The Savoy Declaration (1658)
The Savoy Declaration is a modification of the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647. Its full title is A Declaration of the Faith and Order owned and practiced in the Congregational Churches in England. It was drawn up in October 1658 by English Congregationalists meeting at the Savoy Palace in London. The Puritan theologian John Owen took a leading part in the conference.
The only major change to the Westminster Confession was the addition of a new chapter entitled "Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof" inserted as Chapter 20 (the Savoy Declaration follows the Westminster numbering through Chapter 19). Other changes including minor revisions to the doctrines of Christian Liberty, the Civil Magistrate , and the Church. The Savoy Declaration also replaced chapters 30 and 31, concerning Congregational church government in order to assert the autonomy of local churches rather than a centralized hierarchy.
Note: Rather than duplicate the majority of the Westminster Confession, we'll present only the Savoy addendum (Chapter 20), written primarily by John Owen.
Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof
1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give unto the elect the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling them, and begetting in them faith and repentance: in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and was therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
2. This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only in and by the Word of God; neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ, or of grace by him, so much as in a general or obscure way; much less that men destitute of the revelation of him by the promise or gospel, should be enabled thereby to attain saving faith or repentance.
3. The revelation of the gospel unto sinners, made in divers times, and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men's natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make or can so do. And therefore in all ages the preaching of the gospel hath been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God.
4. Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is as such abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses, may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual, irresistible work of the Holy Ghost upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life, without which no other means are sufficient for their conversion unto God.
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