, and in ordinary life no one would think of placing uncertain verbal statements on the same level, as to accuracy and authority, with the written word. Yet this is what the Roman Church did at the Council of Trent, when it was decreed that unwritten tradition had equal authority with the written Word of God. The sufficiency of Scripture follows from the fact that they have been given us by God, and that we have nothing else to appeal to, as containing His Word.
2. The uncertainty of Tradition in the Old Testament times.
(a) Tradition failed to preserve a general knowledge of the true God even to Noah’s day, though tested then under the most favourable conditions, for men lived so long that Seth, the son of Adam, lived almost to the birth of Noah. Therefore, for the people of Noah’s time, tradition would only have to be handed down through two persons from Adam.
(b) After the flood tradition failed to preserve the truth to Abraham’s time, for the people were then generally idolaters, yet Noah’s sons were contemporary with Abraham.
3. To show that Tradition was superseded by the command of God.
Not to leave the Commandments and the Law to the uncertainty of tradition, God commanded Moses to write the Law (Ex. 34:27), and He Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on stone (Ex. 32:16). So also were the prophets commanded to write the revelations they received, and not leave them to be forgotten or distorted by tradition (Isa. 30:8, Jer. 30:2). Therefore Scripture, that preserves the truth with certainty, cannot be so imperfect and deficient for the purposes for which it was given as to need the aid of the less reliable tradition.
4. To show that our Lord condemned resting doctrines on Tradition.
The Jews acted on exactly the same principle as the Roman Catholic Church does – adding to the truths of the written Word doctrines founded on oral tradition, which were opposed to that Word, a state of things our Lord emphatically condemned. “Why do ye transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (St. Matt. 15:3, 9); and He accused them of “making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition” (St. Mark 6:13).
5. To show the sufficiency of the Old Testament Scriptures for the purpose for which they were given.
“Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me” (St. John 5:39, R.V.) – showing clearly that our Lord considered them sufficient to lead to Him. So St. Paul, in writing to Timothy, bears the same testimony: “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture inspired of God is profitable, ... that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15–17, R.V.). The New Testament was not yet written. This refers therefore to the Old Testament, and shows it perfect for the purpose for which the revelation was made; needing nothing save the illumination which faith in Christ supplied.
6. To show the sufficiency of the New Testament Scriptures for the purposes for which they were written.
(a) St. Luke states that the object he had in view in writing his books was to counteract the danger arising from the imperfect records of events by those who only knew of them secondhand – by oral tradition – and that too of only a few years’ standing. “Forasmuch as many have taken in hands to draw up a narrative, ... it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty,” etc. (St. Luke 1:1–4, R.V.). Are we to suppose that St. Luke, though inspired, failed in his object, and that it requires the help of tradition to get at “the certainty of those things”?
(b) St. John tells us that he wrote “that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His name” (St. John 20:31, R.V.). Are we to suppose that he too failed in his object? or that the aid of uncertain tradition is necessary that we “may have life in His name”? Nay, St. John himself expressly says, in reference to his book of the Revelation, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life,” etc. (Rev. 22:18–19).
This book is therefore considered perfect and complete by its Author. Are we to consider the other inspired books imperfect? The Roman Catholic Church alone says, “Yes.” The unanimous voice of all other Christian Churches proclaims that Holy Scripture is perfect, and “contains all things necessary to salvation”.
7. To show that the authority of Tradition, in reference to doctrine, is never recognized in God’s Word, but that an appeal to Scripture is always considered final.
“To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). So also in the expressions, “What saith the Scripture?” (Rom. 4:3); “As the Scripture saith” (John 7:38); “It is written” (St. Matt. 4:4). Thus Scripture is a final appeal.
8. To show that Articles of Faith and Doctrine may be deduced from Scripture, though not stated there in express words.
We need only refer to the example of our Lord and His Apostles.
(a) Our Lord proved that the doctrine of the resurrection was deducible from the Old Testament, though not revealed there in express words: “As touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (St. Matt. 22:31–32). Thus giving us an example of deducing truths by just inferences from facts stated.
(b) So St. Paul, in Romans iv., shows that the doctrine of justification by faith may be deduced from God’s dealings with Abraham, etc.: “He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:11).
9. To prove that the attempt to support any of the peculiar doctrines of the Church of Rome, by an appeal to Tradition, falls.
Because we can trace the development of every Romish doctrine which we reject. We can point to a time – from five hundred to eighteen hundred years after Christ – when such doctrines were neither taught nor recognized; and this alone is a sufficient proof that there was then no tradition on the subject. For as tradition must be truer nearer its source, there can, from the nature of the case, be no new tradition; therefore, if a tradition were not known in the early ages of the Church, it could not be known later.
Note that, though it is said Rome appeals to the written and unwritten Word, she insists that these must be interpreted by the Church; thus making all her doctrines rest simply on her authority. This does away with the necessity of proof, and is a very convenient assumption, inasmuch as the Church of Rome is as unable now to appeal to antiquity or tradition, as she is to Scripture, in support of the peculiar doctrines which she has gradually developed.
10. To show that Tradition testifies to the sufficiency of Scripture as a rule of faith.
Every Father of the Church so testifies – all asserting the sufficiency of the written Word of God, in support of which St. Basil and St. Augustine quote Gal.1:8–9. St. Athanasius asserts – “The Holy and inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the preaching of the truth.” Thus for 400 years tradition itself testifies to the sufficiency of Scripture as a rule of faith.
1. How does the Article define “Holy Scripture”? By what other names is it spoken of in the Articles?
2. In what words is the supremacy of Holy Scripture stated? In what other Articles is it also stated or implied?
3. Is it necessary that all doctrines should be stated in the very words of Scripture? Illustrate your answer by the example of our Lord and St. Paul.
4. State clearly the meaning of “Canonical Books”.
5. Show that the statement that we receive the Canon of Scripture on the authority of the Church of Rome is utterly without foundation.
6. What do you understand by the terms “greater” or “less,” as applied to the Prophets? Name the “greater prophets”.
7. Who was “Hierome”? What his great work?
8. Show that “the other books” are not inspired Scripture. Account for the Apocrypha at any time being considered a part of the Canon of Scripture, as it is by the Romish Church at present.
9. Indicate the methods by which the Canon of the Old Testament is proved.
10. State accurately the twofold difference between us and the Church of Rome in respect to Holy Scripture.
11. Show the uncertainty of oral tradition. Its authority is not recognized in Scripture.
12. Prove the sufficiency of Holy Scripture from its own statements.
13. Show that the appeal to tradition, in support of novel doctrines, involves an absurdity.
14. How do you reply to the argument from St. John 21:25, by which the Church of Rome endeavours to show the necessity of tradition?
15. Show that the fact that the Church existed before the New Testament was written is no argument in favour of tradition.
16. Give an instance in Scripture in which mere verbal tradition led to error (St. John 21:21–23).
(See Appendix A.)
Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.
Historical. – The Gnostics of the second, and the Manicheans of the third century, were the first to reject the Old Testament Scriptures. It is to be remembered, however, that these were not Christian but rather philosophical sects, which professedly borrowed what to them seemed best in all religious systems, and only adopted some of the elements of Christianity.
The attempt to graft the principles of the Christian faith upon purely heathen systems, and to adapt the facts of revelation to metaphysical speculations, accounts for some of the extraordinary opinions which became prevalent, in reference to many of the Christian doctrines. After a time, when the adherents of such systems as these claimed the name of Christians, there arose the necessity for the Church, through her Councils, to condemn their errors, and, in her Creeds and Formularies, to define the truth.
Manicheism was so called from Manes, a Persian, who, about 270, elaborated his system, which was one of pure dualism. He taught that there were two principles eternally opposed to each other – the God of Light and the God of Darkness; that the Old Testament proceeded from the latter, and was inconsistent with the New. These opinions, though having their origin in Persia, found their way to the West, and even as late as the eleventh century traces of them are found in France and Italy. In the sixteenth century the old Manichean heresy, in some of its phases, was renewed by various sects which received the general name of Anabaptists, from their rejection of baptism, which was a feature common to them all.
The Anabaptists were opposed by Reformers and Romanists alike. In 1534 they seized the town of Minister, in Holland, and expelled all who would not abjure their baptism. The town, however, was retaken in the following year, and many of the Anabaptists escaped from the Continent, and found an asylum in England, where they continued to spread their extravagant doctrines. Some held that having received the Spirit they could no more sin. Others asserted that they were freed by immediate inspiration from the dead letter of the written Word, etc. Hence the necessity of an Article asserting the authority of the Old Testament, and defining the extent to which the Mosaic law was binding on Christians. This Article is a union of two which were drawn up in 1552, one clause only being omitted.
The Baptists and Quakers of the present time are the representatives of some of the Anabaptist sects, though, in some points, the extravagant opinions formerly held, as to the Old Testament and inward illumination of the Spirit, have been somewhat modified. Some of the sections of Plymouth Brethren now represent the antinomianism of the past.
Analysis: – The Article consists of two parts: –
1. A statement that the Old Testament is not contrary to the New – (a) a reason given, and (b) a consequence deduced.
2. The threefold division of the Mosaic law stated, viz.: – (a) The ceremonial. (b) The judicial. (c) The moral law; the last alone necessarily binding on Christian men.
Explanatory. – “Testament” = a covenant; here it means the covenant between God and man.
“Only Mediator” = one who goes between; Christ being both God and Man, is alone suited as a mediator between God and man. Therefore no mediation of saints is possible or necessary.
“Transitory promises” = temporary, not lasting; hence promises only in reference to earthly blessings.
“The Law given from God by Moses.” – A special feature of the Mosaic Law is the direct reference which it makes to God’s commandment as the foundation of all human duty. Though some Laws may have at once a Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil bearing, yet the threefold distinction serves to distinguish those Laws which are right because commanded, from those of a distinctly moral character, which are commanded because they are right in themselves.
“Ceremonies and rites”; i.e., relating to offerings and sacrifices – ecclesiastical laws.
“Civil precepts”; i.e., judicial or political laws suited to the national life of the Jews.
“Moral law”; i.e., the law suited to man’s moral nature, and therefore as lasting as that nature.
Proofs. – 1. To show that the Old Testament is not contrary to the New.
We have but to point to the fulfillment in the New of the prophecies concerning Christ which are found in the Old.
(a) Moses prophesied that God would raise up a Prophet like unto him (Deut. 18:15). St. Stephen shows that these words were fulfilled in Christ (Acts 7:37), as does also St. Peter, who further adds, “Yea, and all the prophets, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:24); and our Lord says, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me” (St. John 5:46). Thus the writings of Moses being fulfilled in Christ, they cannot be contrary to the New Testament.
(b) So also of the Prophets and the Psalms, we have our Lord’s own testimony, “that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning me” (St. Luke 24:44–46). Now, almost every event of our Lord’s life was foretold. The place of His birth (Micah 5:2); the time (Haggai 2:6, 9); the manner of His death (Num. 21:9, with St. John 3:14); burial Isa. 53:9); resurrection (Psa. 16:10); etc.
Thus the whole Old Testament is in agreement with the New.
2. To show that in both everlasting life is offered to mankind through Christ.
This our Lord affirms – “Ye search the Scriptures” (i.e., the Old Testament, the New not being yet written), “because ye think that in them ye have eternal life, and these are they that bear witness of me” (St. John 5:39, R.V.) So Apollos testified – “He mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures” (i.e., Old Testament) “that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28). So St. Paul testifies that the Old Testament Scriptures were able to make Timothy “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). This, with the constant appeal to the Old by the writers of the New, shows clearly the agreement of both, in offering salvation to man through Christ.
3. To show that Christ is the only Mediator, etc.
Indeed, the words of the Article are quoted from 1 Tim. 2:5, R.V. – “There is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus.”
4. To show that the old Fathers did not look for transitory promises only.
That is, to show that they had a hope beyond the grave. We have the authority of Christ Himself (see Proof 2); also, when the rich man wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brethren of the life beyond the grave, he was told, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (St. Luke 16:29). This is also shown by the example of some of the old Fathers:–
Enoch. – In Heb. 11:5, we learn the cause of his translation to heaven (Gen. 5:24), that it was because he “pleased God,” and had this testimony; therefore it must have been recognized that reward after death awaited those who “walked with God.”
Jacob, too, looked for a life beyond the grave, for he comforted himself, on the death of Joseph, with the hope of meeting him in a future life: “I will go down into the grave to my son mourning” (Gen. 37:35). His hope (like that of David – 2 Sam. 12:23) was that he would join his son in Hades; for it could not mean that he hoped to lie in the same grave with his son, because he believed that Joseph had already been eaten by wild beasts.
Abraham also looked for other than transitory promises; our Lord bare witness that he had a knowledge of the future: – “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad” (St. John 8:56). So also, in Heb. 11:19, in reference to the raising up of Isaac. All the patriarchs who walked by faith, “desired a better country, that is a heavenly,” etc.
5. To show the extent to which the Mosaic Law is binding on Christians.
The law given by Moses was of a threefold character.
(a) That touching Ceremonies and Rites, which regulated the offerings, etc., typifying Christ, was, therefore, in its very nature, temporary; it “was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24); and when Christ came, its functions ceased.
(b) The Civil precepts, that is, the judicial law regulating the national life of the Jews – it also, in its nature, being temporary. Enacted, when the Jews became, a nation, with God as their King, it ceased when the circumstances that called it forth had passed away. Men must be subject to the civil precepts of the country in which they live. St. Paul taught – even when the powers were heathen – that “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1).
(c) The Moral Law, suited to man as a moral agent, and declaring what is right for all men – of all nations and all times – is therefore, from its very nature, of perpetual obligation. It was not, like the Judicial and Ceremonial Laws, enacted specially for the Jewish people, because it was in force long before that nation had a being (Gen. 2:10, 12; 9:6; Ex. 16:25, 30). Therefore the mere fact that it was incorporated at Sinai with the Jewish laws, does not prove that it must pass away with the Jewish nation; on the contrary, as it was in force before that people existed, so must it remain of perpetual obligation, unless specifically annulled; but so far from its being annulled, our Lord not only reenacted the Ten Commandments, but also shows that they are to be observed by us in a stricter sense than ever the Jews understood them, i.e., in the spirit as well as the letter (St. Matt. 5:20–28, Eph. 6:1, 3).
1. What does this Article state about the Old Testament? and what follows from the fact on which the proof of that statement rests?
2. Show the threefold character of the Mosaic Law. Discuss how far it is binding on Christians.
3. Whence the necessity for this Article?
4. Prove that the old Fathers had a hope beyond the grave.
5. Show that Christ is the only Mediator.
Of the Three Creeds.
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
Historical. – The origin of Creeds may be traced to the simple profession of faith made in baptism; and their enlargement, to the necessity of guarding the truth from heretical opinions which were early put forth. Our Lord commanded baptism to be performed “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (St. Matt. 28:19), and no doubt a belief in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was at first all that was required.
But even in the Apostles’ days some of the errors of the Gnostics were being taught – men like Hymenaeus and Philetus falsely interpreting the fact of the resurrection (2 Tim. 2:17–18), and others “denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4, R.V.); fuller statements therefore became necessary. It is probable that S. Paul alludes to some such Creed, when urging Timothy to “hold fast the form [pattern, R.V.] of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13–14) which he had taught him, and when he praises the Romans for obeying the “form of doctrine” (Rom. 6:17) to which they were delivered.
Many Creeds have been preserved in the writings of the early Fathers. In the works of Irenaeus (177), we meet with the first extended Creed. Others like it in substance are numerous, though expressed in different language, each Church having its own form.
The advantage of a common form for the whole Church is apparent; but it was not till the Council of Nicaea (325) that such a form could have been considered by the whole Church, for then only was a General Council possible, the East and West for the first time being united under one Christian Emperor – Constantine.
Our Creeds are not accepted on the sole authority of any Councils, but on that of Holy Scripture, by which they can be proved. In the first Articles put forth by Henry VIII this was not so – as the rule of faith was then made to rest on the Creeds and the Bible. But the supremacy of Scripture as the sole rule of faith having been asserted in Art. VI, the authority of the Creeds was necessarily made to rest on their agreement with Holy Scripture.
THE NICENE CREED. – This Creed was deliberately composed to meet the heresy of Arius, which the Nicene Council (325) formally condemned. A Creed somewhat similar to it, and long in use by the Bishops of Caesarea, seems to have been the basis of that then adopted; the most important addition being that which stated that the Son was “of the one substance with the Father”. This asserted His true Godhead against the Arians, who denied it.
A branch of these – the semi-Arians or Macedonians – denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. The Council of Constantinople (381) condemned this heresy, and, to protect the truth from such false opinions, added to the Nicene Creed – which had ended with the words, “I believe in the Holy Ghost” – all the words which it at present contains in reference to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, except “and the Son,” which relates to His procession.
The Council of Constantinople was composed of Eastern bishops only; yet as its decrees were received throughout the West, it has been acknowledged as the Second General Council. The Council of Ephesus (431) decreed that no addition should be made to this Creed; yet in the Western Church the words, “and the Son” were added at the Council of Toledo (589) in Spain, where the Arians were still to be feared. This addition ultimately led to the schism of the Eastern and Western Churches (1053), which has not yet been healed.
The simple statement of the truth in this Creed has been of incalculable benefit to the Church. The Unitarians of the present day are the representatives of the Arian heretics.
ATHANASIUS’ CREED. – The Author of this Creed is unknown; but it is generally attributed to Hilary, Bishop of Arles (430), and no doubt originated in the contest with the Arians, which was so bitter in France and Spain about that time.
As Athanasius was the great opponent of the Arians, this Creed, which sets forth his exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity, came to be called by his name. It is more than a Creed; for it not only asserts the doctrine, but is also a masterly exposition thereof. Its acceptance by the Western Church rests on no decision of any Council, but upon its own inherent worth as a defense of the Trinity, and its agreement with Holy Scripture. It has not been received by the Eastern Church, and the American Church has omitted it from this Article. The Church of Ireland retains it in her Prayer Book, but has no rubric directing it to be read in the Service.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED. – The tradition that this Creed is so called because it was composed by the Apostles is groundless; rather did it receive its name as being the Creed in use in that Western Church which could claim an Apostle as its founder. The simplicity of its form shows it of very early origin, growing naturally out of the baptismal formula. We meet with it almost in its present form in the works of Rufinus of Aquileia (390), and in that of a French Bishop, in 750, in the exact words in which we now have it.
The reciting of Creeds in the public Service of the Church is most effective in preserving purity in doctrine. As early as the fifth century the Nicene Creed was recited in the Eastern Church at the Holy Communion, and from the following century we find it similarly used in the Western Church. The Church of England, and all in communion with her, make the acceptance of the Apostles’ Creed a necessary condition of full Church privileges. – See the Baptismal and Confirmation Services and the Order for the Visitation of the Sick.
Explanatory. – “Creed,” so called from the first word – Latin, credo, “I believe.” In the Latin text of the Article, however, symbola is the word used for Creeds, meaning probably, in this connection, a watchword, and also carrying with it the idea of a collection of Christian doctrine.
“Most certain warrants,” i.e., by clear testimonies, Holy Scripture being supreme.
Note the fact that there is not one of the peculiar doctrines of Romanism in any of the three Creeds: they had not been developed sufficiently when the Creeds were drawn up. [For a full explanation of the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, see the Author’s “Church Principles on the basis of the Church Catechism.”]
1. Name the Church’s Creeds. Why so called?
2. Give a short history of each.
3. What the origin of Creeds? Show their necessity.
4. On what authority do we receive the Three Creeds?
5. What evidence is afforded by the Creeds that the peculiar doctrines of the Church of Rome were unknown to the early Church?
Of Original or Birth-Sin.
Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagian do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek Φρόνημα σαρκος, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.
Historical. – Pelagius, said to have been a native of Wales, and Coelestus, a native of Ireland, whom he met at Rome, and accompanied to Africa, held opinions on original sin which were condemned by various synods in the early part of the fifth century. They taught that Adam would have died even if he had not sinned – that his sin was personal, and harmed no one but himself, except by way of example – that children are born into the world in the same condition in which Adam was originally – that their baptism is unnecessary – that man could live without sin, etc.
Those opinions spread not only in the East, but also to Britain. The Third General Council of Ephesus (431) condemned them as heretical.
The earliest trace of the rise of the Schoolmen in the West is found when Anselm, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, was Abbot of Bec, in Normandy (1078). The Schoolmen, writing in defense of ancient dogmas, endeavoured to reduce Christian doctrines to a science, and to show that the supernatural elements of religion were not inconsistent with reason.
In the revival of learning dogmatic problems were attempted to be solved by the aid of Greek philosophy, and, no doubt, much good resulted from accurate definitions; yet the mysteries of religion were often despised, and no subject was too sacred for mere wanton speculation.
Original sin was held to be only the loss of something which had been superadded to man’s original nature, and therefore its loss did not affect that nature. By the withdrawal of that superadded gift, the defect of the soul would be purely of a negative character, rather than a positive tendency towards evil.
Owing to divided opinions, the Council of Trent was unable to arrive at a definition of original sin, but declared it to be transmitted to Adam’s posterity, and that newly born children ought to be baptized, the grace of baptism taking away not only all guilt of original sin, but also everything that hath the nature of sin.
When our Articles were drawn up, all these opinions were rife in England as on the Continent. This Article therefore, in its clear statement, opposes equally the Pelagian, Scholastic, Anabaptist, and Romish errors on the subject.
Analysis. – The Article
I. Describes original sin
(a) Negatively – as not derived from imitation of Adam’s sin.
(b) Positively – as an infection of man’s nature inherited in birth.
II. Its extent. – To the whole offspring of Adam.
III. Its result –
(a) Removing man as far as possible from original righteousness.
(b) Inclining his nature to evil, and
(c)Placing him in a position deserving God’s wrath and damnation.
IV. How far the results of original sin are removed by baptism. – The condemnation taken away, but not the infection of man’s nature.
V. The character of this infection. – Lust or concupiscence. – That it hath of itself the nature of sin.
Explanatory. – “Original sin.” – Called in the title of the Article “original or birth sin.”
“Standeth not in the following,” etc. = Consisteth not in the imitation – Latin, “in imitatione.”
“The fault and corruption of the nature of”. – The word that is here translated “corruption” – “depravatio naturae” – is also, in this same Article, translated “infection of nature”.
This distinctly opposes the doctrine of the Schoolmen, who considered original sin only as a loss of original righteousness, which they held was only superadded to man’s nature, and was no part of it.
“Every man, that naturally is engendered,” etc. – Thus implicitly denying the Romish doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, as also in Article XV.
“Very far gone”. – The translation of “quam longissime distet,” i.e., as far as possible, consistently with the fact of man’s moral responsibility. Without stating the exact extent to which man’s nature has been infected, the Article asserts that it has been so “far” corrupted that man is of his own nature inclined to evil, and deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.
“In every person born”. – Latin, “in unoquoque nascentium” – i.e., at birth, as soon as born.
“This infection of nature doth remain in them that are regenerated.” – Thus opposing the Roman Catholic doctrine that all that partakes of the nature of sin is removed in baptism. We teach that while the guilt of sin is removed, there still remain the infection of nature and tendency to sin.
“Regenerated”. – Latin, renatis; the same word which in the last clause of this Article is translated baptized.
“No condemnation” = the guilt of sin is taken away, as in Article XXXI.
“Concupiscence and lust,” i.e., the desire for.
“The nature of sin.” – Latin, peccati rationem. The Church of Rome teaches that concupiscence hath not the nature of sin, but that it is called sin in Scripture because it comes from sin, and inclines to sin.
Proof. – 1. To prove that sin came into the world through Adam’s transgression.
We need only refer to the express declaration of St. Paul, “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned”; and again, “By the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one” (Rom. 5:12, 17, R.V.). So in 1 Cor. 15:22, “as in Adam all die.” Thus it is clear that man’s sin is traced to the fall of Adam.
2. To show that sin is an infection or corruption of man’s nature, inherited in birth.
(a) God created man in His own image, and after His likeness (Gen. 1:26), i.e., in original righteousness; this Adam lost by sin; and therefore when it is said Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3), it means, with a fallen nature, sinful like his own. Hence, as the first man was of the earth earthy, so we bear “the image of the earthy” (1 Cor. 15:49), and “are by nature the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).
(b) Again: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one” (Job 14:4); and our Lord says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (St. John 3:6). Therefore it follows that, as Adam’s nature was corrupted by his fall, so he has transmitted a similar nature to his posterity – a truth abundantly testified to in God’s Word, as well as in the experience of all. So that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (St. John 3:3). So also Psa. 51:5, 58:3; etc.
3. To show that original sin is not in the imitation of Adam’s sin.
“Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones”; adding also, “the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (St. Matt. 18:2, 10–11 – thus including a child not yet capable of willful sin, and therefore its sin must have been inherited, and not due to imitation of Adam’s.
4. To show that the corruption extends to every man.
“There is none good but one, that is, God” (St. Matt. 19:17). “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, Prov. 14:3). Thus “ the Scripture hath concluded all under sin” (Gal. 3:22).
5. To show the effect of original or birth sin.
(a) Gone so far from original righteousness that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7); and it leads to “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5), so that in man’s “flesh dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).
(b) That man’s own nature is inclined to evil. St. Paul adds, “I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:22–23).
6. That all deserve God’s wrath.
As “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and as “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), it follows all deserve death, as stated distinctly in Rom. 5:12: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all, for all have sinned”; showing that the death which followed Adam’s sin is that which passed to his posterity.
7. To show that though condemnation is taken away in the regenerate, yet the infection of nature remains.
(a) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1); and these are “in Christ” who have been baptized into Him. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
(b) Yet the infection remains, for St. Paul thus speaks of it in the regenerate – “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom. 7:21).
8. To show that concupiscence and lust hath the nature of sin.
“When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). Therefore it is that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” (St. Matt. 15:19). So our Lord explained that evil desires were sinful (St. Matt. 5:28), even apart from the commission of the act (St. Matt. 15:19, Rom. 6:12; 1 John 3:5).
1. How does the Article define original sin? Positively? Negatively?
2. What the consequences of Adam’s sin on his posterity? Prove this.
3. Who were the Pelagians? In what words does this Article oppose the teaching of the Church of Rome in reference to original sin?
4. The Article implicitly denies the Immaculate Conception.
5. Explain the words “standeth not,” “very far gone,” “regenerated,” as used in the Article.
6. Prove that the infection of man’s nature remains even in the regenerated, though condemnation is taken away.
Of Free Will.
The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.
Historical. – The question of Man’s free will – whether he were a voluntary agent or governed by an inexorable fate – if he had any freedom of will, what were its limits – was a subject of debate in all schools of philosophy centuries before the Christian era. When Christianity came into contact with Stoic philosophy, which, like most heathen systems, was a pure fatalism, the subject was forced upon the Church, and the early Fathers, like Justin Martyr (who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 150), distinctly asserted the freedom of man’s will, and therefore man’s responsibility. It was no longer a subject of mere philosophic debate, but a matter within the domain of Christian dogma. A new element of difficulty arose in reference to the doctrine of the fall, and the extent to which it had affected the will of man. The conclusions of heathen philosophy, grafted on Christian doctrine, were not always in accordance with the believer’s idea of the justice of God.
The early heretics, like the Gnostics, were fatalists. The Pelagians asserted the absolute freedom of man’s will, and his ability to live without sin, and keep the Commandments of God. The semi-Pelagians of the fifth century held that the will of man was sufficient to enable him to turn to God, but that assistance was needed to persevere.
Our Article meets all these points without entering into the subtleties of the controversy as to the exact extent by which man’s will was affected by the fall – a subject which was much debated by the Schoolmen. Thomas Aquinas, who died 1274, taught truly the necessity of Divine grace, before the will could incline towards good. He and his followers, the Thomists, belonged to the Dominicans. His great rival was an Englishman, Duns Scotus, who died 1308. He asserted the absolute freedom of the will, and his followers, the Scotists, belonged to the Franciscans.
This difference of opinion prevented the Council of Trent from giving a clear decision on the subject; since then, however, the opinions of the Scotists, adopted by the Jesuits, seem to have been generally accepted in the Church of Rome. The Reformers, too, were divided on the question – Luther asserting that man had no free will in his dealings with God, an opinion even more strongly held by Calvin. The Arminians, however, held that the will of man was free, and in 1610 drew up their “Remonstrance” on the subject.
This Article was drawn up in 1552; the first clause, however, was not added till 1562, and as the works of Calvin were then but little known in England, and the Arminian Remonstrance not yet drawn up, it follows that the language in which our Article has expressed the doctrine of the Church is therefore quite independent of these sources. This Article was followed, in 1552, by one entitled “Of Grace,” to oppose the fatalistic views of many of the Anabaptists about “irresistible grace”; but the Article was omitted in 1562.
Analysis. – The Article is divided into two parts:–
I. That added in 1562, stating the inability of man to turn to God, or do anything acceptable to Him by his own natural strength.
II. The statement of the twofold way in which God’s grace operates, viz.: –
(a) Preventing grace, which enables man to “have a good will”.
(b) Cooperating grace, to work with men who have that “good will”.
Explanatory. – “He cannot turn,” etc.; the second part of the Article adds, “without God’s grace”.
“Preventing us,” i.e., coming before, hence anticipating, as in Collect: “Prevent us, O Lord,” etc.; and Psa. 119; St. Matt. 17:25; 1 Thess. 4:15.
“Working with us”. – The Article of I552 had “working in us”. That is, the Spirit first putting the good thoughts into our hearts, and then working in and with us, aiding us to carry out the good desires, and so all good is traced up to God.
Proof. – 1. To show that by his natural strength man is incapable of turning to God, etc., i.e., that preventing grace is necessary.
(a) In our Lord’s discourse with Nicodemus He laid down a general law applicable to all, viz. – “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (St. John 3:3). Now, that new birth must be as independent of man’s will as was his birth after the flesh, and therefore map is incapable of exerting any will in reference thereto.
(b) We have our Lord’s distinct statement that “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (St. John 6:44–45); and this drawing is the internal assistance of God’s grace, not the external drawing of the preaching of the Word; for He had been preaching to them in vain, and so is explaining why they did not believe; they could not of their “own natural strength” – they needed first to be taught of God. So St. Paul says the natural man can neither receive nor know the things of the Spirit of God, “because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14) – clearly proving, not only man’s helplessness and inability, but also the need of preventing grace to give him the will.
(c) “You did He quicken when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1, R.V.; Col. 2:13). The quickening of the dead in sins can therefore no more proceed from the natural strength and will, of those who are thus dead, than could a dead man will the raising of himself to life again (so Acts 16:14, Jer. 10:23; 2 Cor. 3:5).
2. To show that we have no power to do good works without God’s grace, i.e., that cooperating grace is necessary.
“Apart from me ye can do nothing” (St. John 15:5, R.V.). “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do” (Phil. 2:13). “I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10, Heb. 12:20). So in the Catechism: “My good child, know this, that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the Commandments of God, and to serve Him, without His special grace.”
1. Our Church’s teaching as to the effect of the fall on man’s will?
2. Is the question of the freedom of man’s will necessarily limited to Christian doctrines?
3. The operation of God’s grace is twofold. Prove this.
4. Wherein do we differ from some theologians of the Church of Rome as to preventing grace?
5. Show the necessity of preventing grace.
Of the Justification of man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings: Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
Historical. – Justification by faith in Christ is the theme of the Gospel. St. Paul, in his Epistles, carefully corrects the general tendency of Jewish thought that man could be justified “by the deeds of the law”.
The early Fathers based their practical teaching on this doctrine. We cannot, however, expect to find in the primitive Church the same scientific definitions and accuracy of language as afterwards became necessary when conflict and controversy arose as to the nature of justification and the character of faith.
The schoolmen explained the doctrine by aid of the philosophy of Aristotle, and the subtilities of their definitions were not always understood by the people.
At the time of the Reformation, though the Roman Church had not then formally settled her doctrine, nor defined her belief on the subject, yet it was almost the universal opinion that man could do something to merit justification, or that it could be conveyed – ex opere operato – by the Sacraments, independent of faith in the receiver.
In opposition to this, “justification by faith” became the watchword of the Reformers, whose teaching on the subject is embodied in the Augsburg Confession, 1530. The first clause of this Article was added 1562; the latter clause formed the Article in 1552.
Analysis. – The Article consists of two parts –
I. A statement of the way in which a man is justified, viz.: –
(a) On account of the merits of Christ – the meritorious cause.
(b) By faith – the instrumental cause.
(c) Not on account of our own works or deservings.
II. That the doctrine is wholesome and comforting.
Explanatory. – It is important to understand clearly the difference between us and the Church of Rome on this subject of justification by faith.
Justification is defined in the Article to be, “accounted righteous before God”; i.e., on account of the merits of Christ we are treated as righteous, a righteousness being imputed to us which we have not naturally.
Justification does not make a man just, but it indicates that God treats him as if he were just. In the language of the schools, justification is a forensic term – a legal pronouncement; it is therefore a single act, and is perfect and complete when it is pronounced, and cannot be increased. Man’s justification is the work of Christ.
Sanctification, however, is a progressive work. It is the making us really righteous, we having already been treated as such. It is the work of God the Holy Ghost, and is still going on while we are on earth.
Now, the sense in which the Church of Rome uses the word “justification,” includes also that of sanctification. With her a justified person is not one who is merely treated as just, but is really just. The Church of Rome does not use it as a forensic term, implying imputation of righteousness, but rather as an act by which God infuses righteousness, and treats a man as just because he is really so.
“For the merit”. – Latin, “propter meritum, i.e., on account of the merit, Christ being the meritorious cause of man’s justification.
“By faith”. – Latin, per fidem, i.e., through faith, as the instrumental cause.
“By faith only”. – Latin, sola fide – thus excluding “our own works and deservings”. Here also we differ widely from the Church of Rome. She denies that “faith only” justifies, and asserts the doctrine of sacramental justification.
“Homily of Justification”. – There is no Homily bearing this title; but that entitled “The Homily of the Salvation of Mankind,” is evidently referred to, as it treats of justification.
Proof. – 1. To show that the word “justify” is generally used in its judicial sense – to account righteous, or impute righteousness to, but not to make righteous, or infuse righteousness into.
(a) “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 17:15). “The judges ... shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked” (Deut. 25:1). Here to justify is used in its forensic sense of pronouncing a judicial decision, to treat as righteous or wicked, but not to make them so.
(b) In the New Testament it is used in the same sense. “Ye are they which justify yourselves” (St. Luke 16:15): that is, that consider yourselves just. St. Paul habitually uses the word in its judicial sense: “It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth” (Rom. 8:33–34)? So to “impute righteousness” is to “have iniquities forgiven and sins covered” (Rom. 4:6).
2. To show that Christ is the meritorious cause.
It is so stated in Rom. 5:9: “Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved”; and “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ” (Rom. 3:24).
3. To show that faith is the instrumental cause.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3–5). “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8, Gal. 3:6, Rom. 3:27, Acts 13:39).
4. To show that we are not justified by our own works or deservings.
St. Paul distinctly asserts: “Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5, R.V.). “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified” (Rom. 3:20).
(See Appendix B.)
1. The Article defines justification by faith?
2. How does the Church of Rome use the term “justification”? How do we employ it?
3. Prove that the word “justify” is used in Holy Scripture as meaning “impute righteousness to”.
4. Show that faith is necessary to justification.
5. How is the term “faith” used in this Article?
6. Explain St. James 2:14. What the Revised Version?
7. Show that there is no opposition between the teaching of St. Paul and St. James in reference to justification by faith.
Of Good Works.
Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
Historical. – Abuses arose even in the Apostles’ time from the misunderstanding of the doctrine of justification by faith only. St. James in his Epistle meets them fully.
At the Reformation, when the doctrine of justification by faith – which had long been lost sight of, through the formalism and corruption which came upon the Church during the middle ages – was again brought prominently forward, some carried it to such an extreme as to deny all obligation to observe the moral law. This Antinomian teaching was very prevalent in England in Elizabeth’s reign. To meet this error, as well as that of the Church of Rome, this Article was added in 1562. It is not less necessary now, as much of the crude teaching of the creedless sects is of an Antinomian tendency.
Analysis. – The Article asserts –
I. The position of good works – they follow after justification.
II. The good works of the faithful are not perfect or able to endure God’s judgment; yet
III. They are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ.
IV. The relation of good works to faith.
Explanatory. – “Good works” do not here mean special voluntary works, but rather the ordinary duties of a life governed by a desire to please God.
“The fruits of faith”. – Therefore faith must first exist before its fruits – good works – are possible.
“Follow after Justification”. – Latin, justificatos sequuntur, i.e., a man must first be justified before he can do good works. This is distinctly opposed to the Romish doctrine, which teaches that a man may do works of such goodness, before justification, that God ought to accept them – a doctrine which seems akin to that held by the Pelagian heretics, in opposition to whom St. Augustine maintained that without grace a man could do only evil.
“Cannot put away our sins”. – Latin, peccata nostra expiare ... non possunt, that is, cannot expiate or atone for our sins, though done after justification; whereas the Church of Rome declared, at the Council of Trent, that they merit “the actual attainment of eternal life”.
“Cannot ... endure the severity of God’s judgment,” i.e., stand the test of God’s judgment, not being in themselves perfect, because done by those in whom there is still much of human weakness and frailty.
“Yet pleasing and acceptable,” because done with a desire to please a loving Father, whose Spirit helpeth our infirmities.
“Spring out necessarily,” etc., that is, as a natural consequence of the possession of a true and lively faith.
“As a tree discerned by the fruit” – an illustration used by our Lord Himself (St. Matt. 12:33).
Proof. – 1. To show that good works are the fruits of faith.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6). “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same shall bring forth much fruit” (St. John 15:5; 1 John 2:3). So James 2:17, 26; Phil. 1:11; etc. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (St. Matt. 7:20). “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (St. Luke 6:46).
2. To show that good works cannot precede justification.
The unjustified man is still away from Christ, and He has said: “Neither can ye [bear fruit], except ye abide in me”; and “Apart from me ye can do nothing” (St. John 15:4–5, R.V.); therefore, until he is “in Christ,” that is, in a state of justification, good works are impossible; for “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7).
3. They follow after justification.
“Faith, if it hath not works, is dead “ (St. James 2:17). So St. Paul speaks of those who are justified as – “Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness” (Rom. 6:22). “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).
“He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (St. John 15:5). All which clearly proves, not only, (a) against Rome, that good works come after justification, but (b) also, against Antinomians, that they must so come as the fruit of a “faith that worketh by love.”
4. To show that they cannot put away sin.
This at once follows from our Lord’s saying: “When ye have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (St. Luke 12:10); and St. James reminds believers that “in many things we all stumble” (St. James 3:2, R.V.); and St. John: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8); showing clearly that no work which man, by God’s grace, is enabled to do, is free from sin, and therefore, being imperfect, it is incapable of atoning for sin, or enduring God’s judgment.
5. To show that good works are pleasing to God.
Our Lord showed that He would be graciously pleased to accept and reward the least thing done for love of Him: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (St. Matt. 25:34, 40); and St. Paul urges Christians to present their “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1); a truth which David also had learned, that in keeping God’s commandments “there is great reward” (Psa. 19:11).
6. To show the relation of good works to faith.
“Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (St. Matt. 7:16). “The tree is known by his fruit” (St. Matt. 12:33). “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psa. 1:3). All showing that good works are the fruits of faith; and that the doctrine that would make them independent of faith, or make faith the fruit of good works, is as contrary to God’s Word as is that of those who go to the opposite extreme, and deny their necessity.
1. In what sense is the term “good works” used here? What their position?
2. What twofold error does this Article meet?
3. In what relation do good works stand to faith? Prove this.
4. Show that they are pleasing to God, though imperfect.
5. Prove that good works cannot put away sin.
Of Works before Justification.
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
Historical. – This Article was composed in 1552. It states somewhat more fully what has already been asserted in those Articles which treat of original sin, man’s justification by faith only, and the necessity of preventing grace. It is expressed in language similar to that in which the schoolmen had stated the doctrines against which the Article protests.
Analysis. – The Article asserts that works done before grace –
I. Are not pleasant to God.
II. Do not make men meet to receive grace.
III. Have the nature of sin.
Explanatory. – “Inspiration of His Spirit.” – Latin, afflatus, suggesting also the reception, and thus the influence, of the Spirit; and hence, as in Article X, indicating the necessity of “preventing grace”.
“As the School authors say.” – In the Latin version it is simply, “as many say.” The doctrine of merit taught by the schoolmen was, that –
(a) A good work done before grace obtained the grace of congruity; that is, was of such a nature in itself that there was a fitness that God should reward it.
(b) A good work done after grace had been received merited the grace of condignity; that is, was of such a character in itself that God would be unjust not to reward it. The Roman Church, at the Council of Trent, adopted this doctrine, though in different words. That Church is therefore committed to the Pelagian heresy, which taught that men did not need preventing grace, but that without any help from God man could keep the commandments of God, and so merit reward – a heresy condemned at the General Council of Ephesus, 431.
“Not done as God hath willed,” etc. – Works, good and right in themselves, may be done from wrong motives. Man sees only the outward acts, and pronounces them good or bad as such; God, who sees the heart, can read the motives; and as there can be no real goodness of heart without His grace, so there can be no good work before that grace is given; hence, not being done as God hath willed, they have the nature of sin, for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
Proof. – 1. To show that works done before grace are not pleasant to God.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6). “They that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). Thus showing that until there is faith no work is pleasing or acceptable to God.
2. To show that works done before justification cannot make men meet to receive or deserve grace.
Not being acceptable to God (as proved above), they can deserve nothing.
3. To show that such works have the nature of sin.
St. Paul, speaking of himself after his conversion, says: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). How, then, could anything good, or free from sin, be in one unregenerated and without grace? In all there is the taint of sin (Isa. 64:6).
1. Give two reasons why works before grace are not pleasant to God. Prove this.
2. State clearly in what we differ from the Church of Rome in this.
3. Prove that Rome’s doctrine as to works before grace renders her chargeable with opinions condemned as heretical by the Third General Council.
4. Explain the terms “congruity” and “condignity” as used by the Schoolmen.
5. Prove that works done before grace have the nature of sin.
Of Works of Supererogation.
Voluntary works besides, over and above, God’s Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for His sake than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
Historical. – The doctrine of works of supererogation is an error so gross that no Christian Church or sect holds it, except only the Church of Rome. The consequences resulting from such a doctrine, as exemplified by the sale of indulgences, hive been fatally disastrous to the spiritual and moral wellbeing of the people.
The doctrine was of slow growth, and is probably traceable to the reverence of the early Church for the crown of martyrdom, and the belief that those who thus sealed their faith by their blood merited a glory beyond other Christians.
This idea was gradually extended, until the belief became general that men might, in other ways also, earn higher rewards than those attached to the discharge of ordinary Christian duties.
A further step in its development was reached when the schoolmen of the thirteenth century systematized the doctrine, and invented a Treasury of Merits, from which might be obtained a supply to meet the deficiencies of those who needed them, whether living or dead.
Absolution for murder, adultery, and all kinds of sin, might be obtained from this treasury of merits at a fixed tariff. The superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints, said to be stored up in it, were supposed to be transferred to meet the punishment incurred by crimes committed.
A tariff list as published in 1510 is still extant.
So fearful were the scandals thus created, that the Roman Catholic Princes of Germany, in the Diet at Nuremberg, 1522, petitioned Pope Hadrian VI for a remedy for this and other abuses. The Council of Trent, probably on account of this petition, modified the practice somewhat, and suggested caution in the matter; but the sale of indulgences was fully sanctioned.
Indeed, the fearful abuses in connection with the sale of these superabundant merits – which were supposed to arise from works done over and above what was said to be necessary – materially helped forward the Reformation movement. This Article was drawn up in 1552 to meet this iniquitous doctrine, which is still held by the Church of Rome, and is the source of a considerable revenue, though the sale of indulgences is not carried on in so grossly revolting a manner as that which roused almost universal indignation in the sixteenth century.
Analysis. – The Article –
I. Defines Works of Supererogation.
II. Condemns the doctrine –
(a) As arrogant and impious; and
(b) As contrary to Christ’s command.
Explanatory. – “Works of Supererogation” are defined in the Article as “voluntary works, over and above God’s commandment.” The word is derived from “erogare,” which came to mean paying money out of the State treasury; “super-erogare” would therefore mean to pay out over and above what had been asked for; hence its application to works supposed to be over and above what God had asked for, i.e., voluntary, self-imposed works.
“Arrogance,” in assuming that man can render to God more than duty requires.
“Impiety,” in contradicting the Lord’s statement, that “we are unprofitable servants,” and in the development of the doctrine, implying the insufficiency of Christ’s Atonement.
The whole idea of being able to do more than God requires rests on mistaken views of the Christian’s relationship to God.
Our relationship is not that of a slave to a taskmaster, nor is salvation a subject of barter, where, on the closing of an account, the balance may be carried forward to somebody else’s credit; but rather is our relationship that of sons, and the works of obedience necessarily springing therefrom, are freewill offerings of loving children, and as such accepted, even though imperfect.
Proof. – 1. To show that works of supererogation are impossible.
“In many things we all stumble” (James 3:2, R.V.). “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). This being the condition of those who believe – it is of such the Apostles speak – a perfect obedience is impossible; how much more so, therefore, are works over and above this.
2. To show that the idea of supplying the needs of some from the superabundant merits of others is contrary to God’s Word.
Our Lord, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, plainly teaches this (St. Matt. 25:8–9); so His express declaration of our being “unprofitable servants” (St. Luke 17:10), even when we have done all commanded. How contrary to God’s Word, then, is this doctrine of a treasury of merits – “to the heap of which treasury the merits of the blessed Mother of God, and of all the Saints, add support.” – Bull of Clement VI.
3. To show that works of supererogation cannot be taught without arrogance.
The Christian standard is so high that none can fully attain to it. We are to aim at “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1); or, as our Lord tells us, “Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (St. Matt. 5:48). Is there not arrogance in claiming to be “perfect”? and if not perfect, works of supererogation are impossible.
4. To show that such works are unnecessary, and cannot be taught without impiety.
Christ died for all (2 Cor. 5:14). The merits of His Atonement are infinite. What is infinite cannot be increased: therefore merits of saints are unnecessary; and as they are said to be added to those of Christ, it is implied that His are not sufficient – a statement which cannot be made without impiety.
(See Appendix C.)
1. How does the Article define Works of Supererogation?
2. What does the Church of Rome teach in reference to works of supererogation?
3. What has resulted from this doctrine?
4. Prove the arrogance and impiety of the doctrine.
5. Prove such works impossible and unnecessary.
6. Show that the idea of works of supererogation rests on a false view of our relationship to God.
7. Explain the nature of the command of our Lord to the young min to sell all his possessions and follow Him. Show that it gives no support to the doctrine of works of supererogation, or of counsels of perfection.
8. What other passages of Scripture does the Church of Rome bring forward in support of the doctrine? Show that they do not support it.
Of Christ alone without Sin.
Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, from which He was clearly void, both in His flesh, and in His spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world, and sin, as Saint John saith, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized, and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Historical. – The doctrine explicitly stated in this Article is implicitly contained in former ones. That Christ alone is without sin follows from Article IX, which asserts the corruption of the nature of every man, naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, He alone being thus excluded. Article XIV, in denying works of supererogation, which, to be possible at all, should proceed from perfect beings, shows that “all we the rest” have sin.
At the Reformation, the Church of Rome was so divided on the question of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary that no decision on the question was possible at the Council of Trent. The doctrine was maintained by the Franciscans – a member of their order, the celebrated schoolman, John Duns Scotus (1300), having taught it. The Dominicans as strenuously opposed it. The belief in the Immaculate Conception seems to have spread very widely, and although some of the Irish professors at Maynooth, and of the bishops in France and other countries, considered it inexpedient to define it by authority, yet it was made an article of faith by Pope Pius IX in 1854. The doctrine of sinless perfection – i.e., that man might live without sin – was taught by some of the sects at the Reformation, as it has been since. This Article, added in 1552, clearly meets all such errors.
Analysis. – The Article treats of –
I. The sinlessness of Christ.
II. The perfect character of His Atonement, once made, and
III. The sinfulness of all else.
Explanatory. – “In the truth of our nature,” as in Article II., “very man”.
“Clearly void,” i.e., wholly, completely void.
“Lamb without spot,” so called, 1 Peter 1:19, and so typified in the Paschal Lamb.
“By sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world.” – An assertion that His Atonement was perfect and sufficient.
Proof. – 1. To show that Christ was without sin in His flesh and spirit.
(a) Even those who hated Him did not question His own challenge, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (St. John 8:46). “In Him was no sin” (1 John 3:5); so 2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 7:26.
(b) So in His spirit. We have seen that original sin “is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man” (Article IX), and is, therefore, not a part of our nature. Hence, Christ, in taking our nature upon Him, and coming “in the truth of our nature,” would not take its “fault,” but the perfection of that nature, and, therefore, be without sin. There was no sinfulness, but there was the liability to sin, or He could not have been tempted. “In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren. ... In that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:16–18, 4:15).
2. To show that the terms are Scriptural in which the Article describes the character and objects of the sacrifice of Christ.
(a) “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (St. John 1:29, Rev. 13:8). “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18–19).
(b) That the sacrifice was made once for all is stated. “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28, 10:12).
(c) That His sacrifice was to take away the sin of the world. “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
3. To show that the recent doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is contrary to Scripture.
Were it true, it would not have been declared for the first time in 1854.
Were it true, it would take away from our Lord that distinction which He has above all others, of being alone without sin, as is so frequently testified in Scripture (1 Peter 2:22; 2 Cor. 5:21; etc.). The Virgin Mary is, indeed, blessed amongst women (St. Luke 1:28), and should be so called of all generations. But we find her attentive to the Lord’s teaching (St. Luke 2:51), engaged in prayer and supplication with the Apostles (Acts 1:14), speaking of Christ as her “Saviour” (St. Luke 1:47), and, therefore, must have been saved from something. However exalted and blessed she is, yet she must not be placed in the same position as Christ, who is alone without sin.
(See Appendix D.)
1. Wherein alone did Christ differ from all men?
2. Quote from this Article, and also that on original sin, words which implicitly deny the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
3. What other error do these words condemn?
4. What does Scripture say of Christ’s sinlessness in flesh and spirit?
5. Show that “the truth of our nature” could not involve sin.
6. How is the Atonement stated here?
7. What two Articles quote the words of Scripture in support of their assertions?
8. Show that St. Matt. 16:16–19, has no bearing on the Romish doctrine of Infallibility.
9. What is the true significance of our Lord thrice commanding St. Peter to “feed my lambs”?
10. Show from the very nature of the special honour bestowed by our Lord on St. Peter, that it was personal, and in reference thereto that he could not possibly have a successor.
Of Sin after Baptism.
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned which say they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
Historical. – The early Church, in the presence of persecution and of heresy, was more strict in discipline than we are at present. Those who fell into sin or lapsed during persecution were not without difficulty admitted again to full communion.
In the third century, Novatian, the founder of a sect which bore his name, denied that the Church had power to readmit those who had not been faithful under persecution. Other sects denied that those who fell into notorious sin after baptism could be pardoned. Hence the practice of delaying baptism until the point of death was not infrequent.
At the period of the Reformation the Novatian errors were revived by some of the many sects which then arose. These are alluded to in the Lutheran statement known as the Augsburg Confession (1330) – a document to which this Article is no doubt partly indebted for its language. It was drawn up 1552, and asserts the truth against the opinions of the various sects, there being no controversy between the Reformers and the Church of Rome as to the facts that man may fall into sin after baptism, and that the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such.
Analysis. – The Article asserts –
I. That not every deadly sin willingly committed after baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost.
II. That the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as sin after baptism.
III. The condemnation of a twofold error.
(a) That man can lead a sinless life.
(b) That the sinner will not be forgiven.
Explanatory. – “Deadly sin”. – As in the Litany, heinous, in being presumptuous and deliberate, to distinguish it from the sins of ignorance and infirmity, common to all men. The words “deadly sin” in the Litany were objected to by the Presbyterians at the Savoy Conference (1661); but the bishops preferred to retain the expression, inasmuch as “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). This is true of all sin; but man looks on sin only as it reveals itself to him in the commission. God, who sees the motives, alone can know the degrees of guilt, which depend on the spiritual state of the doer. There is nothing, therefore, involved in the expression “deadly sin” similar to the division which the Church of Rome makes of sins, into “mortal” and “venial” sins; the former said to deserve death, and the latter not – a division wholly unknown to Scripture.
“Willingly committed.” – A mark of deadly sin, a sin of presumption, as opposed to one of ignorance and infirmity.
“Sin against the Holy Ghost.” – Generally held to mean the rejection of Christ in spite of the clearest evidence as to His claim, and attributing His miracles to the power of Beelzebub; but this would limit the possibility of such a sin to our Lord’s own time, at which time, however, the Holy Ghost had not yet come. It therefore more probably means the obstinate rejection of all the means of grace vouchsafed in the Church; and such sin is unforgiven, because, when all such means are willfully rejected, repentance is not possible.
“The grant of repentance,” i.e., the gift of repentance.
“They can no more sin.” – Another class of erroneous teaching prevalent among some sects at present.
Proof. – 1. To show that sins after baptism are pardonable.
(a) We might argue thus: – Circumcision admitted into the Jewish covenant, in which there were not only sacrifices for sin, but offers of pardon. Baptism admits into the Christian covenant, the privileges of which would be less merciful were not offers of pardon on repentance made to those falling into sin within the Church.
(b) We have distinct statements. The Lord has taught us in His own prayer to ask for forgiveness of sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:8, Gal. 6:1; 1 Cor. 5:5).
2. To show that it is unscriptural to say a man can no more sin.
Christians are called the salt of the earth, yet our Lord contemplates the possibility of the salt losing its savour (St. Matt. 5:13). “If ye sin willfully after ye have received the knowledge of the truth” (Heb. 10:26, 28). “If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome” (2 Peter 2:20). All show the possibility of sinning after grace given, as do also the promise to him that “endureth to the end” (St. Matt. 10:24), and the simile of the branch separated from the vine (St. John 15:5).
1. What twofold error is condemned in this Article?
2. Prove that it is unscriptural to assert that a man can no more sin.
3. Meaning of the term “deadly sin”? What meaning does it not bear?
4. What is probably meant by sin against the Holy Ghost?
Of Predestination and Election.
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season: they through grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.
Historical. – The question of Man’s Predestination, like that of the freedom of his will, is one the difficulties of which belong to natural as well as to revealed religion. The subtleties of metaphysical investigations, applied to doctrines which can be made known to man only by revelation, tend often to obscure rather than throw light on revealed truth. The early Fathers of the Church frequently employ the Scriptural term “election,” but without that distinctness of definition which was rendered necessary when Christianity came more directly into contact with philosophical speculations.
St. Augustine (430), the opponent of the Pelagians, in his controversy with them was led to systematize his opinions more definitely; and in opposition to what seems to have been generally held by the early Fathers, and by himself previously, he asserts that God’s Predestination was arbitrary, and did not depend on His foreknowledge of the faith of those so predestinated.
This question as to God’s foreknowledge as the moving cause of election was the chief point of discussion. Other metaphysical difficulties were afterwards introduced. The schoolmen were divided on the question: the Franciscans asserting the freedom of the will, while the Dominicans held with the doctrine of St. Augustine, as propounded by their great leader, Thomas Aquinas (1274). The Continental reformers, too, were much divided on the subject. Luther (1546), the chief mover of the Reformation in Germany, and Melanchthon, who so ably seconded him, and to whose learning and moderation the Reformers in all countries were much indebted, discouraged controversy on the subject of Predestination, and did much to soften its bitterness. The Lutheran Confession, presented at Augsburg (1530), contains no Article defining Election. On the other hand, John Calvin (1509–1564), the chief of the Swiss school of Reformers, followed out to their logical conclusion the doctrines of St. Augustine with a severity and completeness that have left an indelible mark on Continental Protestantism. He not only taught that God’s decrees were arbitrary as to Predestination to life, but also the complementary doctrine of Reprobation, i.e., an arbitrary predestination of a certain fixed number to damnation; and that those elected to life would receive grace which could not be lost. This is known as the doctrine of Final Perseverance. In opposition to these views, which have since been known under the general name of Calvinism, the followers of Arminius, presented a Remonstrance to the Synod of Dort, in which they asserted that God’s Predestination was not the result of arbitrary authority, but of His foreknowledge of how a man would act under grace given – a view which has since been known under the general name of Arminianism. These views, however, were condemned at Dort, and Calvinism became the generally accepted system of Continental Churches.
In England the same difficulty as to the moving cause of God’s Predestination divided the Reformers. Calvin did not publish his book on Predestination till 1552, the year in which our XVIIth Article was drawn up. And we have seen that the Lutheran Confession did not contain any Article on Election. Hence our Reformers could not have been influenced directly by either. The language of our Article is therefore independent and underived from either a Calvinistic or Lutheran source, but expressed by Cranmer in the words of Scripture (Rom. 8:29–33), and designedly moderate in its assertions, avoiding any pronouncement as to the moving cause of God’s decrees, so that it might include those who held different views on the question; godly men then, as now and of old, differing widely on the subject.
A somewhat similar moderation was observed at the Council of Trent; the views of Luther were not condemned, but the Calvinistic doctrine of Final Perseverance was unanimously anathematized.
At the Hampton Court Conference, 1604, an attempt was made to make an addition to the Articles, so as to make them distinctly Calvinistic; but it was rejected, and the Article remains as drawn up, 1552.
The controversy was, however, still carried on, both within and without the Churches of the Reformation.
Analysis. – This Article is divided into three distinct parts, viz.: –
I. The definition of Predestination, and sevenfold consequences thereof stated:
(a) They are called – God’s preventing grace.
(b) Obey the calling – Man’s will working with God.
(c) Justified – Freely through grace.
(d) Made sons by adoption – In baptism.
(e) Conformed to Christ’s image – Sanctified.
(f) Walk in good works – Sustaining grace.
(g) Obtain everlasting felicity – Finally saved.
II. The effects of the consideration of predestination on two different classes:
(a) The godly, who realize its workings in themselves, obtain unspeakable comfort, and increase of faith and love.
(b) The carnal and curious it drives to desperation and recklessness of unclean living.
III. That God’s promises are to be received as generally set forth in Holy Scripture, and the enjoined duty performed.
Explanatory. – “Predestination to life” is defined in the first paragraph of the Article, the predestinated being spoken of as those “chosen in Christ”.
NOTE. – There is nothing said in the Article as to reprobation, i.e., predestination to damnation, as it is expressed by some – though it is modified by others to mean that, as all have sinned, God elects some to life, and simply leaves others to the consequences of their sin.
“His counsel secret to us.” – Wisely, therefore, has our Article avoided any attempt to explain the nature of that counsel, or even the moving cause in election, which has been so long debated, as to whether it be arbitrary or grounded on God’s foreknowledge of how a man would use the grace given him.
NOTE. – It is to be remembered that the terms “Calvinism” and “Arminianism” are now used simply as generic terms, implying only the different views held as to the “moving cause” of predestination, and that they do not necessarily involve all the consequences said to follow from each of these views.
“Deliver from curse and damnation,” i.e., not only from the punishment, but also from the power of sin. “He shall save His people from their sins” (St. Matt. 1:21). How imperfect is that Gospel which holds out only escape from the punishment of hell as the end of salvation; yet much of the unauthorized preaching of the present day goes no further.
“Made sons of God by adoption.” – Not living in the hope of being God’s children, but, so being, living as becometh such.
“At length ... attain to everlasting felicity,” i.e., Called, the call accepted, justified, adopted, sanctified, work for God, rewarded with everlasting felicity, our inheritance as sons.
NOTE. – The distinction between justification and subsequent sanctification must not be lost sight of. This distinction (see Article XI) is confounded by the Church of Rome, and also by the Plymouth Brethren and kindred sects. Hence the confusion in the term “saved” applied to those who profess so to believe.
“Curious and carnal”. – Those who do not recognize a personal interest in the matter; i.e., those who are not under grace.
“Wretchlessness”. – Latin, securitas, hence carelessness; the word has now been corrupted to “recklessness”.
“Generally set forth.” – Latin, generaliter, relating to the whole genus; hence universally, in relation to classes of persons.
Proof. – 1. To show that election springs from God’s arbitrary decrees.
St. Paul’s illustrations of the potter (Rom. 9:20) and of Pharaoh show this, as do our Lord’s words: “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight” (St. Matt. 11:25–26).
2. To show that the election spoken of in the Old Testament was to privileges rather than to possession.
The Jews were elected to be a “special people” (Deut. 7:6), “chosen for His own inheritance” (Psa. 33:12), as “an holy people unto the Lord” (Deut. 26:19). Yet of the people thus chosen very few obtained possession even of the Promised Land, having forfeited the privileges through disobedience.
3. To show that the terms “predestination” and “election” in the New Testament have reference to privileges.
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience” (1 Peter 1:2). “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praise of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9–10). These words are clearly applied to those who had been brought into Christian privileges, through admission to the Christian Church, and to whom he appeals “to make their calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Hence, in the Baptismal Service for Infants, drawn up in 1552, those “received into Christ’s Holy Church” by baptism are afterwards recognized as elect; and we pray that they may “ever remain in the number of Thy faithful and elect children”; and in the Catechism we acknowledge to have been thus brought into a “state of salvation,” and so elected to Christian privileges.
4. To show the result of Divine grace in the elect.
The words in the Article describing these results – “Wherefore ... everlasting felicity” – are taken from Rom. 8:28–30. Being brought into a “state of salvation” by grace – grace will be increased and faith confirmed.
5. To show the twofold ejects resulting from a consideration of the doctrine of predestination.
(a) It produces comfort and confidence in the godly. “The Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts,” etc. (2 Thess. 2:16). “God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid” (Isa. 12:2).
(b) For curious and carnal persons. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit ... intruding into those things which he hath not seen,” etc. (Col 2:8, 18). “There are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
6. To show that God’s promises are to be received as they are “generally” set forth, i.e., as they refer to classes.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (St. John 3:16). “The secret things belong to God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever,” etc. (Deut. 29:29). So also Isa. 4:7, Heb. 10:38; 2 Peter 2:21.
1. How does the Article define predestination to life?
2. What the effect on those so endued?
3. What simile used in describing those predestinated to life?
4. The consideration of election may have two opposite effects?
5. Meaning of the words “generally” and “ wretchlessness”?
6. What is the general meaning attached now to the terms “Calvinism” and “Arminianism”?
7. Wherein do the Church of Rome and the Plymouth Brethren agree as to justification?
8. How is election generally spoken of in the Old and New Testaments?
Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ.
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law, and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.
Historical. – The different modes of worship which prevailed throughout the Roman dominions were looked upon as being equally true; and hence the heathen world was slow to understand, when it came into contact with the Christian religion, that all other religions should give place to it. There would have been no objection to accept Christ as a god; but when it was found that He should reign alone, that His was an exclusive religion, that all others must give place to it, a careless acquiescence in His claims was no longer possible. It could be accepted only on a conviction of its truth.
Now, this idea that all religions are equally true, and that if a man live up to the light he has, he will be accepted of God, is simply a survival of heathen ideas. Amongst the professors of Christianity this is, no doubt, seldom asserted; but there is, nevertheless, too often an acting on the principle, by many who consciously or unconsciously are influenced by it, in their objection to or neglect of mission work amongst heathen nations. No doubt, at the Reformation, there were some who asserted the doctrine condemned in this Article, which was drawn up in 1552; and it is most useful still as a warning to those who, on such a plea, discourage missionary effort, and do not aid in sending the Gospel to those who have never yet heard its message.
Analysis. – The Article is divided into two parts, viz.: –
I. The condemnation of the opinion that a man may be saved by the law or sect which he professeth.
II. The ground on which the condemnation rests, viz., that salvation is only through Jesus Christ.
Explanatory. – The Council of Trent attached an anathema to all the propositions which it condemned, yet in only two instances do we find this mode adopted in our Articles, viz., in Article XVI – “They are to be condemned” – Latin, damnandi – “which say they can no more sin”; and in this Article, “they also are to be had accursed” – Latin, anathematizandi. The word “also,” no doubt, connects both Articles.
“By the law or sect which he professeth”. – Note the Latin, in lege aut secta. God’s Word is distinct and emphatic in reference to those who have heard it – that if they reject the word and offered salvation, no other hope is held out to them – they, on rejection, must perish. But of those outside the sound of the Gospel the Scripture says little to satisfy our curiosity as to God’s ultimate dealing with them, further than that salvation is only possible through Christ. If men cannot be saved by the law or sect they profess, by living up to the requirements of natural religion – if that were possible – and if Christ has distinctly commanded His followers to “go into all the world, and preach the Gospel” – what a powerful protest against neglect of missionary work is found in this Article – a condemnation of that indifference to the truth, and to the will of Christ, which would leave the heathen to perish, without any effort to bring them into the Christian covenant, in which there is “a federal certainty of salvation” – into the Church, to which alone the promises of God are given.
Proof. – 1. To show that Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (St. John 14:6). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (St. John 3:36). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned” (St. Mark 16:16).
Thus we see that salvation is offered only to those who believe in Christ and are baptized into His Church; to such it is distinctly covenanted.
2. To show that those who reject Christ cannot be saved.
“He that believeth not is condemned already, because he believeth not on the name of the only begotten Son of God” (St. John 3:18). “The unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
1. This Article gives a reason why men are not saved by a law or sect?
2. What bearing has this Article upon Missions?
3. Prove that salvation is obtainable only by Christ.
Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
Historical. – From the earliest times heretical teachers were found “speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30; 1 John 2:19); and even within the Christian Church the germs of schism were soon apparent. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 1:10, 12, rebukes severely the tendencies in the Corinthian Church to form sects and parties called by the names of their favourite teachers, and his rebuke seems for a time to have been effective. It was chiefly, however, with heretical sects that the early Church had to contend. The unity of the Church was not seriously broken by schisms. The early Fathers, therefore, in speaking of the Church and its authority would do so in a practical way; no controversy having arisen as to the meaning of the term “Church,” they gave no accurate definition of it. It was catholic, or universal, as distinguished from the limited and local Jewish Church, and as implying orthodox teaching as opposed to heretics. It required a bishop as the organizer; it was spoken of as the body of Christ; it was likened to the ark of Noah, in which all should take refuge if they would be saved – the field of God with its tares and its wheat. But the question as to what were the essentials of a Church was not early discussed.
The Western Church became Roman, and, during the middle ages, grew more and more corrupt – “not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.” Throughout Europe there came a revolt against her pretensions and her errors, resulting in the Reformation. The Reformed Churches on the Continent, however, became non-episcopal, as the Bishops opposed the Reformation.
In England it was different. The Reformation movement there was directed by bishops and clergy, and primitive purity of faith was therefore obtained without any breach of primitive Church government.
The Church of England still remained the old national Church, with the same orders, but purified from the errors which Rome had allowed to obscure the ancient faith. The Church of Ireland was particularly fortunate in retaining her connection with the ancient Church of the land, as all the bishops, except two, conformed at the Reformation. The orders therefore of the clergy of the Church of Ireland have descended to them in unbroken succession from the ancient Irish Church. The two bishops who did not accept the Reformation were Bishop Walsh of Meath and Bishop Leverous of Kildare, neither of whom exercised episcopal functions after the Reformation; and as all the other bishops had conformed, it was impossible that the succession from St. Patrick could pass to the Church of Rome. The orders therefore of the Church of Rome in Ireland are of foreign origin, and have no connection whatever with those of the ancient Irish Church. [See the Author’s “The Old Paths; or, St. Patrick and the Church of Ireland.”]
The Church of Rome assumed to herself the title “Catholic” – looking upon all who did not acknowledge her pretensions as heretics. In England there were many who did not conform to the national Church, though holding doctrines not essentially different from her. They founded sects and “Churches” on a very different basis as to ritual and government. Hence it became necessary to define more accurately the essential marks of a true Church. The definition in this Article, drawn up 1552, corresponds with that in the Augsburg Confession.
Analysis. – The Article contains –
I. A definition of the visible Church, viz.: –
(a) A congregation of faithful men.
(b) In which the pure Word of God is preached, and –
(c) The sacraments duly administered in all things necessary to the same.
A statement that the Church of Rome has erred in (a) their living, (b) ceremonies, (c) faith.
Explanatory. – The word “Church” bears the same meaning in the New Testament as the word “congregation” in the Old, and signifies persons called out, or separated from others, for a purpose. It is used in a threefold sense, to signify (a) the whole body of Christians (St. Matt. 16:18); (b) the body of Christians at some particular place, as the Church which was at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), or (c) a single family of Christians, as the Church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor. 16:19).
“The visible Church”. – This indicates that there is also an invisible Church, yet not two distinct Churches: the Church is one. The term “invisible Church” is not found in Scripture nor in the writings of the early Fathers; it refers to those in the visible Church who are truly sanctified, but who are known only to God. Some, however, understand the term “ invisible Church” to mean those of the redeemed who have passed into the paradise of God. Our Lord speaks of the Church as “my kingdom,” “the kingdom of God,” etc.
“Faithful men,” i.e., men who profess to believe in Christ, though many prove unfaithful to Him.
“Pure Word” = the true faith; at least that of the Creeds, for all sects claim to build their tenets on the Word of God.
“Duly ministered.” – Latin, recte = rightly, as to matter and form, with reference also to the authority of the person who administers them.
“The Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria,” etc. – These were all Eastern Churches; and as the Church of Rome would acknowledge that they had erred, so we charge her with error.
“The Church of Rome hath erred”; thus at once denying the claim to infallibility which has since been asserted to be in the Pope personally. The personal infallibility of the Pope was made an article of faith in 1870.
“In matters of Faith.” – Latin, quae credenda sunt – meaning here doctrines that are to be believed as necessary to salvation.
Proof. – 1. To show that Scripture teaches that the Church is a visible body of those who profess faith in Christ.
Christ represents it as a field and as a net (St. Matt. 13:4) – terms only appropriate to something visible; St. Paul tells the Ephesian elders to “feed the Church of God” (Acts 20:28); and we learn “there were added to the Church daily such as were being saved” (Acts 2:47, R.V.) – expressions which also indicate that the Church is a visible body.
2. To show that the Church contains faithful and unfaithful members.
The Lord so represents it in the parable of the tares: “Let both grow together until the harvest” (St. Matt. 13:30). The parable of the draw-net also shows the mixed character of the Church.
3. To show that it is a mark of the Church to have the pure Word of God preached.
This excludes the building of doctrines on tradition. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (St. Mark 16:15). “He mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28); and the Bereans are praised for bringing the Apostles’ preaching to the test of the Scriptures, daily searching them to see if those things were so (Acts 17:11). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).
As, however, all sects claim to found their teaching on Scripture, no doubt, the fundamental doctrines of Christianity must be the test referred to in the expression “pure Word”; and therefore no Church can be acknowledged as true which does not hold the Creeds, which are catholic. Such fundamentals are alluded to by St. Paul, when exhorting Timothy to “hold fast the form [pattern, R.V.] of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2 Tim. 1:13–14).
4. To show that a true Church must administer the Sacraments in all the essentials ordained by Christ.
The only sacraments ordained by Christ were Baptism and the Supper of the Lord; without the first there could be no visible Church, this being the door of admission thereto, and the essentials are (a) “water, wherein the person is baptized,” and (b) that it be administered “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations [make disciples of, R.V.], baptizing,” etc., “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (St. Matt. 28:18–20). Thus the disciples were to teach and baptize, and to instruct others so to do, and this was to continue to the end of the world. And so, throughout the Acts, all were baptized immediately on believing, and the Lord added to the visible Church daily “them that were being saved” (Acts 2:47, R.V.). “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” [the Church of Christ] (1 Cor. 12:13, 27). So with the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – its essentials are bread and wine. In the history of its institution, “Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (St. Matt. 26:26–27); and He commanded, “This do in remembrance of me” (St. Luke 22:19). And so the early Church “continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, R.V.)
5. To show that the Church of Rome has erred, and is not infallible.
This is proved as we show why we reject some of her doctrines. But since the Vatican Council, 1870, declared the personal infallibility of the Pope, we have only to glance at a few contradictory pronouncements of Popes, to show that as both cannot be true, one or other must be in error. For example, in reference to image worship Pope Gregory I. condemned it; Pope Gregory II authorized it; a Council of Constantinople condemned it; and a Council at Nicaea authorized it. Pope Sixtus condemned Galileo for saying that the earth goes round the sun. Thus neither Pope nor Council is infallible.
1. How does the Article define a Church? Various meanings of the word in Scripture?
2. Contrast the position of the Reformed Church in England and Ireland with those on the Continent, as to the orders of the ministry.
3. In what way do we say the Church of Rome has erred?
4. Why are errors of other Churches mentioned?
5. Where now does the Church of Rome say her infallibility lies? By what simple method can we show the falsity of the claim?
6. What does the Article hold as the three essentials of a true Church?
7. What do you understand by “pure Word,” “duly ministered”?
Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
Historical. – During the first three hundred years we find distinct traces of a variety in the rites and ceremonies of the Churches in different countries. The Liturgies differed from each other. The Creeds for a time were differently worded, though expressing the same doctrine. The time of keeping Easter varied. The mode of the readmission of heretics differed. And in some of these matters the difference of uses and customs continued down to the tenth or eleventh century.
Provincial synods and councils regulated questions of ritual and doctrine. The Council of Nicaea (325) was the first General Council, and its decrees tended much towards uniformity. Each national synod continued to regulate the discipline of its own branch of the Church Catholic. The growing power and jealousy of the Roman Church, however, gradually crushed out the authority of the local synods, and denied them the power of independent action. The policy of the Church of Rome was – and still is – to discountenance the idea of National Churches, and thus consolidate her own power.
It is the inherent right of all societies that they should have the power to make rules for their own guidance. If all things are to be done “decently and in order,” ritual of some kind is essential. Now, at the Reformation, while some would do away with all ritual, others denied the power of the National Church to enjoin anything not distinctly laid down in Scripture.
Hence the necessity of this Article, asserting, both against the Romanist and the Dissenting sects, the power of the National Church (for in this sense the word “Church” is used in this Article, as in Article XXXIV) to decree rites or ceremonies, and decide controversies touching matters of faith. The first clause of the Article, taken from the Wurtemberg Confession, was not added till 1562; the latter clause was drawn up in 1552.
The Preface to the Prayer book (1662) speaks clearly on this matter: – “Forms of Divine worship, and the rites and ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent and alterable, ... it is but reasonable that, upon weighty and important considerations, … such changes and alterations should be made therein as to those that are in place of authority should from time to time seem either necessary or expedient.”
The General Synod is the proper authority in the Church of Ireland.
Analysis. – The Article asserts –
I. The authority of a National Church to –
(a) Decree rites and ceremonies.
(b) To decide controversies in matters of faith.
II. The limit of that authority, viz.: –
(a) To ordain nothing contrary to God’s Word written.
(b) To impose nothing besides God’s Word as necessary to salvation.
(c) To expound no place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another.
III. The Church’s relation towards Scripture, viz.: – A witness and a keeper or guardian.
Explanatory. – “The Church”. – Evidently used here, as in Article XXXIV, in the sense of a National Church – though probably in the latter clause of the Article it is used in a wider sense.
“Rites or Ceremonies”. – To be carefully distinguished from “Sacraments,” which, being of Christ’s institution, are unalterable; but “ceremonies” relate to the mode in which public worship is to be conducted, and the rules connected therewith, and are “in their own nature indifferent and alterable”.
As of necessity there must be some rules, and these can only be made by the lawful authority of the particular Church, therefore, when once made, it is a serious matter for anyone to disregard them. “Though the keeping or omitting of a ceremony, in itself considered, is but a small thing, yet the willful and contemptuous transgression and breaking of a common order and discipline is no small offence before God” (Preface, Prayer book, 1549).
“The Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ” – i.e., she has guarded and taught the Inspired Word from the earliest times – preserved the Sacred Writings, which have been so read and taught in all ages and countries as to render corruption impossible.
We accept the Scriptures – as we saw under Article VI – on historical testimony; but the Church has been a witness that those, thus accepted, have come down to us uncorrupted, and as she received them. In preserving them thus she is a “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
Nothing can be more illogical than the position of the Church of Rome in reference to the Scriptures. She asserts – but falsely – that the Scriptures are received on her authority, and then appeals to these Scriptures to prove her authority.
“Of Holy Writ”. – Latin, Divinorum librorum, called also in the Articles, “God’s Word written,” “Holy Scripture”.
“Besides the same,” etc. – As in Article VI. A total rejection of the authority of tradition, in reference to Articles of Faith.
Proof. – 1. To show that the Church hath power to decree Rites and Ceremonies.
Though the ritual of the Jewish Church was prescribed by God, yet in our Lord’s time there were many changes. The whole synagogue ritual, the Feast of the Dedication, the reception of proselytes, and other ceremonies, though not found in the original Jewish ritual, yet were sanctioned by our Lord, either by His presence or expressly. “These ought ye to have done,” etc. (St. Matt. 23:23). If the Jewish Church, for which God prescribed the ritual, was at liberty to change and add to it, to suit the altered condition of the nation, how much more the Christian Church, which had only general principles laid down in the New Testament to guide it on the subject (Rom. 15:2; 1 Cor. 14:40), and which was to be a Church for the whole world and all time, embracing nations living under widely different conditions.
2. To show that the Church hath authority in Controversies of Faith.
The Church of Crete was distinctly given such authority. To its bishops St. Paul writes that “the unruly and vain talkers and deceivers” were to be rebuked “sharply, that they may be sound in faith” (Titus 11:10, 13). “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject” (Titus 3:10). His heresy would of course be the subject of investigation by the Church before excommunication; therefore the Church had authority to decide in Controversies of Faith.
3. To show that the Church’s authority is limited by God’s Word.
Its Author is God; therefore the Church can only judge what it is that has been revealed – nothing can be added (Rev. 22:18–19). All things are to be proved by it (1 Thess. 5:21); and he who “preaches any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9), which not only proves the authority of the Church to judge, but also that that authority is limited by what is revealed in God’s Word.
4. To show that the Church is a witness and keeper of Holy Writ.
The Jewish Church was so for the Old Testament; to it “were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2), and well did it guard its trust – counting even every letter of the sacred Scriptures, though neither obeying nor understanding them fully, and bore witness to it by reading it every Sabbath in the synagogue (Acts 15:24).
So, too, to the Christian Church was committed the sacred deposit, that she might, by preaching and teaching the Word, preserve it (2 Tim. 4:2), and thus bear witness that it was kept pure as received.
1. In what sense is the word “Church” used here? How is its authority limited?
2. In what relation does the Church stand to Holy Writ? Explain and prove this.
3. Distinguish between Rites and ceremonies or Sacraments.
4. What is said on the subject of Ceremonies in Preface to Prayer book?
5. Prove the authority of the Church in Controversies of Faith.
Of the Authority of General Councils.
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God), they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.
Historical. – The holding of a General Council, i.e., a council representing the whole of Christendom, as distinguished from a council or synod of a particular or National Church, was not possible during the first centuries of the Christian era. There was not only no one whose authority to call a General Council would be recognized, but the assembling of such a Council would have increased the virulence of persecution.
The east and west were for the first time united under a Christian emperor when Constantine came to the throne. All Christendom lay within his dominions, and thus a General Council became possible. The first assembled at Nicaea (325) by his authority. The second General Council was held at Constantinople (381), the third at Ephesus (431), and the fourth at Chalcedon (451). These councils defined the articles of our Creeds in reference to the fundamental doctrine of the Trinity, and they have been accepted universally as “General” Councils, though they met in the east, and at none of them did a Bishop of Rome preside. Three or four other councils have claimed to be “General,” but the claim has not been universally admitted.
After a time the emperors were no longer Christian, and other changes rendered it practically impossible to assemble such councils. Then the growing power of the Pope induced him to claim authority to call them – a claim which was repudiated by the Eastern Church.
It was against such a claim as this that this Article protested in 1552, though the Reformers in England and on the Continent would gladly have appealed to a real General Council of the whole Christian Church; but there was no prince in a position of authority to call such, or to secure the free attendance of the bishops of all countries; and that called at Trent (1563) was as purely a council of the Roman Church, and as Papal, as was that of the Vatican (1869).
The American Church has omitted this Article, “because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.”
Analysis. – The Article treats of –
I. The authority by which General Councils may be called, viz., princes.
II. The fallibility of the decrees of such Councils, founded on the twofold ground that-
(a) The members are not all governed by the Holy Spirit, and
(b) As a matter of fact they have erred.
III. That their decrees are only received as being in agreement with Holy Scripture; so Articles VI, VIII, XX.
Explanatory. – The ground on which the first paragraph rests is the simple impossibility of its being otherwise. At the time of the Reformation neither the Eastern Church, the English Church, nor the Continental Reformed Churches, could recognize the Pope’s authority to call a General Council; nor could they now.
“Assembly of men ... not governed with the Spirit.” – The reason given why they may err. We accept, therefore, the decisions of the four General Councils only because those decisions are agreeable to God’s Word, and not from any idea that the Councils were infallible.
“Sometimes have erred,” etc. – This is true only of so-called General Councils, of which the Greek Church acknowledges seven, while the Latin Church claims more.
“Unless it may be declared”. – Latin, ostendi, i.e., unless it may be shown or proved, etc.
Proof. – 1. To show that General Councils (so-called) have erred.
This can easily be done by showing that these councils have passed contradictory decrees on the same subject, and that therefore, as both cannot have been true, there must have been error on one side or the other; e.g.–
The second Council of Nicaea (787) pronounced in favour of images, and that of Constantinople (754) against them.
The Councils of Constance and Basel pronounced in favour of the “authority of councils,” as against that of the Pope, and the Council of Lateran against it. From which it is clear Councils “sometimes have erred,” etc.
(See Appendix E.)
1. What is meant by General Councils? On what grounds are their decisions received?
2. Name the four General Councils?
3. On what twofold grounds is infallibility denied to General Councils?
4. Meaning of “declared” as used in the Article?
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
Historical. – Purgatory. – The development of the Romish doctrine of Purgatory – i.e., a place for the purification of souls by fire between death and judgment – is traceable, like many other of her errors, to heathen sources. Allusions in Homer and other heathen poets have been so interpreted. Plato’s idea of the preexistence of the soul, and its gradual improvement, seems in part to have been adopted by Origen, who taught that at the day of judgment there would be a purgatorial fire. Origen’s great aim was to so harmonize Christianity with philosophy, that it might be the more effective in the conversion of Jews and educated heathen. He was excommunicated at Alexandria (231); but his eminence as a teacher helped to spread his opinions. It was not till the end of the sixth century that the idea of a purgatory for souls between death and the resurrection was asserted. Pope Gregory the Great (590) seems to have been the first who stated that “there is a purgatorial fire before the judgment for lighter faults.” Legends of monkish visions, apparitions, and dreams helped to spread the idea. The schoolmen systematized the doctrine, and localized the place. The great poem of Dante embodies their ideas.
The first Council which asserted the doctrine was that of Florence (1439), and it was reaffirmed at that of Trent (1563). The Greek Church has always rejected it.
Pardons, or Indulgences, originated, no doubt, in the power of bishops to mitigate the penance imposed on offenders; but they gradually came to be applied for other purposes. In 1084 Gregory VII offered indulgences to all who would take up arms in his cause against the Emperor Henry IV. In the Crusades the idea of indulgences played an important part in rendering them popular. When the idea of a purgatory became general, and the possibility of escaping some of its punishment by the purchase of pardon was taught, it was gladly accepted by the people, and became profitable to the Church of Rome. So great were the scandals connected with the sale of indulgences and pardons for sins about to be committed, as well as those already committed – license for the greatest crimes being purchasable – that in 1522 the Roman Catholic princes of Germany pro tested against them. These scandals roused many to help on the work of the Reformation; against such indulgences our Article protests.
The Council of Trent sanctioned the practice of granting indulgences, but counselled moderation in its use: hence many of the scandals complained of are not so openly practiced; but the sale is profitable still.
Images. – The early Christian Church was unanimous against the use of images in the house of God; and naturally so, because the Jews had such horror of idolatry that before our Lord’s advent they considered it wrong even to make them. Josephus condemns Solomon for the twelve oxen on which the molten sea of the Temple rested (1 Kings 7:25). We learn from Origen (230) that there was neither a painter nor sculptor amongst the Jews. Converts from the Jews would carry this horror of images with them, and the ordinary heathen converts would naturally recoil from images, as suggestive of that idolatry from which they had been delivered. Hence the early Christian Church generally held the Jewish interpretation of the Second Commandment, as forbidding even the making of images.
Symbols such as the Cross, a dove, a lamb, etc., began to appear by the end of the second century.
From the end of the fourth century, pictorial images of our Lord and His Apostles became general; and pictures, representing historical events, such as the death of the martyrs, soon followed, and were brought into churches only, as Paulinus (402) informs us, as a means of instructing the ignorant. The Venerable Bede mentions the use of pictures in the English Church, about 648.
The introduction of pictures into the churches led to their worship in both the Eastern and Western Churches. The miraculous powers of the saints were thought to reside in their images and pictures. Through the sixth century, stories of miracles said to be wrought by the pictures of Christ and the saints, were very common; and from this superstition it was but a short step to practical idolatry in the worship of images. This grew to such a scandal that in 730 Leo the Isaurian ordered all images to be removed from churches. The Council at Constantinople condemned image worship in 754; but the Second Council of Nicaea (787) asserted that it was lawful to worship images: “For the honour of the image passes to the original; and he who worships the image worships in it the person of him who is therein depicted.” After a further struggle of about one hundred years, the use of pictures was upheld, and their worship became the established practice of the Eastern Church.
In the West image worship was universally objected to, except in the Church of Rome. In 767 the French Church resisted the Pope’s influence, and would not accept the decrees of the Second Council of Nicaea. The Emperor Charlemagne wrote against the practice, and the Council of Frankfort (794) “rejected it with contempt”. The British Church was utterly opposed to it; still the Church of Rome sanctioned its practice, and the influence of the Popes in time prevailed. The Council of Trent decreed that the images of Christ and the Virgin and the saints were to be retained, and that the honour done to them was done to those whose likenesses they were; such is the teaching of Rome today, but the general practice is even worse.
Relics. – Belief in the resurrection of the body naturally induced the early Church to bury their dead, rather than allow the body to be burned or become a prey to the beasts. The remains of those put to death for their faith in Christ would, where possible, receive great care; not only as a mark of honour to the martyrs, but also as an encouragement to others to seal, if necessary, their faith with their blood. Gradually, then, anything connected with the martyrs would be looked upon with respect. There is, however, no trace of the worship of relics, or of a belief in their healing virtue or protection against evil, before the fourth century.
When the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian, multitudes of converts, who had only partially renounced their heathenism, entered the Church, and brought with them the tendency to worship relics, and to believe in their power; hence stories of miraculous cures wrought by relics soon circulated. The alleged discovery of the true cross by Helena, the mother of Constantine, in 326, gave an impetus to the desire to possess relics of our Saviour, and anything asked for was generally forthcoming. A profitable trade in relics sprang up. Churches vied with each other as to their possession; and from the sixth century, application to Rome for relics was generally made on the building of a new church, or the erection of an altar. That these relics were generally spurious can hardly be doubted from their multiplication. As an example, it may be mentioned that the seamless coat of our Lord was claimed to be in the possession of twenty-one different churches. And of the Apostle St. Bartholomew there are said to be two entire bodies, three heads, eight arms, etc., exhibited for worship and reverence in various places.
The Council of Trent decreed that relics were to be venerated, but the degree of veneration was not determined. To all the alleged relics of our Lord’s passion Roman Catholic theologians allow the supreme worship of Latria, which is given to God, though Dulia only is permitted to those of the saints. And this worship is still encouraged in the Church of Rome.
Invocation of saints. – In this error we have another of the many strange departures from primitive customs to be found in the Church of Rome, and traceable to the influence of heathen mythology.
No trace of the doctrine of saint worship is to be found till the middle of the fourth century. The early Church sometimes prayed for the saints, but never to them. The belief – not unknown to the Jews, and common with heathens – that the souls of the martyrs hovered about their tombs, was held by some; and this led to pilgrimages being made to their tombs, in addition to those annually made in commemoration of their martyrdom; then prayers came to be offered to those whose souls were thought to be present. The Church protested against such an idea, and condemned the practice of going to such places. The Council of Laodicaea (360) forbade Christians to attend assemblies where angels were invoked.
Epiphanius (403) calls the teaching that the Virgin Mary might be worshipped, a doctrine invented by demons, and strongly condemns the small sect of female devotees called Collyridians – from χολλυρίς, diminutive of χολλυρα, a cake – who worshipped her by an offering of cake.
The belief, however, in tutelary gods and the worship of departed heroes, was common to nearly all the heathens. In order to put as little difficulty as possible in the way of obtaining converts from heathenism, the saints and martyrs of the Christian Church were proposed to them as substitutes for their former tutelary gods, and, as a result, the invocation of saints grew rapidly. From praying for them, they glided into the custom of asking God to hear their intercession; then of asking the saints to intercede with God; the formula, “ora pro nobis,” is still used; but the further step has also been taken of asking the saints directly for aid.
The invocation of saints was first added to a Litany in 800. This is the doctrine which our Article condemns, and which is still practiced and encouraged by the Church of Rome, though directly opposed to Holy Scripture and the practice of the Church for over 400 years.
Analysis. – The Article takes for granted that –
I. The Romish doctrine is known in reference to (a) purgatory, (b) pardons, (c) the worship of images, (d) the worship of relics, and (e) invocation of saints; and –
II. Condemns the doctrines as being –
(a) Foolish inventions.
(b) Without Scriptural authority, and –
(c) Contrary to God’s Word.
Explanatory. – “The Romish doctrine”. – These words were inserted in the Article in 1562, instead of the words “the doctrine of the school authors,” which were in the Article of 1552. It is necessary, therefore, to state what the Romish doctrine is concerning each of the subjects mentioned, not only as defined at the Council of Trent, but also as generally received by Roman Catholics. It is to be noted that these Thirty-nine Articles were sanctioned not only in 1563, when the Council of Trent was in session, but also in 1571 and 1662, by the Church of England; and again, in 1868, by the Church of Ireland. The doctrines of the Church of Rome, even in their recent developments, are therefore distinctly condemned in them.
In reference to Purgatory, i.e., a place where souls are supposed to be purified, the Church of Rome asserts its existence, and that the souls there are aided by the prayers of the faithful and the Sacrifice of the Mass.
I. She teaches that sin is of two kinds –
(a) Mortal – subject to temporal and eternal punishment.
(b) Venial – subject to temporal punishment only.
II. And that –
(a) Though Christ’s Atonement obtains pardon for eternal punishment, which should be expiated in hell, yet –
(b) The sinner must expiate the temporal punishment, either here on earth, or in Purgatory.
III. That –
(a) On earth penance and good works, and the sufferings man has to bear from God, are the means of expiating the temporal punishment due to sin, and –
(b) That the time of punishment in Purgatory may be shortened by the Sacrifice of the Mass, by indulgences, and in other ways.
(c) That the superabundant merits of Christ’s death, and all the merits of the prayers of the saints and their works of supererogation, constitute an inexhaustible treasury of merits – a kind of bank on which the Pope is allowed to draw, and apply the proceeds to shorten the time of punishment of the souls in Purgatory.
(d) That anyone may purchase from this bank the merits said to be stored there, and apply them either to shorten their own time in Purgatory or that of some friend.
Concerning Pardons. – Latin, de indulgentiis. The doctrine as now taught has no reference to the remission of ecclesiastical penalties, to be suffered before the restoration of the penitent, as in the early ages of the Church, such a power being inherent in all societies having disciplinary authority over their members. But the Romish doctrine refers almost exclusively to the remission of punishment for sins against God, and is supposed to affect the soul in its intermediate state between death and judgment in Purgatory.
NOTE. – By plenary indulgence is meant the remission of all punishment in Purgatory. When a remission of 100 or 1,000 years is promised, it does not mean that the time in Purgatory is to be shortened by so much, but that so much punishment has been remitted as would have taken a person that number of years to have expiated on earth.
Such is the comparatively modern doctrine of Purgatory and Pardons, originating from heathen sources, systematized on a false view of the nature of sin – profitable, no doubt, to the Church of Rome, but derogatory to the merits of Christ, whose blood cleanseth from all sin; and even from the Romanist point of view, heartless and cruel, inasmuch as the poor, who cannot pay for pardons, are almost excluded from their supposed benefits.
“Worshipping and adoration of Images and Reliques.” – Latin, veneratione et adoratione. The words “veneration” and “adoration” are used to meet the subtle distinction as to degrees of worship by which the Church of Rome tries to evade the charge of idolatry in reference to such worship. Their theologians divide worship into –
(a) “Latria,” the highest worship due to God.
(b) “Dulia,” or service – a lower worship given to pictures and images of saints, etc. The honour done to the pictures, images, relics, etc., they teach, passes on to the originals, who are thus worshipped through them. This was just the kind of worship proposed by Aaron when he made the molten calf.
(c) “Hyperdulia,” extreme service, or slavery – a worship to be given to the Virgin.
NOTE. – These distinctions are not clearly laid down by the Council of Trent, and are wholly overlooked in practice. The worship of “Latria,” that is, the highest worship, is given to the pictures and relics of Christ, as if to Himself, by authority of the present Pope, Leo XIII.
“Invocation of saints” – i.e., prayers to saints for their prayers and aid. This Romish doctrine is a revolution of the Christian faith and practice, and is traceable to the heathen custom of worshipping heroes.
“Fond thing.” = foolish.
“No warranty of Scripture” = no testimony of.
“Repugnant to” = contradictory of.
Proof. – 1. To show that the Romish doctrine of Purgatory is repugnant to God’s Word.
Holy Scripture is absolutely silent on all the doctrines mentioned in this Article; but the whole tenor of God’s Word is inconsistent with their truth.
It is to be remembered that Rome teaches that those who die in what they call mortal sin do not go to Purgatory, which is only for the punishment of the sins of the justified.
The Church of Rome also teaches that the pains of Purgatory differ from those of hell only in their duration, not in their intensity, thus making a merciful Redeemer, who has granted forgiveness to the penitent soul, still pursue that soul with vengeance beyond the grave – a thought as abhorrent to justice as inconsistent with the Gospel. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). “If we walk in the light, ... the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “Come unto me, all ye that labour, ... and ye shall find rest for your souls” (St. Matt. 11:28–29). Promises which would be broken were the Romish doctrine of Purgatory true, and vengeance taken after death on the redeemed, for the temporal punishment due to their sins. In the Book of the Revelation, St. John learned something of the souls beyond the grave, and that while those who worship the beast are “in torment for ever and ever, and have no rest day nor night,” yet he is commissioned to write: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours” (Rev. 14:13). No allusion is made to the unrest of a Purgatory, though truth would have demanded some mention of it, did such exist. The idea of purgatorial punishment is wholly repugnant to God’s Word.
2. To show that the fact of an intermediate state for the soul between death and judgment does not imply a Purgatory.
Christ has redeemed both body and soul. Until the resurrection, the soul from the time of death will be “absent from the body,” but “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8, R.V.). To the penitent thief He said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (St. Luke 23:43). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the latter is at once on death “comforted” in “Abraham’s bosom” (St. Luke 16:25). Statements wholly and absolutely repugnant to any idea of Purgatory.
3. To show that the Romish doctrine of pardons is unscriptural.
(a) The pardons or indulgences spoken of refer to what is considered as the punishments inflicted by God, not by man. “Who can forgive sins but God only?” was acknowledged true by Christ (St. Mark 2:10); and He there showed He had the power, and was therefore God. We have seen (above) the doctrine of works of supererogation to be unscriptural (St. Luke 17:10); and as that of Pardons rests on it, it is therefore unscriptural also. Man’s works could add nothing to the infinite merits of Christ’s “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice”.
(b) The Romish doctrine is, that the temporal punishment due to sin is expiated on earth, by mental pain and the other consequences of sin which God sends, as well as by punishment in Purgatory. Now, it is not pretended that pardons and indulgences can mitigate the natural pains and effects of sin on earth, where their efficacy could be tested. So we deny their efficacy in Purgatory, where their effect cannot be seen by anyone.
(c) Our Lord distinctly intimates in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (St. Luke 16) that the soul’s place is fixed at death, and that no saint has power to change the place of the soul in the unseen world. Therefore, the doctrine of Pardons, and the Sacrifice of Masses for the release of the souls from Purgatory, is “a fond thing vainly invented”.
4. To show that the worship and adoration of images, etc., are repugnant to God’s Word.
It is forbidden by the Second Commandment to worship any images. The brazen serpent was the only relic which was worshipped in the Old Testament, and it was destroyed “because the children of Israel did burn incense to it” (2 Kings 18:4).
5. To show that the worship of “Dulia,” said to be given to images, etc., is contrary to God’s Word.
By this worship it is said people do not worship the images themselves, but only worship God through the images. Now, this is exactly the explanation which enlightened heathen gave of their idolatry, that they did not worship the things, but only what was represented by them.
It is also precisely what Aaron attempted to do in making the golden calf, and what Jeroboam did when he set up the calves at Dan and Bethel, causing “Israel to sin”: “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. 32:4). They knew it was Jehovah who brought them out, but they desired a visible representation through which to worship Him. If this kind of worship of Him, through an image, was called idolatry by God in the case of Aaron and Jeroboam, by what name are we to call a similar worship (Rom. 1:23) – even of God, not to say of the saints – in the Church of Rome? (see Psa. 106:19–20, Acts 7:41).
6. To show that the invocation of saints is repugnant to God’s Word.
(a) We have only one instance in the whole Bible – if a parable can supply one – of prayer being offered to a dead saint for aid, and that not a very encouraging one on which to build a doctrine. The rich man in Hades prayed Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water, and cool his tongue; and even this small boon could not be granted (St. Luke 16).
(b) That prayer was only offered to God in the New Testament was urged by the early Christians against heretics as a strong proof of Christ’s divinity; as, in their opinion, to none else could prayer be offered. So St. Paul charges the heathen that they “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25) – a charge to which Roman Catholics are liable now in reference to the worship of the Virgin.
(c) The simple study of our Lord’s character in the Gospels overthrows the idea that anyone could be more loving, or compassionate, or more ready to hear prayers, than He is (St. Matt. 11:28–30, 19:13–14, 20:30–34; St. John 7:37). To seek access to God through others is therefore absurd, even were it possible (1 Tim. 2:5).
(See Appendix F.)
1. On what ground is the doctrine of Purgatory rejected?
2. What is the Romish doctrine? Trace its origin, and when decreed.
3. What the Romish doctrine of Pardons? Trace its development.
4. Show the connection between Pardons and Purgatory in the Romish system.
5. In what way does Rome try to evade the charge of idolatry in reference to the worship of images and relics?
6. The invocation of saints is not only unscriptural, but directly opposed to the practice of the early Church. Show this.
7. Trace its origin.
8. Explain the terms “fond,” “warranty,” and “repugnant”.
9. Show that the doctrine of Purgatory is derogatory to Christ’s sacrifice.
10. Show that the fact of an intermediate state gives no support to the doctrine.
11. How does the parable of the rich man and Lazarus disprove it?
12. Show doctrine of Pardons unscriptural.
13. Show from the Old Testament that God forbids not only the worship of an image, but of Himself through an image.
14. What does Rome teach as to relics? What absurdities have hence arisen?
15. Show that prayers to the Virgin and other saints, as now practiced in the Church of Rome, degrade Christ’s mediatorial work.
16. What are the passages of Scripture which the Church of Rome brings forward in proof of a Purgatory? Show that they give no support to the doctrine.
17. What are the texts quoted by Roman Catholic theologians in favour of the worship of images, relics, and saints? Show that these texts do not support those practices.
Of Ministering In the Congregation.
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.
Historical. – In the old dispensation the distinction between priests and people was clearly marked; and being ordained of God, we find the usurpation of priestly functions by others severely punished. In the New Testament we are told of the setting apart by the Apostles of men for the ministry of the Gospel, and their instructions to those placed over Churches, how to advance others to the office of the ministry. For a long time no question seems to have arisen as to the authority in which rested the appointment of ministers in the primitive Church. The bishops ordained deacons and presbyters, assisted, as now, by the presbyters present. Even the various sects, as a rule, were careful to obtain episcopal ordination for their clergy. Not till 360 do we meet with opposition to the received order of ordination. Then an Arian named Aerius, disappointed in not obtaining the bishopric of Sebasti in Armenia, advanced the opinion that bishops and presbyters were equal. He seems to have been the first Presbyterian.
On the Continent the Reformation movement was opposed by all the bishops; hence the Reformed Churches were unable to obtain episcopal ordination for their clergy, though both Luther and Calvin earnestly wished to retain episcopacy.
The Church of England was more fortunate, as the bishops there helped forward the Reformation, and the ancient episcopate remained unbroken. Numerous sects, however, arose, and men often assumed the office of teachers and ministers at will.
Hence the necessity for this Article. The first part is almost identical with a portion of one of the thirteen Articles of 1538; and the latter part was probably so worded as not to condemn the Continental Churches which, from no fault of their own, had been unable to obtain episcopal ordination for their ministers.
The Act of Uniformity, however, in 1662, made episcopal ordination necessary for all who ministered in the Church of England.
An effort, originating in the American Church, and sanctioned by the Pan-Anglican Council, 1888, to reunite all orthodox Protestants on the basis of “the Historic Episcopate,” has met with expressions of approval from some of the non-episcopal bodies, but as yet has been productive of little practical results.
Analysis. – There are but two parts in this Article: – A general statement that –
I. It is unlawful to assume the office of public preaching, or to administer the Sacraments, without being sent by the proper authority.
II. That those authorized by the Church to send out ministers alone can do so.
Explanatory. – “In the congregation”. – Latin, ecclesia, which is translated “Church” in Arts. XIX, XX, and means the Church generally, not the more modern and limited meaning of a number of people collected together at a particular place for worship.
“It is not lawful,” etc. – Latin, non licet. What is forbidden here is the assumption of the ministerial office without being called and sent by the proper authority; and that authority rests in the Church, not in any individual “congregation”.
“Lawfully called”. – Latin, legitime, i.e., called by those who have the authority to do so, i.e., the bishop, without whose commission and ordination none are admitted to preach or administer the sacraments in the Church of Ireland or in those Churches in communion with her. See the Preface to the Ordinal.
“The Lord’s vineyard”. – The Church of Christ, as in the parable (St. Matt. 20:1).
Proof. – 1. To show that in the Old Testament there was a recognized, ministry, which was not assumed at will.
(a) In the Patriarchal Church we meet with Melchizedek, “the priest of the Most High God” (Gen. 14:18), and Noah, “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). The eldest son seems to have been the priest of the family (Gen. 37:3, Heb. 12:6).
(b) The tribe of Levi was taken instead of the firstborn (Num. 3:12), and the family of Aaron appointed more especially to priestly duties.
2. To show this also from the New Testament.
Jesus selected and ordained twelve Apostles to be with Him, and gave them authority to preach and to administer the sacraments and exercise discipline (St. John 20:21–23). To carry on the work of the ministry these Apostles ordained deacons and elders, and advanced some of the latter to the position of bishops (Phil. 1:1), and instructed them how to perpetuate the ministry by the laying on of hands, etc. (Titus 1:5–7; 1 Tim. 4:14).
3. To show that the duties of the ministry must be entrusted by authority, and not assumed.
“No man taketh the honour unto himself, but when he is called of God, even as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4, R.V.). “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom. 10:15). God punished Korah for assuming the office of the priesthood, and calling His ordinance in question, by asserting that “all the congregation are holy,” and, therefore, equally fitted for the priestly office (Num. 16). See also St. Jude 11–12, 19, R.V.
The special directions given by St. Paul to Timothy and Titus about the care to be taken in selecting men for the offices of deacon, elder, and bishop, show clearly that the office ought not to be assumed (1 Tim. 3:13, 5:22).
1. In what sense is the word “congregation” used in this Article?
2. Against what does the Article protest?
3. Who in our Church have authority to appoint to the ministerial office?
4. Show that this is in accordance with God’s Word.
5. Prove from both the Old and New Testament that the office of the ministry ought not to be assumed without lawful authority.
6. Explain the rebellion of Korah (Num. 16) in this connection.
7. Name the three orders of the Christian ministry. Show that those orders existed in Apostolic and Primitive times.
Of speaking In the Congregation In such a tongue as the people understandeth.
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the I custom of the Primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people.
Historical. – The practice of having public prayer and administration of Sacraments in a tongue not understood by the worshippers is one not only opposed to common sense, but acknowledged by Roman Catholic writers themselves to be contrary to the practice of the early Church. Ancient Liturgies, in Greek, Anglo-Saxon, Coptic, Slavonic, Arabic, and other languages, are still accessible. In the East, as in the Church of Rome itself, and in the Greek colonies in Southern Gaul, Greek was used as the Liturgical language down to the fourth century. On the conversion of the Slavonic races, Pope John VIII (880) recommended that their Liturgy should be in their own language.
When more systematic effort was being made to Christianize the Western nations, the Roman power was subjecting them to her authority, and imposing the Latin language on the subject races. In Gaul, Spain, Britain, Italy, as in the Roman provinces of Africa, the Latin language was in common use, and in these countries the Liturgy of the Church would naturally be in the Latin tongue, which would be generally understood by the people.
When the Roman Empire was broken up, the language of the conquerors, grafted on the provincial Latin then spoken, gradually formed a new language. The Latin, however, was continually used in public worship, and only gradually came not to be understood by the worshippers, whose own language was still unsettled.
It was long before the new languages possessed much literary culture; and when at length men asked for prayers in their own tongue, Rome opposed – her policy being to concentrate all thoughts on the Roman Church as the central authority, and to abolish all idea of national Churches.
Analysis. – The statement of the Article is very distinct.
I. It condemns the use of a tongue which the people do not understand, in either (a) prayers, or (b) administration of sacraments.
II. It bases its condemnation on the practice being repugnant, (a) to God’s Word, and (b) to the custom of the Primitive Church.
Explanatory. – “Plainly repugnant” = evidently contradictory, as in Article XXII.
“Custom of Primitive Church”. – The custom of the early Church is also referred to in the Preface to the Ordinal, and in the Commination Service.
“Public prayer,” etc. – Official acts. It has no reference to the language in which an individual may commune with God in private.
“Not understanded of the people.” – Opposing clearly the sacrifice of the Mass, which is said in a low voice in Latin, on the plea that it is an act done for the people, who need not therefore understand what is said.
Proofs. – The Roman Church makes no effort to allege even one text of Scripture in favour of the practice of saying prayers, etc., in a tongue that people do not understand; and though we are not likely to meet with warning against so irrational a practice, yet in both Old and New Testaments there is direct evidence that the principle is “plainly repugnant to the Word of God”.
1. To show this from the Old Testament.
(a) When the people came back from the Babylonish captivity, Chaldee would be the language understood by them, rather than Hebrew; and we learn that when Ezra, on the first of the seventh month, assembled the people at “the water gate,” he prayed before beginning to read the Scriptures, and all the people answered, Amen – evidently the prayer being in the Chaldean language, which they understood. So also, when he read out of the Book of the Law to them, they “gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” – which means either translating the Hebrew into Chaldee, or, as some think, expounding the meaning – prayer, however, being in their own tongue (Neh. 8:1–8).
(b) When Hebrew was no longer generally spoken, the synagogue service was conducted in Syriac or Greek, the language the people understood; and our Lord attended the synagogue service. St. Paul lays down the principle that “all things be done to edifying,” which would be impossible if any part of the service were conducted in a language the people did not understand. The practice is plainly repugnant to St. Paul’s remonstrance (1 Cor. 14) against the use of unknown tongues in worship, in which the people should join, but could not say Amen to what they did not understand.
1. What twofold objection does the Article make to prayers in an unknown tongue?
2. Show that each objection is well founded.
3. Account for the existence of a practice so opposed to commonsense.
Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in Him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five, commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not, to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.
Historical. – It was not till the third period of the middle ages that the doctrine of seven Sacraments, as taught by the Church of Rome, was enunciated. The name “Sacrament” had been used to designate almost any symbolic act, though Baptism and the Supper of the Lord were held to belong to a special class. The scholastic limitation to seven – which was looked upon as a sacred number – was first stated by Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris (who died 1164), in his great work, “The Sentences,” which was accepted as an authority in the Church of Rome. The Council of Trent anathematized anyone who would say that the Sacraments of the Gospel were either more or less than seven, or that they do not confer grace by virtue of the act performed (ex opere operato) – a doctrine not known for nearly 1,200 years.
Our Article not only condemns this novelty of the Church of Rome, but also – in the distinct assertion that there are two Sacraments ordained of Christ – meets the errors of those who refuse to acknowledge any Sacraments.
Confirmation. – This sacred rite is, no doubt, as old as the Christian Church, and only just fails in the notes of a Sacrament, in having no express command from Christ Himself, though we know from the eighth and nineteenth chapters of the Acts that it was administered by the Apostles. Under a considerable diversity of practice it has been continued in the Christian Church since. Confirmation was administered soon after Baptism, even infants being confirmed; but in the second century the rite was ordinarily performed by the bishops, as, indeed, was the rule during the first six centuries. The delay in waiting for the visit of the bishop occasioned a separation of the rite from Baptism, especially in the case of children, when it was delayed till they were instructed in the elements of that faith in which they were to be confirmed. In the East presbyters occasionally performed the rite, and the Council of Toledo, in Spain (589), sanctioned its performance by a priest, though at Rome the ancient custom of requiring a bishop was adhered to.
Penance. – The idea of penance being a Sacrament was wholly foreign to the early Church. It was simply a discipline by which offenders were excluded from public worship for a time till, by a public acknowledgment of their sins, they were released from the penalties and restored to communion. In the fifth century the Bishop of Rome forbade the public confession of special sins, as St. Chrysostom had already done in the Eastern Church. In the seventh century Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, abolished public penance, and drew up a scale of penalties for sins. Money, pilgrimages, the repetition of prayers, etc., were permitted as substitutes for self-denial; and the wealthy were allowed to employ their servants to suffer or fast for them. During the middle ages the whole theory of penance became transformed; absolution was granted, as now, before penance was performed, and was granted, too, not only for the restoration of ecclesiastical status, but for the removal of the temporal punishment said to be due, even for sins forgiven, and which, if not paid in this world, should be expiated in purgatory. Against this doctrine of penance, so different from that of the early Church, this Article protests.
Orders. – The offices of bishop, priest, and deacon, to which men are ordained for the ministry of the Church, by prayer and the imposition of hands, we hold to be agreeable to Christ’s institution, and Apostolic practice, but yet not a Sacrament. These orders of the ministry have been continued uninterruptedly in the Christian Church, though the manner of conferring them has been changed by the Church of Rome, and their number increased. In the tenth century the custom of delivering a cup and paten in ordaining priests – as a sign of their power to “offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Masses” – was held to be the matter and form in conferring orders, which for the first time was considered a Sacrament in the sense in which the word is now used. The Council of Trent decreed that there were seven Orders, the highest being the Priesthood.
Matrimony. – Not a Sacrament of the Gospel, having been ordained by God in the Garden of Eden. It is a type of Christ’s union with His Church.
Extreme Unction. – Anointing the sick with oil, as a curative measure, was and is very common in the East. We read of the Apostles doing so (St. Mark 6:13); and St. James (5:14–15) recommends “the elders of the Church” to do it for the recovery of the sick.
Down to the eighth century, we find it done by women and laymen, as well as by “the elders”. Not till 852 was it enjoined that the priests should perform the anointing themselves. This was the turning point in its history, and no doubt the foundation of the doctrine as now held by the Church of Rome. The anointing of the sick being limited to the priest, the original intention of healing was forgotten, and it became associated with the preparation for death. In the twelfth century Peter Lombard speaks of it as “Extreme Unction,” i.e., the last unction a man was to receive in this world; and thus it gradually became a Sacrament in the Church of Rome, not to be administered for the purpose of healing, but as a preparation for death.
Surely this has “grown from the corrupt following of the Apostles”. In the Eastern Church, though anointing is practiced as of old, it is not considered a Sacrament.
Analysis. – The Article consists of:–
I. A definition of the term “Sacrament” as used by the Church, viz.: –
(a) Not only a badge or token of profession, but also
(b) A sure witness and effectual sign of grace. Thus agreeing with that given in the Catechism – “An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”.
II. A statement of their effect on such as “worthily receive” them –
(a) They not only quicken faith, but
(b) Strengthen and confirm it.
III. The number of Sacraments ordained of Christ is only two, as in Catechism: “Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.”
IV. The grounds on which the five so-called Sacraments are rejected –
(a) As having grown from the corrupt following of the Apostles, or
(b) As being states of life allowed in Scripture.
V. The condemnation of –
(a) The practice of carrying them about in procession, and
(b) The opinion that they are effective merely in themselves, irrespective of faith in the recipient – i.e., efficacious ex opere operato.
Explanatory. – Sacrament. This is not a Scriptural term, and its meaning therefore must be restricted to that sense in which it was used by the early Christian Fathers; the original meaning was simply (a) an oath, like that by which a soldier bound himself to be faithful to his country; and (b) anything sacred, whether act or thing. Until necessity for a strict definition arose, the early writers naturally used the term with considerable latitude, applying it to almost any sacred act or thing; but just as the word “saviour,” which was originally applied to anyone who saved another from hurt of any kind, came gradually to be applied only to indicate Him who alone saved man from the hurt of sin; – so, too, the word “Sacrament” came to be limited in its meaning to those only which Christ had ordained in the Gospels. Hence the name is thus restricted, and, however important the rite or ceremony may be, the Church does not now apply the name “Sacrament” to it, it not being ordained of Christ. It is important to remember that it is in this sense that both we and the Church of Rome use the term. So that our dispute with her is not about the meaning of the word “Sacrament,” but about the application of the term, and the doctrines taught in connection therewith.
The three essentials necessary to constitute a Sacrament are:–
1. An outward sign.
2. An inward spiritual grace.
3. The relation between the sign and the inward grace must be of Christ’s appointment.
In this threefold sense, also, does the Catechism of the Council of Trent define it: “A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace instituted for our justification.” Elsewhere it says, as we do, “instituted by Jesus Christ”.
These three notes, therefore, according to the Church of Rome, should belong to each Sacrament. We shall see that, according even to her own standard, not one of the five Sacraments which we reject as such possesses these notes or marks.
“Not only badges or tokens”. – Latin, notae. Thus opposing views taught by Zwingli, a Swiss Reformer.
“Doth not only quicken” = Doth not only excite; Latin, excitat – indicating that the faith must first be present. The Sacraments do not create faith, but. excite and strengthen it.
“There are two Sacraments, ... Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.” – Even these the Church of Rome does not administer as the Lord commanded. To the Sacrament of Baptism she adds the use of salt, anointing with oil, lighted candles, exorcism, etc.; while the cup has been denied to the laity in the Supper of the Lord.
“Confirmation”. – In the performance of this rite, called also “the laying on of hands,” our Church follows exactly the Apostolic practice. The Church of Rome uses the chrism (a mixture of oil and balm), which the bishop blesses; and in the Eastern Church it is treated as part of baptism, and administered by presbyters with unction blessed by the bishop.
“Penance”. – The act of Penance as a Sacrament of the Church of Rome, is said to consist of three parts –
(a) Confession to a priest, which is compulsory.
(b) Contrition, sorrow of heart, which answers to true repentance.
(c) Satisfaction, or the doing of penance by which to atone for the sin. Restitution and satisfaction to man.
Then follows Absolution. But in practice Absolution is now granted before satisfaction has been made, or the penance performed, and even though there be no true repentance (contrition), but only “attrition,” or a sorrow for sin from an inferior motive. This is a doctrine which strikes at the root of all virtue by teaching that absolution of sin may be obtained without true repentance, or by a penance which may be discharged by deputy. The penance of the primitive Church was an ecclesiastical discipline, such as that alluded to in the exhortation in the Commination Service.
“Orders”. – That is the threefold order of the ministry in the Church. Though the Church of Rome has seven gradations, bishops are not reckoned as an order, the chief dignity being the priesthood.
“Matrimony”. – “Instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union betwixt Christ and His Church.”
“Extreme Unction” – i.e., the last anointing by the Church, when the priest, with oil which has been blessed by the bishop, anoints each of the five senses, and gives final pardon for whatever sins have been committed by sight, smell, hearing, taste, or touch. The anointing with oil spoken of in the New Testament was for the purpose of healing the sick. But extreme unction is never applied now until all hope of recovery has been given up. It is one of the grossest and most harmful of the many perversions of a primitive custom, and is rejected by us not only as a Sacrament, but also as a rite.
“Sacraments are not to be gazed upon or carried about.” – Directly condemns the Romish custom at Corpus Christi.
“Such only as worthily receive.” – This opposes the Romish doctrine that grace is conferred by virtue of the act performed – i.e., ex opere operato.
Proof. – 1. To show that the Sacraments ordained by Christ quicken, strengthen, and confirm Faith.
“According to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
“They that gladly received his word were baptized; … and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:41–42, R.V.).
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16).
Showing clearly that the Sacraments are more than mere badges and tokens, and are helpful in strengthening our faith in Him.
So our Catechism speaks of the benefits of the Lord’s Supper, “The strengthening and refreshing of our souls.”
NOTE. – We have seen that our controversy with the Church of Rome is one of doctrine, inasmuch as she defines the essentials of a true Sacrament of the Gospel in the same way as does our Church, and almost in the same words. Each Sacrament must have, as we teach:–
(1) An “outward, visible sign”.
(2) An inward and spiritual grace; and be –
(3) Ordained by Christ Himself.
As Rome teaches:–
(1) A visible sign of
(2) An invisible grace.
(3) Instituted [by Christ] for our justification.
Further it is laid down that there must be in the Sacraments matter and form, that is, the elements and the words of institution joined. Now let us test each of the Sacraments thus.
2. To show that Baptism is a true Sacrament.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (St. Matt. 28:19). Thus Baptism is a true Sacrament, having the matter, viz., water; the form, viz., “In the name of the Father,” etc.; and it was ordained by Christ, and has the inward grace (1 Peter 3:21, St. John 3:5).
3. To show that the Lord’s Supper is a true Sacrament.
“And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (St. Luke 22:19–20). The Lord’s Supper is thus a true Sacrament, having matter, viz., bread and wine; and the form, viz., the words of institution, as quoted above, and it was ordained by Christ Himself, and it has also the inward grace (1 Cor. 10:16).
4. To show that Confirmation is not a Sacrament.
There is no evidence that it was ordained by Christ, and this prevents it being a Sacrament. It is, however, a very sacred rite, used by the Apostles, and continued in the Church since, and highly valued by our Church. See Acts 8:12, 14, 16–17; 19:5–6; Heb. 6:2.
The Church of Rome asserts in the Catechism of the Council of Trent that “not only was it instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, but ... the chrism (oil) and the words used in its administration were also appointed by Him.” A fair sample of Rome’s assertions without a particle of evidence.
5. To show that Penance is not a Sacrament.
The Church of Rome implicitly acknowledges that there is no outward, visible matter in this so-called Sacrament. The Catechism of the Council of Trent says: “The matter, as it were, is the acts of the penitent,” viz., “confession, contrition, and satisfaction and again, that the opinion of some is “that the sins themselves constitute the matter of the Sacrament of Penance.” Thus making sins the outward sign of an inward grace.
Not till the twelfth century was it decided what was included in the so-called Sacrament of Penance – a fact which clearly shows it could not have been ordained by Christ.
6. To show that Orders is not a Sacrament.
The matter is said to be the imposition of hands, or, as stated in the letter of Pope Eugenius to the Armenians after the Council of Florence, the delivery of the chalice, etc. – a custom not found in the oldest ordinals, and certainly not older than the tenth century; and not till the twelfth century was the form settled. It cannot, therefore, be a Sacrament, or the Church must for 1,000 years have been either without this Sacrament or without Orders. We know that ordination was by Christ’s appointment, and that the Apostles ordained by “laying on of hands” (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6). Hence we value Orders as highly as the Church of Rome, but do not call it a Sacrament of the same kind as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
7. To show that Matrimony is not a Sacrament.
The varying opinions of the Church of Rome as to what constitutes either the matter or form, and their acknowledgment that they know not “when or where Christ instituted it,” show that it is not a Sacrament. The substitution of the word “Sacrament” in Eph. 5:32, for “mystery” scarcely helps the Roman doctrine, for the word occurs over twenty times elsewhere in the Vulgate, and is always rendered “mystery” in the Douay Bible, except in this place.
8. To show that Extreme Unction is not a Sacrament.
The Romish doctrine was not in existence till the twelfth century, which proves it was not ordained by Christ, and is therefore not a Sacrament: it is a corrupt following of the Apostles (St. James 5:14–15).
9. To show that the Sacraments are not effectual ex opere operato, but only as they are worthily received.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (St. Mark 16:16). Therefore mere Baptism alone without faith does not convey grace. So with the Lord’s Supper. “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [judgment, R.V.] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:29); therefore he only who worthily partakes receives spiritual blessing.
1. What imperfect view of the Sacraments does this Article correct?
2. Name the Romish Sacraments rejected by the Church of Ireland.
3. On what grounds rejected, as stated in the Article?
4. What Romish practices connected with the Sacraments are condemned?
5. Our Church’s teaching as to the effectual operation of the Sacraments?
6. General meaning of the word “Sacrament”? In what sense used both by the Church of Rome and us?
7. Show that our position as to Confirmation is in accordance with Scripture.
8. Name those Romish Sacraments which have grown from the corrupt following of the Apostles.
9. What the Romish doctrine of Penance? Show its unscriptural character.
10. Prove that the Romish doctrine of Extreme Unction is wholly opposed to Scripture and primitive custom, and is dangerous to true godliness of life.
11. Show that each of the five commonly called Sacraments lacks the essentials of a true Sacrament.
12. Prove compulsory Confession unscriptural.
13. Name the orders of the Christian ministry. Show that Rome errs as to their number, and in the mode of conferring them.
Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
Historical. – In the fifth century the sect of the Donatists seems to have held that the personal character of ministers affected their ministerial acts, which were invalid if performed by one in deadly sin. St. Augustine opposed their opinions, and showed that the virtue of the Sacraments did not depend on the character of those who administered them. This was also the doctrine of the Greek Church. The evil lives of those in some of the monasteries at the Reformation period led many, both in England and on the Continent, to shrink from their ministrations; and the Anabaptists and others openly taught that no grace could come through an evil ministry. Hence the necessity of stating, as in the Augsburg Confession, and in our Article, which is based upon it, that the efficacy of the Sacraments does not depend on the character of those who administer them, but rather on their institution by Christ. In this the Council of Trent also agreed, adding, however, that it required the minister to have the intention of doing at least that which the Church does, in order to render the act valid – a doctrine which renders uncertain every ministerial act within that Church, inasmuch as none can be certain that the priest has not an adverse intention.
Analysis. – The Article asserts:–
I. The mixed character of the visible Church.
II. That the ministrations of evil men should be used, because –
(a) Their acts are only done by commission from Christ.
(b) That grace depends on the faith of the recipient; and
(c) Christ’s ordinances and promises are unaffected by the evil lives of those dispensing them.
III. Yet evil ministers should be deposed.
Explanatory. – “In the visible Church.” See Article XIX.
“The evil be ever mingled with the good” – i.e., those who are members only in name – though the words as they stand in the Article refer specially to those whose conduct and life clearly show them to be evil. Man judges only by the outward actions; God alone sees the heart.
“They ... do minister by His commission and authority,” i.e., as His ambassadors, sent by Him, hence clearly indicating that the ministerial office must not be assumed by anyone. So in Article XXIII. See also the Ordinal. It is to be noted that those sects which disparage the delegated character of an ordained ministry, or permit its unauthorized assumption, dishonour God’s Word, and the efficacy of the Sacraments, in that they make their saving power depend on the character of him who proclaims the Word or administers the Sacraments.
“Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished.” – That is, from the very nature of Christ’s ordinance, nothing but unbelief in the heart of the recipient can prevent the grace of God coming to man. We need not be debarred from spiritual blessings because of another’s sin. The Church of Rome, however, while acknowledging this, so far as the wickedness of the minister is concerned, decreed at the Council of Trent that the intention of the minister to do that which the Church does, is essential to the validity of a Sacrament – a doctrine which makes the whole efficacy of the Sacraments to depend on the will, if not the character, of him who administers them, and throws a doubt over every spiritual act in the Church of Rome – e.g., the form of baptism may be gone through, but if there is an act of the will inconsistent with the intention to baptize, the person is not baptized. So with the Lord’s Supper, if there is an intention not to consecrate in the Mass, there is no Sacrament; thus introducing an element of uncertainty into every ministerial act, making its effect to depend on the will of another.
“By faith and rightly.” – Latin, fide et rite. Referring to the essentials in the recipient and in the matter of the Sacraments, respectively.
“Evil ministers ... accused ... and found guilty, ... deposed.” – Nothing can be more prejudicial to the spread of true religion than the evil lives of its professors, but more especially of its ministers. Men, though knowing that their sin could not affect the grace of the Sacraments, yet naturally recoil from the ministrations of those who live evil lives. It is, therefore, the duty of all to aid in bringing about the deposition of clergy who may be guilty of offences which cause scandal in the Church, and hinder the spread of true religion.
Proof. – 1. To show that in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good.
Our Lord so taught in the parable of the tares (St. Matt. 13:24–43). Tares and wheat both grow together till the harvest. It is not man’s duty, nor in his power, to separate “the children of the kingdom” from “the children of the wicked one”. They trench, therefore, on the prerogative of the Son of Man who attempt to do this, and form a Church exclusively of “the saved”. See also St. Matt. 13:47–50, 22:10–11; St. John 6:70; etc.
2. To show that the clergy act only as commissioned by Christ.
“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1).
3. To show that we may use the ministry of unworthy men.
Our Lord spoke of the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees (St. Matt. 23:13), yet urges obedience to their ministry. “The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works” (St. Matt. 23:2–3); and He tells us that many will profess to know Him, and even in His name do many wonderful works, to whom He will say, “I never knew you” (St. Matt. 7:23. See 2 Cor. 4:5).
4. To show that the effect of Christ’s ordinances is not taken away by the wickedness of those who administer them.
“Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Cor. 3:7); and in his Epistle to the Philippians, St. Paul recognizes the possibility of good fruit from the preaching of the Gospel even by evil men. “Some preach Christ of envy and strife, ... not sincerely. ... Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; ... I ... rejoice” ... (Phil 1:15–18).
5. To show that Christ’s institution and promise render His ordinance effectual.
In reference to baptism He said: “Go ye,” etc., and “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (St. Matt. 28:20); and of the Lord’s Supper: “This do in remembrance of me”; and, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do ‘show the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
6. To show the duty of deposing an evil minister.
This is taken for granted by St. Paul, for he lays down certain rules which were to guide Timothy in such matters. “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses” (1 Tim. 5:19). So in his Epistle to the Galatians, he speaks of evil teachers (1:7). See also 3 John 9–10.
1. On what grounds does the Article show that the Sacraments are effectual, even though ministered by evil men?
2. What is meant by the term “visible Church”? What does it involve?
3. What is the duty of those who know of the evil life of a minister?
4. Show from Scripture the mixed character of the visible Church.
5. How does this show the twofold error of those sects who profess to admit none but “true Christians,” as they express it?
6. Show that the ministerial authority is one delegated to them by Christ.
7. Show that the denial of this delegated authority dishonours God’s Word.
8. How reply to the assertion of some schismatics that “an unconverted man cannot give what he has not”?
9. What is the Romish doctrine of “intention”? How does it render all ministerial acts in that Church uncertain?
10. Contrast the doctrine of our Church, as to the acts of the lawfully ordained ministry, with that of Rome and the various sects.
11. In what sense is the term “evil ministers” used? This shows the truth of the position taken up in the Article.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed: Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Historical. – Baptism is not peculiar to the Christian Church. It was common among the Jews in our Lord’s time. Proselytes were admitted by baptism and circumcision, and this for infants as well as adults. In Apostolic times, as we learn from Acts 2, etc., it was administered immediately on acknowledgment of a belief in Christ. By the second century, however, Easter and Pentecost had come to be the principal times at which the rite was administered, as a long preparation of the adult converts was necessary – just as in missions to the heathen at the present time. Though it was declared that no time or hour was unsuitable in cases of necessity, yet till about the fifth century, as a rule, bishops and presbyters alone baptized; but from this time, owing to the wide establishment of the Church, and the baptism of children – adult baptism becoming the exception – the minor clergy generally baptized. Lay baptism was considered contrary to ecclesiastical order, though not to essential Christian principles. In medieval times lay baptism became common, though in the thirteenth century the question as to the validity of baptism by women was not decided.
Though a threefold immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, was the rule from earliest times, yet in the case of the sick and of children, baptism by effusion or pouring water on the head was also practiced; but not till the thirteenth century did effusion become the general practice in the Western Church, as it is still with us. The rubric in the Baptismal Service acknowledges the lawfulness of both immersion and effusion – directing that the minister shall dip the child in water if the sponsors desire it, and certify that the child shall be able to bear it; otherwise it shall suffice to pour water upon it. Thus we retain the Apostolic and primitive diversity of practice in the mode of administration.
In the Church of Rome many superstitious practices have been grafted upon the simple rite as commanded by our Lord, such as the use of salt, and oil, and lights, etc. – ceremonies of gradual introduction, and unrecognized by any reformed Church.
The rise of the Anabaptists and other sects which refused or deferred baptism, and the revulsion of those who, recoiling from the superstitious use of the Sacraments as administered in the Church of Rome, were led to hold them as mere ceremonies, rendered the statement of our Article necessary – its language in reference to baptismal grace meeting exactly the opposite errors against which our Church protests, in common indeed with the reformed Churches generally.
As to the history of infant baptism, there is no doubt that it was practiced in Apostolic times. From the peculiar circumstances of the first preaching of the Gospel, more prominence would naturally be given to the baptism of adult converts. Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle St. John, and his pupil Irenaeus is the first who makes distinct mention of infant baptism. At the end of the fourth century so universal was the custom that it was used as an argument against the heresy of Pelagius, as inconsistent with his doctrine of the freedom of the will.
Analysis. – The Article asserts–
I. That baptism is not merely a sign of separation between Christians and others, but also
II. A sign of regeneration or new birth, by which –
(a) We are grafted into the Church.
(b) The promises of forgiveness of sins, and of our adoption as sons, are signed and sealed.
(c) Faith is confirmed, and grace is increased.
III. That infant baptism is agreeable to Christ’s institution.
Explanatory. – “Baptism is not only a sign of profession,” etc. This was the lowest view taken of baptism. It is a sign, but it is more – “a sign of a spiritual grace”. At the time of the Reformation, some, repelled by the gross teaching of the Church of Rome, that by the mere ceremony of baptism all sin vas wholly rooted out, rejected the Sacrament altogether, and others looked upon it as a mere sign of profession. Against these erroneous views this Article lays down the limits on either side within which the true doctrine lies, without accurately defining it.
“Regeneration or new Birth.” – As in Article IV, where the Latin word “regenerati” is used as the equivalent for “the baptized”; and in the Baptismal Service, where it is asserted that the baptized “is regenerated and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church.”
“Rightly.” – Latin, recte – not rite, as in Article XXVI. It refers here to the requisites “repentance and faith”.
“Grafted into the Church” by baptism, as by an instrument, i.e., made “a member of Christ”.
“Adoption as sons”. – “The child of God,” as in Catechism.
“Visibly signed and sealed”. – Made sure, as by the signature and seal on a bond or contract.
“Grace increased” = Grace of sanctification, given to all brought into “a state of salvation”.
“Baptism of young children retained,” as was tie almost universal custom in the early Church.
Proof. – 1. To show that baptism is not merely a sign of profession.
“As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27); and “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”; showing clearly it is more than a mere sign.
2. To show it is a sign of regeneration or new birth.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
3. To show that those that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church.
(a) The Church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22–23). “For His body’s sake, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24); and those baptized are grafted into this body. “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13, 27).
(b) “The ark, ... wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)” (1 Peter 3:21). That is, not by the mere outward act, but the state of the heart answering to the profession of faith.
4. To show that not all admitted to the visible Church receive baptism rightly.
Ananias and Sapphira did not (Acts 5), nor did Simon Magus, who, though “he believed and was baptized,” was still “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23).
5. To show that the promise of forgiveness of sins is sealed in baptism.
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38–39, 22:16).
6. To show that the .Holy Ghost is given in baptism.
St. Paul “came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples; and said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was given,” i.e., was given in baptism, for St. Paul was surprised and asked, “Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John’s baptism.” Then he taught them, and they were baptized; and he laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 19:1, 6, R.V.); so Eph. 1:13.
7. To show that infant baptism is most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
(a) If children were capable of receiving spiritual blessing under the old law, and were to be cut off from its benefits if not admitted, how much more are they capable of receiving spiritual blessing under the new law, and how cruel not to admit them when Christ invites them. (St. Mark 10:13–14).
(b) That there is no distinct command in the New Testament about children is what we would expect, for it was to the adults the Gospel was first preached; but as we read of whole households having been baptized (Acts 16:15), and no hint that children were excluded, it is most natural to conclude that they would have been included, according to the analogy of the old law, which admitted children into covenant relationship at eight days old.
(c) In the case of only one parent being a believer, St. Paul lays it down that even this would sanctify the other, “else were your children unclean, but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14); and “the promise is unto you and to your children” (Acts 2:39) – all showing that children were capable of and entitled to receive spiritual blessing.
(d) The Jews, accustomed to circumcise children at eight days, would naturally, from their previous training, and as a matter of course, bring their children within the Christian Church as soon as possible, unless there was an express direction to the contrary, which there is not.
(e) St. Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1, Col. 3:20, R.V., compared with verse 18) – a strong presumption that the children thus addressed were members of the Church, and thus “in the Lord”. Thus we believe infant baptism to be agreeable to the mind of Christ.
1. What error in reference to baptism is alluded to?
2. What are the benefits conferred in baptism?
3. Contrast the views of the Church of Rome on the manner in which grace is conveyed in the Sacraments with ours.
4. Show the lawfulness of infant baptism.
5. The mode of administering baptism in our Church recognizes Apostolic diversity therein.
6. The Article describes a fivefold result of baptism when rightly received. Give Scriptural authority for each.
Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
Historical. – The institution of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper dates from the night in which our Lord was betrayed. In the Acts of the Apostles we have a record of its daily observance (Acts 2:42). When we meet with it in the Church of Corinth, the celebration is no longer daily, but on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 10:20); and irregularities had arisen which St. Paul strongly rebuked, and insisted on the sacramental character of the “communion of the body” and “the blood of Christ”. The references to this Sacrament in the second and third centuries show that after consecration the deacons distributed it to all present, who, standing, received the Bread into their hands.
The practice of leaving the church without communicating is denounced by St. Chrysostom, but is sanctioned by the Council of Orleans, 511.
In the sixth century we find women forbidden to receive the Eucharist in the naked hand; they were required to receive it on a napkin, called Dominicale.
About the eighth century wafers were substituted for ordinary bread.
When growing superstition induced many to retain a portion of the consecrated bread as a kind of charm, the Council at Rouen (880) decreed that the Eucharist should henceforth be placed in the mouths of the communicants, and no longer delivered into the hand. This practice, which originated in a desire to protect what was holy from profane uses, became almost universal in the Church, and was retained in the first Prayer Book of Edward VI.
It is admitted by all that from its institution down to the twelfth century the laity received the Lord’s Supper in both kinds. In the seventh century, however, the practice of administering the Eucharistic bread dipped in the consecrated wine, became customary – and is continued to the present time in the Eastern Church – though it was condemned in the West as schismatic.
In the primitive Church the Fathers constantly speak of a spiritual presence of Christ in His Sacrament; but there is no idea of any change in the nature or substance of the bread and wine.
About the ninth century germs of a doctrine of a corporal presence of Christ in the Sacrament began to agitate the Church. The authority of St. Augustine, however, tended much to prevent the rapid spread of such materialistic views.
In 831 Paschasius Radbert, a Saxon monk, drew up a treatise on the Eucharist for the use of the younger monks, in which he taught that the bread and wine, after consecration, were the very body and blood of Christ in which He suffered on the cross. This is the first time we meet with the doctrine so distinctly taught, and protests from all sides were raised against the doctrine; Ratram and the Irish theologian John Scotus Erigena being amongst those who assailed it; some, going to the opposite extreme, denied that the Eucharist was other than a mere memorial of Christ’s death.
The materialistic spirit of the age confounded the sacramental symbols with the grace they were intended to convey, and gradually accepted the teaching of Paschasius, though not till the end of the eleventh century did it receive the name Transubstantiation.
In 1216 the Council of Lateran accepted the term, and, for the first time, sanctioned the doctrine, which henceforth became an article of faith in the Church of Rome. The Council of Trent anathematized all who do not hold it.
This doctrine of Transubstantiation was never accepted by the Greek Church. It was not thought of for 800 years. It was not sanctioned by any Council for over 1,200 years. Its very novelty condemns it.
The recoil from such grossly materialistic views of a physical change in the elements led some to deny any kind of presence of Christ in the Sacraments, which they held to be merely signs. Such were said to be the views of the great Swiss Reformer, Zwingli, who fell in the battle of Cappel, 1531, and they have since generally been termed Zwinglianism.
These views, however, which make the Sacraments mere signs – though held by some individuals and sects – are not found as the authorized doctrines of any branch of the Christian Church.
Against this twofold error as to the nature of the Lord’s Supper, this Article was drawn up in 1552. A clause containing a further reason against the doctrine of Transubstantiation, founded on the fact that Christ’s body was in heaven, and could not be in many different places at the same time, was afterwards omitted. A similar argument against the doctrine is found in the “Black Rubric” at the end of the Communion office, added 1552, and revised 1662.
Analysis: – The Article asserts that –
I. The Supper of the Lord is –
(a) Not merely a sign, but also,
(b) A Sacrament of our redemption.
II. Its efficacy depends on faith in the recipient.
III. It defines Transubstantiation, and rejects it, because –
(a) It cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but
(b) Is repugnant to God’s Word, and
(c) Overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and
(d) Has given occasion to many superstitions.
IV. That Christ is only received in a spiritual manner.
V. And condemns the practice of reserving, carrying about, or worshipping it.
Explanatory. – “The Supper of the Lord.” – The name is used by St. Paul (1 Cor. 11:20), and though, no doubt, applied at first to the Last Supper at which the Sacrament was instituted, it came in time to be applied to the Sacrament itself; excluding the nonessentials which at first accompanied it. Elsewhere in this Article, “The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper” is given as the equivalent of the Latin “Sacramentum Eucharistiae”. The term Eucharist occurs in the New Testament as meaning “a giving of thanks” (St. Luke 21:17; 1 Cor. 14:16). The term was then applied to that over which thanks had been given.
Hence it soon came to mean the consecrated elements, and was used almost exclusively to indicate this Sacrament.
The name “Holy Communion,” as in the Prayer book and in 1 Cor. 10:16, indicates a joint partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ.
“Not only a sign”. – It is this, but it is more, as every branch of the Christian Church asserts.
“A Sacrament” – i.e., having also an inward and spiritual grace, as well as an outward sign.
“Rightly”. – Latin, rite – that is, in reference to the outward essentials – matter and form – of the Sacrament.
If only one of the elements were consecrated, there could be no Sacrament; and if one of the consecrated elements were withheld, the administration would be imperfect, and the Sacrament not rightly or duly received.
“Worthily”. – Latin, digne, in reference to the manner or spirit in which it is received – discerning its Sacramental character (1 Cor. 11:27).
“With faith”. – In reference to what is essential in the recipient.
“Transubstantiation,” defined in the Article as “the change of the substance of bread and wine.” We have seen that this word was not used till the eleventh century; and the doctrine rejected by our Articles has only been an Article of faith in the Church of Rome since 1216.
The Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation is, that, with the words of consecration, the whole substance of the bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Christ, the species only of the bread and wine remaining.
Now, to understand clearly what is thus meant, it is to be remembered that the schoolmen brought in the aid of philosophy to explain the phenomenon of no visible change in the elements after consecration. Matter, as they held, consists of substance and accidents.
By “substance” is meant the essence – that without which it could not be.
By “accident” is meant that which was not essential, e.g., colour, taste, smell, shape, etc. Accidents, therefore, could not exist apart from their substance.
Now, in Transubstantiation it is said that only the substance of the bread and wine is changed. For it is apparent that the accidents remain just as before. So that, unlike all other miracles, there is here an appeal from our senses, and not to them!
But it is further taught that as accidents (colour, taste, etc.) could not adhere to the body of Christ, into which the substance had been changed, therefore they must, contrary to all physical laws, exist of themselves without a substance! – i.e., there is colour, yet nothing coloured; shape, yet nothing, having shape, etc., etc.; and all this without one particle of evidence. Such is the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation.
“Cannot be proved”. – Not one single passage in Scripture teaching it; had there been, it would not have been unnoticed for 1,100 years.
“Repugnant to” = contrary to. Latin, adversatur; in Article XXIV, repugnat; in Articles XX and XXII, contradicit.
“Overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament,” which requires an outward visible sign; whereas if Transubstantiation were true, there would be no sign, for the body and blood of Christ are said to be actually present.
“Given occasion to many superstitions”. – Such as worshipping it – putting it within the lips of the dead – using it in trial by ordeal – and in many other ways.
“Reserved”. – Kept for superstitious uses, instead of being eaten. Hence the Rubric in the office of Holy Communion directs that “if any remain of that which was consecrated, it shall not be carried out of the church, but the priest, and such other communicants as he shall call unto him, shall, immediately after the blessing, reverently eat and drink the same.”
“Carried about”. – In processions to be worshipped, or as a charm about the person, as was sometimes done.
“Lifted up” – i.e., for the purpose of being worshipped. No mention of such a practice occurs before the twelfth century.
“Worshiped”. – Of the worship of the consecrated elements (the Host – Latin, Hostia, a victim – is the name by which the consecrated wafer is known in the Church of Rome) the Church knew nothing till the doctrine of Transubstantiation was invented.
Proof. – 1. To show that the Lord’s Supper is more than a sign.
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16).
2. That it is a Sacrament of our redemption.
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7); and our Lord spoke of the bread as His body broken, and of the wine as His blood shed for the remission of sins (St. Luke 22:19–28). So St. Paul reminds us that in eating the bread and drinking the cup, we “do show the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
3. To show that it is also a bond of union amongst Christians.
“For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).
4. To show that to those who rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive it, it is a partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life, and promises life to him that eateth that bread: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you (St. John 6:53). In verse 47 He also promises life to the believer: “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life”; and He adds that His words are figurative. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (verse 63). Now, He afterwards supplies a means of doing this in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in which He uses similar language: the bread He calls His body, the wine His blood – thus enabling the believer on Him to spiritually eat His flesh and drink His blood.
5. To show that Transubstantiation cannot be proved by Holy Writ.
Because Holy Scripture teaches that Christ ascended into heaven in our nature (Acts 1:2, Col 3:1), and will come again at the last day. Now, the same “body” cannot be in more than one place at the same time; but were Transubstantiation true, “the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ” would be present not only in every consecrated wafer, but in every broken atom of a wafer; hence it follows that His body must be in innumerable places at one and the same time, which involves an absurdity. Therefore we justly say the doctrine cannot be proved by Holy Writ.
6. It is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.
Scripture uniformly speaks of the elements after consecration as bread and wine (St. Matt. 26:27–29; 1 Cor. 11:26) – showing there was no physical change; and further, St. Paul charges members of the Corinthian Church with being “drunken” at the Supper of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:21). Had the wine been turned into the blood of Christ, would it still have had the power of producing intoxication? Therefore the assertion of a physical change is repugnant to God’s Word.
7. To show that Transubstantiation would overthrow the nature of a Sacrament.
We cannot make a thing a sign of itself. In Transubstantiation the body and blood of Christ are said to be present under the forms of bread and wine, and could not, therefore, be a sign of Himself – thus overthrowing the nature of a Sacrament.
8. To show that the Body of Christ is taken and eaten only after a spiritual manner.
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (St. John 6:63). “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17).
9. To show that it is not to be reserved.
Jesus said, “Take, eat”; and also, “Drink ye all of it” – showing that the consumption of the elements is an essential part of the Sacrament. And, as a matter of history, the reserving of the consecrated bread, instead of immediately consuming it, has been productive of very gross superstition.
Note that in rejecting these corrupt practices the Reformation restored the Sacrament to its primitive simplicity as it was instituted by our Lord.
(See Appendix G.)
1. Mention two erroneous views as to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper condemned in this Article.
2. Wherein does its efficacy consist?
3. Explain the terms “rightly,” “worthily,” and “with faith”.
4. How is Transubstantiation defined in the Article, and by the Church of Rome?
5. What reasons are given for its rejection? Show the truth of each.
6. How do this Article and the previous one oppose the opus operatum doctrine of Rome?
7. Show the comparatively modern character of the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
8. Show the absurdity of the grounds on which it has been explained that we see no results of the change in the elements.
9. By what other names is the Lord’s Supper known?
10. Show, from Scripture and the practical results which follow the reservation of the Sacrament, that its reservation is justly condemned.
11. Show clearly that the words “This is my body,” etc., do not involve any idea of a change of substance in the bread and wine.
12. Why does not a mere appeal to the senses suffice to overthrow the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation, according to their statements?
Of the wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
Historical. – The words of this Article are avowedly those of St. Augustine (430), who says: “He that does not abide in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide, certainly does not spiritually eat His flesh nor drink His blood, though he may visibly and carnally press with his teeth,” etc., etc. And Origen, who was born about 185, asserts the same thing: “Christ is the true food; whosoever eats Him shall live forever; of whom no wicked person can eat.” Thus showing that the doctrine of our Article – which follows from the previous Article – is in accordance with that of the primitive Church. The Article was drawn up by Archbishop Parker in 1562, and finally adopted in 1571.
Analysis. – The Article states simply the twofold fact in the words of St. Augustine, viz.:–
I. The wicked are not partakers of Christ in the Sacrament.
II. The wicked eat and drink these signs to their own condemnation.
Explanatory. – There are but three possible views in reference to the wicked who come to the Lord’s Supper.
1. Those individuals who look upon the Sacraments as mere signs of Church communion, can only take cognizance of the outward act, and must acknowledge that all who in outward appearance conform to the requirements have partaken aright. This view of the Sacraments our Church explicitly condemns; but it is not alluded to in this Article, which speaks only of “receiving Christ”.
2. The Church of Rome, with its doctrines of Transubstantiation and opus operatum, acknowledges that all who receive the Sacrament do eat the body and blood, but that the wicked eat it to condemnation.
3. The doctrine of our Church, which makes the efficacy of the Sacrament lie in the faithful receiving of the sacred symbols instituted by Christ, is that the wicked are in no wise partakers of Christ.
“Wicked,” i.e., those void of a lively faith.
“Press with the teeth”. – Roman Catholic theologians direct that the wafer be not eaten with the teeth, but allowed to dissolve in the mouth.
“Partakers of Christ”. – Latin, Christi participes. In Article XXVIII, “A partaking.” = Latin, “communicatio”.
Proof. – 1. To show that the wicked do not partake.
Our Lord says: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him,” and “shall live forever,” and “hath eternal life” (St. John 6:56, 59). Now, it clearly follows that as the wicked cannot “have eternal life,” or “dwell in Christ,” therefore, they cannot partake of His body and blood.
2. To show that they eat to their condemnation.
St. Paul asserts so in 1 Cor. 11:29.
1. Prove the truth of the assertion that the wicked do not eat.
2. Who was S. Augustine? Another of the Fathers is mentioned in our Articles. In what connection?
3. In what sense is the word “wicked” used here?
4. What is meant by “partakers of Christ”?
Of both kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Laypeople: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
Historical. – There is nothing in which the Church of Rome more visibly opposes the institution of Christ, and departs from the universal practice of the Church for over one thousand years, than in the withholding of the cup from the laypeople.
The Fathers, without exception, distinctly speak of communion in both kinds as the universal practice. In the fifth century Pope Gelasius ordered all persons to communicate in both kinds, asserting it to be sacrilege to divide the Sacrament. In the eleventh century Pope Urban II decreed the same, in the Council of Clermont. In the twelfth century the bread began to be dipped in the wine in the Western Church, though it had condemned the Eastern Church for the same practice. When the doctrine of Transubstantiation became established, the Council of Constance (1415), while distinctly acknowledging “that the faithful in the primitive Church did receive in both kinds,” yet dared to revise the institution of the Lord, and decreed that in future the cup was to be withheld from the laity, asserting that Christ was entire, and truly under each kind. The decree of the Council of Constance which mutilated the Sacrament, was long distasteful to the laity. In the Bohemian wars “the Chalice” became a watchword for those who fought for the faith of the Reformers Huss and Jerome of Prague; and many then withdrew from communion with Rome. The Council of Trent defended the withdrawal, and now none of the Roman Catholic laity receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as Christ instituted it.
This Article was drawn up by Archbishop Parker in 1562.
Analysis. – The Article contains –
I. A simple statement that the cup should not be denied to the laypeople; and
II. The reason – Christ’s command that both were to be ministered alike.
Explanatory. – The explanation of this act of mutilation of the Sacrament is clearly to be found in the promulgation of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and is one of the consequences of that doctrine. The custom of reserving the elements for the sick, and administering, as was sometimes done, the bread dipped in wine, may have prepared the way for the total withdrawal of the cup. But the idea of a corporal presence naturally begat a superstitious reverence for the elements. This superstition, which first showed itself in reference to the wine, suggested the use of a quill or pipe to communicate through, lest a drop of the wine might adhere to the beards of the laity, and eventually led to the withdrawal of the cup.
“Laypeople”. – That is, all who are not clergy.
“To all Christian men alike”. – Not to priests only, but laity as well.
Proof. – To show that Christ directed the Communion to be administered in both kinds.
We have but to turn to the words of institution, as when He said of the wine, “Drink ye all of it” (St. Matt. 26:27); and they “all drank of it” (St. Mark 14:23). So also before the institution of the Sacrament He said: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” (St. John 6:53); and St. Paul says to all Christians: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). But even the Roman theologians acknowledge that they have departed from the institution of Christ in this. There is still a further inconsistency. If the cup is unnecessary, why do they still consecrate in both kinds?
N.B. – It is to be noted that the new and false doctrines thus added from time to time make the Church of Rome a different Church from that of former ages; and, in our casting off these errors, we simply go back to the doctrine of the New Testament and the primitive Church.
1. On what grounds does the Article oppose the withdrawal of the cup from the laity? Show their truth.
2. When was it withdrawn? On what plea?
3. Show that, in reference to this and other doctrines, the Church of Rome is now comparatively a new Church.
4. Prove that the laity of the Church of Rome have not been able to receive “rightly” the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper since 1415.
Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
Historical. – The Reformers resented no doctrine of the Church of Rome more unanimously than this, which is so derogatory to the sacrifice of Christ – a sacrifice that needs no supplement.
During the first 200 years there is no distinct assertion of a propitiatory sacrifice in the Eucharist, though the term “sacrifice” occurs in reference to it. The doctrine of Transubstantiation not having been thought of, the language of the Fathers was therefore less guarded than if that doctrine had to be specially met, as now. Hence the attempt of the Church of Rome to lay stress on isolated expressions in the literature of the Church after the second century, which seem to give countenance to this doctrine. Not till the ninth century do we find traces of solitary Masses, by the priest alone, and the practice was then condemned. It was not till the twelfth century – a period, as we have seen, so fruitful in error – that such Masses were allowed in the Roman Church; nor is the practice found now in any other communion.
The doctrines of Purgatory and of Transubstantiation soon gave a stimulus to the practice of Masses, for both the living and the dead, which in the Roman Church has not only continued since, but is the most important doctrine of that Church. In casting off the superstition which had grown up in the dark ages round the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, our Article only asserts the doctrine of Scripture, and restores the practice of the primitive Church.
This Article was drawn up in 1552, and meets alike the errors of Rome, and of those who in our own day would minimize the great doctrine of the sufficiency of Christ’s Atonement.
Analysis. – The Article asserts –
I. The sufficiency of the Atonement, and that there is none other, and
II. It rejects the sacrifices of Masses, as being –
(a) Blasphemous fables; and
(b) Dangerous deceits.
Explanatory. – Note the title of the Article – “Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross,” i.e., one, the only one of its kind, and not to be repeated. Latin, unica.
“Oblation of Christ” = “the offering of Christ,” as in the Article. The term “oblation” was early applied to the Christian thank offering, the Eucharist, and also to other offerings.
“Once made,” i.e., once for all.
“Redemption” = ransom; hence applied to the Atonement of Christ’s death, by which He “purchased,” etc. (Eph. 1:14); hence also a buying back (Heb. 9:12).
“Propitiation” = that by which God has been made propitious or favourable to us. This word was substituted in 1562, instead of the expression “the pacifying of God’s displeasure,” which was in the Article in 1552.
“Satisfaction”. – Latin, satisfactio; a legal term signifying that which makes content a person offended – hence applied to the Atonement of Christ. The word is again used in this Article as the equivalent of the Latin “expiatio,” meaning that which annuls a crime. These four terms, applied to the offering of Christ, indicate its perfect character in every aspect of that sacrifice.
“Sins of the whole world,” showing the object and extent of that sacrifice, as Article II. – all sin original and actual. A standing protest against all who would limit His Atonement.
“None other satisfaction,” i.e., expiation, either by penance or sufferings here on earth or in Purgatory, as Rome teaches; but here the reference is chiefly against the idea of a propitiatory sacrifice in the Eucharist.
“The sacrifices of Masses”. – The Article defines exactly the sense in which the Church protests against this: “that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt.”
The term sacrifice, like that of “sacrament,” is of general import and used in various senses, not only by early Christian writers, but also in Holy Scripture. It is applied to any devotional act or offering, spiritual or material, and hence may be applied to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In the Office for Holy Communion we use the word in a threefold sense, viz.: – a sacrifice (a) “of praise and thanksgiving”; (b) of “ourselves, our souls, and bodies”; (c) any spiritual offering. It is not therefore a question of words – or how the term “sacrifice” may be applied to the Holy Communion – between us and the Church of Rome, but a total and absolute rejection of the Romish doctrine on the subject; and that that doctrine is fairly expressed in the Article, we learn from the Council of Trent, which decreed that “If anyone shall say that the sacrifice of the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, or a bare commemoration of the sacrifice made upon the Cross, and that it is not propitiatory, or that it profits only the receiver, and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for their sins, punishments, satisfaction, and other necessities: Let him be accursed.”
Thus has the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper been corrupted; and in rejecting such corruption, we have restored it to the purity of its original institution.
“Commonly said.” – “Generally,” as in Articles VI and XXV.
“For the quick and the dead.” – As the Church of Rome teaches that those who are to obtain salvation pass at once into Purgatory, where they suffer a degree of punishment equal in intensity to that of hell, and differing from it only in duration – and that the propitiatory sacrifice of the Mass is the chief means of reducing the time of punishment for the souls in Purgatory – it is not to be wondered at that Masses for the dead have become universal in that Church. Yet these Masses for the dead, from which so much is promised, are only obtainable by those who can pay for them: they are purchased by, and said for the benefit of, private individuals, whose names the priest mentions, and only occasionally said for the general benefit of the dead.
Thus the Church of Rome stands convicted of cruelty or imposture in this matter – cruelty, in leaving the souls of the poor in such sufferings in Purgatory, while professing to be able to release them by Masses, if paid for doing so; or imposture, in receiving money for Masses which can avail nothing. The natural tendency of such a doctrine is subversive to true religion in the soul – fostering the idea in the rich that money can procure a mitigation of the consequences of their evil deeds, and a more ready entrance into heaven.
“Blasphemous”. – In pretending to offer up Christ.
“Fables”. – Latin, figmenta. Fictions, inventions.
“Dangerous deceits”. – Latin, perniciosae imposturae = Pernicious impostures, luring men to trust in false hopes.
Proof. – 1. To show that Christ’s sacrifice is not to be repeated.
The daily sacrifices under the Jewish law are contrasted with the one sacrifice of Christ, made once for all: “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often … Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:25, 28); and again: “This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). Thus “death hath no more dominion over Him” (Rom. 6:9); and, therefore, His sacrifice cannot be repeated.
2. To show that His offering is perfect.
Perfect not only from the perfection of Christ, but it is distinctly so stated: “By one offering hath He perfected forever them that are sanctified. ... By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:14, 10).
3. To show that we rightly speak of Christ’s offering as our redemption.
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14). “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 1:14).
4. As a propitiation.
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation” (Rom. 3:24–25).
5. As a satisfaction.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19). In the Collect for Fourth Sunday in Advent, the expression “the satisfaction of Thy Son” occurs.
6. That Christ’s offering was for the sins of the whole world.
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
7. To show that there is none other satisfaction.
As Christ’s is perfect, none other is needed – none even possible from sinful beings. “If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:26).
8. To show that the sacrifices of the Masses are blasphemous fables.
To attribute imperfection to Christ’s sacrifice is blasphemy; and this is done when the necessity of repeated sacrifices is taught, as in the Mass. That which is taught not only without warrant in God’s Word, but directly contrary to it, may be called a fable or fiction.
9. To show that they are dangerous deceits.
Deceits or impostures, because pretending to remit pain and guilt from souls in a Purgatory that does not exist.
Dangerous deceits, in inducing a belief that sin and guilt can be remitted after death, and in other ways than by faith in Christ, thus tending to make men delay yielding their hearts wholly to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
1. Explain each of the terms “oblation,” “redemption,” “propitiation,” and “satisfaction”.
2. What does the Article say of the character and extent of Christ’s offering? Give Scriptural authority.
3. Show that if for “original and actual” sin, there can therefore be no need of other satisfaction.
4. On what grounds are sacrifices of Masses condemned?
5. Show from Scripture the truth of each ground.
6. In what sense does the Article condemn Masses?
7. Explain the meaning of the term “sacrifice”.
8. Prove that Christ’s sacrifice cannot be repeated, and that the repetition would be unnecessary, even if it could.
9. What Articles of the Church speak of the Atonement?
Of the Marriage of Priests.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God’s Law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
Historical. – The Old Testament certainly gives no preference to a life of celibacy, either for the priests or people. In the New Testament the lawfulness of the marriage of the clergy is never questioned: on the contrary, St. Peter was a married man, and St. Paul, in his Epistle to Timothy, prefers, for the office of bishop, those presbyters who had brought up their children well. The ascetic views of the Gnostics, and other heretical sects, gradually influenced Church opinion; and the growing feeling that celibacy was a higher state than marriage, and that the clergy should aim at that state, so influenced some of the laity that they withdrew from the ministrations of married clergy. Bishops and councils made laws against such a feeling. The Council of Nicaea (325) decreed that the clergy should be permitted to retain their wives. In the Eastern Church men who had married before ordination were accepted; but bishops were not permitted to have wives. Hence the bishops were chiefly taken from the monastic orders, as nearly all the candidates for the priesthood married before they became deacons; and thus the line of separation between the monks and the secular clergy became very marked.
In the Western Church for centuries this question engaged the attention of synods and councils, some condemning and some permitting the marriage of the clergy. Step by step, however, celibacy became compulsory for the clergy as well as for the monks. Towards the end of the seventh century the marriage of the clergy was declared unlawful in Spain. Not till the eleventh century was celibacy imposed on all the clergy, and chiefly, perhaps, for political reasons. Anselm enforced it in England in the twelfth century. At the Reformation the Reformers opposed the compulsory celibacy of the clergy. The Article of 1552 only contained the first clause of the present Article – that bishops, priests, and deacons are not commanded by God’s Law to abstain from marriage; the second part of the Article, asserting liberty to act on their own discretion in the matter, was added 1562. The Council of Trent condemned those who say it is lawful for the clergy to marry.
Analysis. – The Article simply asserts –
I. That no law of God debars the clergy from marriage; and
II. That it is a matter in which it is quite lawful for them to use their own discretion.
Explanatory. – “Bishops, priests, and deacons.” – Though the title of the Article is, “Of the Marriage of Priests,” yet each order is severally mentioned – no doubt, because the Greek Church permits priests and deacons to marry, but prohibits bishops; and in the Roman Church it was long the rule to permit deacons to marry, though priests were forbidden to do so.
“Not commanded by God’s Law”. – There is no command on the subject in God’s Word, but perfect liberty. No doubt, the idea that an unmarried clergy would be more free from “care,” and better able to render an undivided service to God (1 Cor. 7:32), gradually tended towards the adoption of the present rule in the Church of Rome; but its first general imposition by Pope Gregory VII seems to have been more for the purpose of making the clergy dependent on the Roman See. The ties of family would tend to create a more marked feeling of citizenship towards their country, and render the clergy less amenable to the authority of the Pope.
Proof – 1. To show that it is lawful for the clergy to marry.
Some of the apostles were married men, and St. Paul lays down the rule that “a bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, … having his children in subjection”; and that “deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Tim. 3:2, 4; 1 Tim. 4:1, 3).
1. What is the teaching of our Church in reference to the marriage of the clergy?
2. Show that it is in full agreement with God’s Word.
3. Wily are the three Orders separately mentioned?
4. Why has the Church of Rome prohibited the marriage of the clergy?
Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a Judge that hath authority thereunto.
Historical. – Excommunication is a power founded on the inherent right of all societies to exclude from membership persons whose conduct is in open violation of their laws. In the Jewish Church it was continually exercised, and in the Christian Church – “the Kingdom of God” on earth – the power exists not only as the natural right of such an organization, but from the express command of its Founder, and the example and precepts of the Apostles.
The exercise of this power is frequently met with in the primitive Church, but it is left to the discretion of the bishops, rather than to the direct interference of councils, though in the fourth and fifth centuries the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon found it necessary to pass canons on the subject, chiefly corrective of abuses which had arisen.
The usurpation of the See of Rome, and the exercise of the power of excommunication from political, as well as religious, motives, became such a scandal as to weaken its efficacy as an aid to maintain either purity of doctrine or of life, particularly when the excommunicated person was handed over to the civil power for punishment.
Nations were excommunicated for the political offences of their rulers, as in the case of England under King John, by Pope Innocent III.
The Reformers discarded the abuses connected with it, but retained the power of excommunication it is seldom exercised. The rubric before the Holy Communion gives the clergy authority, under certain conditions, to exclude from communion any member living in notorious sin.
Analysis. – The Article: (I.) Assumes that the Church has power to excommunicate; and (II.) Asserts that its authority should be upheld by all members of the Church.
Explanatory. – Heresy, idolatry, and murder, etc., seem to be the chief crimes for which excommunication was resorted to in the early Church, and it was more or less severe according to the circumstances of each case, the authority which excommunicated having also the power to relax the conditions on which restoration to the Church might be granted. Gradually, instead of a public confession of error and repentance, the custom of private confession and private penance, and private restoration to Church communion, came to be the rule. Against this it is that our Article guards.
“Open denunciation,” i.e., a public trial and public sentence by proper authority.
“Openly reconciled,” i.e., publicly readmitted to Church privileges.
“Rightly cut off,” i.e., not only justly, as being guilty of the crime charged against them, but also rightly, as being done by the authority of the proper tribunals, and in accordance with the laws of the Church, e.g., the Ecclesiastical Courts in England and the Court of the General Synod in Ireland. Their authority seems to be only exercised over the clergy, and the power of absolute excommunication is not exercised, as the relations between Church and State have altered much since 1562.
“Heathen and publican,” i.e., as outside all Church privileges. The Lord’s own words (St. Matt. 18:17). Christian burial is denied in the case of suicide when the coroner’s jury returns a verdict of felo de se.
“By penance,” as in Commination Service, with a view (a) to their own restoration, and (b) to deter others admonished by their example.
“A judge that hath authority.” – The authority that excommunicates has power to restore.
Proof. – 1. To show that excommunication from Church privileges was authorized by Christ.
In the case of an offending brother, if a personal remonstrance did not suffice, the Church in the locality was to be called upon to judge; and if its authority were treated with contempt, the man was to be expelled: “If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen man and a publican” (St. Matt. 18:15–19).
2. To show that this power was exercised by the Apostles.
St. Paul exercised it on the incestuous Corinthian (1 Cor. 5:2–5), and for heresy and blasphemy on Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:19–20; 2 Cor. 1:23).
3. To show that it was commanded by the Apostles to be exercised in the Church.
“A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject” (Titus 3:10, Gal. 5:12; 2 Thess. 3:14); and the Lord rebukes the bishops of the Churches in Pergamos and Thyatira for not exercising it (Rev. 2:14, 20).
4. The Church has power of restoration on repentance.
St. Paul urged that the Corinthian be forgiven, lest “Satan get an advantage of us” (2 Cor. 2:5–11).
1. What is the meaning of “rightly cut off”?
2. The twofold object of this cutting off?
3. Show that both are in accordance with God’s Word.
4. Prove that the Church received from our Lord this authority, and also that of reinstating the penitent.
5. Where does the authority rest in our Church, and account for its not being exercised.
6. The Article opposes private confession and private penance.
Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly that others may fear to do the like), as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or National Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
Historical. – The ancient liturgies of many of the early Churches have come down to us, and show considerable diversity. The Spanish, Gallican, and the Italian, etc., differed from that in use in the Roman Church. The effort of Charlemagne to induce the Churches in his empire to adopt the customs and uses of Rome were but partially successful. When the empire was dismembered, and new nations rose on its ruins, the policy of the Church of Rome was to degrade the customs of National Churches, and bring all into conformity with her own. Not till the Synod of Cashel (1172) were the Roman rites adopted by the Irish Church.
Analysis. – The Article asserts –
I. That there may be – as there have been – diversities of ceremonies in different countries.
II. That ceremonies once established ought not to be broken by private individuals.
III. The authority of every National Church to change or abolish ceremonies.
Explanatory. – “Traditions and Ceremonies”. – Those generally called ecclesiastical traditions our Church values and utilizes. The New Testament not being intended as a code of ceremonies, each Church is at liberty to arrange her ceremonies as she thinks most suitable.
Ecclesiastical tradition is of two kinds –
(a) That which gives us the explanations of Scripture as understood by the early Fathers, and is often valuable in throwing light on the meaning and allusions of God’s Word, its negative use being very important in guarding against newfangled interpretation of Scripture, by raising a presumption against it, if not previously noticed.
(b) That which relates to the ceremonies and customs of the early Church. It is to this the Article refers. In our services we have fallen back on the purest models of the early Church, discarding the corruptions which had perverted primitive usage.
“Not necessary to be in all places one and utterly alike,” i.e., in all National Churches, though it is very desirable to have them alike in all places in the same National Church. So the Preface to the Prayer book.
“Whosoever doth openly break,” etc. – This is a very serious offence, and shows a spirit like that of Diotrephes (3 John 9), unwilling to submit to lawful authority. There must be some rule and order, and that established by lawful authority ought to be respected; to break such is either a necessity or a sin – a necessity, if plainly repugnant to the Word of God; a sin, if it be not so; for it weakens the authority of the Church, and tends towards schism, against which the Lord prayed (St. John 17:11).
“National Church”. – In this sense “Church” is used in Article XX.
Proof. – 1. To show that ceremonies need not necessarily be alike in all countries.
The New Testament seems to have fully recognized this in leaving perfect liberty to arrange ceremonies, under the general rule that they be such as edify.
1. What are the traditions alluded to here?
2. How does our Church utilize such?
3. On what ground does the Article discountenance the willful breaking of Church ceremonies? When only would such violation be lawful?
4. Show that a diversity of ceremonies was contemplated in the New Testament.
5. Why does the Church of Rome deny the authority of National Churches to regulate their own customs, etc.?
6. When did the Irish Church finally adopt the ceremonies of the Roman Church?
7. The right of private judgment in reference to ceremonies is limited, by what?
Of the Homilies.
The Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1. Of the right use of the Church.
2. Against peril of Idolatry.
3. Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4. Of good Works: First of Fasting.
5. Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6. Against Excess of Apparel.
7. Of Prayer.
8. Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9. That Common Prayer and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10. Of the reverend estimation of God’s Word.
11. Of Alms-doing.
12. Of the Nativity of Christ.
13. Of the Passion of Christ.
14. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15. Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16. Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17. For the Rogation Days.
18. Of the state of Matrimony.
19. Of Repentance.
20. Against Idleness.
21. Against Rebellion.
Historical. – This Article only asserts the orthodoxy of the Books of Homilies. The First Book was drawn up, as is supposed, by Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley; the Second Book is of later date, and chiefly the work of Bishop Jewel. The Church of Ireland has accepted their general teaching; but the American Church only accepts the Article “so far as it declares the Books of Homilies to be an explanation of Christian doctrine and instruction in piety and morals,” but rejects the references in them, which are inapplicable, and suspends the order for reading them in church till they are revised.
Analysis. – The Article asserts that:–
I. The First and Second Books of Homilies contain godly and wholesome doctrine.
II. They ought to be read in churches and
III. Gives a list of those in the Second Book.
Explanatory. – “Necessary for these times.” Many of the clergy who conformed at the time of the Reformation were neither well instructed in the principles of the Reformation, nor very zealous in their belief, and many, too, were very illiterate. Hence it was necessary to be careful in granting a license to preach. To meet the wants of parishes so situated in respect of the clergy, these Homilies were drawn up, and contain a clear exposition of Christian truth by our own Reformers.
“Doth contain wholesome doctrine”. – That is, generally, though in saying this we do not give our consent to every expression or explanation of Scripture in them.
1. Show that the Homilies were necessary at the Reformation.
2. In what sense do we now assent to their doctrine as wholesome?
Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering: neither hath it any thing that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
Historical. – In the New Testament imposition of hands of the bishops and presbyters with prayer is the only form of ordination mentioned; and this was the custom of the primitive Church.
Then we find the delivery of the chalice and paten, as instruments of office, added, when the idea of a propitiatory sacrifice came to be associated with the Eucharist: though no such rite is mentioned in the oldest Ordinals; when first met with, the delivery of the chalice, etc., took place after the conclusion of the whole service; it is now considered an essential part of the Roman Ordinal.
About 633 the giving of special vestments was general, suggested probably by the distinction between the lay and clerical dress, which was then usual. In the ninth century we find the custom of anointing the hands of the presbyters with oil, etc., arising no doubt from the idea of bringing the ordinal of the old and new covenants into as close conformity as possible. The Ordinals of various Churches were not uniform.
At the Reformation the Church of England freed the ordinal from unnecessary ceremonies, and brought it into conformity with that of the primitive Church.
In 1552 the delivery of the chalice, etc., was omitted from the Ordinal.
When the Book of Common Prayer was authorized in the reign of Edward VI, the Book of Ordinations was, by Act of Parliament (1552), made part of, and incorporated with, the Prayer book. In Queen Mary’s reign both the Prayer book and the Ordinal were by name repealed by the Legislature. When Elizabeth came to the throne, King Edward’s Prayer book was reenacted by Parliament; but as no mention was then made of the Book of Ordinations, Bishop Bonner, on this ground, objected to the legality of the ordinations, but not to their validity. To meet this quibble, a declaration was made in a subsequent Parliament that the Ordinal was part of the Prayer book, and therefore all ordinations perfectly legal. The declaration is embodied in this Article (1562), which thus meets the Romish objections, on the one hand, and those of the Nonconformists on the other.
Analysis. – The Article asserts that –
I. The Ordinal in the Prayer book of Edward VI is authoritative and sufficient.
II. Those so ordained were rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
Explanatory. – Note the distinction between the Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and the Ordering of Priests and Deacons.
“It is evident to all men diligently reading the Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from Apostolic times there have been those three orders of the ministry in the Church,” etc. – Preface to Ordinal. This Article only asserts the lawfulness of our Ordinal; but the Preface to the Ordinal refuses to accept any not so ordained, as ministers of the Church.
Proof. – 1. To show that the mode of our ordination is in accord with Christ’s institution and Apostolic practice.
Our Lord, in ordaining the Apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained (St. John 20:22–23). The Holy Ghost was given directly by Christ: “He breathed on them”; but this is omitted by the bishops in ordination now, as the grace does not come from them, but from Christ. When the Apostles ordained the seven deacons, it was thus: “When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6). So also, when St. Paul ordained Timothy: “Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6). Thus we retain the essentials of ordination, as found in God’s Word and ancient writings.
1. The Article protests against two opposite objections to our Ordinal.
2. Distinguish between “consecration” and “ordination”.
3. Show that our mode of conferring orders is Scriptural, and in accordance with primitive practice.
Of the Civil Magistrates.
The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other her Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction.
Where we attribute to the Queen’s Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended we give not to our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in Holy Scriptures by God Himself; that is, that they should rule all states and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they he Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evildoers.
The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
The laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.
Historical. – The peculiar character of the Jewish nation rendered a conflict between the authority of Church and State impossible. The persecution of the Christian Church for some centuries kept it separate from all connection with the State, though its members freely took up arms at the call of their rulers. When the Emperor Constantine became a Christian, the relations between the Church and the Empire became more intimate. The Council of Nicaea, called by him, distinctly decreed the equality of all bishops. When the seat of empire was transferred to Constantinople, the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople were naturally looked upon – from the importance of these cities – as of greater dignity than the bishops in less important places; and this is recognized by the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century. Naturally, therefore, to these Sees would the other bishops appeal in the case of disputes. Rome, however, freed from the presence of the Imperial Court, gradually grew in importance; and when, in the sixth century, the title of “ecumenical” or “universal” bishop was claimed by the Bishop of Constantinople, the Bishop of Rome declared that whoever assumed that title was the forerunner of Antichrist. Yet the next Bishop of Rome assumed that very title in a more extended sense.
The Papal pretensions were gradually pushed forward. The Roman Empire fell to pieces, and the new nations, from political motives, were glad to court the influence of the Roman pontiffs, and grant them special privileges, until, during the turmoil of the Middle Ages, the Popes claimed absolute authority, not only over all bishops and clergy, but also over kings, spiritually and politically. In pursuance of this power, taxes were levied for Papal purposes. Refusal to submit to Rome’s authority brought dire punishment. In England John’s kingdom was placed under an interdict, his subjects released from their allegiance, and his kingdom given to the King of France. Indeed, to this very usurped power did Henry II appeal in justification of his conquest of Ireland. The struggle against the claim of spiritual and temporal authority over nations was very bitter, not only on the continent, but in England. The tyranny of Rome did much to make men aid the Reformation.
Henry VIII cast off the Papal supremacy, and assumed the title “Head of the Church,” and the Pope’s power was abolished in England. Henceforth the clergy had to yield to the civil tribunals, and become subjects of the king, and not of the Pope. The title “Head of the Church” was naturally one not generally approved of, and in Elizabeth’s reign was replaced by “hath chief power in this realm ... over all estates, ecclesiastical or civil.”
Analysis. – The Article asserts –
I. The Queen’s authority over all her subjects, ecclesiastical and civil.
II. That her authority extends not to the ministering of the Word or Sacraments, but only to restrain evildoers, be they ecclesiastical or lay.
III. A specific denial to the Bishop of Rome of any jurisdiction in this realm; and
IV. That Christian men may lawfully serve in wars.
Explanatory. – The members of all religious bodies now must and do yield obedience to the civil law. The Church of Ireland has perfect liberty in her Synod to make what laws she thinks right to the advancement of her cause, just as any other religious body has; yet if, in the enforcing those laws, a citizen feels aggrieved, there lies an appeal to the law of the State. The laws made by the English Church, however, are inoperative until sanctioned by Parliament; and the Court which tries ecclesiastical matters acts under the authority of the Queen.
“Some slanderous folks”. – The Roman Catholics slanderously urged that the authority taken by the Queen extended to the discharge of priestly functions.
“May punish ... with death”. – Against those who deny the lawfulness of capital punishment.
“Lawful for Christian men ... serve in wars.” Against the opinion of some sects that had arisen.
Proof. – 1. To show that the Queen has supreme authority in the State.
St. Peter urges Christians to submit even to heathen rulers (1 Peter 2:14–17, Rom. 13:1).
2. To show that it is lawful for Christian men to serve in wars.
God calls Himself “the Lord of Hosts”. Cornelius remained a centurion (Acts 10:1–2); and war is taken as a symbol of Christian life (2 Tim. 2:4).
1. Why was it necessary to assert the Queen’s authority over all estates in the realm?
2. To what does her authority in matters ecclesiastical not extend?
3. Whence the necessity to assert the lawfulness of serving in the wars? Show its Scriptural authority.
4. Show that the Scripture recognizes the supreme authority of the rulers of a country.
Of Christian men’s Goods, which are not common.
The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
Historical. – In heathen times we find it asserted that there should be no private property, but all things common – a return to the old tribal life. Plato, in his ideal “Republic,” lays down such a law. In our Lord’s time the Essenes, a Jewish sect, had all goods in a common stock. In the Acts we learn that many sold all, and put the proceeds into a common fund; but this was voluntary on the part of those who did so.
In the fourth century the Donatists taught that all goods should be common, as did other sects; but the Church looked on them as heretics.
In the eighth century many voluntarily adopted this mode of life. The monastic orders and mendicant friars of the twelfth century emphasized the idea. But it is not against such voluntary acts that the Article protests, but rather against those fanatical sects which, under the general name of Anabaptists, would compel all to adopt their communism.
Analysis. – The Article denies –
I. The community of goods; but
II. Inculcates the duty of almsgiving.
Explanatory. – Bishop Burnet quaintly remarks: “There is no great difficulty in this Article, as there is no danger to be apprehended that the opinion condemned by it is likely to spread. Those may be for it who find it for them.” The communists of the present day adopt the Anabaptists’ views in this matter.
Proof. – The duty of almsgiving, so frequently insisted on in the New Testament (St. Luke 11:41; 1 Tim. 6:17–18), is a distinct proof that the idea of a compulsory community of goods was foreign to Christian thought.
1. The doctrine that all goods should be common property finds no support in Scripture.
2. What does Scripture say on the duty of almsgiving?
3. What principle only does this Article condemn?
Of a Christian Man’s Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James His Apostle, so we judge, that Christian Religion doth not prohibit but that a man may swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet’s teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
Historical. – The lawfulness of oaths was fully recognized by the early Church. In the first centuries there appears a natural aversion to them; but this arose from the prevalence of idolatry, when the oaths taken invoked the name of some heathen deity. The Pelagians asserted that a man ought not to swear at all; but St. Augustine vindicates the lawfulness of oaths. In the fourth century the Council of Carthage dealt with the oath of the clergy, and in the Middle Ages an oath of purgation was permitted for slight causes. At the time of the Reformation the Anabaptists and other fanatical sects held oaths to be unlawful; hence this Article, which was drawn up in 1552.
The Quakers now also assert that it is unlawful to take an oath.
Analysis. – The Article condemns –
I. Vain and rash swearing, but asserts
II. The lawfulness of oaths taken as the magistrate requires.
Explanatory. – “Vain and rash swearing,” i.e., in ordinary conversation – a practice too common amongst professing Christians.
“May swear when the magistrate requireth,” i.e., in a Court of Justice, or when lawfully called on to do so. The practice of taking an oath on the New Testament has, no doubt, arisen from the Jewish practice of taking an oath by placing the hand on the book of the Law.
“The Prophet’s teaching.” – Jeremiah 4:2.
Proof. – 1. To show that rash swearing is forbidden.
Condemned by our Lord (St. Matt. 5:33–37).
2. Oaths lawful.
The Apostles frequently took them – as Gal. 1:20, Rom. 1:9. So Heb. 6:16–17.
1. What does our Church teach about oaths?
2. Whence arose the question as to the lawfulness of taking oaths?
3. Show that the statement of the Article is in accordance with both Old and New Testament.
A brief examination of the texts and arguments by which the Church of Rome endeavours to prove some of the erroneous doctrines which were rejected at the Reformation.
A. – Article VI.
Tradition. – (a) “There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (St. John 21:25). The Church of Rome argues from this that, as all Christ’s teaching is not recorded in Scripture, therefore Scripture is insufficient, and must be supplemented by tradition. Now, as no one ever pretended that all Christ’s sayings were preserved by tradition, the argument of Rome would only go to prove the insufficiency of both Scripture and tradition.
Our position is that every word of Christ is precious. We know that the New Testament is a Divinely inspired record of His words and teaching. We know of no words of Christ preserved by tradition – nor did the early Church. Therefore, we accept only the written Word as a basis of faith.
(b) It is further urged in favour of tradition that we have but little of our Lord’s teaching between His resurrection and ascension recorded in Scripture, though He then “spake of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). We reply that neither has His teaching during that time been preserved by tradition; and to assume that it ought to have been recorded, as necessary to salvation, is a reflection on the Apostles and the Holy Spirit, by whom they were inspired to write, and who, as Christ promised, was to guide them into all truth (St. John 16:13).
(c) It is further urged that the Church existed before the New Testament was written, and, therefore, had only tradition to guide it, and that, therefore, tradition is necessary.
We answer that this is only a partial truth, and a wholly illogical inference; for the inspired Apostles were then living to guide the Church, and tell of Christ from personal knowledge; and it was to preserve the truth, which after their death would have been corrupted if left only to tradition, that these Apostles wrote the Scriptures.
NOTE. – The early Church condemned as heretical the opinion that Holy Scripture did not contain all things necessary to salvation. It was only when errors had arisen in later ages that the authority of tradition was alleged, and still later when further errors arose for which even tradition could not be pleaded, the authority of the Church was asserted as sufficient.
B. – Article XI.
Works. – Against the doctrine of justification by faith only, the Church of Rome urges the teaching of St. James, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he bath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14). This does not mean that a man is justified by works. St. Paul had taught man’s justification by faith, his teaching having been misunderstood by some. St. James shows that the faith spoken of by St. Paul was not the dead faith which even the devils possess (James 2:19), but a living faith, which showed its reality by works. St. Paul speaks of faith in opposition to the works of the Mosaic law; St. James of a faith which necessarily includes works as its fruit – a fruit which follows faith, and is not the means, but the result, of justification.
The Revised Version brings this out more clearly. It has: “Can that faith save him?” – i.e., a dead faith without works. This, therefore, gives no support to the teaching of the Church of Rome; nor is there any opposition between the teaching of St Paul and St. James. As it has been well said –
“They are not foemen fighting face to face,
But friends, who back to back contend
Against a common enemy.”
C. – Article XIV.
Works of Supererogation. – (a) From St. Mark 10:21, it is argued that to keep the commandments was sufficient for salvation, and that, therefore, the command to the young man to sell all that he had was to make him “perfect,” and implied a doing of something over and above what was necessary for his salvation. But that this is not so, is easily seen from the fact that the command was given in reply to the question, “What lack I yet?” It was to supply something still lacking in him for salvation, and not something over and above what was required. This is evident, for, as the young man was not equal to the sacrifice, and went away sorrowful, our Lord said, “How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God?” Though the young man professed to have kept all the commandments, he yet fell short of salvation.
Thus we see this was no work of supererogation suggested by our Lord – no counsel of perfection – but a command of the same nature as that to cut off a right hand or pluck out a right eye. Our Lord saw that the young man was covetous, and that nothing but a full surrender of that on which he had set his heart would help him to come to Christ and accept salvation.
(b) The apparent support given in 1 Cor. 7 to the idea of the greater sanctity of an unmarried life, over the allowable state of a married one, is also relied on as indicating the possibility of doing more than is necessary. But the chapter shows distinctly that St. Paul was laying down no general law, but referring to special occasions – “the present distress” in which the Corinthians then were, and about which they had consulted him.
D. – Article XV.
The Immaculate Conception. – The principal text brought forward in support of this doctrine is from the Song of Solomon, 4:7: “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” – a text which St. Paul applies to the Church, in Eph. 5:27, but which Roman Catholic theologians apply to the Virgin in the form, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot of, original sin in thee.” Even the addition of the words “of original sin” gives but little support to a doctrine unknown to Scripture or tradition, and which was only made an article of faith in 1854.
E. – Article XXI.
Infallibility. – This doctrine was not thought of for five centuries. There is not even a tradition on the subject. Infallibility was first considered to reside in General Councils, then in the Pope and Council. It was only in 1870 that the personal infallibility of the Pope was declared.
In the passage, St. Matt. 16:16–19, where Christ said He would build His Church “on this rock,” it is assumed (a) that “this rock” was St. Peter; that (b) “the Church” is the Roman Church; that (c) “the gates of hell” means error; that (d) “the power of the keys” was peculiarly St. Peter’s; that (e) the Pope is St. Peter’s local successor; and that (f) therefore all St. Peter’s privileges belong to the Pope and the Roman Church.
Now, not one of these assumptions follows from the others.
The early Church was divided in opinion as to the meaning of “this rock”; and naturally so, for in a sense it is applicable either –
1. To Christ Himself, as 1 Cor. 3:11.
2. To St. Peter’s confession. – St. Matt. 16:16.
3. To St. Peter and all the Apostles. – Eph. 2:20.
But even granting that in a sense “this rock” was St. Peter, and that he had the honour, which we know he had, of first admitting Gentiles to Gospel privileges (Acts 10), as well as Jews (Acts 2), this was a personal honour granted him as a special reward for his confession; an honour in which he could not possibly have a successor.
To quote Dr. Salmon on Infallibility: – “We might just as well speak of Adam’s having a successor in the honour of being the first man, as of Peter’s having a successor in the place which he occupied in founding the Christian Church.” And as to the power of the keys in verse 19, the very same power was granted to all the Apostles (St. Matt. 18:18). The gates of hell, i.e., hades. This does not mean that the Church would be infallible – preserved from error – but would be always in existence – preserved from destruction till the end of the world (St. Matt. 28:20) – a promise which no single branch of “the Church” can apply exclusively to itself.
(b) St. Luke 22:31–32, is also urged as evidence of Peter’s infallibility, where Jesus says, “I have prayed for thee”; but this was rather a rebuke; for though all were liable to fall, yet he was peculiarly so; and so far from conferring infallibility on him, he immediately fell in denying Christ.
(c) St. John 21:15, 17, is also relied on as giving St. Peter privileges over others; but the threefold command to “feed my sheep” was only our Lord’s gracious restoration of Peter to his former position after his threefold denial of Him, and is a duty entrusted to all pastors (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).
F. – Article XXII.
Purgatory. – (a) The fasting mentioned in 1 Sam. 31:13, has been assumed by the Church of Rome to have been prayers for the dead; and it has also been asserted that Onesiphorus was dead, for whom St. Paul prayed (2 Tim. 1:18). These assumptions, however, avail but little, for prayers for the dead do not prove the existence of a purgatory.
(b) St. Matt. 5:26, and 12:32, are also relied on; but the plain meaning is that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost will never be forgiven.
(c) Another text much relied on in support of purgatory is 1 Cor. 3:12–15; but here if “the day” refers to the next life at all, it is to the “day of judgment,” and hence gives no sanction to the idea of a purgatory for the soul between death and judgment.
Image worship is defended by Roman Catholic theologians from the fact that there were “cherubim of gold” on the mercy seat (Ex. 25:18), and oxen and lions in the temple (1 Kings 6:29). So Psa. 99:5; and this notwithstanding all that is said in the Old Testament against idolatry.
Relics. – Their worship is defended by Roman Catholics from such texts as 2 Kings 13:21, where the bones of Elisha raised a man to life; and Acts 5:15, where Peter’s shadow healed the sick.
Saint worship is thought to be sanctioned by such texts as Gen. 18:2, 19:1; Num. 22:31, Acts 10:25; where the ordinary salutations of the East are alluded to.
G. – Article XXVIII.
Transubstantiation. – As our Lord said of the bread and wine which He had blessed, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood” (St. Matt. 26:26, 28), the Church of Rome argues that we should understand the words literally, and that, therefore, the bread and the wine are actually changed into the body and blood of Christ. But this interpretation was not thought of till the doctrine of Transubstantiation was being taught by some, about the eighth century. Stress is laid on the word “is,” and it is argued that there must be, therefore, a physical change of the substance of the bread and wine when our Lord calls them His body and His blood. Now, that such language does not imply a change of substance is clearly seen from our Lord’s using it on other occasions – e.g., “The field is’ the world”; “The good seed ‘are’ the children of the kingdom” (St. Matt. 13:38); “I ‘am’ the vine, ye ‘are’ the branches” (St. John 15:5). In these no one would think of maintaining that there was a change of the substance – that Christ was actually changed into a “vine,” or the “seed” into “ the children” – but must from the very nature of the language accept it as a figure of speech, and not as conveying the idea of a material change; and so also of “This is my body.”
Further, when Christ held the bread and wine in His hand, etc., His body had not yet been “broken” nor His blood “shed” – He was not crucified till the next day. If, therefore, the words “is my body” are to be taken literally, why are not the words “is broken” and is “shed” to be taken literally also?
Questions Given at the Examination of Teachers,
Under the Direction of the Board of Religious Education of the
General Synod and of the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
June 21, 1892.
Examiner – Rev. J. Macbeth, LL. D.
Subject No. IV. – Articles I–XIII.
1. Explain briefly, as to a class, the words in italics.
(a) “Without body, parts, or passions.”
(b) “In unity of this Godhead there be three Persons.”
2. Write down Article IV. – “Of the Resurrection of Christ.”
3. What false doctrine does our Church condemn in reference to –
(a) Original Sin;
(b) Good Works?
4. What does our Article teach in reference to –
(a) The Procession of the Holy Ghost;
(b) The duration of the union of the two natures in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ?
5. Quote from one of the Articles to show the necessity of the twofold operation of the grace of God.
6. State accurately the teaching of our Church as to the binding force of the Law of Moses upon Christians.
7. Quote from two of the Articles to show the position of our Church in reference to Holy Scripture.
8. Mention by name the Creeds which have been accepted by the Church of Ireland, and state why they have received those names.
9. What false opinion in reference to the Old Testament is condemned in our Articles, and on what grounds?
10. What is the doctrine of the Church in reference to the Divine Nature of Christ?
Articles I–XXVIII (inclusive).
1. How do the Articles define the terms “Predestination,” “Holy Scripture,” “The Visible Church,” and “Original Sin”?
2. What do the Articles teach in reference to (a) the baptism of young children; (b) the reception of the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
3. Explain clearly, as to a class, the meaning of the words in italics, in the connection in which they stand: (a) “Neither strength nor authority unless it be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture”; (b) “The grace of God by Christ preventing us”.
4. Name those five commonly called Sacraments, which are received by the Church of Rome, but rejected by the Church of Ireland. On what grounds do we reject them as Sacraments?
5. Who only may lawfully undertake the office of public preaching or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation? Show that this is in accordance with the teaching of God’s Word.
Subject No. IV – Thirty-Nine Articles.
1. What fourfold reason is given in Article XXVIII for rejecting the doctrine of Transubstantiation?
2. State accurately in what respect and to what extent “the traditions of the Church are binding on her children.”
3. Write down Article XI – “Of the justification of Man”.
4. What does our Church teach in reference to –
(a) Those who are void of a lively faith, partaking of the Lord’s Supper;
(b) The efficacy of the death of Christ?
5. Against what twofold error does the Church guard, in Article XVI – “Of Sin after Baptism”? Quote a passage from Scripture bearing on the subject.
6. On what ground does the Church receive the Creeds? Point out the benefits arising from the public recital of the Creeds.
7. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Point out clearly the untenable position of the Church of Rome in reference to these words.
8. What do you understand by being justified?
9. Point out how unscriptural is the practice of the sect called “Baptists” in rebaptizing those already baptized. What was decided on this subject at the Council of Arles, A.D. 314?
10. Show that the ancient Church of Ireland was independent of the See of Rome.
Questions Given at the Examination of Intermediate Schools
Conducted Under the Direction of the
Board of Religious Education of the General Synod,
Acting Conjointly with the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
December 14th, 1888.
Examiner – Rev. Dr. Macbeth.
Subject No III – Articles XVII–XXXI.
1. State accurately how our Articles define each of the following terms:–
(a) “The visible Church”.
2. What reason is given in the Articles against – (a) the Infallibility of General Councils; and (b) the Sacrifices of Masses?
3. What does Article XXVII say on the subject of Infant Baptism?
4. In what relation does the Church stand towards Holy Scripture? To what does the power of the Church extend? How is her authority limited?
5. What fourfold reason is given in Article XXVIII for the rejection of the doctrine of Transubstantiation?
6. Who only may lawfully undertake “the office of public preaching or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation”?
7. Write a brief note explanatory of the words in italics in each of the following sentences:–
(a) “We must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture.”
(b) “... have neither strength nor authority unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.”
(c) “The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory ... is a fond thing.”
Name “those five commonly called Sacraments” which are received by the Church of Rome, but rejected by the Church of Ireland. On what grounds do we reject them as Sacraments?
9. Does the personal character of ministers affect the validity of the Sacraments administered by them? State why.
10. In reference to what does one of our Articles refer to the custom of the Primitive Church? On what subject does one of the Articles quote the words of St. Augustine?
December 12th, 1890.
Subject No. III – Articles I–XVI.
1. What is the teaching of our Church in reference to –
(a) The Procession of the Holy Ghost;
(b) The object of Christ’s coming again?
Show that this teaching is in accordance with God’s Word.
2. Give – in the words of the Articles – a statement of the doctrine of the Church in reference to –
(a) The Divine Nature of Christ.
(b) The operation of the grace of God.
(c) The position of Christians in regard to the Mosaic Law.
(d) The consequences of Adam’s fall.
3. Write down Article XI – “Of the Justification of Man.”
4. What two erroneous doctrines are condemned in Article XVI – “Of Sin after Baptism”? Prove from God’s Word that they are rightly condemned.
5. What is the position of our Church in reference to the authority of Holy Scripture? Support your answer from two of the Articles.
6. In what relation do “good works” stand in reference to “justification” and “faith” respectively?
7. What do the Articles state in reference to the two natures in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ? What as to the duration of the union of those natures?
8. Write brief notes explanatory of the words in italics.
(a) “Without body, parts, or passions.”
(b) “Not every deadly sin.”
(c) “This infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated.”
(d) “Works of Supererogation.”
9. What do you know of the Pelagians?
10. Show from Holy Scripture that the old Fathers did not “look only for transitory promises”.