Author: John Knox et. al.
Of the Creation of Man
Of Original Sin
Of the Revelation of the Promise
Of the Continuance, Increase, and Preservation of the Church
Of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus
Why it behoved the Mediator to be very God and very Man
Of Christ’s Death, Passion, and Burial
Of His Resurrection
Of His Ascension
Of Faith in the Holy Ghost
Of the Cause of Good Works
What Works Are Reputed Good before God
Of the Perfection of the Law, and the Imperfection of Man
Of the Church
Of the Immortality of Souls
Of the Notes, by Which the True Church Is Discerned from the False; and Who Shall Be Judge of the Doctrine
Of the Authority of the Scriptures
Of General Councils, Of Their Power, Authority, and Cause of Their Convention
Of the Sacraments
Of the Right Administration of the Sacraments
To Whom Sacraments Appertain
Of the Civil Magistrate
Of the Gifts Freely Given to the Church
The Confession of the Faith and Doctrine, Believed and Professed by the Protestants of Scotland
Exhibited to the Estates of the Same in Parliament, and by their public votes authorized, as a doctrine grounded upon the infallible word of God, August 1560. And afterwards established and publicly confirmed be sundry Acts of Parliaments, and of lawful General Assemblies.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11†)
And these glad tidings of the kingdom shall be preached through the whole world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Matt 24:14).
The Estates of Scotland, with the inhabitants of the same, professing Christ Jesus, his holy evangel [or, gospel], to their natural countrymen and unto [or to] all other realms [and nations] professing the same Lord Jesus with them, wish grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Spirit of righteous judgment, for salvation.
Long have we thirsted, dear brethren, to have notified to [or, unto] the world the sum of that doctrine which we profess, and for which we have sustained infamy and danger. Both such has been the rage of Satan against us and against Christ Jesus his eternal verity [or, truth], lately now again born among us, that to this day no time has been granted unto us to clear our consciences, as most gladly we would have done. For how we have been tossed heretofore, the most part of Europe, as we suppose, does understand.
But seeing that of the infinite goodness of our God (who never suffers his afflicted utterly to be confounded) above expectation, we have obtained some rest and liberty, we could not but set forth this brief and plain confession of such doctrine as is propounded unto us, and as we believe and profess, partly for satisfaction of our brethren, whose hearts we nothing doubt [or we doubt not] have been and yet are wounded by the despiteful railing of such as yet have not learned to speak well: and partly for stopping the mouths of impudent blasphemers, which boldly damn that which they have neither heard nor yet understood.
Not that we judge that the cankered malice of such is able to be cured by this our simple confession. No, we know that the sweet savor of the evangel [or, gospel] is and shall be death unto [or, to] the sons of perdition (2 Cor 2:15-16‡). But we have chief respect to our weak and infirm brethren, to whom we would communicate the bottom of our hearts, lest [that] they be troubled or carried away by diversity of rumors, which Satan spreads against us to the defeating [or, defacing] of this our most godly enterprise. Protesting that if any man will note in this our confession any article or sentence repugnant to God’s Holy Word, that it would please him, of his gentleness and for Christian charity’s sake, to admonish us of the same in writing. And we upon [or, on] our honor and fidelity, by God’s grace do promise unto him satisfaction from the mouth of God, that is, from his Holy Scriptures, or else reformation of that which he shall prove to be amiss. For God we take to record in our consciences, that from our hearts we abhor all sects of heresy and all teachers of erroneous doctrine, and that with all humility we embrace the purity of Christ’s gospel, which is the only food of our souls, and therefore so precious unto us, that we are determined to suffer the extremity of worldly danger, rather than that we will suffer ourselves to be defrauded of the same. For hereof we are most certainly persuaded, that whosoever denies Christ Jesus, or is ashamed of him in the presence of men, shall be denied before the Father, and before his holy angels (Matt 10:33‡; Luke 12:9‡). And therefore by the assistance of the mighty Spirit of the same our Lord Jesus Christ, we firmly purpose to abide to the end in the confession of this our faith, as by following articles.
Article 1: Of God
We confess and acknowledge one only God, to whom only we must cleave, whom only we must serve, whom only we must worship, and in whom only we must put our trust (Deut 6:4; Isa 44:5-6; Deut 4:35; 1 Cor 8:6†). Who is eternal, infinite unmeasurable, incomprehensible, omnipotent, invisible (1 Tim 1:17†; 1 Kgs 8:27†; 2 Chr 6:18†; Ps 139:7-8†; Gen 17:1†; 1 Tim 6:15-16†; Exod 3:14-15†), one in substance, and yet distinct in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matt 28:19; 1 John 5:7† [TR]). By whom we confess and believe all things in heaven and earth, as well visible as invisible, to have been created, to be retained in their being, and to be ruled and guided by his inscrutable Providence to such end, as his eternal wisdom, goodness, and justice, hath appointed them, to the manifestation of his glory (Gen 1:1-3; Acts 17:28†; Prov 16:4).
Article 2: Of the Creation of Man
We confess and acknowledge this our God to have created man, to wit, our first father Adam, to his own image and similitude; to whom he gave wisdom, lordship, justice, free-will, and clear knowledge of himself’ so that in the whole nature of man there could be noted no imperfection (Gen 1:26-28; 2:7-8; Col 3:10†; Eph 4:24†). From which honour and perfection, man and woman did both fall; the woman being deceived by the serpent, and man obeying the voice of the woman; both conspiring against the sovereign majesty of God, who in express words had before threatened death, if they presumed to eat of the forbidden tree (Gen 3:6; 2:17†).
Article 3: Of Original Sin
By which transgression, commonly called original sin, was the image of God utterly defaced in man; and he, and his posterity of nature, became enemies to God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin (Ps 51:5†; Rom 5:10; 7:5†; 2 Tim 2:26†; Eph 2:1-3). Insomuch that death everlasting hath had, and shall have, power and dominion over all, that have not been, are not, or shall not be regenerate from above: which regeneration is wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost, working in the hearts of the elect of God an assured faith in the promise of God, revealed to us in his word; by which faith we apprehend Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefits promised in him (John 3:5; Rom 2:1f.† [?]; 5:1, 14, 21; 6:3–4, 23; 8†; Phil 1:29†).
Article 4: Of the Revelation of the Promise
For this we constantly believe, that God, after the fearful and horrible defection of man from his obedience, did seek Adam again, call upon him, rebuke his sin, convict him of the same, and, in the end made unto him a most joyful promise; to wit, that the seed of the woman should break down the serpent’s head (Gen 3:9, 15), that is, he should destroy the works of the devil: which promise, as it was repeated, and made more clear from time to time, so was it embraced with joy, and most constantly received of all the faithful from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to David, and so forth to the incarnation of Christ Jesus; all (we mean the faithful fathers under the law) did see the joyful day of Christ Jesus and did rejoice (Gen 4:7†; 12:3; 15:5–6; 2 Sam 7:14†; Isa 7:14; 8:10; 9:6†; Hag 2:7, 9†; John 8:56†).
Article 5: Of the Continuance, Increase, and Preservation of the Church
We most constantly believe that God preserved, instructed, multiplied, honoured, decored, and from death called to life his Church in all ages, from Adam (Gen 5:1f.†) till the coming of Christ in the flesh (Ezek 16:6-14). For Abraham he called from his father’s country; him he instructed, his seed he multiplied (Gen 12:1-3); the same he marvelously preserved, and more marvelously delivered from the bondage and tyranny of Pharaoh (Exod 1-2; 13): to them he gave his laws, constitutions, and ceremonies (Exod 20:1-21); them he possessed in the land of Canaan (Josh 1:3; Josh 23:4†); to them, after Judges (Judges 1†; 1 Sam 1:23† [?]), and after Saul (1 Sam 10†), he gave David to be King (1 Sam 16:13); to whom he made promise, that of the fruit of his loins should One sit for ever upon his regal seat (2 Sam 7:12†). To this same people, from time to time, he sent Prophets, to reduce them to the right way of their God (2 Kgs 17:13); from the which oftentimes they declined by idolatry (2 Kgs 17:14-15). And albeit that for the stubborn contempt of justice, he was compelled to give them into the hands of their enemies (2 Kgs 24:3-4); as before was threatened by the mouth of Moses (Deut 28:36, 48), insomuch that the holy city was destroyed, the temple burned with fire (2 Kgs 25), and the whole land left desolate the space of seventy years (Dan 9:2†; Jer 25:11-12†; 29:10†); yet of mercy did he reduce them again to Jerusalem, where the city and temple were reedified, and they against all temptations and assaults of Satan, did abide till the Messias came, according to the promise (Jer 30†; 39:8–14; Ezr 1; Hag 1:14; 2:7-9; Zech 3:1-2, 8).
Article 6: Of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus
When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son (Gal 4:4), his eternal wisdom, the substance of his own glory, into the world, who took the nature of manhood, of the substance of a woman, to wit, of a virgin, and that by the operation of the Holy Ghost (Luke 1-2; Matt 1:18†; 2:1†): and so was born, the just seed of David (Rom 1:3†), the Angel of the great council of God (Isa 9:6† [LXX]), the very Messiah promised; whom we acknowledge and confess Emmanuel (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23†), very God and very Man, two perfect natures united and joined in one person (John 1:45†; 1 Tim 2:5†).
By which our confession, we condemn the damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutiches, Nestorius, and such others, as either did deny the eternity of his Godhead, or the verity of his human nature, or confounded them, or yet divided them.
Article 7: Why it behoved the Mediator to be very God and very Man
We acknowledge and confess, that this most wondrous conjunction betwixt the Godhead and the manhood in Christ Jesus, did proceed from the eternal and immutable decree of God, whence also our salvation springeth and dependeth (Eph 1:3-6†).
Article 8: Of Election
For that same eternal God and Father, who of mere grace elected us in Christ Jesus his Son, before the foundation of the world was laid (Eph 1:4; John 1†; Matt 25:34†), appointed him to be our head (Eph 1:22-23†), our brother (Heb 2:7-8, 11-12), our Pastor, and great Bishop of souls (John 10; Heb 13:20†; 1 Pet 2:25†; 5:4†). But because that the enmity betwixt the justice of God and our sins was such, that no flesh by itself could, or might, have attained unto God (Ps 130:3†; Ps 143:2†): it behoved that the Son of God should descend unto us, and take himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones, and so become the perfect Mediator betwixt God and man (1 Tim 2:5†); giving power to so many as believe in him, to be the sons of God (John 1:12); as he himself doth witness, “I pass up to my Father, and unto your God” (John 20:17). By which most holy fraternity, whatsoever we have lost in Adam, is restored to us again (Rom 5:17-19†). And for this cause are we not afraid to call God our Father (Rom 8:15†; Gal 4:5-6†), not so much because he hath created us, (which we have common with the reprobate [Acts 17:26†]), as for that he hath given to us his only Son to be our brother (Heb 2:11-12†), and given unto us grace to acknowledge and embrace him for our Mediator, as before is said. It behoved further the Messiah and Redeemer to be very God, and very man; because he was to bear the punishment due for our transgressions, and to present himself in the presence of his Father’s judgment, as in our person, to suffer for our transgression and disobedience (1 Pet 3:18†; Isa 53:5, 8), by death to overcome him that was author of death (Heb 2:14†). But because only Godhead could not suffer death (Acts 2:24†), neither yet could the only manhood overcome the same, he joined both together in one person, that the imbecility of the one should suffer, and be subject to death (which we had deserved), and the infinite and invincible power of the other, to wit, of the Godhead, should triumph and purchase to us life, liberty, and perpetual victory (1 John 1:2†; Acts 20:28†; 1 Tim 3:16†; John 3:16†). And so we confess, and most undoubtedly believe.
Article 9: Of Christ’s Death, Passion, and Burial
That our Lord Jesus offered himself a voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us (Isa 53:10, 12†; Heb 7:27†; 9:26†; 10:4–12), that he suffered contradiction of sinners, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions (Heb 12:3†; Isa 53:5), that he, being the clean innocent Lamb of God (John 1:29†), was condemned in the presence of an earthly judge (Matt 27:11, 26†; Mark 15†; Luke 23†), that we should be absolved before the tribunal-seat of our God (Rom 14:10†; 2 Cor 5:10†); that he suffered not only the cruel death of the cross, (which was accursed by the sentence of God [Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13]), but also that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father (Matt 26:38-39†), which sinners had deserved. But yet we avow that he remained the only well-beloved and blessed Son of the Father, even in the midst of his anguish and torment, which he suffered in body and soul, to make the full satisfaction for the sins of the people (2 Cor 5:21†). After the which we confess and avow, that there remaineth no other sacrifice for sin (Heb 9:12, 28†; 10:14); which if any affirm, we nothing doubt to avow, that they are blasphemous against Christ’s death, and the everlasting purgation and satisfaction purchased to us by the same.
Article 10: Of His Resurrection
We undoubtedly believe that, insomuch as it was impossible that the dolours of death should retain in bondage the Author of life (Acts 2:24; 3:15), that our Lord Jesus, crucified, dead, and buried, who descended into hell, did rise again for our justification (Rom 6:5, 9; Rom 4:25†), and, destroying of him who was the author of death, brought life again to us that were subject to death, and to the bondage of the same (Heb 2:14-15†). We know that his resurrection was confirmed by the testimony of his very enemies (Matt 28:4), by the resurrection of the dead, whose sepulchers did open, and they did arise, and appeared to many, within the city of Jerusalem (Matt 27:52-53; 28:11-15). It was also confirmed by the testimony of his angels (Matt 28:5-6), and by the senses and judgments of his apostles and others, who had conversation, and did eat and drink with him after his resurrection (John 20:27; 21:7, 12-13; Luke 24:41-43†).
Article 11: Of His Ascension
We nothing doubt but the self-same body, which was born of the virgin, was crucified, dead, and buried; that it did rise again, and ascend into the heavens, for the accomplishment of all things (Luke 24:51†; Acts 1:9); where, in our names, and for our comfort, he hath received all power in heaven and earth (Matt 28:18); where he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, crowned in his kingdom, Advocate, and only Mediator for us (1 John 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5). Which glory, honour, and prerogative he alone amongst the brethren shall possess, till that all his enemies be made his footstool (Ps 110:1; Matt 22:44†; Luke 20:42-43†). As that we undoubtedly believe there shall be a final judgment, to the execution whereof we certainly believe that the same our Lord Jesus shall visibly return, even as he was seen to ascend (2 Thess 1:7-10†; Acts 1:11; John 19:37). And then we firmly believe, that the time of refreshing and restitution of all things shall come (Acts 3:20-21): insomuch that those that from the beginning have suffered violence, injury, and wrong, for righteousness’ sake, shall inherit that blessed immortality, promised from the beginning (Matt 25:34†; 2 Thess 1:4†): but contrariwise, the stubborn, inobedient, cruel oppresors, filthy persons, idolaters, and all sorts of unfaithful, shall be cast into the dungeon of utter darkness, where their worm shall not die, neither yet the fire shall be extinguished (Rev 20:15; 21:27†; Isa 66:24; Matt 25:41†; Mark 11:44, 46, 48† [TR]; Matt 22:13†). The remembrance of which day, and of the judgment to be executed in the same, is not only to us a bridle, whereby our carnal lusts are refrained (Isa 1:4†), but also such inestimable comfort, that neither may the threatening of worldly princes, neither yet the fear of temporal death and present danger, move us to renounce and forsake the blessed society which we the members have with our head and only Mediator Christ Jesus (2 Pet 3:11†; 2 Cor 5:9-11†; Luke 21:27-28†; John 14:1†). Whom we confess and avow to be the Messiah promised (Isa 7:14), the only head of his Church (Eph 1:22†; Col 1:18), our just Law-giver (Jas 4:12†), our only High Priest (Heb 6:20; 9:11, 15; 10:21), Advocate, and Mediator (1 John 2:1†; 1 Tim 2:5†). In which honours and office if man or angel presume to intrude themselves, we utterly detest and abhor them, as blasphemous to our Sovereign and Supreme Governor, Christ Jesus.
Article 12: Of Faith in the Holy Ghost
This faith, and the assurance of the same, proceedeth not from flesh and blood; that is to say, from no natural powers within us; but is the inspiration of the Holy Ghost (Matt 16:17; John 14:26; 15:26; John 16:13); whom we confess God, equal with the Father and with the Son (Acts 5:3-4†); who sanctifieth us, and bringeth us into all verity by his own operation; without whom we should remain for ever enemies to God, and ignorant of his Son Christ Jesus. For of nature we are so dead, so blind, and so perverse, that neither can we feel when we are pricked, see the light when it shineth, nor assent to the will of God when it is revealed, unless the Spirit of the Lord quicken that which is dead, remove the darkness from our minds, and bow our stubborn hearts to the obedience of his blessed will (Col 2:13†; Eph 2:1†; John 9:39†; Rev 3:17†; Matt 17:17†; Mark 9:19†; Luke 11:41†; John 6:63†; Mic 7:8†; 1 Kgs 8:57-58†). And so, as we confess that God the Father created us, when we were not (Ps 100:3†); as his Son our Lord Jesus redeemed us, when we were enemies to him (Rom 5:10); so also do we confess, that the Holy Ghost doth sanctify and regenerate us, without all respect of any merit proceeding from us, be it before, or be it after our regeneration (John 3:5†; Tit 3:5†; Rom 5:8†). To speak this one thing yet in more plain words: as we willingly spoil ourselves of all honour and glory of our own creation and redemption (2 Cor 3:5; Phil 3:9†), so do we also of our regeneration and sanctification; for of ourselves we are not sufficient to think one good thought; but he who hath begun the work in us, is only he that continueth in us the same (Phil 1:6†), to the praise and glory of his underserved grace (Eph 1:6†).
Article 13: Of the Cause of Good Works
So that the cause of good works we confess to be, not our free will, but the Spirit of our Lord Jesus (John 3:5†; 15:5; Rom 8:9†); who, dwelling in our hearts by true faith, bringeth forth such good works, as God hath prepared for us to walk in (Eph 2:10; Phil 2:13†). And therefore we fear not to affirm, that murderers, oppressors, cruel persecutors, adulterers, whoremongers, filthy persons, idolaters, drunkards, thieves, and all workers of iniquity, have neither true faith, neither any portion of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, so long as obstinately they continue in their wickedness. For how soon soever the Spirit of the Lord Jesus (which God’s elect children receive by true faith) taketh possession in the heart of any man, so soon doth he regenerate and renew the same man; so that he beginneth to hate that which before he loved, and beginneth to love that which before he hated. And from thence cometh that continual battle which is betwixt the flesh and the Spirit in God’s children: so that the flesh and natural man, according to their own corruption, lusteth for things pleasing and delectable unto itself; grudgeth in adversity, is lifted up in prosperity, and at every moment is prone and ready to offend the majesty of God (Rom 7:15-19, 21-25†; Gal 5:17). But the Spirit of God, which giveth witnessing to our spirit that we are the sons of God (Rom 8:16), maketh us to resist filthy pleasures, and to groan in God’s presence for deliverance from this bondage of corruption (Rom 7:24†; 8:22†); and finally, so triumpheth over sin, that it reigneth not in our mortal bodies (Rom 6:12†). This battle have not carnal men, being destitute of God’s Spirit; but do follow and obey sin with greediness, and without repentance, even as the devil and their corrupt lusts do provoke them (Eph 4:17†). But the sons of God, as before is said, do fight against sin, do sob and mourn, when they perceive themselves tempted to iniquity; and if they fall, they rise again with unfeigned repentance (2 Tim 2:26†): and these things they do, not by their own power, but by the power of the Lord Jesus, without whom they were able to do nothing (John 15:5).
Article 14: What Works Are Reputed Good before God
We confess and acknowledge, that God hath given to man his holy law, in which not only are forbidden all such works as displease and offend his Godly Majesty, but also are commanded all such as please him, and as he hath promised to reward (Exod 20:1-21; Deut 4:8; 5:1-21). And these works be of two sorts. The one are done to the honour of God, the other to the profit of our neighbours. And both have the revealed will of God for their assurance. To have one God, to worship and honour him, to call upon him in all our troubles, to reverence his holy name, to hear his word, to believe the same, to communicate with his holy Sacraments (Luke 1:74-75† [?]; Mic 6:8†), are the works of the First Table. To honour father, mother (Eph 6:1-3), princes, rulers, and superior powers; to love them, to support them, yea, to obey their charges, (not repugning the commandments of God [Rom 13:1-7; 1 Tim 2:1-3; 6:1-2]); to save the lives of innocents, to repress tyranny, to defend the oppressed (Ezek 22:1-31; Jer 22:3; Isa 58:6-7), to keep our bodies clean and holy (1 Cor 6:19-20†; 1 Thess 4:3-7), to live in soberness and temperance, to deal justly with all men, both in word and deed (Luke 2:52); and finally, to repress all appetite of our neighbour’s hurt, are the good works of the Second Table; which are most pleasing and acceptable to God, as those works that are commanded by himself (Eph 6:1-7†). The contrary whereof is sin most odious, which always displeaseth him and provoketh him to anger (Eph 5:6): as, not to call upon him alone, when we have need; not to hear his word with reverence; to contemn and despise it; to have or to worship idols; to maintain and defend idolatry; lightly to esteem the reverend name of God; to profane, abuse, or contemn the Sacraments of Christ Jesus; to disobey or resist any that God hath placed in authority, (whilst they pass not over the bounds of their office [1 Thess 4:6†; Rom 13:2]); to murder, or to consent thereto; to bear hatred, or to suffer innocent blood to be shed, if we may withstand it (Ezek 22:13; Jer 22:3-5†; Isa 50:1†); and finally, the transgression of any other commandment in the First or Second Table, we confess or affirm to be sin (1 John 3:4†); by which God’s anger and displeasure is kindled against the proud and unthankful world. So that good works we affirm to be those only, that done in faith (Rom 14:23†; Heb 11:6†), and at God’s commandment (1 Sam 15:22†; 1 Cor 10:31†); who in his law hath expressed what the things be that please him. And evil works we affirm not only those that expressly are done against God’s commandment (1 John 3:4†); but those also that, in matters of religion, and in worshipping of God, have no other assurance but the invention and opinion of man: which God from the beginning hath ever rejected, as by the Prophet Isaiah we are taught (Isa 29:13); and but our Master Christ Jesus, in these words, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9; Mark 7:7†).
Article 15: Of the Perfection of the Law, and the Imperfection of Man
The law of God we confess and acknowledge most just, most equal, most holy, and most perfect; commanding those things, which, being wrought in perfection, were able to give light, and able to bring man to eternal felicity (Lev 18:5†; Gal 3:12†; 1 Tim 1:8†; Rom 7:12; 10:5†; Ps 19:7-9, 11). But our nature is so corrupt, so weak, and so imperfect, that we are never able to fulfil the works of the law in perfection (Deut 5:29; Rom 10:3; Gal 3:11†). Yea, “if we say we have no sin,” even after we are regenerated, “we deceive ourselves, and the verity of God is not in us” (1 Kgs 8:46†; 2 Chr 6:36†; Prov 20:9†; Eccl 7:22†; 1 John 1:8). And therefore it behoveth us to apprehend Christ Jesus, with his justice and satisfaction; who is the end and accomplishment of the law; by whom we are set at this liberty, that the curse and malediction of God fall not upon us, albeit we fulfil not the same in all points (Rom 10:4; Gal 3:13; Deut 27:26). For God the Father, beholding us in the body of his Son Christ Jesus, accepteth our imperfect obedience, as it were perfect (Phil 2:15†), and covereth our works, which are defiled with many spots (Isa 64:6†; Eph 1:4; Rom 4:25), with the justice of his Son. We do not mean, that we are so set at liberty, that we owe no obedience to the law; for that before we have plainly confessed); but this we affirm, that no man in earth (Christ Jesus only excepted) hath given, giveth, or shall give in work that obedience to the law which the law requireth (Luke 10:25-28); but when we have done all things, we must fall down, and unfeignedly confess that we are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10). And therefore, whosoever boast themselves of the merits of their own works, or put their trust in the works of supererogation, boast themselves of that which is naught, and put their trust in damnable idolatry.
Article 16: Of the Church
As we believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; so do we most constantly believe that from the beginning there hath been, and now is, and to the end of the world shall be, one Church: that is to say, a company and multitude of men chosen of God, who rightly worship and embrace him by true faith in Christ Jesus (Matt 3:9†; 28:19–20; Eph 1:4, 22); who is the only Head of the same Church; which also is the body and spouse of Christ Jesus. Which Church is Catholic, that is, universal; because it containeth the elect of all ages, of all realms, nations, and tongues, be they of the Jews, or be they of the Gentiles, who have communion and society with God the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus, through the sanctification of his Holy Spirit (Col 1:18; Eph 5:23-32; Rev 7:9); and therefore it is called the Communion, not of profane persons, but of Saints; who, as citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem (Eph 2:19), have the fruition of the most inestimable benefits, to wit, of one God, one Lord Jesus, one faith, and one baptism (Eph 4:4-6†): out of the which Church, there is neither life nor eternal felicity. And therefore we utterly abhor the blasphemy of those that affirm, that men which live according to equity and justice, shall be saved, what religion soever they have professed. For as without Christ Jesus there is neither life nor salvation (John 3:36†), so shall there none be participant thereof, but such as the Father hath given unto his Son Christ Jesus, and those that in time come unto him, avow his doctrine, and believe in him (John 5:22-24; 6:37, 39, 65; 17:6†): (we comprehend the children with the faithful parents [Acts 2:39†]). This Church is invisible, known only to God, who alone knoweth whom he hath chosen (2 Tim 2:19†; John 13:18†), and comprehendeth as well (as is said) the elect that be departed, commonly called the Church Triumphant, as those that yet live and fight against sin and Satan, and shall live hereafter (Eph 1:10†; Col 1:20†; Heb 12:4†).
Article 17: Of the Immortality of Souls
The elect departed are in peace and rest from their labors (Rev 14:13); not that they sleep, and come to a certain oblivion, as some fantastics do affirm; but that they are delivered from all fear and torment, and all temptation, to which we and all God’s elect are subject in this life (Isa 25:8†; Rev 7:14-17; 21:4†), and therefore do bear the name of Church [or Kirk] Militant. As contrariwise, the reprobated and unfaithful departed have anguish, torment, and pain, that cannot be expressed (Rev 16:10-11†; Isa 66:24†; Mark 9:44, 46, 48†). So that neither are the one nor the other in such sleep that they feel no joy or torment, as the Parable of Christ Jesus in Luke 16 (Luke 16:23-25), his words to the thief (Luke 23:43†), and the words of the souls crying under the altar (Rev 6:9-10), “O Lord, thou that art righteous and just, how long shall thou not revenge our blood upon those that dwell in the earth?” do testify.
Article 18: Of the Notes, by Which the True Church Is Discerned from the False; and Who Shall Be Judge of the Doctrine
Because that Satan from the beginning hath laboured to deck his pestilent Synagogue with the title of the Church of God, and hath inflamed the hearts of cruel murderers, to persecute, trouble, and molest the true Church, and members thereof; as Cain did Abel (Gen 4:8), Ishmael Isaac (Gen 21:9), Esau Jacob (Gen 27:41), and the whole priesthood of the Jews, Christ Jesus himself, and his Apostles after him (Matt 23:34-36; John 11:47, 53; 15:18-20, 24†; Acts 3:15; 4:1-3†; 5:17–18): it is a thing most requisite, that the true Church be discerned from the filthy Synagogues by clear and perfect notes, lest we, being deceived, receive and embrace to our condemnation the one for the other. The notes, signs, and assured tokens, whereby the immaculate spouse of Christ Jesus is known from the horrible harlot, the Church malignant, we affirm are neither antiquity, title usurped, lineal descent, place appointed, nor multitude of men approving an error. For Cain in age and title was preferred to Abel and Seth (Gen 4†); Jerusalem had prerogative above all places of the earth (Ps 98:2-3†; Matt 5:35†), where also were the Priests, lineally descended from Aaron; and greater number followed the Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests, than unfeignedly believed and approved Christ Jesus and his doctrine (John 12:42†). And yet, as we suppose, no man sound judgment will grant, that any of the forenamed were the Church of God. The notes, therefore, of the true Church of God, we believe, confess, and avow to be, first, the true preaching of the word of God, in the which God hath revealed himself unto us, as the writings of the Prophets and Apostles do declare (John 1:18; 3:34†; 5:39†; 10:15, 30; 16:15†; 18:37†; 1 Cor 1:23-24†; 1 Cor 3:10-11†; Eph 2:20†): secondly, the right administration of the Sacraments of Christ Jesus, which must be annexed unto the word and promise of God, to seal and confirm the same in our hearts (Rom 4:11; Acts 2:42†; Matt 28:19-20†; Mark 16:15-16† [TR]; 1 Cor 11:23-26†): lastly, Ecclesiastical discipline, uprightly ministered, as God’s word prescribeth, whereby vice is repressed, and virtue nourished (Matt 18:15-18†; 1 Cor 5:4-5). Wheresoever, then, these former notes are seen and of any time continue, (be the numbert never so few, about two or three), there, without all doubt, is the true Church of Christ; who, according to his promise, is in the midst of them (Matt 18:19-20†): not in the universal, of which we have before spoken; but particular, such as was in Corinth (1 Cor 1:2†; 2 Cor 1:1†), Galatia (Gal 1:2†), Ephesus (Acts 20:17†), and other places, in which the ministry was planted by Paul (Acts 16:1f.; 18:1f.), and which were of himself named the Churches of God (1 Cor 1:2; Acts 20:28): and such Churches we, the inhabitants of the realm of Scotland, professors of Christ Jesus, profess ourselves to have in our cities, towns, and places reformed. For the doctrine taught in our Churches is contained in the written word of God, to wit, in the books of the Old and New Testaments; in those books we mean, which of the ancients have been reputed Canonical. In the which we affirm that all things necessary to be believed for the salvation of mankind, are sufficiently expressed (John 20:31†; 21:24–25; 2 Tim 3:16-17†). The interpretation whereof, we confess, neither appertaineth to private nor public person; neither yet to any Church, for any pre-eminence, or prerogative, personal or local, which one hath above another; but appertaineth to the Spirit of God, by whom also the Scripture was Written (2 Pet 1:20-21†). When controversy, then, happeneth for the right understanding of any place or sentence of Scripture, or for the reformation of any abuse within the Church of God, we ought not so much to look what men before us have said or done, as unto that which the Holy Ghost uniformly speaketh within the body of the Scriptures, and unto that which Christ Jesus himself did, and commanded to be done (John 5:39†; 1 Cor 11:23). For this is one thing universally granted, that the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of unity, is nothing contrary to himself (1 Cor 2:10-11†; 12:4–6†; Eph 4:3-4†). If, then, the interpretation, determination, or sentence of any Doctor, Church, or Council, repugn to the plain word of God, written in any other place of the Scripture, it is a thing most certain that there is not the true understanding and meaning of the Holy Ghost; although that Councils, Realms, and Nations have approved and received the same. For we dare not receive or admit any interpretation, which repugneth to any principal point of our faith, or to any other plain text of Scripture, or yet unto the rule of charity.
Article 19: Of the Authority of the Scriptures
As we believe and confess the Scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make the man of God perfect (2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Tim 2† [?]); so do we affirm and avow the authority of the same to be of God, and neither to depend on men nor angels. We affirm, therefore, that such as allege the Scripture to have no other authority but that which it hath received from the Church, are blasphemous against God, and injurious to the true church; which always heareth and obeyeth the voice of her own Spouse and Pastor (John 10:27), but taketh not upon her to be mistress over the same.
Article 20: Of General Councils, Of Their Power, Authority, and Cause of Their Convention
As we do not rashly condemn that which godly men, assembled together in General Council lawfully gathered, have proponed unto us; so without just examination we do not receive whatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of a General Council: for plain it is, as they were men, so have some of them manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance (Gal 2:11-14†). So far then as the Council proveth the determination and commandment that it giveth by the plain word of God, so soon do we reverence and embrace the same. But if men, under the name of a Council, pretend to forge unto us new articles of our faith, or to make constitutions repugnant to the word of God, then utterly we must refuse the same, as the doctrine of devils, which draweth our souls from the voice of our only God, to follow the doctrine and constitutions of men (1 Tim 4:1-3). The cause, then, why that General Councils came together, was neither to make any perpetual law which God before had not made, neither yet to forge new articles of our belief, neither to give the word of God authority; much less to make that to be his word, or yet the true interpretation of the same, which was not before his holy will expressed in his word (Col 2:16, 18-22†). But the cause of Councils (we mean, of such as merit the name of Councils) was partly for confutation of heresies (Acts 15†), for giving public confession of their faith to the posterity following; which both they did, by the authority of God’s written word, and not by any opinion of prerogative, that they could not err, by reason of their general assembly. And this we judge to have been the chief cause of General Councils. The other was, for good policy and order to be constitute and observed in the church; wherein (as in the house of God [1 Tim 3:15†; Heb 3:2†]) it becometh “all things to be done decently, and in order” (1 Cor 14:40). Not that we think that one policy and one order in ceremonies can be appointed for all ages, times, and places; for as ceremonies, such as men have devised, are but temporal, so may and ought they to be changed, when they rather suffer superstition, than edify the Church using the same.
Article 21: Of the Sacraments
As the fathers under the law, besides the verity of the sacrifices, had two chief Sacraments, to wit, Circumcision, and the Passover; (the despisers and contemners whereof were not reputed for God’s people [Gen 17:9-14; Exod 12:1-28†; Num 9:13†;1 Cor 10:2-4†]); so we acknowledge and confess, that we, now in the time of the Gospel, have two chief Sacraments only, instituted by the Lord Jesus, and commanded to be used of all those that will be reputed members of his body; to wit, Baptism, and the Supper, or Table, of the Lord Jesus, called the Communion of his body and his blood (Matt 26:26-28; 28:19; Mark 14:22-24†; 16:15–16† [TR]; Luke 22:19-20†; 1 Cor 11:23-26†). And these Sacraments, as well of the Old, as of the New Testament, now instituted of God, not only do make a visible difference betwixt his people and those that were without his league, but also do exercise the faith of his children (1 Cor 10:16-17†), and, by participation of the same Sacraments, do seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise (Rom 4:11), and of that most blessed conjunction, union, and society, which the elect have with their head Christ Jesus. And thus we utterly condemn the vanity of those, that affirm Sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs. No; we assuredly believe, that by Baptism we are ingrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his justice, by which our sins are covered, and remitted (Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:27†; Tit 3:5-7†): and also that in the Supper, rightly used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us (1 Cor 10:16), that he becometh the very nourishment and food or our souls (John 6:55; 1 Cor 11:23-26†). Not that we imagine any transubstantiation of bread into Christ’s natural body, and of wine into his natural blood, as the Papists have perniciously taught, and damnably believed: but this union and conjunction, which we have with the body and blood of Christ Jesus in the right use of the Sacrament, is wrought by the operation of the Holy Ghost, who, by true faith, carrieth us above all things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and maketh us to feed upon the body and blood of Christ Jesus, which was once broken and shed for us, which now is in heaven, and appeareth in the presence of his Father for us (Mark 16:19† [TR]; Luke 24:51†; Acts 1:11†; 3:21†; Heb 6:20; 10:12). And notwithstanding the far distance of place, which is betwixt his body now glorified in heaven, and us now mortal on this earth; yet we must assuredly believe, that the bread which we break is the communion of Christ’s body, and the cup which we bless is the communion of his blood (1 Cor 10:16). So that we confess, and undoubtedly believe, that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s Table, do so eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus, that he remaineth in them, and they in him (John 6:56). Yea, they are so made flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones (Eph 5:30), that, as the Eternal Godhead giveth to the flesh of Christ Jesus (which of its own condition and nature was mortal and corruptible [Matt 27:50†; Mark 15:37†; Luke 23:46†; John 19:30†]) life and immortatlity; so doth Christ Jesus his flesh and blood, eaten and drunken by us, give unto us the same prerogatives (John 6:51). Which albeit we confess are neither given unto us at this time only, neither yet by the proper power and virtue of the Sacrament only; yet we affirm, that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s Table, have such conjunction with Christ Jesus, as the natural man cannot apprehend: yea, and further we affirm, that albeit the faithful, oppressed by negligence and manly infirmity, do not profit so much as they would, in the very instant action of the Supper; yet shall it after bring fruit forth, as lively seed sown in good ground: for the Holy Spirit, which can never be divided from the right institution of the Lord Jesus, will not frustrate the faithful of the fruit of that mystical action. But all this we say cometh of true faith, which apprehendeth Christ Jesus, who only maketh his Sacraments effectual unto us. And therefore whosoever slandereth us, as that we affirm or believe Sacraments to be only naked and bare signs, doth injury unto us, and speaketh against the manifest truth. But this liberally and frankly we confess, that we make distinction betwixt Christ Jesus in his eternal substance, and betwixt the elements in the sacramental signs. So that we will neither worship the sign, in place of that which is signified by them, neither yet do we despise, and interpret them as unprofitable and vain; but do use them with all reverence, examining ourselves diligently before that so we do: because we are assured by the mouth of the Apostle, that “such as eat of the bread, and drink of that cup unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 11:28-29).
Article 22: Of the Right Administration of the Sacraments
That Sacraments be rightly ministered, we judge two things requisite: the one, that they be ministered by lawful Ministers, whom we affirm to be only they, that are appointed to the preaching of the word, into whose mouths God hath put some Sermon of exhortation, they being men lawfully chosen thereto by some Church: the other, that they be ministered in such elements, and in such sort, as God hath appointed: else we affirm that they cease to be right Sacraments of Christ Jesus. And therefore it is that we fly the society of the Papistical Church, in the participation of their Sacraments; first, because their Ministers are no Ministers of Christ Jesus (1 Tim 6:3-5), (yea, this is more horrible, they suffer women, whom the Holy Ghost will not suffer to teach in the Congregation [1 Tim 2:12†], to baptize); and secondly, because they have so adulterated both the one Sacrament and the other with their own inventions, that no part of Christ’s action abideth in the original purity. For oil, salt, and spittle, and such like in Baptism, are but men’s inventions; adoration, veneration, bearing through streets and towns, and keeping of bread in boxes or boists, are profanation of Christ’s Sacraments, and no use of the same. For Christ Jesus said, “Take eat, &c. Do ye this in remembrance of me” (Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22†; Luke 22:19†; 1 Cor 11:24†). By which words and charge, he sanctified bread and wine to be the Sacrament of his holy body and blood, to the end that the one should be eaten, and that all should drink of the other, and not that they should be kept, to be worshipped and honoured as God, as the Papists have done heretofore: who also have committed sacrilege, stealing from the people the one part of the Sacrament, to wit, the blessed cup.
Moreover, that the Sacraments be rightly used, it is required that the end and cause for which Sacraments were instituted, be understanded and observed, as well of the Minister, as by the receivers. For if the opinion be changed in the receiver, the right use ceaseth; which is most evident, by the rejection of the sacrifices (Isa 1:11-13; Ps 50:7-8†): as also, if the teacher plainly teach false doctrine, which were odious and abominable before God, (albeit they were his own ordinances), because that wicked men use them to another end than God hath ordained (Jer 7:21-26; Isa 66:1-4). The same we affirm of the Sacraments in the Papistical Church; in which we affirm the whole action of the Lord Jesus to be adulterated, as well in the external form, as in the end and opinion. What Christ Jesus did, and commanded to be done, is evident, by the Evangelists and by St. Paul (Matt 26:26-28; 1 Cor 11:23-26): what the Priest doth at his altar, we need not to rehearse. The end and cause of Christ’s institution, and why the self-same should be used, is expressed in these words: “Do ye this in remembrance of me; as oft as ye shall eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, ye shall shew forth,” that is extol, preach, magnify, and praise, “the Lord’s death, till he come.” But to what end, and in what opinion, the Priests say their Mass, let the words of the same, their own doctors and writings, witness: to wit, that they, as Mediators betwixt Christ and his Church, do offer unto God the Father a sacrifice propitiatory for the sins of the quick and the dead: which doctrines, blasphemous to Christ Jesus, and making derogation of all those that shall be sanctified (Heb 9:27-28†; 10:14†), we utterly abhor, detest, and renounce.
Article 23: To Whom Sacraments Appertain
We confess and acknowledge, that Baptism appertaineth as well to the infants of the faithful, as unto them that be of age and discretion. And so we condemn the error of the Anabaptists, who deny Baptism to appertain to children before they have faith and understanding (Col 2:11-12†; Rom 4:11†; Gen 17:10†; Matt 28:19†). But the Supper of the Lord we confess to appertain to such only, as be of the household of faith, and can try and examine themselves as well in their faith, as in their duty towards their neighbours. Such as eat and drink at the holy Table without faith, or being at dissensionwith their brethren, do eat unworthily (1 Cor 11:28-29†): and therefore it is, that, in our Church, our Ministers take public and particular examination of the knowledge and conversation of such as are to be admitted to the Table of the Lord Jesus.
Article 24: Of the Civil Magistrate
We confess and acknowledge empires, kingdoms, dominions, and cities, to be distincted or ordained by God (Dan 1:1-2; 2:21, 37f.; Ezr 1:2); the powers and authority in the same, be it of emperors in their empires, of kings in their realms, dukes and princes in their dominions, and of other magistrates in their cities, to be God’s holy ordinance, ordained for manifestation of His own glory, and for the singular profit and commodity of mankind (Rom 13:1; Tit 3:1†; 1 Pet 2:13-14†): so that whosoever goeth about to take away, or to confound, the whole state of civil policies, now long established, we affirm the same men not only to be enemies to mankind, but also wickedly to fight against God’s expressed will (Rom 13:2†). We farther confess and acknowledge, that such persons as are placed in authority, are to be beloved, honoured, feared, and holden in most reverend estimation (Rom 13:7; 1 Pet 2:17): because they are the lieutenants of God, in whose seats God himself doth sit and judge (Ps 8:1); yea, even the judges and princes themselves, to whom by God is given the sword, to the praise and defence of good men, and to revenge and punish all malefactors (1 Pet 2:14†). Moreover, to kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates, we affirm that chiefly and most principally the conservation and purgation of the religion appertaineth; so that not only they are appointed for civil policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion, and for suppressing of idolatry and superstition whatsoever: as in David (1 Chr 22-26†), Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 17:6†; 2 Chr 19:8†), Hezekiah (2 Chr 29-31†), Josiah (2 Chr 34-35†), and other highly commended for their zeal in that case, may be espied. And therefore we confess and avow, that such as resist the supreme power doing that thing which appertaineth to his charge, do resist God’s ordinance (Rom 13:2), and therefore cannot be guiltless. And farther we affirm, that whosoever deny unto them their aid, counsel, and comfort, whist the princes and rulers vigilantly travail in execution of their office, the same men deny their help, support, and counsel to God, who, by the presence of his lieutenant, doth crave it of them.
Article 25: Of the Gifts Freely Given to the Church
Albeit that the word of God truly preached, and the Sacraments rightly ministered, and discipline executed according to the word of God, be the certain and infallible signs of the true Church; yet we mean not that every particular person, joined with such company, is an elect member of Christ Jesus. For we acknowledge and confess that darnel, cockle, and chaff may be sown, grow, and in great abundance lie in the midst of the wheat (Matt 3:12; 13:24-30): that is, the reprobate may be joined in the society of the elect, and may externally use with them the benefits of the word and Sacraments. But such, being but temporal professors in mouth, and not in heart, do fall back, and continue not to the end (Matt 13:20-21†); and therefore they have no fruit of Christ’s death, resurrection, nor ascension. But such as with heart unfeignedly believe, and with mouth boldly confess the Lord Jesus, as before we have said, shall most assuredly receive these gifts (Rom 10:9, 13): first, in this life, the remission of sins, and that by only faith in Christ’s blood (John 3:16-18); insomuch that, albeit sin remain and continually abide in these our mortal bodies, yet it is not imputed unto us, but is remitted and covered with Christ’s justice (Rom 3:23-24; 4:5-8; 5:8-11; 8:1, 31-34; 2 Cor 5:21†): secondly, in the General Judgment (Isa 66:14-17), there shall be given to every man and woman resurrection of the flesh (Dan 12:2; John 5:28-29†; Job 19:25-27). For the sea shall give her dead; the earth those that therein be inclosed: yea, the eternal God shall stretch out his hand on the dust, and the dead shall arise uncorruptible (Rev 20:13†; 1 Cor 15:52-54), and that in the substance of the same flesh that every man now beareth, to receive, according to their works, glory or punishment (Matt 25:31-46†; Rom 2:5-10). For such as now delight in vanity, cruelty, filthiness, superstition, or idolatry, shall be adjudged to the fire unquenchable (Rev 14:10†; 20:15; 21:8): in which they shall be tormented for ever, as well in their own bodies, as in their souls, which now they give to serve the Devil in all abomination. But such as continue in well-doing to the end, boldly professing the Lord Jesus, we constantly believe that they shall receive glory, honour, and immortality (Rom 2:6-10†), to reign for ever in life everlasting with Christ Jesus (Phil 3:21†); to whose glorified body all his elect shall be made like (1 John 3:2), when he shall appear again in judgment, and shall render up the kingdom to God his Father (1 Cor 15:24, 28); who then shall be, and ever shall remain, in all things, God blessed for ever: to whom, with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost, and with the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and ever. So be it.
Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be confounded; let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly Name (cf. Num 10:35‡; Ps 68:1‡). Give thy servants strength to speak thy word in boldness (Acts 4:29‡), and let all nations cleave to thy true knowledge (cf. Matt 24:14‡). Amen.
These acts and articles were read in the face of Parliament, and ratified by the three Estates, at Edinburgh the 17 day of August, the year of God, 1560 years.
1 The title and the preface are taken from the following edition with modernized spelling, Philip Schaff and David S. Schaff, eds., The Creeds of Christendom (1931; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 437–39. This text is in the public domain.
2 The text of most of the confession is taken from Peter Hall, ed. The Harmony of Protestant Confessions (London: John F. Shaw, 1844), 31–32 (Article 1), 55 (Article 2), 68 (Article 3), 98–99 (Article 4), 224–25 (Article 5), 88 (Article 6), 99 (Article 7), 83–84 (Article 8), 99–100 (Article 9), 100 (Article 10), 100–101 (Article 11), 129–30 (Article 12), 165–66 (Article 13), 166–67 (Article 14), 114 (Article 15), 225–26 (Article 16), 226–27 (Article 18), 9 (Article 19), 10 (Article 20), 295–96, 334–35 (Article 21), 296–97 (Article 22), 297–98 (Article 23), 482 (Article 24), 227–28 (Article 25). This version is in the public domain
3 This article is not found in Hall, we use here the text from Schaff with a slightly modernized spelling. See Philip Schaff and David S. Schaff, eds, The Creeds of Christendom, 3:459–60.
4 Ed. note: only the first three words of the title are found in Hall’s edition; the rest of the title, however, is found in most other editions.
5 Ed. note: not “Joshua” as in Hall’s text.
6 The last two short paragraphs are taken from Schaff with the spelling being modernized. See Philip Schaff and David S. Schaff, eds., The Creeds of Christendom, 3:478–79.
† 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 Scottish Confession of Faith