Canons of Dordt (or Synod of Dort) full text
First Head of Doctrine
Of Divine Predestination
As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse,
and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice
by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation
on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle,
Romans 3:19, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world
may become guilty before God." And verse 23: "for all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And
Romans 6:23: "for the wages of sin is death."
But in this the love of God was manifested, that he
sent his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth
on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I John 4:9; John 3:16.
And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully
sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom he
will and at what time he pleaseth; by whose ministry men are called
to repentance and faith in Christ crucified.
Romans 10:14, 15: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they
preach except they be sent?"
The wrath of God abideth upon those who believe not
this gospel. But such as receive it, and embrace Jesus the Savior
by a true and living faith, are by him delivered from the wrath
of God, and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life
conferred upon them.
The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of
all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas
faith in Jesus Christ, and salvation through him is the free gift
of God, as it is written: "By grace ye are saved through
faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,"
Ephesians 2:8. "And unto you it is given in the behalf of
Christ, not only to believe on him," etc. Philippians 1:29.
That some receive the gift of faith from God, and
others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree, "For
known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,"
Acts 15:18. "Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will,"
Ephesians 1:11. According to which decree, he
graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate,
and inclines them to believe, while he leaves the non-elect in
his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein
is especially displayed the profound, and merciful, and at the
same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved
in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed
in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure and unstable
minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls
affords unspeakable consolation.
Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby,
before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace,
according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen,
from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own
fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction,
a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from
eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the
foundation of Salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving
than the others, but with them involved in one common misery,
God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually
to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit,
to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification;
and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his
Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy,
and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: "According
as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love;
having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus
Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made
us accepted in the beloved," Ephesians 1:4,5,6. And elsewhere:
"Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom
he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them
he also glorified," Romans 8:30.
There are not various decrees of election, but one
and the same decree respecting all those, who shall be saved,
both under the Old and New Testament: since the scripture declares
the good pleasure, purpose and counsel of the divine will to be
one, according to which he hath chosen us from eternity, both
to grace and glory, to salvation and the way of salvation, which
he hath ordained that we should walk therein.
This election was not founded upon foreseen faith,
and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality
of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition
on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience
of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of
every saving good; from which proceed faith, holiness, and the
other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as
its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle: "He
hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy,
and without blame, before him in love," Ephesians 1:4.
The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this
gracious election; which doth not consist herein, that out of
all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some
as a condition of salvation; but that he was pleased out of the
common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar
people to himself, as it is written, "For the children being
not yet born neither having done any good or evil," etc.,
it was said (namely to Rebecca): "the elder shall serve the
younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I
hated," Romans 9:11,12,13. "And as many as were ordained
to eternal life believed," Acts 13:48.
And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient
and omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted
nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast
away, nor their number diminished.
The elect in due time, though in various degrees
and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their
eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying
into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves
with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits
of election pointed out in the Word of God - such as a true faith
in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and
thirsting after righteousness, etc.
The sense and certainty of this election afford to
the children of God additional matter for daily humiliation before
him, for adoring the depth of his mercies, for cleansing themselves,
and rendering grateful returns of ardent love to him, who first
manifested so great love towards them. The consideration of this
doctrine of election is so far from encouraging remissness in
the observance of the divine commands, or from sinking men in
carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are
the usual effects of rash presumption, or of idle and wanton trifling
with the grace of election, in those who refuse to walk in the
ways of the elect.
As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise
counsel of God, was declared by the prophets, by Christ himself,
and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures,
both of the Old and New Testament, so it is still to be published
in due time and place in the Church of God, for which it was peculiarly
designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of
discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy name, and
for enlivening and comforting his people, without vainly attempting
to investigate the secret ways of the Most High.
Acts 20:27; Romans 11:33,34; 12:3; Hebrews 6:17,18.
What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend
to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express
testimony of sacred Scripture, that not all, but some only are
elected, while others are passed by in the eternal election of
God; whom God, out of his sovereign, most just, irreprehensible
and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common
misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and
not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion;
but leaving them in his just judgment to follow their own ways,
at last for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and punish
them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also
for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation
which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought
of which is blasphemy), but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible,
and righteous judge and avenger thereof.
Those who do not yet experience a lively faith in
Christ, an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an
earnest endeavor after filial obedience, and glorying in God through
Christ, efficaciously wrought in them, and do nevertheless persist
in the use of the means which God hath appointed for working these
graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation,
nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to
persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires, devoutly
and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace. Much less cause
have they to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation, who,
though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please him
only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach
that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire; since
a merciful God has promised that he will not quench the smoking
flax, nor break the bruised reed. But this doctrine is justly
terrible to those, who, regardless of God and of the Savior Jesus
Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the cares of the world,
and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are not seriously
converted to God.
Since we are to judge of the will of God from his
Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy,
not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which
they, together with the parents, are comprehended, godly parents
have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their
children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their
To those who murmur at the free grace of election,
and just severity of reprobation, we answer with the apostle:
"Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?"
Romans 9:20, and quote the language of our Savior: "Is it
not lawful for me to do what I will with my own?"
Matthew 20:15. And therefore with holy adoration of these mysteries,
we exclaim in the words of the apostle: "O the depths of
the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable
are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath
known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor? or
who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto
him again? For of him, and through him, and to him are all things:
to whom be glory for ever. - Amen."
The true doctrine concerning Election and Reprobation
having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of
Who teach: That the will of God to save those who would believe
and would persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith, is
the whole and entire decree of election unto salvation, and that
nothing else concerning this decree has been revealed in God's
For these deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures,
which declare that God will not only save those who will believe,
but that he has also from eternity chosen certain particular persons
to whom above others he in time will grant both faith in Christ
and perseverance; as it written: "I manifested thy name unto
the men whom thou gavest me out of the world,"
John 17:6. "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,"
Acts 13:48. And: "Even as he chose us in him before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish
before him in love," Ephesians 1:4.
Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto
eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular
and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete,
revocable, non-decisive and conditional, or complete, irrevocable,
decisive and absolute. Likewise: that there is one election unto
faith, and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto
justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation.
For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the
Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and
this golden chain of our salvation is broken: "And whom he
foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he
also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified,"
Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which
Scripture makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not
consist in this, that God chose certain persons rather than others,
but in this that he chose out of all possible conditions (among
which are also the works of the law), or out of the whole order
of things, the act of faith which from its very nature is undeserving,
as well as its incomplete obedience, as a condition of salvation,
and that he would graciously consider this in itself as a complete
obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits
of Christ are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless
questions from the truth of gracious justification and from the
simplicity of Scripture, and this declaration of the Apostle is
charged as untrue: "Who saved us, and called us with a holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to his own
purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times
eternal." 2 Timothy 1:9.
Who teach: that in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand
demanded, namely, that man should use the light of nature aright,
be pious, humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these
things election were in any way dependent. For this savors of
the teaching of Pelagius, and is opposed to the doctrine of the
apostle, when he writes: "Among whom we also all once lived
in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of
the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest;
but God being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved
us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised
us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places,
in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding
riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus; for
by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory,"
Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular
persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion,
holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some
time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because
of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness
and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness,
for the sake of which he who is chosen, is more worthy than he
who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience of
faith, holiness, godliness and perseverance are not fruits of
the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions, which,
being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those
who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable
election to glory does not occur.
This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates
this and similar declarations: Election is not out of works, but
of him that calleth.
Romans 9:11. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,"
Acts 13:48. "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,"
Ephesians 1:4. "Ye did not choose me, but I chose you,"
John 15:16. "But if it be of grace, it is no more of works,"
Romans 11:6. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but
that he loved us, and sent his Son," I John 4:10.
Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable,
but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding,
can yet perish and do indeed perish. By which gross error they
make God to be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly
obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the
Holy Scripture, which teaches, that the elect can not be lead
Matthew 24:24; that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him,
John 6:39; and that God hath also glorified those whom he foreordained, called and justified.
Who teach: That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness
of the unchangeable election to glory, nor any certainty, except
that which depends on a changeable and uncertain condition. For
not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but
also contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of
the consciousness of their election rejoice with the Apostle and
praise this favor of God, Ephesians 1; who according to Christ's
admonition rejoice with his disciples that their names are written
in heaven, Luke 10:20; who also place the consciousness of their
election over against the fiery darts of the devil, asking: "Who
shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Romans 8:33.
Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of his righteous will, did
not decide either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the
common state of sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in
the communication of grace which is necessary for faith and conversion.
For this is firmly decreed: "He hath mercy on whom he will,
and whom he will he hardeneth," Romans 9:18. And also this:
"Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom
of heaven, but to them it is not given,"
Matthew 13:11. Likewise: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding,
and didst reveal them unto babes; yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing
in thy sight," Matthew 11:25,26.
Who teach: That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people
rather than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure
of God, but rather the fact that one people is better and worthier
than another to whom the gospel is not communicated. For this
Moses denies, addressing the people of Israel as follows: "Behold
unto Jehovah thy God belongeth heaven and the heaven of heavens,
the earth, with all that is therein. Only Jehovah had a delight
in thy fathers to love him, and he chose their seed after them,
even you above all peoples, as at this day,"
Deuteronomy 10:14,15. And Christ said: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe
unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the might works had been done in
Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented
long ago in sackcloth and ashes," Matthew 11:21.
Second Head of Doctrine
Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby
God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely
just. And his justice requires (as he hath revealed himself in
his Word), that our sins committed against his infinite majesty
should be punished, not only with temporal, but with eternal punishment,
both in body and soul; which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction
be made to the justice of God.
Since therefore we are unable to make that satisfaction
in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of
God, he hath been pleased in his infinite mercy to give his only
begotten Son, for our surety, who was made sin, and became a curse
for us and in our stead, that he might make satisfaction to divine
justice on our behalf.
The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect
sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; and is of infinite worth and
value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole
This death derives its infinite value and dignity
from these considerations, because the person who submitted to
it was not only really man, and perfectly holy, but also the only
begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were
necessary to constitute him a Savior for us; and because it was
attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us
Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever
believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting
life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe,
ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all
persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out
of his good pleasure sends the gospel.
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel, do
not repent, nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief; this
is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered
by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.
But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and
saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are
indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God, given them
in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.
For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious
will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving
efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to
all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying
faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is,
it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross,
whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem
out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and
those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given
to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which
together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he
purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin,
both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;
and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at
last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment
of glory in his own presence forever.
This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards
the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been
powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue
to be accomplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition
of the gates of hell, so that the elect in due time may be gathered
together into one, and that there never may be wanting a church
composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the
blood of Christ, which may steadfastly love, and faithfully serve
him as their Savior, who as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down
his life for them upon the cross, and which may celebrate his
praises here and through all eternity.
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects
the errors of those:
Who teach: That God the Father has ordained his Son to the death
of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any,
so that the necessity, profitableness and worth of what Christ
merited by his death might have existed, and might remain in all
its parts complete, perfect and intact, even if the merited redemption
had never in fact been applied to any person. For this doctrine
tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and of the
merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to Scripture. For thus
saith our Savior: "I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them,"
John 10:15,27. And the prophet Isaiah saith
concerning the Savior: "When thou shalt make his soul an
offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his
days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand,"
Isaiah 53:10. Finally, this contradicts the article of faith
according to which we believe the catholic Christian church.
Who teach: That it was not the purpose of the death of Christ
that he should confirm the new covenant of grace through his blood,
but only that he should acquire for the Father the mere right
to establish with man such a covenant as he might please, whether
of grace or of works. For this is repugnant to Scripture which
teaches that Christ has become the Surety and Mediator of a better,
that is, the new covenant, and that a testament is of force where death has occurred.
Hebrews 7:22; 9:15,17.
Who teach: That Christ by his satisfaction merited neither salvation
itself for anyone, nor faith, whereby this satisfaction of Christ
unto salvation is effectually appropriated; but that he merited
for the Father only the authority or the perfect will to deal
again with man, and to prescribe new conditions as he might desire,
obedience to which, however, depended on the free will of man,
so that it therefore might have come to pass that either none
or all should fulfill these conditions. For these adjudge too
contemptuously of the death of Christ, do in no wise acknowledge
the most important fruit or benefit thereby gained, and bring
again out of hell the Pelagian error.
Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father
through the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does
not herein consist that we by faith, in as much as it accepts
the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but
in the fact that God having revoked the demand of perfect obedience
of the law, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although
imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem
it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace. For these
contradict the Scriptures: "Being justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God
hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,"
Romans 3:24,25. And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus,
a new and strange justification of man before God, against the
consensus of the whole church.
Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation
and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of
condemnation on account of original sin, and that no one shall
be condemned because of it, but that all are free from the guilt
of original sin. For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature children of wrath.
Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to
the end that they may instill into the minds of the imprudent
and inexperienced this teaching that God, as far as he is concerned,
has been minded of applying to all equally the benefits gained
by the death of Christ; but that, while some obtain the pardon
of sin and eternal life, and others do not, this difference depends
on their own free will, which joins itself to the grace that is
offered without exception, and that it is not dependent on the
special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they
rather than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace.
For these, while they feign that they present this distinction,
in a sound sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive
poison of the Pelagian errors.
Who teach: That Christ neither could die, needed to die, nor did
die for those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected
to eternal life, and did not die for these, since these do not
need the death of Christ. For they contradict the Apostle, who
declares: "Christ loved me, and gave himself for me,"
Galatians 2:20. Likewise: "Who shall lay any thing to the
charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died,"
namely, for them; and the Savior who says: "I lay down my life for the sheep,"
John 10:15. And: "This is my commandment,
that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,"
Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine
Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God,
and the Manner Thereof.
Man was originally formed after the image of God.
His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge
of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were
upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy;
but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing
the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts;
and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible
darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked,
rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his
Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness.
A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the
posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption
from their original parent, not by imitation, as the Pelagians
of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature.
Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature
children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead
in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace
of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return
to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose
themselves to reformation.
There remain, however, in man since the fall, the
glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge
of God, of natural things, and of the differences between good
and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in
society, and for maintaining an orderly external deportment.
But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring
him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that
he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and
civil. Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various
ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness,
by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.
In the same light are we to consider the law of the
decalogue, delivered by God to his peculiar people the Jews, by
the hands of Moses. For though it discovers the greatness of
sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet as it neither
points out a remedy, nor imparts strength to extricate him from
misery, and thus being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor
under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.
What therefore neither the light of nature, nor the
law could do, that God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit
through the word or ministry of reconciliation: which is the glad
tidings concerning the Messiah, by means whereof, it hath pleased
God to save such as believe, as well under the Old, as under the
This mystery of his will God discovered to but a small
number under the Old Testament; under the New, (the distinction
between various peoples having been removed), he reveals himself
to many, without any distinction of people. The cause of this
dispensation is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one
nation above another, nor to their making a better use of the
light of nature, but results wholly from the sovereign good pleasure
and unmerited love of God. Hence they, to whom so great and so
gracious a blessing is communicated, above their desert, or rather
notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to acknowledge it with
humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to adore, not
curiously to pry into the severity and justice of God's judgments
displayed to others, to whom this grace is not given.
As many as are called by the gospel, are unfeignedly
called. For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in his Word,
what is pleasing to him, namely, that those who are called should
come to him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life, and
rest, to as many as shall come to him, and believe on him.
It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ,
offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and
confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by
the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted: the
fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless
of their danger, reject the word of life; others, though they
receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their
heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith,
soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed
of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world,
and produce no fruit. - This our Savior teaches in the parable of the
sower. Matthew 13.
But that others who are called by the gospel, obey
the call, and are converted, is not to be ascribed to the proper
exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above
others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and
conversions, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it
must be wholly ascribed to God, who as he has chosen his own from
eternity in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance,
rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into
the kingdom of his own Son, that they may show forth the praises
of him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous
light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord according
to the testimony of the apostles in various places.
But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the
elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the
gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines
their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand
and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy
of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses
of the man; he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart,
and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities
into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens; from
being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient,
and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree,
it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.
And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated
in Scripture, and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from
the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid.
But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching
of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation,
that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the
power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to
continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work,
most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing,
mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation,
or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by
the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God
works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and
effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. - Whereupon
the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by
God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active.
Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent,
by virtue of that grace received.
The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended
by believers in this life. Notwithstanding which, they rest satisfied
with knowing and experiencing, that by this grace of God they
are enabled to believe with the heart, and love their Savior.
Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of
God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be
accepted or rejected at his pleasure; but because it is in reality
conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God
bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that
man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the
terms of that salvation, and actually believe in Christ; but because
he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things
in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing
God is under no obligation to confer this grace upon
any; for how can he be indebted to man, who had no precious gifts
to bestow, as a foundation for such recompense? Nay, who has
nothing of his own but sin and falsehood? He therefore who becomes
the subject of this grace, owes eternal gratitude to God, and
gives him thanks forever. Whoever is not made partaker thereof,
is either altogether regardless of these spiritual gifts, and
satisfied with his own condition; or is in no apprehension of
danger, and vainly boasts the possession of that which he has
not. With respect to those who make an external profession of
faith, and live regular lives, we are bound, after the example
of the apostle, to judge and speak of them in the most favorable
manner. For the secret recesses of the heart are unknown to us.
And as to others, who have not yet been called, it is our duty
to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not, as
if they were. But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards
them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ.
But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature,
endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin which pervaded
the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but
brought upon him depravity and spiritual death; so also this grace
of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks,
nor take away their will and its properties, neither does violence
thereto; but spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the
same time sweetly and powerfully bends it; that where carnal rebellion
and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual
obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration
and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore unless the admirable
author of every good work wrought in us, man could have no hope
of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse
of which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin.
As the almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs
and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but requires
the use of means, by which God of his infinite mercy and goodness
hath chosen to exert his influence, so also the before mentioned
supernatural operation of God, by which we are regenerated, in
no wise excludes, or subverts the use of the gospel, which the
most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration, and
food of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles, and teachers who
succeeded them, piously instructed the people concerning this
grace of God, to his glory, and the abasement of all pride, and
in the meantime, however, neglected not to keep them by the sacred
precepts of the gospel in the exercise of the Word, sacraments
and discipline; so even to this day, be it far from either instructors
or instructed to presume to tempt God in the church by separating
what he of his good pleasure hath most intimately joined together.
For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more
readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this
blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is his work
advanced; to whom alone all the glory both of means, and of their
saving fruit and efficacy is forever due. Amen.
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects
the errors of those:
Who teach: That it cannot properly be said, that original sin
in itself suffices to condemn the whole human race, or to deserve
temporal and eternal punishment. For these contradict the Apostle,
who declares: "Therefore as through one man sin entered into
the world, and death through sin, and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned,"
Romans 5:12. And: "The judgment came of one unto condemnation,"
Romans 5:16. And: "The wages of sin is death,"Romans 6:23.
Who teach: That the spiritual gifts, or the good qualities and
virtues, such as: goodness, holiness, righteousness, could not
belong to the will of man when he was first created, and that
these, therefore, could not have been separated therefrom in the
fall. For such is contrary to the description of the image of God, which the Apostle gives in
Ephesians 4:24, where he declares
that it consists in righteousness and holiness, which undoubtedly
belong to the will.
Who teach: That in spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not
separate from the will of man, since the will in itself has never
been corrupted, but only hindered through the darkness of the
understanding and the irregularity of the affections; and that,
these hindrances having been removed, the will can then bring
into operation its native powers, that is, that the will of itself
is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose,
all manner of good which may be presented to it. This is an innovation
and an error, and tends to elevate the powers of the free will,
contrary to the declaration of the Prophet: "The heart is
deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt,"
Jeremiah 17:9; and of the Apostle: "Among whom (sons of disobedience)
we also all once lived in the lusts of the flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind,"
Who teach: That the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly
dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good,
but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and
life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and broken spirit,
which is pleasing to God. For these are contrary to the express
testimony of Scripture. "Ye were dead through trespasses and sins,"
Ephesians 2:1,5; and: "Every imagination
of the thought of his heart are only evil continually,"
Genesis 6:5; 8:21.
Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery,
and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken
spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed.
Psalm 51:10, 19; Matthew 5:6.
Who teach: That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the
common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or
the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually
gain by their good use a greater, namely, the evangelical or saving
grace and salvation itself. And that in this way God on his part
shows himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since he applies
to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion.
For the experience of all ages and the Scriptures do both testify
that this is untrue. "He showeth his Word unto Jacob, his
statues and his ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so
with any nation: and as for his ordinances they have not known them,"
Psalm 147:19, 20. "Who in the generations gone
by suffered all the nations to walk in their own way,"
Acts 14:16. And: "And they (Paul and his companions) having been
forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia, and when
they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit suffered them not,"
Acts 16:6, 7.
Who teach: That in the true conversion of man no new qualities,
powers or gifts can be infused by God into the will, and that
therefore faith through which we are first converted, and because
of which we are called believers, is not a quality or gift infused
by God, but only an act of man, and that it can not be said to
be a gift, except in respect of the power to attain to this faith.
For thereby they contradict the Holy Scriptures, which declare
that God infuses new qualities of faith, of obedience, and of
the consciousness of his love into our hearts: "I will put
my law in their inward parts, and in their hearts will I write it,"
Jeremiah 31:33. And: "I will pour water upon him
that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed,"
Isaiah 44:3. And: "The love
of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which hath been given us,"
Romans 5:5. This is also repugnant
to the continuous practice of the Church, which prays by the mouth
of the Prophet thus: "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned,"
Who teach: that the grace whereby we are converted to God is only
a gentle advising, or (as others explain it), that this is the
noblest manner of working in the conversion of man, and that this
manner of working, which consists in advising, is most in harmony
with man's nature; and that there is no reason why this advising
grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man spiritual,
indeed, that God does not produce the consent of the will except
through this manner of advising; and that the power of the divine
working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists in
this, that God promises eternal, while Satan promises only temporal
goods. But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole
Scripture which, besides this, teaches another and far more powerful
and divine manner of the Holy Spirit's working in the conversion
of man, as in Ezekiel: "A new heart also will I give you,
and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the
stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh,"
Who teach: That God in the regeneration of man does not use such
powers of his omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend man's
will to faith and conversion; but that all the works of grace
having been accomplished, which God employs to convert man, man
may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit, when God intends man's
regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed that man
often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration,
and that it therefore remains in man's power to be regenerated
or not. For this is nothing less than the denial of all the efficiency
of God's grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working
of Almighty God to the will of man, which is contrary to the Apostles,
who teach: "That we believe according to the working of the strength of his power,"
Ephesians 1:19. And: "That
God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power,"
2 Thessalonians 1:11. And: "That his divine
power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,"
2 Peter 1:3.
Who teach: That grace and free will are partial causes, which
together work the beginning of conversion, and that grace, in
order of working, does not precede the working of the will; that
is, that God does not efficiently help the will of man unto conversion
until the will of man moves and determines to do this. For the
ancient Church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the Pelagians
according to the words of the Apostle: "So then it is not
of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy,"
Romans 9:16. Likewise: "For who maketh
thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?"
I Corinthians 4:7. And: "For it is God who worketh in you
both to will and to work, for his good pleasure,"
Fifth Head of Doctrine
Of the Perseverance of the Saints
Whom God calls, according to his purpose, to the communion
of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the Holy
Spirit, he delivers also from the dominion and slavery of sin
in this life; though not altogether from the body of sin, and
from the infirmities of the flesh, so long as they continue in
Hence spring daily sins of infirmity, and hence spots
adhere to the best works of the saints; which furnish them with
constant matter for humiliation before God, and flying for refuge
to Christ crucified; for mortifying the flesh more and more by
the spirit of prayer, and by holy exercises of piety; and for
pressing forward to the goal of perfection, till being at length
delivered from this body of death, they are brought to reign with
the Lamb of God in heaven.
By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and
the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted
could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own
strength. But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully
confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.
Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail
against the power of God, who confirms and preserves true believers
in a state of grace, yet converts are not always so influenced
and actuated by the Spirit of God, as not in some particular instances
sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to
be seduced by, and to comply with the lusts of the flesh; they
must, therefore, be constant in watching and in prayer, that they
be not led into temptation. When these are neglected, they are
not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins, by Satan,
the world and the flesh, but sometimes by the righteous permission
of God actually fall into these evils. This, the lamentable fall
of David, Peter, and other saints described in Holy Scripture,
By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend
God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the
exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and
sometimes lose the sense of God's favor, for a time, until on
their returning into the right way of serious repentance, the
light of God's fatherly countenance again shines upon them.
But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable
purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit
from his own people, even in their melancholy falls; nor suffers
them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption, and forfeit
the state of justification, or to commit sins unto death; nor
does he permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves
into everlasting destruction.
For in the first place, in these falls he preserves
them in the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing,
or being totally lost; and again, by his Word and Spirit, certainly
and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly
sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission
in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor of
a reconciled God, through faith adore his mercies, and henceforward
more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits,
or strength, but of God's free mercy, that they do not totally
fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in
their backslidings; which, with respect to themselves, is not
only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect
to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be
changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according
to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation
of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy
Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.
Of this preservation of the elect to salvation, and
of their perseverance in the faith, true believers for themselves
may and ought to obtain assurance according to the measure of
their faith, whereby they arrive at the certain persuasion, that
they ever will continue true and living members of the church;
and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last
inherit eternal life.
This assurance, however, is not produced by any peculiar
revelation contrary to, or independent of the Word of God; but
springs from faith in God's promises, which he has most abundantly
revealed in his Word for our comfort; from the testimony of the
Holy Spirit, witnessing with our spirit, that we are children and heirs of God,
Romans 8:16; and lastly, from a serious and
holy desire to preserve a good conscience, and to perform good
works. And if the elect of God were deprived of this solid comfort,
that they shall finally obtain the victory, and of this infallible
pledge or earnest of eternal glory, they would be of all men the
The Scripture moreover testifies, that believers
in this life have to struggle with various carnal doubts, and
that under grievous temptations they are not always sensible of
this full assurance of faith and certainty of persevering. But
God, who is the Father of all consolation, does not suffer them
to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation
also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it,
I Corinthians 10:13, and by the Holy Spirit again inspires them
with the comfortable assurance of persevering.
This certainty of perseverance, however, is so far
from exciting in believers a spirit of pride, or of rendering
them carnally secure, that on the contrary, it is the real source
of humility, filial reverence, true piety, patience in every tribulation,
fervent prayers, constancy in suffering, and in confessing the
truth, and of solid rejoicing in God: so that the consideration
of this benefit should serve as an incentive to the serious and
constant practice of gratitude and good works, as appears from
the testimonies of Scripture, and the examples of the saints.
Neither does renewed confidence or persevering produce
licentiousness, or a disregard to piety in those who are recovering
from backsliding; but it renders them much more careful and solicitous
to continue in the ways of the Lord, which he hath ordained, that
they who walk therein may maintain an assurance of persevering,
lest by abusing his fatherly kindness, God should turn away his
gracious countenance from them, to behold which is to the godly
dearer than life: the withdrawing thereof is more bitter than
death, and they in consequence hereof should fall into more grievous
torments of conscience.
And as it hath pleased God, by the preaching of the
gospel, to begin this work of grace in us, so he preserves, continues,
and perfects it by the hearing and reading of his Word, by meditation
thereon, and by the exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof,
as well as by the use of the sacraments.
The carnal mind is unable to comprehend this doctrine
of the perseverance of the saints, and the certainty thereof;
which God hath most abundantly revealed in his Word, for the glory
of his name, and the consolation of pious souls, and which he
impresses upon the hearts of the faithful. Satan abhors it; the
world ridicules it; the ignorant and hypocrite abuse, and heretics
oppose it; but the spouse of Christ hath always most tenderly
loved and constantly defended it, as an inestimable treasure;
and God, against whom neither counsel nor strength can prevail,
will dispose her to continue this conduct to the end. Now, to
this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory,
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects
the errors of those:
Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not
a fruit of election, or a gift of God, gained by the death of
Christ, but a condition of the new covenant, which (as they declare)
man before his decisive election and justification must fulfill
through his free will. For the Holy Scripture testifies that
this follows out of election, and is given the elect in virtue
of the death, the resurrection and intercession of Christ: "But
the elect obtained it and the rest were hardened,"
Romans 11:7. Likewise: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered
him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give
us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's
elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?
It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from
the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession
for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
Who teach: That God does indeed provide the believer with sufficient
powers to persevere, and is ever ready to preserve these in him,
if he will do his duty; but that though all things, which are
necessary to persevere in faith and which God will use to preserve
faith, are made use of, it even then ever depends on the pleasure
of the will whether it will persevere or not. For this idea contains
an outspoken Pelagianism, and while it would make men free, it
makes them robbers of God's honor, contrary to the prevailing
agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which takes from man all
cause of boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this favor
to the grace of God alone; and contrary to the Apostle, who declares:
"That it is God, who shall also confirm you unto the end,
that ye be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
I Corinthians 1:18.
Who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can
fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation
wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this and
are lost forever. For this conception makes powerless the grace,
justification, regeneration, and continued keeping by Christ,
contrary to the expressed words of the Apostle Paul: "That
while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then,
being justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him,"
Romans 5:8,9. And contrary to the Apostle
John: "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because
his seed abideth in him; and he can not sin, because he is begotten of God,"
I John 3:9. And also contrary to the words of Jesus
Christ: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never
perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father
who hath given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand,"
Who teach: That true believers and regenerate can sin the sin
unto death or against the Holy Spirit. Since the same Apostle
John, after having spoken in the fifth chapter of his first epistle,
vss. 16 and 17, of those who sin unto death and having forbidden
to pray for them, immediately adds to this in vs. 18: "We
know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not (meaning a
sin of that character), but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the evil one toucheth him not,"
I John 5:18.
Who teach: That without a special revelation we can have no certainty
of future perseverance in this life. For by this doctrine the
sure comfort of all believers is taken away in this life, and
the doubts of the papist are again introduced into the church,
while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance, not
from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks
proper to the children of God and from the constant promises of
God. So especially the Apostle Paul: "No creature shall
be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,"
Romans 8:39. And John declares: "And
he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him.
And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us,"
I John 3:24.
Who teach: That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance
and of salvation from its own character and nature is a cause
of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals, prayers
and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is praiseworthy
to doubt. For these show that they do not know the power of divine
grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they
contradict the Apostle John, who teaches the opposite with express
words in his first epistle: "Beloved, now are we the children
of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We
know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him, for
we shall see him even as he is. And every one that hath this
hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure,"
I John 3:2, 3. Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of
the saints, both of the Old and New Testament, who though they
were assured of their perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless
constant in prayers and other exercises of godliness.
Who teach: That the faith of those, who believe for a time, does
not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration. For Christ himself, in
Matthew 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other
places, evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference
between those who believe only for a time and true believers,
when he declares that the former receive the seed in stony ground,
but the latter in the good ground or heart; that the former are
without root, but that the latter have a firm root; that the former
are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit
in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.
Who teach: That it is not absurd that one having lost his first
regeneration, is again and even often born anew. For these deny
by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God, whereby
we are born again. Contrary to the testimony of the Apostle Peter:
"Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,"
I Peter 1:23.
Who teach: That Christ has in no place prayed that believers should
infallibly continue in faith. For they contradict Christ himself,
who says: "I have prayed for thee (Simon), that thy faith fail not,"
Luke 22:32; and the Evangelist John, who declares,
that Christ has not prayed for the Apostles only, but also for
those who through their word would believer: "Holy Father,
keep them in thy name," and: "I pray not that thou shouldest
take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one,"
John 17:11, 15, 20.
And this is the perspicuous, simple, and ingenious declaration
of the orthodox doctrine respecting the five articles which have
been controverted in the Belgic churches; and the rejection of
the errors, with which they have for some time been troubled.
This doctrine, the Synod judges to be drawn from the Word of
God, and to be agreeable to the confessions of the Reformed churches.
Whence it clearly appears, that some whom such conduct by no
means became, have violated all truth, equity, and charity, in
wishing to persuade the public.
"That the doctrine of the Reformed churches concerning predestination,
and the points annexed to it, by its own genius and necessary
tendency, leads off the minds of men from all piety and religion;
that it is an opiate administered by the flesh and by the devil,
and the stronghold of Satan, where he lies in wait for all; and
from which he wounds multitudes, and mortally strikes through
many with the darts both of despair and security; that it makes
God the author of sin, unjust, tyrannical, hypocritical; that
it is nothing more than interpolated Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism,
Turcism; that it renders men carnally secure, since they are persuaded
by it that nothing can hinder the salvation of the elect, let
them live as they please; and therefore, that they may safely
perpetrate every species of the most atrocious crimes; and that,
if the reprobate should even perform truly all the works of the
saints, their obedience would not in the least contribute to their
salvation; that the same doctrine teaches, that God, by a mere
arbitrary act of his will, without the least respect or view to
sin, has predestinated the greatest part of the world to eternal
damnation; and, has created them for this very purpose; that in
the same manner in which the election is the fountain and cause
of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief
and impiety; that many children of the faithful are torn, guiltless,
from their mothers' breasts, and tyrannically plunged into hell;
so that, neither baptism, nor the prayers of the Church at their
baptism, can at all profit by them;" and many other things
of the same kind, which the Reformed Churches not only do not
acknowledge, but even detest with their whole soul. Wherefore,
this Synod of Dort, in the name of the Lord, conjures as many
as piously call upon the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, to judge
of the faith of the Reformed Churches, not from the calumnies,
which, on every side, are heaped upon it; nor from the private
expressions of a few among ancient and modern teachers, often
dishonestly quoted, or corrupted, and wrested to a meaning quite
foreign to their intention; but from the public confessions of
the Churches themselves, and from the declaration of the orthodox
doctrine, confirmed by the unanimous consent of all and each of
the members of the whole Synod. Moreover, the Synod warns calumniators
themselves, to consider the terrible judgment of God which awaits
them, for bearing false witness against the confessions of so
many Churches, for distressing the consciences of the weak; and
for laboring to render suspected the society of the truly faithful.
Finally, this Synod exhorts all their brethren in the gospel
of Christ, to conduct themselves piously and religiously in handling
this doctrine, both in the universities and churches; to direct
it, as well in discourse, as in writing, to the glory of the Divine
Name, to holiness of life, and to the consolation of afflicted
souls; to regulate, by the Scripture, according to the analogy
of faith, not only their sentiments, but also their language;
and, to abstain from all those phrases which exceed the limits
necessary to be observed in ascertaining the genuine sense of
the holy Scriptures; and may furnish insolent sophists with a
just pretext for violently assailing, or even vilifying, the doctrine
of the Reformed Churches.
May Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, seated at the Father's
right hand, gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, bring
to the truth those who err, shut the mouths of the calumniators
of sound doctrine, and endue the faithful minister of his Word
with the spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all their discourses
may tend to the glory of God, and the edification of those who
hear them. AMEN.
That this is our faith and decision we certify by subscribing
Here follow the names, not only of President,
Assistant President, and Secretaries of the Synod, and of the
Professors of Theology in the Dutch Churches, but of all the Members
who were deputed to Synod, as the representatives of their respective
Churches, that is, of the Delegates from Great Britain, the Electoral
Palatinate, Hessia, Switzerland, Wetteraw, the Republic and
Church of Geneva, The Republic and Church of Bremen, The
Republic and Church of Emden, The Duchy of Gelderland and of
Zutphen, South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, The
Province of Utrecht, Friesland, Transylvania, The State
of Groningen and Omland, Drent, The French Churches.
Canons of Dort
The individual articles presented here were generally first published
in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed
on the Internet in December 1997.
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