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Westminster Confession of Faith 1647

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CHAPTER XXVI - Of the Communion of Saints

I. All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head by His Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.

1Jn 1:3; Eph 3:16, 17, 18, 19; John 1:16; Eph 2:5, 6; Php 3:10; Rom 6:5, 6; 2Tim 2:12; Eph 4:15, 16: 1Cor 12:7; 1Cor 3:21, 22, 23; Col 2:19; 1Thess 5:11, 14; Rom 1:11, 12,14; 1Jn 3:16, 17, 18; Gal 6:10.

II. Saints by profession are bound to maintain a holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God; and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities, and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

Heb 10:24, 25; Acts 2:42, 46; Isa 2:3; 1Cor 11:20; Acts 2:44, 45; 1Jn 3:17; 2Cor 8 and 9 chapters; Acts 11:29, 30.

III. This communion, which the saints have with Christ, doth not make them in any wise, partakers of the substance of His Godhead; or to be equal with Christ, in any respect: either of which to affirm is impious and blasphemous. Nor doth their communion one with another, as saints, take away, or infringe the title or property which each man hath in his goods and possessions.

Col 1:18, 19; 1Cor 8:6; Isa 42: 8; 1Tim 6:15, 16; Ps 45:7, and Heb 1:8, 9; Ex 20:15; Eph 4:28; Acts 5:4.

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CHAPTER XXVII - Of the Sacraments

I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him; as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word.

Rom 4:11; Gen 17:7, 10; Matt 28:19; 1Cor 11:23; 1 Cor 10:16; 1Cor 11:25, 26; Gal 3:17; Rom 15:8; Ex 12:48; Gen 34:14; Rom 6:3, 4; 1Cor 10:16, 21.

II. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

Gen 17:10; Matt 26:27, 28; Tit 3:5.

III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them: neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

Rom 2:28, 29; 1Pe 3:21; Matt 3:11; 1Cor 12:13; Matt 26:27, 28; Matt 28:19, 20.

IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.

Matt 28:19; 1Cor 11:20, 23; 1Cor 4:1; Heb 5:4.

V. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.

1Cor 10:1, 2, 3, 4.

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CHAPTER XXVIII - Of Baptism

I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.

Matt 28:19; 1Cor 12:13; Rom 4:11 and Col 2:11, 12; Gal 3:27; Rom 6:5; Tit 3:5; Mark 1:4; Rom 6:3, 4; Matt 28:19, 20.

II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

Matt 3:11; John 1:33; Matt 28:19, 20.

III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.

Heb 9:10, 19, 20, 21, 22; Acts 2:41; Acts 16:33; Mark 7:4.

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized.

Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 8:37, 38; Gen 17:7, 9, 10 and Gal 3:9, 14 and Col 2:11, 12 and Acts 2:38, 39 and Rom 4:11, 12; 1Cor 7:14; Matt 28:19; Mark 10:13, 14, 15, 16; Luke 18:15.

V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

Luke 7:30 and Ex 4:24, 25, 26; Rom 4:11; Acts 10:2, 4, 22, 31, 45, 47; Acts 8:13, 23.

VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will in His appointed time.

John 3:5, 8; Gal 3:27; Titus 3:5; Eph 5:25, 26; Acts 2:38, 41.

VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.

Titus 3:5.

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CHAPTER XXIX - Of the Lord’s Supper

I. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein He was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of His body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in His Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto Him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.

1Cor 11:23, 24, 25, 26; 1Cor 10:16, 17, 21; 1Cor 12:13.

II. In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same: so that the Popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect.

Heb 9:22, 25, 26, 28; 1Cor 11:24, 25, 26; Matt 26:26, 27; Heb 7:23, 24, 27; Heb 10:1l, 12, 14,18.

III. The Lord Jesus, hath, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to declare His word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.

Matt 26:26, 27, 28 and Mark 14:22, 23, 24 and Luke 22:19, 20 and 1Cor 11:23, 24, 25, 26; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 11:20.

IV. Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest or any other alone; as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up or carrying them about for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.

1Cor 10:16; Mark 14:23; l Cor 11:25, 26, 27, 28, 29; Matt 15:9.

V. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to Him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit in substance and nature they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.

Matt 26:26, 27, 28; 1Cor 11:26, 27, 28; Matt 26:29.

VI. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason; overthrows the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.

Acts 3:21 and 1Cor 11:24, 25, 26; Luke 24:6, 39.

VII. Worthy receivers outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

1Cor 11:28; 1Cor 10:16.

VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament: yet they receive not the thing signified thereby, but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord to their own damnation. Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table; and cannot, without great sin against Christ while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.

1Cor 11:27, 28, 29; 2Cor 6:14,15, 16; 1Cor 5:6, 7, 13; 2Thess 3:6, 14, 15; Matt 7:6.

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CHAPTER XXX - Of Church Censures

I. The Lord Jesus, as King and Head of His Church, hath therein appointed a government, in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.

Isa 9:6, 7; 1Tim 5:17; 1Thess 5:12; Acts 20:17, 28; Heb 13:7, 17, 24; 1Cor 12:28; Matt 28:18, 19, 20.

II. To these officers, the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed: by virtue whereof, they have power respectively to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the Gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.

Matt 16:19; Matt 18:17, 18; John 20:21, 22, 23; 2Cor 2:6, 7, 8.

III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offences, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant and the seals thereof to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

1Cor 5 chapter; 1Tim 5:20; Matt 7:6; 1Tim 1:20; 1Cor 11:27-34, and Jude 23.

IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.

1Thess 5:12; 2Thess 3:6, 14, 15; 1Cor 5:4, 5, 13; Matt 18:17; Tit 3:10.

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