lives in bodily form.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him,
“Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and to know
that you are the holy one of God."
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”
I and the Father
We all believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that he is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.
We know him by two means.
First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely his power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says (Romans 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse.
Second, he makes himself more clearly fully known to us by his holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to his glory and our salvation.
We confess that this Word of God was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Peter says (2 Peter 1:21).
And that afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed Word to writing; and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.
We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged.
These are thus named in the Church of God. The books of the Old Testament are:
Those of the New Testament are:
We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and conformation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.
We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, namely:
All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith, or of the Christian religion; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books.
We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein.
For, since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for anyone, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says (Galatians 1:8).
For, since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God, it does thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects (Revelation 22:18-19). Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself.
Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, “try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). Likewise, “if there come any unto you; and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house” (2 John 1:10).
According to this truth and this Word of God, we believe in one only God, who is the one single essence, in which are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct, according to their incommunicable properties; namely, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Father is the cause, origin and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the Word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Nevertheless God is not by this distinction divided into three, since the Holy Scriptures teach us, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, have each his personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident, that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.
Nevertheless these persons thus distinguished are not divided, nor intermixed: for the Father has not assumed the flesh, nor has the Holy Spirit, but the Son only. The Father has never been without his Son, or without his Holy Spirit. For they are all three coeternal and co-essential. There is neither first nor last: for they are all three one, in truth, in power, in goodness, and in mercy.
All this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate, as to choose them out with discretion and judgment.
In Genesis 1:26-27, God says: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image…male and female created he them.” And Genesis 3:22 says, “Behold the man is become as one of us” From this saying, let us make man in our image, it appears that there are more persons than one in the Godhead; and when he says, God created, he signifies the unity.
It is true he does not say how many persons there are, but that, which appears to us somewhat obscure in the Old Testament, is very plain in the New. For when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son”: the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Spirit appeared in the shape of a dove (Matthew 3:16-17).
This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord, “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
Likewise, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
And “there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).
In all which places we are fully taught, that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless, we now believe it by means of the Word of God, but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in Heaven.
Moreover, we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator, by his power; the Son is our Savior and Redeemer, by his blood; the Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier, by his dwelling in our hearts.
This doctrine of the Holy Trinity, has always been defended and maintained by the true Church, since the time of the apostles, to this very day, against the Jews, Mohammedans, and some false Christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nicaea, and of Athanasius: likewise that, which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.
We believe that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made nor created (for then he should be a creature), but co-essential and coeternal with the Father, the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory, equal unto him in all things.
He is the Son of God, not only from the time that he assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us:
Therefore it must needs follow, that he, who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time, when all things were created by him. Therefore the prophet Micah says, “His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). And the apostle: He has “neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Hebrews 7:3). He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship and serve.
We believe and confess also, that the Holy Spirit, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son: and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.