Of Lawful oaths and Vows
- A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person
swearing in truth, righteousness and judgment, solemnly calleth God to
witness what he asserteth or promiseth, and to judge him according to
the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.
- The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and
therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence. Therefore to
swear vainly, or rashly, by that glorious or dreadful name, or to swear
at all by any other thing, is sinful and to be abhorred. Yet as in
matters of weight and moment an oath is warranted by the Word of God
under the New Testament, as well as under the Old; so a lawful oath,
being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken.
- Whosoever taketh an oath, warranted by the Word of God, ought
duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to
avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth: neither may
any man bind himself by oath to any thing, but what is good and just,
and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to
perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is
good and just, being lawfully imposed by authority.
- An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the
words, without equivocation or mental reservation. It cannot oblige to
sin, but in any thing not sinful, being taken it binds to performance,
although to a man's own hurt; nor is it to be violated, although made
to heretics or infidels.
- A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but God alone,
is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with
the ]ike religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.
- Popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed
poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher
perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no
Christian may entangle himself.
Of The Civil Magistrate
[See a comparison to the Westminster Confession]
- God the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil
magistrates to be under him, over the people for his own glory and the
public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the
sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for
the punishment of evil-doers.
- It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office
of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the management whereof, as
they ought specially to maintain justice and peace, according to the
wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so for that end they may lawfully
now under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasion.
- Although the magistrate is bound to encourage, promote, and
protect the professors and profession of the gospel, and to manage and
order civil administrations in a due subserviency to the interest of
Christ in the world, and to that end to take care that men of corrupt
minds and conversations do not licentiously publish and divulge
blasphemy and errors, in their own nature subverting the faith and
inevitably destroying the souls of them that receive them: yet in such
differences about the doctrines of the gospel, or ways of the worship
of God, as may befall men exercising a good conscience, manifesting it
in their conversation, and holding the foundation, not disturbing
others in their ways or worship that differ from them; there is no
warrant for the magistrate under the gospel to abridge them of their
- It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honour
their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their ]awful
commands, and to be subject to their authority for conscience sake.
Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the
magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their
obedience to him: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted,
much less hath the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their
dominions, or over any of their people, and least of all to deprive
them of their dominions or lives, if he shall judge them to be
heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever.
- Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it
lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to
have more than one husband at the same time.
- Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife;
for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church
with an holy seed, and for preventing of uncleanness.
- It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able
with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians
to marry in the Lord; and therefore such as profess the true reformed
religion, should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters:
neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked by marrying with
such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.
- Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguity or
affinity forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever
be made lawful by any law of man, or consent of parties, so as those
persons may live together as man and wife.
Of The Church
[See a comparison to the Westminster Confession]
- The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of
the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be
gathered into one under Christ, the Head thereof, and is the Spouse,
the Body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
- The whole body of men throughout the world, professing the
faith of the gospel and obedience unto God by Christ according to it,
not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the
foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are, and may be called the
visible catholic church of Christ; although as such it is not entrusted
with the administration of any ordinances, or have any officers to rule
or govern in, or over the whole body.
- The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture
and error, and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of
Christ, but synagogues of Satan: nevertheless Christ always hath had,
and ever shall have, a visible kingdom in this world, to the end
thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
- There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus
Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is
that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of Iperdition, that exalteth
himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God, whom
the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
- As the Lord in his care and love towards his Church, hath in
his infinite wise providence exercised it with great variety in all
ages, for the good of them that love him, and his own glory; so
according to his promise, we expect that in the latter days, antichrist
being destroyed, the Jews called, and the adversaries of the kingdom of
his dear Son broken, the churches of Christ being enlarged, and edified
through a free and plentiful communication of light and grace, shall
enjoy in this world a more quiet, peaceable and glorious condition than
they have enjoyed.
Of The Communion of Saints
- All Saints that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by his
Spirit and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with
him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection and
glory: and being united to one another in love, they have communion in
each others gifts nd 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.
- All Saints are bound to maintain an 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, though especially to be exercised by them
in the relations wherein they stand, whether in families or churches,
yet as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who
in every place call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus.
Of The Sacraments
- Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace,
immediately instituted by Christ, to represent him and his benefits,
and to confirm our interest in him, and solemnly to engage us to the
service of God in Christ, according to his Word.
- 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 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 authorising the
use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
- There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in
the gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; neither of
which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word lawfully
- 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.
- Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus
Christ to be unto the party baptised 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 ordinance is by Christ's own appointment to be
continued in his Church until the end of the world.
- The outward element to be used in this ordinance, is water,
wherewith the party is to be baptised in the name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel lawfully
- Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but
baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the
- 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 baptised, and those only.
- Although it be a great sin to conterin 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 baptised are undoubtedly regenerated.
- 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 belongeth unto, according to the counsel of
God's own will in his appointed time.
- Baptism is but once to be administered to any person
Of The Lord's Supper
- 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 churches to the end of the world, for the perpetual
remembrance, and showing forth of the sacrifice of himself in his
death, the sealing of 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.
- In this sacrament Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor
any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the quick or
dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of 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 abominable, injurious to Christ's own only
sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
- The Lord Jesus hath in this ordinance appointed his ministers
to pray and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set
them apart from a common to an 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
- Private masses, or receiving the 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 contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of
- 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.
- The 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; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament; and hath been and is
the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.
- 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 or wine; yet as really, but spiritually present to the faith of
believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their
- All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy
communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord's table, and
cannot without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake
of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yea, whosoever shall
receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,
eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
Of The State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
- The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption;
but their souls (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal
subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the
righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the
highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory,
waiting -for the full redemption of their bodies: and the souls of the
wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torment and utter
darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day: Besides these two
places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture
- At the last day such as are found alive shall not die, but be
changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies,
and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be
united again to their souls for ever.
- The bodies of the unjust shall by the power of Christ be
raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit unto honour,
and to be made conformable to his own glorious body.
Of The Last Judgment
- God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in
righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given
of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be
judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall
appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their
thoughts, words and deeds, and to receive according to what they have
done in the body, whether good or evil.
- The end of God's appointing this day is for the manifestation
of the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect, and of
his justice in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and
disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and
receive that fulness of joy and glory, with everlasting reward in the
presence of the Lord; but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the
gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord,
and from the glory of his power.
- As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there
shall be a judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the
greater consolation of the godly in their adversity; so will he have
that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security,
and be always watchful, because they Imow not at what hour the Lord
will come, and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come
The Institution of Churches, and the
Order Appointed in Them by Jesus Christ
- By the appointment of the Father all power for the calling,
institution, order, or government of the Church, is invested in a
supreme and sovereign manner in the Lord Jesus Christ, as King and Head
- In the execution of this power wherewith he is so entrusted,
the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto communion with himself,
those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before
him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his
- Those thus called (through the ministry of the Word by his
Spirit) he commandeth to walk together in particular societies or
churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that
public worship, which he requireth of them in this world.
- To each of these churches thus gathered, according to his mind
declared in his Word, he hath given all that power and authority, which
is any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and
discipline, which he hath instituted for them to observe, with commands
and rules for the due and right exerting and executing of that power.
- These particular churches thus appointed by the authority of
Christ, and entrusted with power from him for the ends before
expressed, are each of them as unto those ends, the seat of that power
which he is pleased to communicate to his saints or subjects in this
world, so that as such they receive it immediately from himself.
- Besides these particular churches, there is not instituted by
Christ any church more extensive or catholic entrusted with power for
the administration of his ordinances, or the execution of any authority
in his name.
- A particular church gathered and completed according to the
mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The Lord Christ
having given to his called ones (united according to his appointment in
church-order) liberty and power to choose persons fitted by the Holy
Ghost for that purpose, to be over them, and to minister to them in the
- The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly
manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking)
their obedience unto that call of Christ; who, being further known to
each other by their confession of the faith wrought in them by the
power of God, declared by themselves or otherwise manifested, do
willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of
Christ; giving up themselves to the Lord, and to one another by the
will of God in professed subjection to the ordinances of the gospel.
- The officers appointed by Christ, to be chosen and set apart
by the church so called, and gathered for the peculiar administration
of ordinances, and execution of power and duty which he entrusts them
with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are
pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.
- Churches thus gathered and assembling for the worship of God,
are thereby visible and public, and their assemblies (in whatever place
they are, according as they have liberty or opportunity) are therefore
church or public assemblies.
- The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person,
fitted and gifted by the Holy Ghost, unto the office of pastor, teacher
or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common
suffrage of the church itself, and solemnly set apart by fasting and
prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of that church, if
there be any before constituted therein. And of a deacon, that he be
chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like
imposition of hands.
- The essence of this call of a pastor, teacher or elder unto
office, consists in the election of the church, together with his
acceptation of it, and separation by fasting and prayer. And those who
are so chosen, though not set apart by imposition of hands, are rightly
constituted ministers of Jesus Christ, in whose name and authority they
exercise the ministry to them so committed. The calling of deacons
consisteth in the like election and acceptation with separation by
- Although it be incumbent on the pastors and teachers of the
churches to be instant in preaching the Word, by way of office; yet
tlie work of preaching the Word is not so peculiarly confined to them,
but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Ghost for it, and
approved (being by lawful ways and means in the providence of God
called thereunto) may publicly, ordinarily and constantly perform it;
so that they give themselves up thereunto.
- However, they who are engaged in the work of public preaching,
and enjoy the public maintenance upon that account, are not thereby
obliged to dispense the seals to any other than such as (being saints
by calling, and gathered according to the order of the gospel) they
stand related to, as pastors or teachers. Yet ought they not to neglect
others living within their parochial bounds, but besides their constant
public preaching to them, they ought to enquire after their profiting
by the Word, instructing them in, and pressing upon them (whether young
or old) the great doctrines of the gospel, even personally and
particularly, so far as their strength and time will admit.
- Ordination alone without the election or precedent consent of
the church, by those who formerly have been ordained by virtue of that
power they have received by their ordination, doth not constitute any
person a church-officer, or communicate office-power to him.
- A church fumished with officers (according to the mind of
Christ) hath full power to administer all his ordinances; and where
there is want of any one or more officers required, that officer, or
those which are in the church, may administer all the ordinances proper
to their particular duty and offices; but where there are no teaching
officers, none may administer the seals, nor can the church authorise
any so to do.
- In the carrying on of church-administrations, no person ought
to be added to the church, but by the consent of the church itself;
that so love (without dissimulation) may be preserved between all the
- Whereas the Lord Jesus Christ hath appointed and instituted as
a means of edification, that those who walk not according to the rules
and laws appointed by him (in respect of faith and life, so that just
offence doth arise to the church thereby) be censured in his name and
authority. Every church hath power in itself to exercise and execute
all those censures appointed by him in the way and order prescribed in
- The censures so appointed by Christ, are admonition and
excommunication. And whereas some offences are or may be known only to
some, it is appointed by Christ, that those to whom they are so known,
do first admonish the offender in private: in public offences where any
sin, before all. Or in case of non-amendment upon private admonition,
the offence being related to the church, and the offender not
manifesting his repentance, he is to be duly admonished in the name of
Christ by the whole church, by the ministry of the elders of the
church; and if this censure prevail not for his repentance, then he is
to be cast out by excommunication with the consent of the church.
- As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular
churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do, so none are to
be admitted unto the privileges of the churches, who do not submit
themselves to the rule of Christ in the censures for the government of
- This being the way prescribed by Christ in case of offence, no
church-members upon any offences taken by them, having performed their
duty required of them in this matter, ought to disturb any
church-order, or absent themselves from the public assemblies, or the
administration of any ordinances upon that pretence, but to wait upon
Christ in the further proceeding of the church.
- The power of censures being seated by Christ in a particular
church, is to be exercised only towards particular members of each
church respectively as such; and there is no power given by him unto
any synods or ecclesiastical assemblies to excommunicate, or by their
public edicts to threaten excommunication, or other church-censures
against churches, magistrates, or their people upon any account, no man
being obnoxious to that censure, but upon his personal miscarriage, as
a member of a particular church.
- Although the church is a society of men, assembling for the
celebration of the ordinances according to the appointment of Christ,
yet every society assembling for that end or purpose, upon the account
of cohabitation within any civil precincts and bounds, is not thereby
constituted a church, seeing there may be wanting among them, what is
essentially required thereunto; and therefore a believer living with
others in such a precinct, may join himself with any church for his
- For the avoiding of differences that may otherwise arise, for
the greater solemnity in the celebration of the ordinances of Christ,
and the opening a way for the larger usefulness of the gifts and graces
of the Holy Ghost; saints living in one city or town, or within such
distances as that they may conveniently assemble for divine worship,
ought rather to join in one church for their mutual strengthening and
edification, than to set up many distinct societies.
- As all churches and all the members of them are bound to pray
continually for the good or prosperity of all the churches of Christ in
all places, and upon all occasions to further it; (every one within the
bounds of their places and callings, in the exercise of their gifts and
graces). So the churches themselves (when planted by the providence of
God, so as they may have opportunity and advantage for it) ought to
hold communion amongst themselves for their peace, increase of love,
and mutual edification.
- In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of
doctrine or in administrations, wherein either the churches in general
are concerned, or any one church in their peace, union, and
edification, or any member or members of any church are injured in, or
by any proceeding in censures, not agreeable to truth and order: it is
according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion
together. do by their messengers meet in a synod or council, to
consider and give their advice in, or about that matter in difference,
to be reported to all the churches concerned. Howbeit, these synods so
assembled are not entrusted with any church-power, properly so called,
or with any jurisdiction over the churches themselves, to exercise any
censures, either over any churches or persons, or to impose their
determinations on the churches or officers.
- Besides these occasional synods or councils, there are not
instituted by Christ any stated synods in a fixed combination of
churches, or their officers in lesser or greater assemblies; nor are
there any synods appointed by Christ in a way of subordination to one
- Persons that are joined in church-fellowship, ought not
lightly or without just cause to withdraw themselves from the communion
of the church whereunto they are so joined. Nevertheless, where any
person cannot continue in any church without his sin, either for want
of the administration of any ordinances instituted by Christ, or by his
being deprived of his due privileges, or compelled to anything in
practice not warranted by the Word, or in case of persecution, or upon
the account of conveniency of habitation; he consulting with the
church, or the officer or officers thereof, may peaceably depart from
the communion of the church, wherewith he hath so walked, to join
himself with some other church, where he may enjoy the ordinances in
the purity of the same, for his edification and consolation.
- Such reforming churches as consist of persons sound in the
faith and of conversation becoming the gospel, ought not to refuse the
communion of each other, so far as may consist with their own
principles respectively, though they walk not in all things according
to the same rules of church-order.
- Churches gathered and walking according to the mind of Christ,
judging other churches (though less pure) to be true churches, may
receive unto occasional communion with them, such members of those
churches as are credibly testified to be godly, and live without