« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and others, as it is represented by them in their confessions; as also we receive the Confession of Augsbourg, and as it was published by the authors, promising to persevere constantly therein, with the help of God, both in life and death, and being ready to subscribe to that eternal truth of God, with our own blood, even as our ancestors have done from the days of the Apostles, and especially in these latter ages." A still more modern exposition of faith has been found by Mr. Sims among the manuscripts of M. Peyrani, the late moderator of the Waldensian church. It is signed by the moderator, "with the consent of all his brethren," under the recent date of February 20, 1819. At first sight it seems to be merely a re-publication of the declaration of 1655; but upon further inspection it appears that the modern pastors have made a few alterations, some of which deserve notice. They have also reduced the number of articles to thirtytwo, by the omission of the twenty. seventh of the Confession of 1655; which is as follows: "That all men ought to join that church [namely, "the company of the faithful elected and called," as described in the twenty-fifth article,] and to continue in the communion thereof." The reasons for omitting this article it is unnecessary to conjecture; the fear of giving offence by an apparently exclusive or proselyting spirit may sufficiently account for it, without supposing that the writers were themselves indifferent to the distinction between a true and a false church. This Confession is, on various accounts, well worth examination. A few of the chief differences between this document and the declaration of 1655 will be pointed out: the merely verbal ones are not ascertainable, for want of the original Latin document of 1655. For the convenience of the general reader, both declarations
are given in English. The articles of 1819, were drawn up expressly in reply to some charges urged against the Waldenses in some of the London journals.
Confession of Faith of the Waldensian Pastors, residing in Piedmont, dated Feb. 20, 1819. I. We believe (with respect to numerical unity) that God is one: and by this word we understand a spiritual, eternal, boundless, infinitely wise, merciful, and just,-in one word, a most perfect Being; and that in that simple essence there are three Persons, or Hypostases, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
II. We believe that the same God has manifested himself to men by his works, both of creation and providence; and by his word, revealed in the beginning "in divers manners," written and contained in books, which are called the Holy Scripture.
III. We believe that the Holy Scripture should be received (and we do receive it) as divine and canonical; that is to say, as the rule of our faith and conduct; that it is contained in the books of the Old and New Testament; that in the Old Testament are contained only those books which God entrusted to the Jewish church, and which that church always approved, and acknowledged as of Divine authority; namely, five books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the first and second of Samuel, the first and second of Kings, the first and second of Chronicles, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, four greater and twelve lesser Prophets: and in the New Testament four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of St. Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessa
"dead in sins; and are not able of ourselves, and without grace, to cherish a good thought*.
lonians, the Epistle to the Hebrews, one of St. James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude, and lastly the Revelation.
IV. We acknowledge the Divine authority of these books, not merely on the testimony of the church, but more especially on account of the eternal and unquestionable truth of the doctrine contained in them; the excellence, sublimity, and divine majesty which shine throughout; and by the operation of the Holy Spirit*.
V. We believe that God made all things out of nothing, of his own perfectly free will, and by the infinite power of his word.
VI. We believe that he undertakes the care of all things by his providence, and that he is neither the author nor the cause of the evil which men practise; "for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
VII. We believe that the angels were created pure and holy; that some of them have fallen into an irreparable state of corruption and perdition but that others have persevered in holiness, through the Divine goodness which confirmed
VIII. We believe that man, who was created pure and holy, deprived himself through his own fault of the happiness allied to purity and holiness, by listening to the tempt er, that is, the devil.
IX. That man, by his transgression, lost the righteousness and holiness which he had received, and incurred, with the wrath of God, death, and captivity under the dominion of him who "hath the power of death;" so that our free will is in a fallen condition, and we are become the "children of wrath,"
The Confession of 1655 adds, "who gives us to receive with reverence the testimony of the church in that point, and opens the eyes of our understanding to discover the beams of that celestial light which shines in the Scripture, and prepares our taste to discern the Divine favour of that spiritual food."
X. That all the descendants of Adam are guilty of his disobedience, infected with corruption, and have fallen into the same calamity; whence that infection proceeds to which the fathers have given the name of original sin +..
XI. That from that corruption and condemnation, God delivers men whom he has chosen through his mercy in his Son Jesus Christ.
XII. We believe that Jesus Christ was ordained by God, by an eternal decree, as the only Saviour and Leader of his body, that is, of the church; that he redeemed it by his blood in the fulness of time; and presents to it all benefits by the Gospel.
XIII. We believe that there are two natures in Christ, the divine and the human, truly in one sole person; neither confounded nor divided, nor separated, nor changed; each nature preserving distinct properties and that Jesus Christ is very God and very man.
XIV. That "God so loved the world" that he gave his Son to
The corresponding article of 1655 is fuller and stronger: it says, "in so much that our free will is become a servant Jews and Gentiles, are by nature the and a slave to sin: and thus all men, both children of wrath, being all dead in their trespasses and sins, and consequently incapable of the least good motion, or inclination to any thing which concerns their salvation: yea, incapable to think one good thought without God's special grace, all their imaginations being wholly evil, and that continually."
The article of 1655 adds, " even the very infants from their mothers' womb."
The article of 1655 says: "That God saves from that corruption and condemnation those whom he has chosen from the foundation of the world, not for any disposition, faith, or holiness that he foresaw in them, but of his mere mercy in Jesus Christ his Son; passing by all the rest, according to the irreprehensible reason of his free will and justice."
The corresponding article of 1655 had, in the true spirit of party controversy, qualified the scriptural expression "the
save us by his most perfect obe dience, especially that which he displayed by enduring the death of the cross; and by the conquests he achieved over the devil, sin, and death.
XV. That Jesus Christ effected the complete expiation of our sins by his most perfect sacrifice once made upon the cross; and that therefore a repetition of that sacrifice, neither can nor ought to be made *.
XVI. That the Lord Jesus, when he had reconciled us to God by his blood, became our Leader: and that we are not absolved and justified by our own works, but by his merit +.
XVII. That we have fellowship with Christ, and participate in his benefits, by faith, which strives to obtain the promises of life which are offered to us in the Gospel.
XVIII. That this faith proceeds from the gratuitous operation of the Holy Spirit, who illuminates our souls, and induces them to place all their hopes in the Divine mercy; that we may impute to ourselves the merits of Christ; and that we may most firmly believe, that without him we cannot be saved.
XIX. We believe that Jesus Christ is our Mediator, not only for the purpose of redemption, but for that of intercession also; and that, through his merits and mediation, we may have access to the Father, to call upon him with confidence that we shall be heard t.
XX. We believe that since God promises us regeneration in Jesus Christ, we who are united to him by a lively faith, ought strenuously to perform § good works.
world" by adding, " that is to say, those whom he has chosen out of the world."
• The older confession adds, "as they pretend to do in the mass."
†That of 1655 adds, "neither is there any other purgatory besides his blood, which cleanses us from all sin."
That of 1655 adds, "it being needless to have recourse to any other intercessor besides himself."
5 That of 1655 has, in a parenthesis, "and do really perform."
XXI. We believe good works to be so necessary to believers, that they cannot attain to the kingdom of heaven without such good works, which God (it is most certain) "hath foreordained that we should walk in them;" and, in like manner, that we should shun every vice, and cultivate all the virtues that Christ hath taught us*.
XXII. We believe that although our works cannot, in the strict sense of the word, merit, yet that the Lord will reward them with eternal lifet; his promises being unchangeably constant.
XXIII. We believe that we ought to regard those who have attained to eternal life as the reward of faith and good works, as worthy of praise and imitation; but that they ought not to be adored nor invoked by us, since to God alone should prayer be offered through Jesus Christ.
("Let us not adopt the worship of the dead as our religion, since, if they lived a devout life, they are not to be deemed such as seek those honours, but such as desire that we should worship him by whose illumination they rejoice that we are partakers of their merit. They should be honoured therefore as objects of imitation, but not adored as objects of religious worship."-Augustine.)
XXIV. We believe that God gathers together § a church in the world for the salvation of men; and that this church has one Leader and Foundation, namely, Jesus Christ.
XXV. That this church consists in the union of believers, who, "chosen of God before the foundation of the world," and "called with an holy calling," are united
That of 1655 says, "making use of fasting, and all other means which may conduce to so holy a thing.'
+ That of 1655 adds, "through the merciful continuation of his grace," and it has no such qualifying expression as "in the strict sense of the word."
The passage from Augustine is not in the articles of 1655.
$ The older formulary says, "hath
to follow God's word, and cherish a salutary religious fear, namely, such as is productive of holiness and a reformation of manners*.
XXVI. That this church cannot be destroyed, but is necessarily a perpetual church †.
XXVII. That in the church God not only teaches us by his word, but has moreover instituted sacraments, as means whereby we might be united to Christ, and might participate in the benefits which he has obtained for us. We believe that under the New-Testament dispensation there are only two sacraments common to all the members of the church; namely, Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
XXVIII. We believe that God instituted the sacrament of baptism for a testimony of our adoption, and that we might be washed from our sins in the blood of Christ, and renewed unto holiness of life.
XXIX. That he instituted the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in order to nourish our souls; that when, with a true and lively faith (through the incomprehensible power of the Holy Spirit), we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, and are one with him, we may have spiritual and eternal life. XXX. We believe it to be necessary that the church should have learned pastors of blameless life, (bishops, priests, and deacons, as was usual in the primitive church), to preach the word of God, to administer the sacraments, and to watch over the flock of Christ according to rules of good and holy discipline, after the example of the primitive church t
XXXI. We believe that God
That of 1655 says simply, "living in his fear."
+ The old document adds, " and that all the elect are upheld and preserved by the power of God, in such sort that they all persevere in the faith unto the end, and remain united in the holy church, as so many living members thereof."
The Confession of 1655 gives some extracts from the formularies of the Vaudois Church, in proof of their belief on this subject. It has not the word bishops.
has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates, for the protection of the people; and that we should obey them, (agreeably to this precept, "Let every soul be subject
to the higher powers, for there is no power but of, God, &c. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath but also for conscience' sake,") in all things that agree with the word of God, who is "King of kings, and Lord of lords."
XXXII. Lastly, we declare that we receive the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, as rules of faith and conduct; from which we believe that we should not recede, even in the least degree.
Such is the confession of our faith, which we, the Waldensian pastors residing in Piedmont, oppose to the calumnies published against us, and printed in the London journals; and this our professed faith we have not received from Waldo of Lyons, nor from Luther, nor from Calvin, but we have inherited it from the earliest times from our forefathers, who had received it in like manner from their remote ancestors; as is evident from various confessions presented to our princes, the dukes of Savoy and princes of Piedmont ; and from a work of the most reverend James Usher, formerly archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland, which contains an historical explanation of the important question respecting the continued succession and condition of Christian churches, especially those in the west, from the time of the Apostles to the seventeenth century.
In this faith we desire to live; and we desire still to persevere in it to the end; and to be ready to evince our attachment to it, even if required on that account to endure torture and torments, the loss of our possessions, and death at the stake.
Moreover, we declare that we cheerfully accede to the sound
doctrine taught in the Reformed churches of England, the Netherlands, Germany, Prussia, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, &c.; and we humbly entreat all those churches, and others settled in America, to regard our's, though few and destitute, as members of the mystical body of Christ.
With regard to the style of this composition, which is not in every instance distinguished for classical purity, it is the less necessary to offer an apology on this score to our readers, since even Cicero allows that "whatever is perspicuously expressed on a useful or important subject, should be considered as well expressed; to lavish embellishments on subjects of that nature being in fact a puerile attempt, since it is quite sufficient for a learned and intelligent man to state them in a clear and perspicuous manner."
JOHN RODOLPHE PEYRAN, Pastor of the Church of Pomaret, and Moderator of the Waldensian Churches (with the consent of all his brethren).
It would be beyond the limits and design of the present paper, to detail the various reflections which must occur to every thoughtful mind, on the perusal of the above-cited documents. The pious Protestant cannot but feel deeply grateful to the great Head of the church, for having, in the darkest ages of Popery, raised up and maintained a Christian communion, whose articles are in the main so strongly marked by the great outlines of scriptural truth. The member of the Church of England, in particular, will rejoice to find in the articles of this sister church—a church cemented by the blood of innumerable martyrs for the cause of Christ-a confession resembling, in many important respects, the articles of his own revered communion; though upon careful comparison he will be disposed to give a very decided pre
ference for his own, as more full, and less marked by the peculiarities of human system. of human system. Alas! that with the Scriptures in our hands, and professedly adopted as the rule of our faith and practice, any such formularies should be necessary; yet necessary they are, and will be, so long as men are found to corrupt the truth for secular and selfish purposes. The minor discrepancies in these documents in the churches of Protestant Christendom are triumphantly quoted by the Roman Catholic to disparage our ecclesiastical reformation, and by the infidel to wound Christianity itself; but amidst many differences there is also much in common, and that which is in common happily includes, in almost every instance, whatever is most essential to purity of faith, and to the advancement of
a holy and devoted life. PASTOR.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. THERE is a species of blemish observable in most metrical versions of
the Psalms, which it may be well to notice, for the sake of putting future versifiers more carefully upon their guard against it; I mean, an inattention to the exact drift and spirit of figures and poetical imagery. A trope, unless exhibited in a translation with the delicate shading of the original, becomes spiritless, or even absurd. In rendering ancient authors, even in a prose version, there is often great difficulty in catching this exactness of figurative allusion; and the difficulty is far greater, when, in addition to the sense of the passage, metre, and rhyme, and rhythm are also to be consulted. This difficulty, above all, is the greatest in the case of writings like the Old Testament, where customs and circumstances, to us but imperfectly known, are incidentally referred to, so as to become part of the very staple of thought and language.
I will illustrate my remark by