A.D. 1561. Revised 1619




Translated from the Authentic and Ancient French Text of 1580

with the Revisions of the Synod of Dordrecht of 1619

Translated by the Rev. David. Th. Stark

Minister of the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Redding, California 1995

© Copyright, David Th. Stark, 1995. All Rights Reserved. You may download and make as many copies as you wish, so long as you print them with title, author, and this copyright notice in full, make no changes, deletions or additions in the text, and give the copies away for free.

For scholarly quotes and reviews permission is given to use the text freely, provided notice of title, author, and copyright are given.



I. Of the Nature of God

II. Of the Knowledge of God

III. Of the Holy Scriptures

IV. Of the Canonical Books

V. Of the Authority of the Holy Scriptures

VI. Of the Canonical Books and the Apocryphal

VII. Of the Perfection of the Holy Scriptures

VIII. Of the Holy Trinity

IX. Of The Testimony of Scripture & the Holy Trinity

X. Of the Eternal Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ

XI. Of the Person and Eternal Deity of the Holy Spirit

XII. Of the Creation of the World, and of Angels.

XIII. Of the Providence of God

XIV. Of Man's creation, Fall, and Corruption

XV. Of Original Sin

XVI. Of Divine Predestination

XVII. Of the Restoration of Humanity

XVIII. Of the Incarnation of the Son of God

XIX. Of the Hypostatic Union

XX. Of the Method of Redemption

XXI. Of the Satisfaction of Christ for our Sins

XXII. Of Justifying Faith, and Justification by Faith

XXIII. Of What Justification Consist

XXIV. Of Sanctification and Good Works

XXV. Of the Abrogation of the Ceremonial Law

XXVI. Of the Intercession of Christ

XXVII. Of the Catholic Church

XXVIII. Of the Communion of the Saints

XXIX. Of the Marks of the True Church

XXX. Of the Government of the Church

XXXI. Of the Calling of the Ministers of the Church

XXXII. Of the Power of the Church

XXXIII. Of the Sacraments

XXXIV. Of Baptism

XXXV. Of the Lord's Supper

XXXVI. Of Magistrates

XXXVII. Of the Last Judgment, & the Resurrection.


The Apostles' Creed

The Nicene Creed

The Athanasian Creed

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The Belgic Confession of Faith is largely the work of the sixteenth century martyr Guido de Brés (d.1567), evangelist and pastor in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands.

In the sixteenth century you would have been tortured and put to death for owning and reading the little booklet which you now read. The young man who wrote it was hunted down, hanged and then his body was burned because he boldly proclaimed that Jesus Christ alone is Lord and Savour, and that salvation is given only on the basis of faith in Him. You hold in your hands a true martyr's confession: The Confession of Guido de Brés.

Guido de Brés labored as an evangelist and pastor in the Bible believing Churches of the Netherlands and wrote this statement of faith to strengthen his fellow believers in France and Belgium. Originally written in 1561 as a defense against the false charge of rebellion leveled against the protestant Christians under the intolerant and oppressive reign of Philip II and presented to him in 1562, it has since become one of the most beloved confessions of the Church both in Europe and throughout the world.

This Confession was so hated at the time of its original circulation that it was sought out and burned by the king's orders, along with anyone found reading it, with the result that no copies of the French editions of 1561 and 1562 have survived. The text translated here is the French text prepared by Francis Junius in 1580, believed to be closest to the 1561 text.

In a day when confessional Biblical Christianity is rare and yet at the same time proving to be the only sure bulwark against the inroads of fanaticism and idolatry, it is hoped that a new translation of this important confession will encourage those today who wish to unashamedly declare their faith in the Triune God of Scripture and their solidarity with the Word of God as proclaimed by the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ during and since the time of the Reformation.

That God may be pleased to use this confession to bring a greater unity to the Body of Christ, as we maintain the unity of the Spirit, while praying and laboring for the day when Christ's Church will come into the unity of the Faith, is the translator's hearty desire and prayer. That God will restore the visible unity of His true believing Church is this translator's confident hope.


Reformation Day, 1995

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We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth, that there is only one simple and spiritual Being, whom we call God; that he is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all goodness.

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We know him by two means: first, by the creation, preservation, and government of the world universal; which is before our eyes as a most lovely book, in which all creatures, small and great, serve as letters to cause us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, his eternal power and Godhead, as the Apostle Paul says (Rom. 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men, and render them inexcusable.

Secondly, he makes himself more clearly and evidently known to us by his holy and divine Word; that is to say, as far as it is necessary for us to know in this life, for his glory and our salvation.

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We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, as Saint Peter says. And that afterwards, God, from a special care which he has for us and for our salvation, commanded his servants the Prophets and Apostles to commit his oracles to writing; and he himself wrote with his own finger the two Tables of the Law. Therefore, we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.

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We believe that the Holy Scriptures are in two volumes, namely, the Old and the New Testaments, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God:

The books in the Old Testament are: the five books of Moses, viz., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the book of Joshua, of the Judges, Ruth, the two books of Samuel, and two of the Kings, the two books of the Chronicles, called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclestiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; and the other twelve minor Prophets, viz., Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

Those in the New Testament are: the four Evangelists, viz., Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, and Saint John; the Acts of the Apostles; The fourteen epistles of Saint Paul, viz., to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, to Titus, Philemon, to the Hebrews; and the seven Epistles of the other Apostles, namely, one by Saint James, two by Saint Peter, three by Saint John, and one by Saint Jude; and finally the Apocalypse of Saint John the Apostle.

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We receive all of these books listed here only, as holy and canonical, to regulate, found, and establish our faith, and fully believe all the things which they contain, not simply because the Church receives and approves them as such, but principally, because the Holy Spirit gives testimony in our heart, that they are of God, and also because they authenticate themselves; for the blind themselves can perceive that the things which they predict are coming into fulfillment.

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We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal books, which are: the third and forth books of Esdras, the book of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and the addition to the history of Esther, the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace, the history of Susannah, the history of the idol Bel and of the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All from which the Church may well read and gather instruction, in the places where they conform to the canonical books. But, they have no force or virtue so that someone could confirm, by testimony drawn from them, any matter of faith or of the Christian religion; so much the less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.

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We believe that these Holy Scriptures perfectly contain the Divine will, and that everything which a man must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in them. For since the whole manner of service which God requires of us is described in them at large, no man, though himself an Apostle, is allowed to teach otherwise than that which we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures. Again, though it were an angel from heaven himself, as said Saint Paul. For since it is forbidden to add or to take away from the Word of God, it is very clear that its doctrine is most perfect and complete in all respects.

Also, we are not to compare the writings of men, though holy or ancient, with the divine Scriptures; neither are we to compare custom to the truth of God (for the truth is above all), nor the great number, nor antiquities, nor the succession of the times, nor of persons, nor councils, decrees, nor prohibitions. For all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our heart everything which is not in accord with this infallible rule, as we are taught to do by the Apostles, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God, and, If anyone should come to you, and brings not this doctrine, do not receive him into your house.

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Following this truth and the Word of God, we believe in only one God, who is one single essence, in which there are three Persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin and beginning of all things, visible and invisible. The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal Power and Might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Scriptures teach us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have each his own Person, distinct by their properties; in such a way, always, that these three Persons are no more than one God only. It is thus manifest that the Father is not the Son, and that the Son is not the Father; likewise, that the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless, these Persons, thus distinct, are not divided, nor confounded, nor mixed; for the Father has not assumed flesh, nor has the Holy Spirit, but the Son only. The Father is never without the Son, nor without the Holy Spirit, because these three are, throughout eternity, equal and in one same essence. There is neither a first nor a last, for these three are one in power and might, in goodness and mercy.

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We know all these things, as well from the testimonies of Holy Scripture, as by their actions, and principally, by those which we sense in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, which teach us to believe this Holy Trinity, are written in many places of the Old Testament, which have not so much a need to be counted, as to be chosen and discerned. In the book of Genesis God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc. So God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. Behold, Adam is become as one of us. It is clear from this saying, Let us make man in our image, that there is a plurality of persons in the Divinity. When he says, Let us make man after our image, he then shows the unity when he says, God created, etc. It is true that he does not state the number of the persons, but that which is obscure to us in the Old Testament is very clear to us in the New.

For when our Lord was baptized in the Jordan, the voice of the Father speaking to him was heard, saying, This is my well beloved Son. The Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove. This same fashion is also ordained by Christ in the baptism of all the faithful: Baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel according to Saint Luke, the angel Gabriel spake thus to Mary, the mother of our Lord: The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Sovereign shall cover you with his shadow. Therefore, also, that holy one which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And again it is said, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you. There are three which bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. In all these passages we are fully taught that there are three persons in only one Divine essence. And although this doctrine surpasses human understanding, nevertheless, we believe it now by the Word, awaiting hereafter complete knowledge and enjoyment of it in heaven.

Moreover, we must also observe the offices and particular operations of the three persons toward us. The Father is called our Creator by his strength. The Son is our Saviour and Redeemer by his blood. The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier by his dwelling in our hearts.

This doctrine of the Holy Trinity has always been maintained in the true Church, from the time of the Apostles to the present day, against the Jews, the Mohammedans, and against certain false Christians and heretics, such as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and others like them, who have well been rightly condemned by the holy fathers.

Therefore, we receive willingly on this subject the three symbols, that of the Apostles', those of Nicea and of Athanasius, and likewise that which is established by the ancients in conformity to these creeds.

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We believe that Jesus Christ, according to his Divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, eternally begotten, neither made nor created (for then he would be a creature), of one essence with the Father, coeternal, the express image of the Father, and the splendor of his glory, equal to Him in all respects, who is the Son of God, not just from the time when he assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as the following testimonies, when compared to each other, teach us. Moses says, God created the world, and Saint John says, All things were created by the Word, whom he calls God. The Apostle says that God made the ages by his Son. Saint Paul says again that God created all things through Jesus Christ. It follows then, that he who is named God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, had to exist already prior to the time when all things were created by him. For this reason the Prophet Micah says, His going forth is from the days of eternity. And the Apostle, He is without beginning of days, without end of life. He is, therefore, the true eternal God, the Almighty, whom we invoke, adore, and serve.

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We believe and confess also that the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and from the Son. He is neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from the two. He is, in order, the third person of the Trinity, of one same essence, majesty and glory with the Father and the Son, being true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.

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We believe that the Father created out of nothing heaven and the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good to him, by the Word, which is to say, his Son, giving to each creature its being, form and figure, and the various offices in which to serve its Creator; and that he also now sustains and governs them all, according to his eternal providence and by his infinite power, for the service of man, to the end that man may serve his God.

He also created the angels good, to be his messengers, and to serve his elect: some of whom are fallen from that excellency in which God first created them into eternal perdition; and the others, by the grace of God, have persevered and continued in their first estate. The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are the very enemies of God and of all good, spying on the Church and each individual member, as murderous thieves, with all their strength, to destroy and ruin all by their deceits; and therefore, by their own malice, they are condemned to perpetual damnation, day by day awaiting their torments.

And upon this basis we detest the error of the Sadducees, who deny there are any spirits or angels, and also the error of the Manicheans, who say the devils have their origin from themselves, being evil from their own nature without having become corrupted.

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We believe that this same good God, having created all things, did not afterwards abandon them to chance or fortune, but guides and governs them in every detail, according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his ordaining. But this in no way makes God the author of, nor responsible for, the evil which takes place. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he himself ordains and accomplishes most excellently and justly his work even while the devil and spiteful men act unjustly. And as for that which he does which surpasses human understanding, we refuse to involve ourselves in curious inquiries beyond what our capacity can bear, but in all humility and reverence, we adore the just judgments of God which are hidden from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, desiring to take hold of those things only which he shows us by means of his Word, and not to trespass over its borders.

This doctrine brings us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught by it that nothing comes to us by chance, but by the ordaining of our good heavenly Father, who unceasingly watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures subject to him, in such a way that neither a hair from our head (for they are all numbered) nor even a small hummingbird, can fall to the earth without the will of our Father. In whom we rest ourselves, knowing that he so holds the devil in bridle, and all our enemies, that they cannot harm us without his permission and good will.

On this basis, we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing and leaves all things to happen by chance.

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We believe that God created man from the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness; good, just, and holy, able of his own volition to agree in all things with the will of God; but, while he had this honour, it was not valued by him, neither did he recognize his own excellence, but voluntarily subjected himself to sin, and consequently, to death and the curse, when he gave ear to the word of the devil. For he transgressed the commandment of life, which he had received, and withdrew himself from God, who was his true life, by his sin, having completely corrupted his nature, by which he rendered himself guilty of bodily and spiritual death. And being thus wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he lost all his excellent gifts which he had received from God, retaining only a few remnants of them, as small traces, which are sufficient only to render man inexcusable, because everything in us which is of the light has turned into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it, where Saint John calls men darkness.

Therefore, we reject all that is taught about the so called free choice of man, since man is nothing but a slave to sin, and is able to have nothing, unless it is first given to him from Heaven. For who is there who will boast himself of some ability to do what is good, as though it came from himself alone? since Christ says, No man can come to me except my Father who has sent me draw him? Who will allege his own will? understanding that the affections of the flesh are enmity against God? Who will speak of his own knowledge? seeing that sensual man does not comprehend the things which are of the Spirit of God? Briefly, who, in light of this, will put forward even one sole thought? seeing he understands that we are incapable of thinking any thing as of ourselves, but that our capacity is from God. Therefore, that which the Apostle says must rightly be upheld firmly and steadfastly: that God works in us the will and the doing according to his good pleasure. For there is neither understanding nor will to conform to the things of God if Christ has not worked, as he teaches us, saying, Without me you can do nothing.

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We believe that by the disobedience of Adam, original sin has been spread to all humanity, which sin is a corruption of the whole nature, and is an inherited vice, by which little infants also are tainted even in their mother's womb, and which produces in man every sort of sin, being bound up in him as its root. And it is, therefore, so vile and great before God that it alone is sufficient to condemn humanity, and is not itself abolished by means of baptism, nor uprooted by it at all, seeing that every day sins boil forth from it as from a woeful source. Although, in no way is it imputed unto condemnation to the children of God, but rather pardoned by his grace and mercy, not that they may thereby slumber, but that the faithful, through a sense of this corruption, should groan often, desiring to be delivered from the body of this death. Upon this basis, we reject the error of the Pelagians, who say that this sin is nothing other than an imitation.

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We believe that though the entire race of Adam is thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the fault of the first man, God has shown himself to be such as he is, merciful and just; Merciful in extracting and rescuing from this perdition those whom he in his eternal and immutable council has elected and chosen by his pure goodness in Jesus Christ our Lord, without any regard to their works; Just, in leaving the others in their ruin and destruction wherein they had plunged themselves.

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We believe that our good God, by his own marvelous wisdom and goodness, seeing man had plunged himself into death, both bodily and spiritual, rendering himself entirely miserable, set himself to seek him when man fled from him all trembling, and consoled him, making a promise to him that he would give his own Son, made of woman, to crush the head of the serpent, and would make him happy.

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We confess, therefore, that God has accomplished the promise which he made to the ancient fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, in sending his very own only begotten and eternal Son into the world, at the time ordained by him; who took upon him the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men, really taking to himself a true human nature, with all its infirmities, except sin, being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit without the means of man. And not only has he taken human nature in regard a physical body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a true man. For since the soul also was lost as well as the body it was necessary for him to take both to himself, that he might save them both. Therefore, we confess (contrary to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh from his mother) that Christ participates in the same flesh and blood as the children, that he is the fruit of David's loins according to the flesh, fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary, made of a woman, branch of David, shoot of the root of Jesse, sprung of Judah, descended of the Jews according to the flesh, of the seed of Abraham, since he has taken on him the seed of Abraham, and was made like unto his brothers, except sin, so that he is in truth our Emmanuel, which is to say, God with us.

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We believe by this conception the person of the Son has been united and conjoined inseparably with the human nature, so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one sole person, each nature retaining its distinctive properties. As then, the Divine nature always remains uncreated, without beginning of days nor end of life, filling the heaven and the earth, the human nature has not lost its properties either, but remains a creature, having a beginning of days, being of one finite nature and retaining all that pertains to a true body. And also that by his resurrection he has given it immortality. Nevertheless, he has not changed the reality of his human nature, considering that our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so united together in his one person, that they were not separated even at his death. Therefore, that which he commended to his Father when he was dying was a true human spirit, which was departing from his physical body. But, at the same time, his Divine nature always remained united to his human nature, even while lying in the tomb, and the Divinity did not cease to be in him, even as it was when he was a little child, though for a small time it did not manifest itself as such.

Behold, therefore, we confess him to be TRUE GOD and TRUE MAN: true God by vanquishing death by his power, and true man, so that he could die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.

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We believe that God, being most perfectly merciful and also most just, sent his Son to assume the same nature in which the disobedience had been committed, to bear in it the punishment of sin by his most severe death and passion. Therefore, God has declared his justice toward his Son, charged with our sins, and has shed his bounty and mercy upon us, who were guilty and deserving of damnation, giving his Son to death for us, by a most perfect love, and raising him for our justification, so that by him we may obtain immortality and life eternal.

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We believe that Jesus Christ is eternally the Great High Priest, ordained with an oath, after the order of Melchisedec, and presents himself in our name before his Father, to appease his wrath with a full satisfaction by having offered himself upon the altar of the cross, shedding his precious blood for the cleansing of our sins, as the prophets had predicted: For it is written that the chastisement of our peace has been set upon the Son of God, and that we are healed by his wounds. For he was led to death as a lamb, numbered with the transgressors, condemned as a malefactor by Pontius Pilate, even though he had pronounced him innocent. Therefore he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, even in his body and in his soul, so that he experienced the horrible punishment due for our sins, his sweat becoming as drops of blood falling to the ground. He cried, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And he endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, by good necessity we must say with Saint Paul, that we know nothing except Jesus Christ crucified; we esteem all things as dirt in comparison to the excellence of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find all consolations in his wounds, and have no need to seek nor invent some other means for us to be reconciled to God, than this sole and unique sacrifice, once and for all accomplished, which perfects the faithful forever. This is also the cause why he was called by the angel of God, JESUS, that is to say, SAVIOUR, seeing that he should save his people from their sins.

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We believe that, to obtain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith, which embraces Jesus Christ with all his merits and makes him its own, and seeks nothing more besides him. For it necessarily follows that that which is required for our salvation is either not completely found in Jesus Christ, or, if all is in him, then those who have Jesus Christ by faith have in him complete salvation. Therefore, for anyone to say that Christ is not sufficient, but that something other along with him is needed, is too enormous a blasphemy against God. For it would then follow that Jesus Christ is but half a Saviour. Therefore, it is with just cause we say with Saint Paul that we are justified by faith only, or, by faith without works. Though, by saying this, we are not teaching that faith itself is what justifies us, for it is no more than the instrument by which we embrace Christ our Righteousness. But Jesus Christ, granting us all his merits and holy works which he did for us and in our name, is our righteousness. And faith is the instrument which keeps us with him in the communion of all his benefits. And when they are made ours, they are for us more than sufficient to absolve us of our sins.

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We believe that our blessedness consists in the remission of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that our justification before God is contained in this, as David and Saint Paul teach us, declaring the blessedness of the man to whom God accounts righteousness apart from works. And the same Apostle says that we are justified freely, or, by grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we always hold firmly to this foundation, giving all the glory to God, humbling ourselves and recognizing even what we are, without any presumption of ourselves or of our merits, supporting ourselves and reposing in the sole obedience of Christ crucified; which becomes ours when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities, and give us an assurance, removing from our conscience fear, horror and dread, that we may approach to God, without being as our first father Adam, who trembled and wanted to cover himself with the leaves of the fig tree. And should it be that we were somehow made to appear before God, relying ever so little upon ourselves, or any other creature, alas! we would be consumed. Therefore, everyone must say with David, O Lord, enter not into judgment with your servants, for then no man living will be justified before you.

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We believe that this true faith is engendered in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and by the working of the Holy Spirit, regenerating him and making him a new man, causing him to live a new life, freeing him from the bondage of sin. Thus, it is wrong to say that this justifying faith chills men from living good and holy lives. But on the contrary, without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of love for themselves or because of a fear of damnation. It is, therefore, impossible that this holy faith should be unfruitful in man, seeing we are not speaking of a vain faith, but of that which the Scripture calls a faith which works by love, which induces in man a doing of those works which God commands in his Word, which works proceed from the good root of faith, being good and acceptable before God, insomuch as they are all sanctified by his grace. However, they do not add toward our justification, for it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do any good works, otherwise they could not be good, just as the fruit of a tree cannot be good unless the tree itself is good first.

Therefore, we do good works, but not to earn merit (for how can we merit anything?). But, moreover, we are obligated to God even for the good works which we do, and not he to us, since it is he who puts in us the will and the doing according to his good pleasure, giving regard to that which is written: When you shall have done all that is commanded you, say, we are useless servants, we have done only that which was our duty to do.

However, we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works. But it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. For the rest, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we are unable to do any work which is not soiled by our flesh, and worthy also of punishment. And if we could somehow have produced even one, the memory of just one sin by itself would be sufficient for it to be rejected before God. By this means we would always be in doubt and wave-tossed here and there without any certainty; and our poor consciences would be always tormented, if they did not repose upon the merits of the death and passion of our Saviour.

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We believe that the ceremonies and figures of the Law ceased at the coming of Christ, and all shadows are since ended, so that their usage must be removed from among Christians. Yet their truth and substance remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their accomplishment. Nevertheless, we still use the testimonies taken from the Law and the Prophets to confirm us in the Gospel, and also, to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of God, according to his will.

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We believe that we have no access to God except through the only Mediator and Advocate Jesus Christ, the Righteous, who for this cause was made man, uniting together the Divine and human natures, so that we men may have entrance unto the divine Majesty. Otherwise, we could not have any entrance. But we should not fear this Mediator, whom the Father has given us to be between himself and us, because of his grandeur, so as to cause us to seek another more to our fancy. For there is no person in heaven nor upon the earth among the creatures who loves us more than Jesus Christ, who, though being in the form of God, abased himself, taking the form of a man and of a servant for us, and was made like his brethren in all things. If, then, we should seek to find another intercessor, who would hold us in affection, whom could we find who will love us more than this one, who laid down his life for us, even while we were his enemies? And if we should find one who had trustworthiness and power, who is there who has enough in himself as he who sits at the right hand of the Father, and who has all power in heaven and on the earth? And who will be more quickly answered than the very own well beloved Son of God?

Therefore, it was solely through a lack of faith that this custom of dishonoring the saints, rather than honoring them, was introduced, practicing that which they never did nor required, but which they themselves continually rejected, and did so according to their duty, as it appears by their writings. Neither should it be alleged here that we are not worthy. For there is no question here of presenting our prayers upon our own worthiness, but solely upon the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.

Because of this, and rightly so, the Apostle, desiring to remove from us this foolish fear, or rather, lack of faith, says to us that Jesus Christ was made in every respect like his brethren, that he might be a High Priest, merciful and faithful, to purge the sins of the people: For because he has suffered being tempted, he is able also to help all those who are tempted. And furthermore, to give us greater courage to approach near through him, he says, We, therefore, having a sovereign High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, who is entered into the heavens, let us hold fast to our confession. For we have not a High Priest who is not touched with compassion by our infirmities, but was tempted, the same as we are, in all things, except sin. Let us come with confidence, therefore, to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace for our help. The same Apostle says that we have liberty to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus. Let us go, says he, in the assurance of faith, etc. And again, Christ, having a perpetual priesthood, can, therefore, save in full all those who approach unto God by him, as he lives for ever to intercede for them. What more can be needed? since Christ himself has pronounced: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one is able to come to my Father, but by me. For what purpose should we seek another advocate? since it has pleased God to give his Son for us to be our Advocate. Let us not forsake him to take another, or rather, to search for another, without ever finding; for when God gave him to us, he knew well that we were sinners.

Therefore, following the commandment of Christ, let us invoke the heavenly Father through Christ our only Mediator, as we are taught by the Lord's Prayer, being assured that we shall obtain everything which we ask from the Father in his name.

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We believe and confess only one catholic or universal Church, which is a holy congregation and assembly of true faithful Christians, expecting all their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Church has been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof, as it appears in that Christ is an eternal King, who cannot be without subjects. And this holy Church is maintained by God against the rage of the whole world, even though sometimes she has been very small in appearance, in the eyes of men, and as extinguished, as the Lord, during the time of the dangerous reign of Ahab, reserved to himself seven thousand men, who had not bowed the knee before Baal.

Also, this holy Church is not confined, attached nor limited to a certain locality, nor to certain persons, but it is spread out and dispersed through all the world, being every way joined and united in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit through the power of faith.

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We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is an assembly of the saved, and apart from which there is no salvation, no one, of whatever estate and quality he may be, has any right to withdraw himself from it to live separately, but that all together are obligated to join and unite themselves with it, maintaining the unity of the Church, in submitting themselves to its instruction and discipline, bowing their necks to the yoke of Jesus Christ, and serving for the edification of the brethren, according to the gifts which God has placed in them, as common members of the same body. And, that this may be better observed, it is necessary for all the faithful, according to the Word of God, to separate themselves from all who are not part of the Church, to join themselves to this assembly, in that place wherever God has established it, even though Magistrates and the edicts of Princes are against it, and though death and bodily punishment should thereby follow.

Therefore, all those who withdraw themselves, or who do not join themselves to it, are acting contrary to the ordinance of God.

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We believe that it is necessary to discern diligently, with good prudence, by means of the Word of God, what is the true Church, because all sects which are in the world today clothe themselves with the name of Church.

We speak not here of the company of hypocrites who are mixed with the good in the Church, and yet they are not in it, though they may be present as part of the visible body. But we speak so to distinguish the body and fellowship of the true Church from association with all other sects which call themselves the Church.

The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the Church regularly has the pure preaching of the Gospel; If she regularly has the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ ordained; If ecclesiastical discipline is in use for the correction of vices. In brief, if it is regulated according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it, and holding Jesus Christ as its sole Head. By this means a person can have an assurance of knowing the true Church, and no one has any right to be separated from it. And, as to those who are part of the Church, one can know them by the marks of a Christian; that is, by their faith. And, when they have received the only Saviour Jesus Christ, they flee sin and follow righteousness, loving the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or to the left, crucifying their flesh with its deeds. But, this is not to say that there does not yet remain great infirmity in them. But, they war against it by the Spirit every day of their life, having continual recourse to the blood, death, passion and obedience of the Saviour Jesus, through whom they have remission of their sins, by faith in him.

As to the false Church, she attributes to herself and to her ordinances more authority than to the Word of God. She will not subject herself to the yoke of Christ. She does not administer the Sacraments as Christ ordained by his Word, but she adds and diminishes as it pleases her; She builds herself more upon men than upon Jesus Christ; She persecutes all those who live holy lives according to the Word of God, and who reprimand her vices, her greed, and her idolatries. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from one another.

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We believe that this true Church must be governed according to the spiritual policy which our Lord taught us by his Word, namely, that there will be Ministers or Pastors to preach the Word of God and to administer the Sacraments, that also there will be Overseers and Deacons to form, together with the Pastors, the senate of the Church, and by this means, to preserve the true religion, and to work so that the true doctrine will flow freely. And also, that vicious men may be spiritually corrected and restrained under bridle. So also, that the poor and all the afflicted may be helped and comforted, as each has need. By these means everything will go well and in good order in the Church, when such faithful persons shall be elected according to the rule which was given by Saint Paul to Timothy.

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We believe that the Ministers of the Word of God, the Elders and the Deacons, ought to be chosen to their offices by the legitimate election of the Church, with the invocation of the name of God, in an orderly manner, as the Word of God teaches. Therefore, every one must guard himself well, so as not to intrude himself into office by illicit means, but must wait for the time when he shall be called of God, that he may have the testimony of his vocation, to be certain and assured that it is from the Lord.

And, as to the Ministers of the Word, they are equal in all respects, they have the same power and authority, being the Ministers of Jesus Christ, the only universal Bishop and the sole Head of the Church.

Moreover, that the holy ordinances of God may not be violated or come into contempt, we say that every one must hold the Ministers of the Word and the Elders of the Church in singular esteem, for the work which they do, and, as much as he is able, to be at peace with them, without murmuring, debate, or contention.

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We believe, however, that though it is useful and good for the governors of the Church to establish and enact a certain order among themselves, for the maintenance of the body of the Church, they need always to guard well against declining from that order which Christ our only Master ordained for us. This is why we reject all human innovations, and all laws which any one may desire to introduce, as if to serve God thereby, and through them to bind and snare consciences, by whatever means this may be attempted.

We receive, therefore, only that which is proper to guard and nourish concord and union, and to maintain everyone in obedience to God. For this reason it is necessary that excommunication be done precisely according to the Word of God, as occasion may require.

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We believe that our good God, regarding our roughness and infirmity, has ordained the Sacraments for us, to seal his promises to us, to be pledges for us of the good will and grace of God toward us, and also to nourish and sustain our faith. He has joined these to the Word of the Gospel, for the better representing to our outward senses, both that which he gives us to understand by his Word, and that which he works inwardly in our hearts, thereby confirming in us the salvation which he communicates to us. For these are visible signs and seals of the inward and invisible thing, by means of which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The signs, therefore, are not empty and seen as if only to mislead and deceive us. For they have Jesus Christ for their truth, without whom they would be nothing.

Moreover, we content ourselves with the number of Sacraments which Christ our Master ordained for us, which are no more than two only, being the Sacrament of Baptism and of the Holy Supper of Jesus Christ.

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We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the Law, by his shed blood has put an end to all other shedding of blood which anyone could or would make for a propitiation or sacrifice for sins. And having abolished circumcision, which was done through blood, he ordained in its place the Sacrament of Baptism, through which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and from all strange religions, that we may be entirely dedicated to him, carrying his mark and his sign. It secures us by the testimony that God will always be with us, being a merciful Father to us. He has, therefore, commanded to baptize all those who are his in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, with pure water. He signifies to us by this that as the water washes the filthiness of the physical body when it is poured upon us, which also is seen visibly upon the body of the person baptized at the time when he is sprinkled, so also the blood of Christ by the Holy Spirit, does the same inwardly in the soul, sprinkling and cleansing it from its sins, and accomplishes our regeneration from being children of wrath to being the children of God, which is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape from the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and enter into the spiritual land of Canaan. Thus, the Ministers, on their part, give us the Sacrament and that which is visible. But our Lord gives us that which is signified by the Sacrament, that is, the invisible gifts and graces, washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls from all filth and iniquities, renewing our hearts and filling them with all consolation, giving us true assurance of his paternal kindness, clothing us with the new man and removing the old man from us with all his deeds.

For this reason, we believe that whoever aspires to obtain eternal life must be baptized only once, with only one baptism, without it ever being repeated. And in no way does this baptism profit us only while the water is upon us, and at the time when we receive it, but it profits us the whole time of our life. Upon this basis, we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with only one baptism once received; and further, they condemn the baptism of the little children of the faithful, whom we believe must be baptized and sealed with the sign of the Covenant, even as little children were circumcised in Israel upon the same promises which are made to our children. And also, truly Christ shed his blood no less to wash the little children of the faithful than for the adults. Therefore, they need to receive the sign and the sacrament which symbolizes that which Christ did for them. As the Lord commanded in the Law, that they should have fellowship with the sacrament of the death and passion of Christ when they were newborns, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the place which Circumcision had for the people of the Jews, Baptism now has the same place in regard to our children. For this reason Saint Paul calls Baptism the Circumcision of Christ.

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We believe and confess that our Saviour Jesus Christ ordained and instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Supper, to nourish and sustain those whom he has already regenerated and grafted into his family, which is his Church. Now, those who are regenerated have in them two lives, the one bodily and temporal, which they have received from their first birth, and is common to all; the other is spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in the second birth, which is accomplished by the Word of the Gospel, in the communion of the body of Christ. And this life is not common, but is given only to the elect of God. Thus, God has given us, for the sustaining of the bodily and earthly life, an earthly and material bread, which is necessary to sustain it, which bread is common to all, as is also life itself. But for the sustaining of the spiritual and heavenly life, which is found in the faithful, he has sent them the living bread descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and sustains the spiritual life of the faithful, being eaten, that is to say, applied and received by faith, in the spirit.

For us, to represent this spiritual and heavenly bread, Christ has ordained an earthly and visible bread, which is the Sacrament of his body, and the wine for the Sacrament of his blood, to certify to us that as really as we take and hold the Sacrament in our hands, and eat and drink it with our mouths, by which afterwards our physical life is sustained, so truly, by faith (which is the hand and the mouth of our soul) we receive the true body and the true blood of Christ, our only Saviour, into our souls, for our spiritual life.

Now, it is certain that Jesus Christ has not given his Sacraments to us in vain, because he fulfills in us all that which he represents to us through these sacred signs, though the way it is accomplished surpasses our understanding, and is incomprehensible to us, as the operation of the Spirit of God is secret and incomprehensible. However, we are not deceiving ourselves when we say that what is eaten is the proper and natural body of Christ, and that it is his proper blood which is drunk. But, the manner by which we eat it is not by the mouth, but by the spirit through faith. Thus, Jesus Christ always resides seated at the right hand of God his Father in the heavens, and yet he does not cease through this to communicate of himself to us by faith. This feast is a spiritual table in which Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits, and makes us enjoy in it both himself and the merit of his death and passion, nourishing, fortifying, and consoling our poor desolate souls, through the eating of his flesh, and solacing and refreshing them through the drinking of his blood.

Further, though the Sacraments are joined to the thing signified, both are not always received by everyone. The wicked actually takes the Sacrament to his own destruction; but he does not receive the truth of the Sacrament, as Judas and Simon the magician indeed received both the Sacraments, but not Christ, who was signified, as he is communicated only to the faithful.

Finally, we receive the holy Sacrament in the assembly of the people of God, with humility and reverence, in practicing among us a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Saviour, with thanksgiving, and there making confession of our faith and of the Christian religion. Therefore, no one must present himself who has not first well examined himself, lest by eating of this bread and drinking of this cup he eats and drinks his own judgment. In brief, we are through the use of the holy Sacrament roused to an ardent love toward God and our neighbor.

Therefore, we reject all additions and damnable inventions, which men have mixed and blended with the Sacraments, as profanations. And we say that everyone must content himself with the order which Christ and his Apostles have, for this reason, taught us, and to speak in the same manner as they have spoken.

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We believe that our good God, because of the depravity of humanity, has ordained the King, Princes, and Magistrates, desiring the world to be governed by laws and polices, that the excesses of men may be reprimanded, and that everything may be done with good order among men. To this end he has established the sword in the hands of the Magistrate to punish the wicked, and to preserve honest people. And not only is their office to keep guard and watchfulness over the civil order, but also to preserve the sacred ministry; to remove and ruin all idolatry and false service of God; to destroy the kingdom of antichrist and advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to promote the preaching of the Gospel everywhere, so that God will be honored and served by every one, as is required of them by his Word.

Moreover, of whatever quality, condition, or estate someone may be, he must be subject to the Magistrates, and pay the tributes, to have them in honor and reverence and to obey them in all things which are not contrary to the Word of God, entreating for them in their prayers, that the Lord may direct them in all their ways, and that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and honesty.

And on this basis, we detest the error of the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general, all those who desire to reject the authorities and Magistrates and subvert justice, establishing community of goods, and confound the honest order which God has established among men.

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Finally, we believe, according to the Word of God, that when the time ordained by the Lord shall have arrived (which is unknown to all creatures) and the number of the elect shall be fulfilled, our Lord Jesus Christ will come with the clouds of heaven, bodily and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty, to declare himself to be the Judge of the living and the dead, setting on fire and in flame this old world, to purify it. And then, all human creatures shall personally appear before this great Judge, both men and women and children, who have ever lived from the beginning of the world to its end, being summoned by the voice of the archangel and by the sound of the Divine trumpet. For all, who beforehand were dead, shall be resurrected from the earth, their spirit being joined and united with their proper bodies in which they had lived. And as for the others, who shall then be living, they shall not die as the others, but they shall be changed, in the blink of an eye, from corruption into incorruption.

Then the books shall be opened (that is to say, the consciences), and the dead shall be judged according to those things which they did in the world, whether good or evil. Men shall themselves render account for all the useless words which they have spoken, which the world only esteems as jests and entertainments. And their actions and secret thoughts, and the hypocrisies of men, shall be publicly discovered before all.

Therefore, and rightly so, the consideration of this judgment is horrible and terrifying to evil doers and the wicked, but strongly desirable and of great consolation to the good and elect. For then their complete redemption shall be accomplished, and they shall receive the fruits of their labors and of their troubles which they endured. Their innocence shall be clearly known to all. And they shall then see the horrible vengeance which God shall execute upon the wicked, who have tyrannized, afflicted and tormented them in this world, who shall be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences. They shall be rendered immortal, and thus made so, they shall be tormented in everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

And on the contrary, the faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honor, the Son of God confessing their names before God his Father and his holy elect angels. All tears shall be wiped from their eyes. Their cause, at present condemned by many Judges and Magistrates as heretical and wicked, shall be then known to be the cause of the Son of God himself. And, for a gracious recompense, the Lord shall cause them to possess a glory such as never the heart of man was able to conceive.

Therefore, we await that great day with desire, longing to fully enjoy the promises of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!


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The Apostles' Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.

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The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty;

Maker of heaven and earth,

And of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God,

Begotten of the Father before all ages,

God of God, Light of Light,

True God of True God,

Begotten, not made,

Being of one substance with the Father;

By whom all things were made;

Who for us men and for our salvation,

Came down from heaven,

And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit,

Of the virgin Mary,

And was made man,

And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;

He suffered and was buried;

And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;

And ascended into heaven,

And sits at the right hand of the Father;

And He shall come again with glory,

To judge both the living and the dead;

Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,

The Lord and Giver of life;

Who proceeds from the Father and the Son;

Who with the Father and the Son

Together is worshipped and glorified;

Who spake by the Prophets.

And we believe one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

We confess one baptism for the remission of sins;

And we look for the resurrection of the dead,

And the life of the world to come. AMEN.

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The Athanasian Creed

"Quicunque Vult"

1. WHOEVER WILL be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the catholic faith.

2. Which faith unless everyone preserves whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall eternally perish.

3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confusing the Persons, nor separating the substance.

5. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Divinity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is one; the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit is Almighty.

14. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.

15. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord.

18. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by Christian truth to confess each Person by Himself to be God and Lord;

20. So we are prohibited by the catholic religion to say, there are three Gods, or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; neither made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. Therefore, there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less.

26. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. So that in all things as said above, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.

28. He therefore who desires to be saved let him thus think of the Trinity.

29. But it is necessary to eternal salvation that one also believes faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

31. God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world.

32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Equal to the Father as touching His Divinity, less than the Father as touching His humanity.

34. Who although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

35. But one, not by a conversion of the Divinity into flesh, but by an assumption of the humanity into God.

36. One altogether; not by a confusion of substance, but by a unity of Person.

37. For as a rational soul and body is one man, so God and man is one Christ.

38. Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead.

39. He ascended into heaven; sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

40. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. And shall give account for their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into everlasting life, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

44. This is the catholic faith, which unless one faithfully and firmly believes he cannot be saved. AMEN.

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Copyright David Th. Stark ,1997.