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Westminster Confession of Faith 1647

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CHAPTER 1 - Of the Holy Scripture

I. Although the light of nature; and the works of creation; and providence; do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal; Himself, and to declare; that His will unto His Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

Rom 2:14, 15; Rom 1:19, 20; Ps 19:1, 2, 3; Rom 1:32, 2:1; 1Cor 1:21; 1Cor 2:13, 14; Heb 1:1; Prov 22:19, 20, 21; Luke 1:3, 4; Rom 15:4; Matt 4:4, 7, 10; Isa 8:19, 20; 2Tim 3:15; 2Pe 1:19; Heb 1:1, 2.

II.  Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:

Of the Old Testament:

I Samuel
II Samuel
I Kings
II Kings
I Chronicles
II Chronicles
Song of Solomon

Of the New Testament:

Acts of
  the Apostles
I Corinthians
II Corinthians
I Thessalonians
II Thessalonians
I Timothy
II Timothy
I Peter
II Peter
I John
II John
III John

Luke 16:29, 31; Eph 2:20; Rev 22:18, 19; 2Tim 3:16.

III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

Luke 24:27, 44; Rom 3:2; 2Pe 1:21.

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.

2Pe 1:19, 21; 2Tim 3:16; 1Jn 5:9; 1Thess 2:13.

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

1Tim 3:15; 1Jn 2:20, 27; John 16:13, 14; 1Cor 2:10, 11, 12; Isa 59:21.

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

2Tim 3:15 ,16, 17; Gal 1:8, 9; 2Thess 2:2; John 6:45; 1Cor 2:9 to 12; 1Cor 11:13, 14; 1Cor 14:26, 40.

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

2Pe 3:16; Psalm 119:105, 130.

VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.

Matt 5:18; Isa 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39, 46; 1Cor 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 27, 28; Col 3:16; Rom 15:4.

IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

2Pe 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16.

X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined; and in whose sentence we are to rest; can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

Matt 22:29, 31; Eph 2:20 with Acts 28:25.

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CHAPTER II - Of God, and of the Holy Trinity

I. There is but one only, living, and true God: who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

Deut 6:4; 1Cor 8:4, 6; 1Thess 1:9; Jer 10:10; Job 11:7, 8, 9; Job 26:14; John 4:24; 1Tim 1:17; Deut 4:15, 16; John 4:24, with Luke 24:39; Acts 14:11, 15; James 1:17; Mal 3:6; 1Kg 8:27; Jer 23:23, 24; Ps 90:2; 1Tim 1:17; Ps 145:3; Gen 17:1; Rev 4:8; Rom 16:27; Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8; Ps 115:3; Ex 3:14; Eph 1:11; Prov 16:4; Rom 11:36; 1Jn 4:8, 16; Ex 34:6, 7; Heb 11:6; Neh 9:32, 33; Ps 5:5, 6; Nah 1:2, 3; Ex 34:7.

II. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

John 5:26; Acts 7:2; Ps 119:68; 1Tim 6:15; Rom 9:5; Acts 17:24, 25; Job 22:2, 3; Rom 11:36; Rev 4:11; 1Tim 6:15; Dan 4:25, 35; Heb 4:13; Rom 11:33, 34; Ps 147:5; Acts 15:18; Ezek 11:5; Ps 145:17; Rom 7:12; Rev 5:12, 13, 14.

III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

1Jn 5:7; Matt 3:16, 17; Matt 28:19; 2Cor 13:14; John 1:14, 18; John 15:26; Gal 4:6.

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CHAPTER III - Of God’s Eternal Decree

God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Eph 1:11; Rom 11:33; Heb 6:17; Rom 9:15, 18; James 1:13, 17; 1Jn 1:5; Acts 2:23; Matt 17:12; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Prov 16:33.

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

Acts 15:18; 1Sam 23:11, 12; Matt 11:21, 23; Rom 9:11, 13, 16, 18.

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.

1Tim 5:21; Matt 25:41; Rom 9:22, 23; Eph 1:5, 6; Prov 16:4.

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

2Tim 2:19; John 13:18.

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath. chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto: and all to the praise of His glorious grace.

Eph 1:4, 9, 11; Rom 8:30; 2Tim 1:9; 1Thess 5:9; Rom 9:11, 13, 16; Eph 1:4, 9; Eph 1:6, 12.

VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

1Pe 1:2; Eph 1:4, 5; Eph 2:10, 2Thess 1:13; 1Thess 5:9, 10; Titus 2:14; Rom 8::30; Eph 1:5; 2Thess 2:13; 1Pe 1:5; John 17:9; Rom 8:28-39; John 6:64, 65; John 10:26; John 8:47; 1Jn 2:19.

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath, for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

Matt 11:25, 26; Rom 9:17, 18, 21, 22; 2Tim 2:19, 20; Jude 4; 1Pe 2:8.

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

Rom 9:20; Rom 11:33; Deut 29:29; 2Pe 1:10, Eph 1:6; Rom 11:33; Rom 11:5, 6, 20; 2Pe 1:10; Rom 8:33; Luke 10:20.

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CHAPTER IV - Of Creation

I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

Heb 1:2; John 1:2, 3; Gen 1:2; Job 26:13; Job 33:4; Rom 1:20; Jer 10:12; Ps 104:24; Ps 33:5, 6; Gen 1 chap.; Heb 11:3; Col 1:16; Acts 17:24.

II. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

Gen 1:27; Gen 2:7 and Eccl 12:7 and Luke 23:43 and Matt 10:28; Gen 1:26; Col 3:10; Eph 4:24; Rom 2:14, 15, Eccl 7:29; Gen 3:6; Gen 2:17; Gen 3:8, 9, 10, 11, 23; Gen 1:26, 28.

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CHAPTER V - Of Providence

I. God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible fore-knowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy.

Heb 1:3, Dan 4:34, 35; Ps 135:6; Acts 17:25, 26, 28; Job 38 to 41 chapters; Matt 10:29, 30, 31; Prov 15:3; Ps 104:24; Ps 145:17; Acts 15:18; Ps 94:8, 9, 10, 11; Eph 1:11. Ps 33:10, 11; Isa 63:14; Eph 3:10; Rom 9:17; Gen 45:7; Ps 145:7.

II. Although, in relation to the fore-knowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly: yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

Acts 2:23; Gen 8:22; Jer 31:35; Ex 21:13 and Deut 19:5; 1Kg 22:28, 34; Isa 10:6, 7.

III. God in His ordinary providence makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at His pleasure.

Acts 27:31, 44; Isa 55:10,11; Hos 2:21, 22; Hos 1:7; Matt 4:4; Job 34:20; Rom 4:19, 20, 21; 2Kg 6:6; Dan 3:27.

IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in. a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is, nor can be, the author or approver of sin.

Rom 11:32, 33, 34; 2Sam 24:1 and 1Chron 21:1; 1Kg 22:22, 23; 1Chron 10:4,13,14; 2Sam 16:10; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27, 28; Acts 14:16; Ps 76:10; 2Kg 19:28; Gen 1:20; Isa 10:6, 7, 12; James 1:13,14,17; 1Jn 2:16; Ps 1: 21.

V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption, and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

2Chron 32:25, 26, 31; 2Sam 24:1; 2Cor 12:7, 8, 9; Ps 73 chapter; Ps 77:1 to 12; Mark 14:66-72 and John 21:15, 16, 17.

VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins doth blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasions of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan: whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.

Rom 1:24, 26, 28; Rom 11:7, 8; Deut 29:4; Matt 13:12; Matt 25:29; Deut 2:30; 2Kg 8:12, 13; Ps 81:11, 12; 2Thess 2:10, 11, 12, Ex 7:3 and Ex 8:15, 32; 2Cor 2:15, 16; Isa 8:14; 1Pe 2:7, 8; Isa 6:9, 10 and Acts 28:26, 27.

VII. As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.

1Tim 4:10; Amos 9:8, 9; Rom 8:28; Isa 43:3, 4, 5, 14.

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