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The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

Authors' Bias: Interpretation: conservative

During the 1630-40's, Congregationalists and Reformed (Calvanistic) Baptists emerged from the Church of England. In 1644, the First London Confession of Faith was developed (predating the Westminster Confession by 2 years); its purpose was to distinguish Reformed Baptists from Arminian Baptists or Anabaptists. Since this doctrine was at odds with the established religion of state, there was much persecution. By the 1660s, the Clarendon Code was established to eliminate all dissent from the official religion of the Crown.

Because of this persecution, the Second London Confession, patterned after the Westminster Confession of Faith, was developed anonymously in 1677. In comparison, these two confession differed only in the areas of church governance and ordinances such as baptism and communion. When peace was achieved following the revolution in 1689, 37 prominent Baptist ministers signed the London Confession (of 1689).

It has become the Confession of Faith for Reformed Baptists in England and Wales and embraced by leaders like C.H. Spurgeon who wrote, This little volume is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of the scriptural proofs, will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them.

THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH
WITH SCRIPTURE PROOFS
ADOPTED BY
THE MINISTERS AND MESSENGERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WHICH MET IN LONDON IN 1689


Foreword to the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

Most Invincible Emperor, Caesar Augustus, Most Clement Lord: Inasmuch as Your Imperial Majesty has summoned a Diet of the Empire here at Augsburg to deliberate concerning measures against the Turk, that most atrocious, hereditary, and ancient enemy of the Christian name and religion, in what way, namely, effectually to withstand his furor and assaults by strong and lasting military provision; and then also concerning dissensions in the matter of our holy religion and Christian Faith, that in this matter of religion the opinions and judgments of the parties might be heard in each other's presence; and considered and weighed among ourselves in mutual charity, leniency, and kindness, in order that, after the removal and correction of such things as have been treated and understood in a different manner in the writings on either side, these matters may be settled and brought back to one simple truth and Christian concord, that for the future one pure and true religion may be embraced and maintained by us, that as we all are under one Christ and do battle under Him, so we may be able also to live in unity and concord in the one Christian Church.

And inasmuch as we, the undersigned Elector and Princes, with others joined with us, have been called to the aforesaid Diet the same as the other Electors, Princes, and Estates, in obedient compliance with the Imperial mandate, we have promptly come to Augsburg, and -- what we do not mean to say as boasting -- we were among the first to be here.

Accordingly, since even here at Augsburg at the very beginning of the Diet, Your Imperial Majesty caused to be proposed to the Electors, Princes, and other Estates of the Empire, amongst other things, that the several Estates of the Empire, on the strength of the Imperial edict, should set forth and submit their opinions and judgments in the German and the Latin language, and since on the ensuing Wednesday, answer was given to Your Imperial Majesty, after due deliberation, that we would submit the Articles of our Confession for our side on next Wednesday, therefore, in obedience to Your Imperial Majesty's wishes, we offer, in this matter of religion, the Confession of our preachers and of ourselves, showing what manner of doctrine from the Holy Scriptures and the pure Word of God has been up to this time set forth in our lands, dukedoms, dominions, and cities, and taught in our churches.

And if the other Electors, Princes, and Estates. of the Empire will, according to the said Imperial proposition, present similar writings, to wit, in Latin and German, giving their opinions in this matter of religion, we, with the Princes and friends aforesaid, here before Your Imperial Majesty, our most clement Lord are prepared to confer amicably concerning all possible ways and means, in order that we may come together, as far as this may be honorably done, and, the matter between us on both sides being peacefully discussed without offensive strife, the dissension, by God's help, may be done away and brought back to one true accordant religion; for as we all are under one Christ and do battle under Him, we ought to confess the one Christ, after the tenor of Your Imperial Majesty's edict, and everything ought to be conducted according to the truth of God; and this it is what, with most fervent prayers, we entreat of God.

However, as regards the rest of the Electors, Princes, and Estates, who constitute the other part, if no progress should be made, nor some result be attained by this treatment of the cause of religion after the manner in which Your Imperial Majesty has wisely held that it should be dealt with and treated namely, by such mutual presentation of writings and calm conferring together among ourselves, we at least leave with you a clear testimony, that we here in no wise are holding back from anything that could bring about Christian concord, -- such as could be effected with God and a good conscience, -- as also Your Imperial Majesty and, next, the other Electors and Estates of the Empire, and all who are moved by sincere love and zeal for religion, and who will give an impartial hearing to this matter, will graciously deign to take notice and to understand this from this Confession of ours and of our associates.

Your Imperial Majesty also, not only once but often, graciously signified to the Electors Princes, and Estates of the Empire, and at the Diet of Spires held A. D. 1526, according to the form of Your Imperial instruction and commission given and prescribed, caused it to be stated and publicly proclaimed that Your Majesty, in dealing with this matter of religion, for certain reasons which were alleged in Your Majesty's name, was not willing to decide and could not determine anything, but that Your Majesty would diligently use Your Majesty's office with the Roman Pontiff for the convening of a General Council. The same matter was thus publicly set forth at greater length a year ago at the last Diet which met at Spires. There Your Imperial Majesty, through His Highness Ferdinand, King of Bohemia and Hungary, our friend and clement Lord, as well as through the Orator and Imperial Commissioners caused this, among other things, to be submitted: that Your Imperial Majesty had taken notice of; and pondered, the resolution of Your Majesty's Representative in the Empire, and of the President and Imperial Counselors, and the Legates from other Estates convened at Ratisbon, concerning the calling of a Council, and that your Imperial Majesty also judged it to be expedient to convene a Council; and that Your Imperial Majesty did not doubt the Roman Pontiff could be induced to hold a General Council, because the matters to be adjusted between Your Imperial Majesty and the Roman Pontiff were nearing agreement and Christian reconciliation; therefore Your Imperial Majesty himself signified that he would endeavor to secure the said Chief Pontiff's consent for convening, together with your Imperial Majesty such General Council, to be published as soon as possible by letters that were to be sent out.

If the outcome, therefore, should be such that the differences between us and the other parties in the matter of religion should not be amicably and in charity settled, then here, before Your Imperial Majesty we make the offer in all obedience, in addition to what we have already done, that we will all appear and defend our cause in such a general, free Christian Council, for the convening of which there has always been accordant action and agreement of votes in all the Imperial Diets held during Your Majesty's reign, on the part of the Electors, Princes, and other Estates of the Empire. To the assembly of this General Council, and at the same time to Your Imperial Majesty, we have, even before this, in due manner and form of law, addressed ourselves and made appeal in this matter, by far the greatest and gravest. To this appeal, both to Your Imperial Majesty and to a Council, we still adhere; neither do we intend nor would it be possible for us, to relinquish it by this or any other document, unless the matter between us and the other side, according to the tenor of the latest Imperial citation should be amicably and charitably settled, allayed, and brought to Christian concord; and regarding this we even here solemnly and publicly testify.

CHAPTER 1 - OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience (1), although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they no sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation (2). Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church (3); and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased (4).

1) 2 Tim. 3:15, 16, 17, Isa. 8:20, Luke 16:29, 31, Eph. 2:20.
2) Rom 1:19-21; 2:14, 15, Ps 19:1-3.
3) Heb 1:1.
4) Prov 22:19-21, Rom 15:4, 2 Pet 1:19-20.

Under the name of the Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:

OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:

Genesis

1 Samuel

Esther

Lamentations

Micah

Exodus

2 Samuel

Job

Ezekiel

Nahum

Leviticus

1 Kings

Psalms

Daniel

Habakkuk

Numbers

2 Kings

Proverbs

Hosea

Zephaniah

Deuteronomy

1 Chronicles

Ecclesiastes

Joel

Haggai

Joshua

2 Chronicles

The Song of Solomon

Amos

Zachariah

Judges

Ezra

Isaiah

Obadiah

Malachi

Ruth

Nehemiah

Jeremiah

Jonah

OF THE NEW TESTAMENT:

Matthew

1 Corinthians

1 Thessalonians

The Epistle to the Hebrews

Mark

2 Corinthians

2 Thessalonians

Epistle of James

Luke

Galatians

1 Timothy

The 1 and 2 Epistles of Peter

John

Ephesians

2 Timothy

The 1, 2, and 3 Epistles of John

The Acts of the
Apostles

Phillippians

Titus

The Epistle of Jude

Paul's Epistle to
the Romans

Colossians

Philemon

The Revelation

All of which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life (5).

5) 2 Tim 3:16.

The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings. (6)

6) Luke 24:27, 44; Rom 3:2.

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God(who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God. (7)

7) 2 Pet 1:19-21; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Thes 2:13; 1 Jn 5:9.

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole(which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. (8)

8) Jn 16:13-14; 1 Cor 2:10-12, 1 Jn 2:20, 27.

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (9) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, (10) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (11)

9) 2 Tim 3:15-17; Gal 1:8-9.
10) Jn 6:45; 1 Cor 2:9-12.
11) 1Cor 11:13-14; 14:26, 40.

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; (12) yet hose things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them. (13)

12) 2 Pet 3:16.
13) Ps 19:7; 119:130.

The Old Testament in Hebrew(which was the native language of the people of God of old), (14) and the New Testament in Greek(which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. (15) But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read (16) and search them, (17) therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar [ie. common] language of every nation unto which they come, (18) that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship of Him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope. (19)

14) Rom 3:2.
15) Isa 8:20.
16) Acts 15:15.
17) Jn 5:39.
18) 1 Cor 14:6,9,11-12, 24, 28.
19) Col 3:16.

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture(which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly. (20)

20) 2 Pet 1:20-21; Acts 15:15-16.

The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved. (21)

21) Matt 22:29, 31-32; Eph 2:20; Acts 28:23.

CHAPTER 2 - OF GOD AND OF THE HOLY TRINITY

The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; (1) whose subsistence is in and of Himself, (2) infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself; (3) a most pure spirit, (4) invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; (5) who is immutable, (6) immense, (7) eternal, (8) incomprehensible, almighty, (9) every way infinite, most holy, (10) most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will (11) for His own glory; (12) most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, (13) and withal most just and terrible in His judgments, (14) hating all sin, (15) and who will by no means clear the guilty. (16)

1) 1 Cor 8:4, 6; Deut 6:4.
2) Jer 10:10; Isa 48:12.
3) Ex 3:14.
4) Jn 4:24.
5) 1 Tim 1:17; Deut 4:15-16.
6) Mal 3:6.
7) 1 Ki 8:27; Jer 23:23.
8) Ps 90:2.9) Gen17:1.
10) Isa 6:3.
11) Ps 115:3; Isa 46:10.
12) Prov 16:4; Rom 11:36.
13) Ex 34:6-7; Heb 11:6.
14) Neh 9:32-33.
15) Ps 5:5-6.
16) Ex 34:7; Nahum 1:2-3.

God, having all life, (17) glory, (18) goodness, (19) blessedness, in and of Himself, is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, (20) but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, (21) and He hath most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever Himself pleaseth; (22) in His sight all things are open and manifest, (23) His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent or uncertain: (24) He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, (25) and in all His commands; to Him is due from angels and men, whatsoever worship, (26) service, or obedience, as creatures they owe unto the Creator, and whatever He is further pleased to require of them.

17) Jn 5:26.
18) Ps 148:13.
19) Ps 119:68.
20) Job 22:2-3.
21) Rom 11:34-36.
22) Dan 4:25, 34-35.
23) Heb 4:13.
24) Ezek 11:5; Ac 15:18.
25) Ps 145:17.
26) Rev 5:12-14.

In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, (27) of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided, (28) the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; (29) the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; (30) all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence upon Him.

27) 1 Jn 5:7; Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14.
28) Ex 3:14; Jn 14:11; 1 Cor 8:6.
29) Jn 1:14, 18.
30) Jn 15:26; Gal 4:6.

CHAPTER 3 - OF GOD'S DECREE

God hath decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever come to pass; (1) yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; (2) nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; (3) in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree. (4)

1) Isa 46:10; Eph 1:11; Heb 6:17; Rom 9:15, 18.
2) James 1:13; 1 Jn 1:5.
3) Acts 4:27-28; Jn 19:11.
4) Num 23:19; Eph 1:3-5.

Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, (5) yet hath He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. (6)

5) Acts 15:18.
6) Rom 9:11, 13, 16, 18.

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, (7) to the praise of His glorious grace; (8) others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. (9)

7) 1 Tim 5:21; Matt 25:34.
8) Eph 1:5-6.
9) Rom 9:22-23; Jude 4.

These angels and men thus predestined and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. (10)

10) 2 Tim 2:19; Jn 13:18.

Those of mankind that are predestined to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, (11) without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto. (12)

11) Eph 1:4, 9, 11; Rom 8:30; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Thes 5:9.
12) Rom 9:13, 16; Eph 2:5, 12.

As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto; (13) wherefore they who are elect, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, (14) are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, (15) and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; (16) neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. (17)

13) 1 Pet 1:2; 2 Thes 2:13.
14) 1 Thes 5:9-10.
15) Rom 8:30; 2 Thes 2:13.
16) 1 Pet 1:5.
17) Jn 10:26; 17:9; 6:64.

The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; (18) so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, (19) reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, (20) diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel. (21)

18) 1 Thes 1:4-5; 2 Pet 1:10.
19) Eph 1:6; Rom 11:33.
20) Rom 11:5-6, 20.
21) Luke 10:20.


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