Author: Francois de Morel et. al.
Scriptures, Rule of Faith
The Authority of Scriptures
The Providence of God
Original Purity and Fall of Man
Heredity of Sin
The Condemnation of Sin
Our Election in Christ
Our Salvation is in Christ
The Divinity and the Humanity of Jesus Christ
The Two Natures of Christ
The Death of Christ
Our Free Forgiveness
Justification by Faith
The Gift of Faith
The Use of the Law and the Prophets
Rejection of False Doctrines
The Ministry of Preaching and of the Sacraments
The Union of the Church
The True Church
The Officers of the Church
Equality Among Pastors
Union Between Churches
Ecclesiastical Laws and Regulations
The Sacraments in General
The Lord’s Supper
The Efficacy of the Sacraments
The Necessity of the Sacraments
The Necessity of Governments
Obedience Owed to Authorities
Confession of Faith, made in one accord by the French people, who desire to live according to the purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A.D. 1559
Be always prepared to answer to everyone who asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you (1 Pet 3:15).
Article 1: God
We believe and confess that there is but one God, who is one sole and simple essence (Deut 4:35, 39; 6:4†; Isa 44:6, 8†; 1 Cor 8:4, 6; Eph 4:6†; 1 Tim 2:5†; Exod 3:14), spiritual (Gen 1:3; John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17), eternal (Exod 3:15-16; Isa 40:28†), invisible (Rom 1:20; 1 Tim 1:17), immutable (Mal 3:6; Num 23:19; Jas 1:17†), infinite (Rom 11:33; Acts 7:48; 17:24), incomprehensible (Jer 10:7, 10; Rom 11:33†), ineffable, omnipotent (Luke 1:37; 1 Chr 29:10-11†); who is all-wise (Jer 10:7; Rom 16:27), all-good (Matt 19:17 [TR]; Exod 33:19†), all-just (Jer 12:1; Ps 119:137), and all-merciful (Exod 34:6-7).
Article 2: Revelation
As such this God reveals himself to men (Rom 1:19-20); firstly, in his works, in their creation (Ps 19:1†), as well as in their preservation and control (Rom 1:20†; 1 Cor 12:6†). Secondly, and more clearly, in his Word (Rom 15:4; John 5:39; Heb 1:1; Ps 19:7†), which was in the beginning revealed through oracles (Gen 3:15; 4:26; 12:7; 15:1; 18:1; 2 Pet 1:21†), and which was afterward committed to writing (Exod 24:3-4; 31:18†; Ps 102:18†; Hab 2:2†; Rev 1:11†) in the books which we call the Holy Scriptures (Rom 1:2).
Article 3: Holy Scriptures
These Holy Scriptures are comprised in the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, as follows: the five books of Moses, namely: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the first and second books of the Kings, the first and second books of the Chronicles, otherwise called Paralipomenon, the first book of Ezra, then Nehemiah, the book of Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the Proverbs or Maxims of Solomon; the book of Ecclesiastes, called the Preacher, the Son of Solomon; then the book of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, according to St. Mark, according to St. Luke, and according to St. John; then the second book of St. Luke, otherwise called the Acts of the Apostles; the Epistles of St. Paul: one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon; then the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St. James, the first and second Epistles of St. Peter, the first, second, and third Epistles of St. John, the Epistle of St. Jude; and then the Apocalypse, or Revelation of St. John.
Article 4: Scriptures, Rule of Faith
We know these books to be canonical, and the sure rule of our faith (Ps 12:6; 19:7-8), not so much by the common accord and consent of the Church, as by the testimony and inward illumination of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to distinguish them from other ecclesiastical books upon which, however useful, we can not found any articles of faith.
Article 5: The Authority of Scriptures
We believe that the Word contained in these books has proceeded from God (2 Tim 3:15-16; 1 Pet 1:11-12; 2 Pet 1:20-21; John 3:31†), and receives its authority from him alone (John 3:31, 34; 5:33-34; 15:15†; 1 Tim 1:15), and not from men. And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for the service of God and for our salvation (Deut 30:15-16, 19-20†; John 15:15; 20:31; Acts 20:27; Rom 15:4†), it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it (Deut 4:2; 11:32 (?); 12:32; Prov 30:6†; Gal 1:8; 3:15†; 1 Tim 1:3†; 2 John 9-10†; Rev 22:18-19). Whence it follows that no authority, whether of antiquity, or custom, or numbers, or human wisdom, or judgments, or proclamations, or edicts, or decrees, or councils, or visions, or miracles, should be opposed to these Holy Scriptures (Ps 62:9†; Matt 15:9; Mark 7:7†; Acts 5:28-29; Rom 3:4†), but, on the contrary, all things should be examined, regulated, and reformed according to them (Deut 12:32†; 1 Cor 3:11†; 11:1–2, 23; 12; 15:2†; 2 Thess 2:2†; 1 Pet 4:11†; 1 John 4:1†). [Our Creeds] And therefore we confess the three creeds, to wit: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, because they are in accordance with the Word of God.
Article 6: The Trinity
These Holy Scriptures teach us that in this one sole and simple divine essence (Deut 4:12; 10:17), whom we have confessed, there are three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:16-17†; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14†; 1 John 4:13-14†; 1 John 5:7 [TR]; John 1:1, 17, 32†). The Father, first cause, and origin of all things (Mal 2:10†; John 5:17, 19†). The Son, his Word and eternal wisdom (Prov 8:12, 22-31†; John 1:1; 17:5; Rom 1:3†; 1 Cor 8:6†; Col 1:16†; Heb 1:3†; Rev 19:13†). The Holy Spirit, his virtue, power, and efficacy (Isa 48:16†; 61:1†; Matt 12:28†; Luke 1:35†; John 15:26†; Acts 17:25; Gal 4:6†). The Son begotten from eternity by the Father (John 8:23, 58†; Phil 2:5-6†; Rev 1:8†). The Holy Spirit proceeding eternally from them both (John 14:16-17†; 15:26†; Rom 8:9†; 1 Cor 6:11†; Gal 4:6†; Tit 3:5-6†); the three persons not confused, but distinct, and yet not separate, but of the same essence, equal in eternity and power (Matt 28:19; John 1:1; 17:5; Acts 17:25; Rom 1:7; 1 John 5:7 [TR]). And in this we confess that which hath been established by the ancient councils, and we detest all sects and heresies which were rejected by the holy doctors, such as St. Hilary, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, and St. Cyril.
Article 7: Creation
We believe that God in three co-working persons, by his power, wisdom, and incomprehensible goodness, created all things, not only the heavens and the earth and all that in them is, but also invisible spirits (Gen 1:1; 3:1; Job 33:4†; Ps 33:6†; 104; Prov 16:4; Isa 40:26†; John 1:3; Acts 17:25-27†; Jude 6†; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2; 3:4†), [Angels and Demons] some of whom have fallen away and gone into perdition (Luke 8:31†; Matt 25:41†; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6), while others have continued in obedience (Ps 103:20-21). That the first, being corrupted by evil, are enemies of all good, consequently of the whole Church (John 8:44; 2 Cor 2:11†; 11:14†; Eph 6:12†). The second, having been preserved by the grace of God, are ministers to glorify God’s name, and to promote the salvation of his elect (Heb 1:7, 14; Ps 34:7; 91:11; 148:2†; Matt 25:31†).
Article 8: The Providence of God
We believe that he not only created all things, but that he governs and directs them (Ps 104; Job 34:14-15†; John 5:17†; Heb 1:3†), disposing and ordaining by his sovereign will all that happens in the world (Gen 27:20†; 2 Sam 2:6; 1 Kgs 22:34†; Ps 75:6-7†; 115:3†; 119:89–96; 139:2–6, 13–18†; 147†; Prov 16:4; 21:1†; Isa 10:5-7†; 45:7†; Lam 3:37-38†; Matt 10:29; Acts 2:23; 4:28; 14:17†; 17:24, 26, 28; Rom 9:11; Eph 1:11; Jas 4:15†); not that he is the author of evil, or that the guilt of it can be imputed to him (Job 1:22†; Ps 5:4†; Hos 13:9; Gal 5:19-21†; 1 John 2:16; 3:8), as his will is the sovereign and infallible rule of all right and justice (Job 1:22; Ps 5:4; 45:6†; 119; Rom 9); but he hath wonderful means of so making use of devils and sinners that he can turn to good the evil which they do, and of which they are guilty (Gen 45:8; 50:20; Job; Acts 2:23-24, 27; 4:27-28†; Rom 8:28†). And thus, confessing that the providence of God orders all things, we humbly bow before the secrets which are hidden to us, without questioning what is above our understanding (Rom 9:19-20; Rom 11:33); but rather making use of what is revealed to us in Holy Scripture for our peace and safety (Job 1:21†; Ps 10:14†; 37:5†; Rom 5:3-4†; 8:28–29†; 2 Cor 4:7-18†; 1 Thess 5:18†; Jas 1:1-3†), inasmuch as God, who has all things in subjection to him, watches over us with a Father’s care, so that not a hair of our heads shall fall without his will (Matt 6:25-34†; 10:30; Luke 21:18). And yet he restrains the devils and all our enemies, so that they can not harm us without his leave (Job 1:12; Job 2:6†; Gen 3:15; Isa 45:1-8†; Matt 8:31†; John 19:11).
Article 9: Original Purity and Fall of Man
We believe that man was created pure and perfect in the image of God (Gen 1:26; Eccl 7:29; Eph 4:24), and that by his own guilt he fell from the grace which he received (Gen 3:17; Rom 5:12; Eph 2:2-3), and is thus alienated from God (Isa 1:2-4†; 59:2†; Jer 2:13, 17, 21-22†; Eph 4:18†), the fountain of justice and of all good (Gen 2:17†; 3:19†; John 3:19-20†; Rom 5:12, 18†; Eph 2:1-3†), so that his nature is totally corrupt (John 8:34, 43-44†; Rom 1:29-32†; 3:9–18†; 7:5†; 1 John 1:8, 10†). [Impossibility of Natural Religion] And being blinded in mind, and depraved in heart, he has lost all integrity, and there is no good in him (Gen 6:5; 8:21). And although he can still discern good and evil (Rom 1:21; Rom 2:14-15), notwithstanding, that the light he has becomes darkness when he seeks for God, so that he can in nowise approach him by his intelligence and reason (Job 14:4†; Rom 1:21; 1 Cor 2:14). [Necessity of Grace] And although he has a will that incites him to do this or that, yet it is altogether captive to sin (Jer 13:23†), so that he has no other liberty to do right than that which God gives him (Ps 94:11-12†; Isa 26:12†; Jer 10:23; John 1:4-5, 7; 3:6; 6:44, 65†; 8:36; 15:4†; Rom 6:16-18; 7:18; 8:6-7; 1 Cor 4:7; 2 Cor 3:5; Phil 2:13).
Article 10: Heredity of Sin
We believe that all the posterity of Adam is in bondage to original sin, which is an hereditary evil (Gen 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; Ps 51:5; John 1:4-5; 8:36; Rom 8:6-7), and not an imitation merely (Matt 15:19†), as was declared by the Pelagians, whom we detest in their errors. And we consider that it is not necessary to inquire how sin was conveyed from one man to another, for what God had given Adam was not for him alone, but for all his posterity (Gen 1:26-28†; 2:15–17†); and thus in his person we have been deprived of all good things, and have fallen with him into a state of sin and misery (Gen 3:14-24†; Rom 5:12).
Article 11: The Condemnation of Sin
We believe, also, that this evil is truly sin, sufficient for the condemnation of the whole human race, even of little children in the mother’s womb, and that God considers it as such (Ps 51:5; Isa 48:8†; Rom 3:9-13; 5:12; 5:14†; Eph 2:3); even after baptism it is still of the nature of sin, but the condemnation of it is abolished for the children of God, out of his mere free grace and love (Rom 7). [The Permanence of Sin] And further, that it is a perversity always producing fruits of malice and of rebellion (Rom 7:5; Gal 3:19), so that the most holy men, although they resist it, are still stained with many weaknesses and imperfections while they are in this life (Rom 7:18-19; 2 Cor 12:7).
Article 12: Our Election in Christ
We believe that from this corruption and general condemnation in which all men are plunged, God, according to his eternal and immutable counsel, calleth those whom he hath chosen by his goodness and mercy alone in our Lord Jesus Christ (Exod 33:19†; Rom 8:29†; 9:15†), without consideration of their works (1 Sam 12:22†; Jer 1:5; John 15:16†; Rom 2:11, 23†; 3:28; 8:29; 9:23; 11:5–6†; Rom 12; Eph 1:4; Eph 2:4-5, 9; 2 Tim 1:9; 2:20†; Tit 3:5, 7†; 1 John 4:10†), to display in them the riches of his mercy (Exod 9:16†; Rom 9:17: Eph 1:7; Rom 3:22-24; 9:23†); leaving the rest in this same corruption and condemnation to show in them his justice (Exod 9:16; Ps 5:4-6†; Jer 2:10† [?]; Ezek 9:10†; 8:4†; Rom 1:18†; 9:22; Gal 6:7-8†; 2 Tim 2:20). For the ones are no better than the others (Jer 10:23†), until God discerns them according to his immutable purpose which he has determined in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world (Rom 9; Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9). Neither can any man gain such a reward by his own virtue, as by nature we can not have a single good feeling, affection, or thought, except God has first put it into our hearts (Jer 10:23; Rom 9:16; Eph 1:4-5; 2 Tim 1:9; Phil 2:13; Tit 3:3).
Article 13: Our Salvation is in Christ
We believe that all that is necessary for our salvation was offered and communicated to us in Jesus Christ (Matt 1:21†; John 14:6†; Gal 1:19-20† [?]; 1 Tim 2:5-6†). He is given to us for our salvation (John 3:16†; 1 John 1:2†), and ‘is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:’ (1 Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 2:10†; 1 Tim 1:15; Tit 2:14) so that if we refuse him, we renounce the mercy of the Father, in which alone we can find a refuge (John 3:18; Acts 4:11†; 1 Tim 2:5†; 1 John 2:23).
Article 14: The Divinity and the Humanity of Jesus Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ, being the wisdom of God and his eternal Son, has put on our flesh, so as to be God and man in one person (John 1:14; Phil 2:6-7); man, like unto us (Heb 2:17), capable of suffering in body and soul, yet free from all stain of sin (2 Cor 5:21). And as to his humanity, he was the true seed of Abraham and of David (Acts 13:23; Rom 1:3; 8:3; 9:5; Phil 2:7; Heb 2:14, 16; 4:15; 5†), although he was conceived by the secret power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18, 20; Luke 1:28, 31, 35; 2:11). In this we detest all the heresies that have of old troubled the Church, and especially the diabolical conceits of Servetus, which attribute a fantastical divinity to the Lord Jesus, calling him the idea and pattern of all things, and the personal or figurative Son of God, and, finally, attribute to him a body of three uncreated elements, thus confusing and destroying the two natures.
Article 15: The Two Natures of Christ
We believe that in one person, that is, Jesus Christ, the two natures are actually and inseparably joined and united (Matt 1:20-21; Luke 1:31-32, 35, 42-43), and yet each remains in its proper character (John 1:14; Rom 9:5; 1 Tim 2:5; 3:16; Heb 5:8): so that in this union the divine nature, retaining its attributes, remained uncreated, infinite, and all-pervading (John 3:31-34†; 12:44–45† [?]; 14:9–10†; Col 1:19†); and the human nature remained finite, having its form, measure, and attributes (Matt 26:11†; 27:50†; Luke 23:46†; 24:38–39; Rom 1:3-4; Phil 2:6-11; 3:21); and although Jesus Christ, in rising from the dead, bestowed immortality upon his body (Rom 1:4†; Acts 3:21†; 1 Cor 15:12-24†), yet he did not take from it the truth of its nature (John 20:25, 27†; Acts 1:2-3†), and we so consider him in his divinity that we do not despoil him of his humanity.
Article 16: The Death of Christ
We believe that God, in sending his Son, intended to show his love and inestimable goodness towards us, giving him up to die (Isa 53:6†; John 1:29†; 3:16; John 15:13; Rom 8:3, 32-33†; Heb 2:14-15†; 1 John 4:9) to accomplish all righteousness, and raising him from the dead to secure for us the heavenly life (Rom 4:25; 2 Cor 1:9† [?]; 1 Tim 1:14-15). [Check translation (literally): “giving him up to die and raising him from the dead, to accomplish all righteousness and to secure for us heavenly life.”]
Article 17: Our Reconciliation
We believe that by the perfect sacrifice (Heb 7:27†; 9:12, 24–28†; 10:12, 14, 18†; 1 Pet 3:18†) that the Lord Jesus offered on the cross, we are reconciled to God (Rom 5:1, 8-9†; 8:1†; 2 Cor 5:19; Col 2:14†; Tit 3:4-7; Heb 5:7-8; 9), and justified before him (Rom 4:24†; 5:19†; 2 Cor 5:21†; Eph 5:2; 1 Tim 1:15); for we can not be acceptable to him, nor become partakers of the grace of adoption, except as he pardons [all] our sins, and blots them out (1 Pet 2:24-25). Thus we declare that through Jesus Christ we are cleansed and made perfect (John 15:3†; Rom 8:2†; Eph 5:26; Heb 9:14; Tit 3:5); by his death we are fully justified (Isa 53:5, 12†; Matt 20:28†; Rom 3:23-24†; Col 1:14†; 1 Tim 2:6†; Heb 2:17†), and through him only can we be delivered from our iniquities and transgressions (Acts 2:21†; 4:12†; Rom 3:26; 4-5; Phil 3:8†; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7).
Article 18: Our Free Forgiveness
We believe that all our justification rests upon the remission of our sins (Isa 1:18†; 43:25†; Jer 31:4† [?]; Ezek 36:29†; John 3:17-18†; 5:24†; Rom 3:23-24†; 1 Cor 6:11†; Col 1:14†; 1 John 2:12†), in which also is our only blessedness, as saith the Psalmist (Ps 32:1; Luke 1:77†; John 17:23; Rom 4:7-8; 8:1-3; 2 Cor 5:19-20†). We therefore reject all other means of justification before God (Rom 3:19; Gal 2; 1 Tim 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2), and without claiming any virtue or merit (Rom 4:2†; 1 Cor 1:29-31†; 4:7†), we rest simply in the obedience of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to us as much to blot out all our sins as to make us find grace and favor in the sight of God (John 17:23†; Rom 1:16; 5:19†; Eph 2:8†; 1 Tim 2:5†; 1 John 2:1-2†). [Our Peace] And, in fact, we believe that in falling away from this foundation, however slightly, we could not find rest elsewhere, but should always be troubled (Acts 4:12). Forasmuch as we are never at peace with God till we resolve to be loved in Jesus Christ (Rom 5), for of ourselves we are worthy of hatred.
Article 19: Prayer
We believe that by this means (Matt 11:27†; John 14:6†; Heb 4:14-16†) we have the liberty and privilege of calling upon God, in full confidence that he will show himself a Father to us (Ps 50:15†; 145:18†; Jer 29:12-14†; Matt 6:9†; 7:11†; Luke 11:2†; Rom 5:1; 8:15; Gal 4:6; Eph 2:13-15†; 3:12†; Heb 10:19-22†). For we should have no access to the Father (Rom 5:2; Eph 2:13-15; 3:12; Heb 4:14) except through this Mediator (Matt 28:18†; Mark 16:19† [TR]; John 15:16; Rom 8:33†; Col 3:1†; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:24-25†; 1 John 2:2). And to be heard in his name (John 14:13†; 16:23–24†), we must hold our life from him as from our chief (Rom 8:31-32†; 2 Cor 2:2† [?]; Gal 2:20-21†; Heb 2:17-18†).
Article 20: Justification by Faith
We believe that we are made partakers of this justification by faith alone (John 3:15; Acts 4:12†; Rom 1:17†; 3:22, 26–28; 4:4–5, 25†; 8:1†; 10:4†; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:24; Eph 2:8†; Phil 3:9†; 2 Tim 1:9†; Tit 3:5†; 1 Pet 1:4-5†), as it is written: ‘He suffered for our salvation, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish’ (John 3:16; 6:47†). And this is done inasmuch as we appropriate to our use the promises of life which are given to us through him, and feel their effect when we accept them (John 14:27†; 15:11†; Rom 5:1-2†; Gal 2:15-21†), being assured that we are established by the Word of God and shall not be deceived (Matt 17:20; John 1:7 [?]; 3:16; 10:4†; 17:19–21; Acts 10:43; 2 Cor 1:20†; 5:19, 21; Tit 3:5; Heb 11:6, 10, 13). Thus our justification through faith depends upon the free promises by which God declares and testifies his love to us (John 17:23-26; Rom 1:17; 3:24-25, 27-28, 30; 4:1-3; 5; 8:31-39†; 9:30–32; 10; 11:6; Gal 2:16, 21; 3:24; 5:4; Eph 3:16-19†; Phil 3:9; 2 Tim 1:9; Tit 3:5).
Article 21: The Gift of Faith
We believe that we are enlightened in faith by the secret power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5†; 1 Cor 2:12; 2 Cor 1:22†; Eph 1:17-18; 1 Thess 1:5; 2 Pet 1:3-4), that it is a gratuitous and special gift which God grants to whom he will (John 15:16†; Rom 9:16, 18, 24-25; 1 Cor 4:7; Eph 2:8†; 1 Pet 1:3-4†), so that the elect have no cause to glory, but are bound to be doubly thankful that they have been preferred to others (Rom 2:29†; 12:3†; 1 Cor 4:7†; Eph 2:8; Phil 1:28; 1 Pet 1:5-11†). [The Gift of Perseverance] We believe also that faith is not given to the elect only to introduce them into the right way, but also to make them continue in it to the end (1 Cor 1:8-9). For as it is God who hath begun the work, he will also perfect it (Isa 26:12†; Luke 17:5†; John 6:29†; 1 Cor 10:13†; Phil 1:6; 2:13).
Article 22: Our Regeneration
We believe that by this faith we are regenerated in newness of life, being by nature subject to sin (John 8:34, 36†; Rom 6:17-20; 7; Eph 2; Col 1:13†; 2:13; 3:10; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3). Now we receive by faith grace to live holily and in the fear of God (Rom 14:23†; 1 Tim 1:5†; Heb 11:6†), in accepting the promise which is given to us by the Gospel, namely: that God will give us his Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13‡; John 3:5†; 5:24†; Acts 15:9†; Rom 8:15†; 10:17†; 1 Thess 1:5†; 1 Pet 1:23†; 1 John 2:3-4). [Good Works] This faith not only doth not hinder us from holy living, or turn us from the love of righteousness (Jas 2:17, 26), but of necessity begetteth in us all good works (Deut 30:6†; Matt 5:16†; 7:7†; Luke 1:74-75†; John 15:5, 8†; Rom 6:22†; 2 Cor 5:9-10†; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:10†; 1 Thess 4:3, 7; Tit 2:14†; 3:8†; Jas 2; 1 John 2:3-4†; 3:3†; 5:18†; 2 Pet 1:5-8). Moreover, although God worketh in us for our salvation, and reneweth our hearts determining us to that which is good (Deut 30:6; John 3:5; Rom 8; Phil 2:13†), yet we confess that the good works which we do proceed from his Spirit, and can not be accounted to us for justification, neither do they entitle us to the adoption of sons (Luke 17:10; Ps 16:2; Rom 3:19-20; 4:3-5; 5:1; 3:5†; Gal 4:5‡; Eph 1:5‡), for we should always be doubting and restless in our hearts (Jas 1:6‡), if we do not rest upon the atonement by which Jesus Christ hath acquitted us (Rom 5:2; 2 Tim 1:9†; Tit 3:5-7†).
Article 23: The Use of the Law and the Prophets
We believe that the ordinances of the law came to an end at the advent of Jesus Christ (John 1:17; Rom 10:4; Gal 3; 4; Col 2:17); but, although the ceremonies are no more in use, yet the substance and truth remain in the person of him in whom they are fulfilled (Matt 5:17†; Luke 1:70; Heb 9:11-14, 24-28†; 10:10, 13–18†). And moreover, we must seek aid from the law and the prophets for the ruling of our lives, as well as for our confirmation in the promises of the gospel (Deut 4:2†; 12:32†; Rom 7:12†; 2 Tim 3:16; Jas 5:10; 2 Pet 1:19).
Article 24: Rejection of False Doctrines
We believe, as Jesus Christ is our only advocate (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:24-25†; 10:19–22†; 1 John 2:1-2), and as he commands us to ask of the Father in his name (John 16:23-24), and as it is not lawful for us to pray except in accordance with the model of God hath taught us by his Word (Matt 6:9; Luke 11:2; John 14:6, 13†), that all imaginations of men concerning the intercession of dead saints are an abuse and a device of Satan to lead men from the right way of worship (1 Tim 2:5; John 16:23-24; Acts 10:25-26; 14:14; Rev 19:10). We reject, also, all other means by which men hope to redeem themselves before God, as derogating from the sacrifice and passion of Jesus Christ.
Finally, we consider purgatory as an illusion proceeding from the same shop, from which have also sprung monastic vows, pilgrimages, the prohibition of marriage, and of eating meat, the ceremonial observance of days, auricular confession, indulgences, and all such things by which they hope to merit forgiveness and salvation (Matt 6:16-18; 9; 15:11; Rom 4:1-4† [?]; 14; Gal 4:9-10; 5:1-4†; Col 2:18-23; 1 Tim 4:2-5; Tit 1:5†). These things we reject, not only for the false idea of merit which is attached to them, but also because they are human inventions imposing a yoke upon the conscience (Matt 15:3, 9; Acts 15:10‡; Col 2:18-23; 1 Tim 4:1ff.).
Article 25: The Ministry of Preaching and of the Sacraments
Now as we enjoy Christ only through the gospel (Matt 10:27; Rom 1:16-17; 10:17), we believe that the order of the Church, established by his authority, ought to be sacred and inviolable, and that, therefore, the Church can not exist with pastors for instruction (Matt 18:20; Luke 12:42-48†; Eph 1:22-23; 3:9-10†; 4:11–12), whom we should respect and reverently listen to, when they are properly called and exercise their office faithfully (Matt 10:40; Luke 10:16; John 13:20; Acts 26:17-18†; Rom 10:14-15; 1 Cor 3:5-7, 9†; 4:1–2†; 2 Cor 5:20†). Not that God is bound to such aid and subordinate means, but because it pleaseth him to govern us by such restraints. In this we detest all visionaries who would like, so far as lies in their power, to destroy the ministry and preaching of the Word and sacraments.
Article 26: The Union of the Church
We believe that no one ought to seclude himself and be contented to be alone; but that all jointly should keep and maintain the union of the Church, and submit to the public teaching, and to the yoke of Jesus Christ (Ps 5:7; Ps 22:22; Ps 42:4; 1 Cor 12:12-30†), wherever God shall have established a true order of the Church, even if the magistrates and their edicts are contrary to it (Dan 3:17-18†; Acts 4:17, 19-20; 5:29†; 18:13†). For if they do not take part in it, or if they separate themselves from it, they do contrary to the Word of God (Heb 10:25).
Article 27: The True Church
Nevertheless we believe that it is important to discern with care and prudence which is the true Church, for this title has been much abused (Jer 7:4, 8, 11-12; 23:22; Mic 2:10-12; Matt 3:9; 7:22; 24:5, 11; 1 Cor 3:10-11). We say, then, according to the Word of God, that it is the company of the faithful who agree to follow his Word, and the pure religion which it teaches; who advance in it all their lives, growing and becoming more confirmed in the fear of God according as they feel the want of growing and pressing onward (Deut 31:12; Josh 1:8; John 8:47†; 10:27†; Acts 17:11-12†; 1 Cor 1:2; 14:23, 26-28; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 5:17-22†; Eph 2:19-20; 4:11-12; 6:10-18†; 1 Tim 3:15; 1 Pet 1:2-11†; 1 John 3:14-15†). Even although they strive continually, they can have no hope save in the remission of their sins (Rom 3; 5:6-10†; Col 1:14†). Nevertheless we do not deny that among the faithful there may be hypocrites and reprobates, but their wickedness can not destroy the title of the Church (1 Kgs 19:18†; Matt 13; Rom 9:6†; 1 Tim 1:18-20).
Article 28: Counterfeit Churches
In this belief we declare that, properly speaking, there can be no Church where the Word of God is not received, nor profession made of subjection to it, nor use of the sacraments (Matt 10:14-15; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-17 [TR]; John 10; 1 Cor 3:10-13; Eph 2:19-21; Col 2:18-20). [Papacy] Therefore we condemn the papal assemblies, as the pure Word of God is banished from them, their sacraments are corrupted, or falsified, or destroyed, and superstitions and idolatries are in them. We hold, then, that all who take part in these acts, and commune in that Church, separate and cut themselves off from the body of Christ (Rom 7:3-4; 1 Cor 5:9-11; 6:15; 10:14†; 2 Cor 6:14-16; 1 John 5:21†). Nevertheless, as some trace of the Church is left in the papacy, and the virtue and substance of baptism remain, and as the efficacy of baptism does not depend upon the person who administers it (Matt 3:11; 28:19; Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5; 11:15-17; 19:4-5; 1 Cor 1:13), we confess that those baptized in it do not need a second baptism. But, on account of its corruptions, we can not present children to be baptized in it without incurring pollution.
Article 29: The Officers of the Church
As to the true Church, we believe that it should be governed according to the order established by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 18:17; Acts 6:3-5; 14:23†; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4:11; 5:24; 1 Tim 3:1-13; 2 Tim 4:1-5†; Tit 1:5-9; 2†). That there should be pastors, overseers, and deacons, so that true doctrine may have its course (Gal 1:6-9†), that errors may be corrected and suppressed (Matt 18:15-18†; 1 Cor 5:4-5, 11-12†; 2 Thess 3:14-15†), and the poor and all who are in affliction may be helped in their necessities; and that the assemblies may be held in the name of God, so that great and small may be edified.
Article 30: Equality Among Pastors
We believe that all true pastors, wherever they may be, have the same authority and equal power under one head, one only sovereign and universal bishop, Jesus Christ (Isa 61:1†; Matt 18:2-4; 20:26-27; 28:18-19; Luke 4:17-21†; 22:26†; Acts 6†; 1 Cor 3:4-9; 4:1; 2 Cor 1:24†; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18-19; 1 Pet 2:25†); [Equality Among Churches] and that consequently no Church shall claim any authority or dominion over any other.
Article 31: Callings
We believe that no person should undertake to govern the Church upon his own authority, but that this should be derived from election (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15 [TR]; John 15:16; Acts 1:21-26; 6:1-3; 14:23†; Rom 10:15; Heb 5:4†), as far as it is possible, and as God will permit. And we make this exception especially, because sometimes, and even in our own days, when the state of the Church has been interrupted, it has been necessary for God to raise men in an extraordinary manner to restore the Church which was in ruin and desolation. [Inward Calling] But, notwithstanding, we believe that this rule must always be binding: that all pastors, overseers, and deacons should have evidence of being call to their office (Jer 1:4-6; 23:21†; Matt 28:18-19†; Mark 16:15†; John 15:16†; Acts 13:2†; Gal 1:15; 1 Tim 3:7-10, 15; 5:4 [?]).
Article 32: Union Between Churches
We believe, also, that it is desirable and useful that those elected to be superintendents devise among themselves what means should be adopted for the government of the whole body (Acts 6:3†; 14:23†; 15:2, 6–7, 25, 28; Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 14; 1 Pet 1:9 [?]), and yet that they should never depart from that which was ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ (Col 2:6-7; 1 Pet 5:1-3). [Local Practices] Which does not prevent there being some special ordinances in each place, as convenience may require (1 Cor 14:40).
Article 33: Ecclesiastical Laws and Regulations
However, we reject all human inventions, and all laws which men may introduce under the pretense of serving God, by which they wish to bind consciences (Matt 15:9†; Rom 16:17-18; 1 Cor 3:11; 7:23†; Gal 5:1; Col 2:8); and we receive only that which conduces to concord and holds all in obedience, from the greatest to the least (Matt 18:15-17†). [Excommunication] In this we must follow that which the Lord Jesus Christ declared as to excommunication (Matt 18:17; 1 Cor 5:4-5; 1 Tim 1:20), which we approve and confess to be necessary with all its antecedents and consequences.
Article 34: The Sacraments in General
We believe that the sacraments are added to the Word for more ample confirmation, that they may be to us pledges and seals of the grace of God, and by this means aid and comfort our faith because of the infirmity which is in us (Gen 9:13†; Gen 17:9-10†; Exod 12; Matt 26:26-27; 28:19†; Mark 14:22-25†; Luke 22:14-20†; Acts 2:37-38†; Rom 4:11; 1 Cor 10; 11:23-24), and that they are outward sign through which God operates by his Spirit, so that he may not signify any thing to us in vain (Acts 22:16; Gal 3:27; Eph 5:26). Yet we hold that their substance and truth is in Jesus Christ, and that of themselves they are only smoke and shadow (John 3; 6; 1 Cor 5:7†; Col 2:11-12, 17†).
Article 35: Baptism
We confess only two sacraments common to the whole Church, of which the first, baptism, is given as a pledge of our adoption; for by it we are grafted into the body of Christ, so as to be washed and cleansed by his blood, and then renewed in purity of life by his Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38†; 22:16; Rom 6:3; 1 Cor 6:11†; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5-6). We hold, also, that although we are baptized only once, yet the gain that it symbolizes to us reaches over our whole lives and to our death (Rom 4; 6:22-23), so that we have a lasting witness that Jesus Christ will always be our justification and sanctification. [Baptism of Children] Nevertheless, although it is a sacrament of faith and penitence (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:4; 16:16; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4), yet as God receives little children into the Church with their fathers (Gen 17:11-12†; Matt 19:14; Acts 2:39†; 1 Cor 7:14; Col 2:11-12†), we say, upon the authority of Jesus Christ, that the children of believing parents should be baptized.
Article 36: The Lord’s Supper
We confess that the Lord’s Supper, which is the second sacrament, is a witness of the union which we have with Christ (1 Cor 10:16-17; 11:24), inasmuch as he not only died and rose again for us once, but also feeds and nourishes us truly with his flesh and blood, so that we may be one in him, and that our life may be in common (John 6:56-57; 17:21; Rom 8:32; Eph 5:30†). Although he be in heaven until he come to judge all the earth (Mark 16:19 [TR]; Luke 24:31; Acts 1:11; 3:21; 7:48; 17:24), still we believe that by the secret and incomprehensible power of his Spirit he feeds and strengthens us with the substance of his body and of his blood (1 Cor 10:16). We hold that this is done spiritually (John 6), not because we put imagination and fancy in the place of fact and truth, but because the greatness of this mystery exceeds the measure of our senses and the laws of nature. In short, because it is heavenly, it can only be apprehended by faith (John 6:35†; Eph 3:17†).
Article 37: The Efficacy of the Sacraments
We believe, as has been said, that in the Lord’s Supper, as well as in baptism, God gives us really and in fact that which he there sets forth to us; and that consequently with these signs is given the true possession and enjoyment of that which they present to us. And thus all who bring a pure faith, like a vessel, to the sacred table of Christ, receive truly that of which it is a sign; for the body and the blood of Jesus Christ give food and drink to the soul, no less than bread and wine nourish the body (Matt 26:26-29; John 6; 1 Cor 11:24-25).
Article 38: The Necessity of the Sacraments
Thus we hold that water, being a feeble element, still testifies to us in truth the inward cleansing of our souls in the blood of Jesus Christ by the efficacy of his Spirit (Acts 22:16†; Rom 6:3-4; 1 Cor 6:11; Gal 3:27†; Eph 5:26†), and that the bread and wine given to us in the sacrament serve to our spiritual nourishment, inasmuch as they show, as to our sight, that the body of Christ is our meat, and his blood our drink (John 6; 1 Cor 11). And we reject the Enthusiasts and Sacramentarians who will not receive such signs and marks, although our Saviour said: ‘This is my body, and this cup is my blood’ (Matt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24-25).
Article 39: The Necessity of Governments
We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates, so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites (Exod 18:20-21; Prov 8:15†; Matt 17:24-27; Rom 13). And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, [The Magistrates] so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first (1 Kgs 15:12†; 2 Kgs 23†) as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God (Deut 1:15-17†; 16:18–20†; Ps 82:1-4†; Jer 21:12†; 22:2–3†). [Respect Owed to Authorities] We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors, but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority (Rom 13:1-2†; 1 Tim 2:2; Tit 3:1†; 1 Pet 2:13-14).
Article 40: Obedience Owed to Authorities
We hold, then, that we must obey their laws and statutes, pay customs, taxes, and other dues, and bear the yoke of subjection with a good and free will, even if they are unbelievers (Matt 17:24; Mark 12:17†), provided that the sovereign empire of God remain intact (Acts 4:17-19; 5:29†; Acts 18:9† [?]). Therefore we detest all those who would like to reject authority, to establish community and confusion of property, and overthrow the order of justice.
The translation of this Confession is taken from “The French Confession of Faith. A.D. 1559,” in Philip Schaff and David S. Schaff, eds. The Creeds of Christendom (1931; repr., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1996), 3:359–82. The text in the public domain.
† This symbol indicates references added in later editions of a confession or catechism
‡ This symbol indicates references added by editors of the RSB project
The French Confession of Faith