A True Confession (1596)

The True Confession (1596) was the work of an English-Separatist congregation of Baptists in exile in Amsterdam. This excerpt is from William L. Lumpkins, Baptist Confessions of Faith, revised ed. (Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 1969). The spelling was updated where necessary.

A TRUE CONFESSION OF THE FAITH, AND HUMBLE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE ALLEGIANCE, which we her Majesty’s Subjects, falsely called Brownists, do hold towards God, and yield to her Majesty and all other that are over us in the Lord. Set down in Articles or Positions, for the better and more easy understanding of those that shall read it. And published for the clearing of ourselves from those unchristian slanders of heresy, schism, pride, obstinate, disloyalty, sedition, etc. which by our adversaries are in all places given out against us.

Article 2

That God is a Spirit, whose being is of himself, and giveth being, moving, and preservation to all other things being himself eternal, most holy, every way infinite, in greatness, wisdom, power, goodness, justice, truth, etc.

And that in this Godhead there be three distinct persons, co-eternal, co-equal, and co-essential, being every one of the one and same God, and therefore not divided but distinguished one from another by their several and peculiar properties: The Father of none, the Son begotten of the Father from everlasting, the holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son before all beginnings.

Article 3

That God hath decreed in himself from everlasting touching all things, and the very least circumstances of everything, effectually to work and dispose them according to the counsel of his own will, to the praise and glory of his great name.

And touching his chiefest Creatures, that God hath in Christ before the foundation of the world, according to the good pleasure of his will, ordained some men and Angels, to eternal life to be accomplished through Jesus Christ, to the praise of the glory of his grace. And on the other hand hath likewise, before of old according to his just purpose ordained other both Angels and men, to eternal condemnation, to be accomplished through their own corruption to the praise of his justice.

Article 5

That all mankind being thus fallen and become altogether dead in sin, and subject to the eternal wrath of God both by original and actual corruption.

The elect are redeemed, quickened, raised up and saved again, not of themselves, neither by works, lest any man should boast himself; but wholly and only by God of his free grace and mercy through faith in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that according as it is written, He that rejoiceth let him rejoice in the Lord.

Article 6

That this therefore only is life eternal - to know the only true God, and whom He hath sent into the world, Jesus Christ. And that on the contrary, the Lord will render vengeance in flaming fire unto them that know not God, and which obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Article 15

That touching Kingdom:

  • being risen, ascended, entered into glory, set at the right hand of God, all power in Heaven and earth given unto him; which power he now exerciseth over all Angells and men, good and bad, to the preservation and salvation of the elect, to the overruling and destruction of the reprobate;
  • communicating and applying the benefits, virtue and fruits of his prophecy and Priesthood unto his elect, namely to the remission, subduing, and taking away of their sins, to their justification, adoption-of-sons, regeneration, sanctification, preservation and strengthening in all their spiritual conflicts against Satan,
  • the world and the flesh etc. continually dwelling in, governing and keeping their hearts in his true faith and fear by his holy spirit, which having once give it, he never taketh away from them, but by it still begetteth and nourisheth in them repentance, faith, love, obedience, comfort, peace, joy, hope, and all Christian virtues, unto immortality, notwithstanding that it be sometimes through sin and temptation, interrupted, smothered, and as it were overwhelmed for the time.
  • Again on the contrary, ruling in the world over his enemies, Satan, and all the vessels of wrath; limiting, using, restraining them by his mighty power, as seemeth good in divine wisdom and justice, to the execution of his determinate counsel, to wit to their seduction, hardening and condemnation, delivering them up to a reprobate mind, to be kept in darkness, sin and sensuality unto judgment.

Article 16

That this Kingdom shall be then fully perfected when He shall the second time come in glory with his mighty Angels unto judgment, to abolish all rule, authority and power, to put all his enemies under his feet, to separate and free all his chosen from them forever, to punish the wicked with everlasting perdition from his presence, to gather, join, and carry the godly with himself into endless glory, and then to deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that so the glory of the father may be full and perfect in the Son, the glory of the Son in all his members, and God be all in all.

Article 17

That in the meantime, besides his absolute rule in the world, Christ hath here in earth a spiritual Kingdom and canonical regiment in his Church over his servants, which Church he hath purchased and redeemed to himself, as a peculiar inheritance (notwithstanding many hypocrites do for the time lurk amongest them), calling and winning them by the power of his word unto the faith, separating them from amongst unbelievers, from idolatry, false worship, superstition, vanity, dissolute life, and works of darkness, etc.; making them a royal Priesthood, an holy Nation, a people set at liberty to shew forth the virtues of him that hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light, gathering and uniting them together as members of one body in his faith, love and holy order, unto all general and mutual duties, entrusting and governing them by such officers and laws as he hath prescribed in his word; by which Officers and laws he governeth his Church, and by none other.

Article 18

That to this Church he hath made the promises, and given the seals of his Covenant, presence, love, blessing and protection. Here are the holy Oracles as in the side of the Ark, surely kept and purely taught. Here are all the fountains and springs of his grace continually replenished and flowing forth. Here is He lifted up to all Nations, hither He uniteth all men to his supper, his manage feast; hither ought all men of all estates and degrees that acknowledge him their Prophet, Priest and King to repair, to be enrolled amongst his household servants, to be under his heavenly conduct and government, to lead their lives in his walled sheepfold and watered orchard, to have communion here with the Saints, that they may be made meet to be partakers of their inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Article 29

That the present ministry retained and used in England of Archbishop, Lord Bishops,  Deans, Prebendaries, Canons, Peti-Canons, Arch-Deacons, Chancellors, Commissaries, Priests, Deacons, Parsons, Viccars Curats, Hireling rouing Preachers, Church-wardens, Parish-clerks, their Doctors, Proctors, and in whole rabble of those Courts with all from and under them set over these Cathedral and Parishional Assemblies in this confusion, are a strange and Anti-christian ministry and offices; and are not that ministry above named instituted in Christs Testament, or allowed in or over his Church.

Article 31

That these Ecclesiastical Assemblies, remaining in confusion and bondage under this Antichristian Ministry, Courts, Canons, worship, Ordinances, etc. without freedom or power to redress any enormity, have not in this confusion and subjection, Christ their Prophet, Priest, and King, neither can be in this estate, (while we judge them by the rules of God’s word) esteemed the true, orderly gathered, or constituted churches of Christ, whereof the faithful ought to become or stand Members, or to haveth any Spiritual communion with them in their public worship and Administration.

Article 32

That by Gods Commandment all that will be saved, must with speed come forth of this Antichristian estate, leaving the suppression of it unto the Magistrate to whom it belongeth. And that both all such as have received or exercised any of these false Offices or any pretended function or Ministry in or to this false and Antichristian constitution, are willingly in Gods fear, to give over and leave those unlawful Offices, and no longer to minister in this manner to these Assemblies in this estate.

And that none also, of what sort or condition so ever, do give any part of their Goods, Lands, Money, or money worth to the maintenance of this false Ministry and worship upon any Commandment, or under any color whatsoever.

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TylerR's picture

Editor

These guys were unashamed Calvinists. Note the double-predestination in Article 3, and the assertion in Article 15 that Christ deliberately works out the destruction of the reprobate non-elect.

I don't believe I've ever seen a more succinct summary of eternal life and damnation than I read in Article 6.

There is an already/not yet aspect to the kingdom (Article 16) - way before George Ladd wrote about it! Smile

Articles 17-18 are probably the most passionate and beautiful creedal description of the church I've ever read. The church is a "canonical regiment!" You can tell how important this was to these early Baptists.

The church in England was an anti-Christian "rabble," (Article 29). The tone police today would be shocked, shocked!

This is not a Christian church at all (Article 31), and all true Christians "must with speed come forth of this Antichristian estate," (Article 32). Separatists!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

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