LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION 1644 PDF

This second edition "corrected and enlarged" was originally published in A confession of faith of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed at London, Anno The Lord our God is but one God, whose subsistence is in Himself; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto; who is in Himself most holy, every way infinite, in greatness, wisdom, power, love, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; who giveth being, moving, and preservation to all creatures. In this divine and infinite Being there is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; each having the whole divine Essence, yet the Essence undivided; all infinite without any beginning, therefore but one God; who is not to be divided in nature, and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties.

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For the first time a representative meeting of such churches nation-wide was possible. After recounting the many items of business transacted, the report of the proceedings states, almost as a postscript, for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us, in the point of baptism, to recommend to their perusal the confession of our faith, which we do own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice; and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith.

This statement of faith has played a significant role in Baptist life since its first appearance. It is therefore fitting that we should commemorate its anniversary and particularly appropriate that we should do this in London.

This evening we are concerned with the subject of confession making and need to concern ourselves with the events which led to the publication of the Confession in The Political and Religious Background. After repeated failures to work with a Parliament, Charles managed to govern without one for eleven years from He was supported by his chief religious advisor, William Laud, from archbishop of Canterbury. Parliament soon found itself at war with the King.

In the following year the London Particular Baptists issued their first confession of faith, partly to explain their teachings to a general public whose understanding of Baptists beliefs was at best confused and at worst jaundiced. It was also intended to be an instrument of instruction for the Baptist congregations themselves. In the ensuing years civil war culminated in the rule of Oliver Cromwell, during which period independent religious groups enjoyed a liberty unprecedented in England, and churches multiplied.

These halcyon days ended in with the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in the person of Charles II. Nonconformists then faced over a quarter of a century of persecution which varied in intensity from time to time and from place to place. It was during this period of persecution that the Particular Baptists issued their second confession in The overthrow of James II in the Glorious Revolution of made possible the passing of the Toleration of Act of which granted a restricted freedom of worship for orthodox dissenters.

Strictly their existence was illegal, but the confusion of the times afforded them a fair degree of liberty. They were however the objects of considerable suspicion. Suspicions of a subversive attitude towards civil government arose because of fears which went back much earlier to memories of Anabaptist involvement in revolution in Munster in Germany in the s.

Memories of those events continued to haunt orthodox Baptists for over a century. The Content of the Confession The Confession consists of 53 articles and is a full statement of the Particular Baptists position although it is not so detailed as the Second Confession.

Its compilers were careful to distance themselves from the Anabaptists. Later editions stated that it was lawful for a Christian to hold civil office and also to take oaths, both of which had been questioned among the continental Anabaptists.

The First London Confession was unequivocal in its Calvinism. The five points all have a place in its statements. Belief in Particular Redemption did not inhibit the preaching of the gospel. Article 25 states, That the tenders of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners is absolutely free, no way requiring, as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, terrors of the Law, but onely and alone the naked soule, as a sinner and ungodly to receive Christ as crucified, dead and buried, and risen again, being made a Prince and a Saviouyr for such sinners.

It was also the first of the Baptist confessions to insist on immersion as the correct mode and so reflected a recent innovation in English Baptist practice. Baptisms before appear to have been administered by effusion. This statement of strict communion was strengthened in a separately issued Appendix to the Confession written by Benjamin Cox. Twenty six of its fifty three articles clearly derive from this earlier statement.

There are obvious points of difference. The Separatists were paedobaptists, and, as has already been shown, the Baptists were careful to affirm their distinctives at this point.

The Separatists accorded a more significant position to the ministry. Since the first London Particular Baptist Church, located in Wapping emerged from Separatist Independency, it is not surprising to find the doctrinal roots of the Confession in Separatism. Confessional Revision The Confession appeared at a time of great theological debate. Many critics were agreeably surprised to discover how close the Particular Baptists were to Puritan orthodoxy. A vigorous opponent of the Baptists was Dr Daniel Featley, who had been involved in public debate with a group of Baptists in Southwark in Dedicating his book to Parliament he warned that the Baptists would soon bring all the evils of continental Anabaptism to England.

In recent years there have been suggestions that the First London Confession differs from the Second Confession in its teaching on the Law of God. Certainly its teaching is not so developed as that of the later Confession which devotes a whole chapter to the Law. Had the First Confession been antinomian, critics like Featley would have been quick to detect any movement away from the mainline Reformed teaching. There is no hint of different laws for the Old Testament saints and the New. Both of these statements are taken from the Separatist Confession of with minor verbal differences.

The statements of are surely the embryonic points which were to be developed and elaborated in the Second London Confession. This was submitted to the House of Commons. Featley had objected to the fact that there was no reference to a Christian magistrate and so the omission was rectified. In the light of threats of religious uniformity which were being pressed by Presbyterians, a stronger statement on religious liberty was included. The Calvinism of the Confession was strengthened.

Lumpkin suggests that this was the result of the efforts of two former clergymen, Benjamin Cox and Hanserd Knollys, both of whom had become Baptists. On the other hand both W. Lumpkin and W. Third and fourth editions of the Confession appeared in and , by which time the Particular Baptists had won for themselves a place in the life of the nation and could be seen to be orthodox believers.

For the time being their Confession sufficed to explain their beliefs. This anonymity is not surprising as Baptists and other Nonconformists were suffering persecution in the reign of Charles II. It was however this Confession which was to be recommended to the Particular Baptist Churches by the General Assembly of 1.

The Antecedents of the Second London Confession The edition of the Confession was preceded by an important Introduction which explained that the London Confession of [] was out of print and that few copies were to be obtained. They decided, it best to follow their example, in making use of the very same words with them both, in those articles which are very many wherein our faith and doctrine is the same with theirs.

And this we did, the more abundantly to manifest our consent with them both, in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, also with many others whose orthodox confessions have been published to the World, on behalf of the protestants in diverse nations and cities; and also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but to readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the holy scriptures, used by others before us.

It was also intended to heal a serious rift within Calvinistic Baptist ranks. Before the latter issue is considered it is needful to consider the documents from which it drew. In fact 69 turned up and the average daily attendance was between 60 and Later eight commissioners from Scotland were appointed. These could debate but not vote.

The early debates were concerned largely with matters of church government and in this area the Presbyterians won the day. Their system was proposed to Parliament. It was however never fully implemented in England, although the Westminster pattern was accepted in Scotland.

More important for our study was the Confession of Faith. However a proposed ecclesiastical unity between the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland demanded something more. Both the Thirty-Nine Articles and the old Scots Confession had been drawn up in the heat of the Reformation struggle and neither had been scrutinised by a body such as the Assembly of Divines.

In Archbishop Whitgift had compiled the Lambeth Articles to strengthen the teaching of the Thirty-Nine Articles on predestination and to check incipient Arminianism. The Lambeth Articles were never accorded official status in England, although Archbishop Ussher made use of them in the Irish Articles of These Irish Articles appear to have been consulted in the deliberations of the Westminster Assembly.

Preliminary work on the Confession was entrusted to a committee of the Assembly in the Midsummer of Full-scale debates on the details began in July and about a year later the Confession was substantially finished in its first draft.

Clearly this was no hasty composition. On 25th September the first 19 chapters reached the House of Commons and the rest was handed over on 4th December. Parliament demanded that proof texts be affixed and sent it back. It returned to Parliament with the necessary proofs in April It was approved in its entirety in Scotland. The earlier statements about the Bible, God and the accomplishment and application of salvation were left untouched.

The Westminster divines included a small group of Amyraldians: Calamy, Seaman, Marshall and Vine, but they were not able to modify the statement on the decree. The proculator or chairman, William Twisse, was a supralapsarian, as was Samuel Rutherford. The majority of the divines, however, were infralapsarians. The final edition of the Confession concentrated on those areas of common agreement and did not attempt to legislate on the finer points of difference in this area.

Warfield however considered that the final shape of the Confession was forged in the experience of these men as preachers and pastors. In the prosecution of their work as practical pastors protecting and indoctrinating their flocks, the Divines had acquired an intimate acquaintance with the prevailing errors and a remarkable facility in the formulation of Reformed doctrine in opposition to them, which bore fruit in their Confessional labours.

The main source of their Confessional statements was, thus, just the Reformed theology as it had framed itself in their minds during their long experience in teaching it, and had worked itself out into expression in the prosecution of their task as teachers of religion in an age of almost unexampled religious unrest and controversy. The proceedings opened with a discussion as to whether to amend the Westminster Confession or to produce a new one. With the exception of John Owen all of these men had been members of the Westminster Assembly.

The revised confession or Declaration of Faith and Order as it was to be called was unanimously approved by the whole Synod which adjourned on 12th October after 12 working days.

There are however a few differences. A completely new chapter on the Gospel and its gracious extent is added and becomes chapter 20 — it is a mistake to suppose that this chapter was added by the Baptists in Toleration in matters non-essential is taught in chapter After chapter 32 there is a long section of 30 paragraphs on the congregational order of churches.

This teaches the independence of local churches, arguing that under Christ all church power is invested in the local church which is able to carry out all acts of church authority including the discipline of members and the calling and ordination of ministers.

It recognised the calling of synods to deal with differences between churches and to consider matters of common concern.

Such synods have no church power or authority over the separate churches. Doctrinal Controversy.

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That all believers in the time of this life, are in a continual warfare, combat, and opposition against sin, self, the world, and the Devil, and liable to all manner of afflictions, tribulations, and persecutions, and so shall continue until Christ comes in His Kingdom, being predestined and appointed there unto; and whatsoever the saints, any of them do possess or enjoy of God in this life, is only by faith. That the only strength by which the saints are enabled to encounter with all opposition, and to overcome all afflictions, temptations, persecutions, and trials, is only by Jesus Christ, who is the Captain of their salvation, being made perfect through sufferings, who has engaged His strength to assist them in all their afflictions, and to uphold them under all their temptations, and to preserve them by His power to His everlasting Kingdom. John ; Heb. That Christ has here on earth a spiritual Kingdom, which is the Church, which He has purchased and redeemed to Himself, as a particular inheritance: which Church, as it is visible to us, is a company of visible 1 saints, 2 called and separated from the world, by the Word and the 3 Spirit of God, to the visible profession of the faith of the Gospel, being baptized into the faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement, in the practical enjoyment of the 4 ordinances, commanded by Christ their head and King. To this Church He has 1 made His promises, and given the signs of His Covenant, presence, love, blessing, and protection: here are the fountains and springs of His heavenly grace continually flowing forth; 2 thither ought all men to come, of all estates, that acknowledge Him to be their Prophet, Priest, and King, to be enrolled amongst His household servants, to under His heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in His walled sheepfold, and watered garden, to have communion here with the saints, that they may be made to be partakers of their inheritance in the Kingdom of God. And all His servants are called thither, to present their bodies and souls, and to bring their gifts God has given them; so being come, they are here by Himself bestowed in their several order, peculiar place, due use, being fitly compact and knit together, according to the effectual working of every part, to the edification of itself in love. That being thus joined, every Church has 1 power given them from Christ for their better well-being, to choose to themselves fitting persons into the office of 2 Pastors, Teachers, Elders, Deacons, being qualified according to the Word, as those which Christ has appointed in His Testament, for the feeding, governing, serving, and building up of His Church, and that none other have to power to impose them, either these or any other.

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The First London Baptist Confession of 1644/1646

The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God,32 procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given unto Him. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature. To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them;38 uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them, in and by His Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey,39 governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit,40 and overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom,41 in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it. This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from Him to any other. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetical office;44 and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God;45 and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom.

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1644 Baptist Confession of Faith

That God as he is in himself, cannot be comprehended of any but himself, 1 dwelling in that inaccessible light, that no eye can attain unto, whom never man saw, nor can see; that there is but 2 one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one Faith, one Baptism; 3 one Rule of holiness and obedience for all Saints, at all times, in all places to be observed. That God is 4 of himself, that is, neither from another, nor of another, nor by another, nor for another: 5 But is a Spirit, who as his being is of himself, so he gives 6 being, moving, and preservation to all other things, being in himself eternal, most holy, every way infinite in 7 greatness, wisdom, power, justice, goodness, truth, etc. In this God-head, there is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; being every one of them one and the same God; and therefore not divided, but distinguished one from another by their several properties; the 8 Father being from himself, the 9 Son of the Father from everlasting, the holy 10 Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. That God hath 11 decreed in himself from everlasting touching all things, effectually to work and dispose them 12 according to the counsel of his own will, to the glory of his Name; in which decree appeareth his wisdom, constancy, truth, and faithfulness; 13 Wisdom is that whereby he contrives all things; 14 Constancy is that whereby the decree of God remains always immutable; 15 Truth is that whereby he declares that alone which he hath decreed, and though his sayings may seem to sound sometimes another thing, yet the sense of them doth always agree with the decree; 16 Faithfulness is that whereby he effects that he hath decreed, as he hath decreed. And touching his creature man, 17 God had in Christ before the foundation of the world, according to the good pleasure of his will, foreordained some men to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of his grace, 18 leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his Justice. All mankind being thus fallen, and become altogether dead in sins and trespasses, and subject to the eternal wrath of the great God by transgression; yet the elect, which God hath 26 loved with an everlasting love, are 27 redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, neither by their own works, lest any man should boast himself, but wholly and only by God of 28 his free grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that as it is written, He that rejoiceth, let him rejoice in the Lord.

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